Green Bay Packers: Remembering Ted Thompson

Another member of the Green Bay Packers family passed away earlier this week, as former general manager Ted Thompson died Wednesday at his home in Atlanta, Texas, three days after his 68th birthday. This unfortunately, seems to be a trend. In 2020, a number of legends from the Packers passed away, which included Paul Hornung, Herb Adderley and Willie Davis.

It’s sad and surreal that Thompson would pass away the week of the NFC title game, as a number of the players he drafted or signed for the Pack will be playing in that championship contest versus the Tampa Bay Bucs at Lambeau Field.

Aaron Rodgers is the quarterback for the Packers obviously and it was No. 12 who was the first ever draft pick of Thompson in 2005 when he was picked with the 24th selection of Round No. 1. Thompson also drafted wide receiver Davante Adams in 2014 in the 2nd round, running back Aaron Jones in 2017 in the 5th round, left tackle David Bakhtiari in the 4th round in 2013, center Corey Linsley in the 5th round in 2014 and signed tight end Robert Tonyan as a free agent in 2017.

All but Bakhtiari, who is out with an ACL injury, will be starting on Sunday on offense for the Packers. On defense, only two picks made by Thompson will be starting on Sunday for the right to get to Super Bowl LV. They are defensive lineman Kenny Clark, who was drafted in the 1st round in 2016 and cornerback Kevin King, who was drafted in the 2nd round in 2017.

So, as you can see, even though Thompson has not been the general manager of the Packers since January of 2018 when Brian Gutekunst was hired to replace him, the Packers still have the mark of the man who played his college football at SMU.

After SMU, Thompson played 10 years in the NFL with the Houston Oilers, where he mostly was a special teams demon, although he did start eight games in his career with the Oilers. Thompson was also versatile enough to go 4-for-4 in extra point attempts for Houston in 1980.

In 1992, Ron Wolf, who was the general manager of the Packers back then, hired Thompson to be part of his scouting department. One of Thompson’s first assignments under Wolf was to look at film of a quarterback Wolf was interested in trading for. That quarterback was Brett Favre. When Wolf told Thompson that he was thinking of trading a No. 1 pick to acquire Favre from the Atlanta Falcons, Thompson concurred that he would do that as well.

From 1993 through 1996, Thompson was the the director of pro personnel for the Packers. The pro personnel department is responsible for adding other players who have played in the NFL, either through trade, free agency or by waivers.

During Thompson’s tenure in running the pro personnel department, the Packers added a number of key pieces to the team, either via free agency or trade.

Players like wide receiver Mark Ingram, tight end Keith Jackson and safety Eugene Robinson were acquired by trade. Free agents such as defensive end Reggie White, safety Mike Prior, defensive end Sean Jones, wide receiver Don Beebe, defensive tackle Santana Dotson and wide receiver/kick returner Desmond Howard were signed.

A number of these players contributed to the Packers’ Super Bowl XXXI victory.

After the 1996 season, Thompson moved over to run the department of player personnel for the Packers from 1997-1999. In 2000, Mike Holmgren, the former head coach of the Packers and now the executive vice-president/general manager and head coach of the Seattle Seahawks, hired Thompson to become the vice president of football operations for the Hawks.

Thompson stayed on with the Seahawks thorough 2004, and a number of his draft picks were key pieces of the team that played against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XL.

In 2005, after head coach Mike Sherman was stripped of his job as general manager, the then president of the Packers, Bob Harlan, hired Thompson to become general manager. It would be a job he would hold until the end of the 2017 season.

Thompson fired Sherman after the 2005 season, as the team had a record of 4-12 and Favre had the worst year of his career at the time. In 2006, Thompson hired Mike McCarthy to become the new head coach of the Packers.

The marriage of Thompson and McCarthy turned out to be a very successful one. The modus operandi under the two of them was to draft and to develop the players. Pure free agency was used very infrequently, while “street” free agents were often signed to the team.

In terms of the players who Thompson drafted, besides Rodgers, the man of few words also selected safety Nick Collins (2nd round in 2005), linebacker A.J. Hawk (1st round in 2006), wide receiver Greg Jennings (3rd round in 2006), wide receiver James Jones (3rd round in 2007), kicker Mason Crosby (6th round in 2007), wide receiver Jordy Nelson (2nd round in 2008), defensive lineman B.J. Raji (1st round in 2009), linebacker Clay Matthews III (1st round in 2009), offensive tackle Bryan Bulaga (1st round in 2010) and running back James Starks (6th round in 2010).

In free agency, Thompson signed cornerback Charles Woodson after he was released by the Oakland Raiders in 2006. In 2007, he signed cornerback Tramon Williams as a “street” free agent. He did the same thing with long snapper Brett Goode in 2008 and linebacker Erik Walden in 2010. Thompson also loved signing undrafted rookie free agents, In 2010, Thompson signed cornerback Sam Shields and linebacker Frank Zombo that way.

Thompson also used the waiver wire to upgrade his roster. In 2006, he brought aboard cornerback Jarrett Bush via the waiver route. He did the same thing in 2007 when he brought in fullback John Kuhn and in 2010 when defensive tackle Howard Green put on a Green Bay uniform.

All of those players had key roles in the march towards winning Super Bowl XLV, when the Packers beat the Steelers 31-25.

While Thompson and McCarthy duo was running the Packers from 2006 through 2017, the Packers were 121-71-1 during that tenure. That included nine appearances in the postseason, which including eight straight seasons at one point and also six NFC North divisional titles.

That also included four appearances in the NFC title game and a win in Super Bowl XLV.

That is a great run of success and that is why Thompson was inducted into the Packers Hall of Fame in 2019.

Thompson was a soft spoken man, but those who worked with him in Green Bay and those who were brought on to the team by him will never forget him and will always appreciate what he did for the organization.

These are just a few of those sentiments.

Mark Murphy– ““We all owe a debt of gratitude to him. His stamp is on our team now.

“I think at the time when he drafted Aaron he said, ‘This is the kind of thing that five years from now people are going to say was a pretty good decision.’ Boy, was he right.

“(Fifteen) years after that, people still say that.”

