A look back at the 2014 Philadelphia Eagles offseason brings a wide array of emotions and opinions of whether the team has taken the correct steps forward, or perhaps even regressed. To some, the offense was already perfect and all that needed attention was the defense. As it stands today, the Eagles have a full 90-man roster ready to compete when training camp rolls around next month. Did they do enough?
It’s unrealistic to expect a team without weaknesses. On offense, the possibility that there just wasn’t much to improve on might be true. Defensively, I can’t agree, especially at safety. Here’s who the Eagles currently have there:
- Malcolm Jenkins (6’0, 204)
- Earl Wolff (5’11, 210)
- Nate Allen (6’1, 210)
- Chris Maragos (5’10, 200)
- Ed Reynolds (6’1, 207)
- Keelan Johnson (5’11, 209)
- Daytawian Lowe (5’11, 195)
The Eagles lost three safeties in free agency: Kurt Coleman, Colt Anderson, and honorary Philadelphia legend Patrick Chung. There’s definitely a fair amount of competition for the Eagles primary “right safety” (most teams would consider that a “strong” safety) position as it stands, and the frontrunners come down to Nate Allen and Earl Wolff. As much as Nate Allen wasn’t the worst safety in the world last year, there’s a reason he was only brought back on a one-year contract. Earl Wolff is a second-year player and a former fifth-round pick who has yet to prove himself as a reliable option.
I’m not saying it’s a terrible situation and the team is doomed, but it’s hardly ideal. The remaining four safeties will be looking to compete for a maximum of three spots, though I could easily see Philly only keeping five total including Jenkins, Allen, and Wolff.
There are arguments to counter my stance, and to a point they are valid and I respect those who voiced those opinions. Sure, defensive coordinator Billy Davis turned water into a relatively-cheap wine last season. Sure, this is the second year in the system for all returning players. No, I didn’t expect the team to rush out and sign every top free agent (que the chorus of “look at how that worked last time”). Will lightning strike twice?
At risk of sounding overly pessimistic, I think it’s only fair to consider failure an option equal to success. The team and coaching staff has done a very good job of masking weaknesses and (gasp) putting their players in position to make play to date, and it’s a clear philosophical approach that safety isn’t very important to the Eagles defense. While it hasn’t truly bitten them yet, how many times can you go into a season with effectively a hope and a prayer before the dam breaks and requires serious attention? Let’s hope we don’t have to find out this year.