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Eagles roster outlook: Special teams coverage and returning units

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Eagles roster outlook: position-by-position.

Wild Card Round - Seattle Seahawks v Philadelphia Eagles Photo by Steven Ryan/Getty Images

The 2020 NFL offseason has begun for the Philadelphia Eagles. Howie Roseman and Doug Pederson have a lot of tough decisions to make as they try to get this team back to Super Bowl contention. Today we continue our position-by-position roster outlook series by examining the special teams coverage and return units. Previously: Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | Offensive tackle | Offensive guard | Center | Defensive end | Defensive tackle | Linebacker | Cornerback | Safety | Specialists.

COVERAGE UNITS

SPECIAL TEAMS TACKLES

Player Eagles NFL PFF
Player Eagles NFL PFF
T.J. Edwards 14 4 7
Craig James 12 7 9
Duke Riley 10 7 6
Nathan Gerry 8 5 5
Alex Singleton 8 2 3
Rudy Ford 5 2 2
Rick Lovato 5 3 5
Genard Avery 3 1 2
Malcolm Jenkins 3 1 1
Rodney McLeod 3 1 2
Andrew Sendejo 3 2 0
Johnathan Cyprien 2 0 0
L.J. Fort 2 1 0
Dallas Goedert 2 2 1
Daeshon Hall 2 1 1
Cameron Johnston 2 2 2
Sidney Jones 2 1 2
Josh Sweat 2 2 2
Zach Brown 1 1 0
Corey Clement 1 1 0
Rasul Douglas 1 0 0
Marcus Epps 1 0 0
Kamu Grugier-Hill 1 1 1
Mack Hollins 1 0 0
Greg Ward 1 0 0

SPECIAL TEAMS PENALTIES

Player Penalties
Player Penalties
Rudy Ford 4
Josh Sweat 1
T.J. Edwards 1
Jake Elliott 1
Rasul Douglas 1
Kamu Grugier-Hill 1
Malcolm Jenkins 1
Boston Scott 1
Derek Barnett 1

SPECIAL TEAMS (AGAINST)

Category Eagles NFL AVG Difference Rank
Category Eagles NFL AVG Difference Rank
Punt Return Avg 6.5 7.6 -1.1 11th
Kickoff Return Avg 23.8 22.5 1.3 21st

T.J. Edwards looks like a good undrafted rookie free agents find by Howie Roseman. Edwards made an impact on special teams in addition to being a role player on defense.

Craig James also looks like a savvy pickup. He was very active on special teams coverage, especially late in the season.

Duke Riley’s special teams efforts earned him captaincy after Kamu Grugier-Hill went on injured reserve. With Grugier-Hill likely leaving in free agency, Riley figures to be one of the Eagles’ five team captains in 2020. The trade to get rid of Cyprien, upgrade a 2020 seventh-round pick to a 2020 sixth-round, and get Riley was a low key shrewd move.

Rick Lovato doesn’t just stick to long snapping; he also gets involved in special teams tackles. Maybe that’s part of why he made the Pro Bowl.

Rudy Ford was a disaster. He had four penalties — tied for sixth most in the NFL — despite only playing in 10 games.

RETURNING

TEAM

PLAYERS

Miles Sanders stopped returning kicks after Jordan Howard got hurt in Week 9. With Sanders projected to have an even bigger role in 2020, it’s safe to say his kick returning days are probably over.

Boston Scott is the early favorite to be the Eagles’ kick returner moving forward. He handled those duties after Sanders was taken off. Could Tremon Smith be in the mix? The 2019 practice squad signing has an uphill battle to make the team but Smith had an NFL fourth-best 26.8 kick return average as a rookie two seasons ago.

Darren Sproles is retiring (for real, this time) so the Eagles will enter the 2020 season with a primary punt returner that isn’t him for the first time since he arrived in Philly in 2014. Scott handled some punt returns before Greg Ward finished the season in that role. Scott’s numbers were clearly better. Maybe the aforementioned Smith gets a look at returning punts since he did that in college.


The Eagles’ special teams unit has never really been a weakness under special teams coordinator Dave Fipp but it’s been some time since it was a legitimate strength. It’d be nice to see some improvement here.

Poll

Eagles special teams coordinator Dave Fipp: Stay or go?

This poll is closed

  • 92%
    Stay
    (887 votes)
  • 7%
    Go
    (71 votes)
958 votes total Vote Now