Thursday, March 31, 2022

Bobby Wagner Signs a Five-year $50 Million Contract With The Rams

 By John Turney 

After weeks of negotiation, the Rams signed future Hall of farmer Bobby "The One that Got Away" Wagner to a five-year $50 Million contract today, according to social media reports. 

Wagner is the "one that got away" because in 2012 Jeff Fisher wanted to draft him in the second round of the draft but the Rams traded down once too often and lost the chance to draft him. Rather than taking Wagner the Rams traded down and when they got to the lower second-round pick Wagner was gone so they took running back Isaiah Pead and guard Rokevious Watkins with the extra fifth-rounder they picked up by trading down. Seattle was certainly the beneficiary of that trade down.  

Now they have him, but is it too late?

Certainly, he is better than what the Rams had in 2021 in Troy Reeder by factors, not percentages. He's got skills and experience that 2021 rookie Ernest Jones does not yet have but what about the scheme? In 2021 The Rams used a one inside linebacker scheme 60.1% of the time. They used their base 3-4 defense (which uses two inside linebackers) just 16% of the time.

The Rams run (from a personnel standpoint) a 33 nickel that lines up 5 across and has one second-level linebacker, so we'll call it a "5-1"—though Fangio calls it a "Penny front". That one linebacker would be, presumably Wagner or Jones who came on late in the year. The Rams ran this "5-1" about 30% of the time (37% in 2020). 

Ernest Jones

The Ran their 4-2-5 nickel (deploying two inside linebackers) 23% of the time. They ran that same basic package with one linebacker and one safety (usually Taylor Rapp) in the linebacker spot 27% of the time. However, remember when watching each of those 4-2-5 packages one cannot tell which is which unless you look closely at who is in the game. Both are nickel defenses with just the exception that sometimes Rapp is the dime back and the scheme is a true 4-1-6.

 This just means that just because the personnel is dime does not mean the defense is in dime if, as in this case, a safety is playing the linebacker spot—one has to look at the alignment of the offense and the defense to see if it is nickel or dime. Regardless, from our observations, most of the Rams dime personnel was deployed as nickel or a "4-2-5" look.

The singing of Wagner may cause the Rams to employ more of the 4-2-5 nickel with two inside linebackers and less of the dime personnel populating the nickel package, that is if they want to get Ernest Jones experience. 

We don't know what Rapp's role will be in 2022 but the way Nick Scott played in the playoffs Rapp may have lost his right safety job anyway and his role as a nickel linebacker may be also diminished with the arrival of Wagner, again, if they want Wagner and Jones on the field more than the 39% of the time Rams ILBer were on the field together in 2021. 

Certainly, it is too soon to know anything, but we've brought you the numbers and the key one is that the Rams, in 2020 and 2021, like one inside linebacker on the field to the tune of about 60% to 40% to match with their gap-and-a-half front. That is what they have had success with (NFL's top defense in 2020 and a defense that ranked 5th in DVOA in 2021 and oh, by the way, was great in the playoffs and Super Bowl) and what they may have to tweak to fit in Wagner's savvy.

We'll see how it pans out in 2022 with a solid, but aging vet in Wagner and a young up-and-coming possible star in Ernest Jones and if the Rams can find a way to get them to fit together have two inside linebackers on the field more than 40% of the time. 

Questions will be answered in the Fall.

Wednesday, March 30, 2022

1960 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
Gail Cogdill is the runaway Rookie of the Year, winning both The Sporting News and UPI awards and our Defensive Rookie of the Year pick is Maxie Baughan a starter on the World champion Eagles. Larry Wilson and Roger Brown also have terrific rookie campaigns as well. 

Jim Marshall looked very good at defensive end for the Browns showing a lot of speed and movement on film. Bobby Boyd picked off seven passes for the Colts starting his career off on a high note. 
Vince Promuto was as good a rookie guard as there was in the 1960s—he could flat-out block.  Roy Hoard and Jim Boeke won starting roles for the Rams and did reasonably well. 

The teams—

Tuesday, March 29, 2022

1959 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
So much information on this era is contained in there it is like a reference book of the 1953-59 seasons.

The 1959 rookie crop was not as strong as some of the previous seasons we've covered in this series. The quarterbacks were particularly weak. However, there were some standouts as well. 

