On Wolff, Allen And the Continuity Question

0V3J0410In Week 1, Nate Allen was on the field for 67 plays while  Earl Wolff saw only eight snaps. This past Sunday, Wolff’s number jumped up to 49 snaps and Allen’s dipped to 63.

If those numbers are any indication, the rookie is gaining on the struggling veteran.

“I really appreciate [the way the coaches are working me in,] said Wolff, who was also part of a three-safety look Sunday due to depth issues at corner. “Every rep is an opportunity. Regardless of how many reps I get, if it’s 10, if it’s 20, if it’s five, I just want to go out there and take advantage of every single opportunity I get.”

The question is when Wolff will be prepared to take over the spot on a full-time basis. According to Chip Kelly, the fifth-round pick out of N.C.State isn’t quite ready for that workload.

“I think Earl’s growing,” Kelly said. “We’ll continue to grow him, but he’s still making some mistakes out there and I think they’re bringing him along and are excited about what his future is, but we still don’t think he’s ready to play the whole game.”

Wolff said he still needs to work on seeing the entire field instead of “zoning in” on his half. He sounded relatively pleased with his tackling through two games but recognizes he needs to get better in all areas.

Allen and Wolff both had their issues against the Chargers. There is no great answer for Kelly and Billy Davis right now, so they are choosing to rotate the two safeties.

Does that hurt continuity?

Cornerback Brandon Boykin said that corner-safety chemistry is a real thing, and comes into play particularly when the defense is running zone. (The Eagles use zone coverage quite a bit.) Eventually, Kelly could settle on just one player for that position. Would that make the defense more comfortable?

“I guess it would if you’re just out there with that person for the entire game,” said Boykin. “But the way that we’ve done it and the way I think we’re going to continue to do is just rotate guys.

“I think you’ve just got to know what kind of person and what type of player they are, their strengths and weaknesses, how vocal they are, things like that. In practice we get a chance to rotate and be with both of those guys. We know their different types of playing styles.”

Boykin said the main difference between having Wolff in versus Allen is that the secondary makes sure it stresses communication even more to make sure the rookie understands everything that is happening.

Indications are that the Eagles aren’t interested in bringing in a veteran like Kerry Rhodes at this time. Kelly was pretty frank in saying that there weren’t any safeties on the market that they are particularly enticed by, and they want to give some of the younger players, like Wolff, an opportunity to play and grow. And so, at least for now, they are choosing to roll with the safeties they have despite their early struggles.

Kelly was asked if one of these safeties will take over the spot full-time eventually this season.

“I don’t predict the future. It’s all up to them and how they play,” said Kelly. “If one guy runs away with it and continues to make plays then they’ll continue to be on the field, but if we’re not getting the production we need out of that position, to do it just for the sake of continuity doesn’t make sense to us.”

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  • Broadcasting Wisdom

    Can everyone stop with the Kerry Rhodes madness now that Chip Kelly has addressed it? He is building a foundation this year – it’s not going to be perfect or even a top 15 defense, but the young guys will improve and it will be better than last year. It will take a big leap next year when he drafts mostly on the defensive side of the ball. As long as we aren’t giving up the 40-90 yard bombs like we were last year, that is a big step in the right direction, and thus far we have not.

    • Stuart Philp

      I really hope it’s a defensive draft next year

    • therevxxx

      I am not ready to stop the Kerry Rhodes madness. Do you disagree that he would be an immediate upgrade at safety? He doesn’t even need to know the playbook and he would be an upgrade. I understand building a foundation for the future, but once Kelly chose Vick to be the starter, that made the statement that he was looking to win now. If he really believes that he has a shot to win now, the move is to cut Allen and bring in Rhodes.

      The NFC East looks like total garbage right now and is there for the taking. I could have never guessed that the offense would look THIS good. There is no reason to look forward to next season when this team has the opportunity to win a poor division. Once you make the playoffs all bets are off…

      • Broadcasting Wisdom

        I disagree that he would be an immediate upgrade at safety. I’m no Nate Allen defender, but safety is arguably the hardest position to play because of the physical (cover like a cornerback; tackle like a LB) and mental (split second decisions on which receiver to cover) demands. I could certainly be wrong, but I just don’t think there’s any way someone off the street could come in at this stage and improve the secondary. Our best hope is for Wolff to develop, which I think he can.

