Safety Update

Posted: June 3rd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 51 Comments »

Safety is very much a position of mystery at this point. There has been no hitting or tackling in the OTAs so judging the holdover players is hard to do. New SS Patrick Chung is a player the team is high on. New FS Kenny Phillips has health questions. Rookie Earl Wolff is learning on the fly.

Jeff McLane wrote an article on Chung and the need for improved tackling by the Safeties. This really is the first order of business. There were coverage breakdowns with the Safeties last year, but many of those were due to schematic issues. As Bill Davis recently pointed out, if a DB has gap responsibility in the run game, how is he supposed to also focus on coverage?

Davis has changed that. DBs have a part in playing the run, but they are not primary run defenders. The gaps are covered by the front seven. That allows the DBs to think coverage first, then run support. Understand that all this takes place in about 2 seconds. Once the DBs have read that it is a run play, they come up quickly in support.

The expectations are more realistic for the DBs in the new system. That should help in a big way. Confidence plays a huge part in whether a DB is a good player. Nate Allen has NFL talent, but his confidence has eroded in a major way since his rookie year of 2010. Kurt Coleman doesn’t have the same confidence issues. He’s simply got physical limitations. The new system should allow both players to function better.

How much better?

That’s the key question. If Allen can get back to playing the way he did as a rookie, he can get his career back on track. He wasn’t a star or great player, but he was a solid young player. Coleman is best suited to be a spot starter and role player. Right now he’s the #3 Safety, a role that he should handle well. When he is on the field, he should be more effective.

It is possible that bad habits have set in permanently with Allen and that he’ll struggle this year, as he did for parts of the last 2 years. Some DBs never bounce back once things start to go wrong.

Kenny Phillips was signed with the hope that he could push Nate Allen or outright win the FS job. Phillips has the size and skills that Davis would love in a FS. That experiment is off to a rocky start, to say the least. Phillips missed some recent practices while trying to take it easy on his knee. He is expected back for this week.

Let’s be honest here. There is a reason the Giants let him walk. Phillips injury history is a major issue. He might be okay this year, but he also might be the next Marlin Jackson. Would any of us really be shocked if he never played a game for the Eagles? I hope that Phillips and the team were being over-cautious last week. I just don’t think we can count on Phillips for anything. If he pans out, great. If not, we’ve got contingency plans.

We haven’t heard much about Earl Wolff this spring. It sounds like he is a typical rookie. I don’t think he’s going to come in and challenge for the FS spot. I think he’s a more natural SS, but beyond that, I just don’t think Wolff is the type of guy who is coming in here to play right away. The first order of business for him is making an impact on STs.

The other 2 guys in the mix are David Sims and Colt Anderson. We’ve heard almost nothing on Sims. He got his feet wet last year. There were some good moments, but more than a few that he’d like to have back. Anderson is a great STer. He can fill in at DB, but isn’t meant to be a starter.

Patrick Chung and Nate Allen are going to have a lot of doubters and that’s fair. There are questions about both players. The Eagles also see the potential in both players. We’ll see what happens once the season gets here.

* * * * *

Tim McManus spoke to Michael Vick and got some good quotes from him.

One of the interesting notes that Vick had was that Kelly has slowed things down in practice. Chip wants things to be up tempo, but he needs the players to learn. Fast is no good if it doesn’t work. Chip will adjust things. He’s not going to shove his ideas onto the NFL and act as if they are some sacred teachings that must be adhered to or else.

Chip is new to the NFL. He’s teaching the team his systems, but also learning from the players. He’ll adjust his ideas to the team, where he feels that is the smart thing to do.


51 Comments on “Safety Update”

  1. 1 JulzPE said at 1:05 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    I like to remind myself that Nate Allen had 3 picks in his first 4 games in the NFL. Still holding out hope he can be an effective Safety for us.

  2. 2 TommyLawlor said at 1:28 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Those were the days…

  3. 3 Flyin said at 4:26 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    RIP Edith.

  4. 4 Daniel Norman Richwine said at 2:08 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    I assume Chip delibrately went faster than the guys could handle at first, so they would be scared they wouldn’t be able to handle it. the current pace may still be faster than they are used to but probably seems like a vacation compared to what they started with.

