The position that received the most hype for the Eagles’ defensive struggles during the 2011 season was the linebackers.
But you could legitimately make a case that the safeties were just as bad, if not worse.
Heading into the season, the Eagles had high expectations for second-year players Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman.
Allen earned NFL Defensive Rookie of the Month honors in September and collected two sacks and three interceptions before tearing his patellar tendon in his knee in a week 15 win against the New York Giants. He was penciled in as the starter again in 2011, and expectations were high.
But he was benched during preseason, as it was apparent that he had not fully healed from his injury. (I still remember how poorly he played in the Pittsburgh game.)
He played just four plays in the first two games of the season. Instead newly acquired Jarrad Page, a veteran who had spent six seasons with New England and Kansas City, started the first two games of the season for Allen.
Page started alongside Coleman, who had earned a starting spot for 2011 with a strong finish to the 2010 season (as well as the departure of veteran Pro Bowler Quintin Mikell).
Coleman played poorly in each of the first two games, so when Allen returned to the starting lineup in week three, he took Coleman’s spot.
Games three through five featured Allen and Page with Coleman barely playing off the bench. But it took a subpar performance from Page in week four against the San Francisco 49ers (he missed two tackles) and a brutal performance in week five against the Buffalo Bills (he missed four tackles) for Page to not only lose his starting job but his spot on the roster.
That ended the revolving door at safety for the Eagles, and Allen and Coleman started alongside of each other for the rest of the season. They weren’t effective and they made more than their fair share of boneheaded plays, but they remained healthy and both will be on the team in 2012 (Allen as a starter and Coleman hopefully as a backup).