Three preseason games have come and gone, yet the Philadelphia Eagles and new head coach Chip Kelly are still unsure about what the safety position will look like come Week 1 against the Washington Redskins. Patrick Chung, new to the nest in 2013, has secured one of the starting spots at safety but a battle will continue for the second position, on Thursday in the Eagles final preseason game.
Costly mistakes have been made and inexperience has continually shown through. Although six safeties, including Chung, remain on the Philadelphia roster, Nate Allen and rookie Earl Wolff seem to be at the forefront of the competition.
Allen has been with the Eagles since he was drafted in the second round of the 2010 NFL draft. He was slated from the beginning to roam the Eagles secondary replacing, Eagles great and future hall of famer, Brian Dawkins. He has started 38 games for the Birds but has yet to produce and meet the high expectations that came with his selection. Under a new head coach in Kelly, Allen has been given yet another opportunity to live up to the hype, but has faltered during the preseason and is in danger of falling on the depth chart. Mistakes in coverage and tackling have been the most visible in his game recently, and in order to lock down the starting role, Allen will have to display large improvements in both areas, come Thursday in New York.
Wolff was selected in the fifth round of this year’s draft by the Eagles. He was identified by the Eagles for his ability to play both against the run and pass, demonstrating authority when tackling. Although he has come a long way since the beginning of training camp, he has made some mistakes on the angles he’s taken playing the run especially. Of late, he has been given more opportunity to shine and demonstrate what he can bring to the defensive core. Wolff will probably be given a bit more chance due to his upside in helping with weak tackling, which has become synonymous with the recent Eagles defense.
Come the end of the final preseason game against the New York Jets, either Allen or Wolff will have earned a starting job on the Eagles defense. However, chances are that the mistakes made by either will be more glaring than the positive side of their play. Look for the starter to be chosen not necessarily because of a strong performance but due to less mistakes being made in comparison to his counterpart.