When we sifted through the reasons why the Eagles underwhelmed last season, much focus was placed on the team’s offensive turnovers and defensive breakdowns.
Kick returns weren’t a big part of the discussion. Listening to Eagles special teams coach Bobby April talk about his units makes you think that they should have been part of the discussion. The Eagles finished 31st on kickoff returns and 28th on punt returns last season, rankings that don’t do much to make April a happy man.
“We were terrible,” April said, via Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News. “We had terrible results … It’s hard to put a finger on [exactly why], we were just really inept. I can only say the ineptitude comes from me, because what we were asking guys to do, they were unable to perform it. Either they couldn’t or they wouldn’t. In either case, that’s a mistake by me … We were really poor, the poorest I can remember in a long time. Just nothing. We made nothing happen.”
The Eagles made two moves designed to boost their returns in 2012. They drafted Brandon Boykin in the fourth round, adding Georgia’s all-time kickoff return leader to the fold, and signed Damaris Johnson as an undrafted free agent. Johnson missed his senior year at Tulsa after being suspended for an arrest on embezzlement charges after he underpaid for merchandise at a store where his girlfriend worked. Despite that, Johnson finished as the NCAA’s all-time leader in all-purpose and kickoff return yards.
April didn’t put the disappointing results all on the returners, but the Eagles’ moves make it plain that they are looking for more in that department this season.