On the first Saturday of every month, Mark will write about a topic of interest to Packers fans and the organization, and then answer five fan questions. Fans are encouraged to email Mark with their name and hometown at: **MurphyTakes5@packers.com*.*
For the last 26 years, the Packers have been one of the most stable franchises in the NFL. Over this time period, the Packers have had two presidents, three general managers, four head coaches and two starting quarterbacks. This continuity has served the team well, with 21 winning seasons, 19 playoff appearances (including a franchise record of eight in a row) and two Super Bowl championships.
This offseason, though, has brought significant change to the organization, starting with Brian Gutekunst replacing Ted Thompson as GM. In addition, Head Coach Mike McCarthy made more changes to his coaching staff than he has in any previous offseason. He brought Joe Philbin back as offensive coordinator, and hired Mike Pettine as defensive coordinator. They both have strong backgrounds as successful coordinators and former head coaches. In all, Mike McCarthy hired five new coaches, and six coaches from the previous staff have new titles.
We also made some important changes on the business side of the organization. Ed Policy was promoted to chief operating officer and general counsel. He will take on some of the responsibilities that I relinquished as a result of taking on more responsibility in football. Jason Wahlers was promoted to vice president of communications. Finally, Charlie Millerwise was hired as our director of development and hospitality. Charlie has been with Delaware North for a number of years, and served as Delaware North's general manager of their operations here at Lambeau Field.
There is always risk involved when you make changes to an organization, especially one that has been successful, but I sense tremendous excitement in the building about the changes. It is now up to all of us to ensure that these changes result in improvement on the field.
Now, on to your questions ...
John from Janesville, WI
Who do you think will win the Super Bowl this year?
I know that the Patriots are big favorites, and not many people give the Eagles a chance to win, but I think the Eagles will win. The Eagles are extremely talented, especially on defense, and come into the game with great confidence after easily handling the Vikings. I think they will be able to pressure Brady with their front four, and should be able to run the ball well enough to keep the ball away from the Patriots' offense. If it's a close game at the end, though, I would not bet against Brady.
Jim from Bailey's Harbor, WI
Why did you decide to have the head coach report to you rather than the GM? The system of having a strong GM with final authority on key football decisions seems to have worked well for us.
Great question, Jim. A key factor in my thought process was to improve communication within football. I felt that, over time, silos had developed within football operations and communication had suffered. Also, I wanted to create a structure that gave Brian the best chance to succeed. By narrowing his responsibilities (several of the GM's responsibilities were shifted to Russ Ball, including salary cap management and contract negotiations), it allows him to focus on the most important aspects of his job, the draft and determining the 90- and 53-man rosters. As I came to the end of the search process, I realized how important it was to keep both Brian and Russ with us. I determined that having both of them (as well as Mike) report to me would help us achieve this objective. Finally, all organizations evolve over time and I believe this change will help us improve as we move forward.
Steve from New Britain, CT
Dear Mr. Murphy,
When you spoke about breaking down silos, I know you were speaking metaphorically. But which kind of silos were you talking about, ICBM silos or grain silos? ICBM silos protect our turf and point dangerous objects much like pointing fingers, which is why I thought you meant ICBM silos. While grain silos are often independent standing structures, they usually only explode if the grain dust inside them ignites due to static electricity. Can you clarify what you meant by using the phrase knocking down silos? Since many people envision that you meant grain silos I thought it appropriate to directly ask the source.
Well, Steve, you certainly know a lot more about silos than I do. I didn't even know there were different types of silos. Since we live here in Wisconsin with a strong agricultural economy, I would have to say the silos are grain silos.
Tommy from Paramus, NJ
Hello Mark, do you think Jerry Kramer will be inducted into the Pro Football HOF? Also, do you feel his induction is way overdue?
I sure hope so, Tommy. I do think he is very deserving of this honor. He has been a finalist 11 times now, and I know it has been very frustrating for him to come that close that many times. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for Jerry. I know being inducted would mean so much to him, and he is fortunately still able to appreciate and enjoy this honor.
Keith from Lincoln, IL
When the Packers don't make the Super Bowl, do you allow yourself to be a fan during the game? If so, who do you tend to cheer for? Is it strictly the NFC representative? Or, is it the team with the most personal connection for you? Just curious.
I've been very fortunate, Keith, to be able to attend every Super Bowl since I started working with the Packers over 10 years ago. I'm definitely a fan of the game, and love to watch it played at the highest level. Quite honestly, though, I usually root for a close game, rather than a specific team (I guess, technically, you could say that I always root for the team that's behind). I know that a close game is good for the league since the ratings are typically higher for competitive, close games. Last year's game, the first Super Bowl to go into overtime, was one of the best games I've ever watched in person.