Blame Ted Thompson For What’s Wrong with the Packers

Ted Thompson Packers Draft

During the current 0-3-1 stretch the Packers are mired in, everyone is looking for a reason to help explain what has happened to the team that had Super Bowl aspirations heading into the season.

The struggle to remain positive has become a common theme among the coaches, players, and fans as the Packers’ playoff hopes are on life support right now. Although they control their own destiny (win out and win the division) there are plenty of reasons to think that this will be a difficult to near impossible task to accomplish over the next five weeks.

No Aaron Rodgers on the field makes the most common sense as to why this might not happen. After all, since his departure due to injury, the Packers have zero-count ’em, zero-wins, with little hope of this changing anytime soon. His mere presence on the field offers the Packers the chance to win every game. Without him, their odds diminish considerably.

Others have fallen victim to the injury bug as well. Randall Cobb, Clay Matthews, Nick Perry, Bryan Bulaga, James Jones and Casey Hayward just to name a few. Key players who were expected to lead the charge to a return trip to the Super Bowl have all missed time, helping add to the Packers woes.

In all, 11 of the top 20 Packers as ranked by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have missed significant playing time (one game or more) since the start of the season. That is a recipe for disaster.

While Mike McCarthy and his staff continue to try and piece together a roster that has the potential to compete for a playoff spot, it is difficult to do so when one looks at some of the pieces they have to work with.

While many (including myself) have been quick to jump on Dom Capers for his questionable handling of the defense, the many issues he faces are not entirely his fault.

Look at the Safeties on the roster. At this point, none of them have showed an ability to perform at a high NFL level. Morgan Burnett has not taken the step up he was expected to in his fourth season. Neither MD Jennings nor Jerron McMillian have proven capable to play at the NFL level. And Chris Banjo, while a nice story making the team as an undrafted free agent, was after all, an undrafted free agent.Capers is doing the best he can with what he has been given at a position which was weak when the season started, and has not gotten any better.

The Packers thought that they had finally solved the revolving door of players at outside linebacker opposite Clay Matthews when they drafted Nick Perry. After having his rookie campaign cut short due to injury, Perry was also expected to make the “Year Two” jump and have a large impact on the defense. Yet for a second year in a row, his season was cut short due to injury. Couple this with Clay Matthews’ thumb injury earlier this season, and the Packers were starting Mike Neal-a converted defensive end playing his first year as an OLB-and Nate Palmer-a rookie-at OLB for a span of time. Did Capers expect to be dealing with this when the season started? Highly doubtful.

On the offensive side of the ball, perhaps the biggest issue has been the right tackle position.

The plan was perfect. Move Bryan Bulaga to left tackle, and have Josh Sitton play next to him, thereby pairing the Packers two best linemen on the same side of the ball. Don Barclay and Marshall Newhouse would be left to battle it out for the right tackle spot, and everything would be hunky dory.

Even when Bulaga was lost for the season due to injury, things seemed to be ok when David Bakhtiari took over the left tackle spot and has performed like he will not give it up anytime soon. That is, until Don Barclay was injured.

It was at this point that the plan turned to crap.

One may ask why does Mike McCarthy continue to put Marshall Newhouse out on the field? He has regressed to the point where his value is limited, and that is being kind. He is slow, looks like he cannot shuffle his feet at all, and has difficulty with any type of block he is asked to do. It is painful to watch him play week after week.

Then one has to remember: Newhouse was deemed roster worthy by the man in charge of the team. And when pickings are slim, McCarthy is making do with what he has been given, much the same as Capers has been on defense.

The issues at Safety, Outside Linebacker, and Right Tackle have all been impacted by injury at some point this season. Yet they have also not been resolved for one reason: because Ted Thompson did not properly stock the roster with adequate talent.

Perhaps Thompson has received too much credit for his draft and develop strategy which worked well for him in Seattle as well as in Green Bay. Perhaps by not being faced with more adversity on the roster, he has been reluctant to deviate from this plan.

Perhaps winning the Super Bowl in 2010 following “his plan” caused him to think that his way is the only way, when in reality, it is not the end all be all of team management.

MD Jennings and Jaron McMillian are backups at best at this point in their careers.

Nate Palmer and Andy Mulumba are not the same player that Clay Matthews is.

Marshall Newhouse has proven repeatedly that he should not be starting in the NFL.

Yet these are the players who have been entrusted to keep the ship sailing toward another Lombardi Trophy.

McCarthy can only do so much with the players he has been given. At some point, the talent level has to be seen for what it is, and that falls on Ted Thompson.

You want to blame someone for what is wrong with the Packers right now? Blame Ted Thompson. After all, this is his team. He is the one that put it together. McCarthy and company are scrambling trying to put the puzzle pieces together before the clock runs out on the 2013 season.

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John Rehor is a writer at PackersTalk.com.

He can also be heard as one of the Co-Hosts of Cheesehead Radio.

You can follow John on twitter at jrehor or email him at johnrehor@yahoo.com.

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  • Mr Smith

    I don’t know man. This is a tough one to sell. There’s not a team in history with pro bowl type players as backups. And very few teams have starting caliber players at backup, let alone backups to backups as is the case at OLB and RT. You’re asking TT to have solid players just hanging around on the side lines and there just aren’t enough good players in the world for that to happen. My opinion anyway.

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  • Mr Smith

    But well written, and your case is made quite clearly. Definitely got me thinking. Good stuff.

