Believe it or not, the beginning of the 2014 season is rapidly approaching. Players will report back to the NovaCare Complex on April 21 for the start of the offseason program. Join us as we count down the days until the Eagles are back in town ...
The 1980 season was one to remember for the Eagles and their fans.
It was the culmination of Dick Vermeil’s head coaching tenure with the franchise and capped a steady five-year rise to the top of the NFC. Vermeil came to Philadelphia from UCLA, where he served as head coach for two seasons, in 1976. He immediately put a plan in place and began building a program. The first two seasons were littered with struggles, as the team won just four and five games in 1976 and 1977, respectively.
In 1978, however, came the breakout season. Vermeil’s Eagles finished 9-7 and made the playoffs, as a Wild Card team, for the first time since the 1960 NFL Championship season. They lost a 14-13 heartbreaker to the Atlanta Falcons, but came back the next season even stronger, finished 11-5, winning the Wild Card round over the Chicago Bears, before falling to the upstart Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the Divisional round.
In 1980, everything came together. The Eagles finished 12-4, overtook the Dallas Cowboys to win the NFC East title and held the second seed in the NFC playoffs. Quarterback Ron Jaworski, at age 29, had the best season of his career, with 3,529 passing yards (on 57.0 percent completion), 27 touchdowns, 12 interceptions and a 91.0 passer rating. None of the skill position players – including running back Wilbert Montgomery and Harold Carmichael – gained 1,000 yards, but that just showed the kind of depth and balance on the roster, as the offense ranked sixth in the NFL.
It was the defense, however, that led the way, ranking first in the NFL in yards-per-play allowed (4.3) and points allowed at 222 (13.9 per game). The 162-point differential for the team as a whole also ranked first overall. Brenard Wilson, Roynell Young, Herman Edwards and Randy Logan highlighted a secondary that recorded 14 interceptions and ranked second in pass defense. Charlie Johnson, Carl Hairston, Dennis Harrison, Bill Bergey, Jerry Robinson, Frank LeMaster and John Bunting formed a front seven that ranked second in rushing yards allowed and tied for first in rushing touchdowns allowed. Claude Humphrey paved the way from a pass rush standpoint with 14.5 unofficial sacks, even though the Pro Football Hall of Fame candidate was a part-time player.
In the playoffs, the Eagles defeated the Minnesota Vikings in the Divisional round and then the Dallas Cowboys, 20-6, in the conference championship at Veterans Stadium in one of the most historic moments in franchise history. They reached the Super Bowl for the first time, but lost to the Oakland Raiders in New Orleans. Nevertheless, the 1980 team was beloved in the city – the season was an exhilarating ride that is fondly remembered and will live on forever.
First Eagle To Wear 80: E Granville Harrison (1941)
Last Eagle To Wear 80: WR Ron Johnson (2011-12)
Cris Carter, one of the best wide receivers in NFL history, is known for his time with the Minnesota Vikings, with whom he played 188 of a possible 192 games (including 177 starts) and caught 110 touchdowns over 12 seasons.
He also had an eight-year run of consecutive 1,000-plus-yard seasons and finished his career with 13,899 receiving yards, which ranks ninth all time. Before his time in Minnesota, however, Carter was a member of the Philadelphia Eagles for his first three seasons in the NFL.
A fourth-round Supplemental Draft pick in 1987 out of Ohio State, Carter quickly became a big-play, go-to weapon for quarterback Randall Cunningham, especially in the red zone and caught 17 total touchdowns in the 1988 and 1989 seasons. His off-field behavior, however, was troublesome and he had a falling out with head coach Buddy Ryan, who, sensing the emerging wide receiver was spiraling out of control, shockingly cut him after the 1990 preseason. Carter credits that as a wake-up call and the turning point in his life, and Ryan with being the impetus to clean up his act and fulfill his ultimate potential both as a football player and a man.
Though it is unfortunate that Carter could not play out his whole career as an Eagle, he has said in the past he values his time in Philadelphia because it helped eventually set him on the right path.