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I was a secret fan of Kurt Coleman…

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I wish I knew how to quit him….

But it’s all over now. Reserve safety and special teams ace Kurt Coleman is no longer an Eagles. Coleman has signed a 1-year deal with the Minnesota Vikings—probably for the league veteran minimum, but nevertheless a fresh start for the 5-11, 195-lb. athlete who was drafted by the Eagles in 2010 in the 7th round out of Ohio State.

I always admired Coleman as a guy who brought overachieving desire to the profession. Unfortunately his development with the Eagles coincided with the unraveling of the team’s zeitgeist during the horrible down period of 2011 and 2012. Coleman somehow became the whipping post for disappointed Philly fans. Maybe part of the reason for that is Coleman always looked like he was trying too hard. Nothing he did looked smooth or easy, especially when he was playing at safety. The inevitable breakdowns of the entire defensive secondary in those dark years were punctuated by occasional glaring mistakes by Coleman. Taking a bad angle, missing an arm tackle, taking the bait on a double move, getting trucked by a running back for a big gain— these things happen to all defensive backs from time to time, but when they happened to Coleman, he was highly visible in the open field—and an easy target for fans to dump on.

A fresh start in the Vikings system will do him good.

I think we tend to forget that Coleman was pretty reliable on special teams. Coleman will come into the Vikings game plan as a special-teams contributor and a backup at both safety spots, where he’d compete with Jamarca Sanford and Andrew Sendejo for playing time at one of them.

It’s almost hard to comprehend that Coleman has lasted 5 years in the league now, because so many Philly fans have painted him as an incompetent player. The joke’s on us, however, as Coleman has already qualified for an NFL pension—and likely will be in the league for another 5 years. I think we will find that he will develop and flourish as a veteran contributor to a different system. There was something about where the Eagles’ secondary coaches lined up their safeties in the dark age of recent past that just didn’t work. Guys were consistently out of position to help out or make plays. It’s a team game, and you can’t pin all the breakdowns on Coleman or Nate Allen as individual players. At the NFL level there are simply no “horrible” players. Sometimes you have to blame the system.

It was nice of Chris McPherson at PE.com to put out a gracious farewell release on Coleman’s new job. Chris also pointed out how underrated Coleman was on special teams:
“This past season, Coleman made his biggest impact on special teams where he ranked fourth on the team with nine special teams tackles. In 2012, Coleman started all 14 games he played in and finished second on the team with a career-high 105 tackles. One year earlier, Coleman earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors against Washington after intercepting quarterback Red Grossman three times. Coleman was the 11th Eagle in franchise history to have three picks in a single game, but the first to do so since Joe Scarpati in 1966.”

In 59 career games (29 starts), Coleman had 239 tackles, seven interceptions and 34 special teams tackles.

I for one will miss Kurt Coleman’s energy on special teams—and I’m convinced he would eventually get better and better as a reserve safety with an improved game plan back there. He also has an engaging personality and never shied away from media interviews after a tough game.

At the same time, I’m excited about the new veteran depth the Eagles have acquired for the position, and looking forward to their possible drafting of a younger prospect in the early rounds.

This could work out well for both Coleman and the Eagles. That’s the definition of a good deal.

Thomas Jackson

About Thomas Jackson

Jax Sports Media has been reporting on NFL teams in the mid-Atlantic region since 2006. Thomas Jackson is its senior writer. Tom started covering the Philadelphia Eagles for the MVN Network in 2007. In 2009 he joined the Bloguin Network. He now also covers the Baltimore Ravens.

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