Thursday, September 8, 2016

Washington Redskins All Career-Year Team

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 Redskins. 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 Sammy Baugh’s best two seasons and use all QB slots.

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

The First-team offensive line is center Len Hauss, 1972, guards Dick Stanfel, 1958, and Russ Grimm, 1984, and tackles Turk Edwards, 1937 and Jim Lachey, 1991.

Edwards was a two-way player, but the literature of the day states his prowess was more on the offensive line, as a blocker for Baugh and Battles. Outside Anthony Munoz, Jim Lachey may have been the best tackle of his era. In 1990 he allowed no sacks and was called for only on holding penalty. In 1991 he was called for one hold and one false start and again gave up no sacks. Grimm was All-Pro and the NFLPA NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year in 1984. Hauss had his highest honors from the All-Pro voters in 1972, though in 1976 he was voted the NFL's top blocker by the 1000 Yard Club, and that season was considered as well. Stanfel is in the Hall of Fame and his 1956 season was an All-Pro-type.

The Second-teamers are Jeff Bostic, 1983, at center Mark Schlereth, 1991, and Mark May, 1988, at guard and Joe Jacoby, 1983 and a tie between Trent Williams, 2015 and Chris Samuels, 2001 as the tackles.

Jacoby was a dominant blocker in his prime and his coach, Joe Bugel, said 1987 was "by far Jacoby's best season" but we chose 1984. In 1987 he gave up 5 sacks and 2 more in the playoffs, and was very good, but we really think 1984 was better, he was a consensus All-Pro and the runner-up to Russ Grimm for the NFLPA NFC Offensive Lineman of the Year and the runner-up to John Hannah for the NFL Alumni NFL Offensive Lineman of the Year. Pretty good company so we go with 1984.

We tried to find separation between Williams and Samuels, but they were just too close. In 2001 Williams gave up  2.5 sacks and was guilty of two holds 2 holds. In 2006 Samuels gave up 4 sacks and was flagged for as single holding call. 

Frank Bausch, 1937 is the honorable mention center. The HM guards are Vince Promuto, 1964, and Tre' Johnson, 1999, Clyde Shugart, 1941, John Nisby1962,  Ray Lemek 1961, and Raleigh McKenzie, 1991 (All-NFC). The HM tackles are George Starke, 1983, Willie Wilkin, 1941, Jon Jansen, 2003 (no holds allowed only 4.5 sacks), and Jim Barber, 1940.
Jerry Smith, 1967 (12 TD receptions), is the top tight end, followed by All-NFC Jean Fugett, 1977. The honorable metnions are Stephen Alexander, 2000, Jordan Reed, 2015, and Chris Cooley, 2007.

Taking the First-team slots at receiver are Art Monk, 1984 (his only All-pro season and his best with 106 catches before that feat became routine), and Charley Taylor, 1966. Taylor was First-team All-pro in 1967 and Second-team All-pro in 1966, but his 1966 season was better, showing that sometimes what other receivers do in a given year affects who is and isn't All-Pro. In 1966 he had 12 touchdowns and over 1100 yards receiving while still playing a lot of running back early in the season.

The Second-teamers are Bobby Mitchell, 1962, and Gary Clark, 1991. Mitchell's 1962 and 1963 were close, but we chose the one with a few more touchdown receptions. Clark's 1991 statline was 70 receptions for 1340 yards for a 19.1 average and 10 touchdowns.

For honorable mentions we chose Joe Aguirre, 1944, Hugh Taylor, 1952, Santana Moss, 2005, Charlie Brown, 1982, Henry Ellard, 1994, Pierre Garcon, 2013,  DeSean Jackson, 2014, and Wayne Millner, 1937.

The third WR position goes to Rickey Sanders, 1988, followed by Santana Moss, 2012.  Darnerien McCants, 2014, is special mention.

The modern "guard-in-the-backfield" fullbacks are in order: Mike Sellers, 2008 , Larry Centers, 1999, Darrel Young, 2011, and Otis Wonsley, 1983. Centers was more than most of the modern fullbacks in the pass receiving department, he was also an effective thrid down back.

