3 tidbits from Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys - Pro or Con"

3 tidbits from Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys - Pro or Con"

Postby Bryan » Tue Jul 05, 2022 12:06 pm

After the 1969 season, Sam Blair published a book that chronicled the first 10 years of the Dallas Cowboys history. If you can find a copy, I would recommend it. Here are three things that I found interesting from the end of the book:

1) Tom Landry predicted that zone defenses would dominate the 1970's. The Cowboys had mostly played man defense during the 60s, as Landry's original 4-3 defensive scheme with the Giants had secondary players who could cover man-to-man. Landry noted that with the addition of the AFL and general expansion in football, teams no longer have two CBs who can play man. The CB talent is spread too thin throughout pro football; at best you might have one CB who can cover man-to-man. Landry saw this change in defensive football, which I thought was 'prophetic'.

2) Craig Morton had injury problems throughout the 1969 season, which may have led to the Cowboys playoff upset at the hands of Cleveland. Morton also had injury problems in the 1970 season, and basically had a dead arm in the 1970 postseason. In 1969, Staubach started the season opener and was spectacular. He was benched in favor of Morton in Week 2 and never saw significant playing time again that season. Similar thing in 1970, Staubach started the first two games and played well, was pulled in Game 3 for Morton and never really saw the field again.

Morton was beyond terrible in both the 1969 and 1970 postseasons. Could Staubach have defeated the Browns in 1969 and Colts in 1970? Perhaps. But the weird thing is that a lot was made of Landry's "QB Shuttle" in 1971, but he actually did that throughout the 1960s. There were many games in which Meredith & LeBaron would alternate plays. Meredith was the lone QB after LeBaron left, but when Meredith was returning from injury he would alternate plays with Morton. When Meredith was out, Morton would alternate plays with Jerry Rhome. Wouldn't it have made more sense for Landry to alternate Morton with Staubach in 1969 and 1970 when Morton was injured and struggling?

3) This was the most far-out one. Vikings owner Max Winter claims that after the AFL had been formed due to the lack of NFL expansion prospects, George Halas called him and said that the NFL would expand by 4 teams that would be comprised of the AFL owners. The AFL would get together and decide what the teams and ownership groups looked like. The initial plan was for Lamar Hunt to be in Dallas, Bud Adams & Barron Hilton in Houston, Max Winter & Bob Howsam in Minnesota, and Ralph Wilson and Harry Wismer in Buffalo. But the story goes that Wismer wouldn't agree and the whole idea was scrapped.

Not sure if Winter is telling the full truth. You'd think that Wismer would be the least important 'owner' in the group, as he had no money. Wilson would have been including Wismer as a courtesy. Also, there is the old story of Lamar Hunt declining an invitation to join the NFL because he didn't want to sell out his AFL owners, but that may have come after this original plan had failed.
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Re: 3 tidbits from Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys - Pro or Con"

Postby racepug » Tue Jul 05, 2022 2:34 pm

Bryan wrote:teams no longer have two CBs who can play man. The CB talent is spread too thin throughout pro football; at best you might have one CB who can cover man-to-man.

I thought that's why teams play mostly zone "D" these days - because most teams don't think they have CBs who are capable of playing MTM. Didn't Richard Sherman catch some flak from a fellow CB (I wanna say either Darrelle Revis or Champ Bailey) after the 49ers' loss to K.C. in the S.B. a few years ago with the former standout CB tweeting something to R.S. to the effect of: "You are good only in a zone scheme!"?

Bryan wrote:3) This was the most far-out one. Vikings owner Max Winter claims that after the AFL had been formed due to the lack of NFL expansion prospects, George Halas called him and said that the NFL would expand by 4 teams that would be comprised of the AFL owners. The AFL would get together and decide what the teams and ownership groups looked like. The initial plan was for Lamar Hunt to be in Dallas, Bud Adams & Barron Hilton in Houston, Max Winter & Bob Howsam in Minnesota, and Ralph Wilson and Harry Wismer in Buffalo. But the story goes that Wismer wouldn't agree and the whole idea was scrapped.

Not sure if Winter is telling the full truth. You'd think that Wismer would be the least important 'owner' in the group, as he had no money. Wilson would have been including Wismer as a courtesy. Also, there is the old story of Lamar Hunt declining an invitation to join the NFL because he didn't want to sell out his AFL owners, but that may have come after this original plan had failed.

Wouldn't surprise me. I know that MIN was supposed to be an A.F.L. team but "jumped ship" at the last moment (which is why Oakland got a team, instead). I don't imagine the A.F.L. owners were pleased with the MIN group after that.
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Re: 3 tidbits from Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys - Pro or Con"

Postby 7DnBrnc53 » Thu Jul 07, 2022 10:47 am

That four-team expansion would have had major ramifications if it went through. The MLB, NBA, and NHL would have been affected big-time.
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Re: 3 tidbits from Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys - Pro or Con"

Postby fgoodwin » Thu Jul 07, 2022 1:31 pm

Bryan wrote:1) Tom Landry predicted that zone defenses would dominate the 1970's. The Cowboys had mostly played man defense during the 60s, as Landry's original 4-3 defensive scheme with the Giants had secondary players who could cover man-to-man. Landry noted that with the addition of the AFL and general expansion in football, teams no longer have two CBs who can play man. The CB talent is spread too thin throughout pro football; at best you might have one CB who can cover man-to-man. Landry saw this change in defensive football, which I thought was 'prophetic'.

I don't have a link, but if anyone has a copy of "The First 50 Years", it claims the Colts played a zone defense as early as the 50s, and they were probably not the first. Cowboy fans disown me when I remind them that Bob Hayes did NOT force the old NFL to play zone defense, because the Colts were playing it years before!
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Re: 3 tidbits from Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys - Pro or Con"

Postby rhickok1109 » Fri Jul 08, 2022 8:05 pm

fgoodwin wrote:
Bryan wrote:1) Tom Landry predicted that zone defenses would dominate the 1970's. The Cowboys had mostly played man defense during the 60s, as Landry's original 4-3 defensive scheme with the Giants had secondary players who could cover man-to-man. Landry noted that with the addition of the AFL and general expansion in football, teams no longer have two CBs who can play man. The CB talent is spread too thin throughout pro football; at best you might have one CB who can cover man-to-man. Landry saw this change in defensive football, which I thought was 'prophetic'.

I don't have a link, but if anyone has a copy of "The First 50 Years", it claims the Colts played a zone defense as early as the 50s, and they were probably not the first. Cowboy fans disown me when I remind them that Bob Hayes did NOT force the old NFL to play zone defense, because the Colts were playing it years before!

Knute Rockne discussed zone defenses in his 1931 book, "Coaching."
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Re: 3 tidbits from Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys - Pro or Con"

Postby SixtiesFan » Sat Jul 09, 2022 7:39 pm

I read Sam Blair's "Dallas Cowboys Pro or Con?" in the early 1970s and haven't read it since. it was the "Cowboys can't win the Big One" trope, endlessly recycled until Super Bowl VI.

I recall a passage about Don Meredith's trouble with the fans. Blair wrote that Meredith's difficulty with Dallas fans was they were tired of hearing about him. He was highly publicized at SMU and again with the Cowboys, but never actually won. Blair felt Meredith playing both college and pro in the same city made for a kind of overkill.

I don't remember the exact words but it was something like that.
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