Wednesday, December 31, 2014

PFJ's 2014 All-Pro Team

Selected by the staff of PFJ.

Here are the All-AFC and All-NFC selections:
Position Awards:
Offensive Lineman of the Year—Joe Thomas, T, Cleveland
Defensive Lineman of the Year—J.J. Watt, Houston
Linebacker of the Year—Justin Houston, Kansas City
Defensive Back of the Year—Richard Sherman, Seattle
Running Back of the Year—DeMarco Murray, Dallas
Receiver of the Year—Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh
Returner of the Year—Jacoby Jones, Baltimore
Special Teams Player of the Year—Matthew Slater, New England
Kicker/Punter of the Year—Pat McAfee, Indianapolis

PFJ's 2014 All-Rookie Team

Pro Football Journal
2014 All-Rookie Team

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

Dandy Don and the Single Back Offense

by T.J. Troup

As a 15-year old reading Street & Smith's pro football in late summer of '66 reading about the improvement of the Dallas Cowboy offense in '65. Statements that Dallas had Meredith roll out more as the key element is only partially true. Watching film of Dallas the second half of '65 (2-5 the first half) saw that Tom had the Dallas offense in a single back wing alignment much of the time.

Yes, Dandy Don did roll out, but much more important with Hayes's speed, and three other receivers quickly into their patterns. The Cowpokes go 5-2 and "earn" a Playoff bowl berth. Mel Renfro was moved to offense in '66 to further this alignment and with his speed and athletic ability no doubt he would have contributed. Injury allowed free agent Dan Reeves to get playing time; which he took advantage of especially as a receiver).

Using 16 games as an evaluation of Dandy Don (last 7 of '65, and first 9 of '66) he completed 230 of 436 for 4,265 yards, with 37 going for touchdowns, and 21 intercepted. The most impressive part of his passing stats you ask? 9.78 yards per pass, which is Otto-esque!

Ok, guys your thoughts?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Warren Sapp's Lost Sack Title

by John Turney

The 2000 NFL season was a good one for 3-techniques, well, at least two if them. The previous season Warren Sapp was voted the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the AP and PFWA. In 2000 La'Roi Glover of the New Orleans Saints was voted the NFC Defensive Player of the Year by the KC Committee of 101. Sapp followed up is award-filled 1999 season with 16.5 sacks, tied with Trace Armstrong of the Miami Dolphins for second in the NFL. Glover led the NFL with 17. Or did he?

 On Sunday, November 26, 2000, the Saints played the Rams in St. Louis, and in that game Glover recorded 3 sacks on Trent Green. Here is the first as listed in the Gamebook
It shows Glover sacked Green, forced a fumble, which was recovered by Joe Johnson. However, in looking at the clip from YouTube, it shows that Glover hit Green low, but it was Joe Johnson, who stripped the ball from Green and then, in a bang-bang fashion, Glover took and empty-handed Green to the turf. It took Pat Summeral and John Madden, the Fox commentators calling the game, three replays to get the call right.

Since 1987 Elias Sports Bureau had a policy to review sacks if there was a question as to who should get credit, but usually the review was at the request of a team that had an interest in the scoring. If there was no beef, it stood as scored at the time. However, were it reviewed it may have led to Glover finishing with 16 sacks and Joe Johnson with 13, leaving Sapp and Armstrong as the sack champions for the year.

It is easy to see this was the type of play that needed further review, but it somehow slipped through the cracks. I contacted Elias that week to suggest they look at it, but I never heard a word back. At the Super Bowl in Tampa I ran into Seymour Siwoff at the media center and asked why his crew never got back, but he didn't know, but did tell me he wished I had pushed a little harder because they wanted to "get it right".

A review, at any rate, might have concluded the scorer in St. Louis was right anyway, or perhaps a split sack could have been considered. But, in a season like this, with a resurgence of several young and exciting 3-techniques, one of whom may be the NFL Defensive Player of the Year it brought to mind this play.

So, 15 years later, congratulations are in order for Warren Sapp and Trace Armstrong, the unofficial sack leaders of the 2000 NFL Season.

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Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Merlin Olsen: The Best I Ever Saw

By John Turney
In September 2008, I had a chance to interview Merlin Olsen near his home in Park City, Utah. We'd talked in the mid-1990s and in the early 2000s and then sometimes via email after that if I had a question.

