Sunday, October 23, 2016

Roger Brown and His Short Sleeves

By John Turney

Short sleeves on NFL jerseys are the rule in football jerseys. It was a trend that began in the late-1960s and has continued until today where sleeves are so short that often the traditional stripes are near the shoulders and the TV numbers are on top of shoulders. Here is just one example:

Back in the day sleeves were 1/2 length or 3/4 length with the 1/2 length going to the elbow and the 3/4 length going down to the forearm. However, on occasion, there were players who wore shorter sleeves than the 1/2 length. 

Roman Gabriel could be seen, usually in that shorter sleeve, but he also would don 1/2 length or 3/4 length in his time with the Rams. 

In his 1970 book Player of the year: Roman Gabriel's Football Journal Gabriel relates on story that he wore the 3/4 length to hide the extra pad on his elbow so the defense would not know which elbow was injured and give then an incentive to put a little hot sauce on any hit they may give him.

However, perhaps the player who should get credit for having extra short sleeves as a tactical advantage was Roger Brown, also of the Rams. He played three seasons for the Rams, as the replacement for Rosey Grier on the Fearsome Foursome.

However, he began with the shorter sleeves with the Lions, but we are not sure which year he began the practice. Earlier in his career he didn't. But likely by 1965-66 he was, at least based on the team photos we've been able to find. 
Brown with Lions and sleeves rolled up or cut.
Here is a game used Lions jersey:

 Here is a game used Rams 1968 jersey with altered sleeves.

You can click HERE for quite a few shots of Brown in action, As you can tell, early shots of Brown show the 3/4 sleeves but as the photos go from the Lions to the Rams you can see he always wore the short sleeves with the Rams while the rest of the Foursome wore 3/4 length sleeves. 

Brown did it to keep linemen from grabbing his arms and felt the cloth would allow a better grip. As the 1960s turned to the 1970s most defensive linemen followed suit, at least opting for the 1/2 sleeves. And by the 1980s the sleeves were designed to be shorter and tighter and that style has progressed through until current day.

Did Eli Manning Employ a "Trump" Call?

By John Turney

We've heard "Omaha" ad nauseam over the years with the Mannings. We ask if Eli made a "Trump, Trump, Trump" line call here. It's hard to tell, you be the judge.

Fair use claim. For education and criticism.

UPDATE: 8:48 PM EST. While watching this game on NFL Replay we noticed that Dan Fouts mentioned the "Trump call" with about 2:45 to go in the first half, about 9 minutes of game time after it occurred. We didn't see the game live, so it was clear to not only us but the CBS crew covering the game.

Saturday, October 22, 2016

Pro Football Weekly's 1978 NFL Players of the Week

Complete Lists

By John Turney
Beginning in 1978 Pro Football Weekly began releasing their choices for the NFL Players of the Week and it continued through the final season that magazine existed. They were different than the official AFC/NFC Players of the Week that the NFL began releasing in 1984 in that the were for the entire league, not just the conferences. In that respect they were more like the Associated Press Players of the Week lists Pro Football Journal has published earlier this year.

The AP had this award from 1963 through 1973. From 1978 to 1983 PFW was the only publication making Player of the Week selections. Later in the 1980s a couple of others joined in, but none was as consistent as PFW.

PFW did release the Golden Toe Awards, which were weekly, prior to 1978 and we will publish those at some point as well.

Here is 1978, in which there was a Player of the Week and a Golden Toe (best kicker/punter) of the Week.
                   Player of the Week                          Golden Toe
Week 1      Tony Dorsett, Dal                               Pat Leahy, NYJ
Week 2      James Lofton, GB                               Bob Thomas, Chi and
                                                                              Rick Danmeier, Min
 Week 3     Terry Bradshaw, Pit                            Dave Jennings, NYG
 Week 4     Willie Buchanon, GB                         Dave Green, TB
                  Joe Washington, Bal
 Week 5     Wilbert Montgomery, Phi                   Errol Mann, Oak
 Week 6      Jim Zorn, Sea                                     Benny Ricardo, Det and
                                                                              Mark Moseley, Was
Week 7       Terdell Middleton, GB                       Pat Leahy, NYJ
Week 8       Fran Tarkenton, Min                          Rusty Jackson, Buf
Week 9       Steve Grogan, NE                              Greg Coleman, Min and
                                                                              Tim Mazzetti, Atl
Week 10    Sherman Smith, Sea                            Frank Corral, LA
Week 11    John Jefferson, SD                              Mark Moseley, Was
Week 12    Brian Sipe, Cle                                    Ray Guy, Oak
Week 13    Earl Campbell, Hou and                      Efren Herrera, Sea
                  Terry Miller, Buf
Week 14    Fran Tarkenton, Min                           Garo Yepremian,
Week 15    Craig Morton, Den                              Rolf Benirschke, SD
Week 16     Dan Fouts, SD                                    Benny Ricardo, Det

