Jim Brown is the best and most versatile runner in football. Bobby Mitchell is a little less powerful and a little more elusive. The offensive line is strong with Tackle Mike McCormack healthy. This is the strongest running team in the East.
One rookie moves into the veteran Brown defensive secondary—Bernie Parrish of Florida. Luckily he plays next to canny 36-year-old Warren Lahr. This unit, which has been juggled with the departure of Don Paul, may take a while to settle down. The linebackers, operating behind a very strong quartet of rushers, are all veterans and all very good.
Sid Youngelman, a 262-pound tackle who was released by the Philadelphia Eagles last year, has been very useful to the Browns. Youngelman and Willie McClung close the middle well; Bob Gain is one of the league's better defensive ends, but Paul Wiggin, the other end, is still developing. The linebacking of Chuck Noll, Vince Costello and Walt Michaels makes the Brown defense against rushing solid.
Milt Plum, who is a constantly improving quarterback, may lead the Browns back to the championship they lost by a hair last year. Although Cleveland finished in a tie for the Eastern Conference title, perfectionist Paul Brown considers anything less than the league crown a complete failure. A rebuilt defensive unit—only three players are at the same position they played last year—appears to have improved the Brown pass defense. The Browns' success formula is superb running, plus Plum and a better defense.
NEW YORK GIANTS
(Won conference, lost to Colts for title)
COACH: JIM LEE HOWELL
1958 RECORD: W 9, L 3, TIED FOR 1ST
1959 EXHIBITIONS: W 3, L 3
Charlie Conerly, literally a gray-haired old quarterback, is still the key to the Giant passing attack. Coach Jim Lee Howell looked at five quarterbacks and wound up with Conerly as his No. 1 man again. The Giant passing attack is essentially the same this year as for several years past—same passers, same receivers, linemen like massive Rosey Brown for blocking; a good, even spectacular air arm.
The new, improved Giant ground game has the same personnel, with more frequent use of Phil King at fullback. King is a fast 225-pounder and at least as good as Triplett. Frank Gifford, after a fling at quarterback, is back where he belongs at halfback. Alex Webster is still the other halfback. Why quarrel with success?
The departure of Emlen Tunnell for Green Bay leaves a gap in the Giant secondary, but Tom Landry, who handles the Giant defense, has good personnel with which to fill it. The massive rush of the Giant line helps the secondary, and the Giant linebackers are masters of the red dog—rushing from their positions.
The Giant line is among the stoutest in pro football. Rosey Grier, Dick Modzelewski, Andy Robustelli and Jim Katcavage combine 20 years of experience and add up to a little more than 1,000 pounds of mobile muscle. Add a trio of capable linebackers, masterminded by genial, tenacious Sam Huff, and it means, as usual, a magnificent defense.