The Rookies of the Year were a tie between Nick Pietrosante (The Sporting News) & Boyd Dowler (UPI). In the second half of his rookie year Dowler caught 27 passes in St. Vince's running offense which is very IMPRESSIVE.

Tackle J.D. Smith was outstanding as a rookie starter for the Eagles.

The Defensive Rookie of the Year, in our view, was Dave Baker by a hair over Richie Petitbon. The 49ers had two fine defensive linemen in tackle Monte Clark and end Charlie Krueger. 

John LoVetere is the fourth Rams defensive lineman we chose for First-team All-Rookie since 1954 and none of them lasted very long in Los Angeles.

One all-time nugget—rooks Tom Franckhauser & Eddie Meador tie for the team lead in interceptions with three—when did two rookie corners ever tie for the team lead? It can't have happened too often.

Tommy Davis is our kicker and punter, a Paul Zimmerman favorite he could boom them the San Francisco weather conditions and did so for a decade.

The teams—

Monday, March 28, 2022

1958 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
Bobby Mitchell had 66 carries for 479 yards after six games—on pace for a 960-yard season before tailing off. Mitchell was the consensus Rookie of the Year (UPI and The Sporting News) and a nice backfield compliment to Jim Brown—the NFL's best player.

Darrell Dess of the Steelers played both guard and tackle and when Mike McCormack got hurt, Willie Davis went both ways in some games, but was best at defensive end. We put Dess on the Second-team and Davis on the First-team. Davis looked good, very good at defensive end. 

Ray Nitschke played both middle and outside linebacker—two excellent Packer linebackers (Currie the other) "stuck" in a defense that was poorly coached, and many times misaligned. Dennit Morris also played outside linebacker as well as inside. Charlie Jackson was not very good, but who else is there? 

Bobby Joe Conrad had his moments as a rookie in the secondary. If we had chosen Conrad were that would mean EIGHT Chicago Cardinals listed on a 2-9-1 team that became strong in 1960. That Cardinal team was on the road to victory, yet not necessarily due to Pop Ivy's double-wing, just excellent young talent. 
Our retro Defensive Rookie of the Year is Erich Barnes narrowly edging Alex Karras who was a fine rookie defensive tackle for the Lions. Lou Michaels started all year for the Rams and played well. Jack Morris picked off six passes and took one to the house. 

The teams—

Saturday, March 26, 2022

1957 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
1957 rookie crop ranks right there with 1952 & 1953 in quality. Jim Brown was the consensus Rookie of the Year and was the AP and Sporting News Player of the Year and a consensus All-Pro and made the Pro as well—a rookie could hardly do better. On top of all that Brown led the NFL in rushing and rushing touchdowns on the 9-2-1 Browns.

Paul Hornung, one of our Second-team Halfbacks started all three backfield positions for the Packers, quarterback, fullback, and halfback. 

Center Frank Morze was a stonewall on Niners goal line defense in addition to being a fine pivot. Second-team guard Nisby began as a starting defensive end but was moved to guard where he shined but was not quite as effective as Sandusky and Gordy.

Once the Lions gave Steve Junker gets a chance—from week 4 on—he was excellent and Ron Kramer was not as consistent, but his game against Baltimore showed he could be a force. 

As Second-team end, we tied Jon Arnett who started the first four games of the season at split end and Tommy McDonald was opening day starter at running back, then benched he was basically a kick return man, but when allowed to play outside at flanker. Rather than snub one we picked both, but bother were hybrid ends and backs. 

Milt Davis is the Defensive Rookie of the Year. However, there is a caveat, Total Football: The Official Encyclopedia of the NFL lists him as having played one game in 1956 but film study does not reveal where that actually occurred. Thus under the rules of the era, he was a first-year player—eligible for All-Rookie honors. We are going with that unless someone can show that he actually played in 1956.
Davis picked off 10 passes and returned them for 219 yards taking two to the house (leading the league in all three of those categories), making All-Pro along the way. 

