Friday, October 31, 2014

Let's Get Defensive

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

There is a Saying in the NFL that Defense Wins Championships.

Through the years, I've been intrigued about how the high-powered offenses would handle the strong defenses.

Are defenses judged by specific players or by the units themselves?

Now that we're at the half way point of the 2014 NFL Season, this is a great opportunity to see which defenses keep their teams in contention as we approach the playoffs.

The following numbers could be great indicators as to what to expect in the months of November, December, January and determine the teams which will be playing in the Super Bowl in Glendale, AZ come February.

Lets begin with Total Points. The Detroit Lions have allowed the least with 126 followed by the Kansas City Chiefs (128), the Baltimore Ravens (131) and the Arizona Cardinals (139).

Next, we move onto Total Yards. The San Francisco 49'ers are on top with 2,142 followed by Kansas City at 2,160, Denver with 2,207. The defending Super Bowl Champions Seattle Seahawks are fourth with 2,213, the Miami Dolphins are fifth with 2,259 while the Lions are sixth with 2,323.

Kansas City is No.1 with 1,370 Passing Yards allowed followed by Miami's 1,481, San Francisco 1,548 and Seattle is fourth with 1,586. Detroit is ranked 10th with 1,731.

The Denver Broncos have allowed the least amount of Rushing Yards with 507, Arizona is next with 545, Detroit is third with 592 and San Francisco is fourth  with 594.

The Detroit Lions are in the Top 10 in all four of these categories.

Can Detroit sustain this success with the recent defensive losses of Stephen Tulloch and Nick Fairley?

This remains to be seen.

If you look at legendary defensive units, here are some that stand out that either won or played in Super Bowls.

The Pittsburgh Steelers "Steel Curtain" produced four Super Bowl Championships.

Miami's "No Name" defense led to a pair of titles in the early 1970's including the lone 17-0 undefeated season in NFL History.

"The Monsters of The Midway" made Chicago proud as the Bears mauled their way to a 1985 World Championship.

"The Doomsday Defense" of the Dallas Cowboys were a group that became a dynasty in the late 1960's and 1970's, that produced championships in The Lone Star State.

Despite not winning a Super Bowl in the late 1960's and 1970's, The Minnesota Vikings "Purple People Eaters" used this unit to reach the title game four times.

Who can forget the "Orange Crush Defense" of the Denver Broncos of the late 1970's and early 1980's which also made a Super Bowl Appearance?

Now that we've looked at Great Defensive Units, it's time to take this a step further.

How many players from the past could play at high levels in today's NFL with the numerous rule changes aimed at keeping the game safer?

Due to the Collective Bargaining Agreement, the days of two and three practices during training camp in one day are long gone.

Concussions are a big issue therefore rules of hitting players high especially with helmet to helmet contact are being called and in some cases players are being ejected and even suspended.

We'll really never know how the players of the past would play in Today's NFL.

When My Girlfriend entered a Fantasy Football League, she had to pick a defensive player and sought My Opinion.

If the guy gets one or two points that could be the difference as to who wins that week.

Now I'm going to mention several names of players that I think could play in Any Era.

Later on, I'll add some of the best defensive players in the NFL Today.

The numerical order I'm about to provide is not in rank, but as players came to mind when I wrote them down as I tried to go back to some of the legendary defenses which I mentioned earlier in this story.

We'll Start With The Past:

