Best of the Best – Pass Rushers

Posted: July 7th, 2012 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 29 Comments »

For SB Nation Philly, I decided to rank the best Eagles pass rushers of the last 25 years.  I explain in the column why I chose that time frame.

I enjoyed writing the piece.  Memory Lane is a fun place to visit, especially because the Eagles have had so many great sack artists over the years.  We really are spoiled in this regard.  Someone posted the stat last year that since 1982 when the sack became an official stat, the Eagles are first or second in getting to the QB.  That shows you that this wasn’t one coach, one star player, or one good era.  Rushing the passer is a way of life for the Eagles.

The hard part was choosing between certain players.  I love pass rushers and so not making them all No. 2 to Reggie was difficult.  Trent Cole vs Hugh Douglas was very tough.  That’s like choosing my favorite Megan Fox picture.  Is is the one in the bikini?  Is it the one in the lingerie and high heels?  Is is the one with the glasses and pouty facial gesture?  Is it the one where she’s laying on PBR cans and wearing an Eagles Super Bowl Champion t-shirt?  How is a man supposed to choose?

One player that didn’t make the rankings and also didn’t get mentioned elsewhere is Darwin Walker.  In 2002 he had 7.5 sacks.  Some came from DT, some from DE.  He was very quick off the ball.  He was incredibly strong.  I thought we might have a special pass rusher on our hands.  Nope.

Darwin never was able to take the next step.  I often blamed this on off-field issues.  No, he never got in trouble.  Darwin ran his own engineering firm.  That’s a serious pursuit for an active NFL player.  I could be completely wrong on this, but it just felt like that was as much a part of his life as football.

Darwin remained a good player.  He had 27.5 sacks over a 5-year span.  That’s good production from a DT.  I was just disappointed that 2002 was his peak, rather than a launching point for a special career.

* * * * *

Bill Bergey is up for the honor of making it into the Hall of the Very Good, something put together by the Pro Football Researchers Association.  They want to honor those who might not be HOF material, but still deserve recognition for a special career.  Here’s the story on the whole thing.

I never got to watch Bergey play with any regularity.  He’s certainly good in highlights, but anyone can look good in that setting.  Those of you who are older fans…how would you describe him as a player?  How would be stack up vs Byron Evans or Jeremiah Trotter?

* * * * *

As I mentioned recently, Jimmy Bama and I are in the planning stages of starting a podcast.  One thing we need is a good title.  We’re kicking around some ideas between us, but I thought I’d open the floor to you.  Is there some great idea you guys have that we’re overlooking?

Right now Jimmy’s preference is the Jimmy Bama Podcast, featuring Tommy what’s his name.  I’m not totally sold, but Jimmy swears it will make us billionaires.  And he’s never lied to me.  Except for a few minor business deals.



29 Comments on “Best of the Best – Pass Rushers”

  1. 1 Alex Karklins said at 12:36 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    “Jimmy and Tommy’s PBR and Pudding Hour featuring: light commentary on the NFL”

  2. 2 Jack Waggoner said at 2:58 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    “Fuck That Shit” – now there’s an edgy title

  3. 3 Jack Waggoner said at 3:02 PM on July 7th, 2012:


  4. 4 Alex Karklins said at 6:33 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    “Blitzing the bEast”?

  5. 5 A_T_G said at 7:43 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    I saw that suggestion on Jimmy’s site the other day. I liked it.

  6. 6 Alex Karklins said at 8:18 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    Yeah, I probably saw the same thing. Much to lazy to check.

  7. 7 Alex Karklins said at 8:20 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    I’m sure I probably saw it in the same place. Too lazy to check.

  8. 8 T_S_O_P said at 1:33 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    Clyde ‘bodybagged’ a few QBs on his hits. I don’t take delight that he injured another player, but that huge wingspan coming in from the blindside in a contact sport was great to watch. KATHUMP!!!

  9. 9 juggadore said at 2:20 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    oops i gave this post -13 stars. didnt mean that…

  10. 10 ACViking said at 3:09 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    RE: Bill Bergey


    Bergey came to the Eagles in one of Mike McCormack’s terribly lopsided attempts to emulate his coaching mentor, George “The Future is Now” Allen. McCormack was Allen’s OL coach and shared playing time with with the great HOF coach Chuck Noll as Paul Brown’s “shuttle” guard, bringing in the plays called by Brown for Otto Graham.