Billy Ray Smith had an excellent, near-Pro Bowl season for the Rams and Paige Cothren had the first of two good seasons with the LA club. 
The teams—

Thursday, March 24, 2022

1956 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
Johnny Unitas
Dittrich of Cardinals was the nominal starter (started all the games), yet Bob Konovsky played just as much as just as well so we tied them on the Second-team. Morrow of Rams was a guard, until last game of the year, and then started at center. Buddy Brown loses his job as the starting right guard for Packers in and in the second half of the season Forrest Gregg starts and some of his highlights against the Niners in December are eye-popping. Plays very well against Leo the Lion. Agile, drive blocking.

Johnny Unitas was what was considered a first-year player, someone who had been to a previous NFL camp but they were still considered rookies and eligible for rookie awards. This definition lasted until at least 1973 and as such we make him the All-Rookie quarterback. If some have an issue they can move Bart Starr to First-team and Earl Morrall to the Second-team.

If Lowell Perry would have stayed healthy or Clyde Conner had a first half of the season like he did the last few games of the year...either one would be a First-teamer.

The Colts halfback Lenny Moore was the United Press Rookie of the Year and deservedly so. rushing for 649 yards and 8 touchdowns and a 7.5 yards-per-rush average. The backup halfback tandem was good as well, a deep year for that position. 
J.C. Caroline was The Sporting News Rookie of the Year, he played offense but was stellar on defense picking off six passes and taking two to the house. 
Sam Huff began 1956 as a defensive tackle for the New York Football Giants with Ray Beck at middle linebacker in the 4-3 defense. Beck goes down with an injury and is replaced by Harland Svare who does not get the job done. 

Finally, Tom Landry turns to Sam Huff to be the middle 'backer and the rest, as they say, was history. Huff was a great middle linebacker for many years ending it as a Hall of Famer. Gonzaga gets the Second-team but remember:  The Niners tried everyone but the Morabito sisters at that position, including 1955 rookie Ed Beatty who recovers three Ram fumbles in an early-season game...two from linebacker, one on special teams to tie Corwin Clatt's record. 

Tom Roggeman got playing time at guard for Bears, but film study, the man was a demon on special teams—hustle, couple thunderous tackles. 

The teams—

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

1955 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

  By John Turney and TJ Troup
Alan Ameche
Alan Ameche was the UPI and TSN Rookie of the Year, after leading the NFL in rushing, rushing attempts, and rushing touchdowns. His backup Rick Casares led the NFL in yards per attempt (5.2).  It was a good year for rookie fullbacks,

It was also a good year for rookie linebackers. John Reger started in a 5-2 scheme but the Steelers transitioned to a 4-3 defense in 1955 and Reger played the middle in the 4-3. Fortunato, Hazeltine, and Morris were all special as rookies, Morris even playing at least one game both ways—at fullback and linebacker in addition to other games where he played one or the other, but mostly he was a linebacker.

As always it should be noted that in this era there were still plenty of guys who went both ways at times . . . Darris McCord being one from 1955, though there were a couple of others.

However, we think the "Retro" Defensive Rookie of the Year Award should go to Dicky Moegle of the 49ers. He was everywhere on film and picked off six passes. Don Burroughs, the Rams left safety stole nine passes. After Moegle it is likely Fortunato would be next in line for DROY. 

The secondary lines ups here according to TJ's film study, are not how they are often listed by position because players like McCabe and Patton and Doyle and Sumner played both corner (defensive halfback) and safety. 

The teams—

Monday, March 21, 2022

1954 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup
Harlon Hill
The 1954 Retro All-Rookie team is headed by Harlon Hill who had a monster rookie season catching 45 passes for 1,124 yards (a 25.0-yard avg) and twelve touchdowns. Hall of Fame guard Stan Jones played tackle for the Bears as a rookie and did a good job. 

Defensively Jack Brumfield stood out for the 49ers as one of the best pass rushers in the league. Les Richter stepped in and played linebacker and kicked for the Rams and did well at both.

The era of this Retro All-Rookie series is documented in TJ Troup's book The Birth of Football's Modern 4-3 Defense: The Seven Seasons That Changed the NFL and is full of more detailed accounts of the NFL seasons 1953-59—

The teams—

Sunday, March 20, 2022

1953 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
Doug Atkins
Like with the 1952 Retro Team we've attempted to award rookie players from 1953. Here is the full First-team and Second-team—

Doug Atkins played left end for the Browns and was not perfect by any means but he and tom Scott were the ends that made the most plays that we saw. Joe Schmidt would be the Defensive Rookie of the Year, however. He was playing at a high level from day one for the Lions.

