Indianapolis Colts head coach Tony Dungy

The Bucs, the Colts, and the Tony Dungy All-Stars

We're back with another set of installments in our Coaching All-Stars series, which showcases the best player-seasons in the history of some of the NFL's most experienced and well-traveled coaches. This week, we're looking at the first African-American coach to win a Super Bowl, Tony Dungy.

In many ways, of course, Dungy has his fingerprints over two separate Super Bowl-winning franchises, even if he only has the ring from one. When Dungy took over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 1996, they were in a run of 14 consecutive losing seasons; we just ranked them as one of the worst runs in NFL history. Dungy was brought in specifically to help clean up the defense. He was Minnesota's defensive coordinator for four seasons before taking the Tampa Bay job, and his Vikings defenses ranked in the top five in each of those years, while Tampa Bay never finished higher than 20th. And clean it up he did, implementing the Tampa-2 defense that swept the league in the mid-1990s and early 2000s. While technically nothing new in and of itself—Dungy always said that his defensive philosophy came right out of the Steel Curtain Steelers playbook in Pittsburgh, where Dungy had spent a couple of years as a safety before becoming one of Chuck Noll's top assistants—Dungy was the one who really turned it into a regular thing. Scooping up speedy, undersized defenders and letting them swarm to the ball, the Buccaneers became a very tough out into the late 2000s.

Dungy's Bucs teams could never quite get over the postseason hump, however. A 2-4 record in the playoffs and a reputation for being too conservative on offense led to Dungy being fired after the 2001 season; the Buccaneers would go on to win the Super Bowl the following year with basically the same roster Dungy had constructed. Dungy then went to Indianapolis, where the Colts were looking for a defensive-minded coach to back up Peyton Manning's offense. Not wanting to spoil a good thing, Dungy left that offense essentially unchanged and went about constructing a defense to match. While Dungy's Colts defenses rarely matched what he could do in Tampa, they were more than good enough for Indianapolis to make the postseason in every year of Dungy's tenure, finally bringing home that long-awaited Super Bowl win after the 2006 season.

This is a long-winded way of saying that the All-Tony Dungy team is going to be mostly Colts on offense and Buccaneers on defense, as you would expect. If you just glued together the 2004 Colts offense (DVOA: 32.2%) and the 1999 Buccaneers defense (DVOA: -19.3%), you'd have a team that would compete right alongside the best teams in DVOA history. So let's consider that a starting point and see if we can't improve on it slightly, shall we?


QB: Peyton Manning, 2004 Colts
RB: Edgerrin James, 2005 Colts
FB: Mike Alstott, 1996 Buccaneers
WR: Marvin Harrison, 2006 Colts
WR: Reggie Wayne, 2004 Colts
TE: Dallas Clark, 2008 Colts

We have done a lot of these teams to this point, and I don't think any pick has been easier than sliding 2004 Peyton Manning into the quarterback position. Manning's 58.9% passing DVOA is the highest in our database (minimum 200 attempts). If you're more interested in total value, Manning's 2,443 combined passing and rushing DYAR is third all-time, trailing just 2007 Tom Brady and 2013 Peyton Manning. I tried to give serious consideration to a Buccaneers player for each spot on offense (and a Colts player for each spot on defense), but somehow I wasn't convinced by the arguments for 2001 Brad Johnson here.

Reggie Wayne led the league with 477 DYAR during Manning's 2004 season, a career high. He also gets the nod for the starting lineup. Frankly, we could just stick 2004 Marvin Harrison and Edgerrin James onto the roster as well and call it a day, but we'll stick to DYAR here. Harrisons' best season was actually 2001, just before Dungy arrived, but his league-leading 508 DYAR in 2006 is more than enough to make the cut. 2004 was James' best receiving season, but his overall rushing value was a little down; his 526 combined DYAR in 2005 was his career high. His 62% success rate on the ground that year not only led the league, but remains the highest total for anyone with at least 250 carries. There is an argument at running back for Warrick Dunn, considering James had the benefit of working out of those great passing offenses, but not enough of one.

The best tight end seasons for Manning's Colts teams came in 2001 and 2009, missing out on Dungy's tenure by one year in either direction. That leaves us with Dallas Clark and his 166 DYAR in 2008 the year he broke John Mackey's franchise record for yards in a season by a tight end. He'd do better later—he broke that record again the next year—but it's a suitably strong season to fit our requirements. Clark's earlier numbers were somewhat kept in check because he was splitting time with Marcus Pollard, which brings us to our problem: what to do with the last fantasy position slot?

