Inside Voices: Wolff Says He’s Ready

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders
Earl Wolff
says he feels good enough to play on Saturday night. Now it’s just a matter of whether the training staff and coaches give him the green light.

The rookie safety sat out practice the past two days but tested the injured right knee on the side during the Eagles’ walkthrough on Thursday, and came away feeling confident that he is ready to re-enter the fray.

“I just know that it felt a lot better today than it did before. They kind of recorded me moving around a little bit, doing some functional stuff, and it didn’t bother me,” he said.

“It was football activitity, basically like what I would go through in a game, and it didn’t really bother me. Of course I felt it a little bit –I’m going to feel it a little bit — but it’s nothing that’s going to hold me back.”

Wolff added that this is the best he has felt since hyper-extending the knee back on November 10 in Green Bay. He missed the next four games before returning against Chicago, and ultimately left that game early after re-aggravating the knee. He was inactive for last week’s tilt in Dallas.

Even if he is healthy enough, there is the issue of rust.

“Honestly, it’s not really a concern for me. I practiced all last week. I didn’t do too much this week but felt pretty good about where I was today, and I’m going to go in there with all the confidence in the world if I do [play].”

Wolff says the trainers will probably put him through some drills on Saturday before the game to see where he’s at. Patrick Chung, who has struggled, will likely start opposite Nate Allen regardless. Kurt Coleman may be part of a safety rotation if Wolff can’t go.

Chip before, during and after

The night before a game, Chip Kelly addresses his team in the hotel. He’s not big on rah-rah speeches right before the team takes the field, but uses this time to get his team into the right mind frame. He’ll often use stories from the outside world to illustrate a greater point, referencing anyone from Warren Buffett to an extreme kayaker to get his message across.

His approach prior to the win-or-go-home Cowboys game last week was a little different.

“Sometimes he’ll give longer speeches when he feels the need, and sometimes he’ll keep it quick. And this time, everybody knew how big of a game it was, so there was no point for him 24 hours before the game to re-state the obvious,” said linebacker Emmanuel Acho.

“This time his main focal point was: Be caught being yourself. Because the fact of the matter is, if you prepare well Tuesday through Saturday, all you have to do on Sunday is be you. Don’t try to be any different. Don’t try to be greater. Don’t try and be a hero. Don’t do anything heroic. He said you want to be caught in the act of being yourself.”

In the locker room right before the game, Kelly kept it short and simple, then handed the floor over to Duce Staley to break it down as he always does.

The repeated message in-game: Play to your training.

At the half, with the Eagles holding a 17-10 advantage, Kelly had this to say, per Casey Matthews:

“Take care of business and play like you know how to play, and you’ll come back champions.”

The Eagles were able to hold on and a celebration broke out on the sidelines in Dallas. A couple players said they tried to give Kelly a Gatorade bath but “he was too quick.” One promised to get him after the next big win.

The players finally tracked him down in the locker room. With the party in full swing, Kelly lifted his voice over the noise to offer the following;

“Since April he’s been saying, ‘If you do everything right, you’ll look up on December 29 and like where we are,’ ” said Acho.

“At the end of the game, he said, “I told y’all we would look up on December 29. Well, today is December 29 and I think we’ll like where we’re headed.’ So that was a pretty monumental moment,  to see that come to fruition.”

The spirit of St. Nick

Nick Foles was doing his best Santa Claus impersonation. He crept into an empty Eagles locker room and began placing gifts in the stalls for his offensive linemen. Jason Kelce  stayed late that day as well and spotted Foles, so the word leaked out early that the big men were each getting an X-Box One for their efforts.

“That’s huge,” said Kelce. “Nick obviously has an appreciation for what we do…I think that kind of speaks to who he is. He’s very appreciative, humble, team-oriented, for sure.”

Acknowledging the offensive line is not all that uncommon. Donovan McNabb used to take care of his O-line, according to Todd Herremans. They got watches one season,  Louis Vuitton bags another. Brian Westbrook used to get gifts for his linemen as well. One time, he gave them all travel packages to use for a vacation of their choosing. The year Leonard Weaver had a big season he got the linemen watches. Shawn Andrews splurged for watches as well when he made the Pro Bowl, Herremans said. Sounds like that group has enough wrist-ware to last a lifetime.

With the team losing and the locker room somewhat disjointed over the last couple seasons, kumbaya moments were few and far between. But the feel this year is different all around.  Connor Barwin recently bought Fletcher Cox a bike for his birthday. The offensive line goes out to dinner with one another once a week; same for the  front seven on defense. There’s a more unified feel overall.

“There’s a lot of good character on the team,” said Herremans. “Guys definitely appreciate each other and what they do for each other. Plus we’re doing pretty well right now — that always helps.”

There is still one big gift to come, they’re told, courtesy of rushing champion LeSean McCoy.

“We’re still waiting. He’s been promising big things,” Herremans joked. “We’re still waiting.”

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  • OG Droid

    less of Chung is a good thing.

    • Dominik

      Adding: less of Chung and nothing from Coleman is even a better thing.

      Having to rely on a rookie to give you an solid output feels more like *Eagles 2012*, but it’s one on the rare obvious signs that we are still work in progress. Despite the progress being more than good enough at the moment.

