Immediately after posting a clunker in Detroit to close out a clunker of a season, the Green Bay Packers immediately embarked on their most hectic offseason since 2008 when Brett Favre retired, but didn’t file his retirement papers, then told the Packers he wanted to come out of his retirement that never was officially a retirement, then proceeded to fly to Green Bay and meet with the Packers brass, which ultimately ended in a trade to the Jets, followed by Favre formally retiring the next year to nullify prior conditions that prevented him from joining the Minnesota Vikings, followed by him unretiring and signing with the Vikings, which nearly ended up in a Super Bowl berth if not for his inevitable backbreaking interception at arguably the most critical time in franchise history.
Naturally, we must revisit one of the greatest radio calls in the history of the universe. USE THE WATCH ON YOUTUBE LINK IF THE VIDEOS DON’T PLAY.
Heck, while we’re on it, let’s revisit some of the reactions from said interception. As a writer, it’s an insult to the readers to not include the authenticity of the situation.
The ending of the game is a must-see. History is important.
Ah, what a wonderful stroll down memory lane. Anyhow, back to the task at hand. An important question needs to be asked. Actually, the question is crucial: Have the Packers truly been going through an overhaul? Upon closer examination, several signs point to a continuation of the status quo of the past decade vs. the perceived shakeup we have been told is happening.
The Mike Pettine Hire
Rex Ryan says the Packers have the best defensive coordinator in the league on their team now.
Rex Ryan also said his New York Jets would’ve beaten the Packers in Super Bowl XLV; the same Jets team who lost to the Steelers in the AFC championship who also lost to the Packers at home that same season.
Green Bay now has a former head coach of the Cleveland Browns who went 3-13. Granted, Bill Belichick couldn’t turn the Browns around. That franchise is beyond cursed, so you can’t hold that against him.
However, Pettine deploys a scheme that’s not wholly different from that of Dom Capers. Now, as I have mentioned in the past several times, all you need in a Dom Capers scheme is 7 or more players performing at an All-Pro and/or Hall of Fame level to rank in the top 10 in the league (see, 2009 and 2010 seasons). Easy, right?
There is the whole “fresh face, new motivation” deal that can kick in with Pettine. The hopes are dire that he doesn’t copy Capers when it comes to soft zone coverage, leaving the middle of the field wide open, and insisting that HaHa Clinton Dix plays far back enough in center field that he remains out of the screen on a TV broadcast.
The telegraphed pre-snap blitzes that even my wife notices can remain out of the Pettine philosophy as well.
So, is Mike Pettine really an overhaul from the Dom Capers strategy? If it’s not, then please Dear Lord let it be enough of a shift in scheme to yield different results than the past seven seasons.
Russ Ball Promotion
The “insiders” were piping up about Ball being the front runner for the GM position. It made sense in that he’s a younger version of Ted Thompson, minus the scouting expertise. Now, he has Eliot Wolf’s old gig along with his previous responsibilities. From a contract negotiation and free agency viewpoint, Ball will continue to have a heavy influence. If the word of him wanting Micah Hyde and Julius Peppers to walk is true, then we can expect more of the same. Many would argue this is not the best process to continue.
Brian Gutekunst as GM
Fortunately, the consensus for this hire was more positive than that of Ball as the GM. If Gutekunst is indeed the best pick, then it will be because the decision makers (solely Mark Murphy, more on that in a moment) were able to put on the necessary blinders for the whole “Eliot Wolf is Ron Wolf’s son and he has to be the GM savior again” mantra.
Or, Eliot Wolf really is the second coming of his father. The majority of signs sure indicated he was a helluva young talent. If he can turn around the Cleveland Browns, his new employer, then he will prove that he’s a miracle worker. If so, his next jobs should managing things like the sexual harassment culture of Hollywood, disarming Mexican drug cartels, reigning in the insanity of 3rd wave feminism, or ending the pathological lying from Michael and Martellus Bennett.
Mark Murphy and Mike McCarthy Acquiring More Power
For the first time in a generation, the GM in Green Bay does not have full authority of deciding who should be the head coach. Mark Murphy, CEO of the Green Bay Packers, has the final say. Brian Gutekunst, Mike McCarthy, and Russ Ball all report to Mark Murphy now. Before, only the GM (now Gutekunst), reported to the CEO. The head coach and other upper management roles reported to the GM.
With this being the case, the same faces still call the shots in Green Bay. The power structure has more or less gone through a musical chairs assembly that is meant to tamper the concerns from this past year. The most powerful titles in Green Bay remain with staff who have been present for decades when you combine total years in the organization. The only new face that’s really coming in is that of Defensive Coordinator Mike Pettine, who runs a Capers-esque defense anyway.
Take a step back and examine the new structure in town. How much different is everything when it comes to the power positions? Familiar faces are running the show, minus two quality players in Eliot Wolf and Alonzo Highsmith. Job titles and assignments have been redistributed instead of overhauled.
Fortunately, what’s arguably the best front office talent has been given the reins of the General Manager position. The spectre of Ted Thompson will loom, perhaps more than the current power structure that’s really just a reassembly of the old power structure, is letting on.
Ultimately, the onus is much more on Mark Murphy. His job is more than ever a broken clavicle away from being stripped away.
________________John Piotrowski is a UW-Eau Claire alum, spending most of his life in western WI. He makes the trek east to Lambeau whenever possible. Follow him on twitter at @piosGBP.