Lost in the wake of David Akers' two missed field goals last week against Oakland was the fact that he set an Eagles record. According to special teams coordinator Ted Daisher, Akers became the first kicker in Eagles history to hit three field goals from 40 yards-or-more in a single game.
And it's not like Akers missed any gimmies. The missed attempts were from 43 and 47 yards, respectively. Akers is 5-of-7 (71.4 percent) from 40-49 yards this season. That's a far cry from 2007 when he was just 2-of-10 from 40 yards-or-more. In addition, he's getting tremendous distance on his kickoffs. He has seven touchbacks this season after a career-high 17 last year.
"A guy as experienced as David, he knows what he needs to do to be successful," Daisher said. "We tried five field goals against Oakland and missed two of them. I think the first one slid to the left just a little bit, he might have overcompensated going to his right. You want to make every kick and I know David does. We also set a team record. It's the first time in the history of the Eagles that a kicker has made three field goals over 40 yards in one game.
"You look at that and you measure that with the misses. You always want to make the kicks, you need to make those kicks, but when you're trying five field goals over 40 yards, those things come about in a game."
Another area that was overlooked in the fallout from the upset loss was the improved discipline on special teams. The coverage units allowed an average of just 0.8 yards per punt return (Yes, 0.8 yards) and 12.7 yards per kickoff return. On top of that, the Eagles committed no penalties on special teams. That was a point of focus heading into the game.
"One of our goals this (past) week was to not get a penalty on special teams," Daisher said. "We addressed it week in and week out and we absolutely were going to go into that game and not get a penalty. I would hope that the guys would have enough confidence in what they're doing and knowing that if they use good technique and use effort and get in good positions that they won't get a penalty and we're just going to have keep working hard at our fundamentals and get better on that."
Meanwhile, the Eagles return units continue to be successful even though they have not had a big return since Ellis Hobbs' 63-yard kickoff return in Week 2 against the Saints. Hobbs will be back in the lineup as the kickoff returner on Monday night. Quintin Demps handled the kickoff return duties against the Raiders due to Hobbs' wrist injury. Demps averaged 18.3 yards on three returns. Hobbs has averaged 25.2 yards per kickoff return this season.
DeSean Jackson is second in the league in punt returns with an average of 15.8 yards per attempt. Jackson is one of only four players in the league with a punt return for a touchdown this season. Jackson has eyed this Monday night's game against the Redskins after struggling in Washington last season. Jackson had a costly drop in the end zone late in the game. As bad as Jackson wants to break a big return, Daisher cautions that it's important to keep a level head and make smart decisions.
""You don't want to ever deviate from making those decisions. If he's going to catch a ball at the 6-yard line as opposed to letting it go and bouncing in the end zone. You just can't do those things in a game," Daisher said. "The number one thing that you can't do on special teams is put your offense and defense in a bad position. Yes, he has play-making ability, but you have to stay within the rules and you have to understand how you affect the other phases on the team and you just need to stay with the things that he's taught."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson, 11:19 a.m., October 24