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Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April

Posted Dec 27, 2012

On his impressions of RB Bryce Brown as a kick returner: "He did okay. He just did okay. We could have blocked for him better and he would have looked a lot better. You know, you generally have to make somebody miss and his speed can pull away from guys. He’ll have to learn to force guys to miss in the hole just like he does as a runner. It’s a little bit foreign to him, but he is a good runner and, with practice, I think he can be really good."

On whether Brown realistically has a future returning kicks or whether he is being used as an experiment: "I guess experimenting. I wouldn’t use that word, but in a thesaurus, you might be able to use it. We’re giving him a try and seeing what he can do because he can run with the ball and he is really fast and he goes north and south. That’s all the ingredients you pretty much need to play that. But there is a pattern that’s different for him, because everything’s so expanded. It’s like running the ball, yet you’ve got to run a little bit of a ways to get to the (tacklers). So that’s a little bit off for him. I think he could be. I think he could be because he’s shown he can run with the ball."

On whether Brown will be returning kickoffs this week: "He’ll be doing it. He and (CB) Brandon (Boykin) will both (return). We’ll make a game-time decision, probably, or really probably decide after practice tomorrow. But he’s had two games. He’s done okay. I mean, he’s done okay. I wouldn’t criticize him but I wouldn’t necessarily overly praise him either."

On whether you can tell early in a career if a punt returner has the potential to be exceptional and whether WR Damaris Johnson has that potential: "I think he can. I think he can be really good. I thought he did a good job this year. Our best area on our (special teams) is, statistically anyway, opponent net put. That’s our best, and the punt returner is responsible for that. I told you guys I think real early on, the only year as a coach I ever led the NFL in opponent net put was not necessarily an outstanding returner compared to a Rod Woodson or Deion Sanders. It’s not one of those names. It’s a guy that ran up, caught the ball, made good decisions. I thought he’s made good decisions.

"We don’t have many downings down there on us and those are killers. Those are killers and the probability of the next team to score when you pin one down there is the team that just punted. So, he’s taken us out of that, I think, to a good degree. He’s gone up and hit people. Granted, he doesn’t knock them down or anything but he stops their momentum to make that play and he stops their focus on the ball. So, I think from that regard, the opponent has quite a few touchbacks. That’s one of the reasons (he’s a good returner). Of course, he hit a 98-yarder. That’s the reason, because of the other stuff. The ball doesn’t hit the ground and bounce that much either. You don’t see it hitting the ground very often. I think he’s done good."

On whether the coaching staff was aware of the pressure on head coach Andy Reid entering the season: "I think there’s always (pressure). I repeat myself, but you always walk the plank as a coach. No one’s infallible. I was recruiting Dallas the year Tom Landry got fired and in those days, you didn’t have computers or anything. They’d send you the Dallas newspaper, you would read it and you would read about all the prep stuff. I couldn’t believe (it); of course I was kind of removed from the situation. When those guys get relieved, you know, especially myself as an assistant coach, I’ve said it before too, you never want too much security. Too much security, you get too complacent. I don’t think it ever entered anybody’s mind like, ‘Oh, this is this. This is it.’ Disappointing were the losses, but you move to the next game so fast. Last year, I remember (Bills defensive end) Chris Kelsay got me off the bus in Buffalo. We lost the game to Buffalo and he didn’t get the chance to see me, I didn’t get a chance to see him when I coached there.

"So, somebody’s knocking on the bus window. I was already working on the next game. (You’re) sitting in the bus, waiting to go to the airport. It’s on you so fast that you’re not sitting around, mulling. Even if it’s a win, you’d still be on the computer getting ready for the next game. So, it’s on you so fast. I read Coach’s (transcripts). I watch his (press conferences). It’s really true what he’s saying. He’s focused on the Giants and it takes up so much of your time and energy, you don’t have enough time (to think about that) and if you do have enough time, you’re not using your time wisely."

