Archive for the ‘Ted Thompson’ Category

TT – call the Cardinals right now

April 24, 2009

If there is truth to the following rumor from  ESPN, I suggest TT make a move for Anquan Boldin before it’s too late. I know WR is a present position of strength for the Pack, but adding someone as talented at Boldin for a 2nd round pick and a throw-in type player would very much be worth it. And, our WR group would then be brutally difficult to line-up against.

ESPN News passes on a report from Sal Paolantonio that the Cardinals have lowered their asking price for Anquan Boldin.

Rate Ted Thompson

April 24, 2009

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?

Barnett on the money

April 2, 2009

Sometimes, when I whine about the Packers not doing enough in free agency and not adding needed pieces to the team, I want to stop myself so I don’t just seem like a chronic complainer. But I do it mostly because I really believe more could be done. Well, now I can add Nick Barnett to my side of this argument (according to jsonline)- along with Charles Woodson and LeRoy Butler. All of these guys have talked about bringing in other guys and the need for additional pieces. As Bedard says, the team under TT has been remarkably quiet w/re to speaking out of turn, so Barnett’s refreshingly honest comments are welcome.

“We have Jenkins on the outside, Pickett on the inside; we’ll have Jolly with whatever happens with his situation. But the years that we’ve been very good on defense, we’ve had good depth on the defensive line with some good quality. We have some young guys coming up, but it’s always good to have that very good depth at d-line….but everybody knows we need more guys. Obviously we lost some guys in free agency. It’s not a knock against the guys we have. We can all get better.”

If the Pack struggles or goes even 8-8 or 9-7 this year and TT survives, I would imagine we might start hearing even more of these kinds of comments from players heading into next year. Lots of players and fans are willing to be quiet out of respect for someone else’s job (i.e. TT), but not if that someone is given plenty of time and fails to produce a winner.

Jamaicanadian DT on Packers radar?

March 31, 2009

Steve Wyche from NFL.com should have titled  this article , “Ted Thompson’s draft board exposed”. I bet there is a solid chance one of these guys becomes a Packer (though the exposure they’ve just gotten from this article may discourage TT because he prefers that NOBODY has heard of his draft picks.)

I’d say the most likely candidate here is this DT Vaughn Martin. He seems very much like the kind of obscure yet intriguing prospect TT covets. He’s originally from Jamaica, but a Canadian citizen, he’s 6’3″ and 331 lbs, ran a 5.04 40 and benched 225 32 times at his pro day. Not bad, eh? And the report is that he’s very athletic for a guy his size. Perhaps the biggest reason TT may go after a guy like this is his attitude:

“With me, you get a blank canvas to mold into whatever you want to mold me into.”

Though molding canvas isn’t necessarily easy, I’m sure Ted gets the gist of the comment and we all know that openness to being brainwashed is exactly what Ted looks for.


Thompson thinks Packers fine as they are

March 25, 2009

Many of you may have read Tom Silverstein’s article this morning over at jsonline. I think Silverstein wrote it to highlight one major point: that it’s interesting that TT would be so confident in a team that just finished 6-10. I think it’s interesting too. I badly want to believe TT is right about this, that it was a combination of just a few factors that led us to 7 losses by 4 points or less, that he’s right about draft first/free agency second and that he knows what he’s doing. But I’m not so sure. In the article, TT goes on to express confidence in his starting group (whoever they may be now). I disagree here. Right now, I am not necessarily scared by our starting group.  Off the top of my head, I can think of 9 starting positions (give or take) that are at least questionable : RT, LT b/c Clifton sucks, at least one guard spot, 2 of 3 D-Line positions, 3-4 of the LB positions due to Hawk’s poor play, Barnett’s injury and unknowns at the other OLB spots, and one of the safety spots.

I know he wouldn’t publicly point out positional weaknesses in an article like this and he wants his team to believe he believes in them. And I hope we can fill some holes through the draft. But a part of me does worry that he actually believes we are set with most of our starters and it’s more a matter of just playing better. I will continue to be suspect of TT’s over-reliance on the draft until we have 2-3 winning seasons in a row.

