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.