Reusse: Vikings flatter Packers by trying to emulate rebuilding formula

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 2, 2013 - 11:38 PM
hide

Aaron Rodgers greets Brett Favre after a game at Lambeau Field in 2009. The Vikings defeated the Packers, 38-26.

Photo: Benny Sieu, Mct - Mct

CameraStar Tribune photo galleries

Cameraview larger

The Green Bay Packers went from 1968 through 1991 with two playoff appearances and one playoff victory. Ron Wolf, a master of player evaluation, was hired in November 1991 as general manager. He didn't wait long to shake up the quarter-century of futility.

Wolf fired Lindy Infante as coach at season's end. He then traded a first-round draft choice for Brett Favre, a quarterback who had been a third-stringer as an Atlanta rookie.

Mike Holmgren, a San Francisco assistant, was hired as coach by Wolf. It took one more year and then the Packers went on a six-year playoff run from 1993 to 1998. They won nine playoff games, including the Super Bowl for the 1996 season.

The magic didn't end until Holmgren accepted an offer to become Seattle's executive vice president, general manager and coach after the 1998 season. The Packers missed the playoffs with Ray Rhodes in 1999 and with Mike Sherman in 2000.

Ron Wolf announced he would resign after the 2001 draft. Sherman remained coach and was given general manager powers.

Four years later, team president Bob Harlan took the GM powers from Sherman and hired Ted Thompson from Seattle in 2005. The Packers went 4-12, and Thompson fired Sherman and hired 49ers assistant Mike McCarthy.

This was a more bold move than was Wolf's to hire Holmgren, who had been San Francisco's offensive coordinator during the late stages of its dynasty. McCarthy had been the 49ers' offensive coordinator for a 4-12 season in 2005.

Three years later, the Packers were getting ready to play the Vikings in a Monday night opener at Lambeau Field.

The last game that counted in Green Bay had been a 23-20 overtime loss to the New York Giants in the NFC Championship Game in January 2008.

Brett Favre's renege on retirement and his trade to the New York Jets had taken place. In the tailgate areas before that 2008 opener, Packers fans were either questioning Rodgers' talent, or cursing Thompson's name, and often both.

Thompson kept stockpiling draft choices and trading down to stockpile more. "To what end?" the fans wondered.

And why -- after the success with defensive back Charles Woodson -- had Thompson become allergic to signing high-end free agents?

The Packers won on that Monday night, 24-19, but wound up 6-10. Do you think that fall would've taken place if Thompson hadn't run off Favre? No chance. Fire Ted!

The Packers are 47-17 in the four playoff seasons since then. They lost first-round games in 2009 and 2011, surrounded by the 4-0 wild-card run to a Super Bowl title after the 2010 season.

The triumvirate of Thompson, McCarthy and Rodgers has turned this into such an admirable operation that the Vikings are openly trying to emulate it.

It took owner Zygi Wilf seven years to do what he should have done all along, and name a general manager with full personnel powers. Rick Spielman was elevated to that role after last year's 3-13 abomination.

Spielman has cited Green Bay as a role model for his emphasis on the development of young players over high-buck free agents. The results have come quickly, due in a large part to the extraordinary effort of Adrian Peterson, but also the development of inexperienced players on both sides of the ball.

Thompson's best move in Green Bay was to see Rodgers fall to 24th in 2005 draft, to decide the flawed mechanics that had scared off other teams could be fixed, and to take him as the needed successor to Favre.

The Packers knew they had a few years to work with Rodgers, as Favre continued to be the NFL's ironman. But they were also correct that Rodgers could be elite at the most important position in professional sports, and they continue to benefit grandly from that judgment with Rodgers, now 29.

In Minnesota, Spielman has tied his team to Christian Ponder, who had an apprenticeship of only six games behind Donovan McNabb in 2011.

Last Sunday, in his 26th NFL start, Ponder was a worthy rival for Rodgers in the Vikings' 37-34 victory. If he gets it done again Saturday night in Lambeau, we'll have to say the Spielman plan to surpass the Packers by mimicking them has kicked in much faster than anyone could've imagined.

Patrick Reusse can be heard noon-4 weekdays on 1500-AM. preusse@startribune.com

leader of the pack

Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has passed for 2,823 yards and 24 touchdowns against the Vikings. He has only four interceptions and a 116.4 passer rating. Here are details from his 10 career starts against the Vikings.

