4

March

Ted Thompson Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

Packers GM Ted Thompson

Packers GM Ted Thompson

1) Introduction:  I think the biggest mistake that fans make when criticizing front office personnel like general managers is using the same rubric and time frame as they use for for players.  Take Ted Thompson for instance, whose first pick for the Packers was a quarterback deemed too short with a weak arm when the Packers already had the best quarterback in franchise history.  Naturally, we’re having arguments now on whether Aaron Rodgers is better than Brett Favre (personally, I still think its Starr, but Farve and Rodgers should be legitimately in the conversation).

Thompson was also roundly criticized for picking a cornerback to play safety from a college no one had ever heard of or drafting another wide receiver even when the Packers had fantastic depth but Nick Collins, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have all been fantastic players who have made Thompson look like a very smart man. Overall, Thompson should not be graded per game or even per season, but over a span of 5 years or more.

2) Profile:

Ted Thompson

  • Age: 61
  • Born: 1/17/1953 in Atlanta, Texas (There’s an Atlanta in Texas?)
  • Height: 6’1″ (man, he was a short linebacker)
  • Weight: 220
  • College: Southern Methodist
  • Rookie Year: 1975
  • NFL Experience: 10 years as a player, 22 years as a scout and front office executive

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  High.  In the last 5 years the Packers have won the Super Bowl, been in the playoffs every year and managed a 15-1 season.  Added to that the Packers have always had one of the youngest and deepest rosters in football and always have had a very healthy salary cap situation.  Thompson also has reportedly great rapport with head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff and Packer’s “system” of draft and develop has benefited all parties more often than not.  The Packers were expected to win the NFC North again and make it to the playoffs.

5

December

A Shopping Lesson for Ted Thompson

Ted Thompson Shopping Lesson

Not all that glitters is Green & Gold in Green Bay

As I’m working on my holiday shopping list and for whatever reason, I started to wonder how Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson does his holiday shopping.  As fans of the Packers, we know how Thompson shops for players.  He is your regular coupon hound.  Always looking for the best bargain and rarely ever paying retail.

It’s smart to look for the best value for the least amount of expenditure.  With that, I can’t argue.  Anytime you can receive more than you pay, it’s a good thing and just makes good sense from a business perspective.

I can’t fault Thompson for wanting to be responsible that way in his role as GM.  After all, we can look at some teams who are often in salary cap hell and are unable to make many of the transactions they would like because they mortgage the future on a previously bad choice.  The Oakland Raiders, Jacksonville Jaguars and San Diego Chargers come to mind most readily, although there are others.

In taking a look at how this season has unfolded and in light of the injury to Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, one of the topics that has become popular is the depth behind the Packers starters.  As I have said before, there is always going to be drop-off from a starter to a backup.  That’s why backups aren’t starters.

It’s easy to simply say that this team doesn’t have enough good players and pile on what has already been a horrible showing by a team that previously was expected to contend for another Super Bowl.  Since Rodgers went down in early November, the Packers are winless and have fallen below .500.  With just four games left, the team’s chances of winning the NFC North are waning and if you ask some, they’ll tell you that that ship sailed long ago.

But let’s examine how this roster was formulated a bit.  As many of you know, I’m not a big charts, graphs and stats guy.  I try as much as I can, but I try to stay away from an overly analytical argument and speak more to the general happenings of the team.

6

January

Packers’ Reggie McKenzie To Be Named Oakland Raiders GM

 

McKenzie appears headed to Oakland to be the Raiders new GM.

According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, the Oakland Raiders are planning to hire Packers director of football operations Reggie McKenzie as their next general manager.

McKenzie has long been rumored as a leading candidate for the job after Raiders owner and GM Al Davis passed away this fall. The two sides had reportedly been in contact this week, as McKenzie received a high recommendation from former Packers GM Ron Wolf for the job. Wolf has been assisting the Raiders in the search for new GM, along with former Raiders coach John Madden and Ken Herock.

McKenzie has served 18 years in the Packers personnel department, including the last four in his current capacity. He joined the Packers in 1994 as a pro personnel assistant and was later promoted to director of personnel in 1997.

McKenzie took over for John Schneider in May of 2008 as director of football operations after Schneider left to become the Seattle Seahawks general manager.

A former linebacker, McKenzie was drafted in the 10th by the Wolf-run Raiders in 1985 and played four years in Oakland. After two years in Phoenix with the Cardinals and another in San Francisco, McKenzie was out of the NFL. In 1993, he joined Phillip Fulmer’s coaching staff at his former alma mater in Tennessee. A later year, he landed in Green Bay in his first front office job.

McKenzie will land at a job that currently lacks draft capital, as current Raiders coach Hue Jackson doled out a first-round pick in 2012 and a second-rounder in ’13 for quarterback Carson Palmer before the trading deadline in October. As it stands before compensatory picks, the Raiders’ first pick next April would come in the fifth round.

A potential replacement for McKenzie could be Elliot Wolf, Ron’s son and currently the Packers assistant director of player personnel. NFL.com reported earlier in the week that he may be a candidate to leave with McKenzie to Oakland. John Dorsey, the Packers director of college scouting, turned down an offer to interview for the Indianapolis Colts’ GM opening and could also be a candidate.

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Zach Kruse is a 23-year-old sports journalist with a passion for the Green Bay Packers. He currently lives in Wisconsin and is working on his journalism degree, while also covering prep sports for The Dunn Co. News.

9

August

Will Any of the 2011 Undrafted Free Agents Make the Packers 53-Man Roster?

Green Bay Packers 2011 Undrafted Free Agents - UDFAs

It probably goes without saying that the 2011 Green Bay Packers should have a deep, talented roster.

That was likely the case before the last season begun, too, and it was proven time and time again during the course of the season when 15 players went to IR. Because of that talent and depth in the roster, the Packers were able to overcome the injuries and win the Super Bowl.

Heading into this season, the Packers only lost a handful of players from that run. The list of players from 2010 playing elsewhere this year: Cullen Jenkins (Eagles), Nick Barnett (Bills), Brandon Jackson (Browns), Daryn Colledge (Cardinals), Jason Spitz (Jaguars), Korey Hall (Saints) and Brady Poppinga (Rams). Brandon Chillar, Mark Tauscher, Anthony Smith, Atari Bigby, Matt Wilhelm, Justin Harrell and Derrick Martin are currently free agents without a team.

From those names, only Jenkins, Jackson, Colledge, Spitz and Hall were with the team the entire season. All the others were either mid-season pickups or went on IR at some point during the year. The point here is that the Packers found adequate replacements for the rest of the players listed, somewhat nullifying their impact on this year’s roster.

It’s a testament to GM Ted Thompson and his team of scouts, as they have done a terrific job of identifying talent, regardless of which avenue they’ve taken to acquire it.

However, the impressive depth of the Packers 2011 roster could mean that Thompson has to back off a strategy he’s used so well in recent years: keeping an undrafted free agent or two on the 53-man roster.

The lockout robbed many of them of valuable time during summer practices, but it’s also forcing both the UDFA’s and Thompson to make quick evaluations during training camp.

The players have had to learn an entire playbook quickly and still impress coaches with their play on the practice field. As if they were already behind, who do you think lost out the most from Saturday’s rainout at Family Night? These guys. Only the No.1 offense and No. 2 defense got any reps in team action. Typically, the scrimmage is just another critical evaluation period for the bottom of the roster. But that didn’t happen Saturday night, as storms called off the practice just 30 minutes or so in.