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Old 03-05-2005, 12:33 AM   #1
Brad O.
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Default Dynasty

WARNING: This will probably be the longest post I have ever written. Most people will probably find it quite boring.
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SI's Paul Zimmerman (Dr. Z) recently wrote an article about the eight dynasties in pro football history. It's interesting timing, because I just finished an extensive study of dynasties sparked by Zimmerman himself. Fooling around on my computer a few weeks back, I found an old text file called "dynasty".
Quote:
from CNNSI.com, Dr. Z's February 2003 Mailbag
Marcus of Montreal wonders where all this talk about the Bucs becoming a dynasty comes from. Probably from Tampa. You want to know what is meant by "a dynasty?" Try this statistic, which I think I must have mentioned triple-figure times: During the period of the Steelers' playoff run of the '70s, 1972 through '79, their record against teams that eventually finished the season below .500 was -- get ready -- 50-1. They simply did not lose to the bad teams. They were bullies, tough guys. A dynasty.
That is impressive. How, I wondered, do other great teams compare? I looked up 32 potential "dynasties" and came up with their record against sub-.500 teams, non-losing teams, overall regular-season record, playoff record, number of winning seasons, number of postseason appearances, number of championship appearances, and championship wins. If you want to see the numbers, keep reading.

To determine which teams I looked at, I figured a dynasty has to last at least half a decade, be consistently great, and play on the biggest stage. So a dynasty covers at least five seasons, has no more than one sub-.500 year, no more than two non-winning years, no more than six seasons without a championship appearance, and never went five consecutive seasons without a championship appearance. Lax standards, but I'm trying to be inclusive. We can narrow things down later. Teams prior to the establishment of an official championship game are excluded.

Some teams that technically met the criteria didn't make my list. The 1965-69 Raiders had an awesome .779 winning percentage (that's like going 12-4, 13-3, 12-4, 13-3, 12-3-1), including a 37-4-1 record (.893) from 1967-69, but they played in only one Super Bowl and got annihilated by the NFL's Packers. The Air Coryell Chargers and today's Colts have been nice in the regular season but never made the big game. Bill Cowher's mid-90s Pittsburgh teams were consistently good, but not a dynasty in any meaningful sense of the word.

I'll present the teams I did examine soon, but first, there's a problem with Dr. Z's 50-1 stat. Not its accuracy -- although that's the only one I didn't personally check game-by-game -- its effectiveness as a tool in evaluating dynasties. The 72-79 Steelers, assuming Zimmerman's numbers are correct, went .980 against teams that finished the season under .500. That's better than any other group I evaluated. Second on the list, the 1936-44 Packers went 45-0-2. That was considered 1.000 at the time, but for all teams, I used the modern rating in which ties count as ˝-win, ˝-loss. That puts Green Bay at .979. Zimmerman cited the 36-39 Packers as one of his eight dynasties, but since I had to tack on a fifth year, I also included GB's impressive 33-7-2 run from 1941-44, which included another championship. Either way, this is clearly one of the great teams in history. So far, so good.

The problem is numbers three and four on the chart: the 1973-77 Vikings (40-1, .976) and the 1973-77 Raiders (34-1, .971). That's not a typo: same five-year span for both teams, and it overlaps entirely with Pittsburgh's 72-79 dynasty. Throw in another top-ten team from the list, the 1969-78 Cowboys (67-6-1, .912), and it appears that the worst teams of the 1970s were very bad, almost incapable of defeating the best teams. In that context, three of the top four teams in this category are less impressive than they initially appear.

Even worse, the 1973-77 Vikings and Raiders combined for only one Super Bowl victory. Minnesota went 0-3 in the big game, and the Raiders only won their own conference once. Both teams were exceptional in the regular season, but it's tough to really consider them dynasties.

Another problem is that the quintessential dynasty, the Lombardi Packers, comes in 31st out of 32 teams in this category, with an ordinary .798 winning percentage against teams that finished under .500. The only team below them? Another true dynasty, the 1981-89 49ers, with a measly .764. Anyway, here's the list.

Against sub-.500 opponents

team....years....record...%

PIT......72-79.....50-1.......980
GB.......36-44.....45-0-2....979
MIN.....73-77.....40-1.......976
OAK.....73-77.....34-1.......971
CLE.....46-55*....60-2.......968
CHI.....84-88......44-2.......957
WAS°..36-45......57-4.......934
CHI.....39-43......28-2.......933
LA......49-53......27-2-1....917
DAL.....69-78....67-6-1.....912
RAID...80-85......31-3.......912
PHI.....44-49......28-3.......903
BAL....64-71......50-5-1.....902
MIA....81-85......34-4........895
MIA....70-75......46-5-1.....894
PHI.....00-04......42-5........894
NYG....56-63......46-5-2.....887
SF......90-94......37-5........881
NYG....85-90......45-7........865
WAS...82-91......66-11......857
DAL....91-95......30-5........857
DEN....96-00......30-5........857
DET....52-57......29-5........853
SD^...60-65......37-6-3.....837
NYG....33-41.....47-8-3.....836
BUF....89-93.....29-6........829
NE.....00-04......26-6........813
DEN...84-89......30-7........811
GB......94-98.....32-8........800
STL....99-03.....36-9........800
GB......59-67.....44-10-3...798
SF......81-89.....53-16-1...764

* 1946-49 in the AAFC
° 1936 in Boston
^ 1960 in Los Angeles

You may have noticed a number of "losing dynasties" -- the 70s Vikings, 80s Broncos, 90s Bills, 00s Eagles -- on the list. These teams were dominant -- Minnesota went five seasons with only one loss to a team without a winning record -- and they deserve to be evaluated here. It's also worth examining what separates good regular-season teams from one another in the postseason.

Zimmerman's point about Pittsburgh's 50-1 mark has value. A team that always wins the games it should is dominant. But conversely, isn't a team with a good record against winning teams even more impressive than one with a great mark against losing teams? What about dynasties that usually win whether they're supposed to or not? On this list, the Lombardi Packers and Montana 49ers are in the top five.

Against .500+ opponents

team...years...record....%

CLE.....46-55....45-15-4....734
CHI.....39-43....17-6-1......729
GB......59-67....45-19-1.....700
SF......81-89....45-21........682
DAL....91-95....30-15........667
MIA....70-75....21-11........656
BUF....89-93....29-16........644
BAL....64-71....34-18-4.....643
OAK...73-77....22-12-1.....643
MIA....81-85....22-12-1.....643
SF......90-94....24-14........632
GB......94-98....25-15........625
PHI.....44-49....20-13-3.....597
DEN....84-89....34-23-1.....595
PIT.....72-79....38-26-1.....592
DEN....96-00....26-19........578
NYG....56-63....27-20-2.....571
STL....99-03....20-15........571
GB......36-44....28-21-2....569
NE......00-04....27-21.......563
DAL....69-78....38-30........559
WAS...82-91....41-34........547
RAID...80-85....30-25........545
CHI.....84-88....18-15.......545
LA......49-53....15-13-2.....533
PHI.....00-04....17-16.......515
DET....52-57....19-18-1....513
NYG....33-41....23-22-3....510
MIN....73-77....14-14.......500
NYG....85-90....20-23.......465
SD......60-65....17-20-1....461
WAS...36-45....17-25-5....415

This list appears to be a much better predictor, but the Jim Kelly Bills and Woodley/Marino Dolphins are awfully high -- better than, for instance, the Steel Curtain Steelers or Buddy Parker Lions (both among Zimmerman's eight dynasties). What probably makes the most sense is to scrap the level of competition and just look at regular season winning percentages as a whole. And don't worry, I am getting to the postseason.

