"They ding you all the time," he said the other day. "They don't understand and I don't have time to explain the details to them."
Then, in a relaxed mood, Brown added: "You need all the weapons in this league. It is reaching the point now where you must have a quarterback who can throw long or short, pick up late-opening receivers and run."
Milt Plum, last year's quarterback, conspicuously lacked at least two of these talents. He was not a good runner and he did not have the wide, all-encompassing peripheral vision of a Graham or a Norman Van Brocklin. Neither did he have their patience, so he did not pick up the late-opening receivers in the Brown passing attack who come open at one-second intervals for some five seconds. That's why most of his pass completions were short, to the first pass catchers who opened up.
The second limiting factor in the Brown offense was Bobby Mitchell. Although Brown never criticized Mitchell publicly, it was Mitchell, at least in part, who caused Cleveland's running game to become stereotyped. Jim Brown, the exemplary fullback, could run inside or out magnificently. But Mitchell, a wonderful broken-field runner, had the well-earned reputation of being a fumbler any time he carried the ball inside tackle on a quick opening play. This meant that the Giants, for instance, knowing that Plum could not throw an effective deep pass and Mitchell would not run inside, could assign a linebacker like Sam Huff to cover Jim Brown wherever he went. Ignoring Mitchell's faking inside and conceding the deep receivers, the Giants knew that the area they had to cover was radically decreased.
To remedy the situation, in the off season Coach Brown, a shrewd trader, sent Plum, Halfback Tom Watkins and Linebacker Dave Lloyd to Detroit for Jim Ninowski, Halfback Hopalong Cassady and Bill Glass, a defensive end. In Ninowski he feels he has a quarterback who can run well and who has the patience and peripheral vision to use Cleveland's careful pass patterns to their best advantage. Ninowski, despite his first reluctance to return to Brown, now is happy as the No. 1 quarterback.
In another trade, Brown dispatched Bobby Mitchell and first-draft-choice Leroy Jackson to Washington for rookie Ernie Davis, the most sought-after college player from last year. Davis, Brown believed, would give him a threat to the inside or outside, but illness has sidelined Davis. Fortuitously, Brown also got Tom Wilson from the Rams, thinking Wilson could fill in for Davis while the ex-Syracusan learned the ways of pro ball and support him later. Wilson, a vicious blocker, has looked so good in exhibition games that the trade may prove one of Brown's best ever.
More backfield help
In the same trade that brought Wilson to Cleveland, Brown acquired Quarterback Frank Ryan, a Phi Beta Kappa from Rice, to understudy Ninowski. Finally from Pittsburgh he got Charley Scales, a hard-running fullback who will give the Browns depth at that position for the first time in some years, and will make it possible to rest the hard-worked Jimmy Brown occasionally.
Paul Brown, apparently, has listened to at least some of his critics. After he had seen Ninowski in practice, he announced: "I'm going to let Ninowski call the signals for himself at the beginning of the game." To assure those around him that he hadn't really gone soft, he added a lengthy explanation: "I still think a coach can do a better job, for several reasons. One, the defenses change so many times before the ball is snapped that, when the quarterback guesses with the defensive signal-caller, he has to change two or three times at the line of scrimmage and has as much chance to be wrong as I do from the sideline, and with less information. Also, when I call the play from the sideline, I have two coaches on a telephone hookup in the stands who know what the play is, watch the players in their bailiwick and can tell me how they performed. If the quarterback called the signal, we wouldn't know what the play was and wouldn't know what each player should have done. Now, if a play fails, one of my assistants may say to me on the phone, 'Don't file it. The guard missed his block.'
"But there is one thing that a quarterback can do by calling his own signals. He can infect the team with his personality and give you a certain exuberance. I think Ninowski can do that for us. That's why he'll call the signals, at least part of the time."