Don McIlhenny, acquired from the Packers is the only true breakaway threat, although L. G. Dupre provides fair backing. The rest of the Cowboy backs are hard, tough runners and good blockers. The fullbacks, however, are hardly more than journeymen; the Cowboy attack, unless an unknown should come along to change the situation, will depend more on passing than on the rushing.
Landry is a master of intelligent, daring defense. In selecting the players made available to the new franchise by the other clubs in the league, he chose first for defensive ability and he came up with some of the better backs and linemen in the league. Most of them are nearing 30, but none is overage. The Cowboy pass defense will not be the NFL's worst.
Landry has no Huff to stop up the holes, as he had on the Giants, but he does have a capable performer in Jerry Tubbs, drafted this year from San Francisco. The defenders have been around long enough to know what to do, and they seem young enough to want to do it.
OVER-ALL: Building a football team out of players acquired from 12 different clubs presents considerable difficulties. For instance, most clubs starting a new season are already familiar with the coach's offense, his style of defense and the terms he uses to describe both. It probably will take a while for the Cowboys, however, to discard old habits and to drop old words and to learn new ones. But with their air attack, their good short-gaining ground game and their good defense, it will be a great surprise if the Cowboys finish last.
COACH: GEORGE WILSON
1959 RECORD: W 3, L 8, T 1, FINISHED 5TH
1960 EXHIBITIONS: W 2, L 2, T 1
Unless Earl Morrall or Jim Ninowski becomes a topflight quarterback, the Lion passing offense will be as ineffectual as it was in 1959. Morrall looked better last year but in the off season Detroit traded for Ninowski, who has seen more action in exhibition games than Morrall. Both still have a good deal of room for improvement. Gail Cogdail helps the receiving, and with rookie Bob Schultz at center and Darr is McCord shifted to offensive tackle the passers should feel more secure.
The Lion ground attack is solid, built around Fullback Nick Pietrosante and Halfback Hopalong Cassady. But Schultz must come through at center; he has no acceptable veteran behind him and his blocking has to be strong if the Detroit Lions' running game is to move.
Pass defense, thanks largely to Yale Lary, has been a strong point on most Lion teams of recent years, and it should be again with the recently acquired Night Train Lane taking over for the retired Jim David. Wilson has five experienced deep defenders, four capable linebackers and seven good front-line defenders. They may have some long afternoons if the offense does not jell.
No problems here. Joe Schmidt is one of the two or three best linebackers in the pro leagues and he has competent help. The Detroit line is deep in good, big veterans, the secondary backs come up fast and they tackle extremely well.