When Halas took over as head coach again, one of his first moves was to rebuild the Bear secondary defense. This freed J. C. Caroline for offensive duty. Caroline shares a halfback post with Willie Galimore, and the two give the Bears a blistering fast outside running attack which militates against any defense stacking up the middle to halter the running of Fullback Rick Casares. Casares is one of the two or three best fullbacks in the league. The addition of Rookie Willie Lee and veteran Abe Gibron to the offensive line helps erase a 1957 Bear debit—line blocking.
Only one regular player from the 1957 Bear secondary is likely to see much service this year. Vic Zucco, a second-year man, will lend a mite of experience to a vastly improved pass defense assembled from the service (Charles Sumner), the Rams (Jess Whittenton) and the draft (Erich Barnes). Cagy old Clark Shaughnessy has been coaching this part of the Bears' machinery.
An immense, veteran line, backstopped by Bill George, the only linebacker in the league rated on a par with Detroit's Joe Schmidt, makes it unlikely anyone will go far against the Bears on the ground.
This year looks like the best for the Bears since the great teams of the early '40s. They have speed and thumping power on the ground, the best receiver and two of the better passers in the league and an improved offensive line and defensive secondary.
COACH: GEORGE WILSON
1957 RECORD: W 8, L 4 (WON WESTERN CONFERENCE AND LEAGUE CHAMPIONSHIPS)
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 2, L 4, T 0
Although Bobby Layne and Tobin Rote, the two Texans who comprise the best corps of quarterbacks in professional football, have had trouble buying a touchdown pass in preseason games, there is no cause for alarm. Wilson uses exhibitions to test new talent and beef up his running attack. When the games count in the standings, Layne and Rote will be as effective as ever. Their receivers—Jim Doran, Steve Junker, Dave Middleton, Hopalong Cassady and Gene Gedman—are both numerous and good.
As a graduate of George Halas' Chicago Bears, Detroit Coach George Wilson places an inordinate emphasis on the ability to move a football by knocking people down. He has spent much of the pre-season developing this talent in the Lions. The addition of Rookie Bill Glass at center in a vigorous offensive line helps the blocking; John Henry Johnson is still a valuable fullback, and the Lions have stepped up backfield speed with Rookies Ken Webb and Dan Lewis. Their running attack recently has been more of a crunch than a dazzle, but it should certainly gladden Wilson's heart and accomplish his purpose, that of opening the defense for the Lions' great passers.
The Detroit secondary defense has, for several years, been considered the best in the league. It is back nearly intact—Carl Karilivacz was traded to make room for Rookie Dave Whitsell, who should have little trouble fitting into the battle-wise veteran combination of Jim David, Jack Christiansen, Yale Lary and Terry Barr. Strong rushing from a big, active line helps make the deep men look good.
The Lions have a veteran line with a great trio of linebackers in Bob Long, Joe Schmidt and Roger Zatkoff. Schmidt is probably the best in football—quick as a hunting cat, reliable as a treasury bond.