"There is a risk," special teams coach John Harbaugh said. "There's a lot more risk [at quarterback]. If he gets hurt holding, I think everybody would be incredibly disappointed and we'd take a lot of heat."
Harbaugh said he couldn't remember a holder getting injured. Actually, the team the Eagles are about to play lost its holder, punter Bryan Barker, to an injury. But Barker had his nose broken trying to recover a blocked kick.
So there is a risk, but Detmer could minimize that by staying out of harm's way in such a situation. Besides, as Detmer pointed out, Barker only wore the single-bar face mask favored by punters and kickers. His nose was so severely damaged, he was placed on injured reserve.
Harbaugh said Hasselbeck did a solid job during his two games as Akers' holder. But Akers has been remarkably successful with Detmer holding.
"Koy and David have much more experience and rhythm," Harbaugh said. "I think it gives us a significantly better chance of making field goals. They have spent so much time together and have seen all the little things that come up - high snap, low snap, laces not where they should be, weather conditions. They have a feel for each other.
"It doesn't seem like much and you say, 'Well, the ball is down and there it is,' but Dave really knows where Koy's going to put the ball and how he's going to lean the ball."
Blocking made easy. The Eagles' offensive linemen have endured virtually nonstop pass blocking for the last couple of years. This year, with the running game firmly established, things have gotten a little easier. Run blocking makes the offensive lineman the aggressor, while pass blocking forces him to be more passive.
"If you can get those whacks in there early," offensive coordinator Brad Childress said, "it may not help you in the first quarter but it certainly helps you in the fourth quarter. We've been able to get those licks. A lot of times, that will slow down how a [defensive player] anchors in if he thinks he's going to rush the passer or if he thinks he's going to have to bow up against the run."
Childress was advocating more running way back in training camp. It helps, he said, that the run game was productive.
"You can't keep going there if you aren't productive with it," Childress said, "and I think it has been productive and I think it feeds off itself. You don't run it just to run it. It's really the quality of the run that is important and the quality of the pass that is important."
The line's performance has been exceptional since the injury to quarterback Donovan McNabb. Even in that game, with McNabb playing but his mobility limited, the Eagles didn't allow a sack after McNabb's injury.
Detmer and A. J. Feeley have done a good job of getting rid of the ball quickly, but the line's play has been a big part of the team's ability to keep winning. And that midseason stretch when the run game flourished has helped make it possible. The Eagles haven't gone to a totally run-oriented offense without McNabb, but the threat of the running game has helped the backup QBs immensely.
"It helps to be balanced," Childress said. "I guess if you came in and couldn't run it and then you put an inexperienced quarterback in there who has to throw it 60 times a game, you wouldn't want that. To be able to ebb and flow between the run and pass and do both successfully ends up being huge."
Contact Phil Sheridan at 215-854-2844 or firstname.lastname@example.org.