Eagles

Carson Wentz on verge of breaking NFL's oldest team TD record

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Carson Wentz on verge of breaking NFL's oldest team TD record

When Sonny Jurgensen threw 32 touchdown passes for the Eagles in 1961, it was historic stuff. He tied the NFL record for TDs in a season — set two years earlier by the Colts’ Johnny Unitas — and broke the Eagles' record of 25, set in 1948 by Tommy Thompson during the Eagles' first championship season.

Nobody realized back then — 56 years ago — just how historic Jurgensen’s season was.

Because that franchise record for touchdown passes that Jurgensen set in 1961? It still stands.

Jurgensen, now 83 years old and a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has over the last half-century taken on all challengers to his Eagles TD passing record.

Norm Snead, Ron Jaworski, Randall Cunningham, Donovan McNabb and Nick Foles all went after Jurgensen. 

All failed.  

As Carson Wentz becomes the latest to challenge Jurgensen’s mark, this a great chance to put into perspective just exactly what Christian Adolph "Sonny" Jurgensen III accomplished back in 1961 and marvel at just how long his record has stood.

Jurgensen, the Eagles' fourth-round draft pick out of Duke in 1957, barely played his first four years. He backed up Bobby Thomason as a rookie, although he did go 3-1 in four starts, and then he backed up Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin in 1958, 1959 and in the 1960 NFL Championship season.

Van Brocklin retired after the 1960 season, and Jurgensen had instant success in 1961, quarterbacking the Eagles to a 10-4 record, setting an NFL record with 3,723 passing yards (in just 14 games) and also leading the league with both 32 TDs and 24 interceptions.

Jurgensen is best-known for his 11 seasons with the Redskins, but 56 years after he threw 32 touchdown passes for the Eagles, that record still stands.

The Eagles and Oilers/Titans have the oldest TD pass records in the NFL. George Blanda threw 36 touchdown passes for the Oilers in 1961. They were in the AFL at the time, but when the AFL and NFL merged in 1970, all AFL stats became NFL stats.

Wentz is the latest Eagles quarterback to challenge Jurgensen but definitely not the first.

In 1967, Snead — who the Eagles acquired from the Redskins in 1964 in the ill-fated trade that sent Jurgensen to Washington — threw 29 TDs in 14 games. Snead had three games with four touchdowns and three more with three touchdowns, but in the Eagles' eight other games he had only eight TD passes and was never really in a position to make a run at Jurgensen's mark. Interestingly, that was the only season Snead had more than 19 TD passes as an Eagle.

In 1980, Jaworski was on pace for 33 touchdown passes after 11 games. He had 23 touchdowns with five games to go but threw only four in the Eagles' last five games and finished with 27. Jaws had only one other year in his career with more than 20 TDs — 23 in 1981.

In 1990, Cunningham became the first Eagle since Jurgensen with 30 touchdown passes in a season. He had 26 with three games to go but threw only four the last three games of the season and fell two short of Jurgensen. That was Randall's only season with more than 24 TD passes until he revived his career in Minnesota.

McNabb was on pace to break Jurgensen's mark in 2004. After throwing five TDs against the Packers in early December, he had 28 TD passes with four games to go. But he had only one each the next two games, then — with the Eagles already clinching the No. 1 seed — he threw only three passes (with one TD) the last two weeks of the season and finished with 31. He never came close again.

Foles threw 27 touchdowns in 2013, but he didn't start until Week 6. If he played the whole season? He may have thrown 40. But he didn't.

Which brings us to Wentz.

With four games left, the 24-year-old has 29 touchdown passes, most in the NFL and already the fourth-most in Eagles history behind Jurgensen, McNabb in 2004 and Randall in 1990.

Wentz has thrown at least one touchdown pass in all 12 games the Eagles have played. He's the only NFL QB to throw at least one TD in all 12 games this year.

With the Rams, Giants, Raiders and Cowboys left on the schedule, Wentz needs just three touchdowns to tie Jurgensen and four to pass him. Considering that Wentz is averaging 2.4 touchdown passes per game, the record should finally fall.

But it probably should have fallen a few other times.

More than half a century after he last played for the Eagles, Jurgensen keeps finding ways to cling to his record.

Wentz has had a remarkable year, maybe an MVP year, and it looks like the record will soon be his. But Jurgensen has been incredibly resilient. The Red Roach has protected his record for 55 years. Can he do it again?

After 'bumpy road,' Matt Jones sees opportunity with Eagles

After 'bumpy road,' Matt Jones sees opportunity with Eagles

The last time Matt Jones donned a helmet and pads in Philadelphia, he was enjoying a career game against the Eagles — a fact not lost on his new team.

“When I did my workout, I had some of the defensive coaches tell me I owed them something or they remembered that game,” Jones said Tuesday. “Everybody remembers that game here. Some of the same guys on defense are still in here, too.”

Not only were Jones’ 135 yards rushing and 8.4 yards per carry personal bests, but the performance keyed Washington to a 27-20 victory in 2016.

As it turns out, that game would serve as an audition of sorts.