Dungy's tenure came before the modern 11-personnel revolution, when one running back, one tight end and three wide receivers became the default personnel group for nearly the entire league. If we were to go with a third wide receiver, we'd take a Keyshawn Johnson year over 2004 Brandon Stokley; Stokley had the better DYAR, but then Manning is just a slightly better passer than Johnson's quarterbacks, Brad Johnson or Shaun King. But while that would be the best offense we could put together out of Dungy's lineups, it's not really true to the actual teams Dungy put on the field.

In Indianapolis, Tom Moore's offenses generally used two tight ends in their base offense during Dungy's tenure; that would lead us to picking Pollard as our guy. But in Tampa Bay, Mike Shula's offenses went with a more traditional two-back formation, with Mike Alstott as their fullback. With Pollard never getting above 97 DYAR during Dungy's time, we're going with Alstott. Alstott made the Pro Bowl every year from 1997 to 2002, but we're actually going to go with his rookie season in 1996. Why? That was the year that the Buccaneers really used Alstott as a receiver, targeting him a career-high 81 times for 557 yards and 191 DYAR; they never again gave him more than 50 targets. If the rest of the offense is the more aggressive Colts system, we want a fullback who can catch, and Alstott never again caught the ball like he did as a rookie.


LT: Tarik Glenn, 2004 Colts
LG: Randall McDaniel, 2000 Buccaneers
C: Jeff Saturday, 2005 Colts
RG: Jake Scott, 2006 Colts
RT: Ryan Diem, 2004 Colts

It was fairly simple to select the names at tackle and center; it was just a matter of picking the correct year. Jeff Saturday was an All-Pro in both 2005 and 2007, but 2005 was the year the Colts finished first in both adjusted line yards and adjusted sack rate, so we'll go there. Plus, Saturday missed two games in December of 2004, the best offense in Colts history, so we are justified in looking elsewhere. Not so much for the tackles, where we could grab any of Tarik Glenn or Ryan Diem's seasons between 2004 and 2006 without too much argument. The Colts actually had better line stats in 2004 than 2005, even though they didn't finish first in the league, so we'll just take the bookends from that offense and call it a day.

Dungy rarely had any consistency at the guard position; 15 different players had a season where they started at least eight games at guard in Dungy's career. Jake Scott was the closest thing to a consistent player, starting from 2004 to 2007 at right guard. We'll take his Super Bowl season in 2006 here over players such as Steve Sciullo or Mike Pollak. At left guard, you may have forgotten that after years of anchoring Minnesota's line—a time that overlapped with Dungy's stint as defensive coordinator with the Vikings—Randall McDaniel ended his career in Tampa Bay. McDaniel's 2000 Pro Bowl selection was a little bit of a lifetime achievement award, but even a 36-year-old McDaniel is a more inspiring force than Rick DeMulling, Dylan Gandy, Ryan Lilka, or Charlie Johnson. Plus, no offensive linemen caught more touchdown passes for Dungy than McDaniel did, with one. Good enough for us.


DE: Dwight Freeney, 2004 Colts
DE: Chidi Ahanotu, 1997 Buccaneers
DT: Warren Sapp, 1999 Buccaneers
DT: Montae Reagor, 2005 Colts
WILL: Derrick Brooks, 1999 Buccaneers
MIKE: Hardy Nickerson, 1997 Buccaneers
SAM: Shelton Quarles, 1999 Buccaneers

Two picks on the defensive line are obvious. Warren Sapp is our 3-technique and probably the best tackle to ever play in a Tampa-2 system. We're taking his Defensive Player of the Year season in 1999, but he actually had more sacks in 2000, so pick your poison there. At the very peak of his skill, Sapp could regularly beat double-teams to pressure passers; considering the emphasis Dungy's scheme places on linemen winning individual battles, a guy like Sapp destroying interior linemen is invaluable. But Sapp's 61.5 sacks with Dungy are second to the 70.5 of Dwight Freeney, a terror off the edge from his rookie season in 2002. Freeney was a first-team All-Pro in both 2004 and 2005. We're going with the 16-sack season from the former, but again, take whichever you'd like. Sapp and Freeney are no-brainer options.

The other edge that comes to mind when you think of great Bucs defenses is Simeon Rice, but Rice only played one season with Dungy in Tampa Bay; his best years came from 2002 to 2005 with Dungy in Indianapolis. Instead, we'll go with a name that sometimes gets lost in the shuffle: Chidi Ahanotu. Only Sapp had more sacks for Dungy's Buccaneers, and that's despite Ahanotu never being a pure pass-rusher; he played both tackle and end at various points in his career. Ahanotu had 10.0 sacks in 1997 as well, so it's not like he was just a quality role player. If you want Rice next to Freeney, you're more than justified, but I wanted to highlight players who played different roles in Dungy's defense; Freeney and Rice both played more or less the same speed-rusher role. It's not a role you can have too many of, certainly, but a longer career and a more varied portfolio gives Ahanotu the edge.

