Stevie Brown, FS, New York Giants
Few defensive backs in the NFL embody the term “safety” as much as Kenny Phillips. In 2011, the Giants’ centerfielder allowed zero touchdowns, 232 yards, and less than two receptions per game. He’s been even better this season, surrendering just one catch for 14 yards in four starts, for an astounding 99.0 Coverage Snaps Per Reception. When Phillips went down with a sprained MCL against the Eagles in Week 4, the Giants turned to Stevie Brown. The journeyman backup has lacked Phillips’ consistency, but he’s made up for it with his playmaking.
Against the Cowboys, Brown gave up three receptions for 43 yards, but also tallied two interceptions and a fumble recovery. His most impressive takeaway came on Dallas’ first drive, when he tracked Tony Romo’s eyes and sprinted in front of Dez Bryant’s post pattern for the pick. However, Brown was late in closing on some underneath routes, allowing Miles Austin and Jason Witten to control the middle of the field. Brown has already surrendered 158 yards in just four starts this season, but his seven takeaways lead the NFL.
Survive or Succumb? Although it’s not the type of play that they’re used to from their free safety, the Giants have to be pleased with Brown’s ballhawking style. They’ll face a dilemma once Phillips is healthy enough to return, but I’m sure it’s a problem Tom Coughlin will love to have.