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 Eagles offseason program. Join us as we count down until the Eagles are back in town ...
The Eagles defense had struggled in recent seasons being able to generate turnovers. That wasn't a problem for Bill Davis' unit in 2013. The Eagles ranked tied for third in the NFL with 31 takeaways. That's the inverse of what the Eagles had in 2012 when they forced just 13 turnovers, which was tied for the fewest amount in the NFL. In the two years prior to 2013, the Eagles stole the ball away from the opposing offense a combined 37 times. Cornerback Brandon Boykin was tied for second in the league with six interceptions. Linebacker Mychal Kendricks led the league with four fumble recoveries.
First Eagle To Wear No. 31: E Joe Carter (1933-40)
Current Eagle To Wear No. 31: CB Curtis Marsh (2011-present)
Wilbert Montgomery's 42-yard touchdown run in the 1980 NFC Championship Game is one of the greatest single plays in franchise history. Not only was it a spectacular moment on a big stage, but it was against the team's bitter rivals - the Dallas Cowboys.
While that will be the play Montgomery is best known for, there is a different one that defined the person he is.
On September 9, 1984, Montgomery broke Steve Van Buren's franchise record for all-time rushing yards. The Eagles wanted to stop the game to commemorate the moment. Montgomery refused. He didn't want to hog the spotlight or be the center of attention.
The 5-foot-10, 195-pound Montgomery was a sixth-round pick of the Eagles in 1977 out of Abilene Christian. Montgomery originally enrolled at Jackson State, but left for Abilene Christian after seeing a stacked running back depth chart that included Walter Payton. Montgomery was one of the first black players in Abilene Christian's history and finished with 76 career touchdowns.
After leading the NFC in kickoff return average as a rookie, Montgomery became the Eagles' feature back in 1978 and gained 1,220 yards (at 4.7 yards per carry) and scored 10 total touchdowns. Montgomery earned Pro Bowl honors for his performance in '78 and again in 1979 when he topped his 1978 numbers with 1,512 rushing yards, a league-best 2,006 yards from scrimmage and 14 total touchdowns.
On the day Montgomery helped send the Eagles to their first Super Bowl, he finished with 194 rushing yards which was just 2 yards shy of tying Van Buren's playoff record. Dallas had not allowed an individual 100-yard rusher in 29 straight playoff games. Montgomery managed this performance despite a bruised hip and a strained knee.
Montgomery was the first Eagle to rush for 1,000 yards in three different seasons. His rushing total in 1979 was the franchise single-season record until LeSean McCoy churned out 1,607 rushing yards this past season. Montgomery finished his Eagles tenure with 6,538 rushing yards, still the franchise record, in eight seasons. In 1987, Montgomery was inducted into the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame.
Even though the Eagles didn't win Super Bowl XV in the 1980 season, Montgomery earned a Super Bowl ring as the running backs coach for the Baltimore Ravens in 2012. He was hired this offseason to be the new running backs coach for the Cleveland Browns.