Saturday, January 23, 2021

And Now For Something Completely Different, Part II

 By John Turney

The passing of Hank Aaron certainly was sad and gave me great pause because like millions and millions I watched on television as he hit his 714th and 715th home runs, trying and breaking Babe Ruth's vaunted record. 

In reviewing his career it was clear that he was the better hitter between himself and my favorite baseball player—Willie Mays. In the late-1960s Mays just got old, he slowed down, got injured. And with the Mets he was a part-time player who slumped early and late in both 1972 and 1973 (though his mid-season stats were decent). 

So, while Hank was still hammerin' and Willie fell behind.

However, that is a topic for another day. 

A couple of weeks ago a Twitter account I followed asked to post great seasons for athletes 40 years of age and older (in reference to Brady and Brees and other older quarterbacks). My response was Willie Mays' 1971 season with 18 home runs and 23 stolen bases.

What I didn't do is look at that 1971 season in-depth, comparing to other MLB seasons of players 40-and-older.

Here that in-depth look with charts from Stathead Baseball

After all these years, Mays' 18 home runs at age 40 is still tied for 20th all-time for players 40 and over. At the time it was third. 

Mays' 23 stolen bases are tied for eighth all-time for players of 40 and over. 
His stolen base percentage is second-best all-time for players 40 and older—

Mays had five triples in 1971, tied for 13th best-ever. And eight ahead of him are not really comparable due to eras. In the integration and live-ball era, he ranks much higher. 

Mays led the NL in walks and that total is 4th best ever among old guys.

Mays also led the NL in on-base percentage and that, among 40+, ranks in the top six ever—

For slugging percentage, over 40 with 350 or more plate appearances Mays is 15th. 

His OPS is ninth—

No, we've buried the lede—His WAR is the best all-time for the geriatric crowd.

And his power-speed number is also tops -definition from BR

There are probably more stats. But 1971 was truly an A-Mays-ing year for Willie. The Giants won the West and lost to the Pirates in the NLCS.  He played a lot at first base and as can be seen at 40 he did a lot of things (power, speed, getting on base) than a lot of younger players couldn't and didn't do.

Not only that Willie sported orange-striped Adidas spikes, the first-time he wore something other than all-black in his career, and the looked great (see photos at top of this post)

In the age of Drew Brees and Tom Brady, here is a tip of the glass to the Sey Hey Kid.

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

Interesting Nugget on Clay Matthews

By John Turney
Yesterday the Hall of Fame committee met and discussed and voted for the HOF Class of 2021. Among the Final fifteen moderns players discusses was Clay Matthews. 

As has been widely discussed on the Internet and especially social media Matthews was All-Pro Just once and went to Pro Bowls in four other seasons. He had (according to us, using play-by-plays as a source) 1,440 tackles and 82.5 sacks. Good, but to what you'd call over-the-top numbers. He didn't have a ring and wasn't All-Decade. His biggest "hook" was that he was a man out of his time, he was the 1970s or 1990s player in the 1980s, when linebackers were rushing the passer all the time and he was an all-around linebacker, rushing some, covering a lot, and playing the run well. 

We don't know if he will be inducted into the Hall or not, that will be announced Super Bowl Saturday.

However, we did want to discuss one aspet of his career we thought was pretty cool.

In 1996, at age 40, Clay Matthews played a new role one he had done before—right defensive end in the Falcons nickel defense. It was his final year and in that role, he totaled 6.5 sacks. 

Maybe you don't think that is an impressive number, and maybe it isn't, even for a 40-year old converted linebacker. 

