If you’ve been following along, you know that I am exploring NFL offenses by the decade. Yes, a decade is an arbitrary constraint to set on something like this, but when put together as a whole, this series weaves a rich tapestry that highlights the evolution of offensive football at the major professional level.
We’ve seen how offensive output rapidly increased in the thirties and forties before experiencing a more gradual increase in the fifties and sixties. We’ve also examined the ways in which the AAFC and AFL have impacted the NFL proper (always for the better). Today, we’re going to dive into the depths of the Dead Ball Era – the 1970s.
Seventies football represents, for many, the apex of professional football. People of a certain age loudly lament how far today’s game has strayed from the violent and defense-dominated days of the Steel Curtain and Purple People Eaters, the savage collisions of Jack Tatum, and the barely restrained fury of Mean Joe Greene.
For those who love offense, however, it was a decade of doldrums with little relief from defensive oppression. Offensive production stagnated so much that the league had to introduce wholesale changes to the rule book in order to break the malaise. Today, we’ll explore the offensive funk and the statistical effects of the NFL’s regulatory revisions. As usual, the base measurement for offensive output is Total Adjusted Yards:
TAY = Yds + 20*TD + 9*(1d – TD) – 45*Int – 25*Fmb
A quick glance at the leaders in this metric shows that offenses with a good coach-quarterback combo consistently led the league. Despite the notion that the decade was one of rushing dominance, few (but notable) teams actually fared well without efficient QB play. Let’s have a look.
1970s NFL Offenses
The table below shows all 268 team seasons and is sorted by marginal adjusted yards of offense. Read it thus: The 1976 Baltimore Colts scored 417 points and gained 5236 yards on 956 plays. They had 28 turnovers and 301 first downs. That amounts to 7420 total adjusted yards at 7.76 per play. This is 2.14 TAY/P better than average, giving the Colts 2050 marginal adjusted yards. Because the NFL added two games to the schedule in 1978, the last column is useful for determining output on a per game basis.
When taking the entire decade into account, the Cowboys, Dolphins, and Raiders are far and away the most consistently great offensive teams. However, the top two spots belong to a couple of surprise candidates: the 1976 Colts and the 1975 Bills.
The ’76 Colts, led by MVP quarterback Bert Jones, led the NFL in both points and yards. They also posted the top score of the decade in the important marginal adjusted yards metric. The primary reason was their incredibly efficient passing game; Baltimore had the second best passer rating and best ANY/A in the league. Jones was able to depend on receiving production from every level of the offense. Wideout Roger Carr was a large downfield target on the outside, and tight end Raymond Chester was a Hall of Fame caliber receiver who punished would-be tacklers. If they were covered, halfback Lydell Mitchell was a reliable dual threat in the mold of Lenny Moore before him or Marshall Faulk after.
While the Colts fielded a balanced offense that could hurt opponents in various ways, the previous year’s Bills team were essentially the O.J. Simpson show. Many of today’s football fans know of Simpson as footnote in American pop culture, but the Juice was quite easily the best running back of his era. Although he became the first runner to eclipse the mythic 2000 yard mark in a single season in 1973, his 1975 performance was arguable his best season. He gained 2243 yards from scrimmage and 23 touchdowns1 en route to leading the number two offense of the decade. Unfortunately, Simpson got little help outside of Hall of Fame guard Joe DeLamielleure, and one of history’s greatest seasons ended without a playoff appearance.
In 1976, Ken Stabler lost the MVP vote to Jones,2 but the Snake had the last laugh when he hoisted the Lombardi Trophy at season’s end. Stabler led Oakland to the league’s best record while leading all quarterbacks in passer rating, Y/A, TD%, completion rate. Only his below average interception totals kept him from taking home the MVP award.3 Stabler wasn’t alone, of course. He had Hall of Fame receiver Fred Biletnikoff and arguably superior receiver Cliff Branch on the outsides, and he had matchup nightmare Dave Casper in the middle of the field. When his arm got tired, he could hand off to fullback Mark van Eeghen and let him run behind Art Shell and Gene Upshaw.
