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07 Aug 2015

Predicting the 2016 Hall of Fame Class

by Scott Kacsmar

No matter which players are voted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, several deserving candidates are always kept waiting each year. Logic and the numbers game guarantee it. Their wait can often be extended by the eligibility of a similar player. Sometimes the wait just makes no rational sense to many fans and analysts.

Congratulations to the 2015 Pro Football Hall of Fame class: Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Charles Haley, Junior Seau, Will Shields, Mick Tingelhoff, Bill Polian, and Ron Wolf.

In 2013 I predicted three of the five modern-era players, and I had four correct in 2014. Last year I was only able to correctly predict Bettis and Seau. The latter was a given and the former is a controversial pick, but Bettis had unique size for a featured back to go along with durability and longevity, and his rushing success rate was great. I do not conceal the decade of fandom I had for Bettis in Pittsburgh, but his induction always felt like a lock and it was only a matter of time before he got the nod.

We'll enjoy the ceremony this weekend, but we're already trying to figure out who will follow this class next year.

The First-Ballot Nominees

No class since 1970 has had more than three first-ballot selections, and that is all but guaranteed not to change in 2016. In fact, three is the maximum number of players I expect to make the Hall of Fame from this first-ballot group of players who last played in the 2010 NFL season. The following list includes the most notable names with the players that should eventually make the Hall of Fame in bold.

  • Flozell Adams (OT)
  • Alan Faneca (OG)
  • Brett Favre (QB)
  • Joey Galloway (WR)
  • Kris Jenkins (DT)
  • Lawyer Milloy (SAF)
  • Terrell Owens (WR)
  • Julian Peterson (LB)
  • Clinton Portis (RB)
  • Trevor Pryce (DL)
  • Darren Sharper (SAF)
  • Fred Taylor (RB)
  • Brian Westbrook (RB)
  • Jamal Williams (DT)
  • Pat Williams (DT)

Brett Favre has probably been a HOF lock since I was in sixth grade (1997-98). He will be the first quarterback inducted since Troy Aikman and Warren Moon in 2006. Yes, it has been that long since we watched a quarterback give an induction speech.

Alan Faneca actually joined Favre as his left guard on the 2008 Jets, but he may have to wait a few years to join Favre in Canton. His nine Pro Bowls and six first-team All-Pro selections mostly earned in Pittsburgh's run-heavy offense make him a lock, but not a first-ballot lock. Even Randall McDaniel (12 Pro Bowls and seven AP1s) had to wait three ballots. Voters are rarely in a hurry to put in a guard.

Let's get the elephant out of the room. Darren Sharper was a borderline candidate to begin with, and while the voters are told not to consider off-field incidents, there is no way a serial rapist is going to Canton. Even before the despicable news broke, Sharper faced the general struggle safeties have with getting into the HOF. This just gives the voters an easier time of casting him aside. The interesting part is whether or not Sharper will be on the preliminary list of nominees, which he should be given the rules of the process. A total of 113 names appeared on last year's list. Sharper's playing career was also likely good enough to make the top 25 semifinalists, but that seems improbable now, though it is something to keep an eye on. Even Jim Tyrer, who killed his wife and then himself in 1980, was a Hall of Fame finalist just a few months after the tragedy. But times have changed.

Clinton Portis, Fred Taylor, and Brian Westbrook were three really good running backs many of us enjoyed watching. Some better health and maybe one or two of them would be headed to Canton, but it's unlikely we'll see them move beyond the preliminary list.

The Case of Terrell Owens

Put Terrell Owens in the Hall of Fame? For who? For what?

OK, those last four words were famously uttered by another sanctimonious 49er-turned-Eagle in Ricky Watters, but you have to wonder how much Owens' ego will hurt him in the voting process. He did his share of damage to several locker rooms, most notably the way he handled the 2005 season in Philadelphia. After ripping management and clearly not getting along with quarterback Donovan McNabb, Owens was suspended by the Eagles and deactivated for the rest of the season. It's kind of funny he is on the same ballot as Favre, since in 2005 Owens said the Eagles would be undefeated if they had Favre instead of McNabb at quarterback. Owens didn't always insult his quarterbacks, and he finished his career quietly with the Bills (2009) and Bengals (2010). A comeback with the Seahawks in the 2012 preseason was short lived.

Strictly on the field, Owens was a HOF wide receiver. He had six top-eight finishes in DYAR, or as many as Marvin Harrison. Owens still ranks second in NFL history in receiving yards (15,934) and fifth in touchdowns scored (156). It's going to be a long time before someone scores 150 touchdowns again. Andre Johnson might pass Owens in receiving yards in a couple of years, but that's far from a given. Owens' numbers are going to be there, as will the memorable moments like his game-winning touchdown in the playoffs to beat Green Bay, the various touchdown celebrations, and his valiant effort on one leg in Super Bowl XXXIX.

Owens lacked the great hands of someone like Cris Carter, and didn't run routes as sharply as Marvin Harrison, but he was a bigger threat than either receiver, especially with the ball in his hands. Since he moved to new teams so often, we got to see him excel in multiple systems with various quarterbacks. The biggest knock on him was how good of a teammate he was (or, more accurately, was not), but there's no denying his production was great and helpful to his teams.

The other problem for Owens is that he's a wide receiver and he's entering a queue that already has Harrison, Torry Holt, and Isaac Bruce waiting for the same honor. The last three classes finally put in Cris Carter (2013), Andre Reed (2014), and Tim Brown (2015) after their long waits. There are 24 modern-era wide receivers in the HOF, and only five were chosen on their first ballot.

I think we'll see Owens inducted eventually, but based on history, he's going to have to eat a lot of popcorn as a spectator when these votes go down.

Senior Nominees and Contributors

The process has changed in regards to senior nominees and the new contributor category. Mick Tingelhoff is the only senior nominee going in this year, and Ron Wolf and Bill Polian are the first two to go in via the contributor category that allows for non-players and non-coaches to get a fairer shake. In 2016 and 2018, the classes will include two senior candidates and only one contributor, while 2017 and 2019 will have this year's setup of two contributors and one senior nominee.

My hardline stance: Jerry Kramer and Ken Anderson are the best guard and quarterback, respectively, not enshrined. They deserve to be the senior nominees, while I have no real insight (or input) on the contributor. It could be someone like former NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue or George Young, five-time NFL Executive of the Year.

The recent passing of quarterback Ken Stabler makes me wonder if he'll get a look as a senior nominee now. Stabler, Charlie Conerly, Ken Anderson, and Kurt Warner are the only four quarterbacks to ever be a Hall of Fame finalist, but not get inducted. Warner is likely to drop from that list, but Stabler remains one of the best quarterbacks not in the HOF. His best arguments may be the inclusion of George Blanda and Joe Namath. I'd rank Stabler ahead of both. They threw a lot of interceptions too, but unlike those guys, Stabler had all of his peak years in the NFL in the 1970s, the league's toughest defensive decade. He won an MVP (1974) and a Super Bowl (1976) with the Raiders and was great for a seven-year stretch (1973-79). Seven years may not sound long, but it really is when it comes to all-time quarterbacks. When I adjusted postseason passer ratings in 2014, Stabler ranked second between Anderson and Warner. He had the "big-game resume" and he was involved in several famous games that even have names. Clearly Stabler's exclusion has not been fully related to on-field performance, but with new voters, The Snake could slither his way into Canton eventually.

Tracking the Recent Nominees

Wanting to get a better feel for the paths that players take in the process, I collected data for each round of voting. Nominees are first put on a preliminary list that usually has at least 100 names. Since 2004, that list is whittled down to 25 modern-era semifinalists, or sometimes 26 or 27 given ties. Since 2007, 15 finalists are chosen to go along with the senior/contributor nominees. This is the group that gets voted on just before the Super Bowl in February. Voting results are available for the reduction vote that gets down to 10 nominees, then finally the last cut down to the five candidates who will ultimately be voted on for induction.

The following charts the path that each of the last 32 modern-era players (no coaches or senior nominees included) inducted into the HOF have taken for all the years they were eligible. Players are eligible five years after retirement and this goes back to the class of 2009. The first four ballots for Russ Grimm appear as "N/A" because I could not track down the preliminary list of nominees for 1997-2000. If anyone has these, please contact us.

On average these players waited through 4.1 ballots, with 12 first-ballot players hardly anyone would try disputing. Warren Sapp over Michael Strahan is the most debatable decision, but Strahan made it on his second ballot, making it 16 of the 32 players inducted after two ballots.

The name that sticks out like a sore thumb is Rickey Jackson. That red "UNL" means he was not even on the preliminarily list of nominees in 2001-03. There are over 70 names on those lists, but not Jackson. Even Al Smith (1987-1996 Oilers) made the list in 2003 instead of Jackson, who did not appear until 2004. Excluding Grimm, who likely was a preliminary choice early as one of The Hogs, the other 30 players all started out as a top-25 semifinalist.

Jackson's path to the Hall of Fame was unique for several reasons. You'll notice that most players either stay in the same round or advance in the process. Not many take a step back, though we did see Richard Dent go from top 10 to top 15 to a semifinalist, back to the top 10 for four years before finally getting the call. That's rare. Only seven of these 32 players moved back in the process. Usually a player moves up from being a semifinalist to the top 15, then the top 10 and in. Again, that's not Jackson's path.

The shocking part is how Jackson seems to have just "cut the line," if you will, in 2010 when he got inducted. He was a semifinalist in 2008, but never a finalist. For some reason, in 2010 he was picked for induction over players who were finalists multiple times like Cris Carter (three), Dermontti Dawson (two), Richard Dent (six), Cortez Kennedy (two), Andre Reed (four), and Shannon Sharpe (two). With all due respect to Jackson's career, he should have waited longer while the players considered more deserving got in first. I put on my Philip Marlowe hat and tried to do a little detective work on what happened in the Jackson vote, but did not find any revelations yet. Sometimes things just happen, but Jackson's induction sure looks way out of line with the usual process.

Studying the process for recent semifinalist players should help with predicting this year's class. Here are the paths of the 22 players who have been a semifinalist since 2004 and are still eligible.

Roger Craig flirted with the top 15 once, but the eight players listed above Kevin Greene all seem to be long-shots at this point. Greene has had a Haley-like climb to the top 10 in each of the last two votes. Meanwhile, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace, and Kurt Warner have all been in the top 10 in their four combined ballots.

If a player makes it to the top 10, he's likely to return the next year as the following table illustrates since 2007.

Year 6-10
Inducted Y+1
6-10 in
Top 10 Y+1
2014 3 5
2013 3 5
2012 2 5
2011 4 5
2010 2 5
2009 2 4
2008 2 4
2007 3 5

Note: Paul Tagliabue was one of the final five candidates in 2007, but ultimately was not inducted. He made the top 15 finalists in 2008 and 2009, but has not been a finalist since. He only made the 2015 preliminarily list.

For eight straight years we have seen multiple candidates from the final five cuts get inducted the following year. We also see those players finishing 6-10 have all returned to the top 10 the following year except for Cris Carter (2010) and Bob Kuechenberg (2009), who both took a step back to the top 15. Carter's wait was always a hot topic, while voters never put Kuechenberg through to Canton. He is now a senior candidate.

As mentioned above, Paul Tagliabue made the final cut in 2007, but still did not get inducted. This is something the HOF voters have been much better at, as it has not happened since Tagliabue in 2007. This happened with alarming frequency in previous years. Future inductees were turned away at the end many times, including Michael Irvin (2005), Harry Carson (2003 and 2005), and Lynn Swann (1999 and 2000). The backlog could have been lightened if voters pushed through the maximum number of candidates allowed per class like they have every year since 2008.

So if you choose to bash the HOF process, do acknowledge that things have improved in recent years.

2016 Hall of Fame Predictions

Last year I correctly predicted 12 of the 15 finalists, a step back from getting 13-of-15 in 2013 and 2014. Jumping the gun on first-ballot receivers like Torry Holt and Isaac Bruce was probably not wise, but the inclusion of coaches Jimmy Johnson and Don Coryell was surprising too. Here are my projections for the 15 modern-era finalists in 2016.

  • Morten Andersen (K)
  • Don Coryell (Coach)
  • Terrell Davis (RB)
  • Tony Dungy (Coach)
  • Alan Faneca (G)
  • Brett Favre (QB)
  • Kevin Greene (LB)
  • Marvin Harrison (WR)
  • Jimmy Johnson (Coach)
  • Ty Law (CB)
  • John Lynch (S)
  • Kevin Mawae (C)
  • Terrell Owens (WR)
  • Orlando Pace (OT)
  • Kurt Warner (QB)

Last year's top 10 final cuts included Tony Dungy, Kevin Greene, Marvin Harrison, Orlando Pace and Kurt Warner. I really like that group to return to the top 10, but they can't all go in since Brett Favre is such an obvious lock this year.

Without further ado, my predictions for the 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame class:

  • Tony Dungy (Coach)
  • Brett Favre (QB)
  • Kevin Greene (LB)
  • Marvin Harrison (WR)
  • Orlando Pace (OT)

The hardest choice was Dungy over Warner, who I obviously thought had a strong case last year. It's not like we have never seen two quarterbacks go in together. It happened in 1971 (Y.A. Tittle and Norm Van Brocklin), 1985 (Roger Staubach and Joe Namath), 2005 (Steve Young and Dan Marino), and 2006 (Troy Aikman and Warren Moon). It would also be pretty cool here since Warner was in training camp with Favre's Packers in 1994. However, two quarterbacks and two "Greatest Show on Turf" Rams just felt less likely.

Plus, it might be hard to get Marvin Harrison to open up publicly if Dungy's not there. Forget the accolades, the awkwardness of Harrison's speech is just another reason we can't wait to see him get inducted.

Posted by: Scott Kacsmar on 07 Aug 2015

308 comments, Last at 18 Aug 2015, 10:36pm by Rasputin


by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 2:23pm

Pretty much agree with Scott on who is likely to get in. Aside from Dungy, the other 4 are clearly deserving.

Dungy will get in due to his ambassadorial influence on the game, but his on the field accomplishments are borderline at best.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 2:54pm

Of the 32 men who have head coached in 200 or more NFL games, 3 have a better winning percentage than Dungy. Of the 52 that have coached 150 or more games, 4 have a better winning percentage than Dungy. Of the 96 guys that have coached 100 games, 8 have a better winning percentage than Dungy. Dungy produced that record with two different franchises, nearly half of his career with one franchise which was historically, ridiculously, bad prior to his arriving, and within a couple years of his leaving, went back to being bad.

It simply is inaccurate to state that his on the field accomplishment are borderline at best, unless you want to employ the sort of tiny sample sizes, in a one and done format, which defies sound analysis.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 3:54pm

The tampa thing was impressive, but it also coincided with a huge infusion of talent on defense.

Similarly, PM has proven no matter who your coach is, you're going to be making the playoffs.

OBV I'm not going to be going to the extreme and say Dungy was just along for the ride, but it worth noting that context played a huge role in Dungy's superior winning percentage.

Personally - I get more impressed by RR's ability to field semi good teams with Sanchez at qb and later Geno Smith plus some awful corners than Dungy's ability to pair with Manning and win 12+ games every year.

Frankly, given what PM has done across multiple coaches and personnel - everyone gets a huge PM asterix

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 4:09pm

Feel free to point out any coach who has produced an elite level winning percentage, over a large sample of games, without large amounts of talent. Look, the wins are the wins, and over a very large sample size, with nearly a fifty fifty split between two franchises, all of 3 coaches have won more frequently than Dungy. To call this "borderline at best" is to strip language of meaning.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 4:20pm

CaldWell went 14-2 and went to a sb had a chance of winning that superbowl with PM. The same coach also presided over a 2-14 colts team that was awful at everything. It does imply what context will do to perceptions. That's all.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 4:47pm

Yes, this is why small sample sizes are a very poor way to evaluate performance. Again, if you have an example of a head coach who produced an elite level winning percentage, over a very large sample of games, without very good talent, I'd be happy to look at it.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:29pm


Tbh - I think Gibbs, Parcells, and probably Shannahan(if you can believe it) are coaches that I think went through several iterations of teams with different quarterbacks and were successful still. Don Shula, Hank Straham, and some others of yesteryear would also qualify.

So much of winning is tied to roster and qb - for me to really praise a coach - i need see both shaken up. To some extent BB I would include because so much of what NE does is beyond just Tom Brady, but I can understand if people want to see BB after Brady is really gone.

Look - I said Dungy's case is borderline because its really really hard to identify skilled coaches. There just aren't enough metrics and the one's that exist - time outs, aggressiveness - imo are less important that what is behind the scenes - organization, player development, game planning etc.

by gomer_rs :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:29pm

How about a different metric.. How many defenses in the NFL adopted some form of the Tony Dungy/Monte Kiffin Tampa-2 zone defense?

I would argue that Dungy didn't just win with Tampa, though they almost beat the Amazing Show on Turf to the Super Bowl with Shaun King, but he created a defense that for a short period, like the run & shoot offense, was adopted by a large number of teams. Both Chicago, with Rex Grossman as QB, and Seattle, with Hasselback, made it to the Super Bowl running the Dungy/Kiffin D.

Also, the STL-TB NFC Championship is the Bert Emanuele Rule game where they changed the rules to make the incomplete pass by TB that ended the game and saved STL by 1 score a legal completion.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:36pm

If strategic innovations were a hall of fame criteria(and I think they should be) Dick lebeau would be a hall of fame coach, as would Sid Gillman and Don Coryell.

by gomer_rs :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:41pm

Well isn't that the primary basis of Coryell's consideration? Doesn't LeBeau have a number of years to go before he can be considered?

According to wikipedia Gillman is in the hall. (edit)

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 7:52pm

Gillman and LeBeau already in for coshcing. Leheasu in for liosn days is the officiAl stance but can say he got in a coach. LeBeau got pushed in as coach based on compelling argument that got heard at hall discussion thingy. Rules were bent but not officially

by Alternator :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 9:40pm

I think this is one of two compelling reasons to support Dungy (the other is his Tampa accomplishments - I don't think he did anything special in Indy). Dungy helped design a defense that was popular for years, across multiple teams, and actually changed the types of players who were being drafted. That's at least worth consideration, and then helping to build and lead a doormat almost to the Super Bowl just knocks it up and over.

by jonnyblazin :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:21am


by commissionerleaf :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:01pm

What I don't understand is that Bill Polian got in before Dungy.

Polian presided over some very good team building, and then coasted for 10 solid years on PM's coattails in Indy while the rest of the team fell apart.

This is a guy who drafted Donald Brown, Anthony Gonzalez, and (effectively) Tony Ugoh in the first round.

by tuluse :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:28pm

That's a little unfair. Built up 3 different teams into playoff contenders, and the most talented Colts team was probably 05. So he only coasted for like 5 years max.

by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:38pm

You know Polian had a career before he came to the Colts, right? He was the GM in Buffalo and helped build the Bills from a terrible team to 4 straight Super Bowl appearances, while winning NFL Executive of the Year twice. (Technically he was fired after the 3rd appearance but I think we can give him credit for the success of the team for that next year.) Then he went to expansion Carolina and built a team that made the NFC Championship in its second year of existence.

Then, he went to the Colts. Arguably he had already earned his HOF spot before he ever met Manning. But his continued success in Indy just proved that the rest of his career wasn't a fluke. Yeah, the team fell apart at the end. I guess that makes him a bum.

by theslothook :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 11:01pm

If one examines Polian's draft record - its pretty close to the best ever. I have a rich draft data set and having looked into all of the different draft regimes, Polian is I think the third or 4th best going back to 1978. The best by some distance was actually Carmen Policy/Bill Walsh.

But then again, if you are like me - you think drafting is mostly a crapshoot.

My biggest problem with Polian was his bizzaro instance on running backs. To me, its inexcusable that he spent 3 first round picks running backs while pretending Manning would fix the defense and o line by himself.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 1:35am

If you don't have Jim Finks in your list of best GMs ever, you need to check him out. Built both the incredible Vikings teams of the 60s-70s, then the 80s Bears, then went to made the Saints respectable.

And he did it a lot of it without hitting a QB jackpot.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:00am

It only goes back to 1978 - the first year SI published their all pro team and also the beginning of the passing era.

by theslothook :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 11:02pm


by theslothook :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 11:02pm

double post.

by theslothook :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 11:01pm

If one examines Polian's draft record - its pretty close to the best ever. I have a rich draft data set and having looked into all of the different draft regimes, Polian is I think the third or 4th best going back to 1978. The best by some distance was actually Carmen Policy/Bill Walsh.

But then again, if you are like me - you think drafting is mostly a crapshoot.

My biggest problem with Polian was his bizzaro instance on running backs. To me, its inexcusable that he spent 3 first round picks on running backs while pretending Manning would fix the defense and o line by himself.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 1:29am

This has been a weird weekend with all the talk about Dungy, Polian and Bettis. That 2005 AFC Divisional game is so pivotal to their careers (along with several other legacies). We might be looking at things much differently if Nick Harper had just gone down the sideline for a touchdown. I was happy Bettis thanked Ben for the tackle, because he would have been tarnished more than anyone from that blunder.

I was hinting at this on Saturday, but with respect to Jim Finks & Tex Schramm, this HOF general manager via contributor category is still basically a new addition to the HOF. I don't think a lot of thought was actually put into how to properly measure a GM for Canton, so going forward GMs are going to be viewed by the Wolf/Polian standard. That could lead to some interesting cases like Kevin Colbert in Pittsburgh and possibly even Ted Thompson, Wolf's apprentice and successor in GB.

On Polian specifically, I really disagree with a lot of his football principles. The rest for the playoffs thing when you have a bye always bugged the hell out of me. The 1st-round RBs thing was puzzling too, as pointed out. But maybe the biggest flaw is his idea that you could build a speedy defense that plays well with the lead. No matter how good your offense is you're going to have to grind out some games in the NFL and rely on your defense. The Colts weren't great at doing that. Their smaller, speedy defenders also had a ton of injuries, though we're seeing this continue post-Polian so I'm not sure what's really going on in Indy when it comes to health. But the idea that you can expect to play with the lead vs. superior competition and teams with better balance was foolish, and it hurt them in several big games against familiar foes (NE/SD).

by Jerry :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:01am

The voters had the Contributors category given to them this year, and they went with a couple of well-respected GMs who did indeed build championship teams. (This also answers the question above about why Polian is in before Dungy; he didn't have to compete with players.)

George Young is the other GM whose name I keep seeing in this regard. Tagliabue will get in this way, and probably a couple of owners. After that, we'll see how long Contributors remains its own category.

by jonnyblazin :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:52pm

"I was happy Bettis thanked Ben for the tackle, because he would have been tarnished more than anyone from that blunder."

Maybe it wouldn't have been a bad thing if he was a bit more tarnished. He's one of the worst HOFers of the modern era, a highly overrated player.

by Jerry :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 5:45pm

When Dungy was in the booth for the second half of the Hall of Fame game (and I don't blame anyone for not watching), he said "People call it the Tampa-2, but it actually comes from Pittsburgh and Chuck Noll." The evolution of innovations is rarely as easy as we'd like it to be. (To be clear, this isn't meant to take anything away from Dungy.)

by gomer_rs :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:23am

The important thing about the Tampa-2 wasn't actually if it existed before Dungy's TB days, it's the way that he came up with, until some rule changes, the most effective and consistent defense against the dominant west coast offense. The Dick LeBeau 3-4 zone blitz was simply an elaborate game of rock/paper/scissors, but the Tampa-2 as perfected by Dungy routinely defeated the most dominant offensive system in post merger football.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 9:44pm

Oh, c'mon, one of Dungy's teams came within a subtle rules interpretation of beating a historically great offense (with a good defense as well) in a NFCCG, with Shaun Freakin' King at qb. On the road.

If you are going to assert that the guy with the 4th best winning percentage of guys with 200 games coached is "borderline" ya' really should have something more to argue with than "The qb for 7 of 13 years was too good".

by tuluse :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 9:54pm

I'd also assert Peyton Manning wasn't Peyton Freaking Manning until 04, and there is a good chance Dungy's coaching had a positive impact on his career (though, as Peyton Freaking Manning, he probably wouldn't have been great either way).

Which gives Dungy another two playoff appearances with just a "good" QB. Remember the Colts team he took over went 6-10 the year before he got there.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:10pm

Manning finished 2nd and first in dvoa in 1999 and 2000. He had an off year in 2001 - the only off year of his entire career. He may not have been demi god Peyton Manning till 2004(i think it was 2003); but he was still an elite qb then.

Dungy's career in tampa was good - but it was a routine 10-6/9-7 type finishes. I mean - when you compare that to say Lovie in Chicago - they look remarkably similar and no one here would consider Lovie a hall of famer.

Look - I love Tony. I like his personality and he was definitely a good coach. I just have a higher standard for the hall of fame than pretty good coach. We consider a ton of great candidates borderline because the hall demands that kind of distinction.

by tuluse :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:15pm

If Tampa just drafted the next Andrew Luck and Tampa goes on to 3 12+ win seasons, I think Lovie would have a pretty strong case.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:19pm

Tuluse - do you think Lovie is a hall of fame worthy coach?

In a vacuum, Lovie I believe did materially help the bears defense and his offenses were routinely bereft of qb and wide receiver talent. By the time they landed an above average qb, the o line fell into the gutter.

by tuluse :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 11:03pm

I think Lovie was a good coach. He put together a series of incredible defenses and special teams, and had some really bad luck end his last 3 years with the Bears.

If Cutler stays healthy, and they win a super bowl with 2 other playoff births, and then of course he'd still be coaching Chicago and who knows how it would have gone.

Coaches aren't static, if you asked me if Lovie was a hall of fame coach in 2009, I would have said no way. If you asked me after my fantasy world above, I would say maybe.

I think you are underestimating just how hard it is to win over a long period of time in the NFL.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 11:11pm

"If Cutler stays healthy, and they win a super bowl with 2 other playoff births, and then of course he'd still be coaching Chicago and who knows how it would have gone."

In other words, had Lovie been the same damn coach he was back in 2004 but luck had swung in his favor, your opinion of him would be different. See - I have a fundamental problem with this. Sure, I get influenced by sb victories and playoff wins too, but I shouldn't be. All coaches should be judged on a set of criteria that attempt to separate luck and context.

Many coaches have been given the neck weight of horrible qb play - and so many have been fired subsequently. Lovie rose above that. That's why I'm happy with Lovie.

by tuluse :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 3:24am

He wasn't the same coach in 2012 that he was 2004. Get this, the 2012 Bears had the best defensive DVOA of the Lovie Smith era.

Special teams was also something Lovie learned to emphasis. His first two years they were 12th and 27th by DVOA. Then in 2006 they were 2nd and never looked back.

by BJR :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:10pm

Yeah, I mean if you are going to restrict the HOF to coaches who have taken teams to multiple playoff appearances/championships without great playing talent, you aren't going to induct many coaches. You might as well just state that judging coaches separate from their playing talent is impossible, so no coach is going in.

by tuluse :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:16pm

Not to mention, most coaches were responsible for said talent in the first place.

I don't see people knocking Bill Walsh for having Montana, Young, Rice, Lott, etc.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:43pm

Let me pose this question: If Jim Caldwell were the coach instead of Dungy in the 2000s, the colts may not have won the sb, but I think they still win 10+ games every year and make the playoffs every year. By standard metrics - he would have a great win percentage - would he deserve the hall of fame? I just don't think we can look at wins without context.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 9:47pm

You just discounted about 50% of Dungy's career.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 1:17pm

If someone less conservative than Dungy and Dungy Lite coached the team in the 2000s, the Colts would quite likely have won more than one Super Bowl.

I guess that's my reasoning behind not seeing him as a HOF guy - I always felt like he held that team back.

But then again, there's so much more to coaching than in-game stuff. And his calm demeanor and the dad-like love he got from his players almost certainly elevated guys throughout the week. And the flip side to my first paragraph is that I doubt that any coach other than Dungy calms a team that just went down 21-3 at home in the AFCCG and has 100% buy-in that a FG before half is good enough.

Tough call. Another part of what held him back was a no-doubt Top 2 coach of all time in his conference and the death of his son. Hard to blame him for that. And measuring any coach against Belichick pretty much makes him look like a dunce.

Still, I look back on those Colts years and remember more table-pounding than appreciation for him. And while I am quite critical, I wouldn't say that I was the same way for others. I guess I wasn't all that sad to see him go when he walked away (although by that point, neither was anyone else in the building). To me, that makes him a non-lock, but certainly someone who deserves a real conversation in that room.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 2:10pm

I'd say your first sentence is a feeling, without much evidence to support it. I'm not saying you're wrong, just that it really is just a guess.

I just think it is very problematic to say a guy with Dungy's rank in terms of winning percentage, over a relatively very large sample size of games, isn't worthy, based upon such a guess.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 9:38am

Oh, of course it's a feeling/guess. It's one I have many reasons to believe is well-founded, but I acknowledge that even I contradict some of those reasons (later in the same post).

It's a tough call, and will require more thought, which is the nice thing about the discussion round table they have every year.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 1:18pm

If you're going to knock Dungy's record for having talented players then you may as well get them to kick Emmitt out of the HoF for having that offensive line in Dallas. Sometimes people land in fortunate situations but you still have to be able to capitalise on them.

Dungy's predecessor in Tampa was Sam Wyche. He'd played for Paul Brown, he'd coached under Bill Walsh and led his own Bengals team to the Super Bowl. Even with his experience he wasn't able to turn the Bucs around.

On top of Dungy's coaching record; I think another point in his favour is that he added credibility to African-Americans being headcoaches. While I'm not a fan of 'statistics' like this, he was also the first to win a SB. You wouldn't think twice about hiring an African-American headcoach these days.

It seems he's the new John Madden candidate - who took 30+ years to get elected despite having the best career regular season record, reaching playoffs 8 of 10 years, a SB win and so on.

by theslothook :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 2:30pm

To address the Emmitt Smith point. If Smith had gotten hurt and a backup had the same kind of production that Smith had behind the line, I would be very skeptical of Smith's skills. As it stands, I don't think the backups were. Not too mention, people who watched Smith can see the tangible skills showing up on the field.

Here's my hangup about Dungy with regards strictly to his days with the colts. The colts won a lot of games and were one of the most successful franchises. Finding who to credit is difficult, unless a series of unexpected events happens that helps us parse it out. One Dungy -less season and one manning less season really brought this to bear.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 2:32pm

But like Madden, isn't Dungy's win percentage a little misleading since his career was only 13 years? PFR has 32 coaches with at least 14 seasons as a head coach, but only five of those guys rank in the top 25 in win% (min. 50 games). Coach long enough and you're bound to go through down seasons whether it's because of injuries, a new power in your division or because you can't find a decent quarterback.

Dungy won 56.3% of his games in Tampa and 75.9% in Indy, including some games they didn't even try to win late in the season. That's a pretty big difference, and probably is best explained by the Manning effect.

As I said in conclusion, Dungy is the pick I feel least confident about, and personally I don't see why we're in a rush to put him in. Did you know Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs had to wait four ballots to get in? Here's a chart I made two years ago on HOF coaches:


by Will Allen :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 4:38pm

When comparing winning percentage, employing a 50 game minimum is pretty dubious. That's been 3 seasons, plus two games,for about 40 years now. I wouldn't compare winning percentage of any coach from the last 40 years at anything less than 130 games. Again, Dungy ranks 4th in winning % of the 32 guys who had at least 200 games. I don't think the fact that the selectors used very poor judgement with regard to other coaches is especially relevant.

by Alternator :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 8:17pm

I'm generally pro-Dungy on "defensive innovator" and "Bucs coach" grounds, but I have a question for you.

