- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
"I don't know what Morton's personality will be," Landry says. "He is still too busy learning the offenses and how to read defenses. A quarterback doesn't develop a personality until after he is secure in his job and in his mastery of it. When he is trying to remember plays and read defenses, he doesn't have time to express himself. I would like to see him gamble—up to a point. I don't like long-shot gambles. I like a quarterback like Starr, who takes a risk when the odds are in his favor. You don't win championships on long shots."
The Dallas defense is the same as it was a year ago—mostly devastating, but disastrous on occasion. It should be the former all the time. Bob Lilly and Jethro Pugh bulkwark a line which is quicker than the Rams'; the linebackers, with Chuck Howley on the right side, are the peers of Green Bay's, and the secondary is blooded, quick and knowledgeable. There are no obvious soft spots on the Cowboys. If they could board a streetcar named desire, the last stop would, appropriately enough, be in New Orleans at the Super Bowl.
New Guru in D.C.
Even before they reported for preseason training, the Redskins felt the presence of Lombardi. A number of veterans came in early, slim and enthusiastic. Sonny Jurgensen lost his Scotch belly and found a guru; he said he had learned more about quarterbacking in one cram session with Lombardi than he had learned in his 12 years in the league. Other Redskins, intoxicated on Lombardi's spiritual firewater, said they'll win the championship this year.
Maybe. At Green Bay, with better ore, Lombardi didn't mine a championship for two years. But, the Redskins aren't as bad as their reputation. They beat the points almost every time out last year, if not the opposition.
The Redskins will score a lot. They have Jurgensen, a superb offensive line and two of the NFL's best receivers in Charley Taylor and Jerry Smith, and one of the most publicized in Gary Beban, who has been switched to split end. But they'll miss Bobby Mitchell, who abruptly retired two weeks ago, and they have no running. Moreover, not even Lombardi can seal up the holes in the defense, and a porous defense not only gives away points, it denies the offense time and opportunity to score since the opposition has the ball most of the game. The return of 35-year-old Sam Huff could help the line-backing, but not enough, and the secondary is second-rate.
The Philadelphia Eagles will go with their new coach, Jerry Williams, who comes from the Canadian League, where he won two regular-season championships with Calgary. In 1960 he coached the defense for the Eagles, and they won the NFL title. Williams has cleaned house, both in players and assistant coaches, and he will doubtless be more efficient and successful than luckless Joe Kuharich, but he doesn't have the troops.
"I would rank Williams on a par with George Allen of the Rams or Landry for imaginative defenses," says Pete Retzlaff, the general manager of the Eagles. What Retzlaff didn't add was that reality wins ball games.
Williams has a journeyman quarterback in Norm Snead, who could be better with good coaching. Says Snead: "I learned as much about football under Mr. Kuharich as an offensive tackle." The Eagles recently acquired George Mira from the 49ers to back up Snead and they have first-rate receivers—Tight End Fred Hill (who has torn knee ligaments and will miss two games), Gary Ballman, Ben Hawkins and Harold Jackson, a 177-pound juking flier who was on the Rams' taxi squad most of last year. And they have the NFL's No. 3 rusher in bruising Tom Woodeshick, and an outside threat in Leroy Keyes.