1. Dick Butkus (Chicago Bears)
2. Lawrence Taylor (New York Giants)
3. "Mean" Joe Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers)
4. Jack Youngblood (LA Rams)
5. Herb Adderley (Green Bay Packers)
6. Willie Davis (Green Bay Packers)
7. Willie Brown (Oakland Raiders)
8. Bobby Bell (Kansas City Chiefs)
9. Willie Lanier (Kansas City Chiefs)
10. Lem Barney (Detroit Lions)
11. Wayne Walker (Detroit Lions)
12. Dick "Night Train" Lane (Detroit Lions)
13. Alan Page (Minnesota Vikings)
14. Carl Eller (Mnnesota Vikings)
15. Nick Buoniconti (Miami Dolphins)
16. L.C. Greenwood (Pittsburgh Steelers)
17. Mel Blount (Pittsburgh Steelers)
18. Jack Lambert (Pittsburgh Steelers)
19. Dwight White (Pittsburgh Steelers)
20. Ernie Holmes (Pittsburgh Steelers)
21. Jack Ham (Pittsburgh Steelers)
22. Bruce Smith (Buffalo Bills)
23. Ray Lewis (Baltimore Ravens)
24. Michael Strahan (New York Giants)
25. Ronnie Lott (San Francisco 49'ers)
26. Charles Haley (San Francisco 49'ers /Dallas Cowboys)
27. Reggie White (Philadelphia Eagles/Green Bay Packers)
28. Kevin Greene (Pittsburgh Steelers/Carolina Panthers)
29. Jason Taylor (Miami Dolphins)
30. John Randle (Minnesota Vikings)
31. Richard Dent (Chicago Bears)
32. Derrick Thomas (Kansas City Chiefs)
33. Clyde Simmons (Philadelphia Eagles)
34. Simeon Rice (Tampa Bay Bucs)
35. Warren Sapp (Tampa Bay Bucs)
36. LeRoy Selmon  (Tampa Bay Bucs)
37. Derrick Brooks (Tampa Bay Bucs)
38. Neil Smith (Kansas City Chiefs)
39. Andre Tippett (New England)
40. Howie Long (Oakland/LA Raiders)
41. Aeneas Williams (Arizona Cardinals)
42. Harvey Martin (Dallas Cowboys)
43. Randy White (Dallas Cowboys)
44. Karl Mecklenburg (Denver Broncos)
45. Junior Seau (San Diego Chargers)
46. Randy Gradishar (Denver Broncos)
47. Tom Jackson (Denver Broncos)
48. Dick LeBeau (Detroit Lions)
49. Bryan Cox (Miami Dolphins)
50. Pat Swilling (New Orleans Saints)
51. Darrell Green (Washington Redskins)
52. LaVar Arrington (Washington Redskins)
53. Wilber Marshall (Chicago Bears/Washington Redskins)
54. Brian Urlacher (Chicago Bears)
55. Mark Gastineau (New York Jets)
56. Dexter Manley (Washington Redskins)
57. Bob Brudzinski (LA Rams/Miami Dolphins)
58. Kim Bokamper (Miami Dolphins)
59. Elvin Bethea (Houston Oilers/Tennessee Titans)
60. Joe Klecko (New York Jets)
61. Dave Wilcox (San Francisco 49'ers)
62. Deacon Jones (LA Rams)
63. Merlin Olsen (LA Rams)
64. Jackie Slater (LA Rams)
65. Bubba Smith (Baltimore Colts)
66. Willie McGinest (New England Patriots)
67. Ty Law (New England Patriots)
68. Tedi Bruschi (New England Patriots)
69. Chris Doleman (Minnesota Vikings)
70. Trace Armstrong (Chicago Bears/Miami Dolphins)
71. Leslie O'Neal (San Diego Chargers)
72. Sean Jones (Green Bay Packers)
73. Rickey Jackson (New Orleans Saints/San Francisco 49'ers)
74. Robert Porcher (Detroit Lions)
75. Alex Karras (Detroit Lions)

Now To The Present:

1. J.J Watt (Houston Texans)
2. Mario Williams (Houston Texans/Buffalo Bills)
3. Ndamukong Suh (Detroit Lions)
4. Clay Matthews (Green Bay Packers)
5. Julius Peppers (Carolina Panthers/Chicago Bears/Green Bay Packers)
6. Jared Allen (Minnesota Vikings/Chicago Bears)
7. Terrell Suggs (Baltimore Ravens)
8. DeMarcus Ware (Dallas Cowboys/Denver Broncos)
9. Luke Kuechley (Carolina Panthers)
10. Cliff Avril (Detroit Lioms/Seattle Seahawks)
11. Jadeveon Clowney (Houston Texans)
12. Cory Redding (Detroit Lions/Indianapolis Colts)
13. A.J. Hawk (Green Bay Packers)
14. James Harrison (Pittsburgh Steelers)
15. John Abraham (New York Jets/Atlanta Falcoms/Arizona Cardinals)
16. Darrelle Revis (New York Jets/New England Patriots)
17. Dwight Freeney (Indianapolis Colts)
18. Robert Mathis  (Indianapolis Colts)
19. Osi Umenyiora (New York Giants/Atlanta Falcons)
20. Jason Pierre Paul (New York Giants)
21. Elvis Dumervil (Denver Broncos/Baltimore Ravens)
22. DeAndre Levy (Detroit Lions)
23. Justin Smith (Cincinnati Bengals/San Francisco 49'ers)
24. Troy Polamalu (Pittsburgh Steelers)
25. Terence Newman (Dallas Cowboys/Cincinnati Bengals)

The one thing that many of these players had in common is they've caused lots of nightmares for many quarterbacks.

Whether it be that clutch interception or the devastating hit which caused fumbles, season or career ending injuries, these events were a large part of that created many dynasty's.

It will be interesting to see how the rest of the 2014 NFL Season unfolds.