How many Super Bowl era coaches, strictly as "awesome coach" and not as an innovator (guys like Coryell), would you put in the Hall of Fame? Rule out the really old guys as playing fundamentally a different game, and not being a good comparison. Out of what's left, how many do you consider slam-dunk cases like Dungy?

by Will Allen :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 11:44am

If we are talking about guys not yet in, and just off the top of my head, I'd say Belichick, obviously, Cowher and Coughlin have good cases, as does Holmgren. The only reason Jimmy Johnson won't make it is because Jerry Jones is a stupid drunk who runs his mouth. That is the sort of dumb randomness that has a large effect on the composition of the Hall of Fame.

by jonnyblazin :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:31am

Surprised this hasn't been mentioned yet, but another "innovation" of Dungy is that he is the first african american head coach to win the super bowl. Plus he's far and away the most successful african american head coach in NFL history.

Seeing as how there is a rule in place to ensure minority candidates are considered for coaching vacancies, I'd say there is a strong perception that there are institutional biases that have made it difficult for african american head coaches to succeed in the NFL.

I don't think Dungy will have to wait much longer to get in. The HOF voters don't want to look as biased as all the old NFL owners who excluded african americans from the head coaching ranks for so many years.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 12:49pm

I did hide it away in the middle of post 66 (although he's only the first to win SB by virtue of defeating Lovie Smith)

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:08pm

Re: #70

I would say that Walsh and Gibbs waited as long as they did largely because most weren't convinced they were done coaching. Turned out they were right. Walsh actually had already returned to coaching (albeit at Stanford and not in the NFL) at the time he was voted in. That's not the case with Dungy.

by Karl Cuba :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 2:29pm

It's time for my annual HOF post:


by Independent George :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:05pm

I think one of my favorite testaments to Bryant Young came after Dana Stubblefield (deservedly) won the DPOY, and was subsequently let go and signed by the Washington Redskins. This was in the early days of the internet, and I was getting to read sports reporting from outside of the AP, and beneath all the screaming headlines, I kept hearing that Bryant Young was actually the better tackle and the higher priority to re-sign.

Of course, my most vivid memory of him was his gruesome luck injury on MNF. Even with fuzzy, standard-def television, I still shudder at the memory.

by Karl Cuba :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:39pm

The year Stubblefield won DPOY he racked up 15 sacks and yet the offenses were doubling BY, they knew full well who the true threat was. Then the niners made him the highest paid defensive player in the game and were happy to do so, because he was that good.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 2:31pm

Favre changed his mind so often on retiring, maybe they'll make him wait a year or two just to make sure he's really retired.

Still find it hard to believe that Craig and Mecklenburg may not ever get in. Maybe Atwater finally makes it into the discussions this year. Other than those three and Woodson, there's nobody else above Harrison in your table I'd consider HoF material although if any make the HoF I won't lose sleep over it.

by Steve B :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:30pm

Mecklenburg isn't even the most deserving ex-Broncos LBer (Randy Gradishar).

by Raiderjoe :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 3:06pm

B. Frvare, K. Warner, M Harrisopn, T. dungy fine cjhocies.

T. owens probably getting in but may wait year or two due to team wrecking nonsense and malfeasance.

Like D. Coryell for hall of fmae as innovator but crappish record with S.D. Chargers 1983-87 kidn of hurts. Was sparkling meteor as head coach St. Louis and early eyars with Chargers. keep in mind these are crappy franchises where 10 win season si like Raiders winning a divison crown. So grading on curve, it was almost like Coryell won a Super Bowl.

Terrell Davis? Argument has eben made many many times. Both sides make good arguments. I wouidl put him in due to dominant 3-year stretch he had.

am surely to respon wto other comemnts in this thread over course of wekeend

by Jeff M. :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 3:13pm

I know there's still a backlog and that the Senior Committee is only really going to look at guys from the 60s and 70s for the time being, but the guy they should put in is Kenny Easley, who both Bill Walsh and Ronnie Lott have called the best safety ever to play the game, and who would be a shoe-in if his career hadn't been tragically cut short by kidney disease.

by MC2 :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 1:37am

I would love to see Easley get in, as well as Atwater and Joey Browner. I think safeties are way underrepresented, and I would take any of those guys over Lynch.

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:12pm

Be interesting to see what happens to Lynch assuming he's still on the ballot when Brian Dawkins becomes eligible. Put me in the camp that thinks Dawkins has the stronger case.

by MC2 :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:39pm

I agree. Besides the "objective" criteria (same number of Pro Bowls, but 2 more All-Pros for Dawkins, plus Dawkins was 2000s All-Decade first team, while Lynch wasn't even second team), I also think Lynch gets too much credit for being part of a historically great defense. I do think the Bucs defense was historically great (at least Top 10 all time), but Lynch was maybe the third best player on that defense, and a distant third, at that.

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:06am

This got me interested. When you look at historically good famous defenses, what does it mean to be the 3rd best player on the team, and what are you chances at HoF induction?

I went off the historical estimated dvoa list. For teams with multiple years within an era I just looked at one year, so 76 Steelers, and 03 Ravens (according to DVOA, they're better than the 00 Ravens and the defensive pecking order was easier to figure out).

So, the great defenses and their HoF inductees:

91 Eagles: Reggie White. That's it.
69 Purple People Eater Vikings: Alan Page, Carl Eller, Paul Krause.
02 Bucs: Derrick Brooks, Warren Sapp.
76 Steel Curtain Steelers: Jack Lambert, Jack Hamm, Joe Green, Mel Blount
68 Fearsome Foursome Rams: Deacon Jones, Merlin Olsen
85 Bears: Mike Singletary, Dan Hampton, Richard Dent.
03 Ravens: Ray Lewis, Ed Reed (presumed)
08 Steelers: Troy Polamalu (presumed)
12 Bears: Brian Urlacher, Julius Peppers (presumed, hopeful)

So, seems about a tossup if the 3rd best defender is considered a HoFer or not. I think if the Bucs had won another Superbowl or 2, Barber and Lynch would get in (deserving or not) and people would be discussing whether or not Rice deserves to go.

Just looking at probowls made, I think the Rams have a legitimate bone to pick with the HoF. Eddie Meador and Roger Brown each have 6 probowls, 2 all pros, and Maxie Baughan has 9 probowls with 2 all pros. I guess that's what happens when you can miss the playoffs while going 10-3-1.

An interesting debate to have in about 5 years will be if Lance Briggs is a HoFer.

The Steelers of the last 10 years have put together some really good defenses without having real stars to hang on, or at least not stars that last very long. James Harrison could potentially be in consideration, but there's just a lot of good players it's hard to make a case for like Larry Foote, Lamary Woodley, and James Farrior.

by gomer_rs :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:13am

Seattle Seahawks 2013: Thomas, Sherman, Chancellor, Bennett/Wagner/Wright

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:17am

Can't make too many predictions about Seattle yet, the team is so young and they haven't put together their resumes for the hall. I remember when Nathan Vasher had an incredible 2nd and 3rd year and I though he and Tillman would be locking down receivers for years.

A lot of them certainly have a good start, but injuries are hell.

by gomer_rs :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:32am

Guess it's easy to forget how young they are. The question is how long would they have to play at the level they're playing at to be HOF worthy. An especially important worry for Cam the most beat up of them all.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by theslothook :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 3:02am

People have this strange view that Kam is a system guy or a product of earl. Actually according to pff...he was already really good in 2010...before earl and Sherman established themselves. He's incredibly athletic and his size speed makes him the perfect hybrid linebacker/safety to cover tight ends and crosses over the middle. Arguably if he had been health. ..it would have changed the sb outcome. He deserves to be mentioned in the same convo as Sherman and Thomas.

by Jeff M. :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 9:33am

Let's not get ahead of ourselves here. Earl and Sherm are presumably on their way minus catastrophic injuries, but I think that's all we can say for now.

Chancellor doesn't yet have a 1st-team All-Pro (2nd-team twice), will get penalized by the voters for playing with ET and RS, and safeties tend to be overlooked by the HoF (particularly ones without eye-popping INT or sack numbers). If he stays in Seattle (who knows with the current holdout) and continues at his level maybe he can overcome the stigma of being only the third-best player on his unit, but that's going to be a big hurdle.

Wagner has been pretty underappreciated by the voters in the early part of his career, only making his first Pro Bowl and All-Pro team this past year. That may start to change now that he's a more established star and no longer has to compete with Patrick Willis, but he'll have to stay healthy and producing at a high level for a long time in order to come out ahead (in voters' minds) of contemporaries like Kuechly and David (not to mention pass-rushing LBers like Houston and Miller), who will have the advantage as being seen as "the guy" for their teams.

And I love Michael Bennett, but unless he does something like put up double his career high in sacks for each of the next three years he's not going to sniff anyone's HoF ballot. Same goes for KJ Wright, although I suppose he has more time left to create some momentum--no awards and no gaudy stats means no chance.

by MC2 :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 4:08am

Briggs is an interesting case, but ultimately, I would be surprised if he gets in. I think he was always overshadowed by Urlacher, and I think the voters tend to be reluctant to induct two players from the same team that played the same position. If they had won that Super Bowl, it might be a different story.

Harrison is another interesting case, but I don't think he makes it, either. He reminds me of guys like Terrell Davis and Priest Holmes, in that they were certainly HOF-caliber players in their prime, but they just needed a couple of more years worth of production.

by BJR :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:34am

James Harrison was league DPOTY in 2008 for those Steelers. He's got a great story if you look at his background as an UDFA who bounced around rosters for years before finally getting his break. And he produced one of the most memorable plays in Super Bowl history. But his career/peak probably just isn't long enough to be HOF worthy.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 9:53am

I don't think there's a question Lynch was at best the fourth-best player on that defense; Brooks and Sapp are #1 and #1A, and I don't think Ronde Barber is hugely behind them. Barber's obviously a pure zone corner, but he's on a short list of the best zone corners ever if you look at the patently insane number of tackles, picks, sacks, and TDs. I expect years of fanboi rage at him getting panned for being "just a zone corner", when he was just so incredibly and consistently good. Even as a hardcore Bucs fan, I don't feel any need to see John Lynch in Canton. Sure, having memorable moments isn't exactly the final ariter of things in any meaningful way, but I can't really remember Lynch having a single signature moment outside of that NFL Films bit at the Super Bowl where he's talking about knowing what every play was going to be.

Brooks, Sapp, and Barber have lots of those moments. Lynch always struck me as a guy who was good at hammering people over the middle, but easily the most replaceable of the "big four". Heck, Simeon Rice would probably get the nod over Lynch for me.

by BaronFoobarstein :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 4:44pm

"My hardline stance: Jerry Kramer and Ken Anderson are the best guard and quarterback, respectively, not enshrined."

Out of curiosity are you referring just to players who are senior eligible, or do you place them above Faneca and Favre?

by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:24pm

Technically, Faneca and Favre haven't had a ballot yet, but that line was first written as an all player comment. I tend to repeat some parts of this piece each year, and yes, I suppose I do have Kurt Warner ranked ahead of Ken Anderson all time. But for senior nominees, I think it's true that they're the best at their position not in.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 4:51pm

I am totally not going to use this thread to make fun of Jerome Bettis getting into the HOF, other than to . . . you know, never mind.

Fine with your list of five. I might swap Dungy for Coryell or Warner just for stubbornness' sake, but I have no problem with Dungy in the HOF. Sure, he wound up with lots of talent on that Tampa defense, but he also brought in a lot of that talent and put theme in the perfect scheme.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 4:55pm

There does not exist a HOF coach who did not have a lot of talent on his rosters. It really is puzzling that this is used to argue against some coaches.

by Paydro :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:19pm

Right? If Belichick retires with Brady, will there be questions about his candidacy?

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:45pm

I would comment about BB - there are some reasons to suggest he is a great coach independent of Brady. He won his first sb with Brady a charitable game manager. He won when Brady improved to above average and pretty good. He made 6 superbowls - something requiring more than just a hall of fame qb. He also pioneered a ton of strategic innovations.

But the Pièce De Résistance - he won 11 games with Matt Cassel, including fielding a good pass offense with him to boot.

by MC2 :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 1:51am

I just can't understand the argument that 2008 was some sort of testament to Belichick's genius. If anything, it just showed exactly how important Brady is to Belichick's vaunted system. Yes, they went 11-5 -- after going 16-0 the previous year with virtually the same roster, in spite of having a much easier schedule (5th easiest in '08, vs. 10th toughest in '07). That's 5 freaking wins less! If they had gone from 12-4 with Brady in '07 to 7-9 without him in '08, or from 10-6 to 5-11, would anyone be talking about how that demonstrates Belichick's genius?

And as for their passing offense, it went from arguably the greatest ever (72.7% DVOA in '07) to slightly above average (14.4% DVOA in '08). And that's with easily the greatest deep threat of all time (Moss), and one of the greatest possession receivers of all time (Welker), both in their prime. Again, how exactly does that demonstrate the genius of Belichick?

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:10am

There's a few things to consider. First, I hate the argument that they went 16-0, therefore Cassel represents a 5 win drop. The next year after Cassel with Brady returning to the roster, they went 10-6 and got blown out at home by the ravens. If we're going to play this year to year comparison game, one could(naively) make the case that brady also represented a 1 win inferiority to Cassel.

But to expand more generally. Cassell hadn't started a game since highschool. He was the greenest of qbs and his career to this point has shown he tops out as a below average starter.

The more telling stat is seeing Cassel's evolution in NE. He went from mediocre in the first half of the season to the top passing dvoa in the second half of the season, including a pass dvoa that topped brady's second half in 2007. OBV, that is small sample size so I won't make sweeping generalizations, but it does show that NE is a pretty special place if they can take a second rate talent like Cassel and still field a good offense with him. The rest of the league hasn't managed to do that with backup qbs, even if they have moss and welker.

To add to that - The colts lose Manning and they finish as the worst team in football, despite a schedule featuring the bucs, titans, browns, and jaguars(they got swepT!!!!! by teh jaguars that season) and a 60 pt blowout loss to the Saints. The patriots didn't crash and burn in anywhere near the sameway. To me thats coaching.

by MC2 :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:47am

First, as far as '09, yes, they only went 10-6, but they had a much tougher schedule (7th hardest in '09 vs. 5th easiest in '08). Even more importantly, we all know you can't judge QBs on wins and losses. Look at their passing DVOA, which skyrocketed from 14.4% with Cassel in '08 to 53.5% with Brady in '09. So, to summarize, with most of the same players on offense, their passing DVOA went from 72.7% with Brady to 14.4% with Cassel, back to 53.5% with Brady. Seems pretty clear they missed him, and more than just a little bit.

As for Cassel's improvement from the first half to the second half, what do you expect? As you yourself point out, he hadn't played since high school. Of course he's going to improve over the course of the season, even with mediocre coaching. (Note: I'm not calling Belichick a mediocre coach. I'm just saying that Cassel getting better, by itself, is no evidence of any extraordinary coaching job.)

Finally, as for Manning, if your point is that Manning is better than Brady, I agree. I don't want to say too much about it (since there's a designated thread for such talk), but I would definitely rank Manning as a Top 5 All-Time QB, while I would probably put Brady in the Top 10 (but barely). Having said that, I still think the 10th best QB of all time is far, far more valuable than the greatest coach of all time. In fact, I would say the 20th, or even 25th, greatest QB of all time, is probably more valuable than the greatest coach of all time. (For the record, I think Gibbs is probably the greatest coach of all time. Belichick is definitely in the Top 10, and maybe in the Top 5, but still nowhere near as important to the Patriots' success as Brady.)

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:56am

Well I didn't meant to turn this into a Manning V Brady argument. So leaving that aside - look...in the ben muth three cone drill thread I basically said - coaches are about 5 to 10 percent of the team's success, a far cry from an elite qbs contributions.

To Cassel, look - hes not brady. Obviously, no one is. But we also know what cassel is...a below avg qb. I was impressed with what they accomplished with a below average qb. Teams have had below avg qbs for years and never risen above them. BB managed to. I was impressed with that.

Does that imply bb can just plug anyone into his system and make it work like Brady? Clearly not. BB was lucky to have Brady. But I just intimated that the 11-5 seasons still showed what good coaching can do when you suffer the misfortune of losing one of the greatest qbs of all time. Steve young going out torpedoed the 49ers. Manning going out torpedoed the colts. BB managed to stave that off, not because Brady is an inferior player, but BB is a great coach.

by MC2 :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:43am

Fair enough, and as I said, I do consider Belichick to be one of the all time great coaches. I just get tired of people bringing up the Cassel year and using it to claim that Belichick is such a genius that it really doesn't matter who he has at QB. That's what I thought you were implying.

by Scott C :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:56am

" Teams have had below avg qbs for years and never risen above them. BB managed to. I was impressed with that. "

This seems like an outrageous comment to me. Trent Dilfer won a super bowl!

