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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