GM has improved Packers, but by how much?

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Zero2Cool

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By Pete Dougherty
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The Green Bay Packers are riding a small wave.

Under first-year coach Mike McCarthy, they finished the 2006 season with a four-game winning streak that gave them an 8-8 record, a four-game improvement from 2005.

Then just more than a week ago, quarterback Brett Favre announced he’s returning for his 17th NFL season.

But while the 37-year-old Favre gives them their best chance to win in 2007, it also might make it harder to judge just how much progress General Manager Ted Thompson has made in rebuilding the team since CEO Bob Harlan hired him two years ago.

Favre probably is down to his final season or two, and, as the 31 years between Bart Starr’s retirement and Favre’s arrival suggest, a team is lucky if a Hall of Fame-type quarterback comes along once in a generation.

So even though Favre’s no longer an elite quarterback, he’s still a good one, and when he retires, where will Thompson’s Packers be then? Without Favre, how much progress has Thompson made in two seasons as GM, a short time in which he’s changed over three-quarters of the roster with his build-via-the-draft philosophy?

“I was here in the ’70s and ’80s, and I saw how often we were looking for a quarterback,” Harlan said in a recent interview. “What you have to hope with what Ted Thompson is doing with the draft and the free agents he’s brought in, we’re strengthening ourselves defensively and the rest of the ballclub, including special teams, to the point where you can make up a little for the absence of that great quarterback once he leaves.”

As Harlan said, Thompson appears to be building the Packers as a defensive-oriented, cold-weather team. Last year, his top draft pick (A.J. Hawk) and three main free-agent signings (Charles Woodson, Ryan Pickett and Marquand Manuel) were defensive players.

“You have to be able to play defense, and you have to be able to run the ball,” Thompson said. “Normally, those teams are the ones that - even though other teams are kind of successful in the playoffs - can hang in in the playoffs.”

Both Harlan and team President John Jones pointed to the Packers’ record and strong finish as tangible proof that Thompson’s roster makeover and rebuilding philosophy are on the right track. Though Harlan hired Thompson, the GM’s fate rests with Jones, who takes over running the franchise at the team’s board of directors meeting in late May. Harlan then will receive emeritus status.

Harlan said though the decision won’t be his and there’s no set formula for judging a GM, he’d give Thompson at least four drafts to show he can build a quality program. Jones, who will make that decision, wholeheartedly endorsed Thompson in an interview this week and characterized Thompson as an “excellent” talent evaluator whose work is “meticulous” and decisions “are well thought-out.”

Building through the draft can take time, and Jones has the call on how much time Thompson gets. Thompson is entering the third year of a five-year contract, and Jones at least suggested he’ll likely give Thompson the time similar to what Harlan espoused.

“I don’t know that there is a so-called standard of any kind,” Jones said when asked about the standards on which he’ll judge Thompson. “If you know someone as well as I know Ted - we’ve both been in this organization before Ted left, and in terms of the respect I have (for him) and the respect Ted has in this building, it’s very significant, and then around the league as well.

“We’re definitely, in my opinion, on the right track, and Ted is giving us what we need in terms of talent and direction, along with Coach McCarthy, that we’re going to be a factor in this (NFC North) division for years to come.”

Thompson is heading into his third offseason with total control over the Packers’ football operations, and he’s run with his mandate to rebuild the team.

Besides firing former coach Mike Sherman last year and hiring McCarthy to replace him, Thompson has remade the team’s roster: Of the 74 players who were on the active roster, injured reserve and practice squad at the end of the 2004 season, right before Thompson became GM, only 19 remain. That means 75 percent of the players have turned over.

Also, McCarthy’s starting lineup for the final game last season contained 12 different players than Sherman had in his final game as a dual coach-GM in ’05: receiver Greg Jennings (for Robert Ferguson), guards Daryn Colledge and Jason Spitz (for Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera), center Scott Wells (for Grey Reugamer), defensive tackles Pickett and Corey Williams (for Grady Jackson and Cletidus Hunt), defensive end Cullen Jenkins (for Kabeer Gbaja-Biamila), linebacker Brady Poppinga (for Hannibal Navies), linebacker Hawk (for Na’il Diggs), cornerback Woodson (for Ahmad Carroll), and safeties Nick Collins and Manuel (for Darren Sharper and Mark Roman).

“It was time to make some changes and add some new core players to the team,” Thompson said.

