Philadelphia Eagles second-year safety Jaiquawn Jarrett has to prove himself on the field this year. In order to fight his way into a starting role, he also may be faced with the task of overcoming a strong bond that is forging between Nate Allen and Kurt Coleman.
If the catch-phrase for the 2012 Philadelphia Eagles is “team chemistry”, that’s exactly what may be working against Jarrett in his bid for a starting role.
If you happened to have read Jonathan Tamari’s article about the Eagles’ safeties, you may have noticed this part:
As a pass flew in, Allen reached with his left hand, and swatted the ball to the ground. Fellow safety Kurt Coleman was waiting to congratulate him.
Crouching, they slapped hands low four times – Allen swinging right, left, right, left – then each swung an arm overhead, connecting at the inside of their elbows.
And this part:
“Kurt’s one of my good friends and we just feel good back there together,” Allen said Wednesday after the Eagles second full-team offseason practice. “A lot of times we can just look at each other and know what’s going on, give each other eye contact, and we can just keep building.”
For Allen, Coleman and the team in general, this is what you want to see and usually translates into on-field success to a certain degree. However, it might not be good news for Jarrett.
Jarrett is in a funny spot right now because, in all reality, he’s one of only three safeties who are guaranteed a roster spot. So, it’s not like he’s part of a larger group like the offensive and defensive linemen or the linebackers.
Often-times, players form bonds with fellow players at their position, especially during OTAs and training camp. Part of why the Eagles hold camp at Lehigh is for the players to do just that.
Besides positions such as kicker, punter, quarterback and maybe running back, safety is the only other position on the team with less than five players on the roster. Last year, the Eagles started out with only three safeties (these same three guys), but ended up adding Colt Anderson (though he’s just for special teams).
Anderson is coming off of a major injury and there’s no guarantee he’ll be ready for opening day or even earn a spot on the roster. Furthermore, he’s not viewed as being in the mix for any playing time at safety unless it’s an emergency.
So really, the safeties on this team are a tight-knit group of three…or actually two, as it seems to be the case.
If Coleman and Allen have formed a tight friendship and chemistry on the field while Jarrett is struggling to learn the playbook, does that make Jarrett like the cumin to Allen and Coleman’s salt and pepper?
I’m not trying to turn this into a “clique” issue, but right now it does seem that Jarrett is the odd man out while Coleman and Allen are “clicking.”
We also have to consider how the coaches may view Jarrett and the situation. Here are Andy Reid’s comments when asked last month about Jarrett’s progress heading into 2012:
“We’ll see,’’ Reid said. “Last year, he was doing too much thinking and not enough playing. That’s going to slow you down. He’s not the fastest guy in the world as it is, but he’s fast enough.
“You didn’t see the big hits that you saw out of him at the college level. He’s a big hitter. Once he gets comfortable with everything, and it looked like he was picking up things as the year went on, I expect him to do good things.’’
The last part of that quote is Reid being Reid, which is usually looking for the positives. However, the more telling part of his answer is the first part and the “we’ll see” mindset that Reid apparently has about the 2011 second-round pick.
Usually, when Reid says “we’ll see” about something, it’s not a good thing.
Then, if you consider this nice little nugget of information from Jeff McLane at Philly.com, it starts to make you wonder if Jarrett will make it in the NFL:
Of all the safeties on the roster, I’ve been told Coleman is the one that best “gets it.” Jarrett, meanwhile, continues to struggle. I recently asked a defensive coach where the Temple product had issues he made a running motion with two fingers.
Because Jarrett doesn’t have elite speed – or anywhere near it – he needs to make up for it by thinking one step ahead. And right now he’s a step behind.
Of course, the light bulb can go on for players at any given time and some players catch on more quickly than others. It’s not uncommon for a player to all of a sudden “get it”, and then break out and become a solid player, if not a star.
However, that is what the unknown is about Jarrett right now. All we know is that he’s a hard-hitting player who relies on instincts and play recognition but is having trouble understanding the game at this point in time.
If he were a mid or late-round draft pick, this wouldn’t be such a big deal. The fact he was a second-rounder puts him under a bigger microscope, and if he doesn’t succeed, he could receive the dreaded “bust” label.
All offseason I was fully expecting Jarrett to be the starting strong safety this year. This is because Reid typically gives his high draft picks every opportunity to win a starting spot. For him to declare Coleman the starter means that Jarrett must really still be struggling.
Things can change, obviously. Maybe all of this will light a fire under Jarrett’s ass and get him going. Maybe he’ll enter training camp with a more thorough understanding of the defense so he can just play rather than think.
I’d like to see Jarrett translate his ability to the field. However, not every player is ultimately able to do that and the odds of a player succeeding are longer than that of a player failing.
Let’s hope Jarrett finally “gets it” and his talent becomes a catalyst to him “fitting in” within the safety corps.