BEST OFF-SEASON TRADE
The Rams, giving Kansas City a first-and a fifth-round draft choice to get All-Pro cornerback Gary Green, a solid man-to-man-coverage guy. Just ask the Raiders how nice it is to get an All-Pro cornerback, no matter what the cost. Mike Haynes locked up a Super Bowl for them last season.
The Jets, sending quarterback Richard Todd to New Or leans for a No. 1, thereby leaving themselves with one QB, Pat Ryan, who has never started an NFL game and a projected starter, Ken O'Brien, who didn't play a down last season as a rookie. Maybe they've got a deal for a veteran on the back burner. If not, this doesn't make sense.
The 49ers, dealing for Louie Kelcher and Manu Tuiasosopo, trying to fill up the gaping hole in their middle caused by noseguard Pete Kugler's departure to the USFL's Philly Stars. Kugler was really coming on at the end of last year. How could they let him slip away? For shame! Kelcher, as everyone predicted, retired before the first ball was snapped.
THE NEBRASKA MYSTERY, OR VARIOUS SCOUTS' EXPLANATIONS OF WHY NEBRASKA GRADS DON'T MAKE GREAT PROS
In the last 14 years only three players from Nebraska, the leading collegiate football power in that stretch, have made the Pro Bowl-Andra Franklin, Junior Miller and John Dutton. Why?
1) The intense five-year weight program there burns them out.
2) Nothing they do in the pros is as important, emotionally, as those Nebraska years.
3) They are overachievers, not great athletes, fitted into the perfect system and overrated by scouts due to the program's success.
FOR STATISTICS NUTS ONLY
Why rate the passers on an efficiency grade system, and then rate the teams' passing attacks only by aggregate totals? The reason is that it would take the stats people too long to tally up each team's grade, based on the efficiency formula, and for the teams you'd have to find a way to figure in sacks. O.K., I did it for the 28 NFL teams last year. Using the formula for rating individual passers, and using net yards (gross yards minus sack yardage) in place of total passing yards, I got the following changes in the rankings: San Diego and Green Bay, which ranked 1-2 in pass offense, are replaced by Washington and San Francisco. Remember, this system rates efficiency, not just gross yardage.
Baltimore remains as the worst passing team, but the second worst, Pittsburgh, is replaced by the Giants. A toss-up there.
The best pass defense team, New Orleans, is replaced by Kansas City, and the second best, Philadelphia, is replaced by Pittsburgh. This makes sense. The Eagles had good stats because it was so easy to run on them that nobody threw. But in efficiency of pass defense they'd drop to 24th.
Finally, the worst pass defenses, Washington and Dallas, would move to 11th best and 15th best respectively, being replaced by Atlanta and San Diego. That certainly makes more sense.
SLEEPER COACH FOR '84
Tony Dungy, defensive coordinator, Steelers
MORE STATISTICS, HISTORICAL DEPARTMENT
Don Hutson caught 74 passes in 1942. That was more than four entire NFL reams completed that season. In 1960 Baltimore's Ray Berry caught 74 passes. The Colts completed 196, the most in the league, by far. Berry caught 37.7% of their completed passes. A receiver catching 37.7% of the completions for the leading NFL team last year would have had 139. And as a group, the 1980 Chargers' receiving corps of Kellen Winslow, J.J. Jefferson and Charlie Joiner caught more passes than five NFL teams and more touchdown throws than 20 of them.
HOW WOULD YOU LIKE TO HAVE DINNER WITH THIS FOURSOME?
Jack Kent Cooke, Bill Oldenburg, Bob Irsay, Tom Carvel
FAVORITE QUOTE, 1983 SEASON
"We will not kick a field goal next week if we are on the two-yard line, the one-yard line, none. There will be no more field goals kicked by the Bucs this year, no matter what the score is, no matter what the game is. It's over. I 'm tired of being crucified. God bless you and merry Christmas."
John McKay, Tampa Bay coach, after the Bucs missed a field goal and an extra point in a 12-9 loss to the Packers. The next week they did try one, a 29-yarder, and blew it.
ORGANIZATION I'D LEAST LIKE TO WORK FOR
ORGANIZATION I'D MOST LIKE TO WORK FOR
DEADEST STORY FOR '84
The IFL...International Football League...remember it?
BIGGEST NON-STORY FOR '84
Will Mark Gastineau dance?
THE DRAFT, A DECADE OF NO. 1s AND 2s: WHO'S HAD THE BEST NO. 1 DRAFTS FROM 1974-83?
