It’s not exactly news for someone to declare that the Minnesota Vikings’ safety tandem of Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith is pretty damn good. But, since we like to hear people say nice things about our favorite football team, let’s talk about this recent article from the folks at Pro Football Focus.
PFF went and ranked the top ten safety duos in the National Football League, and placed the Vikings’ duo at the top of the list. Given that the two of them had the top two coverage grades in the PFF system at the safety position in the entire NFL, that’s not a surprise. Harris finished 2019 with a 91.6 coverage grade from PFF, while Smith was just slightly behind him at 91.4
The struggle has been real for opposing quarterbacks. The Vikings safeties have allowed a combined 67 receptions from 110 targets in primary coverage over the past two seasons, giving up just 797 yards in the process. More impressive, however, is the fact that they’ve surrendered only two touchdowns while coming away with 17 interceptions over that timeframe — two more interceptions than the league’s next closest safety group.
This is becoming a trend for Smith and Harris, as PFF mentions that the pair is #1 in the NFL over the past two seasons in five different categories: Coverage grade, Zone coverage grade, Coverage grade on plays with no pressure, Forced incompletion percentage, and Passer rating allowed.
This is something that I’ve said several times before this offseason, but given that the Vikings have a lot of questions at the cornerback position, it’s a good thing that they have a pair of talents like Harrison Smith and Anthony Harris at the safety position to help the youngsters out a bit. Smith might be getting a little bit older, as he’s going into his ninth season in the NFL, and Harris’ contract status is up in the air as he’s playing this season on the franchise tag. So, we can’t be sure how much longer this pairing will be patrolling the defensive backfield for the purple.
Hopefully the Vikings’ safeties can lift the rest of the young secondary in 2020 and give the defensive front the ability to get after quarterbacks and keep the Vikings’ defense among the NFL’s best. A lot of experts are expecting a rough transition, but having Anthony Harris and Harrison Smith in the backfield will make it a bit easier, I think.