Oakland’s offensive prowess wasn’t limited to 1976; in fact, John Madden’s crew produced the third most value of any team of the decade and never posted a below average season. Overall, the Raiders produced 8812 marginal adjusted yards of value at a rate of 61 per game. If we look at total output rather than marginal output, they boast the number two offense of the decade with 435 adjusted yards per game.
The 1971 Cowboys are the only other team to gain over 2 adjusted yards per play above average. It was a strange season for MVP voting, as Alan Page became the first defensive player to earn the award from the Associated Press, while Roger Staubach and Bob Griese took home the less-famous MVP trophies. Staubach posted one of the most efficient passing seasons in history and likely missed out on the award due to his low volume of attempts (just 211) and coach Tom Landry‘s QBBC approach. Behind Roger Dodger, Dallas lapped the field in points and yards, and they also led in yards per play and first downs. Staubach was the catalyst, efficiently spreading the ball between three aging Hall of Famers (deep threats Lance Alworth and Bob Hayes, as well as legendary tight end Mike Ditka). Hall of Fame tackle Rayfield Wright and All Pro guard John Niland provided the beef up front for the offensive attack.
With Staubach under center and Tom Landry patrolling the sidelines, Dallas didn’t never fielded a below average offense.4 Their cumulative decade score of 12253 marginal adjusted yards (85 per game) easily outpaces any other team, as does their total output of 462 TAY/G. As Alworth and Hayes eventually became Drew Pearson and Bill Joe DuPree, Staubach never ran out of talented pass catchers. As he became an old man by NFL standards, he was able to rely on the gifted Tony Dorsett to alleviate some of the pressure of carrying the offense. The whole time, the Dallas train kept a rollin’.
In 1973, the Rams led the NFL in points and yards while managing to suffer by far the fewest turnovers in the land. While former quarterback Roman Gabriel was perhaps the best in league history at avoiding interceptions, his successor, AFL legend John Hadl, took great care of the ball (just 11 interceptions and one fumble).5 He combined ball security with the league’s highest touchdown rate, which meant a highly efficient passing attack. His primary target was Harold Jackson, the decade’s leading receiver. Running backs Lawrence McCutcheon and Jim Bertelsen ranked second and fourth for the team in receiving yards, and each eclipsed a thousand yards from scrimmage.
Hadl was out of Los Angeles before the end of the following season, and McCutcheon became the focal point of the offense for the better part of the decade (picking up big yards behind Hall of Fame guard Tom Mack). Even as the team cycled through James Harris and Pat Haden at the quarterback spot, they didn’t suffer a serious drop in output until 1978, when Ray Malavasi replaced Chuck Knox as head coach. In fact, the Rams’ score of 5543 marginal adjusted yards for the decade jumps to 6313 if you exclude Malavasi’s two seasons. Despite fielding inferior teams, Malavasi led the Rams to a Super Bowl in 1979, something Knox was unable to do.6
The 1972 Dolphins are known for going undefeated on the strength of their ground game and No Name Defense (and, at the time, helping coach Don Shula shed the choker label he picked up with the Colts). However, they happened to be a highly efficient offensive machine whether they chose to pass or to run. Like the previous teams mentioned, Miami led the NFL in both points and yards. They were also second in yards per play and first downs. Their rushing attack was legendary, and for good reason. Larry Csonka and Mercury Morris each went over a thousand yards, and Jim Kiick chipped in an additional 521 yards of his own. The ground and pound game opened up deep passes to Hall of Famer and generally underrated wideout Paul Warfield. When starter Bob Griese went down, those passes came from Earl Morrall (who actually outperformed Griese that season).7
That year, and for most of the decade, it didn’t much matter the play type because the Miami offensive line was built to dominate either way. Hall of Fame center Jim Langer set the tone, and guards Larry Little (a fellow HOFer) and Bob Kuechenberg (a HOF finalist) joined in to form one of the most consistently dominant interior lines in football history. With a dominant line, terrifying deep threat, thunder and lightning rushing attack, and efficient passers, coach Shula’s Dolphins produced the second best offensive output of the decade (10432 MAY at 72 per game). Even their worst season was still 209 adjusted yards better than average.
