Here's the recap from the season opening victory over the Falcons.
Arryn Siposs punted four times in his NFL debut. He averaged about 49.0 yards and 4.32 hangtime. Two of his punts had a hangtime of at least 4.5 seconds. All four of them were hit outside the numbers. I have the impression that the new special teams coach is an advocate of that strategy, more so than Dave Fipp was. So I have a feeling we're going to see a lot of punts toward the sideline this year. Cameron Nizialek punted six times for the Falcons. His average was about 46.0 yards and 4.29 hangtime. The obvious theoretical win goes to Siposs.
The Eagles snap to foot times on punts was much better than Atlanta's. They were usually around 1.90 seconds. The last one was a little slower. Atlanta's times were closer to 2.05 seconds, with one of them around 2.12. So I have the distinct impression that Siposs is going to be a "quick" punter. And that's a good thing, for sure.
Jake Elliott kicked off six times, but one was a squib at the end of the first half. His five traditionally kickoffs averaged about 75.0 yards (that's the back of the endzone, folks) and 3.96 hangtime. Younghoe Koo only kicked off three times. His average was about 67.7 yards and 4.36 hangtime, although I'm not 100% sure of the hangtime of the final kick. I did the best I could
Elliott made his only field goal attempt from a distance where the expected probability was about 75%. Along with his PATs, the time on the Eagles attempts were around 1.3 seconds. The Falcons kick attempts were a tad slower. So again, the Eagles were better with that. They almost always are, year after year.
Elliott's Elo Kicking Rating improved slightly to 2241, which ranks 23rd in the league. The rating of Eagles Opponents improved to 2279, which would rank 11th if such a player actually existed. The Top Five kickers after the first week are Gano (2377, about 2.21 standard deviations above the mean), Tucker (2363, 1.95), Lambo (2338, 1.86), Myers (2354, 1.78), and Crosby (2347, 1.65). Those dudes almost never miss. When they do, it's a shock. The Bottom Five kickers are Blankenship (2199, -1.08), Rosas (2196, -1.13), Seibert (2194, -1.17), Ficken (IR) (2177, -1.48), and Badgley (2171, -1.59). Badgley was released after the first week.
* Andre Chachere made a super impressive play on the Eagles first punt. He was out of bounds, and he knew he was out of bounds. So quite smartly, he indicated to Zech McPhearson to down the ball. He knew in the moment that if he were touch the ball first, it would be a penalty. As the play unfolded, I commented about how smart it was, and I noted that if the broadcast people have any smarts about them, they'll mention after the commercial break. I was surprised and pleased that they did.
* Avonte Maddox (I think it was him) got away with a late hit at the sideline on Cordarelle Patterson on a kickoff return. It was kinda borderline, but the Eagles had been the beneficiary of a borderline sideline call a little earlier in the game, so I was surprised it wasn't called. The Falcons complained and I think they were justified.
* Quez Watkins ran backwards during a kickoff return. That's something you rarely see, and for good reason. It usually results in a dismal return. On another kick return, he barely got it back to the twenty yard line. All in all, and impressive performance by him.
* Jalen Reagor made a smart play on the first Falcons punt. He rushed up from his deep position to fair catch the ball at around the twenty yard line. This move probably saved the Eagles about ten yards...the yards the ball would likely have rolled before being downed. This has been a bugaboo for Greg Ward for awhile now and is probably one of the reasons he's not the team's primary punt returner.
* On Reagor's first punt return, he fielded the ball at the Eagles 37 and proceeded to run backwards for seven yards before finally getting to the 38. A one yard return. Horrible.
* On Reagor's final punt return, he caught the ball at the 21 with no defenders anywhere in sight. He then hesitated, ran back to the 18, danced around, and was tackled at about the 19 yard line. It ended up being a net loss on a return when he fielded it with lots of room in front of him. Again, a horrible play.
* JJ Arcega-Whiteside came close to blocking a Falcons punt. I liked the idea that the Eagles went for it after observing that the Falcons punter was kinda slow on his first couple attempts. This showed to me that there was some thinking going on on the Eagles sideline. It didn't work, but they tried. Not bad.
* I was mildly surprised that the Eagles attempted a field goal with a little more than a minute to go. On their possession, the Falcons courteously didn't call timeouts, thus allowing the Eagles to basically end the game right there. I kinda thought Sirianni would reciprocate by just running a play on fourth down rather than try to add more points to the scoreboard. It's hardly a big deal, but it's something that crossed my mind at the time
In summary, it was a pretty good game for the special team's units. The punter and kicker both had good games. The coverage units were fine. The big problem, and this could be an issue all season, is that the speedy return men (Watkins and Reagor) don't seem to know how to return. The natural inclination to run backwards is mind boggling. This needs to be corrected, the sooner the better.