Will Nick Foles lead the Birds to the Super Bowl or play like garbage? I don’t know. I think enough has been written about that. Let’s just see what happens next weekend.
Bittersweet or not, we’ll eventually look back at this Eagles season with fondness, as the 2017 squad finished 13-3 to tie the best regular season record in franchise history.
They put plenty of new entries into the record books, courtesy of the Eagles’ PR staff, who distributed the final statistical and record document of the season this week.
Here’s what I found in those 57 pages:
The Birds scored 457 points this season, good for second all-time behind Chip Kelly’s 2014 squad. The 53 total touchdowns was also second to the 2014 team, though 38 passing touchdowns easily overtook the 1990 squad for most in franchise history.
Carson Wentz finished with a team record 33 touchdown passes, and he did it in less than a full season, besting the mark posted by Sonny Jurgensen in 1961. Wentz added four 300+ yard passing games, falling one shy of the record shared by Jurgensen, Donovan McNabb, and Sam Bradford.
He threw for 3,296 yards in 13 games this season, which disappointingly kept him out of the top-10. Two more games might have pushed him past last year’s total of 3,782 yards and challenged McNabb’s single-season record of 3,916, set in 2008.
Wentz put up some record-breaking numbers while playing just 81% of the season. He was on pace to finish top-10 in most single season categories.
There wasn’t much to write home about in the receiving department, since the passing attack was balanced between Alshon Jeffery, Nelson Agholor, Zach Ertz, and others. Ertz entered the top-10 with 321 career receptions, inching slowly closer to Harold Carmichael’s record of 589. Brent Celek crept up a bit, too, with 13 grabs this year:
It was similarly bare in the rushing department, due to the shared contribution from five different players. Jay Ajayi’s 71-yard run at Dallas put him in a tie for 9th longest run in franchise history. The Birds only had one 100 yard rusher this season, when LeGarrette Blount went for 136 on 16 carries at the LA Chargers. Still, they finished with the NFL’s third best rushing output, compiling 2,115 yards on the ground. It shows just how balanced they were in that department.
Shout out also to Celek, who moved up to fourth on the list of most regular season games played.
Here’s the top eight:
- David Akers (K) – 188 games
- Brian Dawkins (FS) – 183 games
- Harold Carmichael (WR) – 180 games
- Brent Celek (TE) – 175 games
- Chuck Bednarik (C/LB) – 169 games
- Tra Thomas (T) – 166 games
- Jon Dorenbos (LS) – 162 games
- Randy Logan (S) – 159 games
No tight end has played more games in Eagle green than Celek.
Overall, the offense finished 7th-best in the NFL with 365.8 yards per game. They were tied for 2nd place in scoring output with New England, putting up 28.6 points per game and trailing only the Rams, who bagged 29.9 PPG.
The Cleveland Browns were, you guessed it, dead last at 14.6 points per football game.
Jim Schwartz’s unit finished with the best rushing numbers and fourth best total yardage allowance in the NFL. They finished 17th in passing.
Brandom Graham and Fletcher Cox both entered the top 10 for all-time sacks. Graham is now 7th with 38.5 sacks. Cox is 10th with 34 sacks. Good luck catching up with Reggie White, who logged 214 sacks as an Eagle:
Sacks weren’t recorded until 1982, so I’m not sure what the numbers look like prior to that.
The defense finished with just one pick-six, which was Jalen Mills’ touchdown against the 49ers. They dropped a number of interceptions this season, but actually had five fumble returns for scores, which is more than the last five years combined.
The Birds had more fumble return TDs in 2017 than they did from 2012 to 2016. Prior to that stretch, they had three in 2011, two from Juqua Parker and one from Brian Rolle.
One bizarre stat I found relates to the Chicago win. Remember the Bears’ amazing six-yard rushing effort? That was only the third fewest rushing yards posted against the Eagles. Apparently the Birds held the Brooklyn Dodgers to -33 rushing in 1943 and limited the Boston Yanks to -26 rushing in 1946. I remember the 1940’s like it was yesterday.
Jake Elliott entered the top ten for longest field goals made. His 61 yard bomb against New York set a franchise record and his 53 yarder against the Chargers is tied for 7th. The previous record was 59 yards, kicked by Tony Franklin in Dallas back in 1979.
This kind of flew under the radar, but Donnie Jones remained all-time leader in gross punting average, with a 45.37 yards per punt number. This season, he averaged 45.27 yards, down only slightly from 45.84 in 2016 and 46.95 in 2015. He’s been consistent, if nothing else. Those are three of the five best gross punting seasons in Eagle history.
But special teams coaches will tell you that they don’t really give a shit about gross punting, they care about net punting. Whereas the “gross” number is how far the punter boots the ball, the “net” number is the distance of the kick minus return yardage, which is an indicator of how well the other 10 guys stayed in their lanes and made tackles.
Jones’ net punting number is incredibly high, too:
Not only is he consistent in a raw sense, but the rest of the ST unit allowed very few punt return yards this year, and they did it without Chris Maragos for a chunk of the season.
As far as Eagle punt returns, Kenjon Barner set a franchise record when he returned three for 110 against Arizona. That 36.7 average broke a 15-year record held by Brian Mitchell, who had 33 yards per return in a 2002 game against the 49ers.
Not a ton to report here. Corey Clement was one rushing touchdown shy of tying the rookie record set by Steve Van Buren in 1944 and matched by Don Johnson in 1953. Clement’s six touchdowns are 10th overall among rookies, with Calvin Williams logging a record 9 scores in 1990.
Derek Barnett’s five sacks put him in the top five among Eagles rookies, behind Corey Simon, Fletcher Cox, Derrick Burgess, and Corey Simon.
And Jake Elliott entered the top five in field goals made (26), field goals attempted (31), field goal percentage (83.7), and most kicking points (110), but failed to top Cody Parkey’s 2014 season in all four of those categories.
Eli Manning’s 37 completions for 434 yards back in December put him second all-time against the Eagles in both of those single-season categories. That was the one true blemish against a defense that was stout all year long.
In conclusion, there were a lot of positive additions to the record books this year, but the balance of the passing and rushing attack actually kept individual numbers relatively low. And Carson Wentz still put up top-10 and top-five numbers despite the season-ending injury he suffered in Los Angeles.