RSS
 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

17 Jan

easternKYcolonels

Logo of a college football team that plays in the Ohio Valley Conference, the Eastern Kentucky Colonels. Their finger-lickin’ good program began play in 1891 and over the years they’ve won 21 conference titles and a pair of small college national championships. Former Colonels who have enjoyed careers in pro football include Yeremiah Bell, Tim Lester, Aaron Jones, Myron Guyton, John Jackson, Jason Dunn, Chad Bratzke and Wally Chambers.

 
Comments Off on Classic Team Logo of The Day

Posted in Classic Team Logo of the Day

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

17 Jan

82toppscurtisbrown

1982 Topps football card of former pro running back Curtis Brown, who played seven years in the National Football League, mainly for the Buffalo Bills. His best season was in 1978, when he finished second on the team in rushing yards, to Terry Miller, and also had a 102 yard kickoff return for a touchdown. Brown, who suffered from dementia in his later years believed to be a product of his playing days, died of a heart attack in 2015 at the age of 60.

 
Comments Off on Classic Sports Card of The Day

Posted in Classic Sports Card of the Day

 

NFL – Buffalo Bills’ Season Review – Part 2

16 Jan

Part 2 of our annual Buffalo Bills’ season review will take a look at the offense. Here’s a position-by-position critique of the players on that side of the ball:

 

Quarterbacks

 

If there’s one word that describes the difference at the quarterback position for the Bills in 2019 compared to 2018 it’s this – stability. After a tumultuous 2018 season that saw the likes of Nate Peterman, Matt Barkley and Derek Anderson take turns guiding the offense, this past season saw second year prospect Josh Allen take the reins as the undisputed starter, and team leader, at the position. Allen showed tremendous progress as the season wore on in terms of cutting down turnovers and leading fourth quarter comebacks, and that progress was a major factor in the team racking up 10 wins on the year. He still made his share of mistakes and regressed into his “hero ball” personna at times, but if he continues to improve on the same arc he is on now the Bills truly have their franchise QB going into the future. Barkley did enough in 2018 to grab the backup spot, but it remains to be seen if the team looks to upgrade that important roster spot next season. There will be some interesting veterans looking for jobs this offseason. Does practice squad member Davis Webb have a chance to unseat Barkley? That should play out in next year’s training camp.

 

Running Backs

 

One of the big surprises of the 2019 campaign was the jettisoning of LeSean McCoy, the Bills’ workhorse back of previous seasons. That left the ball-carrying load in the hands of future Hall of Famer Frank Gore and rookie Devin Singletary. Gore carried the load early on and when Singletary was hurt, but as the season wore on the rookie took over as the lead back and Gore’s carries were diminished. There’s no doubt going into 2020 that Singletary is the main ball carrier and it’s not even likely the aging Gore will return for another season. T.J. Yeldon was a free agent signee who rarely was active on game days. I don’t see him returning to the Bills next year as he will want to find a team where he can have more opportunity to play. Senorise Perry is on the roster strictly for special teams and will have to fight hard to retain his spot next season. Christian Wade, the novelty rugby player who was on the practice squad in 2019, will get another crack at making the team. He showed flashes of promise in the preseason and it will be interesting to see how much further along he is in his development when he takes the field in camp. There is definitely room for another back, preferably one who would complement Singletary, to be brought into the fold for next season. Fullback Pat DiMarco is another player who is a regular on special teams and is used on offense almost strictly as a blocking back. Could the Bills save that roster spot by utilizing an extra lineman or a big defensive player in that blocking back role next year?

