The Lions have the ingredients for success. The question is one of age; Layne and Rote are 31 and 30, Jim Doran 31, and others are as old or older. A strong leavening of youth from the rookies and second-year men will help, but these oldsters face a stronger conference and a long, long season.
GREEN BAY PACKERS
COACH: RAY McLEAN
1957 RECORD: W 3, L 9, 6TH
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 2, L 3, T 0
With the continued development of Bart Starr and more perceptive passing from Babe Parilli, the Green Bay air offense may be one of the more effective in pro football. Starr has matured quickly in two years; he is a quick, analytical quarterback with a strong arm and a sixth sense which allows him to spot flaws in a defense in a hurry. Parilli, whose principal trouble heretofore has been an inability to find a secondary target if his chosen receiver was covered, seems to have developed better peripheral vision. The Packer receiving department is led by All-Pro End Bill Howton, with an unusual number of good receivers behind him, including Max McGee, Gary Knafelc, Ron Kramer and Steve Meilinger. The Packers rank with any team in the league in topflight pass catchers on hand.
A healthy Howie Ferguson and a determined Paul Hornung combine to give Green Bay real power on the ground. Don McIlhenny provides the speed, with Al Carmichael an acceptable utility man. Injuries—six assorted bone fractures—hobbled the Packer offense last year. With an adequate offensive line to pry cracks in the defense, the Packer running—especially inside—looks better.
A defensive line strengthened by offseason trades (Len Ford from Cleveland and J. D. Kimmel from Washington) should take some pressure off the Packer secondary defenders, who led the league in interceptions in 1957. John Petitbon has retired, but the other three deep men, headed by All-Pro Bobby Dillon, are back. Dan Currie, a rookie from Michigan State, lends up-close assistance.
Ford and Kimmel lend considerable authority to the Packer defensive line. Currie joins veteran Linebackers Tom Bettis and Bill Forester; and Carlton Massey, another ex-Brown, adds depth. The fiercest scrimmages in Packer history attest to the competition for positions.
The Packers should be the most improved team in the Western Conference. Depth, aided by judicious trades and good rookies, should help free the team from the possibility of disastrous injuries which accounted for the 3-9 season in 1957.
LOS ANGELES RAMS
COACH: SID GILLMAN
1957 RECORD: W 6, L 6, 4TH
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 4, L 2, T 0