Regular Season

team...years...record......%

CLE.....46-55....105-17-4....849
CHI.....39-43....45-8-1.......843
OAK....73-77....56-13-1......807
MIA....70-75....67-16-1......804
CHI.....84-88....62-17........785
MIN....73-77....54-15-1......779
MIA....81-85....56-16-1......774
BAL....64-71.....84-23-5.....772
GB......36-44....73-21-4.....765
PIT.....72-79....88-27-1.....763
SF......90-94....61-19........763
DAL....91-95....60-20........750
GB......59-67....89-29-4.....746
DAL....69-78....105-36-1....743
PHI....44-49.....48-16-3.....739
PHI....00-04.....59-21........738
NYG...56-63.....73-25-4.....735
LA.....49-53.....42-15-3.....725
BUF...89-93.....58-22........725
SF.....81-89.....98-37-1.....724
GB.....94-98.....57-23........713
WAS..36-45.....74-29-5.....708
WAS..82-91.....107-45......704
DEN...96-00.....56-24........700
STL...99-03.....56-24........700
NYG...33-41.....70-30-6.....689
RAID..80-85.....61-28........685
NYG...85-90.....65-30........684
DEN...84-89.....64-30-1.....679
DET...52-57.....48-23-1.....674
SD.....60-65.....54-26-4.....667
NE.....00-04.....53-27........663

Didn't remember that Ditka's Bears (.785) were that good, did you? Of course, they benefited from a five-year term here, as opposed to the Montana 49ers (.724), who put in nine seasons, and Joe Gibbs Washington (.704), which kept things up for ten years. And while Montana and Gibbs combined for seven Super Bowl wins and eight appearances, the Bears only got to the Super Bowl once. It's time to look at championships.

I actually divided all the potential dynasties into five categories. The most elite requires that the team won the Super Bowl (or equivalent league championship) in at least half the seasons listed, had a .750 regular-season winning percentage, and a .700 postseason record. It's important to note that before the AFL merger in 1970, teams posted lower postseason winning percentages, since the postseason usually consisted of a single title game. Today, a team that loses the championship finishes with a 2-1 or 3-1 record; in the old days, second-best usually meant 0-1.

Also, some teams are listed twice. Montana's Niners are listed for 81-89 and 84-89; Steve Young's Niners are listed for 90-94 and 90-98; Sid Luckman's Bears are listed for 39-43 and 39-50. Anyway, here are the five categories; within each, teams are presented in chronological order.

* = Championship wins / Championship appearances / Years

Minimum 5 years, 50% Championship wins, 50% Championship appearances, .750 regular season, .700 postseason


team...years....*............reg............%.......post.....%
CHI.....39-43....3/4/5......45-8-1........843....3-1.....750
CLE.....46-55....7/10/10..105-17-4.....849....9-3.....750
PIT.....72-79....4/4/8......88-27-1......763....14-4....778
SF......84-89....3/3/6......72-22-1......763....9-3......750
DAL.....91-95...3/3/5.......60-20.........750...11-2.....846


Minimum 5 years, 30% Championship wins, 40% Championship appearances, .700 regular season, .667 postseason

team...years.....*...........reg............%......post....%
CHI.....39-50....4/5/12....92-29-2......756...4-2.....667
PHI.....44-49....2/3/6......48-16-3......739...3-1.....750
GB......59-67....5/6/9......89-29-4......746...9-1.....900
MIA....70-75....2/3/6......67-16-1......804...8-3.....727
SF......81-89....4/4/9......98-37-1......724...13-4...765
WAS..82-91.....3/4/10....107-45........704...15-4...789
DEN...96-00.....2/2/5......56-24.........700...7-2.....778


Minimum 5 years, 0% Championship wins, 40% Championship appearances, .667 regular season, .500 postseason

team...years....*.............reg..........%......post....%
GB......36-44....3/4/9......73-21-4.....765...3-2.....600
DET....52-57....3/4/6......48-23-1.....674...5-1.....833
DAL....69-78....2/5/10....105-36-1....743...14-7...667
MIN....73-77....0/3/5......54-15-1.....779...7-5.....583
DEN....84-89....0/3/6......64-30-1.....679...6-4.....600
BUF....89-93....0/4/5......58-22........725...9-5.....643
GB......94-98....1/2/5......57-23........713...8-4.....667


Minimum 5 years, 10% Championship wins, 20% Championship appearances, .667 regular season, .400 postseason

team...years....*............reg...........%......post....%
WAS...36-45....2/6/10....74-29-5.....708...3-4.....429
LA......49-53....1/3/5.....42-15-3......725...2-3.....400
BAL.....64-71...1/3/8......84-23-5.....772...6-4.....600
OAK....73-77....1/1/5.....56-13-1.....807...7-4.....636
RAID...80-85....2/2/6.....61-28........685...8-3.....727
CHI.....84-88....1/1/5.....62-17........785...5-4.....556
NYG....85-90....2/2/6.....65-30........684...7-2.....778
SF......90-94....1/1/5.....61-19........763...6-3.....667
STL....99-03....1/2/5.....56-24........700...5-3......625


The last category is really just for teams I went to the bother of compiling stats for. This is their last shot of glory, and then -- with a few exceptions -- they're out of the conversation.

[color=dark red]Minimum 5 years, 0% Championship wins, 10% Championship appearances, .650 regular season, .200 postseason

team...years....*............reg...........%......post....%
NYG....33-41....2/6/9......70-30-6.....689...2-4.....333
NYG....56-63....1/6/8......73-25-4.....735...2-5.....286
SD......60-65....1/5/6......54-26-4.....667...1-4.....200
MIA.....81-85...0/2/5.......56-16-1.....774...6-5....545
SF......90-98....1/1/9......109-35......757....9-7....563
PHI.....00-04....0/1/5......59-21........738...7-5.....583
NE......00-04....3/3/5......53-27........663...9-0....1.000[/color]

Before we entirely dismiss this group, I'd like to reinforce the point I made earlier about postseason percentages. The Andy Reid/Donovan McNabb Eagles are notorious postseason underachievers, yet their postseason record is almost .600. Frank Gifford's Giants, who played for the NFL title six times in eight years, are less than half that, below .300. The two earliest teams on this list, the Giants, are dragged down by poor postseason percentages and should probably be one or two categories higher. And the Belichick Patriots, weighed down by a 5-11 2000 season but boasting three titles and a perfect record in the playoffs and Super Bowl, clearly are better than their .663 winning percentage, the lowest of any team I evaluated.

We wave goodbye to: Sid Gillman's Chargers; the AFL's most dominant team for the first half of the league's existence usually flopped when the stakes were highest; the David Woodley/Dan Marino Dolphins; an exceptional regular season record didn't mean much against the dominant NFC teams of the 80s; Steve Young's 49ers; maintaining a winning percentage above .750 (12-4) for nine years is extremely impressive, but with only one Super Bowl, the team can't really be considered a dynasty; Reid's Eagles; with only one Super Bowl appearance and no victories, this is the probably the least-dynastic team on the list, but it was interesting for comparisons.

Grouping teams according to these categories is helpful -- and it finally puts winning championships front and center -- but it isn't the end of the story. Lombardi's Packers are held out of the top grouping because of a .746 regular-season record. Long-lasting dynasties aren't given weight over 5-year reigns like the Terrell Davis Broncos. But with 29 teams left, things are falling into place.

Let's lose four more teams to get to 25: the Marshall Faulk Rams, who were really dominant for only two of their five years; the Bill Parcells Giants, not even one of the top three teams of its own era; the Waterfield/Van Brocklin Rams, with a short five-year run and only one title; and the Broncos under Dan Reeves, who reached three Super Bowls in a pathetically weak AFC only to lose by an average of 32 points.

