On offense, Gillman has Lance Al-worth and Gary Garrison. Add powerful tight ends and depth and it is obvious why the Chargers have an extraordinary passing attack. The runners are big (with the exception of 5'9" Dickie Post) and speedy, and the development of rookies Ron Sayers (Gale's brother) and Jeff Queen adds further potency. If the defense holds up, the Chargers may move up. They certainly won't move down.
A Lot of Bad Breaks
Denver and Cincinnati, the fourth and fifth teams in the West last year, won only eight games between them, and none against the first three. It seems unlikely they will better that record this year. Oh, those busted Broncos! In one week they lost four men with torn right knee ligaments, but so far they've avoided the plague of broken collarbones which cost them their No. 1 quarterback, Steve Tensi, and No. 1 receiver, Al Denson, for most of last season. Other injuries chopped up their offensive unit, forcing the defense to play 60% to 70% of each game, and with rookies sprinkled in the secondary, Denver led the league in pass yardage given up. Moreover, the linebackers didn't once get to the passer on a blitz.
The quarterbacking should be superior to last year. Tensi's collarbone has knit, and Saban has added reserve strength in Pete Liske, a four-year veteran from the Canadian League. Tom Smiley, a big fullback acquired from Cincinnati, is a fine blocker and will give Floyd Little some help carrying the ball.
Paul Brown, in the second season at Cincinnati, needs all the help he can get. In 1968 Brown did very well to win three games with castoffs and rookies. And he found several nuggets: Running Back Paul Robinson, who gained 1,023 yards and made Rookie of the Year, Center Bob Johnson and Bill Staley, a defensive tackle.
"But," as Brown says, "we have to have more early picks to build up. You cant hurry it. The other clubs have improved, too. We may not win as many this year as last."
Greg Cook, the Cincinnati University quarterback who shone in the All-Star game, could be a 1969 find, as could Bill Bergey at middle linebacker. But the Bengals, with six rookie draft choices starting, will have to depend for victories on Brown's brain.