Response to post re picking up Gonzalez

March 24, 2009

Yes – I definitely think we should pick up Tony Gonzalez. Steve’s right, the timing is very good because we know Pioli is aggressive and wants to rebuild the Chiefs. Even if it’s for 1-2 years, the guy could help us significantly. Having another player the defense would HAVE to account for would make defending our passing game even more difficult. It might also seriously open up opportunities for Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley in 2 TE sets (which most Packer fans remember, can be a lethal offensive set). Importantly, having yet another passing game worry for defenses might also help open up our sluggish running game as defenses would come into games more concerned about being beaten by the pass.

I say give up a 3rd, or I suppose, I wouldn’t even mind giving up a 2nd round pick like Steve says. TT has so much future orientation in everything he does that I think to balance himself out (and for the good of the team), he could stand to occasionally adopt a “now” orientation.

Another thought: instead of giving up draft picks (which we know TT doesn’t like to do), perhaps he could also get creative and offer a trade of some kind. Offer a 4th rounder and Poppinga – just tell them we think Poppinga is one of the best young LBs in the NFL, pointing out that he’s been starting for a few years now. (But then burn all available video of him so they can’t see how bad he is.)

(By the way, this isn’t the first time Packergeeks has lobbied for Gonzalez. Read here and here. There are other posts too. It’s pretty safe to say that if Steve and I were co-GMs, Gonzalez would be a Packer by now.)

Peter King nugget re Pack operations

March 2, 2009

Took this from Peter King’s MMQB over at cnnsi.com:

Weirdest thing I heard over the weekend: Pack gave their coaches the weekend off. They’ll be in today, and this week, to work on the free agents. I’m told that has meaning — that the Packers want to send the message that free agency spending these days is profligate, and they’ll get in when the Dan Snyders get out.

Interesting, but not shocking. While I too think the initial wave of free agent pick-ups is often characterized by ridiculous contracts players don’t really deserve, giving the coaches the weekend off is going one step too far in the other direction. In fact, Peter King notes that the Pack had scheduled a meeting with Canty for today – but I read somewhere else that it wasn’t scheduled sooner because TT wanted Canty to meet the Packers’ coaching staff (which we now know was not at work over the weekend). Perhaps if TT hadn’t given the coaches the weekend off, the Pack might have Chris Canty on board.

Favre “retires” again

February 11, 2009

Read below from ESPN – Favre told Bus Cook to tell the Jets he is retiring. Apparently Cook also asked the Jets re the possibility of releasing Favre, but the Jets declined. Curious. This article is loaded with other noteworthy tidbits re his feelings re Thompson and the Packers organization. Here is the article:

February 11, 2009, 9:51 AM ET

Favre plans to retire — again

By Ed Werder and Chris Mortensen
ESPN.com

Without the tearful public ceremony that accompanied his retirement announcement from the Green Bay Packers just 11 months ago, quarterback Brett Favre has instructed agent Bus Cook to inform the New York Jets Wednesday that he plans to retire.

In an e-mail to ESPN’s Ed Werder, Favre indicated he had no regrets about finishing his career with the Jets rather than with the Green Bay Packers franchise he represented for his previous 16 NFL seasons. He specifically praised Jets GM Mike Tannenbaum, team owner Woody Johnson and fired coach Eric Mangini — and even mentioned Thomas Jones and Kerry Rhodes, both of whom were publicly critical of Favre after the team’s collapse in the final month of the season prevented the Jets from making the playoffs.

My time with the Jets was short, but I’m honored to be given that chance.

– Brett Favre

“Mike and Woody, as well as the entire organization, have been nothing short of outstanding,” Favre said in the e-mail. “My teammates — Thomas and Kerry included — were a pleasure to play with. Eric [Mangini] could not have been any better. I enjoyed playing for him. My time with the Jets was short, but I’m honored to be given that chance.”

The Jets did not have an immediate comment. A Jets official said Tuesday night that no definite word had come from Favre yet but added, “that can change any minute.”

