Wednesday, April 10, 2019

Someone Who Won't Make Any NFL Top 100 Lists This Fall

LOOKING AHEAD
By John Turney
With the NFL's 100th Anniversary celebration coming this Fall there will be quite a few Top 100 lists that will be composed of the best players of all-time. Some will be done by votes of experts, some may be by individuals. And all the players will be worthy.

We will make one prediction though:  Jack Youngblood will be on none of them.

Why? He never is.

But he will have better objective credentials compared to many of the players who WILL be on such lists, of that you can be sure.

The only negative is that he never was on a Super Bowl-winning team. He only played in one Super Bowl and was hampered by a fractured leg in a losing effort to the Steelers.

His positive credentials are many. He "checks all the boxes" as it were.

What are the boxes? We think they are a summation of the credentials that are traditionally used to rate players. They include MVPs, All-Pro, and Pro Bowl selections (call it an 'honors' box).

The "testimonial" box is the collection of quotes by opponents or even teammates about any given player. Sometimes they are called  "What They Said About . . . ". They carry a lot of weight in our research into this kind of subject, whether it's for a Top 100 list or the Hall of Fame.

Then there is what we would term the "statistics" box. This box better serves offensive players but there are plenty of defensive statistics if you look.

The "stat" box can also include team accomplishments, statistically. Were they good for a long time, like the 1980s 49ers offense or the defensive prowess of the 2000s Ravens for a couple of examples.

We also think there is an "intangibles" box which is where you put things that don't quite fit in the honors, statistics, testimonials, or rings box. It could be anything of note.

Finally, when available, there is what we would call "scouting" box, which is ratings collected from Joel Buchsbaum of Gannett or Proscout, Inc. It's similar to "testimonials"  so if you're a purist you could include them in that box.

So, what kind of honors does it take to be a Top 100 player? MVPs and Player of the Year Awards are hard to win, and it is hard to make an All-Decade Team. There are All-Pros and Pro Bowls as well. Consensus All-Pro (making the majority of the major teams) is the toughest task, then making one of them (We call that First-team All-Pro) and then the lesser Second-team All-pro followed by the All-Conference teams which is what Pro Bowl teams essentially are.
Awards/Honors
In 1975 Jack Youngblood was the UPI NFC Defensive Player of the Year and in 1975 and 1976 he was the KC Committee of 101 NFC Defensive Player of the Year. He was Pro Football Weekly's 1975 NFL Defensive Lineman of the Year Award.

He was a five-time consensus All-Pro and in three other seasons he was Second-team All-Pro.

So, where does that compare to other defensive ends?

Only Reggie White, Bruce Smith, and Gino Marchetti have more consensus All-Pro seasons than Youngblood. Deacon Jones also had five consensus All-Pros plus one First-team All-Pro.
We fully expect Michael Strahan to be on plenty of the top 100 lists. And in terms of missed games, sacks, consensus All-Pros he trails Youngblood. He edges Youngblood with a Super Bowl ring.

We are not criticizing Strahan's career, it was great we rank him just behind Youngblood. We are suggesting, though, that Youngblood's is easily equal if not superior. So when you see Strahan's name you could easily insert Youngblood's if you guy by credentials or the "boxes". The same applies to any defensive end not named White, Smith, Marchetti, and Jones.

And when you do the same kind of analysis for linebackers you might be able to say Youngblood's name could replace a Ray Nitschke (lots of rings, not so many honors), Derrick Thomas, Derrick Brooks, even a Ted Hendricks.

Again, we are not saying definitively that one player is ahead of another, after all, these exercises are that of opinion but we do think that over the years Youngblood has been left out or overlooked for players whose 'resumes' are not better and even inferior if you look at honors and even stats and testimonials and intangibles. All we are saying is the full information, which lots of so-called experts lack, can make a huge difference when evaluating players and their careers and that may explain why Youngblood is so often snubbed.
Stats
The "stat box" is covered in the above chart. It can be seen that Youngblood's sacks, though unofficial, total more than anyone except White, Smith, Jones, and now Julius Peppers who passed Youngblood last year.

Also part of the stat box would be the achievements of the Rams defense.

Few know that from 1970 through 1980 the Rams allowed the fewest total yards, the fewest rushing yards, sacked the most quarterbacks, and allowed the fewest points. Moreover, they allowed the second-fewest passing yards, were fourth in defensive passer rating, and were sixth in takeaways.

While it is true the Rams didn't get a ring, and as such the Steelers defense will always be viewed as the top (and we'd agree) we do suggest the Rams defense was right on their heels and did some things better than the Steelers. And Cowboys and Vikings.

His personal stats include 151½ sacks, including being among the league or conference leaders (unofficially) in 1973-75, 1979, and 1981. He had a high of 18 in 1979 and 16½ in 1973.

The 150+ sacks are even more impressive given the fact that fewer passes were thrown in the 1970s than more recent years. Also, half his career was played when there was a 14-game schedule so that is another factor to be considered.

Nonetheless, only Bruce Smith (279 games), Reggie White (232 games), Deacon Jones (191 games), Kevin Greene (228 games), Julius Peppers (266 games) have more sacks than Youngblood (202 games).

Youngblood forced 34 fumbles and had 80 tackles for loss, aside from his sacks.
The final column is "penalties drawn". By going through the play-by-plays and game tapes and film we were able to establish penalties on the player attempting to block Youngblood. These include holding calls drawn, false starts (a Madden favorite), illegal use of hands and so on.

We've not seen anyone with more penalties drawn over a career. We have seen a couple players (Dexter Manley, 1986) and Howie Long (1983 and 1984) that were over twenty penalties drawn but neither sustained it like Youngblood did.

Intangibles
The "intangible box" is something that Youngblood fills that others might. We can start with him playing the 1979 playoffs with an oblique fracture in his fibula. And played reasonably well in those games.

Youngblood was a team captain from age 27 to the end of his career and was always noted as a team leader and inspirational figure for the Rams.

Another 'intangible', we'd suggest, is how well he played in 1983 and 1984 in a two-gap 3-4 defense. Youngblood was a 4-3 (often a split-40 or "wide 9") his whole career until 1983. Because the Rams had more good linebackers than good defensive lineman new head coach John Robinson decided to change the Rams to a 3-4 team.

