Eagles Wake-Up Call: ‘Everything’s Open’ For Earl Wolff

When mini-camp was wrapping up last week, Eagles assistant coaches John Lovett and Todd Lyght had a message for the team’s safeties.

“Everything’s open,” said rookie Earl Wolff. “Things are not going to be solidified until we put the pads on and everybody really shows what they can do.”

A fifth-round pick in April’s draft, that was just what Wolff wanted to hear. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung saw the most action with the first team this spring, but Wolff began to mix in with the starters last week.

Chip Kelly’s practices slow down for no one. As soon as he stepped onto the field at the NovaCare Complex, Wolff was facing an up-tempo offense and had to react to players constantly shifting and motioning. That took some getting used to.

“When you’re first learning, you like to lock in: Ok, I’m down [in the box] right now,” Wolff explained. “Then you see a motion or shift, you’re like, ‘Oh man.’ At first, it was tricky. But now I kind of know what to adjust to in certain situations. As fast as we do it, all it’s going to do is help me. It’s going to help me in the games because our offense is fast and does a lot of motions and shifts. I feel like in the game, it’s going to come easy.”

Wolff said the scheme isn’t all that different from the one he played in at N.C. State, but there are always new wrinkles. As a senior, Wolff played in the box a lot, but the Eagles’ safeties are currently lining up left/right, not strong/free. That means both guys will be expected to perform a variety of tasks like covering tight ends, defending the run and playing center field.

Of the seven safeties currently on the roster, Wolff is the only one who has never started an NFL game. Four – Allen, Chung, Kurt Coleman and Kenny Phillips – have at least 25 starts under their belts. So when Wolff has questions, he has plenty of places to find answers.

He remembers Phillips specifically offering a tip about how to play as a force defender, the player responsible for funneling the runner back inside.

“He said, ‘Earl, what will make you a better player is if you know your alignments,'” Wolff recalled. “He said coaches set those alignments to allow you to make better plays. For example, if you’re inside and you have force, then that’s going to be a problem. If you have force, you’re supposed to be outside. He said your alignment means a lot, and it can help you make plays, but it can also mess you up. So that’s what we’re working on now, making sure I know the alignment.”

Safety is probably the most wide-open position on the defense. Wolff is hoping to soak up all the advice, make an impression at training camp and earn some playing time as a rookie.

WHAT YOU MISSED

Here’s my depth chart projection for the Eagles’ offense.

T-Mac offers perspective on Michael Vick and explains why a QB controversy is inevitable.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

DeSean Jackson talked to NFL Network about the Eagles’ QB situation:

“[Michael] Vick and [Nick] Foles have been switching off [with] first team [and] second team. So it is the same thing with them. I have been hearing some things about Vick saying that he wants to know. At the same time, the team wants to know too. We need to go into training camp prepared and know who is going to be our starting quarterback. Whether it is Foles or Vick, I think they would both do a great job and we will be ready for the season.”

Les Bowen of the Daily News offers his thoughts on whether Eagles players are buying in:

How do they feel, deep down, about the individual smoothies and the brusque, frantic practice pace and the request that they get 10 hours of sleep a night? We don’t know. Maybe three years from now, somebody will be telling funny smoothie stories at a banquet.

But one thing that really is clear is that Kelly has the hammer. Anybody that seriously chafes at his methods right now is writing his own ticket out of town, and unless there is a contract dispute, that is something players very rarely wish to do. Generally they prefer the known to the unknown. Their wives and girlfriends don’t like moving (and some players would tell you it’s really hard to move both of ‘em!)

COMING UP

We’ll take a look at what we learned about the Eagles’ offense this spring.

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  • Damien

    Anyone else read this while playing “Hungry Like the Wolf” in the background? Just me? Ok.

    • knighn

      Well now I do!

    • cliff henny

      i hear Mr Wolf from Pulp Fiction…i think fast, i talk fast, so pretty please, with sugar on top, know the correct f’n alignment

      • nicksaenz1

        “Do you know why it’s called a Royale with Cheese, Brad?”

