From the quarterback’s view, Joe Barry’s new defense will provide the opportunity for a big season from one of the Green Bay Packers’ best young defensive players.
According to reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers, third-year safety Darnell Savage is a perfect fit for Barry’s scheme, which is designed to give the ascending young safety more opportunities to use his speed and range to make plays all over the field.
“I think certain guys might see more opportunities than maybe they have in the past. One guy in particular Darnell Savage, I think has had a fantastic camp,” Rodgers told Larry McCarren of the team’s official site. “I think this defense really fits him. He’s able to be a lot more rangier. You look at his skill set, extremely athletic and fast, can cover sideline to sideline, but he’s got good instincts as well. So I think this is going to allow him to be in a position to make a lot more plays.”
Last season, Savage intercepted four passes and broke up eight others. By the end of the regular season, he was the ninth-highest rated safety in the NFL at Pro Football Focus.
Not only could Barry’s defense free up Savage to do more ranging on the backend from split-safety coverages, but he may also get extra opportunities to play down near the line of scrimmage as a star defender in the slot. Defensive backs coach Jerry Gray confirmed Savage is one of three players – with Chandon Sullivan and Jaire Alexander – expected to play snaps in the slot within Barry’s defense.
Savage, a first-round pick in 2019, could be in position for a special year. Doug Farrar of Touchdown Wire sees Savage as one of the three best safeties in football entering 2021, and now the young defensive back is playing in a new scheme that might amplify his athletic ability and playmaking instincts.
Former Packers great Nick Collins didn’t truly become a star until Year 4. Maybe the new scheme in Green Bay can help Savage skip a year and ascend to Collins’ level a season early.
Few have had a better view of Savage’s summer than Rodgers, who faced the speedy safety in Barry’s new scheme every day of camp. The Packers can only hope that opposing quarterbacks feel Savage’s presence this season like Rodgers did all summer.