July 19, 2013

MVP Profile: Dan Fouts, 1979

Quarterback, San Diego Chargers



Age:  28
7th season in pro football & with Chargers
College: Oregon
Height: 6’3”   Weight: 210

Prelude:
A third-round draft choice by the Chargers in 1973, Fouts gradually took over the starting job as a rookie while an over-the-hill Johnny Unitas faded from the scene in his last season. He struggled for the next two years but benefited from the presence of Bill Walsh as offensive coordinator in 1976. Fouts missed the first 10 games in ’77 due to a lawsuit against the NFL. Head Coach Tommy Prothro was replaced by the pass-oriented Don Coryell during the 1978 season, and the sturdy drop-back passer’s career benefited greatly. He led the NFL in yards per attempt in ’78 (7.9).  

1979 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Passing
Attempts – 530 [4]
Most attempts, game – 45 at Denver 10/7
Completions – 332 [2]
Most completions, game – 28 vs. Seattle 10/14, at Kansas City 11/4, vs. Atlanta 12/2
Yards – 4082 [1]
Most yards, game – 350 vs. Kansas City 11/25
Completion percentage – 62.6 [1]
Yards per attempt – 7.7 [6]
TD passes – 24 [6]
Most TD passes, game – 3 vs. Oakland 9/9, vs. Seattle 10/14, vs. Kansas City 11/25
Interceptions – 24 [3, tied with Doug Williams & Tommy Kramer]
Most interceptions, game – 4 at Cincinnati 11/11
Passer rating – 82.6 [3]
300-yard passing games – 6
200-yard passing games – 14

Rushing
Attempts – 26
Most attempts, game - 5 (for 42 yds.) vs. Atlanta 12/2, (for 7 yds.) vs. Denver 12/17
Yards – 49
Most yards, game – 42 yards (on 5 carries) vs. Atlanta 12/2
Yards per attempt – 1.9
TDs – 2

Scoring
TDs – 2
Points – 12

Postseason: 1 G (AFC Divisional playoff vs. Houston Oilers)
Pass attempts – 47
Pass completions – 25
Passing yardage – 333
TD passes – 0
Interceptions – 5

Awards & Honors:
AFC Player of the Year: Sporting News
1st team All-NFL: AP, PFWA, NEA, Pro Football Weekly
1st team All-AFC: UPI, Pro Football Weekly, Sporting News
Pro Bowl

Chargers went 12-4 to finish first in the AFC West with the top record in the conference while leading the NFL in passing yards (3915) and tying with Pittsburgh for touchdowns (52). Lost AFC Divisional playoff to Houston Oilers (17-14).

Aftermath:
With an outstanding group of receivers to throw to in the Air Coryell passing game, Fouts broke his passing yardage record of 1979 in each of the next two seasons (4715 in 1980, 4802 in ’81) while leading the NFL in attempts and completions each year and in TD passes in 1981 (33). He was a Pro Bowl selection again following each season, although the team consistently came up short in the playoffs. In the strike-shortened ’82 season Fouts led the NFL in passing yards (2883), TD passes (17), and yards per attempt (8.7) and received MVP honors from the PFWA and NEA as well as Offensive Player of the Year recognition from AP. Playing in just 10 games in 1983, Fouts again achieved Pro Bowl recognition. While he never again passed for 4000 yards in the remaining five years of his career, he did throw for over 3000 three more times, led the league in yards per attempt (8.5) and TD percentage (6.3) in 1985, and was twice more selected to the Pro Bowl (for a total of six). At the time of his retirement, he ranked second all-time in NFL career pass attempts (5604), completions (3297), and yards (43,040) and had a passer rating of 80.2. The Chargers retired his #14 and Fouts was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Class of 1993.

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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). 

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