From 1973 to 1975, the Cincinnati Bengals posted three straight seasons that ranked in the top 25 of the decade. After rookie phenom Greg Cook lost his career to a rotator cuff injury, offensive coordinator Bill Walsh built the Cincy offense around the cerebral but physically limited quarterback Virgil Carter. However, Walsh’s first truly great quick-strike quarterback was Ken Anderson, who came into the league in 1971. By 1973, Anderson was in his second season as a primary starter and had finally grown comfortable with Walsh’s Ohio River Offense. During this time, Anderson was nearly two standard deviations better than average in both passer rating and ANY/A.
Boobie Clark and Essex Johnson played the familiar role of receiving backs for Walsh, while blazing fast Isaac Curtis was so productive that he has a rule change named after him (we’ll get into that later). However, a disgruntled Walsh left the team after the 1975 season, and the offense quickly descended into mediocrity. From 1970 to 1975, Cincinnati never had a below average offense, and they averaged 906 MAY per season. After Walsh’s departure, the Bengals produced their only negative season of the decade and averaged a paltry 4 MAY for the rest of the decade. This means that of the 5450 marginal adjusted yards of value the Bengals produced, only 16 of that came without Walsh calling the offense.
The Bad and the Ugly
After Walsh left Cincinnati for San Diego and, later, Stanford, he finally got a head coaching gig in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers in 1979. Despite the protestations of Walsh’s former mentor, Paul Brown, owner Eddie DeBartolo Jr. felt he had to put his trust in the innovative Walsh. The primary reason for this is that the Niners had just posted six consecutive seasons with a below average offense, culminating in 1978 with the worst offensive performance by any team during the entire decade. With two ineffectual head coaches, a broken down O.J. Simpson, a young and erratic Steve DeBerg, and a general lack of receiving talent, the ’78 Niners couldn’t beat defenses through the air or on the ground.
Walsh took over in 1979 and immediately began rebuilding the team in his image. He helped DeBerg realize a level of consistency,8 and he drew increased production from receiver Freddie Solomon and back Paul Hofer. The initial turnaround was small, and it was hardly on par with the team’s 1970 offense led by John Brodie and Gene Washington, but it was the harbinger of a new era of offensive football. It was the foundation upon which the greatest sustained offense in NFL history was built.
The 1976-1977 Buccaneers have no such legacy. They were just bad teams. So bad, in fact, that when asked how he felt about his team’s execution, head coach John McKay famously retorted “I’m in favor of it.” Yea, that’s pretty bad. The ’76 squad scored just 125 points and gained just 3006 yards on their way to a winless record. The worst part might be the fact that 1976 wasn’t even their worst offensive season. In 1977, the Bucs closed out the year with victories over bad Saints and Cardinals teams, but their performance on offense was significantly worse than it was in their inaugural season. This time around, they scored a mere 103 points and gained a laughable 2693 yards. They averaged 3.2 yards per play and lost 46 turnovers. From a total volume standpoint, their 148 TAY/G is the worst of the decade.
Between 1974 and 1978, the Atlanta Falcons never posted a season with greater than -1049 marginal adjusted yards of offense. They were so bad on offense that their 1977 squad allowed 9.2 points per game (129 total) and they still couldn’t muster a winning record. The nadir came in ’74, when the Falcons posted the third worst output of the decade. They ranked last in points, yards, yards per play, and turnovers. Their unholy quarterback triumvirate combined for 4 touchdown passes against 31 interceptions. They failed to score more than 17 points in any game, a dubious distinction that has only been matched once in the forty years since. When your only standout offensive player is a guard (8 time Pro Bowler George Kunz), these things tend to happen.
