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What the Eagles should do on special teams

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Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

NFL: Philadelphia Eagles at Carolina Panthers Jeremy Brevard-USA TODAY Sports

The 2019 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles, which means Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson will spend the next couple of weeks evaluating the 2018 roster. It’s time to start figuring out what this team needs to do to get back to the Super Bowl. Today we’ll conclude this roster outlook series by looking at Dave Fipp’s special teams units.

We already reviewed the performances of kicker Jake Elliott, punter Cameron Johnston, and long snapper Rick Lovato. This post is more about the special teams coverage and return units.

First, the numbers:

As you can see, the Eagles’ special teams coverage units were pretty solid in 2018. Their return units could use improvement, however.

DeAndre Carter, Darren Sproles, and Golden Tate combined to handle 25 of the Eagles’ 33 punt returns in 2018. It’s entirely possible none of those players will even be on the 2019 roster. Corey Clement handled six punt returns last season and he muffed a few of those, so I doubt the Eagles will be viewing him as the solution there. The Eagles need to add someone with return ability this offseason, whether that’s through free agency or the NFL Draft.

Getting back to the coverage units, here’s a look at the Eagles special team tackle numbers. The counts vary depending on the source, so here’s a comparison of three different stats sources: the Eagles’ official site, official NFL log, and Pro Football Focus.

2018 Eagles special teams tackles

Player Eagles NFL PFF
Player Eagles NFL PFF
Kamu Grugier-Hill 11 9 8
LaRoy Reynolds 9 5 4
Tre Sullivan 8 1 6
Deiondre' Hall 5 3 5
Avonte Maddox 5 3 2
D.J. Alexander 4 3 3
Corey Clement 4 2 3
Nathan Gerry 4 4 3
Malcolm Jenkins 4 3 3
B.J. Bello 3 1 2
Dallas Goedert 3 2 2
Corey Graham 3 2 3
Rick Lovato 3 1 1
Joshua Perkins 3 2 1
DeAndre Carter 2 0 0
Shelton Gibson 2 1 1
Jalen Mills 2 1 1
Wendell Smallwood 2 1 1
Josh Adams 1 1 2
Rasul Douglas 1 0 1
Daeshon Hall 1 1 1
Cameron Johnston 1 1 1
Cre'Von LeBlanc 1 0 0
Jake Elliott 0 0 2

Some of the sites go into more detail than just tackles. The NFL stats include assisted tackles, forced fumbles, fumble recoveries, and blocked kicks. (Note: this is for the regular season, so Treyvon Hester’s blocked kick in the playoffs isn’t listed here.)

More Eagles special teams stats

Player Assisted FF FR BL
Player Assisted FF FR BL
Tre Sullivan 4
Kamu Grugier-Hill 2
LaRoy Reynolds 1
Nathan Gerry 1
Rasul Douglas 1
Malcolm Jenkins 1
Corey Graham 1
Cre'Von LeBlanc 1
D.J. Alexander 1 1
Deiondre' Hall 1
Corey Clement 1 2
Dallas Goedert 1
Wendell Smallwood 1
B.J. Bello 1
Rick Lovato 1
Golden Tate 1
DeAndre Carter 1

PFF includes assisted tackles, missed tackles, and penalties.

Eagles PFF special teams stats

Player Assisted Missed Penalties
Player Assisted Missed Penalties
Kamu Grugier-Hill 4 2 0
DeAndre Carter 2 0 0
Dallas Goedert 1 0 0
Nathan Gerry 1 0 2
Deiondre' Hall 1 2 0
LaRoy Reynolds 1 1 3
Avonte Maddox 0 1 3
Chandon Sullivan 0 0 2
Tre Sullivan 0 2 2
D.J. Alexander 0 2 2
Shelton Gibson 0 1 1
Rasul Douglas 0 0 1
Sidney Jones 0 0 1
Joshua Perkins 0 0 1
De'Vante Bausby 0 0 1
Richard Rodgers 0 0 1
Corey Clement 0 0 2
Cre'Von LeBlanc 0 3 0
Cameron Johnston 0 1 0
B.J. Bello 0 1 0
Daeshon Hall 0 1 0
Rick Lovato 0 1 0

What’s to make of all of this? Well, there’s a reason Kamu Grugier-Hill is the Eagles’ special teams captain. He’s been a really productive player on ST units. LaRoy Reynolds, who is set to be a free agent, was also productive but he also made a number of mistakes with one missed tackle and three penalties. The same goes for D.J. Alexander, who will also be a free agent. Avonte Maddox and Cre’Von LeBlanc made good contributions on defense but they were shakier on special teams.

The Eagles don’t need to overhaul their entire special teams unit; they actually finished 15th in special teams DVOA in 2018. It would be nice if they could get back to being an above average unit, though.

Poll

Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 94%
    Stay
    (939 votes)
  • 5%
    Go
    (57 votes)
996 votes total Vote Now