On whether this is the highest number of players he has coached that had never played special teams before: "Yeah, probably the most ever, I think because of the injuries and because of the youth of our team. I mean, we’ve got a lot of young guys. Some of them have, like (FB) Stanley (Havili) played on a unit or two at USC. He played mostly on the punt return unit. But that’s really part of the deal now. That’s really part of the deal. You don’t escape that as a special teams coach."

On why having to deal with a number of inexperienced special teams players has become the norm around the league: "You don’t keep as many veterans as you used to. (Since) when I first got in the league, it’s changed. We keep most of our draft picks and so does everybody else. When I first got into the league in Atlanta, I had the same punt team, almost verbatim; there were a couple of changes, but almost verbatim it was the same punt team for three straight years. Almost the same kickoff return team for three straight years. We had a guy that was an eighth-year guy and we drafted somebody in the second round, that second rounder, he had to beat that guy out. It’s everywhere. I’m just talking in general. You keep most of those guys."

On why most of the draft picks are kept now as opposed to keeping veterans to play special teams: "I don’t know. I don’t make the decision to keep them, cut them, pay them."

On whether the decision to keep most of the draft picks on the roster is based on money: "I don’t know. The culture, whatever. But it’s a fact that we have more young guys playing on special teams now across the league than when I came in in 1991. You’d have to research why, but it’s a fact that there’s more guys that are drafted that are kept on the teams than there were 21 years ago. That’s what I mean by part of the deal. You know that going in. You’re going to play with young guys and if they got drafted, unless they played at (a) few SEC schools, they probably didn’t play on special teams. They probably did not, but some of them, especially in that conference, they play all their good players. They play them all. It doesn’t matter; they play them all.

"But everybody’s like that. The Philadelphia Eagles aren’t excluded from that. When we play the Giants, we’ll be playing, in general, against younger guys, less experienced guys. They won’t have seven, eight, nine-year veterans across the board on their kickoff coverage team, where when I came in the league, that’s what you had. You had veteran guys. You had veterans playing that had played. Heck, when I first got in the league, the players, to a degree, coached me because some of them had played so long and we (there wasn’t) much difference in age. It’s different now. It’s just a different deal. I’m not complaining about it. I’m just emphatically stating that it’s there. It’s real."

On how much the struggles of the season can be placed on special teams: "You know, every game. Every game. Every game, turnovers and special teams or field position and turnovers are the contributing factor when it’s a close contest. I think the teams are close anyway. I think (former NFL commissioner Paul) Tagliabue, when he wanted parity, he can rest assured that he got it. There’s a lot of similarities in every team. Over a five to six year period, people have made maybe wiser decisions than other people on the personnel and, consequently, they’ve hit on a few more guys. But I think it comes down to that. That’s what I preach anyways, but I believe it. I think every game, every game is close, if we would have dominated on teams, we could have won. If we wouldn’t have had the turnovers, we could have won."

On what he believes the future holds for him: "I have no idea. I have no idea. I hope it’s good. I like living in the neighborhood over here on 20th Street. It’s a good place, plus the city’s a great place and the organization’s great. But I don’t know. I have no idea. I couldn’t tell you."

On whether he believes K Alex Henery deserved Pro Bowl consideration: "I think he does. But I also think, hitting the long ones and hitting the game-winners, it puts you in a category as elite when you do that and when you do it consistently, you really become elite. Unfortunately for us or for him, he had an opportunity to make a real statement at the end of the half and we had some movement. He hit it. That would have been, probably, his most definitive moment as, well here’s a real crunch situation for you. He can hit them. He just hasn’t been in position (to make a defining kick). He hasn’t had that many long misses and he doesn’t have any misses to seal the deal. He just hasn’t had the opportunity, so I think that’s kind of kept him out of there.

"Like always, if you win a lot, you’ve got more Pro Bowlers. I think it’s the first time here in 14 years (that) we haven’t had any. The correlation between getting in the Hall of Fame – you guys can research this because I already have – getting in the Hall of Fame and having played on a Super Bowl winning team is astronomical and I think it’s the same way with the Pro Bowl. When you’re on a (winning) team, everybody (gets considered). Then of course, you guys have got some that have been elected by name recognition. People don’t study every play, so you’ve got a lot of things involved. A lot of things involved."

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