Cory's Corner: No Stone Unturned

Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst is doing all he can to assemble a championship roster. 

The Packers won 13 games last year and advanced to the NFC title game. With all of that success, it may be easy to think that sitting back and being content would be the obvious choice. 

But that isn’t what Packers general manager Brian Gutekunst has done.

Since Sept. 4, the Packers have brought in five new players. That’s a huge number of guys — especially for an organization that traditionally hasn’t filled the transaction wire. 

You can say that the reason this is happening is because of Aaron Rodgers. Part of that may be true, but remember, Rodgers’ influence was the impetus in bringing back Randall Cobb to Green Bay. I highly doubt that Rodgers had input on the trade for punter Corey Bojorquez.

Coincidentally, Bojorquez is one of the best punters in the game. His 82-yard boot against Chicago wasn’t just the longest punt in the NFL this season, it is also tied for the 19th longest in NFL history. Bojorquez also has the fourth-best hang time (4.47 seconds) and eight of his 18 punts have been placed inside the 20. 

And of course there is the argument that says that the only reason Gutekunst is making these moves is because of the Packers injuries. I get that. From Za’Darius Smith and Marquez Valdes-Scantling to Jaire Alexander. The amount of injuries the Packers have had this year is daunting. 

But even with all of those injuries, Gutekunst wouldn’t have had to add anyone. He could’ve just kept promoting people from the practice squad. 

Gutekunst didn’t have to bring in linebacker Jaylon Smith or edge rusher Whitney Mercilus. But those additions tell me one thing: the linebacker position has been overlooked for so many years. It’s kind of like that old car. It runs and gets you from point A to point B, but it’s leaking oil, is awful on gas, the radio barely works and the tires are bald. 

Take this year. One of the main reasons the defense is doing so well is because De’Vondre Campbell is one of the best linebackers in football. He’s having a career year after five pedestrian seasons in Atlanta. So credit needs to be given to Gutekunst for seeing something in Campbell, to Campbell for proving the majority of the NFL wrong and for defensive coordinator Joe Barry putting him in spots to capitalize on his immense talent. 

That doesn’t mean that Gutekunst is batting 1.000, but you have to give him credit for taking a swing. There are plenty of general managers out there that are too afraid to make a move mainly because they are fearful if it doesn’t work.

With a successful team, you cannot think like that. Gutekunst is always changing and always evolving. Now, does that mean that Smith and Mercilus are going to be the final pieces for a deep playoff run? I’m not sure. Granted, Smith only played 17 snaps against Chicago and looked like a lost puppy for the most part. 

Those guys aren’t being brought in to play major roles. They are being brought in to play a role. The expectations for Mercilus aren’t high after averaging seven sacks a season after nine full seasons. 

“The thing about him, after 10 years in the league, this isn’t his first rodeo,” said Packers outside linebackers coach Mike Smith about Mercilus. “He knows what he’s doing. He knows how to rush. It’s nice having an older guy like that — I love coaching my young guys, don’t get me wrong — but he knows what he’s doing.”

We haven’t even gotten out of October and Gutekunst is giving his phone a workout. 

With this current roster, all you want is a chance and that’s exactly what Gutekunst is giving Green Bay. 

 

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Cory Jennerjohn is a graduate from UW-Oshkosh and has been in sports media for over 15 years. He was a co-host on "Clubhouse Live" and has also done various radio and TV work as well. He has written for newspapers, magazines and websites. He currently is a columnist for CHTV and also does various podcasts. He recently earned his Masters degree from the University of Iowa. He can be found on Twitter: @Coryjennerjohn

11 points

Comments (22)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Crankbait's picture

October 23, 2021 at 06:42 am

No,
he has not.

-16 points
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NJ-RICK's picture

October 23, 2021 at 11:04 am

I agree there is a lot more he could have done.... Now that he is picking up washed up veterans they want us to believe he is the savor of the team. Packer MGT has failed IMO. It very well may be to little to late...