This time he generously gave me a list of the best players he saw during his playing and broadcasting career in the NFL which spanned from the early 1960s through the early 1990s.

The following is his list and his comments:
"Stephenson was the quickest I saw and had great strength, too. It was a pleasure watching him in the games I covered for NBC".

"Jim Parker played on the opposite said but I had to be prepared for him on traps, he gave the hardest blows of anyone. He moved incredibly well for a guy who was 300 pounds."

"Back when preseason games meant something, even personal pride, I'd have tough battles with Walt (Sweeney). He had great strength for his size. He was the toughest I faced, though Jerry Kramer was very good, too. "

"Deacon would tell you that Forrest was the best he had to deal with. We'd play Green Bay twice a year and Gregg always played Deac well."

"Like Dwight (Stephenson) Anthony (Munoz) was something to watch. I saw him plenty in the eighties and he always was prepared and always played well".

Tight End
"Because of Deacon teams didn't throw to the tight end against us (Rams defense). But the Colts were the exception because Mackey had the skills to chip Deacon and still get into the pass pattern. And he could block well, I had to have my head on a swivel because he'd down block you sometimes and could deliver a shot on you".

"My quarterback is John Unitas. You could not intimidate him, everyone else you could".

"Jim Brown was far ahead of everyone."

The one guy who made our defense look silly was Gale. He had quick moves that would leave us flat-footed."

Split end
"Raymond Berry had the best hands I saw and had the best moves and was the best end at running his routes to perfection".

"Watching what Jerry Rice did was special. You wouldn't think one guy could be that much better than everyone else at his position in the league.

"I cannot leave Deacon out. I think he had more speed and quickness than anyone at his position and that goes to this day. Maybe people will think I am biased but it would be wrong to not name him as the best—because he was"

Gino was an idol to me when I came into the league. Even though he played outside I watched many canisters of film on him and how he'd grab players and toss them aside fascinated me. Doug (Atkins) could do that, too but he was not as consistent as Gino."

"In games, I covered Reggie White and Howie Long were the best I saw but I cannot honestly say they were better than Deac and Gino.

"Joe Greene would be my left tackle and Bob Lilly would be on the right. They would work well together. Joe and I were kind of similar and Bob and Alan Page were similar. I could have played with Bob and Alan, but not with Joe.

And Joe could have worked well as a tandem with Bob and Alan. But Joe and I and Bob and Alan, had we been paired would not have worked.

We'd have messed each other up, getting in each other's way".

Middle Linebacker
"Dick Butkus was the best in the middle. It would have been wonderful if he'd had a chance to play with a better team. He'd have been better than he was, and he was pretty good (smile)".

Inside Linebacker
For a 3-4 linebacker, Randy Gradishar was the best I saw. I never saw a linebacker made so many initial stops. It seemed like he was always first to the ball and was a solid hitter, too. Some linebackers would sometimes fall on the piles and get their number called but in the games, Dick (Enberg) and I did it was always "Randy Gradishar on the tackle" and they'd get up and he'd be the last one getting up".

Outside linebacker
I didn't cover many games of the Giants but we did enough to know that Lawrence Taylor was the best at his job. If he came up in the 1960s or 1970s he would have been put at defensive end. But in the 1980s with the 3-4 defenses that were popping up, the ideal athlete met with the ideal scheme. I sometimes wonder what he might have done as an end, that he may have been a Deacon Jones on the right side".

"The 4-3 outside linebacker I liked the most was Dave Wilcox. He had great size for that era but could still run. Right behind him would be Dave Robinson who also was big, but could run and cover.

I was always jealous of the 49ers and Packers linebacking squads because of their athleticism and size and strength. Our linebackers weren't very good and as a front four, we have to cover for them at times. They just were smaller, slower guys who got by on their brains and George (Allen) if we'd had a Wilcox or someone like that we'd have been that much better. Out linebackers just didn't make the kind of plays you'd expect, you know, game-changing plays."

"By the time I came to the NFL Night Train was slowing down some, but he still was an intimidator and a gambler our quarterbacks were told to stay away from."

Herb Adderly is the next best I ever saw. He was somewhat smaller than Lane but was a big hitter. He was also a gambler who was a cornerback who could be deadly to an offense."