The Jets already have begun discussing their options at quarterback and spent a good portion of Tuesday studying the 2009 class of draft-eligible college quarterbacks. The team is unconvinced that Kellen Clemens, a former second-rounder, is capable of being Favre’s replacement. There also appears to be a conviction to seek a quarterback with significant arm strength to play through the challenges of windy, cold-weather climate that often is a factor in Jets games.

While Favre did not directly broach the subject of the team simply releasing him so that he might have the option of signing with another team such as the Minnesota Vikings, a source said that Cook informally discussed the option with the Jets. The Jets respectfully declined that option, the source said.

Favre’s retirement will save the Jets his $13 million salary in salary cap space. The Jets are in one of the worst salary-cap situtations in the NFL.

The retirement decision should not have surprised the Jets even though the team had publicly encouraged Favre to play another season. Favre informed Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum before the Super Bowl that he was leaning toward retirement. At some point within the past week, Favre told Cook to inform the Jets that he wanted to retire without fanfare and that the team could make the decision public at its convenience.

In what appears to be his final NFL season, Favre threw 22 touchdown passes and an NFL-high 22 interceptions while leading the Jets to a 9-7 record — a five-game improvement over their previous season without him.

A week after the Jets’ season ended without a playoff berth, Favre hinted to Werder during a telephone interview that he would probably retire because he lacked the motivation necessary to continue playing and felt prepared for life after football. “I have the ability to turn it off just like that,” he said. “I don’t feel I have anything else to prove. Do I have to redeem myself for the last five games? No. I could be trying to do that until I’m 60 years old. There is nothing left out there for me from that standpoint. I’m disappointed with the last five games, sure, but I know I did everything I could have.

“I didn’t play as well down the stretch. It was probably a little bit of everything. It’s hard for me, but I have to say I gave out down the stretch.”

In that same conversation, Favre conceded that he had an abundance of motivation to play for the Jets at the beginning of last season, most of it inspired by the spite he maintained for Packers GM Ted Thompson for trading him from Green Bay to New York. Favre felt Thompson had taken Favre’s team from him, believed it had become personal, described the Packers as dishonest and concluded that the most accomplished quarterback in history had been exiled to the Jets precisely because it was something of a football purgatory, where no championships had been won in the four decades since Joe Namath.

“They sent me to New York because they didn’t play the Jets, they were 4-12, so they didn’t have to play me, they knew we had very little chance of making the playoffs and they knew it was not likely that we’d have a better year than they did,” Favre told Werder. “I was aware of all of that and more than up to the challenge because they felt they were shipping me off to Siberia and they’d never hear from me again. So was I coming back to play because I loved the game or to prove them wrong? Probably a little bit of both.

“Maybe initially I came back for the wrong reasons,” Favre says now. “It was like, “OK, they don’t want me to play, then I’ll play somewhere else and show them I can still play.”

He knew there would be comparisons between his statistics and those of the quarterback who replaced him in Green Bay, Aaron Rodgers, the very first player Thompson drafted when he took over the Packers’ front office. Favre admits that his family and friends were consumed with keeping him informed about how his numbers measured against those of Rogers and constantly urged him to throw more touchdown passes than his replacement. Favre admits to virtually no interest in that kind of intramural competition. But he was devout in doing whatever he could to ensure that the Jets accomplished more than the Packers.

“The only thing I worried about was winning,” he said. “There was a time in my career where I paid more attention to individual stats, but in the last couple of years the most important thing was winning and losing. In the end, that’s what matters most. Was I pissed at Green Bay? Sure. But I wasn’t pissed at their players. I did keep up with the wins and losses. Sure, it was hard not to do that. I didn’t wish them bad, but I wished us better.”

Accomplishing that goal seemed unlikely. Removed from a Packers team that finished 13-3, Favre inherited a 4-12 Jets team.

Favre admitted the transition was difficult. There were moments of extreme doubt that threatened to become actual regret, when Favre admits he wondered if he had made a terrible mistake. “Numerous times,” he said. “Traveling was much more difficult. Nothing was easy in the whole transition, except for dealing with the guys on the team; that was the easy part, and I thought that would be the hard part. But let me tell you: when we rolled into the house the Tuesday morning after that San Diego game, I thought to myself, “What in the hell?”