  5. 5 ACViking said at 2:26 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Re: The Science of Playing Eagles’ Safety / Monsters and Wolfmen


    Interesting post about the safeties on the heals of “Chip the [Mad] Scientist.”

    Sleep, proper diet, and exercise are definitely important elements of sports science. And Chipper’s all in there.

    But no science is more important for athletes (I’d argue) than the social science of Psychology. Confident players can do wonders on the gridiron.

    I think constructing the psychology of being an Eagle — maybe most especially at safety — is what Kelly’s about right now.

    What made Dick Vermeil’s Eagles great wasn’t their talent. His teams were over-achievers. Those Eagles were great because Vermeil was remarkably positive and that translated to the players.

    Nicely done.


    By the way, reading about safeties playing “run first” reminded me of the college defenses used by the likes of Ohio State and Michigan back in the ’60s and ’70s — when college football was truly a run-first game.

    The Buckeyes and Wolverines played a 5-2-1-3 . . . with the “1” being a rover-back, who was essentially a safety/linebacker. His job was to crowd the line — essentially as another LBer — and play the run first then the pass second.

    At Ohio State, the rover was called the “monster.” At Michigan, he was the “wolfman.”

    A couple of examples were Raiders great Jack Tatum from OSU and Eagles great Randy Logan at UM.

    Both Tatum and Logan played SS in the NFL.

    And in the NFL, I’m betting they were playing pass first. Not monsters and wolfmen.

  6. 6 TommyLawlor said at 2:51 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Monster is a great name for a hybrid defender. Rover is descriptive, but lacks the flair. Not sure about Wolfman.

    PSU called one player the Hero. Talk about putting pressure on a guy.

  7. 7 ACViking said at 3:38 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    OSU should have retired the term “monster” after Jack Tatum left.

    That guy — from Passaic HS — was an absolute beast.

    He earned every letter of his NFL nickname “The Assassin.”

  8. 8 GEagle said at 6:56 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    “from now on, Call me Dragon!”…”Did we just become best friends? YUP!!!”…”Do you wanna go to the garage and do Karate?…YUP!!!”

  9. 9 S.Paxson said at 8:28 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    Step Brothers?

  10. 10 GEagle said at 10:52 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    yes sir

  11. 11 D3FB said at 5:32 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    I thought PSU’s hero was a stand up end?

  12. 12 Ark87 said at 5:35 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    No no, that’s the Gyro

  13. 13 TommyLawlor said at 10:20 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    No, a DB.

  14. 14 Anders said at 2:54 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    I know the Seahawks do some of the same with Kam Chancelor and our own Bill Davis loved doing the same with Adrian Wilson. I dont know if they had run first responsability, but been that hybrid safety/lb tweener.

  15. 15 GEagle said at 7:09 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    To hear Chip talk at the draft, it seems that Ideally he would like to have 2 interchangable safeties..but that his roster would dictate how they played, basically making it sound like we will have to go with a FREE and a STRONG this year, instead of the eventual Left and Right safety that he desires…
    anders, or anyone for that is Chung in coverage? I always noticed him making plays in the box…I would think the only real chance our safeties have THIS year of being interchangable, is if Phillips and Nate win the job…I think any other combination of what we have on our roster would be a Strong and Free dynamic.

    I would have drooled to get a tone setter like Bernard Pollard. would have been willing to deal with his coverage defficiencies and penelties, to see him CRACK someone early, send a message. That dude instills fear in recievers….but I do understand why adding him to our locker room in year 1 of the rebuilding/foundation establishing phase might have not been appealing to chip n howie…3 years from now when our young players all grow up together, and we have an established locker room, thats when you can add a guy or two like Pollard.

  16. 16 S.Paxson said at 8:20 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    pollard just isn’t a very good safety. he needs to be surrounded by 3 sound players in the secondary if you want him on our roster. keep in mind that we already signed Chung before Pollard hit the market

  17. 17 Anders said at 8:54 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    Chung is good enough in coverage, also why would you want Pollard when you got Chung? Chung can give the same type of hits and actually also play safety

  18. 18 GEagle said at 10:58 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    Pollard is just one of my league wide favorites. Players who arent neccessarily the best, but that I just love the way they play the game…For EXample(but a much more elite player) Peanut Tillman. Friggin love that guy. He hits the free agent market this summer. I dont care how old he is, how much he is in decline(not even saying that he is), I would pound the table for that dude in a heartbeat..Just a personal favorite is all. Cut me some slack man, its been YEARS since I seen an Eagles defender knock someone out silly, and leave them gasping momentarily on the Linc turf lol.. Can I live?

