Q. Is this your most challenging year coaching special teams? How would you sum it up? I think you had problems in almost every area except coverage, which has been very good, what’s happened? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: Is this the most challenging year? I don’t know. Every year is challenging in some ways. Like I’ve said before we have a really high standard, I have a high standard for myself and for the things that we get done on special teams. I think I said last week, we’ve won four games. Last week, we were going into game 15. This week we’re going into game 16. It’s definitely not been good enough in any area, certainly not mine that’s for sure. At the end of the day, we’ve got one more game left to play. Obviously, I think as coaches, players, all we can do is focus on the things we can control. We got an opportunity in front of this week. We’re certainly going to put our best effort forward and that’s kind of what we’ve done all season long. The outcome hasn’t always been we wanted it to be. I tend to put more of my focus on the process.
Q. You’ve been doing special teams for a while now, I think 2007, 2008. So, you’ve been through different rule changes, different CBA’s, different limitations on how much you can practice off-season, in-season. Is it more difficult to get younger players up to speed in today’s environment, obviously this year a little bit different because of Covid as well? (John McMullen)
COACH FIPP: This year maybe a little bit different challenge, not really the off-season and all that stuff, preseason games. So, I would say this year maybe a little bit more so that way.
I would say in general over the last handful of years, not really. We get a lot of time with these guys in the off-season, when we have one. Those preseason games have always been really good for us. I would say it’s not gotten harder. I think with the amount of time that we’re able to have with these guys in meetings and walk-throughs and practice and off-season stuff and the OTA’s, I think there’s ample opportunity for that. Like you said, this year is obviously certainly different than all those other years but no I think everybody’s got the same challenge. That’s one thing that’s great about this league is everything is regulated, so really every team is under the same conditions and have the same opportunities to prepare players.
Q. Just for clarification on punt returns, is it your call who’s back there or is that something that Head Coach Doug Pederson weighs in on and tells you whether WR Jalen Reagor should go or not? How is that decided? (Jeff McLane)
COACH FIPP: I would say it’s a collaborative effort, certainly not just my decision alone. I certainly have my opinions on how to best manage that in the best interest of the football team. We’ve talked about that throughout the course of the season, but I’ll say in general to your question it’s a collaborative effort with a lot of different people.
Q. So why hasn’t Jalen Reagor been used more? (Jeff McLane)
COACH FIPP: I think I’ve answered it every other week, if not every week but for us we’re trying to put him back there when he’s got the chance to affect the game in the biggest possible way. I’ll just give you an example, the other day [Cowboys WR] CeeDee Lamb was out there just a handful of times, they spilled #11 [Cowboys WR Cedrick Wilson] in there when the situation wasn’t quite as returnable. I think CeeDee was back there for two returns, he had 6 yards. We got Jalen back there for one in a real returnable situation. The other situations it was 4th and 1 or they were punting in the plus 50 area of the field and the return opportunities were a lot less. So, we’re just trying to manage his load, put him back there when he has a chance to affect the outcome of the game in the biggest way possible. In that game he had 1 return for 15 yards.
Q. We always ask you about the punt returners, so I’ll open a new can of worms here and ask you about the kickoff returner. You’ve been very consistent with RB Boston Scott being back there, what do you like about him in that role and have you considered maybe using a WR Quez Watkins or somebody else? (Ed Kracz)
COACH FIPP: We’ve considered a lot of different guys. Right now, we feel like Boston gives us the best chance to help our football team back there. There’s a lot of things that go into that, it’s just not his ability to return the ball but decision making, toughness, ball security. I know we put one on the ground Sunday, but ball security is a big part of that and what his role is on offense or defense. There’s a lot of things that go into that. Right now, we feel like he gives us the best chance to help our football team win.
Q. You mentioned that overall, the special teams haven’t lived up to the standard this year. I know it kind of a generic or general question but what are some of the main factors that lead to that this year? (Dave Zangaro)
COACH FIPP: I think there’s a number of different things. I’m not going to get into all of that stuff. Obviously, every challenge is different, every year – I think I told you last week I would never make excuses, this is a bottom-line business. The bottom line is we got to get the job done, that’s what we want to be known for, that’s certainly what I want to be known for. Like I’ve said before, some days I’ve been better at that than others or some years I’ve been better at that than others. I’ve been fortunate to have a lot of success in my career. We won four games, this wasn’t our best effort there.