2008

Sept. 8 at Green Bay: Making his first career start, Rodgers completed 18 of 22 passes for 178 yards and a touchdown in a 24-19 Packers victory. He also rushed for a 1-yard score. "I've been dreaming of that for four years," Rodgers said of his Lambeau Leap following his TD run.

Nov. 9 at Minnesota: Rodgers was 15-for-26 for 142 yards, but Adrian Peterson ran for 192 yards in a 28-27 Vikings victory. Mason Crosby's 52-yard field-goal attempt in the closing seconds went wide. Rodgers was sacked four times -- once for a safety by Jared Allen -- and called for intentional grounding in his own end zone for another safety, both in the second quarter. "It was a combination of we didn't do the fundamentals the way we know how to and me probably holding the ball too long," Rodgers said.

2009

Oct. 5 at Minnesota: Rodgers went 26-for-37 for 384 yards, two TDs and an interception, but former Packer Brett Favre outdueled him in a 30-23 Vikings victory. "Below my expectations, definitely," Rodgers said after being sacked eight times.

Nov. 1 at Green Bay: Favre had four touchdown passes to again outplay Rodgers (26-for-41 for 287 yards and three TDs) in a 38-26 Vikings victory. "This one will hurt for a couple of days," said Rodgers, who was sacked six times.

2010

Oct. 24 at Green Bay: Rodgers was 21-for-34 for 295 yards, with two TDs and two picks, but the Packers won 28-24 as three potential Vikings' TDs were reversed by replay review.

Nov. 21 at Minnesota: Rodgers was 22-for-31 for 301 yards and four scores -- three to Greg Jennings -- in a 31-3 victory that caused Vikings coach Brad Childress to be fired. "We're going to be tough to beat when we're playing that well," Rodgers said.

2011

Oct. 23 at Minnesota: Rodgers was nearly perfect (146.5 passer rating) after going 24-for-30 for 335 yards and three touchdowns as he rallied his team to a 33-27 victory in Christian Ponder's first start for the Vikings. "There's not a lot of panic on this team," Rodgers said. "Just a lot of focus."

Nov. 14 at Green Bay: Rodgers threw for 250 yards and four scores as the Packers beat up on the Vikings 45-7.

2012

Dec. 2 at Green Bay: Peterson ran for 210 yards, but Rodgers was 27-for-35 for 286 yards, one TD and one interception in a 23-14 victory. "Everything's right in front of us," Rodgers said of his team's playoff push.

Sunday at Minnesota: Rodgers led the Packers to scores on six of their final seven possessions, going 28-for-40 for 365 yards and four touchdowns. But the Vikings won 37-34 to make the playoffs and deny the Packers a first-round bye.

KENT YOUNGBLOOD

  • related content

  • Chart: Rodgers is leader of the Pack against Vikings

    Wednesday January 2, 2013

    Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers has passed for 2,823 yards and 24 touchdowns against the Vikings. He has only four interceptions and a 116.4 passer rating. Here are details from...