Joe Washington was not only the third down back, but he'd spell John Riggins, too, so though he has more carries than any other nickel running back in our series, he gets the First-team spot.  Brian Mitchell, 1997, is the Second-team and honorable mentions are Terry Metcalf, 1981,Kelvin Bryant, 1987, Roy Helu, 2014, and Keith Griffin, 1985.

The starting running backs are Larry Brown, 1972, and Cliff Battles, 1937. Brown was the consensus NFL MVP in 1972 and Battles was the best player on a team that featured Sammy Baugh and Turk Edwards. Battles won a rushing quintuple crown leading the league in rushes, yards, yards per carry, rushing touchdowns and the longest run.

Backing them up are Alfred Morris, 2012, and John Riggins, 1983. Both seasons are very well known and were stellar.

The honorable mention backs are Clinton Portis, 2008, Andy Farkas, 1939, Stephen Davis, 1999, George Rogers, 1986, and Terry Allen, 1996. 

The top quarterback season for the Redskins is Sammy Baugh's 1947. Joe Thiesmann, 1983, is next and the HMs are Sonny Jurgensen, 1967, Mark Rypien, 1991, and Pro Bowler Robert Griffin, 2012. Also, from a pure numbers perspective Kirk Cousins, 2015, also qualifies, though we are often dubious of modern-day numbers, Cousins did set some franchise records in 2015.

Baugh was simply ahead of his time. Thiesmann's 1983 was an MVP season but we still considered going with Jurgensen in the Second-team slot but in the end put Jurgy on the honorable mention list but it was very close.

The top DEs are Gene Brito, 1955, and Dexter Manley, 1986. Brito had bigger sack years (1954, 14 sacks 4 FF) and 1957 (12 sacks) but in 1955 he was solid all around and was one organization's NFL MVP. Manley's 1986 season was special. In addition to his 18 sacks he drew 23 penalties from opposing left tackles, (16 of them holding calls) he totaled 45 tackles and 8.5 of them were stuffs. He was a consensus All-Pro and the NFLPA Defensive Lineman of the Year.

Carl Kammerer, 1966, had a monster year in sacks (17½) and Charles Mann, 1991, was an excellent en in the pass rush and versus the run. He was almost always rated "blue" by Pro Scout, Inc and in 1991 he was Second-team All-Pro and totaled 11.5 sacks.

Coy Bacon, 1979 (49 tackles, 5 stuffs, 13½ sacks), and Verlon Biggs, 1973 (49 tackles, 15 sacks),  John Paluck, 1964 (10½ sacks) follow themMarco Coleman, 2000, Ron McDole, 1976 (9½ sacks), and are the final two HMs.

Dave Butz, 1983 (All-Pro, 69 tackles, 13 sacks, 5 forced fumbles), and Willie Wilkin, 1942. Wilkin was a two-way tackle, but almost was the opposite as Turk Edwards, more a dominant defensive tackle than blocker, though he was good at both.

Diron Talbert, 1974 (Second-team All-Pro, 53 tackles, 10 for losses, 10 sacks), and Joe Rutgens, 1965 (Pro Bowl, 11 sacks and even got one NFL MVP vote) take the Second-team nods.

For honorables we picked Bill Brundidge, 1973 (29 tackles, 13 sacks)Paul Lipscomb, 1951 (Pro Bowl), Bob Toneff, 1960, Darryl Grant, 1984, Cornelius Griffin 2004, Sean Gilbert, 1996, Volney Peters 1955, and Dan Wilkinson, 1999.

Chuck Drazenovich, 1956 is the middle linebacker and next is Sam Huff, 1964. London Fletcher, 2012 (139 tackles, 3 sacks, 5 picks, 11 pass defensed), is an honorable mention along with Harold McLinton who had 124 tackles, 3 forced fumbles and an interception in 1976.

Drazenovich is one of the unheralded players of his era. He was the first full-time middle linebacker in the 4-3, though the Redskins would play both a 5-2 and a 4-3, but in 1953, Curley Lambeau's last season as coach of the Redskins they played the 4-3 a lot, the exact percentages are not known but Coach Troup estimates it at perhaps 40%. And that jumped in later years. 

Chris Hanburger, 1972, and Wilber Marshall, 1992, are the top two linebackers. Ken Harvey, 1994
LaVar Arrington, 2002, are next.