-5 points
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Leatherhead's picture

October 23, 2021 at 04:51 pm

Crank bait…..last week, I told you that you wouldn’t recognize a good defense if it sat on your face. Here’s your chance to prove me wrong.

The worst defense in the league is playing against a defense that’s top ten by quite a few measures. See if you can tell them apart.

2 points
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barutanseijin's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:22 am

Gutekunst seems to operate more in the Ron Wolf style than the TT. I think that’s a good thing.

15 points
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packer132's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:23 am

Last year Gute brought in a couple of players but it was too late in the season. Anthony Rush and Snacks Harrision played little to help the D line. He did get a couple of practice squad players, but nobody made an impact. In 2021 his best move was bringing back 20 of 22 starters from a 13-3 team. He also figured some younger guys would make a jump in their 2nd or 3rd years. Tampa Bay did the same, bringing back almost all starters. He also hit on the draft, getting good play from Stokes, Myers, Newman. Slaton, Amari, and Hill should help late in the year and next season. Signing free agents Jaylon, Mercilus, and Douglas should pay off once they learn the defense. I would love to see another player added by trade for defense, though Packers have little money and it would cost a draft pick. Overall, the GM has given Green Bay a great chance to get the Super Bowl trophy back home.

13 points
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NickPerry's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:01 pm

Personally I love what Gutekunst has been doing and can only wonder what may have been had Thompson done things like this, ESPECIALLY in 2011 when Nick Collins was lost. Bringing in players like Jayon Smith, Rasoul Douglass, and Whitney Mercilus are moves we never ever saw from Ted, especially in the SAME season.

Signing Campbell just before camp has been a Godsend and an excellent move by Gute. But I also have to credit Joe Barry and Kirk Oliviadotti for his rise in the ILB ranks this season. Now maybe it was all MLF or perhaps Gute strongly suggested a new DC and ST Coordinator was needed. Either way, it's different from when Ted and MM were here. I mean how MANY seasons were we stuck with Capers and Slocum? We blame McCarthy for being overly loyal, but Ted also didn't force the issue and suggest to tell McCarthy that hey, these guys gotta go!

A D-Linemen could go a long way before the trade deadline, or even a better pass catching option at the #2 WR than MVS once he's back. That may be a pipe dream given the cap situation, but I'll bet if there's ANY possible way to do it, Gute will find a way. Now, IF we can get a little luck getting Z Smith and Alexander back at some point for the stretch, THIS team definitely feels like one of those Championship Teams.

11 points
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NickPerry's picture

October 23, 2021 at 08:55 am

Sorry folks...Double post

1 points
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Swisch's picture

October 23, 2021 at 09:09 am

It seems as though Gute was also bringing in new players last season, and maybe the season before.
He seems to continually audition guys as possible upgrades, and sometimes signs them.
I like it. It appears to be perfectly compatible with draft-and-develop, a complementary approach to fill in positions that are not as strong at any particular time. Why not build primarily through the draft, but also look for outside help as appropriate?
In any case, since the start of the 2019 season, Gute's Packers are 31-7 in the regular season, with a big playoff victory in each of the past two seasons. This after a miserable 2018 season (Gute's first as GM) of 6-9-1.
After this remarkable turnaround, it boggles my mind that some fans are down on this guy as our GM. It bothers me greatly that our moody quarterback smeared him as cold and calculating, on flimsy evidence.
Gute should be the toast of the town, and the entire state of Wisconsin.

11 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 23, 2021 at 11:07 am

My complaint about Gutie was the trading up to get Love and perhaps his handling of Rodgers post draft. I also did actually like the idea of trading down to get king. Both decisions were difficult to make. Of course he had to have the guts to make them. The results have not been what we hoped but it’s better than standing pat and doing nothing. No risk it, no biscuit. I regret I married my first wife but it seemed like a good idea at the time and have moved on.

2 points
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SanLobo's picture

October 23, 2021 at 02:50 pm

Up vote from me for the 1st wife comment. We all regret marrying our first wife, my friend. Go Pack!