 

Receivers

 

The free agent additions of John Brown and Cole Beasley were an immense improvement over the Bills’ 2018 receiving corps. Brown provided a 1,000+ yard season while Beasley posted career high numbers as a slot security blanket for Allen. The rest of the receiver group provided mixed results. Isaiah McKenzie was usually the #3 wideout and he had his moments but wasn’t a consistent threat. He made most of his noise on jet sweep running plays. Duke Williams rarely saw the field and when he did he made some important plays as a big target for Allen, but again, wasn’t consistent enough as he also had some drops. Robert Foster regressed from 2018 and it appears he will be in for a fight to make the final roster next season, especially if the Bills add more receiving help as expected. Andre Roberts was almost exclusively used as a kick returner. He was extremely reliable but did nothing spectacular. The Bills will have 5 tight ends battling for jobs in 2020. Rookie Dawson Knox appears to have locked down the starting spot, and another first year player, Tommy Sweeney, was noticeable as a weapon in the rare chances he got to see action. Veteran Lee Smith is a locker room force and a good mentor for the young tight ends, but with his penchant for taking penalties he should struggle to stick with the club next year. Free agent addition Tyler Kroft lost much of the season to injury, but he’s signed on for additional years so he will probably be among the tight ends who are kept. Jason Croom became a forgotten man as he spent the season on injured reserve, but he’ll also be around to compete for a job.

 

Offensive Linemen

 

The Bills completely rebuilt their offensive line in 2019 with left tackle Dion Dawkins being the only returnee from the previous year to keep his job. GM Brandon Beane’s biggest free agent splash was signing center Mitch Morse to a long term contract and after dealing with concussion issues in the preseason Morse settled in to anchor the line all season. In the few instances when Morse was sidelined with injuries, another free agent, Jon Feliciano, showed his versatility by filling in at center. Otherwise Feliciano nailed down the starting right guard spot and performed admirably there all year. At left guard was Quinton Spain, signed away from Tennessee. He started at that position all season and didn’t allow a single sack in pass protection while also blocking well for the run. Veteran Ty Nsekhe came in as a free agent also and alternated at right tackle with rookie second round draft pick Cody Ford. When Nsekhe went down late in the year with an ankle injury Ford took over the spot full time and although he had his share of rookie hiccups he played well enough to give the team hope that they’ve found a long term answer for that position too. One of the tasks facing Beane this offseason will be resigning Spain, who came to Buffalo on a one year “prove it” deal. The big guard bet on himself and it paid off as he earned a big payday, hopefully from the Bills. There weren’t many times when the depth players on the line were called on to fill in as the Bills stayed miraculously healthy all year, but when the need arose Beane’s acquisitions filled the bill well. Spencer Long, signed for his versatility, played both center and guard at times and there wasn’t a noticeable decline in play. A preseason trade addition, Ryan Bates, also was a versatile addition. He wasn’t called on often but spent time at both guard and tackle and as an extra lineman when called for. He could be an excellent candidate to become the aforementioned “fullback” if the team decides to move on from Pat DiMarco. Ike Boettger was on the 53 man roster but with the good health of the regular linemen he rarely was active on game day. Another of Beane’s O-line free agents, swing tackle LaAdrian Waddle, was hurt in training camp and spent the season on injured reserve. He was also on a one year contract and his status will be another decision the front office has to make for 2020. Overall, the team has to be ecstatic over how the massive overhaul of the line worked out. The team is set up for the coming years with stability up front.

 
Comments Off on NFL – Buffalo Bills’ Season Review – Part 2

Posted in Football

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

16 Jan

Blufftonbeavers

Logo of a small college football team that plays in the Heartland Collegiate Athletic Conference, the Bluffton Beavers. The Division III program played it’s first season in 1913 and currently plays its’ home games at Dwight Salzman Stadium in Bluffton, Ohio. The school has produced a pair of pro football players – Seth Burkholder, a kicker in the Arena League, and former Buffalo Bills’ star flanker Elbert “Golden Wheels” Dubenion.

 
Comments Off on Classic Team Logo of The Day

Posted in Classic Team Logo of the Day

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

16 Jan

64toppsdubenion

1964 Topps football card of a recently deceased former player, Elbert “Golden Wheels” Dubenion, who played 9 seasons in the American Football League for the Buffalo Bills. He was a star flanker for the team and the main receiver for quarterback Jack Kemp. Dubenion was a major part of Buffalo’s back-to-back AFL championship teams in the mid-1960s. A three-time AFL All Star, he still ranks in the top 10 of Bills’ career receiving yards. After retiring as a player Dubenion worked as a scout for many years with the Bills, Miami Dolphins and Atlanta Falcons.

