Legends Of the Fall: James Brooks

From time to time you’ll find NFL teams trying to recreate what they once had and totally undervalue a current player on their roster. Never was this more evident than when the San Diego Chargers overreached for a big back to replace the aging Chuck Muncie. At first they signed late Ricky Bell who couldn’t stay healthy. Then they made one of the worst trades in NFL history, trading the multifaceted James Brooks to Cincinnati for FB Pete Johnson.

James Brooks burst onto the NFL scene in 1981 out of Auburn.

James Brooks burst onto the NFL scene in 1981 out of Auburn.

How lopsided was that trade in 1984?? Pete Johnson only played 3 games with the Chargers before being released. Brooks went on to play 8 seasons for Cincinnati gaining 9,459 combined yards and 64 touchdowns. During that time he ran for 1,000 yards on 3 occasions while compiling 5 seasons with over 1,200 yards from scrimmage. Not only did he make the Pro Bowl 4 times, he broke Johnson’s all time team rushing record and helped the Bengals to Super Bowl XXIII.

Although they brought in another Auburn tailback in Lionel James, this was the end of the Air Coryell reign. Age and injuries derailed their effectiveness where Brooks played on with the Bengals through the 1991 season. Why would you trade a proven commodity that led the league in all purpose yards in his first two years?? One could speculate how Chargers ownership under Gene Klein was dreading impending contract demands. Don’t forget this was only 3 years removed from trading away WR John Jefferson and DE Fred Dean for the same thing.

JamesBrooks2Brooks was one of the toughest and most durable runners at 180 lbs in NFL history. His game was a speed game but he broke tackles when he ran inside traps. He took on linebackers and safeties. His best run ever was a 56 yard TD run against the Patriots in 1986 in which he broke several tackles and drug SS Roland James into the endzone.

James Brooks was a great performer whose numbers will fall just short of Hall of Fame consideration. His trade stands as a cautionary tale to GMs everywhere. He was one of a long line of Auburn running backs that came into the NFL starting with Joe Cribbs, himself, Lionel James, and Bo Jackson during the 1980’s. Yet it was Brooks who out rushed them all.

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AFC Divisional Playoff: San Diego Chargers @ Denver Broncos

The last game of the National Football League’s divisional round of the playoffs. All week long we have heard two camps: The pundits who always say Peyton Manning can do no wrong. In the other the question is being raised on the legitimacy of his legacy having lost so many times in the playoffs in his first game. Did you know that Joe Montana only lost four times in the playoffs in his first game?? Peyton has double that with 8. How is Manning being called the greatest ever quarterback again?? Yet I digress…

Phillip River's team has beaten Manning led teams twice in the playoffs in the past.

Phillip River’s team has beaten Manning led teams twice in the playoffs in the past.

One amazing aspect is if you go back to the beginning of the 2012 season, it was up in the air how the Manning tenure in Denver was going to go. They were 2-3 when they were down 24-0 to the San Diego Chargers. Phillip Rivers was having his customary good game when the wheels came off. Denver roared back to win 35-24. http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201210150sdg.htm The Broncos went on to win the final 11 games of the season while San Diego lost 7 of their last 11. They even lost their coach as Norv Turner was fired.

So the Chargers brought in the Denver Broncos offensive coordinator when they made Mike McCoy their head coach. You don’t think he brought information with him to Southern Cal playbook information?? You don’t think that Chargers defense doesn’t know Bronco tendencies and formations?

The Chargers quite frankly shouldn’t be here. They struggled against a Chiefs team that was playing mostly back-ups. Yet here they are playing with house money. They ran the football 40 times in the upset of Cincinnati and now they get to rematch and close the circle against Manning and the Broncos. Did you know that Phillip Rivers is 6-2 v Denver?? The key to San Diego winning at Invesco Field is to run the football like that with Ryan Matthews again. Without Von Miller and Kevin Vickerson, the Bronco defense is missing a lot of firepower v the pass and the run.

Ryan Matthews is the key to this football game.

Ryan Matthews is the key to this football game.

For the Broncos they have to run the ball 40 times themselves and take the ball out of Manning’s hands a little. Remember Super Bowl XXXVII when Jon Gruden taught the Buccaneers every tendency of his former quarterback and team in Rich Gannon and the Raiders?? Turned out great for the Bucs in that Super Bowl triumph. We think the same thing is going to happen here. Remember the Chargers are riding a 5 game winning streak. In an upset the Chargers win 30-24.