But consider this:
The 6.5 sacks--the most ever for a 40-year old.  And that's more sacks in his final year than these players—
  • Bruce Smith (5.0 sacks), who was a nickel end for the last half of his final year.
  • Reggie White (5.5).
  • Deacon Jones (3.0), who was a nickel left end for Washington in 1974.
  • Claude Humphrey (3.0) was a nickel left end for the Eagles in 1981.
  • Fred Dean (3.0) was was nickel right end for 49ers (elephant) his final season.
  • Richard Dent (4.5) played nickel right end for Eagles his last year.
  • Charles Haley (3.0) Was the Elephant nickel end for 49ers.
  • Lawrence Taylor (6.0) in his final year. 
  • Howie Long (6.0)
  • Carl Eller (3.0)
  • He had the same number of sacks Elvin Bethea had in Elvin's last FIVE years (6.5)
So, for those who were situation pass rushers, he did a better job than they did though it was relatively new to him and he was older than all of them except Bruce Smith. And he had more than some players who were still starting. And that is just among Hall of Fame edge rushers. This list would be much longer if non-HOF edge rushers were included.

We are not suggesting one year makes him a Hall of Famer, of course, but it does suggest the man was a football player who could do what was asked of him—at any age and that is one piece of the puzzle or one extra intangible few others have on their Hall of Fame resume. 

Just food for thought. 

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

TUESDAY TIDBITS: 50 Years of Championship Games

By TJ Troup
Bernie Kosar

Going to begin with some responses and statements before digging into the upcoming title games. 

Yes, Kaimac 77 there are defensive stats for the late 1940s and the decade of the 1950s. How do I know this? My library has them due to due diligence called research. Every interception, and now with recent research every opponent fumble recovery. 

Pass rush statistics are not as complete, though there are two men; John Turney & Nick Webster who started me on that path, and have film, and play by plays to add additional info. Have read more than one article concerning when the first Super Bowl should have been with the Chargers taking on the Bears, but 1964 should have been the year with Gilchrist vs. Brown. So, Brian Wolf imagines those two standing toe to toe eyeing each other, and not saying a word before kick-off. 

For those of you who steadfastly read this column, you have been inundated with statistics. Efficiency ratings for passers and defense, but more importantly—when a team does this or that what percentage do they win? When a team returns an interception for a touchdown in a regular-season game that teams wins just about 80% of the time. One team has a 100-yard rusher, and their opponent does not, the team with the 100-yard rusher wins 77% of the time in the regular season. 

Well, the regular season is over, and the following is not a complete play-off history(though that has been done)—we have had 50 years of championship games since the wildcard was brought into play with the merger in 1970. How do those stats compare to the regular season?

There have been 424 sacks in the 100 championship games with 249 by the winning team (58.7%), just not sure how much of a factor the pass rush will be Sunday? There have been 442 turnovers in those 100 games, with 305 takeaways by the winners (69%). 

Now that is a key element we all can wrap our heads around. There have been 15 interceptions returned for a touchdown, with 14 in victory (93.3%)—a 13% increase, and boy oh boy imagine if the team you are cheering for has a player returning the ball through the maze of offense players and headed to the end zone. Game-changing! 

Though how the game is played has undergone an evolution over the past 50 years with the passing game, will go to my grave still believing you can win when you run the, no.....not run the ball-----RUN THE BALL. 

There have been 33 one hundred yard rushers in title game history, and the breakdown is as follows. Twice both teams have had a 100-yard rusher, so we throw those out based upon my criteria. Of the remaining twenty-nine; 27 have been by the winning team or 93.1%—16% higher than the regular season. Wow! Now that has meaning. 

Years ago combined both together—when a team has a 100-yard rusher and returns an interception for a touchdown they win about 91% of the time. Only three times this has happened in a championship game, and will surmise readers you would like to know who? 

The first was when the Cowboys are in the Coliseum in January of '79 with Dorsett gaining 101, and Hollywood Henderson returning an interception for 68 in the demolition of the Rams. 

Thomas Henderson returning a pick 6 vs the Rams in 1978 NFCCG

The stands at RFK rocked as the Washington fans chanted "we want Dallas" and the next week Darryl Grant returned an interception 10 yards to score, while Riggo pounded away relentlessly behind the hogs for 140. 

Darryl Grant returning an interception for a touchdown in the 1982 NFCCG

The last time came on January 20th, 1991, a day of celebration for Buffalo fans when outside linebacker Darryl Talley scored on his 27 yard return, and Thurman Thomas gained 138 in the destruction of the Raiders. The odds are long that this last stat will happen—with only three of one hundred, but you never know? 

