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Truly Special: Eagles Land On Historic List

Posted Jun 25, 2017

Football Outsiders continues to list the top 30 teams of the last 30 years, breaking them down statistically by offense, defense, and special teams while also listing the top 30 teams overall, as well.

After the 1991 "Gang Green" Eagles earned the title of best overall defense, the Eagles were once again a big part of the newly released special teams rankings, appearing on the list three separate times.

It’s no secret that current special teams coordinator Dave Fipp has drastically changed things here in Philadelphia when it comes to that phase of the game. Fipp, who joined the Eagles in 2013, took over a unit that had been struggling and quickly transformed them into one of, if not the best unit in the game. Fipp’s passionate teaching style landed two of his groups on the top 30 list, with the 2016 Eagles coming in at No. 24 and the 2014 Eagles landing at No. 18.

Football Outsiders cites how Darren Sproles had Pro Bowl seasons in both 2014 and 2016 as part of its reasoning. Aside from Sproles, the Eagles also had return contributions from other players like Chris Polk, Josh Huff, and Wendell Smallwood to have one of the top return games in the NFL. The Eagles' coverage teams in both of those seasons, spearheaded by players like Chris Maragos and Trey Burton, also factored into the rankings.

But the highest ranking for the Eagles came well before Fipp’s time when another enthusiastic young coach was at the helm of special teams. The 2001 Eagles, led by special teams coordinator John Harbaugh, ranked No. 9 on the list. Author Aaron Schatz writes:

Philadelphia ranked in the top six in all five phases of special teams, led by a No. 1 finish in kickoff value behind All-Pro kicker David Akers. Brian Mitchell's career was winding down, but he was still good enough to average 25 yards per kick return.

Click here to read the full rankings.

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