At the end of the day, I think coaches focus really a lot on the process. I know the outside world focuses a lot on the outcome. There’s a lot of things in the outcome that I think any individual coach can’t necessarily control. Again, I’m not going to go into all of that stuff, but I think for coaches we focus on the process. Did your players know what to do? Did they know how to do it? Did you put them in situations in practice? Did you drill it? Did you go over all the things possible to have them prepared the best you can have them prepared? So, I think individually, like my focus is more on that type of stuff, in terms of how I evaluate myself, I would say that there’s always room for improvement. I’ve always said that about myself. I can grow a lot and get a lot better, there’s no doubt about that. That’s kind of in general where things are. Again, I’m not going to make excuses. We haven’t done well enough. We’d like to be better. I know no one out there is harder on our performance than I am myself.
Q. You’ve had a lot of success with wide receivers playing gunners and in coverage, former Eagles WR Riley Cooper, former Eagles WR Brad Smith all those guys. Why haven’t the young wide receivers been involved at all on special teams? It seems like WR Quez Watkins and WR John Hightower haven’t been out there at all when they have been active? (Mike Kaye)
COACH FIPP: I know that question’s been asked before a little bit, and I would say that you’re asking why isn’t a wide receiver out there, but I would say at the end of the day, what we’re trying to do is put the best 11 out there. Sometimes it’s not that that player can’t do something, but somebody else on the roster can do it better. Right now, we feel like [S] K’von [Wallace] and [S] Rudy Ford are our two best gunners out there and they’re better than the down-the-line wideouts that we have a choice to play. So, at the end of the day, that’s why they’re not there.
Q. When S Rudy Ford was out, how big of an impact did that have on your special team’s coverage unit? (Mike Kaye)
COACH FIPP: I don’t know. I mean Rudy’s obviously a really good player. He went out there and affected the first punt and he made the tackle on the second one in that game. He’s obviously really productive. He’s had a lot of production for the plays he’s been on the field. Certainly, any time you lose a player that’s that productive it has an impact but like I said I’m not going to make excuses. I think the challenge for a coach is to find a way to make the best out of the parts, so that the whole is greater than the sum of individual parts so that’s our challenge as coaches.
Q. Circling back to the kick-off returns you guys had three returns of more than 25 yards this season, that’s the third fewest in the league. You said you liked RB Boston Scott best back there, so are you of the belief that number would not be better if there was a different returner and why do you think it hasn’t happened? (Zach Berman)
COACH FIPP: At the end of the day, I don’t think that play just comes down to one guy. I think you’re trying to base the success of the whole return unit off of one player and I don’t think that’s fair for any one player out there on the field. I think there are a lot of different factors that factor into that. Who you play, who you have, who they have, how you match up? Obviously for us, in that game there, we had a double team on a guy, and we didn’t get the double team taken care of. The guy beat us on a double team and ended up making a play back there deep on us. I don’t think that really has much to do with Boston. Can he influence it? Yes, there’s no question. Obviously all 11 of those guys can make a difference on any given play and then myself also. So, I wouldn’t necessarily say that the results all go back to one player. I think it’s the sum of all 11 guys.
Q. Should the results be better on kick-off returns this year? (Zach Berman)
COACH FIPP: We would like our results to be better every time we step on the field, on every play. I would say that in general, could the results be better? Yeah, we want a better result every time we’re out there. I think I said a few weeks ago, we’ve never had a perfect play, not from me. We’ve had a lot of really good plays but none of them have been perfect. There’s always room to improve every one of those plays. I know this, those guys are working really hard. They practice really hard, they train really hard, we prepare really hard and at the end of the day, the outcome hasn’t always been exactly what we wanted it to be, but I don’t question the process at all.
Q. P Cameron Johnston obviously cleared the concussion protocol but then we saw like the 16-yard punt, was he okay Sunday do you think? Was that just one of those things? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: Yeah, I think Cam was great. I mean obviously that punt wasn’t great but in terms of his health, when you’re talking about is he okay? Yeah, he was healthy. He was cleared by the protocol. It’s rigorous what they have to go through, for good reason now a days and he cleared all those things and was cleared to play. He just mishit that one punt there.
Q. There wasn’t somebody right on top of him or anything like that when he hit it? (Les Bowen)
COACH FIPP: No, I didn’t see that either. I think he just had a miss punt.