Thursday, August 11, 2016

Kansas City Chiefs 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 Chiefs. 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 Len Dawson’s best two seasons and use both QB slots.

Here is the team, First-teams on left, Second-teams on right:
Len Dawson, 1966, is the finest of his many fine seasons. He was the clear First-team choice. No one truly stood out for Second-team. It came down to Steve DeBerg in 1990 and Trent Green in 2003 and Joe Montana's 1993 season. We went with DeBerg, but it was one of those where you toss a coin. For honorable mentions we chose all the Chiefs QBs who were pro Bowler, and there were a lot. They are: Trent Green, 2003, Alex Smith, 2013, Bill Kenney, 1983, Matt Cassel, 2010, Elvis Grbac, 2000, Steve Bono, 1995 and the aforementioned Joe Montana season of 1993.
Kimble Anders, 1996, is the fullback and he's followed by Tony Richardson, 2004 as both were Pro Bowlers. Honorable mention for guard-in-the-backfield is Le'Ron McClain, 2011.

The Chiefs First-team runners are Priest Holmes 2003, and Abner Haynes, 1962. Haynes was the AFL MVP in 1960 but 1962 was even better with 19 touchdowns from scrimmage.
Backing those two up are Larry Johnson, 2006 and Jamaal Charles, 2013. Johnson's 2005 season was almost a twin of 2006 and Charles's 2010 was an All-Pro year like his 2013 year. We picked 2013 over 2010 due to the 12 rushing touchdowns in 2013, which led the NFL.
We really wanted to go with Christian Okoye's 1989 year but had to regulate him to honorable mention. Mike Garrett, 1967, is another honorable mention. Joe Delaney, 1981, Marcus Allen, 1993, and Tony Reed, 1978 (5.1 yards a carry).
Our choice as 3rd down receivers are Todd McNair, 1990, and Dexter McCluster, 2013 for First- and Second-team with honorable mention going to Ed Podolak, 1975 , MacArthur Lane, 1978 and Jeff Smith, 1986.

The top wide receivers are Otis Taylor, 1971 and Dwayne Bowe, 2010. Taylor was  tied for second in the AP MVP poll in 1971 and had 57 catches for 1110 yards and a 19.5 average and 7 scores and in that era, it was a monster year. Taylor had another monster year in 1966 as well He also had a long end-around  for a rushing touchdown. Bowe's 15 touchdown receptions garnered him the First-team honor.

The Second-team selections are Derrick Alexander, 2000, and Carlos Carson, 1983 with Stephone Paige, 1985 as the honorable mention as is Eddie Kennison for 2004. After some going back and forth, we added Jeremy Maclin, 2015. It's simply because this position is not as deep as some other teams.

The 3rd WR/slots are  Stephone Paige, 1983  and Marc Boerigter, 2002, with Joe Horn's 1990 the honorable mention.

The tight ends are Tony Gonzales, 2000 (All-Pro,93-1203-12.9-9), and Fred Arbanas, 1966 for the First- and Second-team respectively. Walter White is an honorable mention for his 1976 season when he had 47 receptions for 808 yards (17.2 average) and 7 scores.

The First-team offensive line is Jack Rudnay, 1975, at center with guards Will Shields, 2002, and
Ed Budde, 1969, and tackles Willie Roaf, 2004 and Jim Tyrer, 1970. All were at least First- or Second-team All-Pro/All-AFL.

The Second-team line consists of Tim Grunhard, 1999, at center, Brian Watters, 2004, and  Dave Szott, 1997 (A Pro Scout, Inc favorite), as guards with John Alt, 1990, and Branden Albert, 2013 at tackle. The honorable mentions are centers Casey Wiegmann, 2004 and E.J. Holub, 1969, guards 
Billy Krisher, 1960, Marvin Terrell, 1962, and Mo Moorman, 1969 and tackles Irv Eatman, 1986 and Dave Hill, 1969, all of whom garned some post-season honors.

The kickers are very strong with First-teamer Jan Stenerud, 1970, and Second-teamer Nick Lowery, 1990, and Pete Stoyanovich's 1997 as an honorable mention. Tommy Brooker, 1964. was an AFL All-Star choice in an era when kicking was not as automatic as today.

Since, as we've mentioned, we take era into consideration some may question our choices. Lowery was more accurate than Stenerud, for example. Yes, but both were considered the best in the game for the respective years we chose. The game has changed and in general numbers, whether it be passing stats, kicking or punting stats keep rising. So, to be fair we try our best to level the playing field when making our picks and that is why we take into account the era.
The punters are Jerrel Wilson, 1972, and Dustin Colquitt, 2012. In 1979 Bob Grupp was the AFC Pro Bowl punter and gets an honorable mention for that.

Dante Hall's 2003 gets both the kick- and punt-returner spots on the First-team and it was his four combined touchdowns that did the trick.  Dexter McCluster, 2013 (punt), and Tamarick Vanover, 1995 (kick), get the Second-team spots. The Chiefs have a strong tradition for returners and that makes the honorable mentions particularly significant. J.T. Smith, 1980, Tamarick Vanover, 1999, and Dale Carter, 1992, are Hms for punt-returners and Paul Palmer, 1987, is an HM at kick-returner.

For special teams we are going with Ceasar Belser's 1968 over 1969 and 1970. In 1968 he has 21 special teams tackles and blocked a punt and busted plenty of wedges. In 1969 he had 17 tackles and 16 in 1970. We went with kick blocker extraordinaire Albert Lewis, 1986. That year Lewis blocked or deflected 5 kicks and tackled one punter before he could get the punt off. Lewis in 1990 was just as effective with 4 blocked punts that year. The honorable mention is Gary Stills, 2003, when he had 22 special teams tackles and 3 forced fumbles. 