Brian Gutekunst– “This particular team (the 2020 Packers) would’ve been one that he would have really enjoyed being around. The players that we have, and the spirit that it has, I think really fits him. He would have really enjoyed being around for this. That’s a tough thing to swallow.

“He, in my opinion, is the best talent evaluator – especially when it comes to the draft – that I’ve ever seen or been around. He had a very unique way of seeing what a player was going to become, and the greatness he could become.”

Matt LaFleur– “His impact is still felt today. I think it’s felt all around the league. There’s a lot of heavy hearts here today.”

Bob Harlan– “He was more comfortable when he wasn’t in the public eye. He told me he wasn’t comfortable behind the microphone. I told him don’t worry about it. That’s not why we hired you.

“He said if Rodgers is there, I’m going to take him. It’s not going to be popular. I told him if that’s what he wanted to do, it was his team. I got phone calls and letters. People were very critical. Ted was well aware he was going to catch heat, but he did what he thought was the best thing.”

Aaron Rodgers– “I’m really thankful for Ted. The fact that I was his first draft pick will always link us together.”

Comparing Tom Brady and Aaron Rodgers in the NFL Postseason

(AP Photo/Mark LoMoglio)

There is a reason why many call Tom Brady of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers the GOAT (Greatest of All Time). It’s hard to argue when you think about the six times that Brady led the New England Patriots to wins in the Super Bowl.

Add to that, Brady will be taking his new team, the Bucs, to the 14th conference championship he played in. That is truly amazing.

Still, I want to peel back the onion and look at one of the reasons Brady has been so successful in the postseason and compare what he has done versus what Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers has done.

First, let’s look at Brady’s passer rating in the postseason. Currently Brady has a rating of 90.2. That mark is 15th all time. Brady is also 32-11 in the postseason, as he has thrown 77 touchdown passes compared to 35 interceptions for 11,968 yards.

The former Michigan Wolverine has a record of 6-3 in the Super Bowl and 9-4 in conference title games. Brady was also the MVP of four of those six Super Bowl wins.

In all of his playoff games, Brady has led an offense which has scored an average of 28 points-per-game. On the other side of the ball, his defenses have allowed an average of 20.6 points-per-game. In conference title games, Brady and his teams have averaged 27.4 points-per-game and the defenses have allowed 21.3 points-per-game.

Bottom line, Brady has played with defenses which allow a touchdown less than what he and the offense have produced.

Let’s compare that with Rodgers The former California Golden Bear has a postseason passer rating 100.4, which is fifth all time. Rodgers is 11-8 in the postseason, as he has thrown 42 touchdown passes compared to 12 interceptions for 5,323 yards.

Rodgers is 1-0 in the Super Bowl and 1-3 in conference title games. Rodgers was the MVP of his lone Super Bowl game.

In all of his playoff games, Rodgers has led an offense which has scored 28.2 points-per-game. On the other side of the ball, his defenses have allowed an average of 26.4 points-per-game. In conference title games, Rodgers and his offense have averaged 21 points-per-game and the defenses have allowed 30.7 points-per-game.

Bottom line, in all postseason games, Rodgers has played with defenses which have allowed less than a field goal difference compared to what his offenses have produced and in conference title games, the defenses have allowed more than a touchdown compared to what Rodgers and the offense have produced.

The defenses that Brady and Rodgers have played with in the postseason are key in understanding the success that both have had in their career.

Let’s take a look at the passer rating of quarterbacks with a least four NFL championships in NFL history.

Bart Starr of the Green Bay Packers had a record of 9-1 in the postseason and won five NFL titles in seven years, which included the first two Super Bowls. Starr was the MVP in each of those Super Bowl wins. The passer rating for Starr in the postseason is 104.8, which is second, only behind the 106.8 mark of Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs.

Joe Montana of the San Francisco 49ers and Kansas City Chiefs had a record of 16-7 in the postseason and won four Super Bowls in the 1980s. Montana was the MVP in three of those Super Bowl wins. The passer rating for Montana in the postseason is 95.6, which is ninth all time.

Terry Bradshaw of the Pittsburgh Steelers had a record of 14-5 in the postseason and won four Super Bowls in the 1970s. Bradshaw was the MVP in two of those Super Bowl wins. The passer rating for Bradshaw in the postseason is 83.0, which is 32nd all time.

What do Starr, Montana and Bradshaw all have in common besides the many championships that they won? They all played with great defenses or better-than-average defenses for the most part.

In the 10 games that Starr played in the postseason, his offenses scored an average of 25.3 points-per-game. The defenses that Starr played with only allowed 12.1 points-per-game.

In the 23 games that Montana played in the postseason, his offenses scored 26 points-per-game. The defenses that Montana played with only allowed 18.6 points-per-game.

In the 19 games that Bradshaw played in the postseason, his offenses scored 24.8 points-per-game. The defenses that Bradshaw played with only allowed 16.6 points-per-game.

So if you compare Brady to Starr, Montana and Bradshaw, one can see that the defenses that each of them played with in the postseason allowed at least a touchdown less than what they were able to produce on offense.

I’m sure you have all heard the adage that “defense wins championships” fairly often. In the cases of Brady, Starr, Montana and Bradshaw, the defenses that they played with all definitely helped them win postseason games. But so did the performances of each of them. I mean we are talking about a combined 10 Super Bowl MVP awards between the four of them.

Rodgers has also won a Super Bowl MVP. But he has rarely played with a great defense. In fact, when the Packers won Super Bowl XLV, the Packers had the second-best defense in the NFL in terms of total defense. That was also the last time that Rodgers played with a defense in the top 10 in the NFL. At least until this year, as the Packers finished ninth in the NFL in total defense.

But Brady once again has a top flight defense as well, as the Bucs finished sixth in total defense in 2020.

So what does this mean for the NFC title game this upcoming Sunday between Rodgers and the Packers and Brady and the Bucs at Lambeau Field?

It should be a game for the ages. Both teams have top 10 defenses, plus the offenses led by Rodgers and Brady each averaged over 30 points-per-game in the regular season.

I expect both Rodgers and Brady to play well on Sunday. The game may be determined by a key play on defense by either team.

Bottom line, NFL quarterbacks usually get the glory when their teams win a championship, but the defense that they play with is also a key factor as to how that title was won.

Brady, Starr, Montana and Bradshaw would all agree.

