Wednesday, December 31, 2014

1973 Profile: J.D. Hill

Wide Receiver
No. 40
Arizona State
"Hill came into the NFL as a flashy collegian who caught 115 passes for 1,886 yards and 21 touchdowns. He felt pro ball was going to a breeze. It wasn't.
'Catching the ball and running with it is no problem,' he says. 'But running a pass pattern is self-discipline.' J.D. didn't get to play until the ninth game of 1971. His first catch wasn't noteworthy but his next two were for touchdowns. He's been a solid star ever since.
In 1972 Hill caught 52 passes, fourth best in the AFC, and scored five touchdowns. His percentage of 14.5 was impressive, too. J.D. made four catches and six crackback blocks as the Bills beat Philadelphia.
'I came to the pros thinking it would be easy,' he says, looking back. 'But the best wide receivers have been playing five, six, seven, eight years.'"

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

Monday, December 29, 2014

1973 Profile: O.J. Simpson

Running Back
No. 32
"Nobody put the squeeze on O.J. in 1972. In game No. 2 of the regular season, he roared past his boyhood heroes, the San Francisco 49ers, for 138 yards on 29 carries.
'It was the best game I've ever played in the pros,' he said later. Simpson went on to gain 1,251 yards rushing. In fact, he passed 1,000 in his 11th game. O.J. had a 94-yard burst against Pittsburgh to set a team record, and topped 100 yards six times in 1972.
On everyone's All-NFL teams, Simpson averaged 4.3 yards a carry as he lugged the ball more than anyone in the AFC. Then for a finale, he won the MVP honor in the Pro Bowl game, his first.
'It was a fun game,' he said later. 'I haven't had too many of those in my pro career.' His turnabout in 1972 was attributed to two things: (1) he lost 11 pounds and (2) his new coach, Lou Saban, let him run more often."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

Sunday, December 28, 2014

1973 Profile: Walt Patulski

Defensive End
No. 85
Notre Dame
"Patulski was the No. 1 choice in the entire football draft a year ago. He enhanced his image during his first season in the pros but he wasn't that impressed with the way the pros play.
'The whole organization of pro football is cold,' he says. 'Everybody goes their own way. I've developed into a loner.' He did keep a few opposing quarterbacks company, though. But there, too, he has a slight problem. Like the day he had to think first before forcing himself to clobber Johnny Unitas, an old hero of his.
'I'm placid in a game. I don't loaf but I play too easy, too unemotional.' The Bills figure they are getting pretty good feedback, though, from their $150,000-a-year star. He signed a three-year contract."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

Saturday, December 27, 2014

1973 Profile: Robert James

No. 20
"A real surprise for the Bills, who, in turn, were a surprise on pass defense because of him. James had only one interception for the season but played strong as the Bills finished seventh overall among all NFL teams on pass defense. His one steal, however, preserved Buffalo's exciting 24-17 upset of the Washington Redskins. He bumps-and-runs with the best cornerbacks in the game.
James went to the Bills as a free agent in 1969, first playing with the special teams. In 1970, he started at the corner and in 1971, he intercepted four passes to lead the team. He reached his peak in 1972 when he was chosen to play in the Pro Bowl. He's the first player from Fisk to start in the pros."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

1973 Profile: Jan White

Tight End
No. 80
Ohio State
"Typical of the new breed of tight end- fast. White has done the 40-yard dash in 4.4 or 4.5 seconds every time he's been clocked. He's a former Pennsylvania high school hurdles champion.
'Most clubs are going to the faster tight end,' he says, 'so they can't be covered by a linebacker. If a safety is tied up covering a tight end, it takes away the opponent's ability to double-cover a wide receiver.' He hasn't had the opportunity to be on the receiving end much, though. As a rookie, he caught 13 passes for 130 yards. Last season he grabbed 12 for 148 yards and two touchdowns.
He's added 20 pounds to his college playing weight. White started for three years at Ohio State and the Buckeyes lost only two games."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

1973 Profile: Dennis Shaw

No. 16
San Diego State
"Some good, some bad came out of the 1972 season for Shaw. He predicted a possible 10-win season for the Bills and they didn't quite make half of that, but he had a better year than 1971. That year, he recalls, 'I was frustrated with myself, the coaching staff, the Bills organization, everything. What do you expect in a 1-13 season?' He lost 26 passes to the opposition on intercepts in 1971; he cut that down to 17 last season.
Shaw threw fewer passes than ever in 1972 (only 258) but hit on 52.7% and tossed for 14 scores. He had three coaches in his first three years with the Bills and blames that for some of his problems. He wore contact lens for the first time in '72; he doesn't like to see reporters, though.
'I don't like interviews,' he says. 'There are some things the public isn't entitled to know.' Interceptions might be one of those things.
Dennis is a Kansas farm boy."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

Monday, December 22, 2014

1973 Buffalo Bills Outlook

"Like any other coach taking over a 1-13 team, Lou Saban predicted marked improvements for the Bills last season. But to his credit, Saban delivered. The team improved by three-and-a-half games in the standings and maybe more so in appearance.
This a young team. As O.J. Simpson said in the team's huddle before the first game of the season, 'Okay, does everybody here know everybody?'
The Bills had a lot of injuries last season so they didn't get to know each other very well. Only about half the players made it through all 14 games and there was a point where Lou Saban was about ready to start combing the stands for offensive guards. The Bills made more than their share of off-season trades and had what seems to be another fine draft; the main job is to patch up the offensive line and repair the linebacking corps. Whether Dennis Shaw can fulfill the promise he showed as a rookie may make the difference as this club tries to climb past Baltimore and the New York Jets to become a second place contender."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

"The mysterious Mr. Shaw must start delivering his passes more consistently. As a rookie he showed he could. But he has dumped a lot of his throws into enemy hands since that fine start in 1970. Shaw will be pushed this year by second-year man Leo Hart and rookie Joe Ferguson, a third round choice from Arkansas.
When J.D. Hill improved last season, the whole pass catching department was on the upgrade. Hill caught 52, fourth highest in the AFC. Bob Chandler, a third-year man like Hill, caught 33 on the other flank. Both get good distance with their catches. Dwight Harrison, picked up last season from Denver, could see more action as the backup receiver. Except for him, the Bills have little in the wide receiver corps. Jan White, the tight end, didn't see the ball much last season but he's a flyer for his size and may be a secret weapon once this team gets into contention.
Buffalo has the ideal deep backs in O.J. and Jim Braxton. Both can run and catch. They caught 51 passes between them last season. O.J., of course, came into his own as a runner, gaining 1,251 yards to lead all NFL rushers. Braxton, the heavy-duty back, gained another 453 yards but after him the running attack tapers off sharply. This team could use a good number three back now that Wayne Patrick has been traded."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

"Herein lies the tale to Buffalo's future. The Bills quarterbacks got sacked 49 times for 411 yards in losses last year. Granted there were a lot of injuries but excuses aren't going to prolong Dennis Shaw's life. Reggie McKenzie, a guard who made the all-rookie team, is good at pulling out for Simpson but must upgrade his pass blocking. The other guard could well be Joe DeLamielleure, a Michigan State rookie and first round draft choice. Another first round choice, Paul Seymour of Michigan (the seventh man taken in the draft), could be at tackle. Mike Montler, who came in a trade from New England, could get a tackle berth though Paul Costa and Donnie Green figure because of last year's experience. Jim Reilly, who was out all season with an injury, is back at guard. Bruce Jarvis is at center."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

"Walt Patulski established himself at end. Jerry Patton played all 14 games at tackle as a rookie. Don Croft and Steve Okoniewski, also second-year men, will wage a battle with high draft picks Jeff Winans (Southern Cal) and Bob Kampa (California) at tackle. But Halvor Hagen, who the Bills think is a 'sleeper,' must replace the traded Al Cowlings at end."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

"Picking linebackers in Buffalo is like playing roulette. Jim Cheyunski, obtained from New England, could be a factor along with veterans Dale Farley, Dick Cunningham and Mike Stratton. Ken Lee, who led the team in interceptions with six, figures somewhere.
Bob James is an outstanding cornerback. Young Tony Greene and veteran Alvin Wyatt fill the other job. The safety position is improved because of young Mike Tyler, a rookie last season, who joined John Pitts and another 1972 rookie, John Saunders, in the deep spots."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

"Buffalo didn't force too many punts last season but the Bills did get to return a lot of kickoffs. The punt returns were fair, with Wyatt the best man, and the kickoff returns were good, with Wyatt and Greene hauling them back.
The Bills got a surprisingly good year out of kicker John Leypoldt, who made good on 16 of his 24 field goals. But the punting, handled by Spike Jones last season, must improve."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

"Buffalo could conceivably start eight men on offense and six on defense who have been in the league for two years or less. O.J. Simpson, with four seasons behind him, is becoming a senior citizen on this squad. But it's a very promising young group that is building, not rebuilding. Look for more improvement."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1973 Edition

