Hard Questions : Thompson, Capers, Medical Staff

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Packers upside down

While the Green Bay Packers are not officially eliminated from playoff contention, they will be as soon as the Atlanta Falcons defeat the Tampa Buccaneers later tonight.  And so as we all know, the nine-year playoff streak comes to an inglorious end.

This playoff streak, as all right-thinking people also know, is not a fortuitous set of circumstances. Quite the opposite. The Green Bay Packers, having been blessed with probably the best quarterback to ever play the game, have but one Super Bowl championship.

And with Aaron Rodgers now 34 years of age, the window is closing fast. A lot of less than fortuitous circumstances have contributed to this, including Lance Easley and the Fail Mary, the NFC title game in Seattle, Joe Phibin’s son stupidly getting himself killed that put the whole team in a state of mourning before that disaster against the Giants, and of course Olivia Munn, among many others. Aside from this succession of tough luck circumstances, there seem to be four causal factors that need investigation by fans, reporters and — above all — decision makers at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Most would agree all of these play some role. The question is the degree to which they are preventing the Green Bay Packers from fulfilling their destiny: a dynasty era of multiple Super Bowl championships.

Ted Thompson

With another year gone and the window that much smaller, more and more people are clamoring for Ted Thompson to step aside or, if he should not so oblige, be fired. While formerly an unabashed, absolute supporter of Thompson who still admires much of what he has done, this author sees this position as more and more reasonable as The Silver Fox has certainly lost a step in drafting since 2011. Beyond that, these calls will only become more and more credible with the increased likelihood that the New York Giants (or any other team) could poach Eliot Wolf from the Packers’ ranks. A brief survey of Ted Thompson’s drafts since the Super Bowl Championship in 2010 shows far too many busts for the draft and develop philosophy to work. And given the perpetual woes on the defensive side of the ball, the most glaring examples are on defense. Just some of the “luminaries” in this seemingly never-ending series of disastrous draft picks include, but are certainly not limited to:

  • Jerel Worthy, DE, Michigan State, 51
  • Jerron McMillian, S, Maine, 133
  • Datone Jones, DE, UCLA, 26
  • Khyri Thornton, DE, Southern Mississippi
  • Kyler Fackrell, LB, Utah State
  • Mike Neal, DE, Purdue, 56

While the jury is still out on Damarious Randall and Quinten Rollins, the marked decline in play by both last year, followed by the selection of Kevin King — who himself has shown a dangerous susceptibility to perpetual injury — are far from encouraging.

There are other anomalies that may not be Thompson’s fault, including Eddie Lacy who had the talent and physique to be a perennial Pro-Bowl running back, uniquely suited for the Packers’ offensive style as a big, bruising back who often required three or four defenders to tackle him. That bruising, falling-sofa type of running back wears down opposing team’s defensive lines, giving Aaron Rodgers a free hand to tear them up through the air as pash rushers are forced to catch a falling sofa 20 times in the course of a game. That Mike McCarthy and the running backs coach, as well as player conditioning staff could not properly motivate Eddie Lacy certainly calls these elements into question as well, but it could also be the case that his personal character doomed him from ever reaching his potential no matter who took him under their tutelage.

Letting Julius Peppers and Charles Woodson go were, of course, also gigantic blunders that further blemish Thompson’s recent record, but can only be addressed summarily here. One certainly doubts if the collapse in the NFC title game would have happened with Charles WOODSON in charge.

Given some limited success in defensive picks and given that Thompson continues to have a very positive record in picking offensive players, both skill positions and offensive linemen alike, another culprit is also quite possible, albeit one that Thompson should still be accountable for as general manager.

Scouting and Evaluation

The shrouded veil must at long last be lifted on this nebulous topic. Who are Thompson’s scouts? Is scouting bifurcated between defensive players and offensive players? If so, why have there not been changes to avoid such a high number of busts on defense? In all cases, why has general management not brought in other experts who can help bring the Packers better luck in acquiring defensive prospects?

