The list of Eagles quarterbacks throughout the history of the franchise may include some names that the average fan of the National Football League is unfamiliar with, names like Glenn Frey, Davey O’Brien, and Stumpy Thomason way back in 1935. But the list of quarterbacks also includes some familiar names like Randall Cunningham, Michael Vick, and Nick Foles, who led the Eagles to a win at Super Bowl LII. This is the first time the Eagles had won a league title since the American Football League and the earlier National Football league merged in 1970.
With their new surge into prominence, perhaps there is renewed interest in the Eagles and their long, storied history of quarterbacks. In reality, the Eagles have long been a significant team, even if they had problems translating a good season record into Super Bowl appearances and wins. Fans of the Eagles know the hopes that were placed on Eagles quarterbacks like Donovan McNabb, expected to bring the franchise back to glory, but always seeming to fall short.
Why Are Quarterbacks So Important?
Naturally, the question of the best Eagles quarterbacks in the franchise's history begs another question: why should we care about quarterbacks at all? The quarterback just performs the plays that he is called from the coaches and the other members of the offense already know what to do, right? In reality, the quarterback is key not only to a successful offense but also to creating a cohesive team.
A quarterback needs a great arm and a great eye to be able to get the ball from point A to point B. The quarterback also needs to have a good rapport with his wide receivers, safeties, and other offensive players, they have to trust him and help him get the ball into the end zone.
What analysts of quarterbacks and the game of football also may note is that you can have a great quarterback who fails to achieve success with his team. A quarterback might be a Heisman Trophy winner or a star player in high school or college ball, but that does not always translate into success in the big leagues.
Some quarterbacks never quite manage to strike the right note with other players, coaches, and owners to lead the team to success. Leaving aside the fact that quarterbacks can and do call their own plays, they are the glue that holds the offense, and arguably the team, together.
Is Being An NFL Quarterback Too Easy?
Aside from the technical aspects of the role, the quarterback is in a difficult position. We have established that he is the glue holding the team together, and that’s true not only in terms of the other players on the team and the coaching staff, but also in terms of the fan.
When a team performs poorly, fans are quick to turn their eyes on the quarterback, whether or not he’s responsible. A likeable quarterback may draw support from fans even with a losing record, but if he isn’t careful, he’ll soon find his head on the chopping block.
Being an NFL quarterback isn’t easy and being an Eagles quarterback certainly isn’t a walk in the park either. Philadelphia Eagles fans are a loyal group who expect success from their franchise and are willing to push for change of quarterback if they feel it is needed.
This is part of why the role of quarterback is so important. He isn’t just the man passing the ball, he is perceived as the leader of the offense and a lack of faith in that leader by the rest of the offensive line can (and does) translate into a failure to clinch offensive success.
10 Best Eagles Quarterbacks Of All Time
Tackling the list of the best Eagles quarterbacks of all time isn’t easy, particularly as many fans will have their own sense of who stands out and who deserves to be on time. Followers of Eagles quarterbacks in recent years may also tend to place emphasis on more recent quarterbacks as the more distant names sort of slink off into the historical muck.
Remember, this franchise does date back to July 1933, making it one of the older franchises in the league. Without further ado, here is the list of best Eagles quarterbacks of all time.
#1 Randall Cunningham
Randall Cunningham is a name that stands out in the list of quarterbacks in this franchise. Although many football fans may remember him from his time with the Minnesota Vikings, Cunningham played 11 seasons with the Eagles, starting out in 1985 as their second-round draft pick. He set a number of franchise records, including the record for the longest punt in a 91-yard attempt against the Giants in 19189 (fourth-longest in NFL history).
#2 Nick Foles
Not yet 30-years old, Nick Foles is still early in his career, but he deserves his due toward the top of the list. Besides leading the Eagles to a win in the 2017 season, Nick Foles has a number of standout accomplishments during his time with the team. He is the first quarterback in the history of the National Football League to have a perfect passer rating and also have seven touchdown completions in one game.
#3 Donovan McNabb
Donovan McNabb was the Eagles quarterback fans expected to take them back to the top, and he came pretty close. He matches Randall Cunningham’s record of the number of seasons played with the team at 11, and led the team to NFC East championships five times and even to a Super Bowl appearance against the New England Patriots in the 2004 season. McNabb is arguably also on the list of best quarterbacks of the modern era with a number of records in the National Football League.
#4 Norm van Brocklin
Norm van Brocklin is one of only two names on this list of best Eagles quarterbacks to be inducted into the Pro Bowl Hall of fame. He led the Eagles to their third NFL Championship win way back in 1960, where the Eagles experienced a home field win against the Green Bay Packers. Keep in mind this was before the modern league was formed by merger of the AFL and NFL in 1970. Van Brocklin would also go on to coach.
#5 Ron Jaworski
Playing in the late 70s and early 80s, Ron Jaworski led the Eagles to four playoff appearances consecutively under head coach Dick Vermeil, securing his place in the list of best Eagles quarterbacks. The Jaworski-Vermeil team led the Eagles to their first NFC East victory in 1980, but they went on to fall against the Oakland Raiders in Super Bowl XV. Jaworski would go on to play another five seasons with the team.
#6 Carson Wentz
Carson Wentz debuted with the Philadelphia Eagles in the 2016 season after they drafted him with the #2 pick. He was quickly thrown into the proverbial lion’s den when the Eagles traded their quarterback Sam Bradford to the Vikings and made Carson the starter. He came off to a strong three-win start, but fell short during the rest of the 2016 season. His time as a starter may have been short due to injury, but he holds a number of franchise records for passing and completions in his rookie season.
#7 Michael Vick
Known also for his time with the Atlanta Falcons, Vick joined the Philadelphia Eagles in August 2009. He took over as starting Eagles quarterback the following year from Kevin Kolb, leading the Eagles to an NFC East Division title. He would be taken out with an injury in the 2013 season, but before then he managed to leave his mark on the team.
#8 Sonny Jurgensen
Sonny Jurgensen is the other man on this list of Eagles quarterbacks who is also in the Pro Bowl Hall of Fame. Jurgensen played seven seasons with the team, from 1957 to 1963, back before the formation of the modern day National Football League. He holds franchise records for yards over pass attempts during his career and for a single game.
#9 Jeff Garcia
Jeff Garcia is quarterback who first played with the Calgary Stampeders of the Canadian Football League. He has played a total of 18 seasons, with his longest stint in the NFL coming with the San Francisco ‘49ers. An undrafted player, Garcia only played two seasons with the Eagles, but led the team to the playoffs in 2006 after stepping in for Donovan McNabb.
# 10 Roman Gabriel
Some football historians consider Roman Gabriel to be one of the best quarterbacks to fill the position in the 60s and 70s. He played five seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles. Although modern fans of the Eagles (and football) may be less familiar with Gabriel, he still ranks among the best quarterbacks in football history with a low interception percentage.
Though Philadelphia Eagles fans may tell you that it isn’t always easy being a fan of the team, at least they can say that they have had a stellar run of quarterbacks. Some of these quarterbacks led the team to division and championship titles while others fell short. Whatever their records, these quarterbacks are not only standouts in the franchise, but in American football as a sport.