It was a big change since it was not one of the one-gap 3-4 defenses you see these days, it required Youngblood to line up head up on a tackle and play both gaps, depending on which way the play flowed, which was a change. So, he hit the weights even more and put on 10-15 pounds of muscle, and slugged it out to get a chance to rush the passer on third downs (Rams went to a 40 nickel then).

He averaged 10 sacks per year those two seasons and the Rams stopped the run excellently (Rams were second in lowest yards per carry allowed in those two seasons and fourth in fewest rushing yards allowed) so while he sacrificed a lot, the team defense did improve and the Rams were in the playoffs both seasons. His 20 sacks led the team by a wide margin (Reggie Doss had 13.5) so he was the Rams only consistent rusher despite the scheme change and the difficulties of the 30 defense.

Proscout, Inc., ranked Youngblood as the 9th best defensive end in the NFL for the 1983 season and Joel Buchsbaum (Gannett and Pro Football Weekly) ranked also ranked him 9th in 1984 in his annual rankings attesting to the effectiveness Youngblood had in those two seasons in the two-gap scheme.

Special teams contributions fit in with the intangibles box. Youngblood was part of the Rams coverage and return units in 1971 and 1972 and they were among the best—rivaling and even exceeding the accomplishments of the Redskins who were known as the gold stand for special teams.

In addition, Youngblood was an excellent kick blocker throughout his career with 8 kicks blocked and a few additional deflections.

He was also back on kick protection in 1977 after the Rams terrible failures in the 1976 NFC Playoffs and remained the for the rest of his career, even calling a fake kick that won the Viking game in 1979.

We also mention that in the 'testimonials' there are quotes about Youngblood's style and uniqueness which fit with 'intangibles'.

John Madden said this:
 " . . . As a pass rusher, he had a way of getting underneath the
offensive tackle, forcing him to stand up almost straight. That way
Jack had all the leverage. Watching him on films, I was fascinated
by how he did it.

“‘Watch this’, I would tell my defensive ends, ‘Watch how
Youngblood gets under that tackle’.

“They would try it, but they couldn’t do it. Of all our ends, Tony
Cline came closest to doing it, but he couldn’t lean into that tackle
the way Jack did, getting underneath the tackle’s shoulder pad and
taking away his strength.  Other good pass rushers used quick
moves, or got an arm on the tackle’s shoulder and spun him, or
whaapped the tackle with a head slap (before it was ruled illegal).
But nobody else literally got underneath a tackle.”
 One Knee Equals Two Feet, by John Madden

Jim Hanifan, former head coach and offensive line coach said:
“Jack had great effort and tremendous technique. He played over
at the left defensive end, where the tight end was usually sitting.
So, it’s not as nice a situation as it is for the guy on the right side,
where the quarterback can’t see you, there’s usually no tight end
because most teams were right-handed—the right end is shorter.

“The thing I always remember was he had a tremendous upfield
rush and terrific balance. In his pass rush, he would give you a
tremendous upfield rush. If you weren’t careful, as a tackle, what
he was setting you up for was his next move.

“He’d start it up and then bring the inside arm and club the living
shit out of you and come back inside with an underarm move.
Boy, it was an effective technique. Really effective.”
Testimonials
This is a collection of quotes from those who knew Youngblood best, those who blocked him or tried to escape his rush or who game-planned against him. Some players have multiple quotes over long periods of time. We tried to collect as many as we could period in question though there are plenty of  'after the fact' quotes that came recently. Many come from the time Youngblood was waiting to be inducted into the Hall of Fame and were conducted by the precursor to PFJ and while we were'
gathering information for College & Pro Football Newsweekly, Dick Butkus Football Network, Pro Football Weekly, and other publications.

Many of the quotes are from the top tackles of the time, while others are from other tackles that were good but not All-Pros but who said Youngblood gave them the worst day of their career or was one of the top they faced. The same is true of the quarterbacks and the coaches. The point being there a wide variety of people with opinions and the comments are similar throughout showing a consensus of Youngblood's skills.

OPPOSING PLAYERS
Dan Dierdorf, Hall of Fame Tackle, St. Louis Cardinals
“I played against Jack my entire career and I can say that he
was the most difficult assignment I ever had during my career.
He was the most challenging player I ever had to block.”
-St. Louis Rams Press Release, January 15, 1997

“He’s extremely competitive and extremely strong, a lot
stronger than most other ends, Youngblood is the best overall.”
St. Louis Post Dispatch, December 23, 1975

“Youngblood is by far the best defensive end I’ve ever faced
and may be the best all-around end in football.”
Chicago Tribune, December 28, 1975

“Jack Youngblood is the best all-around defensive end in
football and that isn’t just pregame buildup. He plays the run
really well, he’s a tough guy and he’s smart.”
St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 14, 1976

“He’s the best. Period.”
 -Pro Football Weekly, December, 1975

Art Shell, Hall of Fame Tackle, Oakland Raiders
“Jack Youngblood was a terror. He had a lot of heart, he played hard, he
   played tough, and he was as quick as a hiccup. He was on the small
   side but he had great pass rush moves.

“Jack was a hellacious player. He had a great career he was one of the great
ones of all-time.”
 -College & Pro Football Newsweekly Interview, 1995

Ron Yary, Hall of Fame Tackle, Minnesota Vikings
"Jack Youngblood was the best defensive end I ever faced,
  There is not even a question about it. He did it all, he did what a
  defensive end was supposed to do better than anyone. Period.
  In my opinion, he's one of the top four defensive linemen of all time.
 There wasn't anyone better or tougher to block than Jack."
-ESPN Classic, January, 2001

“Youngblood isn’t the biggest defensive end in the league,
but he’s big enough at around 250 and he’s tall. He’s quick
and strong and has good instincts. I’d say he’s been about the
best the past couple of years.”
-Minneapolis Star, September 16, 1976

“The guy is just fabulous. He may be the best defensive
lineman in football. He’s got mobility and strength and he
never stops coming.”
Los Angeles Times, October 17, 1976

“Jack is quicker than I am and just as strong. He’s the best
defensive lineman in football.”
 -Minneapolis Star, January, 1977

“In my opinion, he’s probably the best defensive end I’ve ever
played against. It’s his quickness, his understanding of the game,
his great speed. He’s a smart defensive end. You can never be over
aggressive against him because he comes off the blocks so
fast.