"OFFENSE: The Bills went 4-9-1 last year, their best record since 1966. O.J. Simpson led the league in rushing with 1,251 yards. And the Bills will have a new ball park this season, an 80,000-seat beauty in Orchard Park.
Buffalo defeated playoff-bound San Francisco and Washington and tied a good Detroit club. The Bills also came closest to stopping Miami's perfect season, 23-24, and also gave the Dolphins a good scrap in the rematch before falling, 30-16.
Simpson accumulated 1,562 yards of Buffalo's 3,733 yards of total offense- 1,251 rushing, 198 catching 27 passes and another 113 on five-of-eight pass completions. Coach Lou Saban had a good thing going for him and he used it at the expense of the passing game that ranked last in the conference with 114.4 yards a game. Jim Braxton added 443 yards rushing.
Quarterback Dennis Shaw made a mild comeback from his 1971 disaster by completing 52.2 per cent of his passes for 1,666 yards and 14 touchdowns.
J.D. Hill was the third busiest receiver in the conference with 52 catches for a 14.5 average and five touchdowns. Bobby Chandler added 33 catches and five touchdowns.
The offensive line captured Saban's attention during the draft. Buffalo had two picks in the first round and both are offensive linemen. No. 1a, Paul Seymour, a 6-5, 252 tackle from Michigan and No. 1b, Joe DeLamielleure, a guard from Michigan State. DeLamielleure was selected on a choice held by the Miami Dolphins but yielded for the negotiating rights to receiver Marlin Briscoe.
The third pick was Arkansas quarterback Joe Ferguson, one of those best-athlete-available selections. The offense was characterized by inconsistency. The Bills were shut out once, held to a field goal another time and managed just a touchdown on a third occasion. It is an offense that must average more than 18.4 points a game to survive.
DEFENSE: Buffalo plucked Walter Patulski off the Notre Dame campus last year, gave him a piece of real estate and said, 'Now work for it.' Patulski, the very first pick in the college draft, stood his ground to a degree but it was all very frustrating. It can get difficult at times when you are a defensive end on a defensive line that gives up 160 yards rushing per game, only better than three other teams in your conference.
'The opponents don't just come to my side, they like to spread it around,' Patulski said. 'Frankly, we had our troubles, defensively. We had two rookies starting. Jerry Patton's been on taxi squads for two years, so Al Cowlings is the only experienced man on the line. They've just been sort of attacking us in general.' Walter was not pleased with his rookie performance. 'I expected there'd be a lot to learn but I thought I'd be able to pick it up quicker than I did. In college, we never used any techniques. It was a matter of just trying to knock somebody out of there, that's all. We kept using that approach week after week and getting away with it. You don't get away with that in the pros.'
Cowlings has been sentenced to a fate worse than Buffalo- Houston- so now it's up to Walter and his young buddy, Patton, and a bunch of rookies to improve the pass rush that decked quarterbacks a mere 22 times. Second round draft choice Jeff Winans (6-2, 238) of Southern Cal, No. 3 Bob Kampa (6-4, 250) of California and fourth round pick Jeff Yeates (6-2, 238) may help. Halvor Hagen, acquired from New England, could step into a starting job as should middle linebacker Jim Cheyunski. Linebacker Paul Guidry was also sent to Houston for defensive end Allen Aldridge, who was no higher than third at his position on the Oilers' final depth chart last season.
The defensive backfield situation is chaotic, with John Pitts, Alvin Wyatt, John Saunders, Maurice Tyler and rookie Don Walker, a fourth round pick from Central Ohio State, figured in there somewhere. Linebacker Ken Lee led the team with six interceptions, and Tyler and Wyatt had four apiece.
Turnovers continued to plague the Bills last season. They lost 15 of 29 fumbles and recovered only eight of the opposition fumbles. But the people in Buffalo are excited. They have been watching a highlight film titled 'A Year to Cheer' and they are enthused about 1973. Saban's boys should be so excited.
SPECIAL TEAMS: John Leypoldt scored 77 points on 16 of 24 field goals, which was good. Spike Jones averaged 38.8 yards on punts, which was bad. It was doubly bad because the punts were returned 8.4 yards, a rather high average. Alvin Wyatt was the sixth swiftest kickoff return man in the conference with a 25.4 average and he returned 11 punts an average of 7.7 yards. Buffalo's special teams could be better but they have been worse.
QUESTIONS: The defensive line needs help badly. The offensive line needs help badly. The rushing defense needs help badly. The punting could be better.
STRENGTHS: A new atmosphere of a new stadium, O.J. being a dangerous runner and Wyatt leading the way on returns.
OUTLOOK: The Bills could pull a shocker this season and finish behind Miami in the division."

-Al Levine, Gridiron News 1973 Pro Yearbook

"For a long time, it's been hard to suppress a chuckle at the Buffalo Bills. The Bills counted it as a good year when they won more than two games. O.J. Simpson made some of the finest runs of the season just getting to the line of scrimmage. The Bills' stadium was in the ghetto and the ghetto residents complained because it gave the neighborhood a bad name.
All that may not be changed, but it's getting better.
The ghetto residents are still stuck with that awful stadium, but the Bills will play their games in a new 80,000-seat park in the suburbs. The old stadium had a capacity of 46,206.
O.J. led the National Football in ground gaining last year and the Bills actually started to beat winning teams.
To be sure, Buffalo's record was an un-miracle 4-9-1 in '72. But it was the best mark turned in by the Bills since 1966. The difference, for the team and especially for Simpson, was that Lou Saban returned to coach.
The Bills enjoyed their greatest days during the first Saban era, when the won back-to-back championships in the American League of 1964-65.
O.J. got the ball more than he ever he dreamed he'd get it as a pro. He carried 292 times for 1,251 yards, 35 more than Larry Brown of Washington. Saban's idea was not only to make total use of the game's most exciting runner but to cut down on his team's mistakes.
Saban reasoned that his offensive lads could get into less mischief if they concentrated solely on giving O.J. some daylight. The result was far fewer turnovers and some impressive holes for the Juice. Even the wide receivers, J.D. Hill and Bob Chandler, blocked.
Given some help, O.J. became worth the price of admission. He went over 100 yards six times, raced 94 yards- longest in four NFL seasons- for a touchdown against Pittsburgh's good defense and then capped the year with a spectacular show that helped sink the Washington Redskins in a final upset.
Saban gave him a hard-blocking, hard-running cohort, Jim Braxton, but the coach is pondering an even more explosive partner this season. He is Randy Jackson, the sole survivor of the plane crash which wiped out the Wichita University team three years ago.
Actually, Simpson had his spectacular year despite a severe handicap. The Bills went through seven guards, four centers and four tackles in a scourge of illness and injury.
To backstop against another siege like that, Saban used both his first round draft picks to acquired offensive linemen, tackle Paul Seymour of Michigan and guard Joe DeLamiellere of Michigan State. In addition, he traded for guard Mike Montler of New England, and two solid starters, center Bruce Jarvis and guard Irv Goode, come off the injury list.
The Bills haven't abandoned the passing game, even if it appears that way at times. Dennis Shaw hasn't duplicated the rookie season he had three years ago but his 14 '72 touchdown passes tied a club record.
Hill, an embryo superstar, and Chandler split 10 scoring receptions last year.
John Leypoldt was a walk-on surprise in training camp two years ago and now has two better-than-satisfactory field goaling seasons to his credit.
While Saban has made good progress in lining up studs to grind it out on offense, it has been slower going in his effort to build a defense.
Walt Patulski was the No. 1 pick in the whole draft last year, and the big end from Notre Dame justified the honor by having a strong season. The Bills picked up another prize when they claimed rookie tackle Don Croft from Baltimore. Two openings remain, however. One may be filled by end Halvor Hagen, another trade acquisition from New England.
The team's most critical area is linebacking. The trade with New England brought a middle linebacker, Jim Cheyunski. Ken Lee, a youngster who played only part-time last year but led the club in interceptions, will be moved outside.
Steadiest of the outside linebackers was Dave Washington, the stringbean from Denver. Mike Stratton has been around a dozen seasons but young Dale Farley, the ex-Dolphin, got to start the last game and played strongly against Miami. He will get a chance at the first-string job.
The Bills possess cornerbacks a contender would envy. Robert James made the Pro Bowl last year and Don Shula, the Miami coach, calls him 'the best in the conference.' His counterpart, Tony Greene, covers as well as most anyone in the AFC.
Safety is a problem. John Saunders, a rookie claimed off the Los Angeles roster, Chuck Detwiler, an acquisition from San Diego, and soph Maurice Tyler will try to unscramble it."

-Larry Felser, Pro Football 1973

"QUARTERBACKS: Shaw hasn't lived up to the promise of his rookie season. Leo Hart didn't look like the answer in his brief appearances. Joe Ferguson had a bad senior season but he could have a pro future. Matt Reed may be a tight end.
Performance Quotient: 4 [1 through 5, 1 being best]
RUNNING BACKS: O.J. finally moved mountains, just as they said he would when he was a legend in college. Who knows what he could do with first-rate blocking? Braxton came strong at the end, looking like a competent power back. Jackson has great potential. Bo Cornell, from the Browns, and Ted Koy are scheduled for spot duty.
Performance Quotient: 2
RECEIVERS: Hill finished fourth in the AFC with 52 catches and also scored five touchdowns, yet J.D. hasn't approached his full potential. He could be one of the great ones. Chandler, a great athlete with less than great tools, caused Haven Moses to be traded to Denver for Dwight Harrison. Dwight is future stock. Jan White, undersized for NFL tight ends, wasn't thrown to much. Jack Gehrke, from Denver, is nothing special. Wallace Francis is a sleeper.
Performance Quotient: 3
INTERIOR LINEMEN: Big changeover is due here. An injury siege caused constant change in last year's line. Only enormous Donnie Green, in his third year as a starter, stayed constant. Ex-Jet Dave Foley played better for Buffalo than he ever did in New York. Reggie McKenzie made the All-Rookie club. He was '72's best lineman here. Goode, hurt in a preseason game, sat out the campaign. Jarvis got hurt in the opener and never played again. Montler, from New England can step in if somebody falters.
Coach Saban made Seymour and DeLamielleure his two first round draftees.
Performance Quotient: 3
KICKERS: Mike Clark broke his arm in a summer game. Leypoldt had his second promising season with a 16-for-24 field goal performance. Punter Spike Jones does his job.
Performance Quotient: 2"

-Larry Felser, Pro Football 1973

"FRONT LINEMEN: Patulski ended up playing like the No. 1 pick in the draft in the draft is supposed to play. Part of the Bills' future is tied to his development. A master stroke was claiming rookie Croft from the Colts. Baltimore made an error. He played as well as Patulski. Another hole was filled when Jerry Patton was plucked off Minnesota's taxi squad. Hagen, new to Buffalo and new to defense, could be a gem. Jeff Winans was drafted high for an eventual starting spot. Allen Aldridge came in a trade with Houston. The others fight to stay.
Performance Quotient: 3
LINEBACKERS: One of Buffalo's major trouble spots. No one is proven here. Dick Cunningham and Cheyunski, from New England, duel here. Lee looked sharp at times last year. He will go outside. Stratton finished well, but at 32 how long has he got? Washington, acquired from Denver last year, has been a peaks-and-valleys guy throughout his career. Ex-Dolphin Farley may get a big shot. John Skorupan made All-America at Penn State.
Performance Quotient: 4
CORNERBACKS: James quietly edged into the ne-plus-ultra of cornerbacks. He puts clamps on the stars, and made All-Pro. Greene demonstrated first-rate coverage ability in his first year as a starter. Newcomer Don Walker could battle Leon Garror and Alvin Wyatt, the kick returner, for a place on the bench.
Performance Quotient: 2
SAFETIES: Another troublesome area. Saunders, plucked from L.A. as a rookie, started late and showed well. Tyler played brilliantly at times as a rookie. Detwiler, a former San Diego starter, can help here.
Performance Quotient: 3"

-Larry Felser, Pro Football 1973

1973 Buffalo Bills Preseason Depth Charts
Dennis Shaw (San Diego State)
Leo Hart (Duke)
Joe Ferguson (Arkansas)*
Matt Reed (Grambling)*

Running Backs
O.J. Simpson (USC)
Jim Braxton (West Virginia)
Randy Jackson (Wichita)
Bo Cornell (Washington)
Ted Koy (Texas)

J.D. Hill (W) (Arkansas)
Bob Chandler (W) (USC)
Jan White (T) (Ohio State)
Dwight Harrison (W) (Texas A & I)
Jack Gehrke (W) (Utah)
Wallace Francis (W) (Texas AM & N)*
James Ford (T) (Henderson State)
(W)-Wide Receiver  (T)-Tight End

Interior Linemen
Donnie Green (T) (Purdue)
Dave Foley (T) (Ohio State)
Reggie McKenzie (G) (Michigan)
Irv Goode (G) (Kentucky)
Bruce Jarvis (C) (Washington)
Mike Montler (G) (Colorado)
Paul Seymour (T) (Michigan)*
Joe DeLamielleure (G) (Michigan State)*
Bob Penchion (G) (Alcorn A & M)
(T)-Tackle  (G)-Guard  (C)-Center

John Leypoldt
Mike Clark (Texas A & M)
Spike Jones (Georgia)