Green Bay Packers: The Track Record of Aaron Rodgers Versus the Los Angeles Rams

Since Aaron Rodgers became the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers in 2008, No. 12 has played the Rams five times. The first four games were against the St. Louis Rams and Rodgers was a perfect 4-0 against them. The most recent game against the Rams occurred in 2018, when the team had relocated back to Los Angeles and Rodgers lost his only game against that franchise. More on that game later.

In the five games in which Rodgers has faced the Rams, the former Cal Bear has thrown 11 touchdown passes versus three interceptions for 1,454 yards. The passer rating for Rodgers in those five games is 113.8.

But the game against the Rams in 2018 is the one we want to look at, as many of the players on each of those teams are still around as the Packers get ready to host the Rams in a NFC divisional game on Saturday at Lambeau Field.

When the Packers played the Rams in 2018, Mike McCarthy was still the head coach for Green Bay. The offense for the Pack was in a state of flux that season. The team would finish 6-9-1 that season and McCarthy would lose the job he had since 2007.

Meanwhile, the Rams would finish 13-3 that season and would later lose Super Bowl LIII to the New England Patriots 13-3.

When the two teams met at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum in front of 75,822 fans that late October afternoon, the Rams were undefeated at 7-0 and the Packers (3-2-1) were trying to ignite their season with a big win.

The Packers played well enough to win that day, but a huge mistake late in the game by kick returner Ty Montgomery took away any chance that the Packers could win. It was a back and forth type of game. The Packers went up 10-0 on a Jamaal Williams one-yard run for a touchdown in the 1st quarter and then followed that with a 41-yard field goal by Mason Crosby in the 2nd period.

The Rams scored the next eight points in the 2nd quarter, first on a safety when running back Aaron Jones was tackled in the end zone and then on a one-yard pass from quarterback Jared Goff to wide receiver Josh Reynolds.

The Packers added to their lead on a 53-yard field goal by Crosby in the 3rd quarter, but Los Angeles answered back with two touchdowns. The first was on a 30-yard pass from Goff to running back Todd Gurley. Goff then hit Gurley again with a pass on the two point conversion to make the score 16-13 Rams. The Rams scored again when Goff hit Reynolds again with a touchdown pass, this time from 19 yards out to make the score 23-13 in favor of Los Angeles.

But the Pack came back. Late in the 3rd period, Jones scored on a 33-yard run to make the score 23-20. Early in the 4th quarter, the Rams padded their lead when Greg Zuerlein nailed a 43-yard field goal to make the score 26-20. But Rodgers gave the Packers a 27-26 lead when he hit wide receiver Marquez Valdes-Scantling with a 40-yard touchdown pass.

With 2:05 on the clock, Zuerlein put the Rams up 29-27 with a 34-yard field goal. That gave Rodgers plenty of time (plus the Packers had one timeout) to drive down the field and get in position for a game-winning field goal by Crosby. However, there was just one problem. Montgomery returned the kickoff from his end zone even though he was told by his coaches not to return the kick. Of course, Montgomery fumbled and the Rams recovered. Game over.

Rodgers had a very solid game against the Rams that day, even with the offense not clicking on all cylinders. No. 12 was 18-of-30 for 286 yards and one touchdown pass. Rodgers did not throw a pick and his passer rating for the game was 102.9. Rodgers was also sacked three times, with two of the sacks coming from defensive tackle Aaron Donald.

The upcoming playoff game against the Rams will pit the NFL’s top offense (Green Bay) against the NFL’s top defense (Los Angeles). Rodgers leads the best offense in the NFL, as the season he had in 2020 was one of his best ever. For the year, Rodgers threw 48 touchdown passes versus just five picks for 4,299 yards. No. 12 completed 70.7 percent of his passes and had a passer rating of 121.5, which is the second-best mark ever in the NFL, only behind the passer rating Rodgers had in 2011 when his rating was 122.5.

Rodgers was named to his ninth Pro Bowl squad, plus was named first-team All-Pro for the third time in his career. Rodgers received 46 first place votes from the 50 voters for the NFL All-Pro team. Those same 50 voters also vote for the NFL MVP award, so one can expect Rodgers to win his third MVP honor this year as well.

Rodgers would also love to win his second Super Bowl MVP award as well, but to do so, he and the Packers have to first take care of the Rams on Saturday. That won’t be easy, as Donald had another fabulous year on the defensive line, as he was put on his seventh Pro Bowl team, plus was named first-team All-Pro for the sixth time. Donald is also the favorite to win his fourth NFL Defensive Player of the Year award in 2020.

Donald hurt his ribs in a NFC Wild Card game last weekend against the Seattle Seahawks and missed the rest of the game, but he is expected back to play against the Packers on Saturday. Time will tell how much the rib injury will affect the play of Donald.

Aaron Donald of the Los Angeles Rams sacks Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum on October 28, 2018.

The Rams also have cornerback Jalen Ramsey ready to take on wide receiver Davante Adams of the Packers as well. Ramsey is considered one of the best corners in the NFL and was named to his fourth Pro Bowl team this year, as well as being named first-team All-Pro for the second time. Adams is also considered one of the best receivers in the NFL and he too was named to the Pro Bowl (for the fourth time) and was also first-team All-Pro.

I expect Rodgers to play very well again on Saturday. No. 12 always plays well in the postseason, as his statistics illustrate. In 18 games, Rodgers has thrown 40 touchdown passes versus 12 interceptions for 5,027 yards. The passer rating for Rodgers in those 18 games is 100.0.

In the two games he played under head coach Matt LaFleur last year in the postseason, Rodgers was a combined 47-of-66 for 569 yards, with four touchdown passes versus two interceptions. His passer rating last postseason was a cumulative 105.5. And that was with an offense which was ranked 15th in the NFL, not 1st like it was in 2020 for the Packers.

Bottom line, even against a great defense like the Rams have, I expect Rodgers to have another exceptional game.

