Philadelphia Eagles News

Special Teams Coordinator Bobby April

On whether he had to talk to RB Dion Lewis bringing out deep kickoffs: "Yeah, that's more of my fault than his. You know, we didn't prepare him properly through practice. We didn't kick as many balls deep so we could get the returns going. I mean, we talked about it. I just didn't prepare him enough for it and that one's on me. He has the initiative and the incentive and all that, and that's the good part, it just costs you some field position. It's not mistakes on his part, I really needed to clarify some things and correct some things, so that one's on me. I like his desire to run with it; especially he's not backing down. It was his first time, really, returning in a big game and he wanted every inch of it. He wanted to be completely in on that play."

On whether there is a hard rule on how deep is too deep to bring a kick out of the end zone: "We do have it set, but like I said, I didn't do a very good job of getting him set. I didn't do a very good job of preparing him for it. You're drifting a little bit, it's hard for that guy to know. I really need to have (WR) Riley (Cooper) help him a little bit more, I need to help him a little bit more with the way we condition him in practice, you know, the whole deal. So that was really on him just being ill-prepared more than him making a bad decision, I think. Like I said, it cost us. The offense bailed us out on both plays, really. Then we had the punt, we didn't punt it very good, and they got good field position on the first exchange, and then they scored on the first play, so that was not good at all, put the offense in a bad position. But like I said, they overcame it. And then the second time they overcame it again. Again, it's really not on his judgment and he'll do a better job with it because I'm going to address it in practice a little better than we did. You know, it's hard in practice to get that thing exactly down, but we found some ways to do it."

On how deep is too deep to bring out a kick off: "With the way the new rule is, we've been trying to get this as scientific as possible. (Statistical Analysis Coordinator) Mike Frazier has been charting everything, how deep it goes in the end zone, how much return they got, starting point, this, that, and everything, and it's been kind of fluctuating because like any very limited amount of statistics it's fluctuating all over the place. We've said that anything deeper than five is too deep. That's kind of a guess on very little data. Basically it's at five yards, half way in the end zone. And we didn't have him standing at five, you know, we didn't have him standing at five, and that would help too. Now that's not his fault, that's mine. That would help him whether he's got to back up, and this and that, come forward, so I don't think there's a lack of judgment, especially for a guy that hasn't done it, I just didn't prepare him well enough. That's on me."

On whether the depth has changed because of the rule change: "Oh four or five yards we wouldn't have brought it out, ever. I think this is, again, we don't have everything, and Mike Frazier does a really good job with trying to define some of that stuff for us, I think as we go along we'll know what to expect. Of course the better your team is, you know, the Jets have been really good for a long time on kick return. They bring it out no matter what. It doesn't matter. It looks like arena league, they're trying to bat the ball to keep it in play so they can pick it, I mean, they go to a great extent. So I don't really know the answer right now, I'm kind of guestimating that five yards is, anything more than that, you probably have a greater probability of getting it at the 20."

On what he would have said to Randall Cobb after he returned a kickoff 108 yards if he was Green Bay's Special Teams Coordinator: "You know, I think the coach made a great statement. Of course, he's a smart guy. He said he liked the play, but the probability of the play, to execute that, he really should stay in. You know, Ellis Hobbs had the record prior to, well I think he's still got the record, I think it's 108 yards. He returned one at New England, it was kicked to his right corner and it was a left return. He had a chance to get trapped inside the 10, then inside the 15, the guys missed the tackle at the 20 and he went all the way to the house. So there's nothing except percentages, and I think it's the five. Everything that we have right now says the five. It's even tough to get to the 20 at that and I'm starting to think people are getting a little bit better at this."

On what his distance comfort level is kicking field goals with rookie kicker Alex Henery: "We kind of go by what his range is in pregame. He hits them in pregame at 56-57. We generally wouldn't take a chance on one that far, unless we really had to have it. But generally his range is like anybody else's, 53-54. Anytime you go over 50, it doesn't matter, league wide, that percentage is coming down. But we feel comfortable with him kicking 50-yard field goals. He hasn't had, really, too much chance to kick any long ones. The 49-yarder in the last Green Bay game was, but we didn't think 'oh man, that's a 49-yarder,' I mean, it's just another kick really, he's got to make those."

On whether he is surprised the percentage of kickoff touchbacks was greater in week one than the preseason: "This time of the year, that doesn't surprise me. If it stays that way throughout the year, we projected, and again, going by we went back, I don't know, four or five years, and got all the kickoffs that were from the 35-yard line. You know, where the kicking team had had a penalty, and we charted all those, and then we kind of charted a ton of different things for Mike Frazier. Mike estimated, I'm using Mike a lot in this because it's all statistics, outside of that you're just guessing, that for the year, 39% of the kickoffs would be touchbacks. So it being at 50 right now, this is the highest it's going to get, I believe, as the year goes, that number's going to drop. It may fluctuate up to 54 this week, but it's going to be around 50 the first five, six weeks of the season. But after that I think it's going down. It's a tough one to tell. I was in the league when it was, in 1993 I think they changed it. I was coaching in 1991, everybody kicked from the 35. The kickers weren't as strong. I've said that before in here about the kickers, the greatest of the greats, Jim Bakken and all those guys, go look at their stats. They're not even close to the way guys kick now. In that 17, 18 years, kickers have gotten a lot stronger."

On whether low kickoffs are causing more returns for touchdowns: "I think a lot of that has to do with them driving the ball, because everybody is trying to drive it to get the touchback. Outside of that I don't see taking the ball from deep in the end zone as an advantage to getting the touchdown. I don't know that world if it is. But certainly there have been a lot of long returns, and I'm not quite sure why, I don't think the lack of a running start, because once the guys get past 15 or 20 yards they're at top speed. I mean they're moving. I don't know the answer for it."

On how good of a returner Eric Weems is: "I'll tell you, he's really good. He went to the Pro Bowl, so he got selected by a lot of people that watch him. But he's just a good football player, I mean, that guy is not very big, I think he was a free-agent out of Bethune-Cookman, he's one of their best coverage guys, plays gunner on the punt team, is tough to block on the kickoff coverage. I mean, he's a real outstanding player for them, and he's really a tough guy to tackle. So we've got our hands full, I mean we've really got our hands full with this guy. We have to do a good job to eliminate him. We may need to eliminate him to win the game."

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