    Before diving into Bergey, though, some background on what Allen and McCormack found when arriving in Washington and Philadelphia. Because I think all the history will put my view of Bergey, versus B&E and Trott, in context.

    When Allen took over the Redskins in 1971, he — unlike McCormack — had a ready-made set of “Triplets”: HOF QB Sonny Jurgensen, HOF WR Charlie Taylor, and All Pro HB Larry Brown. Allen’s offensive inheritance also included Pro Bowl TE Jerry Smith; the great FB Charlie Harraway; and on an O-line that included perennial Pro Bowl C Lenny Hauss, former All Pro OT Walker Rock, and OGs Ray Schoenke and Paul Laaveg. (Nonetheless, Allen traded the Saints for their gutsy QB Billy Kilmer in exchange for 1971 4th and 8th rounders, 1972 3rd and 4th rounders, and a 1973 2nd rounder, plus LB Tom Roussel. For reasons never explained, Allen did not like Jurgensen — who from time to time bailed out the ‘Skins with Geoge Blanda-like 4th Q victories, including one in 1974 against the Eagles.)

    On defense, Allen had HOF OLB Chris Hanburger, CBs Pat Fischer and Mike Bass, and S Brig Owen. That was it.

    So, to build up his defense, Allen traded a series of trades, giving up his 1971 1st, 3rd, and 4th round picks, 1972 5th and 6th rounders, 1973 5th rounder plus MLB (and future Eagle) Marlin McKeever, to the Rams for DT Diron Talbert, OLBs Jack Pardee and Maxie Baughn, MLB Miron Pottios, SS Richie Pettibone (and OG John Wilbur). Allen traded a 1971 5th rounder and 1973 2nd and 3rd rounders to Buffalo for the legendary AFL All Pro DT Ron McDole. Allen also gave up the ‘Skins 1972 No. 1 picks to the Jet for Pro Bowl DE Verlon “Big Verlon” Biggs and the Skins’ 1972 2nd rounder and 1973 1st rounder to the Colts for Pro Bowl WR Roy Jefferson, who’d both had sat out the 1971 season. [The draft picks may be off a bit — but not by much.]

    In Allen’s first year, he had the ‘Skins in the playoffs as a wildcard — when only 4 teams from each conference qualified. In year 2, Allen took the ‘Skins to the Super Bowl and started a run of 3-straight NFC East Titles, always beating out the Cowboys. Under Allen, the Skins were a playoff team for 5 of 7 years, never losing more than 6 games in a season (only once).

    Eventually, as the story goes, Redskins’ part-owner and president, the great lawyer Edward Bennett Williams, couldn’t stand Allen’s legendary paranoia, power struggles, and profligacy. Williams is said to have remarked about Allen, “I gave Allen an unlimited budget, and he exceeded it.”

    Back to Mike McCormack. And a comparison between what ‘Skins had in 1971 when Allen arrived to what McCormack found in the cupboard on arriving in Philadelphia in 1973.

    The Eagles had one . . . ONE . . . quality offensive player in All Pro WR Harold Jackson. That’s it.

    On the bench, though, was an angular 3rd-year receiver named Harold Carmichael, who’d started a total of 11 games in 2 years (5 at TE, 6 at WR). Carmichael — in McCormack’s view — made Jackson expendable.

    On defense, the Eagles had All Pro S Bill Bradley. No one else. That was all.

    But McCormack also thought he could pull a “future was now” trick.

    So he traded the Eagles’ 1st round picks in 1974 and 1975, a 1975 3rd rounder, plus All Pro WR Harold Jackson and FB Tony Backer to the Rams for 12th-year QB Roman Gabriel . . . who would lose his starting job 2.5 years into his Eagles career. A 5-for-1 deal that lost its bloom after just two seasons, when Gabriel was benched in McCormack’s last year as Eagles’ coach.

    McCormack traded the Eagles 1973 4th rounder and 1974 2nd and 6th rounders to the Colts for FB Norm Bulaich — who was gone after just 2 season.

