Glenn Guzzo

 

’62 Packers one of SOM’s

Most Dominant Teams Ever

 

By Glenn Guzzo

 

            The 13-1 Packers deserve a place in a list of greatest Strat-O-Matic teams ever. And they may stand alone as the most mistake-free team:

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No non-mandatory penalties (only the standard “Offsides*” and “Offsetting penalties” that appear on every team card.

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No blocked punt.

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Running-back fumbles of 2 guessed Right and none guessed Wrong.

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With an interception rate of 3.1 in an era when regular quarterbacks were 5 percent and higher, Bart Starr is almost interception-free (Right: 2-3 Flat Pass, 2-4 Short Pass, 2-5 Long Pass on 11 rolls).

 

Add these other virtues:

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In an era when field-goal kickers were often inaccurate, Jerry Kramer is the best among the six carded ’62 teams, hitting 2-10 through the 22-yard line and 2-8 from 23-32 – all solid enough by today’s standards.

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Kickoff returner Herb Adderley has a touchdown on #4.

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Starr also completed 62.5 percent of his passes and averaged a very impressive 8.6 yards per pass. Guessed Wrong, he completes all Flat Passes except the #11 interception chance, 21 of 36 chances Short and 15 chances Long.

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In the one season when Jimmy Brown failed to gain 1,000 yards rushing, Green Bay’s Jimmy Taylor won the rushing title impressively: 1,474 yards (5.4 average) and 19 rushing TDs. He’s got Short Gains Right and Wrong at #6 all the way across his card.

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Taylor runs behind a line of run blockers that are solid 6s from LG all the way across to TE. Up front, only LT Bob Skoronski mars perfection. He’s a mere 5. The 6s are famous names: LG Fuzzy Thurston, C Jim Ringo, RG Jerry Kramer, RT Forrest Gregg and TE Ron Kramer.

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The Packer defense is rated Excellent vs. both the run and the pass, for good reason. It boasts six 6s (two linemen, two linebackers, two defensive backs) and four 5s.

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There’s plenty of pass rush: DLE Willie Davis is (2*) 12, DRE Bill Quinlan and RLB Bill Forester are 10s and DRT Henry Jordan and LLB Dan Currie are 8s.

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The Pack causes frequent turnovers (e.g. 2-9 fumble Off Tackle with 0 linebackers in the zone and Long Pass interceptions of 2-11 at #7 and automatic at #11 with 1 man in the zone).

 

Green Bay’s only serious flaw is pass blocking – no one is better than a 2. That’s realistic. The Pack’s only loss came when the Detroit Lions sacked Starr eight times (once for a safety) in a 26-14 Thanksgiving Day contest in Detroit.

 

The ’62 Lions pass rush is awesome. DLE Darris McCord and DRE Sam Williams are (8*) 12 and (4*) 12, respectively, to lead the charge. Defensive tackles Alex Karras (10) and Roger Brown (8) can sack and stop the run – both are 6s. RLB Wayne Walker is a 10 pass rusher, MLB Joe Schmidt is an 8 and LLB Carl Brettschneider is a 6.

 

The entire Lions defense is formidable. With five 6s (Karras, Brown, Schmidt, LCB Night Train Lane and FS Yale Lary) and five 5s, they are just a step behind Green Bay. The Lions are rated Excellent vs. the run and Good to Excellent vs. the pass, with a better pass rush and causing an intimidating number of fumble (Off Tackle with 0 linebackers in zone: 2-9 at #6 and automatic at #4).

 

What the NFL Has Learned (and Lost) Since 1962

 

Strat-O-Matic’s 1962 re-creation teaches us that the extreme turnovers created by the Packers and Lions defenses are more the norm for an era that was much more high risk-high reward than the smash-mouth football we might have expected of the National Football League more than 40 years ago.

