Lombardi blog: January edition

Quarterbacks in the playoffs; Holmgren's return; Thompson extension; McCarthy and playoffs; Atari Bigby

January 11, 2008
How to get into the Playoffs
Take a look at this list:

1. Tom Brady
2. Ben Roethlisberger
3. David Garrard
4. Peyton Manning
5. Tony Romo
6. Brett Favre
7. Jeff Garcia
8. Matt Hasselbeck

That list is the quarterback ranking based upon the passer rating. I do not understand how they arrive at that number, but it is telling that of those eight names, all of them made the playoffs and six of them still survive. Phillip Rivers, Vince Young, Todd Collins and Eli Manning are the other quarterbacks who made the playoffs. Manning and Rivers still live.

If you want to make the postseason, get a good quarterback. That may seem like a simple statement, but it is hard to do. Rivers, Manning and Young are first round draft picks. Collins was playing well, but only got on the field when the starter, Jason Campbell, a first round pick, was injured. The way to win in the NFL is to have a good quarterback. Luckily, the Packers have one of the best.

Playoff prediction
As you may know, I hate to make predictions, but I think the Packers-Seahawks game will come down to turnovers. Whoever has fewer turnovers, wins the game. Both teams have good quarterbacks in Favre and Hasselbeck. Surprisingly, the Packers seem to have the better running game. The Seahawks defense seems to be stronger than the Packers, especially upfront. The Seahawks can get after the quarterback, but Favre sort of negates that advantage with his experience and quick release.

The Seahawks seem to be a bit more banged up. The bye week helped Green Bay. The Seahawks will need to throw the ball to win and their receiving corps is hurting.

I still think that it will come down to turnovers.

January 9, 2008
Holmgren Returns
With the return of Mike Holmgren, I was wondering what would have happened if Vince Lombardi had lived longer and returned to Green Bay with his Washington Redskins. Lombardi only coached one year, 1969, in Washington. He died in September of 1970 at the age of 57. Assuming he coached until he was 65, that would have been approximately eight more years. The Redskins visited Green bay in 1974 and beat the Pack 17-6. The Packers traveled to Washington in 1977 and lost 10-9. So it is possible that the Packers and Vince Lombardi would have met on the field as opponents twice before he would get Social Security. Dan Devine was the coach in 1974, but Bart Starr lead the Pack in '77.

The Holmgren-Favre dynamic might have been eclipsed by the Lombardi-Starr face off.

Gale Gillingham was the only Lombardi Era Packer who was a regular starter in 1974. In fact, from looking at some rosters on-line, he might be the only guy on the 1974 roster who played for Lombardi. I did not recognize any of the other names as having been on the 1967 team, Lombardi's last year as coach. He drafted some guys on the '74 team, like linebacker Fred Carr and tackle Dick Himes who both were drafted in 1968.

Holmgren was the Packers' head coach for seven years, Lombardi for nine. This is Holmgren's ninth year in Seattle. Lombardi only made it one year in Washington. By comparison, Curly Lambeau coached the Pack for 31 years (29 of them as a member of the NFL), the Chicago Cardinals for two years and in Washington for two more. It is amazing that a person could coach so long. I think it is next to impossible for someone to even approach half of that time. Titans coach Jeff Fisher is in his 13th season as is Broncos Coach Mike Shanahan.

January 8, 2008
Roster Turnover
Ted Thompson has been credited with rebuilding the Packer roster. That is one of the reasons given for his new contract. Thompson has been credited with acquiring 40 of the 53 players on the teams roster since his arrival. That is a big number, but how does it compare to the rest of the league? What better way to judge than go back to the last time the Packers and Seahawks met in the playoffs in January of 2004. Thompson was hired away from the Seahawks the following January.

There are 12 players who were in the play-by-play on Jan. 4, 2004 still on the Seahawks roster:

OT Walter Jones
OG Floyd Womak
WR Bobby Engram
QB Matt Hasselbeck
RB Shaun Alexander
CB Marcus Trufant
K Josh Brown
RB Maurice Morris
FB Mack Strong - on Injured Reserve this year
QB Senaca Wallace
OG Chris Gray
DT Rocky Benard

There are 11 players who were in the play by play on Jan. 4, 2004 still on the Packer roster:

OT Chad Clifton
OT Mark Tauscher
TE Bubba Franks
QB Brett Favre
DE Aaron Kampman
DE Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila
LB Nick Barnett
CB Al Harris
LS Rob Davis
WR Donald Driver
QB Craig Nall

Looks pretty close to me. The Seahawks only have one defensive starter left from that game, Trufant. This is the way the NFL is. In the span of four seasons (2004, 2005, 2006, 2007), most everyone on both rosters has moved on. The average NFL career last around 4-5 years. Turnover is a fact of life. You could probably do this for every team in the league.