Perhaps no quarterback embodied the lovable loser archetype more than Archie Manning as the leader of the seventies Saints. While he and the Aints managed to play half-decent football toward the end of the decade, they are best-remembered for their many seasons of futility. 1975, in particular, was a terrible year for the New Orleans offense. They ranked last in points, yards, and yards per play (a phrase you should be familiar with by now), and their TAY/P was 2.08 below league average. They were neither efficient nor effective, and they mark the low point of a forgettable decade in the Big Easy.
In 1976, Joe Namath was on his last (already injury-ravaged) legs. The once brilliant aerial assault artist was a broken legend who could only lead the Jets to one of their three wins that year. John Riggins left for Washington after posting his first thousand yard season, and standout tight end Rich Caster experienced a noticeable dropoff in production. The team that helped build the empire was now nothing more than an faint echo of former glory.
Other Notable Figures
With the increased number of teams after the merger, there is not enough space to discuss every team’s offense. However, it is still important to give credit to some of the individuals who made us cheer or became the heroes of our fathers.
The Minnesota Vikings famously lost four Super Bowls in an eight year span, and their dominant defense is rightly credited with dragging them there 1969. However, the Vikings added offensive firepower when they promoted Ron Yary in 1970, brought back Fran Tarkenton in ’72, and then drafted Chuck Foreman in ’73. Tarkenton passed for more yards and touchdowns than anyone else in the decade. Foreman had six dominant seasons as a dual threat back.9 Tingelhoff’s advanced age limited his physical skill, but he compensated with the kind of savvy only experience brings. Yary, for his part, was named first team All Pro each year from 1971 to 1976 and didn’t miss a game over that time.10
The Steelers dynasty, effectively brought about by Chuck Noll‘s incredible ability to find talent and build a team with few weak links, took its place in football’s Olympus when the team won four Super Bowls during the seventies. Although the famous Steel Curtain defense deserves the credit they get for helping guide Pittsburgh to the promised land, it is interesting to note that the dynasty Steelers actually featured more Hall of Fame players on offense than on defense. Their leader was big-armed goofball (and cold-blooded assassin in January) Terry Bradshaw. His career is often misunderstood by modern fans used to looking at inflated passing stats, but Chase Stuart’s detailed look at his career provided important context. I encourage you to read it. If you go from a pure performance based perspective, Franco Harris and Mike Webster may be the only sure-fire Hall of Fame players from the dynasty. Harris was second only to O.J. Simpson in rushing and scrimmage yards during the decade, and no one came close to his 72 rushing touchdowns. Webster was named the best center in the NFL five times (two in the seventies) and played a large part in Bradshaw’s 1978 MVP campaign.
On paper, John Stallworth and Lynn Swann don’t look like Hall of Fame receivers. Even when you adjust for their passing environment, they ranked as the 32nd and 79th most productive receivers at the end of the 2012 season. At the time of his retirement, Swann had the 59th most receiving yards of all time. Stallworth ranked 13th (behind four guys not in the HOF). They have busts in Canton because they performed very well in the playoffs and have four rings apiece.
