Thursday, September 30, 2021

Will the 2021 Rams Go 4-0 and Become the 15th Team in Franchise History to Do It?

 LOOKING BACK
By John Turney  
Fourteen times in franchise history—once in Cleveland, four times in St. Louis, and nine times in Los Angeles—the Rams have begun the season with a 4-0 record.

Currently, the Rams are 3-0 and face the Arizona Cardinals this Sunday in the desert to try and make it 4-0.

When the Rams have begun the season with a 4-0 record, the season almost always goes well, all but twice they made the playoffs and twice won NFL Championships. Will 2021 follow suit?
Bob Waterfield
The first time the Rams were 4-0 was 1945 when Bob Waterfield, the NFL's MVP that year, was a rookie and he led them to the NFL Championship though the teams best player was Jim Benton who led the NFL with 1067 receiving yards and averaged 23.7 yards per catch. The defense posted a pair of shutouts and the offense rushed for 781 yards in that first quartet of games. Only one of the teams they beat, however, ended the season with a winning record and the combined record of the teams they beat through four weeks was 4-12.
Dick Hoerner
In 1949, again with Waterfield at the helm, the Rams posted a 4-0 record. Like 1949 the combined record of the teams they beat was 4-12, with just one of the wins being a "quality win" and that was over the Bears who ended up 9-3. This season the receiving star was Tom Fears who ended up leading the NFL in receptions and also led the NFL with nine touchdown receptions.

The defense was led by All-Pro defensive tackle Dick Huffman, fine rookie linebacker Tank Younger (who also played fullback) George Sims who picked off nine passes and a good pair of defensive ends in Larry Brink and Jack Zilly. The 1949 Rams team lost the NFL championship to the Eagles on a rainy day in Los Angeles.
Nineteen years later the Rams began a season 4-0, and that was in 1968. After ending the 1967 regular season on fire (beating the Packers and Colts to win the division, but then getting thumped by the Packers in the Playoffs) the Rams, in 1968, began the regular season where they left off. They won their last eight games in 1967 and their first six in 1968, fourteen in a row.

Again, the combined record of the teams they beat was 4-12, but two of the wins were quality wins, one was over the 3-1 Cowboys and the other over the 3-1 49ers. In those first four games the Rams Fearsome Foursome allowed just 64.8 yards a game rushing and a 2.9 yards per carry average and nailing the quarterback 17 times. The defensive passer rating was 42.3.

The running game was not dynamic, but plodding but Dick Bass and Les Josephson and others rushed for 550 yards and a 3.9 average and Roman Gabriel passing states were 55/101 for a 54.5 completion percentage for 696 yards 7 touchdowns and 2 picks for a 91.0 passer rating.
1969 Rams with newly acquired Bob Brown (76) and Mike LaHood (64) filling in for Joe Scibelli
In 1969 the Rams repeated their 1968 performance and exceeded it by going 11-0 to start the season before losing the final three and the playoff game in one of the better el foldos in league history.

The defense allowed just 3.2 yards a rush and sacked quarterbacks 16 times in the opening four games and allowed a defensive passer rating of 51.5. The offense lacked a running game and the offense fell on the shoulders of NFL MVP Roman Gabriel who threw for 9 touchdowns and no picks with a passer rating of 92.6.

The combined record of the fallen was 3-12-1 with the only quality win was over the Colts who were just 2-2 in the opening four games.
Fred Dryer and Jack Youngblood putting the "pinch" on Fran Tarkenton
The Rams hired Chuck Knox in 1973 to be their head man and his team was built on the early 1970s Dolphins model—run the ball, stop the run, efficient play-action deep passing set up by the run game and get after the opposing passer. His first iteration of his team did all those things.

They began 6-0, ended 12-2 but lost in the opening round of the playoffs due to what seemed like the jitters by his offensive team, plagued by fumbles, picks, missed field goals they were defeated by the Cowboys. But after for games they had run for 879 yards and newly acquire John Hadl had a passer rating of 146.1, the highest of any Ram QB in the first month of the season.

Though only throwing 13 times a game he had 8 touchdowns and no picks and many of his passes were deep, averaging 13.6 yards per completion. Harold Jackson had 9 receptions for 185 yards and 4 touchdowns and this was before his monster game against Dallas in week five when he was the Offensive Player of the Week with four touchdown catches.

Defensively the Rams allowed 70.3 yards rushing (a 3.4 average per carry) and has 11 sacks (Led by Jack Youngblood who had half those sacks) and picked off seven passes (by six different defenders).

The record of their foes was 6-10 overall and only the Falcons ended the season with a winning record.
1978 versus the Cowboys in week five
In 1978 the Rams began 7-0 and the opening four games were defensive struggles. The offense couldn't run (3.1 yards per rush), couldn't pass (67.3 passer rating) so the defense and special teams carried the team with Frank Corral kicking field goals and Pat Thomas blocking kicks.

The following two tables show the vital stats of all the 4-0 teams along with the 3-0 2018 Rams. 
(Click to enlarge)

The Rams were the number one defense in the NFL in 1978 and carried that distinction from week two on. Their defensive passer rating in the 4-0 span was an outstanding 41.5.

The combined record of the four teams they beat was 8-8 but all four ended up in the playoffs so all four were quality wins.
In 1985 it was John Robinson's team and Fritz Shurmur's defense. Like 1978 they began 7-0 and in the early four games they missed Eric Dickerson for two (holdout) and had a short quarterback who threw sidearm—Dieter BrockCharles White filled in nicely for Dickerson and the run offense was fine. The defense was emphasizing the nickel more than the base and relied on a fine stable of secondary men to get the job done, names like Nolan CromwellJohnnie JohnsonGary GreenLeRoy Irvin, and nickel back Vince Newsome all starred along with the NFL's best special teams units.

