Philadelphia Eagles News

Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April

On what he is looking to change personnel-wise on special teams against Detroit: "Well, we have a limited number of people who we can choose from, so there's not a whole lot of changes that we can make. We have a guy or two that maybe out of there, (LB) Omar (Gaither) is one, because he was going to play there on kickoff coverage, and then when he was in on every defensive play, we didn't tax him that way, so we took him out. Some of the other guys on the edge, who played, or who may or may not play depending on who dresses, that's yet to be determined. When we're dealing with 40 through 53, half of those guys are not going to dress. Usually I know most of them and they're not all special teams players either, some are offensive lineman, that type of thing, defensive lineman, that don't play. But we pretty much have the same personnel and we've got to get the personnel better."

On what happened in the second half when the Eagles struggled with kickoff coverage: "Yeah, it was not good. The thing about that particular play, it's a critical play for a lot of reasons. One, it's the first defensive play of the series. Nobody generally thinks of it that way, unless they are really great or really terrible, sometimes they go on in almost anonymity throughout the season, but that's the first play of the defensive series. If we have the chance to literally establish the field position for our defensive football team with one single play, so it's critical that that one single play to determine that, is good. Throughout the preseason and even early in this game when we had an opportunity to kind of seize a little momentum with just scoring, or coming out after the half, or late in the game to set the tone for our defense, we have not done it. So I just have to do a better job, and in retrospect, look at how we organize the offseason, the OTAs, and even training camp, what kind of priority we set on that area. It's to be questioned at this point, because it's not even remotely up to what we need it to be and I have to take responsibility for that."

On whether it is important to be patient with special teams play because of the new players on the team and the fact that can't practice special teams plays at full speed: "I think so. I think you have to realize wherever you're at, we've got to get the most out of what we are. If we're a quart, we need to fill that quart all the way up. If we're a gallon, we need to fill it to the gallon. If we're a fifty-five gallon drum, if you get what I mean. We have to maximize everything that we possess, so that's where we are at right now. Granted, we do have to use only the games as our true measure of reaching that potential, because just with the structure and the way football is, it's hard to cover kicks full speed and live other than in the games."

On why CB Jorrick Calvin was active in Week 1 if he was not used as a returner: "I think (head) coach (Andy) Reid would have the best answer to that, because he decides who dresses, but he's certainly a guy that can return. Whether he dresses this week or not, he has a real valuable role to our football team as the backup returner, especially, with (WR) DeSean (Jackson) having not done a whole lot in training camp. I think the thinking was he was a valuable backup, and certainly he played on special teams, as well. He played on some of the other stuff, even though he wasn't returning, he played. I think it was more of that. It could have been that they felt like they needed him on defense. That part I don't know and I wouldn't need an answer for anyway."

On what he saw on the kick return and punt return games and weather the returners were given lanes to run through: "(CB) Ellis (Hobbs), really nothing. We had a pretty good starting point, the 30, but we didn't block it very well. We've got a ways to go, maybe more on the kickoff return than on the kickoff coverage, because on the kickoff coverage, a guy or two has to elevate their games, has to make a little better judgment, has to do a couple of things a little bit better. You can pretty much for the most part learn and become better at it. Where on the kick return, all 11 guys have to be in concert, and that's tougher, because there's more moving parts to that one. We're not as sharp, as crisp on that as we should be.

"The results, if you just went by, they were okay, marginal, 23-something on the return. Thirty-yard starting point, part of that's because they kicked the ball out of bounds, but that's their problem. We've got a ways to go on that, we've got a ways to go. Everything I said about kickoff coverage, the exact same thing is true about the kickoff return. That's the first play and that's one play that, right now, can establish the field position and the tempo of the offense. Before they do anything, you can pick up two or three first downs for them, and they don't even know what the return calls are, but you're doing that for them and that's the beauty of special teams, that's the beauty of that contribution. So, they are critical plays and the reverse of it, obviously is, now they just scored, we've got to recapture that, so it's flipped, but we've got a ways to go on that, too."

On what the thinking is behind have two returners deep: "The primary thinking on that is fielding the ball, managing the ball. If you noticed, the one was kicked to (Jackson) right down the middle, the other ones he kind of had to run over to the sideline to catch the ball. So, this guy was more of a directional kicker to his right, and we wanted to play for that, and we did play for that. The results weren't as good as we'd like."

On whether that decision is made based on the punter you are going against in a given week: "Usually it's more because of the punter you're going against, yeah. Having two guys back there, the reality is, in my mind, have two guys back there is the best way to do it, because whenever that guy is reaching with his hands or drifting with his feet, he's got a higher probability of dropping the ball, and managing the ball is the number one thing that guy has to do. It's really not, in my mind, running with the ball after the catch, it's managing the game. Catching it, knowing when to fair catch, securing it, knowing how to play inside the 50, doing all of those things.

"That's the real quality of playing that position. For eight plays, you manage that thing just like a quarterback manages third-and-long. In my mind, that's what it is, so the best way to help him manage it is to give him only half the field. We won't do that all the time, but if a kicker's going to kick it out of bounds to the right, sometimes you can dictate some things, like the kick that went down the middle that DeSean did return for 10 yards. We overloaded the right side and rushed him. Now we don't have a lot of blockers when we do that unfortunately, and that was in our plan too. We didn't make him punt as many times, to use it over and over, he tried to punt it to his right, and it went like that to the middle on a low hang, and he got a 10-yard gain. So you're always in kind of a chess match on some of that stuff, but I've got no problem with two deep, and especially where I came from in Buffalo, the weather conditions, you're asking a lot of a guy to manage the 53 yards and possibly 60 yards the other way on a really bad weather day."

On what he sees when he looks at Lions returner Stefan Logan: "I was kind of surprised that the Steelers let him go to begin with, because he was a good return guy for them last year. I'm sure they had good reason for that, I don't question it, I just was surprised. I think he's really explosive. I think he adds a lot to their offensive football team. He's a guy, again, he can establish that first play of the offensive series by his ability. He can make a guy miss. He doesn't have to have all 11 guys in concert to get it done. I'm impressed with him. I'm really impressed with him. I watched him last year, and I know they were high on him. The Pittsburgh organization was high on him last year, so I'm not sure what happened, but it's a good move for Detroit."

On how you can improve kickoff coverage if you cannot change the personnel: "Well, we just try to do a better job detailing what they have to do. There's a short presentation, and it's not all day, it's not every day, on what we can meet with those players. There's ways to improve by me being better in presenting the information, maybe a little sharper, crisper practice, maybe a little more drill work on specifics that we're not doing well, like getting off blocks."

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