Like Bill Walsh, offensive guru Don Coryell was a disciple from the Sid Gillman tree of knowledge. Although his greatest achievements in offensive innovation and production occurred in the eighties, it is still important to recognize the foundations of Air Coryell. After helping Jim Hart reach career highs for the Cardinals, Coryell became the coach of the San Diego Chargers. He helped turned Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, and Kellen Winslow into Hall of Famers. Had John Jefferson remained with the team, he may donned a yellow jacket too. By Coryell’s second season in San Diego (1979), Fouts became the first quarterback to throw for over 4000 yards in an NFL season.11 Because his team had limited playoff success, Coryell has had no luck garnering support from Hall of Fame voter. However, his impact on offensive football – and, as a result, defensive football – is indelible.12
From 1970 to 1973, AFL legend Floyd Little averaged nearly 1300 yards from scrimmage per season for the Broncos. When age caught up with him, speedy Otis Armstrong took over and gained over 1800 scrimmage yards in 1974. He was limited to four games the following year, but he bounced back in 1976 with 1465 scrimmage yards. In addition to the pair of talented running backs, the Denver also fielded All Pro tight end Riley Odoms. Despite mediocre quarterback play, Odoms gained the fourth most receiving yards of any TE during the decade.
Before he became one of television’s worst gameday announcers, Dan Dierdorf was a dominant force capable of playing any position on the offensive line. His primary position was right tackle, where he was named first team All Pro thrice.
Jack Rudnay was perhaps the third best center of the decade, but he had the unfortunate fate of playing in the same division as Jim Langer and Mike Webster for most of his career. Nonetheless, he made four Pro Bowls in the middle of the decade.
Long before Joe Gibbs and the Hogs led Washington to a Super Bowl title, the team played a forgettable title game against the Dolphins. Their loss is only significant because it allowed the Dolphins to become the first undefeated and untied champion in NFL history. However, the men who got Washington to the big show deserve mention. Larry Brown was named the league’s MVP in the wake of a stellar season both rushing and receiving. Hall of Fame gadget receiver Charley Taylor provided Washington with a versatile weapon on the outside, while standout center Len Hauss made the last of his five career Pro Bowls.
Charlie Sanders and Bob Tucker were two of the top tight ends of their era. Sanders earned three first team All Pro selections and eventually got the call to Canton. Tucker never made a Pro Bowl or an All Pro first team nod13 despite the fact that he had more receptions and yards than any other tight end during the seventies.
Harold Carmichael was a physically imposing figure who looked more like he belonged in the NBA than in the NFL. At 6’8″ and 225 pounds, he was a mismatch for any defensive back.14 He ranked fourth in yards and second in both catches and touchdowns among all receivers during the decade.
Houston Oilers receiver Ken Burrough is a forgotten gem from the Dead Ball Era. He led the NFL in yards in 1975, and he was the second leading receiver of the entire decade, despite generally awful QB play.
Hall of Fame receiver Steve Largent is best known for his production in the eighties, but he did make two Pro Bowls in the seventies and lead the league in yards in 1979. Despite inconsistency at every other offensive position, Largent produced at a high level for the Seahawks.
Earl Campbell only played two seasons in the seventies, but those two seasons included an MVP award, two rushing titles, and a scoring title. Through sheer tyranny of will, the Tyler Rose battered hapless defenders. His running style was a perfect mix of grace and chaos. He was the engine that kept the Luv Ya Blue train running.
Walter Payton arguably received the least offensive line help of any great back in history. Nonetheless, he managed ten straight seasons of at least 1500 yards from scrimmage.15 He was a willing and capable blocker, and he could even sub at quarterback if need be. His career was marked by the same traits as his life: toughness, desire, courage, and grace. There have been thousands of players on rosters throughout the 95 year history of the NFL. Only one has a “Man of the Year” trophy named after him.
Once called the best offensive lineman of all time by Sports Illustrated, John Hannah was a force of nature for the Patriots. He earned three AP1 selection in the seventies and another four in the eighties. He wasn’t particularly large, even for his era, but he had an incredibly powerful lower body and a low center of gravity that gave him remarkable balance for a man of his stature. When added to his expert technical ability to generate leverage, the sum was a functional strength much greater than that of men much larger than he. Hannah also possessed underrated athleticism, which allowed him to pull and make blocks on the second level that many guards couldn’t make effectively.
