By T.J. Troup
|Bud Grant makes catch between two Browns. Colorization credit PFJ
Let's take a look at the Eagle offense. Starting at left offensive end is rookie Bobby Walston. He demonstrates he will be a viable weapon as a receiver in the Eagle attack with 31 receptions and 8 touchdowns, and a willing blocker. Additionally he is rock solid as a kicker.
|Al Wistert. Colorization credit: PFJ
|Pete Pihos. Credit: Philadelphia Eagles
Bosh Pritchard struggles the first half of the year at halfback, and leaves the team. He is replaced by Al Pollard. The rookie runs hard and is a key part of the Philadelphia kicking game returning kickoffs and punts. Though Tommy Thompson did not shine in 1950, he is a difficult man to replace at the quarterback position. Adrian Burk starts all season, yet first Bill Mackrides, and then John Rauch (only year) fill in at times. None of these men consistently guide Philadelphia to the end zone. The Eagles win on the road at Chicago against the Cardinals to begin the year, and on a Saturday evening at home take on the upset-minded 49ers. San Francisco easily defeated the champion Browns at Kezar and are looking to be a factor in the National Conference.
|Steve Van Buren. Colorization credit: PFJ
Taking over is assistant Wayne Millner with able assistance from line coach Jim Trimble. Philadelphia is beaten handily on the road by Green Bay 37-24. Early in the game a fumbled exchange in the Packer backfield results in a fumble which is recovered by Bud Grant. The next play Pihos catches a touchdown pass, but this is the only time the Eagles are actually in the game. Packer passers shred the Philadelphia secondary for four touchdown passes. This had not happened since a loss to the Bears in October of 1947.
The early lead the next week against the contending Giants evaporates. Pritchard is tackled for a safety, and Emlen Tunnell returns the free kick for touchdown. Philadelphia is now 2-2 as Millner prepares for his former team the Redskins. Millner is just not getting the job done as Washington scalps the Eagles 27-23. The Eagles finally get a win for Millner at Forbes Field in Pittsburgh 34-13 and hope for a successful season is renewed. The Eagles score only 30 points the next three games and are out of the race at 3-6. December dawns and Philadelphia plays well while gaining 410 yards in beating Washington 35-21.
Two home games left in the season, and the Giants beat Philadelphia for the fourth consecutive time. There are only 16, 263 fans at Shibe Park to watch a Cleveland Browns team that has won 16 of their past 17 regular season games. The Cleveland defense plays superb on the frozen field, as the pass rush led by Len Ford overwhelms the Philadelphia pass pocket.
What about the Eagles defense? Glad you asked; so lets take an in-depth look at who played what position for the Eagles. Philadelphia finished in the top two in the league in the key defensive passer rating category from 1948 through 1950. The top-rated secondary is not consistent, and as such finishes seventh in the league.
Russ Craft is selected for the Pro Bowl at left corner. He is a force in run support, and still a viable pass defender. Bud Sutton starts the first eleven games of the year at right corner, but does not play well. Frank Reagan begins his last season at left safety, yet also plays some at right safety. He is still a willing tackler, and can make a play on the ball on pass defense.
Pencil-thin Pat McHugh plays in eight games during the year as the nominal starter at right safety in his last year. Beaten often, and not much of a factor in pursuit tells Eagle management they need help at this position. Dan Sandifer plays some on offense, returns kicks, and fills in at left safety when McHugh is out of the line-up. Once one of the premier pass defenders in the league; he now struggles to make any plays at all. Never recorded the recognition he deserved at linebacker—Joe Muha is retired and attempting to replace him is former Ram Gerry Cowhig. Though he hustles, Cowhig is no Muha, and as such he is moved from left to right linebacker during his only year with the Eagles. Rookie Ebert Van Buren plays some fullback, and linebacker and proves he has the toughness but not the athletic talent of his brother.
|Chuck Bednarik. Colorization credit: PFJ
Mike Jarmoluk is a rock at the point of attack at right defensive tackle, sheds blocks well, and as such is the fourth Eagle selected for the Pro Bowl for '51. The starter at middle guard for the Eagles is former offensive lineman Mario Giannelli. He has the size, but just does not make many plays in his last year with the Eagles. The left defensive tackle is Walt Stickel. The veteran strongman handles himself well in his last year.
Johnny Green was a lean combative athlete at left defensive end, but after one game he is replaced by rookie Bud Grant. The athletic former Laker basketball player has an outstanding rookie season. Though he is not the pass rusher Green was, he acquits himself well in this area. Grant sheds blocks well, and is able in defending the sweep play to his side. He is excellent in pursuit from day one. When Cross of the Cardinals breaks loose opening day, it is Grant who with help from McHugh chases him down. During the November game against Cleveland when the ball is free for the taking on a punt Grant hustles down the field and recovers. This youngster has a very bright future on this team.
Happy Birthday Bud, and have many more!