Philadelphia Eagles offensive weapon talented wasted by a defensive mind
Before Michael Vick, Lamar Jackson, Patrick Mahomes, and Donovan McNabb amazed the audiences with their flashy moves and big arms, there was Randall Cunningham, one of the first and greatest dual-threat quarterbacks in the modern NFL’s history.
The Eagles selected him in the second round of the 1985 draft. Cunningham played in six games as Ron Jaworski’s backup, and in those six games, his numbers weren’t great. Try 548 passung yards passing, one touchdown, and eight interceptions on for size.
His arm didn’t excite the fans or the media, but he was sure entertaining to watch as a scrambler. Buddy Ryan was hired by the Eagles in 1986, and Cunningham became the full-time starter in Week 10 of that season. He showed ability as a playmaker as he finished second on the team in rushing yards in 1986 with 540.
Over the course of the next three seasons, he passed for 9,994 yards, 68 touchdowns versus 43 interceptions, and he added 1,750 rushing yards and 13 rushing touchdowns with his legs. In two of those three seasons (1988 and 1989), he’d lead the Eagles to two playoff appearances. He was sacked a lot during that time, 156 times in those three seasons, but he proved to be a natural playmaker on a team where the offense was just an afterthought. Cunningham was simply asked to “go out there and make three or four big plays on offense.”
In 1990, Rich Kotite would be hired as the new offensive coordinator, and Cunningham would put up his best numbers as Eagles quarterback that year. (3466 passing yards, 30 touchdowns, 13 interceptions, 942 rushing yards (that led the team), and five rushing touchdowns.
Oh, and by the way, no Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver in the Buddy Ryan ers achieved more than 1,000 yards receiving. Still, Cunningham’s place in history is secure. He’s one of the most dynamic quarterbacks to play the game of football, and with the rule changes that have been made, it would be nice to see what he could have done in this era.