"There were some good ones when I played but to me, Ronnie Lott was the best I saw. He could play cornerback but was a hard-hitting safety and smart player. He was like a Night Train Lane who was playing safety."

"Nolan (Cromwell) got hurt but looking back on my career I cannot think of anyone who could do more things as a safety. He had more range than Lott and had great leaping ability. He was a good hitter but not as rough as Lott but he'd hit, but more importantly, he'd not miss tackles. And he couldn't be fooled too often. I saw him play cornerback some and also linebacker in some of the Rams schemes. But yeah, outside of Lott there is no safety I'd want on my team more than him".

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

Dave Parks, Early Career Greatness

by TJ Troup

Credit: Philadelphia Cards
There have been many receivers who have attained greatness at some point in their career. Since it will be his birthday tomorrow on Christmas day; a chance for me to pay tribute to a receiver I saw play in person in the mid-sixties who was on his way to a Hall of Fame career:  Dave Parks. The criteria is as follows: only 7 men who pre-Super Bowl caught at least 160 passes, for at least 2,750 yards, and at least 20 touchdowns over the course of 36 games.

They are as follows;
1. The immortal Don Hutson from the beginning of the 1942 season through the first 5 games of 1945. He caught 208 for 3,486 yards, and 45 touchdowns.
Don Hutson, Colorization by John Turney
2. Tom Fears during the first three years of his career caught 212 passes, for 2,827 yards, and 20 touchdowns.
Tom Fears. Colorization by John Turney
3. Pete Pihos last three years of his career (led the league in catches all three) caught 185 passes for 2,785 yards, and 27 touchdowns.
Pete Pihos. Colorization by John Turney
4. Raymond Berry, beginning with the last two games of 1957 through the first 10 games of 1960 caught 203 passes for 3,190 yards, and 33 touchdowns.
Raymond Berry. Colorization by John Turney
5. Del Shofner from the second game of '61 through the 10th game of 1963 caught 163 passes, for 3,038 yards, and 30 touchdowns.
Del Shofner. Colorization by John Turney
6. Bobby Mitchell converted from running back for the 1962 campaign through the first 8 games of '64 caught 176 passes, for 3,433 yards, and 24 touchdowns.
Bobby Mitchell. Credit
7. Dave Parks from the last 9 games of his pro bowl rookie season in 1964 through the 1966 season caught 172 passes, for 2,880 yards, and 24 touchdowns.

Leg injuries and leaving the 49ers contributed to Parks lack of production for the remainder of his career. Watching him run his patterns, his all out effort, and athleticism in catching the ball, and finally his determined running ability after the catch were sure impressive to watch.

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Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Rookie Aaron Donald Draws a Triple Team Block

By John Turney

We are only looking back a couple of days, but we wanted to share the fact that Aaron Donald, the rookie defensive tackle for the Rams at least once, drew three blockers.

We don't know if this will be a common thing for him, but it does show a lot of respect. Yes, it is also a function of how many rushers were sent, but it's still a lot of attention for a rookie who is not yet a starter. Donald spelled the regular tackles, and also played in passing situations, both over the center and over the guard and did well.

Here is a shot of the play (clink to enlarge):

We are intrigued with Donald, he looked very quick and will keep you posted—Defensive Rookie of the Year, perhaps?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Red Grange's All-Time NFL Team

By John Turney

In November 1959, Red Grange picked his personal All-Time team:
E—Bill Hewitt
E—Don Hutson
C—Bulldog Turner
G—Dan Fortmann
G—Mike Michalski
T—Link Lyman
T—Steve Owen
T—Duke Slater
T—Cal Hubbard
QB—Sammy Baugh
FB—Bronko Nagurski
HB—George McAfee
HB—Cliff Battles
For some reason, he picked four offensive tackles. The reasoning was not explained in the 1959 article.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

Bonus: Colorization of the Day

By John Turney

As a companion to A Convivial Suggestion for Jerry Jones: Re-serif the Cowboys Uniform Numerals here is a colorization of a Dallas Cowboys quarterback.

Can you name him?
Colorization by John Turney
Post answers in comment section below.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Tampa Bay Buccaneers Release Their New Uniforms

By John Turney
Two of the Bucs new uniforms, on the right, looks like a 'glow' is added to photo
About a week ago the Bucs their new Nike-inspired uniforms. And to be honest, they are not great.