        • Chris

          I believe that it is hard too, but it’s not as if he would walk in on Tuesday and suit up Thursday. Bring him in, if they like him they’ll sign him up, he’s inactive Thursday which gives him a long week to prepare for week 4. Allen and Chung are in line to start anyway, so they start. Hopefully Rhodes would be ready next Sunday. Just my opinion, and of course it’s the question of “who do you cut”, which has to be considered.

        • therevxxx

          I agree that Wolff can develop too and that he has a future here. But I also believe that Rhodes is an upgrade over him and Allen for this season, and this season only. Wolff can develop behind Rhodes. It is very rare that a 5th round safety starts during his rookie season.

        • therevxxx

          Also, you talk about Rhodes like he is some washed up player that has been sitting on his couch for 2 or 3 years. He is only 31, and according to Arizona fans, had a good season last year.

        • UKEagle99

          I don’t want to throw fuel on the “bring in Kerry Rhodes” fire but one point to remember is he played under Davis in 2010 so it is not going to be entirely new to him. That said, Chip has said there are no safties on the street and you have to think Billy Davis knows he’s out there and what he can do. If they were going to bring him in I believe they would have done so by now.

        • SoCalEaglesFan

          If safety is the hardest position to play then why is it the lowest average paid position in the NFL? Strike that. Fullback, which is a dying position is lower paid than safeties. But on average, the only lower paid positions are kicker and punter and long snapper.

          Young athletes aren’t interested in playing safety because the money is either at corner or linebacker. So if you’re a good college athlete, you’ll either lose weight to play one, or gain weight to play the other.

          Safety is weak all around the league for this reason. Colleges aren’t producing them like before.

        • Warhound

          Buddy Ryan claimed that the further you were from where the ball is snapped the easier it is to step right in. Also, if you can tackle, cover and process info quickly than you can do these things in any scheme. He’d need to learn terminology but his cues would probably stay the same and cover schemes aren’t that diverse.

      • damrvrhunter

        Amen brother Amen!! Before seeing Chip’s offense in these two games I was all for rebuilding this season but now that I have, no doubt it is a Super Bowl winning O at every position, so why waste a year like this when the division is there for the taking. “Once you make the playoffs all bets are off…”

      • Luke Ivan

        Johnny Football.

    • Soybot

      Can’t agree more. We aren’t going to the SB this year. Did anyone watch the Seahawks / 49ers game? We aren’t on the same planet as Seattle’s D, much less the same league.

      • damrvrhunter

        On offense we can hang with Seattle right? If the choice is between a very strong offense or defense in one game. Give me the offense.

        • EaglePete

          ? come playoff time its all about defense in the colder weather. Ask the Pats and Broncos about that.

        • theycallmerob

          Based on two games, our offense is now able to compete with the NFC’s best? Which top5 defenses have we bested again? Come on, that talk is premature at best and absurd at worst.
          And with regard to Rhodes, he’s absolutely a waste of time. Who cares what PFF or some AZ fans think, 31 teams (most with poor safety play) besides us have not brought him in. Not 1! Not even camp! Word is he’s disinterested in the game…you really want another Nnamdi on the team?

          There is no magic potion. A great offense and special teams is fantastic for year 1.

  • Craig

    Wolf will likely be the starter by week 4 at this pace…..The only question left is who gets added from the practice squad once they cut Allen?

    Any word on the progress of Keelan Johnson or Trenton Robinson. It obviously takes time to learn a new system, but one will probably be activated in the next few weeks.

  • Will

    Why won’t the Eagles bring in a proven Veteran Safety? They have put young rookie guys back there since the 2009 season. When is the FO gonna wake up? Kerry Rhodes is what you want back there play wise. Bring Kerry Rhodes in and at least kick the tires. So sick of the Safety play for the last 5 years!Looks like the Billy Davis experiment off to a shaky start! You can’t argue Kerry Rhodes has play maker ability! Kerry Rhodes is a big time player who brings it every game!http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qEcwJwJL4fY

  • EaglePete

    Nice to see that Boykin can play outside, I think were okay with our corners but will still need to add to them come the draft. Then draft 5 safeties to find 1 or 2 ha along with QB of the future.

  • Adam Phillips

    At this point you put Wolff in and get him more reps so he can get comfortable because Allen seems to be getting worse – I know we all wanted instant SB -at least I did but I’ll take improvement every week at this point

  • Honest_T

    I understand wanting to stick with your young guys, giving them reps, and letting them develop, but if that’s the case why is Vinny Curry inactive?

    • ACViking

      Vinny is not what he seems to be to the uninformed masses, apparently.

