Anderson: ‘It’s All On Me’

The last thing the Eagles wanted to do was make it easy for Drew Brees and the Saints’ offense.

But after Nick Foles found Zach Ertz for a 3-yard touchdown that put the Eagles up 24-23 with 4:54 left, a special-teams mishap gave New Orleans the ball at the Eagles’ 48 yard line.

Darren Sproles took Alex Henery’s return down the right sideline for 39 yards. Cary Williams finally brought Sproles down, but was whistled for a horse-collar tackle.

So, what happened?

“I tried to do a little something different at the end, and I got caught inside,” said Eagles special-teams ace Colt Anderson. “I should have been outside. I got greedy. I was trying to make the play and ended up getting myself out of position. Read more »

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Oakland Raiders

The following Eagles are inactive for tonight’s game against the Cowboys: QB Matt Barkley, safety Earl Wolff, safety Colt Anderson, CB Curtis Marsh, RB Matthew Tucker, guard/center Julian Vandervelde and OT Dennis Kelly.

Wolff had missed four games in a row before returning last week briefly against the Bears. But his knee issue re-surfaced, and he won’t go. Nate Allen and Patrick Chung will start at safety. Kurt Coleman (hamstring) will be the first backup. He missed last week’s game. The Eagles also have Keelan Johnson as a backup. Read more »

Making Sense Of the Eagles’ Inactives

Eagles Safety Earl Wolff defends against Chargers

The following Eagles are inactive for tonight’s game against the Bears: QB Matt Barkley, safety Colt Anderson, CB Curtis Marsh, RB Matthew Tucker, safety Kurt Coleman, OT Matt Tobin and OT Dennis Kelly.

Anderson (knee) and Coleman (hamstring) were both injured last week and ruled out on Friday. Their absence will be a big factor on special teams.

Earl Wolff (knee) makes his return after missing the previous four games with a knee injury. He’s expected to rotate in at safety with Patrick Chung alongside Nate Allen. Read more »

Eagles-Bears Injury Report

Eagles Cornerback Brandon Boykin watches helmet off
Here is the Eagles’ injury report for Sunday night’s home game against the Bears:

Out: S Colt Anderson (knee), S Kurt Coleman (hamstring)

Probable: CB Brandon Boykin (concussion), LB Najee Goode (hamstring), LB Mychal Kendricks (knee), WR Brad Smith (hamstring), S Earl Wolff (knee)

The most significant piece of news is that Boykin made it through the concussion protocol and is expected to play against Chicago. That’s big, particularly because standout wide receiver Brandon Marshall will line up in the slot from time to time.

Also of note is that Wolff will likely make his return after missing several weeks with a knee injury. Billy Davis plans on easing Wolff back in, so don’t expect him to be taking all the reps at safety opposite Nate Allen. He will likely rotate with Patrick Chung. Read more »

Game Review: Eagles Defense Vs. Vikings

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Here’s a position-by-position look at the Eagles’ defensive performance after having watched the All-22 from Sunday’s game.

DEFENSIVE LINE

* Going in, the Eagles should have expected to dominate the Vikings’ ground game, given that Adrian Peterson and Toby Gerhart were out. And that’s what happened. Matt Asiata needed 30 carries to get to 51 yards (1.7 YPC). The pass-rush could have been better, but Matt Cassel did a good job of getting the ball out quick, and most of the problems through the air were the fault of the secondary. Read more »

Zone Read: Eagles-Vikings, the Day After

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Minnesota Vikings

Going into Sunday’s game against the Vikings, the Eagles appeared to be peaking at the right time.

They had won five straight, were in the driver’s seat in the NFC East and looked like a team capable of making some noise in the postseason.

Less than 24 hours after kickoff, the outlook has changed a bit. The 48-30 loss to the Vikings was either just one bad letdown game or a true reality check of where this team is.

Keeping that in mind, let’s take a point-by-point look at some of the issues that surfaced in Minnesota, debuting The Kapadia Concern Scale. Each issue is given a ranking from 1 to 10. Read more »

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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Eagles Training Camp Preview: Safeties

Nate AllenEach day this week, we’ll take a look at a different position group as we count down to training camp.

What’s changed?

Let’s go ahead and allow Kurt Coleman to explain it.