By the end of last season, the results looked favorable because McCarthy held the team together and finished with four straight wins. The young offensive line improved steadily, and moving Jenkins to the primary right defensive end for the final four games seemed especially helpful for the run defense. The Packers also finished 5-1 in the NFC North.

However, their 1-7 record against teams that finished .500 or better raises questions about how far along this unusually young team has come. The only win was against a Chicago Bears team that had clinched the best record in the NFC, though it was a convincing 26-7 win. Also, among the losses were embarrassing blowouts at home to the Bears (26-0 in the opener), New England (35-0) and the New York Jets (38-10).

“Yeah, that concerns me,” Harlan said. “But on the other hand, look what we did in the division, where we were very strong. The team was a much different team in December than it was back in September. That’s a good sign, because the team made progress. You hope you’re going to be stronger at the end of the year than you were at the beginning; we certainly were that.

“I compliment the coaches, because they kept the team together. When you’re sitting there at 4-8, a lot of these young guys start to hit the wall because they’re just out of college, and yet these guys didn’t hit the wall, they hung in there and did improve themselves. That’s a great sign.”

Thompson heads into an offseason in which he’ll try to build on last year’s personnel upgrades on defense while adding some playmaking talent for what could be Favre’s final season.

The Packers’ lone unrestricted free agent of note is halfback Ahman Green, whom Thompson already has said he wants to re-sign. Green will be one of the best halfbacks available in free agency, but the combination of age (he turns 30 on Feb. 17) and a serious quadriceps tendon tear in 2005 will hurt his value on the open market and improves the odds he’ll re-sign with the Packers.

With a little more than $25 million in salary-cap room, Thompson also is looking to make long-term deals with defensive end Cullen Jenkins, who’s a restricted free agent, and linebacker Nick Barnett, who has one year left on his contract. Plus, it appears Thompson is amenable to upgrading cornerback Al Harris’ contract. Whether all three get done this offseason remains to be seen, but the Packers can retain Jenkins regardless by offering him either a first-round contract tender or perhaps a second-rounder, and Barnett hasn’t threatened to stage any holdouts if his deal isn’t redone.

Thompson then will have the draft, which includes the 16th pick overall in the first round, and free agency to augment the team. Thompson is early enough in his rebuilding that he could draft or sign players at almost any position, and the chances of filling all holes with quality players are slim, if they exist at all. But in no particular order, he’ll be looking to:

# Upgrade from Manuel at starting safety;
# Find a No. 3 cornerback;
# Find a receiver for a spot in the top-three rotation;
# Find a running back good enough to share time with Green or be the starter if Green doesn’t re-sign;
# Find a tight end who’s a quality receiving threat.

Thompson has proven he’ll rely mainly on the draft to rebuild, but last year he showed he’s not averse to free agency when he surprisingly paid $10.5 million in first-year money to sign Woodson; signed Pickett to a four-year deal that averages $3.5 million and included $5 million in first-year bonuses; and signed Manuel as a lower-tier free agent with a $1.5 million bonus.

“If (Thompson) sees somebody he thinks definitely can help the ballclub and make a major contribution, and is in a price area he’s comfortable, he was going to do it,” Harlan said. “He would say to me last winter, ‘I’m not going to spend money just to say to people, “We’re spending a lot of money on players.”’ That’s the proper attitude to take. I wouldn’t argue with that all.”
 

Raider Pride

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"But in no particular order, he’ll be looking to:

# Upgrade from Manuel at starting safety;
# Find a No. 3 cornerback;
# Find a receiver for a spot in the top-three rotation;
# Find a running back good enough to share time with Green or be the starter if Green doesn’t re-sign;
# Find a tight end who’s a quality receiving threat."

Zero,

Do you know if this is actually the key areas T.T. stated he wants to address? Or is this Pete Dougherty's suggestion on what T.T. should do.

The way Pete Dougherty wrote it I am not sure if this is something T.T. said to Pete or if it is Pete's suggestion.

RP
 

Zero2Cool

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Raider Pride said:
"But in no particular order, he’ll be looking to:

# Upgrade from Manuel at starting safety;
# Find a No. 3 cornerback;
# Find a receiver for a spot in the top-three rotation;
# Find a running back good enough to share time with Green or be the starter if Green doesn’t re-sign;
# Find a tight end who’s a quality receiving threat."