Darryl Talley with the pick 6 versus the Raiders in the 1990 AFCCG

Every announcer this week will state that teams need to get off to a fast start, yet you never have a number to go with it? Scoring the first touchdown (the hell with field goals) is monumental. Only one title game without a touchdown (Rams over Bucs)—so for the other 99? 

AFC is 38 of 50 meaning 76% of the time the team that scores the first touchdown wins. NFC is 37 of 49 meaning 75.5% of the time the NFC team that scores first wins. Ok, you have what is the tried and true, looking forward to seeing how the games this weekend fit into this narrative. 

There have been so many outstanding games on January 16th or 17th, had a difficult time which game to choose? For all of you, would relish which games historically on either of those dates you would have chosen, but for me, the game that stands out is January 17th, 1988. 

My favorite quarterback of all-time is Bernie Kosar and always enjoyed watching John Elway do his magic; thus the rematch of "the drive". Dick Enberg was a joy to listen to as an announcer, and his partner at that time Merlin Olsen while very astute and knowledgeable would sometimes lack emotion in his analysis. Not so on this Sunday. 

Not just Denver jumping out to a 21-3 lead, and not just because Bernie brought his boys back into the game with a 28-10 rally to tie the game at 31. The ebb and flow for me was compelling and had me so focused, not sure how many Dr. Peppers I had that afternoon as the action came across the screen. Have watched that game more than once. Championship Sunday is coming in five days—cannot wait!

Sunday, January 17, 2021

Four Productive Quarters Send Pack to NFC Championship Game

 By Eric Goska

Fans tailgated near Lambeau Field
ahead of the Rams-Packers divisional playoff game. 

The Packers’ offense took no quarter…off.

Green Bay spread the wealth from start to finish as it dismantled Los Angeles and its top-ranked defense 32-18 Saturday at Lambeau Field. In doing so, the Packers established a first in franchise playoff history.

This divisional playoff matchup was billed as irresistible force (GB’s offense) meets immovable object (LA's defense). That led to the question: Which would prevail with a ticket to the NFC championship game on the line?

No team allowed fewer yards per game (281.9), fewer passing yards per game (190.7) or fewer points (296) during the regular season than did the Rams. No club boasted a higher rated passing attack (121.5) or scored more points (509) than did the Packers.

Something had to give.

Green Bay commandeered 484 yards and 28 first downs in prevailing by 14 points. It controlled the ball for 36 minutes and 12 seconds while going 8-for-12 on third down.

But those totals don’t speak to the consistency with which the team operated. By quarter, the Green and Gold amassed 108, 135, 129 and 112 yards.

Never in 58 previous playoff games had the team hit or surpassed 100 yards in all four quarters.

How steady was the Pack? They held the upper hand in time of possessions in each 15-minute period. They produced 7, 9, 6 and 6 first downs.

Green Bay ripped off one play of more than 25 yards in each quarter. Those gains – Equanimeous St. Brown (27-yard reception); Robert Tonyan (33-yard grab); Aaron Jones (60-yard run); Allen Lazard (58-yard catch) – all occurred on scoring drives.

Aaron Rodgers and his mates put up points on each of the team’s first five drives, the best start to any postseason game in team history. Then, following consecutive punts, the offense clicked for a touchdown and closed out the game by holding the ball for the final 4:59.

Only five other playoff teams this century registered a four-pack of 100s. The Patriots, with 613 yards of offense in their Super Bowl loss to the Eagles, were the last.

In being so unerringly relentless, Green Bay prevented the Rams from doing the same. Los Angeles failed to gain more than 75 yards in any quarter.

Thus, the Packers became the first playoff team this century to have four 100s while holding their opponent without one.

Even during the regular season, this idea of have and have not has been exceedingly rare. Green Bay has turned the trick just twice since 1944.

