As Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy and General Manager Ted Thompson pat themselves on the back for making it to the NFC Championship game, it’s time to take a closer look at what, if not for Aaron Rodgers’ astonishing play, would have been a losing season.
Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel summed it up perfectly in his January 28, 2017 article, so I won’t reiterate it here. Instead, I’m providing the link so you can read it yourself. But I am adding my own two cents worth over how I feel the Packers are going off the rails.
While we finished 10-6, winning yet another coveted North Division Title, and got all the way to the Conference Championship Game, this team could easily have gone 4-12. And unless the Packers go all in for 2017, 4-12 could be the result next year.
That the team needs defensive help and a real running back are obvious. But the problem extends to the coaching staff and management, all the way past Thompson to the team president’s office.
With Thompson’s past history in mind, it’s unlikely the Packers will retain Running Back Eddie Lacy. After two spectacular seasons to start his pro career, Lacy dropped off a bit in 2015, for which he was endlessly excoriated in the press and by the coaching staff. Unfairly I thought. Lacy came through for the team late in the season and was integral in a two game playoff run. He was running at top speed through five games in 2016 before an ankle injury finished his season. And while McCarthy has stated he wants Lacy back, it’s doubtful Thompson will get the job done. Some running back poor team will outbid the Packers for him and it won’t take much. While it would be foolish to throw a lot of money at Eddie, he deserves a decent signing bonus based on past service alone. The Packers got him at a discount, as all teams get all running backs these days. If they were to give Eddie a signing bonus and an incentives based contract, they could no doubt keep him in the green and gold, but Ted has ever paid anything for a running back, so that’s off the list, which will leave the Packers with a patchwork quilt of castoffs and wide receivers trying to play the position. Next up; the defense.
The outside rushers, Clay Matthews and Julius Peppers are old and both about to fall off the depth chart and they have no cornerbacks. The draft is only seven deep with not much of instant value beyond the first three rounds, so that’s not the only answer. Free agency is and Ted almost never goes into free agency.
As to the coaching, how on Earth can McCarthy justify bringing back Dom Capers? As I’ve said time and again, I love Dom for coaching that amazing defense in 2009-2010 and again in 2014, but he’s had little else in the years in-between and the playoff blowout losses have usually been on his guys. It is time for Dom to retire, but McCarthy won’t push him.
The same can be said of Thompson. He’s been talking about retirement for a year now, but won’t go. So, in the meantime, the Packers take the chance of losing Eliot Wolf to another team as GM and we’ll be stuck up the creek when Ted does, finally, wander away to his home in Texas.
The problem at the root of all this is the top management, Mark Murphy. Green Bay’s strength and its weakness is its non-profit situation. While it prevents the team from being carted away to another city as we’ve seen in St. Louis and San Diego and soon in Oakland, it also leaves us often without a firm hand on the rudder. Murphy is supposed to be that hand.
After Lombardi left, the team floundered for two decades because it could not grow past the Mom and Pop store approach of letting the head coach do it all, usually a former Lombardi disciple. Bob Harlan was masterful in bringing in an outside football man in Ron Wolf who ran the organization brilliantly for a decade. Wolfe operated, in effect, as a team owner. After he left, Harlan misstepped, allowing Mike Sherman to run the team under the Lombardi model. After five moderately successful years, he turned back to the Ron Wolf style, bringing in Thompson, which resulted in a Super Bowl victory only five years later.
In the meantime, Harlan had retired and Mark Murphy had replaced him as Team President in 2008. He inherited both Thompson and McCarthy, who won the aforementioned Super Bowl for him in only his third year on the job. As a result, Murphy has behaved more as an employee of Thompson, than his employer, resulting in the current impasse. In effect, Thompson is behaving as if he were the owner of the team with no consequences for his actions and inactions.
As the calls for Thompson to resign and McCarthy to remove Capers mount, maybe it’s not just a new GM we need, but a new Team President who will take control of the Packers again.
Opinion By Stanton Greene, author of: