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Blaming Thompson For Early Exit Is Misguided

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Blaming Thompson For Early Exit Is Misguided

I've noticed a recurring theme coming up again and again when reading about and discussing the Packers season and, more importantly, theories as to why they are not still playing. Many arguments made both by fans and media alike seem to place the blame for the struggles on the defensive side of the ball squarely on the shoulders of Ted Thompson. (I recognize the offense is just as much to blame for the Packers' early exit from the playoffs, but most criticism I've seen has centered on the defensive struggles the Packers had this season. I touch on the offense a bit later on.)

True to form, the comments section on this post about Thompson being named Executive of the Year by the Sporting News quickly devolved into a match pitting the "Blame Thompson" crowd versus the Thompson defenders.

But it's not just fans who are blaming Thompson - both Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press Gazette and Bob McGinn of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel have gone-in pretty heavily against Thompson for his part in the defense's collapse. (To be fair, McGinn is a bit more judicious about spreading the blame around, but he certainly lets Thompson have it.)

While I understand, as I'm sure Thompson does, that more could have been done last summer to bolster the defense, to say Thompson "failed" to address the defense is a narrow way of thinking and one that no general manager should get caught up in. Remember when Ron Wolf, reeling from the pain caused by a rookie wide receiver in Minnesota terrorizing his defense, went out and drafted three defensive backs with his first three draft picks the following year? One out of three of those picks worked out. Meanwhile, his offense continued to deteriorate for lack of playmakers to help out his superstar quarterback. Oh, and that receiver in Minnesota kept right on terrorizing the Packers' defense.

Thompson trusts his draft board and took players in last April's draft that he felt were good value for where they were picked. We can play "He should have drafted Brooks Reed" until the cows come home. The fact remains that the Packers won 15 games in 2011 because they had an incredible offense and an opportunistic defense. No, Thompson didn't do much to bolster the pass rush, but he also didn't reach for anyone or throw picks away needlessly in a vain attempt to manufacture  help for Clay Matthews. That's what you want from a general manager, someone who sticks to his board and collects good football players. Save for the rare exception (see: Elmore, Ricky) Thompson did that last April and will most likely do the same thing in a few months.

Look, I understand people are mad and need to blame someone, but as I wrote shortly after the Packers lost to the Giants, the championship window remains wide open for the Packers. This is due not only to what Thompson has done but also what he has NOT done. People point to his letting Cullen Jenkins go - what he did not do was overreact to the loss by going out and signing some washed up veteran. Last year, when everyone and their brother was screaming for Thompson to trade for Marshawn Lynch, Thompson held firm with what he had, signed Dimitri Nance off Atlanta's practice squad and didn't waste a valuable draft pick. Oh, and his team ended up winning the Super Bowl.

One other thing that bothers me when talk of Thompson's "failure" to address the defense is the complete lack of acknowledgement of how badly many of the defensive players regressed in 2011. Yes, the team missed Cullen Jenkins. But Jenkins' absence did not make Tramon Williams regress harshly. Jenkins' absence did not render Howard Green an ineffectual blob. And yes, B.J. Raji missed Jenkins' presence inside - but it certainly didn't lead to his close-to-constant inability to win one-on-one matchups on early downs. Jenkins leaving town didn't cause Sam Shields to shy away from contact almost every time it was on offer.

No one Thompson would have drafted or signed would have fixed those issues.

What's interesting to me is how people are so quick to blame what Thompson "should" have done, with the complete benefit of hindsight - which we all know is 20/20. Many seem to completely absolve defensive coordinator Dom Capers of responsibility, the popular phrase being "he just didn't have the players."

Nonsense.

Heading into the Divisional playoff game, I called for Capers to go into attack mode against Eli Manning and the Giants' offense. Everyone and their uncle knew the Packers defense was porous heading into that game. My thinking was simply: If you're going to go down, go down fighting.

As we all know now, Capers went the exact opposite way.

From Bob McGinn:

Dom Capers apparently figured he might as well rush just four and often times just three in hopes Manning would become impatient and throw into crowds. But given time to pat and then pat the ball on dropback after dropback, he drilled accurate shots to gifted, sure-handed wide receivers.

The problem was that after the receivers caught the ball, the Packers proved true to form and were the lousy tacklers that they had been all year long.

I understand wanting to "play coverage" against an experienced quarterback, but Capers went to an unacceptable extreme against the Giants. And I wonder if Desmond Bishop's near interception on the first drive of the game, when Manning did exactly what McGinn suggests above by becoming impatient and trying to fit a ball into a tight end who was well covered, led to some false hope on Capers' part.

What distresses me more about Capers' approach against the Giants is that the lone turnover his defense did produce came, you guessed it, on a blitz, when Desmond Bishop sliced through the middle of the offensive line and laid a lick on Manning which caused his pass to sail into the arms of Morgan Burnett.

But despite that promising turn of events, Capers rarely went back to that type of pressure call, settling instead on his completely ineffectual four and three man rushes.

