Safety Dance

Posted: December 21st, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 67 Comments »

I like the duo of Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman as the Eagles Safeties.  I’ve felt good about them since last  year.  I remain steadfast in my support of them.  And I am in the minority on this issue from what I can tell.  At times I feel like me and their moms are the only supporters of this duo.

Let’s talk about the players.  I have been a Nate Allen fan since before he was an Eagle.  Here’s my pre-draft write up on him:

Veteran FS started 39 games for the Bulls. Complete player. Good run defender. Diagnoses plays well. Can cover man or zone. Covers the slot receiver at times. Has the footwork and agility to be effective in that role. Can also be a centerfielder. Gets a good break on the ball. Good nose for the ball. Knows how to slip blocks without getting out of position. Takes good angles. Has some pop when he hits. Knocked a RB’s helmet off vs Rutgers with a hit. Wrap-up tackler. Finished 2nd on the team in tackles in 2009. Solid athlete and playmaker. Broke up play-action pass in end zone in the win over FSU. Bit for 1/2 second, then turned and got into position. Got his hand up and swatted the ball down. Broke up 12 passes in his career. Picked off 9. Had 142 solo stops and 5 TFLs. Plays on STs.

Had a good showing at the Senior Bowl. Looked especially good at man coverage in the practice sessions.

Should go in the 2nd round.

I hope you can tell from reading that bio that I liked Nate.  I felt like he could be a good starting FS for a long time.  He wasn’t dynamic in any way, but was good in all areas.

Nate got picked by the Eagles and had a good rookie season.  He picked off 3 passes and looked like a potential ball hawk.  He was a solid run defender and showed good promise as a blitzer.  He certainly wasn’t perfect, but any issues he had were related to a lack of experience and not a lack of talent.       

Unfortunately Nate got hurt last December.  He came back this year and has been up and down. His knee is good for a while, but then seems to wear down.  A full offseason should get him back to 100 percent.  Nate has looked very good at times.  He was terrific in the Buffalo game.  He played well in the win over WAS.  There have been some mistakes as well.  The worst moment was Nate biting on the play fake vs NE and letting Welker get wide open for an easy TD.  Dumb.

Nate has made other mistakes, but I think he’s better than people realize.  One of the problems with Eagles fans is that Nate isn’t judged fairly.  Eagles fans are looking for Brian Dawkins Jr.  You have to understand that Dawk is almost certain to be a Hall of Famer.  You don’t replace guys like that with stars very often.

Judge Nate against reasonable standards.  Who in the NFC East is a better Safety?  LaRon Landry, although he makes a lot more mistakes than casual fans know.  Kenny Phillips?  Check out his 2010 vs Nate’s:

KP – 16 starts – 60 solo tackles – 1 INT – 5 PDs

NA – 13 starts – 42 solo tackles – 3 INTs – 8 PDs – 2 sacks – 1 FF

Nate isn’t having a great year in 2011, but that’s largely due to playing on a sore knee.  He’s had some good games.  It isn’t as if he’s a liability on the field.  Jarrad Page was the guy you couldn’t trust. Nate is the guy you can’t completely trust.  He makes too many mistakes this year for anyone to be thrilled with his play.  Let’s just keep things in perspective.

If Nate comes out next year and plays poorly, that’s a different story.  If he’s healthy and struggles, then we’ve got a problem.  If he has knee issues, then we’ve got a problem.  I don’t anticipate either of those happening.

I hope the Kurt Coleman detractors have largely gone away at this point.  Kurt got off to a very slow start this year.  He struggled vs STL.  He had the awful missed tackle of Victor Cruz in the Giants game that led to a TD.  He got benched, but played well when he returned to the field.  He’s had one hiccup since then, albeit a big one – his missed GL tackle in the Arizona game.  That was just a bonehead mistake and I’m sure Kurt would tell you that.

Since returning to the lineup Kurt has 4 INTs and a FF.  He’s tackled pretty well and been a solid run defender.  He’s gotten to blitz in recent weeks and has shown some potential in that area.  For those who are curious, I did like Kurt a lot prior to the draft.  Here are my notes on him:

3-year starter who I like more and more as I watch him. Not a great athlete. Not a physical specimen. Just a good solid Safety who got better each season and developed into a real good player. Football player, not an athlete. And I mean that as a great compliment. Finished his career with 9 INTs, 10.5 TFLs, 5 FFs, 13 PDs, and a pair of blocked kicks. Equally good against run or pass. Smart player. Knowledge, instincts allow him to jump routes. Covers the slot receiver in some sets. Not a natural centerfielder, but he can cover some ground. Made a great play in the early 4th Qtr against Michigan when he got over to the sideline and picked off a pass. Went up high for the ball and made an impressive grab. Held on as he fell to the ground. Hits with power. Solid tackler. Takes good angles in pursuit. Coleman got suspended by the Big 10  for a questionable hit on Illinois QB Eddie McGee. Didn’t look like a dirty play to me.