    He also traded the Eagles 1975 2nd rounder to Buffalo for a third-year DT named Jerry Patton. Patton lasted just one season with the Eagles and was out of the NFL after 1975.

    Then came what had to be the worst — if not the dumbest — trade in Eagles’ history, and possible NFL history.

    Right after the 1974 draft, McCormack traded the Eagles’ 1976 1st rounder plus their 1975 6th rounder for . . . the Bengals’ 4th Round pick in the ’74 draft: QB Mike Boryla. The kid had just selected in ROUND FOUR (4), and McCormack was giving up a No. 1 for him (albeit 2 years away). A truly mystifying move.

    There were more trades before Eagles Owner Leonard Tose finally put us out of our misery and fired McCormack after a 2-11-1 record in the ’75 season.

    None of these moves amounted to much — except stripping the Eagles bare of draft picks.

    It was so bad that in McCormack’s last draft in1975, the Eagles had NO choices — ZERO — in the first 7 rounds. (Imagine T-Law doing an Eagles’ draft preview if that happened now . . . “PREDICTION: The Eagles will draft no one because the team’s traded all 7 picks in this years’ draft.”)

    In 1976, in Dick Vermeil’s first draft, his first selection came in Round Four. In 1977, his first choice came in Rd Five. In 1978, Vermeil’s first choice came in Rd Three.

    Okay, for those still bearing with me.

    McCormack’s “Future is Now” approach was not over.

    So . . . ON TO BILL BERGEY!!!

    Bill Bergey had been a 2nd round pick out of Arkansas State by the Bengals in 1969. He was an immediate, high impact player making the Pro Bowl as a rookie when it actually meant something.

    His competition in the AFL/AFC at MLB back then, before coming to the Eagles, were the likes of Dolphin HOF Nick Buoniconti, Chief’s HOF Willie Lanier, and the Colts All Pro Mike “the Animal” Curtis.

    Bergey was 6’4 245 lbs — as big as some D-linemen back then.

    But he was nimble. Powerful. Quick. Had great instincts. And he was a great leader. He played like Dick Butkus, trying to destroy opposing players.

    Imagine a bigger version of Ray Lewis.

    But after the 1973 season, Bergey wanted more money from the Bengals. So owner Paul Brown called his old shuttle guard, Mike McCormack, and offered him Bill Bergey. But . . . as it’s been said, “For a price, Ugarty. For a price.”

    By now, the Eagles had already traded their 1st round picks in 1974, 1975, and 1976 for just two players: QB Gabriel and QB Boryla — neither of whom contributed anything after 1977, once Dick Vermeil installed Ron Jaworski at QB. Gabriel was a backup through ’78. Boryla was out of the NFL in 1977, played in 1978 for the Bucs, and then never played again. MADDENING!!!!

    So McCormack — who obviously was no where near as good as Geo. Allen at this “future is now” crap — gave the Bengals the Eagles’ 1st rounders in both 1977 and 1978, and the Eagles 2nd round pick in 1978.

    So there’s the back drop. From 1973 – 1975, while McCormack was in charge, the Eagles traded FIVE 1st round picks, for just three players. Of those three, only Bergey gave the Eagles more than 2 years as a starter.

    And . . . what GREAT years those were.

    Bergey was a consensus All Pro in 1974 and 1975. He made the Pro Bowl (when it mattered) from 1974-1978, blowing out his knee in 1979.

    He could control a game from the MLB position like no one the Eagles have had since 1979.

    Until 1978, when Vermeil’s program really took hold, Bergey never have nearly the support in front of him that Byron Evans certainly had and which even Trotter had in his prime. Plus, there’s no question the offenses on Bergey’s Eagles were not very good.

    Maybe most important, both Evans and Trotter played under very good to great D-Coordinators in Buddy Ryan, Bud Carson, and Jim Johnson.

    Bergey played under Walt Michaels, later the Jets head coach, while McCormack was the coach. Then Jerry Wampfler in Vermeil’s first year in ’76. And then finally Marion Campbell for 2.5 years, before a knee injury that caused him to retire after the 1980 Super Bowl Run.