“I know that wasn’t overlooked,” said Jones, who signed a two-year contract with the Eagles.

In one and a half seasons since, Jones has recorded just 15 touches in the NFL. He suffered a knee injury the following week, was released by Washington last September and then claimed by the Colts, where he failed to crack the RB rotation.

But while Jones may have fallen off the map, the Eagles never forgot the vision of him rumbling through their defense. The club maintained an interest in the running back ever since.

“It’s been trying to happen for a while,” Jones said. “I was claimed by waivers from the Colts, but [the Eagles] were trying to claim me too.

“I’m finally here and I thank [Howie Roseman] for giving me a chance to come prove myself.”

Jones should have no problem acclimating to the locker room. He professed the Eagles were his favorite team growing up. A third-round pick from Florida, he and fellow running back Jay Ajayi already know each other as members of the 2015 draft class. Jones even became friends with Brandon Graham as well, sharing how the Redskins used to scheme against the DE.

Perhaps most important, Jones has taken a liking to running backs coach Duce Staley, who wants to see Jones get back to running the way he did that day against the Eagles.

“He humbled me a lot about getting my pads down and just getting back to where I was,” Jones said. “Duce is a great coach. He makes you better. The first day I met him, he made me better.

“Just telling me little stuff I never heard before as far as pass blocking, running, everything. He was a running back, too, so he relates to running backs in different ways. I dropped a couple pounds and I was ready to go.”

It’s unclear why exactly Jones fell out of favor in Washington, where he rushed for 964 yards and six touchdowns in two seasons, then Indianapolis, but he attributed both exits to different sets of circumstances.

Fumbles were an issue in Washington. He racked up eight in his first 20 NFL games, though it seems he was overtaken on the depth chart after his injury.

“Just bumps in the road,” he said. “Some things I could’ve fixed. Everything was great. I just have to figure out what went wrong and try to bounce back.”

Jones was with the Colts until May but was cut loose after the team used fourth- and fifth-round picks on RBs.

“It was weird,” Jones said. “It felt great over there. I was in tip-top shape. I guess they just wanted to go a different route.”

Despite the way his career has unfolded, he's upbeat and determined to learn from every experience.

“It’s been a bumpy road, man,” Jones said. “Hard, but I’ll take the good and the bad. From here, I just want to work. This is a big opportunity for me. It’s been up and down, but I’m thankful for it all.”

President Donald Trump’s latest comments put Eagles in tough spot

President Donald Trump’s latest comments put Eagles in tough spot

While the NFL’s new national anthem policy has been met by plenty of opposition — including a few notable Eagles and former Eagles — President Donald Trump unsurprisingly likes the decision. 

In a video posted by Fox News this morning, Trump was asked about the new policy and said players who protest the anthem don’t belong in the NFL and “maybe” don’t belong in the country. 

These comments come less than two weeks before the Eagles’ scheduled celebratory visit to the White House, which puts the team in a tricky spot. 

“Well, I think that’s good,” Trump said to Fox & friends. “I don’t think people should be staying in locker rooms. But still, I think it’s good. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem or you shouldn’t be playing, you shouldn’t be there. Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country. You have to stand proudly for the national anthem and the NFL owners did the right thing if that’s what they’ve done.”

From now until June 5, anything the president says will likely be of particular interest to the world champion Philadelphia Eagles. The Eagles have accepted an invite to the White House for June 5, head coach Doug Pederson confirmed earlier this week. 

While several key players, including Malcolm Jenkins, Chris Long and Brandon Graham, have already said they won’t attend the visit to the White House, the team will apparently still visit. On Tuesday, team leader and franchise quarterback Carson Wentz said if the team was going, he would be attending. He said he didn’t view the trip to the White House as a political thing. And he likely isn’t the only player who is looking forward to the trip. 

But the accepted invite and comments from those players came before these latest remarks from Trump, in which he said about protesting players, “Maybe you shouldn’t be in the country.” That likely won’t sit well with plenty of NFL players who either demonstrated during the national anthem or had teammates who did. 

You’ll remember in September of this last season, when Trump set off a firestorm in the NFL, when he said about protesting players: “Wouldn’t you love to see one of these NFL owners, when somebody disrespects our flag, to say, ‘Get that son of a bitch off the field right now. Out! He’s fired. He’s fired!’”

Those comments were met with plenty of opposition from around the league. Many teams, including the Eagles, amped up some sort of protest during the playing of the national anthem. That Sunday, before the home game against the Giants, the entire Eagles team — including front office members, coaches and owner Jeffrey Lurie — stood on the sideline and locked arms. 

At the time, Lurie praised his players’ work in their communities and said he could attest to their great respect for the national anthem. After the most recent anthem policy was accepted, Lurie released a similar statement. While he didn’t address the actual policy or fines, he did say he was proud of players for “continuously working to influence positive change.” 

Lurie’s feeling about Trump are fairly well-known at this point. He donated money to Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign and reportedly called Trump’s presidency “disastrous,” according to the New York Times. 

All of this should make for an interesting day on June 5.