The Eagles offense was dynamic in 2013. The defense started very slow, but did have a really good extended run later in the season. Remember all the games of holding teams to 21 points or less?
What’s missing? Special teams.
STs wasn’t a disaster or anything like that. Fans need to go back to a season like 1995 to truly see dreadful STs play. The problem is that the Eagles were only so-so. Some things they did well, others they did not. Great teams can get away with being inconsistent on STs. The Eagles are good, but not great. They must have improved STs play if the team is going to become a legit title contender.
This isn’t just about having a better PK. The whole unit must get better.
Remember the early teams of the Reid years? You had Ike Reese and Dameane Douglas as the best guys. Je’Rod Cherry was good for a year. Sean Morey was a key STer for 2 years. Quintin Mikell joined the team in 2003 and became the best of the cover guys. Jason Short was memorable in 2004.
Even Brian Westbrook was good at covering punts and kickoffs as a rookie. He showed big potential as a RS and RB so the Eagles took him off the coverage units after his rookie season.
John Harbaugh did a terrific job of running the unit and getting players to understand how important STs play is. No one slacked. Those guys took pride in what they did. They worked to be excellent. And the Eagles developed talent. Mike Bartrum was one of the best snappers in the league. Koy Detmer became a great holder. David Akers became a great kicker. Brian Mitchell was already a dynamic RS and he helped Westbrook to follow in his footsteps.
Dave Fipp didn’t set the world on fire in 2013, but it is hard to say how much of that is on him and how much is on the players he had to work with. Chip Kelly and Howie Roseman have added talent to the pool so Fipp needs to produce better results this season.
I think Chris Maragos and Darren Sproles could be huge additions for him. Maragos seems like a natural STs leader. He knows he’s not Brian Dawkins, but Maragos is confident in who and what he is. He gets the big picture and is very professional in the way he approaches his job. He’s not afraid to speak up when needed. Sproles is a veteran RS who can help teach the other returners, but also work with the blockers. The return game has been an issue for several years.
As for Henery…we’ll just have to see how he does this year. Carey Spear has been disappointing, but maybe his presence had the desired effect and got Henery’s attention. Henery must do a better job or he’ll be out of a job. He’s no longer a young kicker being groomed for the future. He must do a good job. And he’s now worked with Fipp for more than a year so they are both on the same page.
Let’s see if the Special Teams can become…dare I say…special.