Wednesday, October 28, 2020

TUESDAY TIDBITS: Tie-Breakers 2020

By TJ Troup

Since the Cardinals were able to register a come from behind home victory Sunday evening, and the Rams hammered the Bears....thought the article should begin with a view of the possibilities and probabilities for the NFC playoffs this season. 

Not sure if probable, yet sure is possible; the following---drum roll please! Cardinals, 49ers, Rams, Bears, Buccaneers, and Saints all finish 10-6. Imagine for a moment the final weekend if these teams did in fact finish with the same record. 

Seattle and Green Bay I believe are gonna finish at least 11-5 or better. As for NFC East? we all know under .500 is a very real possibility. Four teams last Sunday did not allow a sack, or lose a fumble; Pittsburgh, Green Bay, Cleveland, and Tampa Bay all won. 

Check the boxscores each week after the conclusion of the games, and see if this trend continues. October 25th, 1964 lives forever in "follies" lore, and for unexplainable decisions as Jim Marshall ran the wrong way against San Francisco with a fumble. 

Plenty has been shared about this play, yet Marshall does figure in the weekly journey down memory lane. October 25th, 1971 at the Met the 4-1 Vikings met the 4-1 Colts on Monday night football. The announcers were spot on during the telecast, especially attempting to explain zone defense, and the number of quality, or even elite defenders in this game. 

The defending super bowl champion Colts taking on a team that had lost in the playoffs three consecutive years(once to the Colts)...but really truly believed this would be the year the Vikings hoisted the Trophy. You would like some statistical background, and some analysis of pass defense? 

Say no more, these are areas that I relish. Baltimore will lead the league in total defense, defensive passer rating, and run defense. Minnesota will finish second in total defense, and defensive passer rating. Minnesota will align in standard offensive formations for the entire game, but the Colts were varied, and creative—single back, wing sets, slot, motion, double tight, and began the game with double tight end and a power-I backfield set with the halfback to the side where the Colts were going to run.

Norm Bulaich had a productive and eye-popping first half lugging the leather, but could not score. Baltimore gained 210 total yards on offense in the first half, while Minnesota gained just 102. The Vikings led 7-0 at the half. Earl Morrall threw three first-half interceptions, and the Vikings on one short drive got in the end zone for the only touchdown of the game. During the decade of the '60s more and more teams attempted to play zone pass defense. Not all of them were successful. 

There were a handful of coaches that were able to teach lockdown constricting zone pass defense, and two of those teams are the Colts and Vikings. On this cool October evening, the fan will witness the Colts play Cover 2 a few times (sometimes known as double zone), roll strong coverage where the corner and strong safety take away 1/3 of the field. 

When the strong safety plays the short zone is known as "SKY", and when the corner plays the short zone was known as "CLOUD". The secondary at Millikin University played cloud & sky in 1970, and a sophomore defensive back trying to play and learn as much as possible sure got an education....yes folks was me. 

Thus when pro teams played these coverages expertly the fan watching the game would also not only get an education, the fan would see how to limit the opposition from scoring. Now, back to the game. The Viking pass rush garnered just 27 sacks all year (17th in the league), while the Colts registered 33 (8th in the league). 

There were no sacks in the first half, and during the second half each team got three. Bubba Smith was at his peak at left defensive end, and he took down Cuozzo twice; once from his usual left defensive end post, and once when he was aligned at nose guard, and shot the gap. 

Minnesota, led by Eller, also recorded three sacks. The offensive attacks bogged down the last thirty minutes with the Colts gaining just 66 yards, and the Vikings 51. So, so many outstanding defensive plays by both teams, and if perchance you ever get a chance to watch the telecast—especially if you love defense, take the time to watch. 

My choice for player of the game would be right corner Ed "Bozo" Sharockman of Minnesota. Not just because of his two timely interceptions, the physical way he played the run, and his fundamental knowledge of how to play the different Viking zone coverages. Sharockman had at least five tackles, and broke up a handful of passes also. 

For the season Minnesota allowed 139 points, while Baltimore allowed 140, yet the breakdown of offensive touchdowns allowed is even more telling. The Vikings allowed only 12, two rushing, and ten passing, while the Colts allowed just 17, eight rushing, and nine passing. These two stalwart defensive teams due in fact make the playoffs, and both lose to the teams that represent each conference in the Super Bowl. In closing, to whet your appetite next week's trip down memory lane is going to be even better, and take us back to leather helmet days. 

1 comment:

  1. actually, the "all-time" snafu should have happened in 1960 if the Rams had just done their part....on the penultimate week of the regular season, on Dec. 11 they beat Baltimore in the Coliseum 10-3 (also snapping Johnny U's 47 game td pass streak)....they went on to lose at home the following Saturday 12/17 to Green Bay 35-21. If Green Bay had lost that game they would have finished at 7-5; if the Colts had won their Rams away game they would have gone 7-5 (not the "real world" 6-6)....Detroit and San Francisco did indeed finish at 7-5.....a 4 way tie in a 6 team (7 if you count the expansion Cowboys) division would have been a "fine mess you've gotten us into" as Oliver Hardy used to say