"I feel bad for these guys because they play hard and I think they deserve better...I'm responsible for that, ultimately. It's been a hard year."
I am in complete agreement with Andy in that I find strange comfort in this quote, if for no other reason than that the response from Thompson during the year is so muted it's hard to get a read on how he feels about the nightmare that's unfolded throughout 2008. And the few times we see him during the season, alone and emotionless in a press box, hardly gets us closer to his feelings on the events transpiring below him.
Now, it's one thing to say you feel bad for the team you've put together. It's quite another to change what seems to be your Modus-Operandi, which seems to be what's needed if Thompson is to fix the myriad things that went wrong this season. No more trading back (unless of course someone offers you a silly deal) Time to be a bit more aggressive in free agency. Above all - it's time to get some MEN on the lines. Outside of Aaron Kampman and Ryan Pickett, the defensive and offensive lines are made up of boys. Strong, growing and able boys, but boys none the less. It seems that Thompson's and McCarthy's plan was to rip up the lines, draft some prospects and let them grow. This worked when they had a 16 year veteran to bail the offensive line out and it worked when the defensive line went 11 guys deep. But now both lines are in need of major help. Pickett, asked to play way too many snaps, is simply getting pushed around and Jolly is playing much more like the 6th round pick we thought he was before he started flashing early last year. The killer this year, of course, was losing Jenkins, which just destroyed the line's rotation. Jenkins was in line for a monster year, both from his end position and inside on passing downs. Once he went down, the Packers had no answer, and that is on Thompson. On the offensive side, things aren't much better. Scott Wells has been disappointing, while Spitz seems to be playing out of position. (He looked better at center than Wells has) Moll is clearly not the answer at right tackle and who knows what will happen to Tauscher. (Here's hoping he re-signs with the Pack) And some people (most notably my co-host) like to berate me when I say Daryn Colledge is having a very good year. But it's true. The biggest problem, as it has always been with Colledge, is his mental breakdowns at the worst possible times. You can set your watch by it.
Thompson has many areas of concern (linebacker, strong safety, cornerback, tight end, running back) but nothing is as important as fixing the lines. And he will need to go outside his comfort zone to do it, or at least to do it well. Will he be able to? We're about to find out...