- Reaction score
I think you underrate it primarily because your viewpoint is affected by his poor run defense. Go back and watch Heath's play as a free safety, either as a reserve or starter. His play there as a reserve in 2016 was the reason Dallas was comfortable letting Church go. (Again, mistakenly believing that it would somehow translate to SS.) Then when he flubbed at strong safety in 2017 and we moved him to free safety midway through the season, his play there was a highlight for the defense.
If you need some numbers to quantify it. In the first seven games of 2017, when Heath was starting at SS, he had 1 pass defense and no interceptions. After Dallas switched him and Byron, he had four passes defensed and all three of his interceptions.
Now, I don't want you to think PDs and interceptions tell the whole story because Iloka has two years where he had three interceptions. However, I think fans tend to look at those more for validation because they are not watching the safety on every play to see how his positioning in coverage forces the QB to hold to ball and throw it elsewhere. I think this aspect of Heath's game is undervalued.
If Iloka proves to be better in coverage than Heath, then I'll gladly eat my words. His play will be better defending the run, though, so that may be enough to make the move worthwhile.
No, it has nothing to do with his tackling issues. I read and trust analysts and others who have pointed out his flaws. Also, there are stats floating around, such as the Cowboys being 20th in the league at defending TEs, which partially falls on Heath.
He's a bad tackler and he's an average, and I being kind here, pass defender. There is nothing undervalued about him. He's a special teams ace and a backup S on an elite NFL team.