Three Hall of Famers debuted on the offensive line—Jim Ringo, Rosey Brown, and Bob St. Clair and of the three we think Rosey Brown was the best that year and was the best Offensive Rookie as well. 

1952 Pro Football Journal All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney and TJ Troup 
Going back and picking award-winners in the past is always going to have pitfalls and we fully acknowledge that fact. However, in the spirit of fun and adventure and using film study and research now available it seems like it would be interesting to try and pick an "as if" or retroactive rookie squared for the decade prior to UPI picking theirs, beginning in 1961. 

There were a lot of great players with great rookie seasons in that span and we'd like to honor them and recognize their achievements. 

So, using what we now know via the aforementioned research and film study here is the 1952 PFJ All-Rookie Team—

Night Train Lane would be a pretty good Defensive Rookie of the Year (a still NFL-record 14 interceptions) for '52 and we've seen plenty of film of Gino Marchetti with the Texans to know he came into the NFL as a dominant player. 

Offensive Billy Howton would be the top guy. On a per-game basis, his rookie season still matches with the best ever in touchdown receptions. In twelve games Howton caught 53 passes for 1,231 yards (23.2 yards per catch) and 13 touchdowns. It's a pretty good set of rookie running backs.  

It should be noted that many players were two-way guys who played both offense and defense and only Troup's film study can sort through that but in general this is at least a jumping off point for discussions about the rookies in the 1950s.

Friday, March 18, 2022

Carlos Dunlap and JPP—Will They Make The Sacks Century Club?

 By John Turney 
Carlos Dunlap (L) and Jason Pierre-Paul (R)
Jason Pierre-Paul and Carlos Dunlap both entered the NFL in 2010 and both are nearing 100 career sacks. Will they make it?

Bard to tell. Dunlap had a nice recharge-type year with 8½ sacks in 2021 and is under contract for 2022. Pierre-Paul is a free agent and though he was a Pro Bowler in 2020 his production dropped in 2021 and we've not heard his name much in this free agency period so far, though plenty of teams need pass rushers.

Oddly, both players have similar tackle numbers, sack numbers, stuff numbers, passes defended numbers, forced fumble numbers, and similar fumbles recovered totals and both have two pick-sixes and one scoop-and-score. 

For whatever reason, a three-digit total of 100 or more sacks just looks better than 90-something. We'll see if these players can reach that milestone in 2021.

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

A Smaller Trader Les Trade String

 By John Turney 
Rams GM Les Snead
We've posted about trade strong before—draft picks that get parlayed into more picks and so on down the line. Here are a few posts you can read about HEREHERE, and HERE. Those were long trade strings and involved multiple years.

We thought we'd do a smaller one that illustrates the same principle of getting the most out of a pick.

The Rams had traded its 2021 first-round pick to Jacksonville for Jalen Ramsey (also a 2020 first-rounder and a 2021 fourth-rounder).  The second-round pick (unwisely so far) went for Tutu Atwell. Okay, a strike.

The third-round pick, #88 overall is the focus here. Rather than use it to take, say, Ernest Jones (who the Rams may have been targeting with that pick anyway) they traded down with the 49ers for two fourth-rounders. 

Sure, they missed a chance at some players but they had an extra third-rounder as compensation for Brad Holmes leaving the Rams organization and going to Detroit (they have another comp third-rounder this year for that as well). So, with that comp pick they got Jones. So while we will never know if they lost a targeted player in the 15 picks that they dropped it's just as likely they got their man.

So, then they have two-fourths and with one they took defensive lineman Bobby Brown III  from Texas A&M. The other they traded to Jacksonville with a sixth-rounder for a lower fourth-round pick, a fifth, and a seventh.  And with that fifth-rounder, they traded down again for a lower fifth and another seventh-rounder. The Rams, of course, made the picks all along, adding players they wanted. 

Okay, it's confusing, but here are the NET ins-and-outs.

3rd rounder
6th rounder

Bobby Brown III 
Robert Rochell     
Earnest Brown IV
Jake Funk
Ben Skowronek

All the while, as mentioned above, they got Ernest Jones who may have been the pick at #88 anyway and it is not impossible to think Bobby Brown III would have been the comp pick at #103 if the Rams had stood pat and taken Jones. Of course, we don't know that.

