Reusse: Vikings flatter Packers by trying to emulate rebuilding formula

  • Article by: PATRICK REUSSE , Star Tribune
  • Updated: January 2, 2013 - 11:38 PM
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Aaron Rodgers greets Brett Favre after a game at Lambeau Field in 2009. The Vikings defeated the Packers, 38-26.

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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

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San Francisco - WP: M. Bumgarner 8 FINAL
Pittsburgh - LP: E. Volquez 0
Minnesota 7:25 PM
Green Bay
Buffalo 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Detroit
Chicago 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Carolina
Cleveland 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Tennessee
St. Louis 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Philadelphia
Atlanta 10/5/14 12:00 PM
NY Giants
Tampa Bay 10/5/14 12:00 PM
New Orleans
Houston 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Dallas
Baltimore 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Indianapolis
Pittsburgh 10/5/14 12:00 PM
Jacksonville
Arizona 10/5/14 3:05 PM
Denver
Kansas City 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Francisco
NY Jets 10/5/14 3:25 PM
San Diego
Cincinnati 10/5/14 7:30 PM
New England
Seattle 10/6/14 7:30 PM
Washington
Washington 1 FINAL
Buffalo 6
Carolina 3 FINAL
Columbus 6
Pittsburgh 2 FINAL
Detroit 0
Montreal 3 FINAL
Chicago 1
Arizona 2 FINAL
Edmonton 3
Fla Atlantic 6:00 PM
FIU
UCF 6:00 PM
Houston
Arizona 9:30 PM
(2) Oregon
Louisville 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Syracuse
San Diego St 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Fresno State
Utah State 10/3/14 9:15 PM
(18) BYU
(6) Texas A&M 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(12) Miss State
Ball State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Army
Iowa State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(21) Oklahoma State
Marshall 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Old Dominion
Southern Miss 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Middle Tennessee
(20) Ohio State 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Maryland
Purdue 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Illinois
Florida 10/4/14 11:00 AM
Tennessee
SMU 10/4/14 11:00 AM
(22) East Carolina
Virginia Tech 10/4/14 11:30 AM
North Carolina
Eastern Mich 10/4/14 1:00 PM
Akron
North Texas 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Indiana
Massachusetts 10/4/14 1:30 PM
Miami-Ohio
Tulsa 10/4/14 2:00 PM
Colorado State
New Mexico 10/4/14 2:30 PM
TX-San Antonio
(3) Alabama 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(11) Ole Miss
(14) Stanford 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(9) Notre Dame
(17) Wisconsin 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Northwestern
Navy 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Air Force
(7) Baylor 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Texas
(4) Oklahoma 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(25) TCU
Wake Forest 10/4/14 2:30 PM
(1) Florida State
NC State 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Clemson
Buffalo 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Bowling Green
Ohio U 10/4/14 2:30 PM
Central Mich
Oregon State 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Colorado
Vanderbilt 10/4/14 3:00 PM
(13) Georgia
Kansas 10/4/14 3:00 PM
West Virginia
Kent State 10/4/14 4:00 PM
Northern Ill
South Alabama 10/4/14 5:00 PM
Appalachian St
Texas-El Paso 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana Tech
(15) LSU 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(5) Auburn
UAB 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Ky
Texas Tech 10/4/14 6:00 PM
(23) Kansas State
Michigan 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rutgers
Hawaii 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Rice
Toledo 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Western Mich
ULM 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Arkansas State
Georgia State 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Louisiana
Idaho 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Texas State
Memphis 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Cincinnati
Arizona State 10/4/14 6:30 PM
(16) USC
So Carolina 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Kentucky
Pittsburgh 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Virginia
Miami-Florida 10/4/14 6:30 PM
Georgia Tech
(19) Nebraska 10/4/14 7:00 PM
(10) Michigan State
UNLV 10/4/14 7:00 PM
San Jose St
Ga Southern 10/4/14 7:00 PM
New Mexico St
California 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Washington St
Utah 10/4/14 9:30 PM
(8) UCLA
Boise State 10/4/14 9:30 PM
Nevada
Winnipeg 10/3/14 6:00 PM
Ottawa
Calgary 10/3/14 9:00 PM
Saskatchewan
Edmonton 10/4/14 3:00 PM
Toronto
Brt Columbia 10/4/14 6:00 PM
Hamilton
Hamilton 10/10/14 6:00 PM
Toronto
Ottawa 10/11/14 9:00 PM
Brt Columbia
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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 pm
Oct 12 - vs. Detroit Noon
Oct 19 - at. Buffalo Noon
Oct 26 - at Tampa Bay Noon
Nov 2 - vs. Washington Noon
Nov 9 - Bye
Nov 16 - at Chicago Noon
Nov. 23 - vs. Green Bay Noon
Nov. 30 - vs. Carolina Noon
Dec 7 - vs. NY Jets Noon
Dec 14 - at Detroit Noon
Dec 21 - at Miami Noon
Dec 28 - vs. Chicago Noon

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