Over the last two seasons, the safety position for the Philadelphia Eagles has been a huge weakness.
Ever since Brian Dawkins left, the team has struggled to fill the role, trying to do so with a string of players who deserved to be running the lunch truck at Lincoln Financial Field and who couldn’t covering deep patterns or tackle. The defense has also cycled through corners, and this combo has led a pair of abysmal years at handling skilled quarterbacks for the opposition. This week, Patrick Chung was limited in practice with a shoulder injury, and it appears that Earl Wolff will be getting his first start at safety — against Peyton Manning.
Wolff was a fifth-round draft pick, and he has played at that level so far. He has shown flashes of skilled play with moments of poor pursuit and bad angles. If there is any game to grow up in, this is it. Manning will give Wolff an entire season of experience in one afternoon.
Manning is an expert at reading defenses and finding weakness. We know he will zero in on the safeties and attack the middle of the field with the Denver Broncos‘ set of skilled receivers. So what can we expect from the combo of Wolff and Nate Allen?
You know what you get from Allen. Wolff needs to step up. He must hit people and stick to his coverages, making sure he does not have any communication breakdowns. If his number is called, he needs to get in the backfield and put his shoulder into Manning. Pressure will be huge in this game, especially from a sole defensive line rush as Manning destroys the blitz, and they can’t afford to leave hot routes open.
If anyone on the defensive unit gets a shot, they need to use it and disrupt the timing and flow of the offense. Teams beat Manning the same way they beat Tom Brady – by shaking him up. If they can do this, it will go far in the quest for a win on Sunday.