Rate Ted Thompson

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On the eve of his 5th NFL draft, I wanted to ask for your thoughts on the job GM Ted Thompson has done. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that few figures in Packers history have been as divisive as Ted Thompson. Fans seem to love the guy or hate the guy. So now, as blogs are rife with arguments between TT detractors and TT apologists, I thought I’d ask you: how would you rate TT on a scale from 1 to 10 (10 being the best, 1 the worst)?

For what it’s worth, I would give him a 6.

Pros:

  • I think Ted Thompson is a very dedicated and hard-working GM.
  • He takes lots of pride in being the GM for the Packers.
  • TT takes pride in sticking to a longer-term philosophy of building a football team (through the draft).
  • From most accounts, TT values those who work for him including staff, coaches and players.
  • TT is a well-intentioned individual who has integrity and tries hard to do what he thinks he right.
  • TT fired Mike Sherman. The moment TT did this, I admired him. It was a difficult decision because Mike Sherman was a nice, neat man. He also had a winning record as a coach. But knowing football, TT knew that Sherman actually wasn’t a great coach.
  • TT hired Mike McCarthy. I think McCarthy’s 2008 was an aberration. He was off and he coached poorly. He didn’t seem to be in the moment like he was the previous year. But McCarthy is a good coach and it was a good hire.
  • He picked Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Mason Crosby, Will Blackmon and Nick Collins. Rodgers and Jennings were great picks, and the other 3 I think still have great potential. I also think James Jones, Jason Spitz and Desmond Bishop could still be quite good.
  • He acquired Ryan Grant, Atari Bigby , Ryan Pickett, Tramon Williams and Charles Woodson. Wooson, Grant, Pickett and Williams were great acquisitions and relatively inexpensive acquisitions – all took a certain level of football intelligence to execute. Bigby could end up good enough to say the same thing, but right now, it’s hard to say.
  • He likely had quite a bit to do with the hiring of Capers and the firing of Bob Sanders. This was a good move.
  • He takes his job seriously – and being Packers’ GM is a serious job.

Cons:

  • He has a losing record as a GM – 1 winning season in 4 tries. That’s not good regardless of how anyone tries to rearrange the stats.
  • His teams are too young – they are often penalized and while lots of people look at coaches when that happens, I look at the lack of veterans. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say veterans likely commit fewer penalties.
  • TT does not value veterans like he should. TT has had a number of opportunities to add older players to the team through free agency. And some of them wouldn’t have been too expensive. Veterans not only help with intangibles like leadership, but veterans importantly carry with them precedent (if that can be carried) – they have been in a variety of NFL situations before – and this is something young players simply don’t have. It’s a bit surprising he hasn’t learned this lesson from the veteran players he has brought in like Woodson and Pickett.
  • TT relies too heavily on the draft. If his draft picks ended up contributing more (and yes, some still may), his reliance on the draft would be more justified. After 4.5 years and 43 draft picks, I am disappointed in the small number of players he’s drafted whom I’d say contribute significantly. Rodgers, Jennings, Crosby, Collins, Blackmon have all contributed well. Beyond these guys though, there seem to be a number of average players who haven’t contributed much.
  • Whatever his real role was in the Favre thing, it was a situation that could have and should have been handled better by the GM. Yes, Favre was being a moron and yes it was a tough overall situation, but I still believe TT could have handled it better.
  • TT needs a better overall balance w/re to how he acquires players and he needs to take more occasional risks by picking up a few higher profile guys (like he did with Woodson).
  • TT is in his 5th year as GM – those making the “it takes time” argument need to realize that in modern sports, 5 years is considered a good chunk of time to get the ship headed in the right direction.
  • I have an ongoing concern that TT may take too much pride in making the great call – finding that totally unknown guy in the draft or from another team’s practice squad. He’s had a couple gems, no doubt (Jennings, Tramon, possibly Bigby). But sometimes, not always, but sometimes, some players are hyped because they are just that good.
  • He is not good at communicating and struggles in his role as the (or a) face of the organization.

