Packers Periscope: An Apology to Matt LaFleur, '39 Champs and More

As we raise this week's Packers Periscope, I owe Matt LaFleur and his staff an apology they'll neither read nor care about. We also look back to the 1939 NFL Championship from West Allis, WI, watch the highlights, and look ahead to Monday's matchup with Big Blue.

I need to start this week's periscope with an apology of sorts to Matt LaFleur and the coaching staff. They'll never read it, but I need to get it out into the universe. Earlier in the season, as recently as the Steelers game, I've wondered if this Packers team was truly a well-coached football team. The penalties, the sloppy play, the overall softness we'd seen would always jump off the screen at me, and made me wonder if LaFleur's success really was the byproduct of having Aaron Rodgers.

I wondered if Jordan Love really was the guy, and if the season continued to tank, if they would maybe take a QB early if management didn't think Love was the guy. I told myself time and time again - even in this article - to be patient, to let the season play out, to let the team and its coaches develop with the youngest team in football. But the bad football blinded me from that mantra, and I didn't do what I said I would.

This run the Packers are on are why it's so important to let the season play out. It doesn't feel that long just because we're watching 3 hours a week. We're not privy to all of the work the team is putting in every day, what LaFleur and Adam Stenavich and Joe Barry are doing every day to put this team in a position to win. Just as much as we should have let the players develop, the coaches needed that grace too. It's the youngest team in the league they're trying to coach up while letting them figure out what they're doing.

It's been a work in progress, and that progress is finally starting to show on both sides of the ball. As much as LaFleur deserves credit for it, his two coordinators do too. Stenavich and his offensive line prowess is showing itself again. The line has been so drastically improved it's hard to imagine how they were so bad earlier this season. And the defense, while I don't necessarily love the philosophy, does limit points and big plays. And if the offense is figuring it out, the defensive philosophy looks much better.

In short, Football Gods, I am sorry for not remaining patient like I should have. Enjoying this journey for what it really is and rolling with the punches of a long football season that will hopefully be a little longer if this team continues to figure it out.

And with that, the Periscope raises and we take a look at the past, present and future of the New York Football Giants.

The Past

One of the league's oldest rivalries, the Packers lead the series 34-27-2. The first matchup between the two teams was a 6-0 Giants win on October 7, 1928 and the most recent, a 27-22 Giants win last October in London, a game we painfully recall the Packers squandering. Since 2012, however, it's been a rather even series, with the Packers winning three between 2016 and 2019, and the Giants winning three in a row in 2012 and 2013.

This week's historical matchup I wanted to look back at, though, was the 1939 NFL Championship, held on December 10 at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis, WI in front of a paid crowd of 32,379. The year prior in 1938, the Giants eked out a win over Curly Lambeau's Packers 23-17, so revenge was undoubtedly on their minds. Finishing the regular season at 9-2, the Packers fortunately hosted the 9-1-1 Giants. Despite the better record, according to Stoney McGlynn's Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article about the game, the Packers were 10-point favorites. The Packers opened the scoring in the first quarter on a touchdown on a (get ready for some amazing names, here) Arnie Herber to Milt Gantenbein 7-yarder to make it 7-0. The second quarter was scoreless, and the Packers came out swinging in the third. Kicker Paul Engebretsen field goal put it to 10-0, then quarterback Cecil Isbell hit Joe Laws from 31 yards to make it 17-0 entering the fourth. More dominance ensued, with an Ernie Smith 42-yard field goal and finally an Eddie Jankowski goal line touchdown to wrap up the 27-0 championship, the team's fifth.

Why two quarterbacks? Why two kickers? Who cares! All the glory of wartime football is captured in this unbelievably nostalgic recap. The drama! The music! The incredible play-by-play! And Arnie Herber might be the most accurate passer throwing off his back foot I've ever seen. "The Packers are the new champions of the National League, winning twenty-seven to nothing," the announcer closes.

