The bye week is typically a time when teams will take a look at themselves, see what’s working and what isn’t and then try to make the adjustments they deem necessary.
And you have to think that practice extends all the way up to Mark Murphy.
The Packers are four games into a season that was meant to wipe the awful feelings of a disastrous 6-10 campaign from the memories of their players and fans alike. After an offseason that saw a complete overhaul on the defensive side of the ball of everything EXCEPT the players along with an offense that is now made up almost entirely of Ted Thompson’s guys, it stands to reason that Murphy may very well start asking himself some tough questions about Thompson’s tenure as General Manager of the Green Bay Packers.
Thompson has had some ‘hits’ – the biggest was obviously making the switch at quarterback from Brett Favre to Aaron Rodgers. Yes, Favre looked good on Monday night, but he won’t be in the league by the time Rodgers’ contract is up and had Thompson taken Favre back, Rodgers would have been long gone with no adequate replacement on the bench when Favre finally did retire. And no serious observer of the game of football can say with a straight face that the Packers were going to the Super Bowl last season had Favre quarterbacked that team – not with that defense.
Thompson’s had other ‘hits’ as well – drafting Greg Jennings, letting Mike Flanagan and Ahman Green walk just before they broke down, signing Pickett, Woodson and Chillar in free agency. The positives are there.
But it’s hard to deny that the ‘misses’ are piling up.
Thompson’s biggest failing, and it isn’t even debatable, is his handling of the offensive line. We could (and have) debate his decision to let Rivera and Whale go. Regardless of your opinion, it would have been a moot point had Thompson had any semblance of success in replacing them. But the fact of the matter is that four years on, his hand-picked replacements have been inconsistent at best and downright awful at worst.
After the offensive line, you can point at any number of decisions Thompson has made throughout his tenure – just last year there is the cutting of Jon Ryan on the eve of the season, which, again, on it’s own would have been fine had he had a competent replacement. But he didn’t, and when the whole world could see that Derrick Frost was not the answer – Thompson held onto him for five more weeks, killing his team over and over in the field position battle.
There are others of course – from the botched attempt to trade for Randy Moss to the extension that he signed Mike Sherman to, only to fire the coach a few months later. From drafting Justin Harrell and Brian Brohm to letting Joey Haynos leave (that one is for you Corey!) and cutting Anthony Smith, Thompson’s misses are plentiful.
Now, any General Manager is going to have ‘misses’. The trick, obviously, is to have more ‘hits’. That seemed to be the case with Thompson back in 2007 – but that certainly seems to have changed. And even after all of that, that’s not the most damning case against Thompson. When Murphy sits down and looks at the 2-2 Packers and tries to see how they’re different or how they have improved from the 2008 version (which had an identical record after four games) he will be hard pressed not to notice all the same problems that torpedoed the team last year.
The penalties are there.
The horrible tackling is there.
The miscommunication if the secondary is there.
The inability to run the ball is there.
And on and on…
At what point does Murphy stop and say – we changed schemes on defense, we changed coaches, we can change a lot of things, but ultimately, the players that Ted Thompson is providing the Packers just aren’t very good? At what point does seeing the same problems pop up over and over and over again tell him that Thompson’s way is not working?
No one but Murphy knows the answer – but as of now, in my mind at least, the clock is definitely ticking on Thompson’s tenure in Green Bay. He and McCarthy need to get things fixed – now.