WESTERN CONFERENCE

October 07, 1956

BALTIMORE
Colts

1955 RECORD: Won 5, lost 6, tied 1. Finished fourth.

1956 EXHIBITIONS: Won 3, lost 2.

COACHES: Head—Weeb Ewbank, Assistants—Herman Ball. Charles Winner, Frank Cumiskey, Frank Lauterbur.

WATCH FOR: 14, George Shaw, QB; 21, Billy Vessels, HB; 35, Alan Ameche, FB; 44, Bert Rechichar, DHB; 45, L. G. Dupre, HB; 63, Art Spinney, G; 70, Art Donovan, T; 73, Joe Campanella, G; 76, Don Joyce, E.

OFFENSE: The addition of Halfbacks Billy Vessels (Oklahoma) and Lennie Moore (Penn State) should spice a Colt running attack which in 1955 depended too much on Alan Ameche's magnificent running up the middle and George Shaw's passing. With the addition of a definite running threat to the outside (last year's fragile L. G. Dupre again appears sound), the Baltimore offense should be far stronger. Shaw's aim was off during the exhibitions, but will probably improve, and this year he has more and better receivers. Moore replaces tiny Buddy Young, the doughty five-foot-four-inch Negro halfback who charmed and thrilled pro crowds for nine years. Center is the weakest position on an otherwise good offensive platoon.

DEFENSE: The Colts' Ferocious Five was one of the sturdiest defensive lines in the pro league last year, and, saving the ravages of age, should be again. The secondary defense was somewhat green, except for Bert Rechichar, and porous, but it is hoped that a year's experience will improve this.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 30—Chicago Bears (23-17)
Oct. 6—Detroit (28-13)
Oct. 14—at Green Bay (24-20)
Oct. 21—at Chicago Bears (10-38)
Oct. 28—Green Bay (14-10)
Nov. 11—at Cleveland (no game)
Nov. 18—at Detroit (14-24)
Nov. 25—Los Angeles (17-17)
Dec. 2—San Francisco (26-14)
Dec. 9—at Los Angeles (14-20)
Dec. 16—at San Francisco (24-35)
Dec. 23—Washington (13-14)

CHICAGO
Bears

1955 RECORD: Won 8, lost 4. Finished in second place.

1956 EXHIBITIONS: Won 5, lost 1.

COACHES: Head—Paddy Driscoll. Assistants—Phil Handler, George Connor, Luke Johnsos, Sid Luck-man, Clark Shaughnessy.

WATCH FOR: 15, Ed Brown, QB; 16, George Blanda, QB; 21, Perry Jeter, HB; 35, Rick Casares, FB; 45, Bobby Watkins, HB; 61, Bill George, G; 78, Stan Jones, G; 63, M. L. Brackett, T; 83, Bill McColl, E; 87, Harlon Hill, E.

OFFENSE: The Bears, in George Halas' final year as head coach, nearly caught the Los Angeles Rams in a finishing rush which saw them win eight of their last nine games in 1955 after dropping the first three. They also whipped the champion Rams twice. They have added a wonderful breakaway threat in Rookie Perry Jeter, who looked like another Buddy Young in exhibitions. The Bears haven't yet found a really top-notch quarterback, although Ed Brown has developed steadily in the last two years. The offensive line is rated best in the division.

DEFENSE: The Bear pass defense was about the worst in the loop a year ago, but it has looked much better in the exhibition trials. J. C. Caroline, the fast Illinois halfback who played in Canada last season, has quickly adapted to the intricacies of pro pass patterns and may plug a serious leak for Coach Paddy Driscoll, who takes over from Halas. A pair of large rookie tackles—John Mellekas of Arizona and M. L. Brackett of Auburn—lend new authority to the line.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 30—at Baltimore (17-23)
Oct. 7—at Green Bay (3-24)
Oct. 14—San Francisco (19-20)
Oct. 21—Baltimore (38-10)
Oct. 28—at San Francisco (34-23)
Nov. 4—at Los Angeles (31-20)
Nov. 11—Green Bay (52-31)
Nov. 18—Los Angeles (24-3)
Nov. 25—at New York (no game)
Dec. 2—at Detroit (24-14)
Dec. 9—Chicago Cardinals (14-53)
Dec. 16—Detroit (21-20)

DETROIT
Lions

1955 RECORD: Won 3, lost 9. Finished sixth.

1956 EXHIBITIONS: Won 4, lost 2.

COACHES: Head—Buddy Parker. Assistants—John Cochrane, Buster Ramsey, George Wilson, Aldo Forte.

