Last week Football Outsiders revealed the Philadelphia Eagles own claim to the league’s best defense over the past 30 years. Football Outsiders also put together a list of the top 30 special teams unit over the last 30 years. The Eagles did not earn the No. 1 overall spot, but they did make three appearances on the list.
Checking in at No. 9 is the 2001 Eagles special teams unit.
9. 2001 Philadelphia Eagles
Philadelphia ranked in the top six in all five phases of special teams, led by a No. 1 finish in kickoff value behind All-Pro kicker David Akers. Brian Mitchell's career was winding down, but he was still good enough to average 25 yards per kick return.
That unit was ran by John Harbaugh, who has been the head coach of the Baltimore Ravens since 2008. One of the NFL’s most heralded special teams coaches today, Dave Toub, was also a special teams quality control coach.
Checking in at No. 18 is the 2014 Eagles special teams unit.
18. 2014 Philadelphia Eagles
This was another Pro Bowl year for Darren Sproles, who had two touchdowns with 13.0 yards per punt return. Josh Huff and Chris Polk each scored a touchdown on a kickoff return. The Eagles' kickoff coverage forced two fumbles and stopped a league-leading 20 returns short of the 20.
The Eagles’ 2014 special teams unit really covered up for mistakes elsewhere on the team. Philadelphia tied an NFL record with seven special teams touchdowns and also blocked a league-high six kicks that season. This is where the legend of Dave Fipp was born.
Speaking of Fipp, another one of his groups made this top 30 list: the 2016 Eagles special teams unit.
24. 2016 Philadelphia Eagles
Darren Sproles made the Pro Bowl as the NFC's return man, but the Eagles got more value from kick returns, on which Wendell Smallwood and Josh Huff both scored touchdowns. The Eagles' kickoff coverage was also stellar, allowing only five returns past the 25 and none past the 35.
Pretty impressive that Fipp can say he’s overseen two of the league’s 24 best special teams units in the past 30 years. The Eagles should expect him to get head coaching interviews in the future if he continues this level of success.
And there’s reason to believe Fipp’s success will continue in 2017. The Eagles will return most of the same special teams unit as last year. Huff is gone, yes, but Smallwood showed returning potential and the Eagles also added Donnel Pumphrey. Wide receiver Mack Hollins figures to be a valuable addition to the Eagles’ coverage unit. Mike Mayock called Hollins the best special teams player in the entire 2017 NFL Draft.