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Creating the best non-teammate offenses in Packers history

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What if Aaron Rodgers had Don Hutson to throw to? Or if Bart Starr handed the football off to Ahman Green? We came up with five options for the best Packers offenses constructed from players who never played together in Green Bay.

Green Bay Packers v San Francisco 49ers Photo by Focus on Sport/Getty Images

Earlier this week, a tweet from a writer for the SB Nation Chicago Bears blog, Windy City Gridiron, got us thinking about a fun, albeit silly exercise. This one has Acme Packing Company looking back at the Green Bay Packers’ history, rather than ahead to the 2020 NFL Draft.

The general idea is to come up with the best 11-man offensive unit that one can from the team’s long and impressive history, with an intriguing qualifier: the players can never have played together for the Packers in the same year. Here’s the tweet that inspired the idea:

This is a challenge that is really only available for fans of teams that have been around since the early days of the NFL. And for the Packers, there is a tough challenge here. There are several quarterbacks to consider, but the three big ones each have careers lasting 15 years or more, so that takes up a huge portion of the time span for just the signal-caller.

But with that in mind, Jon Meerdink and I put forth our best effort at creating the best offense possible featuring each of the franchise’s biggest stars — Aaron Rodgers, Brett Favre, and Bart Starr — under center, while also brainstorming options with two other great passers in the lineup as well. In general, we went for a classic two-back, two-receiver offense, but decided to get a little flexible in certain situations.

Give us your thoughts about which of these offenses is the best unit overall in the comments and the poll at the end.


Aaron Rodgers Offense

QB: Aaron Rodgers (2005-present)*+
RB: John Brockington (1971-77)*+
RB: Brent Fullwood (1987-90)
WR: Don Hutson (1935-45)*+^
WR: James Lofton (1978-86)*+^
TE: Keith Jackson (1995-96)*+
OT: Forrest Gregg (1956, 58-70)*+^
OT: Tootie Robbins (1992-93)
OG: Guy McIntyre (1994)*
OG: Mike Wahle (1998-2004)*
C: Jay Rhodemyre (1948-52)

With Rodgers in the lineup, that takes out the entirety of the last 15 seasons. Here, let’s build around one great lineman and dynamic weapons for Rodgers. Lofton was the one superstar player during his Packers tenure, so he’s a pretty easy pick, and the same goes for Hutson, the man who defined the modern receiver position — and you’ll see a lot of the Alabama Antelope in these lineups.

As for the Lombardi era, picking just one player is almost impossible, but I’m going with Gregg to anchor the line and keep Rodgers protected. We can find passable running backs and interior linemen elsewhere, but a great tackle is critical. With him in place, we get a very convenient fit with Brockington at running back, as his tenure slides perfectly between Gregg and Lofton. I love the idea of Brockington in the backfield with Rodgers, too, providing dynamic running with some receiving ability as well.

That gives us a great core of top talent, so let’s fit players in around them. Many of the Packers’ best tight ends had long careers with the team, so Jackson and his two-year stint makes for a nice fit. That also limits which 1990s Packers we can put in the lineup, so we’ll split up the offensive line a bit. Wahle was a very good guard and fits between the Super Bowl years and Rodgers’ arrival. McIntyre was a one-year Packer in 1994, who had made the Pro Bowl in five straight years with the 49ers. Think Jahri Evans (who’s not an option), just two decades earlier. Then we get Robbins, who started at right tackle for his last two years — Brett Favre’s first two in Green Bay.

That leaves another running back spot and a center, with only the late 40s, early 50s, and late 80s to work with. At running back, Brent Fullwood can help this team out as a physical runner, leaving us to find a center in the ugly decades between Lambeau and Lombardi. Jay Rhodemyre is the one name that fits; Jim Ringo doesn’t, having played with Gregg, while Charley Brock overlaps with Hutson. That makes Rhodemyre the pick.

This lineup is strong across the board, with seven players who made a Pro Bowl in their careers, six who were named first-team All-Pro at least once, and three Hall of Famers (plus a sure-fire fourth in Rodgers).

Brett Favre Offense

QB: Brett Favre (1992-2007)*+^
RB: Jim Taylor (1958-66)*+^
RB: Brent Fullwood (1987-90)
WR: Don Hutson (1935-45)*+^
WR: Jordy Nelson (2008-2017)*
TE: Paul Coffman (1978-85)*
OT: Francis Peay (1969-72)
OT: Ernie McMillan (1975)*
OG: Elgton Jenkins (2019-present)
OG: Buddy Brown (1953-56)
C: Jay Rhodemyre (1948-52)

Here we bring Favre into the mix, eating up most of the 1990s and 2000s. That means we also can’t pick the likes of Sterling Sharpe, Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, etc. Huston remains a no-brainer here, but we can go with another modern receiver: Jordy. He was drafted with the Packers preparing for Favre’s departure; the two never took the practice field together, as Favre reported for camp but did not practice before his trade to the New York Jets.

In Favre’s case, I’m going to worry a little less about the offensive line and give him some fun offensive weapons to play with. Imagine defenses cowering when trying to tackle a backfield tandem of Taylor and Fullwood. Coffman was a great player for the Packers in the early 1980s as well.