Green Bay Packers: Boyd Dowler Talks About the ‘Ice Bowl’, Davante Adams and the Pro Football Hall of Fame

I had the pleasure of speaking with Boyd Dowler of the Green Bay Packers on the 53rd anniversary of the 1967 NFL championship game, better known as the “Ice Bowl” played on December 31, 1967 at Lambeau Field. Boyd and I talked about that game, as well as other subjects such as Davante Adams of the Packers and also the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

In terms of the “Ice Bowl”, Dowler recalls that he caught four passes from Bart Starr in that game for 77 yards and two scores. Dowler recalls what happened on each of his touchdowns. The first touchdown came on the first drive of the game of the Packers and it was when Green Bay was on the 8-yard line of the Cowboys.

“Bart noticed that the cornerback was lined-up a couple of yards outside of me and I was in tight,” Dowler said. “So was the linebacker. Plus, Mel Renfro, who was a safety, was near the line of scrimmage near the center. So Bart calls an audible called 86, which had nothing to do with my number. 86 was a quick post or slant and it was a blitz audible when the safety was up. But Bart never once called that audible when I was in tight. He always had called it when I was split out wide.

“But he called it anyway. But the call did not throw me off, as I knew how Bart thought and was in my ninth year playing with him. So I thought to myself to just not screw up and run what Bart had called, even though I was in tight. The linebacker gave me a clean release off the line of scrimmage and I just broke inside to where Renfro should have been and Bart just threw it to me and it was an easy pitch and catch. But it was the play call that got me open. Bart sort of surprised me with the call, but when I broke wide open in the end zone, I realized it was a damn good call by Bart.”

Dowler also recalled the second touchdown, which occurred in the second quarter.

“It was third and short and Bart called the 36 pass,” Dowler said. “If Renfro was playing deep where he was supposed to be, Bart would have changed the call to a 36 run, when the fullback would run off tackle.”

On the 36 pass, Starr had two options. One, he could throw to the halfback out in the left flat or throw to the end who would run a post pattern. This play occurred when the Packers were at the 43-yard line of the Cowboys.

“On that 36 pass play, Bart first faked the handoff to Ben Wilson and then looked to pass,” Dowler said. “The wind was blowing in Bart’s face on that play. Renfro was playing up a bit and when I got by him, my heart skipped a beat because I thought Bart would overthrow me, but he laid it in there perfectly. Renfro wasn’t far behind me when I caught it and he did tackle me in the end zone.

“The bottom line is that on both of my touchdowns, the coverage problem for the Cowboys was because of where Renfro was lined up. Bart saw that and took advantage of it.”

After Dowler retired, he coached receivers for 15 years in the NFL. In fact, in 1971, Dowler was a player-coach with the Redskins. There he coached Charley Taylor, who like Dowler was on the NFL All-Decade team of the 1960s. Taylor was later inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1984.

So was another player Dowler coached when he was on the staff of the Philadelphia Eagles. That would be Harold Carmichael, who was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame as part of the Class of 2020, which also included safety Bobby Dillon of the Packers.

Obviously Dowler knows a lot about playing receiver in the NFL, both as a player and as a coach. Which is why I wanted to get his take on Davante Adams of the Packers.

Davante Adams hands Aaron Rodgers the football after catching the 400th touchdown pass of Rodgers’ career against the Philadelphia Eagles on December 6, 2020 at Lambeau Field.

Adams is now ranked fourth in Green Bay history with 546 receptions. Dowler is ranked eight with 448 catches. Adams has 62 touchdown receptions, while Dowler had 57. In terms of yardage, Dowler leads in that category, as he had 6,918 receiving yards, while Adams has 6,568.

In 2020, Adams was basically unstoppable catching balls from Aaron Rodgers, as No. 17 had 115 receptions for 1,374 yards and 18 touchdowns. Because of the great season he had in 2020, Adams was named to the Pro Bowl squad and was also named first-team All-Pro.

“In terms of Davante, I don’t understand how he is being covered in games,” Dowler said. “For instance, when I coached under George Allen, he always had his defense set up by his generals. His generals were usually linebackers like Maxie Baughan and Jack Pardee. George also used safety Richie Petitbon in that role. And they would change defensive alignments and coverages based on where the star receiver of each team would line up.

“For instance, that would be the way we played Bob Hayes of the Cowboys. No matter where Hayes would line up, he would be double-covered. But in Davante’s case, it seems like he doesn’t get a lot of double coverage. I mean, he’s fast, he’s big, he’s got great feet and he has great moves. It seems like he is always open. But no matter how good you are as a receiver in the NFL, you aren’t always going to get open against two people.

“It just doesn’t make sense that Devante is not doubled at times. Even when he pressed, Adams has quick feet and can get away from the defender. I mean, Devante is awfully good. But it would be tougher with two guys covering him.

“Still, Matt LaFleur has a great offensive system. That’s due to using motion or different formations which seems to get Devante a lot of single coverage. I think that is a credit to the coaches and the quarterback.”

It sure looks like Adams will someday be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, just like the quarterback (Rodgers) who throws him the football. Speaking of the Hall of Fame, we will know on February 6th who will be part of the Class of 2021. One of the players who could be selected is Drew Pearson of the Dallas Cowboys.

Recently, I wrote a story comparing Pearson to Dowler and to me, both had very similar stats. Both were NFL All-Decade players for instance. So was another player who also is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. I’m talking about Lynn Swann of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Both Swann and Pearson were All-Decade in the 1970s, while Dowler was All-Decade in the 1960s.

In terms of comparing Swann and Dowler, in the regular season, Dowler had 448 catches for 6,918 yards and 40 touchdowns, while Swann had 336 catches for 5,462 and 51 touchdowns.

In the postseason, Dowler had 30 receptions for 440 yards and five scores in 10 games. One of those games was Super Bowl I, when No. 86 missed almost the entire game due to a shoulder injury.

Swann had 48 catches for 907 yards and nine touchdowns in 16 postseason games. So if you compare the two, Dowler and Swann each caught three passes per game in the postseason. Plus, each caught a touchdown pass in every other playoff game they played in. The only real difference between the two is that Swann is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, while Dowler is not.

Also, neither Swann or Pearson was ever named to a NFL All-Time Team. Dowler was named to the NFL 50th Anniversary Team. No. 86 was named to the second-team of that 45-man squad. Dowler was joined on that second team along with players like Sammy Baugh, Bronco Nagurski, Harold “Red” Grange, Forrest Gregg, Raymond Berry, Mike Ditka, Danny Fortman, Mel Hein, Len Ford, Ernie Stautner, Joe Schmidt, Jack Butler, Jack Christiansen and Ernie Nevers.