You may also be clamoring for Booger McFarland over Montae Reagor, who seems to be mostly remembered as the father of Jalen nowadays (good lord, we're old). Well, Reagor was significantly better than McFarland when he was healthy. Before a severe car crash in 2006 ended his time with the Colts, Reagor was a key cog in the Indianapolis run defense. His absence was sorely felt in 2006, as the Colts run defenseDVOA  climbed from -7.6% to 11.4%, and their adjusted line yards rose from 4.18 to 4.74. That's not all Reagor, but he gets enough credit to keep the Booger Mobile on the sideline.

Much less explanation is needed at linebacker. Our Mike is Hardy Nickerson, who played for Dungy for a couple of years in Pittsburgh before moving to Tampa Bay. Nickerson now calls himself the Cover-2 Guru as he runs clinics and webinars and, frankly, he has earned the nickname. In the Tampa-2, Dungy's middle linebackers are required to drop deep into zone coverage when they read a pass play, and Nickerson was fantastic there, but could still make huge hits with his aggressive, ball-seeking style. He was a second-team linebacker on the All-1990s team, and we're taking his All-Pro year in 1997. Flanking him, we're taking the two other starting linebackers from the 1999 squad. Basically, any year from 1997 on is a great choice for Derrick Brooks; first-ballot Hall of Famers don't grow on trees. The Sam linebacker is arguably the least important on Dungy's defenses, but Shelton Quarles came in as an undrafted rookie, won that role, and made it his own; only Brooks has started more games at linebacker for the Buccaneers than Quarles has.


CB: Ronde Barber, 2001 Buccaneers
CB: Donnie Abraham, 2000 Buccaneers
FS: Bob Sanders, 2005 Colts
SS: John Lynch, 2000 Buccaneers

Ronde Barber was a no-brainer, and 2001 was his one All-Pro season with Dungy; 10 interceptions will do that. That remains tied for the most interceptions in a season in the 21st century, making Barber the very definition of a ballhawk. The second corner was much tougher, with one or two splash seasons from eight or nine potential candidates across both franchises. We'll go with Donnie Abraham's one Pro Bowl season in 2000; he had seven interceptions in both 1999 and 2000 and led the league in passes defended in both seasons as well.

Safety ended up being an interesting puzzle to put together, even if the choices end up being pretty chalk. Dungy nicknamed Bob Sanders "The Eraser" and called him the prototypical safety for his defense, so he had to make the roster. But where to put him? Sanders played two healthy seasons, one in 2005 and one in 2007, and made the All-Pro team each year. In 2005, he was listed at free safety next to Mike Doss; in 2007, he was the strong safety next to Antoine Bethea. In 2007, he was Defensive Player of the Year, so that seems to be the obvious pick for him, but if we call Sanders a strong safety, that means we have to leave John Lynch off the team. Lynch was listed as a strong safety in every year in Tampa, moving to free safety only when he went to Denver. I already got enough guff for leaving Lynch off the Mike Shanahan All-Stars last year out of positional concerns; I'm certainly not going to do that two years in a row. I'd much rather have Lynch than Bethea, Charles Mincey, or Damien Robinson in my starting lineup. Besides, there isn't a huge difference between the two safety slots in Dungy's defenses, so I'm OK with some slight skill set duplication between our All-Pros here.


K: Mike Vanderjagt, 2003 Colts
P: Mark Royals, 1999 Buccaneers
RET: Reidel Anthony, 1998 Buccaneers

Going straight by our numbers here. The "idiot kicker" Vanderjagt was a perfect 37-for-37 on field goals in 2003 and hit every extra point too. He had a negative kickoff value, though, so you could make an argument for Martin Gramatica's best season, but it's hard to argue with perfection. Mark Royals and the 1999 Buccaneers were Dungy's only punting units to hit double-digit value by our numbers. For returner, we considered Dominic Rhodes as the best kick returner Dungy has ever had, but Reidel Anthony topped 1,000 punt return yards in his sophomore season, hitting over 1,800 all-purpose yards that year. Anthony's widely considered a bust of a first-round pick, but for one season, he produced a surprising amount of value.

It's interesting to note that Dungy's Indianapolis teams were, on the whole, better than his Tampa Bay teams, even though he had more success building his defense with the Buccaneers. Dungy's highest DVOA in Tampa Bay was a 20.1% in 2000; his Colts teams averaged 20.6% in his seven years in Indianapolis. On defense, Dungy averaged a -9.6% DVOA in Tampa Bay and a -3.0% DVOA in Indianapolis. There is no surprise that a team with Peyton Manning is going to do better than a team with Trent Dilfer, but it's still somewhat amusing to note that Dungy never won with the namesakes of the Tampa-2. It would be like Bill Walsh never winning with the West Coast Offense or Chuck Noll never winning with the Steel Curtain. Of course, considering how many resources the Colts teams put on the offensive side of the ball, the fact that Dungy could assemble above-average defenses at a fraction of the cost shows just how successful Dungy's scheme really was.