    Maybe Bergey’s best game came on MNF in the Eagles upset of the Cowboys in game 2 of the 1974 season. Bergey absolutely dominated the Dallas offense, accumulating 18 tackles. He tossed around the Dallas O-linemen like they were rag-dolls.

    The Eagles won that game 13-10 on CB Joe Lavendar’s 97 yard fumble return for a TD on a goal line turnover caused by great hit by Bergey on Doug Denison as he ran a sweep to the right.

    (here’s the entire game, with the play starting at the 2:11.00 mark.

    Given the talent around Bergey for the better part of his prime in Philadelphia, and having seen every Eagles MLB starting with Ron Porter 1970, I don’t think it’s even close.

    Put a healthy Bill Bergey on this Eagles defense . . . he’d even be an upgrade on DeMeco Ryan circa 2009.

    (To those who made it to the end of this post, I say that hard work is its own reward)

  11. 11 T_S_O_P said at 3:37 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    Great post.

  12. 12 Jack Waggoner said at 5:20 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    Enjoyed that… and I remember a lot of it too

  13. 13 HoneyGratz said at 5:53 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    I loved every word. Your post made me realize how lucky we are now compared to how depressing the team was back then. The fans who complain about the team now have no idea how dismal it was to have been an Eagles fan between 1962 until a year or two after Dick Vermeil arrived.

  14. 14 Alex Karklins said at 8:23 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    TL; DR. JK, GJ!

  15. 15 P_P_K said at 4:20 PM on July 8th, 2012:

    One of the best posts ever.

  16. 16 robin said at 10:38 AM on November 2nd, 2014:

    Spot on..Skip Sharp, Vermeil’s first pick (4th round) didn’t even make the team..
    Drafting guys in the 6th – 12th rounds like Montgomery, Hairston, Lemaster, Krepfle, C. Johnson, – building on the great ’73 draft and coaching them all to the playoffs 2 years before he had a 1st round pick is the best coaching job I’ve ever seen.

  17. 17 Ben Aven said at 5:45 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    Eagle Screech: Making your ears bleed green

  18. 18 Jack Waggoner said at 7:43 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    A good effort. You must be very talon-ted.

  19. 19 Ben Aven said at 10:44 AM on July 9th, 2012:

    Nah. I was just wing-ing it.

  20. 20 A_T_G said at 7:59 PM on July 7th, 2012:

    “Flipping the Birds” – maybe a little Eagles-centric

    “Cox, Balls, and Cunning Stunts” – should get you lots of unexpected traffic

    “Cowboys, Indians, and Giant Birds” – PC, what’s that?

    “No Flippin’ Celebrity Endorsements (NFCE)” – again, good for traffic, with a disclaimer that No Flippin’ Celebrity Endorsements (NFCE) bears no official tie to the NFCE, except that it is the best dang podcast out there.

  21. 21 Flyin said at 12:45 AM on July 8th, 2012:

    I would keep it basic and to the content.

    Bird Talk

    Eagles Real

    The Experience: Eagles In-Depth

  22. 22 Flyin said at 12:49 AM on July 8th, 2012:

    Eagles Reel could also be used.

  23. 23 Steve H said at 2:38 AM on July 8th, 2012:

    2 men, one pudding cup.

  24. 24 Craig Cooley said at 8:24 AM on July 8th, 2012:

    How bout “Bama and the Law”

  25. 25 Joe Hinchliffe said at 11:18 AM on July 8th, 2012:

    “Where Eagles (fans) Dare” (Iron Maiden baby!)

  26. 26 Joe Hinchliffe said at 12:56 PM on July 8th, 2012:

    “The Fundamentals of Bama Law” (featuring Juan Castillo on fundamentals and family dinners)

  27. 27 Arby1 said at 2:41 PM on July 8th, 2012:

    Bird Poop: Eagles Inside Scoop

    Tommy and Jimmy’s Excellent Eagle Extravaganza

  28. 28 juggadore said at 4:10 PM on July 8th, 2012:

    i nominate william thomas to “The Hall of Pretty Good”

  29. 29 mcud said at 6:33 PM on July 8th, 2012:

    Sgt. Willy Dunlop…dead at age 95.