Jeffery Lurie acquired the Philadelphia Eagles in 1994, the year I was born, and in my lifetime, he’s had quite a few strange quarterbacks.
When you think of Eagles quarterbacks, names like Donovan McNabb, Randall Cunningham, or more recently, Carson Wentz, may come to mind, but the last 28 years have had some more unusual guest stars.
In the spirit of Hollywood, which the former producer Lurie would have to appreciate, it’s time to take a look at some of the oddest quarterback journeys Philadelphia’s owner has financed.
A couple of rules. I only considered quarterbacks who started a minimum of five games, so Vince Young and Gardner Minshew are out, regardless of how enticing those stories have been.
Since ’94, 17 total signal-callers would qualify under these imaginary guidelines, but I’ve taken the liberty of eliminating all members of the Detmer family.
So I was hoping you could turn off your Spotify podcasts and engage in the written word with me. Let’s get started.
It may come as a surprise, but Mike McMahon inadvertently changed Philadelphia forever.
His brief stint in Philadelphia may even be responsible for the first Super Bowl in franchise history. Let me explain.
Former Eagles head coach Andy Reid never seemed too concerned in securing a capable backup quarterback with McNabb at the helm. McMahon changed that.
Following a season-ending hernia injury to McNabb in 2005, the Eagles watched the former Rutgers star stumble to a dull 2-5 finish.
McMahon completed just 45.4% of his passes in eight appearances while accounting for a paltry 128.7 yards per game.
His 4.3 adjusted yards per play was second-worst in the NFL, behind only Kyle Orton. Yeesh.
So as the Eagles plummeted out of the playoff picture, so was McMahon’s legacy cemented.
Reid would bring in the likes of Jeff Garcia and A.J. Feely, a lesson he would eventually pass down to his apprentice, Doug Pederson – the man who brought Nick Foles back to Philadelphia. The rest is history.
Ultimately, McMahon would play his final days of professional football in Sweden for the Uppsala 86ers, never returning to the NFL and retiring in 2013. Still, if you can point to a moment that changed the position of backup quarterback in Philadelphia, it starts here.
Thank you for all you did, Mr. Mike.
Enter media-darling, Jeff Garcia.
This story added a new chapter last week.
The author couldn’t leave well enough alone like an unfinished script, and Garcia’s brush-up with ESPN’s Mina Kimes has undoubtedly left a black eye on his relationship with the city. Still, there was a time that he transformed himself into a hero in Philadelphia.
Nick Foles would eventually perfect the role, but Garcia created the character. The unlikely hero enters the fray, all but written off. Next thing you know, he’s won over the city, if even just for a short time.
Following another season-ending injury to McNabb, Garcia inspired a five-game winning streak to wrap up the 2006 campaign at 10-6, earning a playoff berth and an adoring, inebriated fanbase along the way.
His 10-2 T.D. to INT ratio netted him a passer rating of 95.8, the second-best mark of his eleven-year career.
Although Garcia ultimately fell short in the Divisional Round to the New Orleans Saints, for a brief time, he captured the city, never to be heard from again. Until you know, last week.
Oh well, we’ll always have the memories.
Ah, the playoff sherpa.
Foles’ tenure in Philadelphia came with a sequel and the second movie is always better than the original.
From his 27-2 T.D. to INT season under Chip Kelly to his triumphant return and eventual Super Bowl MVP, Foles will forever go down as one of the most positively reviewed Philadelphia sports figures ever.
Foles has averaged 11.4 yards per completion and a touchdown on 5.2% of his pass attempts in six total playoff games while owning a 98.8 playoff passer rating. That’s the 8th best in NFL history, and I’m going to repeat myself.
Foles, a man who’s started the game equivalent of just 3.5 NFL seasons, has the 8th best passer rating in playoff history. That’s strange.
And unlike the rest of this list, Foles is still kicking around the NFL, so who knows – maybe Philadelphia hasn’t seen the last of the man who took them to the mountain top.
The one that got away, or really, the hunk that couldn’t pull off a dramatic monologue.
In 2007, Reid made Kolb the third quarterback drafted behind Jamarcus Russell and Brady Quinn and heir apparent to the incumbent McNabb.
In Kolb’s first two starts, he eclipsed 300 yards twice, which made him the first quarterback to accomplish that feat, with a completion percentage of 65%.
He did turn the ball over three times, but there was plenty to get fans excited.
Heading into 2010 and the end of the McNabb era, Kolb took over as the Eagles’ clear starter for the future. That didn’t last long.
Kolb was forced out of action after just ten pass attempts against the Green Bay Packers due to a concussion, effectively kickstarting Michael Vick’s tenure.
Kolb eventually found his way to Arizona via trade, and injuries followed, with concussions finally ending the former Houston Cougars’ career.
It’s just sad to imagine an alternate timeline in which we get to see Kolb ride the Eagles through the 2010s. He does still hold a couple of records, though.
Honorable Mention – A.J. Feeley
Feeley’s another boomerang to the Philadelphia organization. He often accepted third billing but was never disappointing.
In 2002, Feeley received his moment centerstage following injuries to McNabb and Koy Detmer. Other than Lurie’s mysterious career as a movie producer, McNabb getting hurt has been the theme of this article.
Feeley was serviceable as the Eagles won four of their final five regular-season games. The strangest thing about Feeley was the return he fetched.
After a relatively limited sample, the Eagles flipped him for a second-round pick from the Miami Dolphins. That turned into wideout Reggie Brown which isn’t half bad for a third-string quarterback.
Philadelphia fans were never more pleased with the former Miami Dolphin than when he took an underwhelming 2007 Eagles’ team within a score of ruining the New England Patriots’ perfect season.
All told, Feeley just hung around the organization, and that’s a suitable career if you ask me. Everyone loves a character actor.
Greg McWilliams/Icon Sportswire