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1983 DVOA Ratings and Commentary

1983 DVOA
Photo: USA Today Sports Images

The Washington Redskins dominated the 1983 NFL season and they dominate our 1983 DVOA ratings as well. Or perhaps it is more appropriate to say that they dominated most of the 1983 NFL season, because in the Super Bowl they got destroyed 38-9 by the best team from the AFC, the Los Angeles Raiders.

Washington was nearly 10 percentage points of DVOA in total DVOA ahead of No. 2 San Francisco. Washington set a then-NFL record by scoring 541 points in the regular season and as you might expect they were No. 1 on offense. But Washington was a great all-around team in 1983. The Redskins finished fifth in defensive DVOA and sixth in special teams DVOA. They went 14-2 with both of their losses coming by just one point each: 31-30 to No. 5 Dallas and a surprising 48-47 upset to No. 24 Green Bay. Seven different Washington players made first-team All-Pro: QB Joe Theismann, RB John Riggins, LT Joe Jacoby, LG Russ Grimm, DT Dave Butz, FS Mark Murphy, and KR/PR Mike Nelms.

Washington's average of 33.8 points per game is still eighth in the history of NFL since the 1970 merger so you might be surprised to learn that although Washington had the top offense of 1983, it doesn't come anywhere close to the top offenses in DVOA history. That ranking in defense and special teams is a big part of it, as Washington took advantage of strong field position to score a lot of points. They finished only fourth in yards per play but were stunningly low in turnovers: only 18 of them when the NFL average was 40 per team. Washington didn't have particularly strong fumble recovery luck; instead, they had only 13 total fumbles when the average team had 34. Meanwhile, they had 61 takeaways for an astonishing +43 turnover margin. Not only is that the best turnover margin in history, but no other team since 1950 has been above +30.

San Francisco was second in DVOA despite going just 10-6. The 49ers were coming off the weird 1982 strike year, where they finished 3-6 despite outscoring their opponents. They went 1-4 in one-score games in 1983 but also put up some big dominating victories such as 48-17 over Minnesota, 27-0 over New Orleans, and 42-17 over Dallas. Washington and San Francisco played an awesome NFC Championship Game which you can watch on YouTube. Washington had clobbered the Rams 51-7 the week before and took a 21-0 lead over San Francisco into the fourth quarter. But Joe Montana came back with three touchdowns in less than 10 minutes, including a 76-yarder to Freddie Solomon. Washington took the ball back on their own 14 after a kickoff penalty, with 6:52 to go. They moved the ball down to the San Francisco 8 and got nothing out of three John Riggins runs, but Mark Moseley kicked a 25-yard field goal with 44 seconds left to send Washington to their second straight Super Bowl.

Adding 1983 now makes seven straight years where San Francisco had DVOA over 25%. The 49ers also had DVOA over 25% in five straight years from 1994 to 1998. No other franchise has ever had DVOA over 25% in more than four straight years. New England's Brady-Belichick dynasty never did it for more than two straight years.

Returning to 1983, the Los Angeles Raiders finished third in DVOA but were the top team in the AFC. That makes 1983 one of the rare years where each conference's best team from the regular season also made it to the Super Bowl. No matter what metric you use, the top teams in each conference historically don't often meet for the Lombardi Trophy for various reasons (such as better teams being on the road because they had fewer regular-season wins). For example:

Years since 1983 where the Super Bowl matched the top team in each conference by DVOA: 1983, 1984, 1991, 1997, 2002, 2013.

Years since 1983 where the Super Bowl matched the top team in each conference by Pythagenport wins: 1984, 1989, 1990, 1997, 2004, 2013, 2014.

Like Washington, the Raiders were a well-rounded team, although nowhere near as impressive on offense. They finished eighth on offense, second on defense, and fourth on special teams. Although tight end Todd Christensen was the only first-team All-Pro for the Raiders, five different defensive starters were chosen for the Pro Bowl. The Raiders also acquired disgruntled cornerback Mike Haynes from the Patriots in November in a legal settlement that gave the Patriots two high draft picks. But the Raiders' defensive DVOA wasn't actually any better once Haynes arrived: -16.0% through Week 11, and then -7.2% in the five games Haynes started in the regular season. Both offense and defense turned it up for the playoffs and the Raiders won their three postseason contests over Pittsburgh, Seattle, and Washington by a combined score of 106-33.

This was the second year for the Raiders after moving to Los Angeles, and the peak of the bitter battle between Al Davis and Pete Rozelle detailed in a recent 30 for 30 documentary. The fight with the Raiders was just one of the many problems the NFL was dealing with in 1983, as detailed in our Year in Quotes feature. Wounds were still fresh from the labor strike the year before. Drug problems, in particular cocaine, were an issue across multiple professional sports. And 1983 was the first year of the USFL, a spring league that competed for talent coming out of college and signed away a number of NFL players.

Before we talk about Dan Marino's big rookie season, the last really good year of the Tom Landry Cowboys, and the surprising identity of 1983's best defense, let's run the numbers for all 28 teams in 1983:

  TEAM TOTAL
DVOA
NON-ADJ
TOT VOA
W-L OFF.
DVOA
OFF.
RANK
DEF.
DVOA
DEF.
RANK
S.T.
DVOA
S.T.
RANK
1 WAS 37.2% 38.8% 14-2 24.7% 1 -9.5% 5 3.0% 6
2 SF 27.5% 23.5% 10-6 19.2% 2 -3.6% 15 4.7% 3
3 LARD 24.0% 22.1% 12-4 7.0% 8 -13.4% 2 3.6% 4
4 MIA 21.5% 22.5% 12-4 11.4% 5 -2.7% 16 7.4% 2
5 DAL 15.4% 13.3% 12-4 12.3% 4 -5.3% 11 -2.2% 20
6 LARM 8.5% 0.5% 9-7 8.0% 7 -2.6% 17 -2.1% 19
7 SEA 7.6% 5.8% 9-7 3.9% 10 5.3% 19 9.1% 1
8 CIN 6.0% 12.9% 7-9 4.0% 9 -4.4% 13 -2.4% 21
9 NYJ 3.8% 0.7% 7-9 -3.0% 17 -7.2% 6 -0.5% 15
10 NO 3.6% -0.1% 8-8 -10.7% 22 -16.0% 1 -1.7% 17
11 ATL 1.3% -2.4% 7-9 17.3% 3 17.2% 27 1.2% 12
12 KC 1.2% 1.1% 6-10 -2.6% 16 -6.4% 8 -2.6% 22
13 DET 0.6% 5.1% 9-7 -8.2% 21 -5.2% 12 3.5% 5
14 PIT 0.4% 9.8% 10-6 -11.9% 24 -12.8% 3 -0.5% 16
15 CHI -1.8% 2.9% 8-8 0.8% 14 -3.8% 14 -6.4% 27
16 STLC -3.8% -7.3% 8-7-1 -5.1% 20 -6.1% 9 -4.9% 26
17 MIN -4.7% 3.6% 8-8 -11.0% 23 -5.7% 10 0.6% 14
18 NYG -5.7% -18.1% 3-12-1 -18.6% 28 -9.8% 4 3.0% 7
19 CLE1 -6.2% -0.2% 9-7 1.3% 13 9.9% 23 2.5% 8
20 BUF -8.7% -9.7% 8-8 2.9% 12 7.6% 21 -4.1% 25
21 DEN -8.9% -6.8% 9-7 -17.2% 26 -6.5% 7 1.8% 11
22 NE -9.0% -8.3% 8-8 0.5% 15 5.7% 20 -3.8% 24
23 SD -9.2% -12.8% 6-10 9.0% 6 14.6% 25 -3.6% 23
24 GB -11.5% -13.7% 8-8 3.7% 11 15.9% 26 0.6% 13
25 PHI -13.4% -22.0% 5-11 -3.8% 18 7.6% 22 -2.0% 18
26 BALC -15.0% -10.9% 7-9 -4.8% 19 12.1% 24 1.9% 10
27 TB -24.4% -23.6% 2-14 -17.4% 27 -2.0% 18 -8.9% 28
28 HOIL -31.6% -32.2% 2-14 -15.1% 25 19.0% 28 2.5% 8

DVOA for 1983 is now listed in the stats pages:

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We've already discussed Washington and Los Angeles, but two other teams won at least 12 games in 1983. First, the Miami Dolphins, who finished No. 4 in total DVOA. The Dolphins were a team in transition. The previous year, a defense-oriented Dolphins team finished second in the league in points allowed per game and advanced to the Super Bowl, losing to Washington. The 1983 Dolphins were just slightly above average on defense but their offense had one very important player who wasn't there the year before: rookie quarterback Dan Marino. Marino first came into a Week 3 game against the Raiders which the Dolphins were losing 27-0, and he threw two fourth-quarter touchdowns. He replaced David Woodley again in Week 5 against New Orleans, and led another fourth-quarter touchdown drive.

Don Shula made Marino the starter in Week 6 against the Bills, and while the Dolphins lost that game in overtime, they then went 9-1 over their final 10 games. From Week 6 onward, only Washington had a higher pass offense DVOA. Marino finished the season second in player passing DVOA behind only Dan Fouts, who was limited to just 10 games that season because of injury. Marino's 33.8% passing DVOA is the highest ever for a rookie quarterback with at least 200 pass plays; his 885 passing DYAR are fourth all-time behind Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger. (If we look at combined DYAR with rushing included, he also falls behind Russell Wilson.)

Dallas finished fifth in total DVOA, the best rating for a Dallas team until the 1992 squad that won the Super Bowl. The Cowboys went 12-4 despite playing one of the 10 toughest schedules in the league. They started out 7-0, then went 5-4 in their final nine games. But their losses were primarily to better teams: three of their four losses in the regular season were to teams that were higher in DVOA, including the Raiders, 49ers, and Washington. Their wild-card loss to the Rams was seen as a clear sign the dynasty was over, but even that was a loss to a pretty good team that was ranked right below them in total DVOA.

