INDIANAPOLIS — Strong safety, free safety. Who plays where?
If Indianapolis Colts head coach Chuck Pagano and defensive coordinator Greg Manusky have their way, that’s what opposing National Football League quarterbacks will be wondering this year.
Typically, veteran Antoine Bethea would be listed as the Colts’ starting free safety and newcomer LaRon Landry as the team’s starting strong safety. But when the team’s pre-season two-deep depth charts were released, the roles were reversed.
It was Bethea who was announced as the strong safety. Landry — the bruising hitter obtained as a veteran free agent from the New York Jets during the offseason — was given the free safety title.
So what gives?
“[They’re] playmakers. They can both play down in the box. They can both blitz. They’ve got [pass] coverage ability. They can play deep in coverage. They give you a ton of versatility,” Pagano explained Monday.
“It doesn’t matter [how their positions are listed]. We don’t have to say, ‘You’re the free and you’re the strong.’ They’re interchangable. [It’s] good for us and what will be hard for our opponents to kind of diagnose.”
That’s the plan, anyways.
“Hopefully, at the end of the day, they are not going to be able to tell their quarterback, ‘[Bethea] is always going to be in the middle and [Landry] is going to be down in the box.’ Both guys can play in the box. Both are good against the run. Both can cover. Both can bring pressure when you blitz them,” the Colts coach said.
For his part, Bethea admitted that he was a little surprised when he saw that he was now a strong safety. But his overall responsibilities haven’t really changed. He has experience playing closer to the line of scrimmage since he’s been with the Colts.