The Eagles are 8-1.
One of the most complete teams in the NFL, analysts have remarked on the depth of the roster. The lack of apparent deficiencies has been a consistent barometer of the Eagles’ success over the first half of the season.
Unfortunately, this examination needs to be more thorough. While the Eagles rank third in offensive and second in defensive rating according to PFF, they are 32nd in special teams rating. This is simply inexcusable for an NFL team with hopes of a Super Bowl appearance.
We explore two ways the Eagles can rectify their special-teams incompetence and truly cement themselves as a three-phased dominant team.
Step One: Release Returner Britain Covey
The Eagles must start here.
Return specialist Britain Covey has had a putrid season so far. Through the first nine games, Covey has returned 18 punts for just 117 yards and ten kicks for 206 yards. His longest kick return has been just 26 yards, just one yard past a touchback.
Return specialist Britain Covey has been putrid. In his first season, he failed to establish himself as a reliable option. Through his first nine games, Covey has yet to show explosive ability and has consistently made incorrect decisions in kick returning and punt returning. In addition, he has been passive, returning just ten kicks for 206 yards. His longest return has been just 26 yards, a mere one yard more than a touchback.
As a punt returner, Covey has been a non-factor. He has 18 punts for just 117 yards with a long of just 15. His lack of explosiveness has resulted in the offense needing to work consistently with long fields. He has appeared in five offensive snaps and provides no tangible benefit outside the special teams unit. In addition, Covey has fumbled the ball twice already this season.
The Eagles have persevered with the 5’8″, 173-pound returner so far but will need to move on to have any chance of improving their special teams unit.
Step Two: Stop Blaming Arryn Siposs
Siposs has been sound in his second season with the Philadelphia Eagles.
While his average of 46.3 yards per punt ranks 24th in the NFL, he has excelled in other areas. His sophomore campaign has resulted in fantastic field-flipping efforts thus far, pinning opposing offenses a whopping 16 times thus far in nine games. Furthermore, he has only had three touchbacks, and his punts have resulted in just 6.7 yards per return. For comparison, Britain Covey has had just 6.5 yards per punt return, which has resulted in PFF’s worst league special teams grade.
The Eagles also rank sixth in return yards allowed, with just 94 on the entire season. While Siposs does not have the biggest leg in the NFL, he has the unique ability to place punts in a way that limits returns and pins teams deep in their territory. In the traditional sense, he is not a field flipper, but his accuracy is sound so far this season. Only two of his 34 punts have landed out of bounds in the 2022 season.
The Eagles must improve their special teams, but their punt coverage unit is not the issue. They have been fantastic so far this season.
Step Three: Rebuild Returns, Congratulate Coverage.
As a whole, the Eagles’ coverage units have been terrific.
As stated above, Philadelphia has managed to rank sixth in punt returns allowed. Similarly, they have ranked 12th in kick return yards allowed. Neither of these units is atrocious. Their coverage units feature Zech McPhearson, who won NFC Special Teams Player Of The Week in Week One.
Their return teams are quite the opposite. The Eagles are fourth worst in kick return yards, and Britain Covey is second worst in yards per punt return. They must rebuild the contributors to improve this unit, as their incompetence forces the offense to make consistently long drives.
With shorter fields, it is easy to imagine how dominant Jalen Hurts and the Philadelphia Eagles offense could be.
What should the Eagles’ first step be in improving special teams? Do you believe that it is as dire as we do?
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