Special Teams Impact

Posted: March 30th, 2018 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | Comments Off on Special Teams Impact

Doug Pederson has talked openly of the Eagles needing better STs play in 2018. I think that is especially true in the return game.

The team has shown interest in RBs, WRs and DBs who have good return skills. We don’t know what the future holds for Darren Sproles. He has been a dynamic punt returner throughout his career. The Eagles would love to find a young player to take that role. The younger guy would have the role for the next several years and would do it at a fraction of Sproles cost. With the Eagles spending big on the LOS and in other areas, they have to cut costs somewhere.

They hoped Donnel Pumphrey would offer some impact as a returner. That didn’t work out last year, but it still could. The Eagles just can’t count on that. They need serious competition for that role.

WR Christian Kirk would be a target at 32. The Eagles sent WRs coach Gunter Brewer to work him out at his Pro Day. Kirk is also a great PR. He averaged 22 yards per punt return with 6 TDs.  Wow. That’s kinda decent, huh?

Kirk has the ability to make the first guy miss, which is critical for a good return. He then can explode when he has space up the middle or gets a lane to the outside. I love the fact he runs so hard. Brian Mitchell did that and broke tackles on a regular basis. Too many returners dance around or slow down to read blocks, making them easier to tackle. Go full speed and make them tackle you.

Kirk was my top WR coming into the season. I would try to study WR Josh Reynolds last year and #3 just kept catching my eye. He should go in the late 1st or early 2nd. Kirk is outstanding in the slot, but also has the speed to play outside. I think he would be a terrific fit in the Eagles offense.

Nyheim Hines played WR some and RB some in his time at NC State. He was an outstanding KOR, but didn’t handle punts until this past season. He averaged 11.3 per PR and ran one back for a TD. Hines has explosive speed and could develop into a dynamic returner.

Hines is the kind of versatile offensive weapon the Eagles coaches would love. He can play in the slot or in the backfield. He’s only 5-8, 197, but that 4.38 speed is why you want him, not size.

You don’t see a lot of skill in those plays, but that speed makes him a weapon.

The Eagles have also shown some interest in Braxton Berrios, your prototypical WR. He’s 5-9, 186. He’s quick and elusive, but not explosive. He has a lot of PR experience, going 47-488-1 for his career.

Berrios is going to be a late round pick. He would be a slot receiver on offense and STer. He’s going to be reliable and make the occasional play, but isn’t going to wow you.

The Eagles would love to add an explosive playmaker to STs, but you never know how the draft will work out. If they go for an OL or DL early, they may have to settle for someone like Berrios. The Eagles will bring in some small school guys as UDFAs or late picks and give them a chance. They are going to add competition to the KOR and PR spots.

If the draft doesn’t break the way the team wants, maybe Sproles does come back. The Eagles have to figure roster spots and cap space to see what the best solution is. Pederson clearly loves Sproles, as anyone would. You just can’t guarantee that he’ll be the best fit for the team. This is about 2018 and 2019 and 2020. If it were just this year, Sproles would be your guy. Football doesn’t work that way. You have to factor in future seasons and decide if going with the veteran is the right move.

A month  from now, we’ll have a better idea on Sproles future and what’s going on with the return game.


Odd personal note here. Rusty Staub died on Thursday.

I’m sure many of you will say…who?

I grew up in the late 70’s and early 80’s. Staub was one of my sports heroes. And yet…I don’t know that I ever saw him play a full game. By the time I had a chance to watch Staub play, he was a deadly pinch hitter, but no longer a starter.

As with so many of my heroes, I knew of Staub from books. I would go buy older baseball books and read their notes on him. I loved his nickname, Le Grand Orange. Seeing that as a kid is probably one of the things that made me like him.

Brooks Robinson is one of my all-time favorite players. Never got to see him play live. I loved him based on highlights from the 1970 World Series and the little sports books I used to get from the school library. Reading about Rusty or Brooks or Johnny Bench or Lou Brock in those books was my way to get to enjoy them. There was no YouTube or SportsCenter in those formative years. I did love This Week in Baseball. Mel Allen gave me a chance to see some amazing plays from around the league.

Last week I took a break from studying draft prospects for a few minutes. I pulled up YouTube. Usually I will watch a clip from Always Sunny or The Office to make me laugh and clear my head. For some reason, I decided I wanted to watch something different.

Out of the blue, I typed in a name I hadn’t thought of in years.

Rusty Staub.

For a few minutes, I got to be a kid again and Staub got to be a skilled hitter in his prime, spraying the ball all over the park.

RIP, my old friend.


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