Strong Safety vs. Free Safety

football
Damon J. Mortiz/Wikimedia

There are two "safety" positions on the defense in the game of football. Sometimes their jobs overlap, but many times they are assigned very distinct roles in the defense. These positions include a strong safety (SS) and a free safety (FS). Safeties tend to line up 10-15 yards in front of the line of scrimmage, and the tasks they have to complete often depend on the defensive scheme at hand.

Offense and Defense Positions

In American and Canadian football, the defense team also includes positions (from left to right from the perspective of the offense) including the Cornerback, Outside Linebacker, End, Tackle, and Middle Linebacker, with the rest of the line mirroring back with the Tackle, End, Outside Linebacker, and Cornerback.

The offense is different as it has a Wide Receiver, Tackle, Guard, Center, Guard, Tackle, Tight End and Wide Receiver with a Quarterback, Fullback/Running Back, and Halfback/Running Back. This type of formation is called an "I formation" for the offense and a 4-3 formation for the defense.

Strong Safety

The strong safety is more tuned into the running game on the whole. He's a linebacker with the speed of a safety and has to cover receivers, but also has to be a strong force on a running play. The position of a strong safety is usually in the middle of the field, on the strong side of the formation. Typically, these defenders stay close to the line of scrimmage and are involved in putting a halt to the run as well as guarding the tight end on passing plays.

Free Safety

The free safety, on the other hand, is the last line of defense on the football field. He's more of a pass-minded defender, and his job is to sit back, survey, and attack where needed.

However, with the sophistication of some offenses, he will inevitably be required to "fill" on running plays, as he's often the only one unblocked.

How a Safety Is Scored

A safety is scored in a few different types of scenarios when it comes to American football. For example, a ball carrier can be tackled in his own end zone, or a foul can be committed by the offense in their own end zone.

The ball can also become dead in the end zone, except in an incomplete forward pass, and the defending team is held responsible for it being there.

The primary job for safety, being on defense, is to keep the offense from scoring at all costs. The team works together as a whole to tackle offense members, intercept the ball, and make sure the offense doesn't move the ball close enough to their goal so that a scoring opportunity isn't easily available.

Safeties can have a huge impact on the result of games despite having a point less on the scorecard. This is due to their position on the field. It's not a common way to score in football, but it happens about once a week during every football season.