Tuesday, January 5, 2021

TUESDAY TIDBITS: "Luggin' the Leather"

 By TJ Troup

The wildcard round beckons after an interesting season in the NFL.....a season we will all remember for different reasons. Have a handful of topics to cover today, which begs the question for all you folks that read this column; are you ready? Here goes! 

The Baltimore Ravens ran over, around, through, all hell pick an adjective the porous Cincinnati Bengals run defense on Sunday for 404 yards to rank 5th on the all-time list of yards gained rushing in a game. 

The other four you ask? 

The Detroit Lions single-wing attack gained 426 vs. Pittsburgh in 1934, and would relish watching that game film. 

Dutch Clark, from the 1930s Lions

The New York Giants using both the T-formation and the "A"-formation gained 423 against the woeful Baltimore Colts in 1950 (have watched that game film many times). The Cincinnati Bengals gained 407 yards rushing in their win over Denver in 2000. The Bears with running back by committee hammered the woeful Packer defense in 1955 to the tune of 406 yards. 

Derrick Henry

Since Mr. Henry has etched his place on the list of 2000-yard rushers, and Lamar Jackson leads a balanced Raven run attack is the record for most yards gained in playoff history in jeopardy? 

Los Angeles beat Dallas on a Monday night game in December of 1980 as they gained 242 yards rushing. Thirteen days later in the wildcard round, Tom Landry's boys made the necessary adjustments and gained a whopping 338 yards rushing, while the Rams gained 92 for the record total of 430. 

Wonder if that stat is even mentioned during the game this weekend? How about one more rushing stat? When the Cleveland Browns have a 100-yard rusher against the Steelers the record is 19-9, and when they don't it is 41-66-1. 

Mr. Chubb convinces your O-line to open some holes, and you have a chance to win. Since one of the match-ups has been mentioned, should briefly discuss all six. The Bears have beaten the Saints the two times they have played in the postseason, and the cuddly little grizzlies would be featured on all the cable sports shows if they somehow managed to beat New Orleans. 

Los Angeles and Seattle have built a budding rivalry, and have played in the past in the postseason, and for my money, this is going to be one close hard-fought game. Not sure if the Ram defense can stifle the Seahawks like they did in 1979, but if they did? 

Ron Rivera watched and was later a part of a Bears front seven in the mid to late '80's that confused many a blocking scheme with their eight-man front, and he gets to play at home against Brady and his bunch. 

Tampa Bay is favored on the road (more on odds later in this saga). From 1970 through 1985 the Steelers won EVERY HOME GAME against Cleveland. 

Then came Bernie and Marty. . . and for four years Cleveland won in Pittsburgh and outscored the Steelers 120 to 46. Seems like forever for all Browns fans in trying to remember when they last won in Pittsburgh, and Sunday night the game will be showcased. 

Eighteen years since a playoff berth, and who did the Browns lose to in 2002? The Black & Gold rallied to win a heart-stopper. The Ravens and Titans have split the four games in their playoff history, and some of the pundits believe this is game of the week? Not sure that is true, yet sure will watch to see who actually can "lug the leather". 

My good friend Jeff Miller and all his friends in northern New York are sure ready to celebrate a Buffalo home playoff win, and that takes me to my historical journey back in time. January 3rd, 1993 and the Houston Oilers build a 28-3 lead on the Bills. Had heard no one "circles the wagons" like the Bills, but yet my children keep trying to persuade me to leave watching the game and go to the park for one of our family football games. 

Frank Reich

Ok, kids—just for awhile. Frank Reich will probably never forgive me but when we got back home the rally had begun. As many of you can imagine was trying to figure out what damn coverage the Oilers were in? 

None of them worked as Buffalo outscored their old AFL rivals 38-10 to win a game that still ranks as one of the greatest in Bills history. Pat Thomas and Jim Eddy were fired, but eventually, both got second chances to coach in the NFL. Coach Reich has done a masterful job with his Colts; so shall we call the match-up on Saturday the "Frank Reich Bowl"? 

Have tried to contact ms. Cynthia Frelund to "give" her one of the all-time stats, and no she has not contacted me? Since the wildcard began in 1970 there has been at least one ROAD victory every year in the playoffs again, every year! 

Who wins on the road this year? Two of the road teams are favored by Vegas already. Betcha don't hear that stat this weekend? Analytics? Just put on a pot of coffee, dig in and research, geez, this is not brain surgery; this is football! 

Top five teams in defensive passer rating

Even if all of you are tired of reading about the defensive passer rating, you get it just one last time this year. The top five teams in this category all made the playoffs; Pittsburgh, Los Angeles, Washington, New Orleans, and Buffalo, and the bottom six and you will notice that this hiring going on as you read these groupings. Detroit at the bottom, then working our way up—Houston, Jacksonville, NYJ,  Philadelphia, and Atlanta. Probably gonna have this chiseled on my gravestone; "if you don't play pass defense you don't win". 

