A week after successfully executing two fake punts and a surprise onside kick, the Detroit Lions could be without special teams coordinator Dave Fipp for Sunday’s game against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Fipp said by video conference Thursday he has been away from the team since testing positive for COVID-19 on Tuesday.
Fipp has continued to coach remotely the past two days, taking part in meetings via Zoom, but must produce negative COVID tests on back-to-back days to be eligible to coach Sunday at Ford Field.
“I feel terrible because I feel great, to be honest with you,” Fipp said. “I know this disease is whatever, devastating to some people. I think that’s probably the hardest thing with the whole thing is that everybody has such a different experience with it. For me, I feel as good as I’ve ever felt, whatever, seven weeks into a season with the record the way we have it. But yeah, fortunately for me I feel great. I feel totally healthy. I’ve got no symptoms.”
Fipp, who is vaccinated, said he is not sure how he contracted the virus.
His wife and three children feel healthy, he said, and the Lions currently do not have any other COVID cases.
“It’s frustrating because you feel healthy but somebody’s telling you you’re testing positive still,” Fipp said. “All you want to do is be in the building and coach and go to work. So anyway, it is what it is.”
In his first season with the Lions, Fipp has overseen one of the few bright spots in the team’s 0-7 start.
The Lions currently rank third in Football Outsiders’ composite special teams rankings, and last week they gained more than 8 minutes of extra possession time by pulling off two fake punts and an onside kick.
Tracy Walker recovered Austin Seibert’s surprise onside kick after the Lions’ first touchdown. Punter Jack Fox completed a 17-yard pass to Bobby Price on fourth-and-7 from midfield on the ensuing possession. And personal protector C.J. Moore ran for 28 yards on a direct snap on fourth-and-8 in the third quarter.
“I think Fipp’s a superstar,” Lions coach Dan Campbell said Wednesday. Campbell and Fipp were assistants with the Miami Dolphins in 2011-12 before Campbell hired Fipp to run his special teams this offseason. “I think it’s probably been our most consistent unit out of the three phases. We’ve got a pretty good core group of guys, but he’s been great. I just think he’s an outstanding teacher and he’s high-energy, and I think you have to be both to be a good special teams coach.”
Players and coaches who test positive for COVID must take two tests a day, one of them rapid, while dealing with the virus.
Fipp, the Eagles’ special teams coordinator in 2013-20, said he still was testing positive as of Thursday morning.
Assistant special teams coach Jett Modkins will oversee the Lions’ special teams units in Fipp’s absence.
“I’ve coached football for 24 years,” Fipp said. “I’ve missed one practice in one day where it was for our son’s birth. So yesterday was obviously the second one. So I hate that in general, but at the end of the day, really wouldn’t matter who we’re playing. I think as a coach you want to be in the building and you want to be around the players and you want to be a part of the game. That’s why we do it. So if it was Philly or anybody else, hopefully I’ll end up getting back for it, but if not I know the players and the coaches will do a great job.”