Before Sunday, the Eagles have never gone three straight games with a special teams touchdown.
They’ve also never had a special teams unit, or a coaching staff, quite like this one.
Whether it’s by blocking punts, or returning them for six points, there is a special spark that special teams can provide. It’s quick, and a shock to the opposition and to the fans.
“Let me tell you about special teams,” Eagles’ defensive end Vinny Curry said. “Coach works those guys extra hard and they deserve everything coming to them. They bust their ass every single practice, my hat goes off to those guys.”
After two special teams scores in last week’s loss to the 49ers (including a blocked punt), it was deja vu to start the game, with James Casey blocking a punt after a Rams three-and-out. Chris Maragos then took it ten yards to the house to give the Eagles an early 7-0 lead.
“It’s really rare that you come free and they just don’t block you,” Casey said of the play, “but you have to expect it every time. You have to be able to come free and be able to block it.”
Players like Casey make a career out of that — being able to do the little things well and contributing to a phase of football that often goes under-appreciated or unnoticed unless it makes a mistake or provides a rare big play.
“It feels great because we do a lot of dirty work throughout the week,” Casey said of the special teams unit, “and no one really talks about it much. But we know it’s our job.”
Chip Kelly knows how important the punt, kickoff and field goal units can be, and he is the first to provide praise for a job well done.
“James Casey’s been a great special teams player for us for two years,” Kelly said of Casey, who was drafted by the Texans in 2009 and has played fullback and tight end.”We have Brad Smith and Maragos, a lot of guys contributing for us in a lot of different fashions. They are seeing on Sundays the work they put in is paying off.”
The Eagles, in addition to two blocked punts, have a punt return for a touchdown from Darren Sproles, and one Chris Polk.
“[Chris] Maragos has been huge for us," Casey said. "[Chris]Polk is playing great, Trey Burton came in as a rookie free agent and plays great for us. We have a group of guys who take pride at it. And we are showing it on Sundays.”