Hanburger was the NFC Defensive Player of the Year a consensus All-Pro and was excellent at all phases of the game. He ended the year with 95 tackles, 3½ sacks and 4 picks. Marshall's 1991 and 1992 seasons were nearly identical, but we went with 1992 in the end, due to his being named NFC Defensive Player of the YearHe ended the 1992 season with 87 tackles, 6 sacks, 12 passes deflected, two picks, forced three fumbles and recovered three. What made it so hard is in 1991 many of the numbers were similar, but he had 5 interceptions, but fewer deflections, it was really a toss-up.

Ken Harvey had 98 tackles, 13.5 sacks and four forced fumbles and was Second-team All-Pro in his career-year. Arrington was Second-team All-Pro in 2003, but we went with 2002 when he had 93 tackles, 11 sacks, 8 passes deflected three fumbles recovered (one for a touchdown). In fact, the year before was also a consideration when he dropped into coverage more and picked off three passes and returned one for a score, but of those three, we went with 2002.

Brian Orakpo, 2013, Ryan Kerrigan, 2014, a couple of rush backers are honorable mentions. Orakpo had 60 tackles, 10 sacks and a pick six. Kerrigan had 64 tackles, 13.5 sacks and 5 forced fumbles. Really, Harvey, Arrington, Orakpo, and Kerrigan were neck and neck and in some ways, though not exact matches, they played similar roles; base linebackers who were defensive ends in nickel defenses.
Jack Pardee, 1971 (All-NFC,  62 tackles, 5 interceptions), Dave Robinson, 1973, Brad Dusek, (Second-team All-NFC, 116 tackles, 4 fumbles recovered) 1979, and Mel Kaufman, 1983, Monte Coleman, 1984, are also honorable mentions. Pardee was the closest to the slot Ken Harvey has, Pardee had a fine season coming over to the Reskins after a good career with the Rams.

Robinson made his bones for the Hall of Fame in Green Bay, but his first season with the Redskins was excellent, grading very high. He had 88 tackles, 4 interceptions, 5 sacks, 9 passes deflected. Coleman is unique in that he was a nickel linebacker. He was pressed into service as a starter for six games, but his role was to cover and blitz and one of the linebackers in the nickel defense and ended season with 10.5 sacks.

Dan Sandifer, 1948 (13 picks) and  Lemar Parrish, 1979, are the top two cornerback seasons.  Parrish was a consensus All-Pros, picking off 9 passes. Sandifer got off to a great start in his career, and had one stretch of 14 games where he had 16 picks. He tied Frank Seno's then-NFL record of intercepting a pass in six consecutive games and his 13 picks set the NFL record, broken in 1952 by Night Train Lane. He was and fast with good instincts according to author T.J. Troup.

Those two are followed by Darrell Green, 1991 and Champ Bailey, 2003. Some Redskins fans may bristle at Green on the Second-team, but this is a single-season list, not an All-Time Team and the two in front were just a bit ahead of Green's 1991 when he was All-Pro picked off five passes and often playing what Jon Gruden calls "star coverage" meaning in certain games he'd follow the opposing team's top wide receiver, rather than just playing right cornerback.

Pat Fischer, 1969 (All-Pro), Barry Wilburn, 1987 (All-Pro, 9 picks in 12 games), Chris Dishman, 1997, DeAngelo Hall, 2010, Vernon Dean, 1984, Mike Bass, 1974,  Shawn Springs, 2004, and Joe Lavender, 1979 all had fine seasons and all are honorable mentions.

Ken Houston, 1977, is the top strong safety and the Second-team pick was Don Doll, 1953. The honorable mentions are headed by 1982 All-Pro Tony Peters, Richie Petitbon, 1971, Brig Owens, 1966 and LaRon Landry, 2007. Brig Owens had a good season when he moved to free safety in 1973 but his rookie season of 1966 was excellent, 7 picks, 4 fumbles recovered and two defensive touchdowns.

Houston had several seasons considered, 1973 and 1975 were eliminated due to too many missed tackles (25 and 15 respectively), leaving 1974 and 1976-78. We chose 1977 because he was a steadying factor in an aging defense had 80 tackles, 4 forced fumbles, 5 picks and 16 passes deflected and was All-Pro (as usual). Doll was called by some the most underappreciated defensive back of his time, he was a solid coverage man but was also a fearless run defender for his size.