Or is it really the picks themselves, but a failure to properly coach and develop? Ted Thompson did make one of the better defensive picks in his career with Casey Hayward, but he as general manager let him walk, and then Hayward became one of the best defensive players in the league. Ultimately, the general manager needs to be held accountable for gaffes like this. But it raises other hard questions about the degree to which coaching staff and player evaluation are also causal factors precisely because 1) they failed to develop Hayward to his full potential 2) and at the very least acquiesced in letting him go.

Dom Capers and Assistant Coaches on Defense

When one considers the successes that Ted Thompson has had, mostly on all aspects on the offense, but also some far more limited success on defensive players, questions arise as to the degree which  Thompson has fallen short in picking defensive players, and the degree to which Capers and his bevy of assistant coaches are failing to coach and develop players to their full potential. Were all of these players destined to be busts, or were some of them made busts?

The blunder of letting Casey Hayward walk lends strong credence to this theory, as he was not playing anywhere near his potential until he went to San Diego, hardly a sterling example of perennial success in the NFL. And while now a bust through and through, Datone Jones, as just one example, certainly seemed to have potential without the advantage of hindsight, raising the question that maybe he failed to reach that potential because of less than optimum coaching and development.

Through several years now, Dom Capers’ defenses have displayed a veritable Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde freak show, showing flashes of truly elite defensive play (including in some of the horrible losses with Brett Hundley) only to then to devolve into a ghastly number of festering, porous sieves that could not stop either a passing or rushing attack if you allowed them the use of machine guns on the field of play.

Despite an almost yearly plague of injuries to the Packers’ players, which does account for some of the underperformance that has plagued the defense, Capers — and his staff of assistant coaches — has to be some causal factor. The exact quotient may not be presently known or even ascertainable, but it certainly plays an important role.

Indeed, the question is not so much whether it is Capers—and almost certainly his staff of assistant coaches—failure to  coach and develop, not to mention schematics in gameplay,are the cause, but rather the degree to which these things are one cause, and the degree to which poor draft selections are also a greater or lesser cause. When defenders miss assignments and blow coverages, as happened again yesterday, is that because that player was a poor selection, or that there is a failure in coaching and development? Or is it both?

Medical Staff, Player Conditioning, and an Unending Plague of Injuries

No matter the degree to which one puts blame on either Capers and his assistant coaches on one hand and Thompson and on the other, this was yet another year where the Packers were decimated by injuries on both sides of the ball. ACL tears and pulled hamstrings seem to come up quite a bit, year after year.

Apologists and excuse makers will of course respond that injuries are part of the game. In any given year that is true, but this has become an unremitting problem year after year. No longer a fluke, it has become a pattern. This, particularly given the type of injuries that seem to come up again and again, calls into question both the medical staff and player conditioning. So bad is the medical staff, they failed to properly diagnose a player that was released, who only learned of the injury when acquired by the Cleveland Browns, the very paragon of dysfunctionality and refusal to win no matter what!

Thus, if general management and coach Mike McCarthy are to avoid the dubious distinction of winning only one Super Bowl championship with the best quarterback to ever play the game, there must also be a comprehensive audit and investigation in all facets of the Green Bay Packers’ medical and training staff. Of course, with the apparent uptick in injuries across the league, the collective bargaining agreement putting unreasonable limits on padded practices and other necessary preparation may also play a part. Notwithstanding that, the inordinately high number of injuries the Packers sustain each and every year demonstrates something else is afoot, and it is high time something be done.

New Dawn Continues to Fade?

Readers of this site know how passionate this author is about the Green Bay Packers. But in many ways, this is nothing unique or special. So many millions — in not just Wisconsin, but across the nation and around the globe — embrace this team with such fanatical passion and devotion. The Green Bay Packers are endowed with a unique history and tradition of excellence. A history and tradition of excellence that IS Green Bay Packers football. A history and tradition of excellence signified by those helmets marked with the Oval G Symbol and by those timeless, beautiful uniforms of Green and Gold, the green and white stripe down the gold pants, the green stockings matching the green jerseys at home and green lettering on the whites when away, not to mention the hallowed grounds of Lambeau Field itself. And yet now when one beholds the Oval G symbol adorned on the helmets and by the many millions of fans that are the very minions of this unique and special entity like no other, can one still say that the Green Bay Packers presently embody this tradition and history of excellence? Or is it just that they ought to exemplify this tradition and history of excellence, but are wasting this opportunity to uphold this tradition while falling short year after year?

