The Philadelphia Eagles have been searching at the safety position since the departure of Brian Dawkins from the nest some four years ago. Replacing the all-time great was never going to be easy, but the wait has been long enough. The safety position in Philadelphia since his absence has left much to be desired. Tackling has been questionable at best, with coverage not far behind, followed by reading the game. Each attempt by the Eagles to find the next field general has seemed to fail. Could Earl Wolff be the answer they’ve been searching for?
Although Wolff was drafted much later than Dawkins, not being selected until the fifth round, they show many similarities, creating belief that a replacement may be in the making. Both men would be regarded as undersized for the position, but Dawkins is proof that size means little when you play with your heart.
Wolff brings to the table many of the greatest attributes found in Dawkins as a player during his tenure in Philadelphia. Wolff solidly defends both the run and pass from the safety position and enjoys the physicality of the game. His tackling ability is a strength and he brings intensity to the field each snap. His football knowledge is something that helps him to diagnose plays early and defend accordingly which has been seen as a difficultly with the current Philadelphia defensive back corps. Finally, Wolff’s ability to cover receivers down field, both in zone and man, make him a reliable option for the Eagles going forward. Improving upon his play at the line of scrimmage and entering the backfield would make him a comparable option to a young Dawkins.
Though Wolff will probably not be given the reins of the defense to begin the year, look for him to take over a starting slot at the safety position before the middle of the season. The type of player he is and the contributions he can make to a mediocre Eagles defense will mean that his time on the sideline will be limited. Nate Allen has been unable to show that he can handle the load and expectations Philadelphia would like, which means it will only be a matter of time before the puzzle pieces fit and Wolff takes the job.