The legacy of Troy Polamalu looms large. Who is the next Troy Polamalu, a few names are promising. If there is an a player that represents the second coming of Polamalu - a player guided more by instinct than by scheme - it would be 49ers safety Talanoa Hufanga. Sometimes, it seems as though his instincts eclipse the playbook. If college football has introduced an even more athletic embodiment of Hufanga, it is our very own Sydney Brown.
These are the kinds of players that draw a coach's ire during practice, yet on game day, they become the secret weapons every team wishes they had. When deployed, they don't just make ordinary plays; they make drive-ending, game-defining plays. Hufanga's early trajectory, was full of mistakes yet bursting with raw talent, this is what I expect from Brown should they put him out there. The real challenge lies in balancing his aggressive playmaking ability against the potential for errors. How many missteps are tolerable when measuring his worth on the field? This challenge falls on both on Sydney and the coaching staff. Offensive coordinators would surely target Brown's overaggressiveness, as our staff did against the 49ers.
If Sydney Brown is tasked with fulfilling every duty of a modern NFL safety, he is going to give up stuff, only to follow it up with a momentum breaker, game changer. This is where PFF falls short, they don't capture the impact of players like Hufanga. Despite being ranked as the 48th best safety by PFF (even worse his rookie year), Hufanga was 1st team all-pro in his 2022 sophomore season and found a place in the NFL Top 100.
Ultimately, it will take a bold defensive coordinator to harness Brown's potential. Just as Demeco Ryans turned Hufanga into a star by taking a leap of faith, all eyes are now on Desai and his plans for Sydney Brown. Introducing Brown into this defense could work wonders, especially when paired with the likes of Reed Blankenship, who excelled in the scheme, right place at the right time - played like a veteran as a rookie everytime he was given a shot.
It really would have been something if Philly had resigned CJ Gardner-Johnson. Bring back big nickel to Philly with three distinct safety talents, opposing offenses would face a puzzle each time they took the field.