After 2010, many die-hard fans felt that, after Brett Favre only won one Super Bowl championship, now at long last we would witness a return of an era of Green Bay Packers football that would rival that of Vince Lombardi and the formative years of Curly Lambeau, distinguished by multiple Super Bowl championships. And now after seven years of dashed hopes and “flukey” misfortunes, those hopes are placed in ever greater peril with each succeeding year. Absent people in charge asking these and other hard questions, taking action and making people accountable, the Green Bay Packers will not realize the potential they have in Aaron Rodgers first and foremost, but also in other current Packer greats like Mike Daniels, Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams (this coming from a former skeptic of “Dropvante”) among maybe a couple of others. These players, combined with the rise of a promising running-back duo of Jamaal Williams and Aaron Jones as one of the few bright spots in yet another lost season, as well as a few other promising young players, demonstrate that it is not yet too late! The Green Bay Packers may realize their destiny yet during the Rodgers-McCarthy era. But time is running out. And as this new dawn fades more and more into despair, that these and other questions remain asked but not answered or addressed can only suggest there can only be further disappointment and dejection ahead. And so it will be us Packer fans left “hoping for something more… hoping for something else.”

About The Author

Just a Packers fan and native Seattleite left stranded in New York City, and apparently suffering from post traumatic stress disorder from the near disaster in New Orleans in January of 2010. Bleeds Green and Gold through and through. Listens to indie and hardcore industrial and aggrotech music, and thus would much rather hear Headhunter by Front 242 or Front Line Assembly's "Mindphaser" than "Celebrate" or "I Gotta Feeling" in the fourth quarter, or any time.

25 Comments on "Hard Questions : Thompson, Capers, Medical Staff"

  1. PF4L

    As soon as i read Lance Easley…..i’m like, what the fuck?

    I scroll down…and sure enough, Edward Wolf.

    Next article please.

    • Cheese

      Lol. Didn’t you know Lance Easely, Olivia Munn, and Joe Philbins son committing suicide are to blame for this teams playoff failures? Not the laundry list of BS that we’ve seen for seven years.

      Shit, even in 2008, Rodgers first year, the reason they went 6-10 was because of the defense. Next year in came Capers. Two seasons after that they were right back to the same schtick.

      Unfortunately, with how buddy buddy McCarthy is with his staff (see Shawn Slocum), if they do get rid of Capers they will probably just promote from within. Slocums shortcomings were known for years and nothing was ever done, until McCarthy had no choice when it cost them a trip to the Super Bowl. This season they can blame everything on Rodgers being gone.

  2. Empacador

    I didn’t see much of the writing Mr. Wolf did before I started coming here, but he isn’t wrong in what he wrote. Tough crowd.

    • PF4L

      Yea, i wouldn’t know, that would entail me reading that novel.

      You missed all the fun my man, Edward was the leading Ted Thompson kool-aid drinker.

      Also the author of a Petition wrote up trying to keep Favre out of the Packers Hall of Fame, out of Green Bay.

      Sending it to the Packers with about 32 signatures. You can probably guess what became of that effort.

  3. Kato

    This is a pretty good summary of the joke that the past 7 years have been. I am just over the decision makers on this team. This team has no balls, they have no discipline (4 neutral zone infractions?!?!?!?!), they seem like they are either ill prepared or just forget everything about the game plan. There are no dynamic playmakers on this team. Just some good players, but none that can take a game over, besides 12 obviously. That is bad. In the NFL, you need to be able to win in different ways every week. I think the injuries thing may be a bit of an overrated issue, but still is worth looking at. I stood by the braintrust on this team for a while, but I don’t see improvement anymore, I see regression. I think the time is about up for this crew. They have given up 51, 37, 45, and 44 in 4 of their 7 playoff losses, while in three of the others the defense suffered meltdowns late in those games. It is time for new blood.