Kurt didn’t have a great postseason. He was up and down at the Senior Bowl. That game shows which players have the most pure talent and athletic ability. That’s not Kurt. He did okay at the Combine. That’s not his forte either. You need to see him playing for his team in a real game to appreciate what a good player he is.

I think he’ll go in the 4th or 5th round.

I think ideally Kurt is a #3 Safety and STs demon.  As the NFL gets more and more pass oriented and athletic, guys like Kurt will have some issues when faced with man coverage.  Kurt simply lacks the speed to run with some receivers.  I do think that with time he can become a player who is smart and anticipates plays, making his lack of pure speed less of a factor.  I wrote recently that he could develop into a Ryan Clark type of player.  Kurt is starting now and playing pretty well.

Next year Kurt will battle Nate and Jaiquawn Jarrett for a starting spot.  The coaches would love Jarrett to take Kurt’s role since he’s bigger and has higher upside.  Kurt isn’t going to give the spot away.  Jarrett isn’t riding the pine right now because he can’t play.  He’s on there because Kurt hasn’t done anything to deserve losing his spot.

Jarrett played pretty well in the Arizona game.  Larry Fitzgerald got the best of him, but Larry does that to veteran CBs, let alone rookies Safeties (and before the Juan bashing starts, it was Asante Samuel who bailed on his assignment, not a bad play call).

I think the Eagles have 3 pretty good young Safeties.  I think adding an early draft pick would be a mistake.  Allen was an early pick.  So was Jarrett.  Coleman was a late pick, but has shown that he’s got NFL talent.  Safety is a position that can take some time to develop.  Brian Dawkins wasn’t an elite star in 1997, his 2nd year.  I remember reading a season review and the writer made mention that Dawkins had to improve on his tackling if he was ever going to live up to his full potential.  Think about that for a minute.

For those who don’t like the Eagles young trio of Safeties, what would you propose?  The Eagles could take another player early in the draft, but that guy might struggle as a rookie.  And remember that all the great pre-draft stuff said about the player would be very similar to the pre-draft stuff on Allen and Jarrett.  There are no guarantees that a new rookie would improve anything.

What about free agency?  You could get a stud completely worthless, arrogant, mouthy, highly overpaid human suckfest like Antrel Rolle.  Can you tell that I’m not his biggest fan?  OJ Atogwe was a pricey pickup for the Skins.  He’s battled injuries all year and hasn’t come close to being worth the money.  Former Eagle Quintin Mikell has been solid for the Rams, but hasn’t been the force that the Rams hoped.  He’s productive and solid, but isn’t a guy that offenses have to plan for.  He’s got a very impressive 5 FFs, but the rest of his numbers are just solid.  Is that a guy you pay big money to?  No.  I’m glad he got it, but he’s not worth big money.

We’d all love the Eagles to go find Dawk, Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu, or someone like that, but these are rare talents.  You simply can’t hold the Eagles (or any team) to that standard.  Can the Eagles upgrade on the current set of Safeties?  That’s certainly possible, but I think the player would have to be special.  I don’t see any player like that in this draft.

LaRon Landry is set to be a FA.  He played 9 games last year and 8 games this year.  A strained achilles has hurt him this season.  I don’t dispute that Landry can be an impact player, but he must be used a certain way.  And do you risk giving a mega-payday to a guy coming off consecutive injury shortened seasons?  Risky.

I’d rather stick with the group we have at Safety.  We do have room for a 4th guy.  We could go for a veteran or add another young guy to the mix.  I’d love to count on Colt Anderson to get that job, but with a torn ACL, it doesn’t seem like a good idea.

The guys we have will be a year older and a year wiser next season.  They will have a had a full offseason to get physically ready and to work on their skills and the scheme.  I really think the wise decision is sticking with the young guys and seeing how they play in 2012.  At that point we’ll get a better feel for who can do what and who can’t.

