The Eagles need to get back to .500 as the bye week approaches. The coordinators have a tough test ahead of them with the 2-3 San Francisco 49ers on the horizon. There are a number of areas where the coaches can improve and they discuss all of them in Coach's Clipboard ...
MORNHINWEG: IMPROVING THE RUN GAME
Marty Mornhinweg didn't mince words when assessing the Eagles' production from the run game this season.
"We need to run it better," he said.
That's a pretty fair point for the Eagles offensive coordinator to make. Through Week 5, the Eagles rank 28th in the NFL in both rushing yards per game and rushing yards per carry, the latter being an area they've excelled in recently. Their 3.5-yard average is more than a full yard down from their performance in 2006 or 2007, when the Eagles finished fifth and second in YPC, respectively.
"We just haven't done quite as good a job with that. When there is a problem, we identify the problem and correct it and then we move on to the next game," Mornhinweg said. "I would expect our run game to get better as the season goes on here."
The Eagles think they have identified one of the problems – the fullback position. Dan Klecko has now made his second position switch as an Eagle, and is back to playing fullback. He was originally signed as a fullback in early spring, then he was pushed back to defensive tackle when the Eagles traded for Luke Lawton during Organized Team Activities (OTAs).
And despite surprising coaches and making the team as the fourth defensive tackle (and having already made a career-high two sacks), he's back to where coaches think he can help the team more, and Tony Hunt will be converted back to his natural tailback spot.
Convoluted? Maybe, but something needs to be done.
"He is a big guy who will hit you. He is familiar with our offense from the offseason," Mornhinweg said. "I think he has a chance to help our football team in some specific ways."
Sure, there have been injuries. Brian Westbrook is hurting all over and there's no timetable in sight for Shawn Andrews' return from his mysterious lower back spasms.
But Mornhinweg is making no excuses.
"We can make all the reasons up that we want. We expect the players who are in there to perform well and get it done. There have been situations where we haven't," he said. "We need to get better there."
- JOE DOLAN
JOHNSON: ABIAMIRI TO MAKE SEASON DEBUT
The Eagles' walking wounded is slowly working their way back into the fold.
Defensive coordinator Jim Johnson announced that defensive lineman Victor Abiamiri's wrist is ahead of schedule and he should see action against the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday.
Abiamiri can't wait to get his season underway.
"It will feel great," Abiamiri said. "I definitely will be filled with a lot of emotions and little bit of nerves in there, too, but once we get out there and start playing, I think football is football and it will all come together."
Johnson said Abiamiri should see between 10 and 15 plays against the Niners, although it won't be coming off the edge.
"If he's going to play, he'll play mainly some tackle because we'll put (fullback Dan) Klecko at offense, and he'll play more tackle," Johnson said. "I think because Victor came back, I think it's a big plus for us, and that's the reason we were able to do it. (Klecko) might still play some defense."
Abiamiri has been out of commission since suffering a dislocated wrist in late July. But Abiamiri said that he's kept himself in good enough shape where he feels he can contribute right away.
"I've been doing a lot of running while I've been injured," Abiamiri said. "Football is a different kind of conditioning. I think the coaches will work me in slowly a little bit, let me get a taste of it, then work me in some more over time."
Despite playing defensive tackle this week against San Francisco, Johnson said that Abiamiri's size, or lack thereof, won't be an issue.
"We've got three tackles that will play most of the time," Johnson said. "(Defensive tackle) Trevor Laws will play a lot more, and then you've got, of course, (defensive tackle Mike) Patterson and (defensive tackle Brodrick) Bunkley. He'll play more on certain (plays), not quite as much."
Abiamiri will have to play with a cast on his right arm, but he said that won't limit how effective he can be on Sunday.
"Being able to get out there and play after being injured is really big for me," Abiamiri said. "In the cast, it feels strong and feels solid. That was the true test (Wednesday), to go out there and see how it feels and it felt pretty good."
- STEVE LIENERT
SEGREST: WHAT ABOUT KICKOFF RETURNS?
DeSean Jackson delivered a 68-yard punt return in last Sunday's 23-17 loss to the Washington Redskins. It was the Eagles' first punt return for a touchdown since 2003.
The Eagles are still waiting for their first kickoff return for a touchdown since the 2001 season. Quintin Demps showed plenty of promise when he took one back to the house in the preseason against New England. So far this season, Demps has returned 17 kickoffs for 391 yards - a 23.0 yards per return average that ranks 22nd in the league.
Demps did break off a 47-yard return against the Cowboys. Special teams coordinator Rory Segrest is pleased with Demps' development.
"I think he's starting to understand the game a little bit better," Segrest said. "He had some success here during the preseason. It's just a matter, again, of making sure each individual guy is making his block and sustaining those blocks for him. Also the reads; we change up the returns on occasion. It's just making sure he's making the right reads on each return."
Just five years ago, it was a pivotal special teams play that changed the course of the season. Brian Westbrook returned a punt 84 yards for the game-winning score against the Giants. That win sparked a nine-game streak that carried the Eagles into the postseason with homefield advantage. As the Eagles sit at 2-3, Segrest has the components to provide another potential season-changing play.
"That's how we approach special teams every week," Segrest said. "You never know, four or five plays can decide the outcome of the game and you never know if they're going to occur on offense, defense or special teams. We want to make sure that we're putting ourselves in position to be able to make the plays, if it comes down to that. I don't think you can say that there's more emphasis on one game than there is on another. Again, it's just going out and executing each week."
- CHRIS McPHERSON