The record of the four defeated teams was 5-11 and only the Denver Broncos ended the season with a winning record (11-5) though they missed the playoffs.
Credit: Spokeo
In 1988 the Rams had injuries on the defensive line and Fritz Shurmur had a bunch of good linebackers so he often employed his Eagle defense in 1988 and 1989. In 1988 it took the league by storm and after four games they had 25 sacks. It also worked (though they were a 3-4 base) against the run allowing just 331 yards rushing for a 3.8 average in the first four games. Gary Jeter had 6.5 of the 25 sacks and Kevin Greene had four. Fred Strickland was the unique chess piece in the Eagle scheme, playing 'nosebacker'. He'd play over the nose in the Eagle but also stem to inside linebacker for the 'Hawk' defense. He'd also play defensive tackle in the nickel defense.

The offense belonged to Jim Everett (104.0) passing rating, followed up by a 104.9 in 1989) and Greg Bell (Dickerson had been traded the previous season).

The record of the defeated was 5-11 and only the Giants had a winning record by years end.
In 1989 they were 4-0 again, but it was done more with mirrors on defense, the run stopping and pass defense were okay, but nothing spectacular. The offense was a tick better than in 1988 but the defense was suspect until a fine 13-12 win over the 49ers. Against the Packers, in week three a Vince Newsome pick-six proved to be the difference.

Two of their early wins were quality over the eventual Super Bowl champs the 49ers and the 10-6 Packers. The combined record of their victims after week four was 8-8.
Roman Phifer
In their first season in St. Louis (1995) the Rams started out a house on fire, winning the turnover battle 14-0 and Jerome Bettis steadily closing out games and the defense, led by Roman PhiferD'Marco FarrTodd LyghtToby Wright and others making big play after big play.

The 5-11 record of the teams the Rams beat was a bit deceiving. The Packers and Bears were quality wins but the Saints and Panthers both ended 7-9 and were "tough outs". Not so much for the Rams who ended 7-9 and going 3-9 the final 3/4 of the season. The running game went south and so did the big advantage in turnovers.
From 1999-01 the Rams were 4-0 every year and the offense chemistry was the same: Kurt WarnerMarshall FaulkIsaac Bruce, and Torry Holt riddling defenses with Mike Martz calling the plays.

However, the story of those three defenses is another story. In 1999 the Rams had the NFL's top run defense and led the NFL in sacks. Their defensive passer rating was 64.0, second to only the Buccaneers. However, in 2000 the defense was one of the worst in the NFL, 31ist in points allowed and 23rd in yards allowed, and it occurred with virtually the same players. Kevin Carter and D'Marco Farr were injured to varying degrees, but it was a big drop.

So, Martz blew up the defense, hired Lovie Smith and built a facsimile of the Tampa Bay defense. They traded for Aeneas Williams, drafted Damione LewisAdam Archuleta, and Ryan Pickett in the first round and Tommy Polley in the second round to be their 'Ronde Barber, Warren Sapp, John Lynch, Booger McFarland. It worked, for a short time (2001 anyway). The defense was 7th in points allowed, 3rd to yards allowed, 3rd in rushing yards allowed and their 69.9 defensive passer rating was sixth.

In 1999 the record of the fallen was 5-12 but none of the teams made the playoffs and the 49ers who were 3-2 after the Rams loss totally nosedived.
In 2000 the combined record was a respectable 7-9. And in 2001 the record was 8-8 and three of the wins, over the Eagles, the 49ers, and Dolphins were quality wins over teams that went to the playoffs.

In 2018 the Rams had the 4-0 start and ended up winning the NFC but losing the Super Bowl to the Patriots.
Jared Goff threw for 32 touchdowns that year and had a 101.1 passer rating but seemed to fade after the Kansas City game.  Todd Gurley was All-Pro that year as was (as always) Aaron Donald who also led the NFL with 20.5 sacks and was the consensus Defensive Player of the Year.

In their first four games they beat a good team, an average team, and two poor teams and went on to an 8-0 record before they lost and ended the season 13-3.

In 2021 Matthew Stafford has been NFC Offensive Player of the Week twice and Cooper Kupp has just been named the NFC Offensive Player of the Month for September and is currently leading the NFL is receptions, yards and touchdown catches.

The defense has been excellent in the red zone but has been shaky at times, but very good at other times. They have had injuries at running back so that part of their game is not quite up to par. 

It is too early to be 100% certain but it seems the Rams, in the first three games, have beaten a very good team in the Bucs, and decent team in the Colts, and a poor team in the Bears. 

The Cardinals are a good team by all accounts, so will the Rams in their fourteen predecessors in going 4-0? Sunday we will know. If they do history shows it bodes well for them since they almost always make the playoffs and usually went deep into the playoffs as well.

Besides "The Tackle" What Else Was Mike Jones About?

By John Turney 

Mike Jones, the St. Louis Rams, outside linebacker will always have a place in NFL History—you cannot tell the history of the NFL without him. But we do not suggest he's a Hall of Famer, whoever started that saying in relation to Hall of Fame candidates should explain that concept a bit further. 

It's really no standard for the Hall of Fame because there are many, many players, coaches, and contributors who are integral parts of NFL History but are not Hall of Fame candidates. Regardless, Mike Jones is an interesting NFL player win a very fine career and one who will always be a Rams fan favorite because of "The Tackle" that preserved the Rams win in Super Bowl XXXIV.

Jones was a 6-foot-1, 220 pounds imposing running back in High School and was one of the best players in the state of Missouri, earning All-State honors his senior season. On the defensive side of the ball, he was an excellent linebacker, recording 10 interceptions his senior year. He was highly recruited by colleges but chose to stay in-state and went to the University of Missouri. 