  • get related content delivered to your inbox

  • manage my email subscriptions

ADVERTISEMENT

Team Irvin 7:15 PM
Team Carter
Miami 96 FINAL
Chicago 84
Oklahoma City 98 FINAL
Cleveland 108
Dallas 5:00 PM
New Orleans
Indiana 5:00 PM
Orlando
LA Clippers 5:00 PM
Phoenix
Minnesota 5:00 PM
Atlanta
Detroit 6:00 PM
Toronto
Milwaukee 6:00 PM
San Antonio
Boston 7:00 PM
Golden State
Washington 7:00 PM
Denver
Houston 8:30 PM
LA Lakers
Team Toews 4 2nd Prd
Team Foligno 4
South Florida 53 FINAL
Connecticut 66
Boston College 64 FINAL
Georgia Tech 62
Virginia 50 FINAL
Virginia Tech 47
Indiana 70 FINAL
Ohio State 82
Stony Brook 61 FINAL
Binghamton 54
Cincinnati 56 FINAL
UCF 46
Maine 70 FINAL
Hartford 61
Monmouth 64 FINAL
Manhattan 71
Fairfield 67 FINAL
Marist 73
Rowan 48 FINAL
Princeton 96
St Bonaventure 48 FINAL
Rhode Island 53
Duke 77 FINAL
St Johns 68
Saint Peters 69 FINAL
Siena 55
Drake 40 FINAL
Wichita State 74
Vermont 61 FINAL
UMass Lowell 50
Seton Hall 57 FINAL
Butler 77
NJIT 72 FINAL
South Alabama 55
Northern Iowa 54 FINAL
Illinois State 53
Louisville 78 2nd Half 0:11
Pittsburgh 68
UMBC 37 2nd Half 11:04
Albany 54
Niagara 30 2nd Half 17:53
Iona 48
Notre Dame 5:30 PM
NC State
Belmont 5:30 PM
Tennessee St
Creighton 6:00 PM
Villanova
Northwestern 6:30 PM
Maryland
Washington 7:30 PM
Utah
Senior-North 34 FINAL
Senior-South 13
Seton Hall 99 FINAL
Georgetown 85
St Johns 69 FINAL
Villanova 81
Arkansas 58 FINAL
Florida 72
Maine 56 FINAL
UMBC 42
Vanderbilt 55 FINAL
Alabama 52
Lafayette 60 FINAL
Lehigh 65
UCF 61 FINAL
SMU 57
Utah 51 FINAL
Washington 63
James Madison 73 FINAL
Coll of Charleston 53
Delaware 56 FINAL
Drexel 61
Hofstra 56 FINAL
William & Mary 57
Hartford 58 FINAL
Albany 82
Binghamton 54 FINAL
Stony Brook 67
Towson 63 FINAL
UNC-Wilmington 71
Wake Forest 80 FINAL
(17) Florida State 110
Georgia Tech 68 FINAL
Virginia 62
(22) Georgia 51 FINAL
(5) Tennessee 59
Drake 79 FINAL
Evansville 62
Iona 80 FINAL
Canisius 62
Fairfield 33 FINAL
Monmouth 59
Northwestern 75 FINAL
Penn State 76
Wisconsin 71 FINAL
Michigan State 77
Ohio State 79 FINAL
Purdue 71
Northern Iowa 57 FINAL
Indiana State 55
Butler 58 FINAL
Xavier 54
Creighton 93 FINAL
Marquette 75
Providence 42 FINAL
DePaul 90
Northeastern 77 FINAL
Elon 80
(2) Connecticut 96 FINAL
Cincinnati 31
Oregon 78 FINAL
Arizona 81
Bradley 46 FINAL
Loyola-Chicago 45
NC State 49 FINAL
(23) Syracuse 66
(7) Maryland 84 FINAL
Indiana 74
Illinois State 35 FINAL
Missouri State 58
Tulane 45 FINAL
South Florida 64
(14) Kentucky 83 FINAL
Missouri 69
(9) Oregon State 68 FINAL
(13) Arizona State 57
Colorado 68 2nd Half 0:02
Washington St 72
Vermont 49 2nd Half 6:41
UMass Lowell 62
Iowa State 48 2nd Half 7:00
(8) Texas 46
Southern Ill 42 2nd Half 11:00
Wichita State 54
(15) Duke 28 2nd Half
(12) North Carolina 38
Miami-Florida 31 2nd Half
(4) Louisville 27
(21) Minnesota 29 1st Half 0:37
(25) Rutgers 37
California 6:00 PM
UCLA
(11) Stanford 7:00 PM
USC
Connect with twitterConnect with facebookConnect with Google+Connect with PinterestConnect with PinterestConnect with RssfeedConnect with email newsletters

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Date/Opponent Time W L Score
2014 preseason     
Aug 8 - vs. Oakland 7 pmX10-6
Aug 16 - vs. Arizona 7:30 pmX30-28
Aug 23 - at Kansas City 7 pmX30-12
Aug 28 - at Tennessee 7 pmX19-3
2014 regular season     
Sep 7 - at St. Louis NoonX34-6
Sep 14 - vs. New England NoonX30-7
Sep 21 - at New Orleans NoonX20-9
Sep 28 - vs. Atlanta 3:25 pmX41-28
Oct 2 - at Green Bay 7:25 pmX42-10
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit NoonX17-3
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo NoonX17-16
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay NoonX19-13 ot
Nov 2 - vs. Washington NoonX29-26
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago NoonX21-13
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay NoonX24-21
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina NoonX31-13
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets NoonX30-24 ot
Dec 14 - at Detroit 3:25 pmX16-14
Dec 21 - at Miami NoonX37-35
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago NoonX13-9

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

question of the day

Poll: Who will win the Super Bowl?

Weekly Question

ADVERTISEMENT

 
Close