Friday, November 30, 2018

A Couple of Simple Elements to Great Vintage Uniforms

By John Turney

Back in the "golden age" of NFL uniforms, what I think is around the early 1960s (when helmet logos became common and uniform manufacturers began to offer more varied stripes on sleeves and pants) though maybe the early 2000s,  (pre some uniform fiascos of recent years) there were a few things that we thought made uniform stand out.

The one we will illustrate today is the repeating of the helmet stripes on the uniform pants and the sleeve stripes on the uniform socks. For some reason, this works and we will never see it again because socks have been sans stripes (by and large) for a long time and sleeve striping is really, for all intents and purposes gone.

Here are three examples—
The Bears have been great at having the sleeve and socks stripes match.
Here is one with UCLA loops and matching pants stripes. It's not the alternating concept of the above shots but does give a consistent look, so it is an exception to the rule.
As you look at old photos from that era take note of this design. Sometimes it's only the lid and pants or some other combination, but it's something we think is cool and wanted to share.

Tuesday, November 27, 2018

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Hungry Grizzlies and the End Zone.

By TJ Troup
Eddie Jackson
Gonna be a short column today, yet am researching for some vital info for upcoming saga's; stay tuned.

My first research project ever was in the area of returning an interception for a touchdown (began 32 years ago). Last Thursday in Detroit Eddie Jackson of the Bears pilfered Matthew Stafford and dashed to the promised land to win the game.

This was not the first time a Bear has returned an interception for a touchdown against the Lions. Chicago has now scored 20 times on interceptions vs. Detroit (17 of the 20 in victory) to join a very small fraternity of teams with at least twenty against a specific opponent.

The other members of the fraternity you ask? Rams with 20 against SF, NYG with 20 against Washington, Green Bay with 20 against the Bears, and finally—the Broncos have been victimized 21 times by the Texans/Chiefs.

There are writers out there that really can tell a story, so this is a "plug" for David Fleming at ESPN as he told the story of the Dallas Texans against the Bears on Thanksgiving in 1952. If you have never seen the superb show "THE FABULOUS '50'S" by Steve Sabol and NFL Films you are missing out as George Connor weaves the tail for Steve with highlights being shown as he speaks.
Fleming does a superb job, yet there are some details/facts he needs to correct or add. The Texans that year had two Pro Bowl players. The second was guard John Wozniak, and he had an interesting career. One of the details that Mr. Fleming could have included was that the Bear offense during that twisted season gave the ball to their opponents at an alarming rate including the loss to the woebegone Texans.

Monday, November 26, 2018

Against Green Bay, Kirk Cousins is the Vikings' Answer

By Eric Goska
Adam Thielen and Kirk Cousins staked Minnesota to a 10-point lead in the third quarter.
(screen shot from NFL Game Pass)
“How do you like me now?”

That was the question Kirk Cousins, then with Washington, shouted as he greeted Redskins general manager Scot McCloughan following an 18-point win over the Packers in 2016.

Now with the Vikings, Cousins had no need to pose such a query after his latest encounter with Green Bay. The answer was patently obvious.

Cousins dissected the Packers’ defense for a second time this season. The seven-year veteran fired three touchdown passes to propel Minnesota past Green Bay 24-17 at U.S. Bank Stadium.

On Sunday night, Cousins exposed Green Bay’s young defense. His arm carried the Vikings to a 24-14 lead after three quarters of play.

Afforded that 10-point cushion, Cousins then picked his spots. His final three completions, all third-down conversions, helped Minnesota control the clock in the fourth quarter.

Cousins completed 29 of 38 passes for 342 yards and three scores. His passer rating of 129.5 was the highest tallied against the Packers this season.

Cousins stayed hot while the outcome remained in question. His ratings for the first three quarters were 139.6, 129.2 and 128.5.

Cousins also fired a touchdown pass in each of those periods. He connected with halfback Dalvin Cook (26 yards) in the first, and ends Stefon Diggs (30) and Adam Thielen (14) in the second and third periods, respectively.