Jones was a very good fullback Mizzou leaving with 1,390 yards and 18 touchdowns rushing plus 65 career receptions for 686 yards and five touchdowns through the air. Also, he set the school record for most yards in a quarter, 104, and broke the all-time mark for receptions for a running back in a season (41) and in a career (72). He was a semi-finalist for the Doak Walker Award.

Despite all that, he was ignored in the 1991 NFL Draft despite being 6-1, and now 230 pounds with 4.6 speed. The Raiders signed him as an undrafted free agent and told him he was going to be a linebacker for them and Jones was a bit confused since he'd not played linebacker since high school.

However one of his college coaches had suggested to the Raiders that linebacker might be a position he could play in the NFL. That coach, Mike Ward, thought it might be something intriguing to Al Davis since Davis had a proclivity to change players' positions from time to time and knew that Jones has high school experience at the position. 

Surprised and grateful, Jones signed with the Silver and Black. 

As a rookie in 1991 and in 1992, Jones was excellent on special teams, and in between those two seasons he was loaned to the Sacramento Surge of the World League of American Football as an 'enhancement" player. He was the starting middle linebacker for them and led the team with 51 tackles and three sacks and the club won World Bowl II.
The 1992 Surge was an interesting team in a lot of ways. The general manager was Jack Youngblood and as teammates, Jones had Michael Sinclair who led the NFL in sacks in 1998, Bill Goldberg the famous wrestler, George Bethune who was a decent pass rusher in Frtiz Shumur's 5-linebacker nickel in the late 1980s with the Rams. Other teammates were Louis Riddick who was one of the defensive backs, now Riddick is doing commentary on Monday Night Football after a good NFL career as a player and in scouting. David Archer was the quarterback and he had NFL experience and the kicker was Cary Blanchard who went on to have a fine NFL career.

The punter, John Nies, had a brother, Eric, who starred on MTV's "Real World" series. Lee Saltz was a backup quarterback who had been a QB/gunner in the preseason for the 1987 Lions and later was a backup to Sean Salisbury in the CFL. 

Warning:  The next couple of paragraphs are NSFW—

In addition, there was a player, who will remain nameless, that was gifted in the category of male anatomy. On one occasion when the club was in London for a game against the Monarchs a small group of players went out looking for female companionship and came across a few young women offering such services.

The "gifted" player made arrangements and went into an ally while the other players waited to make sure no bobbies came by—no one wanted trouble with London police. So, as the story goes, after a couple of moments they hear the working girl, in an Eliza Doolittle-Cockney accent, "What am I supposed to do with that thing, Luv?" 

Loud cackles were heard from the teammates who were within earshot of the comment. 

Back to safe for work prose—

Jones later said in an interview that a season playing linebacker with the Surge readied him to play linebacker in the NFL but it was still another season of special teams for him in 1992.

In his third year, he earned a spot in the Raiders nickel package. Jim Haslett, the Raiders defensive coordinator, said, "We use him on about one-third of our plays and he grades out high. I am pleased with the progress he's made in the NFL".
In 1995 he earned the weak-side linebacker position in the Raiders defense. He'd proven that he was ready to play full-time, in the base as well as the sub packages. In two seasons he averaged just under 100 tackles per season (led the team both seasons) and graded well.

As the weakside linebacker, he'd play on the opposite side of the tight end, but in nickel, he'd play over the tight end. He'd do that when the Raiders ran their version of the 46 defense, he'd play just inside the tight end like Wilber Marshall did back in the halcyon days of the Bears 46 defense.


Above are a few clips of Jones, one covering a tight end, one taking on a guard 
and making a tackle and also running free to make a strong tackle

He performed well enough to catch the eye of the Rams brass who signed him to a four-year $6 million deal to replace Carlos Jenkins who'd been their left linebacker for a couple of years.

With the Rams Jones played the left linebacker, not the "weak" or even "strong" side. In 1995 and 1996 the Rams flopped their linebackers like the Raiders did with one playing on the tight end side and the other away but with the new regime and Bud Carson as the defensive coordinator the linebackers were left- and right. 
Jones covering the "hole" in a Tampa-2 call

On the right side, opposite Jones, was Roman Phifer and when Rams went to nickel they were the two linebackers on the field. Once again Jones was very noticeable on the field with the ability to play the run, cover, and now, given the opportunity to blitz effectively. In those two seasons, Jones averaged 86 tackles, 2.5 sacks, 9 passes defensed, and 1.5 picks (leading team in tackles in 1997).
The Rams offenses in 1998 and 99 were pretty dreadful but the defenses had talent and played hard and Jones was acknowledged as a leader and the hardest practice player on the squad being singled out by coaches for those intangibles. The pass defenses allowed just 53% completion percentages and a defensive passer rating below the league averages. They also had a good pass rush. They had the makings of a very good defense.

Then came 1999 which was a quantum leap for the Rams. The offense, now with Kurt Warner (taking over for injured Trent Green) and Marshal Faulk, a healthy Issac Bruce, and rookie Torry Holt was a juggernaut. 

And with the talent they already had and now an offense that could get some leads, the defense teed off. They tied for the NFL lead in sacks, led the NFL in rushing defense, and were fourth in fewest points allowed and again near the top in defensive passer rating. They also scored eight defensive touchdowns—three by Mike Jones.

Jones picked off four passes and took two to the house, he recovered two fumbles and took one of them to the endzone. Those three defensive touchdowns tied a Rams record (since broken) held by Monte Jackson and Rod Perry. 

