Competition Essential to Make Packers Complete

When Brian Gutekunst was introduced as Packers’ general manager earlier this month, many hoped it would signal a change in how the team will handle roster building, particularly through free agency. And while it’s become almost cliché, it is fair to think Gutekunst, by virtue of simply being a different person, would struggle to do less in that area than his predecessor, Ted Thompson.

At his introductory press conference, Gutekunst talked about exploring different avenues of player acquisition and not being afraid to pull the trigger when an opportunity arises. Whether that means a higher number of splashy signings, time will tell. But Gutekunst also stressed the need for the Packers to build a competitive roster from top to bottom, and that is something that usually isn’t done by signing a plethora of big names.

“I think I learned a long time ago, from the beginning, that you always want to create competition,” Gutekunst said when he was introduced. “And once you kind of realize a player isn’t good enough you need to move on. Even if the player you bring in you’re not quite sure is good enough either, it’s better to move on and bring another player in and see if he can do it rather than stick with the player you know can’t. I think that’s part of it. I don’t think comfort on a roster for players is good.”

Granted, no one will truly know what Gutekunst’s philosophy looks like until he’s had ample opportunity to make roster decisions. But if the above quote is an indicator, he may be more inclined to admit mistakes when it comes to the players he brings in, whether through the draft or the free agent market—something rarely seen from Thompson.

Gutekunst continued, “I think we have a lot of quality pieces to this team, but there’s a lot of work to do as well. We need to get competitive at every group. We need to have competition across the board at every group, so nobody feels safe.”

Clearly, the management inside 1265 Lombardi feels there is a need to push players out of their comfort zones in order to get the best out of them. Now, does that mean Aaron Rodgers should be sweating over his job security? Of course not, but franchise quarterbacks are the exception, not the rule.

The situation behind Rodgers, however, is likely exactly what Gutekunst has in mind when talking about building a competitive roster. In 2017, Brett Hundley proved how difficult it is for inexperienced quarterbacks to succeed in the NFL. Green Bay had two of them to choose from once Rodgers went down, and Hundley, despite his poor play, never really had to worry about losing the job.

That’s not to say Hundley won’t begin next season as the primary back up once again, but I don’t think anyone would be surprised to see a veteran quarterback brought in on a team-friendly contract to put some heat on Hundley and possibly even usurp the backup role.

Quarterback was the prime example in 2017, but there are plenty of positions at which the Packers could use more depth, and Gutekunst seems intent on making sure no position group goes unnoticed on his watch. Even if the majority of new faces in Green Bay next year aren’t marquee names, that kind of philosophy could be just what the Packers need to become as complete a team as possible.

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Comments (30)

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Ryan Graham's picture

January 31, 2018 at 12:30 pm

Matt Moore anyone? Demand for a veteran backup is high..

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Rossonero's picture

January 31, 2018 at 12:45 pm

I'd say how could the Packers NOT sign a veteran QB after having NO PLAN not once, but twice!

Enough is enough, bring a veteran back-up in already. Shoot, I hope McCarthy and Gutekunst take note that Nick Foles is starting in a Super Bowl because the GM actually had the foresight to sign him.

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dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 12:56 pm

Why would a Nick Foles type player--a mid-low end starter type player--want to come to GB and back up Aaron Rodgers when he could go somewhere and try to unseat a low-end starter? Remember that Carson Wentz looked really lost at times last season and didn't blow up until this year.

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Rossonero's picture

January 31, 2018 at 08:15 pm

Why? Well, for one thing, to win a Super Bowl. For example, Brian Hoyer went to New England. I'm sure other QB needy teams contacted him too, but why play for a losing franchise like the Jets or Browns that are going nowhere? Or even an average team like Arizona?

Another reason might be to just learn from a great QB like Aaron Rodgers.

Derek Anderson knows his time is probably up for his career as a franchise QB, but I'm sure he's fine earning NFL money and still getting to be a part of the game he loves, even if it means watching Cam Newton from the sidelines.

Here is an excerpt from a good story about how Ty Detmer reconciled the fact that he would remain a back-up:

"It was Favre who replaced injured starter Don Majkowski in week two of Detmer's rookie year, and he never relinquished the job. Favre would go on to be one of the league's all-time greatest quarterbacks. Meanwhile, Detmer had to reconcile ostensibly being redshirted all over again.