 
Comments Off on Classic Sports Card of The Day

Posted in Classic Sports Card of the Day

 

NFL – Buffalo Bills’ Season Review – Part 1

15 Jan

Today we begin our extensive four-part review of the 2019 Buffalo Bills’ season with a look at the performance of the front office and coaching staff. General manager Brandon Beane went into the free agency period last year with a plan, and he executed it well. He added a pair of valuable options in the passing game for his young quarterback, Josh Allen, in John Brown and Cole Beasley. Tight end Tyler Kroft was a gamble since he had injury issues, and the gamble didn’t work as Kroft missed significant time with a foot injury and made very little impact when he did get on the field. Beane also completely remade the team’s offensive line. Center Mitch Morse was the star attraction of the free agents and he was a consistent performer all season after having concussion issues in training camp. Also added were starting guards Jon Feliciano and Quinton Spain, who both became instant starters and major upgrades over the 2018 guards. Tackles Ty Nsekhe and La’Adrian Waddle had mixed results due to injuries. Former first round draft pick Kevin Johnson was added to the secondary and provided important cornerback depth all year. The rest of the signees were a mixed bag of players who provided help here and there during the season, with kick return specialist Andre Roberts being the most notable. Beane had an outstanding college draft, plucking players who should be cornerstones of the franchise in the future. Early choices Ed Oliver, Cody Ford, Devin Singletary and Dawson Knox all became starters who flashed potential to develop into Pro Bowl players. Late rounders Jaquan Johnson and Darryl Johnson were major special team contributors and Darryl Johnson was a regular part of the defensive line rotation also.

As for the coaching, head man Sean McDermott continued to preach “trusting the process” and has built a great culture among his players in his 3 seasons. In last season’s review, I commented that McDermott’s “process” had to translate to wins in 2019, and it did just that as the team finished 10-6 and locked up a wild card spot. He still is winless against Bill Belichick’s New England club, with the three year record now at 0-6. Plenty of fans were clamoring for offensive coordinator Brian Daboll to be fired after the offense was mediocre this season, but he really produced adequate results considering the young QB, the totally revamped O-line and the fact that a couple of his main weapons, Singletary and Knox, were rookies who delivered typical rookie-like inconsistent results. Leslie Frazier did a great job coordinating the defense. He was masterful at mixing up coverages and having a good knack for blitzing at the right times. It was very telling that Tennessee defensive players, after upsetting the Ravens in the playoffs, reported that they developed their game plan to stop Lamar Jackson “using the Buffalo model”. The Bills had a new special teams coordinator in 2019, Heath Farwell, and the special teams really didn’t do much that was special during the season. In fact, a blocked punt cost them a game against the Patriots and they also allowed a 100+ yard kickoff return for a touchdown against Miami. It’s a good sign moving forward that McDermott, at his postseason press conference, stressed that there was still much room for improvement heading into next season. Facing a much tougher schedule in 2020, standing pat won’t cut it for this club.

 
Comments Off on NFL – Buffalo Bills’ Season Review – Part 1

Posted in Football

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

15 Jan

montanagrizzlies96now

Logo of a college football team that plays in the Big Sky Conference, the Montana Grizzlies. The school first fielded a team in 1897 and has claimed a pair of Division I – FCS national championships, in 1995 and 2001. Former Grizzly players who have gone on to play pro football include Jimmy Wilson, Doug Betters, Raul Allegre, Colt Anderson, Scott Gragg, Dan Carpenter, Guy Bingham, Trumaine Johnson, Mike Tilleman and Tim Hauck.