  19. 19 Mac said at 3:04 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Have any of our beat writers reported about whether Chip’s new locker room assignments put Wang and Chung together. If he hasn’t, then I am here by declaring myself a member of the “science comments skeptics group.”

  20. 20 GEagle said at 6:57 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    it will be a travesty is someone doesnt make Wang and Chung stand side by side and take a pic of the back of their jerseys…I been waiting since March for that pic

  21. 21 the midatlantic said at 11:08 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    I love how everybody randomly downvoted this. Poor GEagle.

  22. 22 GEagle said at 8:29 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    cry myself to sleep every night

  23. 23 Mac said at 3:07 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    For your viewing pleasure I give you the savior of the Redskins. No not RGIII, I mean the name “Redskins.” Put it on the helmet or make the helmet look like one… I don’t care.

  24. 24 Mac said at 3:08 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Do any of you guys know some good Redskins websites where I can drop this “truth bomb” on them?

  25. 25 TommyLawlor said at 3:26 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Hogs Haven, I think is one.

  26. 26 theycallmerob said at 5:28 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    give it to Jimmy, he’ll know what to do. BloggingthebEast

  27. 27 Ark87 said at 5:39 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Ultimately he’ll also say it looks like Jerry Jones and troll some Cowboys fans for the twofer. The man’s a pro.

  28. 28 GEagle said at 7:01 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    why does everyone take shots at Jerry Jones? He is a SAINT!!! How could people not love him? He continuosly runs our most hated rival into the ground…the man should have a friggin statue errected outside the linc…Love me some Jerry! lol

  29. 29 S.Paxson said at 8:21 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    it’s Jer-uh

  30. 30 CrackSammich said at 3:25 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    In regards to the speed of the practice, Chip should be clarifying that
    the emphasis is not on speed, but doing things as best/correctly as
    possible. It’s an important distinction to keep in mind, especially
    considering that he’s setting the ground work for his entire
    organization right now, in this off season.

    All the players have been focusing on the speed, if you take anything
    from their interviews. And that’s good, if you’re practicing everything
    well. Unfortunately though, there’s no more benefit to doing a task 100
    times incorrectly than if you only did 5 reps incorrectly. Chip needs
    to make sure the players aren’t in a frantic mindset constantly. He
    needs to make sure they’re spending the time to do it right, not just
    going through the motions faster. The team needs to be able to think
    clearly while in the uptempo and not be panicked (The goal is to make
    the other team panic). You practice exactly how you would play on game
    day, and if they’re panicking and cutting corners now, he needs to slow
    it down until they can speed it back up.

    It also seems to me that Chip is used to having a group of veterans in
    his program setting that tone for him, and now has to create that from
    scratch here. It will take some time for him to get it right. I think in
    year 1, it’s probably more important to set that mindset up the correct
    way than the actual plays they’re practicing.


    And if I gained any credibility just now, I’m a full fledged member of the Kurt Coleman fan club. So… Haters gonna hate.

  31. 31 TommyLawlor said at 3:28 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Kurt Coleman fans are welcome. I loved him prior to the draft in 2010. Just has limitations.

    And it sounds like Chip has slowed things down to make sure the players are learning.

  32. 32 GEagle said at 8:49 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    Colemans days are numbered. Wolff Dwarfs him in terms of size and athletic ability. Coleman has charecter going for him, but unfortunately for him, I think Wolff does too. Sooner or later a few more young Wolff’s(or better) will be added to this roster…Wolff might not be ready to be thrust into a game this year as a Safety, but I dont see any reason why he cant provide everything that Kurt provides in ST’s, if not more..

