Three’s Company

Posted: August 15, 2011 by scoopbald in NFL

Football season is in full swing and that means that I get to watch my beloved Cleveland Browns try to rectify forty years of mediocrity (but I’ll save that for another blog).  In a stroke of bad luck that would only happened to Cleveland we drew that defending Super Bowl champion Green Bay Packers for our first preseason game.  Contrary to what my fellow mancavers may believe, this blog is not about how great Colt McCoy played or about how the Browns will win the AFC North this year.  Instead, watching the game had me thinking that this year the Green Bay Packers have the potential to field a juggernaut of an offense headed by the rare combination of an elite quarterback coupled with an elite receiver as well as a very good albeit not elite running back (don’t sleep on Grant, before he tore up his knee, he was tearing defenses apart).  Aaron Rodgers, Donald Driver and Ryan Grant may arguably be the best trio in the league right now.  This led me to wonder aloud, who was the best offensive NFL trio of all time.  Below I’ve comprised a list of some of the best trios to date and my personal favorites.  It is up to you to decide who was best.  If I’ve missed anyone please add in the comment section.

John Elway, Terrell Davis, Rod Smith (1995-1998)

This trio united in 1995 and went on to produce the two most coveted accolades of all, Lombardi trophies.  While together they also racked up 6 Pro Bowl appearances, 2 Super Bowl MVPs, 1 NFL MVP, 1 rushing title, 1 Hall-of-Famer and 3 1st Team All Pro selections.  All in all, this group racked up 23,680 yards from scrimmage and 157 regular season touchdowns.  Throw in Shannon Sharpe at tight end and you have a pretty successful group.

Troy Aikman, Emmitt Smith, Michael Irvin (1990-1999)

This group headlined “America’s Team” during arguably its most successful run.  Accolades include 3 Lombardi trophies, 2 Super Bowl MVPs, 3 Hall-of-Famers, 19 Pro Bowls, 5 1st Team All Pro Selections, 4 rushing titles and 1 league receiving yards leader.  Together they racked up 57,706 yards from scrimmage and 361 combined touchdowns.  Throw in an underrated Jay Novachek in there as well as often overlooked Alvin Harper and its clear that these Cowboys were the “Golden Standard” (shameless Alpha plug).

Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice (1987-1990)

The original 49ers trio led there team to back to back Lombardi trophies.  This group also boasts 2 Super Bowl MVPs, 2 NFL MVPs, 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards, 2 Hall-of-Famers, 10 Pro Bowl selections, 8 1st Team All Pro selections.  Add to this list a receptions leader, 3 receiving yards titles, 3 touchdown reception crowns, and a passing TD throne.  While together they accumulated 20,961 yards from scrimmage and 194 touchdowns.

Steve Young, Ricky Watters, Jerry Rice (1992-1994)

Somehow after the departure of Montana and Craig the 49ers were able to recapture some of the success of the previous trio.  In there three years together Young, Watters and Rice were able to capture 1 Lombardi Trophy, 1 Super Bowl MVP, 2 Hall-of-Famers, 2 NFL MVPs, 2 Offensive Player of the Year awards, 9 Pro Bowl selections, and 6 1st Team All-Pro selections.  Young led the league in passing TDs all three years while Rice led the league in receiving yards twice and receiving TDs once.  The group amassed 21,284 yards from scrimmage and 177 touchdowns.  Not so bad for an Act #2.

Jim Kelly, Thurman Thomas, Andre Reed (1988-1996)

This trio is best known for being an annual runner-up to the Cowboys, however on this list they may be first class.  On the list of accomplishments you can place 3 Hall-of-Famers, 1 MVP, 1 Offensive Player of the Year award, 16 Pro Bowl selections, and 3 1st Team All-Pro selections.  Kelly also went on to lead the league in passing touchdowns and passer rating one time each.  As a unit they tallied 53,404 total yards from scrimmage and 344 touchdowns.  The four AFC Championships weren’t bad either, although the lack of Super Bowl victories badly hurt their claim to fame.