        • cliff henny

          if i ever get another German Shepherd Dog, i’m going to name it Marcallus Wallace…just so i can train it to bark after i say ‘what does Marcallus Wallace look like? and he barks…say what? bark…say what one more time? bark…i double dare you..bark

          • TheCatalyst

            “Does he look like a bitch?”
            “Actually yes, yes he does…”

          • nicksaenz1

            It’d almost have to be a Shepherd with a command sequence like that.

          • cliff henny

            trick is to teach the dog to bark when you point. my last one ended up knowing about 20 hand commands.

          • nicksaenz1

            That takes a patience I lack.

          • cliff henny

            to train a GSD? run him good for 30 mins, get to quiet area, show him what you want…then maybe 5 takes, he’s got it. mine went thru a 1st yr dog training book-40 weeks of lessons in 2. knew i was in trouble, lol.

          • nicksaenz1

            I also don’t have a GSD. Got a boxer/lab, who acts very much like a lab. Play, play, squirrel! Play, play… you get it.

      • JofreyRice

        If this guy is as good at solving problems as Winston Wolf, we can start taking out the trash in the secondary right now.

        • cliff henny

          how great would it be if wolff became a great edge blitzer…and after every hit on the qb, the jumbo-tron cut to Wallace saying…”i’m sending the wolff”

          • TheCatalyst

            Or you could just call him Wolff Blitzer…
            You had that joke right there in your hands and let it slip away.

  • MediaMike

    Considering that Chung allowed Manningham to be “open” over the top for a garbage pass via his slow and poor safety help, I like the word choice. Thanks again for ruining the Superbowl and letting the Giants win Chung!

    • Maggie

      Right. One play lost the game. Grow up.

      • MediaMike

        BS. Anything having to do with me watching the worst human beings on planet earth get to celebrate a Super Bowl win twice in four years due to lucky plays is not acceptable. Chung breaking up that play would have done wonders for shutting up those blue idiots from New York.

  • Scott J

    The safety competition is like a race between minivans.

    • knighn

      Souped-up minivans?

  • Dutch

    Hopefully this kid impresses. Half the battle is knowing where to line up so he sounds as if he has that part figured out. Now we need for find out if he’s a toll taker.

  • nicksaenz1

    I really hope he does well. A lot of fans wanted a safety drafted much sooner than the 5th, so having this guy pan out would certainly serve as a vote of confidence in the new strategy being employed by the FO.

    • JofreyRice

      Yeah, and a lot of fans said “oh, stop complaining that we didn’t draft a safety sooner”. It’s a difficult problem for the defense to have its last level defenders be incompetent and ineffective. If Wolff works out, great, but I can’t endorse the offhand way they tried to address the situation; he’s more likely to be CJ Gaddis than a starter.

      • B-West

        Dude, stop complaining that we didn’t draft a safety sooner.

        • GEagle

          Philly will be very happy with Earl Wolff

      • nicksaenz1

        So you’re saying that regardless of whether or not he pans out, they employed a bad strategy during the draft, or a bad strategy all together because we didn’t get a safety in FA? Don’t think I’m fully following you, here.

        • JofreyRice

          That’s exactly what I’m saying. I think it’s a bad strategy to have to hope a 5th round rookie is good enough to start when you fielded probably the worst safety tandem in the league, the year previously.

          • nicksaenz1

            Which one is exactly what you’re saying? There were two choices.

  • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

    Sheil, you left out the juiciest part of the DeSean interview:

    Jackson admits that the competition between Vick and Nick Foles is a close one.

    “I don’t know, it has been kind of even,” Jackson said.

    The fact that DeSean (big Vick fan) thinks its even, coupled with the fact that its a 2nd year player going against a 10 year vet, makes me wonder how even it is.

    • knighn

      “I’ve been there before
      And I’ll try it again
      But any fool knows
      That there’s no way to win
      Here we go again…”
      – Ray Charles

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        Thought I’d stir the hornets nest since my Wednesday is pretty much wide open.

    • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

      Whole Quote: “”It has been kind of even,” Jackson said. “[Michael] Vick
      and [Nick] Foles have been switching off [with] first team [and] second
      team. I think they would both do a great job and we will be ready for
      the season.””

      In other words…a non-answer.