In the third week of the season, Favre threw three touchdown passes, was intercepted twice and suffered a sprained left ankle in a 48-29 loss on Monday Night Football to the Chargers.

But Favre persevered. He became more comfortable, played more confidently, accomplished feats not even he had experienced. He threw six touchdown passes in a single game against the Arizona Cardinals.

The next week, the Jets took over sole possession of first place from the defending AFC champion New England Patriots. Favre orchestrated the unimaginable 34-31 triumph, leading consecutive scoring drives on the last possession of regulation and the first of overtime. He admitted afterward that nobody in the building was more nervous and says these were the moments that brought him out of retirement.

The next week would prove just as monumental. There was Favre was throwing touchdown passes and celebrating joyously as he and the Jets completed a 34-13 road upset of the Tennessee Titans, the final undefeated team in the league.

“There’s not many games left for old Brett Favre, so I’m glad this one turned out the way it did,” he said moments later.

When asked how winning a handful of big games for the Jets compared to doing the same for 16 years with the Packers, and his answer hinted at the animosity that may never leave him. “It feels great — as good, if not better. My career in Green Bay was great. It was awesome, maybe better than awesome. Will I have a 16-year career in New York? I doubt it. But I’m going to try and lump 16 into one and see what happens.”

It doesn’t get better than this, Favre thought. And, sadly, he was right. It would not get better than that moment.

“At that point, it was, Go get your Super Bowl tickets,”’ Favre says. “That’s what was so disappointing — how quickly we rose, and then fell.”

After the victories in New England and Tennessee, the Jets were considered potentially the best team in the AFC and a legitimate Super Bowl contender. But the Jets failed badly in December, losing four of their final five games, and Favre’s performance with an ailing right shoulder was a primary reason. In the final five games, Favre threw nine interceptions and only two touchdown passes. When the season was finished, Favre revealed he had a torn biceps tendon and that doctors had urged him to have surgery if he intended to play in 2009. He decided against both.

“It sucks getting old,” he said. “At 40 years old, your mind tells you that you can do all the things you could in your younger years but the body doesn’t cooperate. As I look back on it, I had my moments where people said, “It was the same Brett Favre, just a different uniform.”

Immediately after his first Jets season, Favre had decided that if it was also his final NFL season that there would be no press conference as there had been 11 months ago in Green Bay.

“I’m an emotional guy, and I’m sure people are tired of seeing me get emotional,” he explained. “People would probably say, ‘Oh, here he goes again.’ I think it would just be better for me to just thank the Jets, and I sincerely mean that. It was well worth what I invested. But I’m going to just quietly step away if that’s what happens.”

That is exactly what has just happened.

Ed Werder is an NFL reporter for ESPN. Chris Mortensen is a senior NFL analyst for ESPN.

McCarthy facing must-win season

February 5, 2009

We have written on a few occasions about how this season will be a critical one for the future of the franchise, particularly for Ted Thompson and Mike McCarthy. If it’s bad, TT and MM may both be ushered out. If it’s OK (.500ish), my guess is that they’ll be given one more year to improve the team. If it’s good, they may end up being safe through the respective ends of their contracts.

Rob Reischel, a writer I must admit I’m not too familiar with, wrote a thoughtful piece this morning over at jsonline. Read here. His contention is similar to ours’ – that MM in particular needs to put together a decent season or he could lose his job.

For what it’s worth, I want to clarify my present position on Mike McCarthy. I know we were critical of him last year and I stand by that criticism. He made poor decisions at some crucial moments and his play-calling didn’t flow well too often. And, our team finished a disappointing 6-10 – which was due to some seriously poor play by some of our players, but also coaching. I like that MM took ownership of this – the first step to improving oneself of course, is admitting the problem (actually, that’s not really true – the first step is creating a problem in the first place, then you can admit it…)

But I still think he’s a good coach. I think this year, we’ll be reminded quickly that our coach does indeed have a gifted offensive mind. I have a hunch that because McCarthy has put the defense in the hands of someone he has more faith in, he’ll be able to focus more on offense. I wouldn’t be surprised if the Pack’s offense ends up a top 5 offense this coming year (don’t want to reveal too much this early, but for some reason, I’m quite optimistic about this coming season). Anyway, I just wanted to make sure readers knew that I do support McCarthy and thinks he’s a good coach. Of course, if we’re 2-14 next year, I reserve the right to modify my opinion!