Though ones didn't make the Pro Bowl after the 1999 season he was an alternate and made Rick Gosselin's Dallas Morning News All-Pro team. Gosselin is a Hall of Fame voter and in the writer's wing of the Hall of Fame and is noted for making astute picks for his All-Pro teams like Paul Zimmerman and Gordon Forbes were.

Jones also made the All-Joe team chosen by USA Today's Larry Weisman and the Allmost All-Pro team by Vinny DiTrani of the Bergen Record. These two teams are composed of players who didn't make any major all-pro team or Pro Bowl but deserved consideration because they had seasons worthy of being honored but may have been beaten out.

In the 1999 NFL Playoffs Jones nearly scored another defensive touchdown but dropped the potential pick-six against the Vikings but he totaled six tackles and one stuff in that game. He had another six tackles versus the Bucs in the NFC Championship Game and then in the Super Bowl he also had six tackles, one being "The Tackle".

With the Rams leading by seven and the defensive line exhausted the Titans had one last play to try and tie the game (if they hit the PAT). So they ran a play that would isolate Kevin Dyson on Jones. The play worked how the Titans wanted, Dyson was open and appeared to have a path to the end zone, but Jones "shot his gun" (a Jon Gruden term for not hesitating) and made the tackle holding Dyson a yard short of the goalline and becoming part of NFL lore.

The Rams were in Cover-7. The Titans were in a 2x2 formation and had tight end Frank Wycheck inside of Dyson. Dyan ran what the Rams called "IG" motion moving inside Wycheck, then back out. Seeing that Jones stayed put the Titans knew it was zone defense on that side. Wycheck ran to the corner with Dexter McCleon on him and strong safety Billy Jenkins playing the deep 1/2—helping McCleon on the vertical route. However, for a short moment, Jones stayed on Wycheck. 

On the opposite Dre Bly and Todd Lyght (in the slot) had the receivers man to man with Keith Lyle taking the deep 1/2 but also looking for any crosser from the Dyson/Whychek side. The running back was London Fletcher's responsibility.

Dyson started outside and tried to use Wycheck's route to rub Jones a bit and he turned back towards the post, but as we mentioned Jones stepped with Dyson for a short bit but when Wycheck tried to screen Jones he went "under" that rather than "over" and drove to Dyson and made a perfect tackle. Anything less would have been a touchdown for the Titans. 
A couple of months later Dyson told Jones that the Tians knew what coverage the Rams would be in and that he felt that he would be able to beat Jones on the quick post route. Jones has said many times that he knew the route and that he was with Wycheck for that split second but had his eyes on Dyson the entire time and that he thought he had a shot for a hard shot on Dyson stating that, "I thought I was going to kill him".

However, he quickly realized that Dyson's quickness and a perfect throw by McNair put him in a position to think he better just make a tackle rather than go for a hard hit. He got to Dyson, grabbed the right hip/upper thigh area and then got a great grip on the left knee and Dyson could do nothing to move forward, all he could do is fall because Jones had both his legs. Dyson was down on the one.

Game over. And a legend was born.

However, it didn't last long.

In 2000 the Rams defense simply fell apart. It couldn't stop anyone. Their offense, in some ways, was better than in 1999 but the defense cost them a lot of games and in the playoff game versus the Saints they got behind 31-7, and then the defense got a couple of stops and the special teams converted an onside kick and the offense mounted a comeback but at the end Az-Zahir Akeem muffed a punt and it was all over with the Saints winning 31-28. 

Head coach Mike Martz blew up the defense after the season, bringing in Lovie Smith to install the Tampa-2 scheme, and the Rams brain trust drafted players they felt fit the scheme and also players that were also younger. The Rams jettisoned D'Marco Farr, Kevin Carter, Todd Lyght, Devin Bush, Keith Lyle, Ray Agnew, and also Jones—all starters in 2000 and most were stars in 1999. 

Jones said the Rams didn't match a contract the Steelers offered but he said he might have considered taking less to stay in St. Louis where he had ties. 

Mike Martz told the media that Jones was more on a Sam 'backer, an on-the-line linebacker, which was odd since he was more of an off-the-ball linebacker in our view, though in base with the Rams he was over the tight end, but for him to be labeled as only that that wasn't accurate since Jones was really a linebacker who could do it all, not the classic 4-3 on-the-line Sam like maybe a Lewis Bush or later two-down Sams like Ryan Nece, Brady Poppinga, or Hunter Hillenmeyer plus others of that ilk. 

Jones wasn't that guy. He was a linebacker who, sure, could play over a tight end, but also on the weak side/ stacked like he did in Oakland, or even inside in nickel or dime but he was far from a one-trick pony. 

Nonetheless, the Rams drafted Tommy Polly (who had some good traits) and signed Mark Fields (who lasted one year in the Lou) and Jones was a Steeler with a new three-year $2.5 million contract.
The Steelers planned to play Jones at weak inside linebacker but a rookie named Kendrell Bell came in and won the position and became a dominant player right away (82 tackles 9 sacks) and was named the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year and was voted to a Pro Bowl. Jones ended up playing mostly in nickel situations in 2001 but late in the season his snap count went up and he really made contributions in December and in the playoffs.

 In the 2001 AFC Playoff game with the Steelers Jones got a sack and deflected a pass

The Steelers cut him in June of 2002  and the Raiders signed him a couple of weeks later for a reported one-year deal for $775, 000—less than he was used to but a far cry from the $30,000 or so he was making with Sacramento in 1992. Jones was hurt early in the year then played a few games with the Raiders and was cut mid-season. The Steelers signed him a couple of weeks later as insurance when starting linebacker James Farrior went down. 

