SAME OLD PROBLEMS FACE PACKERS AGAIN; NO PUNCH, INJURIES
OCTOBER 8 (Milwaukee Journal) - Green Bay's pro football season is one-sixth gone and no victories. The Chicago Bears beat the Packers rather handily in the opener. The Detroit Lions, hardly resembling the champions they are supposed to be, let Green Bay off the hook last Sunday with a 13-13 tie. So far, at least, this is 1957 all over again, even though Ray (Scooter) McLean has replaced Lisle Blackbourn as head coach and the material is admittedly better than a year ago. Scoring punch is lacking. Injuries and mistakes are overabundant. In two games, Green Bay has scored three touchdowns all told. One was against the Bears after the issue had been decided. Bob Dillon, defensive back, made the first touchdown when he returned an interception. So that leaves only one touchdown when it really counted for the offense. That was on Bart Starr's 40 yard pass to Max McGee against Detroit. At that, Starr had to connect twice. On the play before, he fired what looked like a scoring pass but Bill Howton, racing down the sideline, couldn't hold on to it. Paul Hornung has kicked four field goals in two games. He is doing all right as place kicking replacement of the retired Fred Cone. On two of Hornung's field goals, Green Bay settled for three points because it couldn't keep going for seven. The finishing punch is missing. The Packers not only have shown inability to take advantage of scoring situations in close, they have revealed no long distance punch. The backs, especially Don McIlhenny and Howie Ferguson, run well enough for short and medium yardage, but the long gain is not there. The passing has been mostly of the short variety. If Howton and McGee have been able to shake defenders, the ball has not been thrown their way. Injuries are making things no better. Starr and Babe Parilli, veteran quarterbacks, both are hurting. Starr played against Detroit despite a bad ankle and Parilli missed the game because of sore ribs. The third quarterback, Joe Francis of Oregon State, is a promising rookie, but the NFL isn't much of a place for a rookie quarterback to have to carry the load, especially if he played tailback in the single wing at college. Hornung, who had quarterback experience last year, has a broken finger on his right hand. The Packer defense failed to stop the Bears but against Detroit's sputtering attack it looked good, especially against the running. Two veteran linebackers are out with injuries - Tom Bettis and Bill Forester - but Green Bay is blessed with fine rookies at their positions in Ray Nitschke and Dan Currie. Not the least of Green Bay's troubles against Detroit were penalties for pique. Len Ford, who has been around almost since the league was formed, was thrown out for kicking. Not only was his presence missed at defensive end but the big man gave Detroit 15 yards by letting Lou Creekmur get his goat. Creekmur is an old master at this sort of thing. The surprising thing is that Ford would fall into his trap. Steve Meilinger cost Green Bay another unnecessary 15 yards by slamming the ball into the ground when the officials called an interception by Detroit. Meilinger and Gary Lowe of Detroit had been wrestling for the ball. When asked about it after the game, Meilinger bluntly answered, "Sure, he intercepted the ball. I thought I could sneak it away from him before the officials saw it." So Meilinger, to finish his great acting job, feigned anger over the call. the 15 yard penalty that ensured made Detroit's tying touchdown that much easier. Whether Green Bay will straighten out is a matter of conjecture. The Packers' next game will be against the Baltimore Colts at County Stadium Sunday. The Colts whipped the Bears, 51-38, and the Bears beat the Packers, 34-20. The scores would indicate that Green Bay's job will be a big one, to say the least.
ROOKIES SUPPLY NEW LOOK
OCTOBER 8 (New York) - Pro football is more complex than ever but you can't keep a smart rookie down. A bigger and better-than-usual crop of rookies, led by tackle Lou Michaels of Kentucky and halfback Jimmy Pace of Michigan came up to the NFL this season to disprove the old theory that a green kid just out of college can't hold his own with a seasoned pro. Michaels is a regular defensive tackle for the Rams, miserable for opposing quarterbacks. Pace is running for the Forty-Niners this year in the same manner as at Michigan a year ago. Partly because Coach Paul Brown had such spectacular success with rookies at Cleveland last season every club in the league is relying heavily on yearlings in '58. A total of 91 newcomers was on the payroll of the 12 clubs for last Sunday's league openers. Brown, who rebuilt with 12 rookies last year and carried off a division title with their help, added another nifty group to his young team including Bob Mitchell of Illinois, Leroy Bolden and Jim Ninowski of Michigan State and guard Gene Hickerson of Mississippi. In Mitchell and Bolden, the latter a jet pilot fresh from Air Force duty, Cleveland has the swiftest pair of left halfbacks in the trade. Ninowski is No. 2 quarterback behind Milt Plum, an "old hand" in his second year. The Cardinals have a sharp rookie group including back John David Crow, Texas &M's star of the year in '57. Halfback Bobby Gordon of Tennessee, tackle Jim McCusker of Pittsburgh, defensive back Charley Jackson of Southern Methodist and placekicker Bobby Joe Conrad, another Texas Aggie, who booted four field goals in the All Star game. Most of last year's really hot collegians who turned to the pros made the grade. Alex Karras, Iowa's great tackle, is a starter for the Lions. Dick Klein, Iowa's other tackle last year, made it with the Bears. Oregon's Rose Bowl runner, Jimmy Shanley, is toting the ball for Green Bay. The Packers also have linebacker Dan Currie, Michigan State's tremendous center of '57. Walt Kowalczyk, Michigan State's All-America halfback, is running for the Eagles. Other prominent rookies include tackle Frank Youso of Minnesota (Giants), quarterback Frank Ryan of Rice (Rams), center Chuck Howley of West Virginia (Bears), halfback Phil King of Vanderbilt (Giants), defensive back Ray Brown of Mississippi (Colts) and Auburn end Jimmy Phillips (Rams). But in this day of vast scouting systems employed by all clubs, a trick once restricted to George Halas and his Bears "alumni", many a small college ace is popping into view. Mike Sommers of George Washington is rambling for the Redskins. John Baker of North Carolina College is a Los Angeles tackle. Leonard Lyles of Louisville is a Baltimore end. Why so many rookies this year? The Giants, league champions in '56, were stand-patters last year and the veterans were dead from mid-season on, according to Coach Jim Lee Howell. Pro football may be complex, but it's also a game for the young, swift and strong.
