The Packers sweep, also known as the Lombardi sweep, is an American football play popularized by Green Bay Packers coach Vince Lombardi. The Packers sweep is based on the sweep, a football play that involves a back taking a handoff and running parallel to the line of scrimmage before turning upfield behind lead blockers. The play became noteworthy due to its extensive use by the Packers in the 1960s, when the team won five National Football League (NFL) Championships, as well as the first two Super Bowls. Lombardi used the play as the foundation on which the rest of the team's offensive game plan was built. The dominance of the play, as well as the sustained success of Lombardi's teams in the 1960s, solidified the Packers sweep's reputation as one of the most famous football plays in history.
American football, referred to as football in the United States and Canada and also known as gridiron, is a team sport played by two teams of eleven players on a rectangular field with goalposts at each end. The offense, which is the team controlling the oval-shaped football, attempts to advance down the field by running with or passing the ball, while the defense, which is the team without control of the ball, aims to stop the offense's advance and aims to take control of the ball for themselves. The offense must advance at least ten yards in four downs, or plays, and otherwise they turn over the football to the defense; if the offense succeeds in advancing ten yards or more, they are given a new set of four downs. Points are primarily scored by advancing the ball into the opposing team's end zone for a touchdown or kicking the ball through the opponent's goalposts for a field goal. The team with the most points at the end of a game wins.
A play from scrimmage is the activity of the games of Canadian football and American football during which one team tries to advance the ball, get a first down, or to score, and the other team tries to stop them or take the ball away. Once a play is over, and before the next play starts, the football is considered dead. A game of American football consists of many such plays.
The Green Bay Packers are a professional American football team based in Green Bay, Wisconsin. The Packers compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) North division. It is the third-oldest franchise in the NFL, dating back to 1919, and is the only non-profit, community-owned major league professional sports team based in the United States. Home games have been played at Lambeau Field since 1957.
The Packers sweep is a variation on the sweep, which is a basic running play in American football. A sweep play involves a back, typically the halfback or running back, taking a pitch or handoff from the quarterback and running parallel to the line of scrimmage. This allows the offensive linemen (usually the guards) and the fullback to block defenders before the runner turns upfield.The sweep can be run out of multiple formations and go either left or right of the center. It is characterized as power football and usually gives the runner the choice to follow the lead blockers inside or outside, depending on how the defense reacts. Various options and changes to the sweep have been implemented to create further deception. These include running option pass plays out of the same formation, changing which blockers pull from the line of scrimmage, and running the play towards different areas of the field.
A sweep is a running play in American football where a running back takes a pitch or handoff from the quarterback and starts running parallel to the line of scrimmage, allowing for the offensive linemen and fullback to get in front of him to block defenders before he turns upfield. The play is run farther outside than an off tackle play. Variants of the sweep involve the quarterback or a wide receiver running with the ball, rather than a running back.
A halfback (HB) is an offensive position in American football, whose duties involve lining up in the backfield and carrying the ball on most rushing plays, i.e. a running back. When the principal ball carrier lines up deep in the backfield, and especially when that player is placed behind another player, as in the I formation, that player is instead referred to as a tailback.
A running back (RB) is an American and Canadian football position, a member of the offensive backfield. The primary roles of a running back are to receive handoffs from the quarterback for a rushing play, to catch passes from out of the backfield, and to block. There are usually one or two running backs on the field for a given play, depending on the offensive formation. A running back may be a halfback, a wingback or a fullback. A running back will sometimes be called a "feature back" if he is the team's starting running back.
The development of what became known as the Packers sweep,also known as the Lombardi sweep, began with Vince Lombardi. He played football at Fordham University on a football scholarship, and was part of the "Seven Blocks of Granite", a nickname for the team's offensive line. This was the first time Lombardi witnessed the success of the sweep. Jock Sutherland's University of Pittsburgh teams used the sweep extensively against Lombardi's team in an era when the single-wing formation was used almost universally. In 1939, after graduation, Lombardi began his coaching career as an assistant at St. Cecilia High School in Englewood, New Jersey. He was promoted to head coach and over eight seasons led St. Cecilia's to multiple championships. With a 32-game unbeaten streak, the school had one of the top high school football programs in the nation. Lombardi attended coaching clinics during this time, where he continued to develop a better understanding of the sweep, especially the techniques of pulling offensive linemen and having the ball carriers cut back towards openings in the line. He moved on from high school to college football as an assistant under Earl "Red" Blaik at West Point in 1948. For five seasons Lombardi served as an assistant coach and further developed his coaching abilities. Blaik's emphasis on players executing their job and the military discipline of West Point greatly influenced Lombardi's future coaching style.