All of those players have a bust in Canton except for Dowler. As a matter of fact, Dowler has never been a finalist. That needs to change. When I was at a party that the Packers had for Jerry Kramer in Canton the day of his enshrinement in 2018, I talked with Hall of Fame voter Rick Gosselin, who is part of the Seniors Selection Committee.

Gosselin asked me what I was going to do next now that Kramer was finally inducted. I told Rick that there were a number of other former Packers who deserve to be in Canton and that I would continue to promote those players and write about them. Rick told me to make sure that I wrote about Dowler, Ron Kramer and Gale Gillingham.

“In terms of getting into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, I haven’t given that a whole lot of thought,” Dowler said. “But I know one thing, you are doing about as much as can be done in terms of making people aware of what I accomplished as a player and I’m very happy about that.”

The 100-Year Rivalry Between the Green Bay Packers and the Chicago Bears: Starr, Favre and Rodgers Have Been the Difference

After Sunday’ 35-16 win by the Green Bay Packers over the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field, the Packers now lead the regular season series between the two teams 100-94-6. The two teams also have a 1-1 record playing each other in the postseason.

When the teams first played in 1921, the da Bears were known as the Chicago Staleys. Green Bay traveled to Wrigley Field (then Cubs Park) and lost to Chicago 20-0. The first time the Packers beat the Bears was in 1925 at old City Stadium, when Green Bay won 14-10.

The thing that is amazing about the Packers leading the regular season series by six games now is the fact that before the 1992 season began, the Bears had a 79-58-6 series lead over the Packers. That means that since the ’92 season, the Packers have had a 42-15 record against the Bears.

So, what are the reasons that the Packers have the series lead over their long-time rivals from the Windy City? Actually, there are three reasons. Bart Starr, Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers.

During his time with the Packers, Starr was 15-5 versus the Bears. When Vince Lombardi was his head coach, Starr was 12-3 against Chicago. Meanwhile, Lombardi was 13-5 versus George Halas from 1959 through 1967, which included five NFL titles in seven years, including wins in Super Bowl I and Super Bowl II, when Starr was the MVP of both games. Chicago did win the 1963 NFL title during that period as well.

It was a game against the Bears which elevated the status of Starr to both his head coach and his teammates. Jerry Kramer related that story to me in one of our many conversations.

“We were playing the Chicago Bears,” Kramer said. “Bill George was their middle linebacker at the time. On a deep pass attempt, George thought he would try to intimidate Bart.

“Bill took about a five-yard run and he gave Bart a forearm right in the mouth. George timed it perfectly and put Bart right on his behind. He also cut Bart badly, from his lip all the way to his nose. After that, George said, ‘That ought to take care of you Starr, you pussy.’ Bart snapped right back at George and said, ‘F— you, Bill George, we’re coming after you.’

“My jaw dropped after that exchange, as I was shocked. Meanwhile Bart was bleeding profusely. I told Bart that he better go to the sideline and get sewn up. Bart replied, ‘Shut up and get in the huddle.’

“Bart took us down the field in seven or eight plays and we scored. That series of plays really solidified Bart as our leader and we never looked back.”

Still, even with the great record of Starr against the Bears, the team still was down by 21 games in the series before the arrival of Favre in 1992. That all changed when No. 4 arrived. In 16 years in Green Bay, Favre had a 22-10 record against Chicago. Plus, like Starr did five times, Favre led the Packers to a NFL title, when the Packers won Super Bowl XXXI.

Favre’s most memorable win against the Bears had to be on Halloween night at Soldier Field in 1994. That was the night that the Bears were retiring the jerseys of both Dick Butkus (No.51) and Gale Sayers (No. 40), plus both Green Bay and Chicago were wearing their throwback jerseys.

It was a scary night weather-wise, as the temperature was in the low 40s on a very windy and rainy night. It was raining sideways for awhile as a matter of fact. Favre didn’t have his best night throwing in those conditions, even with his strong arm, but he did throw for 82 yards and one touchdown, without throwing a pick.

It was Favre’s legs that made the difference in the game though, as he rushed for 58 yards on just two carries, including a memorable 36-yard touchdown scamper. The Packers as a team ran for 223 yards, which was very Lombardi-like.

Rodgers has just been magnificent against the Bears. Since taking over for Favre in 2008, Rodgers has a 20-5 record against the Monsters of the Midway, plus beat da Bears in the 2010 NFC title game at Soldier Field. That victory came before Rodgers was the MVP of Super Bowl XLV, as the Packers beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25.

The numbers that Rodgers has put up against Chicago are just amazing. In 25 games, No. 12 has thrown 55 touchdown passes for 6,013 yards and only tossed 10 interceptions. That adds up to a passer rating of 107.2.

There have been many memorable games by Rodgers against the Bears, but the one that most remember was the final game of the 2013 season when the Packers met the Bears at Soldier Field. The winner of that game would win the NFC North, while the loser would go home and not make the playoffs.

Rodgers and the Packers were in a very difficult situation late in the game. Da Bears led 28-27 and there were only 46 seconds to go and Green Bay faced a 4th-and-8 scenario from the Chicago 48.

In the moment of truth, Rodgers (who had returned for this game after missing several weeks because of a broken collarbone) first avoided being sacked by Julius Peppers by sprinting to his left and then getting a chip-block by fullback John Kuhn. Rodgers then delivered a 48-yard touchdown pass on the move to Randall Cobb, as the Packers won 33-28.

Bottom line, when Starr, Favre or Rodgers have played against the Bears, their record has been a combined 57-22. That’s 35 games over .500 folks. In addition to that, the Packers won seven NFL titles behind those three quarterbacks, which includes four Super Bowls.

So, what then would the season series look like without the record of Starr, Favre and Rodgers included? Well, da Bears would lead the series by a 72-43-6 margin.

That’s all you need to now about how impactful Starr, Favre and Rodgers have been in the most storied rivaly in the NFL that dates back to 1921.

