Dave Fipp Explains the Numerous Special Teams Breakdowns in Loss to Cardinals

The Eagles special team coach took the blame for not having his units prepared and here is a more in-depth look at what went wrong
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It was one of those days for the Eagles’ special teams.

Another one those days like the disaster-after-disaster performance they had against the Arizona Cardinals on Sunday, and there could be some serious consequences that involve more than just personnel changes.

That said, Dave Fipp had some explaining to do on Tuesday morning, and he took the fall for a group that allowed a blocked punt, a fake punt for a first down, and a kickoff return team that had five returns with only one making it beyond the touchback starting point of the 25-yard line.

“I didn’t have our players prepared well enough to play the game,” said Fipp. “Certainly wasn’t my best day out there. I’m disappointed in the results. Obviously, I expect better.”

There was also a rare bad snap from Rick Lovato, one that Fipp did not chalk up to being just one of those days.

It happened after punter Cameron Johnston was ruled out with a head injury and tight end Zach Ertz was called on for emergency hold duty on a PAT try that would’ve given the Eagles their first lead of the game at 27-26 with 55 seconds left in the third quarter.

Lovato’s snap skittered along the ground. Ertz couldn’t field it. Heck, Johnston would have had trouble fielding it, too, it was that bad.

“Bottom line is we’re all professionals,” said Fipp about Lovato. “We have to be able to go out there and execute our job. Rick’s been really good for us. He’s been a really good player for us his whole time here. He has not had a bad snap since he’s been here, at least a snap that’s been unmanageable, and he put Zach in a really tough spot.

“When somebody new comes in like that we all gotta step up our game and be a little bit better and help make their job easier. We kind of made their job a little harder right there…just didn’t have his best snap right there and really at an unfortunate time and unfortunately that’s kind of the way that game went for us on special teams. Like I said, I take full responsibility for that. Obviously, I didn’t have them prepared well enough.”

Here was Fipp’s rundown on the other poorly executed stuff during the game:

  • On the five kickoff returns from Boston Scott, the Eagles starting field position was the 20, 26, 15, 22, and 24. It wouldn’t surprise anyone if Sunday’s opponent, the Dallas Cowboys, kicks the ball short to Scott and challenges this unit to make it back to the 25.

Fipp doesn’t see a problem, though.

“We had one return I was disappointed in him,” he said. “We kind of gave a fair catch signal. We were a little indecisive whether we were going to come out or not and we ended up coming out late. That was a real negative play. I thought the other returns we were at the 22 or the 27 on most of those. I felt fine about that.”

  • The blocked punt came on fourth-and-two with punter Andy Lee completing a pass to Ezekiel Turner for 26 yards. The play came with the defense on the field and seemed to catch everyone by surprise because Arnold ran free and before Marcus Epps and Jalen Mills knew what was happening, Lee’s pass was in the air to a wide-open Arnold.

“I was cognizant of it being a potential fake situation, which is why we kept the defense out there on the field,” said Fipp. “I didn’t put them in a good enough position. That’s really all there is to it. You have some choices when you call a defense like in that situation there. That particular call was skewed a little more heavy to stopping the run, a fourth-and-two situation there. And they ended up throwing the ball and put the guys in coverage in a challenging position.”

  • Earlier, Turner blocked a punt that led to a touchdown that put Arizona at the Eagles’ 6-yard line and led to a touchdown that gave Arizona a 16-0 lead in the first quarter. It was the first punt blocked on Cameron Johnston in his career and led to his concussion that altered set a lot of different pieces in motion.

“We allowed a free rusher in the 'A' gap,” said Fipp. “We can’t do that. I think there were a number of guys who could’ve helped out on the play. I’m not going to get into all the specifics. They weren’t prepared to handle it. We didn’t handle it and we have to be better on that.”

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