The identity of the best defense of 1983 is a big surprise. How much do you know about the 1983 New Orleans Saints defense? The Saints finished second in the league with just 4.58 yards allowed per play despite playing the second-toughest schedule of opposing offenses by DVOA. They also get a little bonus for playing indoors, and that puts them ahead of the Raiders as the No. 1 defense of the league. This was years before the Dome Patrol, and you won't recognize most of the names on the Saints defense. Rickey Jackson was there in his second season; he was the only player to make the Pro Bowl. Defensive end Bruce Clark was the only first-round pick in the starting lineup. (Clark is an interesting story; he refused to play for the Packers when they took him fourth overall in 1980 and went up north to play two seasons in the CFL. The Saints dealt their first-round pick in 1983, 11th overall, for the rights to Clark and he played for them for seven years.) Guys like nose tackle Derland Moore, defensive end Jim Wilks, and cornerback Dave Waymer played long careers in New Orleans but I had never heard of them. No, the name you know from the 1983 Saints defense is the coordinator. Bum Phillips was the head coach of the 1983 Saints, and his son Wade Phillips was the defensive coordinator. Nepotism in the NFL isn't all bad.

The Saints came very close to having their first-ever winning record and playoff team. The second NFC wild-card spot was decided by a Week 16 game in New Orleans between the 8-7 Saints and the 8-7 Los Angeles Rams. The Saints took a 24-23 lead late in the fourth quarter when running back George Rogers fumbled the ball at the Rams' 1-yard line but guard Steve Korte hopped on it in the end zone for a touchdown. (The rookie Korte didn't even start the game, so I have no idea if he was a sixth lineman in the goal-line package or an injury replacement.) The Rams went three-and-out with a sack, punting it back to the Saints and then getting a 15-yard personal foul. So the Saints took the ball with a lead and first-and-10 on the Rams 39 with 2:48 left. The Rams still had all three timeouts plus the two-minute warning and the Saints could not run out the clock. Bum Phillips was left with a choice. He could go for it on fourth-and-3 from the Rams 32 and 2:00 left. He could kick a 49-yard field goal with Morten Andersen to extend the lead to four points. Or, he could punt with jack-of-all-trades Guido Merkens, because regular punter Russell Erxleben was hurt earlier in the game. Phillips chose to punt with the backup punter. Merkens put it in the end zone for a touchback and then Vince Ferragamo marched the Rams all the way from the 20 to the New Orleans 25 in less than two minutes, despite the Rams getting another 15-yard personal foul penalty. Mike Lansford kicked a 42-yard field goal with six seconds left to put the Rams into the playoffs and send the Saints home. That field goal was the Rams' only offensive score of the game; they also had a safety, a punt return touchdown, and two interception return touchdowns. The Saints defense was very good!

By the way, Russell Erxleben, the punter who got hurt, is a whole story by himself. He was a originally both a kicker and a punter, and the Saints took him 11th overall in the 1979 draft. A first-round kicker! The Chargers took Kellen Winslow two picks later. Erxleben washed out as a kicker within a couple years and was a punter only by 1981. The Saints drafted Andersen in 1982, and then drafted Brian Hansen to replace Erxleben as the punter in 1984. Oh, and Erxleben also served six years in federal prison for securities fraud from 1999 to 2005, and then was convicted again of investment fraud in 2014 and went back to prison. There's a good article about Erxleben here.

So if the Saints had the No. 1 defensive DVOA but were second in the league in yards allowed per play, what about the team that led the league in yards allowed per play? Well, that's kind of remarkable: the Cincinnati Bengals led the league with just 4.45 yards allowed per play but ranked only 13th in defensive DVOA! What is going on there? The issue is not a lack of turnovers, where the Bengals were slightly above average. The biggest reason for Cincinnati's low rating is opponent adjustment. Cincinnati played the easiest schedule of opposing offenses in the league, with seven games against the six worst offenses by DVOA. The Bengals improve from 13th to fifth without opponent adjustments. The other issue is that Cincinnati allowed a lot of third-down conversions that ended up just past the sticks. The Bengals allowed 4.52 yards per play on third and fourth down (10th) but a 43% success rate on conversions (23rd).

The Bengals also had a big first half-second half split in 1983. They started out 1-6 and then went 6-3 in their last nine games, and had 9.4% defensive DVOA (22nd) in the first eight games but -18.6% DVOA (third) in the last eight games. In fact, showing the basic inconsistency of defense, the top four defenses of the second half of 1983 were all below average in the first half of 1983.

Top Defensive DVOA, 1983 Weeks 9-16
Team DVOA
Wk 1-8
Rk DVOA
Wk 9-16
Rk
NYG 1.4% 17 -21.3% 1
STLC 8.0% 20 -20.5% 2
CIN 9.4% 22 -18.6% 3
DET 6.8% 19 -16.8% 4
WAS -5.2% 10 -13.6% 5

The 1983 Giants defense is certainly worth talking about. You may have noticed above in the table that the Giants were 18th overall and fourth on defense despite going 3-12-1. They had better DVOA than two teams with winning records! This was Bill Parcells' first season as head coach of the Giants after Ray Perkins had left to succeed Bear Bryant at Alabama. Bill Belichick was technically not yet the defensive coordinator, although the Giants had no defensive coordinator in 1983 or 1984. Belichick, as linebackers coach, worked with Parcells to run the defense.

The 1983 Giants went 1-5-1 in one-score games. The most noteworthy was a Monday contest in Week 8 that Gary Myers of the New York Daily News later called the worst game in Monday Night Football history. The Giants lost a 17-10 lead on an aborted snap by Jeff Rutledge, then went ahead with a field goal, then let the Cardinals go downfield and tie the game on a field goal with 57 seconds left. Ali Haji-Sheikh missed a 66-yard attempt for the Giants as time expired. In overtime, the Giants just kept giving the Cardinals chances and the Cardinals could not score. The Cardinals' drives in overtime ended with a punt from the Giants 39, a missed 45-yard field goal, an interception, a missed 19-yard field goal with 1:06 left, and then, after Rutledge threw an interception, a missed 42-yard field goal with 25 seconds left. The game ended in a 20-20 tie.

There were two other reasons for the huge gap between the Giants' non-adjusted VOA and DVOA from the table above. On defense, the big difference was schedule. The Giants played the toughest schedule of opposing offenses in the league, with half of their schedule coming against the top eight offenses including Washington and Dallas twice. On offense, the issue was fumbles. The Giants offense was the worst in the league by DVOA, but they looked even worse than that because they fumbled 27 times and recovered just five of them.

Seattle had the best special teams of the year, and their 9.1% special teams DVOA ranks 11th all-time. The Seahawks got a kickoff return touchdown and a punt return touchdown, but more importantly they had the best kickoff and punt coverage in the league. On punts, Seattle allowed a league-low 4.9 yards per return (the average was 8.5) and forced six fumbles. On kickoffs, they didn't allow a single return to go past midfield.

Tampa Bay had the worst special teams, mirroring Seattle by ranking as the 11th-worst special teams in DVOA history. Most of that negative value came from kicker Bill Capece, who hit just 43.5% of his field goals (10-of-23) and missed three extra points back when they were still just two yards away from the goal line. The Bucs finally gave up on Capece before the final game of the year, with John McKay famously announcing that "Capece is kaput." They signed David Warnke, and Warnke missed an extra point and a 29-yard field goal. The Bucs then let guard George Yarno kick the final extra point of the season. He hit it, making him the most accurate kicker in Tampa that season.

Overall, once we normalize the entire year to 0 and adjust for weather and altitude, we have Tampa Bay placekicking worth -24.8 points below average for the season. That's the worst figure in our entire database. What's remarkable about 1983 is that it also had the second-worst placekicking we've ever measured, New England at -24.1 points. The original Patriots placekicker was John Smith. He missed from 33 and 36 yards in the first quarter of a Week 1 overtime loss. The Patriots eventually cut him after he missed a 37-yard field goal and an extra point in Week 5. In came Fred Steinfort, who was even worse. In Weeks 1-2, he had hit only 1-of-6 attempts for the Buffalo Bills, who cut him. He then came to New England and between Week 6 and Week 14, he hit just 6-of-15 field goal attempts and missed all six of his attempts from 40 yards or more. The Patriots finally tried Joaquin Zendejas (cousin of Tony, brother of Luis and Max) in Weeks 15 and 16, and he missed his only field goal try.

The Tampa Bay and New England field goal adventures were part of a wild year in placekicking with a colossal spread between the best and worst kickers. The NFL field goal average for 1983 was 71.5%, but that ranged from Cleveland (88%) and Pittsburgh (87%) at the top to New England (41%), Tampa Bay (42%), and Buffalo (42%) at the bottom. (Buffalo is not as bad as New England and Tampa Bay in Football Outsiders' values because their missed kicks came from a longer distance, including 0-for-4 from 50 yards or more by Steinfort's replacement Joe Danelo.) For a comparison: 1984 had three teams above 80% and four teams below 60%. 1983, by comparison, had 10 teams above 80% and seven teams below 60%.

