The season after the SuperBowl was magical. Our roster losses didn't seem to slow us, as we finished 14-2 and won homefield advantage again (to my great relief!). Marco Turtschin defied his aging legs, continued his crafty, veteran play, and finished with a 102 passer rating, his second year in a row with 100+ passer rating. The team again avoided the pick, throwing only 9 INTs all year. Spencer Knowles stayed healthy all year, providing a workhorse effort that garnered 12 TDs and over 1200 yards rushing.
Oddly, our passing attack had settled into an unique pattern: our two leading receivers were a tight end (Randy Stockman with 88 catches) and a fullback (Dave Chambliss with 71). Together, Stockman and Chambliss defined an era in Rebel football. Together with QB Marco Turtschin, the trio of "small-play" heroes became superstars, not because they raced 60 yards for the endzone, but because they pounded six yards for the first down--again, and again, and again. Like "small ball" in baseball, when it's done well it's a surefire way to put points on the scoreboard. For the "small-play" Rebels, it was done well. The team set NFL records for total first downs in a game and in a season. With surehanded receivers that could always gain separation and always fall forward, Turtschin never had to risk the INT when a first down was only 10 yards away.
Just as Bill Walsh created the "West-Coast offense," and Indianapolis created the "three-headed monster," the Rebels created what later became known as "short-down," a style of play that made the ten yards beyond the line of scrimmage an indefensible zone. Turtschin's pinpoint accuracy, the offensive line's ability to move with Turtschin's roll-out style, and most especially Stockman's and Chambliss' ability to sit in every hole and power to the first down created a new era in the NFL. Some found it boring. But to Birmingham fans, it was a joy to watch, a badge of honor that took the game out of the ever-increasing egos of primadonna widouts and divas and put it back in the hands of strategists and powerhouses.
In my mind, Turtschin, Stockman, and Chambliss are not only Hall of Famers, they're also legends, giants of the game that defined an era the way the Steel Curtain, the Purple People-Eaters, or Lombardi's Packers defined their respective eras.
Winner of 6 FOFC Scribe Awards, including 3 Gold Scribes
Founder of the ZFL, 2004 Golden Scribe Dynasty of the Year
Now bringing The Des Moines Dragons back to life, and the joke's on YOU, NFL!
I came to the Crossroad. I took it. And that has made all the difference.