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June 15, 2022

Ranking every Eagles quarterback ever

How do Carson Wentz, Jalen Hurts, Nick Foles and others measure up all time?

Eagles NFL
Hurts-Wentz-split_113020_USAT USA TODAY Sports/Kate Frese

Jalen Hurts and Carson Wentz

There is currently one quarterback on Eagles' fans minds, and that is Jalen Hurts.

The former second-round pick entered the league in dramatic fashion, with Carson Wentz eventually falling apart and Hurts proving to be much-needed insurance. After a year and a half in football, is Hurts a top-10 quarterback in the franchise's history?

He is certainly one of the most dynamic playmakers in team history. If he is able to lead the Eagles to a second-straight playoff berth in 2022, he might find himself climbing the rankings.

It might sound like a statement of hyperbole, but when you really dig into the team's history at signal-caller, it's kind of a stretch to even build out a respectable top 10.

What do we mean? Well, we decided — since the Eagles are on a month and a half break and we don't really have anything better to do — to rank every quarterback in franchise history (who has attempted at least 100 passes since 1940). 

Jimmy Kempski, Shamus Clancy, Evan Macy and Nick Tricome each independently ranked the quarterbacks below, and they were averaged out to create the order of the rankings we're about to dive into.

Who did we get wrong? We can't wait for you to tell us. 

1. Donovan McNabb (1999-09)

32,873 pass yards | 3,249 rush yards | 216 TD, 110 INT | 22 game-winning drives | 92-49-1 record | Super Bowl loss

Evan Macy: Jimmy and Evan were the only writers to have McNabb at the top, which shows that there is no real consensus as to who is the best to ever play the position in Philly. The body of work over McNabb's career is hard to argue against, as was his team-best 92 wins. He was the QB during a long stretch of competitive football and one can only wonder what heights he might have hit had he been given some better receivers over the course of his career.

Jimmy KempskiMcNabb was largely responsible for the Eagles having a long run at-near the top of the NFC, even if he never closed.

2. Randall Cunningham (1985-95)

22,877 pass yards | 4,482 rush yards | 150 TD, 105 INT | 21 game-winning drives | 63-43-1 record 

Nick Tricome: If we're talking straight-up talent then Cunningham is the best QB the Eagles ever had and it's not even close. He did anything and everything, be it a 95-yard bomb downfield, incredible scrambles, or the longest punt in franchise history (Yeah, he has that record — not an actual punter). Had he not suffered the ACL tear and had this era of Eagles football produced a better body of success overall, he probably would've been the franchise's best QB, period. Granted, Philadelphia sports and 'what could've been' have always gone hand in hand, so I guess that's poetic in a way. But look, there is very much a reason why you still see Kelly green No. 12 jerseys aplenty to this day. 

Jimmy: Cunningham was the most fun quarterback I’ve ever watched. What could have been if not for Bryce Paup?

3. Norm Van Brocklin (1958-1960) 

7,497 pass yards | 55 TD, 51 INT | 8 game-winning drives | 19-16-1 record | 1960 NFL MVP | 1960 NFL Champion

Nick: NFL MVP on the championship team, and the only team ever to beat Lombardi's Packers in the postseason? Yeah, Norm Van Brocklin's 1960 season alone, the final of his career, is more than enough to put him up there as one of the Eagles' all-time greatest quarterbacks. 

4. Nick Foles (2012-18)

8,703 pass yards | 58 TD, 23 INT | 9 game-winning drives | 21-11 record | Super Bowl LII MVP

Shamus Clancy: It's honestly disrespectful that he's this low on this ranking. Nick Foles did something no football player in this city has ever done, which is hoist the Lombardi Trophy and and win Super Bowl MVP honors along the way. Does it matter that he almost washed out of the league multiple times? No! He was 4-2 in the playoffs, had one of the most efficient quarterback seasons in league history in 2013 and has done more for Philadelphia than Ben Franklin. His best throws are better than any I've ever seen from an Eagles QB. I was the lone writer to have him in the top spot. 

JimmyFoles comes in right behind Wentz for me for his magical playoff run.

5. Ron Jaworski (1977-86)

26,963 pass yards | 175 TD, 151 INT | 20 game-winning drives | 69-67-1 record | Super Bowl loss

Nick: Dick Vermeil built the Eagles toward that Super Bowl run in '80, but none of that happens without Wilbert Montgomery in the backfield, Harold Carmichael at receiver, and Jaws under center. Jaworski wasn't an "elite" quarterback, but he helped bring a run of success that, at that point, the Eagles hadn't seen in a long time and wouldn't for some time after. 

