How Brian Westbrook Will Silence Critics Again and Make Eagles History

Leo PizziniAnalyst IJuly 1, 2009

PHILADELPHIA - DECEMBER 28:  Brian Westbrook #36 of the Philadelphia Eagles runs the ball against the Dallas Cowboys on December 28, 2008 at Lincoln Financial Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Eagles defeated the Cowboys 44-6. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)

Brian Westbrook is closing in on the all-time Philadelphia Eagles' rushing record.  He needs just 817 rushing yards to lay claim to the title.  Regardless of the final statistics, Westbrook has secured his position in the hearts of the contemporary Philadelphia loyalists as the all-time greatest back in Eagles history.

There have been many great Eagles' running backs from Steve Van Buren and Timmy Brown to Wilbert Montgomery, Hershel Walker, Ricky Watters, and Duce Staley. 

In the end, there can only be one all-time rushing leader.


Steve Van Buren, an NFL Legend and Philadelphia Eagles All-Time Great

Steve Van Buren is arguably the greatest Eagles running back of all-time. Van Buren was the NFL's all-time leading rusher with 5,860 yards and 69 touchdowns when he retired in 1951 after an eight year career (12 game seasons). He played for two NFL Championship Eagles teams in 1948 and 1949.

Van Buren earned all-pro honors five times in his career.


Wilbert Montgomery, the Philadelphia Eagles All-Time Leading Rusher

Wilbert Montgomery broke Van Buren's mark in 1983, laying claim to the Philadelphia rushing title in a season where he started only one game.  Perhaps it was a bit of an anticlimactic season for such an accomplishment. Nonetheless, it was a well-deserved accolade for a beloved Eagle who clinched the Eagles' first ever Super Bowl appearance by breaking the backs of the rival Dallas Cowboys in the 1980 NFC Championship.

In 1979, his best season, Montgomery rushed for 1,512 yards.  He earned pro bowl berths in 1978 and 1979, and retired with 6,538 yards rushing as an Eagle.


Brian Westbrook's Place in Philadelphia Eagles History

Heading into his eighth season as an Eagle, Westbrook has 5,721 yards rushing and boasts a 4.7 yard career average per carry.  He needs 817 more yards on the ground to become the Eagles' all-time leading rusher.

In 2008, Westbrook increased his yards-from-scrimmage tally to 9,330  (the best mark in franchise history), surpassing Harold Carmichael's franchise record of 9,042.  With just 670 more yards, he will cross a new milestone—10,000 yards from scrimmage.

The doubters and critics are coming out of the woodwork.  Pessimism regarding Westbrook's multiple off-season surgeries (ankle and knee) have cast some doubt on his ability to perform at the same high level.

I will urge all true Westbrook enthusiasts to dismiss their concerns and remember the toughness and work ethic that Westbrook has displayed throughout his career.  His knee looked good in the OTAs so bury that issue. 

The timing of the ankle surgery is unsettling, but the rehab has already begun, and the procedure to remove the bone spurs was minor and represented no serious material damage to any tendons or ligaments above the level of a sprain.

Westbrook will be feeling great coming into 2009, and with the help of LeSean McCoy, Leonard Weaver, and a new look offensive line made of pure maulers, he could be poised to have one of his best seasons yet.

I expect Westbrook to put up over 1,000 yards on the ground and 1,500 yards from scrimmage in 2009.

He will become the all-time leading rusher in Eagles' history this year. 

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