SCOUTS RATE PACKERS - MANPOWER IS CHIEF NEED ALTHOUGH TEAM HAS HAD ITS MOMENTS
DECEMBER 11 (Milwaukee Journal) - How do the Packers compare personnel-wise with their other rivals in the Western Division of the NFL? Scouts of other teams were asked this at different times during the season, which will end against the Rams here Sunday, and they always has pretty much the same answer. "In manpower," one said, "I would rate the Packers at the bottom of the division. They are definitely not in the same class with Detroit or the Bears and not quite, man for man, in a class with Baltimore, San Francisco or Los Angeles." How come then their successive victories over leading Detroit and the contending Chicago Cardinals and over Baltimore and Los Angeles (42-17) earlier? "The difference," another observed, "between winning and losing in this league is not too much - maybe a man or two. Take Detroit, which went from first to last to first in successive years. The Lions got a few good men back from the service and had a successful draft and there they are at the top again. My personal feeling about Green Bay is that Liz Blackbourn (coach) has been doing it with mirrors. Sure, when Rote has a hot day, Green Bay can beat almost anybody, but that's true of almost any team in the league when their quarterback goes good. I mean Green Bay can't be consistent because of personnel shortages. They have to have everything clicking for them at once - no injuries because they're not too deep at all, everyone 'up' for the game, a few bounces their way - for them to play Detroit or the Bears even or beat any other team. That can't happen every week. The surprising thing is that Green Bay has won as many games as it has and that they come so close in so many others. The answer has to be coaching. In that respect the Packers are as well prepared as any team in the league." At various times in the season, scouts were asked to compare personnel by position and the answers came out something like this:
Quarterback - Tobin Rote of the Packers is inconsistent but he is still at or near the top. His inconsistency is different from others. Layne of Detroit or Brown of the Bears have good days and bad days. Rote generally mixes his up in the same game.
Running backs - The Packers are better since Cone "came back" but they still lack speed to the outside and niftiness, aside from the time Rote himself carries. Injuries to Ferguson have hurt. Green Bay cannot compare with Detroit (Gedman, Cassady, Hart, McIlhenny), the Bears (Casares, Hoffman, Jeter, Watkins), San Francisco (McElhenny, Perry, Johnson), Baltimore (Moore, Ameche, Dupre) or Los Angeles (Waller, Younger, Wilson) - in power, speed or depth.
Ends - In pass catching, Howton and Knafelc of Green Bay rate with the finest. But the Packers again lack depth and they have no blocking, either at the ends or at the slot back or flanker halfback. They have no one like McColl of the Bears or Doran of the Lions who can both catch the ball and knock down an opposing end or linebacker.
Interior Linemen - Ringo at center is capable. Green Bay's guard rank with the weakest, although rookie Gregg has come along. The tackles are adequate, but not great, although rookie Skoronski shows fine promise. The offensive line is inferior to those of Green Bay's other rivals.
Defensive end - One of Green Bay's most pressing needs is a crashing type end who can harry the other team's passer. Martinkovic and Borden are ordinary. Martinkovic's play this season has been a distinct disappointment.
Tackles - Helluin traps easily. Hanner lacks speed. Neither exerts enough pressure on the passer.
Middle Guard - Forester defends against the pass well, but had shown weakness in meeting the run. He has good potential and has improved this year.
Linebackers - Teteak and Zatkoff are hard tacklers, but Teteak cannot defend well against the pass because of lack of height and Zatkoff quite often is caught out of position. By and large, however, this is not a weak spot.
Cornerbackers - This is perhaps the team's biggest problem. In 1955 rookie Doyle Nix did a fine job, but he went to the service. This year Green Bay has tried to cover up for two weak spots all season.
Deep backs - Dillon is one of the best in the league and Walker does an acceptable job. Both are fine pursuit men (covering receivers) but lack of weight makes them less adequate against the run than, say, Christiansen, Lary, David and Karilivacz of Detroit.
ARMY TAKES GREGG, FERGUSON CAN'T PLAY
DECEMBER 12 (Milwaukee Journal) - The Green Bay Packers lost guard Forrest Gregg to the army draft Tuesday, received word that four other players would be inducted shortly and were deprived of the services of fullback Howie Ferguson for Sunday's NFL finale with the Rams in Los Angeles. Gregg, a rookie from Southern Methodist, returned here from California for his induction and was sent to Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. Packer players who will be taken by the armed forces after the season is over are halfback Jack Losch, quarterback Bart Starr, defensive halfback Hank Gremminger and tackle Bob Skoronski. Of more immediate concern to Lisle Blackbourn's squad, which is working out in Pasadena for Sunday's game with the Rams, was the loss of Ferguson with a knee injury. The veteran fullback has been hospitalized as a result of injuries suffered against the San Francisco 49ers last Saturday and will undergo an operation after the season. Also on the shelf with injuries are Losch, Al Carmichael and Jim Ringo, all of whom were hurt in the 49ers game.
