Philadelphia Eagles: Trey Burton inactively helped to beat the Bears

(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images)
(Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images) /

After throwing the Philly Special one year prior, Trey Burton helped the Philadelphia Eagles in the playoffs once more; by being inactive on Sunday.

Trey Burton is a Philadelphia Eagles legend.

An undrafted free agent out of Florida, Burton quietly ascended from a college quarterback/halfback/fullback/wide receiver to a four-core special teams ace, into his eventual role as a versatile offensive weapon, trading in his number 47 for the more appropriate 88 of a serious NFL tight end.

Now granted, his production was hardly Hall of Fame-worthy, as Burton never recorded more than 327 yards or five touchdowns in a single season, but one play and one play only will virtually guarantee that Burton never has to pay for a beer in the City of Brotherly Love ever again: The Philly Special.

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Though Nick Foles often receives the brunt of the credit for the Philly Special, both because he helped to call ‘Philly Philly’ and because he hauled in the game saving touchdown, but it was Burton who received the ball from Corey Clement and threw a dime to the team’s once and current playoff darling.

And in a pivotal Wild Card showdown between Burton’s teams old and new, Trey inactivity helped his former squad advance to the divisional round despite being a sixth seed.

Here’s how.

After appearing in all 16 of the Bears’ regular season games, Burton came up on the team’s injury report in lieu of the 4:25 showdown, listed as questionable due to a ‘locked up groin’. While this naturally came as a bit of a surprise to everyone involved, it seems like an optimistic diagnosis, as questionable is much more favorable than a doubtful listing.

However, as game day approached, Burton’s status remained up in the air until the inactive list was published, featuring the tight end’s name right atop the list.

Could this have been a ploy to keep Philly guessing as to whom they would have to cover on game day? Sure, that’s a common tactic for any professional football team, but it’s also possible that the Bears sincerely hoped that their starting tight end would miraculously find a way to play through his injury, and provide Mitch Trubisky with a safety blanket across the middle of the field.

In hindsight, that thought process was dead on.

While Burton’s production isn’t going to make anyone forget about Zach Ertz anytime soon, as he hauled in 62 fewer passes for 594 fewer yards, his production, 54 catches for 569 yards, ranked fourth on the Bears behind only Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, and Taylor Gabriel.

This production, as average as it may for a starting tight end in the NFL, could have easily made the difference in a game decided by one point and a tipped field goal. Because of Burton’s inactivity, Matt Nagy was forced to rely on the reserve duo of Ben Braunecker and Adam Shaheen to fill his shoes, with the duo combining for 28 yards on five catches.


Could Burton have done better with the same number of catches? Who knows, but he’s certainly one of the most athletic, dynamic tight ends in the entire NFL, so it couldn’t have hurt. As the game dragged along and the Eagles’ pass rush started to disrupt the Bears’ ‘one-two-three-throw’ offensive efficiency, it’s clear Burton would have been targeted early and often on Solder Field checkdowns.

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So Trey Burton; thanks again for the postseason help. Even though your jersey color has changed, it’s nice to know that you still bleed green.