Wednesday, March 13, 2019

1953 Defensive Player of the Week: The Year of the Pass Defender

By TJ Troup
The defensive player of the week for the seasons of 1950 through 1952 have featured quite a number of defensive lineman. Though defensive lineman and linebackers still played an integral role during 1953 there is a subtle shift in that a number of pass defenders will be featured—many of them safeties.

The overall rushing statistics are still virtually the same, and the total number of passing yards goes up just 4 yards a game per team. The biggest difference is in yards lost attempting to pass (sacks); and there is a dramatic drop-off from an average of 302 a team in 1952 to 233 in 1953.

September 27th: The Colts have returned to the league and win at home 13-9 over the Bears as Bert Rechichar intercepts three passes. He returns the thefts for 36 yards, and his 36-yard touchdown return is the difference in the game.

Len Ford, Browns defensive end
October 4th: The best defensive end in the league still has his moments; and that end is, of course, Len Ford as he again pillages a pass pocket in taking down Cardinal passers four times in the Browns 27-7 win.

Gene Brito, Redskins defensive end
October 11th: We have co-defenders of the week in left defensive end Gene Brito and left safety Don Doll. Brito has been switched to defense this year, and though he only plays when Washington is in a traditional 5-2, he sure makes an impact. Relentless, quick, and very strong for his size Brito torments every New York Giant lineman who attempts to block him.

Don Doll played outstanding football for both the Lions and Rams, and the veteran brings his savvy to the Redskin secondary. Don intercepts 3 passes for 43 yards; including a fine 28-yard return in the 13-9 win over the Giants.

Leo Nomellini, 49ers defensive tackle
October 18th: San Francisco is again a contender, and their defense is led by player of the week Leo Nomellini. The Bears gain just 74 yards rushing as Leo the Lion with his quickness continually destroys Chicago running plays. The Niners pull out a close one 35-28.

October 25th: Los Angeles needs to beat the Bears to stay in contention with San Francisco and Detroit. Left safety Norb Hecker pilfers two passes and returns them 24 yards. The second interception was key as Hecker intercepted on his own two-yard line as Blanda was attempting to rally the Bears.

November 1st: There are times the award must go to a player in a losing cause, and that is the case this week as corner Don Paul of the Cardinals steals 3 passes for 57 yards in the 23-20 loss to the Giants. Don has always been a man who could make the big play, and he is exciting to watch on either offense or defense, yet now he is much more consistent and has found a home on the defensive side of the ball as a corner for the lowly Cardinals.

Jack Christiansen, Lions defensive back
November 7th: Saturday evening game and the Lions with a victory over Baltimore will still be tied for first place with Los Angeles and San Francisco. Detroit earns a hard-fought 17-7 win as left safety Jack Christiansen intercepts 3 passes for 42 yards (he had a fourth taken away due to a penalty). Now in his third year, Jack has become the best pass defender in the league as he leads the league with 12 interceptions. He has now intercepted in five straight games, and his ability to diagnose plays, and range all over the field making open field tackles is impressive. Christiansen would have won Defensive Player of the Year if such an award existed in 1953.

Chuck Bednarik, Eagles linebacker
November 15th: The co-players of the week are right linebacker Chuck Bednarik of Philadelphia and Yale Lary of Detroit. Concrete Charley is by far the best right linebacker in the league and watching film of his two interceptions in the 45-14 win over Baltimore are textbook. The angles he takes on his pass drops, and the swiftness he exhibits on his returns of 41 yards, and the 26-yard touchdown demonstrates his greatness. The Lions have the best safety tandem in the league with Jack Christiansen and Lary. Yale's three timely steals(he returns them 54 yards) help Detroit hold on and defeat Green Bay 14-7.

November 22nd: Philadelphia has the best pass rush in the league, and is also strong against the run. Bucko Kilroy of the Eagles is a rock at middle guard. He helps stonewall the Cardinal rushing attack (58 yards) in the 38-0 whitewash as Philadelphia wins for the sixth straight week.

Bobby Dillon, Packers defensive back
November 26th: Thanksgiving in Detroit and the Packers are determined to knock off the defending champion Lions. Right safety Bobby Dan Dillon in his second season is the most improved defender in the league. He ties the league record as he intercepts four times. He now has intercepted 9 in the past seven weeks. Dillon's range and speed serve him well until he is injured in this game as the Packers collapse in the 34-15 loss.

Don Paul, Rams linebacker
December 5th: For the Rams to have an outside chance to win the western division they must win on this Saturday afternoon against the Colts. Right linebacker Don Paul intercepts and recovers a fumble in the 45-2 demolition of Baltimore. Paul, as usual, is a force against the run as he leads his team to victory.

Jack Butler, Steelers defensive back
December 13th: The Redskins have played outstanding football down the stretch, and a win today would give them second place in the eastern division. Pittsburgh always plays the 'Skins tough and today right cornerback Jack Butler is the difference in the 14-13 battle. Jack ties the league mark with 4 interceptions, and he returns them 86 yards. His longest return of 36 has never been corrected in league manuals, and his 5-yard touchdown return in the 4th quarter is the winning touchdown.


  1. TJ, thanks for another highly informative breakdown, and I know you know this, but some of your readers might be interested to learn that on 9/27 Bert Rechichar in addition to his ints and td was more or less the whole show/highlight reel for the Colts...just before halftime, although he wasn't the regular kicker, they sent him in to try and make a 56 yard field goal setting an NFL record that wasn't broken until Tom Dempsey's 'impossible' last play 63 yarder that beat Detroit in 1970.

  2. Why did Don Doll switch teams so often? Don Paul, meet Don Paul.