      • cliff henny

        where is all this VC hype coming from? preseason against 3rds mean nothing. also, fans are way too wrapped up in which round. every team misses one a 1, 2, or 3, every yr. just cant miss on 1, 2 and 3 for 3 straight yrs.

        • JofreyRice

          he beat Uche Nwaneri, the Jaguars starting guard multiple times in the third week, and he beat ones in the Carolina game. I mean, he can only do what he can when given the opportunity.

          Smashing the 2nd and third team OL into the ground should at least get you a shot to show what you can do when the games count–if he stinks then we’ll move on, but what was Damion Square or Geathers doing on Sunday that was so irreplaceable?

          It’s got to be an assignment/discipline thing. He must be freelancing outside of the two gap system–it certainly looks that way.

          • Chris

            Perfectly stated.

          • cliff henny

            oh, agree he deserves a shot. but, there is a reason. but with curry, it never goes without ‘curry, a 2nd rounder’. i dont like busts as much as the next guy, but every team, every yr has one in top 3. now, cant have ’10 and ’11 drafts. look at last night, cinci pick kirkpatrick in top 10, he doesnt start.

          • Token

            Are you trying to say though that Howie hasnt done a bad job compared to other teams? If so thats just false. Most GMs wouldnt still have a job after the last 3 or so drafts. Probably more years than that. Even before being GM he was Banners right hand man, im sure he had a bunch of input back then.

            As of now the 2013 draft netted one player in Johnson. And you hope you wouldnt miss in the top 5 on a tackle.

            Ertz may come on. Logan may come on. Pas those three picks, everything else already looks like a bunch of guys who will be on the streets next offseason. You just cant build a team drafting like this. Then it forces Howie to go into the FA market where he is a failure also. Its a endless vicious cycle that has to stop.

          • damrvrhunter

            You are already getting quality snaps from Logan and Wolff. Ertz made 2 big catches, Johnson is performing at a pretty high level for a rook. That’s four players from just one draft. Lets not forget Poyer in the equation. So how is this draft class a disappoint to you?

          • Token

            I guess we disagree on what a quality snap is. Logan hasnt brought much since these real games started. Not saying he never will, hes flashed ability.

            Wolff has little chance of being a quality NFL starter. Bad instincts. Ertz may become something, but hes gotta be more consistent catching the ball.

          • JofreyRice

            (almost) never trust a CB that’s cut his teeth playing for Nick Saban. I don’t care what anyone says, unless they go to a team that teaches their CB’s to drop with that crab-shuffle that Saban uses, they are at a severe disadvantage when asked to backpedal in the pros.

          • Token

            seems that way, Dee Milliner benched too.

          • Adam

            I don’t envy being a rookie player in the secondary. QB’s are so good these days they’ll eat you alive.

          • damrvrhunter

            Your last sentence just answered the question why Curry is not suiting up? The defense doesn’t care if you can pass rush all day as a 4 3 end, from the little I understand a 3 4 end is a different beast. Occupying one or more blockers and maintaing gap control is not the same as pinning your ears back and just plain rushing ala the wide 9.

          • JofreyRice

            well, that’s just a guess that’s been put out there by other folks. Seems plausible to me. The real question is, if the two gap 3-4 struggles to generate pressure OR stop the run, at what point do you bag it and let loose the passrushing linemen?

        • Chris

          I don’t think it’s hype as much as fans just want to see what he can do. I don’t feel he’s been given the opportunity to showcase his skills. Who knows, maybe the coaches have already figured out his limitations. But as a fan I would be happy to see him come in and at least get a chance. If he doesn’t play well, he sits. I have a hard time believing that if he gets a reasonable number of snaps and doesn’t perform, we will be clamoring to say “well if Geathers/Square/Thornton were in there, he would have made that play!”. So why not?

      • Honest_T

        No one knows what Curry is because he’s never had a shot. Nate Allen loses his job gets 4 chances to lost his starting job, but Curry can’t get on the field. Neither can BG for that matter.

        If you aren’t going to use them, trade ’em. There are too many holes in this defense to keep talent on the bench.

  • Glenn

    Can’t help but feel that bringing Kerry Rhodes in for a workout wouldn’t hurt. It is too bad Kenny Phillips wasn’t healthy enough. It is also too bad the FO put this team in this situation by not adequately addressing the safety situation in the offseason. Now we know why the Giants let Phillips go. There were other options in FA as well as the draft. Right now, the Eagles do not have a single starting caliber safety.

