All the Way

Posted: July 9th, 2017 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 19 Comments »

When  you think about the Eagles and certain positions, you can’t help but start with pass rushers. From Dennis Harrison and Claude Humphrey on the first Super Bowl team to Ken Clarke and Greg Brown in the mid-80’s to Reggie, Clyde and Seth later in the decade. Then came William Fuller and Andy Harmon. Hugh Douglas. Trent Cole. Fletcher Cox. Connor Barwin. Brandon Graham. That’s pretty amazing.

Mobile QBs are another special group. Randall Cunningham showed just how devastating a talented runner-passer can be. Donovan McNabb wasn’t as dynamic, but won postseason games. Michael Vick was here for a short time, but had flashes of greatness. We’ve only seen Carson Wentz for a season, but he showed big time potential, as a passer and runner.

One other position where the Eagles stack up against any team is return specialists. I wrote about the great ones for PE.com.

It was fun to watch clips of the players and their returns, as well as looking up all the numbers. That’s what made me put up the post about Brian Mitchell on Saturday.

The Eagles also had some outstanding returners who played here at the end of their careers.

  • Mel Gray – 1997
  • Ollie Matson – 1964, 1966
  • Irving Fryar – 1996-98
  • Herschel Walker – 1992-94
  • Brad Smith – 2013-2014

Walker did have a kickoff return go for a TD in 1994.

Smith had been a good KOR for the Bills, but the Eagles focused on him as a cover guy.

There were a couple of young players who became good returners. Quintin Demps spent a year with the Eagles. He ran a KO back for a score and averaged 25 yards per return, but his DB issues cost him his job. Demps matured after leaving the Eagles and got better as a DB and KOR. Allen Rossum was with the team for two years and then was traded to Green Bay after the Eagles signed Brian Mitchell. Rossum is one of the most productive RS in history, but did move around a lot. He played for six teams in his career and has a return TD with five different teams.

I have to mention Derrick Witherspoon as well. He was the KOR when the STs weren’t very good (’95-’97). He ran 3 kickoffs back for TDs, but never had a great average. With better blocking, he might have become a consistently good KOR.

Josh Huff averaged 28 yards per KOR for the Eagles, but it is hard to know how much of that was him and how much was the blocking. He was replaced by Kenjon Barner and Wendell Smallwood. Barner averaged 30 yards per KOR and Smallwood ran one back for a TD. That tells you the overall STs unit was really key to Huff’s success. Huff did little in Tampa last year, but joining a team midseason is tough. We’ll find out more about him by his performance this year.

*****

I was shocked to see how little Brian Westbrook got used as a RS. He was such an important player and had his knee issues so I don’t blame Andy Reid for not exposing him to big hits in the open field. Still, it is crazy to think he only returned 39 punts in his career. Two of them went for TDs. In 2007 he ran a punt back 64 yards against Seattle. That almost won the game. He put the team at the SEA 14-yard line with 1:16 left. Unfortunately A.J. Feeley threw an INT and the Eagles lost 28-24. Winning that game would have added to the legend of Westbrook.

We’ll always have this.

_


  • Someguy77

    NFL channel has in ‘NFL’s Greatest Games’ with an episode on the 2003 NFC Divisional game vs Packers (of course 4 & 26 with ‘FredEx delivering’:

    – Fans forgot how great McNabb was in that game running for a then record 107 yards for QB and essentially carrying the offense all day long
    – McNabb’s toughness – he got sacked 8 times and hit 15 times besides all the running plays
    – Eagles front 7 getting manhandled all day long and giving over 212 rushing yards with most of it in the strong side
    – Reid’s stupid play calling including 10 scripted running plays being called at the 2:00 warning in the 4th quarter in a then 17-14 game (great cuteaway to Duce about ‘of course they had no respect for our running formations’)
    – Favre’s horrendous INT in OT saying it was a ‘miscommunication’ and placing blame on Walker; really was Favre just making a really stupid throw off his back foot under pressure Amin which he still refused to accept primary responsibility for it

    • Someguy77

      Mike Sherman saying he had 3 critical decisions and he missed on all of them.