Teams rise above mediocre QB talent regularly.

Now whether offenses do (NE with Cassel was 14% DVOA) --- well that happens somewhat often too. Shanahan in Denver post-Elway did it multiple times. Norv Turner has done it a few times -- Norv Freaking Turner!

You'll need to back up your outrageous claim that teams don't rise above mediocre QB talent unless its BB with some data. I don't see any support for it at all.

Belicheck w/Cassel or Dungy minus Manning don't prove a point at all for me. The latter had a lot of other things going on for the team to collapse to 2-14 besides Manning. It is low sample size and furthermore neglects far too much context.

by theslothook :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:37pm

SHannahan has done what a bunch of times? Griese, Plummer, and Cutler were all at least average qbs.

I really don't feel like combing through the history books to find a year when team took a low round qb with 0 stats to his credit and fielded an above average dvoa(to say nothing of the top passing dvoa in the 2nd half).

Seriously, was I the only one who was shocked with how well NE did with Cassell at qb? Again, when I think of a team losing a hall of fame qb all of a sudden and plugging in some unknown, I tend to think a season of doom and gloom awaits.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 7:37pm

"The latter had a lot of other things going on for the team to collapse to 2-14 besides Manning."

Actually they really didn't. A look at the starting 22 that year vs the starters during the year they could very well have gone 16-0 is kind of shocking in how similar they are. Injuries and rotations came into play and changed things up but the defense was almost the exact same people, as were the skill players (and you could argue that the line upgraded at LT from Charlie Johnson).

Man... Charlie Johnson was the starting LT on a team that nearly won the Super Bowl!

Obviously they were all two years older, but still. A team that was some bad bounces from a Super Bowl title and a bad decision from 16-0 had an awful lot of Antonio Johnson/Dan Muir/Jacob Lacey/Melvin Bullitt JAG types playing a lot of snaps on defense.

Manning covered up so many holes from 2008-10.

Which, interestingly, is more germane to the discussion of Bill Polian than it is to Dungy, given that the latter wasn't there for 09 or 11.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 7:53pm

2011 Colts were healthier than the 2010 Colts.

And here are some facts about the first win of the season for the 2011 Colts: a 27-13 upset over Tennessee that might have been the team's least-QB driven win since Manning was drafted.

*11 completions: fewest for the Colts in a win, 1998-2014 (previous low: 12 vs. 1998 Chargers)
*17 pass attempts: tied for fewest for the Colts in a win, 1998-2014 (other time: vs. 2005 Titans)
*82 net passing yards: fewest for the Colts in a win, 1998-2014 (previous low: 116 vs. 2000 Bills)
*A pick-six and 80-yard TD run made up 14 of Indy's 27 points
*The Colts' previous long TD run in the 281 games started by Manning and Luck was 77 yards by Dominic Rhodes at 2001 Chiefs
*Dan Orlovsky contributed just five completions for 48 yards on the drives that produced Indy's 27 points.

by theslothook :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 8:05pm

As someone who watched all 16 games that season - the colts putrid quality was actually severely understated. Certain teams got a lead on the colts and went into pure conservative clock killing mode, convinced(rightly) that the colts weren't going to stage any kind of comeback. This was further vindicated by the ridiculously conservative caldwell, who acted like double digit deficits in the second half could be overcome with runs for no gains, passes short of sticks, and fraidy cat punt after fraidy cat punt. Specifically, games against the bengals, steelers, and bucs really stuck in my head.

The saints loss was the antithesis - a team that pulled no punches trying to embarrass the hapless colts. Also remember, they got swept by the jaguars with blaine freaken gabbert at qb. Think about that.

And finally - oddly, the best game they played all year was their game at NE. To this day, I have no idea what got into them in that second half, but BB rightly was pissed off that there was even a chance of a comeback.

by theslothook :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 8:09pm

Honestly - I don't think the 09 team on paper was any more or less talented than the 2010/2011 squads. The 2010 squad was just more injured.

How the 2009 colts nearly went 16-0 and nearly won the sb is still a mystery to me. They had 2 rookie corners, a rookie defensive tackle, a 2nd year safety, and a whole lot of age on the rest of the defense. The offensive line was beyond an eyesore and the team couldn't run even when the opposing side all but dared them to.

Its seasons like that that made Colt fans bitter at Polian - whos success on the field amounted to squeezing every last drop from 4 stars he had drafted almost a decade ago.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 3:41am

Joe Gibbs should be mentioned much more frequently in the greatest coach in NFL history debates. Winning three SuperBowls with three different (non-HOF) QBs is an incredible accomplishment. Many of the great coaches in NFL history only had success with one HOF QB...

by Alternator :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 9:43pm

Given his Giants days, no, not really any doubts. Also, the 2001 Super Bowl was a masterful bit of game planning, when Brady wasn't much yet.

by tuluse :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 9:58pm

If we're counting assistant days, Dungy was the DC in Minnesota for 4 years where they never ranked worse than 7th by DVOA. With Denny Green as the HC, not exactly a defensive minded coach like one Bill Parcels.

The Dungy years in Minny were bookended by a 23rd and 15th finish in DVOA.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:25pm

Oh, I agree, just responding to the comment regarding the talent he inherited. As far as I'm concerned, he wound up using Sapp, Brooks, and Barber as absolutely perfect as they could have been used, and he gets lots of credit for that.

Football's just a team sport anyways. Young and Montana get Rice, and Rice gets Young and Montana. Emmitt Smith gets that great offensive line, Pace gets to block for the GSOT, and everything else. Nobody succeeds in a vacuum in the NFL.

by Mr Shush :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 7:10pm

I think Watt and Peterson have both come pretty close at times. Tarkenton and Cortez Kennedy, too, from what I understand (going a bit further back).

by theslothook :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 8:34pm

THere are a few players who truly succeeded in an otherwise puddle of suck and its more than Watt and Peterson. Allen did with the Chiefs(the year after he was traded, I believe the chiefs set a then franchise record for fewest sacks in a year).

I think Manning has. I feel like steve smith qualifies as well. And to some extent - asamough and revis both have too.

by gomer_rs :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 3:37pm

I loved Tez' but he didn't do it all alone. I would take some of the D-lines that he played on over any of the D-lines the Seahawks ran out since 2000. Cortez Kennedy (DT), Samuel Adams (DT), and Michael Sinclair(DE)

It was the offense that sunk those teams. QB Dan Mcgwire, QB Rick Meyer, etc. The best Seahawk QBs of the 90s were the ghost of Warren Moon and Jon Kitna (who took them to the playoffs).

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by justanothersteve :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 7:38pm

It should also be pointed out there are plenty of coaches who did nothing despite have rosters with a lot of talent.

by Sakic :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:06am

Exactly. And it's certainly not out of the realm of possibility that the coach had something to do with developing that talent. Dungy's defenses in Tampa were designed by him and he got the players to execute them. Sure, you need the talent to be able to make it work but getting the talent to buy into the system...that's what coaching is all about.

Belichek is considered a defensive coach but considering all the offensive coordinators that have gone through New England it's obvious that Brady's success is tied to what Belichek wants his quarterbacks to do and it's not like Brady came in as the prototype NFL quarterback (like Luck or Manning)...the guy was a low round draft choice and a guy drafted that low doesn't become a HoF'er without good coaching.

I don't know if Mike McCarthy will ever make the Hall of Fame but if he does the same argument will come up saying that he had Rodgers the entire time...but who helped make Rodgers into the player he is today?

Edit: Just wanted to clarify that this was in response to Will's comment below.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 11:02am

I can think of some arguments against McCarthy. When he was the OC with the 49ers, Alex Smith had one of his worst seasons ever. By comparison, when Dungy was a DC, the Vikings had a good defense.

I personally don't think much of McCarthy as an Xs and Os guy. I think his offense is too complicated for it's own good and only works when you have all-pro level quarterbacking (and some really smart receivers too). You could argue, that when you do have those things you should maximize them, but he's not able to scale it back effectively when the situation calls for it.

He clearly does a good job in the motivation and teaching department though. Hard to quantify coaches, I tell you what.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:01pm

Greg Cosell(and probably Jaworski) - really credit Mccarthy for reigning in some of Rodgers' sandlot tendencies. Obviously Rodgers would be awesome even if I was coach, but mccarthy apparently brings out peak level efficiency from Rodgers.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:43pm

If you believe the stories, he had Rodgers completely redo his mechanics from scratch.

Like I said, top marks for teaching. Just don't like his Xs and Os.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 4:55pm

There does not exist a HOF coach who did not have a lot of talent on his rosters. It really is puzzling that this is used to argue against some coaches.

by Noah Arkadia :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:40pm

I guess the really great coaches are the ones that win a lot when they have great talent but still do better than you'd expect when they don't. Like the ones who assemble discarded veteran talent and have it perform above their usual level of ability. Belichik is great at that. So was Shula, Schotty and others (Schott obviously never won big, though). I don't think Dungy was ever tested that way. I'm ok with him in the Hall but it wouldn't bother me if he didn't make it.

Who, me?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 11:21pm

By this standard, Vince Lombardi and Chuck Noll are borderline.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:37am

Lombardi was famous for getting the most out of his players, but once Noll's ridiculous collection of Hall of Famers retired, his Steeler teams had nothing. He's clearly a guy who got too much credit for what he did and that bought him a long time after he should have been fired. Instead, people said "the game had passed him by". Yeah, right. That's the way I remember it anyway. Then again, it is the Hall of Fame, not the Hall of greatness, so it's ok for Noll to be in.

Who, me?

by Will Allen :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 12:07pm

I guess I don't understand your reasoning. You put forth a standard that Lombardi clearly falls short of, and then, when it is noted, you state that he was "famous for getting the most out of his players". Perhaps the issue is with the standard.

by Noah Arkadia :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 6:06pm

Lombardi was before my time, so I'm only going on what I've heard, that his teams were better than the talent they had. Maybe the confusion was that it appeared I was saying you had to had losing teams to be considered great? I meant doing better than the reasonable expectations given the talent you have. If that means winning the Super Bowl, even better.

Who, me?

by Will Allen :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 11:21am

There are 11 Packers who played significant, championship-winning years with Lombardi, who are in the Hall of Fame, and another might be on the way. The 1962 team has a claim on Most Talented Team Ever. They were extremely talented.

by Steve B :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:40pm

"He's clearly a guy who got too much credit for what he did"

You're going to have to elaborate on that one. For one, the cupboard was much more empty for Noll when he took over in Pittsburgh than it was for Lombardi in Green Bay or Shula in Miami. For two, Noll led a franchise that was viewed similarly to how the Bucs were viewed when Dungy (Noll's protege') took over in Tampa to four SB wins in six seasons. I repeat, four Super Bowl wins in six seasons.

While the 80's certainly weren't the 70's, I think 1984 and 1989 were both great coaching jobs by Noll.

by justanothersteve :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 2:48pm

Lombardi did much to change the Packers who were as much a joke in the 1950's as the 1960's Steelers and the pre-Dungy Buccs. They won one game the year before he was hired. While some of the talent was on the roster when Lombardi came to GB, he also did a lot to improve the roster as GM. He traded for Fuzzy Thurston, Henry Jordan, and Willie Davis. He drafted Herb Adderley and was smart enough to move the RB to DB. He recognized that Starr was the QB he needed his first year when Starr was second on the depth chart. His last Packers team in 1967 had also lost many of the stars of the early years and still won SB II.

Something also forgotten is that he coached Washington in 1969 and guided them to their first winning record in over a decade. It was thought he was in the process of turning that team around when he was diagnosed and succumbed to cancer.

One final thing about Lombardi that people don't realize is how much he hated discrimination of any kind. He did much for the African-American players to feel comfortable playing in a town that back then was about 98% white and most of the rest were Native Americans. Before he was an established coach, one of the Packers black players was dating a white woman and he let the team know that if anyone made a negative comment about it that person would be off the team. He told GB establishments that if any minority player was discriminated against, that establishment would be off-limits to the entire team. He made the then all-white Oneida Golf Club integrate by insisting he have a Native American caddie. (The Oneida reservation borders the club.) Once, when on the road, he refused to allow the team to stay at a hotel when the management demanded the African-American players stay at a different, segregated hotel. He had two gay players on his roster in DC and made sure nobody made any disparaging remarks about it. (Lombardi had a gay brother.) His views on discrimination and using sports to combat it are to me as much of his legacy as what he did on the field.

by Steve B :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 10:04pm

I wasn't really trying to disparage Lombardi (or Shula). However, to say that Noll "got too much credit" is absurd, to me. If anything, he doesn't generally get enough outside of Steelers circles.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:02pm

Lombardi's achievements aside, I always had a lot of respect for Noll as a coach. He led a team with Mark Malone at quarterback to the AFC championship game, and 1989 was an amazing year (getting destroyed in the first two games, coming back and getting to the divisional round). Part of the reason Cowher doesn't get as much of a push for the Hall is because of Noll's previous success in Pittsburgh.

by Scott C :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 3:07am

Well, by half of that standard, Shotty is a lock HOF candidate. I don't think anyone was as good at taking a mediocre pool of talent and coaching them to a 10-6 record, get into the playoffs, and lose to superior talent.

Unfortunately, he only had true 'plus' talent on the roster a few times and lost in the playoffs with those teams by in some cases, bizarre unlucky plays.

by Travis :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 9:09am

After the midpoint of his career, no one was as good at coaching a team to a 12-4 (or better) record, then losing a home game to inferior talent (1997 Broncos excepted).

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:15am

I think Marty was the single most underrated and underappreciated coach in NFL history.

Yes, his conservative playcalling was a real weakness and a significant contributor to his playoff record (most notably in the 2004 OT loss to the Jets). But two losing seasons in 21 years as a head coach? That's a ridiculous record, especially considering his starting quarterbacks over the years. Prior to San Diego, his best QBs were an ancient Joe Montana, Bernie Kosar, and Steve Bono. His famous playoff losses typically involve either John Elway, some bizarre broken play in the 4th quarter, or both.

by Scott C :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 8:05pm

What conservative play-calling?

His career aggressiveness index does not support this rumor.

He lost in 2006 due to bad luck + too aggressive play calling. I'm not convinced his overall playoff play-calling was aggressive or conservative.

But I agree he was a master at coaching up the talent he was given. I'm not sure he lost to inferior talent that often -- I don't think you measure talent by the regular season record.

by Scott C :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 8:12pm

In support of Marty's aggressiveness:

He had LT throw 7+ TD passes, Norv was afraid of the trick play and stopped using LT for what was often a free TD (LT was the best passing RB in NFL history that has stats I can look up in PFR by a long shot -- because Marty let him be!).

He used the fumbleruski (sp?) or some other trick about once a year, with very high success rate. He was not afraid of fourth and 2 from the 30.

Honestly, I don't quite get where the conservative reputation came from. Sure, he was a run-heavy conservative offense promoting coach when he had a crappy QB and a good run game. But given a better passing offense, he used it. Playing to a team's strengths is not conservative.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 9:55pm

20 guys have coached 250 NFL games. 6 had a higher winning percentage. He's 10th of the 32 who coached 200 games. Marty did it with 4 different franchises, 3 of which had crappy ownership, and none of them were in good shape when he arrived.
He's a worthy Hall of Famer, for anyone who understands the game at all.

by Steve B :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:43pm

If you put him in, then what about his "brother from another mother" Chuck Knox? And what about Dan Reeves, who won 200+ games AND coached in four SBs? And what about Dick Vermeil, who won division titles in three spots, coached in two SBs AND, unlike the other three, won a SB? Also, what about Buddy Parker, Tom Flores and George Seifert? Opening this can of worms may be why Marty's HoF case has gone nowhere so far.

by theslothook :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:46pm

Vermeil should be a hall of famer.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:17am

Over a 300 game sample, the difference between a winning percentage over .600, and one in the low to mid .500s is significant, it seems to me. I don't put a lot of stock in playoff winning percentage, because the one and done format really skews things.