“I’ve never seen him blocked in a big game. Even when the
Cowboys beat them in the playoffs 37-7 that year, Rayfield
Wright couldn’t block him. But people didn’t notice that
because of the way the game went.

“I’ll tell you, you just can’t believe how good Jack Youngblood
really is.”
-Los Angeles Herald-Examiner, October 25, 1977
       
“I’d have to say Jack Youngblood was the toughest I ever
faced. It’s his quickness, his intensity, plus he’s smart. If he
takes a chance, he takes it at the right time. He’s so quick
he’s not afraid to take an inside move when he still has outside
responsibilities because he’s quick enough to adjust.”
-The Truly Great, The 200 Best Pro Football Players 
       Of All Time, By Rich Korch

Rayfield Wright, Hall of Fame Tackle, Dallas Cowboys
Wright listed the top defensive ends he ever faced. Youngblood
was listed along with Deacon Jones.
-Los Angeles Times, September 20, 1976

"The thing you have to do is set up pretty quick because Youngblood is
so quick off the ball. He's really fast and plays with a lot of intensity."
-Dallas Morning News, August 28, 1976

“Of the guys I played, they were all ‘bad’ but Jack Youngblood was
phenomenal. He was very strong but he did not use his strength to
beat you. Jack was a finesse player, he used his speed and
quickness. I have a great amount of respect for Jack. He always
was tough to prepare for and play against. He deserves to be in the
Hall of Fame, he is as good as anyone who played his position.”                                              ----       -Monticello News, February 2, 2001

Bob Brown, Hall of Fame Tackle, Eagles, Rams, Raiders
“If I had to sum up Jack Youngblood in one word, it would be ‘tenacious’.
Jack was obviously talented and very tenacious. He was very strong and
extremely quick. There are about three of four guys who I would rank
right up there close to Deacon Jones and I would count Jack in that
number.”
-Pain Gang, by Neil Reynolds, 2006

George Kunz, All-Pro Tackle, Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Colts
“Jack had a great career, he was a great athlete, a good friend and
he really enjoyed the game, that was obvious.

“In terms of being an all-around player, Jack was one of the best. He
had good hand strength and that helps you in a pass rush situation.
Also, Jack made the most of his talents, he did a great job with that.
He was strong and quick. He got out there, set it up and kept
coming at you, he wasn’t a quitter.”
 -College & Pro Football Newsweekly Interview, 1995

Russ Washington, All-Pro Tackle, San Diego Chargers
“Most of the guys I played against had something that was tough.
John Matuszak was extremely strong. Fred Dean, who I played
against in practice, was very quick but Jack Youngblood was strong
and quick. He was easily the best all-around guy I faced”
 -College & Pro Football Newsweekly Interview, 1995

Henry Lawrence, All-Pro Tackle, Oakland Raiders
“Youngblood is one quick dude, from what I've seen of him he’s probably
the best in the league.”
-Oakland Tribune, November, 1977

Stan Brock, Pro Bowl Tackle, New Orleans Saints
“I like playing against the best and Youngblood is it. He’s a 100
percenter. You know he is coming all the time.”
 -New Orleans Times-Picayune, October 12, 1984

“The best I faced in my career was Jack Youngblood of the Rams.
The thing that makes him stand out was his intelligence and leverage.
He was very strong, smart and plenty quick.”
 -College & Pro Football Newsweekly Interview, 1993

Keith Fahnhorst, Pro Bowl Tackle, San Francisco 49ers
“I had kind of a mental block against Jack Youngblood because
he was already a superstar when I came in. You could go a whole
game without putting a good lick on him because he was so
active. I judged my whole season on how well I played against
him.”
 -San Francisco 49ers, A book by Joe Hession

“Jack was a bitch to block. I thought he was one of the greatest
players to ever play the game. Obviously, I may have lost more
battles than I won against him, but he was always one of the
classiest players. Jack never said a word one way or the other
whether he beat me or didn’t beat me.”
-The Nearly Perfect Season, by Chris Willis

Dan Jiggetts, Tackle, Chicago Bears
“Playing against Jack was like a nightmare. He was always one of the
leading sackers in the NFL. He was undersized, but that only meant he
was that much more difficult to hit on run blocks. He was as good a pass
    rusher as I saw in the NFL."
 -Pro Football Journal Interview, March, 1996

John Vella, Tackle, Oakland Raiders
"Jack was an excellent player, the best DE I faced. Sometimes he would,
basically, switch positions with the OLB, then Jack could widen a couple
of yards outside get a better pass rush angle. It was an unusual defense
that worked well."
-Raider Nation, January 9, 1998

Barry Darrow, Tackle, Cleveland Browns
“He’s better than any end I’ve faced. He charges like a bull. He’s
   very fast and he plays wider than most ends. Since he plays that
wide you have to drop back and try to cut him off at the pass, (but)
by then he has gotten up a good head of steam.

“When you have to give ground like that, then you’re on defense.
He dictates to you. This defense is designed for ends like him. He’s
not the biggest end in the league but he has superb quickness.”
 -Cleveland Plain Dealer, November, 1977

Anthony Munoz, Hall of Fame Tackle, Cincinnati Bengals
“Growing up in L.A. and watching the Rams as much as I did, I
thought Jack was an excellent player. Here’s a guy that had a
combination of what you like to see, the speed and the strength.
I mean you can see him now and see how strong he is, he used
that to his advantage. I think, as a guy who had that combination,
he was great. I thought a lot of him as I watched him.
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Jerry Sisemore, Pro Bowl Tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
“Boy, Youngblood was pretty amazing, phenomenal amazing. He wasn’t
that big—Jack was the only player I played against that was smaller than
I was, on a consistent basis—but he played like he weighed 300 pounds
because of how strong he was. Jack, my goodness gracious, played
14-15 years and was All-Pro every year; and probably had the most pain
tolerance of anybody who ever played the game, he played a couple of
games with a broken leg, a great individual and player.”
-DBFN Interview, June, 1997

Karl Nelson, Tackle, New York Giants
"During the 1984 season we had gone out to Anaheim and been
embarrassed by the L.A. Rams, 33-12.

