Jean Fugett: Around the NFL
By Jean Fugett; thanks to Charlie Campbell – @draftcampbell
WalterFootball.com is proud to partner with former Redskins and Cowboys tight end Jean Fugett, Jr. Esq. Fugett grew up in Baltimore, Maryland and attended Amherst College. He was the last pick of the 13th round in the 1972 NFL Draft. Fugett made the Cowboys as a backup to future Hall of Famer Mike Ditka. Fugett eventually became a starter for Tom Landry’s Cowboys and started in Super Bowl X. He made the Pro Bowl in 1977.
As a free agent, Fugett went from being the lowest-paid starting tight end to the highest-paid with the Washington Redskins. While playing for legendary Redskins coach George Allen, Fugett attended law school at George Washington University at night.
During and after his playing days, Fugett worked with CBS, the Washington Post and other media. He went on to serve as Director and Vice-Chair of the McCall Pattern Company Management Committee, founded a Baltimore law firm and partnered with Fanfone in Europe.
After the death of his brother Reginald F. Lewis in 1993, Fugett took over TLC Beatrice International Foods, the largest black-owned and black-managed business in the world at the time. Fugett has served on committees with the NFL Players Association and on the Leadership Council for the American Diabetes Association Maryland Chapter.
WalterFootball.com would like to thank Redskins president Bruce Allen and senior vice president/executive producer of media Larry Michael for connecting us to Fugett. Now, let’s let Jean take over.
I want to dedicate this to my father Jean Fugett Sr., who passed away about a month ago. He was the starting center for 1949 Morgan State team that was ranked No. 1 among the black schools. Playing for coach Hurt, they were undefeated in the country, although Southern University also went undefeated that season.
This year, I think the good teams in the NFL will have a combination of two factors: a good defense and continuity in their systems. Some teams have better coaches than others. That was the case back in the ’70s for me playing with the Redskins for George Allen, and before that with the Cowboys and Tom Landry. We were favored in almost all of our games, and that was because we had systems in place and continuity running them. I played in three NFC Championship Games in four years in Dallas, and that was by no accident.
Right now in the NFL, the old adage of “defense wins championships” was proven true once again last year with a great defense from the Broncos outperforming another good defense with the Panthers. I think continuity in systems leads to winning. We don’t see as much teaching technique these days. and there are reasons for that like reduced practice time in the spring and in training camp. All of these little things have to be crafted together over 2-3 years before you really have a system with continuity of concepts and play books.
If you were starting a team, defensively you would want to build around a defensive lineman who is a difference-maker and commands double teams because of their dominant pass-rushing ability: A player like J.J. Watt, Von Miller, Ndamukong Suh, or Geno Atkins. If you don’t have that kind of guy, teams will run on them and play-action pass their way down the field. Now, you also have to have fast linebackers. You don’t have to be as big as you used to be in the middle, but you still need the courage to fill a hole. In the secondary, how many cornerbacks can really play man to man and play more than one technique. A shutdown corner is one of the aspects that makes a defense elite. Elite defenses have a shot at the Super Bowl. Let’s examine who could be elite this year.
In Cincinnati and Pittsburgh, they have an established systems. I think Marvin Lewis and Mike Tomlin are great coaches with an established system. The difference is Tomlin has Big Ben and Lewis has Andy Dalton. Dalton has improved, but he’s not elite yet and his offensive coordinator is now in Cleveland coaching RG3. Both the Steelers and Bengals play fundamental black-and-blue football.
I think the Ravens could be in every game, but they have to be able to protect Joe Flacco. I have serious questions if Baltimore has improved the offensive line enough. The Ravens should have added some veterans along with drafting Ronnie Stanley. I think their right guard, Marshall Yanda, is aging and could be overrated at this point. I wonder if Baltimore will be able to run the ball. I do think that the Ravens have some talent at receiver with Breshad Perriman and Mike Wallace being added into the mix this year. I think the team will have another tough year, but be competitive. Cleveland is still at the bottom, let’s see what a great coach can do with Robert Griffin III, but still you don’t have any continuity in Cleveland.
In the South, I think the Texans will repeat as division champions. I think if they can keep J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney healthy, they could have two guys on their defensive line who command double teams. Those two could be tremendous together. If they are healthy, nobody is going to want to play Houston. I think the Texans will be improved on offense with Brock Osweiler, and I think Bill O’Brien is a good coach. This is the team’s third season with his system, so the continuity is there.
