1948: The Unravelling

Following the wartime 1944 Championship, the Packers under Curly Lambeau slid into mediocrity, with records of 6-4, 6-5 and 6-5-1 from 1945-47. They finished third in the West all three seasons, their longest stretch without a first or second place finish in 20 years. Off the field, Lambeau found it hard to compete financially for players with the rival All-America Football Conference; on the field, his offensive schemes were dated, especially without Don Hutson to make them work.

1948 began similarly to the trend of the previous seasons. The sandwiched victories in which they scored over 30 points against the weak Boston Yanks and Detroit Lions around a decisive loss to the Bears. A week four 17-7 loss to the defending champion Cardinals, though, enraged Curly so much that he fined the entire team its game checks for poor effort. (Try that today!)

The chastened Packers rebounded and defeated the solid Rams 16-14 in an inspired effort. Although the players expected to have the previous week’s fines rescinded as a reward, Curly decided to keep the money. His coaching career was over. Green Bay lost the last seven games of 1948 and then 10 of 12 in 1949 to conclude his Packer tenure on a 2-17 run.

When the team was 3-2 in 1948, the offense had scored 94 points and the defense had allowed 83 points. For the remaining seven losses, the tally was 60 points scored and 203 allowed. Combine that with 1949 and in the last 19 games of Lambeau’s Packer career the team scored 174 points (nine per game) and gave up 532 (28 per game). It didn’t help that the passing offense produced nine touchdowns and 47 interceptions in that 19-game span, although Tony Canadeo did become just the third NFL player to rush for over 1,000 yards in 1949.

In fact, Curly told the press after an opening day loss in 1949 that he was stepping down as coach to concentrate on his GM duties and that assistants Tom Stidham, Bob Snyder and Charley Brock would run the team. Lambeau, indeed, stayed off the sidelines and in the booth for the rest of the year, but is still credited as being the team’s coach for the year since he was travelling with the team and speaking to them at halftime.

The 1948 Packers did “rally” to lose to the rival Bears by just one point in November. Ultimately, though, they lost three times to losing teams so another middling finish seems to have been possible. Although it wasn’t much of a team, Lambeau lost them with his financial belligerence. He resigned at the end of the 1949 season.

1949lclambeau  1949ljgirard

1949ljjacobs  1949llcraig2

1949ltfritsch  1949ldwells

All custom cards colorized.

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