Ted Thompson’s Philosophy Can Get the Packers Back to the Super Bowl

ted thompson Green Bay Packers Super Bowl

The Packers are in the position they are in because of Ted Thompson’s draft and develop philosophy. Now, what position you think the Packers are in depends on whether you are a glass half full or a glass half empty kind of person.

Thompson’s draft and develop strategy helped the Packers win a Super Bowl in 2010, has allowed the Packers to make the playoffs for the past five years, and has kept them out of the salary cap trouble that teams like the Cowboys and Panthers currently find themselves in.

Conversely this philosophy is also a big part of the reason why the Packers have been eliminated early from the playoffs the past few years, the defense has continued to struggle, and they have been surpassed by the likes of the 49ers and Seahawks.

So without deviating from Thompson’s philosophy, which we all know will not be happening anytime soon,  what has to change to get the Packers to the top of the NFC and give them another shot at a Super Bowl?

A good start would be to hit on their first round draft picks, something they haven’t done since Clay Matthews in 2010. Bryan Bulaga looked like he could become a potential Pro-Bowl right tackle before injuries stalled his career. Derek Sherrod is going into his fourth season and has yet to start a game. Nick Perry has shown flashes at times, but some still question whether he is a good fit at outside linebacker, and he has also had his fair share of injuries. And Datone Jones was a non-factor his rookie season, but there is going to be a lot expected of him going into his sophomore year.  This season finding an impact starter on defense, or possibly another offensive weapon for Aaron Rodgers, is a must for the Packers.

The Packers also need to avoid injuries. And I know this is easier said than done, but it cannot be overstated how much this has cost the Packers over the past few years, especially with their younger players.  Not only is there a large drop off in talent when you have to replace a Bryan Bulaga with a Don Barclay, or a Clay Matthews with an Andy Mulamba, but it also stunts the evaluation process of the Packers’ younger players.  How can the Packers possibly make fair assessments of guys like Jerel Worthy, JC Tretter, or Sam Barrington, with them missing so much time due to injury?

Making the money they spend on their own free agents count will also be important. The packers signed four players to large extensions last offseason, Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Morgan Burnett, and Brad Jones. Even though Rodgers and Matthews missed a lot time due to injury last year, there is absolutely no doubt that they were correct to give them both extensions. Burnett and Jones are another story. Both the Burnett and Jones signings were projections based on what the Packers thought they could do in 2013 and beyond, rather than what they had done, and both fell way short of living up to expectations this past season. The Packers can’t afford to give out more big dollar contracts extensions to players who don’t live up to them.

This offseason the Packers have made two more signing based more on potential than actual production. Outside linebacker Mike Neal signed a two year extension, details of which have not yet been made public, and Sam Shields signed a four year deals worth $39 million. Neal has only had one fully healthy season, and has only played outside linebacker for one season, but much of the risk is mitigated by the fact that it is only a two year deal. Shield’s deal is a bit more of a risk, Shields has looked like a number one corner at times and has done a pretty good job shutting down some of the best receivers in the league, but he has also missed time due to injury and has been somewhat inconsistent.

Ted Thompson deserves his fair share of criticism; he let some potential free agent signings slip through his fingers, and he has missed on more than a few draft picks. But there aren’t more than a handful of teams in a better position to make another Super Bowl run.


Ian Hanley is a writer at PackersTalk.com. PackersTalk.com. You can follow him on twitter at @Ian_M_Hanley.


  • Wayne Crannell

    In answer to the headline, probably not.

    1. You can’t only draft and develop; the league moves too fast. True, the money on FA day is silly, but those teams ARE getting better. Denver has a very small window with Manning, but Rodgers is not getting younger.

    2. In almost always refusing to sign other FA and paying your own – some might say overpaying – Ted assumes he’s the only guy in the league who can evaluate talent. I’d argue he’s good at it but so are other GMs. Ted and the staff also have this annoying tendency to move people out of position and develop them there. They never seem happier than when they are converting a player into something else.

    3. It’s not necessarily hard to get to the playoffs with a team full of rookies and UDFA, but I think a SB winner relies on an X-factor that must include experience and hunger. That is harder to come by with rookies still learning the game.

    4. Ted’s philosophy requires that every piece works perfectly. Every player plays up to his highest potential. No one gets injured. Every guy plucked from the Home Depot is really an all-pro in spite of being ignored by 31 other teams. Every QB is Brett Favre and can play with a broken shoulder. Problem is, that is not how it ever goes. GB has become a house of cards.

    Finally. If it’s OK to give Sam Shields $10 mil a year, why is it not OK to give another FA the same? Yeah, I know. Nelson and Cobb. Fine. But there will always be guys to sign “next year,” and even when those two get their well-deserved contracts, we still have a truly horrific defensive secondary, a D-line that can’t find the QB with a map, no center, no TE, and a special teams unit where the punter is arguably the best tackler.
    There’s a reason why the Packers’ 17 FA are getting almost no play. Signing Mike Neal is not exactly a reason to celebrate; the dude was an average player on a really, really bad defense. Look at the celebration when MD Jennings signed with the Bears, and that guy was a major cog at times last year.

    I’ll repeat. The other teams may be overpaying, but they are getting better. $4 for a cup of coffee is stupid, but if everyone is paying it, pretty soon that’s what a cup of coffee costs. Ted Thompson’s philosophy may be right in a theoretical sense, but maybe the price of competition has gone up. Being right is little consolation when your HoF QB is another year older and you’re sitting in your living room in the second week of the playoffs

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 3

  • You raise some valid points.

    Ted Thompson does sometimes over pay his own free agents, and there is no reason why TT shouldn’t be able to dip in to outside free agency on occasion. But people flipping out after the 1st day of free agency, which a lot of Packer fans have done, is ridiculous.

    Teams like the Bears and Lions have been “getting better” by diving into free agency for years, yet the Packers always seem to be better. Bears fans were gloating after they picked up Jay Cutler,Julius Peppers, and Brandon Marshall, and what did those big names signings(and trades)bring them? 1 playoff appearance in 6 years.

    Rodgers isn’t getting any younger, but teams like the Broncos, with a soon to be 38 year old Manning, and the Saints, with a 35 year old Brees,are mortgaging their future with some of the deals they have signed.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 0

  • Pingback: Daybreak Doppler: Big Ten Tourney & Selection Sunday Time | PocketDoppler.com()