The bottom six teams in defensive passer rating

Will close with a compliment, yes sometimes you just have to praise those who really know what they are doing. 

Albert Breer is a must-read for me each Monday at Sports Illustrated. Attempting to fill Paul Lionel Zimmerman's shoes is impossible, but Albert sure writes compelling stuff. Kudos Mr. Breer, and keep on keepin' on! 

Now the other side of the ledger. By this time many of you know that making a wager on the NFL was part of my life...WAS PART...not anymore. Many brag about their ability to bet, and are liars.....have friends that can verify my acumen in this area. That said, time for accountability and a trip to the woodshed. 

Conor Orr in the August 15th, 2020 edition of SI predicted the record for all 16 AFC teams...he got two correct. Should he be ashamed at being so damn bad? He also predicted that my Bears would go 6-10, yet he is not alone—in that same edition Gary Gramling listed the record for all the NFC teams, and he hit the goose egg—0 for 16! 

Gary Gramling

Even a blind chicken can find a kernel of corn. Gramling stated this week and quoting him "pride myself on being a cynical jerk"...ok Gary, take pride in that. I, personally, would rather be known for having a passion for pro football, and learning as much as possible. 

Cynical Jerks should not make predictions. Enjoy the wild card games, and hopefully like Brian Wolf you will send in yours. 


  1. coach troup who do you think are the best pass defenses of this season so far?

  2. Lot of cool info, Coach ...

    This cynical jerk justs wants to win money but on who ? The Bears, Redskins, Rams, Colts ?

    Maybe I am being harsh but watching that dreadful game for the Oilers against the Bills in 1993, it seemed to me that nickel back Steven Jackson was burned for three touchdowns. You cant win if you cant cover. Sunday's Titans couldnt cover a sick child and have to find a way against Baltimore.

    I remember that Steeler/Brown game from
    2002. A traditional early playoff game start. Light snow, and an unbelievable shootout between career backups, Maddox and Kelly Holcomb. Hines Ward would start showing Steelers fans how clutch he could be.

    I miss how simple the playoffs used to be before 1990. It sure would be nice to see some intense, rock-em, sock-em playoff games like the Steelers-Bengals game from 2015. Everyone cried foul but these young fans never realized that 70s football always played that way. At least Oak/Pitt games. Does anyone remember the 79/80 Wild card game between Houston and Denver ? Rough and physical. The reason most older fans fell in love with the sport ... (sigh)

    1. you got the "rough and physical" part of pre-"open up the game" rules changes right Brian....Steel Curtain? Purple People Eaters? going back a bit further, how 'bout the brawl called the 62 Championship game? or the street fight between the Bears and Giants in 63? I love Derrick Henry but his kind has been seen before....his name was Earl Campbell....or Jim Taylor....or John Henry Johnson....or....that guy on the Browns....oh right....they had two guys MM and JB.....

    2. Haha, glad ur not mad at me anymore Jim. Hopefully, Henry can storm the Ravens defense the way the protesters stormed the Capitol building today but I don't think Henry will have the legs and the Ravens have the motivation to end the losing streak to TN ...

  3. Another fine effort from the pen (and mind) of Coach Terence Jon Troup! Love the tidbit about the Bills having the second-best defensive passer rating in the AFC. That's saying alot considering how good the conference was this year.

    Frank Reich is adored in Western New York, but he will be facing an avalanche of hostility at Bills (nee' Rich, nee Ralph Wilson, nee New Era) Stadium this weekend.

    Interesting tidbit ... the Bills had QB Chad Kelly in this wee for a tryout. Who is Chad Kelly some might ask? Only Jim Kelly's nephew, who also happens to have been on the the Colts' practice squad. Reich, of course, was Kelly's backup during the Bills' Super Bowl era ...

    Is skullduggery afoot?

  4. I am redoing my picks. I deleted my post from the other day.

    Bills 27, Colts 20
    Seahawks 23, Rams 16
    Buccaneers 23, Football Team 17
    Ravens 30, Titans 24
    Saints 34, Bears 20
    Steelers 23, Browns 19

  5. Good score call on the Bills, Big League, though I covered the spread.
    Indy simply dropped too many passes but I think Rivers will be back.

    Despite the final score, the Rams and Seahawks played some aggressive defense. As usual, Seattle's offensive line came up short but Wilson also held the ball too long. Will Carroll ever get back to the NFC Champ game ?

  6. I went 4-2 on my picks but never believed what Cleveland would do to Pitts ...

    The Bears showed no fire with Biscuit at QB ... I dont think he comes back.

    The Ravens can beat Buffalo but it will be a tough game. Browns need to be smart and run the ball 40 times on KC.

    Can Brees beat Brady again and go back to the NFC Champ game for the first time in 11 seasons ?

    NFC ... GB,TB in an upset
    AFC ... KC, Balt in an upset