 

 

The Present

Insert Paisan emoji here. With Daniel Jones out for the season and backup Tyrod Taylor hurt, the Giants turned to quarterback Tommy DeVito, much to the delight of the Italian-American Giants fan, but mostly for comedic purposes. But after two losses to begin his career as a starter, the Giants have rallied the last two weeks with a 31-19 win over the Commanders, and then a 10-7 rain-soaked slobberknocker over the Patriots last week. DeVito has instilled enough confidence in head coach Brian Daboll to keep him in, however, as backup Tyrod Taylor is now healthy and not back in the lineup.

As for their weaponry, Saquon Barkley is still that dude despite not having the stats to necessarily back it up. But we've seen him take games over (see: London, 2022) and is one of the league's best. Maybe it's shoddy OL play, maybe it's shoddy QB play, but Barkley has only topped 100 yards one time this season, in a 13-10 overtime loss to the Jets. But you'd better believe Daboll watched the same game Sunday that we did, and he'll absolutely look to lean into the run game to keep the Packers off the field and do, essentially, what the Packers did to the Chiefs. 

On the defensive side, the Giants are about as middle-of-the-pack as you can get, both against the pass and rushing. They're formidable, but nothing that would instill fear into Matt LaFleur and Jordan Love. Defensive Coordinator Wink Martindale (all-time football name) is as blitz happy as Brian Flores or Steve Spagnuolo. He loves sending pressure, and will likely do it in spite of what Love did against the blitz not only last week, but all season.

The Future

Monday Night Football, East Rutherford, New Jersey. On a night with two MNF games, for some reason, the Packers do get the better commentators, with Joe Buck and Troy Aikman calling the game. Weather-wise, it's looking like some AM rain will break to cooler temps, with game time being in the low-mid 30s. Nothing the Packers can't handle. As for the spread, we're looking at the Packers being favored by 6.5, with a low O/U of 36.5. So, not a ton of offense by the Giants is predicted, and I'd align with that sentiment. I expect the Packers now top-10 defense to do what they always do. Give up some rushing yards, be stout against the pass, and limit touchdowns. What'll be interesting is how the Giants attack Love, and how Love responds to new pressures presented by the defense.

This is a game the now-hot Packers should win. They've lost winnable games earlier in the year, but it now finally seems like they are figuring it out. With Christian Watson expected to be out, however, we'll need to see if Aaron Jones or Jaire Alexander will be back. It's a shame we can't get a view of this team at its healthiest, but the next-man-up mantra has treated this team well. But if Jones is back, they'll be able to be just a little more dynamic to make up for not having one of their best receivers available. As usual, I can't wait to see how this one shakes out.

__________________________

Tony Wilson takes pride in journalism training from 2/3 of directional-Michigan MAC schools. A former Sporting News writer, Tony now focuses on the Packers from his home in Toledo, OH. His beer of choice is a Miller Lite from the bottom of the cooler. You can find him on Twitter @GlassCityPack.

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8 points
 

Comments (42)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Leatherhead's picture

December 07, 2023 at 06:14 pm

Lots of people said lots of things and most of them were wrong.

1. We were going back to the 80s.
2. Love couldn't play and the Packers shouldn't have drafted him.
3. LaFleur had been carried by Rodgers, and without him, would reveal his incompetence.
4. His assistant coaches...Stenavich, Butkus, Barry.....all incompetents.
5. We were going to be in forever cap hell.

In reality....

1. We transitioned away from a declining HOF QB. We drafted and developed his successor while squeezing two MVP seasons out of Rodgers at an advanced age for QBs.

2. Love certainly looks like he can play QB in the NFL

3. LaFleur is a good coach.

4. The people who are criticizing his position coaches are not as smart as him, and they aren't as smart as the position coaches. Not even close.

5. We're financially solvent and we're able to do some maneuvering if we wish.

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Houndog's picture

December 07, 2023 at 08:47 pm

Leatherhead,
I'd never give you a thumbs down, but I'll disagree with you on Reality #4 and #5.
#4: It's not about who's smart and who's not. If playing your D-backs 14 yds deep on 3rd and 8 is smart, then Joe Barry is the smartest guy on the planet, and everyone else is stupid. I won't even mention leaving 'center field' open 75% of the time, or did I?
As for #5, I read on this site, last week, that GB has somewhere between $30 and 40 Million Dead Cap next year, 2024. Not exactly solvent. I don't know what the real number is, but I didn't imagine it, I read it! I was thinking the same as you until I saw that, and I was surprised by it.