The Tampa Bay Times reported, "It really defines the Buccaneer as a modern superhero for the future," said Todd Van Horne, Nike's creative director for football.".


The TBT also had this quote from Bucs co-chairman Ed Glazer, "Any time you have something you've worn for 17 years and had great history in, any change is going to be a little bit new to people … there's no question, once fans get to see the uniforms in person on the players on the field, they're going to love it."

Double okay.

From the Tampa Tribune

“Today marks the culmination of more than two years of research and planning to bring the Tampa Bay Buccaneers into a new and exciting era of our history," Bucs co-chairman Edward Glazer said.
The uniform features what the Bucs said is an energized and richer pewter paired with a brighter, more vibrant shade of Buccaneer Red. In homage to the Buccaneers' early uniforms, the look also features Bay Orange as a new primary trim color and accent on the jersey and pants.
 The Bucs are the first NFL franchise to incorporate a reflective chrome border around the numbers on the front, back and shoulders. The chrome border incorporates a new technologically advanced reflective coating that adds increased readability and a unique glow to the numbers.
 The redesigned wooden ship logo is positioned on the right shoulder and the word "Bucs" on the left. The enhanced flag is displayed on the right and left hip of the pant.
The new helmet, previously unveiled, is highlighted by a more menacing Jolly Roger.
A " more menacing Jolly Roger?"

Okay, thrice.

According to Nike and the Bucs the reflective border is now unique to the Bucs and was to make identifying players on the field much easier for fans as well as broadcasters.

The uniforms have was is called an "integrated Flywire technology" in the neckline designed to "reduce weight and provide a lockdown fit" over the pads.

Another talking point in the release was the technology of the so-called "Nike Elite 51 uniform" which is purported to increase range of motion in the arms and includes a four-way stretch fabrication to provide a streamlined shrink-wrap fit.

"The design focuses or creating a system where the baselayer, padding, jersey, and pant work in concert," the Bucs release said. "Lightweight padding is also integrated directly into the crucial hit zones' in the base layer.

The new name and number fonts feature "beveled edges inspired by historical Buccaneer blade carvings, echoing the modern industrial design inspiration" according to Nike

But the numbers look like digital clock numbers. From Facebook, published by the Orlando Sentinal

Four times, okay.

Our view?  They are just not good. But Bucs fans are stuck with then for five years. We hope they like them. 

Here are some shots released by the Buccaneers—

Thursday, February 20, 2014

NFL's Fastest Man Competition

by John Turney

Literally taking a page from the excellent book The Pro Football Chronicle: The Complete (Well Almost Record of the Best Players, the Greatest Photos, the Hardest Hits, the Biggest Scandals) by Dan Daly and Bob O'Connell. Pro Football Journal has attempted to update their report on the NFL's Fastest Man competition the chronicled in that volume:
Graphic courtesy Collier Books.

As you can see from page 259 Ron Brown had the fastest time, but Darrell Green won the contest every time he entered. Green left little doubt with his declaration, "I am the fastest man in the NFL. I am faster than all the players. I am faster than all the coaches. I am faster than all the general managers, trainers and the PR men. I am the fastest man in the NFL".

Green sat out 1990 when Ron Brown won again, but regained his title in 1991 when he, again, was the fastest man in the NFL.

Although reports are spotty, and a full record of the heats and times have yet to be unearthed, the following is a recap of the 1990s NFL Fastest Man competitions:

Champion: Ron Brown.

Brown defeated Erik McMillan of the New York Jets, 6.23 to 6.54
Gault beat Eric Metcalf of the Cleveland Browns, 6.31 to 6.34.
Anthony Miller of the Chargers beat (as of yet not found)
Rod Woodson of the Steelers beat (as of yet not found)
Brown ran the next heat in 6.16 seconds, ahead of Rod Woodson's 6.43.
Gault, beat Anthony Miller 6.28 to 6.30.

The final heat:
Ron Brown - 6.18
Willie Gault - 6.32

Champion: Darrell Green

In the first two heats, Green beat Sam Graddy of the Raiders with a 6.19 clocking and ran the best time of the day (6.13) in beating Mel Gray of the Detroit Lions in his first heat.

Tim Brown beat the Vikings Herschel Walker with a 6.30 time and then bested Anthony Miller of the San Diego Chargers with 6.25 time in his first two heats.

