The Worst Teams of All Time, Part 22: The 1952 Dallas Texans

1952 Dallas Texans

Although there is a Dallas-based franchise today as well as a franchise in Houston called the ‘Texans’, the two worlds were sort of mixed in 1952 as the expansion Dallas Texans entered the league without any expectations. By season’s end, the Texans had gone down in flames with a 1-11 record and then to add insult to injury folded at the end of the season.

Jimmy Phelan

James “Jimmy” Phelan was the head coach for the ’52 Texans, and although he enjoyed good success in the college ranks, the success didn’t translate into professional football. In 5 seasons as a head coach, Phelan tallied a 12-26 record and retired from coaching after the ’52 season. Despite all this, Phelan was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame in 1973.

Frank Tripucka

Frank Tripucka, the same guy who quarterbacked the AFL Broncos from 1960-1963 and somehow got his #18 retired despite amassing such outstanding statistics such as a starting record of 13-25-1, 51 touchdowns to 85 interceptions and a grand quarterback rating in Denver of 55.9 was the leading passer of the 1952 Texans. “Leading passer” is used loosely, as Tripucka only completed 49.4% of his passes for 769 yards, 3 touchdowns and 17 interceptions in 6 starts. His rating stood at 27.8 and it begs the question: Why is his #11 not revered to this day in Dallas? *Gratuitous sigh*


Bob Celery-sorry, Celeri was next up on the passing list, completing 41.3% of his passes for 490 yards, 3 touchdowns and 3 interceptions in 3 starts, losing all three of them. Hey, he wasn’t a Johnny Unitas, but he fit in well with the rest of the team.

Then there’s George Taliaferro, who was in fact not the Baltimore Ravens’ running back but a crappy quarterback for a franchise that only existed for one year. Taliaferro only completed 16 of 63 passes in a three-game stretch for 2 touchdowns, 6 interceptions and only 298 yards. His 17.8 rating is the second-worst on the team, not to be compared to Buddy Young’s 0.0, as he threw three passes: two incompletions, one interception.


In all, the Texans could only throw for 1,807 yards all season, which equates to 164.2 yards-per-game…but they only threw for 12 touchdowns to 30 interceptions on the year.

The previously mentioned Taliaferro finished as the team’s leading rusher, and although he couldn’t pass, he could run pretty well. He only had 100 carries, but his 4.2 yards-per-carry average is respectable enough, unlike his 1 in the touchdown column. Zollie Toth (I did a double-take too. What sort of a name is that?), the team’s fullback, led the team in rushing touchdowns with 4 despite only carrying the ball 82 times for 266 yards on the year.

The running game wasn’t awful, but it still wasn’t great, especially in terms of yardage, a stat in which they only tallied 1,397 yards all season. The 13 touchdowns is better than the passing game by a hair, but it still didn’t cut it.

The offense could never move the ball to save their lives, scoring only 15.2 points-per-game while turning the ball over 55 times and averaging only 3.5 yards-per-play which certainly didn’t cut it if you consider their defense.

The defense didn’t show up to most of their games, as the Texans’ defense allowed 30 or more points in eight games and allowing 40 or more five times. The fewest amount of points they allowed all season was 23, giving that amount up a single time in their only win against Chicago. The defense as a whole allowed 398.3 yards-per-game to go along with 48 touchdowns, 31 of which came courtesy of their opponents’ aerial game which stacked up nearly 200 yards-per-game on its own anyways. The running game of their foes marched all over the field for 212.1 yards-per-game.

You get the idea. This was a pretty bad defense. This side of the Dallas ball gave up 5.7 yards-per-play and 35.6 points-per-game. The Texans ranked 11th/12th in scoring offense and predictably last in points given up.

The low point of the year was actually their lone win of the season, proving that there was once a team so bad that they lost by winning. The Texans’ final home game was moved to the Rubber Bowl, where they would face off against the Bears. Only 3,000 fans showed up for the game, and it was a sloppy, boring affair in crappy weather that saw a safety, twelve penalties, an unspecified amount of punts and 12 turnovers. The question for the Texans was: how could you win the game if you turned the ball over four times? Simple, your opponent turns it over eight times, which the Bears did, and even then, the Texans could only squeak by with a 27-23 win.

After the Chicago game, the Texans lost their final two games to Philadelphia and Detroit by a combined score of 79-27 before folding. Dallas football would return in 1960, where the Cowboys stunk up the joint for a while before becoming America’s Team in the 1970’s.


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