Is Capers or the defense completely to blame? Of course not. The defense held the Giants without a single first down for the entire third quarter of that game and the offense was never able to capitalize, due to fumbles and dropped passes - which, incidentally, had nothing to do with Capers or Thompson. You could, as some fans have done, point the finger of blame at McCarthy for how he chose to sit players the last week of the season, but last I checked John Kuhn and Ryan Grant, whose fumbles absolutely killed the Packers' chances against the Giants, didn't sit out that Week 17 game against the Lions. Sometimes, teams just don't show up and the Packers' offense certainly didn't that January Sunday.

All of which is to say I have a hard time with the argument that Ted Thompson "failed" the Packers in 2011. No general manager is going to build a perfect team, let alone a perfect team from year to year, in today's NFL. The best ones build a contender and make the moves they deem prudent from offseason to offseason, always with the longterm good of the team foremost in their mind. That's what Thompson does, and Packers fans should be thrilled that's the way he operates.

Teams like the Steelers, the Patriots and, up until this year, the Colts figured this out some time ago. The trick is not to load up for "a run." (see: The Eagles) You want to be consistently good with a chance to win a championship every year, and that is where Thompson has brought the Packers.  Sure, you'll have seasons where you exit early from the playoffs or even lose in the Championship game, but overall the team has a chance to get to the Super Bowl each and every year. Look at the Patriots for an example of this. The Belichick and Brady combo had started taking a lot of heat for their early playoff exits the last two years and now, lo and behold, they are back in the Super Bowl.

That's what you want. A consistent winner who has a chance to win a championship every year. Yes, Thompson has holes to fill and he will do so, mostly using the draft and by having his coaching staff develop the guys already on his squad. Maybe this is the year he takes a look at a second-tier free agent or two, but I'm not holding my breath.

I don't care how you spin it, a man who constructed a team that went 15-2 isn't a "failure." The season did not end the way we would have liked, but many coaches, players and front office folks played a part in that disappointing end.

Blaming Thompson alone is shortsighted and misguided.

 

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CSS's picture

But Nagler, somebody has to pay. There's no way that loss could have happened as a byproduct of multiple factors and poorly timed execution when it mattered most. I like to simplify my scape-goats and manifest my irrational anger in someone tangible. Therefore, Ted Thompson failed to draft all the players I now know were productive from the 08', 09', 10' and 11' drafts (and I was saying so at the time, no I won't tell you where I said so at the time). Ted sucks, 11' Packers suck, suck sucks.

Ken's picture

Haha, while you were writing this, Ted mapped out the 6th round in his head.

Idiot Fan's picture

[In Homer's voice]: They're the suckiest bunch of sucks that ever sucked suck!

PackersRS's picture

You forgot the !!!!!!1111!

Ken's picture

Good read.

Thank you for pointing out the Steelers approach. If you throw enough darts at the center of the board and make the playoffs each year, you'll eventually hit some bulls-eyes.

Richard Chang's picture

Easy to blame defense 'cause they regressed in '11, but the Packers could easily be playing right now if they didn't turn the ball over against the Giants.

EP66's picture

You're correct on the turnovers which should included the drops on 3rd down.

Richard Chang's picture

I have faith in Ted

jack in jersey city's picture

wasn't it charles woodson who said the problem was "personnel" when addressing the failure of the defense this season?

packeraaron's picture

It was indeed. I talked about that in my season-ending grades: http://bit.ly/AB6KK6

CSS's picture

He did. But I wonder what his explanation is as to why 9 of 11 starters returned from last years top 10 defense and managed to regress to the bottom 1/3rd in almost every meaningful category while the offense elevated it's game to almost the top of every meaningful category.

Sounds a bit more complex than 'personnel'.

PackersRS's picture

Woodson said the same thing in 08.

Back then it was the lack of veteran players.

He seemed to be pretty happy in 09 winning the DPOY.

Players play. Managers manage.

Paul T Dier's picture

Good read. The loss against the Giants was a total team failure. Singling out one person on this team to blame is foolish. Sure our defense could have played better throughout the year, but we won 15/16 of games during the regular season. We just picked the wrong week to play our worst game of the year

TedTheSledge's picture

Since it was 32 NFL exec's and coaches that voted maybe a factor I'm not seeing mentioned in TT's getting the award is how well the organization navigated the lockout. To go from a SB winning team who spent 141 million in the uncapped year to a team that had to cut many veteran players to drop down to the reinstituted cap of 120 mil (with 6.4 mill left over to boot) and still managed a 15-1 regular season and NFC #1 seed in a shortened offseason to me is impressive.

Tough decisions made in 2011 look to yield 4 compensatory picks in 2012 which for a young talented team is icing on the cake. The additional 6 million leftover from 2011 that will be rolled to the 2012 cap will help in keeping their core players signed.

There are many teams around the league that did not navigate this timeframe as well as GB did. It's too early to project which teams "won" the transitional period but the Pack did as well as anybody even if the outcome fell short of a return to the SB.

packeraaron's picture

Excellent points.