I actually think Seifert is unduly hurt by the last disastrous season with Carolina, which left him at
.648. If he had simply retired after the Niners, he'd probably be in. However, I understand the reasoning that says all his success came with a team which already was performing very well. A guy like Parcells, who I think is obviously deserving at .569, really stands out for the succession of salvage jobs for horrid teams.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 9:44am

Agree that Seifert is particularly doomed by the 1-15 season. If he retires after two mediocre seasons in Carolina; he finishes his career 113-47, for a 71% winning percentage, and a 10-5 playoff record.

I agree he's hurt that he inherited Walsh's team, but from what I've read, the '88 49ers were seen as a weak champion on their last legs, while the '89 team under Seifert was a machine that won its three playoff games by a combined 126-26.

Also think some of the credit for the quality of team he inherited goes to Seifert himself, as his 49ers defenses were about as consistent year-to-year as the Montana-led offenses.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 10:00am

I'd put Seifert in, because I don't think one hideous, injury riddled season with an old team counters everything that preceded it. I'll also note again that if Roger Craig doesn't drop the ball after a run of the mill tackle at the end of the 1990 NFCCG, there's a really good chance Seifert never gets fired in San Franciso, has at least 3 Super Bowl Rings, easily the best winning percentage ever, and would have been a mortal lock for first year induction.

by Will Allen :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 10:00am

I'd put Seifert in, because I don't think one hideous, injury riddled season with an old team counters everything that preceded it. I'll also note again that if Roger Craig doesn't drop the ball after a run of the mill tackle at the end of the 1990 NFCCG, there's a really good chance Seifert never gets fired in San Franciso, has at least 3 Super Bowl Rings, easily the best winning percentage ever, and would have been a mortal lock for first year induction.

by dmstorm22 :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 9:48am

To follow from above, it seems the standard for coaches has always been exceedingly high, to where there is what, 1 active coach is probably has a better than 50% chance to get in with Belichick.

There's ~6 active QBs who will be in the HOF, there should be more than 1 coach (you can make an argument Harbaugh, Tomlin, McCarthy have shots if things go their way over the next 6-9 years).

by mehllageman56 :: Sun, 08/16/2015 - 8:52pm

Contrary to what people think, that 2004 Chargers team was not more talented than the Jets that year. Check out the DVOA rankings from that year. The Jets also beat the Chargers earlier in the season, only by a touchdown, but it was a garbage time touchdown that made it that close. So that isn't an example of Shotty losing to a less talented team, and they were lucky to get to overtime considering the late roughing the quarterback penalty.

by theslothook :: Sun, 08/16/2015 - 9:26pm

I think the problem was...the jets were in some strange slide by the end of the year. I remember they got beat in the last week of the season by the 8-8 rams that really would have sent them home if NOT for that ridiculous buffalo meltdown vs the steeler backups.

But its a nice underscore for looking over a full season than wins or weighted dvoa for example.

by Independent George :: Mon, 08/17/2015 - 1:05pm

The thing I remember about that game, though - and the reason for Marty's reputation - was Tomlinson running into a wall three times for 0 yards, leading to a missed FG in OT.

Granted, a 40-yard FG should be more-or-less a gimme, and the Jets pass defense was pretty good that year, but that still felt like a give-up sequence. I'll concede that 90% of NFL Head Coaches would have done the same, so Marty does get unfairly tarred over that, it's still a legitimate criticism even if it's one shared by the many coaches who never get far enough for that to be an issue.

Of course, that fits right in with all of Marty's other bizarre losses. The Drive. The Earnest Byner Fumble. The Marlon McCree fumble. Nate Kaeding missing a 40-yard FG. The guy just can't catch a break.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 5:28pm

I'm in no hurry to put Dungy in, but I'm also trying to predict what will happen rather than what should happen. Based on what I'm hearing, it's fitting that Dungy is the most debated candidate here. Some could look at his team's success and greatly credit him for shaping them into consistent winners. Some will say his teams went to the Super Bowl right after he left, which doesn't look good for him.

Personally, I don't think Dungy is on any different tier from Bill Cowher, Mike Holmgren and Mike Shanahan. Tom Coughlin is also probably worth including on that tier. Are they getting in any time soon? Doesn't look like it.

by gomer_rs :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:37pm

Of that group only Dungy popularized a system on offense or defense that was adopted by other teams with great success. The next closest coaches on that stretch are probably Dick LeBeau with the zone-blitz and the 3-4 adopters as well as Bill Walsh and the West Coast Offense.

Maybe Shanahan for zone blocking in the running game and the fungibility of RBs.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by tuluse :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:57pm

I would personally put those first 3 names in. I'm more conflicted on Coughlin because his Giants teams were so Jekyll and Hyde. Don't really remember his Jaguars days.

by Independent George :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 11:43pm

Of those four, I'd put Coughlin in ahead of everyone except Holmgren (who I do think is a decent choice). Those Jags teams were were excellent.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:40pm

By that reasoning, Bill Walsh's career is discounted by 1989, Don Shula's by 1970, and, hell, Paul Brown's, by 1964.

This is unsound.

by dmstorm22 :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:04am

It is really funny that the evidence can be swung both ways.

We discredit Dungy for the fact Gruden and Caldwell took over his teams and went to the Super Bowl in the first year.

Then we also discredit Seifert for taking over for Walsh and going to the Super Bowl. I get that with Seifert he was inheriting a Championship team - where Gruden was 'taking TB over the top', but let's pick one.

by Will Allen :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 11:35am

I completely agree with the idea that the tools we have to make careful delineations in coaching performance are very, very, crude. I just think it's nuts to use that fact to put forth the argument that somebody with a great winning percentage over a huge sample size of games is somehow borderline. Look, if the argument is that the guy needed to win 85%, instead of 68% of his games, to be a strong candidate, well, the limits to that reasoning are pretty obvious. If you get into the playoff game w-l record nonsense, I suppose it bears repeating that if you change about 5 random events that have nothing to do with coaching performance, Belichik's playoff record can range from about .500, with about 1 championship, to about .900, with 6 championships. When five random events can cause a metric to swing that wildly, what it tells you is that the metric sucks.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 4:34am

While Seifert did inherit a Championship team, I'd be inclined to say that he rejuvenated them resulting in a 14-2 record and the biggest SB win ever.

Even though Walsh built the team, I'm not sure he'd have got the same result. From what I've read in a biography he'd begun to the lose the team particularly after he wouldn't talk to them following the 87 playoff disaster against the Vikings. He was pretty stressed / burned out by the time he retired after XXIII.

Let's give a little bit of credit that Seifert had the sense to carry on what was working and continue to get equally, if not better results. For comparison look at how Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys didn't stay successful for long under Barry Switzer.

by theslothook :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 4:42am

He was also the coach of the 2001 Panthers - the team that finished last in the league.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 6:39pm

So I guess I'm holding a minority position. The argument is - are we sure Dungy is a great coach? I'm sure Warner was a great qb. I am positive Owens was a transcendant receiver. Was Dungy? its more murky and Scott listed some names above that would have be considered borderline but Dungy somehow is a given?

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 9:56pm

How many more games would Dungy's teams need to have won, before you'd be convinced he was a great coach?

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:15pm

Hmm....that's an excellent point. Since I consider the playoffs a total crapshoot, they basically could not have done any better than they did.

I guess Will's done a good job of convincing me. I didn't really pay close attention to his tampa days, but I guess its impressive. Sure, hes worthy...ish :D

by gomer_rs :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:42pm

With that comment I must ask... how old are you? sorry couldn't help myself, TB was Tony Dungy

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:47pm

30....I didn't super get into football till college.

by Independent George :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 11:37pm

I mentally count Gruden's Super Bowl win as Dungy's.

by dbostedo :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:38pm

Using the fact that some players/coaches were good with different teams and situations to make a case that they are a HOFer makes perfect sense.

Using the fact that some players/coaches were good with just one team or QB or set of players to make a case that they aren't HOFers doesn't make any sense.

Yes, it's less information and may not show as much as someone who moved around and went through changes, but there's nothing negative in it. Just a slight lack of knowledge. They still accomplished a great deal, and I don't think saying "you can't prove they would have been great in other situations" should mean "you can't put them in the HOF". Otherwise, 3/4 of the current HOF probably wouldn't be in there.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 10:54pm

Coaching is really a black box. It's mostly subjective which makes it easy to claim and impossible to refute? How do we know how much of the colts success was Dungy vs Manning vs the talent around him? Parsing credit becomes incredibly difficult, but then its intellectually lazy to just say - well...both were great thus both deserve the hall. We don't(or shouldn't) use such criteria when judging hall of fame guards or nose tackles.

Briefly on Dungy - I'm amenable to the argument that he was a good/great/whatever coach because he was successful in tampa. If instead his whole career had been spent in Indy, I would be much more skeptical for the reasons I listed above. And that I think its absolutely fair.

by Independent George :: Fri, 08/07/2015 - 11:40pm

That is a fair point - but what's unfair about it (and the reason Will and others are so bothered by it) is that you're discounting half of his record as head coach.

Yes, anybody's HOF credentials are significantly diminished if you ignore half of his career.

by tuluse :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 3:22am

Except Jerry Rice!

Still remember that PFR blog post splitting his career into even and odd years and coming to the conclusion both were HoF resumes.

by Thok :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 7:10am

Payton Manning can handle the half the career argument as well. Half of Peyton looks like Jim Kelly's or Steve Young's NFL careers at least in terms of volume.

by Independent George :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 5:53pm

Oh, man, you're right - I can't believe I forgot about that post...

I miss the PFR blog.

by dbostedo :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 9:57am

Yes, good points. But lets pretend that Dungy spent his whole career in Indy, and that his whole career with great QBs. Just because he wasn't given any variation or apparent strife to overcome, you would see that as a reason to keep him OUT of the HOF? So no matter how good the Colts were, or how good a (somewhat unknowable) job he did, he couldn't get in? Because that's what it was sounding like.

Or to flip it around, someone above mentioned Bill Belichick. He failed in Cleveland, and has had great success only in NE. Does that mean he can't get into the HOF since the only time he was given variety and strife he didn't do very well?

by Alternator :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 8:27pm

Bill with Browns: 6-10, 7-9, 7-9, 11-5, and then the moving season: 4-4 before the move was announced, 1-7 afterwards. That's not really failing, that's slow but steady improvements, and then the team having its legs cut out by outside events. Middling, unimpressive, but not a failure.

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:45pm

"Failed" is a bit strong, but certainly not much of anybody thought of him as a great HC prior to the Pats' first SB run under him in 2001.

by theslothook :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 10:10pm

Again - were it simply that Dungy and Manning played and coached together for the entire run, I would be skeptical but still accept that there was simply no way we could reasonably parse out credit for their success.

As it happens, we got close to a controlled experiment with a season apart from dungy and a season apart from Manning. The results were extremes in both directions. And finally, we got a controlled experiment from New England. Comparing those three gives us some insight into just how much the success of the colts was coaching/ the qb.

This brings me to a larger point. If I had super talented rosters and I could have Brady or Manning as my qb, I might take Brady just because he'd be more willing to let the offensive flexibility dictate the approach.

But pound for pound, I don't think there is another qb aside from maybe Elway and Tarkenton who could take a team totally bereft of talent and make them respectable. Given that, I have to be consistent and say that Manning deserves the lionshare and then some of the credit for the colts decade long run.

by tuluse :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 2:05am

The season before Dungy arrived, the Colts went 6-10. Why doesn't that factor in?

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:13am

Yeah that's fair. Manning also had an off year that year. Unless you think Dungy bears a huge responsibility in Manning's evolution(something we'll never know), then sure...Duny deserves a lot of credit.

by RickD :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:10pm

Brady wasn't a great QB until he had been coached for several years. It's not obvious to me that he'd have developed into a Hall of Famer under generic coaching.

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:51pm

He also didn't have a great wr until Moss arrived in 2007.

by SandyRiver :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:00pm

It might be instructive how poorly some of Brady's "Smurf" WRs did after leaving the Pats, though that may be more system than QB.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:59pm

Woodhead and Welker have both been good outside of NE

by BJR :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 5:23pm

Hang on, you can't insist on 'Manning asterisks' for his coaches/teammates, then use Welker as an example of somebody who flourished away from Brady. Woodhead too has enjoyed elite level QB play since he left NE.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:07pm

I guess you're right on both of them. I suppose it was in response to the idea of the system making them. I do want to say though - they haven't been "poor" outside of NE.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 6:15am

I struggle to even remember the names of the Pats 'great' SB-winning WRs - David Patten, David Givens, Deion Branch.

Branch is the best example, and said as much himself when he returned to the Pats a few years ago. Essentially that if he'd stayed in New England instead of going to Seattle for the money he might have been a candidate for the HoF. (His words not mine).

by SandyRiver :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 8:43am

Woodhead has been about the same post-NE. Welker has been good in Denver, but his 2-yr total yards there matches what he averaged per season during his 6 with the Pats. (Ignores some context, but I still think he's been less productive with the Broncos.)
However, my comment #150 was looking farther back, to the Davids (Patten and Givens) who virtually disappeared after leaving NE, though DP had one decent year with the Saints. Deion B was much less effective in Seattle, too, as was posted above. Would Troy Brown have been anything more than a KR and 4th receiver elsewhere?

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:03pm

I'm pretty agnostic on the Irrational Thread, but it really is an interesting contrast between how GMs and coaches have tried to manage a roster with Brady, and how they have done so with Manning. Yes, eventually Brady obtained HOF worthy receiving, with Moss, mostly on the cheap(er), and now with Gronk, and maybe Welker, but for the most part the Patriots have always prioritized competency, at an absolute minimum, for Brady's pass protectors. Manning's GMs and coaches, in contrast, have put a priority on receiving talent, over blocking talent, to the point that some guys, who would not look out of place as auditions for extras on "The Walking Dead", have been tasked with protecting the most expensive guy on the roster.

Toss in that I think analysis would also show more cap space, on average, devoted to defense in New England, compared to the rosters Manning played on, and more cap space devoted to the qb position itself on Manning's roster, and I think it is strongly suggestive, given the obvious difference in playoff success, that Darth Hoodie's approach is more conducive to playoff success. I say this as someone who fully recognizes the huge effect of randomess on playoff success, and how 5 plays which have largely random outcomes can swing Darth's and Mr. Bundchen's playoff record from about .500 with one trophy, to about .900 and 6 trophies. I just think there is still a lot of value in defense and blocking people.

by SandyRiver :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 9:19am

Appropo to nothing, perhaps, but your "Mr. Bundchen" reminds me of the headline in a Brazilian newspaper following the SB: "Giselle Bundchen's husband wins 4th Lombardi Trophy."

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 5:03pm

Im curious what people think of Eldeman as a receiver? Some GM called him the toughest cover in the nfl. I charted one or two NE games and watched several in detail, specifically on Edleman. He benefits a lot of from Gronk, but the man really has a knack for short area quickness to elude defenders and cut through linebacker zones.

I think in a vacuum, he's somewhat dependent on scheme/gronk, but hes clearly a very effective player.

by duh :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 5:27pm

I think this goes to coaching. He's very effective because he's being put in a position where he can do the things he's good at instead of being forced into a preconceived role of what a WR should be.

The is a quote that is floating around that I've seen attributed to various coaches (B. Walsh, BB for a couple) that goes something like

...don't tell me what a player can't do, tell me what he does well or I don't want to hear what he can't do tell us what he can do to help ...

It is a philosophy of team building that appeals to me.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 5:46pm

There are of course limits. The year before when Gronk was hurt, there was a clear effect on Brady. In the end, next man up and effective usage is all well and good, but you still need a darrell revis to solve your lousy secondary.

by David :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 5:42am

Not to pile on with MilkmanDanimal above, but as much as I love hall of fame discussions, it's pointless having them with someone who thought Bettis was a lock!

Having said that, I agree with the three names chosen as being the only hall worthy players of the first years. Hard to see when TO gets in - I'd have him in on the first ballot, but can see that the queuing system is going to get debated in the room. However, he will get in eventually.

