I’m going to give rival offensive coordinators and signal callers a fair warning: Do yourselves a favor. When engineering a critical offensive drive this fall against the Washington Redskins, don’t do anything stupid — like fire the football in sophomore free safety Bacarri Rambo‘s direction.
Rambo? Are we talking about the second-year Georgia product, who pulled a DeAngelo Hall nearly every time he was charged to provide coverage support last season — regardless of the coverage schematics? Most safeties are supposed to do that. It’s in their job description.
It’s true, Rambo labored through a particularly exasperating freshman year in the NFL during which his inexperience at the national level of play was evident. He balked in man coverage, exhibited indecisiveness at the point of attack, and his tackling mechanics left a lot to be desired. As a matter of fact, Rambo made such an impression on Washington’s coaching staff that he was benched three games into the season. So, why the projected breakout Rambo’s sophomore season?
Rambo was a draft day steal and could very well be Washington’s secondary sleeper this year. He was a five-star, first-team All-American and All-SEC choice free safety out of Georgia. He packs an imperial physique at six feet, 210-pounds to compliment his somewhat average arm extension (31 inches), and developed a foreboding collegiate reputation for destroying premier receivers, laying the wood on rival flankers who got too comfortable in the secondary.
In addition to being one of the nation’s best defensive back coming out of college, he also has an impressive nose for the ball when tracking it in deep coverage. The ball-hawking free safety frequently frustrated offensive coordinators, established quarterbacks and a host of the SEC’s foremost receivers during his junior season, posting eight interceptions and snagging three more during his senior year — this statistical dip was due mostly to the fact that seasoned quarterbacks wouldn’t chance firing the ball in his direction.
Though his play was questionable during his freshman season in the NFL his presence in the secondary is undeniable. Defensive coordinator Jim Haslett and secondary coach Raheem Morris have both observed considerable growth in Rambo, and says to the Washington Post that his freshman growing pains “shouldn’t have come as a surprise because of the difficulties of the position.”
“That’s going to happen for young guys,” head coach Jay Gruden further disputed. “It’s unrealistic to expect a Pro Bowler by a rookie safety. That’s hard because it’s a very difficult position. There’s a lot of checks that happen from formation checks, checks in the coverage and all that good stuff…it’s a very tough position to come in as a rookie or young kid and play. It takes a year or two or three sometimes for those guys to pick up everything.”
The sophomore safety had invaluable playing time last season before coaches told him to park it. Since then, Rambo has had quite the appetite to be schooled in the little things — defensive schematics. He has invested more time studying film better and attended his focus to tip sheets provided by Morris, basic scouting reports.
The offseason education has made Rambo quite the offensive predator. His game dips when dispatched in man coverage, but he will be a deadly factor this season if installed as a cover-1 safety roaming center field.