"I had a really awful day against Jack Youngblood, their 14-year defensive
end. He had this move where he'd grab my triceps with his incredibly strong 
hands. If I was in a bad position, he'd just pull me by. If I was in a good position,
he pull me down on top of him and I'd get a holding call.

"That was the worst game of my career. Youngblood had three sacks and
drew three more holding calls. He beat me mentally and then beat me physically”
-Life on the Line, by Karl Nelson, 1993

Cody Risen, Tackle, Cleveland Browns
"Jack Youngblood is a great football player. I'd be a liar if I said I wasn't
concerned about the guy going into the game. I can see why he has made the
Pro Bowl so many times"
-Cleveland Plain Dealer, October 5, 1981

"Jack Youngblood gave me fits, in fact, he gave me the worst day of my
career. I got a lesson that day. I think I got called for holding four
times. I'll tell you, he was as good as any defensive end I ever faced.

"He had such great movement and was a great technique guy. He'd keep
  you off  balance with his speed and quickness and his finesse, just a great
  football player"
-DBFN Interveiw, August 1, 2003

Keith Dorney, Pro Bowl Tackle, Detroit Lions
"I've played against some incredible defensive ends in my time: Reggie White,
Jack Youngblood, Ed Jones, Claude Humphrey, Howie Long, Dan Hampton,
the list goes on."
-Black and Honolulu Blue, by Keith Dorney, 2003

Greg Koch, Pro Bowl Tackle, Green Bay Packers
  Who was the toughest defender you ever had to block?

  Jack Youngblood of the Rams, Howie Long and for pure
  pass-rushing ability, Mark Gastineau.
  -Bleacher Report, May 21, 2010

John Hannah, Hall of Fame Guard, New England Patriots
“I’m surprised that I got in the Hall of Fame before Jack, I swear.
He was a great end, one of the best that ever played the game.”
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Gene Upshaw, Hall of Fame Guard, Oakland Raiders
“Jack Youngblood who brought the whole package. He was a great
player who already should be in the Hall of Fame. He had a motor and
never knew when to stop. I played inside, at guard, and was always
running into him―he covered the whole field as a defensive end. He
was a truly great player.
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Conrad Dobler, Pro Bowl Guard, St. Louis Cardinals
Dobler put Youngblood in his “Tough Guy Hall of Fame”

“Jack Youngblood, who possessed tremendous upfield speed, hobbled
through 2½ games on a fractured fibula. Now if that isn’t tough, I don’t
know what is.”
 -They Call Me Dirty, a book by Conrad Dobler

Lee Roy Selmon, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
“Jack Youngblood’s career speaks for itself,  He had a great career,
   a long career, with the Rams. He was an outstanding player—
   strong-willed and determined.

That gives players an edge, what’s inside of them. Jack fit that
mold, he had the determination to not get beat, to make the play. A
lot was said about his playing in the Super Bowl with an injury, a
serious injury, and he was admired by his peers for that as well.”
 -College & Pro Football Newsweekly Interview, 1995

Howie Long, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Los Angeles Raiders
Long states that while he was a young player he watched hours of film of
Youngblood and Hall of Famers Lee Roy Selmon and Randy White to learn the
techniques that made them successful and apply them into his career.
-Inside Sports Magazine, June, 1996

Carl Eller, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Minnesota Vikings
"Marchetti of the Colts was a very serious player, Deacon was kind of a
predecessor, and Youngblood was another good one I liked. Jack was
amazingly strong, country boy strong. He was good at both the run and
the pass, an all-around defensive guy. I don't think he considered himself
as just a pass rusher/sack guy, or whatever."
-College and Pro Football Newsweekly, Nov, 1995

Barney Chavous, All-AFC Defensive End, Denver Broncos
“Jack Youngblood was a good pass rusher, he had a variety of
moves that were effective.

“Look at the guys who were so great, like Deacon Jones was a
master of the headslap. Then you look at a guy like Jack
Youngblood. Jack had a real good swim move to the outside, then
he could come inside. They created those things, they were
inventors. If they could have patents on those moves, they’d be
rich.”
-Pro Football Journal Interview, February, 1996

Carl Hairston, All-NFC Defensive End, Philadelphia Eagles
“Jack Youngblood played with great leverage, that’s what you
needed if you wanted to become a very effective pass rusher.
You can’t pass the passer high, you’ve got to play under the guy’s
pads and you’ve got to have leverage to do that. He did that,
Youngblood was a helluva player.”
 -Pro Football Journal Interview, February, 1996

Tommy Hart, All-Pro Defensive End, San Francisco 49ers
“Jack and I played in the 1977 Pro Bowl together. I always admired
the way Youngblood played. He played that left end but he was in a
right-handed stance. He had a knack for coming upfield and getting
an inside move. I studied him a little bit because I wanted to see how
he got that inside move and made it so smooth.

“He didn’t have that super great speed to beat a guy upfield but he
had enough speed to get a tackle on his heels and then use that inside
move. He also used his hands well. He was, really, one of the first to
use them in a pass rush. He was a great, great player.”
-Pro Football Journal Interview, June, 1996

Claude Humphrey, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Atlanta Falcons, Philadelphia Eagles
“I liked Jack Youngblood, not only as a player but as a person.
I thought he was a real cool dude—I thought he was all right. He
came into the league and played great.

“As a matter of fact, he played great against a guy I had a lot of
respect for, a guy we had here—George Kunz. When we got ready
to play Jack Youngblood, George made me stay after practice and
give him all that Youngblood stuff. And Jack would still beat him.

“That’s the only thing that I might have disliked Youngblood for—
he made me stay after practice.”
-Pro Football Journal Interview, March, 1996

Willie Davis, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Green Bay Packers
 Jack clearly played at a Hall of Fame level. There is no doubt
    in my mind.

