The Giants own the most underrated short-and-medium-passing attacks in pro football. Bob Schnelker has become an exceptionally good receiver; Kyle Rote and Frank Gifford always have been, although none of these is good at going deep for smart Charlie Conerly's very accurate passes. Lee Grosscup, No. 3 quarterback when practice began, has moved up ahead of George Shaw and may become Conerly's replacement.
Alex Webster and Mel Triplett are nearing 30 and have begun to show the effect of multiple injuries. They still hit hard but will be rested more with the excellent replacements Phil King and Joe Morrison taking up the heavy chores. Gifford, of course, is the National League's complete back. He is an effective runner capable of slashing deep into the secondary, a canny receiver, a fearless blocker and a dangerous option passer—and there was no suspicion in 1959 that he had begun to lose his verve for the pro game.
A secondary led by the league's best safety—Jim Patton—and experienced players who are still in their physical prime make this the best pass defense in football.
Ends Andy Robustelli and Jim Katcavage, Tackles Dick Modzelewski and Rosey Grier comprise one of the biggest, smartest defensive lines around. Sam Huff is back at the important middle-backer spot, flanked by Harland Svare and Cliff Livingston, both deadly tacklers.
OVER-ALL: There have been almost no changes in the Giants lineup, and for good reason. This club is a mature, strong and intelligent one; age has not yet begun to wither it. The loss of Defensive Coach Tom Landry might have been serious had not one of his best pupils—Svare, who will coach as well as play—been ready to take over. Tom Scott spells Svare as a corner backer. The Giants may win their third straight division title, but they are an older team and they are going to be pushed hard by the Steelers, the Browns and the Eagles.
COACH: BUCK SHAW
1959 RECORD: W 7, L 5, TIED FOR 2ND
1960 EXHIBITIONS: W 3, L 1
Norman Van Brocklin has been one of the finest marksmen in professional football since 1950. He has one spectacular end to throw to, Pete Retzlaff, and a good, elusive slot back in little Tommy Mc-Donald. The Dutchman can throw under pressure but he may not have to often this year. The 1959 team represented a major overhaul and now blocking assignments are second nature.
The Eagles needed a solid, consistent halfback or two last year to give their ground game continuity. They believe they may have one in 210-pound rookie Ted Dean who is fast enough to turn the ends and big enough to test the line. Fullback Clarence Peaks has already shown enough to encourage Shaw. Bill Barnes is a deceptively powerful halfback and a good receiver, and the Eagle blocking is at least adequate.
Shaw will attempt to plug two holes in the deep secondary with rookies Bob Jackson and Jim Nieman or second-year-man Gene Johnson. He also believes he has found a replacement for Linebacker Tom Catlin (who retired to coach) in Maxie Baughan, the All-America from Georgia Tech. This won't be the tightest defense in the East, but no team will beat the Eagles on air strength alone.