So the best teams of 1983 were almost as good at placekicking as the Buccaneers and Patriots were bad. However, the best teams in Football Outsiders' FG/XP values are not the same as the best teams in raw field goal percentage. The 2016 Baltimore Ravens are still the best field goal kicking team of all time by our values, but No. 2 and No. 3 are now teams from 1983: Raul Allegre and the Baltimore Colts as well as Haji-Sheikh and the Giants. Allegre was third hitting 86% of his field goals, and was 4-of-5 from 50 yards or more. (The rest of the league was 23-of-66 from that distance.) Haji-Sheikh was tied for fifth at 83% and missed only one extra point. Remarkably, both kickers having two of the best placekicking seasons in NFL history were rookies! Allegre was undrafted, while Haji-Sheikh was a ninth-round pick back when there were such things as ninth-round picks. But wait, there's more! A third 1983 team, Kansas City, also makes it onto the list of the 10 best placekicking teams in Football Outsiders metrics. Nick Lowery is in the top 10 for both his 1983 and 1985 seasons. Here are the tables; remember that each season's values are normalized to the average performance of that specific year:

Best Teams in FG/XP Value, 1983-2020
Year Team FG/XP Kicker
2016 BAL +25.5 J.Tucker
1983 BALC +21.7 R.Allegre
1983 NYG +20.8 A.Haji-Sheikh
1985 KC +20.0 N.Lowery
2005 ARI +19.6 N.Rackers
1998 MIN +19.1 G.Anderson
2017 BAL +19.0 J.Tucker
1997 KC +17.4 P.Stoyanovich
1985 NO +17.2 M.Andersen
1983 KC +16.9 N.Lowery
Worst Teams in FG/XP Value, 1983-2020
Year Team FG/XP Top Kickers
1983 TB -24.8 B.Capece, F.Garcia
1983 NE -24.1 J.Smith, F.Steinfort
2017 LAC -22.2 T.Coons, Y.Koo, N.Novak
1999 CHI -21.6 C.Boniol, J.Holmes, J.Jaeger
1986 STLC -21.2 J.Lee, E.Schubert
2003 JAX -20.3 S.Marler
2014 DET -19.6 N.Freese, A.Henery, M.Prater
1985 MIN -18.2 J.Stenerud
1993 NE -18.1 M.Bahr, S.Sisson
1988 NE -18.0 T.Garcia, J.Staurovsky

The terrible special teams were a big reason for Tampa Bay's 2-14 record and next-to-last DVOA of -24.4%. However, the worst team of 1983 by Football Outsiders numbers was the Houston Oilers, the NFL's other 2-14 team. The Oilers were dead last in defensive DVOA and 25th in offensive DVOA. Houston had traded for Archie Manning the year before and Manning lost the first three games of the year. At that point, Houston traded Manning and tight end Dave Casper to Minnesota for two draft picks. Gifford Nielsen came in and lost seven straight games as the Oilers' starter before he got pulled. 1982 second-round pick Oliver Luck finally got his first start in Week 11 and led the Oilers to their first win; he was 2-4 over the final six games.

Now let's take a look at the best and worst players by position.

Quarterbacks: Joe Montana led all quarterbacks in 1983 with 1,501 passing DYAR. It is Montana's seventh season in the top four for DYAR and his second season at No. 1 along with 1989. MVP Joe Theismann was right behind him in DVOA, but a little further behind in DYAR at 1,301 because he had fewer pass attempts.

Two quarterbacks who only played partial seasons are ahead of Montana and Theismann in DVOA. We discused Dan Marino's amazing rookie season above, but Dan Fouts led the NFL with 8.10 net yards per attempt and had an even better 39.2% passing DVOA in 10 games. Hopefully we'll be able to get back a couple more years in play-by-play because our compilation of old DVOA is right on the edge of Fouts' prime of 1979-1982 and it would be really interesting to see how good those seasons come out.

While Dan Marino was near the top of the league as a rookie, John Elway was at the bottom. Elway struggled with just 5.03 net yards per attempt and twice as many interceptions as touchdowns, and finished last in passing DYAR. Pittsburgh's Cliff Stoudt was next-to-last in passing value.

One quarterback who had a particularly interesting 1983 season was Lynn Dickey of the Packers, who ends up sixth in passing DYAR. Dickey was second with 7.92 net yards per attempt, and Dickey and Fouts were way past the rest of the league. (Theismann was third at 7.04.) Dickey led the league in passing yards, touchdowns, and yards per completion. He had a career high in completion rate. But he also led the league with 29 interceptions. Dickey's 1983 season is a massive outlier in his career. He had only one other year above 20 touchdowns and only one other year above 20 interceptions. He had 58 yards per game more in 1983 than in any other season of his career, and beat his second-best season by 1.1 net yards per attempt.

Rushing totals for quarterbacks in 1983 paled in comparison to rushing totals for quarterbacks today, but I should note Mike Pagel of the Baltimore Colts who averaged over 10 yards per carry once you remove kneeldowns: 43 carries for 454 yards, or 90.0% rushing DVOA. And while you might not remember Montana as a mobile quarterback, he finished second among quarterbacks in carries (56) and third in DYAR (78) in 1983.

One other note: Joe Ferguson of the Buffalo Bills had one of the best single games ever in our database in Week 6, going up against Dan Marino in his first start for the Dolphins. Ferguson completed 38 of 54 passes for 419 yards and 5 touchdowns with one pick and one sack in a 38-35 overtime victory. He hit Joe Cribbs on fourth-and-1 with 28 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime, then led the winning drive after two overtime misses for Miami kicker Uwe von Schamann. With opponent adjustments for a good Miami pass defense, the game ended up with 304 passing DYAR.

Running Backs: 1983 was the year of William Andrews. Atlanta's fifth-year back led the league in both rushing DYAR and receiving DYAR with one of the best combined seasons any running back has ever put up. Way back in Pro Football Prospectus 2007, I wrote a long essay about the greatest running back seasons of all time, and at that point we ranked Andrews' 1983 season as No. 13. In actual DYAR stats, it comes out as the No. 10 combined running back season since 1983.

Best Combined DYAR for Running Backs, 1983-2020
Player Year Team Total
DYAR
Run
DYAR
Runs Yards TD Rec
DYAR
Passes Yards TD
M.Faulk 2000 STL 846 501 253 1359 18 345 113 830 8
P.Holmes 2002 KC 760 497 313 1615 21 263 81 672 3
M.Faulk 1999 STL 757 339 253 1381 7 419 104 1048 5
P.Holmes 2003 KC 719 485 320 1420 27 234 90 690 0
M.Faulk 2001 STL 707 347 260 1382 12 360 103 765 9
C.McCaffrey 2019 CAR 664 278 287 1387 15 386 142 1005 4
T.Davis 1998 DEN 647 602 392 2008 21 45 38 217 2
M.Faulk 1998 IND 647 226 324 1319 6 421 105 908 4
C.Garner 2002 OAK 617 239 182 978 7 378 110 941 4
W.Andrews 1983 ATL 607 390 331 1567 7 217 73 609 4
L.Johnson 2005 KC 603 488 335 1741 20 115 50 352 1
T.Thomas 1991 BUF 595 306 289 1415 7 290 73 631 5

Andrews was originally one of the last running fullbacks, but in 1983 the Falcons hired Washington assistant Dan Henning as their new head coach and he installed a Washington-style one-back offense which gave Andrews huge numbers. At the goal line, Atlanta often switched to their first-round pick from the 1982 draft, Gerald Riggs, who had 100 carries playing behind Andrews and actually led the Falcons with eight touchdowns. (Riggs is fifth in rushing DVOA, 15th in rushing DYAR.) When Andrews blew out his knee in training camp of 1984, Riggs took over, and he was No. 2 in rushing DYAR in 1984 and then No. 1 in 1985, although without Andrews' receiving value. Andrews lost two years to his knee injury and retired after 52 substandard carries in 1986.

Right behind Andrews in rushing DYAR was rookie Curt Warner of the Seattle Seahawks. Eric Dickerson may have gotten all the headlines by leading the league in rushing yardage, but it was Warner who was more efficient. One reason was a big opponent adjustment for Warner, taking him from 256 YAR to 361 DYAR. The other reason, starting a theme for Dickerson's whole career, was fumbles. Dickerson had 13 fumbles (12 rushing, 1 receiving) in his rookie year, knocking him down to fifth in rushing DYAR behind Andrews, Warner, John Riggins, and Earl Campbell. When Dickerson didn't fumble, though, he had some very strong games. Dickerson had three of the top five games in combined DYAR, all above 90 DYAR, including 237 combined yards against the New York Jets and 220 combined yards against Detroit in consecutive weeks (Weeks 4-5).

Speaking of Riggins, he set the new all-time rushing touchdown record with 24 touchdowns in 1983. Why isn't that worth more in our stats? Because so many of those touchdowns were so short. Riggins had 10 touchdowns of just 1 yard and then another 10 touchdowns of just 2 yards in 1983.

One player who is shockingly low in advanced stats for 1983 is Marcus Allen, who took over the Super Bowl with 191 rushing yards and two touchdowns. Allen comes in with -23 DYAR, ranking him 43rd out of 51 qualifying running backs with at least 100 carries. He was better in receiving, with 92 receiving DYAR (13th). Despite his outstanding reputation, Allen averaged less than 4 yards per carry in 1983, and it was Allen not Dickerson who actually led all running backs in fumbles. Allen had 14 total fumbles: 12 rushing and 2 receiving. He even had a fumble in that fantastic Super Bowl performance, although the Raiders recovered it.

A more surprising part of Allen's season is just how much he was used on halfback option passes. The halfback option pass was a much more popular strategy in the 80s than it is today, and Allen had 10 option passes in 1983. Antwaan Randle El in 2002 is the only other non-quarterback with 10 pass plays in a season in our data. Allen took three sacks but also completed 4-of-7 passes for 19, 21, 28, and 43 yards. Three of those went for touchdowns.