“Jack was, as we all know, one of the fine pass rushers of his time.
Fundamentally, he was good, he came off the ball well, he got good
leverage, and he could really do what they call a swim move. He
also played mentally smart. He was strong, he bulked himself up
with a strong weight program.

“I was a coach for five years in the College All-Star game and I
gotta tell you, Jack was one of the most coachable guys that came
in there. Many of the guys took the All-Star game as something
they were doing and their way to doing something else. Their
bodies were there but their minds were somewhere else.

“But Jack really worked there. He wanted to learn something and
make every moment count. From that standpoint, it was very
noticeable, he was a good example player. He was a guy who was
trying to do it and trying to do it right.

“I clearly remember Jack for those qualities you learn to admire. I
can basically say that I tended to measure them in successful
people and Jack clearly had them. Frankly, I watched him for most
of his career feeling very good about what Jack accomplished and
about being a part of that bridge from college to the NFL."
    -Pro Football Journal Interview, January, 1996

Gino Marchetti, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Baltimore Colts
“I liked Youngblood. I liked the way he rushed the passer and how
  created havoc in the backfield. In the games I saw he was great.”
Pro Football Journal Interview, January, 1996

Reggie White, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Green Bay Packers
“Jack Youngblood was great, man.”
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Bruce Smith, Hall of Fame Defensive End, Buffalo Bills
“I really admired Jack Youngblood.”
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Bill Pickel, Defensive Tackle, Los Angeles Raiders
"Nobody put more into the game than Jack Youngblood."
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Bob Golic, Defensive Tackle, Cleveland Browns, Los Angeles Raiders
“Jack was a great, tough player. He’s one who should be in the
Hall of Fame, Jack just flowed out there, you’d watch him and
he’d just flow.”
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Mike Golic, Defensive Tackle, Philadelphia Eagles
“I’d pick Youngblood for the Hall of Fame. With Youngblood, it’s his
tenacity―the guy played in a Super Bowl with a broken leg. You can’t do much
more than that for the love of the game. He was one of the throwbacks who
played ball to play, not for glitz and glamour, he was one tough s.o.b. He had
good stats, obviously, but what I liked was his leadership on the field.”
-DBFN Interview, January, 1997

Jim Otis, Pro Bowl Fullback, St. Louis Cardinals
“He’s the best defensive end we’ve ever played against. He’s got
it all—movement, speed, strength.”
Los Angeles Times, December 28, 1975

“Youngblood is the best defensive man I’ve ever played against.
Nobody plays his position better.”
-College & Pro Football Newsweekly, December, 1975

John Brodie, All-Pro Quarterback, San Francisco 49ers
"Jack Youngblood is probably the best defensive end that has
ever played this game for the longest period of time. For 13 years
he had played top quality football. He has such great pursuit, you just
can't keep him out of there."
-NBC Telecast, November, 1983

Sonny Jurgensen, Hall of Fame Quarterback, Washington Redskins
“He was a great player. He was a player that had a motor, he came
all the time. He didn’t take plays off.  A lot of guys in the league, they
knew when to play, they’d play hard one play and the next play they
wouldn’t play hard. They’d say hey, ‘the play’s going away from me.
Jack Youngblood played every play. He was THAT good.”
-DBFN Interview, May 14, 1997

Roger Staubach, Hall of Fame Quarterback, Dallas Cowboys
“I consider him a phenomenal football player. I’d have to give
Youngblood the vote as the best defensive player I ever
competed against.”
 -Time Enough To Win, a book by Roger Staubach

Fran Tarkenton, Hall of Fame Quarterback, Minnesota Vikings 
“Jack Youngblood was the best defensive lineman in football and
The best defensive player I ever faced.
-Los Angeles Herald Examiner, August 28, 1985

"There's the best defensive end in football—Jack Youngblood. He's
one of the most intense football players I've ever played against. He's
had fisticuffs with most of the quarterbacks in the league, including me.
He's even had a couple with Roger Staubach, but he's a quality player
and a quality person. There is no player I have more respect for than
number 85, Jack Youngblood."
-ABC-TV Telecast, October 14, 1979

Archie Manning, All-Pro Quarterback, New Orleans Saints
“The Rams front four is the best I ever faced. I’ve got to say
that Youngblood was nice enough to pick me up every time
he knocked my ass off.”
 -Los Angeles Times, September 23, 1974

“Jack was an unbelievable athlete, he probably hit me more than
anyone else in my career.”
-Blitz Magazine, January, 1997

Joe Namath, Hall of Fame Quarterback, New York Jets
“Jack Youngblood, I’d want him on my team every day of the
week, anytime. The man was a 100% guy and was a wonderful with his
teammates. I hope he’s elected, he was one heck of a player. He was
great at the “rip” technique move and a master of the swim move”.
  -DBFN Interview, January, 1997
     
Ken Stabler, Hall of Fame Quarterback, Oakland Raider
“I’ve had enough of that guy (Jack Youngblood). What a great pass rusher,
 always in the backfield, a tough, tough guy.”
-CBS Telecast, October, 1987

Don Strock, Quarterback, Miami Dolphins
"Jack Youngblood was a guy who was great at his position and never
got enough credit for the job he did."
-Behind The Lines, a book by Don Strock

OPPOSING COACHES
Chuck Noll, Hall of Fame Head Coach, Pittsburgh Steelers
“He had special pass rush techniques. You really had to prepare
especially for him.”
 -College & Pro Football Newsweekly Interview, 1996

“ . . . the Rams have the best pass rush we’ve seen all year. I
thought that Youngblood did a super job.”
 -Los Angeles Times, December 21, 1975

Tom Landry, Hall of Fame Head Coach, Dallas Cowboys
“He was an excellent player. You had to give him special attention in
blocking schemes because he was so active and quick as a lineman.
He was able to get in there in a hurry. You really had to pay special
attention to him. I know those offensive tackles paid attention to him
all of the time (Laughs).”
-Pro Football Weekly Interview, October 30, 1996

Don Shula, Hall of Fame Head Coach, Miami Dolphins
“Jack Youngblood was very special. He played for a lot of years,
   he played through injuries—you could always count on him to line up.
   Just a great competitor and a truly great pass rusher.”
-Pro Football Weekly Interview, December 3, 1996

Bill Walsh, Hall of Fame Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
“Jack Youngblood posed massive problems for our 49er offenses.
He was a mob. He was just a tremendous pass rusher. He had
excellent speed so he could pursue the ball from behind on plays
that went away from him. He could recover and make plays. But he
could really come up the field with his pass rush and he was just an
awesome football player. He’s certainly a Hall of Fame player.”
-Pro Football Weekly Interview, September 8, 1997

John Madden, Hall of Fame Head Coach, Oakland Raiders
“Not many defensive linemen create that much of a problem. Howie
Long, Mark Gastineau, and Richard Dent do. Jack Youngblood did.