Paul Krause, 1964 (12 picks) and All-Pro Mark Murphy, 1983 are the top free safeties. The honorables are Sean Taylor, 2006, Brad Edwards, 1992, and we cannot leave of Sammy Baugh's, 1943 season when he was the consummate two-way player.

Ken Stone, 1975 (5 interceptions) and Anthony Washington, 1983 (4 picks) are the extra defensive backs and the honorables are as follows:  Darryl Pounds, 1997, Barry Wilburn, 1985, Keith Taylor, 1995, (who was the Colts top nickel back in 1989), Darrell Green, 2000, Walt Harris, 2004, and Speedy Duncan, 1971

The nickel rushers are Tony McGee, 1982, Jimmie Jones, 1971 (7½ sacks) take the top slots. They are followed by Jumpy Geathers, 1991, and Joe Jones, 1979. McGee could have been picked for 1983 as well when he had 10 sacks. Jimmie Jones, like 49ers Cedrick Hardman the season before was one of the very first designated pass rushers and would come in the game for Ron McDole or Verlon Biggs who were good players but George Allen felt Jones was a special rusher who could give the pass rush a spark. He led the team in sacks, despite starting just a single game. Geathers was an inside rusher and it wasn't about sacks, it was his inside power and forklift rushes that were impressive. Turkey Jones had 6½ sacks in a designated role in 1979.

1982 NFL MVP Mark Mosely is the First-team kicker followed by Chip Lohmiller's 1991 season. Curt Knight 1971, and Charlie Gogolak, 1966 are the honorables

Sam Baker, 1959 is the First-team punter followed by Reggie Roby, 1994. Matt Turk, 1996, Sammy Baugh, 1942 are the honorable mentions. Roby and Turk got more honors, but Baker had a 42.8 net average, which is likely one of the top 15 performances, ever regardless of era.

Brian Mitchell, 1994, gets to top punt return season and was just ahead of Mike Nelms, 1981. Honorable mentions include Pro Bowler Johnny Williams, 1952,  Eddie Brown, 1976,   Bill  Dudley, 1950, and  Speedy Duncan, 1971.

Herb Mul-Key, 1973 (Pro Bowl 28.1 average and a score), and  Eddie Saenz, 1947, are 1-2 in the kick return spot. Then the honorables are Mike Nelms, 1981, and Tony Green, 1978.

Rusty Tillman, 1973, and Bill Malinchak, 1971, are the special teams demons.  Followed by honorable mentions Brad Dusek, 1975, Mike Sellers, 2010, Gerald Riggs, 1991, Kareem Moore, 2009, Michael Bates, 2001, and Khary Campbell, 2006.

Tillman was graded as more consistent in 1975, but according to George Allen "wasn't as spectacular as in the past". We will go with the more spectacular 1973. Malinchak's 1972 was also in the running.

Agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments section below.


  1. Hard to believe that Jurgy's record setting 1967 season is only HM worthy but I can't argue against your selection of Sammy and Joe.

    Nice to see former Winnipeg Blue Bomber Mike Sellers on the first team. He was a tremendous blocker for Charles Roberts here, along with being a productive ball carrier and a fine receiver out of the backfield.

  2. I'd have gone with Brito'53, but Like Wilbur Marshall it really is splitting hairs. He had a really odd every other year thing going, great 53, Canada in 54, great 55, down 56, great 57, wouldn't repeat in 59, that was an off year.

  3. I have an exception to the Redskins list. Jim lachey needs to move to 2nd team and Jacoby takes the 1st team start at tackle.
    Thomas C.

  4. My favorite player will always be Joe Rutgens. Nine years in the trenches without a winning season until his last year in 1969. Would love to see him in the Redskin Hall Of Fame. I heard Steve Sabol lobbied for him to get in some years back. I hope he makes it someday. But to me, he`s already there.

  5. Not sure if he was a HOF player, but Dave Butz always took up blockers and was a force against the run, whenever I watched him on TV or game film.

    Though I like Sammy Baugh, especially his great game in the 42 championship game that ended the Bears chance to threepeat...Theisman's 83 season and Kilmer's 72 season, stand out at QB...with Rypien's 91 season up there as well.