Brian Dawkins Says He'd Want to be a Linebacker in this Version of the NFL
We had Brian Dawkins on Monday’s episode of Crossing Broadcast. It was a two-part interview, first promoting his collaboration with Jordan Spector at Spector Sports Art. The pair teamed up for a limited-edition Weapon X trading card, which comes in a really cool box and looks like this:
In the second part of the interview, we got a little bit into the Birds and the contemporary NFL, and I asked B Dawk if he’d enjoy playing safety in 2023.
Crossing Broad: I’m interested if you would like to play in the type of defense you see in the NFL these days. It’s a little bit of a different approach. They’re focused on preventing the big play. There’s more zone than man. You see conservative approaches from coordinators and head coaches as well and I’m curious, you looking at that as a safety, if that’s something you’d be interested in.
Dawkins: So in today’s NFL, I would want to be a linebacker. I wouldn’t want to be a safety. Safety, you don’t really do anything in today’s NFL. You’re covering deep, staying deep, maybe you make some interceptions, but that was not the totality of my game. I was blessed to do so many things in Jim Johnson’s scheme. That’s Weapon X, right? Being able to do a lot of different things. Jim used me and moved me all over the field because of my skill set. Now I’m not saying you don’t have players who can’t still do that, they’re just not necessarily used that way. It takes the imagination of a defensive coordinator to see that they have a dude that can be used in all these ways, so you then call the number of that individual in a lot of different ways, a lot of instances. Why? Because he has the skill set. I loved my generation of safeties. I loved Troy (Polamalu), I loved Ed (Reed). And Troy is different than Ed. Ed still would have been Ed, doing his deep stuff, but Troy, closer to the line of scrimmage, you were able to do more things with him, especially in today’s system’s and today’s schemes.
CB: Almost how Jim Schwartz used Malcolm Jenkins here. Walk him down to the line, box safety, flexibility.
Dawkins: Yeah, similar. Similar. But in Jim’s system, safeties are still cover guys. He blitzed every once in a while from a safety position, but it was literally your linebackers and defensive line. If you’re in that system, you want to be a defensive lineman. They are featured. All of the stunts and everything, that’s for defensive linemen to get home. It’s not a whole lot of blitzing by the linebackers in some of those systems. You’re talking about Jim Schwartz, that’s literally for the front seven. If you’re a D-lineman, you love that system. If you’re a safety, and you have a lot of things you can do, not so much.
It’s crazy to think about. Could you imagine having B Dawk on your team and he just sits back in Cover 2, preventing the big play. It would be sacrilegious. And he’s right about that generation of safeties. B Dawk, Polamalu, Reed, Darren Sharper, Adrian Wilson, Rodney Harrison, John Lynch. Those dudes could PLAY.
Here’s the interview: