Saturday, July 23, 2016

Buffalo Bills All Career-Year Team

OPINION
By John Turney
At Pro Football Journal we are trying to pick the best individual seasons in the history of each franchise, which we will continue today with the Bills. By "Career-year" we mean the best performances at each position, with the following rule: Only one season per player per position. For example, here, we cannot pick Bruce Smith’s best two seasons and use both DE slots.

Here is the team, First-teams on left, Second-teams on right:


The Bills tradition at wide receiver is not quite  as stellar as some other teams. On the First-team we chose Andre Reed's 1991 season and matched him with Eric Mould's 1998 season. We went with 1998 over 2002 for Moulds due to the high yards per catch.  Elbert Dubenion, 1964, was the classic deep threat and we chose Bob Chandler's 1976 season, even though he got some Second-team honors in 1975 and 1977, 1976 he had 10 touchdowns in a run-first era with a very run-first team.
Credit: Merv Corning
For honorable mentions Frank Lewis in 1981 and Marlin Briscoe, 1970 and Steve Johnson, 2010, stood out.

Roscoe Parrish, 2007 took the First-team slot and Chris Hogan, 2014, is the Second-teamer. There were several honorable mentions:  Steve Tasker 1995, Byron Franklin, 1983, Lou Piccone's 1979 and Josh Reed 2002.

The First-team tight end is Ernie Warlick, 1962 and the Second-teamer Paul Costa, 1967 (over 18 yards per catch)    Reuben Gant 1977 and Pete Metzelaars, 1993 are the honorable mentions.
Credit: Merv Corning

Credit: Merv Corning
Now, running back is a very deep tradition in Buffalo. It was hard leaving guys off or relegating them to the Second-team. We went with 1975 over 1973 for O.J. Simpson due to it being a more complete season, even though he was the consensus MVP in 1973. Thurman Thomas's 1991 was also an MVP season. Cookie Gilchrist (1962) and Joe Cribbs in 1981are the backups. The very solid honorable mentions are Marshawn Lynch, 2008 and  Willis McGahee, 2004 as well as Travis Henry, 2002and classic fullback Jim Braxton, 1975.

The guard-in-the-backfield fullbacks are also solid: Carwell Gardner, 1991  and Sam Gash, 1998 on the First- and Second-team, respectively and as honorables Jamie Mueller, 1990 and Larry Centers, 2001.

Rommie Harmon was an easy choice as the nickel running back and Robb Riddick, 1984, is the Second-teamer there.
Credit: Kelly Russell
Credit: Merv Corning
Credit: Merv Corning
Jim Kelly, 1991, was his most productive season and the Second-team is Jack Kemp, 1965. We chose two honorable mentions: Doug Flutie, 1998 and Joe Ferguson, 1980. We added Drew Bledsoe for his 2002 Pro Bowl season as an honorable mention.
Credit: Merv Corning

Kent Hull, 1990 is the center Joe DeLaimielleure, 1975, and Billy Shaw, 1966 are the guards and Jason Peters, 2007 and Stew Barber, 1964 man the tackle spots. Backing them up is Eric Wood, 2015, as center. The guards are Ruben Brown, 2000 and Reggie McKenzie, 1973. The tackles are Howard Ballard, 1992 and Will Wolford, 1992

There were lots of honorable mentions: Jim Richter, 1991 at guard as well as Richie Incognito,2015, and Conrad Dobler, 1980,  Andy Levitre, 2012 at guard, too and  Joe Devlin, 1980, Dave Foley, 1973 and Ken Jones, 1981 as the honorable mention tackles.
Yes, the First-team kicker is wide-right Scott Norwood, 1988  and Pete Gogolak, 1965 backs him up.  Steve Christie, 1990, is the lone backup. 

Brian Moorman, 2005 was super and  1969 was Paul Maguire's best in terms of net yardage and avoiding blocked punts. 

Leodis McKelvin, 2012, beat our Roscoe Parrish, 2007 for punt returner and Terrence McGee, 2004isFirst-team kick returner with Leodis McKelvin, 2008 , the Second-teamer.
Credit: Merv Corning
Like running back special teams specialist was very deep. We went with Steve Tasker's 1987 season with the 20 tackles, three forced fumbles, one blocked punt and three other deflections and awards for various organizations as the NFL/AFC Special teams Player of the Year. He certainly had several other years, though, that were just as good. Lou "Conehead" Piccone's 1980 was the Second-team pick. For honorable mentions we chose Marty Schottenheimer, 1965, Mark Pike, 1990 (36 tackles) and Marcus Easley, 2013.