I’m not going to do an entire series on special teams, so this is a good a place as any to mention that there are only two full time special teams players in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. They both happened to play the majority of their careers during the seventies (and for AFC West rivals, no less). Jan Stenerud was not the first kicker in professional football to utilize the soccer style approach. However, since most football innovations are met with skepticism, it was his success with the technique helped revolutionize the kicking game. He led the league in field goal percentage four times and was named to six Pro Bowls. Ray Guy, for his part, is remembered as the greatest punter of all time and the reason we now count hang time. He led the NFL in yards per punt16 and was named first team All Pro three times.
1970s NFL Offenses on Average
This table should be used to add context to the first table and to note trends in NFL offensive production. Read it thus: In 1970, the average offense scored 269.6 points and gained 3944.8 yards on 850.0 plays. They lose 34.0 turnovers and picked up 221.1 first downs. Overall, they gained 4696 total adjusted yards at 5.52 per play. On a per game basis, they gained 335 TAY.
As you can see in the chart below, professional offenses rapidly increased their productivity during the forties. Afterwards, they experienced a gradual increase until peaking in 1962. After a brief plateau, the bottom fell out after the merger, and the league rarely reached pre-merger levels. However, several regulatory changes were put into place in order to augment offensive output. The most dramatic of these occurred in 1978, and the graphic indicates that the league’s efforts were successful.
As offenses stagnated in the Dead Ball Era, there were several noteworthy changes that increased offensive production and, consequently, the NFL’s popularity. These are some of the more significant changes:
- In 1970, the NFL and AFL merged into a single league, divided into two conferences. This necessitated standardizing the rules of the two separate leagues. The league opted to quit using the 2-point conversion, which made a negligible dent in league wide scoring. More importantly, the new NFL adopted the AFL’s use of the game clock on the scoreboard. This took the clock out of the hands of busy referees and put it in a location participants and spectators could easily view. By 1976, the clock was posted on both ends of the field.
- In 1972, the NFL moved the hashmarks closer to the middle of the field (from 40 feet apart to just 18.5 feet apart). This led to an immediate increase in field goal rates, which, in turn, led to increased scoring throughout the league.
- The following year, the NFL made it even easier for kickers when they outlawed the use of leverage to block kicks. This is just football speak for “no jumping or standing on teammates in order to help block a kick.”
- After the league made scoring field goals easier than ever, they realized the increase in field goal attempts was detracting from the game’s excitement. To encourage teams to go for touchdowns instead of field goals, the NFL moved the goal posts from the goal line back to their 1932 position in the back of the end zone. The plan worked, as teams were less successful on field goals (and PATS) and, ultimately, went for more touchdowns. However, it wasn’t until soccer style kickers became the norm that final scores noticeably increased.17
- 1974 also saw the introduction of sudden death overtime to the league. While overtime didn’t increase efficiency or effectiveness, it replaced ties with additional points. Thus, while offenses didn’t get any better, the increased opportunity to put points on the board naturally resulted in a higher scoring environment.
- Also in 1974, the league moved kickoffs back from the 40 yard line to the 35 yards line, in an effort to encourage more returns. The change didn’t increase the number of returns as much as it maintained the level of returns. With better kickers creating touchbacks seemingly at will, the league’s rule change mostly just increased the value of a kicker with elite leg strength.
- The most important rule of 1974 was the Isaac Curtis Rule. Named after the Bengals’ speedy wideout, it limited the amount of contact defensive backs could initiate with receivers. Specifically, the rule stated that a receiver could only be chucked one time after he had made it three yards downfield. This rule was a precursor to a more famous rule four years later.
- In 1976, the NFL outlawed grasping the facemask of an opponent. This didn’t have a palpable statistical impact, but it anecdotally reduced injury risk and made players harder to tackle.
- The league also passed the Ben Davidson Rule in 1976. This rule prohibited defenders from tackling ballcarriers who have gone to the ground and made no attempt to advance. The rule is named for the Raiders defensive end who hurt Chiefs quarterback Len Dawson during a de facto playoff game in 1970.