A lot of people think the Titans and Jaguars have improved, I am not as convinced. I believe the Titans are going to be interesting if they feed the ball a lot to DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry, with Marcus Mariota going play-action off of that. I’m not sold yet on the Jacksonville quarterback, but the Jaguars have talented players at a number of positions.
Former Redskin and Cowboy tight end Jean Fugett was a Pro Bowler in 1977 and a starter in Super Bowl X.
I think the Patriots will do well even without Brady in those first four games. Obviously, they have a Hall of Fame coach in Bill Belichick. You know what to expect. I think the Bills will be improved, while I think the Jets will be challenged. And, I need someone to explain to me what the Dolphins are doing because with all of their changes in the front office and coaching staff; they have zero continuity.
The AFC West is going to be really interesting this season. The Chiefs are a playoff team, with a playoff coach, and have been in the same system for years. I think Denver will be challenged with a great defense but no quarterback nor any continuity at the position. I think the Chargers are going to be very competitive, and anytime Philip Rivers steps on the field, they have a chance to win. I think Oakland is a really good team. You could have three teams compete for the playoffs out of this division with last year’s Super Bowl champion being in last place.
In the AFC Championship Game, I think the Chiefs beat the Patriots to advance to the Super Bowl.
The Packers have a system in place with a team that can beat you in more than one way, and that is why they are favored in that division. They have a great quarterback and lots of talent, so they deserve to be so heavily favored.
I thought before Teddy Bridgewater got injured that the Vikings had a real shot at going to the Super Bowl because of their coaching staff and their pieces on the roster. I figured Stefon Diggs could break out and they’d have Adrian Peterson back a year removed from his layoff and controversy. I think a lot of Norv Turner and Mike Zimmer. We still could see the Vikings challenge as they have lot of pieces, and nobody wants to play against that Vikings defense. They are still going to be a factor in the playoff race.
Chicago has had a lot of turnover, and it is going to take John Fox some time to build the Bears in his system. I think Detroit is a dark-horse team to be a contender for the playoffs. I like the time that Caldwell has had to work with the roster, and I think the front office has him better equipped to compete this season.
Clearly, the Panthers have a well-established system with a multi-year coaching staff and front office. I certainly see them winning enough to win the South, but maybe not as good as 15-1. I think the Saints are the same story of being able to score points but struggling to stop anybody. I think Tampa Bay is improving, but the Bucs will still be up and down from week to week with a new head coach, a new defensive coordinator, and their second-year quarterback. The Falcons have a team around .500. I think there will be three .500-caliber teams behind the Panthers in the NFC South.
The Eagles will be the most challenged in the East. According to the Vegas odds, they liked the Giants ahead of the Cowboys and Redskins even before Romo was injured. With their passing attack, they are going to be hard to stop. Can Victor Cruz contribute? I do think the Giants are going to be improved and that Eli Manning will be hard to stop this year.
The Cowboys, man for man, still have the best team in the East. If you were going to do a pick-up game and picking players, Dallas would have a loaded roster. The question is if Dak Prescott’s preseason performance was a mirage, but I don’t think it was. I think the Cowboys found something in him. If they are going to win, they will probably be doing it without Tony Romo because you can’t count on him to last more than three plays. Which is sad and too bad to see happen to a great player.
The Redskins getting Josh Norman is going to help them a lot, but what is going to hurt them a lot is playing a first-place schedule and playing the AFC North. I think the style of play of those North teams could pose problems for the Redskins. Can the Redskins use Norman like the old Darrelle Revis who could go up against a good wideout and shut him down? Norman was brought in to be a shutdown corner for Washington, but that will be put to the test in Week 1 with Norman taking on Antonio Brown. If he takes away Brown, then Washington is on an even field with the Steelers. I think the Redskins are good, but suspect. They could be a first-place team or a third-place team.
In the West, I see Seattle. The Cardinals and Seahawks have continuity on their roster and in their system. What separates these two for me is Seattle’s defense. I think the Cardinals will be very close in the West, but the Seahawks will win it. The Rams are a good team, aside from the quarterback position, and are back on the West Coast where I think they belong. The 49ers are clearly rebuilding and trying to get a new identity. They don’t have continuity anymore with three different head coaches over the last three seasons.
My prediction is Seattle beating Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game. In the Super Bowl, I think the Seahawks will beat the Kansas City Chiefs.
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