Rocky70's picture

Finishing 15-1 in the regular season is great. Finishing 15-1 in the regular season & then going 1 & out with HFA throughout is NOT so great.

Slant your analysis any direction you wish. In my book, the buck still stops on TT's desk. Personnel & playmkers are the key. It's always been this way in the NFL. Always will be.

BPA ?? That's a good one. Watch how TT drafts just about all defense in the 2012 draft, then try to use the BPA line.

I've always supported TT. I just don't believe he ascended from the heavens like some do.

packeraaron's picture

I didn't think it was possible to completely miss the point of a post. You have proven me wrong. Kudos.

Rocky70's picture

Sorry, but your post is all over the map. It's difficult to pinpoint what you consider to be the point.

You obviously are another TT neophite created after SB 45. You weren't before SB 45.

packeraaron's picture

Actually, been defending Thompson from hostile Packers fans for years.

Just one of many, many posts like this for your enjoyment: http://cheeseheadtv.com/blog/a-window-into-thompsons-thinking

As to "the point" of the post - it's much more complicated than "It's all Thompson's fault." In fact, if you'll read it again, I INCLUDE Thompson in the group that should be blamed. Because everybody deserves part of the blame for this team not playing in the Super Bowl this year.

Rocky70's picture

The buck still stops on TT's desk. Hell, my guess is TT would say the same. "I'm responsible & need to do a better job."

murphy's picture

NO. Ted Thompson needs to apologize to the owners! I want someone to blame, dammit. My stock value hasn't gone up at all!

But seriously...

Who wants to bet that Rocky would be a "another TT neophite(sic)" if the Pack was playing this Sunday?

Idiot Fan's picture

I don't know, I'd say the title sums up the point pretty well.

PackersRS's picture

Actually, it's not.

It seems to me that you are the only one who has this persistent difficulty in getting other people's messages.

It's probably everyone else, though.

CSS's picture

"I just don’t believe he ascended from the heavens like some do."

Do you understand how this is a complete strawman? No article, no comment and no individual I'm aware of have made any such statement or even come close to implying such.

"In my book, the buck still stops on TT’s desk."

Personnel and playmakers were even deeper on the offensive side of the ball this year than in the SB. 9 of 11 starters returned from last years defense.

McCarthy adjusted poorly to Finley being jammed at the line of scrimmage. 'Playmakers' dropped 8 balls. RB's that never fumble turned the ball over 2 times, with a 3rd coming from a QB that never fumbles. Capers sat in coverage when it clearly wasn't working.

But the loss falls squarely at TT's desk? Did he do enough to provide defensive line depth from last years squad? No. But one loss in the playoffs is all on the man that wasn't even playing or coaching?

Wow...

Mojo's picture

If you would have told me two years ago that the Pack would win a SB, then go 15-2 the next year, I would have taken it in a second. Also, that they would have one of the youngest rosters with a stud QB double-digit draft choices, decent cap-space and about a five+ year window to win championships with the current key players(This doesn't mean the window can't be longer if the coaching and personnel moves continue to be strong, i.e. see the Patriots).

I too was disappointed that they didn't win this year. As someone who was behind the draft and develop philosophy of TT from the beginning, I found myself surprisingly questioning (at the beginning of this year)why he didn't resign Jenkins(don't give me too old and injury prone - see Clifton). But after looking at the mess the D was this year, I'm not sure Jenkins would have been enough. Something was askew almost from the beginning. I think TT shares in some of the blame, but in a game that in great-part depends on the want and desire of players to win, I found it somewhat lacking by the D this year.

Anyway IMO, TT greatly turned around what could have been a disaster (the Sherman GM era with its poor player selection and cap management), has won a SB and made GB into one of the best run and well positioned teams for years to come. I don't absolve him totally for how this year ended, but the overall picture looks very bright to me, in large part to TT.

Idiot Fan's picture

Yes Yes Yes.

Idiot Fan's picture

"I’ve always supported TT."

If you can't support him after winning the Super Bowl a year ago and going 15-2 this year, when have you supported him?

TedTheSledge's picture

ASCENDED from the heavens???

Doesn't ascend mean to rise? You probably meant descended unless you are a Satanist and believe the netherworld is actually heaven.

I don't get the whole thing with taking such a literal view of BPA. Just means an effort not to reach for a specific position based on a perceived urgent need when there are better players available at other positions that may also need some attention.

Jack's picture

"I’ve always supported TT. I just don’t believe he ascended from the heavens like some do."

TT didn't "ascend" from the heavens; he DESCENDED from them.

Jer's picture

I don't know of a single person who looked at the Packers roster before week 1 and said "Wow, is this defense going to suck".

Nearly every player on defense played considerably worse than they did last year. I certainly don't blame Thompson for thinking he had a winning defense before the season started. We all did.

lebowski's picture

I remember thinking prior to the season that with Woodson, Tramon, Shields, Collins, Burnett, and capable backups Peprah, Bush, and House, this secondary would be the best in the league by far. To a man they were either hurt or regressed.

cow42's picture

"One other thing that bothers me when talk of Thompson's "failure" to address the defense is the complete lack of acknowledgement of how badly many of the defensive players regressed in 2011."