Meanwhile, these 100 players will always leave me wondering what would have been, both past and present.

All we have to reference is by watching highlights on the various sports networks today.

There is always ESPN Classic and the NFL Network to relive the Great Defensive Players along with Teams. Then we can formulate our own conclusions

I'm going to end this post with the following questions:

Would you fear Dick Butkus or Lawrence Taylor the most?

I wouldn't want to get on Taylor's bad side, but I'm running as fast as I can from Butkus.

Taylor ended the career of Joe Theismann on a Monday Night game on November 18, 1985.

Would Peyton Manning be able to take the hits and punishment that Butkus gave opponents?

If Peyton wants an answer, he can ask his father Archie, who played with the New Orleans Saints during the same era.

Could you imagine Ndamukong Suh body slamming or stepping on quarterbacks Terry Bradshaw or Dan Marino?

There are so many ways that a mind can wander about these Cross Over Eras.

I've been fortunate enough to witness many through the years.

First as a fan then as a member of the media.

Until the day that I die, I'll never be able to watch enough film to be a Student Of The Game.

Having spoken to lots of players and coaches, this always seems to enlighten me.

But as the year progresses, I'll be monitoring all of the team's statistics and see where they end up in their quest to get to the Super Bowl.

Plus, what defensive players will emerge in My Future Lists?

Stay Tuned!

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.                                                              

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Pro Football Viewpoints

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

Going into the Lions game against the Buffalo Bills, Sunday October 5 at Ford Field, Bills QB Kyle Orton had an all-time record of 4-0 against Detroit.

Thanks to three missed field goals by kicker Alex Henery, Orton raised his record to 5-0 as Buffalo won 17-14. Orton was 30-43 for 308 yards, one touchdown and one interception. Prior to the game, Orton had four touchdowns and zero interceptions versus Detroit.

But if there was ever a gift, this was it. Henery's 0-3 performance made him the second kicker casualty of the season for Detroit.

The Lions cut Henery one day later after he was 1-5 in field goal attempts. Detroit signed former Denver Broncos kicker Matt Prater on Tuesday. This is a guy that was originally signed by the Lions as an undrafted free agent in 2006.

He holds the NFL record for kicking the longest field goal (64 yards) which he set on December 8, 2013, in Denver in a game against the Tennessee Titans.

He was cut by the Denver Broncos after completing a suspension for DUI.

In addition to the Lions kicker's woes, the Buffalo defense sacked Lions QB Matt Stafford a career high six times.

The Bills defense carried their defensive coordinator and former Detroit Head Coach Jim Schwartz off the field. I can't say that I was impressed with this, but we'll see if this win does anything to get Buffalo into the playoffs.

If there is a positive that comes out of this loss and the Lions find their kicker, then we'll give them a mulligan if they're able to defeat Minnesota or earn another road win with Prater and his strong leg. One thing Prater has going for him is he'll be kicking in a dome the majority of the time. The only cold air will come from the Air Conditioner.

The Lions and Bills contest was the final meeting between ownership groups that have Detroit connections. Detroit's late Owner William Clay Ford and Buffalo's Ralph Wilson Jr. were good friends. They've been great for the NFL throughout the years.

I will be curious to see if these teams continue to face one another in the pre-season as they have over the years.

I have a feeling that if Detroit faces Orton again, win number six will be much more difficult if Detroit can play a complete game without key mistakes. We shall see what the 2014 fortunes turn out to be for both teams.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Speaking of the Bill's, I'm glad that Terry and Kim Pegula finally were unanimously approved as the new owners and the team is committed to staying in Western New York.

Pegula has a great reputation in the area and is the owner of the NHL's Buffalo Sabres. There is no question that he'll cross-market with both teams.

But one thing that I want to emphasize here is that the Buffalo Bills fans should be thankful that Billionaire Donald Trump got involved in the bidding process. I've always been critical of Trump because he was the one person that wanted to compete against the NFL when he was the owner of the USFL's New Jersey Generals.

The USFL eventually folded and I truly blame him for being a major reason for the league's extinction and demise.

But during the Bills sale process, Trump submitted a bid for $1 Billion and in cash. I'm sure this sale would have been completed in 30 days with a wire transfer. I know he would have kept the team in Western New York. If Pegula didn't bid $1.4 Billion, I doubt the Wilson family would have sold the team to the Bon Jovi Group that was prepared to move the franchise to Toronto, CA.

So the folks should send Thank-You Cards to Trump because he was a legitimate second choice if Pegula didn't get the franchise.

The Bills franchised would have scored a Touchdown with Trump or Pegula as owners.