So, we don't know the end from the beginning, Jones seems like the starting MIKE of the future for the Rams. Brown is an unknown, his rookie year was basically a redshirt. Rochell played some then was basically benched. Earnest Brown didn't make the club. Funk was injured but was a contributor on special teams when healthy. Skowronek filled in for injuries wide receivers and was pretty good on special teams. He seems to have a good future in Los Angeles. 

The bottom line is that two picks turned in two five players, four of which made the team and still have shots at being real contributors, a could perhaps starters. And that has to be better than the one pick at #88 right? 

And this is what Les Snead has been doing for a decade. Sure, sometimes it works, other times it does not (ask Rams fans about Isiah Pead in 2012 when they lost Bobby Wagner trying to get too cute trading down). But other times it has worked well.

There is no doubt Rams GM "Trader Les" Snead can work the draft board and we expect more of the same in the 2022 NFL Draft.

Oakland Tribune's 1971 All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 
Archie Manning and Jim Plunkett
This is the third and final Oakland Tribune All-Rookie team (that we've found). Once again the team is composed of more than 22 players so it's not a tightly defined All-Rookie team but for completeness, we've posted it.

By 1971 United Press International began picking teams once again as well as Football Digest. By 1974 the Pro Football Writers and Newspaper Enterprise Association began choosing teams as well. Pro Football Weekly also was in the mix, but we have not yet compiled those teams but plan to the next time we get to the Hall of Fame library. 

Oakland Tribune's 1970 All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 
Terry Bradshaw
This is the second of the Oakland Tribune All-Rookie teams that fill in a gap of All-Rookie teams left when United Press International  (or anyone else as far as we know) did not choose them.

This is the 1970 iteration of their selections—

Oakland Tribune's 1969 All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 

Greg Cook

From 1961-65 and then in 1968 United Press International picked All-rookie teams. They didn't pick them from 1968-70 but did resume in 1971.

However, the Oakland Tribune did pick teams from 1969-71 which are the only All-Rookie teams from 1969 and 1970 that were are aware of. 

They were not exacting in that they did not define First- or Second-teams and picked both from the NFL and AFL but since they are all we have we thought they were worthy of posting. 

Here is the 1969 team—

Monday, March 14, 2022

1967 UPI All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 
In 1966 United Press International took a year off from picking an All-Rookie squad, we are not sure of the reason. They picked on in 1967 and then didn't pick another one until 1971. Again we don't know why. 

Here is the 1967 team—
United Press International NFL All-Rookie Team
SE Danny Abramowicz, New Orleans
TE Bob Windsor, San Francisco
OT Mike Haggerty, Pittsburgh
OT Jerry Jones, New Orleans
OG Del Williams, New Orleans
OG Dick Hart, Philadelphia
OC Bob Hyland, Green Bay
QB Kent Nix, Pittsburgh
RB Mel Farr, Detroit
RB Don Shy, Pittsburgh
FL Dave Williams, St. Louis
DE Mel Tom, Philadelphia
DE Marty Amsler, Chicago
DT Alan Page, Minnesota
DT Dave Rowe, New Orleans
LB Ron Porter, Baltimore
LB Jim Flanigan, Green Bay
LB Ken Avery, N.Y. Giants
CB Lem Barney, Detroit
CB John Douglas, New Orleans
S Rick Volk, Baltimore
S Phil Spiller, St. Louis
PK Charlie Durkee, New Orleans
P Tom McNeil, Philadelphia
KOR Travis Williams, Green Bay
PR Ben Davis, Cleveland

1965 UPI All-Rookie team

 By John Turney  
The 1965 All-Rookie team selected by UPI consisted of two Hall of Fame Bears, Gale Sayers and Dick Burkus, and Cowboys HOFer Bob Hayes and several other top-flight pros.

