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Be thorough yet decisive

A GM has a lot to manage and keep cohesive


Dave from Lake Bluff, IL

What's new?

I ate oatmeal for breakfast for the first time this winter. But keep reading.

Grant from Madison, WI

No question. Just a thanks to Ted Thompson. He was instrumental in the continued success of the Packers, and has left the organization in a great spot for the future. Hope that doesn't go unnoticed.

It shouldn't and won't. He transitioned the Packers from one Hall of Fame QB to another, helped take the team back to the mountaintop, provided opportunities to stay there, and is leaving the football operation in much better shape than he found it. His legacy in this organization will fall just short of his mentor's, and I mean that in the most complimentary way possible, because Ron Wolf pulled the franchise out of the doldrums. Thanks to him, and to Thompson, no one has had to since.

Matt from Chicago, IL

Whew...change is here, Wes and Mike. I'm apprehensive, but excited. How on earth does Mark Murphy and the board decide who should lead the football side of things going forward? This has to be one of the most coveted jobs in professional sports, and there seems to be no shortage of worthy candidates, both in-house and external. If you're Murphy, what sets our future GM apart from the rest?


First of all, the board won't have a say. It'll be Murphy's decision. He **talked on Tuesday about** having an open mind regarding backgrounds. I think what will set the top candidate apart is the leadership he'll bring and culture he'll foster. A personnel department has a bunch of moving parts. There's a ton to manage and keep cohesive. A GM has to be able to gather all the relevant information and opinions, but possess enough confidence to make the call himself. Be thorough yet decisive. Murphy's football background plus a decade in Green Bay now tells me he'll know the best fit when he sees it.**

Eric from Milwaukee, WI

A hallmark of the Packers is that they are draft-and-develop. I see a similar situation with the front office. Lots of talented individuals in the organization who are ready to be GM. I look forward to seeing someone who has been developed for years get the chance to run the team, if Mark Murphy does choose an internal candidate.

It's a testament to how Thompson built upon Wolf's foundation that the internal candidate pool carries the potential it does. The work done elsewhere by John Dorsey, John Schneider and Reggie McKenzie speaks to that as well.

Scott from Alys Beach, FL

Murphy was asked a question about DC and inferred it was being worked on as a priority by Mike given the need to act quickly with other open jobs in the league. If Mark is right, why hasn't there been an announcement about Capers' departure on packers.com? Isn't it fair game to report once they start talking about it at press conferences?

An official announcement will come when McCarthy is ready to make an announcement. You're right, Murphy acknowledged there's work being done, but this is on the head coach's terms and out of respect for his process our website has to wait. It's clearly not ideal, but thanks for understanding.

David from San Francisco, CA

Math can be fun. The Falcons gave up a first-rounder, second-rounder, and two fourth-rounders to swap their 27th pick for the sixth pick to select Julio Jones in 2011. The Packers will sit at 14 with likely two third-round comp picks and more to play and trade. Is there a prospect jumping off the page we might trade into the top five for? What does the board say that would cost?

I think two third-round comp picks is a bit optimistic. In any event, most trade charts say the Packers would have to give up both their second- and third-round (regular) picks to move up from 14 to 5. A third-round comp pick is only worth about half a mid-third-round pick, chart-wise. Given all the areas the Packers must address in the draft, I'd prefer to have three picks in the top 80 than one in the top five and not another until the high 90s, at the earliest. But that's me.

Robert from Tempe, AZ

Very rare to see the Pack ending the season third in the division. When was the last time the Packers finished third in the division?

2008, the only other time in McCarthy's tenure the Packers didn't finish first or second in the NFC North.

Jamey from Nashville, TN

Mark Murphy said that MM was given a contract extension earlier in the year. Was this information kept quiet intentionally? Or missed by every news outlet on the face of the planet?

The Packers didn't announce it, McCarthy was never asked about his contract status, and no one found out about it until this week. I can't answer the why to all of those, but it's just the way this one went.

Alan from Mount Auburn, IL

Hello. We often hear that a player has lost a step. Do NFL teams regularly test a player's speed to know this?


No. It shows up on the tape.**

Jake from Greenville, NC

Honestly, whoever our DC is next year, I probably won't be able to tell the difference except during press conferences. As for what needs to change, I'd love to draft another Matthews, but it was when Shields had to retire that everything really fell apart on defense. Once Ha-Ha can go back to a playing a bigger role than "safety help," offenses will to have to choose between trying to throw it past a Pro Bowl centerfielder or running into the Daniels/Clark/Martinez/Ryan buzzsaw. Combine that with a QB who can sustain drives and keep them fresh, and this defense has the makings of dominance. The only question is whether or not the next Sam Shields is already on the roster, and if he can stay healthy. What do you think?

I'm not going to talk buzzsaws and dominance until it starts showing up on the field, but I will say that playing without a true No. 1 boundary corner for two years is a huge uphill climb for any defense. The Packers took a few seasons to recover from the sudden loss of Nick Collins in 2011, and safety isn't the primary position corner is. The similarly sudden loss of Sam Shields in 2016 can't linger any longer. Maybe a healthy King gets there. Or Randall continues his ascent, though I still think he's at his best in the slot. Another high draft pick, or a proven veteran, to contend for the spot would not only help, it's probably a necessity.

Eric from Baker, FL

Now that we've begun 2018, can we leave the football announcer's RPO mania in 2017? Based on my own unscientific, wildly inaccurate survey, college and pro football announcers said RPO 1,745,392 times last year. Thanks, keep up the good work.

I can do without the jargon as well, but if fans and other analysts weren't constantly questioning head coaches' and coordinators' play-calling, maybe the in-booth guys wouldn't feel so compelled to explain when the QB is getting his choice of calls at the line of scrimmage.

Eric from Kenosha, WI

I hear you, Mike. I just think it's proof the NCAA playoff field needs to be big enough for every major conference champ. It's hard to think of it as a "national" championship when it excludes two conferences representing about one third of U.S. states. Anyway, thanks for all you guys do.

I hear you, too, and it's why I'd prefer an eight­-team field that has a spot for each of the five major conference champs. That gives every team in a power league a no-questions-asked avenue to play for the national title. I also wouldn't mind a provision of some sort for an undefeated team from outside the power five for one of the three at-large bids. Who wouldn't want to see that UCF team get a shot the way it was playing this year?

Jim from Appleton, WI

It's said you learn more from failure than success. The past several seasons we learned Aaron Rodgers can cover up a lot of warts. What we learned this year was the next man up didn't cut it. Not just at QB, but across the board. Now the Packers are in a position they haven't been in for nearly a decade: to make a pick nearly a round ahead of usual. Instead of their first-round pick being a high-second talent, they have a chance at a Luke Kuechly-level player. Yes, a losing season is disappointing. But learning what's wrong with the team is way more valuable than seeing them continue to pull rabbits out of hats to get into the postseason.

As a true believer in the crapshoot that is the NFL postseason, I'm all for as many rabbits as anyone wants to pull, because you never know. The rabbit in 2010 turned into a Lombardi Trophy. But I also believe it's difficult to address every long-term issue in one offseason when you're picking in the bottom third of the draft all the time. You fix what you can, and you charge ahead. As you said, this is a new and different opportunity, not just in the first round, either. The Packers must take advantage.

Johnathan from Franklin, WI

Mike, why did your list of positions that needed to be improved or stockpiled fail to include tight end? In addition to pass rusher and cover corner, it should be a priority.

I agree. I simply forgot.

Keith from Lincoln, IL

I kind of enjoyed Mr. Murphy joking during his news conference about Ted Thompson's hesitancy/reluctance/disdain to speak with the media. Can you provide any insight into how Ted's "media relations strategy" all came about? Was he burned by a journalist at some point? Did he not consider it part of his job?