Eighteen of Cousins’ 29 completions brought first downs. Six stretched for 20 or more yards.

Cousins completed 13 consecutive passes in the second quarter. Only twice did he throw back-to-back incompletions.

His favorite targets were Diggs (11) and Thielen (9). Thielen caught eight passes for 125 yards and Diggs grabbed eight for 77.

With Cousins racking up yardage in bundles, Minnesota scarcely needed a running game. The Vikings picked up 91 yards on the ground, but 41 of that came in the fourth quarter while protecting their lead.

After Sunday’s victory, Cousins didn’t burst forth with any rhetorical questions. Even if he had, Green Bay lacked answers in defending against the 102nd player selected in the 2012 draft.

To be fair, the Packers were not at full strength. Backups Tony Brown (cornerback), Ibraheim Campbell (safety) and Tyler Lancaster (defensive tackle) played a fair number of snaps. The trio was needed because of injuries to cornerback Kenny King (hamstring), safety Raven Greene (ankle), defensive lineman Mike Daniels (foot) and others.

Neither Brown nor Campbell nor Lancaster was on Green Bay’s active roster for the first meeting between these rivals.

Cousins also dominated in that matchup, a 29-29 tie. He completed 35 of 48 passes for 425 yards, four touchdowns and one interception.

Twenty of his 35 completions that day brought first downs. Seven extended for 20 or more yards.

Cousins opened by completing nine consecutive passes.

Every season, one opposing quarterback throws for more yards against the Packers than any other. This season, Cousins will get that honor.

In two games against Green Bay this season, Cousins amassed 767 yards through the air. Matthew Stafford (twice) and Randall Cunningham are the only other players to have surpassed 700 yards in one season against the Green and Gold.

Stafford holds the record of 796 set in 2011.

In addition, Cousins became the fifth player to fire seven TD passes against the Packers in one season. Bobby Layne (1952), Tommy Kramer (1986), Daunte Culpepper (2004) and Brett Favre (2009) are the others.

Culpepper and Favre were the only two to register seven without throwing a pick. Ha Ha Clinton-Dix intercepted Cousins in that first meeting in September.

Cousins is not the first Viking to have thrown for more yards against the Packers than any other quarterback in a particular season. Nine others have done so: Fran Tarkenton (four times), Kramer (three), Steve Dils, Wade Wilson, Rich Gannon, Jim McMahon, Cunningham, Culpepper (twice) and Favre (twice).

Cousins’ big night led to another milestone. His career passing yardage against the Packers swelled to 1,142. He is the 66th player to have hit or exceeded 1,000 passing yards against Green Bay.

Of those 66, Cousins is the highest rated. His mark of 129.3 is far superior to the 110.4 of second-place Drew Brees.

For the Packers, surrendering 300 or more passing yards to one quarterback in a game has been a mixed bag. The team’s record is 57-54-1 when doing so.

However, the team has failed to win the last six times it has been so generous. The team was 0-4 in 2017 and is 0-1-1 this season.

The good news for the Packers is they won’t see Cousins again this season. The bad news: Cousins is 30 years old – barely middle-aged by quarterbacks standards these days—and he may play with the Vikings long enough to give Green Bay headaches for years to come.

Air Marshals
Passers who threw for more than 600 yards against the Packers in a single season (not including playoffs).

Sunday, November 25, 2018

Philip Rivers Sets Three New NFL Records

By John Turney
Today, Philip Rivers put his name atop three records in the NFL Record and Fact Book. He completed 25 consecutive passes and also completed 96.6 percent of his passes (28/29).

The consecutive passes (which opened the game) broke breaking Mark Brunell's record of 22 straight completions to open a game which was set on September 24, 2006, versus the Texans. 

Rivers also set the NFL record for the most completions at any point in a game. Ryan Tannehill also completed 25 passes in a row but that was over a two-game span.

Additionally, he set a new standard for Highest Completion Percentage in a game with his 96.6 percentage.