The Packers (122, 115, 112, 106) thrashed San Francisco (5, minus-5, 88, 75) by a score of 41-14 on Oct. 23, 1960. Twenty-five years later, the Green and Gold (105, 131, 120, 156) shut out Tampa Bay (21, 22, 9, 13) in the Snow Bowl.

And that’s it. Just twice in the last 77 years have the Pack held four of a kind while their opponent went bust.

Knowing that, don’t expect a repeat performance as Green Bay hosts the NFC championship game. Asking lightning to strike twice in consecutive weeks is asking too much.

The 400 Club

Playoff games in which the Packers gained 400 or more yards.

   Yards     By Quarter                   Date               Opponent      Result
     493       (13-123-184-166-7)     Jan. 10, 2010       Cardinals         GB lost, 45-51 (OT)
     484       (108-135-129-112)       Jan. 16, 2021       Rams                GB won, 32-18
     479       (92-179-151-57)           Jan. 12, 1997        Panthers          GB won, 30-13
     466       (-5-108-216-147)         Jan. 16, 1983        Cowboys          GB lost, 26-37
     442       (80-188-130-44)          Jan. 15, 2011        Falcons            GB won, 48-21
     425       (64-80-156-125)          Jan. 11, 2015        Cowboys          GB won, 26-21
     414       (151-81-98-84)             Jan. 15, 2017        Cowboys          GB won, 34-31
     408       (142-88-126-52)          Jan. 12, 2008       Seahawks        GB won, 42-20
     406       (7-140-125-134)           Jan. 8, 2017         Giants              GB won, 38-13
     403       (107-108-87-101)        Jan. 3, 1999         49ers                GB lost, 27-30
     401       (81-100-101-119)        Dec. 26, 1960       Eagles              GB lost, 13-17

Saturday, January 16, 2021

Defensive Scores, Most All-Time

 By John Turney 
For regular season only this is the list for the most defensive scores (scoop and scores plus pick sixes and defensive safeties).
It's a four-way tie at the top with thirteen. If you want to break the tie, then give it to Ronder barber who had a pick-6 in the 2002 playoffs to give him 14 and Aeneas Williams had two interceptions returns for touchdowns in the 2001 playoffs (both in the same game versus the Packers) so he jumps to 14 as well.

Jason Taylor is the only defensive linemen represented and the top linebacker is Bobby Bell.
Chart: PFJ search using PFR
We will add one caveat, there may be a player with six scores who scored defensively in the playoffs and would be at the bottom of this list, but we didn't go down that far with the playoff scores.

Friday, January 15, 2021

Question: How Many Touchdowns Did Malcolm Butler Allow?

By Nick Webster
Malcom Butler

A few years back Malcolm Butler was the man who saved the Super Bowl for the Patriots famously jumping the route on the game’s decisive play and bursting onto the scene from relative anonymity.  

This year he will be known – consistently – as the most targeted CB in the NFL. Just look where everyone else does on Pro Football Reference (PFR) of Pro Football Focus (PFF) and you will learn he was the most picked on. PFR will tell you that Butler was Targeted 127 times in 2020, allowing 80 Completions for 873 Yards and 5 TDs. Now PFR does not compile these numbers they merely present these ‘Advanced’ defensive stats which are compiled by Sportradar. 

However, if PFF is your preferred source you will agree that he was the most targeted, but nothing else. PFF credits Butler with 116 Targets, 73 Completions for 892 Yards and 4 TDs.  

Now spiritually the numbers are similar as the PFR rating is 83.2 and the PFF rating is 83.7; nobody cares about this difference (it's close enough for rock and roll)  but when we look closer and some interesting questions arise.

It’s tempting, evaluating Butler’s numbers to suggest that Sportradar simply credited him with being in primary coverage on 11 plays where PFF did not. On those plays 7 were completions and 1 was a touchdown; however, somehow PFF has credited Butler with allowing 19 more receiving yards than Sportradar

The only way this can happen is if there were more than 11 targets and 7 completions that were differently assigned, there must have been at least one more Target not assigned to Butler and one that Sportradar assigned to someone else assigned to Butler which went for big yardage. Likely, it was not just one incrementally not assigned to Butler and one incrementally assigned to him but more.