Even the weakest of the remaining teams has some claim of being a dynasty. The 1973-77 Vikings and 1989-93 Bills are the only teams without any Super Bowl wins (or equivalent), but they dominated their conferences and went to the big game almost every year. Both were over .500 in the postseason and won well over 70% percent of their games; Minnesota's .779 mark is the 6th-best of any team on the list. The Vikings' .976 record against sub-.500 teams (remember the inspiration for this whole project, from Dr. Z?) trails only the Steel Curtain and Hutson's Packers; Buffalo couldn't get past Dallas in the Super Bowl, but it was an impressive .644 against teams at or above .500 -- good for 7th-best on the list.

For all that, dynasties are about winning championships, and while those teams were certainly dominant, only the most liberal of judges would deem them dynastic.

For similar reasons, the 1973-77 Raiders, 1984-88 Bears, and 1990-94 49ers can't really be considered dynasties. They are among the most dominant regular-season teams in history, with the 3rd-, 5th-, and 11th-best regular season winning percentages, all above .750. But they meet only the minimum five-year standard, and none appeared in more than one championship game. They have excuses -- the Steel Curtain, Bill Walsh and Joe Gibbs, Jimmy Johnson's Cowboys -- but one and done is no way to build a true dynasty.

That should leave us with 20 teams, 20 dynastic teams, dominant, long-lived, reaching the highest point of success. So why do we still have Gifford's Giants, with a .286 postseason percentage and only one NFL title? Sammy Baugh's Washington, which was .415 against teams that didn't finish with a losing record? Jim Plunkett's Raiders, with a blah .685 winning percentage? Mike Holmgren's Packers, with a brief five-year run that produced only one Super Bowl victory? The Shula/McCafferty Colts, the only remaining team without multiple championship wins?

And then there were 15. Here they are, listed again by regular-season winning percentage, but in the color-coded format used for the five categories.

* = Championship wins / Championship appearances / Years

team...years....*............reg............%.......post....%
CLE.....46-55....7/10/10..105-17-4....849....9-3.....750
CHI.....39-43....3/4/5.....45-8-1........843....3-1.....750
MIA....70-75....2/3/6......67-16-1......804...8-3.....727
GB......36-44....3/4/9......73-21-4.....765....3-2.....600
PIT.....72-79....4/4/8......88-27-1.....763....14-4....778
DAL.....91-95...3/3/5......60-20.........750...11-2....846
GB......59-67....5/6/9......89-29-4......746...9-1.....900
DAL....69-78....2/5/10....105-36-1....743....14-7...667
PHI.....44-49....2/3/6......48-16-3......739...3-1.....750
SF......81-89....4/4/9......98-37-1.....724....13-4...765
WAS...82-91....3/4/10....107-45.......704....15-4...789
DEN....96-00....2/2/5......56-24........700....7-2.....778
NYG....33-41....2/6/9......70-30-6.....689....2-4.....333
DET....52-57....3/4/6......48-23-1.....674....5-1.....833
NE......00-04....3/3/5......53-27........663....9-0....1.000

All eight of Zimmerman's dynasties -- Hutson's Packers, Luckman's Bears, Graham's Browns, Parker's Lions, Lombardi's Packers, the Steel Curtain, Montana's Niners, and Johnson's Cowboys -- are still around, but it's time to start cutting some of them.

Buddy Parker's Lions won three NFL titles in six seasons, losing another to Graham's Browns -- arguably the greatest dynasty in the history of professional football -- which is nothing to be ashamed of. But Detroit wasn't really a dominant team. Its .674 regular-season record is unimpressive in the context of this list, and its .853 mark against subpar teams doesn't denote true dominance. Furthermore, being the best in a twelve-team league isn't nearly as tough as winning consistently in a league with more than 20 teams, as all but a few of the remaining groups did. And the Lions fell apart after their six-year reign, stumbling to 4-7-1 and then 3-8-1. The "dynasty" had no staying power. I think Zimmerman was just looking for a connector between Graham and Lombardi; the Lions aren't of the same caliber as the other dynasties he named.

For similar reasons, the 1930s Giants seem out of their league at this point. Their sub-.700 record indicates that they weren't nearly the best team of the late 30s, trailing the Bears (.843), GB (.765), and already-dismissed Boston/Washington (.708). Three championships seems like a reasonable cutoff for determining dynasties, and the Giants fail to meet that standard, as well. The team's consistency is countered by its lack of real dominance.

The Mile-High Salute Broncos are still pretty clear in our memories, and it seems easy to drop them from the list now, as well. Few really considered Denver a dynasty at the time, and a five-year, two-title, barely-.700 legacy isn't enough to change our minds.

With 12 teams remaining, it's long past time for me to address Belichick's Patriots. They don't belong on this list. Not as it stands. My five-year minimum is arbitrary, but that's what I've been using, and with that standard, New England should have been eliminated long ago. It's easy to project another winning season, and maybe another Super Bowl, for the Pats in 2005-2006, but as this list stands, Belichick's crew is more than 50 percentage points down from the next team with fewer than nine seasons. Make it a four-year dynasty, and the Pats are .750 with three championships in four years, but I can't wrap my brain around such a short reign being called a dynasty. Maybe it is, but I wouldn't put it, at this point, ahead of San Francisco or Washington in the 80s, or Dallas in the 70s. It's probably ahead of Steve Van Buren's Eagles. That would leave the Pats 11th on my list. Just my opinion.

Van Buren's Eagles are my favorite neglected team, and Van Buren my favorite neglected player. I've seen a lot of short video clips -- I seek them out and devour them like a kid and his Halloween candy -- but no whole games. As a rookie in 1944, Van Buren rushed for over 500 yards, intercepted five passes on defense, and led the NFL in kick return average, kick return TDs, and punt return TDs. The next season, he led the NFL in rushing yards and set the single-season TD record. After struggling with injuries in 1946, he tallied the second 1000-yard rushing season in history in 1947 -- and many believe that the first, by Beattie Feathers in 1934, accidentally counted kickoff returns. From 1947-49, Van Buren led the NFL in rushing yards and rushing TDs each year, and the Eagles went to the NFL Championship Game all three years, winning twice. The 1949 Championship Game is legendary: Los Angeles received three inches of rain the day before the game, but Van Buren, playing in ankle-deep mud, set an NFL record with 196 rushing yards. Imagine if Jamal Lewis, rather than setting his single-game record at home against the 5-11 Browns in September, had instead done it in the Super Bowl, on his opponent's home field, in conditions that would put the tarp-off Patriots to shame. That's what Van Buren did. Injuries ended his career two years later, but he was the first modern-era RB inducted into Canton.

The remaining ten teams:

team...years....*............reg............%.......post....%
CLE.....46-55....7/10/10..105-17-4....849....9-3.....750
CHI.....39-43....3/4/5.....45-8-1........843....3-1.....750
MIA....70-75....2/3/6......67-16-1......804...8-3.....727
GB......36-44....3/4/9......73-21-4.....765....3-2.....600
PIT.....72-79....4/4/8......88-27-1.....763....14-4....778
DAL.....91-95...3/3/5......60-20.........750...11-2....846
GB......59-67....5/6/9......89-29-4......746...9-1.....900
DAL....69-78....2/5/10....105-36-1....743....14-7...667
SF......81-89....4/4/9......98-37-1.....724....13-4...765
WAS...82-91....3/4/10....107-45.......704....15-4...789

The astute will notice some overlap: the Packers and Bears from 39-43; Dallas, Miami, and Pittsburgh from 72-75; San Francisco and Washington from 82-89. Dynasties don't overlap. One ends and another begins, or -- even if no other begins -- a dynasty cannot be born until its predecessor has fallen. Cut 1972-73 off the Steelers if you like, but their dynasty clearly supercedes the Paul Warfield Dolphins. And with a 2-0 Super Bowl record against Staubach's Cowboys, there's no doubt who ruled the 1970s.