On the line, I’m sticking with Rhodemyre at center, since there are few other options. Nelson’s departure lets me bring a current lineman in, so Elgton Jenkins gets the nod at one guard spot. And based on the date of Taylor’s arrival, I can use the 1956 season and get Buddy Brown on the team — a four-year starter in Green Bay after two years with Washington. I have to look to the early 70s for both of my tackles, but I do find another end-of-career one-year wonder, as McMillan spent one season at left tackle after a 14-year, 4-Pro Bowl tenure with the Cardinals. I then have to go with Peay, who joined the Packers for five years starting in 1968.

Honestly, I’m not that worried about the offensive line with Favre back there. He’ll take hits and keep delivering the ball to a great cast of receivers, while Taylor and Fullwood keep the defense from teeing off too much in the pass rush. This would be a really fun lineup.

Bart Starr Offense

QB: Bart Starr (1956-71)*+^
RB: Ahman Green (2000-06, 09)*
RB: Eddie Lacy (2013-16)*
WR: Don Hutson (1935-45)*+^
WR: Sterling Sharpe (1988-94)*+
TE: Keith Jackson (1995-96)*+
OT: Dick Wildung (1946-53)*
OT: Art Hunter (1954)*
OG: Jahri Evans (2017)*+
OG: Elgton Jenkins (2019-present)
C: Larry McCarren (1973-84)*

Now we have the Lombardi era locked in with Starr as our quarterback. That leaves all of the modern weapons at our disposal, plus Hutson, who continues to be a no-brainer pick. For this roster, I’m going to bring in Sharpe for the first time, which lets us keep Jackson on board. We’ll go up the middle for more modern players, with a heck of a fun tandem of running backs in Green and Lacy. We can then use Evans and Jenkins in the middle, leaving us with the tackle and center spots.

Thankfully, we have the entire career of McCarren available to us, so we’re grabbing him there. The tackle spots are tough, but we have two solid options from the 40s and 50s; Wildung was a seven-year starter for the Packers who made a Pro Bowl in 1951, while Hunter was the third overall draft pick in ‘54, starting in Green Bay for one year before moving on to Cleveland, where he would later make a Pro Bowl as a center.

This roster has a whopping ten players who made a Pro Bowl in their careers, while Jenkins looks likely to do so sooner rather than later and make it a clean sweep. There are five All-Pros here, though only two Hall of Famers, but this might still be the most balanced roster we have so far.

Arnie Herber Offense

QB: Arnie Herber (1930-45)*+^
RB: John Brockington (1971-77)*+
WR: James Lofton (1978-86)*+^
WR: Sterling Sharpe (1988-94)*+
WR: Jordy Nelson (2008-17)*
TE: Keith Jackson (1995-96)*+
OT: Forrest Gregg (1956, 58-70)*+^
OT: Art Hunter (1954)*
OG: Dick Wildung (1946-53)*
OG: Mike Wahle (1998-2004)*
C: Wally Niemann (1922-24)

Have you ever wondered how a modern offense would look with a true throwback quarterback? That’s what we get with Arnie Herber at the helm. Herber was the first truly great passer in Packers history, even if he never threw more than 173 passes in a single season. Letting him throw to James Lofton, Sterling Sharpe, and Jordy Nelson would probably let him put up some pretty modern-looking numbers, though. And he’ll always have the hard-charging John Brockington as an option, especially with Forrest Gregg and Mike Wahle leading the charge up front. Bonus: Wildung played both tackle and guard in his Packers career, so he still fits here.

Lynn Dickey Offense

QB: Lynn Dickey (1976-85)
RB: Ahman Green (2001-06, 09)*
WR: Don Hutson (1935-45)*+^
WR: Billy Howton (1952-58)*+
WR: Sterling Sharpe (1988-94)*+
TE: Keith Jackson (1995-96)*+
OT: Marshall Newhouse (2010-13)
OT: Steve Wright (1964-67)
OG: Joe Andruzzi (1998-99)
OG: Dave Bradley (1969-71)
C: Corey Linsley (2014-present)

Lynn Dickey borders on preposterously underrated, putting up modern-era passing numbers while mired in the throes of the Packers gory years. So let’s give him some help. Sure, he had James Lofton, but why not build him a receiving corps of two of the other all-time great Packers receivers coupled with one of the guys who broke a few of Hutson’s records in Billy Howton? Sprinkle in a dose of Ahman Green running behind an (admittedly fairly pedestrian) offensive line that should keep Dickey upright and this fictional offense might have something going for it.


So which of these offenses is the best? Give us your thoughts in the comments and the poll below.

Poll

Which all-time non-teammate offense is the best?

This poll is closed

  • 28%
    Aaron Rodgers offense
    (134 votes)
  • 18%
    Brett Favre offense
    (86 votes)
  • 39%
    Bart Starr offense
    (188 votes)
  • 8%
    Arnie Herber offense
    (38 votes)
  • 6%
    Lynn Dickey offense
    (29 votes)
475 votes total Vote Now