Previous coaching All-Star Teams:


52 comments, Last at 28 Jun 2021, 9:16pm

1 I always found it amusing…

I always found it amusing that Dungy made his reputation as the DC of the Vikings but presided over one of the best offenses of all time, whereas the OC of those mid-90s Vikings teams was Brian Billick, who is remembered for presiding over one of the best defenses of all time.

2 I have to be honest, I have…

I have to be honest, I have long felt that Jeff Saturday was one of the most overrated players. He was a good center but he gets talked about as a possible hall of famer sometimes and I just didn't agree with that at all. His being undersized meant he was almost always physically dominated by an imposing nose tackle. That's one reason why the colts had so many problems with the chargers and Patriots.


I also thought Ryan Diem was one of the more overrated tackles as well. I think he was below average frankly. Honestly this offensive line was one of the big reasons why the offense struggled so many times in high profile games. The 2004 loss to the Pats and the 2005 loss to the Steelers really come to mind. And just how much of the adjusted sack rate you want to give to the offensive line, I leave to others.

Of course I should also be nice and say that the 2006 victory over the Pats, the offensive line thoroughly dominated the Patriots in the second half.

Just overall I'm not convinced that this group in a vacuum really is deserving of much herald outside of Tarik Glenn, although ironically the one offensive lineman who did bring a lot of nasty, Ryan Lilja, they let walk. Jim zip code said everyone on the colts defense deserves an asterisk. I would say if that's true everyone on the offensive line deserves one.

15 Peyton Manning did more to…

Peyton Manning did more to help his OL than any other QB did.

Peyton Manning also had way more to lose from Jeff Saturday making a mistake than anyone else on that team (and most QBs, too!), and yet he was perfectly fine with Jeff Saturday there his entire career in Indy. Manning had different left/right tackles and different left/right guards in Indy. Never a different center.

Is this just some weird quirk of Manning's? Nope. Goes to Denver - 4 years, 4 different centers.

Given the results and the way Manning talks about him, if guys like Wayne, Freeney are getting in, Saturday absolutely should be.

17 This is kind of misleading.

"Nope. Goes to Denver - 4 years, 4 different centers."

I am going to surmise from this comment and above that Manning thought so well of Jeff Saturday that he kept him along for that run. And since he only expected the best, the fact that he had 4 different centers in Denver suggests Manning was perpetually dissatisfied with them and kept trying to make a change. If so...

Its a misleading argument when you do a bit of digging.

Assuming that Manning had control over GM decisions to that degree which is questionable to begin with, in 2012 JD Walton was the slated starting center. He broke his ankle and they signed Dan Kopen who started the year. Next year, Walton was waived because of injury and Kopen tore his ACL in camp and subsequently retired. This forced the Broncos to start Manny Ramirez in at center, which I guess Manning was happy with because he played all of  2013. Note, Ramirez was the one who hiked the ball which led to the safety in the SB. So, if there ever was a time for Manning to flex his GM ability...he didn't do it because Ramirez played in 2014 as well. Then he was traded in 2015. One could read that decision as being Manning having a change of heart, but a more accurate conclusion would be that Gary Kubiak wanted a center suited to run his scheme. 

So that's two slated starters who were changed due to injury and another likely due to scheme which wasn't even Manning's.

As an aside, I strongly disagree with the view that Freeney and Saturday are equally qualified for the hall of fame. 


23 Meh, that was just me trying…

Meh, that was just me trying to make it flow with the previous comment about Manning making the line better. Wasn't trying to make it sound that way, although it did.

Centers aren't kept for as long as the Colts kept Saturday normally. They get churned through pretty often.

Literally the only way I've ever been able to rank centers is how the team treats them in terms of retaining them.

24 Fair enough. 

Fair enough. And I conceded from above that Saturday was a good player. His lack of size had advantages, especially for executing the stretch run and having the conditioning with the no huddle.

Without wading into the irrational (even though I have grudgingly made clear who sits on top), I think Manning made everyone's job on offense easier by doing a lot of thinking for them. 

A good example can be seen with someone like Julius Thomas, who looked like an all pro tight end with Manning and then unfit to be on an NFL roster without him. It's too simplistic to say Manning made Thomas, but what he did do was tell him basically where to run and Manning would handle the rest. 







33 Marvin Harrison?

In reply to by theslothook

A good example can be seen with someone like Julius Thomas, who looked like an all pro tight end with Manning and then unfit to be on an NFL roster without him. It's too simplistic to say Manning made Thomas, but...

Maybe; but it does seem sometimes that QBs "make" WRs.  I felt like Brett Favre did it at times over the years.