The 1980s, on paper, are harder to divide -- Washington had a better postseason record and was an upset away from a fourth Super Bowl -- but we all know who comes first in that era, and it was San Francisco. I'm going to justify keeping both the Packers and Bears by expanding Chicago's run to 1950; this breaks my "six years without a championship appearance rule", but I don't care.

team...years....*............reg............%.......post....%
CLE.....46-55....7/10/10..105-17-4....849....9-3.....750
GB......36-44....3/4/9......73-21-4.....765....3-2.....600
PIT.....72-79....4/4/8......88-27-1.....763....14-4....778
CHI.....39-50....4/5/12....92-29-2......756...4-2......667
DAL.....91-95...3/3/5......60-20.........750...11-2....846
GB......59-67....5/6/9......89-29-4......746...9-1.....900
SF......81-89....4/4/9......98-37-1.....724....13-4...765

Of these remaining seven, the only questionable one appears to be Jimmy Johnson's Dallas teams of the early 90s, whose five-year run is by far the shortest in this group. We could expand things to include the team's 10-6 campaign in 1996, but there are losing records on either side, so it's tough to make the case for anything longer than a six-year reign. I'm willing to consider that a dynasty, I guess, but not in the same league as Lombardi or Graham or the Steel Curtain.

The greatest dynasty in NFL history, IMO, must be either the Browns from 1946-55 or the Steelers from 1972-79. Cleveland has huge statistical edges in every category, but four of those ten seasons were in the AAFC. In the NFL from 1950-55, the Browns were 58-13-1 (.813), made the NFL Championship Game every season, and won it three times. They were 34-2 (.944) against sub-.500 competition and 24-11-1 (.681) against teams without losing records. Even excluding the AAFC years, that leaves them ahead of the Steelers in every category except league titles. Throw in four-for-four in the AAFC from 1946-49, and I'm inclined to regard Otto Graham's Browns as the greatest dynasty in the history of professional football.

For the record, the NFL's Battle of the Millennium video series, which is awful and which no one should buy, features Lombardi's Pack, the Steelers of the 70s, Montana's 49ers, and Johnson's Cowboys. SPOILER ALERT: the Steelers win.
===

Some other things that deserve mention, though: Tom Landry's Cowboys had 20 winning seasons in a row, including five Super Bowl appearances, two Super Bowl wins, and a last-minute loss in the Ice Bowl. That's a dynasty. The Raiders had 16 winning seasons in a row, followed by a 7-9 fluke year, then went 8-1 (strike season), 12-4 (and won the Super Bowl), 11-5, 12-4, and finally 8-8. Over 22 years, they won three Super Bowls and had only one losing season. That's a dynasty.

In the 1990s, Dallas owned the burgeoning Holmgren mini-dynasty. From 1993-97, the Cowboys were 7-0 against the Packers, all by double-digits and including three playoff wins. Crushing your rivals consistently is pretty dynastic. Belichick's consistent success against Peyton Manning's Colts has certainly added to the Patriots legend.

And I'm spent.

Last edited by Brad O.; 03-07-2005 at 01:56 PM.
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Old 03-05-2005, 01:22 AM   #2
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(Wild Applause)


I did read the whole thing (it was the least I can do), and I hereby declare thee the Bill James of football.
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Old 03-05-2005, 06:36 PM   #3
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Quote:
So a dynasty covers at least five seasons, has no more than one sub-.500 year, no more than two non-winning years, no more than six seasons without a championship appearance, and never went five consecutive seasons without a championship appearance.
For the stuff I have bold, 7-9 and below would be the sub-.500 year...is a non winning year that is seperate from that an 8-8 year?

Very good write up, Brad. One thing I'm wondering is if any of those ten remaining teams had a sub-.500 season and whether or not removing that season would move the rankings any.

Anyway, that's not the main thing I wanted to bring up, just a personal thing I might take a look at.

European soccer, UEFA or whatever, has a rankings system for soccer clubs from around the World. They call it club coefficients or something along those lines. Different finishes in your league or if you place well in a particular European Tournament affects how you rank and what not.

Applying something like that and blending all those aspects, win % regular and postseason, Conference Title wins and Super Bowl wins could make for a very interesting survey. Just a way to maybe further seperate teams.

Anyway, it was a very interesting read.
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Old 03-05-2005, 11:11 PM   #4
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Don't you have to win atleast ONE title to get put into dynasty conversation? Yeah, Tark's Vikes have some good stats that Brad points out, but don't you need ONE trophy...at the very least?
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Old 03-06-2005, 01:10 AM   #5
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Sports Central is very lucky to have someone like Brad. I hope you all read his stuff on the site, as well. Brad, why not submit that as a column on the main site?
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Old 03-06-2005, 07:08 PM   #6
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Kevin, Doug, Marc -- thanks.
Quote:
Originally posted by Doug Graham
For the stuff I have bold, 7-9 and below would be the sub-.500 year...is a non winning year that is seperate from that an 8-8 year?
Yeah. Or 7-7, or 6-6-2, whatever. But I probably shouldn't even have mentioned that, because out of all 32 potential dynasties I examined, only the 1984-89 Broncos had a .500 season (8-8 in 1988). Frankly, I didn't pay much attention to my own rules. The "years without a championship appearance" thing, I broke several times.
Quote:
One thing I'm wondering is if any of those ten remaining teams had a sub-.500 season and whether or not removing that season would move the rankings any.
Of the final ten, only those from the 1980s had non-winning seasons: SF was 3-6 in the 1982 strike season, and Washington was 7-9 in 1988. If you drop those, the 49ers were 95-31-1 (.752) and Washington was 100-36 (.735). That would move SF's winning percentage ahead of the Staubach Cowboys, Lombardi Packers, and Jimmy Johnson Cowboys.

Just for fun:
team...years......*...........reg............%......post....%
SF......81-89.....4/4/9......98-37-1......724...13-4...765
WAS...82-91.....3/4/10....107-45........704...15-4...789

SF......84-89.....3/3/6......72-22-1......763...9-3.....750
WAS...82-87.....2/3/6......66-22.........750...11-3...786

SF.....81,83-89..4/4/8.....95-31-1.......752...13-4...765
WAS..82-87,89-91..3/4/9..100-36.......735...15-4...789


Only eight other teams had a losing season: the 1936 Giants, 1955 Lions, 1962 Chargers, 1981 Raiders, 1987 Giants, 2000 Patriots, 2002 Rams, and the 1945 Bears (who weren't part of the 1939-43 core I used for that team, but did appear in the red section and on the final list of seven).

As long as I'm doing this, one of the most interesting charts I made, I didn't include in the original post. It's the same data you've already seen, but sorted by years. Makes it easier to compare, for instance, the Niners, Skins, Bears, Giants, and Broncos of the late 80s.

