What is a strong safety in American Football?

What is a Strong Safety In Football?

American football is a physically difficult sport due to the numerous positions and duties on the field. One of the most crucial positions on defense is strong safety.

Here at Cleats Hub, we’ll go over what strong safety is, what it does, and why it’s such an important part of a team’s defensive strategy.

What is A Strong Safety?  

Strong safety is a defensive position in American football that covers the middle of the field. They are responsible for stopping runs, screens, and short passes.

Furthermore, they are the last line of defense before the end zone and are often situated on the strong side of the field, which has the majority of offensive players.

Responsibilities of a Strong Safety  

Role of a Strong Safety

The main job of strong safety is to help stop the run. Whether they are a running back or a quarterback, they must be able to understand the offense and react quickly to the person with the ball.

They have to be good at a lot of different things because they also have to guard tight ends, running backs, and slot receivers.

Another important job of a strong safety is to help with pass defense. They have to be able to tell what kind of play is being run and then change their coverage to match.

Strong safeties also need to talk to the other members of the defense to let them know about any possible threats and change the defense as needed.

The strong safety is also in charge of making tackles and covering both the run and the pass. They are often the last line of defense before the end zone, so they need to be good at tackling.

Strong Safety Types

Types of Strong Safeties

There are various strong safeties in American football, each with a distinct set of abilities and responsibilities. Strong safeties come in a variety of forms, some of which you can encounter on the pitch:  

  • Box safety
    Box safety is a term for a strong safety who spends most of their time in the box, near the line of scrimmage. Their main job is to stop the run, but they may also have to rush the quarterback or cover a tight end. 
  • Cover safety
    A Cover Safety is a strong safety whose main job is to cover passes. Depending on the defensive strategy, they might line up far back in the secondary or closer to the line of scrimmage. Their main job is to guard the tight ends and receivers, but they might also be asked to help stop the run.
  • Hybrid safety
    A hybrid safety is a strong safety who can also play other positions, like linebacker or nickel cornerback. Because they can do a lot of different things, they are good at a lot of different defensive strategies.
  • In-the-box safety|
    An in-the-box safety is a strong safety who lines up near the line of scrimmage and is responsible for stopping the run. They might be asked to cover a tight end or rush the quarterback.
  • Run-support safety
    A run-support safety is a strong safety who is great at stopping the run. They are strong players who can get around blocks and make tackles in the open field.

Skills Required for Strong Safeties 

Skills Required for a Strong Safety

In American football, safety is a crucial position that calls for a set of abilities and understanding to succeed. The following are some abilities needed for strong safety in American football:  

  • Physical Fitness: To cover the field and make tackles, strong safeties need to be physically fit, with strength, speed, and agility.  
  • Technique: To succeed in their position, strong safeties need to be proficient in a variety of skills, including tackling, coverage, and footwork.  
  • Communication: To make sure that everyone is on the same page regarding defensive strategies and coverage responsibilities, strong safeties must be able to effectively communicate with their teammates, particularly linebackers and cornerbacks.  
  • Vision: Strong safeties need to be extremely alert and have a perceptive vision to swiftly identify offensive plays and respond appropriately.  
  • Leadership: Strong safeties must be role models on the field, inspiring and guiding their colleagues to successfully carry out the defensive game plan.  

Techniques Used by a Strong Safety 

Techniques Used By A SS

In American football, strong safety is in charge of covering the field and preventing the opposition’s players from gaining ground.

Strong safeties employ a variety of strategies to succeed in achieving this. In American football, powerful safeties employ the following strategies:  

  • Tackling
    Strong safeties must be adept at tackling because their main responsibility is to prevent the opponent’s players from getting yards. They must be able to forcefully tackle runners and make open-field tackles.  
  • Coverage
    Powerful safeties need to be able to cover running backs, tight ends, and receivers. They must be adept at man-to-man and zone coverage and be aware of their place in the defensive plan.  
  • Read and React
    Strong safety players must have the ability to read the opposing offense and react accordingly. To act swiftly and change their position on the field, they must instantly recognize offensive plays, routes, and patterns.  
  • Filling Gaps
    To support the linebackers and defensive linemen during the run game, strong safeties must fill in empty spaces on the field. They need to have the ability to close gaps and stop runners from moving down the pitch.  
  • Blitzing
    Blitzing the quarterback or the opposition’s offense may require the use of strong safeties. To pressure the quarterback or force a turnover, they must be able to time their blitz and execute it well.  
  • Ball Skills
    Strong safeties need to be extremely skilled with the ball, including having the capacity to intercept passes, take down balls, and recover fumbles.   

Top Strong Safety in NFL History  

Top Strong Safeties

Numerous talented players have held strong safety positions in NFL history. The top five strong safeties in NFL history are listed below.  

1. Ronnie Lott  

Ronnie Lott is thought to be one of the best defensive backs in NFL history. He played football for the San Francisco 49ers in the 1980s and helped them win four Super Bowls.

Second, Lott was a versatile player who could play both safety and cornerback. He was known for being tough and for hitting hard. He had a successful career, as he picked off 63 passes and ran back five of them for touchdowns.

2. Troy Polamalu  

Troy Polamalu was the best player on the Pittsburgh Steelers for more than ten years. He was in the Pro Bowl six times and helped the Steelers win two Super Bowls.

Polamalu was also known as a great athlete who could figure out what the offense was doing. By the end of his career, he had 32 interceptions, and he returned three of them for touchdowns.

3. Brian Dawkins  

Safety Brian Dawkins was a tough opponent in the National Football League. He played for the Denver Broncos and the Philadelphia Eagles. He was chosen for nine Pro Bowls and helped the Eagles win the Super Bowl in 2005.

Dawkins was also admired for how hard he tried to tackle and how in charge he was on the field. He was good. In his career, he made 37 interceptions and scored four touchdowns by returning them.

4. Ken Houston  

Ken Houston played for the Houston Oilers and the Washington Redskins from 1967 to 1980. Second, he played in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Bowl a total of 12 times in his career.

Houston was also well-known for his versatility and exceptional tackling abilities. He was a return specialist with 49 interceptions over his career.

5. John Lynch  

John Lynch played for the Buccaneers, Broncos, and Patriots between 1993 and 2007. He was voted to the Pro Bowl nine times and won the Super Bowl.

Lynch’s harsh play and roughness earned him a reputation. His 26 career interceptions demonstrate his excellence as a cover player.

Top Strong Safeties with The Most Interceptions in NFL History

When talking about the top strong safeties in the NFL, we can’t do without talking about Paul Krause. Krause was a specialist safety who played for the Washington Redskins for three season before moving to the Minnesota Vikings where he spent his remaining career.

He holds the record for most number of interceptions with 81 and a yardage return of 1,185 with 3 touchdowns during his career.

RankPlayer No. Of Interceptions
1Paul Krause81
2Emlen Tunnell79
3Rod Woodson71
4Night Train Lane68
5Charles Woodson
Ken Riley
6Ed Reed64
7Darren Sharper
Ronnie Lott
8Dave Brown
Dick LeBeau
9Emmitt Thomas58
10Eugene Robinson
Everson Walls
Mel Bount
Johnny Robinson
Bobby Boyd
Data collected from statmuse.com


In American football, strong safety is more than simply a catchy term, as we’ve learned. Someone tough, brave, and willing to put their body on the line for the team is needed for this position.  

So there you have it, folks, the lowdown on what an American football’s strong safety is.

We salute all the strong safeties out there who are leaving their impact on the game since this is a position that calls for courage, guts, and perseverance. 

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