2 points
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canadapacker's picture

October 23, 2021 at 09:58 am

These last 2 years and last 2 training camps have been unique. The Covid thing has changed things a lot. Have we really seen Love? No - a few 2nd year preseason games are for him first year preseason games and the clock is now ticking because of when the team needs to do something for the 5 th year option. The lack of OTA's last year and all of the protocols for getting together etc has been difficult especially for teams with a new coaching staff. And that might be effecting our D this year. However it has also helped us ( and a lot of other teams ) being able to have extra guys on the practice squad and to move them in and out of the 53. So teams like the Pack with a pretty good established roster and coaching staff have been able to get off to good starts. We need to get really really healthy quite quickly because after this WFT game our schedule is about to get really tough. In particular Cards Chiefs and at the Vikings - maybe a chance as Seattle will not have Wilson.

6 points
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PeteK's picture

October 23, 2021 at 10:30 am

We're beat up, playing well enough to win, and our GM is bringing in some players that could help overcome the injuries. It doesn't seem like we can match up against the best. However, our offense could become dominant now that the O line is getting healthy and if MVS can consistently make big plays.

7 points
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porupack's picture

October 23, 2021 at 10:54 am

Great points Cory. We never can draw conclusions at any one point in time, nor any one week It is impressive what he has done, especially generating a league leading ILB of all things.....but then by the end of the year, it could all change. So as ongoing grades are handed out, Gute is hitting high grades on Action and high grades on results so far. It all could look different after any one game....but today.... he's turned a lot of stones at least within a limited budget.

2 points
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TarynsEyes's picture

October 23, 2021 at 11:01 am

"You can say that the reason this is happening is because of Aaron Rodgers."

I will say so, and the Rodgers situation has made Gute come to terms that last season's team, starters, and depth, weren't going to be enough this season. Gute has signed many a player in prior seasons, but recently has signed players that can actually contribute to a starter-level than the usual basement furniture.

This is perhaps what the team and FO have needed for a long time and we fans might actually see the rewards come to fruition in February because of what Rodgers brought out into the open, whether one chooses to believe/deny it.

6 points
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LeotisHarris's picture

October 23, 2021 at 06:07 pm

Taryn, I'm inclined to agree with you. In retrospect, Rodgers' press conference where he finally said the quiet parts aloud ( an event I thought reeked of ego run amok at the time) was a cage rattling the suits needed. Healthy organizations can do that when someone gets too full of their own gas and it improves everyone involved.

There's no shortage of huge egos at 1265. This season feels different to me because of all the things that have gone right since Aaron ripped off the scab; everything from player acquisition to intensity and resiliency on the filed, and finally some accountability. I like these guys and I like this team.

1 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 24, 2021 at 11:20 am

No need for tire-kicking, buy the Corvette.

0 points
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Packer_Fan's picture

October 23, 2021 at 11:30 am

I agree thats Gute appears to be more aggressive. His draft class has been very good. I always thought that Stokes will be starting before the seasons end. I thought that Rodgers would be playing more, but it looks like he is getting more involved.

Gute has tried to make room for as much money this year as he could and kept most of right guys like Jones and P. Smith. King is probably the least effective right now.

LaFluer and the OL coach has developed great depth to weather injuries during this longer season. I thhink that since the starters didn't have any preseason play, the whole team started out a bit rusty. Especially A. Rodgers. He has finally started throwing to more people than Adams. And they are doing a good job of getting Jones and Dillon both in the game that is paying great dividends. There is more work to do here though.

The defense is improving. Getting Alexander back would be a big help. As well as Z. Smith. Hopefully the defense keeps improving and both Alexander and Z. Smith are available for late season and the playoffs.

And check out Acme Packing site. They did an article on how Adams sets up the defenders to get open. Masterful.