JimmyJaworski was good in his day, even if modern quarterbacks benefit from rules that allow for video game stats that Jaws didn’t get to enjoy. 

6. Tommy Thompson (1941-50) 

10,240 pass yards | 90 TD, 100 INT | 7 game-winning drives | 1948 NFL Champion

Nick: A championship automatically puts you way up the list, and Thompson helped get the Eagles there in 1948 by leading the league with 25 touchdown passes and then won it all again in 1949.

7. Carson Wentz (2016-20)

16,811 pass yards | 113 TD, 50 INT | 10 game-winning drives | 35-32-1 record | Super Bowl LII winner

Evan: It's easy to forget now, but there was something special about the Eagles post-2016, when Howie Roseman was able to masterfully overcome some horrible roster mistakes from the Chip Kelly era to trade up not once, but twice to take Wentz second overall. He was everything that was promised the first two years, and would have won an MVP in 2017 had he not tore his ACL. Without him there is no Super Bowl — and there is no Jalen Hurts. And, without him there is no extra first rounder in 2022 that led to A.J. Brown. So thanks, I guess?

JimmyWentz ranks third for me because, well, he was the best player in the NFL the year the Eagles won the Super Bowl.

8. Michael Vick (2009-13)

9,985 pass yards | 1,998 rush yards | 57 TD, 33 INT | 6 game-winning drives | 20-20 record

Nick: Vick's 2010 season alone pretty much carries his place among the Eagles' best QBs, but at the same time — granted, in just my lifetime — I haven't seen as incredible of a performance before or since. He still had the speed on the ground that made him a Madden cheat code years before, then put in his best year as a passer by far. The run didn't last long, but man, did that candle sure burn bright.  Here's the link to that near 60-point beatdown of Washington again (NFL, fix your YouTube policy).

JimmyVick was a star in 2010, but his success was short-lived.

9. Sonny Jurgensen (1957-63)

9,639 pass yards | 76 TD, 73 INT | 3 game-winning drives | 17-20-2 record

Evan: Jurgensen is known more for his 10 seasons in Washington and his numbers at first glance are nothing special. However, the Eagles fourth round pick was a backup for a lot of his career in Philly. He had one spectacular season in 1961, leading the Birds to a 10-4 record a year after they won it all behind Van Brocklin. Jurgensen threw for 32 touchdowns and was MVP runner up. 

10. Jeff Garcia (2006-09)

1,309 pass yards | 10 TD, 2 INT | 2 game-winning drives | 5-2 record

Shamus: "Jeff Garcia, baby, he's our baby. He's it, baby!" A battlecry from rowdy Eagles fan Larry Poffer defined Jeff Garcia's brief tenure in midnight green. After McNabb went down for the season, Garcia stepped up, played within the realms of the West Coast offense like he was long accustomed to and helped bring the Birds to the playoffs for the fifth time in six years. Garcia also went 4-0 against NFC East opponents, including a Wild Card home win over the Giants. Doing that made Garcia a Weird Eagles Twitter meme forever. 

11. Jalen Hurts (2020-present)

4,205 pass yards | 1,138 rush yards | 22 TD, 13 INT | 2 game-winning drives | 9-10 record

Shamus: This ranking says more about the sorry state of Eagles signal-callers than it does Jalen Hurts, but Hurts will have the opportunity to rapidly slide up this list in 2022. If he leads the Birds to an uber-efficient rushing attack again, beefs up his passing numbers with A.J. Brown in town and wins a playoff game, he should hop the previous four dudes on this list.

Jimmy: Hurts ranks ahead of Garcia for me. He’s helped by the fact that Garcia is an idiot, as it turns out.

12. Jim McMahon (1990-92)

2,581 pass yards | 13 TD, 13 INT | 2 game-winning drives | 9-3 record 

Shamus: "What if Gardner Minshew was the starting QB for the two best defenses of all time?" is how I'd describe Jim McMahon's career to a younger football fan. McMahon filled in for the Birds in 1991 in the aftermath of Cunningham's season-ending injury in Week 1. His numbers were about all as good as someone could ask for a backup quarterback, but I still give him flak for not doing enough offensively to bring the iconic '91 Gang Green defense to the playoffs. It's the Eagles though, so he's one of the dozen or so best QBs they've ever had. 

