Eagles' secondary now facing major questions

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Eagles' secondary now facing major questions

Mosher and Gunn recap Eagles' loss to Vikings

December 16, 2013, 8:00 am
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Vikings wide receiver Cordarrelle Patterson beat Cary Williams on this five-yard touchdown in the fourth quarter, and Williams was benched shortly after. (AP)

MINNEAPOLIS -- The best that can be said about the Eagles' secondary is that Earl Wolff will probably be ready for Sunday’s game against the Bears.

Wolff had practiced last week for the first time since hyperextending his knee against the Packers at Lambeau Field on Nov. 10, but Chip Kelly said Wolff didn’t get medical clearance to play against the Vikings at the Metrodome.

“The doctors didn’t think he was ready this week,” Kelly said, “so we’ll see where he is next week.”

For the first time, the Eagles missed the rookie’s presence.

In a complete meltdown, the Eagles' secondary was shredded by Matt Cassel, who passed for 382 yards and two touchdowns (see story). Crisis emerged at both corner and safety, where all four starters struggled.

At corner, Cary Williams was toasted more than once, penalized for roughness and eventually sat for reserve Roc Carmichael. Slot cornerback Brandon Boykin left to be checked for a head injury and never returned.

At safety, Patrick Chung got benched after a first-quarter touchdown, Kurt Coleman missed tackles and then got injured, and Colt Anderson had a huge third-down mishap before he left with an injury, leaving the coaches with no choice but to go back to Chung.

Chung hadn’t been playing well in Wolff’s place over the past few weeks and it took only one mishap, a 57-yard touchdown catch by Greg Jennings in the first quarter, for the coaches to insert Coleman.

“Yeah, I think Kurt has done a good job in practice and just trying to find out -- since Earl has been down -- trying to find out where we are,” said Kelly, explaining the Chung demotion. “I think Kurt deserves some time and we’re just trying to figure out who can play.”

If Wolff comes back, the safety mess gets a little clearer. The corner problems are more complex, especially with a red-hot Bears receiving corps up next.

First, the Eagles have to hope Boykin’s concussion isn’t severe. On the way out, Boykin said he felt fine.

“I’m good,” he said.

As for Williams, who didn’t talk to reporters as he hit the exits quickly, Kelly didn’t provide many details as to why the corner was lifted in the fourth, after a roughness penalty that looked more like taunting, other than saying Williams wasn’t benched for taunting.

“I think Billy [Davis] handled that at the end,” Kelly said. “I’ll talk to Billy and get that straightened out. I didn’t bench him for taunting.”

Williams and Bradley Fletcher each spent too many snaps looking at the backs of Vikings wide receivers, who combined for 21 receptions, 312 yards and two touchdowns.

The Vikes used a lot of double moves to combat the Eagles’ press coverage and get separation for Cassel, who had four connections of at least 30 yards.

“They put us in some situations where we needed to make plays,” Fletcher said, “and we didn’t.”

Up next is the Bears duo of Alshon Jeffery (6-3, 216) and Brandon Marshall (6-4, 230), who rank seventh and ninth in the NFL in receiving yards, respectively. Chicago is the only NFC team and one of just two NFL teams (Denver being the other) with two 1,000-yard receivers.

“We all just need to be ready to go from the start,” Fletcher said. “We need to be ready to make plays.”