Returning to our article on historical running back seasons from PFP 2007, that same essay named Melvin Carver's 1983 season for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the worst running back season of all time. It doesn't come out as the worst season in DYAR, in large part because Carver's receiving numbers were around replacement level. But wow, was it really bad on the ground. Carver averaged 3.04 yards per carry against an easy schedule with no touchdowns and 5 fumbles on just 114 carries. This works out to a -42.6% rushing DVOA, which is the worst rushing DVOA figure ever for a running back with at least 100 carries. He narrowly passes Chris Perry, whose 2008 season had worse raw numbers but came against a tough schedule. Carver's -165 rushing DYAR comes in as the seventh-lowest season in our stats. Tampa Bay had just 4.5 rushing first downs per game.

Worst Rushing DVOA, 1983-2020 (min. 100 carries)
Player Year Team DVOA Runs Yards TD Yd/Car Fum Suc Rate
M.Carver 1983 TB -42.6% 114 347 0 3.04 5 41%
C.Perry 2008 CIN -41.8% 103 267 2 2.59 5 29%
J.Wells 2002 HOU -40.1% 197 536 3 2.72 3 28%
J.Kelley 2020 LAC -36.5% 111 354 2 3.19 2 42%
L.Smith 1998 NO -36.3% 138 453 1 3.28 3 31%
J.Vaughn 1992 NE -35.1% 113 454 1 4.02 5 37%
H.Sherman 1991 PHI -35.1% 106 279 0 2.63 3 36%
C.Ivory 2016 JAX -34.3% 117 439 3 3.75 5 45%
B.Woolfolk 1985 HOIL -34.1% 103 392 1 3.81 4 40%
M.Shipp 2005 ARI -33.4% 157 459 0 2.92 4 41%
J.Cribbs 1985 BUF -33.2% 122 399 1 3.27 5 44%
S.Slaton 2009 HOU -32.9% 131 448 3 3.42 5 35%

Wide Receivers: The top wide receiver of 1983 was Mike Quick of the Philadelphia Eagles. In his second year in the league, Quick led the NFL with 1,409 yards and was second with 13 touchdowns. That translated to a league-leading 368 receiving DYAR despite a 53% catch rate. It was an impressive year although, we should note, not as impressive as the top receiver usually is. Quick's total of 368 DYAR was the second lowest ever for a receiver who ranked No. 1. Only Jerry Rice in 1990 (323 DYAR) led the league with a lower total.

Right behind Quick was Washington's Charlie Brown at 359 DYAR. Brown was an unlikely star, an undersized (5-foot-10, 182 pounds) eighth-round pick in 1981 who didn't play as a rookie but then made the Pro Bowl in both 1982 and 1983. Then Brown crashed with just 200 yards in 1984 and was traded to Atlanta, where he had one big season in 1986.

Mark Duper of Miami, Cris Collinsworth of Cincinnati, and James Lofton of Green Bay rounded out the top five as the other receivers with at least 300 receiving DYAR in 1983. Roy Green of the Cardinals led the league with 14 touchdowns and was sixth with 295 DYAR.

Another interesting season in 1983 belonged to Atlanta's Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, who had numbers that look a lot more like a modern slot receiver than a receiver from the mid-80s. Johnson's 77.1% catch rate was the highest of any receiver until Jim Jensen was at 77.3% in 1988. Johnson's catch rate was 10 percentage points ahead of any other wideout with at least 50 pass targets in 1983. Collinsworth was second at 67%, but Collinsworth averaged 17.1 yards per reception. White Shoes Johnson averaged only 11.1 yards per reception in 1983, third lowest of any qualifying wide receiver.

Mark Nichols of Detroit came out as the least valuable wide receiver by DYAR. He had a 29-437-1 line with a 43% catch rate and two fumbles. Surprisingly low was Earnest Gray of the Giants, in his only 1,000-yard season.  Despite all those yards, Gray only came out with a 47% catch rate and thus had a DVOA below replacement level, giving him -43 receiving DYAR.

Tight Ends: It was Todd Christensen's world and the rest of the tight ends were just living in it. Christensen led all tight ends with 1,255 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns, plus he had a 73% catch rate. He was easily the best tight end of 1983 and comes out with one of the top tight end seasons we've ever measured by receiving DYAR:

Best Receiving DYAR by Tight Ends, 1983-2020
Player Year Team DYAR Passes Yards TD C% Yd/C
R.Gronkowski 2011 NE 461 125 1329 18 73% 14.6
T.Kelce 2020 KC 406 146 1416 11 72% 13.5
T.Gonzalez 2000 KC 362 150 1203 9 62% 12.9
A.Gates 2010 SD 361 65 782 10 77% 15.6
S.Sharpe 1993 DEN 360 110 995 9 74% 12.3
M.Bavaro 1987 NYG 343 73 865 8 75% 15.7
R.Gronkowski 2017 NE 339 105 1084 8 66% 15.7
A.Gates 2009 SD 339 114 1157 8 69% 14.6
T.Christensen 1983 LARD 334 126 1255 12 73% 13.6
T.Gonzalez 2004 KC 330 148 1258 7 69% 12.3
A.Gates 2004 SD 312 114 964 13 71% 11.9
S.Sharpe 1996 DEN 305 117 1062 10 68% 13.3

Paul Coffman of Green Bay was second in touchdowns with 11 and also second with 222 DYAR. Kellen Winslow of San Diego was second in receiving yards with 1,172 and finished third with 186 DYAR. It was another year where Ozzie Newsome's advanced stats don't match his reputation. Newsome wasn't below replacement level like he was in 1984 but he did finish only 11th in receiving DYAR despite finishing third with 970 receiving yards.

Also, this has nothing to do with receiving totals, but Green Bay tight end Gary Lewis blocked five kicks in 1983, including three of them in one game in Week 2 (two field goals and an extra point). Lewis had another five blocked kicks in 1982, including one in the playoffs. These performances led to the "Gary Lewis rule" which prevents players from running up to block a kick if they come down on a player of either team (a.k.a. the "leaping" penalty).

If you've enjoyed the 1983 and 1984 DVOA ratings and commentary over the last couple weeks, you can go back and read our commentaries on other past NFL seasons. Note that the DVOA ratings in these articles are older versions of the formula and may not match what is listed in the FO+ database now. (The later you go in these commentaries, the earlier you go in FO history, and the bigger the difference between DVOA in the article and the current system.)

1984 1985 1986 1987 1988 1989 1990 1991 1992 1993 1994 1995 1996 1997 1998 1999 2000 2001

The next stop in our historical collection of play-by-play is 1981-1982. Here's a list of what we're missing from those years if anyone can help us out. In some cases we're looking for video that fills holes in video we already have.

1982

  • 1982 Week 1 Oilers at Bengals (video missing final 12:57) (FOUND)
  • 1982 Week 14 (Game 6) Saints at Falcons (FOUND)
  • 1982 Week 15 (Game 7) Vikings at Lions
  • 1982 Week 16 (Game 8) Giants at Cardinals (video missing last series only) (FOUND)
  • 1982 Week 17 (Game 9) Bengals at Oilers (FOUND)
  • 1982 Week 19 (Divisional Round) Vikings at Redskins (video missing a few random plays)

1981

  • 1981 Week 1 Jets at Bills (gamebook missing fourth quarter, no video)
  • 1981 Week 3 Packers at Rams (video missing multiple fourth quarter drives) (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 5 Bengals at Oilers (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 6 Cardinals at Giants (video missing first 2:00 of the last Cardinals drive) (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 7 Cardinals at Falcons (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 8 Giants at Falcons (video missing part of a Falcons drive) (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 11 Redskins at Giants (video missing multiple drives) (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 13 Falcons at Oilers (video missing last two drives) (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 15 Giants at Cardinals (video missing last 19 minutes) (FOUND)
  • 1981 Week 16 Bengals at Falcons (video missing first 13:36) (FOUND)

Comments

94 comments, Last at 09 Apr 2021, 12:30pm

1 Hmmm....

"... the highest of any receiver until Jim Jensen was at 77.3% in 2988..."

Typo? Or time machine? (I'm rooting for time machine.)

4 Typo

In reply to by dbostedo

As any good Miami Dolphins fan will tell you, Jim Jensen is a real person from the 80s Dolphins and that's a typo.

9 Jim C. Jensen

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Jim Jensen (the Dolphins one, not the Packers/Broncos/Cowboys one whose career overlapped) should probably be classified as a tight end (or wherever H-backs go) in 1988, not as a wide receiver.  (He wore #11, but that's because he started his career as a quarterback.)

In the four games Jensen started that season, he twice was listed as a tight end and twice was listed at fullback.

13 PFR

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

My guess is PFR was confused by his uniform number.

28 For what it's worth - which…

In reply to by Travis

For what it's worth - which is very little, I know -- I remember he was listed as WR / RB on his 1992 Pro Set trading card. My little mind was blown that a player could play multiple positions and wondered how it worked.

Useless stuff like that sticks in my brain sometimes, it's strange for it to feel even somewhat relevant.

34 More on Jensen

The Dolphins' annual preseason media guides really illustrate the difficulty of pigeonholing Jensen to a position:

1981: Listed at QB

1982-83: QB (with bio noting that he played on special teams)

1984: WR (noting that he was moved to wide receiver after the first game in 1983)

1985: WR (with first sentence stating that he "achieved national publicity in '84 by playing quarterback, wide receiver, tight end, punt snapper, and on special teams"

1986: WR/QB (bio notes that he is a "very tough competitor, has 'head-hunter' reputation" and that he had more tackles than catches in '85)

1987: WR/QB ("'Mr. Versatility' on Dolphins as he lines up at WR, TE, and QB")

1988: WR/RB ("Took on new role as team's third-down running back, in addition to duties as backup WR and QB, in 1987")

1989: WR/RB ("Served as back-up at WR, QB, RB, FB, TE, holder and punt center")

1990: WR/RB ("His one start of the season came ... when he was in on the opening play at a running back spot in the Dolphins' four-wide alignment.")

