History

History: 1963


Team Photo

Blanton Collier was a quiet, friendly man who showed little emotion. But his stomach had to be churning like a washing machine as the 1963 season got underway.

A former assistant with the Browns two different times, he had the daunting task of taking over as head coach and replacing a living legend in Paul Brown. Brown, the only coach the Browns had ever had since their inception in 1946 and the man for whom the team is named, was shockingly fired after the 1962 season.

Forget the fact the Browns had finished a disappointing 7-6-1 -- Brown's second-worst record in 17 seasons -- in 1962. Forget the fact the Browns failed to make the playoffs in Brown's last five seasons as coach, and that they hadn't won the NFL championship in his final seven years.

The only thing that mattered -- the only thing people remembered then, and remember now -- is that Brown had guided the Browns to the league championship game in each of their first 10 seasons of existence, through 1955. And they had won the title seven times.

Before that, he had taken Ohio State to the 1942 national championship, and made Massillon (Ohio) High School a national prep power in the 1930s.

Plus there were the many innovations Brown brought to the game.

Added together, that cast a long shadow onto Collier, but he had a plan to escape it -- at least as much as he could -- and take advantage of this great professional opportunity.

The team responded in overwhelmingly positive fashion, as the club improved to 10-4 and finished in second place in the Eastern Conference, a game behind the arch rival New York Giants (11-3). As such, the 1963 Browns became the first and only team in club history to win 10 games and not make the playoffs.

The surge began immediately, as the Browns won their opening six games for the first time since 1953. Included in that was a 35-23 decision over the Giants, who went on to capture the East for the third straight season.

They scored points in bunches during that opening stretch, averaging 34.2 points per contest.

Defensively, the Browns had limited two of those six foes to single-digits scoring, and had three games in which they had held opponents to 14 or fewer points.

Then the Browns hit a major snag. They went 1-3 over the next month, getting drubbed 33-6 by the Giants in the return march at Cleveland, being upset 9-7 by the Pittsburgh Steelers and falling 20-14 to the St. Louis Cardinals.

The Browns snapped out of it with wins over the Dallas Cowboys (27-17) and Cardinals (24-10), but then an old nemesis, the Detroit Lions, stepped in to spoil the fun for good. They clobbered the Browns 38-10, effectively eliminating Cleveland from the race.

The Browns closed out the year by defeating the Washington Redskins to record their most wins since 1953.

A 40-23 loss to the Green Bay Packers in the Playoff Bowl, in a battle of conference runnerup teams, was nothing more than a footnote to the vast improvement the Browns made in 1963.

Pro Football Hall of Famer Jim Brown set an NFL rushing record with 1,863 yards and added 12 touchdowns. A total of 13 of Gary Collins' team-leading 43 receptions went for scores.

But the real key to the offense - and really, the team overall - was the insertion of Frank Ryan at quarterback full-time. It was a brilliant move by Collier. After sharing the duties with Jim Ninowski in 1962 following his arrival from the Los Angeles Rams in a trade that offseason, Ryan really blossomed in '63. He had 25 TD passes and just 13 interceptions for a 90.6 quarterback rating.

Middle linebacker Vince Costello, who grew up in Magnolia, Ohio, just south of Canton, and safety Larry Benz paced the club in interceptions with seven each.

The Browns headed into the offseason convinced all their accomplishments in 1963 would lead to even bigger and better things in '64. They had no idea how much bigger and better it would turn out to be until they won the 1964 league championship.

There was some sadness to that 1963 season, though, as the club was still mourning the deaths of three players during the offseason.

Sixth-round draft choice Tom Bloom, a running back from Purdue, died in a car accident; veteran safety Don Fleming, from tiny Shadyside, Ohio along the Ohio River, was electrocuted while working construction in Florida; and running back Ernie Davis, who had broken all of Jim Brown's records at Syracuse en route to becoming the first African American to win the Heisman Trophy, passed away of leukemia.

The Browns had traded HOF running back Bobby Mitchell to the Redskins following the 1961 season to get the rights to Davis.

Steve King,
Staff Writer


YEAR RESULTS
Preseason Results
National Football League: 2-3
at Detroit Lions (37,248) 10-24
Baltimore Colts (83,218) 7-21
at San Francisco 49ers (28,335) 24-7
at Los Angeles Rams (45,623) 23-14
Pittsburgh Steelers at Canton (18,462) 7-16
 
Regular Season Results
  Regular Season Playoffs Combined Record
League W L T PCT W L T PCT W L T PCT
NFL 10 4 0 .714 0 0 0 .000 10 4 0 .714
 
Postseason Results
Playoff Bowl
Date Opponent Result Score
1/05 Green Bay Packers (at Miami) Loss 23-40
 

