Now, I know I’m writing this prematurely and it will draw the ire of a few of you. And I’m not necessarily saying he’s better right now. But I am saying he’s close now and it could be a matter of games before we start hearing more about his play being a big boost to our secondary. Hear me out. A few weeks ago, I wrote the following when the prospect of losing Al Harris for a while came up (by the way, nice Andy, nice job here of quoting yourself…that’s something only arrogant politicians do):
“In the end, I’m OK with Tramon Williams filling in next to Woodson as the starting corner. He’s a good player and his speed could really be helpful out there not just for marking his own man, but to run down players who break free into the open field.”
Yesterday, against Seattle, on a play that would eventually be called back due to a holding penalty on Mike Wahle, Tramon Williams once again came seemingly out of nowhere and ran down Julius Jones from behind. Now, Jones isn’t the fastest RB in the world, but he’s not slow and he had a great break through our defense. A good # of RBs would have taken that one to the house. Not against Tramon. He ran him down, and nearly knocked the ball loose. With Tramon and Collins back there, I do feel our chances of giving up long TDs may be reduced because both of them have great football speed.
Tramon has done a good job of defending receivers since stepping into the starting role and he has even managed to have a few nice picks (something Harris has traditionally not been great at). But it almost seems as he gets more comfortable starting in the defensive scheme, that he is more cognizant of the play going on around him. Often rookies or new starting CBs are so hyper-conscious of the guy they’re assigned to mark that they sort of forget they’re playing as part of a larger scheme. This awareness has led to nice interceptions (1 in each of the last 3 games), but also to his ability to make tackles down the field. Against Atlanta, he had 11 tackles in a losing effort (and only a couple of Roddy White’s many receptions were against Tramon). He was absolutely all over the place – something he can do because he’s so fast. Now, he’s still not as good as both Woodson and Harris when it comes to leaving his man in anticipation of making a play on another offensive player (Harris is quite good at this, especially as a tackler and Woodson is great at this both as a tackler and an interception guy). But Tramon is at least more aware that he CAN do this from time to time.
Couple Tramon’s contributions with the unbelievable play from Charles Woodson AND the solid safetying, if you will, from Nick Collins and 3/4 of our starting secondary is more than holding its own. I agree with Brother Steve that once Bigby comes back, we could very quickly have a scary secondary (and, my guess is that the experience Rouse, Peprah, Blackmon and even Pat Lee have gotten by playing more won’t hurt down the stretch either). If the D-Line, LBs and eventually Bigby can manage to keep opponents from running all over us, I think our defense may be making a turn for the better. Also, if Harris comes back this year, whether he starts again or not, it sure won’t hurt to have him out there.
I know Seattle isn’t a great passing team (especially with a 3rd string QB who sucks and no receiving options) and that Roddy White had a field day last week, but at the very least, we should be encouraged by the play of our banged-up secondary overall and my guess is that they will only get better as the season goes on – especially when Bigby returns. The high-flying Indy offense will present a great test of my budding theory that our secondary has turned a…um…corner.