Jones got his chance to play in Week 11 when Farrior's replacement, John Fiala, went down and he had to play the second half of a game in a week where he had very few practice reps. He also had the responsibility to call the third-down signals for the defense and a few times he mixed up Raider terminology with Steeler verbiage. "He was thrown in there full-blast", said Bill Cowher. Jones recovered a key fumble in the Steeler win for good measure.

He started the final game of the week in Week 17 when the Steelers, already having sealed the division title, rested Farrior who had an ailing shoulder and in filling in for him Jones made eight tackles. 

After the season Jones was a free agent and hoped to sign with someone in 2003 but no offer came and Jones's pro football saga was over. 

Jones got into coaching after his playing days and spend six years at Hazelwood East High School in Missouri and won a state championship in 2008. After that, he took the Lincoln University head coaching job for five and a half seasons.

Jones had his share of accolades being voted into the University of Missouri Hall of Fame in 2001 and the Missouri Sports Hall of Fame in 2012. Additionally, he was a three-time winner of the Rams Carl Ekern Spirit of the Game Award (1997-99) and was awarded the Rams Ed Block Courage Award in 1998 and the aforementioned 1999 honors.

Thus, Mike Jones was more than "The Tackle". He was a good player, a good coach, and a good man. 

Wednesday, September 29, 2021

Gordon Hudson—R.I.P.

By John Turney 

Gordon Hudson, passed away of natural causes on September 27, in San Jose, (CA). He was 59.

A three-sport letterman at Kennewick High School (WA) Brighton High School (UT) Hudson was a highly recruited athlete among Western schools. He chose to attend Brigham Young University in Provo, UT. Gordon made the decision to play football for BYU.

At BYU Hudson was a unanimous two-time All-American (1982-83) and still holds the NCAA records for most passes caught per game by a tight end (5.4), most career yards per game by a tight end (75.3), and most yards in a game by a tight end (259 vs. Utah). 

As a sophomore, he received Second-team All-WAC and garnered honorable mention All-American. He tied the NCAA record for receptions by a tight end in a season with 67. He totaled 960 yards and scored 10 touchdowns that season. 

As a junior, he was the only unanimous All-WAC Selection, earning unanimous All-American status, and again caught 67 passes, this time he amassed 928 yards receiving and six touchdowns. 

As a senior, he teamed with Hall of Fame quarterback Steve Young to set an NCAA record 44 catches 596 yards, and six touchdowns in an injury-shortened season. And for the second straight year, he earned First-team All-WAC and First-team All-American honors. 

He ended his career with 178 catches for 2,484 (the record for tight ends when he graduated) yards receiving and 22 receiving touchdowns and was part of a team that won three WAC titles and earn three Holiday Bowl invitations. In 2009 he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame.

He signed with the USFL coming out of school and was with the Los Angeles Express in the United States Football League.  he missed the 1984 season with injuries and the next year he the Sporting News All-USFL team after making 34 catches for 476 yards though he missed a lot of time that season as well, playing just 11 of the 18 scheduled games.

He was chosen by  Seattle in the 1984 NFL supplemental draft of USFL and CFL players. He ended up playing two seasons and one with the Seahawks. Hudson had 13 catches for 131 yards and one TD for Seattle in 1986.

After his football playing days, he coached in youth football, high school football, and in indoor football. was further involved in football 

He is survived by his children: Ryan Hudson, Mackenzie White (Jay), Kylie Hall (Dan), Chandler Hudson (Ashley), their mother Mindy Leetham, and his grandchildren: Murphy, Jude, Claira, and Leo. He is also survived by parents Glenn and Linda Hudson, sisters Jana Fugleberg (Duane), Kay Stice (John), Ariana Bell (Reuben), and several nieces and nephews.

Tuesday, September 28, 2021

TUESDAY TIDBITS: "Get the Quarterback"

By TJ Troup 
Three weeks into the books, and the 2021 season is off to a terrific start. 

Watching the inept Chicago Bear offensive line attempt to pass block on Sunday leads us to the title of today's column. During the halcyon days of  '85 & '86 the Bears were known for their legendary defense, and the still powerful and productive Walter Payton-led run game. 

The Bears o-line was skilled, well-coached, and played with passion—yet not much has ever been written about their pass blocking. During the 29 wins, the Bear line allowed 53 sacks, but when they faltered they allowed 14 sacks in the three losses. Since 1949 there have been many teams that have had a fearsome pass rush, and no doubt all you folks can name them. 
Brumfield (86), Matthews (83) and Nomllini (73)
Historically for today, we are going to return to 1954 and the opening day at Kezar for the woeful Redskins taking on a strong contending 49er team. Starting at right defensive end in the San Francisco 5-man line is undrafted rookie Jackson Brumfield

Who? 

Most fans have never heard of him, and sure wish I had even more film on him, yet when watching this youngster play you come away knowing he had a very strong future in the league. Second quarter and the Niners already have the lead and twice Clay Matthews and Brumfield combine to sack Jack Scarbath. Brumfield also recovers a fumble in the first half as San Francisco dominates play. Fourth quarter, and Scarbath is pitching that pigskin since Washington is down 34-7, and on a 2nd down and eight play from his own forty-nine-yard line Brumfield again takes down the passer. 
Clay Matthews sacks Otto Graham

How many rookies in their very first game record multiple sacks and recover an opponent fumble? October 24th, and the defending league champion Lions are in Kezar in what promises to be game of the week. San Francisco has won thirteen of their past seventeen games, and to a man believe this is going to be their year. The explosive Niner offense puts up 37 points, and Brumfield again records two sacks. 
Brumfield, in stand-up defensive end position
The injury to McElhenny derailed the division title hopes of San Francisco, but on a December Saturday afternoon in Kezar to close the season Jackson B. again records two sacks in a hard-fought 10-7 win over the Colts. Is Jackson Brumfield the first rookie to lead the league in sacks in NFL history? Sure wish I could answer that question, but just don't have enough film, and play by plays to accurately list the sack leaders that year.
RDE Brumfield closes down and tackles Marion Motley
Possibly Clay Matthews leads the league, or they may have even tied? When his teammates voted for defensive team MVP for '54 Jackson received the honor, and considering that Leo Nomellini had another All-Pro year .....very, VERY impressive. 
Leo Nomellini and Clay Matthews
Probably Jackson Brumfield is the only rookie in league history to have multiple sack games to open and close the season, and have a multiple sack game against the defending league champion, and he just might have had 12 sacks in a 12 game season? For his efforts, he was voted the 49ers defensive MVP.

