1978 Pro Bowler Archie Manning.

Archie Manning and Lyle Alzado in the 1978 NFL Pro Bowl
Archie Manning in the 1978 Pro Bowl. That’s Lyle Alzado coming in from the left.

After a decade of sub-par football the late 1970s looked like things were finally going to start turning around for the New Orleans Saints. New highs in yearly victories were set in 1978 and 1979 under new head coach Dick Nolan. as the new offense led by veteran quarterback Archie Manning began to click and put points on the board. Joining New Orleans as a 1st round draft pick in 1971 there was never any question about Manning’s ability. Throughout arguably some of the worst seasons in the history of the Saints franchise, Manning had always been a bright spot in dark performance. Even before Nolan arrived in 1978 previous head coach Hank Stram -who was no stranger to championship caliber football – said repeatedly that Archie was one of the most talented quarterbacks he ever coached. Stram began assembling an offensive support ground Manning as early as 1976 to take advantage of his abilities. Running backs Chuck Muncie and Tony Galbreath were added to provide a running game to help set a passing attack. Nolan further added weapons by acquiring Cardinal standout receiver Ike Harris along with fellow Cardinal lineman Conrad Dobler. Star receiver Wes Chandler of Florida was picked with the Saint’s first pick in 1979 and would set new highs during his brief time in New Orleans. The results were 2 of the best seasons yet for Saints fans as a total win-loss record of 15 wins and 16 losses were achieved between 78 and 79. Not bad for a team that had never won more than 5 games in a season.
The photo above is from the 1978 Pro Bowl – Manning’s first of 2 consecutive Pro Bowl appearances and the first for a New Orleans Saint player since 1969. That year he finished in the top 5 among NFL quarterbacks in every passing category that mattered. Most notable was his 61.8% completion percentage (second only to the Dolphins Bob Griese) as well his 3416 passing yards (again second to the legendary Fran Tarkington).
As he sets up pass that’s Denver Broncos defensive end Lyle Alzado applying pressure from Manning’s left.

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