Of their three touchdowns, the first two were the direct results of poor defense by us and the third was on a fine performance by Collins.
We never made a big play and they made three. Their whole defensive line—Paul Wiggin, Jim Kanicki, Dick Modzelewski and Bill Glass—dominated us, and their offensive line was just as good as we expected it to be. You know Frank Ryan was thrown for losses attempting to pass fewer times than any other quarterback in the league during the season. Galen Fiss, their right linebacker, did a tremendous job. Once, when we were still in the game, we called a screen to Lenny Moore and I thought Lenny might go all the way, but Fiss came right by a block and dropped Lenny for a loss with a superb tackle. He gambled and won; if he had lost, Lenny had blockers ahead and a lane down the sideline.
Whenever we had a drive started, we blew it on an interception or a fumble. We never went in, we never made the one big play that might have ignited the club. The Browns did and won. Blanton did a fine job all year and he and the Browns deserved to win.
Sadly enough, the season started for us the same way it ended, except that it was the Minnesota Vikings who beat us in the opening game, nearly as badly as the Browns did in this one. And we felt we were ready for Minnesota, just as we felt ready for Cleveland.
We had been getting ready for that Viking game for a year, actually; Carroll Rosenbloom hired me as head coach of the Baltimore Colts in January of 1963. I was the defensive coach for the Detroit Lions at that time. I heard—through the grapevine in the National Football League, where you hear everything—that Carroll was looking for a new head coach. I had played for the Colts for several years. I was a defensive halfback. A writer once called me a calculated risk as a defensive halfback; I may not have been among the best in the league at that position, but if I was a risk it was pretty well calculated, since I played corner back for seven years and you can't risk too much there. Anyway, while I was playing for Cleveland, Baltimore and Washington I spent a good deal of time studying my position. I always wanted to be a coach. Carroll once told me that he knew that. I guess he still knew it when he decided to change coaches at Baltimore. He called me when the Lions played the Colts late in the season to see if I thought I was ready for a head coaching job. He said he was considering a change and I told him I was interested and the only way I could prove whether I was ready was for him to give me the opportunity.
["He was a student all the time he played with us," says Rosenbloom. "When we cut him I was against it but I give our coaches free rein. I admired him then, and when I decided to change coaches I thought of him. I thought of some others, too, but all the recommendations I got favored Don."]
Carroll called me in January—late—and told me I had the job. It was a dream come true.
I did not worry much about taking over. The big thing that helped me was that I had had the responsibility for half the Detroit club for a couple of years. I coached the defense, and George Wilson, whom I admire very much now and learned a great deal from then, let me run it. So I knew I could handle half the job. And if you coach defense, you have to learn offense. I thought I knew enough offense and I had carte blanche to hire assistants. What I didn't know I could employ.
I guess I had some special problems. I had played with some of the Colt players—Gino Marchetti, for instance, who had been recognized as the best defensive end in pro football. Now I was going to coach Gino. I had played under the defensive coach of the Colts, Charlie Winner. Carroll told me I could replace anyone I wanted to, and I think a lot of people expected me to let Charlie go because I had been a player for him, but I never even thought of doing that. He coached the same kind of defense I had. and for a good reason: both of us had learned it from Blanton Collier. I had worked as an assistant under Blanton at the University of Kentucky. I did not expect any personality clashes with Charlie or Gino and I didn't get any.
I was hired in January, but I did not move to Baltimore until April. That spring I spent a lot of time looking at game movies. I found out that one of the things that had hurt the Colts was a lack of blocking from tight end. This was before the 1963 season, and we had drafted a big rookie named John Mackey to play tight end. I got Jim Mutscheller to help him with his blocking assignments in spring training. He turned into a fine blocker. We were lacking in other departments, too—running, for instance. But we had the big thing, we had a great gunner and an excellent field general in Johnny Unitas.