- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
The limited offense allowed Ryan to concentrate so well on his passing that he completed 12 of 13—five of them for touchdowns.
"We were dedicated in this game," Ryan said. "Against St. Louis a week ago we weren't. I guess we all felt we had another shot this week if we lost. We won't feel that way against the Colts." He paused to glance at a congratulatory telegram someone handed him, and grinned.
"Do me a favor," he said to one of his listeners. "Don't pick us."
"I won't," the listener said, with good reason.
Although the Browns are a sound, intelligent and even explosive football team, they stand small chance of upsetting the Baltimore Colts in the championship game on December 27 in Cleveland. The game will not be, as some seem to think, a rout but, given the equipment of the two teams, it should result in a decisive victory for Baltimore.
"He'll cut the Browns to pieces," one Giant said after last Saturday's game. "He eats up a zone."
The Browns rely heavily on zone coverage against passing. Most of the time they stay in what is known as a three-deep zone, designed to shut off the long pass and grudgingly yield yardage on short passes. Invariably there are cracks in such a defense. They occur in the areas between zones. For instance, if the zone is short and long, a receiver may be open for a fleeting second as he leaves the zone of the short man before he can be picked up by the deep man.
A passer needs good anticipation, cool daring and unerring accuracy to throw into these cracks, since the ball must be thrown ahead of the receiver on a flight that will split the crack in the zone just as the receiver arrives in it. No quarterback does this as well as Unitas. Too, the receivers must run faultless patterns, since any deviation from the pattern opens up a strong possibility of an interception. Raymond Berry is a meticulous receiver; Jimmy Orr and John Mackey are nearly as good, and Lenny Moore, going out for a pass from his halfback post, poses an additional threat.
Coach Don Shula last year installed what has come to be known as the Baltimore flood, an offensive formation that puts three receivers on or close to the line of scrimmage on one side, and a fourth on the other side. The Baltimore flood forces the defense out of zone coverage and often sets up man-to-man coverage on Berry. Since the Cleveland defensive backs are not notably strong on man-to-man coverage, the Colt passing attack should work very well from the flood, as well as from conventional sets which will permit Unitas to probe the Cleveland zone.