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Special Teams play matters a lot more in Philly…

Nice to see the Eagles Special Teams getting some much-deserved acclaim based on the skill groups coach Dave Fipp has put together over the past few seasons. I think all would agree the fan anxiety quotient has been way down lately when the Eagles’ kicking and return groups are on the field.

Dallas Morning News columnist and Pro Football Hall of Fame voter Rick Gosselin’s annual Special Teams rankings are considered to be the standard by which all teams are judged.

According to Chris McPherson at PE.com, on Wednesday, Gosselin released his final tally for the 2016 season. Special teams coordinator Dave Fipp’s crew came in first for the second time in three years (2014). The Eagles have been in the top five in all three of those campaigns.

“There’s been a long legacy of playing really well on Special Teams here with the Eagles,” Fipp said by phone on Wednesday, just moments after receiving the news that the Eagles came in first. “I think we inherited some of that legacy and it’s been passed down from the guys way before us. We’re just picking up the flag and carrying it further. I think there’s definitely a standard and an expectation that when you’re playing Special Teams for this organization you have to play at a high level. That really has nothing to do with me. It’s set by guys who played a long time ago and then it’s set from the very top of the organization, by Mr. (Jeffrey) Lurie, and it all trickles down.”

Fipp arrived in Philadelphia in 2013 along with punter Donnie Jones, who has set numerous franchise records since his arrival. In 2014, the Eagles added Darren Sproles, a two-time Pro Bowl selection as a return specialist; they also added coverage specialists Chris Maragos, Bryan Braman, and Trey Burton. It should come as no surprise that in the last year two-time Pro Bowl long snapper Jon Dorenbos ( the longest-tenured Eagle), Donnie Jones, Maragos, and Sproles have all received contract extensions.

“The most important thing is that the young guys buy into what the older guys do. The older guys really teach those guys our standard and expectations. All of those guys individually are very prideful players. It doesn’t really matter what the job is, they are going to take pride in it,” Fipp said.

“I’ve been fortunate to be a part of a group of guys who really have high standards, expectations of themselves. Because of that it’s much easier for me. Those guys all want to be great players and they’re self-driven. That’s probably the biggest secret to the whole thing is finding guys who want to be great both individually and collectively.”

“Last year means nothing. Rankings are nice, but at the end of the day it really means nothing. The bottom line for us is we want to contend as a team for championships and playoffs. We’ve got a lot of work ahead of us to get there,” Fipp said. “Fortunately, we do have some great players to start with, but we’ve got a lot of work to do both in acquiring players and also bringing the best out of the players that we’ve got in this building. We’re excited about the future. We’re excited to get to work here.”
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Here’s something you don’t see very often at all— A fan poster at PE.com’s Dave Spadaro column gets a “First” AND gets a personal response from Dave himself! The power play was made by Stine, who hit his 5th career homer in the process.

Here’s how the exchange went down in Dave’s Thursday column:

stine

“For all of you wanting to see Peters get released, The Eagles may have another OT on the team that could start at RT and his name is not Vaitai. Dillon Gordon is a converted TE-to-tackle project that could make strides this year. IF so, I could see the Eagles moving away from Peters unless he re-does his current contract. I was concerned before due to lack of depth. This may not be the case now….”

DaveSpadaro

“Stine, I’m glad you mentioned Gordon, because I’m really intrigued. I want to see if he is ready to contribute this season. Great athlete, and the Eagles obviously were high on him to keep him on 53-man roster last season. Is he another Jason Peters? Is he just a super athlete who isn’t able to make the transition to OT? Is he something between the two?”
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