Recently I've wondered about Marvin Harrison.  Did Manning make Marvin Harrison?

Three years in the league before Manning "got it", and – Harrison was fine, but nothing special.  The teams weren't bad: they were 9-7 in Harrison's rookie year, with a perfectly average offense.  Jim Harbaugh was QB: limited, but competent.  Then things "click" for Manning in year 2, and suddenly at age 27 Harrison is this absolute route-running technician and leading the league in yards.  He became a different player.

Speaking of Favre, I've sometimes thought that he was just "giving it back" when he 'made' WRs late in his career.  Because Sterling Sharpe taught Favre how to be a passer.  :-)

36 It's the same argument with…

It's the same argument with Wayne, too. Manning leaves and Wayne's suddenly just a guy. Yeah, he put up 1300 yards with Luck too, but, um, 1300 yards on nearly 200 passes is, uh, not that good - a 55% catch rate in an era where top receivers should be hitting mid-60s is, well, a bit of a drawback. 

Part of the reason why I get frustrated with people's opinions of no-stat guys is that many people are super quick to dismiss them as just being a product of a stat guy being great, but they're much more reluctant to do the same thing with other stat guys, even when there's evidence that it's true.

37 I have a very schizophrenic…

In reply to by JimZipCode

I have a very schizophrenic take on Marvin Harrison.

I was pretty swayed by Dr z who when he did his all pro teams, would poll the league for feedback. And Dr z was one of the very few journalists that commanded enough respect around the league that they were willing to share honest feelings with him.

The feedback he got was Marvin Harrison was the ultimate route runner and successor to Jerry Rice in this department. That he was a true Craftsman in this regard. So in that sense I fully believe Marvin Harrison to be a legitimately great receiver.

I also think his lack of postseason production is a reflection on the fact that I don't think Marvin Harrison was a physically tough receiver. I think in the playoffs corners are tacitly allowed to be more physical ( at least back then) and Harrison really couldn't handle physical corners. 

One example that will always stick in my mind. Manning threw a terrible interception in the 2006 championship game that became a pick 6. I'm not going to excuse that play from Manning, it was awful. But your receiver can help avoid turning a bad decision into a catastrophe by trying to fight for that ball and at least making it hard for the cornerback to just jump the route and race to the end zone. Instead Harrison got crossed up badly by Asante Samuel and basically gave it up without any resistance. That play was the epitome of Marvin Harrison the postseason receiver. 

49 Loved Dr Z

I was pretty swayed by Dr z who when he did his all pro teams, would poll the league for feedback. And Dr z was one of the very few journalists that commanded enough respect around the league that they were willing to share honest feelings with him.

Loved Dr Z.  For so many years he was the only NFL writer worth reading.

We live in a golden age of NFL content now.  (This site most definitely included, obvi.)  But things were different before; and so many of the people I prize reading now, are clearly following in Dr Z's footsteps.

I have a very schizophrenic take on Marvin Harrison.

I guess I do too, because if I have to make a distinction between how "great" or talented he was, versus what he accomplished – it couldn't be more clear that his accomplishments are HOF worthy.  All-Pro's, Pro Bowl, All-decade team, led at different times in yards or receptions or TDs, a million seasons over a thousand yards and with double-digit TDs.

I'm not entirely clear what my problem is.  So Marvin needed Peyton Manning to unlock his talent?  So what?  Terrell Davis needed the Shanahan-Gibbs system to unlock his; Joe Montana needed Bill Walsh to unlock his.  Jerry Rice got to play with two HOF QBs in SF.  And then a league MVP in Oakland.  Steve Young got a much later start on the "productive" phase of his career than Marvin Harrison did.

I have some weird reservation about Harrison, that I can't articulate and don't fully understand.    Feelings are stupid.

(I just looked on PFR HOFm, and Harrison is 3rd on their list.  Ahead of Larry Fitz, TO, Largent, Lofton, Alworth, Cris Carter, Isaac Bruce, Michael Irvin...)

34 Yeah, although with Thomas…

In reply to by theslothook

Yeah, although with Thomas it was easy to figure out because 1) the Broncos didn't keep him and 2) he went elsewhere and failed horribly.

totally understand the issue with trying to separate guys from Manning. Saturday's especially hard because his career basically is Manning's Colts era, and of course Manning continued and had success in Denver, too. But I don't actually view Manning's Denver success quite as high as his Colts era: he was much closer to other quarterbacks in those years, as opposed to the Colts years where for a while Manning was perpetually #1 in ANY/A, passer rating, DYAR, DVOA, and if QBR had been around for those years he would've led that too. I mean, obviously Denver had the record TD passing year, but the era in 2013 had changed significantly.