HORNUNG, PACKERS TALK FRIDAY
DECEMBER 12 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - Paul Hornung, who was the fifth Notre Dame player to receive the Heisman Memorial Trophy, said he "supposes" he'll play pro football with the Packers who made him their bonus choice in the recent player draft. "I haven't talked to anyone from Green Bay yet," he said Wednesday at a New York press luncheon. "I'm to have a meeting with them Friday. I have some figures to quote and probably they will, too. I don't know whether we'll get together, but I suppose I'll play for them." The Packers will send Jack Vainisi to South Bend to discuss contract terms with the Notre Dame star. Later, while discussing his military status, Hornung explained he had been in the Air Force ROTC for awhile but had dropped out. "I suppose I'm 1-A now," he said. "But I hope I won't be called until I've had a chance to play a couple of seasons of pro ball." Hornung also has been considered as possible motion picture material but has no definite plans along that line. "I'm going to see the movie people, of course, but I don't know what will come of it. Downhome the gag is that they're going to co-star me with Ava Gardner in 'The Barefoot Kentuckian'." The 1956 season was a rather frustrating one for Hornung, who was picked in advance as sure-fire All-American material. Early in the season, he dislocated his left thumb and later he severely sprained the right one - both times making tackles on defense. "It was an unpleasant feeling," he said. "I felt fine. There wasn't a thing wrong with me, not even a bruise. But I couldn't grip the ball." Hornung avoided a direct reply to former Notre Dame coach Frank Leahy, who recently criticized the Irish for lack of spirit and "letting down" the college by failing to show enough fight. But in response to a question, he said: "I don't think the Notre Dame spirit has dimmed a bit. Before every game we thought we had a good chance of winning. I don't think the Notre Dame spirit will ever die." Hornung plans to play in the East-West game at San Francisco December 29 and then in the Hula Bowl in Honolulu before returning to complete his studies at Notre Dame.
PACKERS KEEP AIR HONORS; RUNNING WORST
DECEMBER 12 (Milwaukee Sentinel) - NFL statistic disclosed Wednesday that the Packers are the league's best passing team and the worst on the ground. This is no great discovery now that Coach Liz Blackbourn, as well as most pro observers, are convinced the way Tobin Rote goes so goes the Packers. After a hot first half against the 49ers last Saturday, Rote simmered down to 12 completions in 23 attempts for 193 yards. That, with Bart Starr's three completions in five tosses for 31 yards gave Green Bay a net total of 2,224 yards for the season - 102 yards better than their Sunday foes, the Rams. The Packers have picked up only 1,240 rushing, an average of 104 yards a game. With Howie Ferguson definitely out of the Rams game with seriously wrenched knees, Rote's passes will be the only hope in the finale. If Tob has as inconsistent a day as he had in Frisco, the Packers are in for their eighth loss. However, an only fair passing game should insure the Packers the league's passing title this season. Word received from Los Angeles Wednesday quoted Blackbourn as saying Ferguson's injury "will hurt plenty." "Fergy might be able to play in two weeks but this is our last game," said Liz. "We plan to use Fred Cone and Jack Losch in the backfield with Rote or Bart Starr at quarterback and Joe Johnson and Al Carmichael in the slots. However, we're pretty well jammed up with injuries. Carmichael and Losch have bruised ribs and center Jim Ringo has a wrenched knee, but they will be able to play. Fortunately, Rote is in good health. If we get some of the injuries straightened out by Sunday we should be able to play a pretty good game. We'll certainly be out to win the last one." Blackbourn and the squad watched the Rams whip the Colts last Sunday. And the coach's reaction was "the Rams looked good, real good." With the squad in good physical shape, the Rams also have a psychological advantage in that the Packers have been unable to win at the Coliseum since 1947. When the Bears and Lions meet Sunday they will be fighting for both the Western Conference title and the loop's total yards crown. The Bears hold a 93 yard edge over the Lions with 4,091 yards gained, 2,159 by rushing and 1,932 passing. Detroit has picked up 1,964 rushing and 2,034 passing for a 3,998 total. The Rams hold the third spot with 3,786 yards, while the 49ers are fourth with 3,510 on offense and the Packers fifth with 3,464.