He took it well, even if the coaches never came out and told Detmer they saw him as only a back-up.

"You knew the pecking order," he says. "You know your role, but at the same time, in that position, in that league, you better be ready to play, so that was kind of the message delivered."

A 3rd reason to stay a back-up would be for family reasons. Do you really wanna uproot your wife and kids constantly? Said Detmer:

"There's obviously some guilt when you're pulling [the kids] out from their friends and their comfort zone into a whole new house and a new school, and they're having to just go in and make it work," he says.

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Ryan Graham's picture

February 02, 2018 at 10:01 am

I'm with you Dobber. He is trying to campaign himself into a starting gig in these playoffs and he just might if he plays well Sunday

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The TKstinator's picture

January 31, 2018 at 05:15 pm

I’d argue that they DID have a plan; just that Hundley was disappointing. I have a feeling that it’s just really difficult to judge a player based soley on practice. And when the action was a real game, ugh.

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Handsback's picture

January 31, 2018 at 01:00 pm

A reminder that not every player wants to come to Green Bay. They need to find a suitable veteran and draft a rookie that could start in the future .

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Hawg Hanner's picture

January 31, 2018 at 01:16 pm

Drafting a rookie who could start is a tall order. It takes some seasoning. So even if we use a pick on a QB we still need a veteran backup that could at least keep you in games. Don't forget the Brian Brohm fiasco. Ty Detmer and Aaron Brooks were never really that good.

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dobber's picture

January 31, 2018 at 01:26 pm

Neither Ty Detmer nor Aaron Brooks ever had to start a game for the Packers.

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rdent's picture

February 01, 2018 at 11:00 am

Yet Aaron Brooks went on to be a starter for New Orleans.

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The TKstinator's picture

January 31, 2018 at 05:15 pm

Not even if god calls?

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zoellner25's picture

January 31, 2018 at 01:02 pm

Case Keenum anyone?

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Ryan Graham's picture

January 31, 2018 at 01:07 pm

I'm close with some Vikings fans and I think Case is a guy that Rick Spielman would tag if it came down to it. Even so after this past season that would be a pretty expensive backup IMO

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Ryan Graham's picture

January 31, 2018 at 01:07 pm

From what I've been told from said Vikings fans...

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Bearmeat's picture

January 31, 2018 at 02:53 pm

LOL. I hope they do. Watching that expensive experiment explode would be glorious. The only thing I really don't want to see is Cousins to Minny.

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NickPerry's picture

February 01, 2018 at 05:08 am

I just can't see the Vikings making a run at Cousins for one simple reason...The FA they'll have to sign before the 2019 season.

1) Barr
2) Kendricks
3) Diggs
4) Hunter

Sharrif Floyd would have been on that list but it's looking like he'll probably never play again. Bottom line is that's a lot of money they'll be shelling out providing they all stay healthy.

Just a thought but Kendricks was a 2nd rounder, Diggs a 5th rounder, and Hunter a 3rd rounder...So much for all that BS about the Packers drafting at the back of each round. Thompson passed on these guys multiple times!!!

What a putz!

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Rossonero's picture

February 03, 2018 at 06:33 am

I thought Kendricks was a no brainer in 2015. Sigh....

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Razer's picture

January 31, 2018 at 02:37 pm

The statement that competition will make us better is only possible if there is a steady stream of good talent competing. Seems that the Packers have been deficient on a couple of fronts.

GM/Scouts - have not been bringing in enough quality players to sufficiently upgrade some of the chronically weak positions. Remember all the guys that couldn't help us improve at safety or linebacker or TE or RB these last years. Garbage in - garbage out.

Coaches - have not been developing and assessing the progress of players from week to week. Brett Hundley took 3 years to show us that he isn't an NFL QB. Reggie Gilbert sat on the practice squad for the year on a team that needed better play from its linebackers.

Competition for roster spots requires better talent and better assessment of that talent. MM and TT didn't do enough of either.

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Bill Atkinson's picture

January 31, 2018 at 02:52 pm

Gutekunst has to let everyone know that there is a new sheriff in town and the only way to do that is to cut an overpaid veteran. At least one of the $10 million dollar plus club will be cut.

