Report: Detroit Lions ‘expected to add Dave Fipp as special teams coordinator’

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Erik Schlitt
·4 min read
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Free Press’ Dave Birkett is reporting that the Detroit Lions “are expected to add Dave Fipp as special teams coordinator”.

After initially blocking an interview request, the Philadelphia Eagles — who are in the middle of a coaching change — granted Fipp permission to interview with the Lions, and they pounced at the opportunity.

Fipp began coaching special teams in 1998 at Holy Cross and over the next decade, Fipp would expand his coaching resume to the defensive side of the ball at the University of Arizona, Cal Poly, Nevada, and San Jose State.

In 2008, the San Francisco 49ers made him their assistant special teams coach, and then three years later he joined the Miami Dolphins in the same role — this is where he met current Lions’ coach Dan Campbell.

He was with Miami for two seasons when the Eagles hired him away, making him their 2013 special teams coach, where he remained until this offseason.

Fipp helped turn around the Eagles’ special teams fairly quickly. In his second, third, and fourth seasons, they ranked among the tops in the league, but over the last four seasons, they plateaued only performing at average.

Here’s a look at where they landed on Sports Illustrated Rick Gosselin’s — the leading expert on special teams –, Football Outsider’s DVOA, and Pro Football Focus’ rankings in each of his seven seasons.

Year

Gosselin

DVOA

PFF

2013

19

25

22

2014

1

1

1

2015

2

10

27

2016

1

2

5

2017

13

16

1

2018

14

15

18

2019

15

19

11

2020

17

22

5

In 2014, the Fipp led special teams unit scored seven touchdowns and resulted in a clear No. 1 ranking in all three systems.

In 2016, the Eagles went through a change at long snapper, switching over from Jon Dorenbos to Rick Lovato, and by 2019, Lovato was a Pro Bowler.

In 2017, he helped mold rookie kicker Jake Elliott into a Pro Bowl alternate, converting on 84.6-percent of his field goal attempts and accounting for 11 points in a Super Bowl Victory — including a clutch 46-yard field goal, putting the Eagles up eight with a minute left in the game.

It’s no secret the Eagles struggled in several aspects last season and special teams were no exception — their coverage was inconsistent, they botched more than one return, had a punt blocked, and Elliott only connected on 73.7-percent of his field goals.

“At the end of the day, as coaches, we focus really a lot on the process,” Fipp said via the Philadelphia Inquirer. “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 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 this situation in practice? Did you drill it? Did you go over all the things possible to have them prepared the best you could have them prepared?’”

The Inquirer’s EJ Smith added that reading between the lines of the above paragraph, suggests that it translates as “Fipp can get players ready to play, but how they play is ultimately up to them.”

Dave Zangaro of NBS Sports offered more perspective on the Eagles special teams struggles:

In fairness to Fipp, it’s much harder to judge special teams than it is to judge offense or defense. If an offense stinks, it’s easy to see. Ditto defense. But special teams consist of several different units and a lot more players.

On top of that, injuries have killed the Eagles in recent seasons. That hurts a team on offense and defense but it crushes teams on special teams. Because any time a starter gets hurt, they’re replaced by a backup who is normally a special teams contributor. It all trickles down and leaves Fipp without his top players, which has happened plenty the last few seasons.

Fipp is a respected special teams teacher and one that holds his players accountable. Several Eagles writers believe a fresh start could do wonders for him and the Eagles.

He’ll join a Lions special teams unit that ended last season ranked 3rd in Gosselin’s rankings, 11th in DVOA, and 7th in PFF system under coordinator’s Brayden Coombs and interim Marquise Williams.