A YEAR ago, when their offensive line was healthy and dominant and their star running back was gobbling up yards at a franchise-record pace, a 109-yard rushing performance like the one Sunday against the Packers would be considered a disappointment; a too-small fish that would get tossed back into the lake.

But given the struggles of the Eagles' run game this season, no fish is too small, especially when it's caught in an otherwise forgettable, 33-point loss.

"I felt we ran the ball with consistency the other night,'' offensive coordinator Pat Shurmur said. "We're going to stick with it, regardless of the score. Because we feel we can run the ball and gain yards and score points doing it.''

The Eagles averaged just 3.5 yards per carry against a Packers defense that was giving up 4.6. But it still was an improvement over the week before when they managed just 37 yards on 23 carries against Carolina.

"I thought it was a lot better this past week,'' center Jason Kelce said. "There's still a missed block here and a missed block there that keeps it from being a big [run]. But I thought we were a lot closer Sunday than we were against Carolina. Much, much closer.

"I think we're getting back to [where they were last year]. We're starting to click a little better. We just have to keep improving each week. We have to really finish more [blocks]. We were a dominating force last year. We played hard and physical. Right now, we're letting the defense dictate things, and it's slowing us down a little bit.''

Last year, the Eagles' offensive line managed to stay incredibly healthy. None of the five starters missed a start. As a group they missed a grand total of 90 snaps.

This year, not so much. Right tackle Lane Johnson missed the first four games while serving a PED suspension. Then his replacement, Allen Barbre, went down in Week 1 with a knee injury. All-Pro left guard Evan Mathis missed seven games with a knee injury. Kelce missed four after needing surgery to repair a sports hernia. Right guard Todd Herremans is on injured reserve after tearing his bicep last month.

Kelce returned for the Houston game, Mathis the next week against Carolina. But re-establishing continuity takes time for an offensive line.

"It takes a while,'' admitted Kelce, who hasn't yet returned to the Pro Bowl-caliber level he was at before his injury. "The offensive line is all about cohesiveness, continuity, hitting blocks, servicing blocks well and doing it as a unit. It's just going to take a few reps in a few games to get used to that.''

Said Mathis: "You try to come back and try to do everything the same way right away. But if there are some inconsistencies in the chemistry, then they're going to be evident on film and in practice. We fit some runs well [against the Packers]. But there were others that we could've done better on. That gives us something to work on.''

They are facing an ideal opponent this week - the 2-8 Tennessee Titans - as far as taking another step forward with their run game. The Titans are 31st against the run (143.5 yards per game) and 24th in yards allowed per carry (4.4). They've been gashed for 569 rushing yards in their last three games, including 206 in Monday night's three-point loss to Pittsburgh.

It's been a frustrating season so far for LeSean McCoy. He ran away with the NFL rushing title last season, notching a franchise-record 1,607 yards. Through 10 games this season, he has just 729. He trails league rushing leader DeMarco Murray by 504 yards.

McCoy is averaging a career-low 3.7 yards per carry, which is nearly a yard-and-a-half less than last season (5.1). Last year, he had a league-high 47 runs of 10 yards or more. This year, he has only 19. Last year, he led the league in rushing first downs with 79. This year, he has 40.

According to Pro Football Focus, he had 748 yards after contact and caused 57 missed tackles last season. So far this year, he has just 383 yards after contact and 27 missed tackles.

He already has three games with fewer than 25 rushing yards, including 19 on 12 carries against Carolina. But he had 88 of the Eagles' 109 rushing yards in Sunday's loss. It was the fifth time in the last six games that he's rushed for 80-plus yards, which is a good sign.

"He's been in there battling,'' Shurmur said. "We can run the ball better for all the reasons we've talked about each week. Just stick with it. Just stick with it.''

Opposing defensive coordinators had an offseason to study the Eagles' zone running game and have made adjustments. They have been effective at taking away McCoy's cutback lanes.

McCoy also has let his frustration affect his decision-making. He's often been like a gambler on a losing streak who tries to get it all back with one bet. He's been looking for the big run instead of settling for what he can get. The result: He has a league-high 52 runs of zero or negative yards. Last year, he had 56 all season.

"Sometimes, when [a defense gives you] split-safety looks, you can cut the ball back and somebody in the front is responsible for two gaps,'' Shurmur said. "What we're seeing is a lot of defenses where there's one more guy at the line. So what happens is, as you crease a run, there's some daylight in there. But there's not always the cutback you would have had if it was a split-safety look.''

As Kelce correctly pointed out, an extra man in the box against the Eagles hardly is new. Teams did it last year as well, and for the most part, it was like a bug on their windshield.

"Teams played us a lot of one-high [safety] last year,'' he said. "We just need to do a better job of fitting the blocks, understanding the ways teams are defending it, which then changes up the [blocking] angles and who's double-teaming and things like that.

"I think that's what we really need to get better at. We're close. I really do think that. There's times where the whole offensive line except for one guy is just doing an outstanding job.

"I think that's what it really is. I think that's the way it has been for the last six games or so. Where because of the little bit of shuffling around [we've had to do] and things like that, there's a little bit of a cohesion thing that we're still trying to get back from last year.''

"It's tough,'' Johnson said. "Guys coming back from injuries. Evan and Kelc' are still trying to get back into the swing of things. Matt [Tobin] changed sides [from left guard to right guard]. It's different for him. We still have six games left. We're getting better each week.''

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