Here is the list—
United Press International NFL All-Rookie Team
WR Bob Hayes, Dallas
WR Jack Snow, L.A. Rams
TE Jerry Smith, Washington
OT Ralph Neely, Dallas
OT Bob Nichols, Pittsburgh
OG Jim Wilson, San Francisco
OG Don Croftcheck, Washington
OC Ed Flanagan, Detroit
QB Craig Morton, Dallas
HB Gale Sayers, Chicago
FB Ken Willard, San Francisco
DE Tim Powell, L.A. Rams
DE Roosevelt Davis, N.Y. Giants
DT Walter Johnson, Cleveland
DT Jerry Rush, Detroit
LB Dick Butkus, Chicago
LB Lonnie Warwick, Minnesota
LB Jack Chapple, San Francisco
CB Carl Lockhart, N.Y. Giants
CB Al Nelson, Philadelphia
S Obert Logan, Dallas
S Henry Carr, N.Y. Giants
P Frank Lambert, Pittsburgh
KOR Lance Rentzel, Minnesota
PR Roy Jefferson, Pittsburgh
PR Rickie Harris, Washington

Here is the original article—

1964 UPI All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 
Nineteen sixty-four was the fourth year in a row that United Press International chose an All-Rookie team. Here is the iteration from that year which included seven Hall of Famers—

United Press International NFL All-Rookie Team
WR Paul Warfield, Cleveland
WR Dave Parks, San Francisco
WR Bucky Pope, L.A. Rams
OT Bob Brown, Philadelphia
OT George Seals, Washington
OG Milt Sunde, Minnesota
OG Jake Kupp, Dallas
OC Joe Wendryhoski, L.A. Rams
QB Bill Munson, L.A. Rams
HB Charley Taylor, Washington
FB Tony Lorick, Baltimore
DE Carl Eller, Minnesota
DE Lloyd Voss, Green Bay
DT Ben McGee, Pittsburgh
DT Chuck Hinton, Pittsburgh
LB Lou Slaby, N.Y. Giants
LB Mike Morgan, Philadelphia
LB Dave Wilcox, San Francisco
CB George Rose, Minnesota
CB Bobby Thompson, Detroit
S Paul Krause, Washington
S Mel Renfro, Dallas
PK Bruce Gossett, L.A. Rams
P Bobby Walden, Minnesota

Here is the original release:  

1963 UPI All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 
Hall of Famer Jackie Smith was voted to the 1963 All-Rookie team as were All-Pro Andy Russell, Lee Roy Jordan, and standouts like Lionel Aldridge, Fred Miller, Jerry Stoval, and Kermit Alexander. 

Here is the complete team—

United Press International NFL All-Rookie Team
WR Paul Flatley, Minnesota
WR Ron Goodwin, Philadelphia
TE Jackie Smith, St. Louis
OT Steve Barnett, Chicago
OT Dave Graham, Philadelphia
OG Don Chuy, L.A. Rams
OG Dan Grimm, Green Bay
OC (no selection)
QB Glhynn Griffing, N.Y. Giants
RB Don Libson, San Francisco
FB Bill Thornton, St. Louis
DE Lionel Aldridge, Green Bay
DE Don Brumm, St. Louis
DT Fred Miller, Baltimore
DT Jim Kanicki, Cleveland
LB Lee Roy Jordan, Dallas
LB Andy Russell, Pittsburgh
LB Dennis Gaubatz, Detroit
CB Kermit Alexander, San Francisco
CB Lee Calland, Minnesota
S Larry Benz, Cleveland
S Jerry Stovall, St. Louis

Here is the original UPI clipping:

1962 UPI All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 
In 1961 United Press International began choosing All-Rookie teams. In 1962 there were two Hall of Famers among the group, Merlin Olsen and Mick Tingelhoff. 

Here is the 1962 version—
United Press International NFL All-Rookie Team
OE Gary Collins, Cleveland
OE Steve Stonebreaker, Minnesota
OT Irv Goode, St. Louis
OT Joe Carollo, L.A. Rams
OG Pete Case, Philadelphia
OG Leon Donohue, San Francisco
OC Mick Tingelhoff, Minnesota
QB Ron Miller, L.A. Rams
HB Ronnie Bull, Chicago
HB Joe Womack, Pittsburgh
FB Art Perkins, L.A. Rams
DE George Andrie, Dallas
DE Ed O'Bradovich, Chicago
DT Merlin Olsen, L.A. Rams
DT Guy Reese, Dallas
LB Bill Winter, N.Y. Giants
LB Mike Lucci, Cleveland
LB Sam Tidmore, Cleveland
DB Claude Crabb, Washington
DB Mike Gaechter, Dallas
DB Bill Triplett, St. Louis
DB Wendell Harris, Baltimore