* = Championship wins / Championship appearances / Years

team...years....*............reg............%.......post....%
NYG....33-41....2/6/9......70-30-6......689....2-4.....333
GB......36-44....3/4/9......73-21-4......765....3-2.....600
WAS...36-45....2/6/10.....74-29-5.....708.....3-4.....429
CHI.....39-43....3/4/5......45-8-1.......843.....3-1.....750
PHI.....44-49....2/3/6......48-16-3......739....3-1.....750
CLE....46-55....7/10/10...105-17-4.....849....9-3.....750
LA......49-53....1/3/5......42-15-3......725....2-3.....400
DET....52-57....3/4/6......48-23-1......674....5-1.....833
NYG....56-63....1/6/8......73-25-4......735....2-5.....286
GB......59-67....5/6/9......89-29-4......746....9-1.....900
SD.....60-65....1/5/6.......54-26-4......667....1-4.....200
BAL....64-71....1/3/8.......84-23-5......772....6-4.....600
DAL....69-78....2/5/10.....105-36-1....743....14-7....667
MIA....70-75....2/3/6.......67-16-1.....804....8-3.....727
PIT.....72-79....4/4/8......88-27-1......763...14-4....778
OAK....73-77....1/1/5......56-13-1......807...7-4......636
MIN....73-77....0/3/5......54-15-1......779....7-5.....583
RAID...80-85....2/2/6......61-28.........685....8-3.....727
MIA....81-85....0/2/5......56-16-1......774....6-5.....545
SF.....81-89....4/4/9......98-37-1......724....13-4....765
WAS...82-91....3/4/10....107-45.......704....15-4....789
CHI....84-88....1/1/5......62-17.........785....5-4.....556
DEN....84-89....0/3/6.....64-30-1......679....6-4.....600
NYG....85-90....2/2/6.....65-30.........684....7-2.....778
BUF....89-93....0/4/5.....58-22.........725....9-5.....643
SF.....90-94.....1/1/5.....61-19.........763....6-3.....667
DAL....91-95....3/3/5......60-20........750....11-2....846
GB.....94-98.....1/2/5.....57-23.........713....8-4.....667
DEN...96-00.....2/2/5.....56-24.........700....7-2.....778
STL...99-03.....1/2/5.....56-24.........700....5-3......625
PHI....00-04.....0/1/5.....59-21.........738....7-5.....583
NE.....00-04.....3/3/5.....53-27.........663....9-0....1.000

Quote:
European soccer, UEFA or whatever, has a rankings system for soccer clubs from around the World. They call it club coefficients or something along those lines. Different finishes in your league or if you place well in a particular European Tournament affects how you rank and what not.

Applying something like that and blending all those aspects, win % regular and postseason, Conference Title wins and Super Bowl wins could make for a very interesting survey. Just a way to maybe further seperate teams.
I thought about trying to do something like that. But this is such subjective material, it's really hard to weigh everything. How heavily should Lombardi's 9-1 postseason record count? Does that equate with the 3-1 mark for Luckman's Bears and the 16-5 mark for Gibbs in Washington? Should I dismiss postseason record entirely and just go by titles? To make a definitive list, you have to take era into account, too -- the 80s lent themselves to dynasties, for instance. It's just too difficult.

As an idea, though, here are three general ideas I cooked up. None of them seems to work very well.

System 1: 6 pts for each championship won, 2 pts for each championship lost, 1 pt for each season over .667, an additional 1 pt for each season over .750, and a third pt for each season over .850, with a penalty of -1 pt for each season in the AAFC. Using just the final 10 from my previous post, that yielded:

[1] CLE 46-55, 66; [2] GB 59-67, 45; [3] PIT 72-79, 36; [4] SF 81-89, 35; [5] GB 36-44, 34; [6] WAS 82-91, 33; [7] DAL 69-78, 32; [8] CHI 39-43, 30; [9] MIA 70-75, 25; [10] DAL 91-95, 23

System 2: 3 pts for each championship won, 1 pt for each championship lost, 1 pt for a collective regular-season winning% above .725, 2 pts above .750, 3 pts above .775, 4 pts above .800, and 1 pt for every non-AAFC season.

[1] CLE 46-55, 34; [2] GB 59-67, 26; [3] PIT 72-79, 22; [t4] SF 81-89, 21; [t4] GB 36-44, 21; [t6] WAS 82-91, 20; [t6] DAL 69-78, 20; [t8] CHI 39-43, 19; [t8] MIA 70-75, 19; [10] DAL 91-95, 15

System 3: same as system 2, but instead of adding points for seasons, multiply the score by #seasons/5.

[1] CLE 46-55, 48; [2] GB 59-67, 31; [3] PIT 72-79, 22; [t4] SF 81-89, 22; [t4] GB 36-44, 22; [t6] WAS 82-91, 20; [t6] DAL 69-78, 20; [8] CHI 39-43, 14; [9] MIA 70-75, 13; [10] DAL 91-95, 10

Quote:
Originally posted by buckeyefan78
Don't you have to win atleast ONE title to get put into dynasty conversation? Yeah, Tark's Vikes have some good stats that Brad points out, but don't you need ONE trophy...at the very least?
As I mentioned, my list was deliberately over-inclusive. Of course there haven't really been 32 dynasties. But surely the 70s Vikings and 90s Bills were more dynastic than the Van Brocklin Eagles or Brian Billick's Ravens. Check this out:

team...years....*............reg............%.......post....%
MIN....73-77....0/3/5......54-15-1......779....7-5.....583
MIA....81-85....0/2/5......56-16-1......774....6-5.....545
DEN....84-89....0/3/6.....64-30-1......679....6-4.....600
BUF....89-93....0/4/5.....58-22.........725....9-5.....643
PHI....00-04.....0/1/5.....59-21.........738....7-5.....583

I included these five teams for several reasons. First and foremost, it's interesting. The more teams included, the more interesting the study. And comparing them to the other teams, they're pretty strong in everything but actual titles. Why didn't they win? Choking?

The Vikings dominated the NFC in the mid-70s, winning the conference three times in five years -- overcoming the Staubach Cowboys and the Chuck Knox Rams (54-15-1), whom we've forgotten because Minnesota and Dallas were so good. The Rams won double-digit games (in 14-game seasons) every year from 1973-77, went 12-4 in '78, and made it to the Super Bowl in '79.

Minnesota was a dominant team, 40-1 against bad teams, .779 overall, 7-2 in the playoffs. But they couldn't get over the hump in the Super Bowl. It's tough to tell why. The NFC was 1-8 in the Super Bowl from 1972-80, so maybe they just never had a chance. The Vikes were 14-14 in the regular season against teams that didn't finish below .500, so maybe the odds just caught up with them. Maybe they choked.

But without the AFL merger, Chuck Foreman would be in the Hall of Fame and the 70s Vikings would probably be considered one of the greatest teams in history. Idle speculation, I know. But that .779 mark compares well even to dynasties: the 60-67 Packers (.764), 72-79 Steelers (.763), 84-89 Niners (.763), 91-95 Cowboys (.750), 01-04 Patriots (.750). I mean, that's really dominant. And they didn't fall apart in the playoffs as Manning's Colts and McNabb's Eagles have been accused of. They lost to the Warfield Dolphins Dynasty, the Steel Friggin' Curtain, and the 1976 Raiders, one of the best teams of the modern era.

Do I consider Foreman's Vikings a dynasty? Of course not. I'd probably only use that word for the final seven teams I named in my original post. Maybe the top 10 or 15 if we're feeling generous. But even though I don't think the team can be considered a dynasty, this discussion wouldn't be complete without it.

The 81-85 Dolphins won at a .774 clip and went 6-3 in the playoffs. The 1984 squad outscored its opponents 513-198. The 1985 team beat Chicago on Monday Night Football to preserve the team's undefeated 1972 legacy. But the NFC was simply better.

The 84-89 Broncos were pretenders. The AFC during the late 80s was weaker than either conference has ever been before or since, and Denver was there to take advantage. The team was just 30-7 against sub-.500 competition and .679 overall, and managed arguably the two most embarrassing Super Bowl losses in history.

