1991 Philadelphia Eagles season

1991 Philadelphia Eagles season
Head coach Rich Kotite
Owner Norman Braman
Home field Veterans Stadium
Record 10–6
Division place 3rd NFC East
Playoff finish did not qualify
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The 1991 Philadelphia Eagles season resulted in missing the postseason, despite having a 10–6 record and finishing with the top-ranked defense in the NFL. During Week 1, quarterback Randall Cunningham was lost for the season with a knee injury.

Statistics site Football Outsiders ranks the 1991 Eagles as the greatest defensive team in their ranking's history.[1] Says Football Outsiders, "The 1991 Eagles completely lap the field in terms of defensive DVOA. Only the 2002 Bucs had a better pass defense, and only the 2000 Ravens had a better run defense, and the Eagles were much more balanced than either of those teams.

"It's crazy to imagine how few points the Eagles might have given up if they were playing with a halfway-decent offense instead of losing Randall Cunningham to a torn ACL in the first game of the season. The Eagles were stuck depending on an over-the-hill Jim McMahon for 11 starts, plus Jeff Kemp for two and Brad Goebel for two. McMahon actually wasn't half bad ... but the other two quarterbacks were awful, especially Goebel who had no touchdowns with six interceptions. And the running game was dreadful, with 3.1 yards per carry as a team.

"Still, the Eagles were fifth in the league in points allowed, and first in yards allowed by nearly 400 yards -- and the team that was second in yards allowed is also on that top-ten defenses list, the 1991 New Orleans Saints. The Eagles allowed 3.9 yards per play, where no other team allowed fewer than 4.5. As bad as their running game was, their run defense was even better, allowing 3.0 yards per carry. Three-fourths of the starting defensive line was All-Pro (Reggie White, Jerome Brown, and Clyde Simmons). Linebacker Seth Joyner and cornerback Eric Allen made the Pro Bowl as well."


A "Real" Fresh Start

On January 8, team owner Braman, NormanNorman Braman opted not to renew the contract of Ryan, BuddyBuddy Ryan, the Eagles' head coach since 1986. On the same day, Braman promoted then-offensive coordinator Kotite, RichRich Kotite, making him the 18th head coach in club history. They opened with a 3–1 mark, their best start since 1981, despite having lost Cunningham for the year due to a knee injury suffered at Green Bay thanks to a hit from Bryce Paup on opening day. After coming on to lead the Eagles to their solid start, backup QB McMahon, JimJim McMahon was also injured in Game 5, a shutout loss to the Redskins.

A Winless October

With McMahon sidelined, the Birds suffered through a four-game skid. By mid-season, Philadelphia had used an astounding five different quarterbacks (This list also including rookie Goebel, BradBrad Goebel along with veterans Ryan, PatPat Ryan and Kemp, JeffJeff Kemp) in eight games and seen its record sink to 3–5.

Relatively healthy McMahon returns

Week 10 saw McMahon return to the line-up for a Monday night, 30-7 victory over the defending Super Bowl Champion New York Giants at Veterans Stadium. However, the following week at Municipal Stadium would be a little closer. The Eagles won 32-30 as Philadelphia spotted Cleveland a 23-0 lead early in the second quarter, before staging a comeback behind a battered McMahon (passing for 341 yards and 3 TDs). Before the game, McMahon's elbow was so swollen, his roommate Ron Heller had to tie his pony tail for him, and then told his lineman he wouldn't be able to play. But Birds trainer Otho Davis used a concoction he calls "Grandma's Goop" on the elbow and McMahon was able to go. These wins would resurrect the season, and the Birds would continue this surge into contention for a playoff berth with a six-game winning streak (the club's longest since the start of '81). This upped their record to 9–5.

The signature win of the run was a 13-6 Monday night victory against the Oilers in Houston on December 2, later dubbed the "House of Pain" game for the Eagles' defense punishing Warren Moon and his receiving corps en route to victory.

Heart Of A Champion

A season ending rib injury to McMahon in Week 15 (a 19–14 win against the Giants) made way for a devastating loss at home to Dallas in Week 16, ending Philadelphia's playoff hopes. However, the season was highlighted by a 10–6 record, allowing the Eagles to join the 49ers as the only NFL clubs to post 10-or-more wins in each of the last four seasons. Both teams missed the postseason in '91 despite winning 10 games.

A Defense That Rewrote the Record Books

Philadelphia's defensive finished the season ranked first in the NFL in fewest passing yards, rushing yards, and total yards allowed. As such, the Eagles became only the fifth club in NFL history and the first since 1975 to accomplish this rare triple. Five members of that defensive unit represented the Eagles in the Pro Bowl – DEs White, ReggieReggie White and Simmons, ClydeClyde Simmons, DT Brown, JeromeJerome Brown, and LB Joyner, SethSeth Joyner were selected as starters while CB Allen, EricEric Allen also made the NFC squad. The selection of White, Simmons, and Brown marked only the sixth time in NFL history that three defensive linemen from one team were elected to the Pro Bowl.