If you have access to a time machine and can bring me Wes Hopkins and Brian Dawkins in their prime, I’ll gladly kick Nate, Kurt, and Jaiquawn to the curb.  Aside from that, I just don’t see great options.  I’m genuinely excited to see what the young guys can do in 2012.

* * * * *

I know more than a few of you are very down on Nate Allen.  Feel free to make a case against him, but give me specifics.  What is he doing wrong?  Saying “he sucks” or “he’s a missed tackle machine” are the kind of criticisms I’ll just ignore.  Those are generalities.  If you can explain a certain weakness he has in an insightful way, go for it.  If’ I’m overlooking something, I’ll be glad to acknowledge it.

I know some of you want a physical presence back there.  Jarrett is supposed to fill that role in the future.  Coleman is a solid hitter.  Nate is okay, but isn’t a guy who will light suckas up.

* * * * *

My column is more post-game stuff on the Jets win.

* * * * *

Here is a good article on the Eagles slow start and resurgence.  Funny stuff.  And insightful.

67 Comments on “Safety Dance”

  1. 1 Anonymous said at 7:05 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Sort of OT, but since a portion of your post relates to looking to maybe taking a safety early in the upcoming draft. Right now Mcshay has us at 11 taking…wait for it….a lb…..Luke Kuechly. I would be shocked if we took a lb at 11. Now if the “honey badger” is at 11 (assuming he comes out)…..hmmmmm…. what do you think on that. Also, McShay has the skins taking RGIII early before Barkley. BTW, the honey badger don’t give sh#t, he takes what he wants.

  2. 2 Septhinox said at 7:28 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Reid is not going to take a LB in the first round. He will take (I’m calling it) Matt Barkley. Watch. 🙂

  3. 3 Anonymous said at 8:00 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Eagles would love a QB, but none of the Big 3 will reach us.

  4. 4 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 6:04 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I would LOVE it if we were able to go and get RG3, but Juan’s fight to keep his job have taken us out of that possibility…

  5. 5 Scott Mather said at 9:04 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Do you see AR going for another 2nd round QB, such as Foles or Tannehill, to develop behind Vick?

  6. 6 Anonymous said at 7:59 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Matheiu is only a Soph. We’ll talk about him next year. Great player, interesting pro prospect.

    Reid hasn’t taken a LB in the 1st round, but this is a different world. Reid never had a small OL in the past. We do now. Reid never ran the Wide-9 in the past. We do now.

    It is clear to everyone that the defense must have help at LB. That doesn’t mean Reid WILL take a LB, but sticking with the fact he hasn’t done it is kinda bogus since so much else has changed.

  7. 7 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 6:05 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I’ve heard a lot about him the past couple of weeks. Is he really projected to play on the outside in an NFL defense? He’s 5-8 or 5-9 right? I would presume that his only place would be in the slot…

  8. 8 Anonymous said at 7:10 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    I feel the same way about Coleman and Allen. I was also happy to see how Coleman handled himself between being benched and then starting again. Early in the season Coleman got sloppy when it came to tackling but in coverage I thought he was either just a little out of position or the receiver just made an excellent play. I’m not done of this year yet..(GO JETS) but we have a lot to be excited about next year. Andy always keeps us on our toes!

  9. 9 Yuri said at 7:52 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    I thought that Nate Allen was not that good against the run at least last year–at least there were a few “being bowled over” plays. Do you think it is still a liability for him?

  10. 10 Anonymous said at 8:02 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    I don’t think Nate is a liability in run defense. Re-watch the Buffalo game. He made a ton of tackles vs them. And they had Fred Jackson, a big RB.

    Nate isn’t a great thumper. That’s not his strength. He’s best in space playing the ball. I think he’s an effective run defender, but it certainly isn’t his strength.

  11. 11 Sjampen said at 8:12 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Im a little down on our safeties right now, but I see where you’re coming from. Coleman is a player I like. He might not be the same kind of athlete I would like, but sometimes you just need a player in the backfield thats tough and plays physical. A player like that might not be flashy like Reed or Troy Polamalu, but I think you need those kind of non-divas. I hope Jarrett can win the battle next year and bring all that Coleman does in a more athletic and NFL suited body.

    I had such high hopes for Nate Allen. Its super unfair to compare him to B-Dawk, but i can’t help it. Nate Allen is supposed to be the playmaker down their, because Coleman sure isn’t. It sucks that he and Graham got hurt. Nevertheless I just don’t think Allen is performing. He’s stats might be OK, but he fails my eye test. I hope this is a down year due to his injuries.