      Folk need to stop reading into anything anyone says on the QB issue. They are called stock answers for a reasons.

      • southy

        exactly. it doesn’t matter what DJax thinks; he’s going to say that the competition is even until the coaches make a choice. would that Vick would learn from this and just give boring answers. people wouldn’t be all over his &*$# about it all the time.

        • cliff henny

          damned if you do, damned if you dont… but in the end, Vick probably should have just taken the latter, especially since he was heading out of town for 6 weeks.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        If Foles is a bad as you say he is, it shouldn’t even be close enough to have to give a stock answer.

        • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

          Way to miss the point.

          DJax is NOT going to give a comment on that question that could in anyway step on Kelly’s toes or make it seem like he’s going against The Plan.

          That would be a bit of career suicide for him.

          Hell, Sanchez sucked and Tebow sucked and you were hard pressed to find a Jets player who would go on record to say either – it’s not something you do. Jax can’t predict what Kelly is going to do – he may like one dude, Kelly names another and now hes screwed cause he spoke in public about something he had no control over.

          I know so many folk want desperately for Vick not to be here – but that will work itself out eventually – reading into a bunch of stock responses to see something will only make it harder on you if the choice doesn’t go the way you want it to.

          • Andy124

            For this specific comment from DJ, I completely agree. This is exactly the kind of a non-answer players should be giving. It tells us absolutely nothing, which is exactly the way it should be.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            You’re completely contradicted by what DeSean said later in the article. If he’s so worried about giving stock answers and stepping on the coaches toes, why would he go out and questions Chips decision to wait to name the starting QB?

          • http://abigbuttandasmile.com/ A Big Butt and a Smile

            Saying you would like a QB to be named starter before camp is NOT the same thing as saying which QB you want to be named starter before camp.

            You are smart enough to recognize the difference.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Questioning a coaches decision is questioning a coaches decision. Saying who you think might be winning a QB competition is harmless. Telling a coach how he should do his job? Big no no.

          • PhEaglesPhan

            Dude your original reply to his comment was unnecessary, no where in there did he mention Foles was bad. You simply attacked based on past post history, which makes you a troll for trying to bring it out. You are the kind of dude who makes a comment section terrible when you insist on starting an argument. Please just stop, be a man and stop.

          • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

            Oh please, she can give as good as she takes. I doubt she needs you to defend her. Nowhere did I personally attack her. I don’t think she will deny she thinks Foles is not a good QB.

            It’s not an argument, it’s a debate.

          • theycallmerob

            Wee bit of hypocrisy in that response

          • Andy124

            I can definitely understand that interpretation. It didn’t come off that way to me though. It sounded like DJ was trying his best not to step on anybody’s toes.

            He wanted to make Vick’s comments sound as non-controversial as he could, thus “Sure, we’d all like to know” but didn’t even begin to ask Kelly to make a decision or suggest that he should.

          • theycallmerob

            I personally think you’re spot on with that analysis.

          • Phils Goodman

            Forreal. It’s time for everyone to hold their horses on this QB stuff until a decision comes down in September.

          • cliff henny

            with you on letting it play out, but waiting till sept is too long for me. 1, media will be out of control circling buzzards by then. local and national. vick still has country wide appeal-pos and neg, he moves the meter. 2- first 3 games are def winnable, if we want any hopes of meaningful end of the year games, have to go at least 2-1. worst case, pick a guy after 3rd preseason, each gets a quarter with the 1’s. once team is reduced to 53, can roll qbs anyways. kelly’s practices maybe faster, but will have to get closer to norm in nfl.

          • GEagle

            Unfortunately I don’t think any decisions will be made til ATleast two preseason games are in the books

          • cliff henny

            one each is fair. if he doesnt know by then…all it comes back to me is the madden saying, when you have 2, you have none.

          • Richard Colton

            A mature answer from D-Jax. I’m glad he’s fence sitting on this one. Especially considering the WRs are the ones who most want a rapid end to the QB race (outside of course, Vick/Foles). They want to start working on their timing with the #1 guy.