Saturday played entirely with Manning, but he was the lineman Manning played with the most, the one present for the best of his era, and Manning was outspoken to the management about wanting the Colts to bring Saturday back in 2009. That, to me, is enough to say "yeah, okay, he's not just a random guy, he's an active contributor there." (The sideline arguments are a strong hint that Saturday was an active participant as well, you don't get mad at some random guy.) That's enough to say it's the same situation as Freeney and Wayne, to me.

38 Sam Monsoon had a different…

Sam Monson had a different take on the Manning Denver years.

 Then I never fully recovered from his injury. In fact he learned within a few weeks that the throws that he once made a killing on we're just not going to be available to him. So he had to change his game on the fly and optimize everywhere he could. It's too simplistic to say he relied on his pre-snap abilities because that was true in Indy as well. I mean that he had to know what long throws were available and had to direct the routes to play off of those concepts. 

Sam Monson called it one of the greatest athletic feats of all time and I tend to agree obviously with a lot of bias. If anything it's more impressive what he did in Denver then what he did in Indianapolis

42 That's just viewing it from…

That's just viewing it from a different angle, though - a lot like Alex Smith's return from injury got him Comeback Player of the Year even though the results were obviously really low.

In terms of just NFL performance, it's easy enough to associate Manning's drop with the injury, but you could also say well, he didn't have quite the quality of receivers or stability at OL that he had in Indy either.

I mean, really, if you just look at the drop other players had from with Manning to without, it's perfectly reasonable to say that none of Harrison, Wayne, Saturday, Freeney should be in the Hall. I just have no idea how you can say that three of those guys should be in, but Saturday shouldn't.

45 I'd rank them Harrison -…

I'd rank them Harrison - Wayne - Freeney - Saturday - Mathis, depending on how big anyone wants their Hall to be.

I don't know how Mathis got into a Hall discussion, if we're honest.

48 Wayne definitely will be, he…

Wayne definitely will be, he made the finalist's list way too early. And at that point, with the exception of Mathis, that essentially means all of the "stat" guys from Manning's era gets in, and the one "non-stat" guy there the entire time won't. Amazing coincidence.

3 Mike Alstott might be my…

Mike Alstott might be my least favorite Pro Bowler of all time, at any position. People would rave about him. Chris Berman would obnoxiously add stupid sound effects to his clips. Hell, Dr. Z, in the one time I was compelled to email him with criticism, picked him for one of his All-pro teams!  I saw a guy who no defensive coordinator was ever worried about, who also managed to fumble a lot. As I asked Z, "Given that the purpose of a running back is to help win games, and nothing hurts the odds of winning like turnovers, why are you selecting a guy who fumbles with great frequency, while not forcing defenses to compensate for, with the threat of a big gain?

12 Alstott was certainly…

Alstott was certainly overrated during his playing days; he got all those All-Pros because he was really the last fullback to be a primary rusher and thus accumulated more counting stats than anyone else.   Heck, his presence at the top of a very early version of Football Outsiders stats led to the creation of DVOA, because there was no way Alstott should have come out as more valuable than Priest Holmes!

By the same token, however, Alstott has become so famously known as overrated that it's actually looped back around a bit to underrated.  He had more than 100 combined DYAR in 1996, 1997, 1999, 2001 and 2005, despite seeing his touches drop throughout the 21st century.  He was a good player who got hyped up into one of the best in the league because he was one of the last of his kind.

14 Individual fumble rates is…

Individual fumble rates is always a metric that takes me forever to find (I ought to have it indexed somewhere) but unless I'm misremembering, Alstott's pretty far out on the right tail, even factoring historical trends. A guy who turns the ball over a lot, while not being a threat to hit the huge play, is not somebody who, to me, appears to be of pronounced value, in terms of winning games, and I know the fumbles get factored in DVOA.

This is an area where I think rb DYAR/DVOA misses value; what a rb's skill set does to an opposing defense presnap. A rb who can't stretch a defense just makes life for a d coordinator so much easier. Combine that with a propensity to fumble, and my inclination, if I'm such an opposing d-coordinator, is to react with "Yes, please, give that guy the ball!"



18 Alstott fumbled the ball 32…

Alstott fumbled the ball 32 times in his career, on 1,664 touches, or once ever 52 touches.  Only six non-quarterbacks in football fumbled more than Alstott while he was active (Tiki Barber, Eddie George, Ahman Green, Edgerrin James, Ricky Williams and Jamal Lewis), and all of them had more touches than Alstott did by some margin.  Alstott's not the biggest fumbler of his era (that'd likely be Travis Henry, with 28 fumbles on 1,455 touches, and I'll hear arguments for Barber, Willimas and Green as well), but he was certainly up there.

22 My opinion of Alstott is…

My opinion of Alstott is almost exactly the same as Will's.

