Bill Munson is trying to make it big in his second shot at being a
team's No. 1 quarterback. Maybe he was too young and the general
situation may have been wrong when he first received his chance to start
as the Los Angeles Rams' No. 1 draft choice. Now, at Detroit, he's far
more experienced and enjoys an association with some first-rate
receivers and runners.
The 29-year-old 7-year veteran has looked great in spurts with the
Lions, and he may be on the verge of becoming the complete quarterback.
But doubts remain.
"Munson has great ability, said one scout, but he hasn't put it
together. He hasn't shown he can do it on a consistent basis and that's
what he must do to be considered a real threat, a consistent front-line
NFL quarterback. Look at his history. He'd score 50 points one week and
one touchdown the next. Sure, he's going against different defenses, but
he needs to prove he's a consistent performer."
But Munson, like everyone who has quarterbacked Detroit for the past
dozen years, occasionally must feel the shadow of Bobby Layne lingers
there. No one has gotten the results, in terms of championships, that
the Lions enjoyed under Layne, the boisterous leader and fiery
competitor. Joe Schmidt, the Lions' head coach, knows. He was Layne's
may be an unconscious thing, but Detroit may not offer the best
psychological atmosphere for a quarterback trying to make his mark.
"Munson doesn't appear to be a real strong leader," said one veteran
defensive back who has opposed him frequently. “There are other older
players at Detroit who seem to be the leaders. He seems an easy-going
guy, just trying to get the job done."
Another defender noted, "Munson seems to lack the ability to take
charge. If you meet him off the field, you notice that he's real quiet
Since coming to the Lions from Los Angeles in '68, however, Munson has
given a number of good performances and several spectacular ones. He's
had his problems, like a broken finger which sidelined him for seven
games in '69, but in 70 he came back strongly and moved high among the
NFL passing leaders.
"Munson sets up quickly and reads defenses well," a scout said, "and he
knows how to use his good receivers, Earl McCullough and Charley
Sanders, and he will mix the attack with a fine runner like Mel Farr.
He's a very smart quarterback, with a good, quick, strong arm."
At 6-2 and 210, Munson also is a good physical specimen.
"When the club is going good and winning," said a rival defensive back,
"he's a real fine quarterback. But when things are going bad, he's not
as good as he can be.” "He throws well long and short, but he may not
recognize defenses as quickly as some other quarterbacks. Munson has a
tendency to throw the ball up for grabs. I don't know if he's thinking
he can hit the receiver, if he's feeling fright, or if just can't see
For a guy who's done pretty well already, Munson apparently needs to do