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    • Thank you. Not saying I’m right. Just trying to get people to think about potential causes other than the common injuries/Capers reasons that are running rampant right now.

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  • Matt

    How many team playing their third option at right tackle and fourth and fifth options at OLB are going to have good talent that deep in the roster? Saftey yes Ted screwed up bad, but he can’t be blamed for not having a good 3rd string RT or fourth or fifth string OLB. Injuries and Capers are much bigger issues than Ted. No team could possibly survive injuries to all the talent that this team has lost

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    • That’s where we disagree. It is TT’s responsibility to find quality backups. Not saying every backup is going to be pro bowl caliber, but they have to be passable. Newhouse is the number one backup on the o line. He swung and missed big time on that one. Safety is a complete cluster, and has been since day 1 this season. Why did he not make any effort to sign anyone when players were dropping like flies?

      Just trying to make the point that for all the good that his draft/develop policy led to in 2010, the reverse has happened this season. Players have not stepped up like they did in ’10, when injuries also ravaged this team.

      And trust me, McCarthy, Capers, and injuries are also to blame for what is going on. And they will be addressed later this week

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      • Matt

        Newhouse was not the #1 swing tackle. Barclay was with Bulaga and Bakhtiari starting. I think Barclay is the perfect swing tackle.

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      • Quinn

        I hate when people hate on TT for “not making any effort to sign anyone when players were dropping like flies.” Do you really think there are starter, or even quality back-up, caliber players out there as free agents waiting to be picked up? If they were good they would be on a roster!

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      • Wayne Crannell

        I’d like to agree but offer a slightly different take. I believe TT evaluates talent just fine. I think the problem is that he stubbornly refuses to acquire players from all the pools available. I really believe his refusal to even consider a trade or signing a real free agent forces him to troll the outer edges of talent, relying on DIII phenoms and lawn care specialists. He certainly is a genius at finding those guys — way more than anyone else — but I’m entirely sure we’ve missed out on a piece or two because TT can’t bring himself to admit someone else might be able to evaluate talent. Yes, I get that throwing money at players in free agency guarantees nothing, but in the Packers’ case, it is ridiculous. That stat that said something lime 50 of the 53 active players have never played for another team is astounding, but I don’t think that is the positive everyone else thought it was. I cannot believe that Marshall Newhouse couldn’t be replaced with a trade..a 6th rounder and a ham sandwich is just not that much to give up. Kind of late now, I suppose.

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      • Mr Smith

        I agree with John that TT has mismanaged a bit with his steadfast approach to filling by draft only. I’d love to see a key FA acquisition to fill a need this offseason (S, OT, etc). Ted Thompson is one of the top 5 GMs in football, no doubt, but everyone has room for improvement. And with all these injuries, some of the blame pie should definitely be sliced his way… I just don’t think it should be too much.

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  • Mr Smith

    I do think TT mismanaged the QB situation this year. That’s for sure. How many backups did we go through this year now?

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    • Matt

      Backup QB and safety are definitely the positions Ted screwed up bad on. I would argue ILB too. Do not like all the money invested in Hawk and Jones.

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  • Zack

    We can not blame the man responsible for taking Rodgers when everybody said take offensive players to help Favre. Or the same man who used one of his only trade ups in the draft to get Clay Matthews. Or letting veterans such as Nick Barnett and Greg Jennings go when they were clearly past their prime. He has a system and for better or worse(clearly better) it has resulted in 5 playoff appearences, 3 divisional championships, and a Super Bowl victory. Pure and simple Ted Thompson has completely rebuilt this team. Whatever he is selling I am always buying.

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  • Jeremy

    It’s amazing what a difference a couple weeks makes. Before the Rodgers injury predictably torpedoed the season, people were praising Thompson for having a team that could not only survive, but thrive with the losses of Cobb, Finley, Bulaga, Matthews, Perry, Hayward (does anyone remember how awesome this guy was?), Brad Jones, etc.

    Now Rodgers goes down and suddenly he’s the problem? You can survive with those injuries if you have Rodgers. You might even be able to survive losing Rodgers for a while if you still have those other guys. But you have to be realistic. At some point the talent loss just becomes too much.

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  • Jeremy

    Regarding the safety position, I’ll agree that was the one position not addressed adequately. But what was the solution to that? First of all, you don’t replace Nick Collins. That in itself threw the position into chaos. Then what was every fans solution to the problem? It was either:

    A. Sign Michael Huff. There was weeping and gnashing of teeth in Packerland when the Ravens “stole” Huff at the “bargain” rate of 3 years, $6 million? He lasted less than half the season before being released, causing the Ravens to eat the signing bonus.

    B. Draft somebody. Who? You want to throw Lacy back? Bakhtiari? Nobody had an issues with the Datone Jones or Jonathan Franklin picks, players who might still excel.

    Every team has a weakness, especially ones with as many mouths to feed as the Packers and who are drafting at the end at every draft, owing in no small part to Ted Thompson.

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  • Jackson

    I think all the fans are diluted. Thinking that they know more about football than people who have spent their entire lives: playing, scouting, coaching. TT has spent almost 40 years of his life in and around what he does on a day to day basis. I think TT has fogotten more about evaluating talents and building an NFL team than all the packers fan base combined. It’s no wonder TT ignores the crazies who have no clues about what They are talking about.

    It’s a game. It’s meant to be enjoyed.

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  • Bruce J. Kennett

    John? What does this mean … “And they will be addressed later this week”

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