Front Linemen
Walt Patulski (E) (Notre Dame)
Halvor Hagen (E) (Weber State)
Don Croft (T) (Texas-El Paso)
Jerry Patton (T) (Nebraska)
Jeff Winans (T) (USC)*
Allen Aldridge (E) (Prairie View)
Lou Ross (E) (South Carolina State)
Bob Kampa (T) (California)*
Jeff Yeates (T-E) (Boston College)*
(E)-End  (T)-Tackle

Dave Washington (O) (Alcorn A & M)
Mike Stratton (O) (Tennessee)
Jim Cheyunski (M) (Syracuse)
Dale Farley (O) (West Virginia)
Dick Cunningham (M) (Arkansas)
Ken Lee (M-O) (Washington)
John Skorupan (O) (Penn State)*
(O)-Outside Linebacker  (M)-Middle Linebacker

Robert James (Fisk)
Tony Greene (Maryland)
Leon Garror (Alcorn A & M)
Donnie Walker (Central Ohio)*
Alvin Wyatt (Bethune-Cookman)

Chuck Detwiler (S-W) (Utah State)'
John Saunders (W) (Toledo)
Maruice Tyler (S) (Morgan State)
John Pitts (S) (Arizona State)
(S)-Strong Side  (W)-Weak Side or 'Free' Safety

* Rookie

-Pro Football 1973 published by Cord Communications, Corp.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

1972 Buffalo Bills Radio Information

"For the first time since they were founded, the Buffalo Bills will switch radio outlets. The new station will be WKBW-Buffalo. The announcers were not determined by press time."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Sunday, December 14, 2014

1972 Buffalo Bills' Big Play

"Buffalo's running offense, obviously, depends on utilizing O.J. Simpson's talents. But since O.J. carries the rushing load on offense, some fancy footwork and fakes are needed to spring him loose.
In Buffalo's 'Pitch-Hand Back To Halfback' play, Dennis Shaw fakes a pitchout to the other deep back, going to the right, then pivots and hands to O.J. going up the middle."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Friday, December 12, 2014

1972 Bill Rookie Profiles

Defensive End
1st Round
Notre Dame
"The first man taken in the entire draft, he has superstar potential. 21 years old, Patulski is expected to bump veteran Cal Snowden out of a job on the right side of the line. A great college player, he's from Liverpool, New York, not too far from Buffalo. That fact, plus his Polish ancestry, could make him a big star in Buffalo if he can cut it in the pros. Walt is a team player who prides himself on his clean play.
Patulski went to Notre Dame as a fullback prospect and still harbors a desire to carry the ball. He was a prep All-America as a back, and made the nation's all-sophomore team in college and was a consensus All-America as a senior. Walt co-captained the Irish. He wants to go to law school."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

2nd Round
Like Patulski, he has a background as a winner- McKenzie played for two Rose Bowl teams. He can really move. Reggie may have to put on weight but his speed is so good, he can sacrifice some of it.
'Most people projected Reggie in the first round,' says Saban. 'Top line prospects are difficult to come by and McKenzie certainly has the tools.' The Bills got him at the top of the second round. He made a name for himself blocking for record breaking Billy Taylor but in the end it was Reggie who made All-America.
McKenzie is best at blocking for the run; his weakness for pass blocking is credited to inexperience. He is a potential first-year starter on the right side.
He's from Detroit."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Saturday, December 6, 2014

1972 Profile: Haven Moses

Split End
No. 25
San Diego State
"With the trade of Marlin Briscoe to Miami, Haven again becomes a prime- if not the prime- figure in the Bills' receiving department. After catching 42, 39 and again 39 passes in his first three big league seasons, he was limited to 23 last year as he shared the left-side job with rookie J.D. Hill. The earliest indication is that both Moses and Hill will be Shaw's batterymates this season.
Injuries also figured in Moses' subpar season, but he showed his old self after catching passes as he averaged 20.4 yards per reception. He scored a 73-yard touchdown.
Haven comes from sports-minded Compton, California, and played at pass-minded San Diego State, where he was a Little All-America. He also played in major postseason games, including the East-West, Senior, Coaches All-America and College All-Star. He was drafted No. 1 by the Bills and has been a starter ever since."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Friday, December 5, 2014

1972 Profile: Al Cowlings

Defensive End
No. 82
"He traced O.J.'s footsteps almost to a toenail. Cowlings grew up in San Francisco, attended San Francisco City College, became an All-America at Southern Cal and was a No. 1 draft choice of the Bills- the same path O.J. traveled.
Because of his excellent size, speed and pursuit, Big Al earned a starting job as a rookie and last year gave evidence of being a fledgling star. The Bills' publicity mill says he 'may make a strong bid for All-Pro recognition in 1972.' Cowlings was the team's best pass rusher last year.
He's mod, and a music lover."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

1972 Profile: Alvin Wyatt

Cornerback-Kick Returner
No. 41
"A first-year surprise at cornerback, Wyatt came to Buffalo in a trade with Oakland. He'd been a fine kick returner on the West Coast, having led the Raiders his rookie year (1970), yet was just a special teamer in the Raiders' long list of talent. But in Buffalo he found a starting job, displacing longtime hero Butch Byrd on the right side of the defense.
Alvin intercepted one pass and ran it back 30 yards. He also gave the Bills some real breakaway speed on kick returns, and ran back his 30 kickoffs for an average of 25.4 yards. He also averaged a very respectable 8.2 yards for his 23 punt returns and raced 61 yards for a touchdown with one of them.
Wyatt had an 86-yard punt return in college where he was all-conference three years in a row. He played baseball and ran track in college, too. He keeps active with baseball and basketball in the off-seasons."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Football, 1972 Edition

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

1972 Profile: Paul Guidry

No. 59
McNeese State
"A first-rage linebacker who has held down his job since 1968, with some time out for injury, Guidry replaced John Tracey as a starter after making a name for himself on special teams. He has made four interceptions, including one last season. Paul reached his peak in 1970 when he was accorded second-team All-AFC honors by United Press.
Guidry started college at Louisiana State but transferred to McNeese State where he starred as an all-conference tight end. Drafted eighth by the Bills in 1966, he has the speed, mobility and talent for snooping out opponents' plays.
Paul is nicknamed 'Gomer' because of his likeness to Jim Nabors of TV fame. He wants to coach someday."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Monday, December 1, 2014

1972 Profile: Jan White

Tight End
No. 80
Ohio State
"He didn't catch a lot of passes as a rookie but made almost everyone's all-rookie team regardless. The reason: he's an exceptional blocking tight end, maybe the best in Bills' history, yet he has been a pro only one year. He gathered in 13 passes for 130 yards.
Jan has excellent speed (he was one of the nation's best hurdlers in high school) so he may be utilized more this season. A second round draft choice, Jan had been a three-year starter for three great Ohio State teams. He's interested in a coaching career.
He's very agile and has fine range and hands. Jan lends himself to Coach Saban's system and could be a future star.
Jan is from Harrisburg, Pennsylvania."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Saturday, November 29, 2014

1972 Profile: Bruce Jarvis

No. 51
"An instant success with the Bills after being a third round draft choice, Jarvis earned a starting job almost on the first day of training camp and held it throughout the season. He made numerous all-rookie teams. Probably the tallest starting center in the game, Jarvis has good range for a center and has been a standout at that position throughout college and his brief pro career.
Bruce was born in Seattle. He played in the Hula Bowl after his senior season as an All-West Coast selection."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Friday, November 28, 2014

1972 Profile: Dennis Shaw

No. 16
San Diego State
"Too few touchdown passes (11) and too many interceptions (26) spoiled his second pro season. Still, he completed 51.2% of his throws and is Buffalo's hope for the future. An injured finger bothered him throughout the season last year, but it's expected to be okay this time around.
Shaw has a strong arm and can throw often. He tossed more than 300 aerials as a rookie and 291 last year. He's also a good runner, averaging over five yards a carry each season.
The Rookie of the Year in five different national polls in 1970, when he came on the scene late because of a holdout. Drafted No. 2, but played better than some of the more publicized rookies. He had set San Diego State records for touchdowns in a game (nine) and a season (39).
Dennis attends graduate school in anticipation of a business career. He's from Claremont, California."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

1972 Profile: O.J. Simpson

Running Back
No. 32
"Perhaps the most heralded rookie ever, O.J. is now coming into his own as a pro. Despite inadequate blocking, he gained 742 yards to rank seventh among AFC rushers in 1971. He averaged 4.1 yards a carry and scored five touchdowns. He's also improving as a pass receiver, having 21 snares last season.
Simpson mixes rare pro breakaway speed and open-field running talents with size. He has put on a few pounds in the pros. His speed is unquestioned since he was on a world record dash relay team in college.
O.J. had a 56-yard scoring jaunt last season and also had a 95-yard kickoff return the season before. He gained 697 yards as a rookie and was off to a fine campaign in 1970 (488 yards) until sidelined with a knee injury.
A Heisman Trophy winner, Simpson was picked on most All-Time College teams when colleges celebrated the 100th anniversary in 1969. He was the first draft choice of all teams. He held out for a lucrative contract and got a whopper.
O.J. has fruitful off-season deals with Chevrolet, Royal Crown and ABC-TV. He has voiced a desire to play for a West Coast with some off-season rumors to that effect. He's married with two children."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

Monday, November 24, 2014

1972 Buffalo Bills Outlook

"New coach Lou Saban, who once coached Buffalo in its glory days of the old AFL, is in an enviable position. He has acquired a team loaded with talent that is coming off a 1-13 record. He has a quarterback who should rebound from a terrible 1971 season in Dennis Shaw, only a third-year man in pro ball. He has a runner ready to explode in O.J. Simpson. He has a fine corps of receivers and a promising tight end in Jan White. He's got what seems to be excellent help in the draft in Notre Dame defensive end Walt Patulski and Michigan guard Reggie McKenzie- two positions where Buffalo was woefully weak a year ago.
All in all, he's got a team that must improve- and undoubtedly will. Don't count on the Bills to overtake Buffalo or Miami, but they could leap over New England or the injury-plagued New York Jets. It's conceivable that the club could improve by four or five games despite the presence of San Francisco, Oakland, Detroit and Washington on the schedule. Saban clearly has inherited a team ripe for improvement."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

"All eyes will be on Dennis Shaw, the rookie surprise of 1970, the sophomore flop of 1971. An inexperienced line and a sore finger on his throwing hand contributed to his problems.
He lost Marlin Briscoe (44 catches) in a trade, but he has the receivers in Wayne Patrick (36), Haven Moses (23), O.J. Simpson (21), Jim Braxton (18), Greg Jones (16), Jan White (13) and J.D. Hill (11)- all of whom have good hands and young legs. Actually, Shaw is expected to be throwing more to men like Moses, Hill and White and maybe a little less to the running backs such as Patrick, Simpson, Braxton and Jones once he gets some help from his line and has more time to set up. Last year, he got sacked 33 times and got hurried on his throws often, which accounted for his league-leading 26 interceptions. The Bills have another, even longer thrower behind Shaw in Jim Harris.
Simpson, like Shaw, needs more help from the line to begin to approach his college running feats, but he did improve his total rushing last season to 742 yards. Wayne Patrick is a workhorse type of back, but he may relinquish more of his playing time to the promising Braxton. Rookie Randy Jackson may spell O.J."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

