Wednesday, May 31, 2017

Deacon Jones: The Alpha and the Omega

By John Turney
What is well known about Deacon Jones is his dominance as a pass rusher at left defensive end from the time he was a rookie until the end. Well, he was all that, but technically, he began his career and ended it on different notes.

What is not commonly known is that Jones made his first NFL start as an offensive left tackle. In 1961 he opened the season trying to block the Colts defensive end Ordell Braase. He didn't start at defensive end until later in the season, though he played there.

The Rams settled on Jim Boeke at left tackle for the rest of the season (Boeke started in 1960 at left tackle as well). Boeke is not a household name but had a decent NFL career, being a starter at times for both the Rams and the Cowboys.

More people will remember Boeke from his acting career in which he had a few memorable bit parts. One ironically enough was in 1978's Heaven Can Wait in which he played "Kowalsky" in tandum with Deacon Jones's "Gorman" the two defensive lineman who tormented Warran Beatty when he was trying out (as Leo Farnsworth) as the Rams quarterback.

The memorable line from the Rams coach was "Look at Gorman and Kowalski. That's how they look when they eat".
Deacon Jones as "Gorman"
Jim Boeke as Kowalski

Back from sidebar—here are some shots of Deacon, then known as David Jones, in his first NFL start.


Jones didn't play well and was not in the game on the offensive line in the second half of the Colts-Rams 1961 opener. Perhaps the coaches had seen enough to know that perhaps Jones was better suited for defense.

Jones ended his career in 1974 with the Washington Redskins. He was a designated pass rusher that season, usually filling in for Ron McDole at left end in passing situations, but sometimes at right defensive end, subbing for Verlon Biggs. What is little know, though, is that Deacon's last regular season play was not on the defensive (or offensive) line. It was as a kicker.

Late in a 42-0 blowout of the Chicago Bears, Redskins coach George Allen called on Deacon to kick a PAT because Mark Moseley was injured. Or so the story goes:

Credit: Nate Fine. Getty Images.
Years ago Jones told us that he'd been a backup kicker for much of his career and that at halftime he asked Allen (who'd coached him from 1966-70 in Los Angeles) to let him kick in the game if there was an opportunity. With a blowout of a game the opportunity arose. According to Jones backup quarterback and full-time holder Joe Theismann wouldn't hold for him ("that little prick") but finally relented after a brief "conversation" with Jones.

Jones made the PAT, though it was not pretty. So there you have it. One of the greatest defensive ends in the history of the NFL opened his career as a left offensive tackle and ended it as a kicker.

1978 Leroy Neiman Art for Super Bowl XII CBS Graphics

By John Turney

For Super Bowl XII CBS-TV commissioned artist Leroy Neiman to paint artwork that could be used to introduce the Dallas Cowboys and Denver Broncos offensive groups.

Television then, as it does now, introduces the players to the viewing audience through graphics illustrated by photos (that often look like mugshots). For the Super Bowl XII telecast, these pieces of art were used.

The Dallas Offense
 The Denver Defense
 The Denver Offense
 The Dallas Defense

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Part IX: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In Part IX of this nine-part series, we look at the possible secondary picks after discussing defensive line, running backslinebackersquarterbackstackles and tight endscenters, guardswide receivers, and special teamers who were on the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and who may end up on the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team.
This is the toughest to gauge which is why we left it for last. All of these are solid picks but there are some excellent players who would now be eligible who were not at the times.

Night Train Lane should keep his spot as one of the cornerbacks. Mike Haynes and Rod Woodson are as worthy to be on the 100th Anniversary Team as they were for the 75th Anniversary Team, though Woodson's selection raised some eyebrows in 1994 since he'd not been in the NFL very long in comparison to others on the team. But, Deion Sanders lays claim as the best cover corner ever, though his run support was not the equal of say, Night Train. 

Revis Island might want to argue he is tops, over Deion. Charles Woodson was someone who could cover outside, cover in the slot, tackle, hit, blitz (over 20 sacks) and could lay claim to being one of the best all-around corners in league history. 

