On the Eagles' special teams issues

December, 21, 2011
12/21/11
1:54
PM ET
Mistakes have killed the Philadelphia Eagles all year. A talented team that outplayed opponents for large chunks of games they would eventually lose, these Eagles have themselves to blame for the 6-8 predicament in which they find themselves. But as much as they shot themselves in the foot in the first half of the season, they still have life. They need to win their final two games and get some help from the Jets and the Giants (in that order), and they can still be division champions.

That's why their coaching staff continues to obsess and fret about mistakes. This is from special teams coach Bobby April, via the Philadelphia Inquirer, on a unit that has had three turnovers and a blocked punt in its past two games:
"Those were major, major gaffes and without a dominant performance by the defense in both games, really dominant, and really a dominant performance by the offense, we probably," April began, then quickly shifted gears, "you can’t do those two things in a game and generally win. Those are major gaffes, you just can’t have a blocked punt."

The Eagles are without any margin for error at this point in the season, and they are a team that threatens to go down in history as extremely error-prone. They made very few errors in their Week 8 victory over the Dallas Cowboys in Philadelphia, and they know they need to keep errors to a minimum Saturday in Dallas if they're to have any chance of extending their season to Week 17. Special teams mistakes are the kind of thing that keep a talented team out of the playoffs, and while this is a relatively recent development, the offensive and defensive coordinators of the Eagles have spent more than their share of time pulling out more than their share of their own hair over avoidable mistakes.

Dan Graziano

ESPN New York Giants reporter

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