  • cliff henny

    wasnt terribly impressed with Wolff’s college tape, but hey, let him learn under Phillips for a year, maybe it’ll pop for him. crazier things have happened. the who i’m rooitng for has long gone, dont care, just win. i’m rooting for any and all of them…well, except coleman

  • Token

    O great more players telling the coach how to run the team. Reel them in Kelly before its too late. Andy let things get out of control and you are not off to a great start. Leonard Weaver basically saying players are telling him they dont buy into all this college stuff. Time to cut some guys to make a point. Cut Vick and trade DeSean.

    • JofreyRice

      I noticed that really no one picked up on that info from Weaver, and like the negative report from Freeman, many people just shout it down. But what if he’s right? I mean, the psychology of dealing with players was/is one of the big concerns about a guy transitioning from managing 18-22 year old boys into grown men with families.

      I think the best case scenario is that Weaver’s got a small circle of former Eagles he keeps in contact with, and that only 3 or 4 of them are really disgruntled with Kelly’s style, while the team, as a whole, has bought in. I don’t think Weaver’s can be dismissed as baseless, though. There’s definitely some contingent (probably the vets) that are chafing at Kelly’s style.

      • Andy124

        Honestly, where Weaver is getting his info from is critical. When I read his tweets, and the follow up tweets the next day, it sounded to me like 100% reaction to what we’ve all been reading, with zero inside info. I can’t really tell though. I wish I knew for sure one way or the other.

      • http://www.philthycanuck.com/ Adam

        I have my doubts that Weaver is dialled into the Eagles locker room whatsoever. He’s like 3 seasons removed from the team. It really seems like he’s react to what we’ve all been reading, about Vick wanting them to name the starter now. Vick was a hero in 2010 when Weave got injured, but since then he’s fallen from grace. The guys in the locker room still love Vick, but he’s absolutely not untouchable like he was coming back then.

        The reason I don’t dive too much into this is because no one on this roster has the luxury of buying in or not. If they don’t, then they should start packing their bags. Coming off a stellar unachieving 8-8 then a complete collapse 4-12 all bets are off. Obviously what they were doing before doesn’t work, so what would the benefit from resisting change?

        • JofreyRice

          I don’t know that anyone would be making a conscious choice to resist change, if the reports were true, wouldn’t it just be a style conflict? I guess my problem with the utter dismissal of the Weaver stuff is that it supposes that Kelly’s style and transition has got to work, when, on the professional level, there’s really no basis to believe that. We can be hopeful, but part of the reason Kelly was such an exciting hire was because he was doing stuff differently than everyone else–bucking tradition and conventional wisdom in a lot of areas; there definitely is risk associated with that. It might blow up, and it might not work. There’s no guarantee Kelly’s methods will produce better than a 4-12 season.

          You could absolutely be right, it could be that Weaver is drawing conclusions like the rest of us, but I did think he was somewhat close with some of the guys in the locker room.

          • Maggie

            Bill Walsh was considered ”radical” and ”different” and his ideas couldn’t possibly work. How many Super Bowls did the 49’ers win??

          • JofreyRice

            Right, but the fact that Walsh’s ideas were considered “radical” and “different” didn’t *make* those ideas good, they were proven to be good on the field, and the fact that no one else was doing things the same way Walsh was provided an advantage to leverage the strength of his formations and philosophy.

            Steve Spurrier using a 2 QB rotation week to week was “radical”, too, but it ended up being a shitshow. Hiring an offensive line coach to coordinate the defense was pretty “radical” and “different” and Castillo captured the Eagles mark for 4th quarter collapses in a season and a half.

            Chip is doing things differently. Either it works out and he can use that as an advantage, or it doesn’t work out, and we keep waiting for a Superbowl; seems pretty simple. My question is, what exactly has Chip proven on an NFL field that we should dismiss Weaver’s remarks out of turn, or search for every possible way to disprove them?

        • cliff henny

          i think he’s reading into it(coaching change), as if it happened the year after he left. who would be disgruntled? and, so the f’ what if they are! ummm, you were just on 2 terrible teams, you are replacable! to be a cancer, you have to have some leverage. who would be, harbor? probably cut. nothing like a couple pink slips to get people in line. kelly isnt going anywhere, not for at least 3 yrs.
          here’s where howie’s contracts really help. name one guy that could cause issues, and most likely he’s on final year of deal. d-jax may slip up, venting fustrations to a guy he knows would understand, too. ever had couple beers at happy hour with co-workers, not the most up-beat conversations.

