1984 was a year of extremes in the NFL. Records were broken and stars were born as
Dan Marino blazed the sky with rocket passes to the “Marks Brothers”, Duper and
Clayton and Eric Dickerson tore up the single season rushing record previously set by
O.J. Simpson. Art Monk set the single season receiving mark with 106 catches and to
top it off, Sweetness (Walter Payton) surpassed Jim Brown’s career rushing record.
While offenses exploded, defenses started to take shape as well, as Chicago’s Buddy
Ryan began to construct his famed 46 defense that would eventually set the tone for
the Monsters of the Midway 2. It was the best of times…
So you are interested in playing out the 1984
campaign, but you aren't all that familiar with the
season and you're not willing to do a bunch of
research just to find out what happened back then?
No problem! The following should give you a good
idea of what the league was like back in the days
of the fun bunch, wide receivers who were shorter
than 6' and a group of linemen called the Hogs.
The Miami Dolphins did their homework when they drafted Dan Marino in 1983 with the 27th pick of the draft.
Marino was the last of 6 QBs taken in that first round and the payoff was immediate. After dealing David Woodley to
the Steelers, Marino was free to take over. He showed that a dominating offense can get you to the Super Bowl.
The defense showed it takes more than offense to win it. The Dolphins won 14 regular season games and trashed
Seattle and Pittsburgh to reach their summit.
GREAT: Dan Marino set 6 single season records and was the NFL’s MVP.
GOOD: The receiving duo of Mark Clayton and Mark Duper.
UGLY: The worst defense in the league against the run, giving up nearly 5 yards a carry.
The New England Patriots made history in 1984 by being the first team to fire a head coach in the middle of a season with a winning record.
Coach Ron Meyer was let go after receiving a vote of no confidence by his players. Raymond Berry took over, but the team couldn’t right itself
and what seemed like an optimistic year fizzeled to a 9-7 second place. QBs Steve Grogan and Tony Eason both had shining moments and
USFL castoff, Craig James, ran well with a 4.9 average.
GREAT: LB Andre Tippett’s 18.5 sacks and monstrous play all over the field.
GOOD: WR Stanley Morgan was a steady, reliable target for Eason and Grogan.
UGLY: Rookie Irving Fryer did not make nearly the impact the Patriots were looking for.
Coach Joe Walton knew his New York Jets had something going on, but for some reason, he couldn’t get the big wins he needed to get to the
post-season. Part of the problem was new starter Pat Ryan at quarterback. Ryan had been with the Jets for 6 years but was always a back-up.
Walton gave him a chance. It worked out so well that rookie QB Ken O’Brien was starting by week 12. The Jets finished 7-9 for the second
straight year and once again missed the playoffs.
GREAT: DE Mark Gastineau went to his 4th Pro Bowl after leading the league with a record 22 sacks.
GOOD: HB Freeman McNeil topped 1000 yards and went to the Pro Bowl despite playing just 12 games.
UGLY: The defense was sub par and gave up more first downs than anyone else.
Shhh. That was the only sound heard as the Baltimore Colts packed up the trucks and made a midnight move to Indy to become the
Indianapolis Colts. Still, they had problems. Coach Frank Kush was a tyrant, which would be fine, except he was a tyrant that knew nothing
about the passing game. The defense was among the worst in the NFL and no one knew who should be quarterback, vet Mike Pagel or wonder-
gambler Art Schlichter.
GREAT: The 143,000 season tickets the Colts sold in the first two weeks of moving to Indy.
GOOD: Punter Rohn Stark has one of the best legs in the league (and he had to use it often!)
UGLY: The defense, the rushing game, the turnovers, the poor receivers, the 4 wins.
The Buffalo Bills found two good things to help them get over finishing a league-worst 2-14 in 1984. First, they found a good running back in
rookie Greg Bell, who finished the year with more than 1000 yards. They also landed the first pick in the 1985 draft which would yield DE Bruce
Smith and a bunch of picks from a trade with Cleveland. That said, they still had to play out this year to get there and it wasn’t pretty. They
sacked no one, threw poorly and gave up the second most points in the league.
GREAT: Greg Bell turned out to be a great stop-gap for the bleeding Bills.
GOOD: QB Joe Ferguson’s bad year prompted them to trade him to Detroit. Suckers.
UGLY: Well, they had two wins. What wasn’t bad this year?
Excitement was building for the Cincinnati Bengals. They signed HB James Brooks from the Chargers, they had the greatest QB in Bengals
history, Ken Anderson, as well as the QB of the future, Boomer Esiason, waiting in the wings. New Coach Sam Wyche spent the first 4-5
games sorting out the team, but Cincy rolled the last couple months of the season and just missed their shot at the division crown and the
GREAT: The second half of the year when the offense clicked and they won 7 of the last 9 games.
GOOD: Cris Collinsworth who once again led the team in receptions and yards.
UGLY: The 0-5 start.
The Cleveland Browns had an offense without an identity in 1984. The defense was loaded with studs and finished second in the league,
but the offense had Paul McDonald, a quarterback with the fortitude of a wet paper towel, Boyce Green, a HB that won the job by default and
a bunch of second tier wide receivers. What they had to help was a good pick in rookie Ernest Byner and one of the best TEs to ever play
the game, Ozzie Newsome. Still, if you can’t pass well and running isn’t your strong suit, a 5-11 record doesn’t look too bad.
