The Giants, standing pat on an offensive backfield which has weathered several campaigns, may begin to feel their age. Rookies like King and Maynard help the offense; rookies in the defensive secondary will cost touchdowns—maybe too many.
COACH: BUCK SHAW
1957 RECORD: W 4, L 8, 5TH
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 3, L 3, T 0
When the Philadelphia Eagles acquired Norman Van Brocklin from the Los Angeles Rams, it inspired old pro Pete Pihos to buy two pairs of football shoes and contemplate returning from retirement. Pete reconsidered, but his enthusiasm indicates the effect the Dutchman has had on Eagle morale. Probably the finest passer in professional football, the stubborn Van Brocklin could not get along with Ram Coach Sid Gillman. His presence at least doubles the passing threat of the Philadelphia team. Van has more than competent receivers in Bobby Walston, Tommy McDonald and Bill Barnes, who led the team in both rushing and receiving last year. A couple of rookies—speedy Dale Ems of Bradley and Andy Nacrelli from Fordham and Canadian football—add zest to the Eagle receiving line.
Here, too, the Eagles look stronger. The running backs are big, muscled and young. Barnes, a thump-along runner, is a fine fullback; his constant threat inside tackle adds to the effectiveness of Walt Kowalczyk and Clarence Peaks wide. The Eagles, however, will get no running from their new quarterback. Van Brocklin moves with all the speed and elusiveness of a pregnant hippopotamus.
The Eagle secondary defense is tested and cohesive. Jerry Norton, who was injured in preseason competition, should be ready for the season; he has a strong supporting cast in Ed Bell, Tom Brookshier and Rocky Ryan. The shift of Chuck Bednarik from defense to offense points up the strength of the Eagle linebackers.
The Eagle big four—the four who man the line of scrimmage—represent something more than a thousand pounds of humanity. Don Owens, Sid Youngelman, Jesse Richardson and Marion Campbell may be the best defensive line in the Eastern Conference. The linebackers are tough, quick and sure. Pellegrini and Bob Hudson share Bednarik's old post at middlebacker.
Aside from a possible lack of depth in the defensive secondary and in running backs, the Eagles have the heft to give Cleveland a good argument for the Eastern Conference title. The addition of Van Brocklin is the key to the Eagle improvement.
COACH: BUDDY PARKER
1957 RECORD: W 6, L 6, 3RD
1958 EXHIBITIONS: W 2, L 4, T 0