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AFC Wild Card: San Diego Chargers v Cincinnati Bengals

Welcome to day two of the National Football League playoffs for 2013. One of the items being thrown around by television pundits is “No one wants to play the San Diego Chargers.” It’s true that the Chargers have won 5 of their last 6, but so have the Cincinnati Bengals. In the 6 Cincy has won, one of those was a 17-10 victory over these exact same Chargers on their home turf just a month ago. The media is at it again…

The Cincinnati Bengals should be the best of the AFC North in 2013.

The Cincinnati Bengals should be the best of the AFC North in 2013.

What about the fact the Bengals were not only 8-0 at home but tied the National Football League record for scoring 40 points in four of those games?? Last performed by the 2000 St Louis Rams of The Greatest Show on Turf vintage. They averaged 34.4 points per game at home and are being treated like an after thought by the media. Everyone is pointing to Andy Dalton throwing 4 interceptions in the finale against Baltimore. Yet they still scored their average with a 34-17 rout ending the reign of the champion Ravens.

Now the Chargers show up on wild card weekend with the NFL’s 23rd ranked defense that has given up 30 on the road to Philly, 30 to Washington, 38 to Kansas City, and even 27 to the lowly Raiders. Do you realize the Chargers have only forced 6 turnovers in 8 road games this year?? Now they’re going out in the cold and will do it in the playoffs?? Isn’t this the team that barely beat the Chiefs playing with a second string group 27-24 in overtime just to get into the playoffs?? What juggernaut “no one wants to play team” are they talking about??

The National Football League's #3 defensefeatures Vontaze Burfict. Who is seriously considered  for TBT Defensive Player of the Year.

The National Football League’s #3 defensefeatures Vontaze Burfict. Who is seriously considered for TBT Defensive Player of the Year.

The Bengals will win this game 37-24 on the strength of a couple things. The first is they field the only top ten defense from the AFC that is in the 2013 playoffs. They rank 3rd… Another is the Bengals know the Chargers very well. Not only did they beat them in San Diego 17-10 this year, they beat them 20-13 last year on the road again. Now they get them at home where the Bengals really put up points?? That doesn’t bode well for today. Who and what were the teams ranked Cincy draped 40 on at home this year?? Try 49 on the 11th ranked New York Jets, 41 on the 9th ranked Cleveland Browns, 42 on the 20th ranked Indianapolis Colts, and 42 on the 31st ranked Minnesota Vikings. Last but not least these were totaled from week 8 on so this is very relevant.

Don’t listen to ESPN try to sell you a bag of goods on San Diego and not bring up the strength of the Bengals. They are peaking at the right time and are right where we predicted they would be: https://taylorblitztimes.com/2013/04/16/2013-cincinnati-bengals-team-preview-slowly-building-a-winner/

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have only known playoffs in their 3 seasons in The Queen City. Today should show the growth of the team with a win.

Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have only known playoffs in their 3 seasons in The Queen City. Today should show the growth of the team with a win.

The Chargers really would pull off a tremendous upset if they were to win today. The Chancellor of Football doesn’t see that at all, not in spirit, way the teams are playing, nor in stats. But that’s why they play the games as Chris Berman always reiterates. However the Bengals should win easily 37-24. We predicted they would be in New York for the Super Bowl. Step one is today…

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Greatest Defensive Performance in an NFL Game – Vernon Perry

Vernon Perry of the Houston Oilers was a solid strong safety.

Vernon Perry of the Houston Oilers was a solid strong safety.

When it comes to great performances in the NFL we tend to think of superstars having spectacular days. However there are times when a player finds himself totally in tune with a situation and turns in the game of a lifetime.

Such was the case with SS Vernon Perry of the late 70’s Houston Oilers. He was the college teammate of the late Walter Payton and Oiler teammate Robert Brazile at Jackson State. After a stint in Canada, Perry only played five seasons in the NFL (1979-1983) and the only distinction he gained was being named 2nd team All Pro in 1980.

In 1979, the Oilers were chasing perennial champion and division rival Pittsburgh, to whom they lost the 1978 AFC Championship Game to. Perry’s rookie year helped solidify a secondary that picked off 34 passes for the season. They were built as a run heavy team behind legendary Hall of Fame running back Earl Campbell. In week 15 the Oilers beat the Steelers 20-17 to give them both identical 11-4 records. A loss to the Philadelphia Eagles in the final week relegated the Oilers to the wild card role and the Steelers the division championship.

