Saturday, October 29, 2016

Pro Football Weekly's 1983 NFL Players of the Week


Complete Lists
By John Turney

Beginning in 1978 Pro Football Weekly chose players of the week and were the only organization to do so. Here is the 1983 list:
Ali Haji-Sheikh won the Golden Toe twice as did Mark Moseley (his 12th since 1977), Ray Wershing and Raul Allegre.

Pro Football Weekly's 1982 NFL Players of the Week


Complete Lists
By John Turney

Beginning in 1978 Pro Football Weekly chose players of the week and were the only organization to do so. Here is the 1982 list:
Mark Moseley, the AP MVP in 1982 won the Golden Toe Award three times.

1980 Cincinnati Bengals: Last NFL Team to Add TV Numbers

By John Turney

The Bengals had a classic, clean uniform from 1968-80 and they remained mostly the same during that time. There were small changes in the width of pants stripes and in socks and a change in the color of facemasks but the most drastic change was in 1980 when they added TV numbers to the sleeves of their jerseys. They were the last NFL team to add them.

"TV numbers," are those placed on the sleeves or shoulders to assist announcers and viewers in identifying players from various camera angles.


TV numbers were added to the sleeves of jerseys by NFL teams in 1956 when 8 of the 12 teams began the practice.  By 1962 all NFL and AFL teams had them on their uniforms and that continued until 1968 when the Bengals joined the AFL.

According to the NFL did not have a rule requiring teams to place TV numbers on uniforms until 1991, but it was really moot since by 1980 all teams had them.

Friday, October 28, 2016

Elroy "Crazylegs" Hirsch's Quintuple Crown

By John Turney
In 1951 Elroy Hirsch became the only player before (or since) to lead the NFL in receptions, receiving yards, yards per catch and receiving touchdowns and the longest reception thus giving him not a triple crown, but a quintuple crown.

There have been a couple of receivers who led the league in four categories but lack that elusive fifth category. Here are Hirsch's career stats courtesy of Pro Football
And here is that 1951 season's game-by-game statistics, again, courtesy of Pro Football

Also, throw in that Hirsch played some safety late in games to prevent deep passes and also was part of the NFL Championship season. It will take some doing for any receiver to ever equal Hirsch's 1951 season.

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Pro Football Weekly's 1981 NFL Players of the Week


Complete Lists
By John Turney

Beginning in 1978 Pro Football Weekly chose players of the week and were the only organization to do so. Here is the 1981 list:

Wednesday, October 26, 2016

Pro Football Weekly's 1980 NFL Players of the Week

Complete Lists
By John Turney

Beginning in 1978 Pro Football Weekly chose players of the week and were the only organization to do so. Here is the 1980 list:

1980 Pro Football Weekly Players of the Week

Pro Football Weekly's 1979 NFL Players of the Week

Complete Lists
By John Turney
Beginning in 1978 Pro Football Weekly chose players of the week and were the only organization to do so. Here is the 1979 list, and not they added a defensive player of the week, something they did not do in 1978.

1979 Pro Football Weekly Players of the Week
         Offense                                  Defense                               Golden Toe
Week 1         A. Rashad, Min                       L. Alzado, Cle                            Cockroft, Cle
Week 2         Steve Grogan, NE                    Tom Beasley, Pit                     J. Evans, Cle
Week 3         C. Williams, SD                      M. Blair, Min                          T Franklin, Phi
Week 4         Jerry Butler, Buf                       A. Still, KC                             T. Fritsch, Hou
Week 5         Joe Ferguson, Buf                     J. Bunting, Phi                        M. Moseley, Wa
Week 6         Billy Taylor, NYG                   P. Thomas, LA                 L. Prestridge, Den
Week 7         Dan Fouts, SD                            Ken Stone, StL                    D. White, Dal
Week 8         Ricky Bell, TB                        Coy Bacon, Was                      J. West, SD
Week 9         Frank Lewis, Buf                     Jim Browner, Cin                    Ray Guy, Oak
Week 10       Terry Bradshaw, Pit                 Randy Gradishar, Den             R. Septien, Dal
Week 11       Chuck Muncie, NO                 V. Den Herder, Mia                 Mike Wood, SD
Week 12       Jim Zorn, Sea                          Bob Swenson, Den               N. Mike-Meyer, Buf
                                                                                                                                         T. Fritsch, Hou
Week 13        Terry Bradshaw, Pit                Jim Haslett, Buf                       Matt Bahr, Pit
                       Earl Campbell, Hou
Week 14         Joe Theismann, Was               Gary Fencik, Chi                   von Schamann, Mia
Week 15         Ottis Anderson, StL                Jerry Robinson, Phi                 Jim Breech, Oak
Week 16         Walter Payton, Chi                  Raymond Clayborn, NE         T. Birney, GB

Dennis Byrd's 1990 Season

By John Turney
We posted Dennis Byrd's Career Stats yesterday but today we will focus on 1990, his breakout year in which he had 13 sacks in his Eagle/3-tecnique position.