1991-92: WR/RB ("Valuable as '12th man' on offense")

For statistical comparison purposes, I'd put Jensen at TE or RB, if only because most of his catches came when he was lined up either in the backfield or tight on the line of scrimmage.

 

 

19 You can't prove that someone…

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

You can't prove that someone else, by an unbelievable coincidence, who is also named Jim Jensen won't be at 77.3% in 2988. Or maybe it will be the same Jim Jensen, who knows what medical technology will be capable of by then

2 Green Bay 48, Washington 47 ...

... is a classically underrated great game. Tell me the first play on this video clip doesn't look awfully familiar. You think Washington would've learned something from it, but they didn't.

Sadly, this clip doesn't feature Howard Cosell (presumably off for the baseball playoffs, also on ABC) in his last season of MNF, but I'm pretty sure the other voices here belong to Don Meredith and OJ Simpson. Neither offered much more than fanboy commentary, talking over Gifford during plays. In fact, it sounds as if Gifford was doing color commentary for his own broadcast. The Juice was horrible. I don't think he said anything other than one-syllable exclamations in this entire package.

But this game looks like it was played this year, until you get Mark Moseley kicking straight on instead of soccer-style on the last play of the game. He was MVP the year before too!

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0C6Db0o2cHw

17 First play

Can't tell b/c of the highlight style package, but the first play looked like an incomplete pass returned for a TD. Am I missing something there?

Also, I presume the quote "you think Washington would've learned something from it, but they didn't" refers to the pick-6 right before the half in the SB.

21 They mention this on the…

In reply to by Joseph

They mention this on the replay: officially, it's a completion, fumble, and defensive touchdown. 

 

https://www.pro-football-reference.com/boxscores/198310170gnb.htm

32 Catch fumbles vs incompletions

For all the (somewhat legitimate, certainly) complaining about what constitutes a catch these days, the threshold was significantly lower back in the '70s and '80s and resulted in catch/fumbles that would be incomplete passes today (see https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qUPle9xomcw&t=1334s and go to the 18:30 mark for another example involving Jim Braxton). 

35 Yeah this wouldn't even be…

Yeah this wouldn't even be close today. This is a significant part of why teams had so many more fumbles than we see today, which is why Washington having so few (this play excepted) is so impressive.

24 The thing I remember about…

The thing I remember about that game is that it literally came down to who had the ball last, as (IIRC) Meredith said multiple times starting in the 3rd quarter.

 The other funny thing was the game was on December 7.  I can't remember if  was media or a Washington player who started it, but the Redskins defense was known as the "Pearl Harbor Gang" for a short period of time.

70 That Redskins/Packers ABC MNF game...

...was played in mid-October (10/17).

One game that DID occur in early December (on 12/11) was Washington's Week 15 rematch against Dallas, when both teams entered the game at 12-2 and whoever won would essentially clinch the NFC East and #1 NFC playoff seed.  The hype for that game, which was referred to as "The Rematch" at the time, was absolutely unbelievable; I consider it one of the three most-hyped regular season games in my time as an NFL fan going back to 1981.  (The other two were the 1990 Giants/49ers ABC MNF game when both teams entered the game at 10-1 and the 2007 Patriots/Colts game when IIRC both teams were 7-0.)  The Redskins easily won the rematch (or should I say "The Rematch") at Texas Stadium 31-10.

That lopsided loss really marked the end of the Cowboys' dominant era under Tom Landry, an era that was almost uninterrupted for 17 years going back to 1966.  Dallas was blown out in its regular season finale 42-17 by the 49ers, then was upset at home 24-17 by the Rams in the wild-card game.

3 That was a very strange…

That was a very strange Super Bowl. I wasn't shocked that the Raiders won, but was surprised that the Gibbs team played so poorly. They gave away 14 points in the 1st half, with a blocked punt, and then an inexplicable pick six with just seconds left in the 2nd quarter, when they were backed up to their own end zone. I don't even remember why the hell they called such a play, nevermind Theismann's execution. 

29 The Skins had beaten the…

The Skins had beaten the Raiders in a classic regular season game on that exact play with Joe Washington going for 60+ yards on a catch and run. The Raiders brought in Jack Squirek and told him to watch specifically for that play. You can’t really blame them for trying to score down 11 in the first half. 
My favourite fact about those Raiders is they turned the ball over 28 times in 5 games, and actually won 2 of those games. 

88 The Redskins also…

The Redskins also uncharacteristically botched 4th-and-1 plays. Moseley missed an easy FG and even an extra point attempt. Usually accurate Theismann was missing his receivers all day (perhaps due to the howling gusts — Plunkett didn't have an outstanding day either). Blocks were missed. Marcus Allen was about to be crushed at the line of the scrimmage before he went 180 degrees and made a one in a million play. Man, nothing went right for Washington that day

5 Wrong Cribbs?

“He hit Josh Cribbs on fourth-and-1 with 28 seconds left to tie the game and send it to overtime”

IIRC that is Joe Cribbs.

6 Should be fourth?

Marino's 33.8% passing DVOA is the highest ever for a rookie quarterback with at least 200 pass plays; his 885 passing DYAR are fifth all-time behind Dak Prescott, Matt Ryan, and Ben Roethlisberger.

Is there a player missing here, or should this say Marino was fourth?

8 Aha!

In reply to by StraightCashHomey

It should say fourth, because I was doing only passing. If we do combined passing and rushing, he's fifth, moving behind Russell Wilson.

7 Now that you made it to 1983…

Now that you made it to 1983, we have DVOA for the whole careers of the famed 1983 QB Draft class. I hope FO runs an article discussing the best QB's and players of the past 40 seasons now that we have nearly half of the history of the NFL covered by DVOA.

42 A buddy and I have been…

A buddy and I have been going back and forth, mostly as a memory exercise, ranking our Top 20 QBs since 1960.  We both reflexively put Elway above Marino, and I'm sure it's because of the SB wins/appearance disparity.  As I have revised, Marino has been going higher and higher on my list.  

45 Elway is a hard QB to…

Elway is a hard QB to evaluate historically, especially for those who either never saw him play or only caught the tail end of his career.

I started watching football in the very early 2000s. Montana was considered the Goat, but there was a fair number of people who argued Elway, with everyone mentioning Marino as a courtesy. Favre was also getting some Goat love then.

If you look at the data, it's clear that Elways numbers improved as his supporting cast improved. But quantifying how much DYar he should have if his supporting cast was as good as Marino or Montana is very hard.

 

 

58 The E's were good, E's were good

I always think it's worth adding a QB from the Class of 84 for some context:

B Esiason: 7,181

Esiason did not play in Elway's first (bad) or last (good) seasons. But otherwise he makes for an interesting comparison. His DYAR exceeded Elway's in only five of his 14 seasons, but in four of those it was by more than 400 DYAR. There were three seasons in the 1990s where Elway narrowly outplayed Boomer, and in the other six seasons Elway was much better. But the 1990s Bengals and Jets ought to come with some sort of Dave Shula / Rich Kotite asterisk; if Dan Reeves gets criticized for not knowing how to deploy his star QB, he's nonetheless in a different league from what Esiason had to contend with.

Esiason was probably the best player taken in the 1984 draft, and the first QB off the board ... at number 38. The class of 1983, with its 6 first-round QBs, really was an exception, at a time when the risk-reward ratio for developing young QBs was much more tilted toward the former.

60 1984 QBs

The 1984 draft was severely USFL-affected.  Boomer Esiason wasn't the best quarterback of his class - Steve Young was, but he signed with the USFL, as did a good 35-40% of the top rookie talent that year,

89 I still wonder if Steve…

In reply to by Travis

I still wonder if Steve Young (and Joe Montana by extension) was a system QB. He was historically awful with the Bucs. Yeah his teammates were awful but I dunno

10 The Cowboys started 12-2…

The Cowboys started 12-2 with a +165 PD, a very close second to the Redskins and their 12-2, +179 before getting shellacked in game 15 and falling totally apart. "[The Washington game] was just too big a game for us to lose, emotionally. We just didn't recover from that game." per Tom Landry in the companion article about quotes.

I always had the last great Landry team pegged as the number two team of 1983 right up until they weren't; any chance you could tell me what their DVOA was after 14 weeks?

22 I haven't run "DVOA as of…

I haven't run "DVOA as of Specific Week" for 1983 yet, but I can tell you Dallas was at -40% for their final two games in 1983. They're third for average DVOA for Weeks 1-14, behind Washington and the Raiders but ahead of San Francisco (which had a huge win in Week 16 to finish their season).

12 Joe Gibbs is going to get…

Joe Gibbs feels very underrated historically and I'm not sure why. He has a serious claim as the greatest coach of all time.

41 I don't think anyone who…

I don't think anyone who watched football in the 80s underrates Gibbs, but yeah, newer fans probably don't realize how hard it was to stay near the top in the NFC in those days. So he didn't have any 49ers or Patriots level title runs and it even seems people forget how crazy the three SB wins with 3 QBs is.

43 Three SB wins with non-HOF…

Three SB wins with non-HOF QBs.  By my count, only 11 of 55 SBs have been won with non-HOF (or eventual HOF) QBs.  I'm assuming Eli will be in the HOF, but that's a different debate.  Anyway, of those 11, Gibbs has 3.  

I think Gibbs is just a little bit overshadowed by Walsh (justifiably, the 49ers WERE the team of that decade) and Parcells (bigger personality, also a fantastic coach).  And perhaps his teams weren't as flashy.  Walsh had Montana, Rice, Young.  Parcells had LT.  Gibbs had...Dexter Manley?  Darrell Green was flashy too I guess.  I'm rambling.