"Many of last season's offensive problems focused on the line, which was made up virtually of rookies. The old man of this season's line would be Levert Carr, a fourth-year man, but he may lose his right guard spot to sophomore Dick Cheek or rookie prospect Reggie McKenzie, an All-American from Michigan. Tackles Willie Young and Donnie Green, center Bruce Jarvis and tight end Jan White (a fine blocker) are only in their second year. Guard Jim Reilly is in his third year. Despite their youthfulness, all are legitimate pros.
Irv Goode, a late acquisition from St. Louis, may figure at guard."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

"It would be good if Walt Patulski, the heralded rookie, pushes veteran Cal Snowden out of job at end. Bob Tatarek is a seasoned pro, though Mike McBath needs to prove himself. Two other rookies, Fred Swendsen at end and darkhorse Karl Salb at tackle, may figure in the picture, too."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

"Outside linebacker Paul Guidry is a first-class player. Mike Stratton is the Bills' senior citizen but his effectiveness has been below par because of an ankle which required surgery last season. Edgar Chandler and Dick Cunningham will continue their battle for the middle linebacker job. Newcomer Dale Farley is a candidate, too.
Cornerbacks Alvin Wyatt and Bob James are above average, though Wyatt probably helps the team more with his kick returns. Safetymen John Pitts, Jackie Allen and Pete Richardson might face a challenge from rookies Ralph Stepaniak and Paul Gibson, a track star who is a converted receiver."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

"Buffalo gets good kick returns from Wyatt, Ike Hill and, when needed, O.J. Simpson.
John Leypoldt, who won the place-kicking chores from Grant Guthrie in mid-season, has that job. He didn't get a lot of opportunities up close but he did make five of six between the 40- and 50-yard lines."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

"The youngest team in pro football could become a fine team. Look for instant improvement. But it'll take time to become a contender."

-Jim Benagh, The Complete Handbook of Pro Football, 1972 Edition

"THE OFFENSE: Things haven't been the same for the Buffalo Bills and Lou Saban since they parted company five years ago. The Bills, who were 38-18-3 and won two AFL titles in four years under Saban, slumped to just 21-47-3 after his departure. Saban didn't do much better as the head man at Denver, resigning as the Broncos' coaches nine games into last season. Saban is back with Buffalo, and the Bills are looking forward to the chemistry Lou worked back in the mid-1960s. The Bills have been the least successful team in football the past few years, which counts only on draft day. If they continue their recent practice of acquiring the top picks each January, by 1990 the Bills will have the greatest collection of talent around- and O.J. Simpson will be 43 years old and probably retired to the presidency of General Motors. The return of Lou Saban indicates owner Ralph Wilson does not wish to wait that long. Ralph hasn't had a winning team since 1967.
Losing finally took a terrible toll on the Buffalo morale last season. Coach John Rauch quit in preseason. Quarterback Dennis Shaw was benched after 25 starts for saying some unfortunate things about almost everybody- the defense, the receivers, the coaches.
'I was frustrated,' he later explained. Simpson, the extraordinary running back, best crystallized life in Buffalo: 'It's tough. It's 20 degrees and you're oh-and-10 and it's snowing and it's Tuesday and you got to go out and practice for next week's opponent. It's a helluva grind.' Saban can't change the weather in Buffalo on Tuesdays but he can try to give the Bills a rosier approach. He sees some assets in the Buffalo offense.
'We have one essential to winning,' Saban said, 'and that is we have the big play talent in the O.J. Simpsons, J.D. Hills, Dennis Shaws and others.' Shaw is Saban's quarterback and Jim Harris his reserve. Shaw suffered a drop in passing statistics and threw 26 interceptions, which led the NFL last year. Harris added six interceptions and passed for only one touchdown.
Simpson heads a potentially good running game. O.J. had his most productive season in 1971, rushing for 742 yards (7th in the AFC), scoring five times, catching 21 passes and averaging 26.8 yards on four kickoff returns. Running mate Wayne Patrick added 332 yards. The subs, Jim Braxton and Greg Jones, had only 37 carries between them.
Hill is among one of the most promising assemblages of receivers in the AFC. Haven Moses had a 20.4 average, a career high, but caught only 23 passes compared to 39 in 1970. Hill missed the first nine games last year after a preseason knee injury, didn't start until the Bills' 11th game and then he thought he deserved some Rookie of the Year votes on the basis of 11 catches, a 19.6 average and two touchdowns. That's confidence. Tight end Jan White played well as a rookie starter with occasional relief from Ted Koy. Another top pass catcher, Marlin Briscoe, played out his option and signed with Miami.
Buffalo had line trouble last season and it is no wonder. The five-man front consisted for most of the season of three rookies, one second-year man and one third-year man. Rookie Donnie Green took over right tackle as seven-year vet Paul Costa experienced a bad time of it. Saban is talking up both as starters. Third-year man Levert Carr stepped in at right guard when veteran Joe O'Donnell injured an ankle. O'Donnell was traded to St. Louis for Irv Goode, who will swing between guard and center, where Bruce Jarvis started as a rookie. Jim Reilly played well in his second year at left guard and rookie Willie Young got the left tackle job when Carr was moved to guard.
This is an offense capable of lighting up a scoreboard. The losing and the interceptions took their toll last season. The quarterbacks threw 13 touchdown passes in the preseason but only 12 in the regular season as Buffalo held a lead a mere 11 times in 14 games. The Bills started off big, scoring 37 points on the Dallas Doomsday defense in losing the opener. They also managed to roll up 371 yards total offense on Miami- about 120 yards more than Dallas managed in the Super Bowl- only to be shut out 34-0. Buffalo is the youngest club in the National Football League, a weakness that may someday be a strength.
'What we have to build is an attitude that focuses on the elements that it takes to win.,' says Saban.
THE DEFENSE: Buffalo gave up 2,496 yards and 394 points last year, both club records. The Bills ranked last in the AFC in total defense and rushing defense. Teams scored almost any way they wished against Buffalo, including an AFC-high 20 times through the air. The Bills didn't hold anyone below 19 points last season and they haven't had a shutout since Lou Saban's last game as the Buffalo coach, the 1965 AFL title game against San Diego (23-0).
'In the past we built our fine teams on the men up in the trenches,' said Saban, underscoring his point by first hiring deposed Chicago coach Jim Dooley as his defensive coordinator and then acquiring some bodies for Dooley to work with. Saban drafted nine defensive players and traded a fifth-round pick to Atlanta for two veteran defensive linemen, Greg Lens and Randy Marshall. His top selection was Walt Patulski of Notre Dame, who Saban expects to step into a starting end job opposite Al Cowlings. Offensive guard Reggie McKenzie was No. 2 and Fred Swendsen, Notre Dame's other end, was the third round choice. Lens will battle veteran Bob Tatarek and Jim Dunaway. Mike McBath and rookie Karl Salb will fight it out for the tackle spots. Salb was an interesting selection in the 14th round- he skipped football at Kansas the past two years to concentrate on his shot putting.
Linebacking is Buffalo's major weakness. Edgar Chandler calls the signals from the middle and has been effective the past two years, but he has his critics. On the flanks, Mike Stratton had a subpar year in 1971 after returning from ankle surgery and Paul Guidry has been a starter since 1968.
The cornerback situation has Alvin Wyatt on the right side and Bobby James at the left. James had four interceptions last year to pace Buffalo's team total of 11, fewest in the AFC. Jackie Allen and Pete Richardson share the free safety job and will get competition from Paul Gibson, the No. 8 draftee from Texas-El Paso, who will be tried here first rather than at receiver, his college position. Strong safety John Pitts may be the tallest at the position at 6-4.
Saban had one of the strongest defensive units last year at Denver before injuries decimated it. He's going to need patience with this group.
'The less I say about the past, the better.'
THE KICKING AND SPECIAL TEAMS: John Leypoldt began 1971 as a credit accountant with the Washington Gas Light & Co. and finished it the leading scorer of the Buffalo Bills. An only-in-Buffalo fairy tale, to be sure. A 25-year-old non-college free agent, Leypoldt was cut by Buffalo in training camp but hung around town just in case things didn't go so well with Grant Guthrie, the regular kicker. Sure enough ... the Bills soured on Guthrie's short kickoffs, which were being returned an average of 23.1 yards, and his 1-5 ratio between the 40 and 49, and summoned Leypoldt. The Bills need someone who can make them because they often don't get much closer to the goal. Leypoldt succeeded, making five of six at that distance, and led the lowest scoring team in the entire league with 39 points.
Spike Jones, picked up from Houston on waivers last year, ranked sixth in the AFC in punting with a 41.2 average but his kicks were returned an average of 11.2, worst in the AFC. Four kick returns went for touchdowns.
The Buffalo special teams were not immune to the ridiculous errors that plagued the Bills last year- in particular, after blocking a second straight St. Louis field goal, one of the Bills ran off the wrong side of the field, giving St. Louis possession on the penalty and setting up a Cardinal touchdown.
The kick returners have dash. Ike Hill was third in the conference in punt returns with a 9.5 average and Alvin Wyatt was sixth with 8.2. Hill and Wyatt accounted for two of only three punts returned for touchdowns in the AFC last season, Hill's going for 68 yards against the Patriots and Wyatt's going for 61 against the Cardinals. Wyatt ranked fourth in kickoff returns with a 25.4 average and Tim Beamer wasn't far behind with 19.7.
THE QUESTIONS: How does that line from the Love Story theme go? 'Where do I begin? ...' Almost every department has a question of depth and experience, and the overall defense is questionable.
THE STRENGTHS: Potentially explosive offense, good running, good receiving.
THE OUTLOOK: A year ago the Bills were considered to be a year or two away from serious contention. It's true if you're measuring by light years. Saban has his work cut out for him."

