The acronym FS stands for free safety which is a defensive position. Free safeties are usually the deepest player in the defensive backfield and specialize in stopping the offense from completing long passes.
Free Safeties usually start the play anywhere from ten to fifteen yards back from the line of scrimmage. In some schemes, free safeties may be asked to play man coverage at the line of scrimmage.
There is only one free safety in a defense. There are two safeties on the field one being the FS and the other being the SS which stands for strong safety.
The free safety is typically a few pounds lighter than the strong safety. Since the strong safety is more involved in the run defense they need to carry more weight.
The reduced weight of free safeties allows them to keep up their speed and more effectively cover speedy wide receivers.
Learn about other positional acronyms like FS with our guide to the KOS position.
What Does A FS Do?
Now that you know that FS stands for free safety you may be wondering what exactly this position does on the field. Below we will bring down some of the most important aspects of playing the free safety position.
Stopping The Deep Pass
The main purpose of a free safety in football is to stop the opposing team from completing deep passes down the field. The free safety as we stated earlier is typically the deepest player in the defensive backfield.
On most plays, the free safety cannot allow any player to get behind him as this would leave them open for a deep touchdown.
Oftentimes the free safety will help out CBs (an acronym for cornerback) who are in man coverage. The cornerbacks will track the players across the field and if they go deep they will receive help from one of the safeties.
If there is only one safety dropped deep into the backfield it will almost always be the free safety.
This position is able to get a lot of chances at interceptions for this reason. Safeties that are able to generate turnovers by intercepting passes can be very valuable for a defense.
Last Man Back Against The Run
Another role the FS plays in the defense is often being the last man back to stop a rushing play.
Since free safeties line up the furthest from the line of scrimmage they are often the players with the last shot at tackling the running back.
When a running back gets to the safeties on a rushing play this is referred to as the third level.
Once in the third level, it is up to the safety to make the tackle in the open field. This makes tackling very important for free safeties as they can often be the difference between a long gain and a touchdown.
Tackling Receivers After The Catch
In many coverages, the cornerbacks will cover the area underneath the wide receiver while the safeties will cover the area over top. On these plays, the cornerbacks can often find themselves beaten by the wide receiver after they catch the ball.
In these instances, the free safety is again going to be one of the few defenders that can stop this player from scoring a touchdown.
Free safeties will often have to make tackles when cornerbacks miss their man or the receiver caught his pass in the third level of the defense.