Brumfield goes into the military for two years, and does not make the 49er team in 1957; he is literally a one-shot wonder who made his mark in the city by the bay in his only year. Since the Bears were mentioned above; will close this saga with one the most impressive rookie seasons ever for a receiver. On September 26th, 1954 the defending champion Lions open their campaign in Briggs Stadium against the Bears. 
Harlon Hill catches a pass


The starting left end for Chicago is Harlon Hill, and the tall, lean, long-striding speedster catches 4 passes for 140 yards. He is the ONLY rookie in league history to have a 100-yard receiving game against a defending league champion. Zeke Bratkowski starts at quarterback, and his first pass of the season is to Hill but is incomplete, but the roughing the passer penalty moves the ball to the Bear forty-five. Zeke completes a pass to Hoffman and big John rambles 54 yards to the Detroit one-yard line. 

The Bears cannot punch it in, but the Blanda field goal gets them on the board first. Detroit punts, and on a second and eighteen play from his own thirty-six Bratkowski fires up the left sideline to Hill. Harlon evading the linebacker had made a very polished inside move then broke to the sideline where Zeke's on target pass was caught by the glue-fingered rookie. 

Safety Carl Karilivacz dove at the ball, and missed—and away he goes for 64 yards and a touchdown on his very first catch in the pros. Second quarter and Chicago again is on their own thirty-six as Blanda(now in at QB)heaves a pass to Hill. Harlon leaps and outfights Karilivacz for the ball.....a gain of 38. Blanda comes right back to Hill for 12 yards, and eventually, Jagage piledrives into the endzone to give Chicago a 17-10 lead. ****The box score at Pro Football Reference does not list the chronological scoring correctly. 

The teams are tied at 17 at the half, and Hill has three catches for 114 yards. The second half is all Lions in the 48-23 victory, but the Bear rookie has demonstrated he is going to be a force in the league. Many of you have probably seen his stats for the year, and while all that is well and good, -----watching him on film is just eye-popping amazing.

Monday, September 27, 2021

Thanks to Mason Crosby, Packers Walk Off Winners in Santa Clara

 By Eric Goska 

Mason Crosby (2) nailed a 51-yard field goal as time ran out
to send Green Bay past San Francisco 30-28.
(screenshot from NFL Game Pass)

“The kick is up, it has the distance, and Mason Crosby is good!”

While that was not the call in Green Bay’s 30-28 win over San Francisco Sunday night, it could have been. Crosby’s towering, 51-yard goal with no time remaining propelled the Packers past the 49ers 30-28 at Levi’s Stadium.

Yes, Mason Crosby is good. And he has been for some time.

Crosby’s boot was only the second game-winning, walk-off field goal of 50 yards or more in Packers history. It was the first in 25 years.

“That’s what he’s done his entire career. He’s made a bunch of big kicks for us,” Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers told NBC’s Michele Tafoya shortly after the game. “I love him to death. We’ve been playing together for 15 years. We sit next to each other every bus ride, every plane ride. He’s an incredible guy, and he’s so clutch.”

Clutch. Reliable. Money in the bank.

That’s Crosby. He owns just about every kicking record in Packers’ history, some by impressive margins.

Crosby has scored 1,702 regular-season points. Ryan Longwell is second with 1,054. Crosby has toed 349 field goals. Longwell, again, is runner-up, with 226.

Furthermore, Crosby’s winning effort against the 49ers extended his string of successes to 22 in a row. That’s one off the franchise best (23 straight) he established over the 2010 and 2011 seasons.

Crosby is so good he’s in danger of being taken for granted in an occupation where one miss can lead to a pink slip.

Few kicks loom bigger than those in the fourth quarter. Especially challenging can be those launched from long range.

And it is in this arena – field goal attempts of 50 yards or more in the fourth quarter or overtime – that Crosby has outperformed every kicker in franchise history combined.

Just four such kicks were attempted by Green Bay in its first 50 years of operation. From 1921 through 1972, Everett (Pid) Purdy, Ted Fritsch (twice) and Tim Webster were the only players to have tried one from 50 or more yards in the fourth frame. All four missed the mark.

Jan Stenerud became the first to nail a 50-yarder in the final 15 minutes when he drilled a 53-yarder in a 37-3 loss in Tampa Bay in 1981. Chris Jacke was the first to do so in overtime when his 53-yarder downed the 49ers 23-20 on a Monday night in 1996.

In 1996, Chris Jacke (13) kicked the first
walk-off field goal of 50 or more yards
in Packers history.

That blast by Jacke was the first game-winning, walk-off field goal of 50 or more yards in club history.

Crosby matched that feat – albeit in regulation – in Santa Clara. He was as cool as a December breeze in lofting his winning entry despite San Francisco calling time out to ice him.

(Crosby had a 51-yard, walk-off winner in the postseason, a shot that doomed Dallas 34-31 in January 2017).