Vincent Thomas Lombardi was an American football player, coach, and executive in the National Football League (NFL). He is best known as the head coach of the Green Bay Packers during the 1960s, where he led the team to three straight and five total NFL Championships in seven years, in addition to winning the first two Super Bowls at the conclusion of the 1966 and 1967 NFL seasons. Following his sudden death from cancer in 1970, the NFL Super Bowl trophy was named in his honor. He was enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971, the year after his death. Lombardi is considered by many to be the greatest coach in football history, and he is more significantly recognized as one of the greatest coaches and leaders in the history of any American sport.
Fordham University is a private research university in New York City. Founded by the Catholic Diocese of New York in 1841, it is the oldest Catholic university in the northeastern United States, the third-oldest university in New York, and the only Jesuit university in New York City.
The Seven Blocks of Granite were the Fordham University football team's offensive line under head coach "Sleepy" Jim Crowley and line coach Frank Leahy. The most famous Seven Blocks of Granite were Leo Paquin, Johnny Druze, Alex Wojciechowicz, Ed Franco, Al Babartsky, Natty Pierce and Vince Lombardi. The nickname was also commonly used to referred to the Fordham lines of the 1929, 1930, and 1937 teams, but it is the 1936 line which is today the best known of these lines.
Lombardi's first NFL coaching job came in 1954, when he accepted an assistant coaching job (now known as an offensive coordinator) for the New York Giants.It was with the Giants that Lombardi first implemented the principles that became the Packers sweep. He started to run the sweep using the T formation and positioned his linemen with greater space between each other. He also had offensive tackles pull from the line and implemented an early variant of zone blocking (blockers are expected to block a "zone" instead of an individual defender); this required the ball carrier to run the football wherever there was space. The phrase "running to daylight" was later coined to describe the freedom the ball carrier had to choose where to run the play. Under his offensive leadership and assisted by his defensive counterpart Tom Landry, Lombardi helped guide the Giants to an NFL Championship in 1956. They appeared again in the 1958 Championship Game, this time losing in overtime to the Baltimore Colts. In 1959, Lombardi accepted a head coaching and general manager position with the struggling Green Bay Packers. The Packers had just completed their worst season in team history with a record of 1–10–1. Even though the Packers had not been successful for a number of years, Lombardi inherited a team in which five players would go on to be Pro Football Hall of Famers. He immediately instituted a rigorous training routine, implemented a strict code of conduct, and demanded the team continually strive for perfection in everything they did.
The National Football League (NFL) is a professional American football league consisting of 32 teams, divided equally between the National Football Conference (NFC) and the American Football Conference (AFC). The NFL is one of the four major professional sports leagues in North America, and the highest professional level of American football in the world. The NFL's 17-week regular season runs from early September to late December, with each team playing 16 games and having one bye week. Following the conclusion of the regular season, six teams from each conference advance to the playoffs, a single-elimination tournament culminating in the Super Bowl, which is usually held in the first Sunday in February, and is played between the champions of the NFC and AFC.
An offensive coordinator is a member of the coaching staff of an American football or Canadian football team who is in charge of the team's offense. Generally, along with the defensive coordinator, he represents the second level of command structure after the head coach. The offensive coordinator is in charge of the team's offensive game plan, and typically calls offensive plays during the game, although some offensive-minded head coaches also handle play-calling. Several position coaches work under the coordinator. The coordinator may also coach a position.
The New York Giants are a professional American football team based in the New York metropolitan area. The Giants compete in the National Football League (NFL) as a member club of the league's National Football Conference (NFC) East division. The team plays its home games at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, which it shares with the New York Jets in a unique arrangement. The Giants hold their summer training camp at the Quest Diagnostics Training Center at the Meadowlands Sports Complex.
The first play Lombardi taught his team after he arrived in Green Bay was the sweep.He moved Paul Hornung to the halfback position permanently (in the past he had been poorly utilized in different back positions) and made him the primary ball-carrier for the sweep. The Packers sweep, as it became known, was the team's lead play and the foundation on which the rest of the offensive plan was built. For the team to succeed, Lombardi drilled them constantly on the play, expecting it to be executed perfectly every time (it was common for the team to run the play at the beginning and end of every practice). The play became the epitome of Lombardi's philosophy: a simple, fundamentally sound play that was reliant on the entire team working together to move the ball.
Paul Vernon Hornung, nicknamed The Golden Boy, is a former professional American football player and a Hall of Fame running back for the Green Bay Packers of the National Football League (NFL) from 1957 to 1966. He played on teams that won four NFL titles and the first Super Bowl. He is the first pro football player to win the Heisman Trophy, be selected as the first overall selection in the NFL Draft, win the NFL most valuable player award, and be inducted into both the professional and college football halls of fame.