    But i can’t help but think that something has to do with the LBs. How many assignments were transferred to the safeties because our LBs suck? How many times did our safeties have to battle through an offensive lineman running in front of opposing teams tailback? Everybody wants guys like Polamalu and the non-injured Bob Sanders to smash through the line and hammer the RB down in the backfield, but those guys are special. I think the presence of a couple of tackle machines in front of our young safeties will help more than drafting another safety. Again, this is were my huge Mancrush on Kuechly falls perfectly. Kuechly won’t let OL-men go trough to the second level.

  12. 12 Anonymous said at 8:42 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Color me as one of the EMB “Eagles Blog” posters who 100% agrees with you. Sure they have had some piss poor moments, but I like their trajectory. I’m also interested to see what Jarrett shows with a full offseason.

  13. 13 Anonymous said at 9:16 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    “I like their trajectory” is a great phrase. If Nate stays healthy and polishes his game, he could end up being an elite safety within a year or two. That’s right, elite. If Kurt can improve his pass coverage while keeping the fire in his belly, he will be a major force on the field. He’s already a baller. I like the two guys and I like what could be the future of our defensice backfield. Trajectory, baby.

  14. 14 Alex Karklins said at 8:44 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    A bit off topic, but this is Dallas week, so here is empirical proof that the Cowboys do, in fact, suck:
    I challenge anyone to come up with a worse Christmas song than this.

  15. 15 Anonymous said at 12:00 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    The horror, the horror…

  16. 16 Anonymous said at 1:56 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    “We Aren’t The World”……….?

  17. 17 Anonymous said at 9:28 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    I really think the Eagles will pass on Luke Kuechly if he is available when they pick…With almost a surplus of good LB’s in this draft, I sense that Andy Reid will feel he can get another LB in the 2nd round that could provide a similar contribution that Kuechly could…I actually think the Eagles take either Alshon Jeffery, Quinton Coples or David DeCastro with their pick.

  18. 18 Michael J Wallis II said at 9:33 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Flat out NO!!! To any 2nd round LBs. What is Reid on them, 0 for 8? Caver, Gardner, McCoy, etc.

  19. 19 Anonymous said at 10:38 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    We won’t take an OL in the 1st round. Isn’t needed.

    Jeffrey? No. Coples? Not our kind of DE. As a DT? Maybe, but he could well be gone by our pick.

  20. 20 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 6:19 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    If we assume we get to pick in the 11-20 range and we wont pick OL, RB, QB, TE, S and there’s no DTs worth taking there, we only have WR, DE, CB and LB left…
    That would leave us with the following options on draft day (in my opinion):
    1. CB Claiborne (probably gone)
    2. ILB Kuechly
    3. CB Kirkpatrick
    4. DE Mercilus
    5. CB Jenkins (off the field issues)
    6. WR Floyd (only if Jackson leaves)
    7. OLB Brown

    So it’s really down to Kuechly, Kirkpatrick, Mercilus and Brown!
    Who would you rather have?

  21. 21 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 6:07 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I would like everybody who likes Jeffery to go and watch some film of this kid. He is Mike Williams 2.0! He is going to be a major bust in the NFL… He doesn’t have the release speed of the line, and doesn’t seem to get any separation in his breaks. I wouldn’t touch him before the 3rd round…

  22. 22 Michael J Wallis II said at 9:40 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Also Tommy, Saw this on Pro Football Focus.

    “Center Jason Kelce has allowed 30 overall pressures this year. The next highest by a center is 20.” Any Thoughts? Has Kelce really been the worst center in the league by far? Because his pass blocking is supposed to be his strength, no? We’ve all seen his 280 lb ass get pushed back in the run game consistently thats for sure.

  23. 23 Anonymous said at 10:40 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Kelce’s specialty isn’t pass pro. His specialty is blocking on the 2nd level (LBs) or out in space. He’s great at pulling and blocking on screens. We knew anchoring in pass pro would be an issue. Just look at his ankles. Small, thin. He’ll focus on bulking up this offseason.

  24. 24 ChowderFACE said at 11:01 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    I cant wait too see how much of a full offseason will have for some players on this team. Remember the biggest jump is usually from year 1 to year 2 and we could get a big bump next year from players like BG, NA, etc who didnt get an offseason plus were coming off injuries too boot. I think there will be a great contribution next season with guys in a conditioning program OTAs etc where Andy and his staff have a good track record in teaching the aspects of the game at the pro level

  25. 25 Anonymous said at 9:55 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    “You have to understand that Dawk is almost certain to be a Hall of Famer”
    I disagree . By my count, there are only 21 DBs in the Hall and almost all of those are CBs. Dawk came up small in the 4 championship game losses and the SB. I think it is more likely that if any safety from this era makes it to the Hall it will be Ed Reed, Troy Polamalu or Rodney Harrison.