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marpag1's picture

December 08, 2023 at 06:44 am

Meanwhile, only seven teams have given up FEWER points than the Packers, so maybe the deep middle isn't as wide open as people seem to think.

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Leatherhead's picture

December 08, 2023 at 10:54 am

I don't mind disagreement....just ask TGR. I hate the anonymous thumbs down which doesn't tell me anything,

#4....I get that it's frustrating to see the DBs give a big cushion on 3rd and 8, but it's a helluva lot better than giving up long completions. I think if you look back on the season, you'll see we haven't given up very many long completions, despite having some very inexperienced people in the secondary.

As regards the cap for 2024, we're going to have some dead money. Bakhtiari alone is over $20M. And if you throw in guys like Jones and PSmith, it's going to be more, because we restructured deals so we could remain solvent while we had Rodgers. But the other side of that coin is we're not going to have their salaries, roster bonuses, or workout bonuses. According to spotrac, we could have our heads above water by draft day.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 12:16 pm

You're predicting no #33, 91 or 69 next season. Sounds bleak. You may be right, and those holes might get filled.

OC may have filled in as O line coach, producing the improvement we've seen there. For the first 7 weeks there were obvious mistakes in coaching the O line, that do extend upwards to HC in less than 7 weeks.

DC works fine as long as they have a lead. Still a one trick pony, but yes he's focused on the single most important task. Saquon Barkely can still beat GB, and that needs to be stopped. Good teams don't choose whether to stop the pass or stop the run, they stop the opposing defense.

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PeteK's picture

December 08, 2023 at 01:48 pm

--Not giving up TDs is the name of the game, and we're pretty good at it.
-- We will have more cap space next season than we had this season.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 02:04 pm

I looked at the cap situation next year after the draft. That's when I determined that we're hoping to open a SB window in 2025, and 6 wins this season would be fine as long as there's progress.

6 wins already? A surprising turnaround 😎

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Tundraboy's picture

December 08, 2023 at 02:40 am

I'm with you especially #2 but # 4, I'm not so sure about that one!

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 02:12 pm

Agreed. This is 2 years in a row that our coaches were the last ones to know how to fix obvious flaws in our O line, and watched at least 6 games go by before changing anything. As a fan, I don't ever want to see that happen, anywhere on the team. They should be making adjustments at half time that I need to have explained to me.

Where did the turnaround come from? Butkus, Stenovitch, MLF? I dunno. Are their fundamentals good now? It seems they must be, but JL10 getting the ball out so quickly is a big factor, too. I'd love to see analysis of this. The most common stat to see is average time to get the ball out. I'm much more interested in the elapsed time of his quickest release, now vs early in the season. Also his quickest elapsed time from snap to completed pass, now vs early season. All that seems drastically faster to my eye, but that's not an objective measurement.

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Ray-66's picture

December 07, 2023 at 06:25 pm

How in the hell can you call Joe Buck and Troy Aikman the better commentators? Who are the others?

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brenner's picture

December 07, 2023 at 11:02 pm

Agreed. Rather have Terrance and Philip call the game

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Tundraboy's picture

December 08, 2023 at 02:38 am

Pfft. Lmao

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Or Ren and Stimpy.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 12:19 pm

Lol my thoughts exactly!

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Tundraboy's picture

December 08, 2023 at 06:21 pm

Larry, Darryl,and Daryl ?

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LLCHESTY's picture

December 07, 2023 at 07:16 pm

Quite the selling point from that old timey announcer. "It's just like college football, please watch."

My favorite game vs the Giants was the the 1982 MNF right before the strike. Packers hadn't been on MNF for quite awhile and Lofton had a reverse for about 80 yards and a TD.

4 points
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Coldworld's picture

December 07, 2023 at 11:20 pm

Fascinating film. Some innovative play calls that are still getting called that today. Great fun to watch and see a glimpse of early greats. More big passing plays than I’d have guessed. That score would work on Monday too.

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Tundraboy's picture

December 08, 2023 at 02:43 am

That play! Man I loved Lofton, him on so many other year's teams would have been lights out.

