The Philadelphia Eagles have announced today that LB Brian Rolle and S Nate Allen will get the starting nod this week against the 49ers. They will replace Casey Matthews and Kurt Coleman respectively.

However, will this actually help a defense that is struggling to find an identity?

Brian Rolle is a sixth-round rookie who is replacing a fourth-round rookie at the weakside linebacker position.  He has been playing this year, but primarily in nickel situations.

Rolle hasn’t really stood out this year so his promotion is due to the horrible play of Casey Matthews rather than on his own merit.  Basically, let’s bring the next guy in and see if he can do better.

However, I think Rolle will actually be an improvement over Matthews.  Heck, a corpse would be an improvement at this point.

Though he hasn’t stood out yet, Rolle has looked fast and athletic.  He did make a couple plays against the Giants that may have gone unnoticed.

Brian Rolle

First, there was a play in which he blitzed and forced Eli Manning into the waiting arms of Trent Cole for the sack.  He also made another play in coverage when he knocked a pass away that was intended for Giants FB Henry Hynoski (seen above).

Imagine that, a linebacker who defended a pass.  That’s actually something to get excited about with this group!

Making this move will certainly not hurt the defense.  Obviously, the goal is to upgrade the play of the linebacker corps but it’s hard to imagine them getting any worse.

I’m ready to Rolle with it, are you?

As for Kurt Coleman, I really felt he had a chance to be a good safety.  He made some plays last year and stood out with some big hits late in the season.

However, he was benched last week after he missed what should have been an easy tackle on Victor Cruz’s 74 yard TD reception.

Nate Allen, last year’s second-round pick, replaced him after that and is taking over that role for now.  But, unlike the switch from Matthews to Rolle, I’m not so sure there is a good chance for an upgrade here.

I like Allen, but either he isn’t all the way back from his knee injury or he’s just not as good as I thought.  I like my safeties to be able to hit and tackle well.

Allen doesn’t do either.  He might have a slight edge in coverage over Coleman, but he certainly doesn’t bring the physicality to the safety position that Coleman does.

Do you recall Allen trying to tackle Ahmad Bradshaw on his 37-yard run last Sunday?  The 5′ 10″, 214 lbs Bradshaw treated the 6′ 1″, 210 lbs Allen like a little female dog, if you catch my drift.

Nate Allen

Nate Allen, after getting female dog-slapped

Hopefully Allen shines more in pass coverage and that makes up for his lack of hitting ability.  After getting torched for eight TD passes in the past two weeks, the Eagles defense certainly needs improvement in that area.

I just have to say that, man, I really do miss the days of Brian Dawkins.  He must have spoiled me because that is the kind of safety I want on the Eagles.

Dawk could do it all, cover and hit.  Receivers feared coming into his area of the field.  Plus, he had excellent character and was a team leader.  He gave the Eagles defense an identity that they’ve lacked ever since his departure.

Ah, no use crying over spilled milk I suppose.  Maybe once Jaiqauwn Jarrett is NFL-ready, he’ll bring the intimidation factor that the Eagles’ secondary needs.

Brian Dawkins

Victor Cruz wouldn't have gotten away from this!

Overall, I do think inserting Brian Rolle and Nate Allen will help the defense.  It might not be the end-all–be-all, but these two players should improve the frustratingly-inconsistent Eagles defense.

Just don’t expect miracles.

 

 


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