Sometimes shaking things up by moving players around is a smart thing to do as it greatly improves your team. The move of Byron Jones from safety to cornerback is a perfect example of that as he immediately turned into an All Pro. A new coach brought in a new idea, and it worked magnificently. Of course, that coach is now gone, and with new coaches in charge of the secondary, an idea has surfaced that involves moving Chidobe Awuzie to the safety position.
On the surface, it’s easy to understand why some would want to move Awuzie. While he is a solid corner, when there’s an unfavorable passing play, he’s a guy that can be found on the wrong end of it. And that is not to say he’s burnt toast out there; it’s just that he’s had his own share of “bad luck” when some contested passes have been hauled in for big plays. Awuzie struggles at the line of scrimmage, which forces him to play catch up the rest of the play. To his credit, he does that part really well, and by the time the ball arrives, Awuzie is right there. However, often times he doesn’t have his head turned around or his body is just enough out of position to allow room for the ball to find it’s way into the arms of the receiver. So close.
Another reason a change might make sense is that Chido has some good traits that fit with the position. He has good instincts, and plays with enough physicality to handle the extra contact needed. The fact that he’s already demonstrated the ability to play the position in college makes his flexibility an added allure of moving him to safety.
While that is all good and well, there are some factors that might bring about apprehension at such a move. For starters, the absence of Jones leaves a gaping hole at one of the outside corner positions. There are some who have faith that recently drafted Trevon Diggs can step in and handle that spot, but moving Awuzie would once again leave a hole. Despite the great affinity fans have for Jourdan Lewis, he is not the answer on the outside. The last time Mike McCarthy’s Green Bay Packers team played the Cowboys, the game was won on a final drive where Davante Adams straight up abused Lewis. And if you’re thinking about moving Anthony Brown to the outside and Lewis taking over the slot, think again because that experiment has already been tested and it didn’t work out so well either. As good as both Brown and Lewis are in the slot, they are equally bad on the outside.
If anyone is banking on low-cost free agents Daryl Worley or Maurice Canady to hold down the starting outside corner job, that seems rather optimistic as it wouldn’t be all that surprising if neither of these guys made the final roster when it is all said and done.
Not only would moving Awuzie leave them light at corner, but right now - the starting safety spots are occupiedo. With the addition of free agent Ha Ha Clinton-Dix, he and Xavier Woods should be able to handle the majority of the reps. Moving Awuzie would be removing a starter at corner, only to add depth at safety. That doesn’t seem like a good allocation of resources.
There are reasons to feel good about keeping Awuzie at corner. He’s gets a bad rep at times, but he’s a better corner than some give him credit for. When it comes to knocking down passes, few on the team are better. In fact, nobody.
Recently, defensive backs trainer Clay Mack spoke candidly with Jane Slater and Bobby Belt, and what he shared was very unnerving. Under Kris Richard’s tutelage, the coaching staff was set in their ways of what techniques they wanted their players to use, and this limited the defender’s effectiveness. Awuzie’s name specifically was brought up as someone who wanted to find ways to counter some of the different releases he faced going up against Amari Cooper in practice, but he was only allowed to use one technique.
Mack adds that once opponents pick up on the team’s predictable technique, it becomes a problem. He goes on to say that if the coaches allowed their corners to attack in multiple ways, they would be fine because they are great athletes.
And that is what we are hoping for this year - better coaching. Richard is out and the team has brought in Maurice Linguist and Al Harris as their new defensive back coaches. If you’ve ever watched the Deep Blue series about the number 88 featuring a round table of Drew Pearson, Michael Irvin, and Dez Bryant, there is moment where each of them talk about the one guy who gave them the most problems. The player Bryant mentions is Al Harris.
Harris was described as “extremely smart.” In his last year in the league, playing for the Rams, he went up against Dez. In that game, Harris was actually telling Bryant what he was doing that tipped him off on how he knew where he was going. Dez described it as a teaching session. It threw him off because Harris knew all of Bryant’s breaks. Bringing over such a cerebral player to help develop the craft of these young corners will be very beneficial in helping this group grow. The Landonorian might be on to something here...
It’s time for folks to start connecting the dots btwn “Bad coaching re: Ben Bloom and Kris Richard” and “Jaylon Smith is not good” ...and maybe the same could be said for Chido— Killin' Moore (The Landonorian) (@McCoolBCB) May 11, 2020