Eagles Position Review: Special Teams Coverage Unit

John Geliebter-USA TODAY Sports

For the special teams geek in your life...

The 2014 NFL offseason has begun for the Eagles, which means Chip Kelly and his staff will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2013 roster. While the team was able to manage a 10-6 record along with an NFC East crown, there are still many ways the Eagles roster could be improved upon. By the time NFL free agency starts on March 11, the Eagles will have a good idea of which players they'll want to bring back for the 2014 season. Today we'll finish this offseason review series by looking at the special teams coverage unit.

This post will look a little different than the typical position review post considering the special teams coverage unit isn't really a position as much as it is a unit. Nevertheless, it's worth talking about considering how the Eagles improved on special teams from 2012 to 2013. Here's how the Eagles special teams units ranked in coverage.

Category Eagles NFL AVG Difference Rank
Punt Return Avg 8 9.4 -1.4 11
Kickoff Return Avg 23.6 23.4 0.2 19

As you can see, the Eagles were above average against punt returns and below average in kickoff coverage. Nothing too great, but not majorly problematic.

As for individual success, here's a look at the Eagles special team tackle numbers. The numbers vary depending on the source, so here's a comparison of three different sources: the official Eagles stats, the official NFL stats, and Pro Football Focus stats.

Eagles NFL PFF
Colt Anderson 16 8 6
James Casey 13 9 8
Casey Matthews 12 6 8
Kurt Coleman 9 6 6
Najee Goode 8 6 5
Brad Smith 8 4 6
Roc Carmichael 7 3 5
Brandon Graham 7 5 4
Chris Polk 7 3 5
Bradley Fletcher 6 4 4
Jeff Maehl 6 4 5
Jake Knott 5 4 3
Brandon Boykin 3 2 4
Patrick Chung 2 1 1
Jon Dorenbos 2
Cary Williams 2 2 2
Earl Wolff 2 1 1
Alex Henery 1 1 1
Brandon Hughes 1
Donnie Jones 1 1 1
Jordan Poyer 1 1 1

Some of the sites go into more detail than just tackles. The NFL stats include assisted tackles, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, and blocked kicks.

NFL Tackle Assist FF FR BL
Colt Anderson 8 1 1
James Casey 9 1
Casey Matthews 6 2
Kurt Coleman 6
Najee Goode 6 2
Brad Smith 4 1
Roc Carmichael 3 2
Brandon Graham 5
Chris Polk 3 1
Bradley Fletcher 4 1 1
Jeff Maehl 4 1
Jake Knott 4 1
Brandon Boykin 2 2
Patrick Chung 1
Jon Dorenbos 1
Cary Williams 2 1
Earl Wolff 1 1
Alex Henery 1
Brandon Hughes
Donnie Jones 1
Jordan Poyer 1
Bennie Logan 1

PFF includes assisted tackles, missed tackles, and penalties.

PFF Tackles Assisted Missed Penalties
Colt Anderson 6 1 6
James Casey 8 5 1
Casey Matthews 8 1 1
Kurt Coleman 6 2 1 2
Najee Goode 5 1 1
Brad Smith 6 1
Roc Carmichael 5 1 2 1
Brandon Graham 4 3 2 1
Chris Polk 5 2
Bradley Fletcher 4 1
Jeff Maehl 5
Jake Knott 3 2
Brandon Boykin 4 2 3
Patrick Chung 1 1 2
Jon Dorenbos 1
Cary Williams 2
Earl Wolff 1 1
Alex Henery 1 2 3
Brandon Hughes
Donnie Jones 1
Jordan Poyer 1
Allen Barbre 1
DeSean Jackson 1

What's to gather from all of this? My first takeaway is that James Casey, despite not being used much on offense, was a pretty good special teams contributor. It also looks like signing veteran WR Brad Smith was a good move, considering how much he contributed in less games played than other special teams members. Casey Matthews played well on special teams again this year, which shows why the Eagles didn't cut him. Colt Anderson seemingly racked up a bunch of tackles as he always does, but he also missed a lot according to PFF.

This post includes the 2013 Eagles position reviews series. The only player I didn't get to was long snapper Jon Dorenbos... so here's my review of him: there didn't seem to be any problems with his snaps, so he was great.

As you can see, the Eagles were above average in punt coverage and below average against kick returns.

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