“Jack Youngblood has been described as the John Wayne of
football. Talk about true grit:  In 1979, when the Rams went to
Super Bowl XIV against the Steelers, he suffered a broken leg
in the second quarter of a playoff game. But he played in the
NFC title game the next week and the Super Bowl two weeks
later . . . The doctors called it a fractured fibula. But with Jack’s
250 pounds on it, his ankle area was swollen in every shade of
purple.

“To me, Jack not only typified what a defensive ends is, he also
typified what a football player is. If a Martian landed in my
backyard, knocked on my door and asked me ‘What’s a football
player?’ I’d go get Jack Youngblood.”
 -One Knee Equals Two Feet, by John Madden

“They ought to make a poster called ‘Mr. Football’ and this guy
(Jack Youngblood) ought to be on it.”
CBS Sports All-Madden Team, January 13, 1985

“Of all the players on the All-Time All-Madden team, I think Jack
Youngblood of the Rams, best personified the All-Madden team
spirit when he played with a broken leg.”
-All-Madden, by John Madden

"He's been one of the great players, We'd play against Jack Youngblood
and he'd fight you for 60 minutes. We used to put one guy on him,
 two guys on him, three guys on him, and we'd do nothing against him.
 Just a fierce competitor and one tough man."
-CBS Telecast, December, 1982

Bud Grant, Hall of Fame Coach, Minnesota Vikings
"Jack was a tremendous football player. He gave our tackles a lot of trouble
for a long time, we had a tough time blocking him and had to scheme a
way to do it by double-team blocks with a back or tight end, or roll his way
and cut him. He is a perfect Hall of Fame player, one who earned it over
a long period of time and played at an All-Pro level for his career"
-Pro Football Weekly Interview, August, 2001

George Allen, Hall of Fame Head Coach, Washington Redskins
“I’d rather have a great defensive end like Youngblood than
anyone because if you don’t have defense you are not
going to win anyway. Youngblood is the closest thing to
Deacon Jones I’ve seen. He’s the best defensive end in
football”
 -Green Bay Gazette, September, 1977

Weeb Ewbank, Hall of Fame Head Coach, New York Jets
“The way he played in against the Minnesota Vikings in the 1976
playoffs was the closest I’ve ever seen a defensive end approximate
Gino Marchetti. Ron Yary simply couldn’t stop Youngblood, always
a menace to the opposing offense, an annual All-Pro and Pro Bowl
selection. A guaranteed Hall of Famer.”
-Football Greats, by Weeb Ewbank , 1977

Hank Stram, Hall of Fame Head Coach, Kansas City Chiefs
"There is no question that Jack Youngblood was a dominant force, he
was a great player who did everything you could hope for and more,
   he took the talent the Good Lord gave him and maximized it, he did the
   best he could with all he was given.

"He was a dominant leader for the Rams—he was aggressive, he was
strong for his size and very quick. He had a speed advantage on every
  tackle he played against and gave it his all—every time. I had great respect
for him; we had to know where he was on every offensive play.

"What set him apart was how he played the game. Football isn't a 60
minute game; it's a game of 4 seconds, 7 seconds, 5 seconds one after
another. Jack demonstrated that concept better than anyone. When a play
went away from him he read his keys, pursued in his lane and
was often in on the tackle. That's what I mean by giving 100 percent,
Jack did that."
 -DBFN Interview, November, 20, 1997

Don Coyell, Head Coach, St. Louis Cardinals, San Diego Chargers
“Youngblood is so great”
 -Los Angeles Times, December 25, 1975

Dick Nolan, Head Coach, San Francisco 49ers
“There are a couple of studs who may come at you on third
down better than Youngblood does but they don’t play the
first two downs, against the run, like he does.”
 -Washington Post, December, 1975

Jim Hanifan, Head Coach, St. Louis Cardinals
“Jack Youngblood is the best true defensive end in the NFL.
He can play mean against the run as well as rush the passer.”
- St. Louis Post Dispatch, October 10, 1980

“On defense, they’ve got a future Hall of Famer, Jack Youngblood.
He’s the John Wayne of Football.”
 -Los Angeles Times, October 30, 1984

“I always thought the world of him. He personified professionalism.
The guy came off the ball every damn time. He exploded off that
ball and gave tremendous effort—always.

“He was a smart football player, he wasn’t as big as a lot of
other players during that time, but this guy can play this game,
anytime, any era—because he had a big-time heart.

“He used everything he had, not that he didn’t have a lot of talent
going for him because he did, but he maximized everything he had.
That’s probably the biggest compliment you can give a player.

“He was also the kind of guy who rose to the occasion, he played
his best games in the big games. He was a great football player.”
 -Pro Football Journal Interview, February, 1996

Joe Bugel, Head Coach, Oakland Raiders
“When I think of Jack Youngblood, I think of ultimate toughness.
Undersized, ultimate tough—plays with broken leg. He typifies the
old pro. What you always thought the NFL was all about, that’s
how I picture him.

“He was the kind of guy who made you prepare, your preparation
was impeccable, you had to so it didn’t become an embarrassing
situation out there. You better bring a lunch because it’s an all-day
sucker out there.