    • JofreyRice

      seems to be a good move to steer away from former Giants with health concerns.

      I had no problem with taking a flier on Phillips–it was just stupid that the only backup plan was wheeling Nate Allen back out there again like Weekend at Bernie’s.

      • Token

        Trotting a guy like Allen out there week after week is something I thought would change with Kelly. Didnt think hed let a clearly bad player keep starting. Even if Wolff stinks, id rather watch someone else stink for a change of pace.

        • therevxxx

          to be fair, Allen’s snaps have dramatically dropped from week 1 to week 2. I call that progress. Let’s see what happens week 3.

          • damrvrhunter

            Dropped from 67 to 63, not exactly dramatic. Or did I just get leveled?

          • therevxxx

            haha…sorry messed that up.. wolffs snaps have risen dramatically is what i going for. d’oh

          • damrvrhunter

            Aha makes sense now!

    • anon

      Agree, i mean Kerry could have turned us down, he could not like Billy Davis…

  • Will

    Until the Defense improves greatly this Eagles Team is stuck on stupid…..

  • Adam

    Eagles fam.. making a trip from the great white north to The Linc on Oct 20 for the Eagles Cowboys game. Anybody going to that game? Me and my buddy are looking for tailgating friends

    • theycallmerob

      I can only afford tix to the one game this year, but I’ll absolutely come up just to drink and grill

    • G_WallyHunter

      as a fellow canuck, I am extremely envious. One day, one day..

  • KobraKai7474

    I understand the concept of getting the young guys some experience, and not wanting to take snaps away from an Earl Wolff only to give them to a mediocre veteran whose ceiling is well-established. HOWEVER, the Eagles continue to employ Nate Allen. If the team is even finding one snap per game for Nate Allen, then, they can certainly bring in a vet who can do more and do it better than him on and off the field…. Heck, I am a 47-year-old, and I am pretty sure I can do more than Nate Allen.

  • KobraKai7474

    Presumably (or maybe this is just wishful thinking), when Bradley returns, there will be limited need for three safeties to be on the field at once. As such, it would be a reasonable expectation that Wolff’s snaps will continue to increase this week while Allen’s drop precipitously. Otherwise, the world simply doesn’t make sense.

  • ojdiddoit

    The more I watch Chip struggle to answer any question thrown at him concerning his defense the more I realize he has no interest in it at all.He sounds like Andy Reid when he is forced to confront that fact and I also think he is beginning to realize that is the difference between college and the pro game,you must have your hand and mind in both defense and offense

  • Will

    The Eagles Defense has surrendered 60 points in 2 games, just GOD AWFUL….

  • phillyeagle77

    Nate allen is awful.. He’s not playing well at all.. Allen should not be on the field starting safety over wolf at this point.. Wolf has more range capability than Allen.. Wolf is a step slow on his covers and reads.. Let him develop into the defense so he and chung can jell..

    You can not have two safeties not on the same page let alone not on the field at the same time.. No more ZONE COVERAGES for the corners.. Thats not working out for them.. Why you ask? Because they are not trusting the safety help in the back.. Look at the first two games..

  • Scott J610

    It hard to tell who is better, Wolff or Allen, because neither makes many plays.

  • JoeKnowsNada

    Season is going as I expected. Ups and downs. DEE a work in progress. I expect that we WILL gel, but not before at least mid-season, on DEE side of the ball. Hopefully, O will continue to battle and improve. Mike V. should not have been so honest in his presser, saying “guess we have to score 37 pts.” Don’t need that type of remark, at least, not in public. And, DeSean should have had 3 – 4 TDs that day, Mike, not the one (though Lane Johnson “robbed” him of #2 – I give the rookie a break, here. Facing Dwight Freeney, even though Freeney is “older”).

    Guess Eagles are like the Philllies were, this season, in a way – one part of the team has to be “lights out,” to pick up for the part that isn’t. At least special teams (Alex H.’s miss notwithstanding) look solid.

    This year is all about building for next year and post-next year, I agree. However, you could argue that if you bring in a quality veteran (Kerry Rhodes) who makes plays, and who is willing to teach, in some way, you “could” accelerate growth, not stunt it.
    Still, patience is what’s needed, here. Hard to muster patience in Philly, but, patient we must be. And, we don’t need to be a top – 10 DEE to succeed, however, we need to be top – 10 in the playoffs, should we be so lucky. Then, DEE still counts. The teams cited as not being top DEEs who won, also got hot on DEE or made stops at critical moments. Can we? Jury is out.