Zero,

Do you know if this is actually the key areas T.T. stated he wants to address? Or is this Pete Dougherty's suggestion on what T.T. should do.

The way Pete Dougherty wrote it I am not sure if this is something T.T. said to Pete or if it is Pete's suggestion.

RP

I truly doubt any GM would tell the specifics areas he needs to upgrade. It would kind of hinder them during draft and free agency. I am confident this list is soley that of Pete, not Ted.
 

packedhouse01

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I think he nailed it right on the head. Those are the needs the Packers have to fill. If they can do that. They will be competitive next year. I still think Rogers is going to be a quality starting quarterback one day. My hope is that during the pre-season this year he will show what he's got. I'm not one of those guys who is going to panic when Favre pulls the trigger and retires. I think we're much better off with Favre, but I think at the very least Rogers will be servicable, better than Grossman.
 

Cliff

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A factor in the NFC North for years to come??? LMAO.... Big Deal!

What about a NFC Championship and a trip to the Super Bowl?
 

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I think we're much better off with Favre, but I think at the very least Rogers will be servicable, better than Grossman.

Tell us that if and when Rodgers gets the Packers into a Super Bowl.
 

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packedhouse01 said:
I think we're much better off with Favre, but I think at the very least Rogers will be servicable, better than Grossman.

Tell us that if and when Rodgers gets the Packers into a Super Bowl.
Theres no guarentees no matter WHO is at the QB position. Look at Peyton Manning. He's been at QB since i believer 1998, and it took him till now to get a SB ring. And i think he's pretty darn good. Look at Dan Marino. Put up some pretty good numbers, yet the only SB he was in was his rookie year. He lost that one, and never got back there.
To me, if we can get a few important holes filled, we will be in the running next year. And winning in our division is VERY important to getting to the playoffs, which is where you have to get too if you want a shot at the SB.
 

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“You have to be able to play defense, and you have to be able to run the ball,” Thompson said. “Normally, those teams are the ones that - even though other teams are kind of successful in the playoffs - can hang in in the playoffs.”

So when is he going to address the running game??

I'm well aware that I'm in the minority on this topic, and I'm quite sure TT will once again mortgage next season on the backs of our ineffective OL. Their inconsistent play severly hampered our ability to compete for a playoff spot this season and if not upgraded will again next year.

All the stats in the world won't change my mind on this. I watched the games and it was plain to see we couldn't consistently run the ball when we needed it most. We finished 23rd in rushing which makes it very hard for us to dictate the pace of a game, and close out games in the 2nd half not to mention harder to score in the Red Zone where we ranked almost dead last in the league. Likewise, throwing the ball 35 - 50 times a game hardly helps keep the INTs chances down.

Even though they finished 5th in the NFL for the fewest sacks allowed, they gave up 15 of the 24 against playoff teams in just 5 games. Likewise, most every knowledgable fan knows we had to keep @ least 1/2 of our receivers in to block on any one pass play. That hardly puts any pressure on our opponents Def.

IMO, an upgrade of one of the OG spots is needed. Improvements @ TE and FB would go a long way toward improving our overall running game as well.
 

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I shudder to think how many super bowls Favre would have been in GM Sherman had done a better job of surrounding him with better talent. I think that is the key for whoever follows Brett. If you surround him Rogers with enough talent and a great defense he'll do a good job. Look at Grossman, this guy made it to the Superbowl because there was enough talent around him. Now he wasn't good enough to carry them, but he got them there.

I'm just glad we got Brett back. I was seriously hoping that we would be able to get him to sign on for two more years though because I think we'll be better next year, but I think the next year might be the year we can seriously challenge. Much like our teams of the early 90's, we had some talent but those guys had to learn how to win, how to gear it up a notch. Once they learned that they became a pretty good team.
 

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I'm not a big Sherman fan, but at least he tried to give Favre weapons even to a fault. He seemed to understand that the time to try and win was w/ the core group they had assembled. The mis-conception is that Wolf did a great job of this, but he missed on quite a few draft picks as well, and has admitted on more than one occassion that he failed to do what you are suggesting.

Hindsight is 20/20, but at the time J. Reynolds and Joe Johnson liked to be solid choices; they just didn't work out to say the least. I'd say the Ferguson pick over Chambers and Carroll over Chris Gamble hurt the team more. Couple those moves w/ the break down of the MM fiasco, and Sherman's fate was easily forseen IMO.
 

