Eagles Wake-Up Call: Assessing the Safety Situation

Earl WolffHowie Roseman stood on the field at Ladd Peebles Stadium in Mobile, Ala. and was perfectly honest about the difficulties he’d had in finding players at one specific position.

“To me, that’s the hardest position to evaluate in college football is safeties,” Roseman said back in January at the Senior Bowl. “The guys that used to be the most explosive athletes and were playing in the back end, they’re going to play corner because they feel like maybe at corner, they can play 10 years. You look at the franchise tag numbers, the corner position is higher than the safety position. That is going to be the constant struggle. When you talk to people around the league, it’s hard to find safeties.”

Roseman wasn’t lying. And Sunday’s release of Kenny Phillips served as just another reminder of how this franchise has struggled to address the safety position since it lost Brian Dawkins back in 2009.

That year, Quintin Mikell, Macho Harris, Sean Jones and Quintin Demps all saw snaps. Mikell was easily the best of the group.

In 2010, it was Mikell, Nate Allen, Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson and Jamar Adams.

2011? Coleman, Allen, Jarrad Page and Jaiquawn Jarrett.

And last year, Coleman, Allen, Anderson and David Sims.

Eleven guys in four seasons. None good enough to be penciled in to the starting lineup in 2013.

The position has changed, as teams expect versatility from their safeties. The athleticism and cover skills to match up with slot receivers. The size to take on tight ends, play the run and be an enforcer over the middle. The speed to play center field and serve as the last line of defense.

Teams around the league are having trouble finding suitable options, so it’s unlikely the Eagles find legitimate help when cuts are made in the next week. There’s been a little buzz about Bills safety Jairus Byrd, but it still seems unlikely that he gets dealt. Byrd is reportedly looking to become the highest-paid safety in the league.

On the current roster, it looks like Patrick Chung will start at one spot. Nate Allen is the favorite to run with Chung, but he’s entrenched firmly in “believe it when we see it” territory. Allen has shown little this summer to suggest he’s suddenly ready to make the leap.

Rookie Earl Wolff rotated in with Allen on Saturday, but might not be ready. If the coaches feel the competition is close, Wolff could get the nod. Or he could get a shot later in the season.

Chip Kelly has placed an emphasis on special teams, and Colt Anderson is the team’s best special-teams player. That should be enough to earn him a roster spot. Kurt Coleman isn’t a bad backup option, but he’s on the bubble. And David Sims is likely a longshot.

Another year where fans will likely watch on Sundays and hope for an offseason upgrade. There’s a good possibility that next January in Mobile, Roseman will be answering the same question once again.

WHAT YOU MISSED

The Eagles cut Phillips and Jamar Chaney yesterday.

The Birds also let 10 other players go.

The No-22 breakdown of what we saw from the offense vs. Jacksonville.

Good stuff from T-Mac on why the offense looked different.

Kelly said the Eagles were their own worst enemy Saturday.

WHAT THEY’RE SAYING

Things do not look good for former Eagle Kevin Kolb:

 

Tommy Lawlor of IgglesBlitz.com offers some day-after thoughts on Michael Vick’s performance:

One of the areas where Vick made things worse is his desire for bigger chunks of yards. I re-watched the 1st quarter last night and there were several chances for him to check the ball down. Vick instead threw the ball to intermediate targets. There is no question that Vick was holding onto the ball longer last night. Maybe Vick wanted to put on a show after being named the starter. I don’t know. He needs to back to the previous games and play within himself and within the offense. Keep the ball moving and the chunk plays will come.

COMING UP

We’ll hear from Kelly and check out practice at the Linc.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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  • nicksaenz1

    @Cliff Henry…. remember playing armchair GM last week and I joked around saying that because EJ was a bad pick that the Bills should take Foles and a 4th for Jairus Byrd? Well, does Kolb going down make their front office open up to the possibility? As a Foles guy, it’s hard to offer him up, but I doubt Barkley draws any real interest. (Yes, I know this won’t actually happen)

    Edit: The Bills signed Leinart and some dude Thad Lewis. So the door is still open.

  • #7

    Man…..our safeties are terrible. Not sure who would be worth picking up after cuts.
    SMH

  • Adam

    No, he’s not. Jarrett got beat out by Kurt Coleman. Just let that sink in for a minute.

    If he was better than Allen or Coleman he would still be here. But he’s not.

  • Ty

    Valid argument but I believe A LOT of that had to do with Andy Reid. Look at other players we had on our bench that are now performing and even began to perform as Andy put them in – Brandon Graham , Vinny Curry are 2 examples.

  • Absecon

    All the reasons to let him play and finish out his contract have already been discussed on here and other blogs ad nauseum. How many safeties do you see around the league that stand out? A handful at most? I see the same mistakes all day long on Sunday’s around the league. Upgrades aren’t out there right now. Take away the crap he had to play with and be coached by, the main issue I see is he doesn’t blow up people when he hits them. I don’t think you’ll see the coverage issues like in the past. No one on this defense stops the run, so that’s not a reason to be benched on this team!

  • Mitchell

    So how does that explain the last two drafts? Curry and Kendricks have looked very good so far this season. Lane is going to be a monster. Logan and cox look to be the makings of a solid DL. Andy had been there for over ten years and was arguably the face of the organization. That kind of power would be a bit difficult to deal with.