Even though each player had a role to perform, the execution of the center, the pulling guards, and the halfback were essential to the play's success.The center had to cut off the defensive tackle or middle linebacker to prevent the defender from breaking up the play behind the line of scrimmage. This was due to the right guard (when the play was run to the right side of the field), who would vacate this space while pulling to lead the ball carrier. The most difficult block fell on the left guard, who had to pull the whole way across the field to be the lead blocker. The left guard also had to decide, based on how the defense reacted, whether to push the play to the inside or outside of the tight end. The ball carrier, usually the halfback, then decided whether to go inside or outside as well. The fullback, tight end, and left tackle also had essential blocks that dictated the success of the play.
A defensive tackle (DT) is typically the largest and strongest of the defensive players in American football. The defensive tackle typically lines up opposite one of the offensive guards. Depending on a team's individual defensive scheme, a defensive tackle may be called upon to fill several different roles. These roles may include merely holding the point of attack by refusing to be moved or penetrating a certain gap between offensive linemen to break up a play in the opponent's backfield. If a defensive tackle reads a pass play, his primary responsibility is to pursue the quarterback, or simply knock the pass down at the line if it's within arm's reach. Other responsibilities of the defensive tackle may be to pursue the screen pass or drop into coverage in a zone blitz scheme. In a traditional 4–3 defense, there is no nose tackle. Instead there is a left and right defensive tackle. Some teams, especially in the National Football League (NFL), do have a nose tackle in this scheme, but most of them do not.
The tight end (TE) is a position in American football, arena football, and formerly Canadian football, on the offense. The tight end is often seen as a hybrid position with the characteristics and roles of both an offensive lineman and a wide receiver. Like offensive linemen, they are usually lined up on the offensive line and are large enough to be effective blockers. On the other hand, unlike offensive linemen, they are eligible receivers adept enough to warrant a defense's attention when running pass patterns.
For nine seasons Lombardi ran the Packers sweep with great success,with one estimate claiming the play gained an average of 8.3 yards each time it was run in the first three seasons under Lombardi. Overall though, the play was known as gaining "four-yards-and-a-cloud-of-dust" that would allow the Packers to control the game clock, slowly moving the ball down the field and exhausting the defense.
Even when defenses shifted to try to stop it, Lombardi would either attack other weaknesses or would run variations of the sweep.Tom Landry, as head coach of the Dallas Cowboys, had his defense linemen "flex" (line up in an offset position) to prevent the runner from finding the cutback lanes that were essential to the success of the sweep. In response to Landry's flex defense, Lombardi would run other types of running plays attacking the new positions of the defensive linemen. Lombardi would also counter other defensive adjustments by running the sweep to the left side, having various blockers not pull, switching the ball carrier, or running option pass plays—each of which could be run out the sweep formation.
Other coaches in the league had great respect for the Packers sweep, although most acknowledged the success of the play was based on two criteria: great players and perfect execution.During his tenure, Lombardi had three offensive linemen (Jim Ringo, Forrest Gregg, and Jerry Kramer), two backs (Hornung and Jim Taylor), and one quarterback (Bart Starr) who were later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Each of those offensive players was instrumental to the success of the Packers sweep and thus the offense. Ringo, Gregg, Kramer, and Taylor each provided key blocks for Hornung to run the sweep. Starr (who as the quarterback orchestrated the play) and Taylor were essential to variations of the sweep that called for different runners or option pass plays.
In addition to the Hall of Famers, Lombardi's teams included other highly decorated players, such as first-team All-Pro Fuzzy Thurston, the left guard who had the most challenging blocking assignment in the sweep.Many of these players identified Lombardi's coaching and drive for perfection as important factors behind their accomplishments and the team's success, acknowledging that perhaps it was Lombardi's coaching of the sweep and other plays that helped the players achieve Hall of Fame status, not just that he happened to have "great players" that made the sweep so effective.
At its core, the Packers sweep was a simple play that relied on all members of the team precisely executing their responsibilities.This level of teamwork, coordination, and execution epitomized the Packers of the 1960s under Lombardi. In nine seasons at the helm, Lombardi and his sweep led the Packers to five NFL championships, as well as victories in Super Bowl I and II. The team won three straight championships in 1965, 1966, and 1967—only the second team to accomplish this feat (the other being the 1929, 1930, and 1931 Packers).
Five offensive players who played under Lombardi in the 1960s were later elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame; Lombardi was elected shortly after his death in 1970.Three of these Packers (Hornung, Starr, and Taylor) won NFL MVP awards in the 1960s. Much of the Packers' offensive success was based on the threat of running the sweep. Lombardi exploited the dominance of the play to take advantage of defenses and run the offense to his team's strengths. This sustained success established the Packers sweep as one of the most famous football plays in history.
The second AFL-NFL World Championship Game in professional football, known retroactively as Super Bowl II, was played on January 14, 1968, at the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. The National Football League (NFL)'s defending champion Green Bay Packers defeated the American Football League (AFL) champion Oakland Raiders by the score of 33–14. This game and Super Bowl III are the only two Super Bowl games to be played in back-to-back years in the same stadium.
