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Eagles had the best special teams unit in the league this year

Dave Fipp rules.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers at Philadelphia Eagles Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports

Each year, Dallas Morning News columnist Rick Gosselin rates all 32 special teams units in the NFL. His rankings are widely considered the best composite rankings of special teams units in the country, so when your team winds up on top, it’s a big deal.

For the second time in the past three years, the Gosselin named the Eagles’ special teams the best in the NFL. Dave Fipp’s unit was the best in the league in 2016 by a total of 27 points, per Gosselin’s rating system, which, like golf, has lower scores for better performance. For reference, the Ravens were the best in the league with a score of 231 last year. (The Eagles finished fifth, with a score of 313.) This season, the Eagles’ score was 226.5.

The Eagles ranked second in the NFL in opposing kickoff return yardage, allowing just 18.7 yards per kickoff return and allowing zero to be returned for a touchdown. They were also ninth in the league in opposing punt return yardage, allowing just 8.1 yards per return despite having the ninth-fewest fair catches.

The Eagles ranked first in the league in own kickoff return yardage, averaging 27.3 yards per return. They scored two touchdowns on kickoff returns. They also ranked second in punt return yardage, averaging 12.9 per return.

Kicker Caleb Sturgis had a career year kicking field goals, converting 85.4%, by far his best season in the NFL. And punter Donnie Jones averaged a solid 45.8 yards per punt, including a booming 72-yarder.

Special teams performance can be hard to quantify, especially for the players like Chris Maragos and Bryan Braman, whose contributions often go unnoticed. But Fipp and the Eagles’ special teams have been consistently recognized as one of the best units in the league since his arrival in 2013, and Gosselin’s rankings are just another case of the unit’s hard work being recognized.

Last November I wrote about Fipp’s path to where he is today, in case you’d like to read more about the man who just might be the best coach on the whole team.

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