Plotting the number of Targets Sportradar and PFF credited each top CB you see an extremely strong relationship. In fact, the R^2 of .92 suggests that one can ‘explain’ 92% of the other. However, our observation about Butler suggests that the gap is actually larger than that as Targets can be misassigned in both directions.

Interestingly, if you generally compare the Sportradar tracked Targets versus PFF they tend to be high.  Note the below chart which shows, for every CB Targeted at least 32 times in 2020 their Sportradar Target figure minus their PFF Target figure.  

Any of the Blue bars represent Sportradar having more targets than PFF—as you move in the direction of the Blue arrow Sportradar reflects more and more until you get to Steve Nelson, Rasul Douglas, and Tre Flowers, each credited with 22 more targets by Sportradar as PFF.  

The Black bar on the chart has them showing the same number of targets and the two sources agree on just 7 of 113 qualifying CB’s. Finally, the Green bars represent PFF compiling more Targets than Sportradar, increasing in the direction of the green bar until you reach Mackenzie Alexander and Chandon Sullivan with 11 more targets by PFF than Sportradar.

There’s a clear bias for Sportradar to have more Targets than PFF. Of the 113 qualifying CB’s, 89 or 79% have more Targets credited by Sportradar and just 17 or 15% have more Targets by PFF. On average Sportradar documents 5.4 more Targets than PFF does, which raises an interesting question, where are all the other passes?  

Possibly when coverage is totally blown Sportradar credit the CB who blew it and PFF just classifies it as an open receiver or a blown coverage. What about double coverage, maybe one credits both players as in coverage and the other, likely PFF, requires that the assignment be credited to a single CB.  Perhaps things like screen passes or hot-routes to RB’s are treated as uncovered by one and covered by another. We just don't know for sure we just know there is a statistical difference.

So, if PFF and Sportsradar cannot agree on Targets, then certainly they cannot agree on other aspects of pass coverage. And in fact, Targets are where the two sources agree most with the highest R^2 of any other metrics tracked . . . the worst, believe it or not, is Touchdowns.  

The following are the charts for the other data points in the individual defensive passer rating formula—

Somehow Sportradar (SR) and PFF were so different in their views of coverage responsibility that the former accounted for Troy Hill giving up 4 TD passes in 2020 and the later just 1. Given how important TD’s are as part of passer rating this means Hill’s SR passer rating is 91.2 and PFF rating is 74.3.

Fortunately, at the level of the top performers, there is general agreement. Of the Top 10 CBs—ranked by Passer Rating against 5 occupy the exact same position in the rankings. Of Sportradar’s Top 10 ranked CB’s 8 are also Top 10 in PFF
What does this tell us?  It tells us that these stats are generally reliable and a reasonable indicator, but they are not perfectly accurate either. We should not be splitting hairs between a completion here and there or a couple point s on passer rating.  

But we can probably say that, for example, Marcus Peters with Ratings of 78.9 and 88.1 by SR and PFF was probably better in 2020 than Patrick Peterson at 98.2 and 100.8.  

It also reminds us that as much as we love to follow the numbers, they are just one piece of player evaluation, always trust the tape by watching it yourself—"The Eye in the Sky Does Not Lie".

Brandon Staley Did a Heckuva Job in 2020

 By John Turney

Brandon Staley

We posted on this in late November when the Rams defense was showing it was going to sustain its excellent through the season.

Here is the final update. We listed the categories listed by NFLGSIS by rankings and added in defensive passer rating . . . and then added up the rankings to get a total "score"—the ower the better.

We picked the best Rams defenses ever, the ones that featured the Fearsome Foursome and the defenses of the 1970s plus the best of the solid "vanilla defenses" of the 1980s and the two Super Bowl defenses in St. Louis—1999 and 2001 and then added in 2020.

