If the Brown rushing offense last season lacked anything, it was a great break-away halfback. This year the Browns have two—Bobby Mitchell and Leroy Bolden. With the opposition constantly on guard against Fullback Jim Brown's smashes through the middle of the line, Mitchell and Bolden have found running room outside. The Cleveland running attack should be the best, by a long stride, in the East.
The Brown defense is unchanged: it's excellent. Len Ford was traded to Green Bay. Bill Quinlan moved over from the opposite end to take over Ford's spot, with Paul Wiggin replacing Quinlan. With this realignment the Browns will apply their customary crushing pressure on opposing passers. The very good deep defenders remain as a unit, with the old pro, Warren Lahr, back again to direct the complicated choreography of pass defense in the secondary.
Aside from Ford, the Brown defense, second-best in league last year—will be the same, with the exception of one linebacker post, where Tom Catlin or Galen Fiss will replace Chuck Noll, moved to offense. Walt Michaels is the mastermind.
With their rushing offense improved, the passing attack better and the defense the same except for the added wisdom of a year's competition, the Browns look like the best in the East by a comfortable margin. It's probably the beginning of a new Cleveland Brown dynasty.
NEW YORK GIANTS
COACH: JIM LEE HOWELL
1957 RECORD: W 7, L 5, 2ND
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 1, L 5, T 0
Charley Conerly has thrown more touchdown passes than any quarterback still active in the National Football League. At 37, he is the oldest quarterback in the league, too. A good deal of the passing effectiveness of the Giants depends on how these two facts balance out. Conerly has shown no signs of the erosion of age, but the leather-tough veteran is eventually going to feel the strain of an 18-game season. Conerly and Don Heinrich, the other Giant quarterback, have an advantage this year in that they have two very fast receivers to throw to in Rookies Phil King of Vanderbilt and Don Maynard of Texas Western—something the Giants have lacked during recent seasons. In Kyle Rote, Frank Gifford, Bob Schnelker and Ken MacAfee, the throwers also have sturdy bread-and-butter yardage catchers.
The addition of King to the Giant backfield is the only real change in the New York running game. King, who is big as well as fast and runs the ball with an apparent disregard for the consequences, will be helpful at fullback or halfback since he can rest the good but mature Giant regulars, Gifford and Triplett.
Three of the six men the Giants used in their defensive secondary last year are missing; in preseason games the new Giant pass defense unit leaked woefully. With an old head like Emlen Tunnell to integrate the secondary unit, plus strong rushing from players like Andy Robustelli and Roosevelt Grier, who may play end, the Giant pass defense should improve as the season goes along.
The return of Grier from the service lends considerable muscle to the Giant defensive line, which has been noted for its impenetrability for several years. The trio of knowledgeable linebackers who calk the cracks is back intact, led by Sam Huff, one of the toughest middlebackers in the league. Andy Robustelli, the all pro end, is hard to move and harder to fool.