New England. Fourteen choices, 12 starters, five Pro Bowl selections. Tampa Bay, which didn't start till '76, ranks very high—six picks, five starters, three in the Pro Bowl.
Buffalo, with only three solid starters out of 12 first-round picks. One (Jerry Butler) made the Pro Bowl. Two never signed.
HOW ABOUT THE SECOND ROUND?
Miami sent the most second-round picks to the Pro Bowl (four—Bob Baumhower, Dwight Stephenson, Andra Franklin and Mark Duper) during the decade, but the Dolphins had a lot of picks (14). In all, six solid starters emerged. Detroit has a better percentage-10 picks, six starters, three Pro Bowlers (Doug English, David Hill, Bubba Baker).
THE WORST 10-YEAR TEAM FOR SECOND-ROUND DRAFTS
You're not going to believe this: Dallas. The Cowboys had eight picks, and not one of them ever became a full-time starter. One made it to the Pro Bowl—but not for the Cowboys. Tight end Todd Christensen, a Cowboy reject, led the NFL in pass-catching for the Raiders last year.
DISASTER COACHING FORMULA
Hire one of your own assistants as head coach. In the 15-year period 1969-83, 29 were hired. Twenty-two have had losing records. The seven with winning records: Charlie Waller at San Diego,
CAN SOMEONE PLEASE TELL ME
What's the record for most yards rushing by a player in an exhibition game? I've never been able to find this out. Once my son put the question in a letter to the Ask Tex Schramm column in the Dallas Cowboys Official Weekly, in which the Cowboy G.M. answers questions, but he never got a response—maybe because he called it an exhibition instead of a preseason game.
MOST SIGNIFICANT '84 SIGNING
The Patriots gave superscout Dick Steinberg a four-year contract. If they'd lost him, forget it.
MOST SIGNIFICANT '84 LOSS
Ken Herock, director of scouting, Tampa Bay, to the USFL. He was one of the club's few sensible people. Don McCafferty at Baltimore, Nick Skorich at Cleveland, Bum Phillips at Houston, Ray Malavasi with the L.A. Rams and John Madden and Tom Flores with the Raiders. All except Madden and Flores lost their jobs.
ANOTHER DISASTER COURSE
Hire a coach who was a loser elsewhere. Only two have ever gone from being a loser with one club to a winner with another: Forrest Gregg from Cleveland to Cincinnati and Lou Saban from Boston to Buffalo in the early AFL days.
DISASTER COURSE NO. 3
Hire a Vince Lombardi product. Only Gregg has come through. Elsewhere the record's a bummer for former Lombardi players and coaches: Bill Austin, Tom Fears, Norb Hecker, Bart Starr, Phil Bengtson, Willie Wood in Canada, Bill Curry at Georgia Tech, etc. You're much better off with a graduate of the Paul Brown system: Don Shula, Weeb Ewbank, Chuck Noll, Bill Walsh and many, many more.
THE ONE USFL PLAYER I'D SIGN IF I WERE AN NFL GENERAL MANAGER WITH A LIMITED BUDGET
Herbert Harris, backup wide receiver and special teams terror for the Philadelphia Stars
...AND THE ONE I'D SIGN IF I HAD A TON OF MONEY
No surprise here. Houston Gambler quarterback Jim Kelly, naturally. Someday he might be the salvation of the Buffalo Bills' franchise. Then I'd go for Gary Zimmerman (no relation), offensive tackle, Los Angeles Express. Herschel Walker? Never did a runner look worse gaining 1, 339 yards, Walker's output this spring. Mike Rozier? He came into the USFL as damaged goods (ankle injury in the Orange Bowl). Kelvin Bryant's a better runner than either of them.
CLEAN HANDS AWARD FOR '84
Ernie Accorsi, assistant to the president, Cleveland Browns. He left the Colts before their move because he wouldn't tell lies for Irsay.
BEST NICKNAME NOT USED
Box Office Billy Johnson. That's what they called White Shoes in college.
MOST UNDERRATED PLAYER IN '83
Dave Logan, noseguard, Tampa Bay.
MAJOR TRENDS FOR '84
On defense, some teams will experiment with five-and even six-man lines, as a change of pace. (Don't laugh. Kansas City used a pure six-man line against the Giants last year.) On offense, there'll be a return to power concepts, i.e., three backs, which Philly and Minnesota used on occasion last year. The jury remains out on the one-back offense. It's not going to sweep the league as predicted last year. Of the 10 playoff teams last season, only two (Rams, Redskins) were one-back.