  • Mike

    Do you think if they finished 5-11 Kelly would have reminded him of his Dec 29th speech?

    • jabostick

      Catch-22. If they were 5-11 it would’ve meant (in some minds at least) that they hadn’t heeded his words

    • Adam

      But we aren’t. So who cares.

  • nicksaenz1

    Good breakdown from Barnwell:

    Need Wolff back in action.

    • smallestsmurf

      Barnwell is usually very good, but this passage confused me. “If the Eagles can dominate the Saints at the line of scrimmage and run the football, though, they’ll have the dual advantage of both scoring points and keeping Brees off the field for long stretches of time. ”

      The Eagles tend to not stay on the field for long stretches of time regardless of running or passing.

      • Maggie

        True, although they have had a couple of long drives, mostly with McCoy adding to his stats. And Brown or Polk proving they can run a little too. Oh and most of the receivers sacrificing their own stats to block, block, block.

      • nicksaenz1

        I understand what you’re saying. I think he was speaking to the general premise that running the ball keeps the clock moving and gives the other team less time with the ball.

    • Andy

      I don’t see that the numbers suggest anything specific about Brees and
      his team that would make me think they can’t play well on the road in
      cold weather. Well, except for one. Chase Stuart, as he often does, came
      up with the best stat of all:
      In the playoffs, dome-dwelling teams playing in temperatures below 35
      degrees on the road are 3-22. The last time a team like that won was in
      2004, when the Vikings beat the Packers in Green Bay. That was the year
      Chip Kelly turned things around for his employer after years of misery
      and losing records. He was in his sixth year as offensive coordinator
      for the University of New Hampshire. 2004 was a long time ago, man.

      • EaglePete

        oops, I didnt see you posted same quote essentially, its a good one. All that preceded however had me thinking it was as much of an advantage as we thought

    • JofreyRice

      Yeah, I like Wolff. Huge upgrade on Chung. Promising young player.

      Cool that Barnwell doesn’t just dismiss the popular perception of the Saints being a bad road team for the sake of being contrarian, although it’s a bit self-serving since the argument is based on “his” football outsiders DVOA stat.

      • nicksaenz1

        Yeah, I hear ya, but at least there’s work done to say one way or the other, although, I think it just muddies the water with the argument instead of definitely say, “Drew Brees doesn’t play well in cold weather.” I like that he dug into how the closer games that were road losses and the home wins that were eeked out. End of the day, he’s a HOF QB and we shouldn’t be dismissing him, regardless of whether we think he can/can’t play in the cold.

    • EaglePete

      good read, thanks. My favorite part:

      “In the playoffs, dome-dwelling teams playing in temperatures below 35 degrees on the road are 3-22.”

      • nicksaenz1

        I’m just hoping that becomes 3-23 as of Saturday night.

  • theycallmerob

    They kind of recorded me moving around a little bit, doing some functional stuff, and it didn’t bother me,” he said.

    Another good example/use of the sports science. Rather than guesswork or relying on a player’s motivation (which might not always mean they’re healthy) could always lead to re-injury or poor performance. Having the baseline measurements for Wolff will help Huls and crew know when he’s back to his usual self.

    • Brandon Boykin, OLB

      I’ve been wondering, has anyone else noticed that ever since Chip got here, every player and coach throws the phrase “kind of” in their interviews?

      “They kind of recorded me…”
      “They kind of adjusted…”
      “We kind of got out of position…”

      Not nit picking, just wondering. After all, it kind of works for this playoff team.

      • nicksaenz1

        It’s the new “like”.

        • Maggie

          Oh no! Please, like, nooooo!

        • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

          #1 reason I am glad to have graduated college is now I won’t hear ‘like’ every four words. Drove me completely insane at Rutgers. That, and hearing the tinny BS music out of others’ ear buds.

      • JofreyRice

        Kind of.

        I’ve notice the increased use of “each and every”. Players are going to go out and get better each and every day. Guys leave it all on the field each and every week. Coaches introduce new wrinkles each and every game, etc. “Every” includes “each”, just say “every”.

        • Tom W

          Win the day. Each and every day. Its contagious.

        • Richard Colton

          Great example of football/life buzzwords. Here are a few I can’t stand:
          1) using the four syllable “absolutely” in place of the one syllable “yes”
          2) prefacing every statement with “honestly” or “quite frankly” as if everything you’ve ever said in the past was a lie
          3) calling a player with any kind of talent a “weapon” – I get the metaphor when we’re talking about Megatron, but Andy Levitre?

          • Maggie

            Or starting every sentence with “I mean…” when nobody asked for a meaning.

          • Richard Colton

            must be a regional thing

          • Robert Perri

            You forgot the famous we control our own destiny! You can’t control destiny!

        • Mr. Wu

          “each and every” is Vick’s catchphrase….he infected everyone.

          let’s hope the team doesn’t catch a case of DJax’s “and things like that.”

        • cliff henny

          i could see kelly sitting the team down to learn how to talk with media. think cary was at home depot buying sconces, but everyone else attended. does seem to be a company line.