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers vs. the Chicago Bears: By the Numbers in 2021

Aaron Rodgers of the Green Bay Packers always seems to play well against the Chicago Bears. Both at Lambeau Field and at Soldier Field. In fact, going back to the 2010 NFC title game at Soldier Field when the Packers won 21-14, Rodgers has led the Packers to nine wins in ten years at the storied stadium near the shore of Lake Michigan in the Windy City.

Nothing was more exciting than the final game of the season between the Packers and Bears at Soldier Field. The winner would win the NFC North, while the loser would be out of the playoffs.

Here was the situation: There were 46 seconds to go in the game, with the Packers trailing da Bears 28-27 and Green Bay facing a fourth-and-8 scenario.

In the moment of truth, Rodgers (who had returned for this game after missing several weeks because of a broken collarbone) first avoided being sacked by Julius Peppers by sprinting to his left and then getting a chip-block by fullback John Kuhn. Rodgers then delivered a 48-yard touchdown pass on the move to Randall Cobb, as the Packers won 33-28.

A win today by the 12-3 Packers against the 8-7 Bears clinches the No. 1 seed in the NFC and also a bye in the first round of the NFC playoffs.

No. 12’s overall numbers versus Chicago are just incredible.

Regular Season Record: 19-5

Postseason Record: 1-0

Completion Percentage: 66.28

Completions: 509

Touchdown Passes: 51

Interceptions: 10

Passer Rating: 105.3

Yards Passing: 5,773

Yards Rushing: 276

4th Quarter Comebacks: 7

The 2020 Green Bay Packers Can Look to the Super Bowl XXXI Team for an Answer at Left Tackle

David Bakhtiari

On the same day that newly acquired defensive lineman Damon “Snacks” Harrison practiced with the Green Bay Packers for the first time, left tackle David Bakhtiari was lost for the rest of the regular season and postseason on what appears to be an ACL injury to his knee.

Losing Bakhtiari is brutal setback to the Packers, as they are setting their sights on becoming the No. 1 seed in the NFC playoffs, which also mean a bye in the first round of the postseason. Bakhtiari is considered the best left tackle in the NFL, which earned him a new contract extension earlier this season.

No. 69 signed a four-year, $92 million contract extension on Nov. 15, making him the highest-paid offensive lineman in the NFL. His new contract included a $30 million signing bonus and averages $23 million in new money and $20.7 million over the full five years. Bakhtiari has been named first-team All-Pro once and second-team All-Pro three times, plus has been named to three Pro Bowl teams.

While the loss of Bakhtiari comes at a very bad time, the Packers can look to the 1996 Green Bay team which won Super Bowl XXXI. In that season, the team also had one of the better left tackles in the NFL at the time. That player was Ken Ruettgers. But a knee injury hobbled Ruettgers early in the ’96 season and No. 75 only played in four games and started just one.

The Packers tried a number of players to try and find a left tackle who could protect the blindside of the NFL MVP in 1996, quarterback Brett Favre. Head coach Mike Holmgren tried both John Michels and Gary Brown at left tackle for most of the season at that position. But late in the season, the team turned to veteran Bruce Wilkerson, who held down that position all the way through the postseason, which included the 35-21 win by the Packers over the New England Patriots in Super Bowl XXXI.

In trying to replace Bakhtiari, head coach Matt LaFleur has a couple of options he can utilize and they are options he has used before. When Bakhtiari hurt his ribs earlier this year which caused him to miss three games, the Packers used both Elgton Jenkins and Billy Turner at left tackle.

Both were effective playing the position as well in those three-plus games Bakhtiari missed. If Ricky Wagner, who hurt his knee last week against the Tennessee Titans, can play right tackle against the Chicago Bears this week, Turner can switch over from his right guard position and play left tackle. Turner started at the position in the three games Bakhtiari missed due to the rib injury. Lucas Patrick would then assume the right guard position while Turner moves to left tackle.

If Wagner can’t go against the Bears, Turner would most likely go to play right tackle and then Jenkins would move from left guard to left tackle, like he did in the game when Bakhtiari hurt his ribs. Jenkins, who was named to the 2020 Pro Bowl team, is probably the most talented and versatile offensive lineman on the Packers. No. 74 has played every position of the offensive line in 2020 except right guard.

If Jenkins goes to left tackle, Patrick would be at right guard, while rookie Jon Runyan would play left guard. The only constant of the offensive line would be center Corey Linsley.

The bottom line is that the ’96 Packers were able to overcome issues at left tackle and were able to accomplish the ultimate NFL conquest. That is, winning the Super Bowl. The 2020 Packers can do the same thing. Plus, the Packers have had to win without Bakhtiari in three games already this season. And you know what? The Packers won two of those three games and only allowed two sacks in 12 quarters of football.

Elgton Jenkins (No. 74) and Billy Turner (No. 77)

The most important thing was that quarterback Aaron Rodgers never skipped a beat in those three games. Rodgers threw 11 touchdown passes versus no interceptions for 879 yards in those three games. The cumulative passer rating in those three games for No. 12 was 130.2.

Plus, in the 2010 season, the Packers lost one of the better right tackles in the NFL for the year when Mark Tauscher suffered a shoulder injury after only four games. But rookie Bryan Bulaga stepped in and played well enough for the Packers at right tackle in 12 starts for the team to advance to the postseason. That all led to a 31-25 victory over the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV, when Rodgers was the MVP of that game.

We shall see if the Packers can overcome problems again at the offensive tackle position in their quest to win Super Bowl LV. The Pack has achieved that goal twice before.

The Green Bay Packers add a Holiday ‘Snack’ to their Roster

Snacks Harrison sacks Aaron Rodgers

The Green Bay Packers received a holiday gift when the Seattle Seahawks released defensive lineman Damon “Snacks” Harrison on Monday. The Packers claimed Harrison on waivers on Wednesday. Harrison was a player who the Packers have coveted for a while now.

The Packers wanted to bring in Harrison earlier this year, but he visited Seattle first and signed with the Seahawks. In six games, Harrison had nine tackles and forced a fumble for Seattle. But after not being active against the Los Angeles Rams last Sunday, Harrison asked for and was given his release.

So why did Green Bay want the 6’3″, 350-pound Harrison? Because there are few defensive linemen who stop the run better than Snacks. Pro Football Focus did a piece on Harrison a year ago which described Snacks as an immovable force. 

