Nate Allen didn’t know about the free-agent safety additions until he got the call from Chip Kelly.
“He was just saying, ‘It’s just, we need competition out here,’” said Allen.
But anyone who watched this team last year knows the situation is far more urgent than that.
Pro Football Focus has safety rankings from the 2012 season based on overall performance. Of the 88 safeties evaluated, Allen ranked 84th and Kurt Coleman 85th.The Eagles yielded a league-worst 33 touchdowns through the air. Opposing quarterbacks had an average rating of 99.6 against them. (Only Kansas City [99.9] was more generous.)
The Eagles understandably made safety a priority this offseason, adding Kenny Phillips and Patrick Chung to the fold in free agency. Then they used a fifth-round pick on Earl Wolff in April’s draft.
So, where does it all stand now that we’re a few weeks into the offseason program?
From Chip Kelly’s success in the red zone to Mychal Kendricks’ tackling issues, here are three Eagles numbers that matter.
This is the first in a series. Throughout the next week or two, we’ll take a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ roster. Today, we start with the safeties.
Howie Roseman was high on this safety class heading in, and admitted afterwards that “there were a lot of safeties that we wanted in this draft.”
Despite the temptations the Eagles stayed disciplined and watched while 12 safeties came off the board (Kenny Vaccaro, Eric Reid, Matt Elam, John Cyprien, D.J. Swearinger, T.J. McDonald, J.J. Wilcox, Shawn Williams, Duron Harmon, Duke Williams, Shamarko Thomas and Phillip Thomas) and were content to walk away with the 5-11, 209-pound Earl Wolff, whom they selected in the fifth round with the 136th overall pick.
As recently as last offseason, it looked like the assets acquired in the Donovan McNabb and Kevin Kolb trades would play a major role in re-shaping the Eagles’ defense.
But looking ahead to 2013, that probably won’t end up being the case.
The Eagles will have options to fill their safety needs in free agency and the draft. This year’s group of safety prospects is considered deep and talented. But as we’ve seen in years past, going into the draft searching for specific needs can lead to mistakes.
And this is not an either/or situation. The Eagles should look to identify young safety talent in free agency and address the position if possible in the draft. As we wrote about on Sunday, the Birds are in good cap shape and could be in position to take advantage of a market where the supply might very well out-weigh the demand.
Here is a look at some of the Eagles’ options.
It seems to be a story we write pretty much every offseason around these parts: The Eagles are looking for safety help.
They’ve tried and failed in previous years to fill the gaping hole in the back end of the defense. And so, Howie Roseman will try once again this offseason to find safety help in the draft and/or free agency.
“To me, that’s the hardest position to evaluate in college football is safeties,” Roseman said last week 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.”
The good news for the Eagles is that this appears to be a pretty good group of college prospects.
The top of the Eagles’ 2010 draft has been a popular topic of conversation here in Philadelphia, and not for the purposes of throwing verbal bouquets at the parties in question.
Brandon Graham, the choice over Jason Pierre-Paul and Earl Thomas.
Nate Allen, the Donovan McNabb pick and successor to Brian Dawkins that just doesn’t have those Dawkins’ qualities.
Both have spent time recovering from serious knee injuries and both have spent time down on the mat. Graham’s struggles have been highlighted more given that he was the 13th overall pick and it’s so easy to contrast the start of his career with that of Pierre-Paul’s. Beat up and labeled a bust, Graham looks like he has turned the corner and his stock has rebounded.
Allen’s, meanwhile, has taken a hit, as Andy Reid announced on Wednesday that Kurt Coleman and Colt Anderson would be the starting safeties against the Redskins this week.
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From Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie to Nate Allen to Brandon Graham, here’s an All-22 look at the latest miscues (and a couple bright spots) from the Eagles’ defense.