“He was strong, he had to be. He was the ultimate guy who played
with his shoulder pads under the offensive guy’s shoulder pads.
That’s really how he played well for so many years. He was the
ultimate guy who knew his strengths and weaknesses and boy,
he used it all. I had the ultimate respect for the guy.”
-Pro Football Journal Interview, February, 1996

Bud Carson, Head Coach,  Cleveland Browns
“What everybody remembers is Jack breaking his leg and playing
the Championship game and Super Bowl with it, but Jack was quick,
smart, he had it all. He wasn’t just a guy who could run and get upfield
and the contain-type pass rush, he was very strong.  He was great as
far playing the run and doing all the other things you have to do at
defensive end. He had great heart, just a warrior if you know what I mean.
he was one of the greatest defensive ends ever.

“Another thing was that he was unselfish. When Jim Youngblood was
making sacks in 1978-82, Jack made those defenses happen, believe me.
Any time a linebacker is making sacks, defensive ends are making
sacrifices and Jack Youngblood was a great team player. He was never
a guy that looked at a game plan and asked, ‘What’s in it for me?’.
That was not him at all."

"Jack Youngblood was one of the greatest guys to have on your team
when things were going bad. He would not let your ballclub get down, he
wouldn't allow it. He was that kind of a leader, in my opinion"
-DBFN Interview, June, 1997

Bill Parcells, Hall of Fame Head Coach, New York Giants
   ''Youngblood is an amazing athlete,'' said Parcells. ''He hasn't lost a step.
  He has to be one of the most significant players in the league over the past
  several seasons.''
-New York Times, October, 1984

Fritz Shurmer, Defensive Coordinator, Green Bay Packers
On a 1984 Cardinal-Ram game that Youngblood dominated.

“You’ve got to remember we’re not talking about the average
guy here. What he did defies his age. What he’s doing is almost
an unbelievable feat at that position.”
Ram Press Releases, November, 1984

“Unquestionably, Jack Youngblood was as good as anyone who
  ever played the game at his position, one of the great, great players
  ever to play the game.

"He had the ability to play the run and the pass as well. He could
beat people one-on-one, he played every down, he played with
pain, he not only played hurt —he practiced hurt. He did all the
things great players do.

“He made a tremendous sacrifice when we switched to the 3-4
defense in 1983. He made an unbelievable adjustment to the new
position. He was incredibly strong and as a two-gap end he was
required to line up opposite the offensive tackle and take on that
blocker. Jack played great in those years. What he also brought
to the team was leadership. He was the consummate pro. He was
special. I’d be very disappointed if he didn’t make the Hall of Fame”
College & Pro Football Newsweekly Interview, 1994

Floyd Peters, Defensive Line Coach, Oakland Raiders
“Youngblood was a smaller, fast/speed/quick guy that had really good
strength. He had quick strength where you can jerk a man off balance.

“He had tremendous strength in his upper body. So, he was attacking
a man, getting him off balance and jerking him back. When he jerked
a tackle with his powerful arms he’d throw the guy off balance and Jack
was free to go to the passer.”
 -Pro Football Journal Interview, March, 1996

Bobb McCittrick, Offensive Line Coach, San Francisco 49ers
“Jack Youngblood came into camp after the College All-Star game
and missed a couple of weeks, I suppose. Talented, we were excited
and pleased to have him. In his second year, he was a guy who played
as well as Deacon Jones had the year before, from reviewing the films.
I know Charlie Cowan and Harry Schuh had a lot of respect for him.

“He was a very quick, talented, smart player.  As he got older he
was extremely smart and was still a factor all the way until he
retired in 1984. I know he was exceptionally good in 1979-80-81
—he was a real challenge for Keith Fahnhorst.

“His switch to the 3-4, that was tough for a guy who had been
out in open space. It’s tough lining up over an offensive lineman.
We did a lot of combo blocks, slips—we cut people a lot. Jack was
in that position that was vulnerable to Randy Cross or the tight end
going each way. It’s a tough position anyway without being accustomed
to it. It was remarkable for him to move in there and play as well as
he did—and he did play well. I have a lot of respect for him, he had
a great career”
 -Pro Football Journal Interview, February, 1996

Fred Whittingham, Defensive Coordinator, Oakland Raiders
“What Jack did on special teams was he was excellent on blocking
field goals. In fact, he won a couple of games for us by blocking kicks.
He also played wingback on kick protection, but I remember one game
in particular, Jack blocked two field goals and won the game for us.

“Jack worked hard, on and off the field. He was an avid weight lifter.
He probably wasn’t as naturally big as he played. He was a hard worker
in practice, also. He was always striving for perfection. Jack had a great
personality to play the game and it was contagious to a lot of those young
guys we had.

“Jack’s biggest asset was his ability to rush the passer because his first
two steps up the field were as quick as anybody who played that
position, defensive end. He had quick steps up the field that were
unbelievable. He had a very strong upper body so he could use his
hands real well for his pass-rush techniques. He was just an excellent pass
rusher. Plus, the fact that he played 110% all the time. He never took a
down off, he played all out on every down.

“In the 3-4 defense he did a good job two gapping the tackle and
keeping people off our linebackers. Jack Youngblood played the
scheme real well, which was new for him, but being unselfish, the kind
of individual he was he played it real well for us.”
Pro Football Journal Interview, March, 1996

Paul Wiggin, Director of Pro Personnel, Minnesota Vikings
"Jack Youngblood, he was a great player. He absolutely should be
in the Hall of Fame. He is right up there with Gino Marchetti, Deacon
Jones as one of the greatest defensive ends ever.

"Youngblood was an 'arc rusher' who had great leverage. He had great
speed and quickness, with a great get-off time. He'd get a tackle on his
heels and beat him to his outside shoulder and then rip by or do a
change-up move. Boy, he got a lot of back-door sacks like that"
Pro Football Journal Interview, December, 1999

Tom Catlin, Assistant Coach, Seattle Seahawks
“Youngblood was an All-pro for years and years, being a weight-
lifter, he was very strong. He didn’t always want to play the run blocks
but he did and always did a great job of it—he understood that it had
to be done. What Jack wanted to do was rush the passer and he was
amazing at that, one of the best ever. He always led our team in
getting to the quarterback, he probably would have led the NFL
but they didn’t count sacks back then.

