Philadelphia Eagles News

Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April

On whether there is anything specific that needs to be improved with the coverage units: "Well, the one play we struggled on the kickoff coverage has gotten better and is pretty solid right now. But again, there's really no permanence in that because of what you did in the past. So, we have a tremendous challenge to keep always getting better on the kickoff coverage because it's not solved; it's just in a process of improving. On the punt coverage, whenever you have a punt – and (P) Sav (Rocca) has done a good job of hanging the ball, he's done a good job of punting – whenever you have a punt where the ratio between the hang and the distance is not totally correct, there's going to be space between the catch and the coverage. Whenever there's space between the catch and the coverage there's an opportunity to get the ball up the field – now it shouldn't go up the field for 50 yards – but there's an opportunity to get that guy running downhill. And all his diagonal cuts running at top speed are usually an advantage over the guys that are covering because they have to regulate their speed to change directions, so there's an advantage there. Sav has done a good job; it's his primary job to take the returner out of the game.

"There's 22 feet that cover a punt, but his one foot is the most important to take a guy out. It's like facing Babe Ruth - the guy that has the best chance (against him) is the pitcher, not the second baseman. And it's very, very similar, very similar to that. And then we have some issues; we have to get off blocks. We have to make better judgment in a couple things, like that, because that was a key play. That's a key play (because) it gives them a lot of first downs, it gives them momentum. The defense can be, shouldn't be, but can be dispirited because of a play like that. So, there's a lot to it and those are the main issues. We just have to get off blocks, make better judgments in space, create a little great hang-distance ratio and that's a lot to do, but that's what we have to do."

On whether he would rather have Rocca shorten his punts and have better hang time: "Well, you always want him to take the punt returner out of the game whatever he has to do. Now, when you can punt real well, and you have that ability to punt it, certainly you maximize the field position for the defense. So, it's a tricky deal; the further you punt it, the greater your net (average) is going to be overall. Guys that can really bang it have a great net. So, they move that ball away from our goal line, which is great. But, it's also a gamble because the greater the gross, the greater the net. But the greater the gross, you're throwing more chips on the table that they have a chance to get a return. So, we've worked with him a lot on him hanging the ball and he's done a good job.

"He's done a good job and our punt coverage except for two plays – of course those two plays are the ones we're talking about. I mean, he's done a good job. I'm not dissatisfied with the way he's punted at all. We just have to cover a little bit better. Because like I said, they can nickel and dime it up a little bit, but it shouldn't go that far. I mean, they should get a max return of 15 yards on that and you come out with a plus-40 net, which is pretty good. So, I mean that's his strength, that's what he does. That's his main attribute. He tries to do a bunch of other things and he'll end up with a 30-yard net, which is not always what you want either, so I'd rather punt to his strength. If he has one pitch to throw with guys on (base), then I want him to throw his best pitch. "

On whether he thinks the guys on special teams have the talent and ability to cover in space: "Yeah, I think they do. I think they do. But those plays – I've said it in here before, not to be repetitive just because it's a real statement of fact in my mind – the longer the play is in existence, the greater the chaos. Like when a quarterback starts scrambling, that's a chaotic play. There's a lot more improvisation and there's a lot more judgment that the offense and the defense has to produce. Every kicking play is like that, so a guy has to have max (judgment). And I know what you're talking about – you're talking about the paradox of the plays that you need the greatest judgment where you have the biggest space, the widest space, the longest space, the highest space; you have three dimensions there – length, width and height, and why do you have the bottom part of your roster out there on those plays? That's just the nature of football. So, I think they have the talent, and I think they have the judgment, but they have to bring it to the front on those plays because those space plays are space plays. But no, I don't wonder about the talent. I would say that I have to do a better job at helping them make better judgments."

On whether the weather conditions play a factor in the game plan on special teams and hanging punts: "Well, there's validity to that because the wind was moving pretty good down there – I don't know what it felt like where you guys were at at the game, but the wind was moving pretty good. And to hang the ball (you need) a real low drop so that ball doesn't move. You want the drop and your foot as close as possible because it doesn't take much to miss it. When you have to keep it sort of low so when you drop it the wind doesn't push it, maybe just this far, that's almost the punt he had to give us; with a higher drop and an ability to bring his leg up higher through the ball to get the hang. There are problems with the wind, so I'm not blaming anybody except for myself to get them better prepared to cover. But, I'm just saying that's some of the issues that you face and you have to overcome them. I mean, you have to overcome them and we have to do a better job of overcoming them."

