As the Eagles begin a three-game race towards the playoffs, any play could change the course of a game – and, in turn, the course of the season. While the Eagles count on guys like Michael Vick and Asante Samuel to deliver game-changing moments, Jorrick Calvin has just as good an opportunity as anyone to quickly change the game's momentum.
The Eagles have improved their coverage units on special teams dramatically throughout the season, but the return game has yet to break loose. DeSean Jackson is ranked 14th in the NFL in average yards per punt return, and has yet to return a punt longer than 35 yards. Calvin has handled the kick return duties for most of the year, and is ranked 23rd in the NFL with 22.6 yards per return.
While the rookie returner has made his share of mistakes, special teams coordinator Bobby April thinks Calvin is still on the right track.
"I think he's a guy, he's a rookie, he didn't play his senior year in college, he only played a couple years of college football but he's very talented," April said. "He's a kid that can have an excellent career and he's working towards that excellent career. We're trying to help him. We have faith in him and we just look forward to seeing him getting better and better on some of the decisions he has to make and he will.
"These consequences that are happening to him, unfortunately, they're consequences that we all suffer. But they will be to his benefit to learn from."
Calvin said this week he has already learned from one mistake. Late in the fourth quarter, he fielded a kick off five yards keep in the Eagles end zone, and proceeded to seemingly waste time by running back and forth as the Cowboys coverage unit sprinted down the field. That move was dictated by the coaching staff; the unsportsmanlike conduct penalty he suffered after the play was not. Calvin said that's one mistake he's not likely to repeat.
"It's very important (to keep your composure)," he said. "In that case, it was a real dumb decision by me. But I know from now on that you have to keep your head in the game and play football. It's not boxing. Just play football and let football take care of itself."
Sunday will be no easy task for Calvin, as the Giants rank third in the league in kickoff coverage. Their punt coverage, however, is ranked 31st in the league. Perhaps this is the week DeSean Jackson makes his mark on the 2010 Eagles special teams.
After all, no one likes the big moment more than he does.
-- Posted by Josh Goldman, 10:28 a.m., December 17