Instant analysis: Eagles confirm the hiring of new special teams coach

NFL: OCT 28 49ers at Cardinals
GLENDALE, AZ – OCTOBER 28: San Francisco 49ers assistant special team coach Michael Clay looks on in game action during an NFL game between the Arizona Cardinals and the San Francisco 49ers on October 28, 2018 at State Farm Stadium in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire)

After a report earlier this week from Matt Barrows of The Athletic cited that both the Eagles and Jets were hot on the heels of Niners assistant special teams coach Michael Clay, Howie pipped his old running-mate to the post.

The Eagles snuck the nugget of information into their post-presser recap, dissecting the opening remarks from new Head Coach Nick Sirianni. Dave Spadaro worded it as though Sirianni is bringing him onboard, which is certainly worth noting.

Clay is only 29-years-old, fitting the trend of young coaches joining Sirianni’s staff. He actually played as a linebacker at Oregon under Chip Kelly and followed his coach to the Eagles in 2014 as a quality control coach/special teams assistant. That of course means he was working under Fipp’s unit when it earned recognition by the Dallas Morning News as the NFL’s second-best after scoring 7 touchdowns.

He then followed Chip to San Francisco as an assistant special teams coach, before taking on a new role after his departure as a strength and conditioning coach, before returning to his previous position.

Michael Clay will be replacing Dave Fipp, who served as the teams’ special teams coordinator from 2013-2020. His unit garnered high praise early on during his tenure and a reputation as one of the top groups in the league. That slowly diminished over time and after a poor 2020 season, Fipp decided to take a leap to Detroit and take on an identical role.

The Eagles have long placed an emphasis on special teams. Recent ST standouts who have taken the leap to key roles include Alex Singleton, Greg Ward Jr, and even Colts TE Trey Burton once led the Eagles in special teams tackles before climbing the rungs of the offensive ladder.

It will be interesting to see what Clay can do and how much changes on a unit that confusingly pushed Greg Ward Jr to field punts last year. Despite some flashes along the way, the light has slowly faded on a once-great unit. It’s down to Michael Clay to re-ignite the fire.

Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire

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