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The Steelers 1978 Season Begins Here>>>

QUARTERBACK CLIFF STOUDT PUTS HIS FIRST YEAR BEHIND HIM

Cliff Stoudt media photoCliff Stoudt’s (picture left) first preseason appearance in 1977 saw him drop back and then fall down on his rear end untouched. One year later he did better, throwing six passes with four completions against the Colts in the Steelers first exhibition game of the new season.

“This time, I couldn’t have done any worse,” Stoudt observed. “I don’t think I went out there and did anything fantastic, but I think I was steady.” Reflecting on his embarrassment the previous year, Stoudt said, “I knew that last year my chances to redeem myself were slim and I was anxious to get back in. I know I could do better. I knew I was better than that.”

With Terry Bradshaw out with a broken nose, Stoudt and Mike Kruczek will probably share the quarterback snaps against the Steelers next opponents Atlanta.

Stoudt’s disastrous 1977 season began when rookie Randy Frisch was killed and teammate Dave Grinnaker seriously injured while driving Stoudt’s car back to camp following the Buffalo pre-season game at Three Rivers Stadium.

“I don’t like to make excuses for things, but Dave was my best friend at camp,” admitted Stoudt. “Rand and I and Dave were together all the time. In fact, I drove into the stadium with them. I told them I was going to stay with family, but they could take my car. It hit me pretty hard. It hit everybody pretty hard.”

Coach Noll conceded that the tragedy was bothering Stoudt in the ensuing days and the Steelers finally release the Youngstown quarterback, hoping to sneak him through waivers and then resign him later. Unfortunately the Packers claimed him and put paid to the plan.

Then the Packers traded with Buffalo for their reserve quarterback Gary Marangi, and dropped their claim for Stoudt. When Marangi failed his physical, Green Bay tried to reclaim Stoudt, but the 24-hour period to make a claim had elapsed. “It was the most mixed up two weeks of my life,” confessed Stoudt.

Stoudt went back to Oberlin, Ohio not knowing he had become a free agent and could sign with any team. Chuck Noll didn’t understand why Stoudt had not stayed in Pittsburgh to see what would pan out, but eventually he accepted the Steelers coach’s request to return.

After Stoudt’s rookie year he was feeling more confident and had slimmed down his physique to enable him to be more mobile. “I was way too heavy. Way too slow,” admits Stoudt. “Now I feel fantastic.”

Bradshaw suggested, “He’s been throwing the ball well. He knows what he’s doing now. It’s always easier in the second year. Next year he’ll be even better.”

STEELERS DEFENSE GOES IN REVERSE

In the first exhibition game, the Steelers went back in time to dust off a version of their 4-3 defense not used since 1974. The new-old defense, called the Stackover because the left linebacker stacks over the right guard, hadn’t been used since the 1974 playoff game against Buffalo.

In the second playoff game that year against the Raiders, the Steelers witched to their more familiar 4-3 Stunt where the tackle lines up at an angle to the center.

“We were ready to get out of it in one play if we had problems,” said defensive coordinator George Perles of the Stunt, but it was an outstanding success and became the team’s standard defense.

With the opposing teams becoming familiar with it and personnel changes in the Steelers team, it was decided adjustments were needed which resulted in the resurrection of the dormant defensive scheme, which was used 26 times with the Stackover 21 times and a standard 4-3 rush defense 25 times.


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This site last updated November 18th 2017.

Ben's early games with the Steelers.

The Steelers 1977 season in full.
The Steelers 1976 season in full.

The Steelers 1975 season in full.
The Steelers 1974 season in full.

The first NFL champions the 1902 Pittsburgh Stars added June 2016

The Pittsburgh Americans added August 2015.

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