Although the Packers did a decent job of holding down the production of running back Derrick Henry last Sunday night when the Packers beat the Tennessee Titans 40-14, the run defense of the Packers is still the biggest weakness on that side of the ball. The Packers are currently ranked 14th in the NFL in stopping the run. In addition to that, the Pack is giving up 4.6 yards per carry to opposing running backs.

The Packers have also given up 15 rushing touchdowns, nine rushes of 20 yards or more and three rushes of 40 yards or more.

Harrison is now in Green Bay and will be practicing today, according to Olivia Reiner of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. Head coach Matt LaFleur of the Packers was quoted as saying, “He’ll be at practice today. He will potentially be suiting up Sunday, we’ll see.”

Plus, Matt Schneidman of TheAthletic.com quotes LaFleur saying this about Harrison, “Hopefully he can get acclimated pretty quickly. What we’ve seen and what we’ve heard is he’s a pretty intelligent guy. “I think he can give us a lot in terms of playing the nose.”

Time will tell whether of not Harrison will be able to play for the Packers in the final regular season game against the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field on Sunday due to COVID-19 protocol, but Snacks will certainly be a welcome sight in the postseason.

All the Packers need to do is remember last year’s postseason. The Packers gave up  285 yards on the ground in the 2019 NFC title game against the San Francisco 49ers. Plus, in the three losses that the Packers have suffered in 2020, the defense allowed an average of 157 yards per game on the ground.

You can beat the Packers by keeping Aaron Rodgers and company off the field. Running the ball and controlling the clock makes that easier.

By beating da Bears on Sunday, the Packers will assure themselves of a first round bye and homefield advantage in the NFC playoffs. And having Harrison on the defensive line on early downs will be a huge asset in the postseason. The run defense will be much improved with both Harrison and Kenny Clark on the defensive line.

Plus, the Packers have seen an improvement at the production at inside linebacker in stopping the run with the play of two rookies, Krys Barnes and Kamal Martin. The shoulder injury to Christian Kirksey in Week 3 have allowed the Packers to see what their talented rookies can do at inside linebacker.

They are also seeing better run defense on the edge with the play of Za’Darius Smith and Rashan Gary, who has seen his playing time increase at the expense of Preston Smith.

The play of safety Adrian Amos has also been a key in helping the Packers get better in run defense.

But when you can add a player like Harrison of your defensive line, especially on early downs, you have provided the defense with an anchor that is almost impossible to move.

By adding a player like Harrison to team with Clark, it reminds me of the 2010 season, when the Packers added Howard Green to their roster to team with B.J. Raji about midway through that season. That move definitely helped out the run defense for the Packers, plus it was Green who forced quarterback Ben Roethlisberger of the Pittsburgh Steelers into a poor throw in Super Bowl XLV, which led to a pick-6 by safety Nick Collins. The Packers ended up beating the Steelers 31-25 in that Super Bowl, as Rodgers was the MVP.

By adding a player like Harrison, the road to Super Bowl LV in Tampa just got a bit easier, as Rodgers will be able to be on the field more often than not in the NFC playoffs.

2020 NFL MVP: Comparing Aaron Rodgers and Patrick Mahomes After 14 Games

Both Aaron Rodgers of the 11-3 Green Bay Packers and Patrick Mahomes of the 13-1 Kansas City Chiefs are having tremendous success in the 2020 NFL season. Both were named as starters in the 2021 Pro Bowl, plus both are the obvious frontrunners to become NFL MVP in 2020.

Rodgers has won that award twice, in both 2011 and 2014, while Mahomes won it in 2019. Both Rodgers and Mahomes have also won a Super Bowl and both were named the MVP of that game.

In his short four-year career in the NFL, Mahomes has the highest passer rating in the history of the NFL with a 109.4 mark. Over that time, Mahomes has thrown 112 touchdown passes compared to just 23 interceptions for 13,874 yards.

Meanwhile, Rodgers, who is in his 16th NFL season, has the second highest passer rating in NFL history with a 103.5 mark. Rodgers, who didn’t start at quarterback until his fourth year in the NFL, as he was backing up Brett Favre for three years, has thrown 404 career touchdown passes versus just 88 picks for 50,774 yards.

In 2020, although it’s not a given, it appears that either Rodgers or Mahomes will get another NFL MVP. A dark horse for the award is running back Derrick Henry, who has rushed for 1,679 and 15 touchdowns in 14 games for the 10-4 Tennessee Titans. The Packers and Titans will play Sunday night at Lambeau Field.

So far in 2020, Rodgers has been magnificent. In 14 games, No. 12 had thrown 40 touchdown passes compared to just four interceptions for 3,828 yards. That adds up to a NFL-leading 118.0 passer rating.

Mahomes has been fabulous as well. In 14 games, No. 15 has thrown 36 touchdown passes versus just 5 picks for 4,462 yards. That adds up to a passer rating of 110.6.

Rodgers has completed 52 passes of 20 yards or more and 13 passes of 40 yards or more.

Mahomes has completed 63 passes of 20 yards of more and eight passes of 40 yards or more.

Rodgers, who is 37, has rushed for 126 yards in 2020 and scored three touchdowns

Mahomes, who is 25, has rushed for 287 yards in 2020 and two scores.

Rodgers has four offensive teammates who were also named to the 2021 Pro Bowl team. They are running back Aaron Jones, wide receiver Davante Adams, left tackle David Bakhtiari and left guard/center Elgton Jenkins.

Mahomes has three offensive teammates who were named to the 2021 Pro Bowl team. They are wide receiver Tyreek Hill, tight end Travis Kelce and left tackle Eric Fisher.

The Packers finish out the season by hosting the Titans at Lambeau Field and then finish the season versus da Bears in Chicago at Soldier Field.

The Chiefs finish out the season by hosting the Atlanta Falcons and the Los Angeles Chargers at Arrowhead Stadium.

Both the Packers and the Chiefs are currently the No. 1 seeds in their respective conferences and that is a big factor, as only the top seed in both the NFC and AFC will get a bye.

Speaking of the postseason, Mahomes has the highest passer rating in postseason history, with a 106.6 mark. Right behind Mahomes is Bart Starr of the Packers with a 104.8 mark. Rodgers is fifth all time in the postseason with a mark of 100.0.