As for safeties, Lott should keep his spot. Our view is that Ed Reed has to be on the 100th Anniversary Team and we will see if the panel/committee agrees in 2020(1). Could he replace Larry Wilson who took the safety blitz to a new level (though he was not the first to do it, he took it to a higher level). Ken Houston, a great strong safety. In our view Brian Dawkins was great in all phases of the game, coverage in both man and zone, hitting, and was a very effective safety blitzer. We don't however, think he will quite rise to the 100th Anniversary Team level, but loved watching him play.

Emlen Tunnell was bounced in 1994 after being the safety on the 50th Anniversary Team in 1970. He was a left safety, something akin to what became the strong safety and he was, in our view, a more consistent and effective safety than Houston, so we hope he gets another look.

In our view, in reviewing these kinds of "All-Time Teams" the votes for safety are the most widely distributed so anything is possible. No one asked us but our three would be Tunnell, Lott and Reed.

Agree or disagree with this or any of the nine posts on this subject, fell free to tell us how we are wrong.

Part VIII: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In Part VIII of this nine-part series, we look at the defensive line picks after discussing the running backslinebackersquarterbackstackles and tight endscenters, guardswide receivers, and special teamers who were on the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and who may end up on the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team.
If the powers that be stay with three defensive ends and three defensive tackles this group could remain the same. Like with other position groups it seems there are too many good players and too few slots.

Ideally, there will be four ends and four tackles. If that is the case then a quartet of Reggie White, Deacon Jones, Gino Marchetti, and Bruce Smith would be perfect. If there could be four tackles then the foursome of Bob Lilly, Joe Greene, Merlin Olsen, and Alan Page would also be perfect.

In 1994 Page and Smith were left out. We don't know what the voting was but we suspect (but cannot prove) that they were both fourth in the voting.

There have been some great ends and some noted tackles in the history of the game, but these eight, in our view, stand out. The recent tackles such as Warren Sapp and John Randle just don't seem to measure up as complete players that were consistent over 13, 14 or 15 seasons as the above set of four did. 

Now, one wildcard is J.J. Watt who already has a near-lock Hall of Fame career. His three Defensive Player of the Year awards would see to that. All he lacks to bust into this group of eight is longevity and if he has three healthy seasons and is close to what he was from 2012-2015 he would be hard to leave off an All-Century Team. 

Again, time will tell.

Part VII: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In Part VII of this series, we discuss the running backs after previous looking at the linebackers,  quarterbackstackles and tight endscenters, guardswide receivers, and special teamers who were on the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and who may end up on the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team.

Jim Brown was the top fullback in 1994 and was the top fullback in 1970. He will be again in 2020(1) whenever the vote is held. In 1970 Gale Sayers was the top halfback. In 1994 there were three "half backs" or running backs. 

Looking ahead, we wonder if they will keep the same fullback-running back format. They may choose fewer fullbacks since the fullbacks of the past 25 years are the blocking backs, the "guard in the backfield" type fullback and none of them will emerge in our view.

So, Motley and Nagurski may have to be on a two-way type team, but again, this is just our best guess.

O.J. Simpson will not survive the cut, and Steve Van Buren may not, either. Walter Payton is a lock. The top contenders for whatever spots there are would be Emmitt Smith, Barry Sanders, and maybe LaDainian Tomlinson since his skills were so diverse and under the same umbrella would be 

Marshall Faulk who was an all-around back like Tomlinson but was even better at running wide receiver routes. Of note is while watching a telecast in 2000 or 2001 the play-by-play announcer asked color commentator Jack Ham who Faulk reminded him of. Ham replied "Earl Campbell". That was a surprise. Ham explained that Faulk's lower body was tremendously powerful and his goal-line running was extremely effective. Faulk was susceptible to some injuries in his career and Tomlinson was healthier so that may be a factor.

But, over the past quarter century, it seems Emmitt and Barry would be the best bets to be locks, along with Brown and Payton. The roster is deep and great runners like Eric Dickerson and Adrian Peterson will likely be left out. They didn't do it all (or most of it) in terms of running AND receiving and blocking and short yardage and all the little things that go into a running back evaluation.

Barry Sanders was not effective on the goal line for most of his career (his style was too conducive to losing a yard or two too frequently—but that style allowed him to break one for 70 yards as well) and was simply average in receiving and less than that in blocking. Emmitt Smith was a good receiver, and a great pass blocker, to us one of the top handful along with Marion Motley, Walter Payton, Marshall Faulk and John Henry Johnson (Edgerrin James and Tomlinson were very effective as well—so maybe it's a top seven).

