In this edition of "Mosher's Mailbag," I answer a question about the safety position.
Q. “Looks like Malcolm Jenkins and Earl Wolff [are] really developing chemistry. How does the safety position look? Improving?”
- Sean Mondelo
A. Safety is still somewhat of a question mark for the Eagles, but only because it’s not a position where the team has an abundance of playmakers. These days, with such a heavy emphasis league-wide on the passing game, teams are spending big or using high draft picks to get top-flight safeties.
Right now, the Eagles are solid at safety and deeper there than they’ve been in years. All the coaches and players seem very impressed with Malcolm Jenkins and the intangibles he brings. Earl Wolff mentioned that his morning film sessions with Jenkins have already helped him see the game from an entirely new level. Nate Allen played all 16 games last year for the first time in his career and he played very steadily, really rescuing his career after two years of major regression.
Jenkins and Allen will start and Wolff will again work his way into the mix with a chance to crack the starting lineup if he plays really well. Rookie sixth-rounder Ed Reynolds and Chris Maragos probably aren’t going to see the field outside of special teams, but Reynolds has some upside and will get groomed for a future role.
None of these guys are going to make the Pro Bowl, challenge for the league lead in interceptions or conjure images of Brian Dawkins, but overall, the Eagles are still more stable and more balanced in the back end than they were last year.
For starters, Jenkins is the anti-Patrick Chung. Chung overran plays, got suckered by play action and had poor tackling fundamentals. Jenkins comes with a reputation for being smart and instinctive, if not overly athletic, and nothing I’ve seen in the spring camps or heard from his new teammates was contrary to that reputation.
Allen was once a big-time prospect and maybe in year two of Billy Davis’ scheme he’s even more comfortable, which could enable him to take another step in his development. If not, Wolff is ready to take over. He’s still learning his way in coverage, but played well when healthy last year and gives the Eagles a solid No. 3 option at a position where they’ve struggled for the past five years just to find to two starters.
Howie Roseman has talked often about the difficulty in finding the next Brian Dawkins. He still hasn’t found one, but the Eagles should be much more disciplined and less sporadic this year at safety. It's a start.