“Jack realized that you can’t go upfield all the time, sometimes you
have to butt the guy in front of you and he did that well, he played
the run better than any outside guy in the league. Our defense was
always one of the best at stopping the run and Jack was one of the major
   reasons why. He was a great, great player in all aspects of the game”
-College & Pro Football Weekly Interview, October, 1993

LaVern Torgenson, Assistant Coach, Washington Redskins
“Youngblood is excellent against the run and he’s a great pass
rusher.”
Washington Post, January 6, 1979

Rod Dowhower, Head Coach, Indianapolis Colts
After Youngblood’s performance versus the Cardinals in 1984

“It was Jack Youngblood. Pure and Simple, the guy just
dominated the game.”

Did Tackle Tootie Robbins get double team help?

“Yes, at times but we had no idea the guy (Youngblood) would
be a raving maniac.”
St. Louis Post Dispatch, November 2, 1984

Sid Hall, Scout, New York Jets
“Jack came in as a number one draft choice when Deacon Jones
was getting up in years. We were excited for him. From the first time
I saw him I knew he was going to be a star. Jack was a really hard
working guy. He dedicated himself to football. He was smart, he studied
all the film and teaching of Deac. He was just a heck of a kid, in all respects.

“He did a great job when he played, he loved to play, he wanted
to play, he was very competitive. He worked his fanny off and
played hard. He probably would have started as a rookie on most
teams but he was stuck behind two Pro Bowlers.

“Jack wasn’t that big, 245-50 pounds when we got him but he
had real great quickness off the ball. He established himself as a
quick rusher and used the headslap, club and swim move. He put
combinations together and he had a good idea of leverage. He was
able to use the other person’s weight to his advantage. He’d use
leverage to get the other guy off balance and push him outside or arm
over the top and swim over the guy—he mastered all those moves.
Or, he’d just blow by the guy. The more he played the better he got for
14 years. He had a great heart, he’d play no matter how bad he was
nicked. When the game started, he started.”
Pro Football Journal Interview, February, 1996

Ermal Allen, Special Assistant who rated all NFL players, Dallas Cowboys
“Jack Youngblood is better than Carl Eller. He’s the best
pass rusher in the league.”
Dallas Morning News, January 2, 1976

“Jack Youngblood is the best defensive end in football.”
New York Post, January 4, 1979

PRO FOOTBALL WRITERS
Gordon Forbes, USA Today
Forbes called for Youngblood’s election to the Hall in 1992.

“Jack Youngblood is having another amazing year. Seemingly
too old (34) and too small (242 pounds). Youngblood is showing
younger, bigger blockers every trick in the book.”
-USA Today, December 7, 1984

“Great upper body strength and fierce competitive instincts.”
-Philadelphia Enquirer, December, 1978

Bob Collins, Rocky Mountain News
“(Jack) Youngblood is rated even better than (Deacon) Jones in
stopping the run. But it is his ability at getting to the quarterback
that make him the top defensive lineman (in the NFL)”
Rocky Mountain News, September 12, 1974

Jim Murray, Los Angeles Times
“Nobody has ever played any better defensive end than Jack
Youngblood in chilly Bloomington last Sunday. If they did it must
be hidden in a book of poetry somewhere."
Los Angeles Times, October 29, 1973

Doug Krikorian, Los Angeles Herald Examiner
“Jack Youngblood—6 feet 4 inches 250 pounds, a 450-pound
bench presser with 4.7 speed in the forty—is probably the best
young defensive end in football . . . if not the best period.”
Los Angeles Herald Examiner, December 8, 1974

Jack Buck, KMOX Radio
"I've talked to many of the best offensive tackles in the game, and they don't
put anybody ahead of Jack Youngblood."
-CBS Telecast, September, 1982

Paul Zimmerman, Sports Illustrated
When picking his annual All-Pro team for the New York Post
Dr. Z ‘discovered’ Youngblood when he named him First-team All-Pro
in 1973. This, a year before Youngblood was a consensus All-Pro pick.

“Jack Youngblood is the best. When he turns it on there are none better.”
New York Post, December, 1976

"Great motor, Speed rusher primarily, relentless."
  -The Super 70s, Tom Danyluck
Scouting
In the reviews we've studied it was clear the scouts and those who graded film ranked Youngblood as a top two-way end, which was important in that era. Stopping the run, especially to the strong side (where Youngblood played) was the key to great defense. And as the testimonials show, Youngblood was highly regarded in both. And the stats bear it out, with the Rams being one of the top few teams in stopping the run matched with his averaging about 11 sacks per season, including two seasons as a 3-4 end.

One unique thing Youngblood did was slip a tackle or tight end and go inside and then stop a running play to his side from the "inside out". Now, All-Pro Aaron Donald does that from his tackle position, he calls it "backdooring" it.

Here is a clip of several plays, many of of the "inside out slip" that Youngblood perfected—
Youngblood always had "blue" feet and "blue" hands according to Proscout, Inc., and could use all pass rush techniques with the rip and working an inside club off of that. He also was skilled at the swim technique inside that allowed for an inside move that was very effective in the inside slip move (shown above or as a pass rush move.
Summary
While we think Reggie White, Bruce Smith, Deacon Jones, and Gino Marchetti are the 'Mount Rushmore" of defensive ends (and if JJ Watt can stay healthy he has an excellent chance to supplant one of those four), Jack Youngblood is the one closet to that group. And yet, he never gets the acclaim he is due. It's really a mystery why he is one of, if not the most underrated Hall of Famer ever.

His honors, stats, testimonials, and intangibles are really, unimpeachable. They exceed most defensive players and many of the usual names you will see on the forthcoming top 100 lists.

We understand USA Today will have a committee and the NFL will have one as well as the official NFL committee. And there could be more.

It's just too bad Youngblood won't be on any of them. It's a huge oversight.

2 comments:

  1. Can't believe I missed this post from April and I'm glad you reposted it. Great job gathering all those testimonials. We will never see a Youngblood again.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Great article guys...

    Took him forever to get in the HOF...

    ReplyDelete