Stay tuned for the final two parts: Defensive line and secondary.

Part VI: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In Part VI of this series, we discuss the linebackers after previous looking at the quarterbacks, tackles and tight endscenters, guardswide receivers, and special teamers who were on the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and who may end up on the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team.
With the 1994 iteration of the anniversary team the select committee chose four middle linebackers and three outside linebackers. Assuming the same format we suspect there will be changes to this part of the roster.

Dick Butkus will stay and we think Jack Lambert will, too. Ray Nitschke and Willie Lanier will be looked at closely, of course, but upon reflection, we think they may not make the cut. Nitschke was on the 50th Anniversary Team and also the 75th Anniversary Team and it was built on his key part of the 1960s championships of the Packers. 

Nitschke played 15 seasons but was a full-time starter in 10 of those. The competition was stiff for post-season honors in the NFL Western Conference and Nitschke only emerged with one Pro Bowl selection and three First-team All-Pro selections and one Second-team selection. Film study shows he was excellent and especially good in run support but it's a bit disconcerting to see Joe Schmidt forgotten so quickly. True, he didn't get five championship rings, but he was the most complete 4-3 linebacker (in our view) of the 4-3 era. He was solid in run game and one of the top 3-4 in pass coverage. He was also one of the top 2-3 in goal line defense and had a goodly number of sacks as a blitzer/dogger.

Schmidt was a 10-time First-team All-Pro (eight consensus) and was voted by his peers to 10 Pro Bowls. If any of the voters want to see a detailed film analysis, they can travel to T.J. Troup's home and he can put on the fil,—the eye in the sky does not lie.

Ray Lewis seems like a lock on the upcoming team and suspect he will supplant Lanier. Lewis was voted to 13 Pro Bowls and was a 7-time Consensus All-Pro. He was a two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and ended with 31 interceptions, 41.5 sacks and two Super Bowl rings. It's quite a resume.

Obviously, Lawrence Taylor will keep one outside linebacker slot and it would be fine by us if Ted Hendricks and Jack Ham did as well, but it may not happen.  Derrick Brooks needs to be considered and Von Miller, who will have completed 10 seasons by the time the vote is taken may need to be as well, if he keeps up his current pace. Bobby Bell might deserve another look. His speed was really special and shows up on film, but he also played just 11 seasons, but as a left linebacker we think he was just a bit better than "Kick 'em in the head Ted" Hendricks. Bell could blitz, cover, play the run and hit very hard. 

It will come down to how sacks, as a statistic, are valued as part of a linebacker's resume. If rushbackers rule the day then Miller and others would have a better chance. If a more complete type of outside linebacker is preferred, then Hendricks and Ham will possibly keep their slots.

Again and again, we shall see.

Part V: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In Part V of this series, we will get to the weenie and discuss the quarterbacks after previous looking at the tackles and tight endscenters, guardswide receivers, and special teamers who were on the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team and who may end up on the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team.
Will there only be four quarterbacks on the Century Team? Will recentism prevail or will Sammy Baugh and Otto Graham keep their spots? 

We suspect that Johnny Unitas and Joe Montana will rightly keep two of the slots. Unitas beat out Baugh and Norm Van Brocklin when the Half Century team was voted on in 1970. 

We ask this because Tom Brady and Peyton Manning are waiting in the wings. We suppose, there is an outside shot, if Aaron Rodgers wins a couple of Super Bowls in the next few years he could enter into the conversation, Statistically, he's remarkable even in a world that includes Brady and Manning and Drew Brees. Rodgers currently has a 4 to 1 touchdown pass to interception ratio and if he keeps that up by the time this team is voted on he could have thrown his 400th touchdown pass before throwing his 100th interception. His touchdown percentage is 6.4% just a hair below Graham's 6.4 mark and well ahead of Brady and Manning in that department. His interception percentage is 1.55% the lowest in NFL History among qualifiers. His passer rating is well ahead of all the others. All he lacks is multiple Super Bowl rings. So, that will leave him out unless that fact changes in the next few seasons.