This season is starting to become special. I love Rodgers saying the "I still own you". That shows his is fully into this season. I bought the tshirt. Let's keep it going

6 points
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lecko's picture

October 23, 2021 at 12:35 pm

I like this approach much more. TT has made great things for team. But in later years when reading about players it was sometimes like we like just "pure" players in a sense that players coming form other NFL teams were in a way contaminated. In whenever players were needed, they were always called from practice squad, some unddrafted rookies. They uncovered and gave chance to many talented players, but on average that didnt gave them players on level to contend for Supor bowl.

1 points
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PhantomII's picture

October 23, 2021 at 12:44 pm

Injuries happen and this season they are happening weekly it seems.
The playing time this affords younger players will play huge benefits to our team as some of our starters filter back from IR that will have given them confidence they can draw from for future play. I would like for Gute to drop a top 3 draft pick on a Vet player from a team that would eat the majority of their pay and give us a talented player to push our team into the playoffs at either DL, DB or #2 WR.

-1 points
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croatpackfan's picture

October 23, 2021 at 12:51 pm

After more than 25 years Packers had only the 3rd GM (I do not count HC and GM here, that was mistake, very quickly corrected). What that tells you? They are well organized organization that not panicking even in the dark times. I understand that you are looking to the results achieved over the period from Wolf started at GM till today. There is narative how Ron Wolf save the franchize by trading for Favre. Same way Ted Thompson save the franchize by drafting Aaron Rodgers when it looks like there was no need for that. Many of you hated that move, because one of the saviours of the franchize was Brett Favre, and Packers insulted him by taking the QB in the first round. Well, welcome to the present. We do not know yet what Jordan Love will become. There is 50:50 chances that Jordan Love will continue that excellency in QB playing for Green Bay. Give the kid chance, before you spit on the decision and the man.

Regarding Brian Gutekunst, I'll say he has very good chances to be better GM than Wolf and Thompson were. At the end both won only 1 SB each. If Ron Wolf was not made the team that won SB, I doubt many of you would call him the best in business. It would be interesting to compare results provide by Ron Wolf teams with results provided by Ted Thompson teams. After 3 years you can compare Brian Gutenkust results with both predecessors by ratio win/lose. I believe Brian is at same level if not better.

Many of you complains why he did not brought that player or another one or trade or whatsoever. THERE IS NO CAP SPACE! Do you understand that? Many players do not want to come to GB because taxes on the income is to high for them. There is many other markets where players has 0% tax on the income from playing football. DO YOU KNOW THAT? For many players problem is the weather in the North. That is also well documented. So there is so many variables that comes to the point when you try to hire the player in the FA.

If you will feel better, Whitney Mercilus, 10 years NFL veteran, decide to reject much lucrative offers and picked up Green Bay for him. He obviously saw something good about this team (by the words of Aaron Rodgers, the organisation who do not respect players!!!!!) and hope that he will be in the position to fight for the ring, finally at the end of his career Probably the same idea was behind Jaylon Smith decision.

So, you can not say that Brian Gutekunst are not excellent. He is when you understand what he got when he became GM. Does he makes mistakes. Sure, as everybody of us, daily. But he is not stubborn. He corrects his own mistakes quickly. And, as I noted he is many times more than fans right in his decisions.

1 points
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Gman1976's picture

October 23, 2021 at 01:19 pm

I think Gute learned a lot from Thompson about how to draft and learned what not to do from Thompson who seemed to stay pat. He has a very impressive record. With the cap hit next year, he sure has hands full; but I think we are going to be pleasantly surprised.

4 points
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flackcatcher's picture

October 23, 2021 at 03:10 pm

Brian Gutekunst has been doing this since the day he was hired back in 2018. (Well, after the Executive Committee confirmed his near total authority on the football side of the house) Or did many of you forget his first action was to give Jordy Nelson his walking papers. A cold blooded move as there ever was. But that's what it takes to run a successful pro football operation today. His front office's ability to draft and seek out talent is among the best in this league. The data base the Packers maintain must be down right amazing, giving how they find and pick up veteran talent. A first rate front office with the best GM in the league. We Packers fans are very blessed...

1 points
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