WATCH FOR: 22, Bobby Layne, QB; 24, Jack Christiansen, DHB; 40, Howard Cassady, HB; 42, Don McIlhenny, HB, 56, Joe Schmidt, LB; 70, Ray Krouse, T; 76, Lou Creekmur, G; 82, Leon Hart, FB-E.

OFFENSE: Bobby Layne, the key to the Lion offense, passed well in the exhibition season, indicating he is finally rid of the shoulder trouble which has bothered him for the last two years. An infusion of youth makes the backfield look stronger despite the loss of Doak Walker, who has retired. Another SMU back—195-pound Don McIlhenny—was impressive during preseason games; Hopalong Cassady, the Ohio State All-America, proved very handy as a flanker back—the pro's third end. Return of Gene Gedman from service will give the Lions quick-hitting fullback power through the middle and release Notre Dame's famous Leon Hart, who has been filling in at that spot, to his normal duties at both offensive and defensive end.

DEFENSE: Some part of the reason for the team's amazing drop from first to last in the Western Division in 1955 was due to a softness at the middle of the defensive line, this year stiffened by the addition of Ray Krouse, 265-pound New York tackle acquired by trade.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 30—at Green Bay (17-20)
Oct. 6—at Baltimore (13-28)
Oct. 14—Los Angeles (10-17)
Oct. 21—San Francisco (24-27)
Oct. 28—at Los Angeles (13-24)
Nov. 4—at San Francisco (21-38)
Nov. 11—at Washington (no game)
Nov. 18—Baltimore (24-14)
Nov. 22—Green Bay (24-10)
Dec. 2—Chicago Bears (14-24)
Dec. 9—Pittsburgh (31-28)
Dec. 16—at Chicago Bears (20-21)

GREEN BAY
Packers

1955 RECORD: Won 6, lost 6. Finished in third place.

1956 EXHIBITIONS: Won 4, lost 1.

COACHES: Head—Lisle Blackborn. Assistants—Ray McLean, Earl Klapstein, Lou Rymkus, Abe Stuber.

WATCH FOR: 18, Tobin Rote, QB; Floyd Reid, HB; 37, Howie Ferguson, FB; 44, Bobby Dillon, DHB; 84, Gary Knafelc, E; 86, Bill Howton, E.

OFFENSE. The Packers have improved their offensive line with the addition of a rookie tackle—Bob Skoronski of Indiana—and the purchase of Tackle John Sandusky from the Browns. A new spirit of confidence implements the improved personnel and makes Coach Lisle Blackbourn feel this is the best team he has had in his three years as coach. Tobin Rote is a very useful passing quarterback and a strong runner; Howie Ferguson gives the Packers a thumping threat up the middle.

DEFENSE: The Packer defense was bolstered last year by Rookies Nate Borden at defensive end, Billy Bookout at defensive halfback and Tom Bettis at linebacker. This trio is back, and the emergence of Henry Gremminger, who played end at Baylor last year as a defensive back, makes the Packer pass defense stickier. A lack of good substitutes may prove wearing for the members of the defensive line as the season goes along, but the starters are capable. The secondary defenders were victimized only three times last year on long passes, but allowed too many short completions.

1956 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 30—Detroit (20-17)
Oct. 7—Chicago Bears (24-3.)
Oct. 14—Baltimore (20-24)
Oct. 21—Los Angeles (30-28)
Oct. 28—at Baltimore (10-14)
Nov. 4—Cleveland (10-41)
Nov. 11—at Chicago Bears (31-52)
Nov. 18—San Francisco (27-21)
Nov. 22—at Detroit (10-24)
Dec. 2—at Chicago Cardinals (31-14)
Dec. 8—at San Francisco (28-7)
Dec. 16—at Los Angeles (17-31)

LOS ANGELES
Rams

1955 RECORD: Won 8. lost 3, tied 1. Finished first. Playoff: Lost to Browns, 14-38.

1956 EXHIBITIONS: Won 3, lost 3.

COACHES: Head—Sid Gillman. Assistants—Joe Madro. Jack Faulkner, Lowell Storm.

WATCH FOR: 9, Billy Wade, QB; 11, Norman Van Brocklin, QB; 21, Skeets Quinlan, HB; 27, Ron Waller, HB; 35, Tank Younger, FB; 40, Elroy Hirsch, E; 43, Bill Sherman, DHB; 48, Les Richter, LB; 61, Duane Putnam, G.