      2 really good teams which could have won the Super Bowl but really hindered by their 2 head coaches

      Still value Reid’s tenure and his overall ability as a head coach but he doesn’t deserve to be considered a HOF coach because of how he has performed in the playoffs.

      • daveH

        Still value Reid’s tenure and his overall ability as a head coach but he doesn’t deserve to be considered a HOF coach because of how he has performed in the playoffs.
        Upvote.

        Still value Reid’s tenure and his overall ability as a head coach but he doesn’t deserve to be considered a HOF coach because of how he has performed in the playoffs.
        Upvote.

        Still value Reid’s tenure and his overall ability as a head coach but he doesn’t deserve to be considered a HOF coach because of how he has performed in the playoffs.
        Upvote.

        Repeat

      • Guy Media

        Some of Reid’s playoff chokes (2002 v. Tampa, 2003 v. Carolina 2008 v. Arizona, 2010 v. Green Bay) were absolutely maddening, but the guy does have a career 11-12 playoff record. I can’t flame him endlessly.

    • Ryan Rambo

      Ahhh Javon Walker!! I remember alot of buzz w/ wanting him to land in Philly after his contract dispute with Green Bay.
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Javon_Walker

    • bobeph

      mcnabb sucked in that game, freddy had to make an acrobatic catch to save the day, and then favre gave it away

      • Gary Barnes

        We saw much different games apparently

      • Flyin

        STFU! McNabb is the GOAT! That’s why he may eventually get on a ballot…

    • Guy Media

      I’m the first person to flame play calling when it doesn’t work AND isn’t what I would have done, but that team had no WR talent and was missing the most important skill guy; Westbrook. We shouldn’t forget how important he was that year and hos hurtful his injury vs. Washington was in the season finale.

    • Guy Media

      “(great cuteaway to Duce about ‘of course they had no respect for our running formations’)”

      I wouldn’t respect Duce in a running formation either. It was a mistake to get rid of Watters as fast as we did and Duce was never as good as Westbrook either. Duce was best as a committee back, but not really every dynamic enough to be a feature back on a contenting team. He was outplayed by Buck in all of 2001 as well.

    • Stephen E.

      Don’t you mean “10 scripted passing plays”? There were no runs on that last drive other than one by McNabb that was probably a scramble.

  • Gary Barnes

    Kearse? Simon? Babin?

    • wee2424

      Kearse was good for us WHEN he was on the field. Simon was a very effective pass rusher for a DT minus 1 year here I believe. Even posting 10 sacks one year. That is outstanding for a DT. That is something you would expect from Cox on a good year. Babin had 18 sacks his first year here. 2nd year wasn’t as outlandish, but he was still getting sacks and creating pressure

      In the short time, and when all 3 of them were on the field they were good to great pass rushers, despite if you personally liked them or not, or how bad they were in run D.

  • wee2424

    How about D-Jax?

    • Insomniac

      Why is there going to be backlash and shots fired in the first place? Both guys were great players and are among the top 5 in franchise history at their respective position.

      • wee2424

        I was quasi joking around about it.

    • Guy Media

      D Jax stomping a mud hole in the heats of all Giants fans, as B West did, was amazing.

      • wee2424

        I will never forget that moment. I smile everytime I think back on it not just because how magical that moment was, but because the people I was around.

  • Stephen E.

    Ugh. Thanks for reminding me of that game. Could have won it several ways.
    – Getting the single foot they needed to put 36 in the end zone at the end of the first half.
    – RUNNING the ball on first down when they had 1:13 of clock on the SEA 14. Instead, Reid runs it on second down when a sack had already backed them up a yard. Then Feeley throws his FOURTH INT. Your QB has thrown three INTs. Put the ball in the hands of your best playmaker– 36. Curtis was also hot, but you couldn’t have trusted that QB to get the ball to him. Westbrook was probably a little winded after than long return, but giving Buck the ball on first down (as they did on 2nd down) would have still probably given better results than that sack.