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Ruppert's picture

December 08, 2023 at 06:56 am

That '82 MNF game was lights out. Literally. Some stadium lights went out and caused a delay.

And I love the double reverse in the '39 game. Let's get that one into the gameplan!

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Tundraboy's picture

December 08, 2023 at 06:47 pm

Wow, your memory is so much clearer than mine! 👍

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Spock's picture

December 08, 2023 at 07:20 am

Quite the selling point from that old timey announcer. "It's just like college football, please watch." You have to remember LLCHESTY that in that era it was COLLEGE football that was more popular than professional football! At that the national passion was still more for baseball than football.

2 points
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THESZOTMAN1's picture

December 07, 2023 at 07:37 pm

Where did you dredge up this video?
SO cool
The Szotman

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cdoemel's picture

December 07, 2023 at 07:44 pm

Hey Tony, how about some love for MM and BG while you’re at it? They brought this group together.

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brenner's picture

December 07, 2023 at 11:09 pm

Gutey deserves credit for sure...hit pretty well the last couple off-seasons. Murphy still needs to retire...or at least just leave football to gutey and ball.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 12:22 pm

Get rid of his "silos," too.

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Jgilmor08's picture

December 08, 2023 at 03:45 am

Ummmmmmm no. Cdo, using a second round pick on a player who has never been written into the depth charts with anything other than chalk or pencil is an incredible example of pissing away a valuable pick. I’m almost positive the team has whiffed on every single third rounder BG has made as the teams GM. Most other places that’ll get you canned.

Josh Jackson 2nd rounder bust
Darnell Savage 1st rounder barely qualifies as serviceable
Eric Stokes 1st rounder tbd but not looking great
Josh Myers 2nd rounder wasn’t even best Center prospect on the board at the time
Christian Watson 2nd rounder x2 traded two second round picks for him

So of the 1st rounders he’s hit on three. Quay Walker and Devonte Wyatt still remain to be seen.
2nd rounders he’s hit on 1.5 out of six possible picks

There’s also been great opportunities for positions of need where a low pick or a permanently wasted pick could’ve been used to truly make this team special and didn’t make it happen. Byard comes to mind. So does AJ both from the Titans. Jonathan Taylor for the perennially pulled hammy of Christian Watson with the top two backs in the organization both on the way out seems a little goofy to me. He’s an alright GM but I wouldn’t go claiming he’s the ultimate puppet master always pulling the right strings though.

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LeotisHarris's picture

December 07, 2023 at 07:45 pm

That 1939 team owes much to the team-friendly reporting of Stoney McGlynn from the MJS. Stoney had access, and he knew the palookas in the Packers front office weren't exactly the bees knees. Any references to "clown cars" or "dumpster fires" went directly to the round file.

Curly kept his mugs and wise guys close, but there were many close calls. Plenty of hooch was passed around on off hours, and if some flatfoot caught wind of a juice joint, well, let's just say Stoney made sure it stayed on the QT if Packers players were involved.

The win at the fairgrounds in West Allis was no cinch. It sure turned out to be swell. Fans looked spiffy in the stands. Putting on the Ritz, I'd say.

5 points
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joejetson's picture

December 07, 2023 at 08:56 pm

"Ix-nay on the Ackers-Pay."

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Spock's picture

December 08, 2023 at 07:26 am

Leotis, Nice 'vintage' commenting there! I'm picturing you putting on a brimmed hat, having a lit cigarette hanging from your mouth and typing this wearing a suit and tie. Well done.

2 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

December 08, 2023 at 10:24 am

Have you heard Wink McAllister's recap of Packer games. The old Winker is getting up there and doesn't always get the names quite right and sometimes goes off on tangents but you can't beat his old timey feel! 👍

https://www.iheart.com/podcast/480-drew-and-kb-28232925/episode/drew-kb-...

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 02:15 pm

I think every one of those mistakes was deliberate.

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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 02:14 pm

Those Green Bay Rooters! After the merger they joined the Rotos.

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Bitternotsour's picture

December 08, 2023 at 09:23 pm

where exactly did Liberace figure into that dynamic.