  26. 26 Anonymous said at 10:36 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    The Safety position has become a feature spot only in recent years. Dawk is really the first guy who brought it to prominence. There were plenty of good Safeties before him, but those guys were usually good at one thing. Dawk was a defensive weapon. He could cover like a CB. Hit like a LB. Good centerfielder with ball skills. Able to play in the box and stuff the run. Great blitzer. I think he’s got a real good shot at the HOF, as does Harrision, Reed, and Polamalu.

  27. 27 Anonymous said at 4:46 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I’d be absolutely shocked if Dawk doesn’t make it to the HoF. He’s a differencemaker, which is very rare for a Safety. I do agree that Ed Reed, Polamalu and Harrison should be elected as well.

  28. 28 Anonymous said at 10:25 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    I agree with you on Nate. Think we need to give him a chance to get the knee totally healthy and see where he is next year. Having a bad wheel for a DB is obvi not a good thing. Could be slowing him down by just a step.

    I also agree Kurt is not a true starting caliber safety. It’s for this reason that I wish we’d give Jarrett some PT. We’re 6-8 we have no real shot to win a SB and have to have some unlikely things happen to even make the playoffs. I’d prefer to give a guy we think has a much higher ceiling game experience, so we’re not working through growing pains next year. I know in the NFL though, coaches always go with who gives them the best chance to win “right now” and that’s probably Kurt.

  29. 29 Anonymous said at 10:29 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Great post. I think the guys we have suffer not only from Dawkins shadow in terms of talent, but also from trying to replace two long-time fan favorites. Combine that with the skepticism that the failed replacements prior to the current guys bred and they have a hard road to acceptance.

    By definition, the safety position is impossibly difficult when the nine guys in front of them are not performing. I always see it as a double-edged sword when the safeties get a lot of tackles. On the one hand, it is certainly better than no one making the tackles. On the other hand, though, it would be better if the ball carrier never reached them.

  30. 30 Anonymous said at 10:40 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    You had me at “Great post”.

    Safeties definitely affected by the less than great LB play.

  31. 31 James Coe said at 6:25 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I (like you) would be pleased to see us take Luke Kuechly in the first to solidify the middle, but what’s your opinion on taking Audie Cole in the 3rd to challenge Chaney at SAM?

    I assume you’ll write a post on it in due course, but who’s your preferred LB prospect if Kuechly is off the board when we pick?

  32. 32 Anonymous said at 8:23 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Cole is a good SAM, but I don’t know if he’s what we want at SAM. This is where we need to know who the DC is and if the system is getting tweaked.

  33. 33 Anonymous said at 10:52 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    On a side note what happened to all the Danny Watkins haters. Dude is turning out to be a force. Still makes mistakes and needs work on his pass pro, but a full off season will take care of that. I think he will be the next logan mankins. Get him in the weight room and work on those feet. Kid is already a road grater in the run game.

    Tommy, I don’t think the steelers would
    Let him go, but what about mike Wallace as a desean replacement? I personally think tr steelers would be crazy to let him walk but he’s gonna want a big payday an the steelers pay defensive players first.

  34. 34 Anonymous said at 11:26 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Danny has shown real good potential. Once he masters pass pro, he’ll be a force at RG.

  35. 35 Anonymous said at 11:28 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    Mike Wallace would be awesome, but that seems unlikely to happen. I think the Steelers will find a way to keep him. I’d love to be wrong.

  36. 36 Anonymous said at 4:44 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I might be in the minority here but I still wanna keep Desean.

  37. 37 Anonymous said at 12:03 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    OK, I’ll man up. I hated the pick. He’s been playing good lately and I’m happy to be wrong. The guy is still close to 100 years-old, though, so we’ll see how long and strong is his career.

  38. 38 Anonymous said at 12:08 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    But he didn’t play football that long. He doesn’t have the wear and tear on his body like someone who played from 18-19 y/o on. You have to remember he only has played for I think three or four years prior to this season. That is big for longevity. He has the wear of a 22 y/o.

  39. 39 Alex Karklins said at 9:00 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    He did, however, play hockey and rugby, and worked as a firefighter, so . . .