But wasn't it TT who acquired all of those players who regressed?

No- I didn't see the collapse coming... but I'm not an NFL GM... Thompson is.

People can blame anyone they want... because EVERYONE is to blame. If someone wants to blame TT, they have every right to. If someone else wants to blame Capers, go right ahead.

We're talking about quite possibly the WORST LOSS IN PACKER HISTORY.

People can be pissed at whomever the hell the want.

packeraaron's picture

Of course they can. Doesn't mean their anger isn't misdirected.

CSS's picture

Reading is hard.....

cow42's picture

please explain to me what you think i missed.

cow42's picture

So by "misdirected" you mean "wrong".
Your website, I guess.

Chad Toporski's picture

Like it or not, some opinions are just better than others.

(And by "better" I mean "more substantive"...)

cow42's picture

who's fault is it that the defense doesn't have enough good players to be effective?

packeraaron's picture

You mean the defense that has way more individual talent on it than the Patriots' D that is playing in the Super Bowl?

Bob's picture

Be where you are supposed to be, do your job. I find it hard to believe Capers spent a year with Belichick and allowed the nonsense that went on in the secondary. I agree 100% with the defense in that game, they should have blitzed 5,6, or even 7 and played tight man coverage.

Mojo's picture

The 'WORST LOSS IN PACKER HISTORY" or like crap always confuses me. So if the Packers were say, 12-4 in the regular season, and lost in the first round, that would be better?

To me the worst loss was to Denver in the SB. The loss to the Giant in the NFCC game a few years ago ranks higher to me. I could pick out a hundred other losses from their long history when the Pack were not even competitive. Those losses were worse to me because, at times I wondered if they ever would turn the corner. I don't worry about that in the present.

I guess I wasn't as upset about this years loss as I was with others, because at about half-way through the season I reasoned the Packs D wasn't going allow the Pack to win three straight in the playoffs. In that they finished 15 and 1 was a pleasant surprise to me, but I didn't view this team as the strongest in the NFL. If they could have pulled of another SB victory, I would have been very pleased, but because I had been resigned to them losing in the play-offs I wasn't devastated.

I will be disappointed if they don't fix the obvious holes in the D and don't take advantage of this great O.

Worst loss ever - not even close.

cow42's picture

15-1.

HFA.

Chance to do something precious few teams ever have (back to back).

Vs. a 9-7 team... one and done.

Could have gone down as a LEGENDARY team and season.

Instead lost by 17.

No regular season win can qualify. So we can only look at playoff games.

4th & 26? Nope - on the road. that wasn't a Super bowl team anyhow.

Favre's pick vs. giants? Nope - at least that was in the conference championship game.

Super bowl vs. Denver? possibly - but, again, at least that was in the sb.

jmac34's picture

first playoff loss at home vs Atlanta is the worst for me

Mojo's picture

In response to Cow's response:

15-1. (Nice record, but so what. Once they lost to KC it became very good but not epic)

HFA.

Chance to do something precious few teams ever have (back to back). (You mean like the Pack already did in the first two SB's)?

Vs. a 9-7 team… one and done. (Team was 10-7 when we played them, they currently have won five in a row play-off type games. Sound familiar (like last years 8-6 Pack before they got on a roll).

Could have gone down as a LEGENDARY team and season. (You can say that for every team that wins the SB).

Instead lost by 17. (One point or 17, doesn't matter much to me)

No regular season win can qualify. So we can only look at playoff games. (You mean loss?)

4th & 26? Nope – on the road. that wasn’t a Super bowl team anyhow. (Not what a lot of experts thought)

Favre’s pick vs. giants? Nope – at least that was in the conference championship game. (So the further you go in the play-offs the less it hurts?)

Super bowl vs. Denver? possibly – but, again, at least that was in the sb. (Personally, from a disappointment standpoint I'd rather be out of it in week 9 than lose in week 19. It's like getting to third-base with Sue-Ellen and then having her put the clamps down on the whole operation. It's best just to not get started in the first place.)

Cow, I think you have a lot of legitimate observances but I don't agree with you on this one, I just don't see this being the worst-ever Packer loss. If it were the last chance for years to come, then it would move up the list, but I don't see that happening.

packeraaron's picture

Wait - so the bigger the stakes, the LESS important the game becomes?

That's a new one.

Lumpy Gravy's picture

Some individuals are even more irrational than humans typically are; for them, the last loss of the season is the worst in franchise history (until, of course, the next season-ending loss).

PackersRS's picture

Cow:

You've proven you're very capable of having an intelligent discussion without resorting to shouting and infantile rethoric.

It takes away from any rational point you try to make.

cow42's picture

the quote that got so much attention here was...