For nickel back we went with Rod Kush, 1981  and  Antione Winfield, 1999. Kush was more of the linebacker-in-the-box type, not unlike Mark Barron or Craig Dahl play these days. He had 5½ sacks in his role as the extra back. Winfield was the classic third corner. Honorable mention was Jeff Nixon in 1979, where he was more like a Randy Hughes, playing safety while others moved to the nickel. Nixon did start some due to injuries, but he picked of 6 passes in his role.

 Jerry Hughes, 2013 is the designated pass rusher and Ryan Denney, 2006, us Second-team.
Butch Byrd Credit: Jim Auckland
The starting corners are Robert James, 1973, and Butch Byrd, 1966 with Nate Odomes, 1993 and , 2004, Booker Edgerson, 1968 as Second-team selections. The honorable mentions are Antoine Winfield, 2003, Mario Clark, 1981 and Thomas Smith, 1995 as well as Nate Clements, 2004.

Originally we had Terrance McGee as a Second-team corner. H/T to Jeffrey Miller and Adam Dawson of the Pro Football Researcher's Association who convinced us we erred in that selection. We replaced him with Booker Edgerson. Now, Edgerson had two pick 6's in 1968 but didn't get any honors, but in 1969 he only had one pick but was Second-team All-AFL. Was it a case of getting rewarded for previous season or was he someone who quarterbacks didn't want to challenge? We choose the latter. Mario Clark was a Second-team All-AFC in 1981 and Clements was a Pro Bowler in 2004. Smith and Winfield were good players and didn't get honors, but still got the HMs here.

Strong safety is manned by Henry Jones, 1992 (All-Pro) followed by Tom Janik, 1967 (All-AFL). Steve Freeman, 1983 is the honorable mention.

George Saimes is the free safety followed by Tony Greene's All-Pro 1974 season when he picked off nine passes, Jairus Byrd, 2009  (also 9 picks) is as an honorable mention. In 1964 Saimes was All-AFL and had 4 sacks in one game versus the Broncos. 
Credit: Merv Corning
The starting linebackers are Shane Conlan, 1988 and Jim Haslett, 1980, inside and Cornelius Bennett, 1988 and Bryce Paup, 1995. Paul had 17.5 sacks and was the AP Defensive Player of the Year in 1995. The Second-teamers are Sam Cowart, 2000, and Archie Matsos, 1960 on the inside and Darryl Talley, 1991 and Mike Stratton, 1965. Talley had 117 tackles, 5 forced fumbles, 4 sacks and 4 interceptions in 1991.
For honorable mention LBers we chose London Fletcher, 2006, Harry Jacobs, 1966 Kiko Alonso, 2013 Eugene Marve, 1982 on the inside and outside 'backers John Tracey, 1965 and Isiah Robertson, 1980.

Fred Smerlas, 1980 is the top nose tackle followed by Ted Washington, 1997, Washington was really a 4-3 1/shade technique.  Kyle Williams, 2010 and Jeff Wright, 1992, are the honorable mentions. Wright was a quick, slashing player rather that the stout plugger like Smerlas.

Tom Sestak, 1964 (14½ sacks) and  Marcell Dareus, 2014 are the First- and Second-team defensive tackles with Jim Dunaway, 2006 and Sam Adams, 2004, next in line,
At end Bruce Smith had several great years, but at the risk of being obvious we choose 1990 over the two great seasons in the mid-1990s when he was 256 pounds.  In 1990 he had 89 tackles, 19 sacks 7 passes deflected and four forced fumbles. In 1996, his runner-up year he had 90 tackles, 13.5 sacks, 10 stuffs, five forced fumbles and 3 blocked kicks. Both seasons he was the AP Defensive Player of the Year and in 1993 he was the NEA Defensive MVP and had  a career-high 106 and a career-high 13.4 stuffs to go with 13 sacks and four forced fumbles.

With him is Mario Williams's 2014 campaign (42 tackles, 14.5 sacks). Aaron Schobel, 2006 (53 tackles, 14 sacks, 4 FF) and Ron McDole, 1966, are the backup ends. In 1966 McDole had 69 tackles 8½ sacks and 10 passes deflected and an interception and a blocked kick.

The honorable mentions were excellent:  Ben Williams, 1982 (Second-team All-Pro), LaVerne Torczon, 1961, and Marcellus Wiley's 2000 when he had 65 tackles and 10.5 sacks.

Agree or disagree with any of the selections? Post in comment section below.

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