Eagles know return game must improve: “We were bad there”

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Among the many things that went wrong for the Eagles last season, their kickoff and punt returns were among the worst in the league.

We were bad there,” special teams coordinator Bobby April said, via the Morning Call. “No question about it.”

How bad? On kickoff returns, the Eagles ranked 31st in the league with an average of 20.9 yards a return, and they were the only team in the NFL that never had a return of even 35 yards all season. On punt returns, the Eagles ranked 27th in the league with an average of 7.1 yards a return, and the decline of DeSean Jackson is a significant concern: He’s gone from 15.4 yards a return in 2009 to 11.6 yards a return in 2010 to 6.7 yards a return in 2011, and from two touchdowns in 2009 to one in 2010 to none in 2011.

If there’s any hope for the Eagles in the return game, it’s in the drafting of cornerback Brandon Boykin, who was an excellent return man in college. Boykin had 2,663 kickoff return yards at Georgia, the second-highest total in SEC history, and in his final college game he was named MVP of the Outback Bowl in large part because of his 92-yard punt return for a touchdown.

Boykin’s presence has the potential to turn around the Eagles’ return game. They know they need it.

13 responses to “Eagles know return game must improve: “We were bad there”

  1. Boykin is going to be a good player,if not for his injury and no being able to go to the combine he would have went higher than a 4th round pick..he was a steal there

  2. There were also times (week 3 against NYG) they had only 9 on the field for a punt return.

  3. No matter what changes are made, it will not change our fortunes until Bad Newz is Old Newz!

  4. DeSean Jackson had zero will to return punts last year. I’m sure the blocking wasn’t great but he had no willingness to take a chance and risk injury with a potential contract looming. This year he’ll either return to form since he has a new deal or the Eagles need to find someone who won’t play scared.

  5. Is Jackson’s numbers a case of him declining or a case of kicking the ball away from him and giving him little chance at a return. Return yards for a punt (similar to yards the punt goes) to me are pointless……the true number is Net Yards……if D-Jax forced alot of short punts than he did his job. If the punts were going 45-50 yards and he was only getting 5-7 on a return, than yes there is a problem.

  6. I like the options out there for the competition. Boykin seems to be a keeper, The Washington RB that the Eagles picked up maybe another option. Gilyard and the speedster I keep hearing about in Ronald Johnson. I dont know atleast there is a camp competetion, which is something they havent had in a awhile

  7. I think it had to do with Jackson’s unwillingness to risk injury and Lewis’ lack of talent. The good news is that we have only a 1 in 32 chance of being worse in 2012.

  8. I wouldn’t put much into Jackson even being the return man he once was, contract or not. The history of explosive, dynamic, TD threat return men in the NFL doesn’t point to many men doing it for more than 4-5 years(see Dante Hall). Thus the Boykin draft pick. We’ll see.

  9. Why did they give DeSean money then? If his PR game is declining, he’s not worth much. 35 grabs a year is WR3 territory.

  10. Yeah, pitiful. Your team was also bad at tackling, qb, coaching, short yardage defense, covering the tight end and covering Victor Cruz, among other things.

  11. Special teams coaches have been ordering their punters not to kick to DJax, thus the declined return yardage. Same thing happened in college at CAL when coaches wised up and kicked away from him.

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