Allen vs. Wolff: 5 Things to Know

The top position battle in Philadelphia has Nate Allen and Earl Wolff competing for the second safety spot. Which man wins it?

Nate Allen vs. Earl Wolff. A year ago, the two competed to see who'd be playing safety alongside Patrick Chung (perish that thought). In 2014, the two war once more, with the winner getting a starting nod beside Malcolm Jenkins. Here's what we know so far.


As intimated, Chung was the weak link of the safety corps in 2013. Wolff, a fifth-round selection, leapfrogged over Chung for six starts, scoring 44 total tackles, five passes defensed, and a pick in 11 total games. Before being mostly shut down with a bum knee, Wolff displayed keen angling for chasing down ball-carriers, and helped bolster a defense that allowed just 17.7 PPG during a six-week stretch (the Eagles went 4-2 in that run).

Allen, once a liability during Philly's defensive woes in 2011-12, and an easy scapegoat, had himself an amazing bounce-back season. For the year, Allen racked up 82 total tackles, seven defensed passes, a sack, and a pick in 16 starts. With a better defensive coordinator than Juan castillo, Allen thrived consistently, easily outplaying the suddenly-exposed Chung.


For the sake of defensive depth, it was a no-brainer. There was a time, however, that bringing Nate Allen back would've seen WIP flooded with angrier calls than Ruben Amaro's continued employment gets.

Headed into free agency, the only safeties on the roster were Wolff and PBA-cardless Keelan Johnson, so signing Malcolm Jenkins on day one was hardly surprising. Six days into free agency, Allen was brough back to the team on a one year deal, for a contract worth up to $3M. The move also came four days after the team signed Chris Maragos.

Looking at the safety picture as it was, Allen suddenly became more coveted by Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman, and re-signing him became vital.


Real cut and dry, Nate Allen has started both road preseason games. Although the defense as a whole has struggled, Allen came away from the games with nine total tackles, a deflected pass, and an interception of Jordan Palmer. Allen also demonstrated quickness on select blitz attempts.

Wolff, for his part, managed only three tackles and a deflected pass. For Wolff's part, he too was used in blitzing capacities, forcing quick throws. It was on a blitz against the Patriots that an unblocked Wolff deftly grounded that throw.


The real test will be tonight's game with the Steelers, but thus far, Allen's gotten far more action. Against the Bears, Allen played 42 snaps (49% of total plays), and 51 in New England (56%).

Contrast that with Wolff, who played a mere 24 snaps vs. Chicago (28%) and 44 snaps against the Patriots (48%). Wolff did close the gap in the second match-up, but the starting defense was worn down by freak circumstances.

(Thanks to Brandon Gowton of Bleeding Green Nation for the snap counts from the first and second games).


Despite Allen starting both games, the Eagles have yet to hand him the keys to the second spot. Geoff Mosher wrote about the competition today, and spoke to defensive coordinator Bill Davis, who said:

“It's still a very heated competition right now. I think they're both bringing different things to the party, and I think they're both playing pretty well right now. I mean, Nate is making a lot of good tackles for us and saving some plays, and I'm impressed with that. And Earl's throwing his body around and playing physical. It's a good competition.”

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