The results speak for themselves, and they speak loud and clear making the case that Bobby April is the best special teams coach in the National Football League: Rick Gosselin's comprehensive special teams rankings in the Dallas Morning News are regarded as the bible for special teams rankings, and April's Buffalo Bills special teams ranked first in three of the five years from 2004-2008.
Additionally, April was named by his peers as the league's best special teams coach, in 2004 and 2008.
His credentials are without equal.
It was a surprise and, yeah, a shock when the Eagles announced on Thursday that April was signed to become the special teams coordinator here, replacing Ted Daisher. April lost in job when Buffalo purged its coaching staff after the Bills' season and then was hotly pursued by several teams in the league.
He made the decision to come to Philadelphia, and the Eagles' special teams will be better for his decision.
"Andy Reid is a special coach who I go back with a long, long way and I'm grateful to be part of his staff," said April.
It isn't that Daisher did a poor job in his one year as the special teams coordinator. After all, both placekicker David Akers and punt return man DeSean Jackson earned Pro Bowl invitations, and both were named to the second-team All-Pro squad. But the special teams also had some troublesome moments, too many penalties and some mental breakdowns.
Reid may have stayed with Daisher with the idea that the improvement the special teams showed in coverage and in discipline throughout the season would continue into 2010. But when April became available, the Eagles just couldn't resist bringing in a coach truly at the top of his profession.
"He manages people well and he gets the most out of everybody," said long-snapper Jon Dorenbos. "I want to thank Ted, who helped me a great deal this year. Bobby does a great job, as his track record shows. I'm excited. Everybody here should be excited. Bobby is going to do a great job for us."
April believes he brings two tremendous strengths to the organization: A positive attitude and unbridled energy. He is looking forward to working with the current cast of Eagles special teams players, which includes the dynamic Jackson and the steady, unflappable Akers. Sav Rocca has made terrific strides in three seasons here and will benefit working with April.
Does a coach make a difference on special teams? I think we've seen that to be the case. April represents the fourth special teams coach in four seasons now -- John Harbaugh, then Rory Segrest, then Ted Daisher and now April -- and the Eagles could use some stability. April is going to keep Jackson as a punt return man and compared him in a conference call, whether he wanted to or not, to Hall of Famer Deion Sanders. April spoke glowingly about Akers and the kicking game.
There is a lot of work to do and April is going to hit the ground running. He is a man with great enthusiasm and love of the profession, and his success is unrivaled in the league in the last 10 to 15 years.
The Eagles had a chance to make a change and upgrade and bring in the best special teams coach in the league, and they did that on Thursday. Reid spoke on Monday and said he didn't anticipate a coaching change being made, but then he went out and made one a few days later. Shows you how iron clad those words really mean, and how impossible it is to paint a head coach into a corner one day after his season has ended.
The Eagles' off-season, expected to be a snoozer for at least several weeks, has instead been rollicking. Tom Heckert left the Eagles to become the General Manager in Cleveland and the Eagles have yet to address that role here. Then on Thursday, the Eagles announced that three coaches had their contracts terminated, including Daisher after only one season here as the head man. In comes April, a top-shelf name out of left field.
Good start, then, wouldn't you say? The Eagles upgraded their coaching staff at a very important position and we can anticipate the special teams making a giant improvement in 2010 and beyond.