Faneca should be in eventually, but as mentioned in the article, nobody is in a hurry to induct guards

by Will Allen :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 9:02am

Better guards than outside linebackers, sez Chuck Howley, gloomily.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 1:21pm

Sixth grade in 97-98? Holy crap.

All this time with the way you think and write I had it in my head that you were older than I was, not 7 years younger.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 2:47pm

Not sure it's a good thing that people keep thinking I'm a lot older than I am, but I'll take it as a compliment.

by Dave Bernreuther :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 9:49am

It was intended that way!

by SFC B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:58pm

He didn't say how many times he'd attempted 6th grade... he might still be older than you.

by joe_football :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 3:18pm

Dungy and Cowher seem like virtually the same resume to me. Both with one Superbowl win. Cowher has one more conference title, Dungy has a signifigant edge in winning % but both are well over .600 and Dungy had far more seasons with Manning then Cowher did with Roethlisberger. Both of their teams popularized a somewhat novel defensive scheme, though Dungy gets a lot more credit for it then Cowher

Basically what I am saying is the hall of fame does not have enough steelers

by drobviousso :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 7:03pm

Don't forget that they were both try-hard, bottom of the roster type players in NFL teams located in the Ohio Valley!

I agree though. Very different styles, but I'd put them on the same level as coaches. If that level is good enough for the HOF? I go no f'in idea. I realized a while ago I don't care about the HOF.

by Mr Shush :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:28pm

I agree. Among recent coaches, Belichick is an absolute shoo-in, and then there's a number of perfectly reasonable candidates who I see as being fairly close together, Dungy among them. I probably rate Coughlin the highest as having done the most with the least, but he's also the least consistent. I probably have Holmgren a little lower than most, and Andy Reid basically in that bracket with them. Guys like Tomlin, Payton and John Harbaugh look on course to end up in that kind of category too, though obviously there's a long way to go. I am pretty much indifferent to whether all, none or some of those coaches get in, and fairly indifferent as to which ones it is in case of "some".

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:41pm

I'd give Harbaugh a clear advantage over Tomlin, Payton and Coughlin. Only missed the playoffs once in 7 years, in a very difficult division. Never had elite QBing. Transitioned from Ray Lewis and Ed Reed without missing a beat. Out coached Belichick on a couple occasions.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:50pm

Funny thing about coaches is - play long enough and the legacy actually diminishes(unless your name is BB).

Think about holmgren, Shannahan, Andy Reid etc. I don't think its fair and I actually think what Shanny did(aside from his machiavelian politics) was/is a really good schemer/teacher.

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:58pm

"Never had elite QBing"

2012 post season Joe Flacco says hi

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 6:22pm

Never had elite QBing for 16 games in a row ;)

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 5:29am

Yeah - if pushed, subjectively I think I would go 1. Harbaugh 2. Payton 3. Shanahan on the combined list. Could I meaningfully back that up? Not really.

by Steve B :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 12:03am

Cowher won't get very far in the voting process until enough of the committee is completely convinced he's done coaching, which probably won't happen until he has a chance to tell the Giants' brass he's not interested in being Coughlin's successor/they have a chance to tell him they're no longer interested in him.

Agree with the five choices Scott names. One no discussion needed first ballot choice but otherwise another big 'clean up' year. True, two qbs in the same class has happened before, but I think the consensus will be that Favre should go in alone and that it's not outrageous to wait one more year on Warner. Given the fact that he was locker room poison, the number of drops he had and Harrison being ahead of him in the WR pecking order, safe to say Owens waits 1-2 years. I don't know if Faneca waits as long as guys like McDaniel or Shields did. Sometimes it comes down to how many chairs there are in a given year and it seems like there could be one for Faneca in 2017. If they go ahead and put him in then, it saves them from the "Faneca vs. Hutchinson" debate.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 3:02am

Yeah I don't plan this thing out ahead too much, but I think Faneca in 2017 is a smart pick. Of course I might change my tune after seeing how he's treated by the process this year, but early on I like that pick for 2017.

by big10freak :: Sat, 08/08/2015 - 3:27pm

While a Packer fan I think the 60's Packers are over represented in the football Hall of Fame. Kramer may be worthy but good grief let's look elsewhere for crissakes. So many guys who are deserving. Give others a thorough review versus pondering the umpteenth Packer of the Lombardi Era

by Pen :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 3:14pm

It's that time of year again to point out the travesty that RB Larry Brown of the Washington Redskins is not being considered.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 3:25pm

Did he suffer some serious injuries after his 1972 MVP season? His career was pretty irrelevant after his fifth season. Hard to consider him without considering William Andrews and Billy Sims.

by bachslunch :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 7:51pm

Brown's career was cut short by injury, though I couldn't find specifics online.

But I will say that Chuck Foreman is pretty much as deserving as Brown. Plus there are to my thinking worse Senior "injustices" than inducting the best available RB not in.

by Pen :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:38am

He was one of those players you had to see play. His stats don't tell the whole story. He was the most dominant force on the field. Punishing hitter whose style of play ended his career too soon. I remember Howard Cosell speaking about "Future Hall of Famer" Larry Brown.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 1:20am

You can say the stats don't tell the story, but the fact is the story lasted five seasons (66 games) and that's just not long enough for most HOF voters. He wasn't Gale Sayers or TD either.

by Pen :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:13am

Actually, comparing Brown to Sayers side by side, he does compare favorably. Sayers had the return yds, but Brown was better catching out of the backfield and rushing. PFR has Browns AV about 40% greater than Sayers.

by bachslunch :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:43pm

What is the significance of PFRs AV stat? Among other things, it doesn't appear to take Sayers's KR stats (which are formidable and a major difference) into account. How are you period-adjusting when you say Brown was a better rusher than Sayers? And I've heard "future hall of famer" attached to more than one player who didn't get in.

by tuluse :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:09pm

AV is a generally successful way to capture the value a player gave his team to match a sort of common sense "these guys were good" idea. The weighted version rewards both high peak and longevity.

It does capture some special teams value I believe. Credit is given for tackles, but it's not perfect of course.

by Raiderjoe :: Sun, 08/09/2015 - 11:02pm

Brown jsyt got battered and broken down. No majõr innuries far as i know. Just a slow gradual grind downward

by Sakic :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:17am

"Owens' numbers are going to be there, as will the memorable moments like his game-winning touchdown in the playoffs to beat Green Bay"

Jerry Rice fumbled. :-)

by Led :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:20am

I'm not remotely objective on this, but I sure hope Joe Klecko gets in through the Senior Committee. Rather than make my own argument, I'll just appeal to authority and point out that Dr. Z was a huge proponent of Klecko's candidacy. I'm sure seeing Joe enshrined would put a smile on the good Doctor's face (as well as the Flaming Redhead). And what intelligent NFL fan would be so heartless as to oppose that?

by Travis :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 11:30am

Tanier advocated for Gastineau over Klecko in a column last week without talking about much other than sack totals. I doubt many others agree with his conclusion.

by mehllageman56 :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 12:08pm

Perhaps he should have asked Greg Buttle or Lance Mehl who was easier to play behind. I remember reading in Nose to Nose that Gastineau was getting one of them killed by doing his usual outsider rush for the quarterback when they were behind 31-0.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:21pm

Gastineau shows up a lot in Dr.Z's all pro columns(I know, I had to read every damn one of them for my draft database). He wasn't always named to the team, but he was constantly mentioned and a few times I think was actually on the team. This may seem like nothing, but just being on Z's radar for so long kind of tells me he's worthy.

by Travis :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:14pm

Dr. Z repeatedly acknowledged that Gastineau was the best pass rusher in the league (indeed, he had Gastineau as the 7th-best pass rusher of all-time as of 2000), but he only made Dr. Z's All-Pro team once, in 1983.

Gastineau's mentions in Dr. Z's All-Pro team articles, 1979-88:
1981: Klecko's mate on the other flank, Mark Gastineau, is a pure sacker who's still learning to play the run.
1983: [on the team] The Jets' Mark Gastineau, the AFC's leading sacker, with 19, was a target for TV commentators this year. They were always telling you how he was overplaying the pass, at the expense of the run, but then their isolated camera would catch him stopping the ballcarrier for a yard loss. Maybe Gastineau's techniques aren't perfect yet, but nobody hustled as much as he did—for a full afternoon. No, I don't go for the sack dance either, but give the guy credit. He played great this year.
1984: O.K., I didn't pick the Jets' Mark Gastineau at defensive end, and here's why. He started off as the best defensive lineman in pro football, piling up sacks in bunches, trying as best he could against the run. But when fed a steady diet of double-and triple-teaming, his run-stopping skills gradually deteriorated, and after a while he didn't even bother to play the run.
1985: Mark Gastineau of the Jets was slowed by injuries but he's still the league's premier sacker.

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:17pm

Seems odd that he would name somebody he only had on his All-Pro team once as the 7th best pass rusher of all time over (to name a couple) guys like Doug Atkins and Carl Eller. Regardless, I believe he was a bigger advocate for Klecko getting in the HoF than Gastineau.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:23pm

If we're going to talk glaring omissions - my draft model scores draft picks based on criteria like all pros, probowls, and dr.z all pros(later supplanted by pff all pros). Its scaled from 0 to 1000. Anyone whos in the 800 and above range(meaning at least 8 years as a starter and multiple probowls with 1 or 2 all pros) is in the hall of fame or is considered a good candidate.

Mike Kenn is the only 1000 rated player who is not currently in the hall of fame or would be a lock if they retired(See Manning, Ray Lewis, etc).

by Raiderjoe :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 2:38pm

m. kenn tremendous lineman. hurt a lto by playing on some nondescript Falcs temas. if played full carer for Washington or dallas or Giantso or Raiders would be in Hall of Game alrrady

by Will Allen :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:02pm

Mike Kenn was a great, great, player who was penalized by playing for a relatively new, more often than not bad franchise, before the explosion of sports on cable tv. Teams like Atlanta just didn't get attention in 1980.
If he had been drafted by a team like the Giants or Redskins, Kenn would have made it in a long ago.

(Edit) I swear I wasn't trying to copy rj.

by Travis :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:25pm

Is there any evidence that playing/coaching in big media markets (as opposed to on Super Bowl-winning teams) helps in modern Hall of Fame voting, except maybe for quarterbacks?

The Jets have had one non-cup-of-coffee Hall of Famer in the past 40 years.

For the Giants, George Young's not in, Phil Simms and Tiki Barber have no chance, it took Harry Carson 13 years to get elected, and neither Parcells nor Strahan went in on the first ballot.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 6:29pm

Well the key is getting on TV and getting media attention. A big media market doesn't hurt at all for those purposes. You still need an actual hall of fame resume to get in though (and Phil Simmms doesn't).

Tiki is a strange case. I expect he'll get in many years from now when writers are trying to put back together the puzzle of the NFL story and see this running back with insane yards from scrimmage every year.

by Independent George :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 7:16pm

CAVEAT: I'm a Giants fan and am predicatably biased, though I personally think Tiki's a tool because of his off-the-field stuff.

I actually think Tiki is actually a not-ridiculous case for NFL (though I wouldn't vote him in myself); I think he's certainly a better candidate than Jerome Bettis. If you look at his numbers, he's got both excellent longevity and a high peak performance without spending years compiling yards as a below-average back.

The biggest legitimate knock against him is his fumbles (once per 55 touches), which is admittedly very high... but unevenly distributed; it was only once per 130 touches during the last three years of his career (which were also his best three years). He had three legitimately great seasons (2004-2006), four good ones, even with the fumbles (2000-2003), and three as a role player (1997-1999). What's strange is that compared to most RBs, his career went backwards - his best years were his last, and his worst were his earliest.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 7:30pm

I will not accept - bettis got in therefore so and so's case is not as ridiculous. At this point, I feel like all Non steeler fans are in unison. Bettis was undeserving.

That said, I think if Tiki had played a few more years and compiled some more stuffing(for lack of a better term), he'd have a good shot. I get the sense for running backs, absolute totals matter more than pure efficiency, though we here at FO love efficiency and Tiki certainly was that. Actually that understates his value - tiki was a really good rusher ands a good receiver. Probably the most well rounded back since Marshall Faulk.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 7:57pm

I think Tomlinson would have something to say about most well rounded back.

Of course, in my mind Tomlinson is the best running back since Walter Payton and just as much of an all around good at everything football player. After Urlacher, he's the player I'm saddest never got a Superbowl ring.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 8:04pm

Ahhh...so forgot about tomlinson. Of course. Would you rather have tomlinson over AP/Lynch? I think tomlinson was a better all around player...so I guess I would.

My opinion of lynch tho is remarkable. He might be the least o line dependent runner I've seen.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 9:14pm

I do think there is a nontrivial chance that Peterson will be an outlier among HOF running backs, and maintain a good deal of his explosiveness until he is 33 or 34. If he does that, his rank among the best at the position will climb near the top.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 9:43pm

After the season removed from knee surgery...I'm inclined to believe hes an alien.

by Alternator :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 9:58am

Peterson is the only recent running back who successfully carried an offense, almost completely without QB support, into the playoffs. While brash, I think his statement that he's already a HoF player and has his sights on the All Time Greatest conversation is pretty much justified.

Terrible father, amazing player. Won't be first ballot, but won't be waiting long, either.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:25am

Yeah, in 2008, and again in 2012, the qb play was atrocious (as has been the case for every year Peterson has played, with the exception of one), and the team made the playoffs. The last time any team tried to play Peterson like a normal running back was 8 games into his rookie year, when defensive genius Ted Cottrell had 7 in the box, and Peterson rushed for almost 300 yards. Anybody who thinks that it was coincidental that Favre had one of his best statistical seasons at age 40, when Peterson was standing behind him, really doesn't understand the game.

Heck, in 2007 and 2008, at least it can be said that the o-line was excellent, and the defense as well. After that? Not at all, with Sullivan taking a few years before becoming a competent center (who is still prone to being overpowered), Mckinnie and Hutchinson going into steep decline, Kalil having one competent rookie season followed by two years of injury riddled poor play, Fusco taking a couple years to become above average, and a defense whose linebacking and db play went over a cliff.

Peterson's incredible 2012 season came with Charlie Turnstile Johnson (!) as a starter on the o-line, The Ponderous One taking snaps, Jerome Simpson leading the wide receiver corps in starts, with 10, and a defensive backfield which was largely helpless. How he was able to carry that team to 10 wins defies understanding.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:41am

I will never get tired of The Ponderous One.

Yeah, I don't think it's a stretch to say Peterson belongs in the hall based on his current resume, and I'm with everyone saying there are too many RBs in.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:12pm

The player the Vikings drafted 12th (!) overall in 2011 may be the most aptly named guy, matching playing style, in league history.

(edit) It is also worth noting that if you want your future HOF running back or qb to get full recognition, go ahead and install Charlie Turnstile Johnson as a starter on the o-line for a couple seasons, so as to allow everyone to grasp that the future recipient of the ugly yellow blazer is doing it with a ship's anchor worthy of an aircraft carrier chained to an ankle. Strangely, Darth Hoodie of New England has never seen the wisdom of this approach. My fervent hope is that Donuts McCarthy of Green Bay does.

by Travis :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:47pm

Will Shields? Mac Speedie? John Smith?

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 9:44pm

My answer is... it depends.

I think as pure runners, Lynch and AP are better than Tomlinson, but I think he adds a bunch of extra value.

If I have a bad offense, I want AP. He can just do incredible things that can nearly carry an offense by himself. If I have a decent to good offense already, I'd rather have LdT.

This answer might also change depending on if you say one game, one season, or a career.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 5:42am

I'd rather have prime Marshall Faulk than any of them...

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:54pm

Re: #167

And at this point I feel like most of the anti-Bettis people only remember the end of his career and even they're getting stuff wrong (ignoring/forgetting how well he played down the stretch in 2004). As far as Bettis vs. Tiki...well, I know who I'd trust more to close out a game. The main reason the fumble in the '05 playoff game vs. the Colts was such a shock was because that NEVER happened to him.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:58pm


by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 10:56pm

It all depends on what standard you are using. Bettis was a pretty good running back. That said, there are lots of running backs with similar careers who won't sniff the hall of fame, to say nothing of the dozens! of qualified candidates who are not in while bettis is. Just think of the hall of famers who are NOT in currently while bettis is. These include Orlando Pace, Marvin Harrison, Kevin Greene, etc etc.

