What 17-game NFL season means for Eagles’ record book originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia
Being obsessed with records and stats (surprise, surprise), my first reaction to news of the 17-game NFL season was … “Every record in the Eagles’ record book is gone.”
But once I took a deeper look, I realized that’s not necessarily the case.
There are a lot of existing Eagles’ single-season records made over 16 games that would still be standing even if the next-best mark was recorded at the same pace over 17 games.
The record book will definitely change over time, and that’s why all records should also be listed on a per-game basis. But don’t expect a wholesale Eagles record book overhaul as soon as that 17th game gets played.
Here’s a look at some of the most prominent Eagles single-season records and their chances of surviving the NFL's switch to 17 games:
Carson Wentz set the franchise record of 4,039 yards in 2019. That’s 252 yards per game. For a QB to break that mark in 17 games, he’d only need to average 238 yards per game, which 18 Eagles quarterbacks have done playing all or most of a season, including Donovan McNabb five times. Heck, Jalen Hurts averaged 282 passing yards in the three games he started and finished. The way NFL passing offenses are today, the next Eagles QB to play a full season is going to break this one.
LeSean McCoy ran for 1,607 yards in his monster 2013 season. That’s a fraction over 100 yards per game. For anybody to break this one in a 17-game season, he’d have to average 94.6 yards per game. The only Eagles running back other than Shady to come close to that was Wilbert Montgomery, who averaged 94.5 yards per game in 1979. If he averaged that over 17 games, he’d still be half a yard short of Shady. This one might last a while.
It’s going to take a lot more than a 17-game season for somebody to break Zach Ertz’s franchise record of 116 receptions, which he set in 2018. It would take 6.9 catches per game over 17 games to do it, but no other Eagle has ever averaged more than 5.6 catches per game (Brian Westbrook in 2007). At that rate, it would take a receiver 21 games to break Ertz’s team (and NFL tight end) record. Ertz might be gone, but this record won't be.
Mike Quick’s Eagles record of 1,409 yards has stood for 37 years. That’s 88 yards per game. To break that mark in a 17-game season, someone would have to average 83 yards per game, and the only other Eagle to do that in a full season is DeSean Jackson in 2013. He had 1,332 yards in 16 games, which would have put him at 1,415 in a 17-game season. Jeremy Maclin (1,400 in 2014) and Irving Fryar (1,398) were close. And T.O. was on pace for 1,371 when he got hurt in 2004 and on pace for 1,744 in just seven games before he got suspended in 2005. It’s not an untouchable record, but the Eagles would need a stud WR to even have a chance. (They don't currently have one.)
Good luck breaking Shady’s 2011 record of 20 touchdowns in a season. In the last 70 years, nobody has gotten within six touchdowns of that mark. Steve Van Buren did have 18 in a 14-game season in 1945, which projects to 21 in a 17-game season. So if another Steve Van Buren shows up, he’s got a shot.
One of the most remarkable records in the Eagles’ record book is Reggie White’s 21 sacks in just 12 games during the strike-shortened 1987 season. Clyde Simmons came close with 19 in 1992 and Jason Babin had 18 in his fraud 2011 season. But even in 17 games it’s going to take a Hall of Fame-level pass rusher to surpass White's 21.
Bill Bradley set the club record with 11 INTs in 1971 and considering that the only Eagle to even get to seven in a season over the last 20 years is Asante Samuel, Bradley’s mark is safe. Interceptions drop in the NFL every year anyway as the league continues to make rules that favor quarterbacks. There were 3.0 INTs per game in 1971 and 1.54 per game this past year. That’s half as many per game. Heck, the Eagles only had eight interceptions this past year as an entire team! So 16 games or 17, it’s hard to imagine anybody breaking Bradley’s record.
Cody Parkey set the Eagles scoring record in 2014 with 150 points. That’s 9.4 per game. Over a 17-game season, it would take 8.9 points per game to break this one. David Akers hit that twice, in 2008 and 2010, but that’s it. It would take a combination of a very consistent kicker with great range and an explosive offense that gives the kicker plenty of field goal opportunities to break this one. It might be a while.
At first glance, you’d think a lot of these team records would be gone after a year or two. But that’s not going to be the case. Chip Kelly’s 2014 Eagles set the franchise scoring record with 474 points, which is 29.6 per game. It would take 27.9 per game over 17 games to break that mark, and the only other Eagles team to do that was the 2017 Super Bowl team at 28.6.
Kelly’s 2013 set the record with 6,676 yards, which is 417 per game. It would take 392 yards per game to break that one, and the 2011 and 2014 teams were both over that and 2010 was very close. The way the league emphasizes offense more and more every year, this one will go soon.
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