 
Comments Off on Classic Team Logo of The Day

Posted in Classic Team Logo of the Day

 

Classic Sports Card of The Day

15 Jan

2019donrussloalexander

2019 Donruss football card of recently retired linebacker Lorenzo Alexander, who enjoyed a 14 year career in the NFL with 4 different franchises. He was mostly a special teams player but in his last stint in Buffalo became a starting linebacker and valuable leader on the defense. Alexander was a two-time Pro Bowler and has been nominated for the prestigious Walter Payton Man of The Year Award numerous times in his career, including the current season with the Bills.

 
Comments Off on Classic Sports Card of The Day

Posted in Classic Sports Card of the Day

 

NFL – Throwback Thursday: AFL Western Division Rivalry Is Born

26 Dec

This is the seventeenth and final week of the NFL’s regular season, but for the final Throwback Thursday feature of the year we’ll go back to a game from the opening week, of the opening season, of the American Football League. The Los Angeles Chargers play the Kansas City Chiefs on this week’s schedule, and those two franchises also met on the first week of scheduled AFL games in 1960. This particular matchup was played on September 10th of that inaugural season, at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The Chiefs’ franchise was located in Dallas and known as the Texans. They would relocate to Kansas City in 1963 and be rechristened as the Chiefs, while in a bit of irony, the Chargers would play only that first season in L.A. before moving to San Diego, where they would stay until shuffling back to LaLa Land a couple of years ago. The two teams were led by future Hall of Fame coaches, Hank Stram of the Texans and the Chargers’ Sid Gillman. The players in this contest weren’t exactly the ones anyone would identify with these clubs as the AFL progressed through the 1960s. When the Texans opened the scoring with a 12 yard touchdown pass to Chris Burford, it wasn’t thrown by the QB most linked to Stram, Len Dawson. It was Cotton Davidson, who would have moderate success in later years with the Raiders but who isn’t a household name with Chiefs’ fans. Jack Spikes scored on a short run to give the Texans a 13-0 lead before the Chargers scored on a 46 yard pass from Jack Kemp to Ralph Anderson. Kemp would go on to lead Buffalo to a pair of AFL titles in the mid-1960s but isn’t generally associated with the Chargers, and Anderson isn’t exactly Lance Alworth when it comes to memorable Charger receivers. Davidson hit a forgotten superstar of the early AFL years, Abner Haynes, with a 17 yard TD pass to widen the Texans’ lead to 20-7. Kemp then took over the fourth quarter, scoring on a 7 yard run and hitting Howie Ferguson, another forgotten player, with the winning touchdown pass from 4 yards out to give the Chargers a hard-fought 21-20 win.

Haynes was the leading Dallas receiver on the day, grabbing 7 passes out of the backfield for 62 yards while Spikes led his team’s ground attack with 62 yards on 9 carries. Kemp threw for 275 yards and the 2 scores, and his leading receivers were the forgettable Anderson, with 103 receiving yards on 5 catches, and Royce Womble, with 7 grabs for 92 yards. The Texans would extract revenge later in the season, defeating the Chargers 17-0 in Dallas. The Chargers won the Western Division but lost to the Houston Oilers in the AFL’s inaugural title game. Haynes would go on to win the league’s Most Valuable Player Award for the season. Stram and Gillman would continue to develop excellent teams throughout the ten year existence of the AFL, and the rivalry between the franchises has continued to this day.

 

afl-game-program_1960-09-10_dal-lac

Program from Chargers/Texans inaugural AFL game

 
Comments Off on NFL – Throwback Thursday: AFL Western Division Rivalry Is Born

Posted in Feature Stories, Football

 

Classic Team Logo of The Day

26 Dec

DodgerslogoNFL

Logo of a defunct pro football team that played in the National Football League from 1930 until 1943, the Brooklyn Dodgers. The team played at Ebbets Field, sharing the stadium with the Dodger baseball club. They were renamed the Tigers in 1944 but folded after that season, with their players being dispersed to the Boston Yanks franchise. There are four Hall of Famers who played for the franchise – Red Badgro, Benny Friedman, Bruiser Kinard and Ace Parker.

 
Comments Off on Classic Team Logo of The Day

Posted in Classic Team Logo of the Day