Since there will be great pressure to vote for the right ones we think whoever the voters are (the HOF selection committee or a select committee) they will do in-depth research to arrive at their votes (we think). One knock against Graham is that his first 4 championships (of a total of seven) were with the All-American Football Conference. Not that we necessarily agree, but there was never a merger with the AAFC and the NFL like there was with the AFL-NFL merger and therefore the AAFC records are not considered official, at least to the NFL. The Pro Football Hall of Fame has always accepted them which is why when you read different publications Otto Graham's career statistics were different. However, we are referring to NFL manuals and books published quite a long time ago and the distinction these days is much less.

Baugh was the first great T-formation passer and he was credited with six passing titles under the systems used when he was playing and he won two NFL Championships in his career. In some ways, his career parallels Peyton Manning's, i.e. lots of awesome stats (though they don't look like it by today's standards) and a couple of titles. 

Graham's career is somewhat similar to Brady's stats were plenty good, but the key thing is the championships. 

Clearly, we think, Brady will be on the 100th Anniversary Team, but we are not so sure about Manning though we think it is likely. If someone could be knocked out it would be Baugh. (Also there could be a two-way type team that Baugh could be on as a QB, punter, and defensive back, but that would be kind of a copout in our view.)

So, buckle up and prepare for another round of Brady versus Manning debates. Wins versus Stats. It's been around a long time and will continue for a long while.

Part IV: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In Part IV of this series, we will take a look at the tackles and tight ends after previous looking at the centers, guards, wide receivers and special teamers who were on the NFL's 75th Anniversary Team.
Since the last team approximately 25 years ago what tackles and tight ends have left enough of a mark to be considered for the NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

Four tackles have been inducted into the Hall of Fame, Jonathan Ogden, Walter Jones, Orlando Pace and Willie Roaf. The former two were first-ballot inductees, the other two were second-ballot selections. 

Again, if there are three choices for tackles on the upcoming team as there were on the previous one, who will they be? Munoz is a lock. There is no reason for Roosevelt Brown to be lost in a potential trend to recentism but it could happen, as it could with Forrest Gregg.

Recentism is a term used to describe the tendency of selectors or historians to favor current or more recent players to those of generations further past.We hope it is a word, it is on Wikipedia anyway. Of the four recent tackles, Ogden seems like he has the best shot at making the leap.

Stats, LLC., has been tracking offensive line stats since 1992 and we've compiled their data on this chart. Ogden was a Consensus All-Pro five times and a First-team selection an additional time and was a Second-team All-Pro in three additional seasons, for a total of nine First- or Second-team All-Pro Selections. (He was an 11-time Pro Bowler). He also was excellent at avoiding penalties and sacks (though all are in same ballpark in that metric).

Walter Jones was a six-time All-Pro (Four of them consensus) and was the virtually same as Ogden in avoiding penalties and allowing sacks.

The following chart shows the key stats on a per 16 game basis.
Roaf got called for a couple more holding penalties per 16 games and Pace was the best at avoiding holding but had an issue with false starts.

So, if Gregg or Brown get bounced we'd expect Odgen to be the guy, followed by Walter Jones (and for what it's worth we think a slightly more consistent left tackle than Ogden and the best outside of Munoz). 

As far as tight ends, John Mackey was the 50th Anniversary tight end and Mike Ditka and Kellen Winslow were the 75th Anniversary picks. In recent years Tony Gonzales has smashed all the records and has a good shot at being one of the tight ends. Winslow was really the first of a new generation of "receiving tight ends" that is to say, guys not asked to block like the tight ends of the previous generations. Ozzie Newsome and Shannon Sharpe are also in that category, though both would give good effort in run blocking, they were not going to remind anyone of a Ditka or a Mark Bavaro in that department.

But Gonzales is the king of that type tight end and was injury-free (relatively) in his career and amassed near-Ruthian numbers for a tight end (7-times All-Pro, 14 Pro Bowls, 1325 catches for 15127 yards and 111 touchdowns. Winslow had a knee injury in 1984 and he came back from it but he didn't get to have a 12- or 15-year career, so he didn't compile the numbers he might have had he played as long as a Gonzales or Sharpe.

A wild card is current All-Pro Rob Gronkowski who has been First-team All-Pro four times (three consensus) in seven seasons. About the only time he's not All-Pro is when he's injured, which happens fairly often. If he can string together a few more seasons sans injuries and keeps up his current production he would be hard to ignore especially if he's challenging Gonzales's 11 touchdowns at the time. 

