Second verse, same as the first

After a 1-4 preseason in which the Broncos had so many injuries that they had to cancel an intra-squad scrimmage, they opened 1961 as they did 1960: with a stunning win on the road, defeating the well-heeled Buffalo Bills 22-10.

As was the case in 1960, they hung in contention for a while, and hit midseason at 3-4 following a pair of home wins over Oakland and the New York Titans. But just like 1960, the Broncos collapsed in the second half of the season, in which the Broncos went winless and lost by an average of 22.4 points per game.

Following that seven-game skid, the first head coach became the first head coach to be fired, when Filchock was dismissed. He departed with a 7-20-1 record.

The Broncos couldn’t play hard-nosed, defensive football. Some of that was due to budget constraints, which led to a lack of talent. But Filchock’s practice philosophy did not help.

“His big thing in practice was, ‘Let’s play a touch football game,’” Ring of Fame quarterback Frank Tripucka said decades later. “And he’d play this game for two hours straight. And that’s what he considered his practice sessions.”

Flichock’s dismissal marked the Broncos’ first coaching change — and it was the start of a gaggle of changes in advance of the 1962 season.

1961 schedule

Date Opponent Score
9/10 at buffalo bills 22-10
9/16 at boston patriots 17-45
9/24 at new york titans 28-35
10/1 at oakland raiders 19-33
10/8 dallas texans 12-19
10/15 oakland raiders 27-27
10/29 at san diego chargers 0-37
11/5 houston oilers 14-55
11/12 san diego chargers 16-19
11/19 buffalo bills 10-23
11/26 at houston oilers 14-45
12/3 boston patriots 24-28
12/10 at dallas texans 21-49

1961 offense

Pos Player Starts
le lionel taylor
lt jack mattox
lg ken adamson
c mike nichols
c jim barton
rg carl larpenter
rt eldon danenhauer
te gene prebola
fl al frazier
qb frank tripucka
qb george herring
hb don stone
fb fred bukaty

Frank Filchock released as Broncos head coach

1961 defense

Pos Player Starts
le john cash
lt bud mcfadin
rt gordon holtz
re chuck gavin
llb bob hudson
mlb wahoo mcdaniel
rlb bill roehnelt
rlb jerry stalcup
lc bob mcnamara
rc jim mcmillan
ls phil nugent
rs goose gonsoulin

Record: 3-11
Third place, AFL west