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Am I the only that thinks that Manuel will make a good safety? Considering he was coming of an injury, missed most of training camp, he did well as the season wore on, as did the rest of the defense, including the rest of the secondary.

I'm not directing the following at anyone but only a fool thinks that any given team has, or should have, the best players at every position. It's not a practical point of view.
 

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Am I the only that thinks that Manuel will make a good safety? Considering he was coming of an injury, missed most of training camp, he did well as the season wore on, as did the rest of the defense, including the rest of the secondary.

I'm not directing the following at anyone but only a fool thinks that any given team has, or should have, the best players at every position. It's not a practical point of view.

Interesting point which deserves merit. Manuel will more than likely remain in Green Bay for 2007.
 
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Mackie2001 said:
Am I the only that thinks that Manuel will make a good safety? Considering he was coming of an injury, missed most of training camp, he did well as the season wore on, as did the rest of the defense, including the rest of the secondary.

I'm not directing the following at anyone but only a fool thinks that any given team has, or should have, the best players at every position. It's not a practical point of view.

Interesting point which deserves merit. Manuel will more than likely remain in Green Bay for 2007.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

He has been bad, but he is also a veteran. If nothing else, he doesn't bring with him the baggage of a Sean Taylor. He will have competition next year, but finding a veteran safety to fill that role for the price tag of Manuel will be next to impossible this offseason.

Collins, Underwood, Culver are a real talented young duo. The oldest player is Underwood at only 24 years of age. You need some veteran player to at least point out some stuff.

People are assuming that Manuel will remain starter, but last year I ask you who was better than Manuel? Culver has so much talent but in his brief periods of playing time he looked lost. Underwood will round out a formidable group of talent, but you still need a veteran to teach the young guys some stuff.
 

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I'm addressing your last sentence. Manuel was brought in because he knows the game. His performance had to be because of injury, new coach and new system. The breakdowns in the secondary decreased as time went on and because Carroll was released.

I always thought the Carroll should have been tried at safety because he'd have everything in front of him and because he's a good tackler. He never was afraid to stick his nose in there to make a tackle. He wasn't one of the grab tacklers that opponents run over, under, around and through.
 

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all about da packers said:
Mackie2001 said:
Am I the only that thinks that Manuel will make a good safety? Considering he was coming of an injury, missed most of training camp, he did well as the season wore on, as did the rest of the defense, including the rest of the secondary.

I'm not directing the following at anyone but only a fool thinks that any given team has, or should have, the best players at every position. It's not a practical point of view.

Interesting point which deserves merit. Manuel will more than likely remain in Green Bay for 2007.

And there is nothing wrong with that.

He has been bad, but he is also a veteran. If nothing else, he doesn't bring with him the baggage of a Sean Taylor. He will have competition next year, but finding a veteran safety to fill that role for the price tag of Manuel will be next to impossible this offseason.

Collins, Underwood, Culver are a real talented young duo. The oldest player is Underwood at only 24 years of age. You need some veteran player to at least point out some stuff.

People are assuming that Manuel will remain starter, but last year I ask you who was better than Manuel? Culver has so much talent but in his brief periods of playing time he looked lost. Underwood will round out a formidable group of talent, but you still need a veteran to teach the young guys some stuff.

The problem on this forum is that people interpret posts wrong. If I was the Packers GM I would have already sent Manuel on his way. I never said Manuel would start in 2007 only that he will remain in Green Bay.
 
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I'm addressing your last sentence. Manuel was brought in because he knows the game. His performance had to be because of injury, new coach and new system.

Very true. Manuel was much better in the later part of the season, and I must say he is a real big hitter. When I think of big hits during the Packer season, off the top of my head I can think of a couple of hits that Manuel laid.

Simply put, I think it is too early to be saying that Manuel should be cut. He may come good yet, but if he doesn't, it isn't the end of the world because Manuel may yet have an important role of the veteran to play in the young Safety group of the Packers. Given Manuel's track record of being a good person and not doing stupid things off the field, I'll gladly take him to try and teach these players a veteran's perspective.
 

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all about da packers said:
I'm addressing your last sentence. Manuel was brought in because he knows the game. His performance had to be because of injury, new coach and new system.

Very true. Manuel was much better in the later part of the season, and I must say he is a real big hitter. When I think of big hits during the Packer season, off the top of my head I can think of a couple of hits that Manuel laid.