Wanted to get some numbers to job my memory. Green was 37 fumbles on 2434 touches for his career I believe so 1 in 66 touches. I remember articles about coaches inventing new drills to try and help him, or going back to 1950's soapy water drills. Then there was whole rubberized sleeves thing. It was a huge deal. But I'd take him over Alstott without hesitation. Even if you wanted to play him as a fullback I'd take him. I think he probably would have been at least as good of a blocker (was never impressed with Alstott when they used him as a lead blocker or his pass pro) and 4.5 ypc vs 3.7 for the career is a massive difference carrying the ball. Receiving they were similar. Green also made the defense think about the chance of long runs, I mean he did have multiple 80+ yard runs in his career (a few over 90). I think Alstott managed 40+ a couple times. But yeah Green had fumble problems. I still think he had better ball security than Tiki Barber and at his peak was a better running back (Tiki had a noticeably better career), but both were pretty infamous for fumbles.

If I'm doing the math right Barber was 53 fumbles in 2803 touches which is 1 in 53 touches so right there with Alstott. Barber also worried defenses he was a much bigger receiving threat than Green or Alstott. Also I think they finally fixed Tiki for his final 2 seasons and he was still very high usage, unlike the broken down Green and Alstott at the end of their careers.


26 I saw a post on Reddit…

I saw a post on Reddit recently about the best Bucs players of all time, and somebody listed three potentials of Tom Brady, Derrick Brooks, and Mike Alstott.  Bucs fans love Alstott.  He was fine and a decent player, but the fandom has anointed him in all sorts of insanely great ways, and, yeah, far from deserving of that level of adoration.

31 "He was fine and a decent…

"He was fine and a decent player, but the fandom has anointed him in all sorts of insanely great ways, and, yeah, far from deserving of that level of adoration."

Sounds like 2010 Peyton Hillis with a longer career and on a more successful team.

52 Same with his college team

I am a Purdue and Colts fan, so I'm loving this thread.  I of course have an irrational love for Mike Alstott and can assure you many other Purdue fans feel the same.  But I don't really disagree with any of the above analysis.  He gets some points for longevity and being a hard worker, but it's interesting that TB stopped throwing so many passes to him after year one.

5 If Tom Moore, Dungy's…

If Tom Moore, Dungy's college offensive coordinator when Dungy was a qb at the University of Minnesota, had been available when Dungy was hired by the Bucs, Dungy may not have ever been hired in Indy. Luckily, for all involved, Moore had already been hired by the Colts by Mora, when Dungy became available. Moore, along with Wade Phillips, are guys who need to get inducted to the HoF, if it ever starts considering assistant coaches.

6 Mike alstott

Mike Alstott's stats in the section about him are incorrect, he had 557 receiving yards his rookie year, not 180.

8 Heh, I just came here to…

In reply to by nick.hornsby

Heh, I was just about to make the same correction. He had 65 catches on 81 targets for 557 yards and 3 TDs. 180 yards would probably have given him -191 receiving DYAR!

13 I definitely consider his…

I definitely consider his Bucs tenure more impressive than his time with the Colts.

Peyton Manning pretty much guaranteed his team a 75% winning percentage, regardless of who was coaching- though to be fair, he mostly had pretty good coaching throughout his career. So Dungy's average of 12.1 wins per year with Manning isn't as impressive as it sounds.

The Bucs, on the other hand, were a different story. Going by PFR's SRS, the Bucs' last above average (i.e. >0 SRS) season prior to Dungy's arrival had been 1982, at a whopping 0.9. Every season from 1983-1995 was at -3.5 or worse. Dungy's very first season, in 1996, was at -3.0, better than any of the preceding seasons since 1982. For the reason of his time there (97-01), their SRS was positive, and they made the playoffs 4 times, with offenses helmed by Trent Dilfer, Shaun King and an elderly Brad Johnson.

That's a remarkable, Parcellian/Gibbsian/Schottenheimeresque turnaround.

16   Peyton Manning pretty much…


Peyton Manning pretty much guaranteed his team a 75% winning percentage, regardless of who was coaching- though to be fair, he mostly had pretty good coaching throughout his career. So Dungy's average of 12.1 wins per year with Manning isn't as impressive as it sounds.

It's mainly what Dungy was able to do defense-wise with basically pennies on the dollar. The Colts spent way less on defense than an average team and got good results. I mean, the Saints had similar issues, for instance, but they struggled on defense much more.

20 When it came to defense Ted…

When it came to defense Ted Cottrell was the anti-Dungy. With Dungy, it did not matter what the talent level was; guys knew their roles and responsibilities, and executed to the degree their talent allowed. With Captain Cottrell at the helm, half the defense could be Pro Bowlers, and it would still look like Yakety Sax should be the soundtrack when the ball was snapped.

