Chip Kelly told reporters Monday that the starters will not play in the preseason finale against the Jets. That likely includes Patrick Chung, who has nailed down a starting job. As for the other post?
“I think we’ll get some work depending on how Billy [Davis] wants to rotate those guys back there, so we may get an opportunity to see them” said Kelly. “I think Pat may not go on Thursday but the other guys will go. Trying to finalize it that way.”
“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.
“We were again our own worst enemy on the offensive side of the ball,” Kelly said. “We turned it over three times. One was on a punt return by Damaris [Johnson] and the one [Bryce Brown fumble] that goes through the end zone. And besides that, the two big penalties where we had huge first downs where we get them called back because we got penalties, whether it was on the 4th-and-1 or on the third down early in the first half. So those are the things that kill drives – the penalties and the turnovers. We need to continue to work on that.”
Billy Davis indicated today that he’ll make his final evaluations on starters after Saturday night’s preseason game against the Jaguars.
Keeping that in mind, here’s a position-by-position look at which spots are up for grabs, along with comments from Davis.
Chip Kelly has not run a particularly physical training camp. And while there has been some occasional tackling to the ground during individual drills, typically the players are asked to thud — or simulate tackling without bringing the ball carrier down.
Is it tough to just flip the switch?
“It’s a totally different mindset,” said Kurt Coleman. “We’ve gone wrap-up and it is what it is, it gives you good form but when you go live and it’s a totally different beast. And you saw guys — I remember Mychal [Kendricks] came down and smacked the running back [Blount] and kind of bounced off him, that’s the kind of stuff you can’t prepare for when you just thud it up.”
Practice had been over for a time and just a few stragglers remained around the NovaCare fields. Jason Avant was feeding balls into the jugs machine for a growing legion of eager young receivers. A group of reporters milled around mining for nuggets and subjects to interview.
A short distance away in their own little piece of land stood Brian Dawkins and Nate Allen, locked in conversation. Dawkins took in practice following Donovan McNabb’s retirement ceremony and had some pointers for the 25-year-old safety.
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?