June 17, 2012

MVP Profile: Jim Kelly, 1984


Quarterback, Houston Gamblers



Age: 24
1st season in pro football
College: Miami (FL)
Height: 6’3”    Weight: 215

Prelude:
A star in college, Kelly missed most of his senior year due to a shoulder separation but was still taken in the first round of the 1983 NFL draft by the Buffalo Bills. He was also chosen by the Chicago Blitz of the new USFL, who traded his draft rights to the Houston Gamblers. Kelly signed with the new team in the second-year league and also benefited from the extra time to recuperate while awaiting the spring ’84 season. He immediately became the starting quarterback as a rookie, directing Houston’s run-and-shoot offense.

1984 Season Summary
Appeared in all 18 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 587 [1]
Most attempts, game – 50 vs. Los Angeles 4/30
Completions – 370 [1]
Most completions, game – 37 vs. Los Angeles 4/30
Yards – 5219 [1]
Most yards, game – 380 vs. Los Angeles 4/30
Completion percentage – 63.0 [2]
Yards per attempt – 8.9 [1]
TD passes – 44 [1]
Most TD passes, game – 5 at Pittsburgh 5/12
Interceptions – 26 [1]
Most interceptions, game – 4 at Oakland 4/16, vs. San Antonio 6/18
Passer rating – 98.2 [3]
300-yard passing games – 9
200-yard passing games – 17

Rushing
Attempts – 85
Most attempts, game - 9 (for 65 yds.) vs. San Antonio 6/18
Yards – 493
Most yards, game – 65 yards (on 6 carries) vs. New Jersey 3/18, (on 9 carries) vs. San Antonio 6/18
Yards per attempt – 5.8 [3]
TDs – 5

Scoring
TDs – 5
2-pt conversions – 1
Points - 32

Postseason: 1 G (First Round playoff vs. Arizona)
Pass attempts – 34
Pass completions – 23
Passing yardage – 301
TD passes – 0
Interceptions – 2

Rushing attempts – 8
Rushing yards – 59
Average gain rushing – 7.4
Rushing TDs – 1

Awards & Honors:
USFL MVP: League
USFL Rookie of the Year: Sporting News
1st team All-USFL: League

Gamblers went 13-5 to finish first in the Central Division while leading the USFL in passing yards (5311), scoring (618 points), and TDs (79). Lost USFL First Round playoff to Arizona Wranglers (17-16).

Aftermath:
While Kelly missed several games due to injury in 1985, he still led the USFL in pass attempts (567), completions (360), yards (4623), TD passes (39), completion percentage (63.5), and overall passing (97.9) and the team again reached the postseason. With the end of the league, Kelly joined the Bills for the 1986 season and threw for 3593 yards and 22 TDs. He went to the Pro Bowl for the first of five times in ’87 and Buffalo made it to the postseason in 1988. In 1990 he led the NFL in passing (101.2) and the team won the AFC title, barely losing the Super Bowl. It was the first of four straight conference championships, marred by the failure to win any of the resulting Super Bowls. Kelly proved to be a tough competitor and savvy field general. He retired following the 1996 season having passed for 35,467 yards and 237 touchdowns with an 84.4 rating in the NFL along with 9842 yards and 83 TDs in the USFL. The Bills retired Kelly’s #12 and he was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 2002.

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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]