The First-team defensive ends are excellent since both were fine rushers and run stoppers, not one-trick ponies:  Art Still, 1980, and Neil Smith, 1993. 

Still's 1980 was very close to his 1984 season but we chose 1980 since he was a consensus All-Pro. In 1980 he had 119 tackles, 14½ sacks, 4 forced fumbles and 5 passes deflected. In 1984 it was 101 tackles, 14.5 sacks 6 passes deflected and 3 forced fumbles. Smith had several fine years, but we went with 1993 over 1992. In 1993 he had 47 tackles, 15 sacks, 4 forced fumbles, 3 fumbles recovered, 27 pressures a pick. The two blocked kicks were field goals in a game the Chiefs won 17-14, so they were quite impactful.

Jared Allen, 2007 (64 tackles, 15 sacks, 10 passes defended, and 3 FF while making All-Pro and Jerry Mays, 1966 (All-AFL, 8 sacks) are the Second-team choices. The honorable mentions are Eric Hicks, 2000 (46 tackles and 14 sacks), and Mike Bell, 1984 (44 tackles, 13.5 sacks, Pro Bowl alternate).
Buck Buchanan, 1967, and Curley Culp, 1972 are the First-team tackles and a quite a great pair. Culp was Second-team All-Pro in 1971 and a Pro Bowler in 1969, but in 1972 he was making more plays and we are going with that. In 1969 he had 69 tackles (9 stuffs), 8½ sacks and 3 pass defelctions. In 1971 he had 58 tackles, and 6 sacks, but only a handful of stuffs. In 1972 he had 66 tackles and 11.5 were stuffs to go with 7½ sacks. In fact, 1973 could have been the choice for Culp as well. Buchanan, in 1967, had 65 tackles, deflected 16 passes according to Chiefs records and had 7½ sacks and was consensus All-AFL.
Dan Saleaumua, 1990, and Bill Maas, 1987 (33 tackles, 6 sacks as one of few nose tackles who played on third downs) back them up with Dontari Poe, 2013, as the honorable mention. Saleaumuas's stat line is 74 tackles (4.5 stuffs), 7 sacks, and 6 recovered fumbles. (He had 5 the previous season) and he was a Second-team All-Pro. 

The designated rushers are Wallace Gilberry, 2010 and Ken Kremer, 1980. Kremer was unusual for this spot since he was an interior rusher when he came into games in 1979-81. He only had 4 sacks in 1979 and 1979 and 8 in 1981 but in 1981 he started half the games at nose tackle. We went with 1980 as the choice, but 1979 was almost the same kind of season.
Willie Lanier, 1973, is the First-team MLB with Derrick Johnson, 2011, as the Second-teamer as an ILBer in a year where he had 131 tackles. The honorable mentions are Sherrill Headrick, 1961and 3-4 ILBer Dino Hackett, 1988. Lanier could have been chosen for almost any of 1968-75. He was All-pro in most and consensus in 1971 and 1973. The defense was better in 1971, but Lanier had to do more in 1973-75 as his teammates like Buchanan, Bell and Buchanan slowed down, so we chose 1973 when he had 138 tackles, 3 picks, 3 fumbles recovered and a sack.

Derrick Thomas, 1990, and Bobby Bell, 1968, are the First-team outside linebackers. Thomas had 57 tackles, 20 sacks, 35 hurries and six forced fumbles. Bell, like many of the Chiefs greats, has a number of All-pro years to choose from. It came down to 1968 or 1969. In 1968 he had 77 tackles, 5 interceptions, and 2½ sacks. In 1969 he had 81 tackles, 5 sacks, but no picks. He was consensus All-Pro in both, so which? We chose 1968. Oddly, in studying outside linebackers of that era, often they would have a handful of sacks one year and few the next and an inverse number of interceptions. We saw this in Chuck Howley and Dave Robinson to name two. It's likely they were in coverage more in one year and dogged more in another year, showing roles change from year-to-year even for the greats. 

The Second-team choices are really solid; Justin Houston, 2014 (68 tackles, 22 sacks, 4 FF and 5 PD), and Tamba Hali, 2013. Both are great pass rushers and it's hard to leave a 20-sack season off of the First-team, but Houston is behind two Hall of Famers in their best seasons. The honorables are Jim Lynch, 1968 and E.J. Holub, 1963.

The corner spot is also very deep. Emmitt Thomas, 1974 (All-Pro, 12 interceptions), and Albert Lewis, 1989, are likely their top years, but Thomas's 1975 and 1969 would have done nicely, too.  Dale Carter, 1996, and Jim Marsalis, 1970 get the next two slots, edging players like James Hasty, 1999, Marcus Peters, 2015, Kevin Ross, 1990 and Gary Green, 1983, who all get HM selections.

Albert Lewis, 1983, also gets the top nickel slot and he's backed up by Durwood Roquemore also of 1983 who was the dime back and snagged 4 passes and returned one to the house.

Eric Berry, 2013 (82 tackles, 3/5 sacks 2 pick 6s), is the strong safety backed up by Bobby Hunt, 1966, and with HMs Brandon Flowers, 2013, Lloyd Burruss, 1986, and Jim Kearney, 1972. Kearney returned four interceptions for touchdowns and didn't sniff the Pro Bowl. He had to be asking himself "what do I have to do?".

The free safety First-teamer is Johnny Robinson, 1970 (though several other years also qualified) and the Second-team FS slot goes to Deron Cherry, 1986 (108 tackles 9 interceptions). The strong honorable mentions go to Gary Barbaro, 1981,  Jerome Woods, 2003, and Mark Collins, 1996.

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