The original article—

1961 UPI All-Rookie Team

 By John Turney 

Mike Ditka

United Press International NFL All-Rookie Team
OE Mike Ditka, Chicago
OE Aaron Thomas, San Francisco
OT Danny LaRose, Detroit
OT Greg Larson, N.Y. Giants
OG Joe Scibelli, L.A. Rams
OG Mickey Walker, N.Y. Giants
OC Mike Pyle, Chicago
QB Fran Tarkenton, Minnesota
HB Don Perkins, Dallas
HB Bob Gaiters, N.Y. Giants
FB J.W. Lockett, Dallas
DE Johnny Brewer, Cleveland
DE Bob Lilly, Dallas
DT Joe Rutgens, Washington
DT Ken Frost, Dallas
LB Myron Pottios, Pittsburgh
LB Fred Hageman, Washington
LB Rip Hawkins, Minnesota
CB Warren Livingston, Dallas
CB Jimmy Johnson, San Francisco
S Bob Harrison, Baltimore
S Jim Kerr, Washington
K Allen Green, Dallas
P Tom Gilburg, Baltimore

Here is the original article—

Sunday, March 13, 2022

Justin Tuck—He Was Special

 By John Turney 
Justin Tuck took over the left defensive end position from Hall of Famer Michael Strahan and did a good job but his career didn't last all that long—an eight-year peak. And he just had six seasons as Strahan's replacement. But when healthy he was a very, very good player. 

In 2007 he was someone who played inside on pass rush downs and was a major part of the 2007 win over the Patriots in the Super Bowl, in fact, some (us included) think he should have been the MVP of that game and even the MVP of the 2011 Super Bowl, in the running at least. 

He was a very good pass rusher but also had a nose for stopping the run, usually getting anywhere from 6-10 run stuffs—which in our view is a good number. Combining sacks and run stuffs reflect his effectiveness in both (four years of 17.5 or more). Tuck's point of attack run defense was good but where he made his bones is in seeking out and making plays on the run, slipping a tackle or guard then getting to the running back. 

As a rusher he was great at slapping the shoulder of the blocker then working his move off of that, a rip or inside club. He had excellent balance and that base we mentioned to pull that off.  Both Football Outsiders and Pro Football Focus have good hurry/pressure numbers in his prime as well. Oddly, we noticed that one thing he didn't always do is explode off the snap like some—early in his career he was just a hair slow, or likely it was intentional to read the block for a split second then make his move. Regardless, at times he'd get off very well, we just noticed a slight "read" or hesitation at times . . . not always and not a flaw in his game, just interesting to notice it sometimes.

The main thing is watching him—it was impressive. He had good base and showed good strength and quickness as well. He wasn't a high-cut edge rusher, he was a solidly built complete player. His combine/pro day numbers were amazing, a 4.6 forty, 24 reps on the bench a 37½ vertical—all at 6-5, 265 pounds. 

He'd got by on pure athletic ability in college but with being tutored by Michae Strahan in the NFL he learned technique, hand placement, reading the formation and the tackle (or guard) in front of him and that paid off when he was healthy in 2007 and was a nickel rusher/rotational end, the most productive in the NFL that season in our view with 10 sacks in just two starts.

Injuries were kind of an issue, though—in 2006 he broke his foot in week six and was out for the season. In 2011 he had a neck/chest injury and in 2015 he had a pec injury that ended his season. At Notre Dame, he tore an ACL in late in his stellar sophomore season and it hampered him sone as a junior (he skipped his senior season for the NFL).

After football Tuck got his MBA and is now working on Wall Street with Goldman Sachs.

Career stats—

FO = Football Outsiders, PFF = Pro Football Focus
Hit = QB hit, Hrry - hurry, Dispr = disruptions 

Some Clips:

An inside move, a double team, Tuck is the left defensive end here—
Here is an example of his shoulder slap, Tuck is the right defensive tackle—

Here is a stack of the tight end and shed for a tackle, Tuck is the left end—

Tuck, #91, drops in the zone dog concept and then tracks the ball carrier and delivers a good hit on the tackle—

Tuck's first sack in 2005—