The 1967 National Football League Championship Game was the 35th NFL championship, played on December 31 at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin.
Raymond Ernest Nitschke was a professional American football middle linebacker who spent his entire 15-year National Football League (NFL) career with the Green Bay Packers.Enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1978, he was the anchor of the defense for head coach Vince Lombardi in the 1960s, leading the Packers to five NFL championships and victories in the first two Super Bowls.
James Charles Taylor was an American football fullback who played professionally in the National Football League (NFL) for ten seasons, with the Green Bay Packers from 1958 to 1966 and with the expansion New Orleans Saints in 1967. With the Packers, Taylor was invited to five straight Pro Bowls and won four NFL championships, as well as a victory in the first Super Bowl. He was recognized as the NFL Most Valuable Player after winning the rushing title in 1962, beating out Jim Brown. An aggressive player and fluent trash talker, Taylor developed several personal rivalries throughout his career, most notably with New York Giants linebacker Sam Huff. This confrontational attitude, combined with his tenacious running style, a penchant for contact, and ability to both withstand and deliver blows, earned him a reputation as one of the league's toughest players.
In American football, blocking or interference involves legal movements in which one player obstructs another player's path with their body. The purpose of blocking is to prevent defensive players from tackling the ball carrier, or to protect a quarterback who is attempting to pass or hand off the ball. Offensive linemen and fullbacks tend to do the most blocking, although wide receivers are often asked to help block on running plays and halfbacks may be asked to help block on passing plays, while tight ends perform pass blocking and run blocking if they are not running routes to receive passes. Overall, blocking is a skill that virtually every football player may be required to do at some point, even defensive players in the event of a turnover.
In American and Canadian football, a guard (G) is a player who lines up between the center and the tackles on the offensive line of a football team on the line of scrimmage used primarily for blocking. Right guards (RG) is the term for the guards on the right of the offensive line, while left guards (LG) are on the left side. Guards are to the right or left of the center.
The 1965 National Football League Championship Game was the 33rd championship game for the National Football League (NFL), played on January 2, 1966, at Lambeau Field in Green Bay, Wisconsin. This was the first NFL championship game played in January, televised in color, and the last one played before the Super Bowl era.
The 1960 National Football League championship game was the 28th NFL title game. The game was played on Monday, December 26, at Franklin Field in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
The 1961 National Football League Championship Game was the 29th title game. It was played at "New" City Stadium, later known as Lambeau Field, in Green Bay, Wisconsin on December 31, with an attendance of 39,029.
The 1966 Green Bay Packers season was their 48th season overall and their 46th in the National Football League. The defending NFL champions had a league-best regular season record of 12–2, led by eighth-year head coach Vince Lombardi and quarterback Bart Starr, in his eleventh NFL season.
The 1967 Green Bay Packers season was their 49th season overall and their 47th season in the National Football League and resulted in a 9–4–1 record and a victory in Super Bowl II. The team beat the Dallas Cowboys in the NFL Championship Game, a game commonly known as the "Ice Bowl," which marked the second time the Packers had won an NFL-record third consecutive NFL championship, having also done so in 1931 under team founder Curly Lambeau. In the playoff era, it remains the only time a team has won three consecutive NFL titles.
The 1959 Green Bay Packers season was their 41st season overall and their 39th season in the National Football League and 41st overall. The club posted a 7–5 record in the 1959 season under first-year coach Vince Lombardi to earn a third-place finish in the Western Conference.
The 1969 Washington Redskins season was the franchise's 38th season in the National Football League. The team improved on their 5–9 record from 1968, by hiring legendary Green Bay Packers head coach Vince Lombardi. Sam Huff came out of retirement specifically to play for Lombardi and finished with a record of 7–5–2.
Lombardi is a play by Eric Simonson, based on the book When Pride Still Mattered: A Life of Vince Lombardi by Pulitzer Prize-winning author David Maraniss.
Pulling is when a blocking player in American football leaves his usual spot in order to pick up another assignment on the opposite side of the field, running behind the other offensive linemen, to sprint out in front of a running back and engage a defensive player beyond the initial width of the offensive line.
Jack Vainisi was a scout and personnel director for the Green Bay Packers from 1950 to 1960. At the age of 23, he was hired by Packers head coach Gene Ronzani to lead the team's player personnel department. In a time when most professional football teams relied on the media for information on college players, Vainisi would enlist college coaches to provide scouting reports on not only their own players, but also opposition players. During his time in charge of player personnel, the Packers drafted or acquired eight future Pro Football Hall of Fame players. Vainisi also was instrumental in attracting Vince Lombardi to the vacant head coaching job in Green Bay in 1959. Vainisi would not live to see the success of the teams he helped assemble though, as he died from a heart attack in 1960 at the age of 33.