Simply put, I think it is too early to be saying that Manuel should be cut. He may come good yet, but if he doesn't, it isn't the end of the world because Manuel may yet have an important role of the veteran to play in the young Safety group of the Packers. Given Manuel's track record of being a good person and not doing stupid things off the field, I'll gladly take him to try and teach these players a veteran's perspective.

Manuel will stay in Green Bay primarily because Ted Thompson is not going admit to a double mistake. He was involved with drafting Manuel and then brings him to Green Bay.

In any event we will have to make the best of it because Manuel will get another shot in 2007.
 

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Manuel will stay in Green Bay primarily because Ted Thompson is not going admit to a double mistake. He was involved with drafting Manuel and then brings him to Green Bay.

In any event we will have to make the best of it because Manuel will get another shot in 2007.

Manuel was Drafted by the Bengals.
Ted worked for the Bengals in 2002?


The low-profile Thompson has a proven track record as an evaluator. Overseeing Seattle's draft board from 2000 through '04, Thompson provided the Seahawks a solid foundation with which they used to make three straight playoff appearances (2003-05).
 

Cliff

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The low-profile Thompson has a proven track record as an evaluator. Overseeing Seattle's draft board from 2000 through '04, Thompson provided the Seahawks a solid foundation with which they used to make three straight playoff appearances (2003-05).

LMAO...too bad it was Mike Holmgren who was the GM in Seattle 2000 thru 2004 and was the one who made Seattle's draft picks. Thompson was an errand boy.
 
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Manuel will stay in Green Bay primarily because Ted Thompson is not going admit to a double mistake. He was involved with drafting Manuel and then brings him to Green Bay.

The point of my post was that it is too early to be declaring Manuel a mistake. There is still too much football left in him for you to make that claim.
 
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Thompson was an errand boy.

Would you mind providing the evidence to back that claim?

After all, Mike Holmgren himself said Ted Thompson was in charge of running his drafts.

You'll have to excuse me if I take the word of a head coach who would have no reason to lie, over your claims which have not been backed up with proof.
 

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all about da packers said:
Thompson was an errand boy.



After all, Mike Holmgren himself said Ted Thompson was in charge of running his drafts.

Would you mind providing the evidence to back that claim?
 

Zero2Cool

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Zero2Cool said:
The low-profile Thompson has a proven track record as an evaluator. Overseeing Seattle's draft board from 2000 through '04, Thompson provided the Seahawks a solid foundation with which they used to make three straight playoff appearances (2003-05).

LMAO...too bad it was Mike Holmgren who was the GM in Seattle 2000 thru 2004 and was the one who made Seattle's draft picks. Thompson was an errand boy.

So as 'errand boy' Ted assisted the Bengals in drafting Manuel?
If he was an 'errand boy' how did he help bring Manuel to the Seahawks?

You say people don't interpret posts correctly.
The problem on this forum is that people interpret posts wrong.
Although in your case, it's plain ignorance. You say Ted is helping when he brings in sub par players, but when its mentioned he helped build the team that went to the three straight playoff appearances you say he was an 'errand boy'. Interseting to say the least.

While avoiding the whole point, which was Ted did not help the Bengals draft Marquand Manuel while he was staffed (as you call him "errand boy") as the Seattle Seahawks.
 
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all about da packers said:
Cliff said:
Thompson was an errand boy.



After all, Mike Holmgren himself said Ted Thompson was in charge of running his drafts.

Would you mind providing the evidence to back that claim?

Larry McCarrens chat, a question was asked, and then McCarren replied:

brett, bellmawr, nj: hey larry, im so sick of people blaming the teams bad play on thompson...how do you feel concering his GMing abilities?

LM: I think time will show that he's a good judge of talent. I did an interview with Mike Holmgren before the Seattle game and asked him how big of a role TT played in the Seahawks rise to Super Bowl Contender. He said very important, that TT ran his draft - and he wound up his statement saying Ted Thompson will get it done in Green Bay. Fairly emphatic stuff.

It was being discussed in this thread.

Now, if it isn't too much trouble, would you mind stating evidence to back your claim?
 

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Just to throw some gas on the fire.....

The Packers were a 10-6 team regularly making the playoffs when Ted Thompson took over in January 2005.

After missing the playoffs for 2 years how has the team improved?
 
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