May 21, 2015

Highlighted Year: William Andrews, 1981

Fullback, Atlanta Falcons

Age: 26 (Dec. 25)
3rd season in pro football & with Falcons
College: Auburn
Height: 6’0”   Weight: 200

Part of a group of running backs at Auburn that included future pro stars James Brooks and Joe Cribbs, Andrews was chosen by the Falcons in the third round of the 1979 NFL draft. He had an outstanding rookie year, rushing for 1023 yards and catching 39 passes for another 309. Andrews improved to 1308 rushing yards and 456 yards on 51 pass receptions in 1980 to earn selection to the Pro Bowl as well as second-team All-NFC honors from UPI.

1981 Season Summary
Appeared and started in all 16 games
[Bracketed numbers indicate league rank in Top 20]

Attempts – 289 [7]
Most attempts, game – 25 (for 101 yds.) at Houston 11/29
Yards – 1301 [7]
Most yards, game – 119 yards (on 21 carries) vs. LA Rams 10/11
Average gain – 4.5 [12]
TDs – 10 [7, tied with Earl Campbell, Ron Springs & Billy Jackson]
100-yard rushing games – 3

Pass Receiving
Receptions – 81 [4]
Most receptions, game – 15 (for 124 yds.) vs. Pittsburgh 11/15
Yards – 735
Most yards, game – 132 (on 8 catches) vs. St. Louis 10/18
Average gain – 9.1
TDs – 2
100-yard receiving games – 2

All-Purpose yards – 2036 [2, 1st in NFC]

TDs – 12 [9, tied with Ron Springs]
Points – 72

Awards & Honors:
2nd team All-NFL: AP
2nd team All-NFC: UPI
Pro Bowl

Falcons went 7-9 to finish second in the NFC West while leading the conference in touchdowns (52) and scoring (426 points).

Andrews continued to be one of the league’s most productive all-purpose backs, leading the team in rushing (503 yards) and pass receptions (42) during the strike-shortened 1982 season and achieving career highs in rushing (1567 yards) and total yards (2176) in ’83. He was chosen to the Pro Bowl after each season and was a first-team All-NFC choice of UPI in ’82 and a first-team All-NFL selection by NEA and The Sporting News in 1983. However, a devastating knee injury suffered during training camp in ‘84 cost him that year and the next. He made a modest comeback in 1986, rushing for 214 yards and catching five passes in his last season. Overall, Andrews rushed for 5986 yards on 1315 carries (4.6 avg.) and caught 277 passes for 2647 yards (9.6 avg.). He twice went over two thousand total yards on his way to gaining 8633 yards from scrimmage and scored a total of 41 touchdowns. He was named to four consecutive Pro Bowls and received at least some first or second-team All-NFL honors after three seasons in a fine career cut short by injury. 


Highlighted Years features players who were consensus first-team All-League* selections or league* or conference** leaders in the following statistical categories:

Rushing: Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Passing: Yards, Completion Pct., Yards per Attempt, TDs, Rating
Receiving: Catches, Yards, TDs (min. 10)
Scoring: TDs, Points, Field Goals (min. 5)
All-Purpose: Total Yards
Defense: Interceptions, Sacks
Kickoff Returns: Average
Punt Returns: Average
Punting: Average

*Leagues include NFL (1920 to date), AFL (1926), AFL (1936-37), AAFC (1946-49), AFL (1960-69), WFL (1974-75), USFL (1983-85)

**NFC/AFC since 1970

1 comment:

  1. It's hard to overstate how much William Andrews meant to the Falcon organization in the early eighties. Andrews' ability to run, catch, and block equally well and with great skill contributed heavily to the Falcons' success during the Leeman Bennett years. His talents, especially when paired with the similarly skilled Lynn Cain at halfback, greatly opened up the offensive attack and helped Steve Bartkowski develop into one of the better QBs of the era. Unfortunately Bennett got one-dimensional and started burdening Andrews with the lion's share of the offense to the detriment of everyone else, resulting in stale playcalling and the decline of the once-feared deep passing attack, factors that helped get Bennett fired at the end of 1982. Andrews had his best season the next year under new coach Dan Henning despite the change of offensive chemistry, but his future became a what-if could-have story when he blew out his knee the following year, never to fully recover. Had Andrews not gotten hurt he might have been traded to an up-and-coming team when the Falcons went into decline during the eighties, very possibly helping put someone over the top into a Super Bowl. In a parallel universe with better luck, he might have made it to the Hall of Fame.