-Al Levine, Gridiron 1972 Pro Yearbook

"Since 1967 the Buffalo Bills have labored and brought forth 13 victories for their faithful followers. Of those 13, only two were scored against teams which ended up winning more than they lost in that particular season. The last time they defeated a team which finished over .500 was in 1968, when they returned four Joe Namath interceptions for touchdowns and upset the World Champions to-be. That, incidentally, was the Bills' only victory of the year.
When Lou Saban used to coach the Bills, his team once won 13 games in a single season.
The Bills' demise as a football power coincides with the departure from Buffalo of Saban. He quit in January of 1966, a few days after he guided the team to its second straight American League championship.
They won a division title in '66, mostly with Saban carry-over, but total disintegration followed. So did four head coaches in rapid succession- Joe Collier, Harvey Johnson, John Rauch and Johnson again.
Now owner Ralph Wilson, who allowed Saban to slip away in a disagreement over money and power, is attempting to pick up the pieces by luring Lou back to Buffalo with vast power (he's the vice-president in charge of football operations as well as head coach) at about double his old salary.
To some it is an attempt to recapture the past. Maybe, but in Buffalo there hasn't been so much excitement about the Bills in years. Combined with Saban's return is the construction of a new stadium in the suburbs which is scheduled for completion in August of '73.
The outlook is extremely upbeat.
Saban is accustomed to starting a situation from a low place in the standings (Boston in 1960, Buffalo in '62, the U. of Maryland in '66 and Denver in '67), but he says he never has had such good young material as he has on the current Buffalo team.
His approach is couched in the future tense. There is no mention of the past- neither his previous success in Buffalo nor the players' individual failings in recent seasons. The idea in the latter approach is that the sins of the past will be ignored, if not altogether forgiven, and everyone gets a fresh roll.
Saban dismissed everyone from the previous coaching staff. His idea was to start totally fresh, with no player having a friend in court when training camp opened.
His assets, for a team which won only one game in 1971, are relatively lush.
Under his hand in Denver, Floyd Little became the most productive runner in football. In Buffalo he has O.J. Simpson, whose potential is still almost limitless but who has been a disappointment in three previous seasons since galloping out of USC where he was a national legend.
It is expected that Simpson will be used more frequently under Saban than he has been since turning pro. It must remembered that Little carried the ball 493 times over the last two seasons in Denver.
Last season Simpson carried 182 times (101 fewer than Little) and gained 742 yards. That is his high mark as a pro so far.
Beefy Wayne Patrick is Simpson's running mate but sophomore Jim Braxton may push him a bit more than he did last year. Greg Jones and rookies Randy Jackson of Wichita State and Ed Moss of Southeast Missouri provide a bench.
The Bills' receiving is stronger than anything Saban had in Denver and potentially is more skilled than most NFL clubs. J.D. Hill, who missed the first part of his rookie season because of knee surgery, is a budding superstar. Haven Moses replaces Marlin Briscoe, the team's leading receiver, who played out his option and deserted to the Miami Dolphins.
Bob Chandler and Ike Hill are competent reserve wide receivers.
Just how well the passing game functions depends on how well Saban can rehabilitate Dennis Shaw.
The Rookie of the Year in '70, when he passed for 2,507 yards, Shaw had a brilliant exhibition season last year and opened the regular season by throwing four touchdown passes against the Dallas Cowboys.
Then he collapsed.
He was intercepted 26 times and his control of the team, which had been extremely firm, dissipated when he publicly blamed several of his teammates for the Bills' bad fortunes.
Part of his trouble was due to playing behind a rookie-laden offensive line. Some of it was due to a right hand injury he suffered in an exhibition game. But lack of maturity had a lot to do with it, too.
'He still can be a top quarterback if someone can sit on him,' commented a departing coach from the old Buffalo staff. Saban intends to do some high-powered sitting. He admires Shaw's ability and particularly his willingness to stand firm against a tough pass rush.
The offensive line, seat of many Buffalo troubles, should be far better this season. Center Bruce Jarvis, the 6-7 blond from Washington, was the Bills' most consistent lineman as a rookie. Saban traded with St. Louis for veteran guard Irv Goode. The hope is that Goode can contribute a couple of strong seasons while Reggie McKenzie, the Michigan All-America who was drafted No. 2, learns the nuances of pass blocking.
The other guard, Jim Reilly, is a comer. He enters his third season. Levert Carr and Dick Cheek, a '70 starter who tore up a knee last year, also are possibilities.
Tackle is a problem spot. Saban hopes 6-8 Donnie Green, a green rookie starter last year, will progress rapidly under the new line coach, Jim Ringo. Veteran Paul Costa and Willie Young, another rookie starter from '71, will be on the other side. Rookie Robert Penchion of Alcorn A&M or Carr might provide some bench.
The starting tight end was also a rookie, Jan White. He provided excellent blocking last year but seldom was involved in the passing game. Saban plans more frequent use of him as a receiver. Ted Koy, the ex-Raider last year, was his backup. Saban may take a longer look at Koy as a fullback, his college position at Texas.
John Leypoldt, a walk-on free agent in training camp, won the place-kicking job in mid-season and connected of nine of 15 kicks. He was five-of-six between the 40 and 49. He provides a bonus when kicking off, having made 11 tackles last year. Punter Spike Jones, the ex-Oiler, averaged 41.2 on 72 kicks.
For the second time in four drafts, the Bills got the No. 1 NFL pick. The first one was used to select O.J. The latest was designed to help the defense, bringing in Notre Dame's massive end, Walt Patulski, to shore up a glaring weakness.
Patulski should start immediately, pairing off with Al Cowlings, the team's best lineman last year. Cal Snowden was a starting end last year but he was traded to San Diego.
Another possibility is Dale Farley, obtained from Miami in a trade for defensive tackle Jim Dunaway. Farley didn't play much as a rookie but the Bills are intrigued by his versatility.
The sole incumbent tackle is Bob Tatarek, but he will be pressed by Greg Lens, who came in a trade with Atlanta. Other defensive linemen include Randy Marshall, another ex-Falcon, Julian Nunamaker, ex-Chief Chuck Hurston, Mike McBath, Louis Ross and rookies Fred Swendsen of Notre Dame (No. 3 draftee) and Karl Salb, Kansas.
Another Saban rehabilitation project is weakside linebacker Mike Stratton, an 11-year veteran. Stratton was beaten out by young Al Andrews last year but Saban traded Andrews to Denver.
'I would like to see Stratton come back strongly because we need experienced linebackers with our young defensive line,' reasons Saban.
If Stratton can summon some of his prime it would free Dave Washington, the man who came in the trade for Andrews, for duty as a tight end. If Mike has lost it all, Washington likely would start in his place, as that was his position in Denver.
The other outside backer job belongs to Paul Guidry, a steady player. Edgar Chandler faces a challenge from often-injured Dick Cunningham in the middle. Other backers include Dick Palmer and Bill McKinley, both coming off injuries, and rookies Steve Vogel of Boise State and Bill Light, the Minnesota captain.
Corner is among the team's few solid positions. The Bills feel Robert James is extremely underrated. Alvin Wyatt won a regular job after coming from Oakland in a trade. He's also an accomplished punt returner. Tony Greene and Dick Beamer, rookies last year, and freshman Leon Garror of Alcorn A&M are the depth.
Big John Pitts is the strong safety. Rookies Ralph Stepaniak of Notre Dame and Maurice Tyler of Morgan State are his competition.
Free safety is one of the most unsettled positions. Pete Richardson and Jackie Allen will fight it out but Saban may pluck his man from elsewhere."

-Larry Felser, Street and Smith's Official 1972 Pro Football Yearbook

Friday, November 21, 2014

1971 Profile: Austin Denney

Tight End
No. 84
'The Bills acquired tight end Austin Denney from Chicago during training camp last summer and the four-year veteran did a commendable job for Buffalo. The 6-2, 229-pounder was a rugged blocker and performed as a short yardage pass receiver, catching 14 passes for 201 yards. Denney, who was an All-American at Tennessee, lacks the speed necessary to become a deep threat.
Originally with the Dallas Cowboys, the Bears got him along with Mac Percival in 1967 for a draft choice. His best season was in 1968 when he wound up with 23 receptions."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Thursday, November 20, 2014

1971 Profile: Joe O'Donnell

No. 70
"The Bills' offensive team captain, Joe O'Donnell has been Buffalo's starting right guard since 1966 except for '68 when a knee injury kept him on the sidelines. A determined and strong pass blocker, the 6-2, 262-pounder is a top-rated pulling guard.
He attended Michigan on an academic scholarship and was on the Big Ten Academic Team in '63 and '64. At Michigan Joe earned a degree in biology. Both Green Bay and Buffalo drafted him in 1964."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

1971 Profile: Pete Richardson

Free Safety
No. 47
"Free safety Pete Richardson wears contact lenses when he plays, and he saw everything so clearly last year that he wound up as the Bills' interception leader with five.
Last season was Pete's first full year in the pros. A seventh round draft choice out of Dayton in '68, he didn't make the squad the first time around. In 1969, however, Pete stuck with Buffalo and moved into the starting lineup for the final six games of the season.
A strong tackler with good speed, Richardson is quickly improving his ability to read offenses."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

1971 Profile: Jim Dunaway

Defensive Tackle
No. 78
"It's been eight years since Jim Dunaway took over as defensive left tackle for the Bills, and the 6-4, 277-pounder shows few signs of slowing down. Considering his size, he has good speed and agility in addition to his quick reactions. He's extra tough on running plays.
Jim was the Bills' number two draft pick in 1963 after becoming a unanimous All-America selection at Ole Miss. A confirmed outdoorsman, Dunaway owns a 933-acre spread in Mississippi and raises cattle."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Monday, November 17, 2014

1971 Profile: Edgar Chandler

Middle Linebacker
No. 52
"The middle linebacking job was turned over to Edgar Chandler last year, and his outstanding play prompted coach Rauch to think of him as a 'potential longtime fixture.' Chandler, now entering his fourth year with Buffalo (he was a fourth round draft choice in '68), has good speed and is a tough tackler. Last season Ed made off with his very first interception- including high school and college- and ran it back 59 yards for a touchdown.
An All-America tackle at Georgia, the 6-3, 235-pounder put in most of his rookie time on the special teams and then replaced the injured Paul Guidry at left linebacker midway through the '69 season."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Sunday, November 16, 2014

1971 Profile: Butch Byrd

No. 42
Boston University
"The Bills' all-time interception leader with 40 thefts in his seven-year career (he added four last season), George (Butch) Byrd has started every game for Buffalo since he was drafted fourth in 1964.
A hard hitter and durable performer, the six-foot, 196-pound cornerback can match opposing wide receivers in both size and speed. In his rookie season he ran his first interception back for a 72-yard touchdown.
At Boston U., Butch was the team's rushing leader in both his junior and senior seasons."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Friday, November 14, 2014

1971 Profile: O.J. Simpson

Running Back
No. 32
"How much do the Bills depend on running back O.J. Simpson? Well, they didn't win any games after O.J. was knocked out by injury in the eighth game of the season. At first there was a rumor that Simpson had undergone knee surgery, but that was due to a mixup in terminology. The prize draft choice of 1969 had suffered only a knee capsule tear- not critical enough for surgery, but serious enough to keep Simpson from playing the rest of the season. It's expected that he'll be completely recovered this year.
O.J. wound up with only 488 yards and five touchdowns last season. But, in the games he played, the former USC star showed a changed attitude. He seemed more willing to pitch in on blocking and pass protection assignments in addition to carrying the ball. When he does get the ball Simpson is, according to coach Rauch, 'an every-play threat.'"