  40. 40 Anonymous said at 11:28 PM on December 21st, 2011:

    I agree that the three guys we have are the three guys we go forward with unless we make a veteran move, but Tommy, I can’t say I’m as comfortable as you are that Nate Allen’s knee will heal and he’ll be back to his old self. That’s the same argument we used for Stew Bradley.

    “A full offseason should get him back to 100 percent.” isn’t exactly an airtight argument, but I think we invested a lot at safety, and if two of the three are pretty good and not liabilities, the rest of the defense, with improved LB play, can function with those guys back there even if they don’t improve a whole lot.

  41. 41 Anonymous said at 12:46 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Remember that Nate didn’t have a torn ACL. That’s one of the reasons I’m comfortable with his recovery.

    Brandon Graham is a mystery. We don’t know how his knee will respond.

  42. 42 Anonymous said at 12:18 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I said a while back if you looked at your DGRs on Allen together it would tell the story. Sheil K has done so and there’s a record of inconsistency, to put it generously, and consistency of poor play to be more accurate. In addition to his poor run D there’s the fact that he still hasn’t figured out how to cover and probably won’t in the near future. Nate Allen denial may very well be one of many factors that is alone the difference between playing or watching the postseason this year. I like Coleman and have been consistent about that, though he has been a bit rushed into action this year and that has led to a couple of bad games. I said Jarrett was a bad pick in the 2nd and stand by it, tho he’s probably better than Allen right now. Opposing offensive coordinators gameplanned to attack Allen in preseason and will do so on the last day of the season because it’s been on average so successful all year… the same will likely be true next year.

  43. 43 Anonymous said at 12:56 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I also said on draft week that CB Brandon Harris and S Quinton Carter would have been better than S Jarrett and CB Marsh, and that seems to still be the case. Carter has had his rough spots but he has outplayed Allen, Page and Jarrett this year and stops the run. I remember your objections about Harris as a cover corner but Marsh’s special teams gaffes seriously call to question whether he can figure out how to play CB in the NFL.

  44. 44 Anonymous said at 1:49 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Marsh fumbled a ball on a trick play and then had a punt bounce off him. That stuff has nothing to do with playing CB. Marsh showed in the summer that he’s physically gifted. He just needs experience as he learns the subtleties of playing CB.

    Harris has barely gotten on the field for Houston.

    Carter seems like a box Safety for Denver. He hasn’t broken up one pass or had an INT yet. Based on the way they’re using him you can compare him to Kurt or Jarrett, but not Nate.

    I did have Carter rated higher than Jarrett, but personally hated Carter because he was a sloppy tackler.

  45. 45 Anonymous said at 10:45 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    There’s a reason why you don’t see many punt return blockers run into the ball when the punt returner is calling for them to disperse… because it is one of the most elementary no-nos in special teams. That’s the same guy you’d have covering a WR.

  46. 46 Anonymous said at 11:09 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    also being physically gifted doesn’t mean much.. Geoff Pope was the most physically gifted CB in the last few Eagles camps, followed by Pendar or what’s his name.. you have to first have the mental game to go with the basic speed required and if you have perfect size and speed to go with it, great.. Two plays don’t mean that Marsh is a lost cause but it doesn’t look good.

  47. 47 Anonymous said at 1:37 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    What do you mean that Nate can’t cover?

    Lacks the athleticism?
    Misses assignments?

    This is what I mean with being specific.

    Also, on a good portion of pass plays Nate is 15-20 yards downfield. He’s either the centerfielder or playing the deep zone. You’re not going to see him on a lot of those plays unless the ball is coming his way. On a lot of plays when the QB can’t find someone open, Nate is doing his job.

    The coverage errors this year are more mental than anything. Nate didn’t make those mistakes in college. He didn’t make them last year. Dealing with the new coaches, the new scheme, and the inconsistent knee seems to have affected him mentally. He’s guessing on some plays. I don’t anticipate that happening next year, but if it does then we do have a 2-year trend and that is a problem.

  48. 48 Anonymous said at 10:33 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    No, he doesn’t lack the athleticism but he has missed assignments and been out of position on a consistent basis both years. As a rookie he had one or two good games at the beginning then was pretty bad afterward.. again I refer you to your game reviews. A safety must show a certain skill for coverage from the beginning and build on it, because the position requires so much football IQ. Having two shutdown corners makes these lapses all the more hurtful to the team because of the offensive game plan.