"We’re talking about quite possibly the WORST LOSS IN PACKER HISTORY."

please note the words QUITE and POSSIBLY.

everyone has their own "worst loss".
but i do think that everyone can agree this one at least belongs in any discussion on the matter.

also - there were a lot of bad players on the defensive side of the ball this year. whether they were productive players who regressed (ex. shields), back-up players who couldn't produce (ex. peprah), or so-called "studs" who had bad years (ex. raji) the truth of the matter is they just played bad.

the man in charge of supplying the team with talent is tt.
the title of this article intimates (in my opinion) that to put any blame on tt for this horrible loss is wrong.

i completely disagree with that.

is he fully to blame? no.
does he deserve blame? hell - f'n - YES.

aside from it's very last sentence, this article almost "absolves" tt of any wrong-doing.

i think he deserves harsher treatment for this defensive debacle than a simple "hey, no gm can build a perfect team".

he's got a lot of work to do right now.

lots of people are saying how the "championship window" is still wide open .

don't be so sure.
things can change fast.

no way around the fact that not getting to the sb this year was a gigantic opportunity missed.

Rocky70's picture

I hear ya.

Teams have been known to go into the crapper almost overnight. IMO, TT lost a year in building a better "D" because he ignored any new talent before season 2011. Now he has to make up for lost time. One offseason just simply may not be enough. This just isn't a concern of a few posters here. If one expands their sources of Packer opinion, many knowledgeable people are concerned that GB may be destined for a down year in 2012.

Amazingly, there is a niche of fans who are walking around with that 'incessant smile' on their face who still think Wynn, Wilson, Green, Neal, Zombo, B. Jones, Walden, So'oto, Peprah, AJ, an aging Woody, a completely healed NC, & G. Harrell (just the thought scares me) will lead GB to SB 47.

Season 2012 may be a bump in the road that is difficult for some to handle.

Lumpy Gravy's picture

So when it's convenient, you cite only the title of this article, rather than its contents, where it is quite clearly stated that Thompson is far from immune to criticism.

When the discourse has explicitly deteriorated to the point that select words and phrases are cited -- as opposed to actual points and arguments -- hope for any sort of resolution, or at least mutual understanding, is pretty well lost.

cow42's picture

"...where it is quite clearly stated that Thompson is far from immune to criticism."

other than the last sentence of the article - please show me where this is the case.

i just re-read the entire post. nowhere did i find anything "clearly state" that thompson is far from immune.

packeraaron's picture

"other than the last sentence of the article..."

Which is still part of the article, no?

Look, in no way am I saying Ted is blameless.But the last two weeks have been, on balance, Blame It All On Ted - which I find absurd. I am pushing back on that meme, hence , yes, the majority of the post is in defense of Thompson. His misteps have been pretty well covered. The whole point is - even WITH those missteps, his team won 15 games. They played their worst game of the year - NOT just the defense, the whole team - at the worst possible time. That's on everyone, players, coaches, etc. It certainly isn't on Thompson alone. That is beyond absurd.

cow42's picture

oh - and here are some "points" for you.

the 2011-12 Packer defense... the one that tt acquired the players for, mind you... was HISTORICALLY BAD.

like HISTORY OF THE FREAKIN' NFL bad.

like SETTING RECORDS FOR BEING BAD bad.

forget about my "discourse". you know what really "explicitly deteriorated" this past season? how 'bout every fricking layer of defense wearing green and gold.

Lumpy Gravy's picture

"But wasn’t it TT who acquired all of those players who regressed?"

Did you point out that it was Ted who acquired these players when they were 13-0? Or did you praise their execution and the coaching staff's ability to develop their talent?

cow42's picture

you obviously don't know me very well.
everyone on this blog knows i'm always going to find something to complain about.

"Did you point out that it was Ted who acquired these players when they were 13-0? Or did you praise their execution and the coaching staff’s ability to develop their talent?"

regarding the defense, i did neither. i was complaining about how historically bad they were. none of the defensive players or coaches deserve any sort of praise for their putrid performance this season. and i think every defensive player on the team would agree with me.

Rocky70's picture

Per AR when accepting his MVP.

"We probably need to add a few pieces to get back to the Super Bowl, but I have a lot of faith in Ted Thompson and his people."

Woody recently said GB needs "better personnel'.

Cow ---- you have very little chance of convincing most here that the lack of talent & playmakers on the "D" could become an enormous issue in 2012. However, it is nice to know that the two leaders of the Pack are well aware of team needs & aren't afraid to express themselves.

No offense to anyone here but this place is not much more than a "Packer Glee Club".

packeraaron's picture

Interesting that Woodson wanted "better personnel" after the playoff loss to the Cardinals as well. Thompson drafted well, didn't sign any free agents and his team went out and won the Super Bowl.

There's a reason he's the GM and the players are the players.

As for the notion that CHTV is a "Packers Glee Club" - yes, we like the Packers. Unlike "fans" like you and Cow who somehow can only seemingly be invested in the team if you are somehow assigning blame. I can love the Packers and criticize them too, but I prefer a little more nuance than "It's all Ted's fault."

Rocky70's picture

You call it placing blame. Many others call it analyzing the entire picture.

