Some Eagles History

Posted: June 22nd, 2013 | Author: | Filed under: Philadelphia Eagles | 11 Comments »

For my column this week, I decided to write about some Eagles history.

One of the things I wrote about was Greasy Neale’s “Eagle Defense”. Since we hired Bill Davis and put in the 4-3 Under, I’ve been doing a lot of research on the evolution of defenses over the years. If you look at the Eagle Defense (from the 1940’s), you can see bits of both the 46 Defense and the 4-3 Under in it. The 46 is an under shift with a LB stack to it and the 4-3 Under are cousins.

I also covered Bucko Kilroy. Legend. He would be a great subject for a book if you had the time and resources to do all the interviews.

A smart reader/commenter over at called The Flying Dutchman added this:

“Great article Tommy.  A couple observations if I may.

When Bucko came into the league he was 240lbs but actually played between 250 and 260.  That made him one of the biggest guys in the NFL.  He was an All-Star at G but also once at MG on D.  He was a mean dude, but at MG (playing between Sears and Wistert at DT and Pihos an Ferranti at DE) he would sometimes drop back, thus creating the NFL’s FIRST 4-3-4 D.  On the scouting angle he was an innovator BUT he actually learned all that from Greasy Neale.  You see besides inventing the Eagle D, using Pihos as the first TE and the first uses of the 4-3, Greasy was well known for being the one to invent modern scouting.  He was famous already back in the early forties for showing up on draft day with 60-70 books detailing the pros and cons of all the college eligible draftees.  Heck, he was famous for using that to steal Van Buren in the ’44 draft.”

I need to do more reading on Greasy Neale. Hadn’t heard about him and the scouting before.  Smart Eagles fans are such a huge help. We’re lucky to have guys like AC Viking and The Flying Dutchman.

* * * * *

You know I love and obsess on the draft. I came up with a weird idea this year for the first time. I decided to put together 2 groups. The picks right before the Eagles and the picks right after the Eagles. Those groups would be random because they would be different teams with different needs and different systems, but it was fun to compare the three.


1 – OT Lane Johnson
2 – TE Zach Ertz
3 – DL Bennie Logan
4 – QB Matt Barkley
5 – SS Earl Wolff
7 – DE Joe Kruger
7 – CB Jordan Poyer
7 – DL David King

Picks ahead of the Eagles

1 – LB Dion Jordan (Miami)
2 – WR Justin Hunter (Tennessee)
3 – LB Sio Moore (Oakland)
4 – LB Zaviar Gooden (Tennessee…final pick of 3rd Rd)
5 – RB Denard Robinson (Jacksonville)
7 – TE Michael Williams (Detroit)
7 – LB Armonty Bryant (Cleveland)
7 – WR Aaron Mallette (Baltimore)

Picks behind the Eagles

1 – DE Ziggy Ansah (Detroit)
2 – CB Darius Slay (Detroit)
3 – CB Leon McFadden (Cleveland)
4 – ILB Nico Johnson (Kansas City)
5 – DT Jesse Williams (Seattle)
7 – LB Mike Mauti (Minnesota)
7 – TE D.C. Jefferson (Arizona)
7 – OT Reid Fragel (Cincinnati)

Is there one group that jumps out at you?

It will be fun to look back in a couple of years and see how these groups have panned out. My point isn’t to say the Eagles had interest in the guys taken right before or after them and either missed out or chose poorly.  Some of the players in the two lists are guys the Eagles had no interest in.

This is just an exercise for enjoyment. Which group do you like best? Which group turns out best?

Maybe through an oddball way of looking at things we’ll see some new pattern or get an idea for the future.


11 Comments on “Some Eagles History”

  1. 1 ACViking said at 3:13 PM on June 22nd, 2013:

    RE: Note on the Eagles Connection to the Super Bowl III


    What a wonderful article over at I especially liked your link between SB coaches and the Eagles. (Particularly the tid-bit on the fortunate John Madden and Dutch Van Brocklin, and how Tom Coughlin, who spent more time in green than Madden, is NOT a part of the Eagles family . . . DAMN STRAIGHT.)

    Anyway, you mentioned the 1968 Jets upset of the Colts.

    The Jets defense — as you noted — was coached by future Eagles DC Walt Michaels, who joined the Eagles in ’73 under new HC Mike McCormack. (And the Jets DL coach was a guy named Buddy.)

    Putting aside the dreadful game Colts QB — and NFL MVP — Earl Morrall played (and he was just terrible), there was another “Michaels” who played a crucial role in SB-III.

    That would be LOU MICHAELS — the Colts PK and back-up DE.

    Lou Michaels is also the brother of then-Jets DC Walt Michaels.

    Michaels missed two 1st-half FGs — one from 27 and one from 46 yards. The Colts had 5 turnovers that day. Reached the Red Zone 5 times, but scored only once. And had the two missed FGs.

    But as badly as the Colts played that day, if Michaels hits just one of the two FGs, then the Colts would have had a chance to win — having recovered an on-side kick with about 5 minutes to go and trailing 16-7 following their only TD on a 1-yard run by Jerry Hill on a drive led by Johnny Unitas.

    Unitas replaced Morrall late in Q-3. Shula’s said that when the first half ended, even before reaching the locker room, he’d decided to replace Morrall with Unitas. But Shula changed his mind, thinking the journeyman Morrall’s magic displayed all season would return.