If we divide Packers history into BC (before Crosby) and AC (after Crosby), we can see just how often No. 2 has been prevailed upon. From 1921 through 2006, ten different players combined to make just 3 of 17 (.176) fourth-quarter field goals of 50 or more yards. Crosby, alone, has guided 12 of 22 attempts (.545) through the uprights in his career.

Crosby has had his share of failure, too. Included among his 10 misses were a pair that could have delivered victory as time expired. He came up short on a 52-yard try against the Lions in an 18-16 loss at Lambeau Field in 2015, and he was wide left on another 52-yarder in a 29-29 tie with the Vikings in 2018.

Now the 18th leading scorer in NFL history, Crosby has hit on his last four fourth-quarter field goal attempts of 50 or more yards.

Heaping praise upon a kicker can be risky – such talk can lead to a jinx – but Crosby is worthy of the accolades that will come his way. He’s been a rock for much of his career (227 consecutive regular-season outings and counting) and he, no doubt, will be called upon again if Green Bay is to make the playoffs this season.

Thunderboomers
Packers who attempted at least two fourth-quarter field goals of 50 or more yards during the regular season.

 Made-Att.       Player                        Pct.            Years

   12-22                Mason Crosby           .545            2007-2021
     1-2                   Jan Stenerud             .500            1980-1983
     1-2                   Ryan Longwell         .500            1997-2005
     1-3                   Chris Jacke                .333           1989-1996
     0-3                  Chester Marcol         .000            1972-1980
     0-2                  Ted Fritsch                .000            1942-1950

Pid Purdy (1926-1927), Tim Webster (1971), Tom Birney (1979-1980), Al Del Greco (1984-1987) and Max Zendejas (1987-88) all attempted and missed one fourth-quarter field goal of 50 or more yards.

Sunday, September 26, 2021

Against Tampa Bay the Rams Passing Game Strong and Run Defense Good As Well

By John Turney 
Sebastian Joseph-Day and Aaron Donald
Matthew Stafford hit git-time passes to Desean Jackson and Cooper Kupp and now has nine touchdown passes in his first three games, tied for the most of any Rams QB ever, along with Kurt Warner in 1999. 

In doing so the Rams offense took away the Bucs running game, holding them to just 35 yards (Tom Brady was the leading rusher for just the second time in his career), and that tied for 28th-best in franchise history—a franchise with a LOT of great run defense performances. 

The first two weeks of the season the run defense was not performing as well as it had in 2020, but today the Bucs couldn't run, couldn't stop the Rams passing game, and that ut them in a position to throw and throw and throw—Tom Brady threw for 425 yards, tied for fifth-best in his regular-season career, though as you can imagine tons of that was in "garbage time".

Here are the best Rams run defense performances—


Saturday, September 25, 2021

Rams Uniform Oddity in 1998—The Jones Boys

 By John Turney 
The Rams have had more than their share of uniform oddities concerning the names on back (NOB) of jerseys.

In 1973 their equipment manager arranged for Jim and Jack Youngblood to have their full names on the back of their shirts (FNOB) but stacked—an NFL first—
In 1977 they did the same thing for John and Jeff Williams. Jeff only played one game and we cannot find a shot of that, but here is John "Burger" Williams.

In 1983-84 they did side-by-side FNOB for David and Drew Hill

And in 1987 and 1989 they did the stacked FNOB for Ron and Richard Brown. Richard missed the 1988 season so that year Ron didn't have the FNOB.

Ron Brown in 1988

In 1998 they had two players with not only the same last name but also the same first name-Mike Jones. Mike David Jones was acquired in 1998 and the year before Mike Anthony Jones was signed (now known as Mike "The Tackle" Jones.

So, equipment manager Todd Hewitt had to work out a way to identify them with their nameplates and he decided on first and middle initials then the surname—M.D. Jones and M.A. Jones. However, the NFL told Hewitt that was a no-no and to come up with another solution because middle initials were against the uniform rules.

Finally, he contacted the NFL and told them how silly that rule was and was allowed to use middle initials.
Here is a look at the final result—

After Mike D. Jones left the Rams, in 1999, Mike A. Jones went to "M. Jones" NOB and became famous for his game-saving tackle in Super Bowl XXXIV.

He had the first initial because the Rams had two other Jones' on their preseason roster, Daniel and Willie. Neither made the team but Todd Hewitt likely didn't have the "M" removed at that point.

In 2000 he was simply "Jones". 
1999 and 2000
So, the Rams have had 10 NOB anomalies since they began to put NOB in 1970. We think that is the most for one team. If someone has more information let us know.

100th Anniversary: Ted & Charles Nesser—NFL's Only Father-Son Duo

 LOOKING BACK
By Chris Willis, NFL Films
Charlie Nesser (left) with his father Ted Nesser in 1921 playing for Columbus
Panhandles

Today PFJ looks back on one of the greatest achievements in NFL history. A record that celebrates its 100th anniversary today. A record that after a century may never be broken.

On this day in 1921 Ted Nesser played with his son Charles Nesser for the Columbus Panhandles against the Akron Pros. It is the first and only father-son playing combination in NFL history.

The great Nesser family had seen six brothers play for the Columbus Panhandles, the backbone of the team for two decades (1902-1904, 1907-1922) John, Phil, Ted, Fred, Frank and Al. One of the toughest early pro football teams were just a shell of themselves by 1921 when the APFA-NFL was just in its second season.