I have nothing against TT. I genuinely believe he needs to be more flexible & bolder. This window may not stay open as long as some think.

jmac34's picture

Some of the blame has to go to Thompson for not improving some areas on the defense that needed improving (I.E ROLB). But a majority of the blame for the blame for the Giants game has to go to the offense since they kept giving the Giants the ball in short field position and they kept shooting themselves in the foot. Lets not forget the defense gave the offense an entire quarter to seize momentum which they completly failed to do.
P.S Capers sending only three multiple times was the definition of insanity.

fish/crane's picture

First it's James Starks, now Ted Thompson.

I agree, Thompson's three(4) fumbles and eight dropped passes killed us. Surely he is to blame, and like Lou in Parenthood said,
He had no business being out there!" http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mXOtZqsekV8

fish/crane's picture

...wait a minute...I don't think Thompson actually touches the ball during games.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Aaaahaha... " Jenkins' absence did not render Howard Green an ineffectual blob."... Maybe my favorite thing I've ever read on here.

Agree with your whole piece, top to bottom, therefore your take on this is correct.

... Blob... Lmfao

GBP 4 LIFE

Pointer-Jeff's picture

Anyone who has played the game, myself included on the high school and college level knows that football is a game of emoitions. If you go out to be tough, and whip the guys accross from it is contagious. You intimidate the opponent. The Packers were a soft team and the Giants were the bully. They were soft all year and probably prior to that. Their leaders on the team are the ones who can change that....if they have the mind set to do so.

Bearmeat's picture

Excellent post Aaron. However, I will nitpick with one point I think you overlooked:

TT was responsible for not hedging his bet with RDE and ROLB. Counting on a laundry list of unproven players is risky. TT SHOULD have either resigned Jenkins, taken a high DL or OLB in the draft, or gotten a mid tier FA that could have done the job adequately if his young players got hurt or regressed.

TT is a savant when it comes to the draft. But, in the relatively rare occasions that he misses in the draft, he has not a single answer. I wish he would learn this.

We all knew going into the playoffs that if GB was going to win it all, it would be because of an explosive offense and some timely turnovers. Since that was exactly what didn't happen, IMO the offense is 1/2 responsible for losing the divisional playoff game. Between TT, MM and the Defensive coaches and players - that's the other 1/2.

MikeM's picture

While watching Eli sit in the pocket for 8 seconds I wished we still had Jenkins, but TT stuck to the script by letting him walk. He generally is just not going to re-sign a guy who's 30+. He did have a contingency plan in place for Jenkins in Neal/Wynn/Wilson. Did they fill in well enough this year? No, but for the future of the team it was probably the right move.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

" TT SHOULD have either resigned Jenkins, taken a high DL or OLB in the draft".

I fail to see how taking a high defensive player would have helped our defense. Where did that get Johnny?

Sorry. Had to.

Bearmeat's picture

I said either a higher DL/OLB or a mid level FA or resign Jenkins.

TT did none of the above. That's what bugs me.

Counting on Neal alone was beyond risky, and we all knew it last summer. We already suspected that the cadre of Wilson/Wynn/Walden/Zombo/Jones would probably not ascend to anything past decent starter level. And that was pushing it.

All I'm saying is that IMO TT went 'all in' when he had other options to hedge his bet once the draft board didn't go his way for DE/OLB.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

T'was a poor attempt at a drug joke. I got what u meant.

Bearmeat's picture

I was actually referring to MikeM. I got what you meant Fitz :)

PackersRS's picture

I was going to make a subsequent joke regarding the use of codein to help cope with personal losses but then I figured it would've been of poor taste...

stevehj's picture

Not sure why we need to identify blame. Will it make any difference who is to blame? The reality to me is that they need to get better. The folks directly responsible for ensuring they get better are Thompson, McCarthy, and Capers. I hope they succeed. Even if they don't get better, I will back the Pack come hell or high water. I felt good after games fifteen weeks this year and as much as I wanted them to go all the way, with such a porous defense, I never was confident they would go all the way. Nonetheless, it was a pretty enjoyable year and I'm looking forward to the next.

Ruppert's picture

This was a great read. A couple things I thought of...

I don't research the NFL draft much. I watch NFLN and the 4-letter networks, so I know who the higher draft picks are through osmosis. But I'm not sure I know who the hell Brooks Reed is, aside from a name that revisionists can suddenly look to as a reason to point out a failure by Ted Thompson. Stop it, whoever you are. I never heard of the guy until we lost to the Giants.

And I do personally find it hard to blame Thompson for players' regression. Yeah, of course Thompson acquired them. But when they've been here for at least a year, regression is squarely on the shoulders of the player, and to a lesser extent the coaches.

I think roster size has as much to do with parity/lack of depth these days as the salary cap. We don't have enough roster spots for dedicated backup safeties and several dedicated special teams players, so Thompson has to find a compromise in a guy like Charlie Peprah. Same with Jarrett Bush. If we had more spots, we'd be developing several d backs over the years, and those guys would never see the field as defenders. But we don't. So there is Charlie and Jarrett flailing at passes and guys with the ball in their hands as they run by.

