IMAGINE BUILDING your dream home, living in it for a year and then having to knock it down and rebuild it.

Now imagine doing that every single year.

Welcome to the life of a special-teams coach.

"That's how it works in our area," said the Eagles' Dave Fipp. "You've got to build from the ground up every year.

"The thing that happens with special teams is the back end of the roster changes the most usually. But to me, that's fun. It resets and you've got to start over from scratch every year. You can't take anything for granted."

In case you were wondering how a team that committed a league-high 36 turnovers and allowed the fourth-most touchdown passes in the NFL (30) somehow managed to win 10 games last season, the answer is special teams.

Fipp's special-teams units were the very best in the NFL. They scored a league-high seven touchdowns. They blocked a league-high four punts, as well as a field goal and a PAT.

Darren Sproles led the league in punt-return average (13.0 yards). Punter Donnie Jones put a league-best 34 punts inside the 20 and had the league's fifth-best opponent return rate (38.1 percent).

Kicker Cody Parkey missed just four of 36 field-goal attempts and was 8-for-10 from 40-plus yards. The Eagles finished fifth in average starting field position (30.2) and 10th in opponents' starting field position (26.4).

"It was definitely a situation where we knew we had something special," said linebacker Bryan Braman, who was a big part of the Eagles' special-teams success last year.

"We were a group of guys who just kept imposing our will. We knew we had something special, and we wanted everyone else to know it.

"Hopefully, that target on our back isn't too big from last year. But we definitely know we have one there, and we're going to have to work twice as hard as we did last year to even come close to coming up with the accolades we did. But we have a bunch of guys who are willing to go out and work to achieve it."

Fipp won't be completely starting from scratch again this year. Many of his top players from a year ago, including Braman, safeties Chris Maragos and Chris Prosinski and tight end Trey Burton, are expected to make the 53-man roster. Sproles, Jones and Parkey also are back.

The only unsettled position right now is kick returner. But Fipp has several options there, including wide receiver Josh Huff, whose 29.6-yard average on 14 attempts last season would have been third in the league if he had had enough returns to qualify.

"Just because you have two or three players who were really productive players who come back doesn't mean you're going to be productive again," Fipp said. "Even if you add one or two other players who were productive with other teams.

"Everybody has to play together as a group. There's a synergistic effect. You're looking to develop that. That's what we're in the process of doing right now."

Head coach Chip Kelly, who understands well the importance of special teams - "If you're not in that top group of guys, the three ways to make this football team are special teams, special teams and special teams," Kelly said earlier this week - gave Fipp two more toys to play with in the offseason when he signed linebacker Brad Jones and wide receiver Seyi Ajirotutu as free agents. Jones was a top special-teams contributor with the Green Bay Packers. The 6-3 Ajirotutu was the San Diego Chargers' special-teams player of the year last season.

"[Ajirotutu] is a really good football player," Fipp said. "He obviously has a passion for playing on special teams, which is probably the most important thing.

"And he's a good matchup. He's a long guy who runs well. And when he's matched up with another wide receiver or defensive back, usually he's got some kind of advantage, whether it's reach or speed. And then when you add in that competitive desire to go make a play, he becomes a really good football player."

Ajirotutu has just 24 career receptions in five NFL seasons. Thirteen of those catches came in his rookie year. Had four catches for 111 yards and two touchdowns against Houston in his third game as a rookie. He has had just one touchdown catch since.

"After that game, I was thinking, 'I'm going to be a receiver,' " Ajirotutu said. "It didn't quite happen that way. But I wasn't disappointed. I continued to work hard and focused on special teams."

Ajirotutu likely will be the Eagles' fifth or sixth wideout. Probably won't play much on offense but will be used on all four of Fipp's special-teams units, as will Jones.

"As far as I've seen, they're buying into it," Braman said of Ajirotutu and Jones. "They understand that we have an expectation to meet. They've done a great job of coming in and showing us why they were known for special teams with the teams they were previously with. I think they're really glad to be a part of something special."

Braman, a 6-5, 241-pound outside linebacker who signed with the Eagles last year after three seasons as a special-teams standout with the Houston Texans, played just nine defensive snaps last season.

But that could change this year. With the release of Trent Cole and the season-ending knee injury to Travis Long, Braman and 2014 first-round pick Marcus Smith are the top backups behind starting outside linebackers Connor Barwin and Brandon Graham.

"B.G. played a big role in that third linebacker spot last year," Braman said. "Right now, we're short in depth as far as [outside] linebacker goes. Hopefully, Marcus and I will be able to go back and forth and share the reps at that third spot and give B.G. and Connor the rest when they need it so that they're not taking 75-80 snaps a game."

That said, Braman still will be a major player on Fipp's special-teams units. He was the main reason for the Eagles' punt-blocking success last year. He had one of the four blocks (against Green Bay) and freed up teammates on the other three because of the attention he demanded inside.

"We had a lot of help from a lot of good players," Fipp said. "But ultimately, [having] a guy like Bryan on the inside probably had a lot to do with a lot of those things because he's so unique.

"He puts a lot of stress on the protection and forces [other] guys to help out, which frees up other people. Everybody played with a desire to get there, and they all believed they were going to get there. And we ended up getting there a bunch."

Can Fipp's units duplicate last season's incredible success?

We'll see.

"I came here because I wanted to be a part of something special," Ajirotutu said. "It's about keeping the ball rolling."

On Twitter: @Pdomo

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