Dave Fipp Says Eagles Punt Returners Need to “Do a Better Job of Fielding the Ball”

There’s nothing like watching the New York Giants boot a 71-yard punt as your returner sees the ball go right over his head.

It happened twice on Sunday; once when rookie Jalen Reagor let a punt get behind him and again when a more experienced guy in Greg Ward did the same thing, which resulted in the Eagles getting the ball on their own five yard line while down four points with 2:57 remaining in the third quarter. They had to go 95 yards for a score because Doug Pederson couldn’t just do the easy thing and kick an extra point after the Corey Clement touchdown.

Anyway, special teams coordinator Dave Fipp today channeled Andy Reid when asked about the botched punts:

“That was unfortunate. Obviously, we got to catch the football. We got two good returners back there, those guys need to do a better job of fielding the ball. Obviously, in that situation there was some wind and weather and all that stuff factors into it. That being said, that’s their job and that’s why those guys were back there, to catch the ball. I still got a lot of confidence in those guys. I know they can do that, and we’ll keep working on it in practice and we’ll get better at it. We definitely gave up some field position there and put our offense back further on the field then it should have been and that didn’t help our football team out.”

No, it didn’t, and now we’ll ask a rhetorical question –

When is the last time the Eagles did anything in the punt return game? Feels like it’s been eons since they did something to help out the offense in terms of field position.

More from Fipp:

“I think Greg’s was a little bit different than Jalen’s. I mean they’re two different plays. One of them the ball was near midfield, that’s Greg’s and he was standing roughly around the 10-yard line and I think the ball bounced on the 11. I think it got caught up in a gust of wind and he didn’t feel comfortable catching the ball and so he didn’t. Obviously, we’d rather have him catch that ball. That being said, I’d rather also have him let it go than muff a catch if he doesn’t feel comfortable with it. Now that being said, we get paid to catch the football back there and we got to do a better job of that.

I think Jalen’s was a little bit different factor. Obviously, the guy hit a bomb, went over his head, I think 61 yards in the air, and then another 10 yards on the roll. We had a little bit more time, anytime you kick it that far you got a little bit more time to get back there and catch the thing. You don’t have gunners in your face because it’s a further punt, but yeah, he did it in college. I think he is a developing player. By no means am I saying he shouldn’t be able to handle that. I know he knows he can do it. We know he can do it. I believe in him. I think he’s going to be a really good player back there. I think experience helps everybody in this league at every position. I’m certain that over time that’ll help him and he’ll get better and better. We believe in practice and experience. But at the end of the day, we also are not making excuses. We have to do a better job for our football team. In that game right there we did not do well enough in our phase certainly and that’s really ultimately my responsibility.”

I don’t have anything else to add to this post, so we’ll bring it to an end.

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