Sunday, November 6, 2016

The Quarterbacks

This is the first post in a series where I will review the 1966-75 Eagles by position. I'm starting off with the quarterbacks, because (as Warren Beatty says in the movie "Heaven Can Wait"), "Well, I AM the quarterback". Normally I won't be listing every player during this time span, but I am for the QBs because there are so few of them.

#16 Norm Snead – After the 1963 season, the Eagles traded popular QB Sonny Jurgensen to the Redskins for Norm Snead. Even to this day the trade makes no sense. Sonny made the Pro Bowl in 1961 (his 4th season, but 1st as a full-time starter), and led the NFL in passing yardage in ’61 and ’62. Sonny made 4 more Pro Bowls during his time with the Redskins, and led the NFL in completions and passing yards 3 times. He played for Washington through the 1974 season.

Meanwhile, Snead (a 2-time Pro-Bowler in his 3 seasons with the ‘Skins) made 1 Pro Bowl with the Eagles, but threw 20+ interceptions 4 times, leading the NFL in that category twice. He also became the focus of the fans’ dissatisfaction, and as I recall, was run out of town on a rail after the 1970 season.

#10 King HillAs kids, we thought “King Hill” was a funny name for someone. After 3 seasons with the Cardinals, this #1 overall pick in the 1958 draft was acquired by the Eagles, and was their backup QB from 1961 until he was traded midway through the 1968 season. Hill only started more than 4 games once (6 in 1963), and was used primarily as the punter for his first 3 seasons in Philly.

#3 Jack Concannon – Jack was the #1 overall pick in the 1964 AFL draft, but he chose to sign with the Eagles, who drafted him in the 2nd round. He played sparingly in his 3 seasons with the Eagles, and was traded to the Bears before the 1967 season for veteran tight end Mike Ditka.

#4 Benjy Dial – Dial attempted 3 passes in 1 game in 1967 as the #3 QB. It was his only NFL experience.

#7 John Huarte – Huarte was the Birds’ #3 quarterback in 1968, and played in 2 games (starting 1) in his only season with the Eagles.

#10 George Mira – With Hill and Huarte both gone by 1969, the Eagles acquired ex-49ers backup George Mira to back up Snead. George started 1 game, and his 32% completion percentage showed why he was a backup.

#11 Rick Arrington – Rick was a free-agent rookie in 1970, and was with the Eagles for 3 seasons. He started 1 game in ’70 and 4 games in ’71. He made no starts in ’72, having dropped to #3 on the depth chart behind Pete Liske and rookie John Reaves. I recall there was some talk in 1972 of converting him to a tight end, but that never materialized.

#14 Pete Liske – After Snead was sent packing, the Eagles thought they had their next starting QB in Lions’ taxi-squadder Greg Barton. Barton’s NFL resume up to that time (and to this day!) was 1 attempt and 0 completions in a game in 1969. Way to set the bar high, Eagles! No matter, after the Eagles had traded for his rights, Barton shunned the idea of starting for the Eagles and went off to play in the CFL.

Plan B was a hastily-arranged trade with the Broncos to get Pete Liske. Pete had started 9 games for Denver in the previous season, but the Broncos were going with ex-Packer Don Horn and draft pick Steve Ramsey. Liske played 2 seasons in Philly – starting 10 games in ’71 and 7 games in ’72. He then returned to the Canadian League, where he had played from 1965-68.

#6, 7 John Reaves – The Eagles made Reaves their #1 pick in 1972, and he started half the games for them, all losses. He hung on for 2 more seasons as Roman Gabriel’s backup.

#5 Roman Gabriel – Enough of the Pete Liske/John Reaves show!!! In June 1973 the Eagles made a bold move and traded All-Pro wide receiver Harold Jackson, running back Tony Baker, two #1 picks, and a #3 pick to the Rams for 11-year veteran and 3-time Pro-Bowler Roman Gabriel.

Gabe brought competence to the team’s QB department, something they lacked since 1963. Roman made the Pro-Bowl team again, and sparked the Eagles’ improvement from 2-11-1 to 5-8-1. He started every game, and led the NFL in passing yards (3219) and TDs (23). Gabriel rained 6 TD passes down on rookie TE Charlie Young, and 9 to WR Harold Carmichael, who had replaced Jackson in the starting lineup. Roman was the starter for three seasons, and the #2 man for another two.

#10 Mike Boryla – Rookie Mike Boryla was the team’s #2 QB in 1974 (with Reaves at #3) and also in 1975. He started 3 and 5 games in his first two seasons. In 1976 (Dick Vermeil’s 1st season) Boryla started the first 10 games, with Gabriel starting the final 4 games. In 1977 the Eagles acquired Ron Jaworski and Boryla was let go.


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