Fullback Leonard Weaver has been an instrumental addition in helping the Eagles in short-yardage situations this season. Weaver is 2-for-2 on third-and-1 situations this year and the Eagles are 8-of-11 (73 percent) as a team. The Eagles were 14-of-28 (50 percent) in similar situations just a year ago.
The Eagles were unable to convert a third-and-2 in the third quarter and came up short on three tries to convert a second-and-1 in the fourth quarter of last Sunday's loss to Dallas. Weaver didn't touch the ball on any of those four plays. However, Weaver understands that the reason for not automatically getting the ball in every third-and-short situation.
"You don't want teams keying in on certain things, certain formations," Weaver said. "Once they start seeing certain things happen, they can kind of game plan and say, 'Well this is what they're going to do here.' You want to mix it up a little bit and let people know this is not just where we (as a defense) need to be."
Known for his ability to run, block and catch, Weaver has 20 carries for 124 yards and one touchdown this season. He also has seven receptions for 35 yards and another score. In the last two games, Weaver has seen an increased load in the absence of Brian Westbrook carrying the ball 16 times for 108 yards. He is on pace to set career highs in every rushing category.
Despite the increased touches, the Eagles are criticized for not running the ball enough. Against the Giants, the Eagles had 24 pass plays (including a Donovan McNabb scramble) and 23 run plays. Last Sunday against Dallas, the Eagles passed the ball 30 times and had 23 running plays. Weaver believes the Eagles run the ball enough to have an effective offense.
"I definitely think so," Weaver said. "Marty (Mornhinweg) and (Andy) Reid have been doing this for a long time. Reid is one of the most winningest coaches in the NFL. He knows what he's doing. Marty knows what he's doing."
The Eagles head to San Diego to take on the Chargers this Sunday. The Chargers are riding high after a last-minute, come-from-behind win over the Giants. The Eagles, of course, are searching for answers following the loss to the Cowboys. The Eagles were unable to overcome a sluggish start, penalties and the inability to execute late in the game.
Weaver said the Eagles need to rally as a team and put last Sunday's loss in the rear-view mirror.
"I think the main thing that you do as a team is you have to look at, first of all, the mistakes that you did make in the first half (of the season) and what kind of corrections are you going to make," Weaver said. "The next thing is that we have to rally together as a team. It just so happens that Dallas was the better team on that particular day. We could point out a number of things that allow us to not win the game, but that's no longer important because we have to move on to San Diego."
Bolstering the Eagles' chances for a win this week is the expected return of running back Brian Westbrook. The starting tailback has missed the last two games as a result of a concussion suffered on Oct. 26 at Washington.
"Just having Brian out there makes the defensive coordinator kind of rethink its game plan because Brian can do a lot of things with his athletic ability. His opportunity to get the ball creates opportunities for others up the field," Weaver said. "It's a blessing because we're getting him back at the right point. We need to make a stride for this postseason."
-- Posted by Chris McPherson 5:10 p.m., November 12