Dave Fipp is a darn good coach.
Not only does he have the eyes to back that up (and steal your soul), he’s got the stats.
— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) February 16, 2017
I remember the 1995 Eagles, where STs were a joke. Tommy Hutton had a punt blocked and returned for a TD. Gary Anderson hit 73 percent of his FGs, and he was a weak-legged kicker at that point who specialized in accuracy. His longest FG was 43 yards. 43!!! Those Eagles allowed a pair of PRs for TDs. They gave up 26 yards per KOR.
Ray Rhodes loved veteran players so he loaded the roster with those guys. Players in their late 20’s and early 30’s are not great STers for the most part. They want to play on offense or defense. If they weren’t the worst STs in the league, they were close.
The Eagles impacted the game in every way on special teams this past season. The Eagles ranked second in the NFL with a franchise-record 27.3-yard per kickoff return average, thanks to a promising rookie year from Wendell Smallwood. Philadelphia led the league with five kickoff returns of 50-plus yards, and was the only team with multiple kickoff return touchdowns. The Eagles also finished second in punt return average (12.9 yards per return) with Darren Sproles leading the way. Another benefit from the special teams unit was that the Eagles had the best field position following a kickoff on both offense (27.2-yard line) and defense (22.7-yard line) in 2016.
Kicker Caleb Sturgis also made history for the Eagles’ special teams. In his first full season with the team, he connected on 35 field goals, both a career high as well as the most by any Eagle in a single season. Sturgis began Training Camp in a battle with Cody Parkey, who made the Pro Bowl as a rookie in 2014 but was placed on Injured Reserve with a groin injury the following season. Sturgis won the job and Fipp is excited about the future with him.
Fipp is a very good coach and the organization uses resources to build up STs. They traded for Darren Sproles. They signed Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman. They added Kamu Grugier-Hill last summer because they thought he could be a stud on STs.
I’m interested to see what happens this offseason. Braman is a UFA. Will the Eagles bring him back or will they try to find a 4-3 LB to fill his role? Braman played a little defense this year as a DE, but was almost exclusively a STer.
Sproles has said this is his final year. Will the Eagles try to add someone to learn for a year or will they wait until next offseason and just fully replace him at that time? Could Byron Marshall and/or Kenjon Barner be his replacment(s)?
Doug Pederson was very wise to keep Dave Fipp around. He’s done a terrific job of working with the kickers/punters, the cover guys, the blockers and returners. I can’t imagine where the Eagles would have been the past 3 years if they had mediocre or bad STs. Things were hard enough with them being an elite unit.
It's February and I'm expecting the Eagles and Dolphins to be crazy active next month and everything feels normal for a minute
— Gregg Rosenthal (@greggrosenthal) February 17, 2017
Gregg has a feel for these things. That doesn’t make him right, but he’s worth paying attention to.
I don’t want the team to be overly-active. I want them to be smart shoppers. As fun as it is to see them make a lot of moves in March, offseasons like that rarely pay off. You need to add a big piece or two and then find some good fits.
Eagles fans itching to see players cut: The longer they last, the more likely it is they've found a trade partner. Cuts now are not ideal.
— Jimmy Kempski (@JimmyKempski) February 13, 2017
A lot of times we see teams get active before the Scouting Combine. That starts on Feb 28th this year. Cuts could happen next week or early the next week. Teams cut veterans they know they can’t deal before free agency to give those players a chance to shop themselves. That’s how you maintain good relations with players and agents.
It would be nice if the Eagles were able to deal guys like Mychal Kendricks, Connor Barwin and Jason Kelce. I think Barwin is cut. The other two I think will be dealt, but that might happen in March or it might drag out a bit. We’ll have to wait and see.
The Eagles will be making some cuts soon. They need the cap room.