Since Paul Brown calls all of the Cleveland offensive plays by way of messenger guards who shuttle in and out of the game, tactical brilliance is not required of Plum. Brown has all that's necessary.
In 1955, when Cleveland beat the Los Angeles Rams for the world championship, Brown used a double-wing attack for one of the few times that year. He had noticed that a Ram opponent during the regular season had used the double wing unsuccessfully and reasoned that the Ram coaching staff would not revise the defense which had worked so well for them that day, especially since the Ram coaches would not expect the Browns to use it often. He analyzed the Ram defense, used the double wing often, and Cleveland won 38-14.
Brown, who is one of the best analysts in football, is resourceful enough to change his offense to suit the occasion as it develops during the game, too. Equipped now with all the tools which make up an attack—good running inside from Jim Brown, outside from Mitchell, accurate passing from Plum to three good receivers—Brown can mount the offense that is the most difficult in the league to stop. It should get better as the season wears on.
"I think this team is only beginning to approach its potential," Brown said the other day. "It is a young team, which will mature. We won't be drafting any quarterbacks this year. Plum has done well. We could have scurried around looking for another quarterback before this season, but I decided to take a leaf from a book called Acres of Diamonds by Russell H. Conwell. You remember. It's a story about some brothers. One of them goes off to Africa looking for his fortune, and another wanders all over the world, and the third one stays home, looks over what he's got and succeeds. That's what we did. We looked over what we had, and it paid off."
Just before the game with Washington someone asked Brown if he weren't afraid that he was catching the Redskins in a hot streak.
"We never catch a team that isn't hot," he said. "They're all souped up for us. It's reached the point where they call a time-out on the first play after the kickoff to wipe away the tears. And then away we go."
Brown did a notable job in rebuilding the Cleveland defense this year. He took Sid Youngelman, a castoff tackle from Philadelphia, and Willie McClung, who is in his second year with the Browns after being cut by the Steelers, and gave them the responsibility for manning the middle of the line. This freed Bob Gain, an erstwhile tackle who because of his size would be more effective as a defensive end. Gain this year is one of the best defensive ends in the league. The only unit which Brown has retained intact from the 1958 team is the linebackers—Walt Michaels, Vince Costello and Galen Fiss—a trio which is the equal of the more widely heralded New York Giant linebackers. He has a rookie—Bernie Parrish—in the secondary with a pro sophomore ( Jim Shofner) and two old heads, Warren Lahr and Junior Wren. The Cleveland defense gives up short yardage fairly readily, but it does not give up points. Discussing defense last week, Brown stopped a friend sharply when he heard him say the Giants were leading the league in defense.
"On what basis?" he asked. "How are you figuring it?"
"Total yardage allowed."
"That doesn't count," Brown said. "It's what goes up on the scoreboard against you. That's what counts."