    In the first half, Morrall led the Colts inside the Jets Red Zone 3 times and inside the Jets 40 5 times. But Morrall just couldn’t get the ball in the EZ. By the time Unitas entered the game, the Jets led 16-0. Morrall finished 6-17-3 for 71 yds.

    By the way, both the Michaels boys were from Swoyersville, PA — about 120 miles from Philadelphia. That’s Eagles territory.

  2. 2 ACViking said at 4:24 PM on June 22nd, 2013:

    Re: Some Eagles SB Connections to the KC Chiefs – 1969


    On the subject of D-coordinators, the Chiefs — winners of SB IV over the Vikings in the last NFL v. AFL SB — had a strong Eagles connection. A a couple of draftees with an Eagles connection, too.

    In 1969, the Chiefs had a future HOF CB named Emmitt Thomas — a free agent out of tiny Bishop College in Marshall, TX. Thomas later moved into coaching and became the Eagles D-Coordinator under Ray Rhodes from ’95-’99.

    The Chiefs also had a couple Eagles’ draft picks.

    There was 6x All Pro OG Ed Budde from Mich State. Budde was the Eagles’ No. 1 pick in the ’63 draft, number four overall. But Budde chose the AFL. (In the ’64 draft, the Eagles selected future HOF OT Bob Brown number two overall from Nebraska. Imagine the combo he’d have formed with Budde — blocking for HB Timmy Brown and FB Tom Woodeshick.)

    In the 1965 draft the Eagles selected in Rd 15 a 6’3″ 215 lb WR from Prairie View A&M named Otis Taylor. Imagine Larry Fitzgerald and you have a clear vision of Otis Taylor. But Taylor too went to the Chiefs, where he had an All Pro career. The next year, in 1966, the Eagles selected a WR from AZ State named Ben Hawkins — just a shade smaller than Taylor. They’d have been dominant in green.

  3. 3 micksick said at 4:41 PM on June 22nd, 2013:

    i really wanted justin hunter, but so far hunter has been pulling hamstrings and missed a bunch of practices already, you know what? i dont remember hearing about any eagles pulling a hammy, maybe chips workout routines are working

  4. 4 ACViking said at 4:43 PM on June 22nd, 2013:


    Here’s a link to a NYTimes article running through the evolution of the 4-3 defense — starting with the Eagles’ own Greasy Neale’s adjustment . . . later exploited by the Cleveland’s great Paul Brown but stopped by the Giants’ player-coach Tom Landry.

    Great stuff. And pictures, too.

  5. 5 ICDogg said at 5:46 PM on June 22nd, 2013:

    Yep, the entire Jene Bramel series is worth reading. I did not realize until well after reading his posts about defenses (originally on the site but later polished up for the NY Times) that he is also a doctor and also has a blog about football injuries.

  6. 6 GEagle said at 11:59 AM on June 23rd, 2013:

    Wow..thanks for those links guys. Awesome Sunday reading

  7. 7 GEagle said at 9:08 PM on June 22nd, 2013:

    Overall I think I am happy with the Eagles picks… Round by round winner:

    1)ahead of Eagles(Dion Jordan)..although I’m really pleased with Lane
    2) Eagles(Ertz)
    3)Ahead of Eagles(Sio) I was very high on him, and he did not disappoint in Ota
    4)Eagles(Barkley) IMO Great Value
    5)Eagles(wolff) Big Jesse Fan, but I think Earl can be a gem, his Charecter gets him the Nod over tattoo face with the bum knee
    7)behing(Fragel)..bearcats do well in Philly..
    Ahead of Eagles: 2 picks
    behind Eagles: 1 pick
    Eagles: 5 picks.
    its encouraging for me that the only player we could have had that I liked and missed out on was Fragel, the last pick, and that 5 times I prefer the player we chose over the guy that got picked right ahead of us…Who knows how it all pans out, but to me, where we stand today, it looks like a good draft by howie/gamble/chip productions

  8. 8 Brit_Bill said at 9:15 AM on June 23rd, 2013:

    Reid Fragel was an Ohio State Buckeye (the Cincinatti in the article is the Bengals who drafted him) which is quite interesting too, Brian Rolle and Kurt Coleman (round 6 in 2011 and round 7 in 2010 respectively) both showed potential at times for such late picks

  9. 9 GEagle said at 9:21 AM on June 23rd, 2013:

    Thanks..will edit

  10. 10 Tumtum said at 11:17 AM on June 23rd, 2013:

    I liked McFadden and Johnson. The value on Barkley could prove to be insane though. Fairly insane that Jordan was snagged by Mia like that. Chip made it pretty clear he was our guy. Sort of surprising then they didn’t go Mingo or Ansah then, but I guess they weren’t close. Crazy to me because I was never a big Jordan guy… But what do I know. I think Ansah will be capable of standing out and shining in Det more so anyway.

    I also feel almost as good about Poyer now as I did McFadden. Green tinted goggles I’m sure.

  11. 11 GEagle said at 11:48 AM on June 23rd, 2013:

    I knew how much better McFadden was physically than Poyer going into the draft, but I honestly had the similarly rated, so to get Poyer where we got him was a coupe ATleast in my eyes