This isn’t easy. In fact, finding a franchise quarterback is one of the most difficult things in sports.
Complete coverage of the Philadelphia Eagles and their NFL rivals from NBC Sports Philadelphia.
So the Eagles better know exactly what they’re doing.
This is a franchise that’s been around for 88 years and has spent a good chunk of its history sorting through the Norm Sneads, Bobby Hoyings and Ty Detmers of the world searching for The Guy.
The Eagles got Ron Jaworski from the Rams in 1977, they drafted Randall Cunningham in 1985 and Donovan McNabb in 1999 and they re-signed Foles as a free agent in 2017.
Those four quarterbacks account for 17 of the Eagles’ 20 playoff wins since 1950. And all seven NFC Championship Game appearances since the AFL-NFL merger half a century ago.
The only QB in Eagles history other than Jaws, McNabb and Foles to win more than one playoff game was Tommy Thompson, the quarterback for the 1948 and 1949 NFL Championship Games.
And for context, in those two games combined, he completed seven passes.
But when we talk modern era football, we’re looking at a franchise that has had a few periods of sustained regular-season success - the late 1970s and early 1980s with Jaws, the late 1980s and early 1990s with Cunningham and the 2000s with McNabb - and spent the rest of the time searching.
Jaws, Donovan and Randall are the only QBs in franchise history to win more than 35 games.
And consider this: Since Norm Van Brocklin led the Eagles to the 1960 NFL Championship over Vince Lombardi’s Packers at Franklin Field, the only QBs other than McNabb, Jaws and Foles to win a playoff game for the Eagles are Rodney Peete, Jeff Garcia and Cunningham, with one each.
If you don’t find the right guy?
It wasn’t that long ago that the Eagles went 19 years – from 1981 through 1999 – with a grand total of two playoff wins, both in wild-card games and both leading up to blowout losses to the Cowboys at Texas Stadium.
From 1961 through 1977, they never even reached the postseason and had two winning seasons.
And even in the stretch immediately after McNabb’s heyday – eight consecutive seasons from 2009 through 2016 – this franchise didn’t win a playoff game.
That’s what happens if you can’t find a quarterback.
Unless you have an all-time defense, you don’t have a chance. And last we checked, the Eagles are a long ways off from having an all-time defense.
All of which brings us to Carson Wentz.
As recently as five months ago it looked for all the world like Wentz would be the Eagles’ quarterback for the next half decade or so. At least.
The playoff success wasn’t there, but the highs were astronomically high and the lows were sporadic and the sense was if the Eagles got him a receiver or two and he was able to stay healthy, then postseason success was likely to follow.
You just don’t find guys like that. He looked like a once-in-a-generation talent.
And now here we are. The whole thing deteriorated in the matter of a few months, and now the Eagles are shopping Wentz.
We won’t know for a year or two whether the Eagles made a huge mistake letting things get to this point.
And we won’t know for a year or two whether Jalen Hurts is a potential franchise quarterback. If he indeed does become Wentz’s successor.
But the Eagles are heading down a scary path. Because this is a franchise that in the last 60 years has found exactly three quarterbacks who’ve been good enough to win more than one playoff game.
And considering the miserable recent track record of this front office it’s fair to wonder what their chances are of finding a fourth.
Subscribe to the Eagle Eye podcast: