Even though the Eagles lost in the Super Bowl, they still have the same focus and energy as last year. With all of the superstars and talent littered throughout the roster, some areas of the team don’t get much attention. The special teams is one such unit. Even though it’s not flashy, it is a necessary area of a football team that can help lead to wins or cause losses if not taken proper care of. Before the Eagles 2023 season begins, I wanted to take a look at the special teams unit for this year.
Eagles kicker: Jake Elliott
The former pro-bowl kicker is entering his 7th season with the team and is as good as he’s ever been. After having a down year in 2020, where many fans questioned if he was the long-term answer at kicker, he has rebounded with 2 very strong seasons in a row, going 50-56 in that time, including 20-23 in 2022.
Elliott has silenced any doubts about his future and should be expected to have another pro-bowl caliber season. He is one of the constants on this team and even though he is a kicker, has an important position within the locker room and the team.
Eagles punter: Arryn Siposs
The number one punter and holder on the depth chart is entering his 3rd season with the Eagles and has a very interesting story of making it to the NFL. He is very similar to Jordan Mailata since he’s from Australia but he wasn’t a rugby player, he was an Australian Rules Football player, which is pretty much a medley of American football and rugby. He then moved stateside in 2018 to play college football at Auburn and then got his first chance at pro action with the Lions in 2020.
Even though he has a great story, his NFL career has not been nearly as good. In 2022, Siposs was routinely the biggest weakness for the Eagles, proving time and time again that he couldn’t flip the field when the team was backed up in their own zone.
Out of 34 qualified punters, Siposs was 26th in average yards per punt, with only 45.6 yards. His average hang time per punt was also in the bottom of the league, which is important because the longer the punt is in the air, the harder it is for the coverage unit to get to their spots.
Sipposs should not just be given the punter job in 2022 because of how much he has struggled at the pro level. He most likely will be the starter in week 1 but the Eagles are coming into the season at a competitive disadvantage by keeping him on the roster. It’s been 2 consecutive years of not great play so I do not have confidence that he can fix his issues in 2023.
At number 2 on the depth chart for punter and holder is undrafted free agent Ty Zetner. The 25-year-old rookie from Kansas State was brought in to be camp competition for Siposs but could end up taking the job. Zetner and Siposs have received about the same amount of reps in training camp with neither one pulling away as the more talented player.
Zetner comes in at a disadvantage since Siposs has a relationship built up with the team already and even with a decent camp, is a long shot to make the roster. While I believe the younger rookie has more upside, the Eagles are probably not willing to take the risk of moving on.
After a mainly down rookie season, Covey started to show some signs of life as the Eagles punt returner towards the end of the season and in the playoffs. Covey was an electric returner at Utah and was a threat for a touchdown anytime he touched the ball. On 33 attempts, he averaged 9.3 yards per return, which is not good, but there is reason to believe he could improve in 2023. His body should be more comfortable at the pro level, even saying in an Eagles social media video that he gained some weight and just more familiarity with schemes. Covey could be an underrated weapon for the team in 2023 if he plays to his potential.
The Giant Killer serves dual roles for the Eagles, as one of their depth running backs and as their main kick returner. I don’t expect to see Scott return that many kicks in 2023, with the new rule of getting kickoffs at the 25-yard line, but it is possible he could break a few runs. Scott isn’t the best kick returner but every year the importance of that position seems to wain a little more so it’s not the biggest deal. Unlike other special teams positions, this one isn’t of great importance.
Probably the least talked about position on a football team is the long snapper, and that’s no different for the Eagles. Ever since fan favorite Jon Dorenbos was forced to retire in 2016, Rick Lovato has filled the role adequately. It isn’t a flashy position but it is needed on the roster and Lovato has been good over the last 7 seasons. When no one is talking about the long-snapper position, that means they’re doing a good job and almost no fans ever bring up Lovato’s name.
Photo by Andy Lewis/Icon Sportswire