91 Watching Gibbs' teams in the 80s

I was a poor refugee Baltimore Colts fan in the 80s, living in the Baltimore-Washington corridor.  We got home delivery of the Washington Post; so I knew much more about the Redskins than probably about any other NFL team at the time.  Even though I fucking hated the Redskins.

One of the interesting things about the Joe Gibbs Redskins is, they always seemed to play at the same level.  I bet (without checking) that year by year they were one of the lowest variance teams in the league.  At the time I saw this in the negative: they never seemed to play "over their heads" and beat a team they "shouldn't".  They were boring.

But the flip side was: they never ever failed to beat a team they "should" beat.  They didn't lay an egg or have a clunker game.  They always played "to their level".  They didn't overlook anyone or get snuck up on or anything like that.  They were CONSISTENT as hell.

14 The result of the 1983 super…

The result of the 1983 super bowl is another example of why it can be extremely misleading to judge one game.

When the 2013 Broncos got absolutely murdered by the Seahawks, everyone with the benefit of hindsight came up with exposed narratives for why it happened/ it was predictable it would happen.

I think this game serves is more evidence that you can't predict anything off of one game. And that should extend to individual legacies as well by the way

48 Your comment got me thinking…

Your comment got me thinking about team legacies as well.  If the result from this game goes the other way, are the ‘83 Skins considered in GOAT conversations?  I would think so.  Also, consider “dynasty” discussions.  From ‘81-‘89 the 49ers went to and won 4 SBs.  Two of those teams (‘84 and ‘89) are regularly mentioned in GOAT conversations.  If the Skins had won in ‘83, their run from ‘82-‘91 would have also included 4/4 SBs with two of those teams (‘83 and ‘91) mentioned among the GOATs. 

For the record I still comfortably favor the 49ers run. They got to the NFC title game in ‘83 and ‘90 and may have had their best team in ‘87 when they were upset by the Vikes. Nevertheless, as a 40-something  Skins fan, any excuse to reminisce about that era is therapeutic.

80 Red-Raid randomness

I just watched the highlights from the regular-season contest between Washington and Lard, and from the selected plays shown, the only reasonable takeaway would have been: no conclusions should be drawn from this game!

There was a 99-yard pass from Plunkett to Branch, and a 97-yard punt return by Greg Pruitt; Howie Long had five sacks by himself; Washington won the turnover battle by 6 to 1, and still came within a missed field goal of losing. Neither offensive line comes out well from the highlights: Washington's highly-regarded hogs in particular look awful, with veteran George Starke at right tackle the weakest link of all. Riggins was not a subtle runner, I think an ox could change direction more nimbly than he could, and LA bottled him up. Offensively at least, I didn't get the impression I was watching a Superbowl preview.

90 Yeah both Raiders-Redskins…

Yeah both Raiders-Redskins games in the 1983 season were full of fluky plays. The results could've gone either way, even the SB one (if that punt wasn't blocked and Theismann didn't throw that rocket screen, it'd have been a 7-3 game by halftime and a completely different one).

The Hogs' strength in the early 1980s was run blocking not pass protection. One stat that popped onscreen during a MNF game 30 years ago that stuck to my mind: in 1982, the Hogs were the heaviest OL (likely in history as well). In 1991 or 1992, they were the lightest. Those guys' weight stayed the same while the rest of the NFL got bigger and bigger throughout the 1980s. Their playing style changed though — they turned from a brutal physical line into a finesse, highly coordinated one, perfectly embodied by Jim Lachey (mocked by an opponent as a ballerina dancer)

15 "NFL '83" a tremendous…

"NFL '83" a tremendous seaosn highlight film by NFL Films. One of mt faves. Is like 1980 Raiders of NFL Fipms highlught films

18 LARD is ranked way too low…

LARD is ranked way too low because it's delicious in corn tortillas. Watching cooking shows on PBS is way better than this. Rick Bayless has always been the better Bayless brother!!!!!!1!!1!11

68 I have to admit, I enjoyed…

I have to admit, I enjoyed listening to Steven A and Skip haranguing over Tebow ( yes, even I enjoy low intellectual television). 

As a foodie, I also love watching Rick Bayless

 

And yet, incredibly, it never dawned on me until much later that they are brothers. It's not even about their appearances...it's all temperament.

77 "low intellectual television…

"low intellectual television" is a redundancy, at least in the afternoon sports talk show category. As for Stephen A, love him or hate him, it's hard not to enjoy him.

Indeed, siblings are often wildly unalike. Just look at the three Corleone brothers! They all occupied totally distinct poles of the spectrum of personality.

81 As for Stephen A, love him…

As for Stephen A, love him or hate him, it's hard not to enjoy him.

That's an odd view, and one that's not remotely true.  I start cringing in anticipation before he opens his mouth.  Ditto Kellerman, Bayless, and the rest.  Who wants to watch know-it-alls argue for an hour?  That's the thought that always goes through my mind.  Yet I know there must be millions who voluntarily watch, and I think who are these people?

82 This is why I tagged it as…

This is why I tagged it as low intellectual television.

For me strangely it has some entertainment value, akin to watching a car crash although occasionally you'll get a pretty funny segment.

One time Stephen A Smith was arguing that even a broken down Kobe Bryant was worth being paid as the highest paid player due to his entertainment value alone. This is drew an unbelievably unlikely moment of brilliance from Skip Bayless, who retorted with whether that meant Tim Tebow it'll be the highest paid player.

84 Every word of your last…

Every word of your last paragraph makes me want to light my television set on fire just to make sure I never catch a second of it by accident. 

But yes, Smith and Bayless have huge audiences. So clearly their schtick is working for them.

85 Apparently I am these people…

Apparently am these people! 🙈 Wow... wasn't expecting to get roasted for my take. But I guess I deserve it. 🔥 I used to find him insufferable, but those post Cowboy loss troll videos won me over.

I digest him in 1-2 minute doses, via bite-sized video clips every few months or so. Maybe that's the key: extreme moderation

20 Good line from a Sports…

Good line from a Sports Illustrated (if memory serves) writer about the Cardinals' kicker missing three FGs in OT against the Giants: he referred to Neil O'Donaghue's "wild Irish toes".

That OT must have been hilarious to watch, though I can't imagine too many people stayed up past midnight (east coast bias alert) to watch two bad teams play out an OT.

71 My father watched that game until the end...

...he's a Giants fan.  I remember him telling the almost 11 year old me the next day that Giants/Cardinals game was one of the worst games he'd ever seen.

What's kind of crazy is that one of the best all-time ABC MNF games (the Packers' 48-47 win over the Redskins) and one of the worst all-time ABC MNF games (the Giants/Cardinals 20-20 tie with Neil O'Donoghue missing a 19 yard FG in overtime) were played on back-to-back weeks!

25 Steve Korte info

"(The rookie Korte didn't even start the game, so I have no idea if he was a sixth lineman in the goal-line package or an injury replacement.)"

This is the first year I remember following the Saints, and of course I remember being heartbroken by this game. I also vividly remember this play and the FG that bumped us out of the playoffs. Korte was in for that goal-line play like a 6th OL. I doubt any audio clip exists of the play, but I do remember the Saints radio play-by-play man (Jim Henderson?) mentioning Korte checking in and repeatedly exclaiming "Steve Korte the rookie!" when they realized that he recovered the fumble for the TD. (Pronunciation is "court".)

Another trivia fact, not mentioned in the article: Lansford, the Rams kicker, kicked barefoot. Tony Franklin of the Patriots and Rich Karlis of the Broncos were other prominent ones.

Little bit about the Saints D--they got 34.5 sacks from their 3-4 D-line--5 guys between 4.5 & 8 sacks, plus a backup with 2 more. The LB's chipped in 21.5, led by future HOFer Rickey Jackson's 12. I'm not for sure, but in future years they tended to play their OLB's as 4-3 DE's on clear passing downs, so my guess is that Jackson played LDE in this scheme, and the other 3 D-linemen slid over a gap or something. I remember Clark (mentioned in the article) tended to play LDE in the normal scheme, and he would have slid over to LDT. Moore (and backup Tony Elliot) would have manned the other DT spot, and RDE Wilks would have completed the line. That would explain how Wilks got 8 sacks (2nd on the team) in a 3-4 alignment--he was rushing from a 4-3 DE spot opposite Jackson. Probably got a chance to work one-on-one a lot. Their 4 secondary starters were all 24 & 25, 5 of the 6 D-linemen (except Moore) were all 25 or younger, plus Jackson too. When they later added Swilling, Johnson, and Mills to that defense a couple of years later, it was crazy good.

51 Yes, I was shocked that the…

Yes, I was shocked that the historically cognizant Schatz did not know Derland Moore nor Dave Waymer.  Without the USFL would they have had Mills already in '83?  I don't recall where he was drafted or by whom.  OTOH, would Sam Mills have been given an opportunity without shining as a Star?

52 Sam Mills

Mills went undrafted in 1981, was cut by the Browns late in training camp that year, and then was cut in camp by the Toronto Argonauts in 1982.  It's unlikely he would have ever gotten an NFL job had the USFL not existed.

72 Sam Mills almost definitely wouldn't have played in the NFL...

...unless Jim Mora decided to take a chance on a 5'9'' LB from Montclair State (?) when Mills tried out for the USFL Philadelphia Stars.

Incidentally, Montclair State's greatest claim to athletic fame besides Sam Mills is probably being the site of Yogi Berra Stadium, which includes the Yogi Berra Museum; Yogi and his family lived nearby.

39 so it sounds like you guys…

so it sounds like you guys will make it as far back as '81;  incredible.  I'm actually surprised VCRs were common enough back then for you to have even gotten back this far, but it's awesome;  1983 was the first season I remember start-to-finish (I remember the post-strike part of the '82 season).  That matchup of 12-2 Washington and 12-2 Dallas in week 15 had a ton of hype going into it, sorta like a Brady-Manning at the height of the rivalry, but the game itself was a dud.  Also, we've made it back far enough for the Baltimore Colts to make an appearance

44 The 49ers 7 straight years at 25%> DVOA is staggering

I honestly thought you were just wrong when you said the longest Brady/Belichick run was two years, but alas you are correct.

