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Let's start off by a little study of the Packers themselves. Everybody knows that their psychology is to outexecute the opponent. Almost all pro football teams have a master pool of about 300 plays, out of which they'll select maybe 30 for a specific game, 30 plays that they've worked on, and many of which they won't even use. Green Bay will select 20 for its ready list and wind up using only 10 or 15 of them. I don't know that for a fact, but that's the way it's always seemed to me, playing against them. The thing is, they'll run those 10 or 15 plays to perfection. They are completely geared to execution. If a play is going good for them, they'll run it again and again and you'll know what's coming, and still that right guard will pull and knock down your linebacker and the halfback will take out your other linebacker, and the play will go for yardage.
Not everybody is a total believer in the Green Bay theory; some say it works at Green Bay largely because they have the finest personnel the game has ever seen. How many times will a team lose a man like Paul Hornung for almost a whole season and still win the football championship of the universe with talent like Donny Anderson and Jim Grabowski sitting on the bench? That's personnel! On the other hand, it's hard to fault the theory. Maybe it works because it's there, because having some theory and believing in some theory is half the battle. Maybe it's like the success of Bear Bryant. They think Bear can walk on water down in Alabama, and you can't tell anybody in the state from the governor to a ditchdigger that there's any other way except Bear's way. That's fine. Bear may not have the best philosophy in the world, but at least he gives them something to work with. Up at Green Bay everybody is sold on Vince Lombardi's theory; they're all convinced Green Bay has the inside track, the secret of how it's done. They've got the record to back them up, and that's all that counts. Nevertheless, there is a way to attack every football team, and that includes Green Bay.
Obviously, I think that there are certain vulnerable points in the Packer defensive lineup, and obviously I can't tell you exactly what I think they are. They may have a lineman I can run at; they may have another I can run inside of; they may have a back I think I know how to beat on a certain type of pass, etc. The Packers probably have fewer vulnerable spots than any team in the game, but that doesn't make them perfect.
On the other hand, I can give you a very clear picture of what I can't do against Green Bay, and of certain precautions I must take on every play. For example, I know that Henry Jordan is a tackle with great lateral movement, and whenever I pull a guard in front of Henry Jordan I've got to block my center back on him. I can't pull a guard right in front of Henry's face and expect him to just fade out of the play; he has too much speed to either side, and he'll come out of nowhere and make the play.
I know that Ron Kostelnik, the other defensive tackle, is a guy who comes under the heading "They also serve who only stand and wait." Kostelnik is the cop on the beat. He stands up there at the line of scrimmage and says, "Come on through, right this way, boys, see if you can get by!" And most of the time you can't. Kostelnik covers up the middle while Henry Jordan roams and Willie Davis and Lionel Aldridge charge; that's about the size of it. Kostelnik plays the screens and the draws, and if you're planning to make any headway through the Green Bay line you've got to get him out of there.
Behind Kostelnik and Jordan and the others, Green Bay plays three tough linebackers. They won't blitz much (the pass rush takes care of putting pressure on the passer), and they won't make many mistakes, either. You've got to beat those linebackers yourself, and if you can't do it don't expect them to do it for you.
Now, when you take a look at the Green Bay secondary you are looking at something that is as nearly perfect as the Kohinoor diamond. Willie Wood, the free safety, plays center field, and he is the best free safety I have ever seen. He'll go from one end of that field to the other intercepting passes all day long, and you're not going to beat him on the home run. The other safety, Tom Brown, covers more than his share of acreage, too, although he is not quite as quick as Wood. The corner back, Herb Adderley, plays the post (down and in) very tough. You try not to send anybody out into Adderley's territory on a post pattern; that's Adderley's meat. He's a quick reactor, and you've got to get the ball to your receiver practically instantly or Adderley, even if he's been beaten, will recover and break up the play.
The other corner back, Bob Jeter, is the most underestimated defensive back in the league. He's the little bandit you've got to watch; he'll intercept square-out passes, and when a back intercepts one of those passes he's usually got nothing between him and the goal line but grass. And he's fast! You may beat Jeter deep, but by the time the ball gets there Jeter's there, too. Almost all of those Green Bay pass defenders can recover and get back to the ball after they've been beaten, and that's the test. The result is one of the NFL's more interesting statistics: last year the Packer defense scored six touchdowns on interceptions. The records don't show how many times they broke the other team's back by intercepting a pass just when things were looking good.
You can imagine what this does to the opposing quarterback. He scans the Green Bay secondary, and over to one side he sees Willie Mays. He looks down the middle and there's another Willie Mays, and he turns in desperation to the other side of the field and there's still another Willie Mays staring at him. I'll tell you what this did to me: in my first four years in the league the Packers intercepted me more than all the other teams put together.
Now, how in the world am I going to beat a team like this? How am I going to attack a fundamentally sound defensive team with no major weaknesses, good pass rushers, big strong linebackers and the best defensive secondary in football?