- According to research by John Turney, Deacon Jones had seasons of 26, 24, and 22 sacks. To throw offensive linemen a bone, the league outlawed his famous head slap maneuver in 1977. This is sometimes referred to as the Deacon Jones Rule.
- Also in 1977, the NFL provided additional aid to wide receivers by making it illegal to contact a receiver more than once during a play.
- The following year, the league made it even tougher on cornerbacks. After Steelers legend Mel Blount smothered receivers all over the field, league brass decided to ditch the “chuck” stipulation from the Isaac Curtis Rule altogether. Now, defenders were allowed only to contact receivers within five yards of the line of scrimmage.18
- Another 1978 rule change that was arguably as important as the Mel Blount Rule, but receives far less attention, came when executives decided offensive linemen should probably be allowed to extend their arms and use open hands while blocking. After this change, league wide sack rates sack a noticeable decline.
- Of course, the addition of two games to the league schedule also increased offensive output. The extended schedule, in concert with more offensive oriented rules, created an environment where passing records seemingly fell every year (it even allowed people like Charlie Joiner to make it into the Hall of Fame).
All of the above changes (as well as some minor ones I didn’t mention) helped pull NFL offenses out of their statistical imbroglio and set them on a path to new heights in the decade to come. When you see the progression of offensive output from the 1940s to the 1980s, you’ll see that the Dead Ball Era from the late 1960s till 1978 was actually a statistical aberration in an otherwise smooth upward trend. Indeed, this era is not the standard bearer for NFL gameplay; it is an anachronistic outcast in football history.
- Prorated for a 16 game schedule, that’s over 2500 YFS and 26 touchdowns. ↩
- Although he did win the Bert Bell Player of the Year Award, for what it’s worth. ↩
- High interception rates are par for course when you’re an aggressive passer, which Stabler was. His ability to produce positive value at a higher rate than nearly any other quarterback, despite those interceptions, is a testament to that. ↩
- Their worst offensive output came in Staubach’s injury year of 1972, when the team still managed 253 marginal adjusted yards. ↩
- Interestingly, this came just one year after he led the league with 26 interceptions as the QB of the Chargers. It’s almost a if chance plays a large part in turnovers. ↩
- It didn’t help that Knox happened to coach during the prime years of the Cowboys and Vikings dynasties, whereas Malavasi’s squads didn’t see such powerful competition. ↩
- Credit coach Don Shula for bringing in a known commodity from his time in Baltimore. ↩
- However, he also picked his own quarterback of the future, an undersized college star named Joe Montana ↩
- Foreman actually led the league in receptions in 1975. In 1974 and 1976, he led the league in total touchdowns. ↩
- Because the Hall of Fame evidently hates linemen, Yary wasn’t enshrined in Canton until 19 years after his retirement. ↩
- Fouts set a record with 4082 yards. He broke his own record the following year, and then he broke that record the year after that. If not for the strike limiting the 1982 season to nine games, he very well could have been the first quarterback to pass the 5000 yard mark. ↩
- Coryell directly tutored John Madden and Joe Gibbs, two of the most successful offensive coaches in history. Mike Martz, architect of the Greatest Show on Turf Rams squads, is also in Coryell’s coaching tree. ↩
- In 1972, he was named AP2 from the Associated Press and UPI, while Sporting News and Pro Football Writers named him first team. ↩
- Although the battles between him and 5’9″ Pat Fischer are legendary. ↩
- This is not counting the 1982 strike season. However, in those nine games he eclipsed 900 YFS and was on pace for 1612. ↩
- A useless, albeit popular, statistic. ↩
- It is important to note, however, that moving the goal posts did result in a decrease in player injuries on red zone plays. That, alone, was worth the change. ↩
- Blount responded with three more Pro Bowls and another first team All Pro nod. ↩