Here are the results with the categories used highlighted

This was the peak of the George Allen's Fearsome Foursome era, 1968 being the top, though 1967 was the peak run defense. The cumulative ranks of the key defensive categories totaled 29 points in 1968.
George Allen
The 1968 defense featured the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year Deacon Jones and All-Pros Merlin Olsen and Eddie Meador and Second-team All-Pro Maxie Baughan. The unit scored twice on defense (four times in 1967). 
The 1973-77 iteration was the Ray Malavasi years. In that five-year span, they allowed the fewest rushing yards and touchdowns, the fewest points, and yards in the NFL and were second in the NFL in sacks, interceptions, and defensive passer rating and in pick-6s. 
Ray Malavasi
In our "inverse rank point system" 1975 was tops with 40—the best of the five-year period but if we went by the entire span if would be much higher since (as you can see from above they were 1st or 2nd is most of the categories 

This group still feated Merlin Olsen in his twilight years, Jack Youngblood, Isiah Robertson, Monte Jackson who was All-Pro in 1976 and 1977, Hacksaw Reynolds, and more. It was a tough, hard-hitting unit that did it all, like the late 1960s unit, stopped the run, sacked the quarterback, picked off passes, and kept opponents out of the end zone. 
The first three years here—1978-80 are the Bud Carson years and 1985-86 are the best Fritz Shurmur seasons. 

In the points system, 1978 is tops with 28. That year they scored seven defensive touchdowns (among the best in team history. 
Bud Carson
Carson blitzed far more than the 1973-77 units and played much more Cover-2 and Cover-22 (now known as Tampa-2) and really made the most of Nolan Cromwell who Carson called "the best free safety ever". The Rams still had Jack Youngblood rushing from the left edge and Larry Brooks run-stuffing inside but it was moving to a "coverage-type" team rather than a "front" team—relying on more nickel and schemes in the secondary that just relying on superior talent to play man or Cover-3 which they had done for years under Malavasi and have the defensive front put pressure on Qbs when they were in passing situations and make sure they got into 3rd and longs by players great run defense. 
Fritz Shurmur
In 1985-86 the defense was solid but didn't lead the NFL in anything. It was more of a bend-but-don't-break defense that was very tough versus the run, gave up some yards through the air, but made opponents have long, sustained drives with no mistakes if they wanted to score. 

In 1985 they were a bit better than 1986 with a healthy Gary Jeter sacking quarterbacks and also Mike Wilcher finding himself sd a player getting 12.5 sacks and being a nickel linebacker as well. The secondary was the key with Leroy Irvin coming into his own and Gary Green playing well, then getting hurt, and in 1986 Jerry Gray replacing him. The safeties were also excellent, Johnnie Johnson and Nolan Cromwell (both hurt for much of 1984) we back to pre-injury form. Nickel back (part safety part linebacker Vince Newsome was terrific as well. 

In 1999 and 2001 the Rams went to Super Bowls, winning it all in 1999 and they had great, great offenses but the defenses were excellent as well. In addition to many high ranks in the key categories in 1999, the defense scored eight times and in 2001 they scored five touchdowns. 
Peter Guinta in his time with the Giants
In 1999 the Rams ran Bud Carson's scheme of defense but Peter Guinta made the calls but he and John Bunting shared the defensive coordinator title. The 1999 team set Rams marks for rushing defense and sacks. Kevin Carter and Todd Lyght were All-Pros and Grant Wistrom and London Fletcher emerged and Mike Jones, the SAM 'backer made "The Tackle" sealing the Super Bowl win for the Rams.  

Lovie Smith
In 2001 Lovie Smith was the defensive coordinator and he brought in Tony Dungy's "Tampa-2 defense". The Rams traded for Aeneas Williams who played All-Pro corner and provided leadership, London Fletcher, now a star, was terrific as was Grant Wistrom (also a star) and nickelback Dre Bly. The only failure was the Patriots drive in the Super Bowl they led to the game-winning field goal by Adam Vinatieri.

