Green Bay Packers

Mandel’s Musings: New York Giants Go to 4-1, Defeating the Green Bay Packers as Daniel Jones Exhibits Leadership

The New York Giants crashed the party on Sunday as they overcame a 14-point deficit to beat Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay Packers, 27-22 in front of a Cheesehead-dominated Tottenham Hotspur Stadium on what marked the historic franchise’s first game in London.

Saquon Barkley put the Giants ahead for the first time in the game with six minutes left as he darted to the outside on a two-yard touchdown run to cap a drive he had exploded into life with a 40-yard catch and run reception.

I just re-watched this game because, yes, I am a football nerd. I discovered something that should make the Giants organization happy. It looks like their quarterback, Daniel Jones, is developing into a leader and maybe, just maybe a legitimate starting quarterback in the NFL (which he certainly has not been for the three plus seasons he’s been Big Blue’s QB.

Today, Jones played hurt, with a moderate to severely sprained ankle incurred during the Giants last game seven days ago. As anyone who has experienced a bad ankle sprain will tell you, it’s damn near impossible for that thing to fully heal in seven days no matter how heavily the trainers tape it.

No matter, Jones was excellent in crunch time, both passing and running the ball without Saquon Barkley on the field during the third quarter. Jones led the game-tying drive, a 15 play, 91 yard gem, during which he was seven for seven passing while gaining 25 yards running the ball on that bad ankle. And he did it against a team from Green Bay with a championship pedigree and a Hall of Fame quarterback in Aaron Rogers.

Saquon Barkley making a defensive back miss on 40-yard pass play

The Giants, who won four game all of last season (4-13) are now 4-1, under new head coach, Brian Daboll, who is now the early leader in the Coach of the Year running. Daboll’s biggest challenge in taking over this sad, forlorn franchise was to resurrect some form of leadership from the quarterback position. Jones was inherited by Daboll and Joe Schoen, the new general manager from the previous and incompetent Dave Gettleman years and can easily move on from Jones as soon as his final year of his four-year rookie deal runs out at the end of this season.

However, Jones may just make that decision a little tougher for Schoen and Daboll, if he keeps playing and leading as he did, today.

Teammates notice this stuff. They see when the light all of a sudden turns on for a player. So do opposing players and coaches around the league.

It was one good day at the office for Daniel Jones, today. He looked like a winner for the first time in four years. The challenge will be in repeating this performance. We’ll see.

Jones found his touch in the second half

Scene from Super Bowl I – Len Dawson In Chief’s Locker Room at Halftime

By Scott Mandel

Photo taken at halftime of Super Bowl I, between the Chiefs and the Lombardi Packers. This is legendary Chiefs QB, Len Dawson, getting a smoke, and drinking a bottle of Fresca in the locker room before going out for the second half, which the Packers dominated on their way to a 35-10 win. The famous and hungover Max McGee caught two touchdown passes from Bart Starr.

We wonder if times have changed, all that drastically. Maybe, these days, the cigarette smoke has been replaced by other kinds of smoke, including marijuana. Instead of a sugary soft drink like Fresca, perhaps it is a sugary soft drink like Gatorade.

Mandel’s Musings: Bart Starr, Packers Quarterback for Five Championships, Dies at 85

The great Starr won three NFL championships as the quarterback for the dominant NFL team of the 1960s before the Super Bowls began.

by Scott Mandel

Bart Starrwho died on Sunday at 85, ushered in the Super Bowl era, winning two championships for the Green Bay Packers. The most valuable player of Super Bowl I was Bart Starr. And the MVP of Super Bowl II? Starr, once again.

But, it’s easy to forget there were NFL championships before the Super Bowl became part of the national consciousness. And, Bart Starr won three NFL championships, in 1961, 1962, and 1965, before he won the first two Super Bowls.

A 17th round draft choice out of Bear Bryant’s University of Alabama program, Starr was slightly built, didn’t have a passing arm that anyone would mistake for a howitzer, and wasn’t fast afoot. It was no surprise he lasted until the 17th round.

But, all he did was win football games, especially when Vince Lombardi took over Green Bay as the head coach in 1959.

Over the course of their nine seasons, Lombardi and Starr knew only success. A team that had gone 1-10-1 in 1958 (0-6-1 with Starr starting) would never record a losing season under Lombardi. The Packers improved to 7-5 in 1959, played for the N.F.L. championship in 1960, and the first dynasty in NFL history was born, with Bart Starr at the helm.

The two elite quarterbacks in professional football for most of that era were John Unitas, the best forward passer of the 60s, and Starr, who engineered the legendary Lombardi’s offense to perfection.

The difference between them? Unitas had stats, and one important championship in 1956. But, Bart had multiple CHIPS.

Vince Lombardi speaking to Bart Starr during Super Bowl I, in 1967

Stuck between eras of the N.F.L., Starr won more of the league’s titles than any quarterback not named Tom Brady. The line of demarcation in NFL history tends to be pre-Super Bowl and post-Super Bowl, which began January, 1967.

In the era preceding that first Super Bowl, the game began to evolve into something resembling today’s focus on the passing game. The onset of the forward pass started to push to the side, typical NFL offenses based on the concept of “three yards and a cloud of dust,” which utilized running backs to follow the blocks of the offensive lines to essentially move the first down chains. The forward pass, back in the early 50s, had essentially been used when the running game left offenses in third and long scenarios.

The modern era, which Starr/Lombardi and Baltimore’s Johnny Unitas, coached by Weeb Ewbank, helped usher in, led the N.F.L. on a path to being America’s richest and most popular sport. And while the transition from the league’s wilder early days to its sleek and modern present would quite likely have happened without Starr, he and the Packers helped create the early blueprint for players of the soon-to-be-merged N.F.L. and A.F.L. to follow.