In the other two races, Miller beat Tony Jones of the Houston Oilers and Graddy beat James Williams of the Buffalo Bills. The Graddy-Williams heat was a photo finish.

Green and Brown raced in the championship heat and both finished with a time of 6.17 seconds, but Green edged Ron Brown with his chest at the tape in a photo finish.

Champion: Alexander Wright

Wright began the day when he won a photo-finish against Buffalo Bills defensive back J.D. Williams in the semifinals. Each ran a time of 6.29. The Cardinals Randal Hill beat No. 1 seed Willie Gault of the Los Angeles Raiders in the other semifinal. Earlier in the day, Wright bested Pittsburgh's Dwight StoneJ.D. Williams advanced to face Wright by beating and Atlanta wide receiver Michael Haynes in the opening round.

Gault beat Indianapolis wide receiver Clarence Verdin before losing to Hill, who had advanced by beating Detroit wide receiver Mel Gray

In the championship, Wright beat unseeded receiver Randal Hill of the Phoenix Cardinals, 6.14 seconds to 6.20 seconds in the 60-yard race. 

Four-time champion Darrell Green of the Redskins declined to participate in 1992.

Champion: Alexander Wright

Haynes (Atl) over Don Beebe (Buf) with a time of 6.34
Wright (Rai) over Terrell Buckley (GB) easily with a time of 6.24
Hill (Phx) over Steve Israel (Ram) also very easily with a 6.25
Troy Vincent (Mia) upsets Miller (SD) with a 6.44

2nd round
Haynes defeats Hill with a time of 6.29
Wright wins over Vincent with a 6.22

In the final heat Wright ran the 60 yards in 6.19 seconds, beating Michael Haynes, who finished with a  6.20 time. Pro Football Journal is still searching for the heat-by-heat data for the competition.

There was no competition

Champion: James Trapp

Trapp won the competition after the 1995 season, narrowly beating Raiders teammate James Jett. 

Trapp advanced to face Jett by running a 6.25-second 60-yard dash to beat defending champion Alexander Wright, earlier he beat Michael Bates. 

Entrants also included two-time defending champion, Glyn Milburn  of Denver and  Viking Qadry Ismail both of whom Jett prevailed over to meet Trapp in the final.

Champion: James Jett

Receiver James Jett finished the 60-yard sprint in 6.10 seconds and edged Trapp (6.15) in the final. 

Rams wide receiver Alexander Wright finished third. Wright was clocked in 6.25. The Packers Travis Jervey finished fourth.

Jervey's time of 6.32 seconds was enough to place him fourth overall -- ahead of both Minnesota wide receiver Qadry Ismail (6.4) and Detroit all-purpose performer Glyn Milburn.

In the finals, Oakland wide receiver James Jett, ran 6.1 and defeated Trapp (6.22) and St. Louis wide receiver Alexander Wright (6.30).

Champion: Eddie Kennison

Kennison won the annual NFL Fastest Man event with a time of 6.12 seconds in the 60-yard dash.

In an odd turn, Kennison lost his heat race to Oakland defensive back James Trapp. However, Kennison's time was second-fastest in the preliminaries, and the rules stipulated that he would be allowed to compete in the final heat.

Other players in the field were James Jett of the Raiders, and Travis Jervey.

1997 marked the end of the competition that lasted a bit over a decade. In looking at the Pro Football Chronicle data combined with the 1990s data we find:

Fastest time in the 1990s: James Jett 6.10.
Fastest time in the 1980s: Ron Brown 6.095

Darrell Green won the most titles with four and that would seemingly verify that he was the NFL's Fastest man.

Saturday, January 11, 2014

PFJ's 2013 All-Pro Team

Here are our picks as the best in the business—
Here are the All-AFC and All-NFC picks:

Position Awards:
Offensive Lineman of the Year—Tyron Smith, Dallas
Defensive Lineman of the Year—Robert Quinn, St. Louis
Linebacker of the Year—Lavonte David, Tampa Bay
Defensive Back of the Year—Richard Sherman, Seattle
Running Back of the Year—LeSean McCoy, Philadelphia
Receiver of the Year—Jimmy Graham, New Orleans
Returner of the Year—Cordarrelle Patterson, Minnesota
Special Teams Player of the Year—Justin Bethel, Arizona
Kicker/Punter of the Year—Johnny Hekker, St. Louis