The wild card game was one of the most physical games in NFL history. The Denver Broncos “Orange Crush” defense battled tooth and nail in the 13-7 loss to the Oilers. They knocked out Earl Campbell, leading receiver Ken Burrough, and starting quarterback Dan Pastorini.

So a team that had serious aspirations of reaching Super Bowl XIV, or at least a rematch with the Steelers, would have to do so without Campbell’s 1,697 yards in the divisional round. Since the game would be on Saturday and not Sunday, they would be without Pastorini and Burrough as well.

Air Coryell - Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson, and Kellen Winslow

Air Coryell – Dan Fouts, Charlie Joiner, John Jefferson, and Kellen Winslow

Picture the 1990’s Dallas Cowboys going into a playoff game without Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, and Michael Irvin all not being in the game. This was that equivalent.

Their opponent was the AFC West Champion San Diego Chargers who also had Super Bowl aspirations. In 1979 they became the first team since the merger to make the playoffs passing more then they ran. Dan Fouts had thrown for 4,082 yards which was an NFL record at the time. They too finished with a 12-4 record to tie Pittsburgh for best record in the conference, and had their confidence boosted in week 12 with a 35-7 blowout of those Steelers. They had Pro Bowlers in John Jefferson (61 rec. 1,090 yds 10TDs), Charlie Joiner (72 rec. 1,008 yds 4TDs) along with Hall of Fame DE Fred Dean and DT Gary “Big Hands” Johnson.

The Chargers finished winning 6 of their last 7 and had held 4 of their last 5 opponents to 7 points or less. For the year, finished 5th in the NFL in defense and were healthy and home for the divisional round. This was a Super Bowl ready group… All they had to do was get past an Oiler team without it’s starting quarterback, running back, and leading receiver.

Naturally the Chargers scored on their first possession to take a 7-0 lead and were driving to take a two score lead when Vernon Perry struck…

The Chargers were undaunted but found the Oiler defense was tougher than anticipated. Once they drove inside the red-zone on the next drive, they stalled at the 7 yard line. They were up 7-3 when they lined up for a 26 yard field goal in the second quarter when:

A pensive crowd started to sit on their hands as their high-flying Chargers were clinging to that same 7-3 lead and couldn’t increase it. The Oilers were also struggling to finish drives. The Chargers were coming out with 3:24 to go and they were sure they’d score on the last drive of the half when Vernon Perry decided to undercut Charlie Joiner crossing the middle.

Thanks to the field position caused by Perry’s 2nd theft, the Oilers scored to take a 10-7 halftime lead. With a team that scored 411 points, 2nd most in the NFL in 1979, it was only going to be a matter of time before the Charger juggernaut got rolling.

Or so San Diego fans thought.

Truth be told they had moved the football early and it was becoming clear the Oilers weren’t going away. The team traded 3rd quarter touchdowns and the Oilers were on top 17-14 after Mike Renfro’s 47 yard touchdown. From that point on an upset seemed imminent and the Chargers started pressing. With just over 3:00 to go in the game, Fouts led his team into field goal range when:

Complete disappointment had set in when the San Diego offense took the field with 1:00 to go. Even though they were only behind by 3 and needed a field goal, their body english was that of a defeated team. Yet with under 10 seconds to go, Dan Fouts could get them into field goal range or hope for a pass interference when he heaved his last pass…

After the game Oiler Head Coach Bum Phillips addressed his team “We were short on man power but we were long on guts” was an understatement. Not once can our CEO remember where a team had to go into a playoff game missing 80% of their season’s offensive production due to injury.

Behind Vernon Perry’s NFL playoff record 4 interceptions, 8 tackles, 2 passes defensed, and a blocked field goal he returned 57 yards, the Oilers pulled off the biggest upset since Super Bowl III. Not only did it come when the Oilers desperately needed it in a playoff game, he set up the Oilers’ first 10 points which gave the team confidence believing they could win.  It was the best defensive performance in NFL history by an individual in The Chancellor of Football’s estimation.

It set up an AFC Championship rematch with the champion Pittsburgh Steelers. Armed with their hot rookie safety they made it to the gunlap in the race for Super Bowl XIV. Once there Perry got the Oilers off to a great start early in the game.