COLTS DEFEND CLEAR SLATE AGAINST GREEN BAY SUNDAY
OCTOBER 9 (Milwaukee Journal) - After two weeks, the NFL has only two undefeated teams, Baltimore and Cleveland. Baltimore will be here Sunday to meet the Green Bay Packers at County Stadiuym. The kickoff will be at 1:05 p.m., with no television in Milwaukee, Green Bay or Madison. Baltimore started fast last year, too. The Colts won their first three games, galloping over Green Bay here, 45-17, in the third game. That defeat, more than any other, probably cost Lisle Blackbourn his job as Green Bay coach. Now Ray (Scooter) McLean, last year's backfield coach, must face the Colts. Whereas Blackbourn brought his team in here with a 1-1 record, McLean only has a tie to show for two games in Green Bay. McLean knows he faces a big job. He must get his offense moving and this may not be easy against the big and active Colt line. Baltimore's secondary still has leaks, but a fearsome rush by its line often covers up. Green Bay has shown no long range passing threat, anyway. A year ago, Baltimore ran out of gas at the end of the season. The Colts had a one game lead with two games to go and finished third in the Western Division, getting no part of the playoff. This year, Coach Wilbur (Weeb) Ewbank, his job in jeopardy, took it easy in the exhibitions. He was booed for it in Baltimore but when the season opened his team was ready. He hopes it will last this time. Like all pro teams, Baltimore resembles a yo-yo - up one week and down the next. In the opener against Detroit, the Colts did not play particularly well, but since the champion Lions played even worse, Baltimore won, 28-15. The Lions were not impressed. George Wilson, Detroit coach, said, "They wanted to give us the game, but we wouldn't take it." Last Saturday night, the Colts were higher than a weather balloon. They rushed away to a 27-3 first quarter lead and finally beat the Chicago Bears, 51-38. McLean hopes this will be Baltimore's week to be down. With last year's game here an exception, the Colts generally do not play well on the road. That, and the fact that Green Bay is due for a good one after last Sunday's 13-13 fiasco with Detroit, gives the Packers hope. The handicappers, however, like Baltimore.
STATISTICS NO BALM FOR PACKERS' HOPES
OCTOBER 10 (Milwaukee Journal) - Green Bay's hope against Baltimore in their NFL game at County Stadium Sunday receives little encouragement from the statistics. Unbeaten Baltimore not only has two victories against Green Bay's defeat and a tie, the Colts have 11 touchdowns to Green Bay's three. The Colt offense is built around quarterback Johnny Unitas. Some thought it was a fluke when he passed for 24 touchdowns last season.This year, in two games, he has already pitched six touchdowns. Unitas is especially effective on the "slant in" maneuver with Raymond Berry his favorite target. Berry, from a flanked position, cuts diagonally toward the middle. He gets between Unitas and the defender. If Unitas can put the ball in his hands as he moves at this angle, there is nothing the defense can do but chase Berry and try to tackle him. Unitas has completed 33 out of 66 passes for 50%. He has gained 448 yards and has lost only 20 trying to pass. Unitas also ranks fourth among Baltimore runners with 26 yards in seven carries. Ray (Scooter) McLean, Green Bay coach, observed, "Unitas is a good runner. If the defensive men don't keep their lanes pursuing him, he's gone." Berry has caught 14 passes for 212 yards. He got 10 in the Detroit game. Lenny Moore, the Colts' leading rusher with 107 yards in 17 carries, is second among pass receivers with nine catches for 177 yards. Alan (The Horse) Ameche, former Wisconsin star, is the Colts' inside runner. He has gained 99 yards in 20 carries. L.G. Dupre has 81 for 24 tries. Jim Mutscheller, a good blocker, plays the end opposite Barry. He has caught four passes for 49 yards. Lenny Lyles, rookie from Louisville, adds speed in the backfield. He returned a kickoff 103 yards against the Chicago Bears. By way of comparison, Bart Starr, Green Bay's leading quarterback, has completed 25 out of 44 passes for a fine 56.8%, but his throws have gained only 274 yards. Don McIlhenny is Green Bay's leading rusher with 89 yards in 15 tries. Howie Ferguson leads Packer receivers with seven catches for 80 yards. Max McGee has been getting better distance, however, with 119 yards on four catches. On defense, Baltimore's front line of Gino Marchetti, Don Joyce, Gene (Big Daddy) Lipscomb and Art Donovan or Ray Krouse discourages running and rushes the passer hard. Baltimore already has eight interceptions (Green Bay has three). Rookie Ray Brown, linebacker Bill Pellington and Andy Nelsen each have two interceptions.