None of the above, really. I always felt Thompson just wasn't interested in sharing anything that would give too much insight into his thought processes. The reasons behind decisions were proprietary information to him, and if there was any sliver of value to the competition, it wasn't in the Packers' best interests to talk about it, so he didn't. His approach bothered many media and fans, and while I think he was unnecessarily overly guarded at times, his motivations were noble, and he was nothing if not consistent in that regard.

Colin from Appleton, WI

Hi Insiders! One comparison that I think is skewed is comparing a football team to a business. I think many people look at it as if it were a free market, but regular companies aren't limited in R&D each year (salary cap) or given lesser parts after being more successful than their competitors (lower draft picks). We should still hope the Packers improve each year, but it becomes exponentially harder if you continue to be successful and pick later each year.

I never took an economics or business class in college, but I like how you explained that.

Scott from Martinez, GA

Any home games jump out of you as must-sees, that would warrant making a trip to Lambeau next season?

Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Aaron Rodgers has me intrigued.

Dan from Grand Rapids, MI

To put our playoff berths in perspective we only have to look at how much a single playoff berth (not a Super Bowl berth or even a playoff win) meant to the Bills and the city of Buffalo. Very cool sight to see.

No matter what happens this weekend, the city of Buffalo will remember New Year's Eve 2017 for quite some time.

Derek from Arlington, WI

Now that the Bills have gotten into the playoffs for the first time since '99, who has the longest current playoff drought? Browns in '01?

Yes, and after that, it's Tampa Bay in '07. Everyone else has made the playoffs at some point in the current decade.

Sean from Brodhead, WI

When was the last time three teams from one division made the playoffs? Is it as rare as it seems it would be?

Since 2002, in the 16 seasons of the current four-division format in each conference, it has happened six times, including this year with the NFC South. It actually happened in both conferences in 2007 (NFC East, AFC South). The others were 2006 (NFC East), 2011 (AFC North) and 2013 (AFC West).

Jon from Wisconsin Rapids, WI

As I have been reading comments about Ted Thompson, it amazes me the lack of perspective some fans have. Take AR out of the picture, in your opinion what was Ted's greatest accomplishment in Green Bay?

You can't take AR out of the picture. He was his first, and best, draft pick, and the primary reason for his greatest accomplishment, winning a Super Bowl. That said, I still wonder if he didn't pick two Pro Football Hall of Famers with his first two picks, but we unfortunately didn't get to find out with Collins. He also signed a future Hall of Famer as a free agent in Woodson. His most memorable draft-success trends will be second-round receivers (Jennings, Nelson, Cobb, Adams, plus Jones in the third) and fourth-round offensive linemen (Sitton, Lang, Bakhtiari, Tretter, plus Linsley in the fifth). Other bests for me in different categories would be Clay Matthews for draft-day trade, Ryan Grant for non-draft-day trade, John Kuhn for waiver claim, and the trio of Tramon Williams, Sam Shields and Lane Taylor atop a long list of undrafted finds. I'm not saying Thompson didn't make mistakes. All GMs do, but he had more hits than misses, and any organization would take his batting average.

John from New York, NY

Can you explain how Washington was 7-9 as well and they received the 13th pick and we received the 14th pick for the draft?

Cincinnati, Green Bay and Washington all finished 7-9. The Bengals had the easier strength of schedule (.465), so they got the 12th pick. The Packers' and Redskins' strength of schedules were dead even (.539), and the tiebreaker it fell to was common games. It requires a minimum of four, and both teams played Seattle, Dallas, New Orleans and Minnesota a total of five games each. Washington went 1-4 while Green Bay went 2-3 in those contests, so by "losing" the tiebreaker, Washington got the higher pick. I was actually hoping no tiebreaker would decide it, leading to a coin flip (as is the case for the Raiders and 49ers with the ninth and 10th picks), because I believe the league conducts those at the combine. I was envisioning me and Wes providing live-stream, on-location coverage and having a lot of fun with it, but so it goes.

LJ from Chicago, IL

What's on tap for season No. 100?

Change, my friend. Where you been? Pay attention.

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