It would be apropos, if both Rodgers and Mahomes would meet in Super Bowl LV in Tampa, which is the 54th Super Bowl since the original Super Bowl in which the Packers and Chiefs met in 1967 at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum.

If that happens, odds are that the 2020 NFL MVP will be facing the runner-up for that honor in that game. Plus, the odds also favor that Rodgers would be the MVP of Super Bowl LV if the Packers won or that Mahomes would be MVP of Super Bowl LV if the Chiefs win.

Bottom line, it would be a dream matchup.

Green Bay Packers: Charles Woodson is a Lock to be in the Class of 2021 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame

There is no doubt in my mind that both defensive back Charles Woodson and quarterback Peyton Manning are locks to become part of the Class of 2021 for the Pro Football Hall of Fame. It’s very apropos, as they both came into the NFL together in 1998. Plus, it came down to those two as to who would win the 1997 Heisman Trophy. And it was Woodson who won the biggest individual award in college football, even though he predominantly played defense.

Both Woodson and Manning are in their first year of eligibility in terms of being inducted in Canton. So are wide receiver Calvin Johnson and defensive end Jared Allen. I believe Johnson has a good chance to get in as well in 2021, but he is not a lock like Woodson and Manning are in my opinion. I also think Allen will eventually get in, but not in 2021.

Woodson and Manning are part of a group of 25 semifinalists vying for a spot among the best of the best. The other players being considered are cornerback Eric Allen, offensive tackle Willie Anderson, cornerback Ronde Barber, linebacker Cornelius Bennett, tackle Tony Boselli, safety LeRoy Butler, guard Alan Faneca, safety Rodney Harrison, wide receiver Torry Holt, safety John Lynch, linebacker Clay Matthews Jr., linebacker Sam Mills, defensive lineman Richard Seymour, wide receiver/special-teamer Steve Tasker, running back Fred Taylor, linebacker Zach Thomas, wide receiver Hines Ward, wide receiver Reggie Wayne, linebacker Patrick Willis, safety Darren Woodson and defensive tackle Bryant Young.

This group of 25 will be pared down to 15 finalists in the near future. As many as five of these players will be named to the Class of 2021 the Saturday before Super Bowl LV in Tampa. Again, I believe two of the spots will definitely be manned by Woodson and Manning. That means three spots open for the modern era.

I’ll be promoting the causes of both Butler and Matthews.

There are three other finalists. Tom Flores is a finalist from the Hall coach’s committee, Bill Nunn is a finalist as a contributor, and Drew Pearson is a finalist from the seniors committee. If all three make it in, there will be eight members of the Class of 2021.

Woodson played 18 years in the NFL. The former Michigan Wolverine played 11 seasons with the Oakland Raiders and seven with the Green Bay Packers. But there is no doubt that the years Woodson spent in Titletown were the best years of his career.

For example, Woodson played in 154 games with the Raiders and picked off 27 passes for 398 yards and two touchdowns. Now compare that to his time in Green Bay. Woodson only played in 100 games with the Packers, but picked off 38 passes for 568 yards and nine touchdowns.

How about passes defensed? Woodson defended 84 passes in 11 years in Oakland and defended 99 in seven years in Green Bay.

Like Butler was in Green Bay before him, Woodson was also a very effective blitzer. In Oakland in 11 seasons, Woodson had 8.5 sacks. In Green Bay in just seven seasons, Woodson had 11.5.

You could go on and on looking at the other stats as well. Woodson forced 18 fumbles in Oakland, while in four fewer years in Green Bay, he forced 15. Woodson also recovered 12 fumbles (one for a touchdown) in Oakland and six (one for a touchdown) in Green Bay.

Plus there are the awards.

In Oakland, Woodson was named 1998 NFL AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. Woodson was also on the 1998 NFL All-Rookie Team. He was also named First-Team All-Pro in 1999. In addition, Woodson went to five Pro Bowls with the Raiders in 11 years.

In Green Bay, Woodson was named 2009 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year. He was also named First-Team All-Pro twice (2009 & 2011). Woodson also went to four Pro Bowls with the Packers in seven years.

Woodson was honored for his play with both the Raiders and Packers by being named to NFL All-Decade Team of 2000s.

Woodson played in two Super Bowls.

Woodson lost in his first Super Bowl when he was with the Raiders, when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers beat the Raiders 48-21 in Super Bowl XXXVII.

Woodson won in his second try in the Big Dance when he was with the Packers, as Green Bay beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 31-25 in Super Bowl XLV.

Woodson wore No. 24 with the Raiders and No. 21 with the Packers.

The bottom line is that Woodson had a magnificent 18-year career in the NFL.

The stats don’t lie. 65 career interceptions for 966 yards. 11 of those picks were returned for a touchdown. 183 career passes defensed. 33 career forced fumbles. 18 career fumble recoveries (two for touchdowns). 20 career sacks. 1,220 career tackles.

Plus, Woodson was named to nine Pro Bowls squads. Not to mention, being named First-Team All-Pro three times. Or being named the 1998 NFL AP Defensive Rookie of the Year. And finally being named 2009 NFL AP Defensive Player of the Year.

Woodson also was a Super Bowl winner, even though he only was able to play for less than half of that game due to a broken clavicle.

Reggie White will always be remembered in the City Of Brotherly Love for what he did in his career with the Philadelphia Eagles. But it was his six years in Green Bay which elevated his standing in the NFL, as he was finally able to win a Super Bowl.

The same thing can be said about Charles Woodson. The years he spent in Oakland, both prior to and after his time in Green Bay were great. But Woodson’s seven-year career with the Packers is what truly lifted up his status in the NFL as being one of the very best players who ever played in the league.

It was also in Green Bay when Woodson did another type of lifting, as the soon to be Hall of Famer was able to hoist the Vince Lombardi Trophy after his team was victorious in Super Bowl XLV.

Woodson would become the 27th member of the Green Bay Packers to have a bust at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The most recent member of the Packers to get one was Bobby Dillon, when he was inducted in 2020. Two years before that, in 2018, I was honored to be in attendance in Canton when Jerry Kramer was enshrined.