June 5, 2012

MVP Profile: Bert Jones, 1976


Quarterback, Baltimore Colts



Age:  25
4th season in pro football & with Colts
College: LSU
Height: 6’3”    Weight: 212

Prelude:
Son of former Cleveland HB Dub Jones, Bert Jones received his first exposure to pro football as a ball boy for the Browns. Achieving All-American status as a senior at LSU, he was taken by the Colts in the first round of the 1973 NFL draft (second overall). Jones had a rough rookie season with a team in disarray and was involved in a quarterback controversy as he split time with Marty Domres in ’74. Under new, offensive-minded Head Coach Ted Marchibroda in 1975, Jones gained the starting job and broke out with 2483 yards, a 59.0 completion percentage, and 18 TD passes to just 8 interceptions (for a league-low 2.3 percentage). The team started slowly but gained momentum in the second half of the season and won the AFC East with a 10-4 record. An outstanding passer with mobility and strong leadership skills, Jones appeared to be developing into an elite quarterback.

1976 Season Summary
Appeared in and started all 14 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 343 [6]
Most attempts, game – 32 vs. NY Jets 11/28
Completions – 207 [6]
Most completions, game – 22 vs. NY Jets 11/28
Yards – 3104 [1]
Most yards, game – 301 vs. Cincinnati 9/19
Completion percentage – 60.3 [3]
Yards per attempt – 9.0 [3]
TD passes – 24 [2]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. Cincinnati 9/19, at San Diego 11/7, vs. NY Jets 11/28, vs. Buffalo 12/12
Interceptions – 9
Most interceptions, game – 3 vs. Cincinnati 9/19
Passer rating – 102.5 [2]
300-yard passing games – 1
200-yard passing games – 8

Rushing
Attempts – 38
Most attempts, game - 7 (for 20 yds.) at Miami 11/22
Yards – 214
Most yards, game – 41 yards (on 5 carries) at Dallas 9/26
Yards per attempt – 5.6
TDs – 2

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points – 12

Postseason: 1 G (AFC Divisional playoff vs. Pittsburgh)
Pass attempts – 25
Pass completions – 11
Passing yardage – 144
TD passes – 1
Interceptions – 2

Rushing attempts – 2
Rushing yards – 3
Average gain rushing – 1.5
Rushing TDs – 0

Awards & Honors:
NFL MVP: AP, PFWA, NEA
NFL Offensive Player of the Year: AP
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA
1st team All-AFC: AP, UPI
Pro Bowl

Colts went 11-3 to finish first in the AFC East while leading the NFL in total yards (5236), passing yards (2933), scoring (417 points), and TDs (51). Lost AFC Divisional playoff to Pittsburgh Steelers (40-14).

Aftermath:
Jones had another strong year in 1977, leading the NFL with 224 completions while passing for 2686 yards and 17 TDs. The Colts won a third straight division title but suffered a tough overtime loss to the Raiders in the Divisional round of the playoffs. However, shoulder injuries caused Jones to miss most of the 1978 and ’79 seasons – he saw action in just seven games and the team collapsed. While he returned in 1980 and passed for a career-high 3134 yards, the Colts were no longer a strong team and went 7-9. After passing for 3094 yards and 21 touchdowns with a 2-14 club in ’81, Jones, actively battling the front office, was traded to the Rams but appeared in just four games due to a major neck injury and retired. For his injury-shortened career, he passed for 18,190 yards with a healthy 56.1 completion percentage and 124 TDs to 101 interceptions. He also rushed for 1429 yards on 247 carries (5.8 avg.) with a high of 321 in 1975.

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MVP Profiles feature players who were named MVP or Player of the Year in the NFL, AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974), or USFL (1983-85) by a recognized organization (Associated Press, Pro Football Writers Association, Newspaper Enterprise Association, United Press International, The Sporting News, Maxwell Club – Bert Bell Award, or the league itself). 

[Updated 2/8/14]

1 comment:

  1. Another standout that flamed out early. Bert Jones was considered one of the very best in his first few years, and some say under different circumstances he could've become a Hall of Famer. Possibly the best pure passer at the time and allowed to call his own plays, he had a makeup and ability similar to what Dan Marino brought to the NFL years later. Unfortunately he was another star than never hit his full potential due to crippling injuries and incompetent management that turned the Colts teams of the early 80's into a laughingstock.

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