When the Philadelphia Eagles hired Bobby April in 2010, the fans were told that April’s genius on special teams would soon be apparent. We were told to look at his work with the Buffalo Bills and get ready to see a vast improvement on the field. This coach would save a group not in prominent form since the departure of John Harbaugh to go to the Baltimore Ravens and get his Super Bowl. Last year, the April illusion finally died with many painful performances. This year, Dave Fipp, a young coach plucked from the Miami Dolphins staff, will attempt to make things right.
Last year, April consistently looked lost and outplayed. The team had no answers for returns or defending returns. The punters did not perform while Alex Henery put up a solid effort. Brandon Boykin and Damaris Johnson handled the return duties and neither showed the flashes of brilliance they had in college.
The return side of the ball, though poor, was nothing compared to the defensive side. The team could not tackle or pin down returners. They spent too much time chasing and being out of position. Fans would watch the game and cringe every time a punt or kickoff was coming, waiting to see how close to midfield the opponent would end up after a handful of missed tackles.
Fipp comes over from the Dolphins with the fourth-ranked unit from 2012. As with the other major coaching changes on the team, he will bring a new perspective and style. Desean Jackson has said, on Profootballtalk.com, that he will be returning more punts this year and that Jeremy Maclin has joined him and Johnson in the return drills. If Fipp can be successful, we will see more plays like the New Miracle at the Meadowlands in 2010. Any punt return for a score against a division rival will be a vast improvement from last season.
The Eagles will need their special teams unit to control games, score points and even pull out victories. Fipp brings over the experience and skill to make it happen and revitalize this segment of the game.