After rewatching all 29 passes we noted the distance from the line of scrimmage for each one. We included the yards in the end zone, so if a catch was at back of end zone Rivers gets full credit.

Only seven of the passes were thrown 10 or more yards beyond the line of scrimmage, with 22 being within 10 yards of the LOS:

Tuesday, November 20, 2018

Hall of Fame Modern-Era Semifinalists for the Class of 2019—Part II

By John Turney
The 25 Semi-finalists released today composed players in the following position groups:  Centers, guards, tackles, tight ends, receivers, running backs, defensive linemen, linebackers, and cornerbacks and safeties. There are no quarterbacks or special teamers on the list.

The following are charts that measure the post-season honors, and other vitals things among those players already in the Hall of Fame.

Honors are not the entire things that are taken into consideration. Stats matter, rings matters, intangibles matter, the ole' "eye test" matters and whatever is in a voter's fancy. But some of the things like stats and post-season honors can be quantified and we've put them into charts.

Forgive the appearance, they all come from separate spreadsheets done at different times and are not 100% styled the same and contain most of the same categories but some may differ some.

Rather than format them the same, we are just releasing them as-is. All can be clicked on and enlarged.

Pro Football Hall of Fame Releases Modern-Era Semifinalists for the Class of 2019

By John Turney

Today, the Hall of Fame released its Semifinalists list composed of 25 players to go along with the senior nominee Johnny Robinson of and the contributor nominees Pat Bowlen and Gil Brandt.

In February, prior to the Super Bowl as few as five and as many as eight of these players, coaches and executives will be voted into the Hall of Fame.

Here are the defensive stats for the linebackers, defensive linemen, and defensive backs on this list. We've used Play-by-plays (PBP) rather than coaches stats for a more fair, apples to apples comparison. We are not listing offensive player statistics since they are easily found at various outlets, unlike the defensive stats.

These players are listed randomly, not alphabetically or in any order of preference.

TUESDAY TIDBITS: "Hirsch Roars Into the Clover"

By TJ Troup
No doubt the game last night between the Chiefs and Rams will be discussed over and over again; for many, many reasons. The total offensive yardage was 1,001 yards, and while that is very impressive, the Rams have been here before, and amazingly on the same date of November 19th.

When the AAFC disbanded after 1949 and three teams moved into the NFL the schedule maker (probably Bert Bell) had to adjust who had the bye each week during the season. Since the New York Bulldogs were now christened the New York Yanks; the league had a very different look for the 1950 season.

The Yanks had offensive talent and were actually contenders though they had lost in the Coliseum earlier in the year. The Rams opened the year with a home loss to a nasty bunch of grizzlies from Chicago, but Hampton Pool and Joe Stydahar had taken the Clark Shaughnessy offense to a new level.

We are at Yankee Stadium on this November afternoon, and a record will be set that still stands. The two teams combined for 1,133 yards in a thrilling 43-35 Los Angeles victory. There is a flawed box score at Pro Football Reference (PFR) if you want to look at the individual offensive stats. This site has chosen to not list the interceptions, and kick returns though they are available from a respected researcher.

