Is Nate Allen the Latest to Join Recent Eagles Draft Busts?

Is Nate Allen the Latest to Join Recent Eagles Draft Busts?





He’ll always be remembered in Philadelphia as the “McNabb
pick,” the player the Eagles selected with the second-round draft choice sent
from Washington in exchange for Donovan in 2010. Otherwise, Nate Allen might be
on the verge of becoming completely forgettable.

Allen revealed on Wednesday that he will be on the bench when
the Redskins come to town this Sunday. Previously he had started 25 of the last
26 games at free safety for the Eagles, though his play has been relatively nondescript.

Colt Anderson takes Allen’s place after subbing in for Kurt
Coleman at strong safety the past two weeks. Coleman was out with an injury at
Tampa Bay, but healthy for Cincinnati four days later and replaced by Anderson,
who has acquitted himself nicely in the most extensive action of his three-year
NFL career. Now the Birds will give it a whirl with an Anderson-Coleman combo, pushing
Allen out of the picture for now.

The question is how much should we read into this? It could
be with Colt’s emergence as a potentially viable contributor on defense, the
Eagles want to move the special teams ace around and see which combinations
suit everybody best.

The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane insinuated something far more distressing,
that the organization might have “given up” on Allen, and could move entirely
in 2013. The demotion certainly is anything but a vote of confidence, that’s
for sure.

There is no other way to describe Allen’s up-and-down performance
but disappointing. He really hasn’t done much of significance since a torn
patellar tendon ended a promising rookie campaign early. That first year alone,
Allen had eight pass defenses, three interceptions, two sacks, and a forced
fumble. In the two seasons since, 11 defenses, two picks, zero sacks or forced
fumbles –in ’12, only the four defenses.

That’s not even close to the impact the Eagles were hoping
for from a 37th overall pick.

Is he on the way out though? Well not necessarily.

First of all, the Eagles aren’t exactly in a position to be
dumping safeties. They’re thin to begin with, and we already know that Coleman
has never seen a play-action he didn’t like to bite on. It’s also debatable
whether Anderson could hold up over a full season, or what his upside there is
to begin with. Allen is still a relatively low-cost option, and unless the
front office is adding not one but two safeties that can play, they probably
need him.

It’s also possible a new coaching staff and defensive scheme
could tap into the vast upside the Eagles once saw in Allen. Either way, the
notion that the team is going to dump some of this talent without any input
from the incoming staff seems off-base, particularly without any known

The writing may very well be on the wall though. The line of
thinking that the safety position might be okay this season was almost entirely
predicated on the idea that Nate Allen would improve, or at least provide some
stability. The production is severely lacking however, and with the Eagles trying
out their second safety combo in as many weeks, this is the exact opposite of

Perhaps Allen has never fully recovered from the injury in
his rookie season. Perhaps he’s been utilized incorrectly. Whatever the case
may be, it certainly appears he could be joining a growing list of
first-through-third-round draft picks in the last three years who have failed
to develop into NFL caliber players.

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FIlm Review: What led to Eagles' poor run defense against Washington?

FIlm Review: What led to Eagles' poor run defense against Washington?

The Eagles have vowed to get better. 

They desperately don't want to have a performance from their run defense like the one against Washington, when they gave up 230 yards on the ground. 

Head coach Doug Pederson said the run defense is "a pride thing" and the guys responsible for the performance, Jim Schwartz included, say things will get better. The defensive coordinator cited bad angles as a reason there were so many missed tackles on Sunday afternoon. 

In all, the Eagles missed 10 tackles and gave up 156 yards after contact — both more than they had given up in the first four games of the season. 

Washington's rushing yards came in some big chunks. Here's a look at some of the key running plays from Sunday as we try to figure out what went wrong: 

This is a key 3rd-and-7 from the Washington 13-yard line. On this drive, Washington ends up scoring a touchdown to go up 14-0, but it doesn't happen without this key third down conversion. 

The Eagles collapse the pocket and force Kirk Cousins to his left. That's exactly what Schwartz said he wants, to force the quarterback to his non-throwing side. Everything at this point is working out perfectly. 

Here's the angle that's really troublesome. At this point, Nigel Bradham (circled in green) has Cousins in his sights, while Vinny Curry and Brandon Graham (farther behind) are in pursuit. Curry and Graham seem to let up in their pursuit when it looks like Cousins will go out of bounds. But he doesn't. 

Schwartz talked about bad angles, and this is the perfect example from Bradham. He overshoots it and when Cousins makes his cut back inside, all of Bradham's momentum is heading toward the sideline. Curry ends up making the tackle but tackles Cousins forward for a big first down. 