We are not suggesting that the 2020 defense is the best-ever in Ram annals. We are, however, reporting that when the ranks of the given categories are added together, 2020 is the lowest total ever, beating 1978 by one point. They also scored four touchdowns and a safety while, as we mentioned, the 1978 defense scored seven touchdowns defensively. So, it's close. 

Also, it is to be noted that this is an era where defenses have a big disadvantage with the rules that favor the offense, which does lend credibility that the Rams defense is "all that". 

It stopped the run using a 5-1 look (3-3 nickel personnel), it got after the passer (53 sacks) held opposing passers to an 80.4 passer rating when the league average is 93.6. They allowed 18.5 points a game and even less than that when you take out the pick-sixes and scoop and scores given up by the offense. 

Now, the Rams face the Packers and Aaron Rodgers and his top-scoring offense. We will see if they can contest passes the way they have all year and if they can limit the run with the 5-1 (33 nickel) as they have all year and also get pressure on Rodgers and make him uncomfortable. If they can they can upset the Packers in Lambeau. In not, it will be a long, cold day for the Rams. 

Thursday, January 14, 2021

Bill Hewitt: Member of NFL 100 All-Time Team

By Chris Willis, NFL Films

Today is the third and final post by PFJ on the career of former Hall of Fame end, Bill Hewitt. 

After retiring from the NFL following the 1943 season with the Steagles, Hewitt stayed in the public eye.

In 1944 the Saturday Evening Post ran an article on Hewitt, titled "Don't Send My Boy to Halas." In the October 21st issue of the magazine, Hewitt talked about playing pro football under George Halas. Hewitt mainly discusses the salary he earned. He also compares his salary with the Steagles in 1943 and dealing with Bert Bell. Three years after the article tragedy struck the All-Pro end.  

On January 14, 1947, on the Bethlehem Pike in Pennsylvania, Hewitt was driving alone in his car on  slippery road. Losing control of his vehicle, Hewitt swerved off the road crashing into culvert. After being transported to the local hospital Hewitt was pronounced dead. He was just 37 years old.

 "It is a great shock to learn of Bill Hewitt's untimely death," said George Halas to the press after learning of the accident. "He was one of the great ends of all time. Bill was unable to attend our alumni dinner last year, but he wrote me that he was looking forward to being with us in 1947. I am sure all of his old-time associates will mourn his death." 

In 1971 Hewitt was honored by being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, next to a Who's Who of NFL legends. Also elected that year were Jim Brown, Frank "Bruiser" Kinard, Vince Lombardi, Andy Robustelli, Y.A. Title, and Norm Van Brocklin. Accepting for him was his daughter, Mary Ellen (Hewitt) Cocozza, who never knew her father, let alone seen him play. At the podium on the steps of the Hall of Fame she said: 

"Thank you very much. It's a great privilege and honor to be here in Canton accepting this award on my father's behalf. He is being recognized with such great men that have made football the American tradition it is today. My only regret is that my father cannot be here to reap the harvest of his efforts, but I know he is here in spirit. Thank you so much." 

For the next four and half decades, the name of Bill Hewitt seemed to be lost. Until 2019 when the NFL celebrated its 100th season. During the campaign, the NFL selected an All-Time Team. A 26-member blue-ribbon panel went about choosing the team. The panel selected 7 defensive ends for the team. Because of his standout play on the defensive side of the ball, Bill Hewitt was selected as one of the seven defensive ends. Over 75 years since he last played a snap in the NFL, Hewitt was given one of the greatest honors of any former NFL player- a spot on the league's 100th All-Time Team. 

For the past three days PFJ has celebrated the life of Bill Hewitt. On the anniversary day (Jan. 14th) of his untimely passing, we look back and never forget the brilliance of one of the NFL's greatest players.

PFJ's Homage to Allmost All-Pro/All-Joe Teams

 By John Turney
DiTrani and Weisman

A while back we posted about Vinny DiTrani's "Allmost-Pro Team" and Larry Weisman's "All-Joe" Teams. Those teams were picked by those two veteran writers for years and years to honor some players who were "snubbed" from the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams of the day.  You can get more about them details HERE and HERE.

