History

History: 1956


Team Photo

Anyone with doubts as to the importance of the quarterback position in football need only look to the 1956 Browns to be convinced otherwise.

In most respects, the Browns were not that much different than they had been in 1954 and '55, when they won back-to-back NFL championships. Sure, the principal players were a year older, but they were still there.

With one exception.

One glaring exception.

Quarterback Otto Graham had retired -- this time for good. He had temporarily retired after the 1954 title game only to be lured back in training camp for one final season in '55.

But when the Browns routed the Los Angeles Rams 38-14 to claim the NFL crown, Graham once again called it quits. In that game, and in the 56-10 mauling of the Detroit Lions in the 1954 championship game, Graham had accounted for a combined total of 10 touchdowns -- five passing and five running.

He had been the heart and soul of the team from its inception in 1946 in the All-America Football Conference, and had been a big reason why the Browns played in the league championship game in each of those first 10 seasons, winning seven crowns. It's a feat that will likely never be matched.

And now Graham was gone, headed to the booth to serve as color analyst on the telecasts of Browns games with Ken Coleman. He would serve in that role for just that one season.

His absence on the field was felt immediately. The once-prolific Browns offense was held to single-digits scoring in three of the first four games in 1956, and, not surprisingly, the club lost each time.

The Browns would never score more than 24 points in a game all season. In 1955, they had totaled 24 or more points in eight of their 12 regular-season games.

The 1955 Browns had scored 394 points, and in '56, the total was much less than half of that, just 167. The Browns scored just 48 points in the second half of games. In 1955, they had twice scored 41 points in a game.

Whereas Graham had thrown 15 TD passes with just eight interceptions for a an NFL-leading 1,721 yards and a 94.0 quarterback rating in 1955, Tom O'Connell, Babe Parilli and George Ratterman combined in '56 for 1,358 yards, eight TDs, 18 interceptions and a 49.5 rating.

Wingback Ray Renfro caught four of those TD passes, but he had just 17 receptions in all. The receptions leader was Darrel Brewster with 28.

Hall of Famer Dante Lavelli, in his final season, added only 20. He was lost without his pal, Graham.

Preston Carpenter had a good rushing performance with 756 yards.

The lack of offense was the culprit in the Browns finishing just 5-7 for their first losing season. It would be 18 years before they suffered through another one.

The Browns, who had been 9-2-1 the year before, lost one more game in 1956 than they had from 1953-55 -- combined.

The only thing that kept the season from being even more unsuccessful was the fact the defense extremely well, allowing just 177 points, or 41 less than it had in 1955. The Browns posted a shutout and didn't permit any opponent to score more than 24 points.

Cornerback Don Paul had seven interceptions, the most by a Brown since 1954, to help lead the defense.

Safety Kenny Konz was second in interceptions with four, but it was on special teams where he really stood out, leading the NFL in average yards per punt return at 14.4.

The Browns had one memorable moment, rising up in the next-to-last game to plant a 24-7 loss on the arch rival New York Giants, who would go on to win the Eastern Conference title and then bury the Chicago Bears 47-7 in the league title game.

But without their unquestioned leader, Otto Graham, the Browns couldn't deliver those types of performances with any consistency.

Steve King,
Staff Writer


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 2-5
College All-Stars (75,000) 26-0
at San Francisco 49ers (38,741) 17-28
at Los Angeles Rams (40,175) 6-17
Green Bay Packers (15,456) 20-21
at Detroit Lions (48,105) 0-17
Detroit Lions at Akron (28,201) 14-31
at Chicago Bears (56,543) 24-14
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 5 7 0 .417 0 0 0 .000 5 7 0 .417
 
 

Date Result Opponent Att.
9/30 L 7-9 at Chicago Cardinals 20,966
10/6 W 14-10 at Pittsburgh Steelers 35,398
10/14 L 9-21 New York Giants 60,042
10/21 L 9-20 at Washington Redskins 23,332
10/28 L 16-24 Pittsburgh Steelers 50,358
11/4 W 24-7 at Green Bay Packers 28,590
11/11 L 7-21 Baltimore Colts 42,404
11/18 W 16-0 at Philadelphia Eagles 25,894
11/25 L 17-20 Washington Redskins 22,878
12/2 W 17-14 Philadelphia Eagles 20,645
12/9 W 24-7 at New York Giants 27,707
12/16 L 7-24 Chicago Cardinals 25,312

