Jack Faulkner hired as Broncos head coach
New colors, new hope
Jack Faulkner became the Broncos’ second head coach, and he immediately tightened the ship. The brown-and-yellow uniforms and vertically-striped socks that drew derision from fans and foes alike were ditched in favor of orange-and-blue attire. The “touch-football” practices of the Frank Filchock era vanished. Curfews were enforced. Players wore coats and ties on road trips and could not smoke in public. Football was on his mind nearly every moment of the day.
No one was more impressed than incumbent quarterback Frank Tripucka.
“We always had the talent,” he said early in the 1962 season. “But we never had organization. We used to make up plays in the huddle: ‘OK, who wants to run out for a pass?’ And on blocking assignments at the line of scrimmage I was up there pointing to the guys on the other team: ‘Somebody better get him. Somebody better take him.’”
All that changed under Faulkner, and that got the Broncos to .500 for the first time.
“Now here is an organizer,” Tripucka said. “This team will go now.”
By November, the Broncos were 7-2 and sprinting toward a berth in the AFL Championship Game, leading the Western Division. And even if they fell short, all they needed for their first winning season was one more win or tie. But a 33-29 loss at Boston knocked them off-kilter, and the next week, they were throttled by West rivals Dallas 24-3.
Still, no loss was more crushing than a 46-45 defeat to the New York Titans on Thanksgiving Day at Bears Stadium. Leading 45-32 with less than five minutes remaining, the Broncos collapsed, allowing a 65-yard touchdown march, then fumbling on their next play from scrimmage. The Titans scored three plays later to take a one-point lead that held up when Gene Mingo’s desperation 52-yard field-goal attempt was short and wide.
In spite of the late Broncos’ late fade, Faulkner’s work earned him AFL Coach of the Year honors.
But the Broncos had allowed 30.8 points a game in the losing streak. It was a harbinger of what was to come the following season.