Philadelphia Eagles Heading for Groundhog Day at QB


Mandatory Credit: Troy Taormina-USA TODAY Sports

Fans of the Philadelphia Eagles may start to equate the NFL Draft as Groundhog Day for their beloved franchise. Every time the Eagles switch quarterbacks, there is hope that this guy is “the one”. Having experienced the highs and lows of their last real franchise guy in quarterback Donovan McNabb.

The need to take the team to the Super Bowl again, thinning nerves and overall frustration continues to push bad agendas. This team can ill afford to bounce around the quarterback carousel, but they may need to settle for good not great while they retool a much maligned defense.

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The 2000’s were a period of relative quarterback stability for the Eagles. Drafted in 1999, within 2 years, McNabb had the Birds begin their dominance of the NFC East with multiple division titles and four consecutive NFC Championship games. The streak ended in 2004 with a trip (and loss) to the Super Bowl.

Along the way, McNabb worked with a collection of position players that didn’t always strike fear in their opponents. Save for running back Brian Westbrook, the rest of the offense ran off the legs and arm of McNabb. Having said that, the Eagles’ defense under then defensive coordinate Jim Johnson gave the Birds a potent combination that kept them consistently at the top of the NFL.

During McNabb’s tenure, games were lost to various injuries (leg, ankle, sports hernia), and the backup quarterbacks stepped up to varying success. Quarterback Koy Detmer never really got off the ground, but beginning in 2006, quarterback AJ Feeley began an ascent to that backup role. His best performance was taking over for McNabb in 2008, helping the Eagles maintain the #1 seed in the playoffs. That was also the last year they reached the NFC Championship game.

After McNabb’s departure, quarterback Kevin Kolb took over the reigns for a short time, after posting back-to-back 300 yard passing games. However, he was quickly supplanted by quarterback Michael Vick. Vick enjoyed a year of success under then head coach Andy Reid, but then settled into a decent but not great level. When Reid moved on from the team, and new head coach Chip Kelly came in, many believed Vick could run Kelly’s offense and bring the Birds back.

But an injury-prone Vick opened the door for quarterback Nick Foles. Foles came in and destroyed the Oakland Raiders to the tune of a 7 touchdown performance, forever memorialized in the NFL Hall of Fame alongside guys such as Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

That brings us to the present. Foles is technically the incumbent. However, the rumor mills continues to turn about the Kelly’s interest is “his quarterback”. It is highly unliked the Birds will trade up to get quarterback Marcus Mariota, but there are other QB’s in this draft that could fit the bill.

Keep in mind, with the early 2000’s teams, their defense many times made up for offensive deficiencies. Lately however, the defense hasn’t been able to hold up. The Eagles simply cannot afford to continue the QB carousel. Perhaps it makes sense to give Foles one more year.

Kelly has shown the ability to craft an offense around the quarterback. If Foles proves he can return to the 27-2 touchdown-interception performance from 2013, he may just be the guy to lead the Eagles for the future. This year, it needs to be about the defense.

The Eagles have a solid core of offensive position players. Put the draft needs where the team needs are – the defense. Hopefully, the team can avoid Draft Day becoming Groundhog Day for everyone.

Next: The Hypocrisy of the Eagles Potentially Trading for Mariota

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