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ricky's picture

December 07, 2023 at 09:11 pm

LaFleur has shown growth, as has Love. As far as why the OL was so bad at the beginning of the year? Because just like last year, they decided to put in guys who were not good enough to do the job. And just like last year, once they decided to let their better players on the field, the team improved. I'm still on the fence about Stenavich as an OC. He was a terrific OL coach, and it seems that Butkus just doesn't have the same coaching ability. As far as Barry goes, yes, he is coaching some younger players. But he also has a lot of veterans, a lot of high draft picks, and the team still can't stop the run. But the players on both sides of the ball are playing with more toughness and resolve. Whether that is them maturing, or coaching, or a combination, I'm just glad to see some fire in their play. What concerns me is that Barry might be retained. Has he improved? Or have the players simply gotten better with more experience?

3 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 12:30 pm

"Because just like last year, they decided to put in guys who were not good enough to do the job."

No. Just, no.

The only change to O line personnel we've seen is Rhyan vs JRJ, and Walker vs Nijman. None of them have won the position outright.

The difference is for a different reason. Individuals have probably improved. The same individuals who were losing their 1-on-1 matchups against not particularly great players, have been winning their 1-on-1 matchups against some of the best in the league.

Some of that might be attributable to play calling. Some of that is JL10 getting the ball out quicker, and also learning when to throw it away.

I'd love to see Mike Wahle break down film of this improvement, early season vs the KC game. But it's not due to personnel change, whereas last year it WAS.

0 points
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Lphill's picture

December 08, 2023 at 05:22 am

This is no easy game Packers have a top 10 pass defense not run which is closer to 30 th, Barkley will run all over the Packers D , this can be a big trap game .

-1 points
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GregC's picture

December 08, 2023 at 05:28 am

Fun video. The players moved differently back then. Their physiques were very different, and there were different ideas about what was "good form." The passing motion in particular looks very different, but it was effective. Those guys could sling it.

So many people are viewing Monday night's game as a should-be easy win for the Packers, but the Giants have been competitive this year and have won two games in a row. It should be a close game. I expect the Packers coaches will use last year's loss to the Giants as motivation.

2 points
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Bearmeat's picture

December 08, 2023 at 06:01 am

Good job, Tony. There are many here who IMO owe MLF an apology.

I always thought the poor personnel decisions on offense and McCarthy 2009-esque scheme in 2020-2022 (but ESPECIALLY 22) belonged more to 12 than to MLF. Now, you can make a fair argument that the head coach has to contain his contrarian and diva HOF QB, but let's be real. Murphy backed Rodgers and Rodgers knew he wore the pants at work. Look at the players and coaches MLF has developed. And look at the mess in NY. The good guys "won" and 12 has been proven a fool. Even Jets fans are mad at him.

Meanwhile, our young team is developing right before our eyes. Even making the playoffs (which will happen) would be gravy this year. The offense has been innovative.

Now, you can ding MLF for Barry, and I do a bit, but that unit hasn't been AWFUL, just "meh." And if that's the main point against our HC, we are very lucky indeed.

MLF is a good coach.

1 points
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Oppy's picture

December 08, 2023 at 07:09 am

We get to appreciate this a little bit more than the rest.

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T7Steve's picture

December 08, 2023 at 08:18 am

The past part always intrigues me. For once I actually don't remember that game! LOL

Did you slip up in your closing paragraph of the past saying, "wartime football"? Did you mean pre-wartime, or did you figure the war in Europe was affecting everyday life already? It was interesting how the NFL navigated through WW II (actually the whole country).

1 points
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Rebelgb's picture

December 08, 2023 at 10:55 am

Packer QB's could sling it!!

Why did the Packers kick off in both the 1st half AND the 2nd half?

1 points
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SicSemperTyrannis's picture

December 08, 2023 at 12:05 pm

"The line has been so drastically improved it's hard to imagine how they were so bad earlier this season."

YES!

Is Butkus still the O line coach? Has OC stepped in and that's why the turnaround? Because the improvement of the O line is THE single biggest reason for the turnaround on the season. Even on defense; JB's D is designed to win with a lead. It's only highly problematic when they're behind. He still needs tools for that situation.

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