Below is a list of the All-Pro selections by the major media and some less-than-major media organizations. The consensus All-Pro defensive tackles were Ray Childress and Michael Dean Perry but there were other tackles who were All-Pro. Jerome Brown was a First-team All-Pro by the AP,  and a couple of others also were All-Pro by those other organizations.

Click to enlarge:

Byrd was a Second-team selection by College & Pro Football Newsweekly but didn't get any other notice.

However, was this a case of someone who didn't get the honors they deserved? Hard to say, Byrd was in the New York market and his prowess was well known, but when reviewing that stats for the players who garnered at least honorable mention All-Pro, Byrd shows well.
In that era some of the All-Pro polls selection one defensive tackle and one nose tackle, others just picked two tackles. Also, some of the voters picked the nickel position for a player, as is the case for both Pierce Holt and Kevin Fagan. Both were starters in the 49ers base 3-4 defense but would play defensive tackle in the 49ers nickel defense which employed 4 linemen, with Charles Haley as one of the ends and Holt and Fagan were the tackles.

Another anomaly for 1990 is Bill Pickel got a vote in the AP poll, but that was odd since Pickel only started three games, all at defensive end for an injured Howie Long. His statistics show that he didn't play a lot of snaps that season and the vote he got seems a bit dubious.

Jerome Brown is an example of a player who may have gotton First-team All-Pro recognition in a year he didn't deserve it. In 1989 he had a monster year with 10.5 sacks and 17 stuffs, but in 1990 he had one sack and three stuffs. In 1989 he should have been All-Pro, not 1990.

Perry had 23 sacks and stuffs (stacks) while Childress had 18.5 plays behind the line. Byrd had the same as Childress. Henry Thomas had a fine season, one in which Gordon Forbes of USA Today chose him for All-Pro and Larry Felser of the Buffalo News selected him, along with Football News as All-NFC. 

Most of the rest are nose tackles and readers can see their stats, often not getting as many big plays often due to where they have to align. 

But it seems that among the 4-3 defensive tackles Byrd ranks among the top, and his season certainly ranks as All-Pro quality, if not in name.

Tuesday, October 25, 2016

Dennis Byrd's Career Stats

By John Turney
Tragedy stuck Dennis Byrd twice, once in 1992 when he suffered an injury that left him paralyzed for a time and from which he partially recovers and again last week when he lost his life in a collision near his home in Oklahoma.

Byrd had a fine rookie season as a situational pass rusher, coming on the field when the Jets switched from a 3-4 base defense to nickel or dime defenses. He had 7 sacks that season in that role, oneof the better seasons for a designated rusher in Jets history.

The next season, new defensive coordinator Pete Carroll installed a "flop" 4-3 defense, similar to that the Viking ran (where Carroll came from) from 1986-89. It was in that defense Keith Millard was a dominant 3-technique (40 sacks in 4 seasons) and Carroll envisioned Byrd in that role which called for Byrd to play on the outside shoulder of a guard whole the nose tackle was always on the shoulder or head of the center. Byrd would flop to the left or right, depending if it was an 'over' or 'under' defense.Scott Mersereau played the nose/shade tackle in the new defense and Byrd played the 3-technique, which Carroll called the 'Eagle tackle'.

By all accounts, Byrd was on his way to being a star in the Eagle position, recording 20 sacks over the next two seasons along with 11.5 stuffs and a safety. In 1992 injuries on the defensive line caused Byrd to have to play a lot of defensive end that season which ended in the tragic neck injury.

Here are Byrd's career stats:

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 EDT. 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 touchdown 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. A tackle by Dallas safety Mike Gaechter tore the jersey and 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.

This is the play the #34 jersey was torn off
Here  he is in #35 scoring a touchdown
If you know of other incidents let us know in the 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.