The 89-93 Bills were much better, consistently beating teams led by John Elway, Dan Marino, and Warren Moon. They were .725 in the regular season, .644 against top competition, and 9-2 in the playoffs. They lost a tight game to the Parcells Giants, and were badly overmatched against Gibbs Washington and Johnson Dallas. This team didn't choke, it just wasn't the best.

Today's Eagles, as previously mentioned, probably don't belong in the discussion. But it's an interesting comparison, particularly vis-a-vis the Belichick Patriots and the other four teams mentioned here.

One thing I keep coming back to, you've probably noticed, is the competition between potential dynasties. How many titles would Gibbs and Ditka have won in the 80s without San Francisco around? What about Oakland and Dallas in the 70s if not for the Steel Curtain? Young's Niners and Kelly's Bills if the Herschel Walker trade never went down?

And conversely, how much credit should the top teams from those eras get? We've yet to see a team challenge Belichick's Pats the way Gibbs, Ditka, and Parcells pushed Walsh in the 80s. It's like the discussions buckeye and I have had about the level of competition Michael Jordan's Bulls faced during their championship years. Bird's Celtics may not have as many titles, but I see them as the more impressive team.

Quote:
Originally posted by Marc
Sports Central is very lucky to have someone like Brad. I hope you all read his stuff on the site, as well. Brad, why not submit that as a column on the main site?
Thanks, Marc. I could swing that, but I should probably streamline things a little, huh? Right now reading these posts requires a lot of patience.
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Old 03-06-2005, 10:45 PM   #7
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This is some good stuff to ponder Brad. I see your stats about the 89-93 Bills ( which BTW, can't we include 88? ) and comparing them to the 84-89 Broncos ( I would slide 91 in there when the Broncos lost to the Bills 10-7 in the AFC Title Game, I know the 1990 Broncs were nothing to write home about). I just don't know I would say the Bills were "much better" than that Bronco team.

It is kinda cool to compare the teams with no rings though, like you said. And you're right Brad, you need to kind of prorate these things for eras. In the NBA, a title in the 80s would be equal to 2.5 titles in the 90s, kinda like that. Weird thing is trying to prorate in free agency though. Looking back on the 70s, just think of those Viking teams who consistantly played round robin with Dallas, Washington, and the Rams. Then, when they got passed those teams, they had to play Pittsburgh, Miami, or Oakland in the Super Bowl. Compare that to the Bills who beat nobody in their AFC Title games and lost to the Giants and Skins, who I am not too impressed with. Give credit to them for getting the snot beat out of them by Dallas though. I know, the first one was close til the 3rd quarter.

Anyway, I do like the outcome of Graham's Browns as #1 in your book. The HOF in Canton does a helluva job giving them their credit. Probably where I got to respect them, going there so much all these years.
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Old 03-07-2005, 04:51 AM   #8
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I'll take Dallas in the '90s over this current New England bunch any day of the week.

First off, in the one year of the four they didn't win the Super Bowl, the Cowboys reached the Final Four, losing at San Francisco in the 1994 NFC championship game; by contrast, the 2002 Patriots didn't even make the playoffs.

Also, in the year before their three-out-of-four run commenced, the Cowboys were an Elite Eight team, losing to the Lions on the road in the 1991 divisional playoffs - and did this despite playing the (in those days) notoriously difficult fourth-place schedule (for teams that played in a five-team division, as Dallas did at that time) during the regular season; the 2000 Patriots, conversely, finished 5-11 and last in the AFC East, meaning that they got to play the ridiculously easy fifth-place schedule in 2001, the year their "dynasty" began.

Finally, as Louis Roussel - trainer of Risen Star, who won the 1988 Belmont Stakes by 14 lengths - observed: "Champions don't win by noses and necks. Champions dominate their competition." The '90s Cowboys won their three Super Bowls by 35, 17 and 10 points - the current Patriots won theirs by 3, 3 and 3.

Case closed.

(Awesome article overall though, Brad).
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Old 03-07-2005, 10:24 PM   #9
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Thanks, buckeye and Anthony. I'm really surprised this has generated so much positive feedback. If y'all ain't careful, I'll start posting all the personal projects I figured no one would care about.
Quote:
Originally posted by buckeyefan78
This is some good stuff to ponder Brad. I see your stats about the 89-93 Bills ( which BTW, can't we include 88? ) and comparing them to the 84-89 Broncos ( I would slide 91 in there when the Broncos lost to the Bills 10-7 in the AFC Title Game, I know the 1990 Broncs were nothing to write home about). I just don't know I would say the Bills were "much better" than that Bronco team.
Good call on '88, buckeye. I'm not sure why I didn't include that. Extending Denver's "dynasty" to 1991, though, I don't think makes sense. That would add 17-15 regular season (dragging the team down to .641, by far the lowest on the list) and 1-1 postseason. I mean, I see your point, but the 1990 season was awful, and without a Super Bowl appearance in '91, I think it's fair to say the Broncos' reign ended after '89.

And while Kelly's Bills may not have been "much better" than the Reeves Broncos, I feel pretty comfortable saying they were "regular better".

* The Bills were 70-26 (.729); the Broncos were 64-30-1 (.679).
* Buffalo was 10-2 (.833) in the AFC playoffs, with five AFC Championship appearances and four AFC titles in six years (4/5/6). Denver was 6-3 (.667) in the AFC playoffs, with three AFC Championship appearances and three AFC titles in six years (3/3/6).
* Denver won all three of its AFC CGs against Cleveland, and by an average of eight points. Buffalo beat four different teams (Raiders, Broncos, Dolphins, Chiefs), by an average of 22 points.
* The Bills faced stiffer conference competition. In Buffalo's SB years, four other teams finished at least 12-4; in Denver's SB years, only one other team finished at least .750.

The last point, I think, is the most important. Buffalo won the AFC in the early 90s because it overcame the competition. Denver won the AFC in the late 80s because there was no competition.

It seems like I'm not the only one who's particularly interested in the potential dynasties of the 1980s. I ran all their records against each other, and came up with this:

Raiders, 1980-85: 7-5 (incl. 1-0 SB)
3-0 vs. Woodley/Marino Dolphins, 1-1 vs. Montana 49ers, 1-1 vs. Gibbs Washington, 0-1 vs. Ditka Bears, 2-2 vs. Reeves Broncos

Dolphins, 1981-85: 4-5 (incl. 0-2 SB)
0-3 vs. Plunkett Raiders, 1-1 vs. Montana 49ers, 1-1 vs. Gibbs Washington, 1-0 vs. Ditka Bears, 1-0 vs. Reeves Broncos

49ers, 1981-89: 11-12 (incl. 0-3 playoffs, 2-0 SB, 1-0 w/ replacement players)
1-1 vs. Plunkett Raiders, 1-1 vs. Woodley/Marino Dolphins, 3-2 vs. Gibbs Washington, 2-2 vs. Ditka Bears, 1-0 vs. Reeves Broncos, 3-3 vs. Parcells Giants, 0-1 vs. Kelly Bills

Washington, 1982-91: 13-23 (incl. 3-3 playoffs, 3-1 SB, 1-0 w/ replacement players)
1-1 vs. Plunkett Raiders, 1-1 vs. Woodley/Marino Dolphins, 2-3 vs. Montana 49ers, 2-3 vs. Ditka Bears, 1-2 vs. Reeves Broncos, 3-10 vs. Parcells Giants, 2-0 vs. Kelly Bills, 0-2 vs. Young 49ers (2-5 overall vs. Niners), 1-1 vs. Johnson Cowboys

