The sting of watching his team lay a gigantic, historically awful egg in the NFL playoffs directly after watching that same team record the greatest regular season record ever in Green Bay Packers history, will not fade any time soon for general manager Ted Thompson. He is now left with a litany of decisions to make, each important, each having an impact on the fortunes of the Packers going forward.
As long as Mike McCarthy and Aaron Rodgers reside in Titletown, the Packers will remain one of the better teams in the NFL. The window for winning championships remains wide open. But as Packers fans remember only too well after watching their team fall to the Denver Broncos in the Super Bowl - just because you think your team has lots of time to get back to the ultimate game, doesn't mean they will.
Thompson, obviously, knows this. However, fans looking for a quick fix or dramatic moves will no doubt be disappointed. No Reggie White-like signing is on the horizon to bolster the anemic pass rush. No blockbuster trade is in the offing for a stud outside linebacker to pair with Clay Matthews.
No, Thompson will do as he's always done. He will deal first with his own pending free agents (Andrew Brandt has an excellent overview of the decisions awaiting Thompson in this area.) He will let the other teams spend silly money - hot dog stand talent for steak restaurant prices, as Tom Silverstein once put it - and take a look at the free agents on the second and third tier. And, of course, he will use the draft as a means of pumping in new talent into the roster.
A word about the draft - don't fall into the mentality that says Thompson "has to" use his first or second round pick on any one particular position. Thompson has proven time and again that he will take the best football player on his board, regardless of where they play. Yes, he went away from that a bit when the team was implementing a new defensive scheme, but with the schemes set and established, look for him to continue to stockpile picks and take good football players with each selection.
The deficiencies displayed during Sunday's game won't be fixed by one personnel move or by firing someone. They will be fixed using Thompson's usual understated approach. Fans wanting splashy headlines are sure to be disappointed.
The Packers won 15 games and lost 2 this season. Drastic changes are not needed nor expected. Improvements will be made and the Packers will be right back in the hunt for the Lombardi Trophy in 2012. That is a great place for any franchise to be and Packers fans should recognize how lucky they are to be in the position to cheer for such a quality organization year in and year out.
Aaron Rodgers was correct when he said after Sunday's game that championships are what's expected in Green Bay. Under Thompson and McCarthy, that will never change. But failing to bring home the title will not cause them to lose their heads the way Philadelphia's decision makers did last summer.
In Ted We Trust.
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