Yet alas the Oilers fell 27-13 in a game made famous by the Mike Renfro no touchdown call that sparked the instant replay debate. At the time the score would have been tied 17-17 late in the third quarter and the Oilers would have had the momentum in a quiet Three Rivers Stadium. However that is another story for another day. For it was the week before when Vernon Perry made NFL history that was the story of the 1979 playoffs and a game for the ages.

 

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Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

Taylor Blitz Times new logo!!

NFL Week 7: AFC West – Illusions

Peyton Manning showed true greatness in Monday night’s stunning come from behind win.

In the waning moments of Monday night’s comeback, we saw the true nature of the San Diego Chargers under Norv Turner and the possibilities for the Denver Broncos with Peyton Manning. First lets look at the perennial underachieving Chargers. When our CEO talks about championship football teams, it’s usually around signature wins that bolsters their confidence as they mature over a season. Before you can prove to the rest of the NFL that you’re a force to be reckoned with, you have to knock down a bully in your backyard.

Now wasn’t it one year ago Rex Ryan boldly stated “Had I coached the talent the Chargers have, I’d have Super Bowl rings”, in an obvious dig at Turner?? How did he and his team respond after being called out?? They came out and took a 21-10 halftime lead on the Jets only to show no fight in the end while losing 27-21.  http://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/201110230nyj.htm They were outscored 17-0 as the Jets promptly took their lunch money without much of a struggle.

Fast forward 358 days and here the Chargers were playing the odds on favorite to win the division in the Denver Broncos. This time they woke in the heat of battle up 24-0. Antonio Gates had just scored after the defense showed it could play Manning tough with Quentin Jammer’s 80 yard interception return for a touchdown. Their crowd was in it. Manning was having his struggles and Phillip Rivers looked like a world beater. So what happened???

Let’s take a look at the AFC West standings…

West Division

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PCT

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Denver Broncos Broncos 3 3 0 .500 170 138 2-1 1-2 2-0 3-2 W1 2-3
San Diego Chargers Chargers 3 3 0 .500 148 137 1-2 2-1 2-1 3-1 L2 2-3
Oakland Raiders Raiders 1 4 0 .200 87 148 1-1 0-3 0-2 1-3 L2 1-4
Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs 1 5 0 .167 104 183 0-3 1-2 0-1 0-3 L3 1-4

That was an incredibly gritty performance by Peyton Manning. Where he could have packed it in after his pick 6, he kept on firing. One strong point to the comeback was they didn’t totally abandon the running game. This kept the Chargers honest and his intermediate passing lanes open. The clinic he performed was reminiscent of the 21 point 4th quarter deficit he erased when his Colts came back on the champion Buccaneers 38-35 in 2003. This time he performed surgery for 2 quarters. Of course we all remembered his epic comeback in the 2006 AFC Championship against New England. However this one seemed better than those..surreal. He has been trying to make it work with a new team, and if you dissect his season, it’s as though he has to realize the strengths of his personnel and what they present in match-ups to the opposition. He’s had to do this in every game and then he gets hot. Do you realize that with 1,808 yards and 14 touchdowns, he is on pace for 4,821 yards and 37 TDs?? Yikes!! Can he physically keep it up for the duration of the season??

So what are we talking about when we say illusions?? In all actuality the Broncos only raised their record to 3-3 and right now the defense is allowing 23 points per game. They do rank 11th in total defense and can play stifling defense in fits and starts. So are they as good as their 3 wins or as flawed as they appeared in their 3 losses?? Puzzling but this win over the Chargers was the first over a winning team as well as a first triumph on the road. As for the rest of the season they only face 3 teams who are .500 or better, and 5 of their next 8 games are on the road.

The Broncos could ride that momentum into a winning streak and a more impressive record. Yet playing good football in spotty fashion has dug to deep a hole against quality teams. With upcoming games against New Orleans, at Cincinnati, at Carolina, home to the Chargers, and then away at Kansas City: If the Broncos were to rattle off wins against these under performing teams and inflate their record, are they a true elite team in the AFC?? Our CEO just shrugged his shoulders at the thought of that…

As for the Chargers, here they were with an inflated record of 3-2 with wins over the back-pedalling Raiders, Titans, and Chiefs. When it was time to step up and show they were for real in a showcase game, they gave us another epic collapse. Just like that loss last year to the New York Jets, it showed this team lacks toughness and has a damaged fight or flight mechanism also. They became clock watchers and couldn’t turn the tide once momentum was on the side of Denver. With the loss of WR Vincent Jackson, this team has lost all of the playmakers they once had to turn a close game in their favor. From a psyche standpoint they will not stand up and fight. As long as Norv Turner is the coach, this team is not to be trusted as being a Super Bowl caliber group.

