To this day, Vince Lombardi personifies winning. The principles of toughness, perseverance, and leadership he laid down so many years ago are still taught by coaches everywhere. However, with so much of the Lombardi mythology based on intangibles, it’s often forgotten that he was an excellent strategist as well.
His offense, especially the Packer Sweep, like everything else was an extension of who he was. A simple offense that was repped over and over again in practice everyday allowed the players to have a huge amount of confidence in the coach and the plan each week. Having a reduced number of plays meant that they could be practiced and ran successfully against a larger number of defensive looks.
Contrary to popular belief, Lombardi did not simply run the Packer Sweep left and right no matter what the defense did. He had a system, simple but effective, with answers to whatever the defense could throw at him. Of course, the offense was built around the famed Lombardi sweep, but each additional play acted as a constraint to keep the defense honest.
The exact details of the sweep play are not as important as the reasoning that went into designing the offense, as well as the straightforward way the responsibilities are explained. Most of the defenses these plays are drawn up against are out of date, but what we’re seeing is a great example of the chess game in its infancy. Lombardi is playing the role of the technician with a small number of tools to fix a small number of problems, as well as anticipating a few more. The process is what’s important, not the result.
In Part 1 of this 2-part article on the Classic Packer offense, we’ll get into the x’s and o’s of the famous Lombardi Sweep, complete with diagrams from the actual Lombardi Playbook and video of the coach himself explaining the responsibilities.* » Read more