In addition, the Eagles' defense led the NFL in sacks and fumble recoveries and tied for the league lead in takeaways. The Eagles' 48 defensive takeaways in 1991 is tied for the most in the NFL in the 1990s.[2]


NFL Draft

The 1991 NFL Draft draft was held April 21–22, 1991 at the Marriott Marquis Hotel in Manhattan, New York. On that day, Raghib "Rocket" Ismail from the University of Notre Dame, who was projected as the number one overall pick,[1] signed with the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League (CFL). The Los Angeles Raiders made him the 100th pick of the draft in the 4th round.

The Eagles with a 10 – 6 record in 1990 had the 19th or 20th pick in each round. The Eagles also that a pick at number 8 in the 1st round and they chose Antone Davis a Tackle out of Tennessee. The Eagles 1st round pick at number 19 was traded away earlier and acquired by the Green Bay Packers. They made 12 picks in the 12 rounds of the 1991 draft.

The overall number 1 pick was made by the Dallas Cowboys and they chose Russell Maryland a Defensive Tackle out of the Miami (FL)

Player Selections

= Pro Bowler [3] = Hall of Famer
1 8 Antone Davis
Pick Acquired from San Diego Chargers
OT 02/28/1967 Tennessee
1 19 Pick Made by Green Bay Packers
2 48 Jesse Campbell DB 04/11/1969 North Carolina State
3 75 Rob Selby OG 10/11/1967 Auburn
4 104 William Thomas LB 08/13/1968 Texas A&M
5 131 Craig Erickson QB 05/17/1969 Miami
6 156 Andy Harmon
Pick Acquired from Seattle Seahawks
DT 04/06/1969 Kent State
6 160 Pick Acquired from San Diego Chargers
7 187 James Joseph RB 10/28/1967 Auburn
8 216 Scott Kowalkowski LB 08/23/1968 Notre Dame
9 242 Chuck Weatherspoon RB 07/31/1968 Houston
10 271 Eric Harmon OG 03/03/1967 Clemson
11 298 Mike Flores DE 12/01/1966 Louisville
12 327 Darrell Beavers DB 11/24/1968 Morehead State



1991 Philadelphia Eagles staff
Front Office
  • Owner – Norman Braman
  • President/Chief Operating Officer – Harry T. Gamble
  • Director of Player Personnel – Joe Woolley

Head Coaches

Offensive Coaches


Defensive Coaches

  • Defensive Coordinator/Secondary – Bud Carson
  • Defensive Line – Dale Haupt
  • Linebackers – Jim Vechiarella
  • Defensive/Special Teams Assistant – Peter Giunta

Special Teams Coaches

Strength and Conditioning

  • Strength and Conditioning – Jim Williams



Regular season


Week Date Opponent Result Attendance
1 September 1, 1991 at Green Bay Packers W 20–3
2 September 8, 1991 Phoenix Cardinals L 26–10
3 September 15, 1991 at Dallas Cowboys W 24–0
4 September 22, 1991 Pittsburgh Steelers W 23–14
5 September 30, 1991 at Washington Redskins L 23–0
6 October 6, 1991 at Tampa Bay Buccaneers L 14–13
7 October 13, 1991 New Orleans Saints L 13–6
8 Bye
9 October 27, 1991 San Francisco 49ers L 23–7
10 November 4, 1991 New York Giants W 30–7
11 November 10, 1991 at Cleveland Browns W 32–30
12 November 17, 1991 Cincinnati Bengals W 17–10
13 November 24, 1991 at Phoenix Cardinals W 34–14
14 December 2, 1991 at Houston Oilers W 13–6
15 December 8, 1991 at New York Giants W 19–14
16 December 15, 1991 Dallas Cowboys L 25–13
17 December 22, 1991 Washington Redskins W 24–22

Game summaries

Week 1: at Green Bay Packers

1 2 34Total
Eagles 0 13 0720
Packers 0 0 303

at Lambeau Field, Green Bay, Wisconsin

  • Date: Sunday, September 1
  • Game time: 12:00 p.m.
  • Game weather: 60°F, wind 11 mph
  • Pro-Football-Reference.com

Week 14: at Houston Oilers

Philadelphia Eagles at Houston Oilers
1 234Total
Eagles 0 0103 13
Oilers 0 330 6
  • Source: Pro-Football-Reference.com

The Eagles defense shut down the Oilers' run-and-shoot attack with four sacks, six forced fumbles (five lost) and 21 yards rushing on 11 attempts. Jerome Brown said after the game, "They brought the house, we brought the pain."



NFC East
Washington Redskins 14 2 0 .875 485 224
Dallas Cowboys 11 5 0 .688 342 310
Philadelphia Eagles 10 6 0 .625 285 244
New York Giants 8 8 0 .500 281 297
Phoenix Cardinals 4 12 0 .250 196 344

Awards and honors

NFL Comeback Player of the Year – Jim McMahon QB

UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year – Reggie White DE


  • Eagles on Pro Football Reference
  • Eagles on jt-sw.com
  • Eagles on Eagles.net