    Tom, whats your pulse on the Jarius Byrd situation? When he got franchised, and they started negotiating a contract I thought he was a goner…but Buffalo continues to show how cheap they are, and them acting like a developmental feeder system for real franchises can never be ruled out…I think adding a young Safety of his Caliber and leadership, seriously takes us to a next level as a defense..Until the bills Lock him up, I wont uncross my fingers and toes that Howie and Chip will eventually swoop in and make the coup! (The Rick Astley in me strikes again lol)…I could Definitely get down with a Chung/Byrd duo

  33. 33 D3FB said at 5:30 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    We really need to form some kind of support group.

  34. 34 Flyin said at 4:51 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    The latest Bill Davis with Dave on PE. com, Davis explains the coaching philosophy the coaches decided on. He basically says they have thrown the whole defense at the players in a light way to start off with (1st time around), now 2nd time around, they are slowing it down a little bit and getting more detailed with the different schemes.

  35. 35 GEagle said at 6:59 PM on June 3rd, 2013: is on fire with new intrerviews from our defenders:
    OLB coach McGovern
    Billy Davis
    Fletch Cox
    Vinny Curry..
    Maclin has a new interview, but he always pisses me off during interviews…Hate his tone this offseason for some reason

  36. 36 TommyLawlor said at 10:24 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Agree on the interviews. Very good lately.

  37. 37 Flyin said at 11:36 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    I have no clue how you took Maclin’s interview in any negative way

  38. 38 GEagle said at 6:46 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    Flyn…not neccessarily this interview…but most of Maclins interviews this offseason…He didnt exactly say anything bad…he just doesnt get me hype like so many of the other players are doing

  39. 39 GEagle said at 6:54 PM on June 3rd, 2013: put up some exciting new interviews today..
    When they asked Graham about the improvements on defense, the first thing he praised was the improvement in Safeties and he seemed Genuinly excited talking about it…then he caught himself and started to praise the rest of the defense..but his safety exhuberance was pretty obvious..

    Vinny Curry has gone from an unknown to someone Im getting really excited about. Its just awesome to see The genuine Hunger, and persistence to get on the field and help the team this year. Everytime he gets interviewed and they bring up 2012, he just flips the switch and gets angry/excited. He reminds me of how Graham was so pumped up last offseason, hungry to prove himself. Curry really took not dressing for 10 games to heart, and it has clearly motivated him..Im very excited to see the improvements our young players make(Myckal, Cox, Graham, Curry, Thorton)…Im expecting Curry to “errupt” more then Graham in training camp, and ferociously hit everything that moves.

    Cox is 22 years old. For a rookie on a sinking ship to collect 5.5 sacks in his rookie year mostly from the Defensive Tackle position is very very impressive. I would be pleased to see a rookie DE collect 5.5 sacks, but from a Tackle?…The better Cox Linemates play, the more Damage this kid will do..Im so excited about his sophmore year..I cant even imagine what this kid will look like when he is 25 years old…Liked his new interview with Spadaro, because its like Dave is trying to talk up Cox and what a great year he had, and its like Cox isnt even impressed. So down to earth, the kid obviously expects much more out of himself…Like, he basically didnt allow Spadaro to praise him for his rookie year..I like that. A kid with loft goals, work ethic, and potential to achieve those goals…He can be scary

    OLB coach McGovern addressed the media and gave many good tidbits, and Billy Davis also talked to Spadaro

  40. 40 dislikedisqus said at 9:51 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    The most fundamental job of an S is to stay between the ball and your goal line. That’s why he’s called a Safety. With the Wide 9, they were asked to do the opposite, which was to move forward and fill the gaps on run plays. This obviously exposed them to being burned on long passes when receivers got behind them. Changing the D should make them better by itself because they can focus on what safeties are supposed to do.

  41. 41 TommyLawlor said at 10:23 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    Simple, but accurate point. Let’s hope it makes a big difference.

  42. 42 HipDaDip said at 11:37 PM on June 3rd, 2013:

    I dunno, I think it’s too easy an argument to say that Juan or Bowles had bad schemes. The argument that it’s always bad to take away a safety’s job as the last line of defense would mean that a safety blitz is also always a bad idea. It makes more sense to me that the schemes were just poorly implemented. If anything, I think predictability was the bigger problem (DE always rushing the passer, for instance), which made it that much easier to exploit the safeties.

