Good morning, class. The following is your final exam for Eagles History 205: Quarterbacks, Reality, and Narrative. As you know, the benching of Carson Wentz and the excellent play of Jalen Hurts have been a major focus of this course lately. So, too, will they be the major focus of this exam.
The Eagles are 1-1 in Hurts’ two starts, and over those games, he has compiled some impressive statistics: 41 completions in 74 pass attempts, a completion percentage of 55.4, 505 passing yards, four touchdowns, zero interceptions, a 94.7 passer rating – and 169 rushing yards. But throughout the semester, we’ve covered several key themes and terms that still apply to Hurts: sample size, context, randomness, “the eye test,” the prejudice of expectations, and “The Philadelphia Sports Fan Backup Quarterback Complex.”
Keeping those themes and terms in mind, please complete the exam. I will give you a brief description of a two-game stint by an Eagles starting quarterback from the last 25 years. You must name the quarterback and identify the two-week period in his career that I have described. Extra credit will be awarded for any additional details you can provide. The correct answers are below. Good luck.
1. In his first two NFL starts, this quarterback threw for 354 yards, four touchdowns, and just one interception, leading the Eagles to a victory on Thursday Night Football four days after he and the Birds went toe-to-toe with the defending NFC champions before losing a tight game on the road.
2. A former top-10 draft pick, this quarterback completed 69.4% of his passes in consecutive Eagles victories, the second of which, at AT&T Stadium against the Cowboys, came in Week 13 of that season and gave the Eagles sole possession of first place in the NFC East.
3. It’s hard to imagine putting up uglier numbers than this quarterback did in his first two starts for the Eagles: a 49.2% completion rate, an equally horrible 49.2 passer rating, just 225 passing yards, one touchdown, two interceptions.
4. In contrast to Quarterback No. 3, this guy debuted with two victories and three touchdowns. He completed 60.3% of his passes and didn’t commit a single turnover.
5. This former second-round pick reignited a quarterback controversy, albeit a mild one, with back-to-back excellent performances. The Eagles won both games, the second against the team that finished with the best record in the NFC, and he completed 73.3% of his passes for 579 yards, four touchdowns, one interception, and a 118.7 rating.
6. This quarterback capped the regular season with a couple of games that probably didn’t fill the Eagles and their fans with much hope as the team entered the playoffs. He threw five interceptions, completed 47.8% of his passes, and posted a horrid rating of 45.2 as the Eagles labored to beat an inferior team before losing their finale.
7. After losing his first start for the Eagles, this quarterback, who had been their backup all season, kept their playoff hopes alive with a couple of sterling performances in consecutive wins: five touchdowns, no picks, and a 109.3 rating.
8. This quarterback, already the answer to a previous question, was mediocre in these two postseason games: a completion percentage of 52.3, just two touchdowns, and an 83.6 rating. The Eagles eked out a win, then lost a close game to end their season.
9. One week, this former backup streaked the sky with touchdown passes, four in all, in a thrilling Eagles win. The next, he led them past a team that went on to reach the NFC championship game. In total, he threw for 568 yards in the two games, with a 108.8 rating.
10. Was it ever better for this quarterback in Philadelphia? He was the driving force behind two Eagles victories, the first an upset over a perennial AFC power, the second on Monday Night Football. His stats were gaudy but an accurate measure of his play: 551 passing yards, five touchdowns, no interceptions, an eye-popping passer rating of 125.7.
11. That the Eagles won one of these two games with this quarterback is, in retrospect, remarkable. His rating was 39.5. His completion percentage was 44.3. He threw four interceptions and just two touchdowns. And the combined record of the Eagles’ two opponents was 11-21.
12. The Eagles appeared to be turning their season around when this quarterback won a big game against a division rival with an overtime touchdown pass. The following week, he was leading them to what was shaping up to be a decisive victory when an injury knocked him out of the game. Nevertheless, his numbers over those two weeks were excellent: a 72.1% completion rate, 531 yards in just a game-and-a-half, and a 109.4 rating.
13. A myth was born over these two weeks, as this quarterback threw for 559 yards and six touchdowns in a pair of Eagles victories, one over a team that reached its conference championship game, the other on a dramatic late-game drive.
14. This quarterback will forever be a folk hero in Philadelphia, even though, as the Eagles split their final two regular-season games this particular year, he was pretty bad: 403 passing yards, a 61.2 passer rating, one touchdown, three interceptions.
15. To watch these two games was to wonder if this quarterback was a legitimate NFL starter. The Eagles split them, but it wasn’t because of him: a meager 56.3% completion rate, three interceptions, a lousy 62.6 rating.
1. Koy Detmer, Nov. 29-Dec. 3, 1998.
2. Mark Sanchez, Nov. 23-27, 2014.
3. Donovan McNabb, Nov. 14-21, 1999.
4. Carson Wentz, Sept. 11-19, 2016. *Wentz was even better in his third game: 301 passing yards, two touchdowns, and a 125.9 rating against a Steelers team that went 11-5 that season.
5. Kevin Kolb, Oct. 10-17, 2010.
6. Rodney Peete, Dec. 17-24, 1995. *Peete then went 17-for-25 with 270 yards, three touchdowns, and no interceptions in the Eagles’ 58-37 rout of the Detroit Lions in an NFC wild-card game.
7. Jeff Garcia, Dec. 4-10, 2006.
8. Jeff Garcia, Jan. 7-13, 2007.
9. Ty Detmer, Oct. 20-27, 1996.
10. Michael Vick, Nov. 7-15, 2010.
11. Mike McMahon. *Sometimes, the numbers don’t lie.
12. Sam Bradford, Nov. 8-15, 2015.
13. Bobby Hoying, Nov. 23-30, 1997. *Everyone remembers his 313-yard, four-touchdown unicorn game against the Bengals, but Hoying also beat the Steelers the week before, 23-20.
14. A.J. Feeley, Dec. 21-28, 2002.
15. Nick Foles, Sept. 28-Oct. 5, 2014. *Chip Kelly wondered the same thing.