Sep 28, 2011, 1:35 PM EDT
The two Eagles defenders responsible for the two most fundamentally awful plays in Sunday’s loss to the Giants will be on the sidelines when the 49ers come to town this weekend.
After beginning the season at middle linebacker, and shifting over to weakside last week, Casey Matthews’ latest move will be to the bench. He’s been replaced by fellow rookie Brian Rolle. Safety Kurt Coleman will join Matthews, as Nate Allen will start for the first time on Sunday since last December’s season ending injury.
We’ve harped on the pair of backbreaking defensive lapses that occurred during the first quarter — and ultimately resulted in these demotions — throughout the week.
Matthews froze on a play fake to Brandon Jacobs, and by the time he recognized Eli Manning was dropping back to pass, the running back was already behind the rookie linebacker. He never got back into the play, and Jacobs scored easily to put the Giants ahead 7-0.
On New York’s next possession, Coleman tracked Victor Cruz to the sidelines on a short out pattern, but instead of wrapping up the backup wide receiver, the safety inexplicably hit him high. As Coleman chased Cruz down the sidelines, he collided with Nnamdi Asomugha, and a simple first down became a 74-yard touchdown to put the G-men up 14. Allen was in for Coleman on the following series.
No team in the league can afford to give away points like that, not when both plays could have been prevented so easily. However, whether or not the changes pay off remain to be seen.
Rolle looked good in the preseason and in limited playing time, but he’s just as inexperienced as Matthews, and the big knock on the Ohio State product is his height, listed at 5-10. He did prevent the Giants from burning the Eagles again with a similar play to Matthews’ later on, covering the fullback all the way down the field and knocking the pass away.
That might be the biggest difference right now. It’s too early to write Matthews off as a player, but he seems hesitant, whereas Rolle appears to be playing a step faster and with more confidence.
In the secondary, it’s nice to see Allen back in the lineup, but unfortunately it’s probably more out of necessity than something he earned. Allen has looked slow returning from a torn patellar tendon, which is why he lost his job in the first place. It’s a bad sign coming off of an otherwise promising rookie season.
The Eagles might want to consider getting Jaiquawn Jarrett into the mix as well. The second round pick out of Temple hasn’t been activated for any of the first three games while he is learning the defense, but it’s hard to believe he could be a lot worse than the combinations they’ve used so far.
None of this comes as much of a surprise though, and is sure to look a little desperate in light of who they are turning to for help. Unfortunately, there are no miracle solutions waiting on the free agent scrap heap, no trades on the horizon that will save this season. This is the crew Juan Castillo has to go to work.
But on that note, it’s easy to forget many of the players dealing with growing pains right now, like Matthews and Coleman, are inexperienced, and have room for improvement. What they don’t have is time, as the Eagles need to start winning football games this Sunday.
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