Bears, 1984-88: 10-6 (incl. 2-2 playoffs)
1-0 vs. Plunkett Raiders, 0-1 vs. Woodley/Marino Dolphins, 2-2 vs. Montana 49ers, 3-2 vs. Gibbs Washington, 1-1 vs. Reeves Broncos, 2-0 vs. Parcells Giants, 1-0 vs. Kelly Bills

Broncos, 1984-89: 8-9 (incl. 0-3 SB)
2-2 vs. Plunkett Raiders, 0-1 vs. Woodley/Marino Dolphins, 2-1 vs. Montana 49ers, 2-1 vs. Gibbs Washington, 1-1 vs. Ditka Bears, 0-3 vs. Parcells Giants, 1-0 vs. Kelly Bills

Giants, 1985-90: 18-10 (incl. 4-1 playoffs, 2-0 SB, 0-2 w/ replacement players)
3-3 vs. Montana 49ers, 10-3 vs. Gibbs Washington, 0-2 vs. Ditka Bears, 3-0 vs. Reeves Broncos, 1-1 vs. Kelly Bills, 1-1 vs. Young 49ers (4-4 overall vs. Niners)

Bills, 1988-93: 2-5 (incl. 0-2 SB)
1-0 vs. Montana 49ers, 0-2 vs. Gibbs Washington, 0-1 vs. Ditka Bears, 0-1 vs. Reeves Broncos, 1-1 vs. Parcells Giants

Quote:
Originally posted by Anthony
I'll take Dallas in the '90s over this current New England bunch any day of the week.
I'd probably take New England at least once a week, but I'm inclined to agree. Not only did Dallas avoid any down years, it didn't need the tuck rule for any of its championships.

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Old 03-08-2005, 12:02 AM   #10
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Dallas did beat SF and Green Bay too on a consistant basis ( know there are a few L's to them, but that's life when the league has greats at once). Two teams that would thrash St. Louis, Carolina, and Philly....the 3 teams NE beat for rings byt the skin of their teeth.

I guess I can concede Buffalo better than Denver there Brad. The record shows it, but I have to point out that KC, Miami, and the Raiders were terrible teams. Still, losing to Dallas with one game only decided by 17 points is better than the eggs Denver laid in three Super Bowls.

How about a Cowher-Pitt breakdown from 92-97 Brad?
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Old 03-11-2005, 12:28 PM   #11
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Finally carved out enough awake/unbusy time to read this thoroughly.

Good stuff. I don't know if there's much ground to cover.

Today on local sports radio, the Pats and the word dynasty are a topic of discussion, as folks are sick and tired of talking steroids.

A caller noted that he had trouble calling his favorite team's run over the last four years a dynasty for an interesting reason: too much personnel turnover.

While the hosts tried to knock this down by repeating the names Brady and Bruschi over and over again, it's an interesting point. It wouldn't really apply to the Browns, who lived too long not to have significant turnover through the years, but I think it's reasonable to suggest, since we don't have a firm definition of the term dynasty (for the record, five years, imo--only humble--and not all the time--in Brad's presence, does not a dynasty make), that part of being a dynasty is having recognizable characters to which to tie them. Guys to which you can point and say "among the best of that time at their position." Overall, Bradshaw was a very good QB, but, especially late in the dynasty, he was (imo) great, and obviously among the best QBs going. Harris was one of the best RBs. Not the best (I'm not a historian by any stretch, so I don't know where among his peers he actually is off the top of my head), but one of the best of the day. Lambert and Ham are among the best ever at their positions. Yadda, yadda.

One of the problems with that, I suppose, is that you have to be an historian to deal with the older teams on this level.

78--We know the Cowher breakdown from 92-97. We don't need Brad to provide us his well-manufactured tables (how damn much time does it take to get that all properly aligned, anyway?) to show us Cowher's numbers of choke....

Dave
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Old 03-12-2005, 04:15 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally posted by MountaineerDave
A caller noted that he had trouble calling his favorite team's run over the last four years a dynasty for an interesting reason: too much personnel turnover.

While the hosts tried to knock this down by repeating the names Brady and Bruschi over and over again, it's an interesting point. It wouldn't really apply to the Browns, who lived too long not to have significant turnover through the years, but I think it's reasonable to suggest, since we don't have a firm definition of the term dynasty (for the record, five years, imo--only humble--and not all the time--in Brad's presence, does not a dynasty make), that part of being a dynasty is having recognizable characters to which to tie them. Guys to which you can point and say "among the best of that time at their position." Overall, Bradshaw was a very good QB, but, especially late in the dynasty, he was (imo) great, and obviously among the best QBs going. Harris was one of the best RBs. Not the best (I'm not a historian by any stretch, so I don't know where among his peers he actually is off the top of my head), but one of the best of the day. Lambert and Ham are among the best ever at their positions.
Funny you brought this up, Dave, as it was my next line, too. I wanted to apply it to the Broncos/Bills discussions. Denver had 18 Pro Bowl selections from 1984-89. Buffalo, from 1988-93, had 47. Now, I don't put much stock in Pro Bowls, but that's too much to ignore: 47-18?!

Who did Dan Reeves Denver have? Elway, obviously. After that, uh... Karl Mecklenburg, I guess. Sammy Winder? The Three Amigos? Rich Karlis?

Buffalo had Kelly, Thomas, and Reed, for starters. Bruce Smith. James Lofton, who was still better than any of the Three Amigos. Kent Hull was probably the best center in the NFL. Cornelius Bennett is right there with Mecklenburg. Steve Tasker may be the greatest special teamer in history. And I imagine we'd all put Marv Levy ahead of Reeves.

Dr. Z's "eight dynasties" article mentions the HOFers on each team, but let me tackle the best players (and exceptional coaches) on my own top ten:

Browns, 1946-55: Otto Graham, Marion Motley, Dub Jones, Dante Lavelli, Mac Speedie, Frank Gatski, Lou Groza, Bill Willis, Len Ford, and Paul Brown.

All those guys were major contributors for pretty much the entire run (except Ford, who wasn't with the team during the AAFC years). Graham was, IMO, the greatest quarterback in the history of the game. Motley, devastating as both a runner and blocker, has been called the greatest player ever. Willis was the best defensive lineman of the era.

Packers, 1959-67: Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Paul Hornung, Ron Kramer, Jim Ringo, Jerry Kramer, Forrest Gregg, Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Ray Nitschke, Herb Adderley, Willie Wood, and Vince Lombardi.

A lot of these guys -- Ringo, both RBs, and Ron Kramer -- were washed up or with other teams by the Super Bowl years. Taylor was probably one of the top dozen RBs of the modern era, and would be a legend if he hadn't played at the same time as Jim Brown. Gregg may be the greatest offensive lineman ever. Adderley and Wood are probably top-five at their respective positions.

Steelers, 1972-79: Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann, John Stallworth, Ray Mansfield, Mike Webster, L.C. Greenwood, Joe Greene, Jack Lambert, Jack Ham, Mel Blount, Donnie Shell.

A lot of these guys are part of the famous 1974 draft class, so they weren't around for 1972-73. Mansfield and Webster only played for about half the dynasty each. Dave is right to note that by the late 70s, Bradshaw had established himself as perhaps the best QB in the NFL (Staubach probably being the top competition). Greene is widely regarded as the best defensive lineman ever to play. Lambert and Ham are usually ranked among the top three at their respective positions. Blount was probably the best cornerback since Night Train Lane.

49ers, 1981-89: Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, Fred Dean, Charles Haley, Ronnie Lott, and Bill Walsh.