Peyton Manning, Edgerrin James, Marvin Harrison (1999-2005)

After losing Marshall Faulk, the Colts organization was searching for answers.  They found one in Edgerrin James who teamed with Manning and Harrison to produce a prolific trio.  The list of awards includes 2 MVPs, 1 Offensive Rookie of the Year award, 1 Offensive Player of the Year award, 1 Walter Payton Man of the Year award, 6 1st Team All-Pro selections, and 17 Pro Bowl selections.  The trio moved the ball 51,991 yards and scored 362 touchdowns.  The group also captured 2 receptions titles, 2 receiving yards titles, 2 rushing titles and Manning led the league in passing yards and touchdowns twice.

Kurt Warner, Marshall Faulk, Isaac Bruce (1999-2003)

“The Greatest Show on Turf” boasted what may be pound for pound one of the most prolific trios in the games history.  The group captured one Lombardi trophy, 1 Super Bowl MVP, 2 NFL MVPs, 1 Offensive Player of the Year award, 5 1st Team All-Pro selections, and 10 Pro Bowl selections and produced 1 Hall-of-Famer.  Their passing game produced 1 passing yards crown, 2 QB rating crowns and 2 passing TD crowns.  All together they had 29,902 yards from scrimmage and 222 touchdowns.  Had it not been for injuries we may be discussing if the Rams were one of the great dynasties in NFL History. Keep in mind that this group had Torry Holt on the squad as well.

Scott Mitchell, Barry Sanders, Herman Moore (94-98)As hard as it is to believe, the Detroit Lions had a winning team for a while.  Many of those victories can be attributed to this trio. Together they put together a healthy list of accolades including, 1 Hall-of-Fame nod, 1 NFL MVP, 1 Offensive Player of the Year award, 6 1st Team All-Pro selections, 9 Pro Bowls, 3 rushing titles and 2 reception crowns.  They amassed 29,304 yards from scrimmage and 185 touchdowns.  Though probably the least successful trio on the list this group is one of my personal favorite.  The potential was there, (see Scott Mitchell in 1995 4338 yds, 32 TDs, 12 INTs, 92.3 QB Rating), they had arguably the greatest RB ever.  But at the end of the day, they were still the Detroit Lions.

Honorable Mention

Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Lynn Swann/John Stallworth (1974-1983)

The statistics were not as gaudy, but 4 Super Bowls and 4 Hall-of-Famers make it hard to leave them without mention.  The only knock against them is that the Steelers’ defense is mostly credited for the titles.

Daunte Culpepper, Robert Smith, Randy Moss (2000)

Though only together one year, this group was scary.  A QB with 3900+ yards coupled with a RB who rushed for 1500+ yards and a WR with 1400+ yards and 15 TDs may arguably be a top three season on this list.  Oh and lets not forget they had Cris Carter (96 rec, 1200 rec yds) on the team as well.

Mark Brunell, Fred Taylor, Jimmy Smith (1998-2003)

This group just flat out produced.  Brunell had a 4000+ yard season.  Taylor had numerous 1000 yard season including 2003 when he rushed for 1572 yards.  Smith, if you remember led the NFL in receptions in 1999 with 116 and added 112 in 2001.

  1. dontbeskerritt says:

    I saw a top 5 list of the best trios today and they had Matt Ryan/Michael Turner/Roddy White at #1. They don’t make triplets like they used to don’t they

    • scoopbald says:

      I think there has been a lack of emphasis on the running game as of late…there aren’t as many elite running backs like there used to be…couple that with the over-glamourization of the qb position and the NFL has come super pass happy…for example look at how the vikings went away from AP and looked for an over the hill Favre to carry the team…every elite QB has a go to guy who posts good numbers, but most of them lack a RB who can control a game…

  2. LBC says:

    First! why can’t my squad get a real picture you have us looking like the Decepticon trio lol, but trios are made like they used because of emphasis on the QB like you said and the 3 RB system. Many teams don’t just have 1 running back. These current teams constantly rotate 3 RB, can have a trio when the RB competition happens occurs all season.

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