“Not to say that the safeties aren’t going to be called on to make plays against the run, but we’re not going to be the first guys onto the scene,” he said this spring. “It’s going to be a big change for us, which is kind of good. It allows us to sit back and read the QB a little more, be more patient.”

During the 2011 and 2012 seasons, Eagles safeties had big-time run responsibilities. That not only led to struggles against opposing tailbacks, but disastrous results against play-action.

“Any time you ask the secondary to be primary B or A gap run defenders, you’re just asking for trouble on play-action and deep balls,” said Billy Davis. “I hate to talk too much about last season not being here, but just all the transition and all the different communications that happened, I don’t know how you fight through that and play good. I really don’t.”

From a personnel standpoint, the Eagles made additions, but just like with the cornerbacks, there’s no guarantee that the new guys will provide a significant upgrade.

The Birds signed Patrick Chung, who was benched by the Patriots last season. They also took a flier on Kenny Phillips, a talented player who has struggled through knee injuries. And they drafted Earl Wolff out of N.C. State in the fifth round.

Meanwhile, Coleman and Nate Allen return with hopes that they can produce better results in a different scheme. The Eagles also brought back special-teams ace Colt Anderson.

The pressing question: What are fair expectations for Phillips?

If the Eagles were getting a healthy Phillips, there would be legitimate reason for excitement. But the signs so far have not been promising. For starters, he signed for no guaranteed money. That means, in all likelihood, he didn’t receive a better offer elsewhere.

In the spring, he missed portions of OTAs because of his left knee, the one he had microfracture surgery on back in 2009.

The hope – for the Eagles, for Phillips and for the fans – is that he can get healthy enough to be a productive player, especially since he is only 26-years-old. But hope and expectations are two different things. And with the opener about seven weeks away, there’s no guarantee he’ll even be on the 53-man roster.

Don’t be surprised if…

Wolff competes for playing time as a rookie. Many seem to be writing off the N.C. State product as a backup in Year 1, but it’s not like the Eagles have Pro Bowlers ahead of him.

Wolff (5-11, 209) has the physical tools Chip Kelly covets, having run a 4.44 at the Combine. And he was a three-year starter in college. He will need to impress during training camp, but nothing is off the table. During the team’s final mini-camp, position coaches told him “everything’s open” when it comes to the safety position.

It’s possible that Wolff spends his first season as a backup/special-teams player. But there’s also a chance the other Eagles’ safeties falter and he gets a shot to contribute right away.

Roster battles to watch

This is probably the most wide-open position on the team. During the spring, Allen and Chung got the bulk of first-team reps, but others mixed in quite a bit.

As things stand now, barring injury, Chung seems like the safest bet to make the roster. Wolff should be on the final 53 too. And given the importance Kelly seems to place on special teams, I’d be surprised if Anderson didn’t make the cut.

That leaves one or two spots for Allen, Coleman and Phillips. Of that group, Allen is the most likely to stick. And the Coleman/Phillips decision, if there is one, could come down to Phillips’ health.

Like I said, there’s a lot still to be determined at safety in the coming weeks.

Follow Sheil Kapadia on Twitter and e-mail him at skapadia@phillymag.com.
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Eagles Re-Sign Colt Anderson, Jon Dorenbos

The Eagles made a couple moves that will affect their special teams today, re-signing safety Colt Anderson and long-snapper Jon Dorenbos.

“We are excited Jon and Colt will remain members of our team,” said Eagles general manager Howie Roseman in a statement. “These are two players who bring not only ability but a great amount of character to their respective positions. We anticipate they’ll both continue to have a strong impact as leaders on special teams. Coach [Chip] Kelly and I spoke about both players throughout the past several weeks and we both thought it was important for our club moving forward that we get a deal done with Jon and Colt before they hit the free agent market.”

Anderson is the Birds’ best special-teams player. He led the Eagles with 166 special-teams points (tracked by coaches), even though he missed a pair of games as he recovered from a torn ACL suffered late in the 2011 season. He was the first man down on coverage 34 times, second on the team to only Brandon Hughes.

Anderson also started four games at safety and had some nice moments, especially against the run. He showed he was capable of filling in as a backup when necessary The 27-year-old inked a one-year deal.

Dorenbos, meanwhile, signed a four-year deal. He joined the team in 2006 and has appeared in 101 games for the Eagles. Prior to landing in Philadelphia, Dorenbos had stops in Buffalo and Tennessee. He turns 33 in July.

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