Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni vows to keep special teams coordinator Michael Clay in place for 2023 season
From top to bottom, the Philadelphia Eagles dominated nearly every statistical category during the 2022 season. The one area that lagged behind was the special teams unit.
Per Pro Football Focus, the Eagles’ special teams unit ranked 29th in the NFL, posting an overall grade of 65.0. Despite the lacking production and the amount of gafs we saw from the unit throughout the year, Eagles head coach Nick Sirianni told reporters on Thursday that special teams coordinator Michael Clay will return for the 2023 season.
Clay will remain on the Eagles sidelines in 2023
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“Yes he will [return],” Sirianni said. “I thought we did a nice job as far as just improving. We had some rocky beginnings in special teams and I thought we did a nice job improving those special teams as the year went along. A lot of credit to Coach Clay, obviously a lot of credit to the players that stepped up and made plays to do so.”
Given the fact that Sirianni has already lost his offensive and defensive coordinators to head coaching positions, retaining at least one of his coordinators makes sense. That doesn’t mean Clay has completely justified keeping his job, however.
While his unit stayed out of the way for most of Super Bowl LVII, they played a role in arguably the biggest play of the game, surrendering a Super Bowl record 65-yard punt return in the fourth quarter. The return setup Kansas City’s offense at the five-yard line and, well, you know the rest.
As far as the core specialists are concerned, the team is pretty much set across the board. Kicker Jake Elliott will be back, along with long snapper Rick Lovato. As for P Arryn Siposs, there’s a good chance he’s replaced this offseason. Punt returner Britain Covey may resume his role next season; he did have a career-best 27-yard return in the Super Bowl. He may also get another crack at kick returning duties in 2023, with Boston Scott set to become a free agent.
Although Kadarius Toney’s game-sealing punt return has left a bad taste in all of our mouths, Sirianni is right when he says the unit did improve throughout the season. The weekly gafs turned to monthly gafs by the end of the year. Obviously, the bar wasn’t set very high – but it was improvement nonetheless.
So, at least the Eagles won’t have to replace three core coaches this offseason. Regardless of what you think about Clay, it’s damn near impossible to replace three coordinators in one offseason and find any kind of success the following year.
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Mandatory Credit: NBC Sports Philadelphia