"Sir, there's an angry mob here to see you."

One of the great things about the internets is that no matter how shortsighted, ill-informed and just plain ridiculous your kneejerk overreaction to a given event might be, you're never more than a few clicks away from a number of people who are more than happy to reinforce your belief that the reaction was actually perfectly reasonable. This comes in especially handy for sports fans after a particularly tough loss.

Everybody's pissed off and amped up, and everybody's fair game for lashing out at. You can pull pretty much anything out of your ass, and as long as it's sufficiently angry, you're sure to get several high fives and offers to light your torch or loan you a pitchfork.

In fact, your main problem is likely to be numerous attempts to one-up you by fellow members of your own ad hoc angry mob. Lots of sports fans seem to think that it's some kind of testament to their own bona fides as a diehard fan to pitch the biggest hissy fit. See, the farther you fly off the handle, the more it shows you really care.

That one-upsmanship is what causes "Boy, the defense sure sucked today." to become "Boy, the defense sure sucks!!!"

"They sure missed a lot of tackles on that Lynch run." becomes "Nobody on this defense tackles worth a shit!" and then eventually "Maybe it wouldn't be so bad if Gregg Williams left, because his obsession with stripping the ball is a big part of the problem."

And it inevitably ends up with a very vocal subset of fans wanting to throw half the players on the 4th-ranked defense in the league off the team, hire a new defensive coordinator and switch to a fuckin' 34. Because it worked really well 20 years ago.

They'll tell you that they're "just venting" and they'll get over it eventually. The problem isn't the venting itself. Hell, sometimes it can be incredibly amusing to watch. The problem is the getting over it part. Because all too often they don't.

It's the emotional highs and lows that really stick with you, and the kneejerk reactions spawned during those moments end up sticking with you too. And the remnants of those reactions and subsequent venting end up hardening into a full-blown fervently-defended "position" on whatever the issue might have been.

And before you know it, the ad hoc angry mob reorganizes as a full-blown semipermanent splinter faction, complete with the clever slogans and talking points memos and, of course, a complete disregard for fact-checking.

Witness the current anti-Roman Harper movement. The Strong Safetea Party, if you will.

If you've stumbled upon one of their recent rallies, and haven't been paying close enough attention to what's really been going on, you'd be hard-pressed not to walk away convinced that Roman Harper blows. And that's only if you were fortunate enough to encounter one of their more moderate members. The high-strung guy over there by the petition booth is pretty sure Harper must be removed from the Saints' defense immediately, by any means necessary, before he can see to it that your children go prematurely gray.

I have no idea whether or not Harper really hates your freedom (such that it is) nor whether or not that scanned copy of his birth certificate which proves he's not even an American citizen is genuine. I'm gonna go out on a limb though and assume that it's probably bullshit.

What I'm absolutely certain is bullshit is the ridiculous notion that Roman Harper blows.

Let's start with some easy ones. Harper led the league among defensive backs with 6 forced fumbles in 2010. And he tied for 2nd in the league among all defensive players in FFs with linebacker James Harrison and defensive ends James Hall and Justin Tuck. The only player in the league with more FFs than Harper was Osi Umenyiora with 10.

He tied for 5th among all defensive backs and 4th among safeties with 3 sacks, only one off the league lead.

He led the league among safeties with 9 quarterback hits.

He was 2nd in the league among safeties, and only one off the league lead, in PFF's proprietary "Stops" stat. (Just to reiterate, PFF defines a "Stop" as any solo tackle which results in a net failure for the opposing offense.)

Roman Harper doesn't just not blow. He's not even just good. He's one of the very best in the league.

"Yeah but Wang, nobody denies that he's a good 'in the box' strong safety. But he's still a safety. He's still a defensive back. And defensive backs need to be able to cover receivers. The problem with Harper is that he's so one-dimensional. In coverage, he's Jason David. Didn't you see how Seattle abused him in the playoffs?"

Of course I saw the Seattle game. And I'm not gonna sit here and try to tell you that Roman Harper is good in coverage.

Or am I?

According to PFF, Harper was thrown at 39 times in 2010 and 22 of those passes were completed. That's a 56.4% completion percentage against, which was 22nd in the league among all safeties and 9th among strong safeties. This just in: that's pretty damn good.

He gave up 179 receiving yards on the season, also good for 22nd in the league among all safeties. And of the 21 guys who gave up fewer yards than Harper, 17 of them logged significantly fewer snaps than Harper did, and all 21 of them were thrown at fewer times than Harper was.

He was 11th in the league among strong safeties with 9 passes defended. And he was 11th in the league among all safeties with a 57.5 passer rating against.

Passes completed against Harper went for 8.1 yards per, which was 2nd in the league among all safeties. The longest pass completed against him was 23 yards, tied for 6th in the league among all safeties. He allowed exactly zero passing touchdowns in the regular season.