Why do I give him a score of 6? I figure that right now, he is a bit better than average with the potential to be a top flight GM. Other GMs have done more for their teams in shorter amounts of time – so I don’t necessarily buy the argument that TT should get much more time. But I do think that he’s put the team in a place where with a few more key moves (some quality draft picks, picking up a free agent or two, maybe trading players outright), the team at least may have a chance to surprise critics in the next 2 years. My measure for TT going forward will be simple: whether or not he and the team can put together 2 strong, winning seasons in a row. One thing that would be very interesting to see would be if the Pack struggles again this year and TT is not fired – does TT modify his approach at all?

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11 Responses to “Rate Ted Thompson”

  1. Aaron Says:

    You know what’s funny – I saw your score and thought it was ridiculous – and then realized that I’d probably give him a 7. :)

  2. awhayes Says:

    Funny Aaron – it’s kind of hard to put down a number for this, isn’t it? I too thought about going as high as 7 and then as low as 4. I’ll be interested to see how others respond to this one.

    Also – looking forward to checking in on some of your draft coverage. Nicely arranged.

  3. winters52 Says:

    I think 6 is probably right, 1 winning season in 4 years does not cut it, especially when you look at turnarounds like Atlanta and Miami last year. The team took a step back for various reasons last year, but this draft is huge for TT. If he fails, he may be out for next year.

  4. RayMidge Says:

    I’d say being a GM or a coach is graded strictly pass/fail. TT is passing so far, but barely, so a 6 seems around right. 1 in 4 is poor, but TT deserves bonus points for reaching the NFC champ game in ’07 with a team not many thought would be in the playoffs. This is the key year, he will either move up (graduate?) into the echelon of secure GMs who consistently field a playoff team/threat to win it all, or he will fail and be out. I am inclined to think he will pass, but I am far from certain about it.

  5. Aaron Says:

    Thanks much Andrew.

  6. bucky Says:

    Interesting post. I keep wanting to upgrade TT to a 7, but then I see the cons and think that a GM really needs to have had some better sucess than Thompson has had to be graded that high. To me, a 7 is in the top 1/3 in the profession; are there only 10 GMs who have shown more than Thompson has? It’s tough.

    Thompson did have to deal with the unfortunate situation about Favre, which I think is a fairly rare situation, if not unique. He did not handle it well- TT’s skill set does not include the stuff necessary to win the PR battle- but I’m also not sure many others would have handled it a whole lot better, either.

    I will say this: with Favre gone (and now firmly in the rear view mirror), and most of the rest of the Mike Sherman era put behind us- Thompson has remade the Packers in the form of his liking. If something goes wong now, he will own it. And if things go well, he gets the credit.

  7. Sportspack Says:

    Good pros and cons list. So far the comments are also pretty good. My only comment is, he just isn’t getting it done!

  8. madman Says:

    I agree. Great list. I give TT a 4. No, I’m not a Farve-o-phile. That ended the way it had to because Brett is Brett, and getting older bites. But to me the bottom line is that TT does not know when to mix in some quality veterans. That’s why he got fired in Seattle. That’s why Seattle didn’t make their Super Bowl run until after he was gone.

  9. 56Coop Says:

    Oh, come on Ron, you’ve got to have voice for this one

  10. Tiponline Says:

    Good list except I have to say there was a lot of “filler” in those first five “Pros”. Your Cons clearly out weigh your Pros.

    Ted spent to much time house cleaning and not enough time building.
    This would include team chemistry. (Ron Wolf was the master)

    I agree with Bucky that TT now has his team. (Except of course maybe trading/running off Donald Driver)

    Dom Capers is Toolman’s insurance policy to help extend his tenure as GM after McCarthy gets let go after/during this season.

    I give TT a three…One point each for Jennings,Woodson,and Rodgers.

  11. Qcdude3 Says:

    He gets a 3… everyone starts at 5 add 1 (one) for his winning season and take away 3 (three) for the losing seasons. Thats a 3. No one wants to hear the excuses, especially in sports. A leader either gets it done or they don’t, TT hasn’t.

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