In a few years, we will see.

Saturday, May 27, 2017

Part III: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In Part II of this series we looked at wide receivers and in Part III we take a look at Centers and Guards.
The top center, according to the 1970 Pro Football Hall of Fame voting committee was Chuck Bednarik and the top guard was Jerry Kramer. Neither was on the 75th Anniversary Team as Bednarik was supplanted by Mel Hein (who was a runner-up in 1970) and Mike Webster and Kramer lost out to John Hannah, Jim Parker and Gene Upshaw.

We suspect Hein and Webster will keep their slots (assuming there are only two). Though Dwight Stephenson could be looked at closely. Having seen both, a lot, we think Stephenson at his peak was superior. However, he was felled by a knee injury that ended his career. Webster was able to play 17 years and at his peak was a dominant player, just not quite as dominant (again our opinion) as Stephenson. Consider this:  The NFLPA used to have AFC and NFC Lineman of the Year Awards that were given annually and were result of polls of the defensive linemen of each conference. Anthony Munoz won it three times, but it was Stephenson who won it five consecutive seasons (1983-87) was was the height of Munoz's career. That's fairly impressive to us. 

Hein is still the only offensive lineman to be an NFL MVP (1938) and his longevity and career honors should keep him in good stead with the voters.

Over the last 25 years, there have been excellent centers but none seem to have had the kind of dominant career that these others had so we don't expect any newbies here.

Larry Allen, we think, will take Upshaw's slot and rightly so.  He was just too big, too fast, too strong and had too many honors to not be considered one of the top three guards of All-Time. Steve Hutchinson stand out as the best guard in recent years but cannot see him cracking the top three.

Zack Martin is off to a great start in his career 3 First-team All-Pros in 3 years but he won't have enough seasons under his belt by 2020 in our view, to be one of the top three, but we could be wrong (see Rod Woodson's selection in 1994 which raised some eyebrows, not in quality but in longevity).

Part II: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

Yesterday we looked at special teams players who could possibly be named to the upcoming  NFL 100th Anniversary Team.

This post is about the wide receivers.
Twenty-five years ago these were the four players who made the 75th Anniversary team. On the 50th Anniversary team, Don Hutson and Elroy Hirsch were the split end and flanker, respectively on the team.

In a few years, Hutson and Jerry Rice are locks in our view. Raymond Berry and Lance Alworth are the two who could possibly be challenged. But by whom? Calvin Johnson was dominant for several years but he hung 'em up and didn't have the "compiling stage" of his career. That is the stage where wide receivers sometimes move from team to be, being productive but not stellar and compiling numbers to their career totals. 

Randy Moss is, in our view, the most talented receiver ever in terms of physical ability:  size, speed, leaping ability, hands, smarts. He had it all. And Jerry Rice agrees.  However, he has a well-earned reputation of someone who was capable of loafing and his "I play when I want to play." solidified that sentiment. When things went poorly in Oakland he "dogged it". That is hardly the stuff of the best of the best, worthy of being on the 100th Anniversary Team.

This will be interesting because a second wave of the post-merger passing game began in about 1994 (the first was in 1978) where receivers and quarterbacks increased productivity in terms of passing and receiving numbers. Thus, players like Marvin Harrison, Terrell Owens put up stellar numbers in an era where they could run routes that were patrolled in the past by players like Jack Tatum and Ronnie Lott. So their numbers have to be looked at in context.

One player, who is now in his compiling phase is Larry Fitzgerald and he could garner some notice. He's a great hands player, who is a tough blocker and is an all-around receiver but he wasn't All-Pro very often and didn't lead the league Year-in and year-out in receiving categories like some of the above players did. So we will see.

Clearly, we don't know the voting results in 1994 when the 75th Anniversary Team was released but we wonder aloud how close Paul Warfield was, who was a first-ballot HOF inductee like Rice, Hutson, Berry, and Alworth. His numbers are not special but he played quite a few years in the "dead ball era" of Pro Football,— the 1970s. But anyone who saw him play knows he was a major key in the Dolphins championships of the early 1970s. Perhaps he will get a second look.

In a few years we will know. 

Friday, May 26, 2017

Part I: Who Will Be On NFL's 100th Anniversary Team?

