SI Vault
 
Dr. Z Picks The Pick Of The Crop
Paul Zimmerman
December 28, 1981
Sooner or later the All-Pro pickers will get around to lining up their defense in a 3-4. So far no one has done it, but it would seem to be logical, because 17 of the 28 NFL teams now use the three-lineman, four-linebacker formation. After much soul-searching we decided to stick with the 4-3 because in passing situations four linemen replace the three of the 3-4, and practically everything is a passing situation these days.
Decrease font Decrease font
Enlarge font Enlarge font
December 28, 1981

Dr. Z Picks The Pick Of The Crop

View CoverRead All Articles View This Issue
1 2

The gifted rookie Lawrence Taylor raised pure hell from his right-linebacker post. His blitzes (9� sacks) forced the opposition to keep a tight end or running back on permanent guard duty. Why Mike Douglass didn't get selected for the Pro Bowl is a mystery. He's clever and fierce, an all-out performer who had 16 solo tackles against the 49ers. My next choice would be Minnesota's Matt Blair, then Denver's Bob Swenson, then Oakland's Rod Martin.

Jack Lambert is one of the last of a dying breed, a 4-3 middle linebacker who doesn't come out of the game in passing situations. And he's just as tough as ever against the run. The best inside linebacker in a 3-4 defense is Houston's Gregg Bingham. Like Lambert, he stays in the game on passing downs. Bingham hasn't been picked to anything since the 1973 all-rookie team but I haven't seen him have an off game this year.

Super rookie Ronnie Lott has achieved exalted cornerback status; people just don't test him anymore. Mark Haynes has done a complete volte-face from last season and now forces on runs and plays the pass with equal skill. I'm sorry to see that the Rams' Rod Perry didn't make the Pro Bowl. On straight coverage he's as good as any.

Gary Fencik and Nolan Cromwell are our safeties, on consistency. Our kicker, Jan Stenerud, wasn't a Pro Bowl choice, despite the fact that he set an alltime record for field-goal percentage (22-24), including four of five from 44 yards and longer. Hey, what does a guy have to do? Pat McInally is the pick over Detroit's Tom Skladany for punter, because Pat didn't have that nice indoor arena to kick in. In three games in enclosed stadiums this year he averaged 50.5 yards per punt.

Finally there's Roy Green. When he's on offense, as a deep passing threat, he makes things happen. Ditto as a defensive nickel back. When he got hurt in the Giant game two weeks ago, the Cardinal offense went poof. Somewhere there's got to be a place for this man on any All-Pro team.

1 2