Trump earned my respect for stepping up at a time when Buffalo needed him. It would have been interesting to see how Trump would have interacted with the likes of NFL Owners such as Jerry Jones, Dan Snyder, The Rooney and Mara families, Paul Allen, Tom Benson, etc...



------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

In a recent story, I mentioned that I could relate to Chicago Bears Defensive End Jared Allen missing the team's 38-17 thrashing by the Green Bay Packers on September 28, 2014. For Allen to have played the following week against the Carolina Panthers, he had to regain the 12 pounds he lost while battling Pneumonia.

Allen did return to action against the Panthers and recorded seven tackles in a 31-24 loss in Charlotte, NC., on October 5, 2014.

As I said before, and I'll say it again, I've dealt with many health issues throughout the years, but now I've learned how tough Pneumonia can be having experienced it myself. Late Lions Owner William Clay Ford died of it earlier this year.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

How good is Indianapolis Colts QB Andrew Luck? The No.1 pick in the 2012 NFL draft out of Stanford is proving why he was a better selection than Washington Redskins pick Robert Griffin III.

The Colts are 4-2 in 2014 and Luck has 17 touchdowns, seven interceptions and 1,987 yards.

According to Gil Brandt, Luck became the first QB in NFL History with consecutive games of at least 370 yards, four touchdowns and a 70% completion rate. For a league where there have been a lot of great QB's in NFL History which includes Hall of Fame signal callers, this is an amazing accomplishment.

During his six games, Luck has posted 370, 172, 370, 393, 312 and 370 yard games. The Philadelphia Eagles were the team that held Luck to 172 yards during a 30-27 Colts loss.

In Luck's short career that spans all of 38 games dating back to 2012, he's amassed 10,183 yards, 63 TD's and 34 INT's.

Talk about a smooth transition from Peyton Manning to Luck, Colts Owner Jim Irsay hit the jackpot.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Finally, as disgusting as it's been to hear about all of the Domestic Violence, Child Abuse and Assault Cases, we can thank the Cincinnati Bengals for a Feel Good Story.

I'm inspired by the support the Cincinnati Bengals organization has given Devon Still, as his 4-year-old daughter Leah is battling Cancer.

Earlier this season, the NFL announced it would donate proceeds from the sale of Still's Jersey to Cancer research.

New Orleans Saints Coach Sean Payton notably supported the effort by purchasing 100 Still Jerseys shortly after the announcement.

On Sunday Night, October 5, the Bengals defensive tackle found yet another touching NFL Tribute in New England. Patriots Owner Robert Kraft announced the organization is making a $25,000 donation to the Cincinnati Children's Hospital in support of Leah.

The Bengals Cheerleading Squad wore Still's No. 75 Bengals's Jerseys on the sidelines, plus wore "Still Strong" and "Women of Still" shirts on Friday.

It doesn't get any more inspiring than this!

The Bengals kept Still on their Practice Squad then moved him to the Active Roster enabling him to keep the health insurance due to Leah's Medical Bills.

They're a sentimental favorite to win the Super Bowl this year.

This organization has had a track record for having players with character issues.

But now they've come a long way to drastically change their image, especially at a time when the NFL needs to with the recent publicity the league has received with all of the above problems listed. The NFL is working on new policies to change in order to protect the image of the shield.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Digest These Baseball Facts

BY SCOTT MORGANROTH
PHOTOS BY CANDICE EBLING

While the NFL is heating up, there is no time better for baseball than October.

Fall is here and the leaves are falling and changing colors.

Other things that are falling are teams that made it to the playoffs as we get ready for the World Series in a few weeks,

This story is going to provide some interesting perspective on where baseball once was compared to where it currently stands.

With the help of the Baseball Hall of Fame and MLB Public Relations, I was enlightened with these facts therefore, I wanted to pass this information along.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

On October 5, 1868, Henry Chadwick wrote the first hard-cover book on baseball. He was born 190 years ago today. His Hall of Fame Plaque says, "Baseball's Preeminent Pioneer Writer For Half A Century. Inventor Of The Box Score. Author Of The First Rule Book In 1858. Chairman Of Rules Committee In First Nation-Wide Baseball Organization." He was inducted into the Hall of
Fame in 1938. There was no primary team and he was an Executive.

I can only imagine what Chadwick would think about the statistics in this modern age. When he reaches 200 years old in 10 years, who knows what baseball will come up with? He introduced statistics such as batting average, and the concept of earned and unearned runs.

Since the Los Angeles Dodgers are in this years playoffs, it's only appropriate to mention a piece of history regarding them.

On October 2, 1966, Dodgers Pitcher Sandy Koufax wins his 27th game of the season. This was the final game of his Hall of Fame Career.

