When the Eagles brought in Bobby April, many people were excited about the Eagles developing strong special teams units. However, the team started very slow out of the gate.
With a lot of youth on special teams, the coverage units were not very impressive early in the season. However, as time went on, they improved a lot and became pretty solid towards the end of the season.
Colt Anderson was a late addition to the team, but proved to be a special teams stud. He got the chance to play a little safety on defense, but he showed that his true talent is on the special teams units.
In the return game, there were a lot of question marks. Ellis Hobbs was supposed to be the answer returning kicks, but he had to be replaced after going down with an injury.
Eldra Buckley filled in for Hobbs and handled the most returns during the season. However, he was less than spectacular and made some costly mistakes.
In punt returns, the Eagles have one of the most electrifying return men in the game, DeSean Jackson. This season, we saw the Eagles try to protect Jackson and not put him on the field for every return. When they really needed him, like against the Giants, Jackson proved that he can perform when called upon.
Sav Rocca quietly had a good year. He averaged 43.8 yards per punt during the regular season, and only averaged under 40 yards per punt in four games. During his career with the Eagles, he’s shown some inconsistency. However, Rocca netted a career high in punt average during the 2010 season.
David Akers had another Pro Bowl season. He ended the season making 32 out of 38 field goals attempted. Every field goal attempted inside 30 yards was made. He went 9-11 inside from 40-49 yards out and was 1-3 in 50+ yard field goals. Akers had a down game against Atlanta where he missed three field goals, but his poor performance didn’t end up having a big impact on the game.
However, in the playoffs, Akers missed two field goals in a five point loss to the Packers. Obviously, if you do the math, making those two field goals could have possibly won the game for the Eagles.
This will be an interesting offseason for the Eagles as both Rocca and Akers are scheduled to become free agents. Akers will definitely be the biggest question mark in the offseason, as he ended the season poorly and openly admitted he may have spent his last days as an Eagle.
However, it’s hard to replace a kicker like Akers. He just turned 36 in December but proved he can still kick with the best of them at his age. Akers is the longest tenured athlete in Philadelphia, and it’s going to be hard for the Eagles to let him go.
The Eagles will definitely be having an open competition for return-men in Training Camp. As mentioned, Jackson can step in and be explosive when called upon, but the Eagles don’t want him out there for every punt.
I expect the coverage units to remain pretty solid, and hope that the Eagles can find another explosive option in the return game next season.