Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Top 5 DE's

Here is the 5th installment of Ray Didinger's Top 5's. Click here for the 1st 4 installments. Unlike Linebacker, Defensive End has been a strength for the Eagles more often than not over the past 25 or so years. Here are Ray's top 5:

1. Reggie White (1985-92) – The greatest defensive lineman ever to wear an Eagles uniform. He set the club record with 124 career sacks, he never missed a game in eight years with the team and he was voted into seven consecutive Pro Bowls, the longest such streak in Eagles history.

He was 6-5 and played most of his career at 300 pounds, yet he had the quickness and agility of a much smaller man. He was almost impossible to block one on one. When he left the team following the 1992 season, he was the only player in the NFL to have more sacks than games played (121). He had 21 sacks in just 12 games in the strike-shortened 1987 season.

White took pride in being a complete player. Unlike some other defensive ends who only cared about rushing the quarterback and piling up sacks, White was a solid run defender who averaged more than 100 tackles per season with the Eagles. He was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year twice, 1987 and 1991.

2. Hugh Douglas (1998-2002, 2004) – The Eagles acquired Douglas from the New York Jets in 1998 in exchange for a second- and a fifth-round draft choice. It was one of the best deals in club history, as Douglas was voted into three Pro Bowls in his first five seasons as an Eagle.

It was a difficult choice trying to decide between Douglas and Clyde Simmons as the No. 2 defensive end. Clearly, both players were very good. I leaned towards Douglas because Simmons had the advantage of having Reggie White on the opposite side drawing double teams for most of his career. Douglas was the team’s best pass rusher, which means he got the tougher matchups week after week.

At 6-2 and 280 pounds, he gave away 30 or more pounds to most of the offensive tackles he lined up against, but he was so quick and strong he was able to get under the blocker’s pads, turn the corner and get to the quarterback. He tied a team record with 4½ sacks in a 1998 game against San Diego. He ranks third on the Eagles list for career sacks with 54½.

3. Clyde Simmons (1986-93) – Simmons broke into the starting lineup as a 275-pound terror at right end in 1987 and helped the Eagles forge the NFL’s No. 1 defense.

In eight seasons with the Eagles, Simmons had 76½ sacks, second only to White on the team’s all-time list. Simmons led the league with 19 sacks in 1992. He set a team record (later tied by Douglas) with 4½ sacks of Troy Aikman in a 24-0 rout of the Cowboys in 1991.

A very fluid athlete – he once covered Michael Jordan in a high school basketball tournament in his native North Carolina – Simmons used speed and moves as well as power to defeat blockers.

4. William Fuller (1994-96) – He played only three seasons with the Eagles so sometimes he is overlooked, but Fuller belongs on this list. He made the Pro Bowl all three seasons and ranked among the league leaders in sacks.

Fuller was similar to Douglas in terms of size. At 6-3 and 280 pounds, he was built low to the ground and he used that power in his lower body to jack up taller blockers and anchor against the run. He had 9½ sacks in 1994 and 13 sacks each of the next two seasons.

Nicknamed “The Fuller Rush Man,” he set an Eagles record by recording at least one sack in seven consecutive games in 1994. He had two sacks of Steve Young, including one for a safety, in a 40-8 rout of San Francisco, the worst loss the 49ers ever suffered at Candlestick Park.

5. Norm Willey (1950-57) –In 1952, Willey had 17 sacks in one game against the New York Giants. I know it is hard to believe, but here is a published account from the Philadelphia Bulletin:

Willey awed inhabitants of the Polo Grounds by dumping Giants quarterback Charlie Conerly 17 times while he was attempting to pass, causing New York scribes to remark, “‘He’s the greatest defensive end we’ve ever seen and probably the greatest we’ll ever see.’”

Dirty Wudders enjoys this list because we have seen 80% of the top 5 play. We never saw Wiley play but his description makes him seem like a worthy choice. DW actually disagrees with Ray's order:

1. Reggie - The Minister of Defense; no doubt about it. Arguably the best DE ever, and clearly the best DW has ever seen.
2. Simmons - Maybe teams double teamed Reggie to free up Clyde but 76.5 sacks speak for itself.
3. Douglas
4. Fuller - 35.5 sacks in 3 seasons
5. Trent Cole - 34.5 sacks in first 4 seasons, Cole has a chance to move up this very tough list.


  1. This is another one of those categories where you have Reggie at 1 and everyone else so far behind that it's a virtual tie for second.

  2. Agreed, Reggie could be first, second, and third on the list. I agree on Simmons over Douglas. It must've killed Didinger not to put 4 guys from the leather helmet era on there.
    Where's Jon Harris?
    More importantly, I'm drunk in Sea Isle right now. Suck it, working stiffs! It's been fun to watch my fantasy baseball team shit the bed in a whole new location. Unfortunately, Wheels and McCarthy still come in down here.

  3. Mike Mamula also missed the cut. I think he invented the "hurry".

  4. Damn, I just read this and was going to insert my Mamula "Just missed the QB, I mean Top 5 list" but you beat me to it.

    It's hard to argue this list and I'm glad to see that Trent Cole made the DW list. He's nasty! I wish that Jevon Kearse actually played will in an Eagles uniform so we could put him on this list. The Freak had so much potential.