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

Rupp, Reed was a stud DE at Arizona whom many 'experts' thought would translate smoothly to OLB in the pros (Kevin Greene loved the kid), they were right, had a solid rookie campaign with Houston. I was all over this place calling for the kid well before the draft (much like Jerry Hughes the year before). But, it didn't happen. I was fine with the Sherrod pick, made sense, but not gonna lie, I was hoping to hear Reed at 32.

GBP 4 LIFE

FITZCORE1252's EVO's picture

For the record, I wasn't clamoring for Reed because the experts told me to, I watch quite a bit of Pac-12 football... You could just tell he would look good in G&G.

Ruppert's picture

Okay, fair enough. I don't watch Pac 12 that much being in the eastern time zone.

PackersRS's picture

I can attest to that. Very true.

Though I have to say, Houston plays a completely different 3-4 than we do. Phillips uses a very simple scheme. His OLBs are no more than standing up DEs.

Reed played forward 95% of the time (much like Aldon Smith). He wouldn't have been more than a situational pass rusher in GB.

Not saying he couldn't have been a great player in here, neither that he wouldn't have made the difference. But it's unfair to look at Reed's production in Houtson and simply translate it to GB.

CSS's picture

How good would J.J. Watt make Walden, Zombo or So'oto look? Not dismissing Reed, but Watt may already be the premier all-around 5-technique in the NFL.

PackersRS's picture

A lot. I mean A LOT. What I beast. It's not in my nature to brag (yeah right), but I called that. He was the guy I wanted to see TT moving up to get. Not Peterson, not Amukamara, not any OT or OLB. JJ Watt.

And I'm not a Badger fan.

CSS's picture

I thought he would be 'good'. I didn't think he would be All-Pro caliber with his play getting better week-over-week. Rare bird.

Oppy's picture

I know you're all thinkin' it, so imma just go right ahead an' spit it out for the world to hear:

FIRE

TED

THOMPSON

not NOW, like... YESTERDAY

Bearmeat's picture

lol

PackersRS's picture
Barutan Seijin's picture

I agree, and henceforth will never criticise TT because to do so would amount to using my amazing powers of hindsight to unfair advantage.

I will also cease criticism of Tom Braatz & Mike Sherman. The poor guys have been bludgeoned by hindsighters for years. It's so unfair.

PackersRS's picture
Outlaw7583's picture

As Aaron pointed out hindsight is 20/20, what TT, McCarthy and many fans thought to be the answer to losing Jenkins was Mike Neal. Even Jenkins said in a tweet when a fan asked what the Packers was gonna do at DE is "Neal is gonna be a beast" sometimes things don't go the way you thought. He has obviously shown potential to have such wide spread praise it just didn't translate. Maybe with staying healthy and an offseason he can become what everyone expected

Don Hutson's picture

The injuries suffered by a number of key defensive players in 2011 seemed to have hit the packers more systematically than the MASH-up of the 2010 season. I don't think Neal was near to 100% ever in 2011, Williams was probably protecting his shoulder much of the year, who knows what the lingering physical and psychological impact of their SB injuries had on Sam Shields or on Woodson's play style last year, and all this against the nature of Collins injury, and even Burnett's hand issues. Throw in the demands put on CM3 and Raji vs. the amount of clock time they played all year, the lingering effect of mid-season leg injuries for both our interior linebackers, and the lack of productiion opposite Mathews for whatever variety of reasons; it is amazing the Packer defense even showed-up vs. the Giants in January.

It really is difficult to time your peaks in the modern NFL, which adds to the overall dificulty with repeating. The conference play-off round was clearly not a peak for either O or D for the Packers, and injury timing seemed to have a lot to do with both. 2012 is another year, raise a glass or two to a healthier one physically and mentally.

Corporate cheesehead's picture

One comment and two questions to consider. Comment: love this blog... It's like chicken soup for my packer soul after a rough end to the season.

Q1: What type of defense are the pack's cb's best in: man to man coverage or three man rush/zone? The difference in the defense between the sb season and this one was Capers played more zone coverage this year due to a lack of a pass rush. The pack have good man up corners, but they struggle in zone, especially without Collins.

Q2: What's the quickest way to fix this - get new corners/safeties, a new scheme with a new coordinator with a change in the roster or get a pass rush from the DL/LBs? I'm hoping TT goes with better options at OLB/DL. he's the person who can best fix this the quickest.

CSS's picture

I can only give my opinion on the last item: Quarterback pressure covers all manner of sin. I believe they have the diversity and athletes in the back 7 to play either man, press-man or any manner of zone and provide competent coverage for 4, even 5 seconds. In their defense, they were asked to sit in a WR's pocket for 5+ seconds all season. Nobody makes a living on an island for that long.

You can count on one hand how many NFL quarterbacks play any level of consistent football when you force them to move the pocket, and I don't include Brees or Brady among them. They give you opportunities to pick the ball when you don't allow them to step into a pocket and make either move.

Back 7 personnel are good enough to win championships, the ability of the Packers to force the pocket to move (sacks are overrated) will limit this defense.