By John Turney

In 1969 the Pro Football Hall of Fame had the voting committee choose a 50th Anniversary NFL Team. For the 75th Anniversary, in 1994, the NFL had a select committee pick a team for the Diamond Anniversary:

Ina few years there with be a 100th Anniversary Team and we wonder what players from the past 25 seasons may crack the list.

The 50th Anniversary Team had 15 players and 30 runners-up a total of 45 players. The 75th Anniversary Team had 48 players. We don't know if there will be a team with, say, 45 or 48 players or if they will expand the number. We suppose they will, and hope they will. For the purposes of this excercise, we will assume it will be more.

Let's start with the special teams. In 1970 the kicker was Lou Groza and no punter or returner was chosen though there were players who could have filled those roles.

In 1994 Ray Guy and Jan Stenerud were the punter and kicker, respectively and Billy "White Shoes" Johnson was the return specialist.

 We think Devin Hester will likely supplant Johnson as the punt returner. His 14 punt return touchdowns and 5 kick returns for scores are simply too great to ignore. Josh Cribbs has 8 kickoff returns for touchdowns, which is the record, but Hester's 19 total are far and away the most. Cribbs was also a good core special teams player, covering kicks and punts but Hester was the most productive returner. 

Cribbs could challenge Gale Sayers as the kick returner, though, but Sayers did a lot in a shorter time. The "eye test" would favor Sayers in our view. Dante Hall was a great returner with 6 punts and 6 kicks returned for touchdowns but Sayer's 6 returns in 91 chances is a 6.6%, the highest of all time among qualifiers, so we think he will retain the KR spot, he'd get our vote.

It may be that the NFL will add a special teams player and our best guess if they do, would be that Steve Tasker would get that nod. Would agree but would hope that some of the others core STers would at least be in the discussion. Hank Bauer, Bill Bates, Reyna Thomspson, Kassim OsgoodBrendon Ayanbadejo, Ivory Sully, and many, many others were also stellar in coverage, blocking and blocking kicks. However, Tasker did it at a high level for a long time and was an All-Pro and Pro Bowler more often than the others.

Jan Stenrud and Morten Anderson are the two Hall of Fame kickers, along with Lou Groza who was a starting tackle for the first two-thirds of his career. In terms of stats, Groza was far ahead of his peers in terms of his averages. Pro Football Research Association member Rupert Patrick has an upcoming book that with show his metric of "Points above League Average". He calculates how many points a particular kicker scores in relation to his peers. Groza, Anderson, and Stenerud all rank very high, but none are at the top. We won't give away who his top kicker is, we will let him reveal that in his book. However, one current kicker is doing very well versus his peers and that is Justin Tucker.

Our view is that if Tucker keeps it up he could challenge the "Big Three". Apart from that, it will likely be Anderson (a two-time All-Decade performer) or Stenerud.

Ray Guy is the only punter in the Hall of Fame. He will likely get the nod again. However, keep and eye out for Johnny Hekker. Playing for a mediocre-to-poor team in his five years Hekker owns almost every record in the book, both in terms of gross stats and in terms of "metrics".

Guy was All-Pro six times, Hekker three times in five seasons. Guy's Inside-the-20 to touchback ratio was 1.5 to one. Hekker's is currently 8.3 to 1. Almost double the next best (Dustin Colquitt's 4.6 to one—though when Sam Martin qualifies he will be around the same). But 8.3 to 1? It's unheard of.

Guy only had 3 punts blocked, which is excellent (0.3%). Hekker has had one blocked and his block percentage is 0.2%. For comparison, Jerrel Wilson, the Chief's great has 12 blocked for 1.1%.

Hekker had, so far, had 38.2% of his punts end up inside the twenty yard-line. Only Dustin Colquitt has a higher percentage (40.5%). Guy's percentage is 24.6% in that metric. 

Hekker's net punting average is 43.3 as of the end of the 2016 season. The next closest is Thomas Morstead of the Saints with a 41.2 net average, nearly two yards fewer than Hekker and in this kind of statistic that is a lot since most of the best net yardage punters are all bunched around 40.0. Guy's career net punting average was 35.2, which is good, but not great, either, even for his time.

