Eagles

Eagles

He's already shattered every Eagles rookie rushing record, every scrimmage yards record, every total yardage record, and there's still one game to go.

Miles Sanders is in the mix for NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year with 766 rushing yards and a 4.5 average, 47 catches for 510 more yards, six touchdowns and nearly 1,300 yards from scrimmage.

He's the only NFL player with four runs and four catches of at least 30 yards, and over the last eight weeks, he's averaged over 100 scrimmage yards per week.

The Eagles have been around since 1933, but is Sanders having the greatest season in franchise history by a rookie?

He very well may be.

I picked out the best rookie seasons in Eagles history. It's not always easy comparing positions and eras, but let's take a look at the kind of history Sanders is chasing:

End Don Looney, 1940: Looney led the NFL in both catches (58) and yards (707) as a rookie 8th-round pick. That was 17 more catches than anybody had ever had up to that point, and it remains the 4th-most receptions any Eagles rookie has ever had.

End Bobby Walston, 1951: Walston was 1951 Rookie of the Year after catching 31 passes for 512 yards and 8 touchdowns and also scoring 46 points as a kicker. His 94 total points remain 6th-most ever by an Eagles rookie.

S Bibbles Bawel, 1952: Bawel (real name Edward Raymond Bawel) had 8 interceptions in 1952, 4th-most in the league, as an undrafted rookie out of Evansville. That remains tied for most in Eagles history by a rookie.

 

CB Tom Brookshier, 1953: Brookie began his career with a splash, matching Bibbles with 8 interceptions, which remains tied for the most in Eagles history by a rookie.  

DT Jim Weatherall, 1955: Second-round pick out of Oklahoma made the Pro Bowl as a rookie. He remains one of only 10 rookies in franchise history to make a Pro Bowl team as a rookie.

RB Billy Ray Barnes, 1957: Barnes was also a Pro Bowler as a rookie, recording 741 scrimmage yards, 529 rushing and 212 receiving. 

LB Maxie Baughan, 1960: Baughan was the only rookie starter on the 1960 Eagles NFL Championship team. He had 3 interceptions and made his first of nine Pro Bowls.

TE Charle Young, 1973: Young burst onto the scene with 55 catches, 854 yards and six touchdowns, leading all tight ends in all three categories. He was 4thoverall in catches and yards and made the Pro Bowl and first-team all-pro.

CB Eric Allen, 1988: Allen began his brilliant career with five interceptions for the 1988 NFC East champs. He was the only rookie starter on a defense packed with stars like Reggie White, Andre Waters, Seth Joyner, Clyde Simmons, Wes Hopkins and Jerome Brown.

TE Keith Jackson, 1988: Jackson had the best year of his career as a rookie, with 81 catches for 869 yards with six touchdowns. That remains 10th-most catches ever by a rookie, most ever by a rookie tight end and most ever by an Eagles rookie.

WR Calvin Williams, 1990: Williams was the third receiver the Eagles drafted in 1990, after Fred Barnett and Mike Bellamy, but he made quite an impact. Williams was 3rd in the NFL with 9 TD catches (Barnett was 4th with 8), fourth-most in NFL history by a rookie drafted in the 5th round or later and still most ever by an Eagles rookie. 

OT Tra Thomas, 1998: Thomas didn't make his first Pro Bowl until his third season, but he established himself as a franchise left tackle from the jump and protected Donovan McNabb's blind side for virtually his entire career.

DT Corey Simon, 2000: Simon never quite matched his rookie numbers, but his 9 ½ sacks in 2000 remain 5th-most ever by a rookie defensive tackle and by far the most ever by an Eagles rookie.

WR DeSean Jackson, 2008: D-Jack went over 100 yards in his first two games and finished second among rookies with 912 receiving yards, breaking Keith Jackson's franchise rookie record. He added 211 yards in the three playoff games, including a 62-yard TD catch in the 4th quarter of the NFC Championship Game.

PK Cody Parkey, 2014: Long before Parkey gave the Eagles a huge win with his double-doink miss at the end of the Eagles-Bears playoff game in January he set an NFL rookie scoring record of 150 points that still stands. He made 32 of his 36 field goal attempts that year and became the first Eagles rookie since Keith Jackson in 1988 to make a Pro Bowl.

WR Jordan Matthews, 2014: Matthews had 67-for-872 with 8 TDs as a rookie, falling just 40 yards shy of DeSean Jackson's franchise rookie receiving yardage record. 

 

QB Carson Wentz, 2016: Wentz threw for 3,782 yards as a rookie, 4th-most in NFL history, and his 379 completions remain the most ever by a rookie. He became the only Eagles rookie to start every game of a season at quarterback.

•  RB Miles Sanders, 2019: Sanders goes into the final day of the regular season just 40 yards behind Josh Jacobs of the Raiders for the NFL total yardage title. Sanders already has the most receiving yards by an Eagles rookie running back and needs four catches Sunday to break that record. He'll finish as one of only four rookies in history with 750 rushing yards, 500 receiving yards and at least a 4.4 rushing average. He's the first Eagles rookie in 75 years with three TDs receiving and three rushing.

Who's the best rookie in Eagles history?

I would narrow it down to Young, Walston, Baughan and Sanders.

Young was a first-team All-Pro. Walston was Rookie of the Year. Baughan was a Pro Bowler on an NFL Championship team.

All had tremendous first seasons.

But Young played on a team where Harold Carmichael was a Pro Bowler and Tom Sullivan rushed for nearly 1,000 yards.

Walston played in the shadow of Hall of Famer Pete Pihos and alongside a capable receiver in Jerry Williams.

Baughan was part of a defense with Hall of Famers Chuck Bednarik and Tom Brookshier and Pro Bowlers Marion Campbell and Jess Richardson.

Sanders? He's carried this team down the stretch, and over the last four weeks, he has the 3rd-most scrimmage yards of all NFL running backs, behind only Saquon Barkley and Christian McCaffrey.

The Eagles have had a lot of really good rookies in their 87 years of existence. They've never been so dependent on any of them. And he's responded brilliantly.

Miles Sanders is the greatest rookie in Eagles history.

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