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 65 54 14 34 0 --- 167
Opponents 24 69 30 54 0 --- 177

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 173 188
Rushing 94 108
Passing 63 62
Penalty 16 18
Total Net Yards 3,310 3,135
Avg. Per Game 275.8 261.3
Total Plays 744 689
Avg. Per Play 4.4 4.6
Net Yards Rushing 1,817 2,032
Avg. Per Game 151.4 169.3
Total Rushes 466 463
Net Yards Passing 1,175 1,103
Avg. Per Game 97.9 91.9
Sacked/Yards Lost 0/183 0/112
Gross Yards 1,358 1,215
Attempts/Completions 202/105 226/107
Completion Pct. 52.00% 47.30%
Had Intercepted 18 18
Punts/Avg. 50/41.9 59/40.7
Net Punting Avg. 50/39.2 59/35.3
Penalties/Yards Lost 52/457 61/529
Fumbles/Ball Lost 18/12 11/8
Touchdowns 19 21
Rushing 8 13
Passing 8 7
Returns 3 1

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Groza, Lou 0 0 0 0 18/18 0 0 11/20 0 51
Renfro, Ray 0 4 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 24
Morrison, Fred 1 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 12
Modzelewski, Ed 2 0 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 12
Bassett, Maurice 1 1 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 12
Browns 8 8 1 2 18/19 0 0 11/20 1 167
Opponents 13 7 1 0 21/21 0 0 10/18 0 177

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Carpenter, Preston 188 756 4 30 0
Modzelewski, Ed 96 413 4.3 23 2
Morrison, Fred 83 340 4.1 41 1
Bassett, Maurice 41 129 3.1 12 1
O'Connell, Tom 24 40 1.7 11 2
Browns 466 1,817 3.9 41 8
Opponents 463 2,032 4.4 70t 13

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Brewster, Darrel 28 417 14.9 41 1
Lavelli, Dante 20 344 17.2 68t 1
Renfro, Ray 17 325 19.1 46t 4
Carpenter, Preston 16 124 7.8 34 0
Modzelewski, Ed 10 27 2.7 6 0
Browns 105 1,358 12.9 68t 8
Opponents 107 1,215 11.4 75t 7

Interceptions No Yds Avg LG TD
Paul, Don 7 190 27.1 42 1
Konz, Ken 4 34 8.5 28 0
Lahr, Warren 3 33 11 18 0
Noll, Chuck 1 13 13 13 0
Fiss, Galen 1 4 4 4 0
Browns 18 274 15.2 42 1
Opponents 18 279 15.5 38 0

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Morrison, Fred 38 1,561 41.1 0 7 70 0
Gillom, Horace 12 536 44.7 0 0 53 0
Browns 50 2,097 41.9 0 7 70 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Konz, Ken 13 0 187 14.4 65t 1
Paul, Don 17 0 103 6.1 17 0
Carpenter, Preston 1 0 18 18 18 0
Quinlan, Volney 10 0 9 0.9 5 0
Browns 41 0 317 7.7 65t 1
Opponents 26 0 137 5.3 31 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Carpenter, Preston 15 381 25.4 42 0
Quinlan, Volney 9 219 24.3 50 0
Kinard, Billy 7 196 28 56 0
Morrison, Fred 1 17 17 17 0
Smith, Jim Ray 1 14 14 14 0
Browns 34 830 24.4 56 0
Opponents 33 819 24.8 57 0

Field Goals
1-19 20-29 30-39 40-49 50+ Tot

Passing
Att Cmp Yds Pct Av/At TD Td% Int Int% LG Tkld Rating
O'Connell, Tom 96 42 551 43.8 5.74 4 4.2 8 8.3 62 0/41 41.6
Parilli, Vito 49 24 409 49 8.35 3 6.1 7 14.3 68t 0/63 58.5
Ratterman, George 57 39 398 68.4 6.98 1 1.8 3 5.3 46t 0/79 72.1
Browns 202 105 1,358 52 6.72 8 4 18 8.9 68t 0/183 49.5
Opponents 226 107 1,215 47.3 5.38 7 3.1 18 8 75t 0/112 41.1