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Thursday, November 13, 2014

1971 Profile: Haven Moses

Split End
No. 25
San Diego State
"Marlin Briscoe may have replaced wide receiver Haven Moses as the Bills' leading pass receiver last year, but Moses was still as capable as ever, catching 39 passes for 726 yards. In his first two seasons in the pros he caught 42 (1968) and 39 (1969) passes to lead the club.
The Bills' first draft choice in '68 out of San Diego State- he never played with Dennis Shaw until last season- Moses has good speed, hands, quickness and body control. Big and muscular at 6-3 and 205 pounds, the 25-year-old pass catcher can take a lot of punishment."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

1971 Profile: Mike Stratton

No. 58
"Not only did Mike Stratton's consecutive game streak end at 130 last year, but he became the first player in the Bills' 11-year history to suffer a torn Achilles' tendon. The medical reports say Stratton will be as good as new this year. If so, he won't have any trouble fighting off the competition for his right linebacking job.
Considered one of the best blitzing outside linebackers in the NFL, Mike was originally drafted out of Tennessee as a tight end. In college he played both offensive and defensive end. The Bills shifted the 6-3, 241-pounder to linebacker in his rookie year (1962)."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

1971 Profile: Marlin Briscoe

Wide Receiver
No. 86
"Dennis Shaw's favorite target last season was Marlin Briscoe, who wound up as the AFC's leading pass receiver with 57 catches for 1,036 yards and eight touchdowns, and was named to the Pro Bowl squad.
Briscoe, who in 1968 started his professional career as the NFL's first black starting quarterback with Denver, joined the Bills the following year and was switched to wide receiver. The 5-11, 178-pounder, considered too small to play quarterback, adapted to his new job easily, catching 32 passes in his first two seasons with the Bills and earning the nickname 'Marlin the Magician' because of his flair for making the big play.
He has fine body control and leaping ability. And, of course, in a pinch Marlin can always fill in at quarterback."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Monday, November 10, 2014

1971 Profile: Dennis Shaw

No. 16
San Diego State
"While everyone was talking about Pittsburgh's rookie quarterback Terry Bradshaw last summer, Bradshaw's counterpart in Buffalo, Dennis Shaw of San Diego State, wasn't even in training camp.
Shaw, the Bills' second round draft choice in 1970, became a salary holdout even before even before his first professional season. The 24-year-old passer finally reached a settlement and joined the Bills just in time for the last exhibition game. Asked if he thought he'd blown a chance to win the starting job by reporting late, Shaw replied candidly, 'I've been following the team in the newspapers and from the statistics I've seen, they can't be too far ahead of me.' He was right. The 6-2, 209-pounder moved into the starting job in the third game of the season and promptly led the Bills to their first victory.
In beating the Jets, Shaw completed 12 of 21 passes for 317 yards. Though Buffalo won only two more games, Shaw became an instant leader and certainly made the team more competitive than it had been in recent years. Possessing a strong arm and good range, Shaw passed his way to Rookie of the Year honors with a 55.5 completion percentage, 10 touchdown passes, an average gain of 7.81 yards, and 2,507 yards passing.
Looking toward the '71 season, Shaw confidently remarked, 'This year [1970], to me, was just a rehearsal for next season, when we're going to be a winner."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Sunday, November 9, 2014

1971 Profile: John Rauch

"The matchless won-lost record John Rauch built in three years as the head coach of the Oakland Raiders (33-8-1) is slowly turning into a very ordinary one the longer Rauch stays with the Bills. After two years in Buffalo, Rauch's professional record stands at 40-28-2. The difference is that with Oakland, Rauch was coaching a superior team, a team that won two division championships, the 1967 AFL championship and a chance to play in a Super Bowl. With Buffalo, Rauch, who at 44 is entering his 21st year of coaching, has had to cope with a young and inexperienced team.
But he's putting the pieces together and the time for winning might not be too far off. Rauch has a number of young players who show signs of eventually becoming standouts. Most promising last season was quarterback Dennis Shaw, who surpassed Joe Namath's accomplishments as a first-year player and was named Rookie of the Year.
Shaw's performance undoubtedly brought back memories to Rauch. A quarterback himself, he was Georgia's starting passer for four years and led the Bulldogs to four Bowl games. His professional career began in 1949 as a quarterback, first with the New York Bulldogs, then with the New York Yankees, and finally with the Philadelphia Eagles.
He retired after the 1951 season and embarked on his coaching career, which includes stints at Florida, Tulane, Georgia and West Point. In 1963 Rauch joined the Oakland staff and succeeded Al Davis as head coach in '66."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Saturday, November 8, 2014

1971 Buffalo Bills Outlook

"It looks as if the Bills will be getting a new Stadium in Buffalo and may not have to move to Seattle after all. By the time the new playing field is ready, maybe the Bills' promising youngsters will have jelled into a contending team. As far as the Bills are concerned, there is no place to go but up. They probably would have won more than three games even last year if not for serious injuries which tore the team apart.
Number one on the comeback list is halfback O.J. Simpson, who will be entering his third pro season and still has to live up to expectations. Simpson looked to be on his way last year until he injured his knee on November 8; he avoided surgery but missed the rest of the season. It wasn't only Simpson's loss, however, which destroyed the Bills' ground game. Wayne Patrick, slated to be the starting fullback this year, and substitutes Max Anderson and Greg Jones were also hit by injuries which kept them from playing anywhere from five games to the entire season. Jones and Anderson are the reserves behind Simpson, and Roland Moss, acquired from San Diego last year, should add depth at halfback. Patrick is expected to meet strong competition from third round draft choice Jim Braxton of West Virginia, also a good place kicker.
If the running game hadn't been destroyed then Buffalo's passing game might have been more dangerous in 1970. Rookie of the Year Dennis Shaw emerged as a fine pro quarterback and a team leader. There's depth with Jim Harris and Dan Darragh available. Harris is a strong-armed youngster who filled in for Shaw late in the year. The rookie is Busty Underwood, a 6-3, 216-pounder from Texas Christian.
Complementing Shaw last year, and maybe helping him look extra good in his rookie season, were two exceptional pass catchers- Marlin Briscoe and Haven Moses. They stayed healthy last year and, therefore, rookies Glenn Alexander and Clyde Glosson didn't see much action. Added strength this season should come from Ike Hill, who is moving from cornerback to offense, where he starred in college. But hopefully the big threat will come number one draft choice J.D. Hill of Arizona State, who has frightening speed and excellent reflexes. He could break open some games on punt and kickoff returns, too. As a great a prospect as J.D. is, where is he going to play? Ahead of Moses or Briscoe? Unlikely.
With good speed from the wide receivers, it really doesn't matter much that tight end Austin Denney isn't a deep threat; acquired from Chicago last year, Denney, a second-year pro, is developing into a good blocker and short yardage receiver. He'll defend his starting job against Willie Grate, who saw limited action last year. The biggest challenge, however, could come from second round draft choice Jan White, a crusher at Ohio State. White has great speed for a big man.
Last year's line was not outstanding on pass protection- the Bills' quarterbacks were sacked 53 times. Going into training camp, only right tackle Paul Costa seems to be a shoe-in for a starting job. Howard Kindig, the starting left tackle last season, will meet competition from Art Laster, who showed potential as a rookie, and 11th round draft choice Andy Browder, a 6-4, 255-pounder from Texas A&I. Offensive captain Joe O'Donnell will be challenged at right guard by Jerome Gantt, a second-year man, and left guards Rich Cheek and Jim Reilly will continue their battle for the starting berth they shared as rookies last year. Center Frank Marchlewski will be challenged by young Wayne Fowler and rookie Bruce Jarvis. Fowler and Jarvis are bigger, but Marchlewski is a veteran pro.
Defensively, linebacking is the Bills' strength. Edgar Chandler moved into the middle linebacking job last year and performed well. Mike Stratton, entering his ninth pro season, missed six games because of an injury but is expected to be fully recovered this year. Paul Guidry, beginning his fourth season as the strong-side linebacker, shows improvement each year. The reserves are Al Andrews, who replaced Stratton last season until he was injured, too, J.C. Collins, who didn't play much in '70, Dick Cunningham, the backup MLB, and Mike McCaffrey, who filled in at right linebacker last year but is more comfortable behind Guidry on the left. The rookies are Bob Strickland and Bill McKinley.
The secondary appears set with cornerbacks Butch Byrd and Robert James and safeties Pete Richardson and John Pitts. Byrd will be backed by Alvin Wyatt at right corner (Wyatt came to Buffalo from Oakland in a trade for Bill Enyart). James, who will face a challenge from rookie Tom Beamer, is a hard hitter with good speed who worked his way up to a starting berth after signing with Buffalo as a free agent. Second-string safety Jackie Allen will be a strong contender for a job; he filled in at both corner and safety last year.
In what is said by the players to be a continuing purge of veterans, left defensive end Ron McDole was traded to the swap-happy Washington Redskins in May. However, in a training camp battle for the job, Al Cowlings probably would have come out on top anyway. Last year Cowlings played on the right side, and the 6-5, 258-pound rookie was the Bills' strongest pass rusher. The right end job will go to either veteran Mike McBath, who held the job in '69, or to Louis Ross or Jim Hoots, both rookies. Ross is said to have unusual speed for a 6-6, 238-pounder. Right tackle Bob Tatarek lost time because of an injury last year. He'll be challenged by Julian Nunamaker, who held the job in his absence. There was talk that left tackle Jim Dunaway, an eight-year veteran, might follow McDole in the trade exodus. But the Bills would be short-handed without him. Backup tackle Waddey Harvey can also fill at either end.
The placekicking chores will be handled by Grant Guthrie, who replaced Bruce Alford last year, unless rookie fullback Braxton beats him out. Guthrie set a Buffalo record with a 52-yard field goal and wound up scoring 54 points on 10 field goals and 24 conversions. If punter Paul Maguire retires this year, as has been suspected, Steve Schroder, Dave Chapple and rookie Jim Sheffield will battle for the job. Maguire had only a 38.9-yard average last year."

-Brenda Zanger, Pro Football 1971

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

1970 Profile: Bob Tatarek

Defensive Tackle
No. 71
"A powerful and willing worker, Tatarek took over the right defensive tackle position from Tom Sestak. A 6-4, 260-pound third-year man out of Miami, Bob continued to improve throughout the '69 season, his first as a regular. He had weight problems as a rookie, but last year licked that and is now touted as a future All-Star."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

1970 Profile: Butch Byrd

No. 42
Boston University
"Butch, as this 6-0, 200-pound cornerback is usually called, led Buffalo in interceptions for the third time last year, stealing seven for 95 yards and a touchdown. He is the all-time club leader in interceptions, with 36 in his six seasons with the Bills. He has started every game in every season and has been on the All-Star team four times.
His size and determination also make him valuable at stopping runners when he's called upon to make like a linebacker on power sweeps. He's extremely physical in handling wide receivers; he's one of the few cornerbacks with the size that approximates that of his opponents."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Monday, November 3, 2014

1970 Profile: Paul Guidry

No. 59
McNeese State
After starting on the special teams as a rookie from McNeese State five seasons ago, 'Gomer' Guidry worked his way into a starting linebacker position on the strong side. Then, midway though the 1969 season, he was injured. But the 6-2, 233-pounder is back in his usual spot, banging heads with runners and harassing pass receivers. He has the ability to cover backs deep and is becoming one of the team leaders.
He was drafted originally as a tight end."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Sunday, November 2, 2014

1970 Profile: Mike Stratton

No. 58
"Another frequent All-Star selection, Stratton is considered one of the best blitzing linebackers in the league. He also knows how to cover pass patterns, since nine years ago he was an end at the University of Tennessee. He put on weight (up to 250) and the coaches made a linebacker out of him. But he can still catch a pass, as his 17 career interceptions indicate.
Stratton also works well with his linebacking mates Paul Guidry and Harry Jacobs to form one of the strongest units on the Bills."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Saturday, November 1, 2014

