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Inbox: It was always about the Packers

Ted Thompson
Ted Thompson

John from Flanders, NJ

Mike Pettine giggling in front of a mirror, now there’s a picture!

I spent all weekend trying to conjure up an image of Pettine giggling. I failed.

Paul from De Pere, WI

The II has covered our Packer draft picks. Was there one player that got away, or one selected by a division rival you will be watching next season?

The one I’ll be watching is David Montgomery with the Bears. The way they’re talking in Chicago, the Bears might feed the rookie back 20 times a game.

Kyle from Los Angeles, CA

Hey Insiders, if one of the recent draft picks has a rookie-of-the-year-type season, which guy do you think would have the biggest impact in increasing the win total from last year?

Darnell Savage. If a safety is having a rookie-of-the-year-type season, it likely means he’s racking up interceptions, and more turnovers on defense would impact the Packers’ win total considerably.

Blake from Marion, IA

Holy buckets! Wayne from Dodgeville unloaded on Mr. Murphy in Murphy Takes 5. Just an angry rant, with incorrect information to boot! How many questions of the same nature do you get on an average day? Does Mr. Murphy know that a ban is possible?

Think about it. For every fan who has the courage to disrespect the President and CEO of the organization with a note like that, imagine how many go after a couple of peons like me and Wes? It’s good to see the head honcho takes it in stride like we do.

Andy from Minneapolis, MN

Now that Ted Thompson has taken his rightful place in the Packers Hall of Fame, any good stories about him? He is such a private person, still it seems that anyone who has worked for him has such love and respect for him. I'm sure as fans we only saw half the person he is.

Because that’s the way he wanted it, but don’t take it personally. I interviewed Ted one-on-one in his office a couple of times for Yearbook feature stories, and what I’ll always respect about him more than anything is he never made it about himself. It was always about the Packers, and plenty of what he did worked. Not every move did, but all were made with the right motivations. He knew he wasn’t perfect, and he never demanded perfection from others, just the best of intentions. My favorite story is one I’ve told briefly before, about sitting next to him in the press box at Jerry’s World for Super Bowl XLV. On the play when Howard Green hit Roethlisberger’s arm in the end zone, and Big Ben’s deep ball fluttered toward the sideline, Thompson started to get up out of his chair and muttered, “That’s our ball.” As Nick Collins swooped over and was clearly sizing up the interception, Thompson got a tad louder. “That’s our ball!” Realizing he was supposed to be quiet in the press box, he contained himself as Collins weaved through traffic to the end zone. Then he clapped his hands once and sat back down as Collins crossed the goal line. I didn’t look at him, for fear he might interpret a glance as some displeasure toward his minor breach of press box decorum. I just stuck out my fist, and he bumped it.

Jeff from Brooklyn, WI

He made it in the Packers HOF but does Ted Thompson have enough credentials to be in Canton?

I wish I could be more optimistic, but realistically, I think it’s going to be difficult for him to get that recognition, much as it has been for Holmgren. If the Seahawks had won Super Bowl XL, or if the Packers had won another Super Bowl (XXXII in Holmgren’s case, another one this decade in Thompson’s), I think both would get much stronger consideration. It’s not as easy as saying Wolf is in, so Thompson should be, too. Wolf took over a moribund franchise and re-established it as a winner again after more than a quarter-century drought. I’m sure Thompson would admit it wouldn’t be fair to draw a comparison with what his mentor did.

Jake from Shoreview, MN

Congratulations for the honor of entering the Packers HOF Ted! Tell us one underrated impact Ted made on the Packers organization in his time here...something beyond the draft, etc.

I tried to do that toward the tail end of my story from the induction banquet.

A.J. from Brisbane, Australia

Apart from Rodgers, is David Bakhtiari Ted Thompson's best draft pick?

It’s difficult to choose a No. 2, because Thompson selected so many players instrumental in winning a Super Bowl. But a franchise left tackle in the fourth round is hands down the best value pick of his tenure, and it’s really not close.

Nicholas from Superior, WI

I loved Spoff’s article about TT’s Packers HOF induction. At the end it listed his Pro Bowl players. He acquired at least one Pro Bowler every year from 2005 to 2014. That is an impressive list! Do you think any of his 2015 to 2017 acquisitions (draft or free agent) have a shot at making the Pro Bowl during the rest of their careers? If so, who?

Thanks for the kind words. No one wants to work on a Saturday night, but since I had to, I figured I’d make the most of the piece. I think Kenny Clark, Blake Martinez, Kevin King and Aaron Jones are all candidates who could add to Thompson’s list of Pro Bowl draft picks.

Michael from Berrien Springs, MI

Sounds funny, but I was actually excited about the UDFA list you put out. Some “big” OL guys and, though they seem on the smaller side (5-10-ish/180s), I'm guessing some of the CBs are fast? Eaton's size is great and he sounded well-spoken in your article. It also looked like good depth pickups. Think they're excited knowing GB has a rep for keeping and developing some of their UDFAs?

No question. I really enjoyed my chat with Matthew Eaton. At first glance, he looks exactly like Geronimo Allison when he first arrived. I wish him well. The best thing the young hopefuls can do is not worry about the 53, counting guys at their position and so on. They should think of it as 63 spots, because with the practice squad, the numbers at various positions matter even less, if at all.

Carroll from Madison, WI

A challenge to you and my fellow II readers: Come up with an alternative to the phrase "skill position," which absurdly suggests that all the other positions are "unskilled." Is there some other label we can use for the guys who regularly advance the ball (QB, RB, TE, WR, K?), one that both does a better job of describing what's unique about them and avoids suggesting that only they can be "impact" players? No Latin, please.