13. Rodney Peete (1995-98)

4,945 pass yards | 17 TD, 27 INT | 6 game-winning drives | 15-9 record

Shamus: 1995 Rodney Pete is another instance of one-year wonders for the Birds at QB. He had a 9-3 record as a starter that season, leading the league in fourth quarter comebacks and game-winning drives. His regular season numbers were bad, but... I place a high priority on postseason play when it comes to lists like this. Peete was under center for the Eagles' epic 58-37 Wild Card win over the Lions that season, as he threw 270 yards and three touchdowns with a QB rating of 143.3 in the victory.

14. Norm Snead (1964-70)

15,672 pass yards | 111 TD, 114 INT | 10 game-winning drives | 28-50-3 record

Nick: Yeah, this is where the QB list really hits a drop in quality. The Eagles' best season with Snead under center was in 1966 when they finished 9-5 and missed the playoffs. They were 5-5 with him as the starter and 4-0 with King Hill and Jack Concannon in, although they didn't play so hot either. Outside of that, sub-.500 records and last-place finishes were the norms. The mid-'60s through the mid-'70s were pretty forgettable years in the Eagles' history. 

15. A.J. Feeley (2001-07)

2,177 pass yards | 16 TD, 14 INT | 2 game-winning drives | 4-3 record

Evan: Feeley holds a special place in Eagles history, kind of a poor man's Nick Foles before Nick Foles was out of grade school. McNabb went down with an injury in Week 11 of 2002, and all Feeley did was step in and lead the Eagles to five wins in a row to cruise to a playoff spot. McNabb would return and the Eagles would lose their second straight NFC championship game later that winter.

The rest...

16Sam Bradford
17Roman Gabriel
18Mark Sanchez
19Adrian Burk
20Koy Detmer
21Bobby Thomason
22Ty Detmer
23Kevin Kolb
24Pete Liske
25Bubby Brister

Evan: Sam Bradford was traded for a first round pick. Kevin Kolb was traded for Dominic Rogers-Cromartie and a second round pick. Those remain two of the most impressive trades in team history. Also, Koy Detmer is better than his brother Ty in this ranking and this ranking only (probably).

Shamus: Was I a sicko in college for thinking that Mark Sanchez, leading a 9-3 Eagles team in 2014 after throttling the Cowboys on Thanksgiving, was going to bring a parade down Broad Street? Yes. Koy Detmer's "whippin' stick" celebration was outrageous. I bought a Kevin Kolb jersey after the Birds traded McNabb and he lost the starting job in the first half of Week 1 in 2010.

Nick: I do not remember much about Sam Bradford's stint as an Eagle, but I do remember that win over the Patriots in Foxboro that season. Defense and special teams did a lot of the heavy lifting for that one, but I went back and watched the highlights in the week leading up to Super Bowl LII. That was when I started feeling really good about the Eagles' chances. I figured "If they could beat New England with Bradford, they can absolutely beat them with Foles." They did. It was great!

26Mike Boryla
27Bobby Hoying
28Doug Pederson
29Roy Zimmerman
30Allie Sherman
31Joe Pisarcik
32King Hill
33Davey O'Brien
34Bill Mackrides
35Dave Shmukler

Evan: I played a round of golf with Joe Pisarcik once, at Ron Jaworski's celebrity tournament media day. He is a really nice guy. Really that is the only relevant comment I have for this group of Eagles quarterbacks.

Shamus: If Doug Pederson is never brought in to start the beginning of the 1999 season, he never becomes the Eagles' head coach in 2016 and the team never wins the Super Bowl. He was atrocious, but that's a fact. Move him up the list!

Nick: Doug Pederson is a great coach and an absolute Philly legend without question, but no one's rushing to look back fondly on that '99 season. 

36Mike McMahon
37Emmett Mortell
38Jack Concannon
39Rick Arrington
40Ken O'Brien
41John Reaves
42Vince Young

Evan: I was really excited for the "Dream Team." It was a good lesson in Philly sports fandom. Never get too high on a team before it plays game, especially in this city. Also, Vince Young as Michael Vick's backup makes a lot of sense in theory. In practice though...

Shamus: "Emmett Mortell" fails the QB name test. Mike McMahon's performance in Week 13 of the 2005 season in the team's 42-0 loss to the Seahawks might be the worst game I've ever seen from an Eagles quarterback. Vince Young last threw an NFL pass in 2011 with the Birds and it's almost as if his "Dream Team" comment got him permanently removed from the league. 

Nick: I only really remember Mike McMahon from "Madden 06." The game's A.I. would automatically put him in for the fourth quarter when you were destroying teams with the Eagles so that McNabb wouldn't get hurt. He played the back half of the 2005 season after McNabb was shut down, but that year was down the drain anyway. The Super Bowl hangover was real. 

Follow Evan on Twitter: @evan_macy

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