If Matt Cassel has a career day against your secondary, you have a problem.
Fact: only five teams have not thrown for 300-plus yards vs. the Philadelphia Eagles in 2013:
Week 3 vs. Kansas City Chiefs‘ noodle-armed QB Alex Smith
Week 8 vs. New York Giants behind one of many dreadful 2013 performances by Eli Manning
Week 11 vs. Washington Redskins after the entire team had melted down
Week 14 vs. Detroit Lions in a whiteout blizzard
Pass defense is clearly the team’s biggest weakness, and the Eagles are desperate to fix it. Pulp Fiction fans know that when you are in a serious bind, you call The Wolff, Earl Wolff.
Wolff ran a 4.44 40-yard dash at the 2013 NFL Scouting Combine, which was the second fastest time for a safety. Combine that with his 39-inch vertical jump and 4.07 20-yard shuttle time, and he was the only safety in his draft class to rank in the top three in these key workout categories. Yet, he inexplicably fell to the Eagles in the fifth round, which is like stealing.
At NC State, Wolff was known as an intense, yet intelligent player who quickly identifies schemes and tackles with ferocity. In coverage, his quickness and fundamentally sound footwork allow him to fluidly move up to cut off intermediate routes as well as drop back to timely converge on vertical routes. As a productive three-year starter, he arrived ready to contribute to the Eagles on Day 1.
In early August, Wolff was elevated to first string and steadily improved as the regular season wore on. The pinnacle of his improvement came at the Oakland Raiders in Week 9 where he showed off an ability to pressure the quarterback and wrap-up ball carriers.
He then injured his right knee against the Green Bay Packers, and his absence was most notable in the Eagles’ 48-30 loss to the Minnesota Vikings. Wolff’s return will have a cascading positive impact on the Eagles’ secondary. His presence will push the plodding Patrick Chung out of the starting lineup and allow the Eagles to rotate in Brandon Boykin in passing situations while playing Chung exclusively on running downs.
Wolff is not a Pro Bowler making a triumphant return, but he is a key contributor whose presence will reverberate through the secondary and have a significant impact on the Eagles’ game plan and defensive matchups. While he cannot “fix” a fundamentally-flawed pass defense, he will thwart some of the gashing big plays that plagued the team last Sunday.