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 11:05pm

You act like those guys have been waiting for decades and that Bettis was first ballot. A better example to use would've been Mick Tinglehoff.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:55am

That's actually kind of what I was trying to get at - I'm not really opposed to them being in, but I think both Bettis and Martin were borderline cases that jumped the line in a HoF that's already stuffed to the gills with RBs. Bettis got in while Kurt Warner, Orlando Pace, and Tony Dungy wait? Curtis Martin got in ahead of Will Shields, Bill Parcells, and the Reed/Carter/Brown logjam at WR?

I don't think Tiki belongs, but don't like that he's dismissed out of hand while Bettis and Martin seemed to sail in.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:15pm

I hate fumbles, so I always had a soft spot for Martin, whereas Tiki bugged the sh*t out of me, until Coughlin got through his thick, overly self-regarded, skull.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:52pm

I agree completely, which is why I ultimately come down with a definite "No" for Tiki, and "Yes" for Martin.

There is one statistical anomaly which has always bugged me, though - fumble rates by RBs sank like a stone sometime in the 90s. Looking at just the recent HOF RBs (plus Tomlinson, who seems like a lock), with the number of touches (RUSH + REC) per fumble, we get:

Payton (1975): 50.35
Dorsett (1977): 37.04
Campbell (1978): 53.67
Allen (1982): 55.52
Dickerson (1983): 42.01
Thomas (1988): 66.98
Sanders (1989): 83.27
Smith (1990): 80.72
Bettis (1993): 89.73
Faulk (1994): 98.53
Martin (1995): 138
Tomlinson (2001): 134.73

Why did that happen, and why so dramatically?

Tiki comes out much, much worse when adjusted for era.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:54pm

Did you calculate that yourself? I can't believe, in this era, that it is so difficult to obtain fumble rates.

I think what happened was that by the nineties coaching began to emphasize ball security better, and more importantly, referees started whistling plays dead much sooner. Prior to instant replay, of course, a lot of ground contact fumbles occurred, along with ultra-slow whistle fumbles. You see some Jim Brown "fumbles" from the sixties, and he looks like he's on the ground long enough for moss to start growing, before the ball comes out. Walter Payton really did palm the ball a lot, however, so his high fumble rate is no doubt partially earned. Dickerson, too, which is what always bugged me about him. I'd never perceived Dorsett as being that bad at ball security, so that surprises me a little.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 5:54pm

I compiled that from PFR; I'm sure there's a way to get league averages from their database, but I was procrastinating enough just to put these together.

I'm not sure I buy that coaches were emphasizing ball security more; why wouldn't they have always emphasized not fumbling? I'm not aware of any fundamental changes to the running game that made ball security suddenly more important in the 90s - I can't picture Don Shula telling Mercury Morris (26.92) to just hold it any which way he wants. Interestingly, Csonka averaged an excellent 96.10 touches per fumble.

Different interpretations on the ground causing fumbles makes sense to me, but you would expect that someone like Payton would have different rates over his career; instead, it seems pretty randomly distributed to me:

1975: 25.4
1976: 32.6
1977: 33.27
1978: 76.6
1979: 57.14
1980: 72.6
1981: 42.22
1982: 60
1983: 73.4
1984: 85.2
1985: 62.17
1986: 59.67
1987: 35.8

Of course, the problem with this kind of analysis is that it can't separate out things like a learning curve early in a career, vs. age & injuries taking their toll late, but I don't see a consistent trend line. I really wish I had league averages from, say, 1975 - 2000.

by Travis :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 6:47pm

I can't picture Don Shula telling Mercury Morris (26.92) to just hold it any which way he wants.

Here's a clip from a 1990 Rams game in which the announcers basically say John Robinson tells his running backs do just that. (Cleveland Gary fumbled 12 times that year.)

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 7:00pm

My first reaction was that ball security became more important in recent years; just as before the West Coast Offense it was accepted for QBs to throw interceptions particularly if throwing it deep. I'd suggest that the emphasis on ball security came from defenses looking to strip the ball rather than just make tackles.

I noted the other day while watching some footage of Frank Gifford how far away from the body the ball was when he was running. Twice on his weaving run at 45-55secs he waves the ball around at head height! Also at 3min47 on the Chuck Bednarik hit the ball pops out and not just because of the hit - again he was waving it around with three defenders near him. RIP Frank


by Independent George :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 10:07am

Huh. I stand corrected.

I'm kind speechless - I understand how interceptions were the norm before the Mel Blount rule, and therefore acceptable risks in the eyes of most coaches, but how in the wide wide world of sports do you not teach ball security while running?

Why did it take so long to realize letting the other team have the ball more than necessary was a bad thing?

Then again, it took a century for baseball managers to realize how valuable walks are.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:56pm


by tuluse :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 3:59pm

I think stickem being banned had the opposite effect you'd think. Without the crutch of feeling like you could hold a ball in one hand safely, well you just stopped doing it. That explains I think the drop from 50ish in the 80s to 80ish in the 90s. Don't know where the further drop to 130ish came from.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 5:29pm

I think Martin and Tomlinson are both outliers even for the best backs of their era; I don't have any stats for the NFL average, but both were well-noted for their ball security when they played. I looked at these because it gives us an idea of what an "acceptable" fumble rate was over different periods.

I was shocked when I first ran those numbers a few years ago. Actually, I first started looking into it when Martin got selected - I didn't expect to see such a marked difference in rates.

by Daniel2772 :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:36pm

Martin and Bettis are 4th and 6th on the all-time rushing yards list. Barber is 25th. I don't see how they are comparable. Every RB in the top 10 is in the HoF except Tomlinson who isn't eligible yet. There are 30 RBs in the hall, 23 QBs, 24 WRs, and 42 Offensive Linemenin. I don't see how enshrining 2 of the top 6 rushers in history is somehow diminishing the HoF or taking away from the other positions. When you consider the changes to the rules favoring passing we might only see 1-3 more RBs enshrined over the next 10-20 years while the number of QBs and WRs should increase substantially.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:59pm

Yards from scrimmage is probably a better metric for evaluating running backs, and Tiki is ahead of Bettis in that category. He isn't that far ahead, however, and I don't know where to quickly access career fumble rates anymore, so I can't tell how much superior Bettis was to barber in this regard. Martin had more yards from scrimmage than Barber, and was perhaps the best ever at avoiding fumbles.

by Daniel2772 :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:33pm

Bettis wasn't much of a pass catcher while Tiki caught a lot of passes. They played the same position, but in completely different ways. I don't understand how Bettis' induction is seen as a travesty. Is he the greatest RB ever? Of course not. But he had a great career, he has the stats to put him in consideration and I think he and Martin both deserved to get in. Barber may get in as well, for a stretch of time he was a very prolific player. I do think that Bettis' size worked in his favor. He could hang his hat on being one of the best "big" backs ever and a unique player for his era. Whereas Tiki will face comparisons to Marshall Faulk and Thurman Thomas.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:42pm

Yeah, there is a lot of value in catching passes, which is why it is a mistake to simply look at rushing totals when talking about Barber in comparison with Bettis and Martin. If not for the fumbling issue that lasted until the last 3 years of Barber's career, I'd say Barber is a no-brainer. I'm very releuctant to assert that any guy who has been voted in didn't deserve it.

by Steve B :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:36am

So if not for a fumbling issue that lasted the majority of his career Barber would be a lock?

It's funny how people (not really referencing you, Will) say that Bettis "only had three great seasons", yet it seems like that's the same number as "superior" cases like Davis and Barber and Davis did it with a virtual all-star team around him on offense.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 1:51pm

I think my main issue is that I don't value the compilers much, particularly at RB. Bettis had 2-3 great years, a bunch of decent ones, and a few as a situational back. I don't see why spending 4 more years in the league averaging 500 yards rushing and 200 receiving should have helped Tiki, so I don't see why it hurts that he didn't.

I liked Bettis as a player and respect his longevity, but don't think that spending a few years grinding out an additional 3.7 YPC should be a difference-maker for a HOF candidate. I don't think he's a travesty, but I do think he was marginal case, especially compared to the guys like Pace.

by Daniel2772 :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:44pm

Any player that sticks around long enough will have those types of seasons. Emmit Smith wasn't that great in his last 3-4 seasons, but I wouldn't hold that against him. I think that the biggest thing working against Tiki is Tiki. I always got the impression that he was not a well-liked teammate and he wasn't very good with the press. Bettis and Martin were popular players and worked with the media. That helps their case even though it is not supposed to be a factor.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 3:47pm

I don't get the compiler argument against Bettis. His teams were mostly successful. He wasn't putting up useless numbers. Before turning 30, he was coming off one of the best seasons of his career (2001) and already had 10,876 rushing yards. Why retire then? The 2003 season didn't go well, but he was huge in 2004 when Duce Staley got hurt. He didn't do a whole lot in 2005 besides kill Urlacher. He nearly blew the season in the playoffs in Indy, but there's no denying he was a big source of inspiration for that team to go on the run they did.

Don't have the numbers in front of me right now, but among the 26 RBs with 2000+ carries since 1989, Bettis ranks 5th in rushing DYAR, 13th in weighted rushing DVOA and 2nd in success rate. That makes a lot of sense. Bettis was efficient and could get you the yards needed for successful plays, but he lacked the top-end speed to break the long runs that drive up YPC. He was a big, power back. If we had reliable numbers for broken tackles and yards after contact from those days, people would respect Bettis more. Compare him to his peers and the guys who have come around since and tell me how many were able to play this effectively at his size, and how many were able to have success as the focal point of their offense with so little help from the passing game? He's a legit HOFer, and a five-year wait was very reasonable. They rushed to get Martin in on the second ballot, and I don't see his case as being much better.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 4:49pm

I really don't get the "at his size" argument. Being bigger just means you're bigger, you don't get a free pass for that. As for his competition, I'll again bring up Corey Dillon, who managed to be really productive on a long series of simply godawful Bengals teams, and then had a simply phenomenal season in 2004 with that Patriots team. Dillon was consistently a really good player for many years, but I haven't heard anyone suggesting he make the HOF, because Corey Dillon was kind of a jerk. Statistically speaking, Dillon strikes me as noticeably better than Bettis, and the fact Bettis outweighed him by 25 pounds doesn't really matter all that much.

Let me put it this way; if Bettis had Corey Dillon's personality, the only way he ever gets to Canton is with the off ramp on I-77. If Dillon had Bettis' personality, he's getting a gold jacket.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 5:00pm

It's not asking for a pass. It's just a way to understand why the numbers are what they are. Would you compare the rushing numbers straight up of Peyton/Marino and Cam/Wilson? Of course not. You know it's a massacre, but it's also a difference of styles and skills. That's not to say one style is better than the other, though the success of those pocket passers speaks for itself. Bettis' style was also successful and fit the kind of team he was on perfectly. Most backs who tried to play like him never came close to his success, or they were moved to fullback. Bettis was unique, and yes, he was likable and that stuff matters to voters.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:34am

Bettis was a good, durable RB and had a unique style, but that doesn't mean he deserves to be in the hall of fame. I don't think defenses had to gameplan around him or ever really feared him. He was lucky to be on a great defensive team where a RB who could reliably get 3 or 4 yards was very useful. But he's a one-dimensional player.

If you compare him to his contemporaries (B. Sanders, E. Smith, T. Davis, M. Faulk) he was nothing special. The talent gap between those players and Bettis is fairly substantial, they were so much better and more dynamic than Bettis. He really waters down the talent level of the HOF, it's a shame he got elected.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:43am

He was the focal point of his offense for years. What else would a defense plan against? So many of the RBs with better stats got to play in offenses with strong passing games, helping their TD numbers by getting to the red zone more often for scoring opportunities. By the time Bettis had that luxury he was 32 years old and over 3,000 carries into his career.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 11:14am

A player can be the focal point of an offense and still not be feared by defenses. Eddie George was the focal point of those Titan offenses but he's no HOFer. If Bettis was a dominant player, a true HOF back, then the defenses would have to sell out to stop him, you'd think that would greatly help the passing game. Defenses were not stacking the box worried that Bettis was going to rip off a 6 yard run on 1st down. He didn't pose a real threat. Bettis was a poor receiving back as well, so he had a hand in those offenses being mediocre at passing.

Look at the 95 Lions. Barry Sanders turned Scott Mitchell into a great QB, at least for a year. Or how Peterson helped Favre have one of his best seasons at age 40. Bettis was an efficient inside runner, but did not transform the offense into anything special.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:29pm

The difference between Eddie George (-5.4%) and Jerome Bettis (3.2%) in rushing DVOA is greater than the difference between Bettis and Barry Sanders (11.0%).

Sanders was great every year of his career. Why did he only "make his QB great" once in 10 years? I'm sure it had a lot more to do with other factors like 1995 being the pass-happiest year on record to that point and the fact that every 1995 NFC Central QB was tearing it up (Tampa excluded).

Peterson was there in 2010 too when Favre was terrible. And despite AP's greatness in 2012, Ponder couldn't do a thing to push the ball down the field and struggled to crack 100 passing yards in multiple games.

The 2012 Vikings were also not special on offense. None of the Peterson offenses have been in Minnesota outside of 2009, which was about Favre. This is what happens to run-based offenses with bad QB play. When O.J. Simpson rushed for 2,000 yards in 1973, did he make Buffalo's offense special? No, that was the worst passing game in the league and the Bills ranked 15th in scoring (also had 4 return scores). It wasn't until 1975 that Buffalo led the league in points. Simpson was still great, but Joe Ferguson stabilized the QB position and threw 25 TDs.

It still comes back to the QB, and Bettis spent his prime years with the likes of Chris Miller, Mike Tomczak, Kordell Stewart and Kent Graham. Like I said, this mostly hurt his TD potential more than anything. When he had Roethlisberger, he scored 22 TDs in 2004-05.

by theslothook :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:25pm

Raw totals will obviously favor Bettis due to his longevity, but in terms of overall quality, his career is similar to dillon and fred taylor - players who are unlikely to make the hall. Even Frank Gore is likely not going to get in for a while by the time he retires and his career looks decidedly much better than Bettis.

In fact - Frank Gore to me is the perfect example of where my standards for the hall of fame come in. Frank Gore was a consistently pretty good Rb most of his career. At no time did I think he was a special player - to quote people above - the kind of player you were dying to have on your team in the way I have felt about say AP, Lynch, Tomlinson.

by Steve B :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 2:03am

"I don't think defenses had to gameplan around him..."

This is one of those times when I wonder if some people here do any actual game footage watching or just look at stats.

by jonnyblazin :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 11:23am

If you watched Bettis and think he's the same calibre player as B. Sanders, E. Smith, T. Davis, and M. Faulk, I don't know what to say.

by SandyRiver :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 12:39pm

Of course, that's comparing a guy elected in his 5th year of eligibility with three 1st-ballet HOFs and a player who was transcendent for 4 seasons then wrecked by injuries. Sounds like a real small hall.

by Steve B :: Wed, 08/12/2015 - 1:56am

Re: #219

Some people like to downgrade guys who didn't have their careers ruined by injury and romanticize those who did.

by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 3:28am

Harry Carson was a great player, but being a Giant helped him get in. IMO, he he is the poster child for a big market pushing a borderline candidate into the HOF...

Randy Gradishar was at least as good as Carson if not better and hasn't gotten a sniff.

by Steve B :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 4:31pm

Gradishar's gotten a sniff. I know he's been a finalist at least once. I don't disagree, though, that if we switched where he and Carson played that Carson may still be waiting.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 08/18/2015 - 6:10pm

Gradishar was a finalist twice, actually. I definitely think he should have been elected long ago. His two years came late in his candidacy, though. Harry Carson was a finalist much earlier in his eligibility and was able to hang around long enough to make it in. One might guess Gradishar might have gotten in had he been a finalist earlier. Sometimes candidates need time to sink in with the voters.