Or in other words, even at the "weak" part of his game, he not only doesn't blow, he's actually very good.

"Yeah but those coverage stats are misleading because Harper's always up near the line of scrimmage at the snap, and always covers short underneath routes usually against tailbacks and tight ends. He's very rarely asked to cover wideouts deep, and when he is, he sucks at it. Go watch that Seattle game again."

Yeah and Garrett Hartley probably isn't very good at punting either. Because he's not a punter. Which is why they rarely ask him to punt. See how that works? And if Morstead had been injured and unavailable to play in the Seattle game (like Malcolm Jenkins was) Hartley would have been forced into a role he's not accustomed to (like Roman Harper was) and he probably would have had a pretty bad day as well.

This is why it's a bad idea for your "positions" on issues to be based on anecdotal observations. Because the memorable ones are always the outliers, the ones that least reflect the overall truth of the matter. And if you don't bother to fact-check, you end up taking "positions" that are ridiculously out of line with reality.

Meantime, if you're waiting for the Saints to find a strong safety who can rush the passer like a defensive end, thump tailbacks like a linebacker and cover wideouts like a fuckin' nickel corner… well, more power to ya, I guess. Good luck with all that. The only problem is that, well, they don't exist.

In fact, the argument could be made that the closest thing to a "complete" safety in the league right now is… uh… Roman Harper.

"Oh Jesus, come on Wang. Surely you're not about to try to convince me that Harper is the best safety in the league."

That's not what I said. I said it could be argued that Harper is the most complete safety in the league. Allow me to demonstrate.

(Fair warning: I'm going to use PFF's Player Ratings for this. Call bullshit if you must. I don't take them as gospel and I don't expect you to either. But, unlike you or I, the folks at PFF don't give enough of a shit about the Saints or Roman Harper to slant their ratings to the positive or the negative. There's no bias or agenda here.)

Harper's overall rating is 11th in the league among all safeties, SS and FS. Incidentally, his overall score was brought down significantly by the fact that he was penalized 5 times. If it weren't for the penalties, his overall rating would have been 4th in the league, higher than Ed Reed and Troy Polamalu. Just sayin'.

Anyway, the overall rating is broken down into "sub-ratings" on pass rush, run defense and pass coverage. Of the 10 guys whose overall rating was higher than Harper's, not a single one of them is better than Harper in all three subcategories. Their overall ratings are higher because their strengths are stronger than Harper's. For example, Ed Reed is obviously a lot better at coverage than Harper is, and Harper's superiority at rushing the passer and defending the run isn't enough to make up the difference. And look, I'm not nearly a big enough idiot to assert that Roman Harper is better than Ed Reed. He's not. Follow the nuance here.

What I'm saying is that Roman Harper does something better than every last one of them. Each one of them has a weakness in their game where they're not as good as Harper at that particular facet of the game.

Harper's better than Quintin Mikell at rushing the passer.
He's better than Michael Huff at run defense.
He's better than Eric Weddle at pass rush and coverage.
He's better than Ed Reed at rushing the passer and run defense.
He's better than Troy Polamalu at rushing the passer.
He's better than Danieal Manning at rushing the passer and run defense.
He's better than Dawan Landry at rushing the passer.
He's better than Yeremiah Bell at coverage and run defense.
He's better than Kenny Phillips at rushing the passer.
And he's better than Gerald Sensabaugh at rushing the passer and run defense.

The point? If you're looking for some kind of magical safety who "does it all" better than Roman Harper, well, he doesn't exist. Or at least he doesn't currently play in the NFL.

Or in other words, while Harper might not be "the best" at any one thing (although I would argue that he is in fact the best "in the box" safety in the league, when you combine run defense and pass rush, and Yeremiah Bell is only a marginally-close second) he has the fewest and/or least glaring weaknesses of any safety in the league. Which in my opinion qualifies him as at least arguably the "most complete" safety in the league.

And yet, all we hear from Saints fans is how "one-dimensional" he is. Go figure.

So yeah, I suppose we ought to kick him off the team and drop $40MM on a free agent like the Giants did last year with Antrel Rolle (who blows.) Or maybe we can drop Eric Berry money (6 yrs/$60MM) on one of them there draft season leprechauns with the fluid hips, who will surely lead the league in everything right from day one just like Eric Berry did.

Or we could just get the fuck over Seattle already and dance a merry jig like we oughta when Loomis signs Harper to what's probably going to be a comparatively modest new contract for a legit two-time Pro Bowler in the prime of his career who happens to fit perfectly into Gregg Williams' defense.

Think you can put the torches and pitchforks down and join the rest of us over here in the real world long enough to do that, champ?

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