With many players hit with the injury bug, it’s created opportunities for players to see the spotlight. Hybrid safety Jordan Whitehead took full advantage of the opportunity and stepped up. He put his name on the map last year by forcing a game changing fumble in the conference championship game. While Whitehead hasn’t been the talk of the town, he has been playing at a high level for a long time now, and this attention is long overdue.
Versatility is Key
Calling Jordan Whitehead a safety is over simplifying his critical role when he is on the field. In a traditional game, it isn’t uncommon to see him play free safety, linebacker, and slot corner all game long. Todd Bowles uses Whitehead wherever he needs him, whenever he needs him.
Lining up in different places doesn’t seem to make Whitehead hard to find because he is always at the ball.
As a player, Whitehead is simply a heat seeking missile and is always around the ball. Coming out of college, the scouting reports were full of “not fast enough” “short arms and small hands” and “not ideal height”. His game speed completely conflicts to his 40-yard dash, as he is able to pursue the ball carrier with exceptional effort and always seems to be in on the tackle. His greatest ability he possesses is his ability to get through “traffic” and make a play on the ball carrier. But Jordan Whitehead is also a very physical player, being able to bring down any type of ball carrier. He’s not a perfect player, as he struggles with missed tackles and could use improvement in overall coverage.
Whitehead started out the day with a brutal hit on 6’5 Cam Newton, resulting in no gain. Later that drive, He found himself in the right place at the right time and picked off Newton after a deflection by Shaq Barrett. Jordan Whitehead may have not been responsible for the interception, but it was a perfect symbol for how well he played in coverage. On 36 coverage snaps, he only allowed 2 catches for 8 yards and added a pass breakup to his stat line. In the run game, he also shined with 6 solo tackles and 2 assists. This game like the rest he was playing everywhere and even recorded a pressure on one of his six edge snaps. He was all over the place on every play and was a big reason why the Panthers never got into the end zone.
Jordan Whitehead (@jwhite_333) was EVERYWHERE on Sunday in Carolina. He really did it all, take a closer look. #Bucsfilm2021wk16 pic.twitter.com/sOS4Nhkcas
— Steven Cheah (@StevenCheah) December 29, 2021
With Antoine Winfield Jr coming back to practice and Jamel Dean and Sean Murphy-Bunting being put on the Covid-19 list, Whitehead’s role could significantly change vs the Jets. The one guarantee is that he will play most defensive snaps like he has when healthy this season. Jordan Whitehead has been a valuable asset all year and is definitely a player you should keep your eye on.