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:30pm

The Falcons got plenty of attention in 1980 and that was one of the years Kenn was named All-Pro. Problem was they didn't win a whole lot overall through the rest of the decade. They were particularly bad during the second half of the 80's. I sort of buy the argument that if Kenn had been one of the 'Hogs' he'd already be in but, then again, Joe Jacoby's still waiting, too.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 08/18/2015 - 6:05pm

Kenn, Jacoby, Marvin Powell, and Leon Gray have similar postseason honors profiles and played contemporaneously with each other. I'm hard pressed to distinguish between them, myself.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:08pm

Also, Chuck Howley was hurt by not getting the quality of his play fully recognized until he was about 30, and even so he managed to rack up five 1st team All-Pros.

by Will Allen :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 3:37pm

The media environment today is nothing like it was before the rise of cable. Back then, a bad team in a small market, especially one without any history, was ignored, and a selector may have only seen a guy play a few times.

by Travis :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 4:06pm

What evidence is there that "bad team in a small market" was substantially different than just "bad team" in terms of pre-cable live television coverage? Were selectors from the 26 other teams' home areas that more likely to see the 1977 Giants or Jets than the 1977 Falcons, especially given the likelihood that those selectors were covering games in person on Sunday afternoons?

Here's a list of Hall of Famers by franchise. Is there any large market/small market pattern at all as to which post-1960 players are inducted?

by Jerry :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 5:54pm

Your link is missing a letter: http://www.profootballhof.com/hof/teams.aspx

The board of selectors was designed so that two guys in the room saw every game. With the onset of national games (like Monday Night Football) and the rise of national media, where some longtime beat men kept their votes as they moved to national platforms, that's much less true now.

by Independent George :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 6:46pm

That's a really good point; while I still am inclined to believe that market size had to be a factor in the pre-internet days, the impact was undoubtedly dwarfed by the overall team success.

How many players on predominately bad teams have gone into the HoF? Lee Roy Selmon is the only one that I can think of.

Most of the names to come to mind were actually on mediocre to decent teams that got crushed by superior competition. Barry Sanders actually went to the playoffs six times, though most of those Lions teams were mediocre at best. The early 80s Saints were pretty terrible, but Rickey Jackson had the Dome Patrol for a decent stretch in the middle of his career.

by theslothook :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 7:28pm

I don't think any offensive player will get hall of fame recognition on a bad team.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:32am

I know he doesn't have a prayer, but I believe Steve Smith belongs in the HoF.

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 11:57am

I would hope he has good shot, also he was on a team that made the Superbowl, hard to say that's a "bad" team.

I'm not sure why he doesn't have a shot, he just needs 800 yard to finish top 10 all time. He's already ahead of HoF inductees Largent, Reed, and Monk.

He's also just coming off a 1000 yard receiving year, so he might still have gas in the tank at 36. Joey Galloway and Jimmy Smith both managed 1000 yard receiving years at 36, so it's not just Jerry Rice at that age (but it is close).

He's got the reputation of a fierce competitor and all the great sound bytes, while also not getting the reputation of being a bad teammate.

He was always known as a good blocker.

5 probowls and 2 all-pros is a little weak for HoF candidacy, but not bad.

Edit: he also has the "signature moment(s)" of getting triple teamed by the 05 Seahawks, and just demolishing the very good defense of the 05 Bears.

by Independent George :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:16pm

I have to admit I'm still bitter about the 2005 MVP voting partly because of how it affects his HoF credentials among people who might not have seen him play (and partly because it's reflective of the RB bias that infects sportwriters).

2005 Steve Smith was absurd. I watched him singlehandedly torch a great Bears defense on the road with Jake Delhomme throwing to him (though the fact that I watched it in a bar full of Chicago Bears fans probably helped cement it in my brain as much as the performance itself).

ETA: I just now saw your edit remarking on his 2005 run. I like that we both thought of that immediately. The thing is, it wasn't just those two games - he won the receiving triple crown that year, and topped the DVOA boards with the aformentioned Jake Delhomme chucking it to him.

by tuluse :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:29pm

Yeah, the entire 2005 season was ridiculous. He should have won at a minimum OPOY, and I would be very happy with him getting the MVP. It's a shame the voters are perpetually 10-20 years behind the times and not all that observant anyways as the Shawn Alexander pick was clearly silly at the time and even more so in retrospect.

by Raiderjoe :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 12:30pm

s. smith belongs in hall g g fame. would vote if had vote. do not care about stats. watched him play numerous times. tremendous opklayer. stats ample anyway for those that want to break his candidacy down to stats only. if someone ewants to challenge me to make top 20 lust of wide receivers all time, would and can step u p to plate and make list. good chance smith on it.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 2:24pm

I think Steve Smith has a good shot.

By the time he comes up, the backlog would have mostly ended - though he may still be up against Torry Holt / Isaac Bruce.

By then Owens and Moss will be in, and he'll be eligible a few years before the current potentially HOF guys (Fitz, both Johnsons); maybe he may go up against Reggie Wayne, but he'll have less competition on those first few ballots.

by MilkmanDanimal :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 4:40pm

I don't see the WR backlog ending anytime soon due to other people coming down the pipe. TO is eligible this year. Then comes Moss, then Reggie Wayne. Maybe Andre Johnson gets a look or two when he's done. Wes Welker is going to have a huge load of catches, right? Then start matching Steve Smith up against the pass-happy TEs of the last decade. Gonzalez walks in, but how about Gates or Jimmy Graham or Witten?

There's still going to be a load of competition at WR and then with TEs who were in lots of ways effectively WRs, so it's not like Steve Smith has an easier pass than Cris Carter or Tim Brown did.

by RickD :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 4:47pm

I don't see Holt and Bruce as Hall of Famer must-haves. TO and Moss are must-haves. Even though both have "issues", both are must-haves based on their play.

The problem is that at any given time there are 5-6 elite WRs in the league, and each has a career peak that is usually at most 5-7 years. WRs get lots of highlights but they are getting over-represented in the Hall.

Having said all of that, Steve Smith is a good candidate. I'd take him over Bruce, Holt, or even Wayne.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 08/18/2015 - 5:40pm

I don't think WRs are being over-represented in the HoF. In fact I think their representation is getting to be about right lately. The position has historically been under-represented.

by dmstorm22 :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 4:50pm

My point was more that this specific period may be light. The old backlog is finally over. I feel like Moss is a 1st-ballot guy anyway. TO should be in at somepoint in the next 6 years before Smith is eligible.

The only people I can think of that would be eligible for the first 2-3 years of Smith's period are Wayne and Welker, and I think he's far more likely than Welker.

He has a sweet-spot of 4-5 years before Fitz, Andre, Calvin come knocking.

by bachslunch :: Tue, 08/18/2015 - 6:02pm

Agreed the WR backlog might persist. That depends on whether they continue to induct WRs consistently or not. Marvin Harrison, Isaac Bruce, and Torry Holt are already in the pipeline with Terrell Owens, Randy Moss, Reggie Wayne, Larry Fitzgerald, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin, and Calvin Johnson coming on board eventually. Steve Smith may or may not be competitive in this group depending on how he ends up, as may Wes Welker and Hines Ward. Luckily, there are only three good RB candidates eligible or coming up in Edgerrin James, LaDanian Tomlinson, and Adrian Peterson as well as four TE likely inductees in Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Antonio Gates, and maybe Rob Gronkowski if he stays healthy. Less competition especially at RB than in previous eras. If they induct WRs regularly, things will be okay.

by tuluse :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 8:08pm

If you want some fuel on the big market conspiracy, the Bears have a number of players in the hall who were never on great or even good teams.

Gale Sayers and Dick Butkus never saw the post season (although, they were perhaps unlucky in 1965 to play in the division with the Colts and Packers instead of the Division that was just the Browns and .500 or worse teams).

Of course both players were transcendentally good, and it's hard to imagine them being ignored even if they were from a smaller market. Then again Terrell Davis isn't in (although his career, adjusted for era is arguably even shorter).

by Steve B :: Mon, 08/10/2015 - 11:00pm

Some, like myself, feel that Davis was very productive but not transcendent.

by Will Allen :: Tue, 08/11/2015 - 9:56pm


by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 3:23am

Davis was absolutely transcendent:

1. Super Bowl MVP
3. 2000 yards.
4. 4th All-Time in career rushing yards per game (97.5). Only Jim Brown, Barry Sanders & Adrian Peterson are ahead of him.
5. Statistically the best post season running back in NFL history; averaging 142 yards per game in 7 post-season games.

Terrell Davis is essentially Sandy Koulfax, in that he had a dominant but short career. His RB contemporaries who've recently made it to the HOF (J Bettis, C Martin) are essentially Don Sutton, in that they were good but made it more by being stat compilers over a long career.

It would be fitting for Terrell Davis to be enshrined at the same ceremony as Brett Favre.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 7:47am

Davis had three great years and another very good one before injury

Is four years long enough?

It's essentially the same as trying to decide whether Kurt Warner should be in the HoF if he'd never had the secondary success in Arizona. Three great years for the Rams (1999-2001) leading them to two SBs, two NFL MVPs and statistically two of the best seasons ever for QB outside of Dan Marino at that time.

by gomer_rs :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 1:33pm

Would Barry Sanders have been any less of a great back if he had only played 4 seasons?

I think the length of tenure is a ridiculous standard especially in a sport like football with so many injuries. If he played at a HOF level for basically his whole career he should be a HOF back.

I remember when they were the Sea-chickens.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 2:12pm

There you go then ... Davis' whole career was not just four season, it was seven years. In 1999 before getting injured he was averaging 3.1 yds per carry. In 2000 he averaged 3.6 and then 2001 he average 4.2 in 8 games. So three great years, two average, two below average.

There has to be some cutoff. Otherwise you may as well put forward Ickey Woods for his 1,000yd rookie season with 15 TDs, 5.3yds per carry and a SB appearance before getting injured two games into his second season.

by tuluse :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 9:03pm

Don't forget the memorable dance.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 5:41am

"Get me some cold cuts"

by Rick_and_Roll :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 6:21pm

Terrell Davis career trajectory and stats are similar to Earl Campbell and Gale Sayers. Davis also has post season accomplishments and stats that distinguish him above Sayers and Campbell.

by duh :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 9:42pm

Terrel Davis was a great back who played with a HOF QB, a HOF TE and a few very good receivers (Rod Smth)

The best skill position player that Earl Campbell ever played with in his prime was well, I have to be honest, I'm not sure ... the 35YO washed up Ken Stabler? Dan Pastorini who played a lot of years but was never even average? Ken Burrough who once had a 1,000 yeard receiving season?

That context makes a heck of a difference and points to why there might have been some difference in post season success

by tuluse :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 2:27pm

"Would Barry Sanders have been any less of a great back if he had only played 4 seasons?"

Yes he would have been.

by Scott Kacsmar :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 2:33pm

If Barry Sanders played 4 years, he'd be Billy Sims 2.0, wouldn't he? I agree, not as great as the guy we know who dominated for a decade.

by theslothook :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 4:00pm

agreed...longevity is a skill. YOu still need to make a roster

by Steve B :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 4:57pm

Without the second act in Arizona, Warner's HoF case is considerably weaker. He'd basically be Bert Jones with post season success in that scenario.

by Mr Shush :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 5:54am

Obviously no-Arizona Warner has a weaker case than actual Warner, but I still think he has a better case than Davis, for the simple reason that he's a quarterback and Davis is a running back. QBs are just so much more important. My feeling is that the Hall enshrines about the right number of QBs and WRs, far too many RBs, and not enough of anything else.

by Bright Blue Shorts :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 1:50pm

Unless the current offensive trends change, I think we may see few RBs being enshrined in the future with a conveyor belt of WRs going in. Ten years since a QB went in.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 1:57pm

I think its the opposite. Stats are now seen as anyone can do it, thus I suspect the standards for receivers will be ultra high. That makes it worse for people like Smith who really didn't play their whole career in this era.

by Independent George :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 10:24am

I think Davis gets hurt a lot by the subsequent success of various RBs inserted into the Alex Gibbs scheme in Denver (leading to the infamous Portis/Bailey trade, whereupon economists everywhere suddenly got irritated as people started using the word 'fungible' incorrectly). Which is a shame, because I actually think Clinton Portis is an underrated RB as a result, but when you have Olandis Gary, Mike Anderson, Reuben Droughns, and Tatum Bell putting up consistent 1,000 yards/4.5 YPC, it's harder to to distinguish between good and great.

When people tried to replicate Walsh, it turned out that you still needed a good QB to run it. While passing numbers improved across the board, but the gap between the best QBs and the good ones actually increased as a result.

This didn't quite happen with the Gibbs system, possibly because its spread also coincided with the pass-happy offenses of the 2000s and a decline in running in general.

by Steve B :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 4:43pm


See, I think O.J. Simpson is a better comparison to Koufax (playing field-wise). A number of rbs (Larry Brown, Chuck Foreman, William Andrews, Billy Sims + others) had great 3 or 4 season stretches before flaming out due to injury. Davis obviously was a big part of those SB teams, but production from the RB position wasn't why Shannahan didn't win a playoff game in Denver after SB XXXIII. Really, all things considered, Clinton Portis' time with the Broncos was about as impressive as what Davis did. Portis didn't have the same amount of surrounding talent on O.

by tuluse :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 5:12pm

OJ got 5 all pros. That's 2 more than other player on this list. His peak was both better and longer than any of them.

He was also useful, but not dominant his first 3 years (made the probowl as a rookie), and had another good 1/2 a year in 1977.

by theslothook :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 6:22pm

Its become unseemly to say, but Oj has a legitimate argument as the GOat of the NFL. Had he won a sb, I think people easily put him in the class of Payton and Brown. His stats for that crappy buffalo team in the deadball era is unbelievable.

I can respect the player and hate the man and still recognize his excellence.

by tuluse :: Thu, 08/13/2015 - 9:07pm

In 73 OJ had 2000 rushing yards at 6 ypc, and Joe Ferguson had 939 passing yards. Just insane.

by Independent George :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 12:51am

Considering his supporting cast, and the era he was playing in... yeah, I'd put him ahead of Jim Brown.

There, I said it. I'm going to Football Hell, but I believe it. The double-murderer is the GOAT.

by theslothook :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 2:21am


by theslothook :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 2:27am

Well its tough. Jerry vs Oj. I'd go Jerry because Jerry's career spanned nearly three damn decades. He was basically brandon stokley at the end, but that's still insane given his career began in the mid 80s.

I'm happy to accept, stickum or no, Jerry was the goat. OJ, Brown, Payton join him in the general conversation as far as offensive players go.

Actually, if I redid the top 100 and omitted qbs, my top 6 based on stats and reading dr. z all pros would go like this:

1) Jerry(by a nontrivial amount)
2) Brown(have to pay homage to the old guys)
3) Payton
4) Oj
5) White/Bruce Smith

On Payton - I think someone ran an era adjusted rushing statistical hierarchy and Payton was great but fell behind a couple names. I might have docked him, but then two things I had to remember. A piece of Payton's career started in the dead ball era - but more importantly, Z would right in his commentary that despite how the league's offensive innovations were starting to spread, the bears were remarkably ancient. He didn't quite say the o line stunk, but that coaches were unimaginative and so much of the bear rushing attack consisted of the same damn plays that every defense pretty much knew of well in advance. I guess this is chicago we're talking about, so I shouldn't be that surprised. The fact that Payton still leads chicago in receptions all time and given the era he played in and his qbs...that's frankly simultaneously ridiculous and embarrassing.

We've also had conversations about Smith here in the comments, but I have to reiterate just how continuous Bruce's name was on those dr.z all pros. He was a fixture for over a decade(something only he and White and Rice shared). Note - Dr.Z's standards for all around play were so severe, he had the great Deion sanders listed a mere 1 time because of deion's gambling and iffy run support. If he's good enough to be a fixture for Dr.Z and almost no one else is(the two others are on this list) - then he was pretty special.

by Will Allen :: Fri, 08/14/2015 - 8:34am

I obviously had a lot of respect for Z's All Pro team, which was why I was so shocked 1 year that he put Fumbles Alstott on his team. It was the one time I was compelled to write to him.

The quality of coaching is too often overlooked when considering the context of a career.