THE EAGLES' COACHING STAFF will face some challenges, trying to quickly impart new systems in a 3-day rookie camp that starts tomorrow at NovaCare. The rest of the team joins in for an organized team activity starting Monday.
The biggest challenge this weekend might belong to special-teams coordinator Dave Fipp, who will be working with players who usually were among the best on their college squads and haven't played special teams lately, or in some cases, ever.
"Someone said to me, 'Oh, this guy doesn't play special teams,' or, 'This guy does.' In my opinion, they all play special teams. Our first-round pick [offensive tackle Lane Johnson] is gonna be on field goal," Fipp said this week at an NFL career development seminar at Penn's Wharton School. "All of them will have some role on special teams."
Fipp, former assistant special-teams coordinator for the Dolphins, takes over units that became a complete embarrassment under Bobby April, who had been regarded as one of the top special-teams people in the league before coming here. Despite dismal 2012 performances in virtually every area, April got a new job running the special teams in Oakland.
"My approach schematically is to be fairly simple," Fipp said. "Complimentary. But what I really believe in is teaching players fundamentals and techniques that give them the best chance to win their one-on-one matchups. I think special teams is about one-on-one matchups, and my job is to give those guys the best chance they can have to win those matchups, so a lot of my teaching and coaching goes back to fundamentals and techniques and building skill sets that really help players. So in my opinion, what we do really helps out young guys [succeed in the offense or defense as well.]"
For two Eagles rookies, second-round tight end Zach Ertz and seventh-round corner and returner Jordan Poyer, this will be the only offseason work with teammates before training camp. That's because of the dates of the Stanford and Oregon graduations, and an agreement between the NFL and the NCAA on player availability before graduation. Fipp said he's excited to see what Poyer can do as a returner.
Fipp said new coach Chip Kelly is very focused on special teams, as his history at Oregon would indicate.
"The Eagles really have a great history and tradition of great special-teams play. Maybe that's fallen off the last few years, but we're excited to build it back up. We've got a lot of work to do," Fipp said.