Friday, December 27, 2019

SCIENTIFIC FOOTBALL MAN: Blanton Collier and his NFL Title Game Achievement.

By TJ Troup
Yesterday PFJ had a short post on the success of Elbert Dubenion and his impressive yards per catch stat. On that list was Paul Warfield, and he is part of the story of the day. 55 years ago today the Cleveland Browns were crowned champions for the last time.

My morning coffee, and another review of the film of the Browns vs. Colts is always enjoyable to watch from a strategy point of view. Blanton Collier replaced a legend at the University of Kentucky in 1954 (Bear Bryant), and he now was in his second year having replaced another legend(Paul Brown).

The Browns in '63 were the first team in league history to begin a year 6-0 and not earn a playoff berth(don't count the play-off bowl). Cleveland added a dimension to the roster in '64 that was sorely needed; that of a game-breaking receiver that could stretch the field DEEP.

That man was one of my receiving heroes—Paul Warfield.
Warfield on a slant
Collier studied the Colts strong defense in preparation of the championship game against one of his former assistant coaches Don Shula, and with the scored tied 0-0 at the half he unveiled his half-time adjustment.

Cleveland would attack the Colts on their vulnerable right side (Namath would do the same four years later). Almost all teams played man to man coverage or strong zone to the two receiver side; called "cloud or sky".

Collier noticed that right safety Jim Welch had "rolled" weak to help  Lenny Lyles against Warfield. Cleveland is now ahead 3-0 after Jim Brown on a flare pass to the left set up Groza's field goal. The Browns are in pro left with running back Ernie Green (a willing and strong blocker) lined up as a wing left. Single back set and toss to Jim Brown going left.
Left tackle Dick Schafrath pulls as tight end Johnny Brewer blocks down. Green blocks the first man he sees; which usually would be the right linebacker, but Shinnick has moved inside to the c-gap to blitz.
Jim Brains gains 46
Behind excellent downfield blocking Brown gains 46 to the Colt eighteen yard line before left safety Jerry Logan makes the tackle. Logan is aligned in the middle of the field when Welch rolls weak. Time to strike—Baltimore again is in roll weak coverage and as such Collins can easily get inside of left corner Bobby Boyd as Frank Ryan's pass goes under the crossbar and hits Collins in the chest for the first touchdown of the game.
Frank Ryan
Cleveland controls the ball and the clock as Brown gains over 100 yards rushing, and Frank Ryan gains 173 yards on seven of his completions (all of them 13 yards or more). Jim Welch became the Colts right safety in 1962 after three different men had started at that position over the course of the three previous seasons.

Welch has experience yet he is by far the weak link in the Baltimore secondary. Watching the title game clash he is virtually non-existent in helping stop Brown when he runs, and he is nowhere to be seen on the pass completions by Ryan. Collier by his offensive alignments and the presence of Warfield has made Welch a non-factor.
Gary Collins
On the second touchdown by Collins, Logan arrives way too late to stop the deep seam streak as again Gary easily got inside of Boyd who believed he had help deep in the middle. The third score was a perfectly thrown ball by Ryan to a tall receiver who positioned himself to take advantage of a shorter defender (Boyd).

Paul Brown had called Blanton Collier a "scientific football man", and the Millersburg Kentucky native sure lived up to that moniker on December 27th, 1964. The 2019 NFL regular season will come to a close this Sunday with a handful of meaningful games.

There are teams that are just not playing cohesive team pass defense; what I call the "SLOPPY SIX". Washington, Detroit, NYG, Miami, Oakland, and the porous Cardinals all have a defensive passer rating of at least 100. Since Dallas, Green Bay, and Philadelphia all need victories and have quarterbacks cranked up and ready to shred three of the Sloppy Six you might see the ball in the air plenty Sunday afternoon.


  1. Great look back...

    The wind really affected Johnny U that day. Warfield is my favorite receiver of all time. Collier, I believe should be in the HOF.

  2. thanks a lot a lifelong Baltimore (NOT the IndyIrsays)Colts fan, that Dec 27 was one of the worst 2 days in my fan-life (Jan. 12, 1969 of course the other)…...perhaps you could do a followup next year on Dec 27 1959 when Gino Marchetti ran wild in the NY backfield?......seriously, love your work, remember that photo of you with the Raymond Berry jersey? what was historically inaccurate about it?

  3. That's why I don't want Rosenbloom in the HOF. It's bad enough that he controlled Rozelle like a puppet master, especially in regards to his own gambling scandals and the Don Shula compensation for going to Miami, but snookering a non football owner like Irsay into trading the Rams for the Colts, a move that boils a Weeb Ewbank
    Colts fan like myself.