 

The six carded teams for 1962 (four NFL, two AFL) also include these fumble ratings (all for defensive cards Off Tackle with 0 linebackers in the zone):

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Chicago Bears: 2-11

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Dallas Texans and Houston Oilers of the AFL: 2-9

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New York Giants: 2-6

 

In 2005, only Kansas City among the NFL’s 32 teams is even 2-7 at forcing fumbles. The entire NFC doesn’t have a team as strong as 2-6.

 

            Similarly, interception rates were stratospheric in 1962 compared to today, when a 3 percent rate is merely average.

 

            Chicago had the most conservative offense of the six carded 1962 teams and QB Billy Wade had a 5.8 interception rate. New York’s Y.A. Tittle was 5.3 and Detroit’s Milt Plum was 6.1. In the young and wild American Football League, Dallas’ Len Dawson was 5.4 while Houston made the title game with a QB, George Blanda, who had 10 percent of his 418 passes intercepted (while completing only 47 percent).

           

            Yes, that Blanda card is scary: Interceptions guessed Right on Short Pass are 2-7 on #9, plus automatic picks at #3 and #12.

 

            But Blanda also threw 27 touchdown passes (Dawson had 29, Tittle 33). The offenses of the day went for big plays more often than today’s safety-first strategies. Tha shows up prominently in the yards per catch.

 

            A wide receiver in 1962 who averaged less than 15 yards per catch wasn’t much of a threat. The Giants had a pair of 20-plus-yards-per-catch WRs, Frank Gifford and Del Shofner. Every one of these six teams have at least two receivers with Long Gains on their cards and all but the Bears and Lions have a running back who can catch deep passes.

 

            The deeper passes shows up notably in QB Short Pass columns. Today, a majority of passer cards lack a Short Pass of +15 or more. In 2005, only three starters have a +16 and only Peyton Manning has a +17. The six carded teams from 1962 all have starting quarterbacks with +15, all but Plum have +16 and three – Dawson, Blanda and Tittle have a +17. The erratic Blanda’s +17 is on dice roll #7. (Three other 1962 starting QBs on the computer disk have +17 as well.)

 

            Pro football had advanced to unlimited substitutions by 1962, but not the specialization we see today. In 1962, offensive and defensive players played every down, and often saw double duty on special teams.

 

            There were no pass-rush specialists. The six carded teams combined have exactly one defensive sub who has a higher pass-rush rating than 0 (Green Bay’s Ron Kostelnik is a 2). Kostelnik, a 4 at tackle and end, is the only lineman or linebacker higher than 0.

 

            Only two sub defensive backs rate as high as 4: New York’s Dick Pesonen and DallasBobby Ply. But there was little need for nickel defenses: Only Chicago, Detroit and Houston have a third WR with at least 10 catches.

 

            There were no third-down backs, although a couple might be used that way by clever Strat coaches. Green Bay’s Paul Hornung ran only 57 times for a 3.8 average, but averaged 18.7 yards on his 9 pass receptions. Flashy Chicago HB Willie Galimore, who never seemed to get the playing time his stats and explosiveness recommended, carried only 43 times, but for a 5.4 average with a 77-yard long play. He’s a much bigger threat Right and Wrong than starter Ronnie Bull.

 

            There were no kicking specialists.

 

Among place kickers, Kramer is a starting guard. Detroit’s Walker is a starting linebacker and Chicago’s Roger LeClerc is a backup linebacker. Blanda is the starting quarterback. New York’s Don Chandler and DallasTommy Brooker are carded sub receivers.

 

Among punters, Detroit’s Yale Lary is the starting free safety and Houston’s Jim Norton is the starting strong safety. Green Bay’s Boyd Dowler, New York’s Chandler Chicago’s Bobby Joe Green are carded wide receivers. DallasEddie Wilson is a carded backup quarterback.

 

So, too with the return men. The only specialist is Chicago’s Billy Martin, the #1 kickoff returner and #2 punt returner. All others are carded halfbacks, wide receivers and rated defensive backs. Most of them are starters, like Abner Haynes (Dallas), Billy Cannon (Houston), Herb Adderley and Willie Wood (Green Bay) and Johnny Morris (Chicago).