McCarthy often referred to them as perimeter players. We could try to stick with that, and it’s English.

Bruce from Green Bay, WI

I agree with Wes, Trevor Davis is a lot better than most recall as a kick returner. There is more to the position than just running to the end zone AFTER catching the football. In your opinion what is the most vital skill one should have to master being a top return specialist?

The most important skill is ball security. The most important quality is fearlessness.

Xavier from Los Angeles, CA

What did you think of Giannis' gritty in performance Game 3?

I wouldn’t call it gritty. It was an MVP effort that elevated the game of the role players around him. The bench did what it did because Giannis did what he did.

Steve from Middletown, KY

The Bears have something like eight rookie kickers in camp. A report said they were 2-of-8 from their dreaded 43 yards out. What's the chance the first game of the season could be decided by a missed FG(s)?

I can only imagine the collective nervous energy in Soldier Field if the kickoff opener comes down to the Bears needing a field goal in the final seconds.

Jamie from Rhinelander, WI

Do you think Clay will make it to Canton?

I’d say right now his case is borderline, and he needs a strong finish to his career to boost his chances.

Todd from Brighton, MI

Really hoping a "summer" D can dominate in January and February.

That term of Kuhn’s was a new one to me, but I like it.

Sean from Glen Ellyn, IL

I love watching the First Impressions videos but the one on Elgton Jenkins had me laughing. I've never seen Larry so excited to break down a player, especially a fellow offensive lineman. It looked like he was going to break the touchscreen off its stand!

As soon as I heard Gutekunst say about Jenkins, “He can move big people,” I knew Larry would have fun with his film.

Dan from Allen, TX

Great article on Bob Skoronski. I believe the words "most underrated" are used in the article. That is exactly what my dad said about him when I was a young Packer fan in the mid-’60s. That said, who would either of you gents rate as the most underrated player you've seen since you became Packer fans?

I would say one of the most underrated players I’ve covered was Chad Clifton. He didn’t speak much to the media and, partly as a result, didn’t get a ton of recognition. But what he came back from to forge the career he did will always stand out to me as somewhat underappreciated.

Ethan from Racine, WI

Considering the number of talented running backs on the practice roster, who do you think will get a majority of game reps (I understand the season roster isn't set yet), and do you think going with a two- or three-back system is better than letting one running back take control of a game?

I see the Packers using multiple backs in different roles, but I believe Aaron Jones will be the clear-cut No. 1 back in this offense in 2019.

Robert from Terre Haute, IN

Insiders, I get all the hype and excitement around the league after the draft, but aren’t fans relying too much on tape against college-level players and forgetting all of these picks now have to compete against the “cream of the crop”?

That’s what scouting is all about. It’s not just about any film, it’s which film. It’s also about those Senior Bowl practices, when players are running drills daily against other legitimate draft prospects. The real evaluators take everything into account, and they know which stuff counts for more.

Bob from Colby, KS

No one to play slot full time? Why not have the tight end do it?

We’ll see tight ends lined up plenty in the slot, I’m sure. But you want to vary it, keep the defense adjusting. The more options at an offensive coordinator’s disposal, the greater chance of finding a matchup to attack before the adjustment comes.

Eric from Monroe, WI

There are plenty of reasons to justify stacking up on defense via free agency and the draft, but one idea I haven't seen discussed is this: Might Gute, LaFleur and Co. have loaded up on defensive players with the notion that the new offense (new philosophy, scheme, coaches, etc.) might take a little extra time to develop? Might they be counting on the defense to keep them in games while the offense gets up to speed?

Aaron Rodgers said he doesn’t want a grace period, and I believe him. But some ups and downs, ebbs and flows, with the offense in its first year are to be expected. There won’t be a linear progression, but if the defense can provide a certain level of consistency (and no, I’m not talking about the ephemeral FULL consistency), it can help the team navigate some bumps, whenever they arise for the offense.

Jeff from Littlefork, MN

Can I wear my Jordy and Clay jerseys and pass them off as Sternberger and Gary jerseys or is that bad form? I'm a bit hesitant to submit this question as I understand jersey number questions are often the shortest path to II oblivion.

I’d proudly wear your Nelson and Matthews jerseys as they are. Nothing wrong with that in my book.

Philipp from Fayetteville, GA

Hi Mike, the Dirk is retiring. A one-of-a-kind player, who did it all with one team. The Bucks drafted him. Do you think they would have traded him if they could have seen his potential? Is there a somewhat equivalent story in the NFL?

You’re kidding me, right? You’re a Packers fan asking this question? The Favre trade wasn’t on draft night, but it’s about as equivalent as it gets.

John from Peoria, IL

How will these joint practices be better for player development and evaluation than a padded practice? It seems like there's always some donnybrook that happens in a two-team practice.

Nature of the beast, but reacting to an opponent when you’re not as familiar with its scheme is worthwhile. In some ways it can be more valuable than a preseason game, because in a practice some of the calls will dig deeper into the playbooks.

Jessica from Tucson, AZ

Dating stinks. As much as I want to date someone of the same political leanings as mine, more importantly, I want to date a fellow Packers fan. Is there a secret signal, flag to be raised, at Packers bars around the world to let others know you're single? I've tried doing searches by "Packers" in online dating apps, but it just doesn't work. They should have filters by pro sports teams.

Sounds like you’ve got an idea for an app of your own. You could get rich and then they’d all want to date you. Happy Monday.

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