Date Result Opponent Att.
9/15 W 37-14 Washington Redskins 57,618
9/22 W 41-24 at Dallas Cowboys 28,710
9/29 W 20-6 Los Angeles Rams 54,713
10/5 W 35-23 Pittsburgh Steelers 84,684
10/13 W 35-24 at New York Giants 62,956
10/20 W 37-7 Philadelphia Eagles 75,174
10/27 L 12206 New York Giants 84,213
11/3 W 23-17 at Philadelphia Eagles 60,671
11/10 L 7-9 at Pittsburgh Steelers 54,497
11/17 L 14-20 St. Louis Cardinals 75,932
11/24 W 27-17 Dallas Cowboys 55,096
12/1 W 24-10 at St. Louis Cardinals 32,531
12/8 L 10-38 at Detroit Lions 51,382
12/15 W 27-20 at Washington Redskins 40,865
Playoff Bowl
1/5 L 23-40 Green Bay Packers (at Miami) 54,921

Score By Periods
1st 2nd 3rd 4th OT Tot.
Browns 85 112 40 106 0 --- 343
Opponents 60 91 60 51 0 --- 262

Team Statistics
Browns Opponent
Total First Downs 252 242
Rushing 135 99
Passing 100 129
Penalty 17 14
Total Net Yards 4,856 4,126
Avg. Per Game 346.9 294.7
Total Plays 807 860
Avg. Per Play 6 4.8
Net Yards Rushing 2,639 1,651
Avg. Per Game 188.5 117.9
Total Rushes 460 423
Net Yards Passing 2,217 2,475
Avg. Per Game 158.4 176.8
Sacked/Yards Lost 25/232 29/243
Gross Yards 2,449 2,718
Attempts/Completions 322/164 408/208
Completion Pct. 50.90% 51.00%
Had Intercepted 20 22
Punts/Avg. 54/40.0 57/43.7
Net Punting Avg. 54/36.0 57/38.7
Penalties/Yards Lost 52/609 63/592
Fumbles/Ball Lost 25/17 13/10
Touchdowns 43 30
Rushing 15 10
Passing 27 16
Returns 1 4

Scoring
Ru Pa St Df PAT 2Ru 2Pa FG Saf TP
Brown, Jim 12 3 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 90
Groza, Lou 0 0 0 0 40/43 0 0 15/23 0 85
Collins, Gary 0 13 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 78
Kreitling, Rich 0 6 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 36
Green, Ernie 0 3 0 0 0/0 0 0 0/0 0 18
Browns 15 27 0 1 40/43 0 0 15/23 0 343
Opponents 10 16 4 0 29/30 0 0 17/35 1 262

Rushing
No Yds Avg LG TD
Brown, Jim 291 1,863 6.4 80t 12
Green, Ernie 87 526 6 73 0
Ryan, Frank 62 224 3.6 25 2
Webb, Ken 12 58 4.8 19 0
Ninowski, Jim 5 -19 -3.8 2 0
Browns 460 2,639 5.7 80t 15
Opponents 423 1,651 3.9 32 10

Receiving
No Yds Avg LG TD
Collins, Gary 43 674 15.7 49t 13
Brewer, Johnny 29 454 15.7 55 0
Green, Ernie 28 305 10.9 35 3
Brown, Jim 24 268 11.2 83t 3
Kreitling, Rich 22 386 17.5 45 6
Browns 164 2,449 14.9 83t 27
Opponents 208 2,718 13.1 99t 16

Interceptions
No Yds Avg LG TD
Costello, Vince 7 118 16.9 31 0
Benz, Larry 7 114 16.3 38 0
Fichtner, Ross 2 75 37.5 39 1
Franklin, Bobby 2 26 13 14 0
Fiss, Galen 2 8 4 6 0
Browns 22 343 15.6 39 1
Opponents 20 317 15.9 55 1

Punting
No Yds Avg In20 TB LG BLK
Collins, Gary 54 2,160 40 0 4 73 0
Browns 54 2,160 40 0 4 73 0
Opponents 57 2,492 43.7 0 3 69 0

Punt Returns
No FC Yds Avg LG TD
Shorter, Jim 7 2 134 19.1 52 0
Green, Ernie 6 11 79 13.2 55 0
Shofner, Jim 9 2 41 4.6 15 0
Parrish, Bernie 3 1 31 10.3 21 0
Browns 25 16 285 11.4 55 0
Opponents 22 16 216 9.8 29 0

Kickoff Returns
No Yds Avg LG TD
Green, Ernie 18 394 21.9 34 0
Scales, Charley 16 432 27 50 0
Shorter, Jim 9 219 24.3 49 0
Franklin, Bobby 2 33 16.5 19 0
Webb, Ken 1 12 12 12 0
Browns 50 1,099 22 50 0
Opponents 58 1,424 24.6 92t 1

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
Ryan, Frank 256 135 2,038 52.7 7.96 25 9.8 13 5.1 83t 20/179 90.6
Ninowski, Jim 61 29 423 47.5 6.93 2 3.3 6 9.8 70 4/45 41.9
Brown, Jim 4 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 1/8 39.6
Groza, Lou 1 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 100 0 0/0 0
Browns 322 164 2,461 50.9 7.64 27 8.4 20 6.2 83t 25/232 78.4
Opponent 401 230 2,932 57.4 7.31 18 4.5 19 4.7 92t 28/222 75.6