Nowadays, no pitcher would sniff 27 wins a season with the game changing in an era where specialization has led to specialists.

Koufax had a career record of 165-87, 2,396 strikeouts, a 2.76 ERA, 40 shutouts, 137 complete games, appearing in 397 games, 2,324.1 innings pitched, starting in 314 games and even had nine saves. Once again, how many of today's pitchers would complete 137 games? Close your eyes and what do you see?

Need I say more?


Here is another interesting October fact that has lasted a long time.

On October 1, 1921, history was made as Chicago White Sox Catcher Ray Schalk was the first catcher to make a putout at every single base.

This hasn't been accomplished again.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Now that the Detroit Tigers have been eliminated from the playoffs, I have to admit that I'm pulling for the Kansas City Royals to win the World Series in a few weeks.

If there is a team of destiny this Fall, the Royals are definitely that squad.

When Kansas City defeated the LA Angels in Game 1 of the ALDS 3-2 in 11 innings, it marked the first time since 1979 that a team won it's first two playoff games in extra innings.

The Royals are playing on House Money and are definitely enjoying their underdog status. Kansas City made it three straight extra innings wins with a 4-1 triumph over the Angels Friday night in Anaheim. The key blow was a two-run home run in the 11th inning by Eric Hosmer that gave KC a 3-1 lead. Hosmer, 25, wasn't even born when the Royals made their last playoff appearance 29 years ago. He turns 25 on October 24, 2014. It's possible that he'll be working that day playing in The Fall Classic.

Meanwhile, Sunday, the Royals didn't need extra innings in Missouri as they completed the Angels 3-0 sweep with an 8-3 victory.

Going into the playoffs, the Angels had the best record in baseball with a 98-64 mark, while the Royals were 89-73. It's safe to say that these records mean nothing now.

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

I wonder what Chadwick would think of these numbers from MLB Public Relations.

* A total of 5.2 million viewers watched the American League Wild Card Game, +14% over last years Tuesday WC Game. It beat TBS top cable net in prime time by +112%. Kansas City defeated Oakland 9-8 in 12 innings in Missouri. I started watching the game in the fifth inning and watched this game until the conclusion. It certainly will go down as one of the best games in playoff history especially since the Wild Card Game is a one game elimination to advance. I'll bet Commissioner Bud Selig must be gleaming at a game like this since it was his idea to expand the playoffs.

* This Wild Card Game drew a 30.3 rating in Kansas City, the highest MLB Telecast on record. Seventy percent of TV's on in KC tuned to the last 15 minutes. They were rewarded with the Royals first playoff victory in 29 years.

* How powerful is Twitter?

There were 817,653 tweets during the AL# Wild Card Game, topping #2 Thursday  Program by +642%. There were 90,000 + tweets in five minutes after the walk-off hit by Salvador Perez.

* The 817,653 tweets are most for an MLB # Postseason Game on record with the exception of 2012 & 2013 # World Series Clinchers.

* The Royals and A's Wild Card Game drew a 3.8 overnight rating on TBS, + 12% over the corresponding game last year on Tuesday. The Pittsburgh Pirates made it to the playoffs for the first time in 20 years, and snapped their 20-year consecutive losing seasons as they faced the Cincinnati Reds.

It will be interesting to see how the ratings and tweets go the rest of the playoffs.

My photographer Ebling had an interesting perspective of the post-season.

Her Milwaukee Brewers (82-80) collapsed in September failing to make the playoffs after spending 150 games in first place.

Yet, the Detroit Tigers and LA Angels reached and got swept in the playoffs and played just three games more than the Brewers. The Tigers and Angels suffered just as much as the Brewers since their expectations were enormous.

But with the Baltimore Orioles and Kansas City Royals set to face each other later this week, I look for two baseball starving fan bases to think Cinderella is waiting to put on her glass slipper.

The Orioles won their last World Series in 1983 while the Royals managed to win their lone title in 1985. Baltimore defeated the Philadelphia Phillies 4-1 while Kansas City defeated the St. Louis Cardinals 4-3 in the battle of Missouri.

One team is guaranteed a chance to snap that drought and it will be fun to watch.

As for Chadwick, I can imagine what type of hard-cover book he'd write these days, here in 2014.

Scott Morganroth can be reached at www.scottsports33.com.

About Me

My photo
My Super Passion: In 40-years in the Sports Media Business, I’ve been fortunate enough to experience some Great Moments with Championship People. I look forward to any feedback you readers have. I encourage you to look at the MOTOR CITY MAD MOUTH HALL OF FAME ON August 8, 2012 because these people have made the Journey in Sports Media as fun as it's been.

Blog Archive