The Seahawks have been a perennial playoff team and went to the Super Bowl a few years ago, so they are a good barometer for the Packers. I do not want to downplay what this team has accomplished, but let us not make it more than it is. I would say that he deserves more credit for the Seahawks roster than the Packers. If you compare the guys he drafted and signed for Seattle versus the guys he has acquired here, he comes out well ahead with the Seattle players. The guys he inherited here are the core of this team, much like his guys are the core of the Seahawks team.

January 7, 2008
Thompson
The Packers have announced that they have signed Ted Thompson to a new contract through 2012. I just got done reading the press release. I have made my feelings clear on this earlier in this blog, but what I found interesting is that it was announced by Bob Harlan. Where is Mark Murphy? Is this not something he should be spearheading? Did he not start working the first of the year.

I think it would make sense for the organization to put him forward to the public. Regardless of how this decision was made, does it make sense to have him involved in the announcement. How long will it be before Murphy begins to make his presence known?

Bigby
I see that Atary Bigby missed practice the other day because he could not get back in town in time. This kind of thing happens, but this guy does not seem to get it. He does not play very smart as demonstrated by all the personal fouls he committed this season. Wonder if this kind of behavior is behind his being cut by two other teams?

McCarthy and the playoffs
Mike Sherman was criticized for not winning enough playoff games. This is a valid criticism. How will Mike McCarthy be judged? If the Packers lose to the Seahawks, will it be a downer or will folks just be happy to get this far? Will losing at home affect the way he is viewed? What if they beat Seattle, but lose the week after?

January 4, 2008
Predictions
I hate to give predictions because anything can happen, but I figure it might be fun to guess who might win this weekend.

Giants at Tampa - My money is on Jeff Garcia and the Bucs defense. I do not have faith in Eli Manning. He is too up and down. If he is up, the Giants could run away with it, but there is just as much of a chance that he will be down. Also, without Jeremy Shockey, the Giants will have trouble with passing the ball. The Giants can run the ball, so this one could go either way, but I like Garcia. He wins.

Jags at Pittsburgh - Another toss up. The Jags can run the ball and the Steelers are without Willie Parker. David Garrard makes no mistakes but Big Ben has the ability to win the game on his own. I will take the Jags because I figure they will win the turnover battle.

Titans at San Diego - The Titans are injured and even if healthy, they struggle on offense. Their defense is pretty good when Albert Haynesworth plays, but he is nicked up. I have no faith in Norv Turner and little faith is Phillip Rivers, but LT can win it on his own. Tennessee probably has more of a chance with Kerry Collins than Vince Young. I will side with the better running game so it is the Chargers.

Washington at Seattle - This could be Mike Holmgren's last game as Seahawks coach. The Seahawks have the advantage at QB, but Todd Collins has been playing well, so it is a narrow advantage. The Skins have the edge rushing the ball and on defense, so I think they are better than Seattle. They have the momentum which I think is enough.

So the Skins go to Dallas and the Bucs come to Green Bay. The Pats host Jacksonville and the Colts play home against the Chargers. Doubt it will work out that way, but it is fun to guess.

January 2, 2007
Sorry
Sorry to have taken so long to add to the blog, but I was out of town and did not have access to a computer. Also, the Packers game versus the Lions was not on the TV where I was so I only saw highlights.

Regardless, the Pack finished the season 13-3. They are off till Jan. 12 and play either the Giants, Seahawks or Bucs. Obviously, the Bucs would be the best matchup. I doubt they have ever won a game in cold temperatures. Jeff Garcia scares me. He is a winner. The Bucs are playing good defense but they are from Florida.

The Seahawks, led by Mike Holmgren, will not be worried to play here, but are struggling to run the ball. The Giants are so up and down, I could see them kicking the heck out of the Packers and I could also see the Packers blowing them out big time.

Personnel Changes
It looks like Packer personnel guys Reggie McKenzie and John Schneider are candidates the Falcons GM position. Wonder why John Dorsey got passed by? Not sure I would want to take that job.

John Lombardi is a frequent contributor to PackerReport.com and Packer Report magazine. E-mail him at johnlombardi22@yahoo.com.


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