As for the Raiders and Chiefs…it’s been an optical illusion that they have even taken the field this year.

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We would like to entice readers to tune in to The Artie Clear Show which has been a place where Taylor Blitz Times has been on several times talking football. Artie tells it like it is and as of October 17th will be live on Fox Sports Radio as well. Congratulations Artie Clear! Guys and girls, tune in. The Chancellor of Football from Taylor Blitz Times will be on there talking football again.

http://www.theartieclearshow.com/

 

 

NFL Week 4: AFC West -Teams Making Progress

Darren McFadden takes a hand-off from Carson Palmer in Sunday’s come from behind win.

Funny how attention on one team seems to trump the news of the rest of the division. Many of us were paying so much attention to Peyton Manning and his progress with the Denver Broncos, we wind up surprised when other teams show they are not to be taken lightly. Such was the case in Oakland last Sunday. There was an emotional response to Darius Heyward-Bey being helped off the field late in that game. From that point on the Raiders played spirited football that hadn’t been seen in the first two weeks, when they couldn’t score more than 14 points. After an 0-2 start, the Raiders got off the canvas and an offense ranked 20th sprang to life and came from behind for a 34-31 victory after being behind 31-21 with 3:00 to go.

The San Diego Chargers fell from the ranks of the unbeaten with a  27-3 loss to the Atlanta Falcons.  In a test against one of the NFC’s heavyweights, the Chargers showed they are still lacking when it comes to playmakers. In Antonio Gates, Ryan Matthews, Malcolm Floyd and company, they can get the yardage a given play is designed for but nothing more. Not a game-breaker in the bunch. Atlanta crowded Phillip Rivers and he had nowhere to go with the football as evidenced by his 21 of 38 for 173 yards and 2 interceptions. What this means is they are one of the best of the lesser teams. They can sit on the Oakland’s and Tennessee’s of the world but come up short against stronger teams. This week they travel to Kansas City where they haven’t won in 3 years. Can they do it?? The Chancellor sees a second loss coming.

West Division

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San Diego Chargers Chargers 2 1 0 .667 63 51 1-1 1-0 1-0 2-0 L1 2-1
Denver Broncos Broncos 1 2 0 .333 77 77 1-1 0-1 0-0 1-1 L2 1-2
Kansas City Chiefs Chiefs 1 2 0 .333 68 99 0-1 1-1 0-0 0-1 W1 1-2
Oakland Raiders Raiders 1 2 0 .333 61 88 1-1 0-1 0-1 1-2 W1 1-2

Last week’s 233 yard rushing performance was an eye opener.

Speaking of the Chiefs they are riding the momentum of their 27-24 win in New Orleans. A game where they finally started to look like the team most pundits expected out of the gate. Jamaal Charles ran for a season high 233 yards and displayed he hasn’t lost his game breaking ability with a 91 yard touchdown on the bayou. In those 2 prior meetings the Chiefs stayed with a commitment to the run with 26 rushes in 2010 and 34 in 2011. Now with Cassel and the passing game not totally in rhythm yet, Charles coming off 33 carries last week in the Superdome, and the Chargers allowing 5.7 yards per carry (14 car. 80 yds) for Michael Turner last week. We’re going to take a wild guess and say Kansas City runs the football this week. What do you think??

This week the entire division is squaring off against one another as the Raiders make the trek to Invesco Field. The Broncos will be without the services of MLB Joe Mays who will be serving a suspension. Not the right time when Darren McFadden just had his best game of the season. His 113 yards came on only 18 carries and had a showcase run for a 64 yard touchdown. Right now Denver is 13th against the run and Oakland is 26th against the pass. Last year, Oakland won in Denver when McFadden rushed for over 150 yards. Had the Raiders not played such an emotional game last week they would have a chance to hand the Broncos their third straight loss. The real issue is Manning is going to be able to hit his receivers and expect a huge day from Brandon Stokely. He’ll have a Wes Welker type of day and the Broncos should pull away in this one.

Then it will be time for the first quarter report cards with the season 1/4th over.

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