Free agent priority list

January 20, 2009

It’s hard to realistically prioritize which free agents are worth pursuing. I agree with many of you who are more concerned right now with getting Jennings and Collins re-signed first. (I might throw Tauscher in there too). Those are things that should happen asap so that we have a better idea for how much cap room we will really have going into this off-season. Anyway here is the most comprehensive list of 2009 free agents I have come across. Below is my attempt to prioritize:

  1. Shane Lechler – it is a rare, rare opportunity to be able to sign one of the best punters in NFL history. I say take it. We all saw Mike Scifres almost win the San Diego/Indy game by himself. Lechler is even better and his ability to give opposing teams worse field position could significantly help the defense succeed.
  2. Julius Peppers – I share some of the concerns about Peppers’ attitude, and his vanishing act in 2007 can’t be forgotten. But his 5 forced fumbles and 14.5 sacks in 2008 can’t be ignored either – not to mention his overall ability to make offenses have to game-plan around him. I think Peppers may have a bit of Randy Moss syndrome – taking plays off etc. But both are just so talented – I think he’s at least worth pursuing. (There are new rumors out there that indicate because Carolina fired their D-Line coach and may can their d-coordinator, they are trying desperately to do whatever they can to keep Peppers.)
  3. James Farrior ILB, Pitt – Farrior is one of the unsung studs in the Pitt LB group. He is very solid, very smart and a sure tackler (had 133 tackles in 2008 regular season). As an older veteran, he likely would not demand the huge contract others will, he could bring some veteran leadership and he would know the 3-4 inside and out.
  4. Terrell Suggs OLB/DE, Balt – Suggs is a great pass rusher and an instinctive player. His addition would add instant credibility to our defense. Think for a moment if somehow the Pack could field a defense including Suggs, Peppers, Kampman and Jenkins – opposing QBs would be terrified.
  5. OJ Atogwe, FS, Rams – Atogwe is likely going to get the franchise tag because he’s that good. While Bigby may have potential, Atogwe is already an elite safety and having a secondary of Collins, Woodson, Atogwe and Harris would make passing against the Pack brutally difficult.
  6. Matt Birk – Birk has been a leader for the Vikings for years and is still one of the better centers in the NFL. He would be an upgrade over Wells, allow Spitz to focus on being a guard and help Rodgers develop as an offensive leader.
  7. Karlos Dansby, ILB Cards – Dansby is a good player, not great yet, but still good. But he is young, plays in a 3-4 and there are some who believe it’s just a matter of time before he becomes a Pro Bowler.
  8. Ray Lewis – rumors are that Balt is close to re-signing him and keeping him there to end his career. If they don’t sign him, Ray Lewis remains one of the best LBs in football and his leadership could really be useful for this team.
  9. Albert Haynesworth, DT, Tenn – I put Haynesworth and Lewis down at the bottom here because “my source” (what I read 10 minutes ago in a public source everyone has access to) indicates that both are likely to re-sign with their present teams. If either ends up being available, I do think we ought to consider signing one of them.

Generally speaking (or generally writing I suppose is more approrpiate), going into this off-season I think it’s very important that the Pack acquire at least one free agent LB who has experience in the 3-4. I also think bringing in a strong D-lineman ought to be a priority – though we may need to look to the draft more for this as the pool of free agent d-linemen is a bit thin outside of Peppers/Haynesworth. I also wouldn’t be opposed to looking specifically at USC LB Ray Maualuga as reader Pmenadue advocates. The guy is a stud. (A decent 2nd or 3rd round pick if he’s still available would be James Laurinaitis from Ohio State – I know many Packer fans may be reluctant to try another OSU LB, but I think this guy will be better than Hawk).

One early draft fear I do have is that TT will stubbornly stick to his “best player available” philosophy when we so clearly need help at certain positions (o-line, d-line, lb, possibly secondary). We need to draft for need this year.


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