This is the first modern dynasty, with fewer stars and HOFers, but a solid network of capable guys backing up blow-your-mind greats like Montana, Rice, and Lott. Dean and Haley were around for about half the era each, which basically leaves the Niners with five players. Pittsburgh had 11. And don't forget that Rice didn't join the team until '85.

Packers, 1936-44: Arnie Herber, Cecil Isbell, Clarke Hinkle, Tony Canadeo, Don Hutson.

Another team that can be excused for having only a few stars. These guys were two-way players, and NFL rosters were smaller. Hutson is the greatest receiver not named Rice.

Washington, 1982-91: John Riggins, Art Monk, Gary Clark, Russ Grimm, Joe Jacoby, Jim Lachey, Darrell Green, and Joe Gibbs.

Lachey was only around for half the era, but it's fitting that there are three Hogs on this list. This is also the only team without a quarterback listed. An argument could be made for Joe Theismann, but he was only with the team for about a third of the years listed. With Riggo only around for four of the ten years, this team barely missed being the second one without an RB listed, too. This team began in the trenches, and everything worked from there.

Cowboys, 1969-78: Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Rayfield Wright, Harvey Martin, Bob Lilly, Randy White, Lee Roy Jordan, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris, and Tom Landry.

Staubach and Fran Tarkenton were the premier quarterbacks of the decade. Lilly probably was one of the half-dozen best defensive linemen in history, and White wasn't far behind. A lot of these guys were only around for five to seven years of this reign, but there are also a lot of players who were only around for two to four years who didn't make the list, most notably Tony Dorsett.

Bears, 1939-43: Sid Luckman, George McAfee, Bulldog Turner, Danny Fortmann, George Musso, Joe Stydahar, and George Halas.

Luckman and Sammy Baugh were the greatest passers of the 40s and late 30s. Turner and Fortmann were among the finest two-way linemen ever.

Dolphins, 1970-75: Bob Griese, Larry Csonka, Mercury Morris, Paul Warfield, Jim Langer, Larry Little, Bob Kuechenberg, Nick Buoniconti, Jake Scott, Dick Anderson.

With probably the greatest interior offensive line ever assembled, this team ran and ran and ran, relying on its conservative offense and the No-Name Defense, which produced only one Hall of Famer. Ironically, Warfield probably was the most outstanding player on the team. He never put up big numbers in the run-oriented offense, but he is almost universally regarded as the greatest receiver of the early 70s, and the deep threat he provided stretched defenses to accomodate the running game.

Cowboys, 1991-95: Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Daryl Johnston, Michael Irvin, Jay Novacek, Mark Stepnoski, Nate Newton, Larry Allen, Erik Williams, Charles Haley, Darren Woodson.

Smith had the five best years of his extremely distinguished career and can probably be declared the greatest RB of the era without slighting Barry Sanders or Thurman Thomas. Johnston was the premier blocking back of the decade. Irvin enjoyed his own five best seasons. One of the great offensive lines in history anchored the team, backed by a steady and reliable, if not star-studded, defense.

Quote:
Originally posted by MountaineerDave
78--We know the Cowher breakdown from 92-97. We don't need Brad to provide us his well-manufactured tables (how damn much time does it take to get that all properly aligned, anyway?) to show us Cowher's numbers of choke....
Eh, one more table won't kill me. I'm not going to look up the vs. losing teams numbers, though, as that is tedious work.

team...years......*...........reg............%......post....%
PIT.....92-97......0/1/6.....64-32.........667....5-6.....455

And to answer your question, Dave: usually it doesn't take long. A minute or two, maybe. But with 32 teams and seven categories, much, MUCH longer. I'm glad you appreciate it. If Marc or Nate or anyone ever formats tabs on this thing, I'll buy him a pony.

Cowher's Steelers are like the Steve McNair Titans, or any George Allen team: a consistently good club that doesn't belong in dynasty conversations because it never went anywhere in the postseason.

Quote:
A caller noted that he had trouble calling his favorite team's run over the last four years a dynasty for an interesting reason: too much personnel turnover.

While the hosts tried to knock this down by repeating the names Brady and Bruschi over and over again, it's an interesting point. It wouldn't really apply to the Browns, who lived too long not to have significant turnover through the years, but I think it's reasonable to suggest, since we don't have a firm definition of the term dynasty (for the record, five years, imo--only humble--and not all the time--in Brad's presence, does not a dynasty make), that part of being a dynasty is having recognizable characters to which to tie them.
To get back to this point, and specifically with regard to New England: I don't think I agree with the caller, pending next season. Who have been the key guys at a given time? Brady, Brown, Seymour, Bruschi, McGinest, Law, Milloy/Harrison, Vinatieri. Some of those players will be gone next season, but that core has carried the team from 2001-04. Look at the top ten I named above, and you see a lot of the same kind of turnover the Patriots have experienced.

An aging Mansfield or Herber or Milloy is replaced with a Webster or Isbell or Harrison. A capable but not essential player fills gaps. Was losing someone like Antowain Smith really significant? Smith wasn't a star; he was a role player. Joe Gibbs Washington won Super Bowls with three different QBs and three different running backs.

Maybe next season Corey Dillon will carry the team, and they'll succeed without Brown and Law and Roman Phifer, etc. But for now, I don't really see an unseemly amount of turnover, especially given that this is the pretty much the only team I've examined from the true era of free agency. I think you and the caller are looking ahead to next season; insofar as its reasonable to consider four years a dynasty, I don't think the Belichick Dynasty is tainted by turnover.

re: five years is not enough, I'm inclined to agree. I think something like eight seasons is probably closer to "dynastic". But remember, I went with five seasons as the absolute minimum. Since this whole thing is pretty much driven by people calling the Pats a dynasty after four years, it would kind of invalidate the whole project to demand twice that. But I think it's clear from the narrowed lists in my original post that I consider longevity and consistency pretty key aspects of any "dynasty".

Quote:
Harris was one of the best RBs. Not the best (I'm not a historian by any stretch, so I don't know where among his peers he actually is off the top of my head), but one of the best of the day.
I am a historian by some stretch, and RBs are my specialty. Harris is 15th on my list of modern-era running backs. Contemporaries he trails include Walter Payton, O.J. Simpson, Earl Campbell, and just barely, Tony Dorsett. But Campbell and Dorsett didn't hit the NFL until 1978 and '77, respectively.

For 72-79 as a whole, I'd put Harris second, behind Simpson (and just barely ahead of Payton). That's saying a lot, because competition in the 70s is very stiff: Larry Csonka, John Riggins, Chuck Foreman, etc. For the early years (72-75), it's fair to keep Harris second behind O.J. In the middle years (74-77), he probably falls behind Foreman and Lydell Mitchell, maybe even Lawrence McCutcheon. In the late 70s (76-79), I'd probably have him #2 behind Payton.

That's my long way of confirming "Not the best ... but one of the best of the day." Why use zero words to say nothing when you can use two paragraphs?

Last edited by Brad O.; 03-13-2005 at 10:14 AM.
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Old 03-13-2005, 01:57 AM   #13
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Cowboys, 1969-78: Roger Staubach, Drew Pearson, Rayfield Wright, Harvey Martin, Bob Lilly, Randy White, Lee Roy Jordan, Chuck Howley, Mel Renfro, Cliff Harris, and Tom Landry.

Staubach and Fran Tarkenton were the premier quarterbacks of the decade. Lilly probably was one of the half-dozen best defensive linemen in history, and White wasn't far behind. A lot of these guys were only around for five to seven years of this reign, but there are also a lot of players who were only around for two to four years who didn't make the list, most notably Tony Dorsett.
I got Mel Renfro's autograph
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