True 5-techniques are very, very rare. I'm locking to TT to place a premium on the Mike Neal/Cullen Jenkins body type that can get vertical and pressure out of the 3 gap in nickle. Those are available in the draft.

My 2 cents.

Oppy's picture

I'm not suggesting anyone bank on this guy, but as far as getting that "Cullen Jenkins body type that can get vertical and pressure out of the 3 gap in the nickle", TT already pulled in what he hopes will be that diamond in the rough.

His name is Lawrence Guy.

Take a look at his measurables and stack them right next to Cullen Jenkins. They could be identical twins on paper.

Yes, Guy is a long shot, a project player... But, guess who else was and took the long road to the NFL? Cullen Jenkins.

CSS, I think you are exactly right about what TT needs to go about getting- it's just that you missed the fact he's already been doing the shopping ;)

CSS's picture

I didn't miss that at all. Just saying you can count the difference making 5-technique's on less than one hand in the draft. You can find effective, even dominant nickle rushers throughout the draft (though they aren't always stout against the run).

PackersRS's picture

All the corners regressed in man coverage tremenduously.

Particularly Sam Shields. Shields was beat so often in press coverage that Capers simply did not call it anymore.

I believe Capers could've done a better job, taking into account his own credentials, but he did not have an easy task.

Too many players regressed. He could not play bump because of Shields and Tramon's shoulder injury. He could not play much cover 1 because Peprah got abused constantly. His DL went MIA the whole year. The ROLB spot was up for grabs and nobody did nothing. The only one who played some good games was Walden, but after his "domestic incident", he regressed tremenduously.

It's like CSS said in the first post. It's not one thing. I know it's hard for some people to accept that there wasn't just a single factor, but it's the truth.

TT missed in not bringing Jenkins back, but to say he's responsible for the early exit is borderline insane. He built this powerhouse. And people are ready to burn him in effigy because he didn't bat 1.000.

Capers could've handled the D better, but it was no easy task. MM could've adjusted to the press coverage, but it wasn't in his playbook to drop 6 passes and fumble 3 times.

To add to it all, there was the Philbin tragedy the week before the big game.

It wasn't just one thing. It's all correctable. The immediate and long-term future is very bright. We'll win at least 2 more before Rodgers retires.

JustJeff's picture

Kudos, Aaron.

I would like your permission to copy to PN.net (along with link & full credit of course)

packeraaron's picture

Absolutely. Feel free. Thanks.

JustJeff's picture

Thanks Aaron.

I preserved/used all links.

http://packersnews.net/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?t=14706

Cheers

KennyPayne's picture

Aaron, I very much agree with your premise about Ted Thompson getting too much of the blame for the D, but when the reflexive homers/uncritical defenders of all things Ted does over at packerchatters want to co-opt your piece it does raise a red flag as to whether you may have been a little too "defensive" regarding Ted's role.

From what I've seen, The guys at packerchatters allow no constructive criticism of our favorite team while your site has always been above such mindless boosterism.

Food for thought anyway.

LoveMD's picture

I have been saying pretty much the same thing to packer fans who just cant get their mind around what winning franchises look like in the NFL these days. Nobody wins it all every year, you have to be able to deal with playoff loses some years. As long as you are consistently capable of winning a title, thats all a GM can do. We played our worst game in over a year at the wrong time. You dont win a superbowl and 19 straight without talent.

Kennypayne's picture

"Blaming" TT is really a red herring. The offense in 2011 was borderline awesome. Meanwhile, the D was scary bad. TT played a starring role in developing both.

The reasons for the D's downfall are many. Focusing solely on TT's role is ridiculous. However, it was TT who let Jenkins walk and who unwisely signed Hawk to a big new (and undeserved) contract not McCarthy, Capers, or anyone else. Thus, while TT is certainly not the only reason for the D's poor play he definitely played a key role.

Pack66's picture

Aaron,

Why don't you just blame the "FAVRE" for the Packers one and done imitation of the Saints this year..? It makes just about as much rational sense as anything else your saying here..

The funny thing is that during Favre's later years, ALL of the blame was laid on him by you guys (DON'T DENY IT), because it's true, you did blame him. Now you have guys saying that Sherman sucked as GM and Coach...to protect TT and to compare him to.

Nobody EVER answers this question...

So if Sherman and Rossley SUCKED (which they did), how was Favre supposed to be superman and win all of these SB's with those Packer teams...and now I have to laugh as I hear all of the excuses for Roders' and TT as to why it's ok that they're ONE AND DONE....

Man...the HYPOCRISY..

It's DEAFINING...

packeraaron's picture

I have said, repeatedly, that Sherman was in over his head as GM. He was a good coach who killed himself with his terrible moves as GM.

As for Favre, you've clearly never read this: http://fifthdown.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/05/why-i-still-love-brett-favre/

See, unlike you, I am able to see the world for what it is in all its complexities. I know the fact that I love Favre and admire Thompson - at the same time - blows your little pea brained mind, but trust me, grown ups have these kind of thoughts all the time.

Maybe when you grow up, you'll have them too.

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