How do you help Nick Foles, a young quarterback just given the starting gig of the Philadelphia Eagles? How do you help a young defense improving but still learning the ropes? Field position. Field position is won by the special teams unit, and the final five games of the schedule could be made or broken on their backs. The special teams crew has gone through an up and down season. They started strong and had their share of struggles. Now they must finish strong as these important final games could be easily won by a last-second field goal. Which brings us to Alex Henery.
Henery has been a problem. You don’t like to say that about a kicker, but his season record of 17-for-22 in field goals is unacceptable. The misses have fallen on some simple kicks, and the Eagles cannot have his inconsistency come back to haunt them when the season is on the line. He also struggles to get the ball out of the end zone on kickoffs, and this has been shadowed by some fairly good coverage in recent games.
Donnie Jones, in contrast, has played well and keeps booming punts and pinning opponents deep in their own zone. He is reliable and a key player for the Eagles as the season ends.
The coverage teams have done their job after a few rough games early in the season. Finally, the return crew needs to step up. DeSean Jackson is an effective punt returner, but we are still waiting to see him break one. Damaris Johnson was relieved of his kick return duties by Brandon Boykin, and it created an immediate improvement in field position. Look for Brad Smith to be used after the bye week in the return game as well.
When the games matter, the weather gets colder and the pressure is on, the wind swirling in Lincoln Financial Field will increase the importance of every special teams play. They need to step up and win some of these games down the stretch if the Eagles want to see a playoff spot in Chip Kelly‘s first year.