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TXCHEESE's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:01 pm

Bill, you could be right. I think TT fell in love with his home grown and wasn't as objective as he needed to be with the 2nd and 3rd year players, along with the veterans still on their second contract. The beauty of a large turn over in the coaching ranks is going to be, nobody, except AR and 1 or 2 others is going to get much of a benefit of the doubt. That's the way is should be every year, regardless of the number of years a coach has been here.

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HankScorpio's picture

January 31, 2018 at 03:29 pm

If Gute really believes that you should move on the minute you know a guy is no good, Hundley should put his house in GB on the market now.

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Razer's picture

January 31, 2018 at 04:54 pm

Ha, ha - I agree with your assertion.

At what point does Gutekunst ask McCarthy if this guy can play. You'd think that our QB guru and coaching staff would have made an assessment earlier than this SO that the GM could be looking for options. I don't doubt that TT got blindsided with the poor play of Hundley.

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Coldworld's picture

January 31, 2018 at 07:44 pm

Gutekunst should already have done that long ago, but more importantly he should have asked his evaluators. Head Coaches can get too close to the players.

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HankScorpio's picture

February 01, 2018 at 07:13 am

Hundley is really just the most visible and obvious of the "isn't good enough so you need to move on" guys.

If Joe Callahan was not good enough to be an alternative to Hundley, he should be gone, too.

Trevor Davis is ok once he fields punts but he makes really bad decisions on what to field and what to let go. He offers little as a WR. They can do much better there.

Kyler Fackrell & Jake Ryan should be nervous. They've been around long enough to know they are never going to be anything but serviceable backups.

Gute is absolutely 100% correct in what he said--once you know a guy doesn't offer much above replacement, he should be gone to see if someone else can develop into something. Beginning next week, we see if he actually believes it. This is where I have serious concerns with the new power structure in GB. MM may not want all those guys gone... and probably some more I didn't name. But churning the bottom of the roster is an important part of creating roster competition.

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John Kirk's picture

January 31, 2018 at 05:31 pm

If Brian doesn't come out of the gates strong and just reminds of the same flatline approach under Ted, it's going to be extremely frustrating following this team for the foreseeable future.

He has to come out swinging to set the tone. Go get Talib...go get Moncrief, go get yourself an EDGE, TE, CB, WR, quality backup...something. The last thing we need is to be in this same stale mold of the last 13 seasons. Trade up and get someone you covet that will change games. Make a big trade and get a player for picks or player for player. We just can't be the same as we were.

May have been HankScorpio who said on another article that what Gutekunst does between the SB and before FA is going to say a lot about him. Will he cut some pricey underperfoming vets or will he hold onto them? These times are as exciting as they are unsure and scary.

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flackcatcher's picture

January 31, 2018 at 10:09 pm

It will tell us who really holds the reins of power in Green Bay. Game of Thrones Green Bay style anyone?

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Charlu19's picture

February 01, 2018 at 02:30 am

If Hundley is our primary backup QB next season, I'm out on Gute. The biggest flaw in the squad last year was a lack of a capable backup QB. We could have squeaked out a couple more wins if we prioritized that position in training camp. It was an inexcusable error and cost us a feasible shot at a playoff berth. You need a Matt Flynn. You need a Doug Pederson. You need a CAPABLE backup when your linchpin goes down.

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DD's picture

February 01, 2018 at 12:50 pm

I heard today on ESPN interview that Rodgers was NOT consulted with Van Pelt being released, whom he liked a lot. This is not good!! Big mistake not including Rodgers with the decision. Instead, MM shows his lack of respect for Rodgers. Rodgers is not happy; and this may affect his signing a long term deal. Instead of VanPelt being released, they probably should have released MM! This is not good I feel.

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Rossonero's picture

February 01, 2018 at 07:24 pm

Van Pelt actually told the Packers he wanted to try something new at the beginning of the 2017 season, and his contract was expiring anyway.

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DD's picture

February 01, 2018 at 01:02 pm

If I was the GM I'd restructure Clay, Baluga, Jordy, Cobb. If they don't restructure trade or release. Keep Janis, Campbell, Allison as they're at a good price for talents. FA or draft 2 edge monster game changers, 1 faster ILB, 2 stout corners, 1big, fast TE, and 2 quick, speed receivers. Also, hold a 2 open Packer walk on try out days! Ya never know?

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