On whether the scheme or the law of averages has caused the lack of big plays on kick/punt returns: "The scheme is not really that new. It may be coached a little bit different or explained a little bit different, so that would be on me. Most of the scheme is having the ability to get the ball in their hands and have them be able to move the ball up the field. I would say, yeah, I haven't provided a good enough scheme to get them going. Once we get a good enough scheme – what happened the other day if you remember, the first punt went about 30 yards, actually, it went 25 (yards) and he went up to get it, couldn't get it, made a good judgment to play the bounce, and nickel and dimed it for I think for an 8-yard gain.

"The next one was even shorter and he came charging up on (it) realized he couldn't catch it, and got out of the way, and it bounced and rolled, which I think were two really good plays by him. Now they're not plays like his touchdown against the (New York) Giants where he ran over there, and then he ran over there, and then he went over there – a little Wizard of Oz improve there. They weren't anything like that, but they were still really good plays because if he doesn't get behind that ball and time that bounce, the ball was going to continue to roll maybe to the one yard line and they down it. Instead, we got it, I think, at the 23 (yard line); pretty good play by him. To come up there and decide – even though he wants to run with it – not to make that catch and reach with his hands while he's moving with his feet, that's a dangerous play, we got the ball at the 42 (yard line) instead of them having the ball at the 48 (yard line).

"Those were pretty good plays, so I think they're proficient plays. They're not homeruns. The other one he got was over to the corner. He caught it and got edged out for about a 12-yard gain. So, I didn't see anything really wrong with his play or anything that could have been done in that game to spring him for a touchdown. Because there have been a lot of big plays in the National Football League this year on special teams. I mean a lot of big plays. That (Miami Dolphins vs. New England Patriots) Monday night game had enough for four weeks in it, and we haven't been able to hit any of them, and that's a disappointment and that's on me, that's on me; I just have to get these guys going. And I think they're trying and I think they have the talent, so there's only one other place to point if they have the talent and they're trying. I have to get it better coordinated, that's all. Not that's all, that's a lot, but that's what it is. There's nowhere to go but say I have to do a better job, that's all."

On whether the Dolphins adding so many new players in the offseason affects the special teams: "Oh yeah, and plus they lost (WR) Ted Ginn. They lost their best player, and then they lost all those other guys. I was really sorry to see that for a lot of reasons because I know (Dolphins special teams coach) John Bonamego and I think he's a real pro, I think he's excellent, and I don't know exactly what happened on those things. I don't know what happened during the week that caused those problems to come up during the game. Maybe he did a poor job, I don't know, but I know him from his history at Jacksonville and Green Bay and at Miami and I'm sorry to see it happen."

On facing Ginn on Sunday: "I think what happened to Ted Ginn a little bit, and I'm just guessing, he came in as a big time draft pick - I think a first round guy - he had a great career at Ohio State (University) and then he hasn't produced as well as a receiver as people would like. But, his talent hasn't diminished, his talent hasn't diminished. I mean, he's got a lot of talent, he's scary. I played against him twice a year over the last – when did he come out – three or four years when I was at Buffalo. I just think he's fantastic as a returner. I know he's had at least three kicks called back which would have enhanced his profile as a returner.

"And remember, a year ago, maybe around this time maybe a little bit later, Ted Ginn and John Bonamego were being heralded. I mean, they were entering Miami like Cleopatra's entrance in Rome. I mean, they were really celebrated because they hit the two plays against the (New York) Jets to beat them; they beat them on those two plays, those two guys. And this week none of them are there, so I think a lot, like in Forrest Gump, 'stuff happens'. And a guy with that kind of ability; we have a huge challenge to contain him. I mean, we have a huge challenge and we'll be up for it. We'll be up for it, but we have to fight. I mean, we have to fight and we have to improve. We have to improve constantly in meetings, in practice, in a game, in walkthroughs. I mean, we just have a mission and we should, we should. We're highly paid to do a job and all focus should be on it."

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