Some of us downright hate Green Bay Packers general manager Ted Thompson. Maybe he’s a swell guy and all, but he’s been holding the Green Bay Packers back for years with his refusal — with the rare exception — to bring in players through any other means than the college ranks.
Nowhere has the shortcomings of that philosophy been more apparent than on the defensive side of the football. So while it’s a popular refrain to fire defensive coordinator Dom Capers — something that wouldn’t hurt our feelings, by any means — you have to consider the shortcomings of the personnel.
In 2016, the cornerbacks were the Packers’ biggest issue. Things may have been different if Sam Shields would have remained healthy, but counting on a guy with his concussion history was an idiotic idea to begin with.
Thompson’s total misjudgment of the talent behind Shields just compounded the problem.
We’ve been harping on this stuff for years. So have many fans, who often put it in terms of “wasting Aaron Rodgers’ prime.”
As long as Rodgers is around and playing at a high level, the Packers offense will be good. It’s Thompson’s job to put enough additional playmakers on the team to give them a shot at winning a Super Bowl.
He consistently doesn’t do that. So while people can say Thompson is a successful GM because his team is in the playoffs every year, you can also make an argument that he’s really just a mediocre GM whose value is inflated by one single player.
More people seem to be gravitating toward the latter opinion these days. I’d just like to say, welcome to frickin’ party. You’re only a few years late.
During the Packers’ midseason swoon, Hall of Fame GM Bill Polian criticized Thompson by saying coach Mike McCarthy was playing with a short deck. The sentiment was the Packers were struggling because of personnel, not coaching.
Today, Bob McGinn piled on Thompson with a column that ended thusly: maintaining status quo isn’t the way to the Super Bowl.
Again, welcome to the party. We’ve only been saying that for the past two years, so thanks for reading, Bob.
The interesting part of the column — the parts that didn’t just repackage our thoughts — were the quotes from other personnel men, which blasted Thompson.
“Hats off to the coaching staff,” one general manager said. “For keeping it together playing with that crap for the last seven or eight weeks.”
That was in reference to the cornerback group. Here’s another that speaks to the importance of the quarterback position.
“We all make mistakes,” said one former GM. “Maybe you can’t get better. Maybe the guy you want you can’t get, but at least you’re trying. I always felt obligation to the head coach to try.
“But that’s their (the Packers’) philosophy, and it’s worked for them because they’ve had 25 fricking years of great quarterbacks. Of course it works. Try it without a special quarterback.”
And there it is.
So let’s get down to brass tacks here.
Thompson wouldn’t have a job if he hadn’t drafted Aaron Rodgers. Rodgers carries the Packers a lot of the time. If you had to say the Packers are in the playoffs because of one guy, you’d say that guy is Aaron Rodgers.
And there’s why Thompson is considered “successful.” The Packers are always in the playoffs. Rodgers is good for what? Two to three wins a year by himself?
You can do the math.
With Aaron Rodgers, you can literally do (or not do, as it were) your job as the Green Bay Packers’ general manager and be considered successful.