This next play was just a little counter draw that ended up going for a huge 45-yard gain. Rob Kelley takes the handoff, which looks to be going right. The entire Eagles' linebacking group bites hard. Still, right end Connor Barwin is free and has a chance to make the play. 

He doesn't. Just a missed tackle. 

Kelley finds some open field. Rodney McLeod is the next guy to beat and Kelley simply turns him around. You'll see Mychal Kendricks enter the frame. Kendricks showed great recovery speed to get back in the play and has a chance to finally bring the running back down. 

Nope. Can't do it. Eventually, McLeod recovers to bring him down. 

This last play ended the game on Sunday. The Eagles punted the ball away with the hope that their defense would stop Washington and give them the ball back. Instead, Matt Jones broke off a 57-yard run on 3rd-and-7. 

Jordan Hicks over pursues, probably thinking the run was going wide. But he loses his gap and Jones is off to the races. 

Once Jones gets past the first down, it doesn't really matter that it was a 57-yard run. It could have been an 8-yarder and the game was over. 

So what did we learn? 

Well, Schwartz was right. Angles absolutely killed the Eagles on Sunday. But when they have a guy wrapped up, they need to bring him down. Sure, that's not Earth-shattering, but they couldn't do it on Sunday and it led to a loss. 

Sixers to ease in Jahlil Okafor off bench, expect more from him on D

Sixers to ease in Jahlil Okafor off bench, expect more from him on D

The Sixers struggled to carve a clear role for Jahlil Okafor last season as he and Nerlens Noel split time out of position in the frontcourt. Brett Brown has a more clear picture of how to utilize Okafor in his second year, highlighted by goals and a shift to the bench. 

Okafor has been sidelined from preseason action because of his right knee. He underwent surgery to repair a meniscus tear in March and aggravated it during the final training camp scrimmage. 

Okafor said he felt “pretty sore” after scrimmaging Monday, his first since camp, and he was better after going through individualized training and work in the water on Tuesday. This setback has forced him to exercise patience. 

“I know I told you guys I wasn’t frustrated a few weeks ago, but at this point it has been frustrating because I’ve been doing all the right stuff and I want to see me back out there sooner,” Okafor said after practice Thursday. “But I can’t rush my body, I can’t rush my health. ... I would love to have the opportunity to be there for opening night and play in front of our fans. Right now it’s looking like that’s probable."

The Sixers plan to use Okafor in a reserve role to start the season. Okafor expects to be on a 12- to 15-minute restriction, similar to Joel Embiid, when he is cleared to play. 

“I think about it all the time, but I talk to him. We’ve talked about this for months,” Brown said of Okafor's coming off the bench. “It’s not anything that is going to surprise anybody. He’s been fantastic. ... I talked with Jahlil about a lot of things and that could be, to start the year it will be, a scenario.”

Okafor, the third overall pick in 2015, started 48 of his 53 games last season. He is approaching this year with realistic expectations given his restrictions and is not concerned about being out of the starting five. 

“I’ll be fine,” Okafor said. “That won’t be a tough adjustment for me. I came off the bench a couple of times last year.”

Brown’s focus is not necessarily on how Okafor starts the game, but how he finishes. He would like Okafor and Embiid to be able to play together at the end of games to give the team a fourth-quarter boost.

“If it ends up you’ve got Jahlil coming off the bench and he’s going against backup five men, you think you probably have an advantage there,” Brown said. “If he does anything, he scores the ball, he scores buckets, he gets points. You can see how that can be a really nice role for him and for us.”

Okafor led the Sixers in scoring last season with 17.5 points per game. Brown, though, is focusing on his defensive improvements. The Sixers are looking to play an uptempo system in which they will need Okafor to hustle on defense each possession. Okafor slimmed down and added muscle this summer to prepare for the season. 

“He has to be elite in two areas to me,” Brown said. “Transition defense first — A-plus-plus-plus, get back. If you’re tired, if you’ve got to conserve energy, it’s not that way. It’s running back on offense. We have to get him back on defense.

“Then he has to be better skilled, better drilled by me, [a] high level of accountability with pick-and-roll defense. ... You can go over to defensive rebounding (as) a close third, but those two things happen the most.”

Okafor expects to be more effective on the defensive end after getting adjusted to it as a rookie. 

“(I want) to be smarter on defense, knowing where to be,” Okafor said. “My first year playing in the NBA, it was just a lot going on. Everybody was so fast.” 

Brown sees a focused 20-year-old who is more disciplined and ready to embrace whatever role he is given this season. 

“I can’t wait to coach him this year," Brown said. "I think he’s going to come back and have a great year. His body tells me that, his attitude tells me that. He’s in a good place personally."