As an homage to those two great writers, we are picking our own Allmost All-Joe Team for 2020. To be eligible a player cannot be First- or Second-team All-Pro on the AP team or a Pro Bowler or First- or Second-team on our All-pro team or PFF's team. 

Here goes—

Mason Cole, Cardinals—Good grades all year. One issue, too many false starts for a center, snap count issues. Once that is corrected, can compete for a Pro Bowl slot.

A.J. Cann, Jaguars and Graham Glasgow, Broncos—Like Cole, these two are consistent, especially Cann. Glasgow has always been pretty good. 

Kaleb McGary, Falcons and Daryl Williams, Bills—McGary getting better and better and Williams solid for the Bills.

Tight End
Robert Tonyan, Packers—Pro Bowl snub and no All-Pro votes since Travis Kelce was a unanimous pick. 

Tom Brady, Bucs. —Nope, he didn't make the Pro Bowl or any All-Pro teams. He's the Allmost All-Joe.

Running backs
Jonathan Taylor, Colts, and Andy Janovich, Browns—Taylor the runner, Janovich the blocker.

Wide receivers
Robert Woods, Rams, Adam Thielen, Vikings, and Marquez Valdes-Scantling, Packers—we liked his 20.9. yards a catch. Woods can run, catch, block, take a tunnel screen all the way. He's just a football player. Thielen, great routes, good hands, scored 14 touchdowns. FOURTEEN and not a sniff of post-season honors. 

Defensive ends
Brian Burns, Panthers, Carl Lawson, Bengals (tied) and Maxx Crosby of the Raiders.—Burns and Lawson lots and lots of hurries, not a lot of sacks—yet. Those will come. Crosby is just a good, tough, solid left defensive end. 

Defensive tackles
Fletcher Cox, Eagles, and Ndamukong Suh, Tampa Bay—Two old pros had good years but with so many good defensive interior players this year, they got overlooked. Quality is still there for Cox. Suh emerged from a few years in the doldrums—his final year in Miami, his lone season in Los Angeles and his first year in Tampa. This year he was good again.

Inside backer
Jordan Hicks, Cardinals—Made a lot of plays behind the line of scrimmage, led an third and long nickel with six linebackers and five defensive backs for the Zona defense.

Outside backers
Kyle Van Noy, Miami, and Leonard Floyd, Rams—Complete backers who can play over a tight end, cover, be a rover-type rusher and even put a hand down and rush as an end and in Floyd's case a tackle in nickel. 

J.C. Jackson, New England, and Michael Davis, Chargers. Jackson had a ton of picks, began as a nickel then became a starter. Davis impresses, had a good defensive passer rating. On the upswing, we think. 

Terrell Edmunds of the Steelers and Darnell Savage Jr., of the Pack. Edmunds we like a lot, just no room for him on All-Pro teams. Savage getting better and better. We think the world with catch up to these two next year. 

Special Teams
Tress Way, Washington.—Good year-in and year out, always aced out by someone having a career year. 

Jason Myers, Seattle—Had a good year, worthy of Pro Bowl, but likely just missed. In a normal year, would likely be listed as an alternate.

Jamal Agnew, Lions. —Had usually been good but several guys just had a better year. One of the best.

Special teams
Zeke Turner, Arizona—Tough rookie gets down and makes tackles on coverage.

Runnings Backs Total Yards From Scrimmage—Jim Brown Still Number One

By John Turney
Art Credit: Geroge Bartell
After all these years Jim Brown is still first on a list of yards per game rushing and yards from scrimmage and touchdowns rushing and receiving per 16 games as well. 

We've made this chart per sixteen games because we like seeing it that way, but it could be yards per game or per 14 games or 12 games but we chose 16 games due to the current (soon to be defunct) schedule length.

Yes, to include Gale Sayers we made the minimum games to qualify 60 but that could also be altered to 100 or 70 or whatever you wish. 

(click to enlarge)
So, though Brown's career marks have been broken, the per-game marks still stand, which is remarkable, no?