Inside the Eagles: Eagles still thin at safety
Every NFL team is forced to go light at certain positions. The Eagles, more than perhaps anywhere else, are as thin as Jaiquawn Jarrett's resumé at safety after they trimmed their roster to 53 on Friday.
Every NFL team is forced to go light at certain positions.
The Eagles, more than perhaps anywhere else, are as thin as Jaiquawn Jarrett's resumé at safety after they trimmed their roster to 53 on Friday.
Even with the late-evening trade that brought the unproven David Sims from Cleveland to the Eagles for a conditional draft pick, the Birds are weakest at safety. They're not the only ones.
"When you talk to people around the league this time of year, and people talk about the position they're looking for, you always hear offensive line, defensive line," Eagles general manager Howie Roseman said. "But now you hear safety. Everyone's looking for safeties."
Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman, both entering their third seasons and both a year removed from benchings, are the starters. Jarrett, who ran around as if his head were chopped off in the preseason opener, is currently the top reserve.
"After you talk about the starters, he's the one that's had the most experience," Roseman said.
Think about that for a second. Three weeks ago, there appeared to be absolutely no way that Jarrett would make this team. Drafted in the second round of the 2011 draft, the Temple product had shown virtually nothing since that then-surprising selection.
In the Steelers game on Aug. 9 he whiffed on two tackles and completely misread a pass play that resulted in a touchdown. The company line since then, and from those who have propagated it, is that Jarrett has turned his game around.
"He's had some adversity during this training camp," Roseman said. "He responded to it. . . . He could have gone in the tank."
Jarrett played almost exclusively against second- and third-team offenses in the final three preseason games. He did little, other than not get embarrassed, in the first two games. In the final game against the New York Jets, he played faster than he has, but, again, most of those snaps came against many players who won't play on Sundays this season.
The bar has been lowered for the second-round pick.
It didn't have to be this way. The Eagles had opportunities to acquire safeties in the offseason, although, admittedly, the options weren't especially appealing. They waited until June to sign Oshiomogho Atogwe, and he played all of one quarter before the team severed ties with the injured veteran on Friday.
There was nothing the Eagles could do about Atogwe. Injuries happen. But the team was not prepared to sustain his loss and had to deal for Sims just under the wire. There is no regular-season tape on Sims, an undrafted free agent who bounced from the New York Giants to the Buccaneers as a rookie last season.
The 25-year-old did raise some eyebrows in the preseason, picking off two passes, one of which was returned for a touchdown. He also had another interception against the Eagles called back.
"He can do a little of everything," Roseman said. "He can cover. He's 5-foot-91/2, so I'm not going to tell you that he's going to go in and cover 6-6 tight ends all the time."
But Sims can help out on special teams, something Jarrett can't seem to do. It makes you wonder how long Jarrett will stay on the roster. The Eagles have five safeties, including Colt Anderson, who was activated off the physically unable to perform list Friday.
Anderson tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee on Dec. 1 against Seattle. Roseman said he won't be ready immediately, but should be ready to contribute sometime within the first six weeks that he would have missed had he remained on the PUP list.
Roseman also indicated that Anderson, who has primarily played on special teams, would be included in the safety pool. If Sims impresses his coaches, Jarrett could be expendable once Anderson can play.
The Eagles have had issues at safety since 2008. Call it the curse of Brian Dawkins. Since the beloved Eagle left in 2009, safeties such as Quintin Demps, Macho Harris, Sean Jones, and Jarrad Page have rolled through the starting lineup.
In 2010, the Eagles drafted Allen in the second round. He started as a rookie, but ruptured the patellar tendon in his knee that December. He was not 100 percent last season, and he was inconsistent for most of it. He's deemed his knee fully recovered, but he's had a few minor hamstring strains this preseason.
Jarrett came the following year, the plan being that he would partner up with Allen. His struggles have been well-documented and have paved the way for Coleman - an instinctive player who has size and speed liabilities.
He isn't the only safety in the NFL who isn't well-rounded at an ever-evolving position that is light on stars.
"It's just a position where guys who used to play are moving to other spots," Roseman said. "Some of it is the advent of the spread offense in college football. Other [times], it's because other positions are being glorified . . . and possibly being paid more money."
Whatever the reason, the Eagles have a safety problem. They had it last year. Right now, there's good reason to think they'll have it again.