1970 Profile: Ron McDole

Defensive End
No. 72
"Coach Rauch has such confidence in this 6-3, 288-pound defensive end that the team depth chart doesn't even list a replacement for McDole. He is almost a perennial All-Star now and the one time he didn't make it, the Buffalo fans resented the snub and made McDole a cause celebre.
As a one-time journeyman pro he tried to make it with St. Louis, Houston and Minnesota. McDole had a problem with migraine headaches which almost ended his career. Now he is in the business of giving headaches. Most teams double-team him because of his great pursuit and his never-quit attitude."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Friday, October 31, 2014

1970 Profile: Joe O'Donnell

No. 70
"After missing nearly all of the previous season with a knee injury, he came back as game and strong as ever last year. If the Bills' running game improves at all, you will hear O'Donnell's name being mentioned prominently, since he will be the one leading those sweeps for O.J. He enjoys being the pulling guard, and is known as a ferocious blocker.
Joe's one of the smart ones. He had a scholastic scholarship at the University of Michigan, where he captained the team."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Thursday, October 30, 2014

1970 Profile: James Harris

No. 12
"He was the starting quarterback as a rookie last year until he was knocked out by a stomach ailment and knee surgery. He was limited to four games and completed 15 of 36 passes for 270 yards and a touchdown.
Harris, a special pupil of Eddie Robinson at Grambling, is trying to become the regular black quarterback in big-time pro football. He has the size, at 6-3 and 210 pounds, and a strong arm. He could be the one to inject an aerial scoring threat (the Bills' 230 points were the lowest total in the league) and open up the Bill offense for runners like Simpson."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

1970 Profile: Paul Costa

Offensive Tackle
No. 79
Notre Dame
"Although a little on the small side for a pro tackle, Costa has the quickness and strength to make his 255 pounds effective. A six-year veteran from Notre Dame, where he played offensive and defensive end as well as tackle and halfback, Costa moved to right tackle last year after four years as a tight end. An ankle injury in 1968 helped him make the decision to move.
At 28, Costa is the second youngest returning regular in the Bills' front line and the year's experience at tackle should make him all the tougher."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

1970 Profile: Marlin Briscoe

Wide Receiver
No. 86
"Complementing Haven Moses, usually on the right side, Briscoe made a name for himself as a receiver after breaking into the starting lineup in mid-season after Bubba Thornton was injured. He finished with 32 catches for 532 yards- that's a 16.6-yard average- and scored five touchdowns.
Briscoe started as a quarterback with the Denver Broncos when he first came up from the University of Omaha. But his small size (5-10, 177 pounds) worked against him and he was tried at defensive back before being moved to wide receiver for the Bills. Now in his third year, Briscoe will finally know where he stands- or at least where he is supposed to line up- and there's little doubt that he will continue to catch on."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Monday, October 27, 2014

1970 Profile: Haven Moses

Split End
No. 25
San Diego State
"He again led the Bills in receiving, just as he did as a rookie in 1968 when he was the number one draft choice. Last season he had 39 catches for 752 yards - an average of 19.3 per reception - and five touchdowns.
Since coming from San Diego State, Moses has continued to develop and put on weight without impairing his speed, quickness, good hands or body control. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, he can now absorb those bumps and pushes from the linebackers before flying downfield.
Considering the Bills' quarterbacking problems over the last two years, Moses' ranking in the top 15 receivers each year takes on greater significance."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Sunday, October 26, 2014

1970 Profile: O.J. Simpson

Running Back
No. 32
"All he wants to do is work more. After a creditable but not outstanding rookie season, Simpson said, 'I want to run more ... and I want to run the ball my way this year.' Despite sounding like he wants to be the coach, all Simpson means is that he would like to get the ball and run with it wherever there is room, rather than follow the more patterned instructions Coach Rauch has devised.
In addition to his rushing and pass catching duties, though, Simpson showed he could perform like the O.J. of old on the kick return team, running back 21 for a total of 529 yards. And despite his initial reluctance to play in Buffalo, O.J. is now happy to play with the Bills and anxious to instill some of his winning spirit. He's not out for personal glory. As he puts it, 'If the Bills lose, I lose. We lost together.'"

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Saturday, October 25, 2014

1970 Profile: John Rauch

"John Rauch wanted to show what he could do, so he left Oakland and came to Buffalo. The Bills did improve- to a 4-10 record from 1-12-1- but Rauch, of course, feels it could have been much better.
'The difference between winning and losing a few more games was in the mental errors more than in physical shortcomings,' he says. 'When you make the mental mistake, you're beating yourself. And that's what we did too frequently.' His biggest problem is finding a regular, steady quarterback- and if there is one Rauch knows something about, it's quarterbacking. When he was 19 and a freshman at the University of Georgia, he became the first-string varsity quarterback. He led the Bulldogs into the Oil, Sugar, Gator and Orange Bowls in his four years. He was also mentioned on several All-American teams in 1949, his senior year.
Rauch had always wanted to be a coach, so he spent only two years as a pro quarterback before returning to college to coach football at the University of Florida in 1951. He remained in the college ranks until 1963 when he joined Oakland as an assistant coach. He moved up to the head coach's position in 1966 and his success with the Raiders is history. One of the things he developed at Oakland was a quarterback named Daryle Lamonica, who, by the way, was obtained from the Buffalo Bills.
After finding, or settling on, a quarterback, Rauch has to impose his system successfully on the Bills. They have had a year to work with it and have found it demanding, but Rauch says, 'I know it's the kind of system with which a team can win. And we expect to do more winning in 1970.'"

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Friday, October 24, 2014

1970 Buffalo Bills Outlook

"If the quarterback problem is solved ... if O.J. Simpson gets to carry the ball more often ... if rookies come through on defense ... and if the Bills can finally adjust to the Rauch system of football after a one-year trial ... then maybe Buffalo can make some headway against New York, Baltimore, Miami and Boston in the Eastern Division of the AFC.
Johnny Rauch moved to Buffalo last year after spectacular success at Oakland. He installed a system he described as 'more demanding and more flexible than the previous one.' And though the Bills improved their record from 1-12-1 to 4-10, it was neither spectacular nor successful. And if the Bills are neither spectacular nor successful this year by the time those cold and snowy winds start coming off Lake Erie, a lot of football fans might move indoors to watch the new pro basketball and hockey teams.
What the Bills need most is a quarterback. Jack Kemp, who threw 22 interceptions and ranked only tenth in passing in the old AFL in 1969, has retired and forsaken football for politics. Fighting it out for the starting berth are the men Kemp beat out last year: Jimmy Harris, who was sidelined as a rookie last season with a stomach ailment and a knee injury, and Dan Darragh, who missed part of the season because of military service and then injured his shoulder against the Jets. Another veteran with a shot at quarterback is Tom Sherman, a third-year man from Penn State who was obtained from Boston. He only played in the closing minutes of the final game for the Bills, but he did throw a touchdown pass, one of 17 last year as the anemic Bill offense could score only 230 points in the 14 league games.
The answer may ultimately be Dennis Shaw, the number two draft choice out of San Diego State. Built like a pro quarterback at 6-3 and 210 pounds, Shaw threw 39 scoring passes last season in leading the Aztecs to their second straight undefeated season.
If the quarterback problem is solved, better use can be made of O.J. Simpson, the league's sixth-leading ground gainer with 697 yards on 181 carries for a 3.9-yard average. Simpson also accounted for 343 yards on pass receptions in what would have been a fine rookie season for anyone but a former Heisman Trophy winner. By the end of the season, though, Simpson was complaining about not getting the ball often enough and not being able to 'free-lance' on offense. He carried the ball an average of 13 times a game, compared with the 30-plus times he usually carried it in college.
Another rookie who had a disappointing season was fullback Bill 'Earthquake' Enyart. The 236-pounder from Oregon State was beaten much of the year by veteran Wayne Patrick.
If Simpson and the other Bill backs want the ball more, it is up to the defense to see that the other teams don't have it so much. Rauch took dead aim on the leaky defense, which allowed an average of 26 points a game in 1969. Previously a strong point in the Bills' glory days of the mid-60s, the defense was a sore spot last season. Several key players were injured for all or part of the season and Rauch used the college draft in an attempt to bolster the defense. The number one choice was big (6-5, 245 pounds) Al Cowlings, a defensive end from Southern California. Defenders Glenn Alexander, Jerome Gantt and Steve Starnes were the fourth, fifth and sixth choices. But there are better-than-average veterans up front in perennial All-Star Ron McDole and Bob Tatarek. Butch Byrd in the secondary and solid linebackers like Paul Guidry and Mike Stratton, another All-Star regular, provide a good nucleus.
There was only one statistical category in which the Bills had two representatives among the league leaders: kickoff returns. This was further testimony that the Buffalo defense gave up an awful lot of points. Simpson and speedy Bubba Thornton each averaged about 25 yards a return, good enough for the fifth and sixth rankings, respectively.
The offensive line is experienced, with Al Bemiller, Billy Shaw, Joe O'Donnell and Paul Costa all around 30 years old. Mike Richey was a rookie who won a starting job. But the pass protection was leaky, perhaps because the linemen had to adjust their blocking to so many different types of quarterbacks. At any rate, the Bills obtained center Fred Marchlewski from the New Orleans Saints and drafted 6-2, 250-pound guard Jim Reilly from Notre Dame.
If a regular quarterback can be installed, the Bills have the receivers for a potentially fine passing attack. In addition to Simpson and Patrick coming out of the backfield (each caught more than 30 passes last year), there are the fleet Haven Moses and Marlin Briscoe as wide receivers. Moses average 19.3 yards a reception on his 39 catches while Briscoe, a converted quarterback, caught 32 passes for 532 yards; each scored five touchdowns. Former Arkansas star Bobby Crockett and Texas Christian flash Bubba Thornton both were injured much of the season, but showed brilliance at times.
The punting is safe with Paul Maguire, who averaged 44.5 yards a kick, only a tenth of a yard off the league lead. Bruce Alford was the sixth most accurate kicker in the league and scored 74 points."