    Because he’s a high pick he’s been stubbornly used rather than giving guys like Colt or Jamar Adams a chance. He should be traded or made to compete for a roster spot and then tested as an injury replacement or in garbage time if he makes it.

  49. 49 Anonymous said at 1:58 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I disagree that Coleman should be a third safety due to lack of athletic ability. I’m pretty sure Rex would tell you that “Jim Leonard is a Goddamn good fucking football player (insert more expletives as deemed fit)”. Especially with the talent we have at corner for the foreseeable future you can certainly keep him from being in a ton of man. I’ve played with Safeties who are all world athletes and to be honest I would almost prefer the average athlete who is just a straight up baller. That is because those guys know they have to compensate for their lack of physical beastiness with other things such as intensity, which can have a positive snowballing effect for a defense.

    Bold Prediction: In two years Kurt will be seen as the heart and sole of this defense. (hopefully along with Kuechly)

  50. 50 Dan Jones said at 5:07 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    If he is still starting I agree he will be seen as one of the leaders of the D.
    I’ve noticed Kurt has been playing with a very intense attitude most of this season. Where ever there is a shoving match after the play ends Kurt is getting in someones face.

  51. 51 Anonymous said at 8:32 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I would love for Kurt to become Jim Leonhard/Ryan Clark./whoever. And I definitely think that is possible. At the same time, it would be nice to have Jarrett out there as a 6’2, 210 thumper.

    I am a big Kurt Coleman fan. If you go back and re-read my old SNB posts you’ll see me talking about him over and over. I just don’t want to overrate the guy because I’m a fan. We can’t ignore the fact he’s made some mistakes this year and that he’s gotten beaten on other plays. I do think as he gets smarter/more experienced, his lack of pure speed will be less of an issue.

  52. 52 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 12:06 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Jarrett is only 6-0 and about 195 lbs… Hardly your ideal SS measurements!

  53. 53 Anonymous said at 2:17 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I see what your saying and I agree I think Kurt is going to move over to FS and Jarett will take over his role. I know your not overly down on Nate and relatively speaking I’m not ready to give up on him yet but after looking into my great crystal ball thats what I am coming up with.

  54. 54 F. Tanguy said at 4:34 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    “I remember reading a season review and the writer made mention that Dawkins had to improve on his tackling if he was ever going to live up to his full potential. Think about that for a minute.”

    Whoa, I knew that the beginning of the career of Dawkins wasn’t se great, but reading that… I think he improved as a tackler after that!

    For the safeties, I think it’s very hard to find better players than the ones we have. We could find a 4th prospect in the draft… But certainly, we have to keep ours and let them improve. We have two starters in our three safeties for the moment (not sure who will get the position between Jarrett and Coleman)

  55. 55 Jeppe Elmelund van Ee said at 6:02 AM on December 22nd, 2011:


    I’ve been thinking about this post for awhile. What I want to ask you, or get your opinion about is how important players are vs. coaches.

    The Eagles defense has been on my mind all season. If you look at the specific positions, the Eagles have the potential to be a top 5-10 defense.

    We have the following projected starters on defense in 2011

    Defensive line:
    2 elite DEs in Babin and Cole
    1 Very good DT in Jenkins
    1 good DT in Patterson

    3 mediocre LBs in Rolle, Matthews and Chaney

    1 elite CB in Nnamdi
    1 (should be) elite CB in Asante
    1 very good CB in DRC

    2 mediocre safeties with potential

    Given the fact, that football games are won and lost (give and take) on the lines, we should look good there. Our CBs should be able to cover as good as anyone (not named Revis). Our ’only’ weakness is our LBs (and sometimes our safeties) who just doesn’t seem to play like they belong on a team that wants to be a Super Bowl contender.

    Is it that easy to sum up, and would adding 2-3 good LB’s take this defense over the top? Or is good coaching the real answer?

    Our O-line was okay before Mudd arrived, and made it ELITE with one shortened off-season. Our D-line was mediocre before Washburn arrived and made it ELITE. Our special teams plat has improved a lot with April. Wade Phillips arrived in Texans and made their defense ELITE with one shortened off-season. Jim Leavitt arrives in 49’ers and make their LB corps ELITE with a short off-season. I’m sure you could find many more examples…

    My question is: Do we really need new players or do we have to pay up, and aquire an elite defensive coordinator, elite LB coach and elite defensive backs coach?

  56. 56 Michael J Wallis II said at 6:58 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    To that i would say “Easier said then done” Especially since half the league runs the 3-4 and that eliminates alot of coaches right there.