  43. 43 S.Paxson said at 8:27 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    I dunno, it’s very tough to make any soundly sound argument for how its a good idea just letting your lineman rush up field on every single play regardless of pass – run, leaving LB’s and Safeties the burden to stop the run with little to no help from the lineman

  44. 44 GEagle said at 8:40 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    Also..WTF does Todd Bolwes or Juanita know about coordinating a defense with the line playing a Wide 9? You take Juan and his “vast” defensive scheme knowledge lol and you make him a D-coordinator, and daunt him with the Task of coordinating a defense using a Dline alignment that he probably only ever coached against(Oline coach) a handful of times? Todd Bowles was a promising young coach before he got here. We had him for a year, and I still have NO CLUE what kind of coach he is..He wasnt allowed to run a “Todd Bowles” defense lol…Bowles success as a DC never included anything with the wide 9.,.
    The Wide 9 is basically the anti, opposite of 2 gapping, where you cover your LB’s so they can make plays by having Dline covering the Oline (what a friggin concept lol)…Too many times playing the wide9, it would look like our LB’s were 2gapping for our Safeties lol(which leaves NO last line of defense)..To do that consistently, for an entire game is friggin Maddening…and when your Dline isnt even getting Sacks, when they rush up field on every single play and have no other read or react responsibilities, it becomes a friggin JOKE..

    It was pretty telling in The Graham interview what he thought about the Wide 9 saying “Just by switching schemes, we can already tell that teams wont be running all over us like they were last yeat”…If thats not telling, I dont know what is..

  45. 45 HipDaDip said at 9:31 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    yes, of course it’s a mistake to do that on every play. my point is just that it is shrewd to do that on some, or even most plays. the mistake was being predictable, doing it on every play, not the fact that we asked the DBs to play the run. i’m sure Davis will implement plenty of plays where a safety’s primary responsibility is to cover the run.

  46. 46 GEagle said at 12:10 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    I dont see why Lineman should ever ignore run plays and rush up field. Is it too much to ask that our Lineman play the run when the opponent is running, and play the pass when the opposing QB drops back? This ridiuclous philosophy of treating every play like a pass play was a JOKE

  47. 47 HipDaDip said at 12:13 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    this we can all agree on 🙂

  48. 48 GEagle said at 12:13 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    cheers lol

  49. 49 Eagles Wake-Up Call: What We're Watching At Mini-Camp - Birds 24/7 said at 6:30 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    […] Lawlor of takes a look at the Eagles’ safety […]

  50. 50 southy said at 7:48 AM on June 4th, 2013:

    let’s just remember we’re still in OTAs, still installing the system, players are still getting their heads around things. when we’re into TC and people have had time to digest the playbook and scheme and can hit people, we’ll really get a bead on who’s shaping up well and who’s not.

    (this is what I’m telling myself to keep up hope that Wolff can be an impact player in 2013)

  51. 51 Dominik said at 12:26 PM on June 4th, 2013:

    So, if Allen/Chung are our two starting safeties and Coleman is # 3 – I really have to admit that I’m all but satisfied with the Offseason regarding the Safety position. That’s one new guy and that new guy was benched last season despite the Patriots didn’t had great alternatives for him. Belichick rarely makes mistakes.

    I watched a few Patriots Games last season and always thought that Chung was the weakness of that D until he was benched.

    Everyone saw Allen and Coleman last season. One of those guys coming back – OK. But both, one as a starter and one as #3? Come on.

    I see potential in Wolff and think Phillips would be a great addition, if healthy. But if we end up with the depth chart we have at the moment (or at least the depth chart T-Law thinks we have) that’s disappointing. Not everything is scheme, some has to do with skills.

    To finish this comment: I really hope I’m wrong about this. This is no blabla, I really wish, 8 months from now, I think back to this comment and think “man, you were an idiot, not trusting Kelly on this one”. But I don’t think that’s the most realistic scenario. And if Chung, Allen and Coleman only show 20 % of their ‘performance’ from last season, our secondary will suck badly. This has to be a complete makeover, from a performance standpoint. That’s possible, of course, but not especially realistic.