      • Token

        Yea it could be a big deal IMO. Vick clearly has issues with all this and you know how players on this team follow his lead, especially Jackson.

        You could make a point that the downfall of the team started not long after Vick arrived. Andy lost the team not too long after that. Certainly not the only factor, but a factor. He poisoned some of the youth.

        The Vick we see in the media is not the same guy behind closed doors Ill tell you that. So when hes questioning things in public, I can only imagine the conversations between teammates.

        So far Kelly has been so much to ho hum for my liking. Cary Williams basically said he didnt care about the organization or team, nothing done. The precedent is starting to get set that the inmates still run the asylum. Its a dangerous game for Kelly to let this go on much longer.

        But my guess. A lot fans on here will blow all this off as no big deal as usual. You have to learn from past mistakes. Kelly seemingly didnt pay much attention as to factors that lead to the downfall of Andy Reid.

        • Brian

          I mostly agree. Vick’s supporters need to be let go with him. You can’t have a player that has more influence than the coaches, especially when it’s potentially negative. If there’s even a chance that Vick is not the starter, release him now and avoid the distraction in camp.

          • GEagle

            Curious to go back and look at the niners offseason in which they made the coaching change. John Harbaugh had some questions surrounding him to when he came into the league, and the niners sucked..Harbaugh was labeled a college psychopath lol…I want to go back and try to see how the niners players were talking that offseason. The team started off like 1-2, came to Philly beat the Eagles and it spring borded them into the new era niners…It’s going to be very important for Chip to get a HUGE win early in the season…

          • Brian

            I agree that it would inspire confidence in his methods.

  • B-West

    Appreciate the professionalism that Kenny Phillips has displayed in the couple interviews and blurbs we have gotten from him so far. Rooting for him, its a shame about his knee.

  • Jay

    “Kelly has the hammer”. Well said. Maybe “the team” should consider that before they open their mouth to the media. The last thing this organization needs is another TO incident and I believe Kelly of Laurie are going to allow anyone to start one. So it maybe in “the teams” best interest to allow Kelly to coach and make decisions without bucking the process and put their noses in the play book and not start drama that’s not their concern. But most over these guys are still so young in life that common sense takes the backseat to what’s wise. Hopefully, Vick will lead the way in this but if not trade him for a corner or a good lineman and cut your loses. For No one is worth the trouble of discord.

    • B-West

      Probably a learning curve to dealing with the media, just as there is with everything else right now. Hopefully over time the team will learn to be a little more tight lipped with the media. Given the mutual admiration between Belichick and Kelly, I wouldn’t be surprised if the New England treatment of the media is something Kelly would prefer.

      Kelly talks more in his pressers, but he doesn’t really say much. Its just a lot of filler.

      I will say tho, you would have hoped that this team would have learned to keep it quiet with the media by now, given how much their words have come back to bite them the past few seasons. Perhaps Andy wasn’t reigning them in, but hopefully Chip has somebody on it. He seems to have somebody on everything, seems to reason he would have someone mindful of what info is being passed along thru the media.

  • GEagle

    As for Desean, it makes me jealous of The Patriots, who practically put Gag orders on all their players. I’m sooo tired of our players talking. it’s literally the only downer of an awesome offseason…I’m getting to the point where I don’t give a fuck who you are or what you can do, shut your mouth or GTFO!!! I really hope Chip just crucifies a popular player and puts an end to this crap and everyone on notice…

    • cliff henny

      when the 53 cut? could be an interesting day.

  • GEagle

    Saints lose victor butler to a torn ACL. Glad we dodged that bullet

  • Max Lightfoot

    “Everything’s open” is coachspeak for “If anyone out there can spot an NFL-calibre safety on this squad, please call us collect – ASAP.” Sure hope they actually do find someone who can handle this position, as our middle was so savaged last season.

  • MightyJoeBanner

    I hope he’s good bc our safeties were a big reason our defense sucked.