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