    Though I admire what Shula did with the Colts, this 64 Championship game result was the first of many big games, Shula would fail to win.
    When Weeb got his revenge on Shula and Rosenbloom in the SB, Carrol then soured on Shula, like he had did with Ewbank earlier, and the BALTIMORE Colts suffered for it.

    1. ahhhhhh, Brian, now you've done and set me addition to the two games identified above, there is of course the Tom Matte/Don Chandler missed field goal playoff game of 1965 (12/26)
      that kept the Colts from a rematch with the Browns and then of course, the penultimate "on the doorstep of history" last game of the regular season in 1967 when 11-0-2 Baltimore had to beat 10-1-2 Rams or fail to make the playoffs completely allowing a 9-4-1 Green Bay team to move forward and go down (somewhat "asteriskly" in history as one of the all-time dynasties.....think of what pro football history might have looked like...……...Christ, half a century later, and i'm still upset about it......I need a "normal" life (but LOVE this website!)

  4. Look, we are both BALTIMORE Colts fans...I think with reservations, that Weeb Ewbank was the best NFL coach ever, but Carrol Rosenbloom was a character.

    Yes, the Colts gave the city it's SB in 70/71 but that's because of Johnny Unitas. Rosenbloom lost interest after that, while Shula has a perfect season in Miami.

    I will always appreciate what Carrol did in hiring Weeb and Don Kellet, building this team, and making them America's Team, but his handling of Ewbank and Shula, and letting Irsay take over this beloved team, will always get my goat.

  5. Here's my question, JHoltgym...

    Why didn't Shula use Ed Brown to QB the Colts instead of Matte during the playoff with GB in 65 ?

    When Couzzo went down with injury after Johnny U, Shula picked up Ed Brown and his strong arm and the Colts won their last regular season game, to force the playoff with GB. If Brown plays, maybe the game doesn't come down to a Packer FG, that was declared "good" to tie the game and force overtime.
    At least if they could have survived GB, Brown would have had a better chance to beat the Browns, than Matte could have.

    I can imagine the history if...
    Baltimore had beaten Cleveland in 64...
    Or the Packers and Lombardi in 65...
    Or the Jets and Ewbank in 68/69...

    The Colts not the Pack, would have been team of the 60s...

    Shula and Rosenbloom may have stayed with the Colts, and no Irsay and no Indianapolis...

    No perfect season for the Miami Dolphins or two SB's...

    No celebration of Joe Namath or the Jets.

    No revenge for Weeb Ewbank against Rosenbloom for firing him at the end of 1962.

    Now I am rambling...

  6. Brian, it is heartening to encounter another true Colt supporter....
    1. to answer your question, Ed Brown wasn't on the post-season roster.
    Quoting Associated Press reporter Gordon Beard from his Tuesday Dec. 21 dispatch (I'm transcribing directly from the pasted page in my childhood Colts scrapbook) "Matte, a converted halfback was guaranteed the starting job in Sundays playoff the the Western Conference title when NFL owners declined Monday to make quarterbacks Ed Brown and George Haffner eligibile for the Green Bay contest."....."at least I know where I stand now....all alone." (Matte)
    2. with respect, Weeb is not the greatest coach ever....Belichek's body of work has moved him very very high into the rankings (I personally have him at #2 for numerous reasons, but the Greatest Coach ever is
    Paul Brown. In addition to his AAFC and NFL titles, he coached or had as long-time assistants: Eubank (3 NFL titles), Collier (1 NFL title), Noll (4 titles), Shula (2), Walsh (4), and Lou Saban's pre-merger 2 in the AFL.....14 NFL titles in addition to his own 3? No one in history comes close
    3. I have a HUGE peeve against "owners" in the Hof...….
    4. "NFL all-100 team": no posts on this blog yet, but Brett Favre over Norm Van Brocklin? you gotta be kiddin me.
    4a. top 100 players in NFL history and no Bronko…..what the hell?

  7. Your opinions and knowledge of football are great. I hope you read and post on other sites like Talkoffame network/Maven and
    Some passionate fans on those sites as well.

    Though many people think Brown is the best coach ever, like I posted on this site before, it's staggering the number of great players, he either gave away, didn't believe in, or didn't want to sign and develop. Too spoiled off Graham I think, but a true innovator.

    Favre and Manning we're great QBs, I just believe they didn't win enough to be on this list, though great passers.
    To leave off Luckman, Layne, Van Brocklin, Starr, Bradshaw, Young, Brees and Rodgers is TOUGH to do.

  8. Great achievment Blanton Collier. Feeling proud for you.