Just in case you haven’t noticed, this Philadelphia Eagles punt team is good.
Yep, that’s right. You read it correctly. The staff at ITI wants to show some love to the Philadelphia Eagles punt team. Most football fans don’t follow what they do very closely, but special teams can win or lose a few games for any NFL team. So far, it’s been one of the bright spots for the ‘Birds’ this season. As usual, Dave Fipp has done a wonderful job preparing this special teams group for battle.
Cameron Johnston has been one of the best punters in the entire NFL during the 2020 season. Eagles’ fans knew he was reliable for the past few years, and he just keeps on improving. This is no surprise to the Philly faithful. Johnston is third in the NFL in net average punt yards (45.9 net yards per punt) as well as gross average yards (51.6 gross yards per punt).
Ten of his 19 total punts have landed inside the 20-yard line which is tied for first in the NFL. He’s also sixth in the league with an average of 5.7 yards allowed per return. The punt coverage team has a lot to do with that but Johnston gets so much hang time on his kicks that it allows them to make plays downfield.
Match Johnston’s hang time with a gunner like Rudy Ford sprinting down the field and that’s going to result in some big plays. Ford already has five tackles on special teams in just three games played. Even when he’s not making tackles, he’s often drawing double teams and forcing punt returners to retreat or call for a fair catch. There’s a chance Craig James will be back soon too, and he’ll play the gunner position opposite of Rudy Ford.
Plus, there’s been guys like Marcus Epps getting downfield quickly and making plays. He already has two tackles on punts. T.J. Edwards was also still contributing on special teams in his sophomore year before the injury last week with two tackles of his own on punts and a forced fumble one of them in Week 2.
The field position battle is a massive part of the game and this Eagles’ punt team should be recognized for doing their part. Against the Pittsburgh Steelers, this punt team could quietly impact just because of the importance of field position. This could end up being a defensive battle so having an efficient punt team like this is a bigger advantage than most people would expect. Who knows, maybe they’ll force a big turnover as they did in Week 2.