32 "I definitely consider his…

"I definitely consider his Bucs tenure more impressive than his time with the Colts."

Same.  Not to diminish at all his Colts tenure, but ending the #3 anti-dynasty of all time ( , ranks higher in my book than "avoiding micromanaging Peyton Manning."

21 Now that I think about it,…

Now that I think about it, an All- Wade Phillips defense, versus an All-Tom Moore offense, may be fun. The 2020 Brady should not rekindle The Irrational Debate, I think, but then again, it is called The Irrational Debate!

30 If we do the Tom Moore All…

If we do the Tom Moore All Stars, my homerism is going to make me submit 1995 Herman Moore as a candidate.  Heck, if you submitted 1995 Scott Mitchell, he wouldn't come close to winning, but you could do it without being immediately laughed out of the room, which is a testament to Tom Moore.  

35 Herman is definitely a…

Herman is definitely a contender, but the Tom Moore offenses are really rich in receivers, especially if we consider when he was the receivers coach for Noll. Just off the top of my head, we have Stallworth, Swann, Cris Carter, Hermann Moore, Reggie Wayne, Marvin Harrison, Larry Fitzgerald, and anybody on the current Bucs, if we want to use Moore's current job of offensive consultant. The oline is more impressive than I inititially thought, now that I think about it, because Moore's gig as assistant head coach of the Vikings gives us Randall McDaniel and Gary Zimmerman to anchor the left side. Just the 1990 Vikings oline would easily be the best oline Peyton Manning ever had; and I'm pretty sure some of the other Moore offenses would supply some guys for the right side. Toss in Barry Sanders at rb, with Marshall Faulk also in the mix, and the opposing All-Wade Phillips defense, also chock full with HoFers, would present us with titanic battle royale.

(edit) The more I think about it, the more I like a 3 receiver set of Carter, Moore, and Fitzgerald, all of them enthusiastic run blockers.

39 Wow, digging deeper, 1984…

Wow, digging deeper, 1984 John Stallworth, Moore as O.C., has 80 catches, 1395 yards, 17.4 yards per catch, 11 tds, number 2 in DYAR at 446. Tomato cans passing to him. He's gotta be one of the 3 receivers.

40 Getting the best out of…

Getting the best out of great players is one way to look at how good a coach is, but you can also look at him elevating otherwise mediocre players.  Exhibit A is Brett Perriman (Breshaud's father): 

With Moore as his OC in 1995 and 1996, Perriman had seasons of 108 rec/1488 yds, and 94/1021.  His career prior to Tom Moore was essentially journeyman mediocrity.

41 Makes we wonder if Moore…

Makes we wonder if Moore never really marketed himself hard for a H.C. job. I know guys who played for him in college, and they were sayin 45 years ago what a great guy he is, but he's probably more of a great guy to football players than to billionaires who want a very profitable toy. I've heard a lot of anecdotes about him, but my favorite might be from the time with the Colts, and somebody asked why Sorgi actually was getting zero reps in practice for a whole season, that it may better if he had some if Manning went down. Moore says "If 19 goes down were f*cked, and we don't practice f*cked.". 

Wish some gameplanning sessions between the late, great, legendary curser Jerry Burns, and Tom Moore had been recorded.

43 The Athletic did an…

The Athletic did an interview recently of Nick Saban, Bruce Arians, Joe Maddon, and Steve Kerr about the concept of "a winning culture".  When asked about who influenced their understanding of a winning culture, Kerr, Arians, and Saban gave names like Bill Belichick, Bear Bryant, Phil Jackson, and Gregg Popovich.  Maddon gave the name Tom Moore, of all people!  Apparently he's spent a lot of time with him (he's good friend with Arians).

So apparently you and I aren't the only people who think Moore should be more highly regarded than he is.

46 Moore as OC vs HC

Considering that men like Wade Phillips, Norv Turner, and Buddy Ryan (among others) were really good coordinators, but not good head coaches, makes me think that Moore decided that the grass was greener on his side of the fence. I don't really want to be promoted in my company b/c of the requirements of the position above me. Knowing what you are good at, staying with it, and having a successful career b/c of that fit is a pretty good life, if you ask me.

50 The 2020 Brady should not…

The 2020 Brady should not rekindle The Irrational Debate, I think, but then again, it is called The Irrational Debate!

I don't think anyone would dispute that 2020 Brady was better than 2020 Manning.

27 Right side of the OL


And am I the first to mention Robert Mathis (08; PB and 11.5 sacks) not being included? Like Chidi over him? Am I missing something?

28 In Indianapolis, Tom Moore's…

In Indianapolis, Tom Moore's offenses generally used two tight ends in their base offense during Dungy's tenure

While it may have been 2 tight ends on paper, in reality Clark spent more time lined up as a slot receiver than he did at TE (especially after 2004).