COACH: WEEB EWBANK
1957 RECORD: W 7, L 5, 3RD
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 2, L 3, T 1
With the league's most effective point-producing passer in John Unitas, able backing for him from George Shaw, and two very good short-haul receivers in Ray Berry and Jim Mutscheller, the Colt passing attack ranks with the best in the National Football League. Unitas keeps the opposing defense nervous with his threat to run if his receivers are covered, and the improvement of Fullback Alan Ameche as a receiver provides an important safety-valve target when Unitas finds all other avenues closed.
The Colts ranked fifth in rushing last season and might have done better than that if their air arm—the best in the league—had not been so effective. Coach Ewbank has an ideal combination for an effective ground game: a very fast, very strong fullback in Ameche; a faster, nearly as strong halfback in Len Moore; and a quarterback who runs well enough through the scattered defenses which invite a quarterback to run. Here the Colts suffered from a lack of seasoned depth last year; with the improvement of Billy Pricer at full and Jack Call at half, they are not as vulnerable to the pros' No. 1 bugaboo—injuries—as they were in 1957.
The Colts' weak spot in 1957 was pass defense; the league's best all-round offense was nullified too often by costly mistakes in the secondary defense. A year's experience plus a fine rookie defender in Ray Brown to go with Milt Davis, a great interceptor, should help. The Colt pass defense is aided by strong rushing from a great defensive line led by End Gino Marchetti; only the stress of league play can determine whether the Colt defenders have improved enough to match the offense.
The best defense against rushing in the league has been bolstered by more depth in Ray Krouse. It should remain the best.
Fumbles, lapses in pass defense and a notably inadequate punting game cost Baltimore the championship last year. Dick Horn, who tried out at quarterback with them in 1954, has solved the punting problem. The pass defense looks better. With a break on key fumbles, this could be the Colts' year.
COACH: GEORGE HALAS
1957 RECORD: W 5, L 7, 5TH
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 6, L 0, T 0
If the Chicago Bears could schedule their late games in California, Quarterback Ed Brown might lead the league in passing. He has the arm and the eye but an inexplicable inability to coordinate the two when the weather turns cold. However, the Bears, once again being coached by their stern, hard-driving owner, George Halas, have capable quarterback relief plus one of football's greatest receivers in the incredible Harlon Hill. Bill McColl and Bob Carey are good receivers, too, and if Jim Dooley recovers from an injured ankle in time, the Bear air attack could be the best. A revamped offensive line should give the passers more time.