  4. TyKo Steamboat

    The organization is doing a poor job of keeping the exit strategy for Walking Dead Ted silent. Basically, he will be the GM for 1 more draft…

    As far as Dom Capers goes…he needs to go. I am so tired of watching this pussy Nickel defense. I cant cheer for a defense that predicates it’s success off of fluky & hopeful turnovers ala the 2010 team.

    Just give me a stout defense that can stop slant passes & runs. Yea, we show up in big games sometimes (Cowboys, Bears, etc.) But this pussy nickel crap has got to go. Run a standard 4-3 dammit

    • Kato

      I don’t think the 2010 team had fluky turnovers. You had young Clay Matthews rushing the passer and not rich off a second contract yet. HOFer Chuck Woodson. Tramon Williams was a ballhawk. Shields was a great nickel corner. Nick Collins? He may very well have been on his way to a HOF career. Idk, I think there was hardly anything fluky about that defense

      • PF4L

        lol…Yea, I’ll cheer for any defense that ranks 5th in total yards and 2nd in scoring defense at 15 PPG. If that’s fluky, i’ll take fluky every season.

        Stay in school kids.

    • Empacador

      Believe it or not, McNugget is the guy that wants to run the 3-4. He doesn’t know defense, but I recall reading an article years back about why they run the 3-4 and why they do Zone blocking, shit like that. He took elements of things that gave him fits or that he liked and rolled them all into his version of the West Coast Offense. Which we all know really isn’t a West Coast Offense but some bastardization McNugget invented in his head to pretend he is a highly successful NFL head coach.

  5. TyKo Steamboat

    2 things about Casey Haryward

    1.) He got torched by Tyreek Hill if you missed that last Saturday
    2.) Guy (like most young, black men) wanted out of Green Bay in the worst way. How exactly do you sign a guy that doesnt want to play for you ?

  6. Sal

    Going after Joe Philbin’s dead son, really? You fucking piece of shit. New low for this site, ven from this clown.

  7. Savage57

    “Sometimes, I use big words I don’t fully understand to make myself sound more photosynthesis.”
    – E. Wolf

  8. PF4L

    It’s nice to see all the “Johnny come lately’s” repeating the same shit now, that some of us have been saying for years. The same people who tried to call us out when we did say them in the past.

  9. MMTTDCSUCK

    After reading this, I come away with the feeling that this was how I was feeling about Green Bay years ago, save for a few of the newer players names. The results are basically the same; TT is in over his head (and always has been) and needs to go now. MM is really a BUFFOON (and always has been) and needs to go now. DC is absolutely useless (and always has been), and needs to go now. In addition to this, “Medical Staff, Player Conditioning, and an Unending Plague of Injuries” does seem to SCREAM OUT for help! It IS a problem that IS totally systemic and pushes anyone with any football acumen into a constant fit of rage over the consistent buffoonery that is on full display for most of 4 quarters of Packers football each week. I for one have screamed at the incompetency, favoritism and high school locker-room politics since 2010. Time to CLEAN HOUSE in Green Bay NOW! Get rid of these motherfucking charlatans now! They are starting to turn our Packers into the 70’s-80’s Packers again! Today is NOT soon enough for this change. Fuck TTMMDC and especially Mark Murphy for allowing it to protract this fucking far!

  10. Gort

    This is AMERICA, not Amerika. Obviously not a typographical error (based on location of the c and k keys).
    I learned the difference way before the 8th grade.

  11. Big B

    Pro Bowl selections announced and the Packers are sending………(crickets).
    Not one. Not one.
    Unbelievable, and Murphy doesn’t think that represents poor personnel management. We have one impact player and he is now on IR for safety.
    This roster is sub-par and that’s on Thompson. He MUST go.

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