It's amazing the 49ers did it seven straight - and after those seven years still went 14-2 twice, 13-3 twice, and 12-4 twice before Young left.

It might be weird to say, but the 49ers dynasty might be underrated. To me it actually helps their case that they did it with two QBs and two coaches - it was just sheer brilliance year after year.

55 From 1983-98, the 49ers…

From 1983-98, the 49ers finished in the top 4 in DVOA every year but 1990, when they finished 7th while going 14-2 against an easy schedule.  They finished 1st four times, 2nd five times, 3rd four times, and 4th twice (at the end of the run, in 1997 and 1998).   

In those 16 seasons, not only did the 49ers have 7 and 5-year stretches of DVOA >25.0% from 1983-89 and 1994-98, but they were also >25.0% in 1991 and 1992.  They only missed that cut-off twice in 16 years (18.5% in 1990 and 24.4% in 1993).  

47 Initial reactions

Thank you so much for putting together these old numbers. The player lists are a delightful blast of nostalgia, all those Earls, Cliffs and Wilberts. And, man, the Steves. So many Steves, everywhere.

In the QB given name stakes, though, we are at peak Joe. Joes are the summit, with Dan(ny)s closing in, while Steves are mired in mediocrity and Jims are starting to feel their age. As for the Daves, well, it ain't pretty.

I don't know what was in the water in Houston, but Archie Manning and Oliver Luck were terrible on the field, presumably distracted by the first reports that a faraway team might be upping and moving to Indianapolis.

Jim Plunkett always felt to me like an average quarterback, and DVOA confirms in 1983 he was the most average of all. He and Elway were the worst starting QBs in the AFC West, which gives me another opportunity to say how much I loved watching Bill Kenney chucking it down the field to Paige and Carson. (Chiefs fans have had a lot of exciting offenses in the past 40 years; I hope it compensates a decade of Martyball.) Elway's first game probably deserves a mention; the Broncos had one (not a typo) net passing yard, Elway came in for one of the Steves and went 1-of-8 for minus-12 net yards with 4 sacks and an interception. I would love to see the DVOA for that outing! Of course, the Broncos won the game 14-10. That John Elway never did play with a decent supporting cast.

The losing opponent was Pittsburgh, which finished in the DVOA top three on defense for the umpteenth time: it was actually first in VOA, but didn't feel any more like a dominant defense than did New Orleans in 1983. Perhaps that's because of variance. The Steelers' overall variance for 1983 was 30.4%; the next time a team finished with variance above 30% in a full season was in 1989, and it was... Pittsburgh (35.4%). The time after that was the following season, 1990, when – you guessed it – Pittsburgh finished at 30.7%. I wonder whether that's coincidence, or whether it's due to a combination of many takeaways and terrible quarterbacking. Unsurprisingly, if it's the latter, the 1997 Buccaneers under Tony Dungy – Steeler defensive assistant in 1983 – had 33.2% variance.

The 'Steelers model' was humming in 1983. I don't think any of the starters on its roster had ever played for another team, and all but one (Donnie Shell) were drafted by Pittsburgh. That doesn't include second-year undrafted sensation Keith Willis, who started only four games but racked up 14 sacks, nor the specialists. Kicker Gary Anderson was in his second year with the Steelers, having been drafted (but not retained) by Buffalo. The Bills may have regretted this in 1983, when making just their 42.3% of their field goal attempts!

I'm curious about the huge gap between DVOA and VOA in the cases of the Rams and Giants. Is this mostly fumble related? The Rams only played the 6th toughest schedule, but gained 8.0 percentage points from the opponent adjustment. New York is an even more extreme case, gaining 12.4 percentage points from the 2nd-ranked schedule; that's one of the biggest adjustments we've ever seen. (To put this in context, the 2020 Carolina Panthers played the 2nd hardest schedule, and gained 3.0 percentage points.)

54 Fumbles

I noticed the Giants' terrible offensive record of fumbling and totally missed the Rams until you brought it up here. Yes, like the Giants, the big difference between the Rams' DVOA and VOA is a combination of schedule strength and fumbles.

The Rams defense recovered 17 of 27 fumbles. BUT the Rams offense recovered only SIX of 27 fumbles. Dickerson had 10 lost fumbles on his own!

56 Run to win?

In reply to by Aaron Schatz

Thanks for that answer. I'm still undecided about what Analytix (obligatory eighties' spelling) would have said about the run-pass ratio in the early 80s. Clearly, passing the ball was already more productive, and the glut of fumbles by top RBs makes me think that running wasn't as 'safe' as it was made out to be. On the other hand, every qualifying RB in 1983 and 1984 had a success rate above 40% – I believe that hasn't happened since – and backs with lots of carries were enjoying success rates substantially higher than they would in the 1990s and 2000s. Establishing the run might not have been an optimal strategy, but it probably wasn't counterproductive as it would become in later years.

Speaking of success rate, one back who is not coming out well from FO's deep dive into the past is Sammy Winder. Denver kept on feeding Winder the ball throughout the 1980s even though he never averaged 4 yards a carry in a season, only once scraped above-average DVOA, and was consistently outperformed by whichever RB was spelling him: Gerald Willhite in the early years, later Steve Sewell. In the second half of Winder's career, he ranked much better in success rate than in DVOA, suggesting he had no big-play abillity whatsoever. On the one hand, this leads me to buy into the 'Dan Reeves was clueless' narrative which Elway supporters like to put forward; on the other, it suggests the offensive line was quite decent, and so, especially during Steve Watson's peak at WR, the Broncos' offense had more talent than it was given credit for.

One final observation: multiple quarterbacks punted in 1983! Danny White is the obvious one, although Dallas finished dead last in punt value; I don't think White started the year as the punter, but for whatever reason he took over at midseason and had about one-half of the team's punts, performing slightly worse than the (already not very good) player he replaced. But White wasn't alone: New Orleans' gadgetman Guido Merkens (listed as a QB even though he never threw an NFL pass) had four punts, and everyone's favorite punky rebel Jim McMahon booted a 36-yarder, plummeting his career average after thumping an unreturned 59-yarder the previous season.

Whoever would have thought that in the third decade of the 21st century we'd be discussing Obscure and Unremembered Punts of 1983? FOstalgia has so much to answer for!

59 Ta

In reply to by Travis

Brilliant stuff, Travis, thanks for those clarifications and corrections!

It feels weird to hear announcers openly criticize McMahon for his lack of pocket presence on 2nd down and, more subtly, for what I thought was a decent enough surprise punt on 3rd. I bet Buck and Aikman would be lionizing him (and Ditka) all game long.

66 Someone mentioned it in…

In reply to by ammek

Someone mentioned it in another thread.  I think the biggest reason for the large numbers of fumbles at this point of the NFL's history was that the ground could cause a fumble.  If the ball carrier got tackled or knocked down, and didn't hold on to the ball for what the officials felt was a satisfactory amount of time, it was considered a fumble.  And the vast majority of those fumbles were lost.

86 Plunkett being an average…

Plunkett being an average NFL QB jives with my placement for Eli Manning as well. Take away the volume records of Eli and you will have a Plunkett clone of a career (at least ANY/A+).

50 81 & 82 missing films

I knew I should have kept more of those old Beta tapes of the early 80's Bengals!  I used to have all of them, but I allowed them to be discarded when my last Betamax broke and I didn't the dinero to have them transcribed (hmmm? is that the term?) nor technical expertise to do it myself.  Although the first 82 game against the Oilers is one of the few I never had anyway.  Just terrible broadcast conditions that day.  I recall watching a intermittent broadcast from Dayton while listening on the radio.  Those are 3 interesting games, however.

In the week 5 '81 game the (shockingly and unexpectedly 3-1 bengals (on their way to their 1st superbowl)) were in the astrodome against the 2-2 oilers with 1st place on the line.  The Oilers were coming off back-to-back-to-back wild cards and relied on the "Tyler Rose" for everything.  He carried the ball more than 35 times in the game and gained more than 180 yards.  This is the game in which Kenny Stabler threw only 6 passes (that was the team total) and completed 1 of them (to Campbell, naturally) while Kenny Anderson completed 30 out of 52 for 300~ yards.  Naturally, Houston won 17-10 on a kickoff return TD by Carl Roaches.

The 1st '82 game was week 1 in cincinnati, defending conference champs against division rival.  The game presaged the season to come for both.  The Bengals ground the Oilers into tiny pieces 27-6, and it wasn't that close.  The Oilers only had about 45 total offensive plays enroute to a one-win season while the Bengals would only lose twice, using the short passing game to control the ball.  

the 2nd "82 game was week 9- the last week of the season.  the players struck for 8 weeks after week 2.  (No bye weeks in those days).  The league came back and played weeks 11-16 and then played week 9 transplanted to the week after the end of the season. 

This was a back and forth affair in the dome.  It probably was the Oilers' best offensive game of the year , though they lost 35-27.  What made it interesting was Anderson completing 27 of 31 passes to complete the first season of better than 70% completion and winning his 2nd straight (and 4th overall) passing title.  He didn't dink and dunk his way to the record,either, he got over 300 yards in this game.

I can't wait to see the 81 and 82 complete results!  Either my memories will be dashed or vindicated!

61 previous seasons

I am genuinely excited to see if FO can get some clarity on the sack totals of guys who played before the stat was kept. I know that as we get into the 70's, it will be harder and harder to get video and stats. 

