He’ll always be remembered in Philadelphia as the “McNabb
pick,” the player the Eagles selected with the second-round draft choice sent
from Washington in exchange for Donovan in 2010. Otherwise, Nate Allen might be
on the verge of becoming completely forgettable.
Allen revealed on Wednesday that he will be on the bench when
the Redskins come to town this Sunday. Previously he had started 25 of the last
26 games at free safety for the Eagles, though his play has been relatively nondescript.
Colt Anderson takes Allen’s place after subbing in for Kurt
Coleman at strong safety the past two weeks. Coleman was out with an injury at
Tampa Bay, but healthy for Cincinnati four days later and replaced by Anderson,
who has acquitted himself nicely in the most extensive action of his three-year
NFL career. Now the Birds will give it a whirl with an Anderson-Coleman combo, pushing
Allen out of the picture for now.
The question is how much should we read into this? It could
be with Colt’s emergence as a potentially viable contributor on defense, the
Eagles want to move the special teams ace around and see which combinations
suit everybody best.
The Inquirer’s Jeff McLane insinuated something far more distressing,
that the organization might have “given up” on Allen, and could move entirely
in 2013. The demotion certainly is anything but a vote of confidence, that’s
There is no other way to describe Allen’s up-and-down performance
but disappointing. He really hasn’t done much of significance since a torn
patellar tendon ended a promising rookie campaign early. That first year alone,
Allen had eight pass defenses, three interceptions, two sacks, and a forced
fumble. In the two seasons since, 11 defenses, two picks, zero sacks or forced
fumbles –in ’12, only the four defenses.
That’s not even close to the impact the Eagles were hoping
for from a 37th overall pick.
Is he on the way out though? Well not necessarily.
First of all, the Eagles aren’t exactly in a position to be
dumping safeties. They’re thin to begin with, and we already know that Coleman
has never seen a play-action he didn’t like to bite on. It’s also debatable
whether Anderson could hold up over a full season, or what his upside there is
to begin with. Allen is still a relatively low-cost option, and unless the
front office is adding not one but two safeties that can play, they probably
It’s also possible a new coaching staff and defensive scheme
could tap into the vast upside the Eagles once saw in Allen. Either way, the
notion that the team is going to dump some of this talent without any input
from the incoming staff seems off-base, particularly without any known
The writing may very well be on the wall though. The line of
thinking that the safety position might be okay this season was almost entirely
predicated on the idea that Nate Allen would improve, or at least provide some
stability. The production is severely lacking however, and with the Eagles trying
out their second safety combo in as many weeks, this is the exact opposite of
Perhaps Allen has never fully recovered from the injury in
his rookie season. Perhaps he’s been utilized incorrectly. Whatever the case
may be, it certainly appears he could be joining a growing list of
first-through-third-round draft picks in the last three years who have failed
to develop into NFL caliber players.
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