Certainly, Hekker will have to keep up this kind of performance for the next few years to catch they eye of whoever is on the voting committee but if he does, he cannot be ignored, even if the Rams don't improve because as of now, he's the best punter ever.

It will be interesting to follow these players and see if the up-and-comers like Hekker and Tucker can sustain their greatness.

Stay tuned for the next parts of this new series.

Thursday, May 25, 2017

1988 Joe Gibbs/Washington Redskins Fine Schedule

By John Turney
Credit: Goalline Art/Gary Thomas
Seemingly from time immemorial NFL clubs had rules for the players and enforced those rules by fines. Here is the fine schedule for the 1988 Washington Redskins.

The second sentence says it all "YOU FINE  YOURSELF". Three of the most expensive infractions on this list are concerning firearms, illegal drugs and women in hotel rooms.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

Bob Brudzinski's Career Statisitcs

By John Turney
Some players played well but never received any postseason honors in terms of Pro Bowls and All-Pro teams. One such player is former Ram and Dolphins linebacker Bob Brudzinski.

Brudzinski was a tremendous run stopper. He was a college stand-up defensive end and was taken by the Rams in the first round of the 1977 NFL Draft. The original plan was that left outside linebacker Jim Youngblood would move to middle linebacker and Brudzinski was going to take that spot.

But things didn't work out that way. Isiah Robertson was upset about his contract and other things, so in 1979, "Bru" took over at right linebacker, usually the weak side. Joel Buchsbaum said he was a "9+ versus the run and a 6 versus the pass".

In 1980 Brudzinski was the one who was not happy with his contract and he held out twice in 1980, one during the season and the Rams were not having that, so they traded him to the Dolphins in 1981.

There he moved to the strong side and was part of the "Killer B" defense throughout the 1980s getting to Super Bowls in 1982 and 1984. However, aside from being All-Rookie in 1977, he was never honored as a Pro Bowler or All-Pro. He was a superb run stuffer on the strong side on a defense that was not known for stopping the run. But Brudzinski was one of a couple of guys they could count on to set his edge and to stop off-tackle runs.

Here are his career stats—

Pro Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy Dies at 48

By John Turney
Credit: Brian Goodman
TMZ reported that the former Seahawks defensive tackle Cortez Kennedy has died. Kennedy was 48 years old. Kennedy was an All-American at the University of Miami during the glory years of the Jimmy Johnson-coached 'Canes.  He was the third overall selection in the 1990 NFL draft and was the three-time All-Pro for the Seahawks (1992-94). He was also a Second-team All-Pro twice (1991 and 1996) and Second team All-AFC selection in 1995 and in addition, he was a Eight-time Pro Bowl selection (1991-96, 1998-99). He was also an All-Rookie selection in 1990.

He was the AP NFL Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 when he had 92 tackles, 14 sacks and 14 stuffs for an amazing total of 28 plays behind the line of scrimmage. It is worth nothing that the Seahawks were 2-14 in that season.

For his excellence, he was voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2012 and was a consensus First-team All-Decade selection for the 1990s.

He totaled 58 sacks in his career and 49.5 run stuffs and batted away 48 passes. He was known as a supreme run-stuffing tackle that could also get good push in pass rushing situations. 
Credit: Scott Ellig

Monday, May 22, 2017

Helmet Oddities

By John Turney

We've posted about facemasks, but we wanted to cover the unusual lids that some players have worn. Here are a few:

Perhaps the most famous helmet modification is the top padding on Willie Lanier's helmet:

Art Shell and Gene Upshaw also had the same padding (for some years) on top of their helmets.

Fullback Marv Hubbard joining in the fun—
From 1971-73 Bob Brown wore the padded helmet for the Silver and Black—
Here is Norm Bulaich's helmet with padding on the back:

Daryl Sanders with the Lions in 1964 with top padding.
Frank Lasky has a wide ridge or maybe padding, it's hard to tell.
Tom Vaughn of the Lions had what looks like central padding on lid: 

Pete Case of the Eagles with a large ridge:
Lane Howell of the Eagles has a center pad:
Irv Cross, another Eagle, with the center padding.
Bob Brown with the padded lid—
Brown also wore a padded helmet with the Rams, though it does not look as pronounced as it did with the Eagles or Raiders—
Here is a good shot of Freeman White with the odd helmet. 

The Cardinals Ken Gray with his padded lid—