  57. 57 Anonymous said at 8:35 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I think adding an impact MLB would make a world of difference to this defense.

    Adding another OLB would help.

    A new DC would help as well, although with the right MLB, Juan might be okay. Chaney is the big liability right now.

    Oh…and remember that the D is ranked 10th right now in yards. Improving the RZ D will cut down on points (where we’re 19th). Not that far away from becoming a good D.

  58. 58 Sjampen said at 3:19 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I agree, but I think there should be some changes.

    I like Rolle, but right now none of our LBs can be considered mediocre. They are just plain bad. Now Rolle, shows good stuff and looks like a solid player. Chaney did last year. There is a chance for an OK future, but for now, they’re just bad.

    DRC is a very good CB. He is however a terrible fit for a slot CB and plays that way. Asante is a playmaker and a very good cover guy. He is a nobody in run defense and he seems like he doesn’t wanna play.

    Given that two of our DL are pass rushers(Babin and Jenkins) and we have no LBs, thats a terrible one-sided weakness, and it shows. Go look at Marshawn Lynch beating us.

    I think a new DC would mean the world, but i would like to quote Mr. Lawlor. No way the personnel at Novacare is going into the offseason with the mindset that were fine!

  59. 59 Scott Mather said at 9:06 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I agree with the above sentiments that improving the LB position will help immensely with the safeties. The veiled shot Washburn took at the LBs was pretty damning, IMO.

  60. 60 Dan Hansel said at 9:10 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    One of the intangibles i really like about Kurt is his fire and enthusiasm. Every game I notice him in the middle of some scrum running his chops and getting physical with someone. I don’t think he’s scared of anyone. It pumps up our D. The last time I’ve seen someone with that fire was B. Dawk. I agree w/ you about Nate, give him a full year and a full knee recovery then we can judge him a little better.

  61. 61 Anonymous said at 9:16 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    In general, I agree with Tommy on these guys and the safety market. This is one of those positions where really just isn’t enough talent to go around. We were spoiled for years with B-Dawk and he really allowed JJ to do a lot of things that McDermott and Catsillo just can’t really even think about. What I think hasn’t been discussed here, although certainly been touched on before, is the impact the lock-out had on the second year players and injured players. That really hurt the core of this defense and it appears to be just recovering from that now. Combine that with the new D-Coordinator and the onslaught of free agents and it was a recipe for disaster. Andy really should have seen that one coming. You can’t really orchestrate everything but letting those three things happen at once was probably avoidable.

  62. 62 Anonymous said at 10:56 AM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I think part of the perception problem is that while neither guy has significant weaknesses, (Neither guys trucked, consistently misdiagnoses plays or can’t run down the filed) the strengths aren’t as visible either. While Kurt has some INTs, it seems like our safeties are in “don’t screw up” and not “go make plays” mode. Which is fine. IMO, our D is constructed for the CBs/DL to be the ones who make the plays while the LBs/S clean up the trash. Despite what Juan says, you can’t have 11 playmakers on defense.

  63. 63 Anonymous said at 3:28 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Juan want 14 playmakers on D. Asante Samuel just wants 1.

  64. 64 Anonymous said at 4:03 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Samuel probably hurt himself returning that interception (as he did last year in the 1st Giants game)

  65. 65 Anonymous said at 2:18 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    Is Mark Barron the same type of player as J Jarrett – SS type? I’d love to see us draft a guy who could challange Nate Allen. Is there a good FS you see in the first 3 rounds of this draft? I was happy with Nate last year and this year I see him out of position and backpedaling trying to get into position while Marshon Lynch is running forward. I’d be happy if Nate’s knee is 100% next year and he’s playing better but I’d like some insurance just the same.

  66. 66 Anonymous said at 3:30 PM on December 22nd, 2011:

    I think Barron is the top S in the class. Similar to Nate in that he can hit, tackle, and cover. Probably more physical. Had some tackling issues in 2010, but that was due to a shoulder injury.

    I think we will add a Safety. I’m just not sure if we go FA or draft.

  67. 67 Anonymous said at 12:27 PM on December 23rd, 2011:

    Tommy, my only issue with this article is comparing Kenny Phillips and Nate Allen in 2010. You are making the case that Nate has a reason to be under performing this year due to his injury, and that’s fine. But you failed to mention that in 2010, Kenny Phillips was coming off a year in which I think he missed almost the entire season because of a serious knee issue himself. I’m not even necessarily that high on Phillips, or down on Allen, but I think that point needed to be made.