If you’re attending an Eagles home game next season, Dave Fipp wants you in your seat - or rather, at the edge of it - for every special teams play. It’s not because he wants you to stay to watch his guys, but rather because he wants the special teams units to be so exciting that fans wouldn’t dare turn away.
"I love the kickoff cover phase, the punt coverage phase; the protection in coverage," Fipp said. "To me, the return game is exciting ... I hope people sit in the stands and get genuine enthusiasm about them. And I really hope that our players play with a genuine amount of enthusiasm. I know I’m excited to coach them. I love special teams and I hope that carries over into our players. I believe it will."
This is the energy players and fans can expect from the Eagles’ new special teams coordinator. Fipp, who comes to Philadelphia after two years as the Dolphins’ assistant special teams coordinator, is deep into his film study. He’s already watched last year’s game film, and he’s been busy looking at all possible scenarios for his group – including potentially putting wide receiver
"I can assure you that I’ve played all the 'what if' games," Fipp said. "I know that Coach (Chip) Kelly will maximize the talents on our roster, and together we’ll make the best decision for our football team."
Fipp met Kelly 13 years ago, back when Kelly was the offensive coordinator at New Hampshire. Back then, Fipp was interviewing for the team’s defensive backs job. Kelly sat in on the interview, and afterwards took Fipp out to lunch. The two stayed in touch, though Fipp admitted he was surprised to hear from Kelly about a job.
Now that they’re working together, the Eagles’ special teams will employ the same forward-thinking approach that is quickly becoming a constant inside the walls of the NovaCare Complex. The Eagles’ special teams units figure to be exciting, but the coaches are also planning on making them inclusive. According to Fipp, every player on the Eagles’ 53-man roster will play a part.
"It’s important that the top half of the roster can contribute in some form or fashion," he said. "Sometimes that might mean to be a backup; sometimes it’ll be to be a starter. But every guy on this team is going to have a role on special teams. I know Coach Kelly believes in that."
As for Fipp himself, he’s hoping that the Eagles’ special teams unit earns the kind of reputation he enjoyed as an assistant with the Dolphins. According to highly regarded Dallas Morning News journalist Rick Gosselin, the Dolphins produced some of the best special teams units in the league during Fipp's tenure. In 2011, Gosselin ranked - based on a statistical formula - the group second in the NFL. In 2012, the Dolphins ranked fourth. To continue that trend, Fipp and assistant special teams coach Matt Harper will work to bring sound fundamentals and intensity back to all four special teams groups.
"We’re going to have a sound system," Fipp said. "We’re going to play smart and we’re going to play relentlessly. We hope we have a bunch of speed and we have a bunch of people who love making high-speed collisions."
Until the players arrive in April for a pre-draft minicamp, the name of the game is film study and preparation. But that doesn’t mean Fipp can’t get excited about the game - and the group - he loves to coach. His passion is clear. The Eagles are hoping that passion will mean big things in 2013 and beyond.
"It’s a rush," he said. "You can’t get anything like it. You can’t go to Disney World and get the thrill that you get on the National Football League field, making plays on special teams."
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