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Legend profile: LB Seth Joyner

Height: 6’2″ Weight: 245 lbs
College: UTEP
NFL Draft: 1986 Round: 8 Pick: 208

Stations:
Philadelphia Eagles (1986-1993)
Arizona Cardinals (1994-1996)
Green Bay Packers (1997)
Denver Broncos (1998)

Awards:
– 3 x Pro Bowler
– 3 x All-Pro, including 2x First-Team All-Pro
– Super Bowl Champ with the Broncos in 98
– Sports Illustrated Defensive Player of the Year in 1991, runner-up for the AP Defensive Player of the Year award that year (Pat Swilling seized it having accumulated 17 sacks)
– NFC Defensive Player of the Year (1991)
– Member of the Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Fame
– Member of the Philadelphia Eagles 75th Anniversary Team

Accomplishments and Hall of Fame production:
– 52 career sacks and 24 interceptions
– 1123 tackles
– Only 1 player with at least 20 interceptions has more sacks than Joyner (Hall of Famer Ted Henricks with 60.5)
– 2 seasons with 4 picks
– 5 seasons with at least 3 picks (!!)
– 6 seasons with at least 2 picks
– at least 1 pick in 11 straight seasons from 1986 to 1996
– multiple cases for Defensive Player of the Year:
1988: 4 interceptions and 3.5 sacks
1991: 3 interceptions and 6.5 sacks
1992: 4 interceptions and 6.5 sacks
1994: 3 interceptions and 6 sacks
1995: 3 interceptions
– 6 seasons with at least 110 tackles
– 4 seasons with at least 120 tackles
– 2 seasons with at least 132 tackles
– 6 seasons with 5 or more sacks as a primarily off-the-ball LB
– 26 forced fumbles
– 12 fumble recoveries
– 5 defensive TDs
– 3 interceptions in 11 playoff games with 8 starts bringing his total interception number to 27

Comparisons to other LBs (all of whom are in the Pro Football Hall of Fame):

– Mike Singletary: 19 sacks and 7 interceptions
never had more than 1 pick in any season
never had more than 3.5 sacks in any season, only 3 seasons with more than 2 sacks
0 picks in 12 playoff games
2-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year

– Junior Seau: 56.5 sacks and 18 interceptions
only 1 season with more than 2 picks (3 in 2007)

– Derrick Brooks: 13.5 sacks and 25 interceptions
4 seasons with 3 or more picks, Joyner had 5

– Harry Carson: 19 sacks and 11 interceptions

– Robert Brazile: 48 sacks and 13 interceptions

– Brian Urlacher: 41.5 sacks and 22 interceptions

– Dick Butkus: (before NFL tracked sacks) 22 interceptions

Playing style: The best coverage LB of his era

When the Eagles drafted Joyner in the 8th round of the 1986 NFL Draft, little did they or anyone else know that the 6’2″, 245 lbs LB from UTEP would turn into a Hall of Fame level performer for the next decade to come. Joyner was the epitome of an all-around LB. He was by far the best pure coverage LB of his time and was one of the players that set the precedent for what is required of off-the-ball LBs today. That is in terms of coverage because Joyner was not only impeccable in man coverage sticking with TEs and RBs as well as in zone coverage putting his HOF level awareness, anticipation and instincts on display, he was also an extremely effective pass rusher with an arsenal of pass rush moves.

Joyner was great with his hand usage and possessed great power to go along with excellent quickness. His footwork was well-timed and on point. He was getting around blockers with the best of them. Joyner was also very efficient as a blitzer showing a great sense of timing the snap and understanding gaps and weak spots.
Against the run, he was powerful in getting off blocks and quick to get into his gaps. Read and react is on display when one digs up the tape of yesteryear.

His best trait, however, was his game-changing playmaking ability. I encourage everyone to go to YouTube to either watch his career highlights or just a random game of the Eagles in the ’80s. Or a Cardinals game in the 90s. No. 59 will stand out. You don’t even have to be looking for him. His instincts were one of the most impressive ones I’ve ever seen in an LB. Almost all of them are in the highlight reels on the web.

As can be seen on the tape, there was nothing fluky about his picks. Almost none of them were deflected balls. On just about every interception, these incredible football instincts are on display. The way he anticipated routes and read them before they happened. Going from sideline to sideline covering an at this point in time unusual amount of ground for an LB. There was absolutely no weakness to his game. His range – safety like. For an LB. In the 80s. Think about that.

The number of game-changing plays he made was far greater than the number of plays of that kind Mike Singletary made. Nobody can deny that fact. Singletary was great against the run, a great director in the middle of the defense, but nowhere near the player in coverage that Joyner was. When evaluating the all-around game of both, there is no other conclusion to come to than to acknowledge Joyner having had the clear edge.

Took him 2 years to trump Singletary’s career interception total. And it wasn’t even just the interceptions, it was all the pass break-ups and deflections that got picked off by others, the being around the ball and the intended pass catcher preventing the QB from throwing the ball and the football IQ that was without question that of a HOF player.

It didn’t matter who was around Joyner either, after leaving the Eagles and all the success he’s had with their defense and as a team, he continued his dominance in Arizona with no help around him period. Neither on defense nor on offense.

I took the liberty of listing the production of a few LBs, all of whom are members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Seth Joyner trumps all of them. As of today, he’s not been inducted into the Hall. When you watch his games, look at his HOF level play game in and game out, year in and year out for a decade, when you listen to what players who played against and with him, especially many players who are members of the Hall themselves have to say about him, the comparison to other Hall of Fame LBs and his eye-popping Hall of Fame production it leads to only one realization. Seth Joyner was one the greatest player to ever grace an NFL field.

He’s a Hall of Famer. It’s time to pay him his due respect and do what’s been long overdue – induct him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

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1 COMMENT

One Response

  1. I have been trying to figure out why he has not been inducted. By far one of the best I’ve seen.

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