So, let's start with the interceptions since like the game last night they are significant to the outcome. The Ram corners of Tom Keane (left) & Woodley Lewis (right) both intercept three times in the game. PFR lists Bruce Alford of the Yanks with a fumble recovery for a touchdown; again similar to last night, but this is an error (the correction was given to the site years ago, but has never been updated). Alford recovered a blocked punt in the end zone for a New York touchdown.
George Talaiferro
Tyreek Hill is one helluva player for Kansas City. Watching him in the open field with his quick shifty moves is a joy. The Yanks had two such backs in 1950 in Buddy Young and George Taliaferro. Usually, George Ratterman was under center as the quarterback in the revised T-formation, but at one point in the game, the Yanks are in a version of the "wildcat" or single wing with a direct snap to Young who quickly speeds left on a sweep and then hands off to Taliaferro on a reverse. The right-handed Taliaferro motors to the right and then drifts back and lofts a long arching spiral to end Art Weiner for a 50-yard touchdown. Yes, folks, there was some razzle and dazzle in the forgotten days of yore.
Buddy Young
Watching the highlight film shows a Ram offense that is almost unstoppable; kinda like last night. The trade of sure-handed right end Bob Shaw to the Cardinals for tackle Bob Reinhard allowed Elroy Hirsch to once again become a starter (he lost his left halfback role during the latter part of '49). Hirsch is learning the end position and on this afternoon he shines throughout.
Elroy Hirsch
On one of the Hirsch touchdowns, Harry Wismer doing the narration exclaims " Hirsch roars into the clover". Los Angeles prevails 43-35 to stay in contention with an 8-2 record (have now won six straight).

The Rams lose to that nasty bunch of grizzlies the next week, yet the two teams tie with 9-3 records for first place.

The Rams of 2019 travel to Chicago in three weeks. Is it possible that these teams will also meet in the playoffs this year? Oh yeah, the Rams in 1950 won the playoff bout in the Coliseum against the Bears to advance to the title clash. Possibly November 19th will always be remembered as Ram day on offense?

This coming Thursday the 22nd is family, friends, and football on Turkey day. So will take all of you back to the game of that day in 1962. After the pheasant hunt with my dad and uncles on that frosty Illinois early morning; got settled in to watch the Green Bay juggernaut travel to Tiger Stadium to see if they could remain undefeated.
Joe Schmidt
Much has been written about the Lion pass rush that day directed by young defensive coordinator Don Shula and orchestrated by middle linebacker Joe Schmidt. That Lion team was known for their defense (rightly so), yet the MVP of the Lions in 1962 was All-Pro split end Gail Cogdill. The lean, swift receiver twice in the first half scored on touchdown passes to give Detroit an insurmountable lead.
Many players have caught multiple touchdown passes in the first half of a game, but how many did this against a Lombardi/Bengston defense from 1959 through 1967? Four men, that's right ONLY four men accomplished this in the nine years of the Packer dynasty.
Raymond Berry
Oh? You would like the names? Ok, they are Raymond Berry (1959 & 60), Gary Collins of the Browns in 1966, and Dave Williams of the Cardinals in 1967.

Samson Ebukam Joins Rare Fraternity

By John Turney
Last nights Monday Night Football game featured tons of offense and little defense in terms of coverage, however, there were three huge defensive plays—three defensive touchdowns, two by Rams SAM Samsum Ebukam, one a pick six and the others a scoop and score (INT return for TD and Fumbles recovery for a TD). He will surely win the NFC Defensive Player of the Week for his performance.
Top is Ebukam's FR for a TD and below is his INT for TD
However, while there have been instances of two defensive scores by one player in a game, they were all interceptions with just three exceptions.

In fact, our own author and researcher T.J. Troup reports that only three other players have had a scoop and score and a pick 6 in the same game aside from Ebukam. On December 9, 1962, Dick LeBeau of the Lions accomplished the feat against the Vikings and on September 10, 1989, linebacker David Grayson of the Browns did it versus the Steelers. And lastly,  Eddie Jackson did it last year for Bears in a victory over Carolina on October 22, 2017.
Lebeau, in 1962 returned a fumble for 26 yards and an interception for 31 yards in a 37-23 over the Vikings, in fact, his plays were the margin in that game and LeBeau's older brother said it was LeBeau's "greatest game".
LeBeau vs Vikings, 12/9/ 1962
Grayson recovered a fumble for 28 yards for a score and picked a pass for 14 yards and returned in for a score in a 51-0 blowout of the Steelers.
Grayson takes ball from Louis Lipps and returns it for a score
Grayson catches a tipped pass and takes it into the end zone

Eddie Jackson 10/22/17 vs Panthers
Imagine that. With all the offensive explosiveness, the rarest thing that happened was by a defensive player.