Friday, October 21, 2016

2016 Leaders in Run/Pass Stuffs

By John Turney
Last year Nick Webster posted on who were the NFL leaders in run and pass stuffs, that is all plays, other than sacks and kneel downs, which is a stat unique to Pro Football Journal. STATS, LLC. does compile run stuffs that include both solo and assisted tackles and Elias Sports Bureau does compile tackles for loss, which is solo tackles for a loss, both run and pass, plus sacks, minus any sack that is a forced fumble and excludes any assists or shared tackles. We don't know why they do that, but they do. But neither compile this stat.

Regardless, here are the 2016 NFL leaders in Run/Pass stuffs through last weekend.
Aaron Donald and Telvin Smith tied last year for 4th and are at the top of the 2016 list thus far. Jadeveon Clowney and the Cardinals Tony Jefferson are next. It's early and we will keep readers posted as the season moves along.

There Goes Les Josephson Number Thirty-four, No, Make That Number Thirty-five for a Touchdown!

By John Turney

In Week 3 on October 1, 1967, when the Los Angeles Rams visited the Cotton Bowl in Dallas to play the Cowboys, Rams running back Les Josephson wore two different numbers during the game.

He wore number 34, his usual number to open the game, but when he scored his 17-yard toucdown he wore uniform  number 35.

Credit NFL Films, Fair use claim for education and criticism
We are not sure if this is the only time for this to happen, our best guess is likely not. But this is one case that is documented. We don't know the issue, game reports we've researched do not mention it, but the likeliest explanation is the usual jersey was torn and not usable. Since they were on the road and since the blue jerseys were not the Rams primary jersey, wearing it only on the road when opposing teams wore white it is possible they didn't have a backup #34 for Josephson to wear.

Anyway, if you know of other incidents let us know in comments section below.

Monday, October 3, 2016

Todd Gurley's Meteoric Rise Followed by Fizzle.

By John Turney
Sportraits by Alex Ansara
Thanks to Pro Football Reference for the ease of use of looking up spans of player's careers. In this case we are looking at Todd Gurley's first 16 starts and then comparing his first four starts versus his last 12.

His first 16 starts are certainly Pro Bowl-worthy, over 1300 yards, 12 TDs and 28 catches.

However, even though his per-game average is 82 in those 16 starts in the first 4 he averaged 142 meaning that something has happened in the last 12.

In the last 12 starts he's fallen to 62 yards per game and a 3.4 yards per carry average (down from 6.4). The NFL is simply stacking the box with 8 or 9 players to limit his ability to get big gains.

NFL defenses are challenging the Rams to throw.

The Los Angeles Rams offensive line was built via the draft to be run blocking mauler-types with Greg RobinsonCody Wichmann, Jamon Brown (sometimes splits time with Wichmann at RG), Rob Havenstein all being recent additions whose forte was to be run blocking.

They, along with tight ends Lance Kendricks and TE/FB Cory Harkey they were to pave the way for regular 100-yards games for Gurley, but it is not happening. In fact, last year they allowed only 18 sacks, among the best in franchise history, perhaps showing more acumen in pass protection than zone blocking.

The Rams installed the zone blocking scheme last season to facilitate that, but for some reason do not run many plays with a lead fullback, which Gurley says he prefers. The Rams use Harkey more on the edge than in an I or Power I formation.

We will see what the next dozen games bring but if they are like the last 12 Gurley wouldn't reach 1000 yards this season. But if there are a few of those 140-yard games in the mix it will certainly be a help for the 3-1 Rams who are winning, but doing it with a inconsistent offense.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Gregg Williams Rushes Six on Final Play of Rams at Cardinals

By John Turney

Last week, on the final play of the Los Angeles Rams Rams at the Tampa Bay Buccaneers game, the Rams defensive coordinator  Gregg Williams rushed 3 and dropped 8 into coverage, including a nose tackle and it was successful.

This week in the Rams at Cardinals game, in a Hail Mary-type situation, Williams rushed 6 and covered with 5 as the Cardinals sent only three receivers into the pattern. The rush, which was composed of three defensive lineman and 2 defensive backs and one hybrid linebacker/defensive back (Mark Barron) caused quarterback Drew Stanton to pull the trigger on his pass a hair too early, and as a result, his receivers didn't get deep enough into the end zone to make a play on the ball and it was intercepted by T.J. McDonald, ending the game.

Fair use claim, for criticism and education