This season has not gone the way the Eagles imagined it would, especially at the wide receiver position. The drama all started with DeSean Jackson going down in Week 2 against the Atlanta Falcons. Now the team is down to three healthy receivers --J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, Greg Ward, and Rob Davis. Two of those receivers (Ward and Davis) weren't even on the active roster to start the season, they were practice squad players who have now been given a chance they've always dreamed of.
Even though there is chaos at the position currently, the Eagles have produced some of the NFL's best receivers of all time, even since the days of Tommy McDonald in the 1960s. This franchise has had at least one dominant receiver in almost every era. We'll be going through some of the greatest receivers in Eagles history and the impacts they made on the team, and show why I feel the Eagles are the NFL equivalent of "Wide Receiver U":
McDonald, who was a member of the 1960 NFL Championship team, was always known for always wearing short sleeves, even if he was playing in freezing cold temperatures. Even before he was before my time, I have read and heard stories about him and how the was a very emotional person after a win, and showed he was full of heart. McDonald was selected to the Pro Bowl six times, and ultimately was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. During his eight-year career with the Birds, he caught 287 passes for 5,499 yards.
The 1970s and early 1980s were dominated by Harold Carmichael, who was the tallest receiver in Eagles history at 6'8. He played for Philadelphia for 13 seasons, and was selected to four Pro Bowls for his strong play. During the 1973 season, he led the entire NFL in receptions (67) and receiving yards (1,116). In 1980, he led the team with six catches for 91 yards in the loss to the Raiders in Super Bowl XV.
The Eagles drafted Mike Quick out of North Carolina with the 20th overall selection in the 1982 Draft, and the Birds have not had luck with a wide receiver selected in the first-round ever since. During Quick's second season in Philadelphia, he led the NFL with 1,409 receiving yards, which is still a team record to this day. Quick is tied with a few other players for the longest reception in NFL history at 99 yards. For nine seasons, Quick was selected to the Pro Bowl five times, and he caught 363 passes for 6,464 yards and 61 touchdowns.
Fred Barnett was Randall Cunningham's safety blanket in the 1990s. In his six years in Philadelphia, Barnett caught 308 passes for 4,634 yards and 28 touchdowns. His best season came in 1992, where he was selected to his one and only Pro Bowl. He'll always be remembered for being on the receiving end of Randall Cunningham's 95-yard touchdown after Cunningham had to scramble around his own endzone to avoid being hit for a safety.
The early-2000s were a dark time for Eagles receivers, as Donovan McNabb had to work with the likes of Todd Pinkston, James Thrash and Freddie Mitchell. But the one year he had a competent receiver, the team ended up going to the Super Bowl. Terrell Owens was acquired prior to the 2004 campaign, and Owens fit into the Eagles offense perfectly. In that magical year Owens played in 14 games, and recorded 1,200 yards with his 77 passes while scoring 14 touchdowns.
In the early part of this decade, the Eagles were fortunate enough to have two playmaking receivers in DeSean Jackson and Jeremy Maclin. Jackson got all of the attention, as he was selected to three Pro Bowls in his first tenure as an Eagle. Maclin wasn't a scrub though, as he registered 4,771 yards on 343 receptions for 36 touchdowns.
On Sunday's win over NFC East rival the Washington Redskins, I noticed that the Eagles came in very short-handed at wide receiver, and I heard rumors that back up quarterback Josh McCown might play some at wide receiver. From what I saw on Sunday, even though Greg Ward showed up when it mattered, Carson Wentz had to rely on his tight ends (Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert) and running backs (Miles Sanders and Boston Scott) to come away with a victory.
At the end of the day, we all know that there are colleges out there with reputations of sending talent players to the NFL at certain positions. Penn State is known as "Linebacker U" while LSU is considered "Defensive Back U." With that being said, and all of this wide receiver talent spread out over these past six decades, I feel that that the Eagles can be considered the NFL equivalent of "Wide Receiver U."