        • jon h

          a lot of the guys misuse the word “myself”. I mean, myself, I’ve got to get better. Other than that, I’m cool with the rest myself (:))


    Oline better play better then it did last week if they want gifts..
    Cool to see Barwin by Cox a bike for his what, 19th birthday? Lol

    • Tom W

      Cox needs to get going again .. been quiet for last four weeks. Need pressure from the front 3 up the middle because the outside guys won’t have time to get to him before Brees gets rid of him. Best pressure against Brees is up the center because he can’t step up and he can’t see over them.

      Bennie Logan and Cox and Thornton and Curry need to push the pocket back into Brees … same way Carolina and Seattle got to him

      • EaglePete

        Im sure Brees learned how gullible we are to hard counts courtesy of Orton. Hope they learned something there but home field should help that regardless. Its tough as a fan watching the D give away 5 yards for free.

        • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

          Lets hope the crowd is loud enough to nullify the hard counts! If I could go I would personally ensure my voice would be lost in the effort.

    • Maggie

      Maybe upping his cardio along the snow covered trails, lol.

  • Joe from Easton

    Shady is going to get each O-Lineman a party bus complete with a sacrificial escort to be thrown off at said lineman’s desired point in time.

    • Richard Colton

      too soon?

      • Joe from Easton

        haha, heck no.

      • Maggie

        Being of the same gender as the first “sacrificial escort”, I should object. However, any INTELLIGENT woman wouldn’t have been there in the first place! {:~). (The emoticon is supposed to look rueful, btw).

        • Richard Colton

          I’m upvoting the use of “rueful” on a football site

  • Richard Colton

    “Take care of business and play like you know how to play, and you’ll come back champions.” – except you caseymatthews, you’ll always be a bum.

    • Justin

      I’ll never understand the amount of hate Eagles fans have for Casey Matthews.

      • cheapmeat

        because he’s not his brother.

      • Richard Colton

        don’t ask me to explain it either. it’s a lesser-brother-in-philly thing plus his Von Hayes like inability to live up to expectations. Plus I hate his face.

  • Tom W

    Wolfe needs to man up and get on the field. They been baby’ing him for weeks. We need him this week. Lets go.

    • Joe from Easton

      He does need to play, but not at the expense of next season. The last semi-promising rookie safety we had (Nate Allen, 2010) tore up his knee in week 13 and his next season was basically shot before it started.

      • BlindChow

        Also not at the expense of the team. Too many times you have athletes saying they can go, and they end up costing their teams when they don’t play up to par.

      • Mr. Magee

        Was I wrong in thinking Chip “kind of” called out Wolff when he said Wolff needs to practice if he wants to play in the game?

        • Tom w

          Nope. That’s the feeling I got too. Never heard chip even mention anything about an injured player before.

    • theycallmerob

      Maybe you should learn to spell his last name before questioning his manhood

      • Tom w

        Really cuz? Taking misspellings to a new level. Guess somebody shit in your Cheerios today

        • theycallmerob

          Weak defense. Read the f*ckin title, cuz

          • Tom w

            Yep misspellings. Such a travesty Forgot you and wolf were brothers.

    • Shred

      I’m still having nightmares about an injured Blaine Bishop on the field in the playoffs, so I’d rather have a lesser player at 100%.

  • Beastmode

    T Mac-“In the locker room right before the game, Kelly kept it short and simple, then handed the floor over to Duce Staley to break it down as he always does.”
    Does that mean Duce is giving refresher on plan or gettin the boys fired up?
    Interesting either way.

    • GEAGLE

      Duce and Chip are tight…if you watch inside The NFL this week…it shows Bryce going into nthe ENDZONE and Chip going over to high five Duce…

      After FOles fumbled, he went to the sideline and told his lineman..”time to go fast, like Ricky Bobby” lol…the magic man!!

  • anthony barnes

    That good news for us cuz he will be a big help cuz he got seed that we need and thats a plus

  • cliff henny

    absolutely no way to clean it up the direct quote, but all i’m hearing is Maesellus Wallace ‘i’m sending the wolff” and i feel like Jules ‘that’s all you needed to say’

  • Maggie

    Interesting that Chip turns over the final locker room moments to Staley. I still maintain that Chip assesses his own weak spots and finds an NFL-wise person to fill in. just another example. Also another example of paying attention to every small detail.

    • BigWhoopWannaFightAboutIt

      I thought this, too. What better way to promote positive Eagles culture than by having a really solid ex-Eagles player ‘taking the mic’ from Kelly? I really hope he sticks around I freaking love where this team is going, philosophy and culture wise.

      EDIT: talent and production wise, too

  • Michael Jorden

    Wolff needed to get out there in practice, not just the walk through. I badly want him to play to keep Chung and Coleman (mostly Chung) off the field against the Saints – but I wouldn’t be surprised if Wolff doesn’t play. You don’t practice, you don’t play. I’ll be surprised if they play him, and it sucks cause I want him out there.

    • Mr. Magee

      Didn’t see your comment when I posted above… Totally agree with your points

  • Phils Goodman

    Fingers and toes crossed for Earl Wolff being activated. They will probably be able to make that decision based on how he responds today.