-Brenda and Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1970

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

1969 Profile: Tom Sestak

Defensive Tackle
No. 70
McNeese State
"Gimpy knees have robbed Tom Sestak of his All-Pro ranking, once an annual thing. But Tom managed to skip his yearly appointment with the surgeon after the 1967 campaign, and had his best season in three years. Once again, opposing quarterbacks tried to steer running plays away from him, as Tom regained much of his old mobility.
An All-AFL performer five times before his injury siege, Tom is now in his eighth pro season. He was drafted in the seventeenth round by the Bills in 1962, after playing college ball at Baylor and McNeese State."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Monday, October 20, 2014

1969 Profile: George Saimes

Free Safety
No. 26
Michigan State
"Undersized but never overlooked, George Saimes has been a perennial All-Pro safetyman almost since coming into the league back in 1963. Standing only 5-10 and weighing 188 pounds, he doesn't present a classic figure, but George is the complete football player.
Roaming his free safety position, he is one of the surest tacklers in the business. He executes the safety blitz just the way it was diagrammed, and steals passes as deftly as a jewel thief. In his six seasons with the Bills, he has collected 19 interceptions.
He played his college football at Michigan State, where he was a running back."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Saturday, October 18, 2014

1969 Profile: Ron McDole

Defensive End
No. 72
"Even on the coldest day of the year in Buffalo, local football fans can get heated up over Ron McDole being snubbed for the AFL All-Star team last season. According to the locals, he was the Bills' most consistent defensive player in '68, and turned in outstanding games virtually every week.
A bruising 6-2 1/2, 278-pounder who storms enemy quarterbacks with surprising swiftness, Ron took over at end in 1964 after failing in trials with the Cardinals, Oilers and Vikings. But he didn't begin to come into his own until the past couple of seasons. For years he suffered from migraine headaches. Now, you might say, he's become one to opposing clubs."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Friday, October 17, 2014

1969 Profile: Billy Shaw

No. 66
Georgia Tech
"One AFL coach said of Billy Shaw, 'Even half-healthy, he's better than most.' It was high praise for the 6-2, 258-pound guard who has missed a lot of action over the past two seasons due to injury.
But when he's in there, he gives enemy tackles an all-out battle on every play. There probably isn't a better pulling guard in the league,and yet Billy, who drives himself to excel in every department, also provides solid protection for the passer.
He became a Bill in 1961 after being chosen in the second round of the draft. He played his college football at Georgia Tech."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Thursday, October 16, 2014

1969 Profile: Max Anderson

Halfback-Kick Returner
No. 22
Arizona State
"The Bills drafted little Max Anderson mainly as a specialist to run back kicks and punts, and maybe to play some halfback now and then. Before the season was very old, however, he was in there at one of the regular running back spots, and racing off with the club leadership in rushing last year.
The 5-8, 183-pound sprite gained 525 yards on 147 carries for a 3.6 average and two touchdowns. This didn't come as much of a surprise to anyone back at Arizona State, where Max was the nation's third leading ground gainer in 1967 with 1,183 yards and 12 touchdowns.
His size was against him when he came into the pros, but Max runs with controlled speed, and like another little fellow named Mike Garrett, uses his blockers extremely well."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Wednesday, October 15, 2014

1969 Profile: Mike Stratton

No. 58
"Maybe he didn't play up to his All-AFL ranking last season, but Mike Stratton wasn't that far off his game, either. Still regarded as one of the most deadly blitzers in the league, he is rarely caught out of position. And there are few outside linebackers who can make their drops as quickly as Mike can. He's the leader among Bill linebackers in lifetime interceptions with 17.
Mike joined the Bills as a tight end in 1962 after coming out of Tennessee, but never got to play the position once the coaches saw what he could do on defense when he was 25 pounds heavier than his college weight."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Tuesday, October 14, 2014

1969 Profile: Haven Moses

No. 25
San Diego State
"People knew that someday the Bills would face the start of a new season without Elbert Dubenion at flanker. This will be the year, and the man who will start in his place is Haven Moses, who made an impressive splash as a rookie last season. A 6-2 1/2", 200-pounder drafted first by the Bills, Haven caught 42 passes for 633 yards and a pair of touchdowns in '68; one of his scores came on a 55-yarder.
He brings to the game a lot of the same attributes of his predecessor - speed, fine hands, toughness in a crowd, and ability to run in a broken field.
At San Diego State he gained 2,169 yards on passes and scored 17 touchdowns in two years."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Monday, October 13, 2014

1969 Profile: Butch Byrd

No. 42
Boston University
"As a rookie back in 1964, Butch Byrd intercepted his first pass and took it back 72 yards for a touchdown. It gave him an understandably great feeling, and since then, neither the feeling nor the touch have left him. For in his five years with the Bills, he has become the club's all-time leader in interceptions with a career total of 29.
Butch is more than just a pass defender; he's an all-around player who's highly regarded for the way he comes to meet the run, and for the sting he put into his tackles. Though he's not as fast as some of the other top cornerbacks around, Butch reads defenses so well that some people think he's been guessing.
Twice named All-Pro, he played his college football at Boston University."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Sunday, October 12, 2014

1969 Profile: Al Bemiller

No. 50
"It has probably escaped the notice of most people, but Al Bemiller has started every Bills' game since 1961. That adds up to 112 regular season games.
Of course, anyone following Al's career knows he couldn't always be found in the same place. A versatile type, he has played both tackle positions, as well as center, during his eight years in the pros. At 6-3 and 246 pounds, he's big enough to play anywhere on the offensive side.
An All-East star with Syracuse University, Al is also superstitious - whether he's playing center or tackle, he always has a towel tucked in the back of his football pants."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Saturday, October 11, 2014

1969 Profile: Jack Kemp

No. 15
"The Buffalo quarterback this year will be Dan Darragh - that is, if neither Jack Kemp nor Tom Flores can make it back from injury-plagued seasons in 1968.
Don't bet against Kemp. Jack suffered torn knee ligaments in an unfortunate (some say needless) intrasquad scrimmage last year before the start of the season and was out the rest of the way. But his recuperation was quick; by Thanksgiving, he was skiing in California. While he feels his knee is entirely healed, Jack thinks the year off gave his tired arm a needed rest.
He's been flinging passes for 13 years now. That's long enough for him to have quarterbacked teams in five AFL Championship games (two with the Chargers, three with the Bills). In 1965, he was the league's MVP."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Friday, October 10, 2014

1969 Profile: John Rauch

Head Coach
"The opportunity to be his own man at last was the reason John Rauch gave for leaving the Oakland Raiders at the conclusion of last season to take over the coaching job in Buffalo. There were skeptics who sneered - there always are - but why else would a man want to leave Oakland, with its championship-caliber football club for Buffalo, with its fallen team and its miserable winters?
During his three years as head coach of the Raiders, Rauch compiled the best won-lost record in professional football. But Rauch always had the sensation former coach Al Davis was looking over his shoulder. It was Davis, after all, who had molded the Raiders into what they were, and then had voluntarily stepped down to fight the AFL's then existing war against the NFL. That chore accomplished, Davis then came back to the job of managing general partner, which some people construed as overseer to Rauch. Both men denied it, and indeed, Rauch insists that he made his own decisions, and that these were sometimes in conflict with Davis' theories. So the parting was completed just after the Raiders lost the AFL championship to the Jets.
The Bills became John's second pro team following a lengthy career that began at the University of Georgia, where he was an All-America quarterback. He played pro football for the old New York Yankees, then took a series of college coaching jobs. He joined Oakland at the time Davis was beginning to form the Raiders, and he remained a top assistant until Davis handed him the number one job three years ago.
But John knows you don't get handed jobs for nothing. You produce or else. Those terms will suit him fine in Buffalo."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969

Thursday, October 9, 2014

1969 Buffalo Bills Outlook

"In assessing the football picture in Buffalo, there are three questions which must be considered: Will be city build the much-needed domed stadium and save the Bills from a move to the West? Was the Bills' 1-12-1 record last year the worst disaster in the city's history? Will O.J. Simpson show up and save the day for everybody?
Actually, Simpson alone would probably bring happy solutions to the first two problems and leave any questions about himself to be answered during the course of the new season. But Simpson in a Buffalo uniform does not spell instant title. Even at Southern Cal, it was shown that he needed the men blocking in front of him as much as they needed him. And he's in a rougher league now than anything he ever experienced in the Pacific Eight Conference.
More even than blocking, Simpson, and for that matter the Bills, will need the quarterbacking they didn't have last season, when all a man had to do to get on the disabled list was to go in for a few plays at quarterback. Jack Kemp and Tom Flores, most notably, were the hardest hit; Kemp missed the entire season with what is euphemistically referred to as a training camp knee injury, while Flores got into part of one game and then underwent shoulder surgery. Both are healthy again, and Kemp is expected to resume command of the attack, with Flores as his deputy. If another calamity strikes this department this season, look for people like Kay Stephenson, Dan Darragh and Benny Russell to come in again.
Assuming there is an O.J. Simpson, he will line up in the first backfield and attempt to show why he is worth so much money. It would be hard to conceive of him not busting loose for a few long gainers and climbing quickly into the super status Joe Namath achieved in his rookie year. The identity of his running mate will determined in the training camp battle among heavy-legged Bob Cappadonna, who had the job at the end of last season, Ben Gregory, who might have held on to it if not felled by an injury, and Bill Enyart, the big All-America fullback from Oregon State. The Bills probably have nothing to lose and everything to gain in letting Enyart win the job; he's big and quick, and probably tailor-made to run interference for Simpson. Little Max Anderson, who was the starter at halfback last season, will now be released for full time duty with the special teams (lucky fellow). Write in Gary McDermott as another backup runner.
There's the possibility of an improved passing game this year, following the fine rookie performance of flanker Haven Moses in 1968. The kid finished eleventh in the league in receiving with 42 catches for 633 yards, and looks like a real comer. Richard Trapp, who played well after Elbert Dubenion retired early last season, is a strong candidate for split end, but he'll have to fight for it with Bobby Crockett, who has his speed back after missing a year through injury. Paul Costa at tight end is sound again after ankle surgery. The spares are Monte Ledbetter and Ed Rutkowski at flanker, and Billy Masters at tight end.
For the second year in a row, the Bills' offensive line is coming back nursing wounds from the previous season. If all hands stay healthy, they should do an adequate job of blocking. The frontliners are Stew Barber and Dick Cunningham at tackle, Billy Shaw and Joe O'Donnell at guard, and Al Bemiller at center. If Howard Kindig can successfully make the switch from defense to center, it will free Bemiller for duty at either guard or tackle. Other reserves are tackle Wayne DeSutter and Dick Hudson, and guards George Flint, Bob Kalsu and Bob Kirk, the latter a sleeper from Indiana.
An echo of Buffalo's glory years can still be perceived on the defensive line, which now has Tom Day back after a brief sojourn in San Diego. Day holds down right end, while Ron McDole is the left end, with Tom Sestak and Jim Dunaway at the tackles. There's good depth behind them, with Julian Numamaker, Bill Wilkerson and Bob Tatarek among the vets, and rookies Ben Mayes, Waddey Harvey and Leon Lovelace.
The linebackers will be operating near top efficiency with Mike Stratton, Harry Jacobs and Paul Guidry returning as regulars, though Jacobs is being sorely pressed now by Marty Schottenheimer. Guidry had a fine break-in year as a replacement for the retired Tom Tracey. Paul Maguire and Ed Chandler are the holdovers from last year, and Wayne Lineberry is the lone draftee.
Perhaps the least of Buffalo's worries will come from the defensive backfield; there is a hustling crew back there, consisting of Booker Edgerson and Butch Byrd at the corners, and Tom Janik and George Saimes at the safeties. The best of the reserves are Hagood Clarke, Jerome Lawson and John Pitts, who filled in for the injured Janik last year. The outstanding rookies are Bubba Thornton and Steve Auerbach."

-Jack Zanger, Pro Football 1969