79 treasure trove

Amazing how quickly almost all of the missing info from 1981 and 1982 has been found. I remember a few years ago Aaron saying he was hopeful, but not confident, that this project could dig back as far as 1983. Well, here we are, and I don't think it's pie in the sky to think that it might stretch all the way back to the beginning of the 16-game, pass-happy era.

Reminiscing about important Bengals-Oilers games certainly takes us back.

73 "1982 second-round pick Oliver Luck..."

For the record, yes it is THAT Oliver Luck, the one who 1) was the XFL 2020 Commissioner/CEO and 2) is Andrew Luck's father.  The elder Luck didn't have much of an NFL career, but did play a bit for the Oilers before they signed Warren Moon from the CFL and Moon fully established himself in the NFL.

74 1983 and the world of Philadelphia football coaching hires

The 1983 football season was an interesting one in retrospect in Philadelphia, at least in terms of coaches.  Below is a piece I wrote up about a month ago and posted on a Philadelphia Eagles message board and the team's subreddit site.

Prior to the 1983 football season the Philadelphia Eagles, the USFL Philadelphia Stars, and Philadelphia's Division I-A college football team, the Temple Owls, all hired new coaches that season. (In the case of both the Eagles and Temple, their previous head coaches, Dick Vermeil and Wayne Hardin respectively, both retired, while the Stars were a team in a brand new league.) The teams hired the following coaches:

*Eagles: Marion Campbell

*Stars: Jim Mora Sr.

*Temple: Bruce Arians

Marion Campbell had been a long time NFL coach at the time the Eagles hired him to succeed Dick Vermeil prior to the 1983 season. For the previous six seasons, "the Swamp Fox" had served as the Eagles defensive coordinator, playing an important role in enabling the Eagles to lead the NFL in fewest points allowed in 1980 and 1981. Prior to joining the Eagles, he had been an AFL and NFL assistant and head coach dating back to 1962, first as a defensive line coach with the Patriots, Vikings, and Rams from 1962 to 1968, then joining the Falcons as their defensive coordinator from 1969 to mid-1974, and finally becoming the Atlanta Falcons head coach from mid-1974 to mid-1976. Campbell had been a solid NFL player from 1954 to 1961, playing with the Eagles from 1956 to 1961, and earning 1st team All-Pro honors as a defensive lineman with the Eagles during their 1960 championship season.

Though Campbell had been a successful player and assistant coach with the Eagles, he ultimately was much less successful as the Eagles head coach. The Eagles posted three consecutive losing seasons during his tenure, and he was fired with one game remaining in 1985 season. Campbell's head coaching record with the Eagles was 17-29-1. That was still better than his 6-19 head coaching record in a little less than two seasons with the Falcons in the mid-1970s. Surprisingly, the Swamp Fox received one more NFL head coaching opportunity after being fired by the Eagles, joining the Falcons again in 1987. His record in his second Atlanta go-around was almost as bad as his first, and worse than his Eagles tenure; Campbell went 11-32 in a little less than three seasons from 1987 to 1989. Overall, Campbell had one of the worst records of any NFL head coach in history, finishing with a 34-80-1 record and never posting even a .500 record in any season. His best seasons actually occurred with the Eagles in 1984 (6-9-1) and 1985 (6-9 prior to his firing). Excluding one season as a defensive coordinator at his college alma mater Georgia in 1994, Campbell never coached again at any level after his last NFL head coaching job.

Jim Mora had served as a defensive line coach for the Seahawks and Patriots from 1978 to 1982, and had been a college head and assistant coach, primarily with western teams (including Stanford, Colorado, UCLA, and Washington) from 1961 to 1977. Mora was not the Stars' first choice; they originally hired former Steelers assistant George Perles, but Perles took the head coaching job at Michigan State shortly before the Stars' initial training camp in early 1983 and the Stars hurriedly hired Mora as Perles' replacement. The late start didn't hurt Mora, and his Stars teams eventually became by far the best team in the USFL's three year history, posting a 41-12-1 regular season record and a 7-1 playoff record, appearing in all three of the league's championship games, winning two of them. Quite frankly, Mora's Stars teams were probably better than Marion Campbell's Eagles teams of the same period. Mora was supported by an excellent general manager (future Chiefs GM Carl Peterson) and assistant coaches, including Vince Tobin, Dom Capers, and Vic Fangio, all of whom became future NFL head coaches.

After the USFL imploded, Mora joined the New Orleans Saints in 1986 and became their most successful head coach prior to Sean Payton, leading the Saints to their first winning seasons (1987-1989, 1991-1992) and first playoff appearances (1987, 1990-1992) in franchise history. Mora was named NFL Coach of the Year in 1987 as the Saints posted a 12-3 record. Many of his Saints players were ex-USFL players, and included some of his former Stars players, most notably standout linebacker Sam Mills. However, in sharp contrast to his USFL playoff success, Mora had no success in the playoffs, finishing his Saints coaching career with an 0-4 playoff record, including 0-3 at home. After resigning as the Saints head coach in mid-1996 after 10 1/2 seasons, he was hired as the Indianapolis Colts head coach in 1998. Similar to what he did in New Orleans, Mora turned the Colts into winners by his second season, posting a 13-3 record in 1999. He followed that up with a 10-6 record in 2000. However, as was the case in New Orleans, Mora's Colts teams couldn't get over the playoff hump, posting a 0-2 record. Mora was fired after by the Colts after four seasons following a disappointing 2001 season, and he never coached again in the NFL. Altogether Mora posted a 125-106 regular season record and 0-6 playoff record as an NFL head coach.

Bruce Arians had been a college assistant coach at his alma mater Virginia Tech, Mississippi State, and Alabama (in the last position under legendary head coach Bear Bryant) from 1975 to 1982 before coming back to his home state (he's from York, PA) to take the Temple head coaching job. The 30 year old Arians had big shoes to fill on North Broad Street, replacing future College Football Hall of Fame inductee Wayne Hardin. Additionally, Temple often played challenging schedules loaded with strong Eastern independents such as Penn State, Pitt, and West Virginia, and the university often did not put significant resources into the football program. Despite the challenges, Arians kept Temple competitive during his six year tenure (1983 to 1988), posting two winning seasons (6-5 records in both 1984 and 1986), and coaching some standout players, including Paul Palmer (who finished 2nd in the Heisman Trophy voting in 1986) and Kevin Ross (who was a very good NFL cornerback with the Chiefs). He also coached a safety named Todd Bowles while he was the Owls head coach. Overall, Arians posted a 27-39 record at Temple, which doesn't sound great but was much better than the records posted by his three immediate successors (Jerry Berndt: 11-33; Ron Dickerson: 8-47; Bobby Wallace: 19-71).

After he was fired by Temple in 1988, Arians took his first NFL assistant coaching job, joining the Chiefs as a running backs coach in 1989. Though he had a couple, future college coaching jobs, going back to Mississippi State and Alabama for a total of four seasons, Arians primarily became an NFL assistant, coaching with the Chiefs, Saints, Colts (assisting Jim Mora with the Saints and Colts), Browns, Steelers, and the Colts a second time. He served as an offensive coordinator with Cleveland (2001 to 2003), Pittsburgh (2007 to 2011), and Indianapolis (2012). Arians finally became an NFL head coach by accident in 2012, serving as the Colts interim head coach that season after head coach Chuck Pagano needed treatment for leukemia for most of the season. Arians posted a 9-3 record in the interim role, allowing the Colts to make the playoffs, and was named NFL Coach of the Year. His solid work with the Colts enabled him to become the Arizona Cardinals head coach in 2013. He was successful with a Cardinals franchise that generally been unsuccessful, posting three winning records and two playoff appearances in five seasons (2013 to 2017) as the head coach, including an NFC Championship Game appearance in 2015. He was also named the NFL Coach of the Year a second time in 2014. After retiring for a year, Arians became the Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach in 2019. His first Bucs team finished 7-9, but in his second season in Tampa he led the Buccaneers to an 11-5 record and a Super Bowl victory. Overall, Arians has posted a 76-47-1 regular season record and 5-2 playoff record as an NFL head coach.

The above is not to say the Eagles should have hired Jim Mora or Bruce Arians instead of Marion Campbell as their head coach in 1983, though one can easily make a retrospective argument Mora would have been a better hire than Campbell. (Arians was too young to be an NFL head coach in 1983, and did not have any NFL assistant coaching experience at the time.) Rather, the above is merely meant to provide interesting information and food for thought, noting the geographical and chronological coincidence that ties together Marion Campbell, Jim Mora, and Bruce Arians, and pointing out the irony that the Eagles, the only NFL team among themselves, the USFL Stars, and college football Temple Owls, hired the guy who ultimately was the worst NFL head coach among the coaches the three Veterans Stadium football tenants hired in 1983.

93 Anyone who doesn't

"And while you might not remember Montana as a mobile quarterback..."

Anyone who doesn't remember Montana as a mobile quarterback, doesn't remember Montana.

94 Rah-ooooooooooooool!

I remember Raul Uh-LEG-ray!  The only offensive player you could trust on the 1983 Baltimore Colts!  A breath of fresh air on a deeply, deeply shitty team.

Unusually for such an awful team, those Colts probably had the best battery of specialists in the league.  Their punter was Rohn Stark.  No one remembers this guy, but he was unbelievable.  They drafted him at the end of the SECOND round in '82; which of course is preposterous, but on the other hand he was probably the best all-around athlete on the team for many years.  All-Pro in '83, a 4-time Pro Bowler overall.  He punted 13 years for Baltimore/Indy, then another three for Pittsburgh/Carolina/Seattle.

On his retirement after the '97 season, Rohn Stark had more career punt yardage than anyone in NFL history.
(Stark has since fallen to eleventh; Jeff Feagles & Shane Lechler make his total look silly.  But still!)