OFFENSE: The Rams have an overflowing supply of all the offensive talent needed for a versatile, powerful attack. In Norm Van Brocklin, they have the finest long passer in pro football, and he is backed up by two top ball handlers—Bill Wade and Rudy Bukich. Skeets Quinlan and Ron Waller are both fast and elusive at halfback; the fullbacks are veteran Tank Younger, one of the strongest in the league, and Joe Marconi, a 220-pound rookie from West Virginia. Elroy Hirsch, still as dangerous a pass receiver as there is, is only one of a half dozen such ends.

DEFENSE: The only weakness apparent on the team is at one defensive end post, where Frank Fuller, being groomed to replace Andy Robustelli, broke his leg, leaving only inexperienced personnel available. The linebackers—Les Richter and Larry Morris—are a really fearsome tandem, and the addition of Hugh Pitts, the TCU great, makes this position well stocked, too. The defensive backs, who were more than adequate last season, have returned intact.

1958 SCHEDULE (1955 score):

Sept. 30—Philadelphia (23-21)
Oct. 7—at San Francisco (23-14)
Oct. 14—at Detroit (17-10)
Oct. 21—at Green Bay (28-30)
Oct. 28—Detroit (24-13)
Nov. 4—Chicago Bears (20-31)
Nov. 11—San Francisco (27-14)
Nov. 18—at Chicago Bears (3-24)
Nov. 25—at Baltimore (17-17)
Dec. 2—at Pittsburgh (27-26)
Dec. 9—Baltimore (20-14)
Dec. 16—Green Bay (31-17)

SAN FRANCISCO
49ers

1955 RECORD: Won 4, lost 8. Finished fifth.

1956 EXHIBITIONS: Won 3, lost 3.

COACHES: Head—Frank Albert. Assistants—Red Hickey, Phil Bengtson Mark Duncan. Bill Johnson, Joe Vetrano.

WATCH FOR: 11, Earl Morrall, QB; 14, Y. A. Tittle, QB; 34, Joe Perry, FB; 35, John Henry Johnson, HB; 39, Hugh McElhenny, HB; 47, Dick Moegle, HB; 73, Leo Nomellini, T; 74, Bob Toneff, T; 82, Gordy Soltau, E; 84, Bill Wilson, E.

OFFENSE: Frankie Albert was a practicing gridiron magician in his days as quarterback for Stanford and the 49ers, and he may need all his warlock's skill in his maiden venture as a head coach. Bill Johnson, who quit as an offensive center to help Albert as a coach, had to return to his chores after the exhibition season. Hugh McElhenny and John Henry Johnson, recovered from 1955 injuries, may take some of the ball-carrying burden off Joe Perry, whose drives up the middle have been bread and butter for the 49ers for years. If Albert can dig up some blocking in the middle, the 49ers can move; they have passing with Y. A. Tittle and Earl Morrall, and top receivers in Gordy Soltau and Billy Wilson.

DEFENSE.-The ends and deep backs do not have exceptional speed, leaving team vulnerable to passing. Albert thinks much of his success depends on the defense, where Leo Nomellini can do much to help at tackle—if he chooses to try; Bob Toneff, the other tackle, will.

1956 SCHEDULE (l955 score):

Sept. 30—New York (no game)
Oct. 7—Los Angeles (14-23)
Oct. 14—at Chicago Bears (20-19)
Oct. 21—at Detroit (27-24)
Oct. 28—Chicago Bears (23-34)
Nov. 4—Detroit (38-21)
Nov. 11—at Los Angeles (14-27)
Nov. 18—at Green Bay (21-27)
Nov. 25—at Philadelphia (no game)
Dec. 2—at Baltimore (14-26)
Dec. 8—Green Bay (7-28)
Dec. 16—Baltimore (35-24)

SIX ILLUSTRATIONS PHOTO35, ALAN AMECHE PHOTO44, BERT RECHICHAR PHOTO21, PERRY JETER PHOTO63, M. L. BRACKETT PHOTO24, JACK CHRISTIANSEN PHOTO22, BOBBY LAYNE PHOTO18, TOBIN ROTE PHOTO37, HOWIE FERGUSON PHOTO48, LES RICHTER PHOTO27, RON WALLER PHOTO74, BOB TONEFF PHOTO11, EARL MORRALL

HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
OUT
HOLE YARDS PAR R1 R2 R3 R4
IN
Eagle (-2)
Birdie (-1)
Bogey (+1)
Double Bogey (+2)