GREAT: TE Ozzie Newsome’s 89 catches and 1000 yard season.
GOOD: A mid-season switch to head coach Marty Schottenheimer
UGLY: Only one win against a team that won more than 4 games.
The Houston Oilers lost their first 10 games. That’s not good. The one-horse attack called Earl Campbell was eventually traded to Bum
Phillips and the Saints and the new one-horse attack became QB Warren Moon. The problem is he has no one to throw to, except capable
WR Tim Smith. With Smith double-covered most of the time, the Oilers are left in a bit of trouble. The New running back became Larry
Moriarty who worked hard, but isn’t the future of the Oilers. The defense had few bright spots, but Jesse Baker had 11 sacks.
GREAT: The team’s one win over a squad with a winning record, the Steelers.
GOOD: CB Willie Tullis was solid with 4 INTs and good coverage.
UGLY: The offense scored just 240 points, second to last in the NFL.
An aging defense and the absence of Franco Harris and Terry Bradshaw made this team look much different than
the former Pittsburgh Steelers of the ‘70’s glory days. They traded for Miami QB David Woodley who played
erratically until going down with injury and allowing Mark Malone to step in and lead the team to a 7-4 record and a
first round playoff surprise win over the Denver Broncos. They were one game short of the big show when Miami
squashed them 45-28.
GREAT: WR John Stallworth was Comeback Player of the Year and was outstanding.
GOOD: Wins over the Raiders, 49ers, and Rams showed they could play with anyone.
UGLY: Losses to the Colts, Saints, and Oilers showed they could lose to anyone.
The Denver Broncos’ coach, Dan Reeves showed his devotion to second year quarterback, John Elway, by trading
away Steve DeBerg to the Bucs and wiped the slate clean for 1984. The Broncos responded with 13 wins and a
divisional title. A dominant defense, a good running game and the strong arm of Elway helped them edge the other
two playoff teams in their division.
GREAT: A +21 turnover differential, led by Mike Harden and Steve Foley’s 6 INTs each.
GOOD: HB Sammy Winder was a 1000 yard back and Pro-Bowler.
UGLY: A first round playoff loss to the Steelers, a team they should have beaten.
The “Ground Chuck” philosophy of coach Chuck Knox’s Seattle Seahawks came to an immediate halt in 1984 when Pro Bowl rusher Curt
Warner went down in the first game of the season for the year. The Seahawks then lost receiver/returner Paul Johns a few weeks later.
They responded by winning the most games in the franchise’s history, scored more than ever, and allowed the fewest they ever had. One
source just called it “team chemistry”. Whatever it was, it worked.
GREAT: They were the best in the league at taking away the ball and in INTS.
GOOD: The QB Dave Krieg to WR Steve Largent connection was clicking all year.
UGLY: The loss of Warner changed the offense’s attack all year.
The LA Raiders one-sided victory over the Redskins in the ’83 Super Bowl and wins in 7 of the first 8 games had people thinking dynasty,
but the Raiders phoned in the next three games and came back down to earth. A change in quarterback to Marc Wilson had something to
do with it as did an aging linebacker group. For the first time, the Raiders had more Pro Bowlers on offense than on defense.
GREAT: HB Marcus Allen ran for 1168 and caught for another 758 as the most versatile back in the league.
GOOD: A great pass defending secondary
UGLY: Pro Bowler Lester Hayes’ 1 INT. Outlawing Stick Um is killing this guy.
The Kansas City Chiefs knew they could rely on 4000 passer Bill Kenney coming into 1984… until he got hurt in the final pre-season
game that would keep him out for 6 games. Second year man Todd Blackledge had to step in and play pretty well, but not as well as
Kenney. The defense had to pick up the slack and that put undue pressure on them. The club finished the year with 3 wins, including the
Broncos and Seahawks and a 42-21 thrashing of the Chargers.
GREAT: A dominant front three that produced 33 sacks.
GOOD: Deron Cherry’s 7 INTs would kick off years of great production in the secondary.
UGLY: Losing Kenney for 6 games had to throw off their offense for quite some time.
It was good and bad news for the San Diego Chargers. The bad news was the Chargers’ offensive line was so old they wrote in
hieroglyphics and Dan Fouts had never been the most mobile of quarterbacks. Add them up and it spelled shorter pass routes and injury.
Throw in a little drug problem for Chuck Muncie, a traded James Brooks, a dumb decision to get Pete Johnson (followed by a quick trade to
Miami) and a possible career-ending injury to Kellen Winslow and you have the makings of disaster. The good news? TE Pete Holohan
emerged as a weapon on offense, 17 year pro Charlie Joiner could still work his magic and San Diego found HB Earnest Jackson who gave
them 1179 yards in Muncie’s absence. “Air” Coryell slowly became “ground” Coryell as the season wore on. After injury to Fouts, a final 21-
42 drubbing by the Chiefs was no real surprise.
GREAT: An All Pro season by Earnest Jackson helped the team to a 7-9 record.
GOOD: Despite age, lack of mobility and poor line, Fouts still had 3700 yards passing.
UGLY: Giving up more than 30 points 6 times during the season.