Tampa Bay Buccaneers

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The Answer Man, Vol. 3

With the mail piling up faster than expected, the fans' inside source at One Buc Place returns to answer five questions, ranging from safety definitions to roster omissions


Dwight Smith plays strong safety for the Buccaneers, and that means...uh...um...help?

And Answer Man thought this would be a part-time gig.

The ol' (e)mailbag was bursting this week, making it nearly impossible for the Answer Man to take care of his other jobs at One Buc Place (i.e. sharpening cleats and polishing free weights). But, hey, it's the will of the people...

And the people are sending in missives from as far away as Anchorage Alaska and regarding issues as far back as the early '80s. Since Answer Man doesn't have every single answer on the tip of his tongue (shocking, I know), I sometimes have to track down the experts around the building. Subsequently, I can't get to everyone, but I'll take a stab at five questions this week, my highest total yet.

Who knows? I may have to dip into the mailbag twice a week from now on!

Anyway, on to this week's questions, all sent in through my own personal page on Buccaneers.com. Visit there if you'd like and send me a question, or submit one for a player or coach. We'll get more video answers from Buccaneer players and coaches later this week.


1. Jorge Hernandez of Yuma, Arizona asks:

What is the difference between strong and free safety?

Answer Man: That's an excellent question, Jorge, though you might be surprised how basic the answer is. Answer Man thought he had a good feel for the answer, but he asked Defensive Backs Coach Mike Tomlin just to be sure. The brevity of Tomlin's answer surprised me.

"The strong safety lines up on the tight end's side," said Tomlin. "The free safety lines up on the other side."


Well, that's about it, really. The strong safety plays on (naturally) the strong side of the offense. In a base set, that's on the side where the tight end lines up at the end of the offensive line. In other sets, such as three-receivers or two-tight ends, the strong safety still lines up on the strong side; that is, the side of the offense with the most receivers split out beyond the offensive line.

In the Buccaneers' defense, there truly is little difference between the two positions. In fact, it might surprise you to know that John Lynch was actually playing free safety last year, even though he was generally thought of as a strong safety. Thus, Jermaine Phillips is the Bucs' starter at free this year and Dwight Smith is on the strong side. If you don't believe us, check out the depth chart. The Buccaneers ask much of the same thing out of both safeties.

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