Ray's Replies: Top 8 seasons for Eagles QBs

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Ray's Replies: Top 8 seasons for Eagles QBs
February 10, 2013, 10:00 am
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Sports Movies Night

You can join Ray Didinger of CSNPhilly.com and Glen Macnow of WIP for a sports movies night at the Eagles Nova Care Complex on Wednesday, February 13th with the proceeds going to charity.

Didinger and Macnow will host an evening that features classic scenes from some of the best sports movies of all-time, including Rocky, Hoosiers, The Natural, Million Dollar Baby and others. Didinger and Macnow, who authored
"The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies" will share little-known details about the making of these films and also answer questions from the audience.

Tickets cost $50 and each person who attends will receive a gift copy of "The Ultimate Book of Sports Movies," a $20 value. Didinger and Macnow will sign each book.

Doors open at 6 p.m. and the program starts at 6:30. It will be held in the auditorium at the NovaCare Complex. Light snacks will be provided following the program in the Eagles' cafeteria.

Money raised will benefit the Eagles Youth Partnership and City Year Greater Philadelphia. It will help fund the Eagles Eye Mobile and Eagles Book Mobile as well as other EYP outreach programs. The event is part of the Eagles Radiothon, an annual event on WIP Sportsradio.

Tickets can be obtained by contacting the Eagles Youth Partnership or WIP or going to the following link:


Q. Could there be an argument that Roman Gabriel has the best single season by an Eagles quarterback? When he came, the Eagles had the No. 1 offense and it was a different time.


A. Interesting question, Dan. Roman Gabriel had a very good season in 1973, the year he was acquired in a trade with the Los Angeles Rams. It is hard to believe that was 40 years ago. Wow. But it wasn’t the best season ever for an Eagles quarterback. I don’t think it is even close.

Here is my ranking of the best seasons by an Eagles quarterback. For the purposes of this list, I’ll take each quarterback’s best season. In other words, there won’t be three Randall Cunningham seasons or three Donovan McNabb seasons. I’m taking each quarterback’s best season and comparing those.

This is purely my opinion. Feel free to disagree.

1. Norm Van Brocklin, 1960

Unless you were here to see it, you can’t appreciate how great Van Brocklin was in 1960. The numbers don’t begin to tell the story. He completed 54 percent of his passes for 2,471 yards and 24 touchdowns. By today’s NFL standards, those numbers don’t look like much.

But it was a different game back then. For one thing, it was a 12-game season so 24 touchdown passes meant two per game. Only one quarterback, John Unitas in Baltimore, topped Van Brocklin that season with 25. Bart Starr, who quarterbacked Green Bay, had four touchdown passes. Teams didn’t throw the ball as much. The stats reflect that.

But what makes Van Brocklin’s season stand above all others is something that cannot be measured in numbers. It was his leadership, his brilliance as a play-caller, his ability to deliver in the clutch. The Eagles came from behind in the fourth quarter to win week after week (including the championship game against the Packers) and it was because Van Brocklin simply refused to let them lose.

Van Brocklin let it be known he planned to retire after the 1960 season. At 34, he was ready to hang up the cleats. But he was determined to go out on top and his teammates who idolized him didn’t want to let him down. He inspired average players to play like champions. The Eagles went 10-2 and Van Brocklin was a landslide choice for MVP.

2. Donovan McNabb, 2004

McNabb set career-highs in touchdown passes (31), completion percentage (64.0) and efficiency rating (104.7) in leading the Eagles to the Super Bowl. He also became the first QB in league history to throw more than 30 touchdown passes and fewer than 10 interceptions (he threw eight) in the same season. He set a league record by completing 24 consecutive passes, breaking the mark set by Joe Montana. He set an Eagles record with 464 yards passing yards in one game, a 47-17 rout of Green Bay. He could have padded his stats but he sat out the last two games as Andy Reid rested his regulars for the playoffs.

3. Randall Cunningham, 1990

Sports Illustrated called Cunningham “The Ultimate Weapon” and he lived up to that in 1990 when he accounted for 69.8 percent of the Eagles' offense. He threw 30 touchdown passes (second in the NFL behind Warren Moon) and he ran for 942 yards to finish fourth in the NFC. He led the Eagles in rushing for the fourth consecutive year and he became the first QB in team history to pass for more than 3,000 yards in three straight seasons. He won the Bert Bell Award as NFL Player of the Year. John Madden called him “a one-man gang” and it was an accurate description.

4. Ron Jaworski, 1980

Jaws led the NFC in passing with a career-high 27 touchdowns and 91.0 efficiency rating. He outperformed future Hall of Famers Joe Montana (15 touchdowns, 87.8 rating), Dan Fouts (84.6) and Terry Bradshaw (24, 75.1). Jaws came to Philadelphia from the Rams with the nickname “The Polish Rifle.” He was a strong-armed gunslinger who made a lot of mistakes. But Jaws matured under coach Dick Vermeil and it all came together for him in 1980. He led the Eagles to their first Super Bowl and earned NFL Player of the Year honors.

5. Tommy Thompson, 1948

I wasn’t around to see it but I’ll trust the numbers. As a T-formation quarterback, Thompson had a brilliant season in 1948. The Eagles were primarily a running team with Hall of Famer Steve Van Buren, but Thompson led the league with 25 touchdown passes, a stunning number for a 12-game season. Washington’s Sammy Baugh was second with 22 touchdown passes. No one else in the league had more than 14. Thompson capped the season by leading the Eagles to their first NFL championship.

6. Sonny Jurgensen, 1961

Jurgensen was an unknown when he took over at quarterback following Van Brocklin’s retirement but in his first season as a starter he passed for 3,723 yards to lead the league. He threw 32 touchdown passes to set an Eagles record that still stands today. He passed for more than 300 yards in five different games and he topped 400 yards twice. He may be the best pure passer in franchise history.

7. Michael Vick, 2010

Vick wrote a remarkable comeback story as he took over for Kevin Kolb and played the best football of his career. In 12 starts, Vick set personal highs in completion percentage (62.6) and passer rating (100.2). He won four games with fourth-quarter comebacks, including a 38-31 win over the New York Giants in which he brought the Eagles back from 21 points down in the last eight minutes. His 21 touchdown passes and nine rushing touchdowns were career highs.

8. Roman Gabriel, 1973

Sorry, Dan, but I couldn’t rank Gabe’s best season any higher than this. It was, however, a very good season. He was 33 when the Eagles acquired him from the Rams and he was thought to be in decline but he established career-highs in completions (270), completion percentage (58.7) and yards (3,219). He led the league in passing yards and touchdowns (23) and earned Comeback Player of the Year honors. The only problem was the Eagles defense gave up points (393) faster than he could score them, so the team finished with a 5-8-1 record.

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