The 1970 Houston Oilers finished at 3-10-1, and drew the 3rd pick in the 1971 draft (Dan Pastorini). They made marginal improvement to 4-9-1 in 1971, but the real gain that year was establishing Pastorini as the starting quarterback.
After selecting Pastorini with their first-round pick, they also drafted Lynn Dickey with their next pick. The Oilers also had veteran QB Charley Johnson, who started 10 games in 1970, his first season with the Oilers.
The 1971 season began with Dickey starting games 1 & 3 (with Johnson in relief) and Johnson starting games 2 & 4 (with Pastorini in relief). The net result? 3 losses and 1 tie.
Pastorini then started 8 of the final 10 games, including all 4 of their wins (3 wins in the final 3 weeks!) His #1 QB status was sealed, and Johnson was shipped off to Denver before the following season. (Dickey also missed the 1972 season, and never started more than 4 games in his remaining 3 years with the Oilers.)
As a team, the Oilers suffered through two 1-13 seasons before breaking even at 7-7 in 1974.
Charley Johnson was the Cardinals’ 10th-round pick in 1960, and was their starting QB from 1962-66, and 1969. He backed up Jim Hart in ’67 and ’68, primarily because he was in the Army for those 2 years and received weekend passes to play on Sundays. After 2 seasons with the Oilers, he was the Broncos’ starting QB from 1972-74, and for part of 1975.
Joe Dawkins was the Oilers’ starting fullback as a rookie in 1970. After splitting the ’71 season between the Oilers and Broncos, he was the starting fullback for the Broncos (1972-73) and Giants (1974-75) before returning to the Oilers in 1976 as a backup.
Jerry LeVias was the Oilers’ 2nd-round pick in 1969. He started half the games as a rookie (making his only Pro-Bowl) and every game in 1970. He played for the Chargers from 1971-74.
Alvin Reed was Houston’s starting tight end every season from 1967 to 1971, making 2 Pro Bowls in that time. He also played for the Redskins from 1973-75.
Glen Ray Hines played 8 seasons, playing every game and starting all but 6. He was the Oilers’ right tackle for 5 seasons, then moved on to the Saints for 2 years , before finishing up with the Steelers in 1973.
Roy Gerela was the Oilers’ 4th-round pick in 1969. He played every game for the next 10 seasons – 2 years with Houston followed by 8 higher-profile seasons with the Steelers. While with Pittsburgh, he made the Pro Bowl in ’72 and ’74. He finished his career with 9 games for the Chargers in 1979.
George Webster was drafted in the first round by the Oilers in 1967. He started every game for his first 3 years at left linebacker, and was first-team All-Pro each year. He missed half of the 1970 season, but returned in ’71 to start 9 games. He played part of ’72 and all of ’73 for the Steelers, before finishing up with 3 seasons for the Patriots.
Zeke Moore was the Oilers’ 5th-round pick in 1967. He played 11 seasons (all for the Oilers) and was a starting cornerback in all but 3 seasons.
A 9th-round pick in 1967, Ken Houston went on to play 14 seasons, and was his team’s starting strong safety every year. His first 6 were with the Oilers, followed by 8 with the Redskins. Houston made the Pro Bowl every season but his first and last. He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1986.
Spike Jones was the Oilers’ 4th-round pick in 1970. (Burning a 4th pick for a punter?) They were 6-6-2 the previous season, and Gerela had done an adequate job of punting.) After just one season in Houston, Jones spent 4 with the Bills and 3 with the Eagles.
To recap: Reed, Gerela, Webster, Moore, and Houston played regularly for the Oilers in 1971, Johnson was a backup, and Dawkins played half a season before he was traded to Denver. LeVias, Hines, and Jones had already moved on before 1971.
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