1921 COLUMBUS PANHANDLES

The 1921 Columbus Panhandles were coached by Ted Nesser and fielded a roster of “old” Panhandle stars with a few new players sprinkled in. Gone were longtime stars Hi Brigham and Pop Schneider, who retired for good this time. Back were all five Nesser brothers (minus Al Nesser, who was playing for Akron Pros), Hal Gaulke, Oscar Kuehner, Joe Mulbarger, Homer and Emmett Ruh, Will Waite, and Oscar Wolford. The new recruits included Ted Hopkins, a nephew of the Nesser brothers. Also added were Morris Glassman, an end who played at Commerce High School in Columbus, and Harry Bliss, a halfback who lettered at Ohio State. 

1921 Columbus Panhandles Team Photo. Ted Nesser, in middle with helmet & football, to his 
right son Charles

But it was the team’s last recruit that excited coach Ted the most, more than any other teammate would, and it’s probably why he hung on to play one more season. In 1921 Ted Nesser would play with his nineteen-year-old son, Charles Nesser. The two would make history by becoming the only father-son combination to play together in APFA/NFL history. The historical twosome made the family proud and set a feat that might never be matched.

Charles was built a little different than his father. Ted, at 38-years old, was roughly 5-feet-10 and weighing about 230-pounds. He was built like a bowling ball and was tough as nails. He started playing with the Panhandles in 1902 and he would play his 17th season with the railroaders in 1921.

While Charles grew up to stand 6-foot-2, filling out at 195-pounds. He followed his father’s footsteps by becoming a boilermaker at the Pennsylvania Railroad, a job he would do for 50 years. Very young at 19-years old, Charles would be playing his first and only year of professional football with the Panhandles.

The young Nesser boy would play with four of his uncles in 1921 as John, Phil, Frank and Fred would also play in 1921. Only uncle Al would not play with his family, instead played with the Akron Pros.

MAKING HISTORY:

100th Anniversary of Charles & Ted Nesser Playing Together

September 25, 1921

The first game of the season for the Panhandles was against the best team in pro football: the 1920 APFA champion Akron Pros. Two days before the game the Akron Beacon-Journal ran an ad promoting the game and football’s most famous family:

FOOTBALL

Sunday, Sept. 25

Famous Columbus Panhandles

(With Seven Nesser Brothers)

Vs.

Akron World’s Champions

League Park

Carroll and Beaver Sts.

One Admission $1 plus war tax

No Reserve Seats

Game Called 2:30 P.M.

Preliminary at 1 P.M.

Akron Beacon-Jounral Ad for Panhandles vs Pros
Sept. 25, 1921

The defending APFA champs had a lineup of stars including Fritz Pollard, Paul Robeson, Rip King, and of course, Al Nesser. None of the 2,000 fans who watched the game at League Park in Akron, knew they were watching NFL history. The mostly came to watch their hometown heroes kick off the defense as pro football’s champions.

That day the Panhandles played the champs close but lost, 14–0. The Ohio State Journal wasn’t impressed by either team:

“In a listless game, marred by slow play and numerous fumbles, Akron’s champions [sic] football team, opening its season here today, defeated the Columbus Panhandles 14 to 0. Seven of the famous Nesser brothers participated in the contest, Al Nesser with Akron and six with the visitors. After the teams had battled in midfield until near the first half close, Coach Tobin, dissatisfied with Cheek’s work at quarterback, entered the game. A line buck, followed by a long pass from Kramer to McCormick, brought a touchdown. Copley kicked goal.

In the third quarter Akron’s line started opening up big holes through which Fritz Pollard, colored star from Brown darted for big gains. After he had carried the ball to the last yard line, McCormick plunged over for the last touchdown.”

Despite the loss the game made NFL history as Ted Nesser played the first league game with his son Charles. Ted, playing center, actually snapped the ball to Charles, who played right halfback. What a moment for the team and for the Nesser family with father and son playing together, losing to Akron didn’t feel as bad as it should have.


Game recap, line-up, scoring, Sept. 25, 1921 Panhandles vs Akron Pros

Later in the 1921 season the father-and-son duo received national attention. After three losses to start the season, the only good news for the railroaders was the play of the father-and-son combination of Ted and Charlie. The famous teammates had now played three games together, and the local press took notice. On October 15 the Columbus Citizen wrote an article on the unique teammates:

This Father and Son Move Spells Action.

“When the father and son movement in the Nesser family here gets under way, believe us, there’s action. For the father, Ted Nesser, is the 231-pound center of the Panhandles professional football team. And the son, Charlie Nesser, plays in the backfield of the same team. Ted is 38, Charlie 19.

Ted Nesser is one of six football-playing brothers. All are members of the Panhandles and the Akron pros. Brother played against brother when recently the teams in Akron. Al Nesser, the youngest of the brothers, is an Akron guard. Nesser brothers on the Panhandles are: Fred, halfback; John, quarterback; Phil, lineman; and Frank, the star of the team, who plays full.

Charlie’s father, Ted, and his uncle John, of the Panhandles, opposed some of the strongest teams in history, 15 years back. In 1905 the two played with the old Massillon Tigers, who defeated the Carlisle Indians 8 to 4 at Cleveland, playing in six inches of snow. In 1906 Ted and his brother were with the same team when it defeated Chicago University 9 to 3.”

The story was accompanied by photos of Ted and Charles. It was probably the highlight of the season for the Panhandles, as wins were hard to come by for the railroaders as they finished the season with a 1-9 league record.

Charles and Ted Nesser played together in all 9 NFL games as well as a non-league game against the Ft. Wayne Friars. It was against the Friars that young Charles scored his only touchdown- while his father Ted kicked a field goal- in a 17-7 victory. Truly a family affair for the Nessers.  

1921 Panhandles vs Fort Wayne, recap, line-up, scoring

1921 Ted & Charles Nesser, Fort Wayne newspaper

On the 100th anniversary of Charles and Ted Nesser playing together as the NFL’s only father-son duo PFJ salutes this historic achievement.