Mark Murphy Silences the Critics

His controversial management restructure appears to be working.

By mid January of 2019 Mark Murphy must have thought he was damned if he did and damned if he didn't.

The Pack had been on a downward trend for the past two years and the organization appeared to be in disarray. Murphy made a series of moves in an attempt to right the ship.  He replaced general manager Ted Thompson with Brian Gutekunst. He fired head coach Mike McCarthy during the 2018 season and eventually replaced him with Matt LaFleur. He restructured the chain of command to make LaFleur, Gutekunst and Director of Football Operations Russ Ball equal in authority and all accountable to him.

Yet in the eyes of media, many fans, and apparently even some figures within the organization Murphy couldn't seem to do anything right. Some said he waited too long to replace Thompson, whose reluctance to utilize free agency and declining drafts had created a talent shortage on the team. Murphy was accused of spending too much time on the financial business of the Packers and ignoring the deterioration on the field. He also took heat for promoting Gutekunst, who had no experience running his own draft.

As Green Bay spiraled to a 6-9-1 record in 2018 fans screamed for Murphy to make a change, but then chided him for dismissing McCarthy without letting him finish the season. At the press conference introducing LaFleur, Murphy was panned for doing too much of the talking and trying to make the event all about himself.

But by far the most criticism came from his bold restructuring of the front office. Switching to a triumvirate of equal players who would report directly to him was roundly condemned as an unwise departure from a system that had worked effectively for the franchise for 15 years. Critics were certain the new configuration would result in jealousy, infighting and resentment. Murphy was accused of a power grab. So now instead of ignoring the football side, he was too involved with it.

On May 9th of 2019 Tom Silverstein wrote the following for Packersnews.com:

"It is a structure that is fraught with trouble based on the franchise's history, according to current and former members of the administration...........there are skeptics of the organization's direction, and it's easy to see why, given the lack of a decisive leader with years of NFL experience in charge of the entire football operation.   Maybe Murphy is the smart one, but the way things transpired after Thompson's demotion suggest that not all the pieces are going to fit together the way he believes.

"Speaking with current and former members of the organization, agents and friends for some of those employees and people who do business with the Packers, nearly 20 in total, there are concerns the organization is headed down a faulty path."

This was typical of media and fan opinion of the time.   Everyone seemed resigned to the Packers continued decline and it was widely speculated that the next head to roll would be Murphy himself.   But as the great Paul Harvey used to say, now you know the rest of the story.

A year and a half into the new arrangement, there is every indication that not only has the decline not continued, but the changes are working.   Gutekunst has used free agency effectively to improve the defense, and he appears to be drafting specific players that LaFleur wants, despite public cries he is passing up better players.   Lafleur pulled the team and staff together for a 13-3 season, a division championship, and a berth in the NFC championship game, all to the shock and pleasant surprise of the Packers faithful.   

Russ Ball faces a staunch challenge in 2021 in the form of a long list of free agents to be, but in coordination with Gutekunst and LaFleur, he has found cap money for several additions and the team has tried mightily to fortify itself at positions such as offensive line, receiver, inside linebacker and running back in preparation for possible losses of talent.

In short, despite all the predictions of gloom and doom, the three co-administrators seem to be complimenting each other effectively with no obvious signs of dissension or subterfuge.   The Packers are solidly positioned to continue to compete for playoff spots and championships.   If Murphy was the lightning rod for all of the criticism, then he deserves credit for the turnaround.   Indeed the public hammering of the team president has all but silenced.   

And as to the financial side of the franchise?   Murphy's leadership and supervision of the Titletown District will generate many millions of dollars in future years to help keep the Packers viable and healthy.   The websites and merchandising operations are first class, and Murphy has the organization out front of the current social justice climate as well.   The team was one of the first to donate $500 thousand to social justice causes in Wisconsin, half of which is Murphy's own money.

Certainly there are no guarantees of future success.   Inevitably there will be a cycle of ups and downs.   But Mark Murphy has shown he will attack problems without fear of public rebuke and thus far one would have to say his track record is pretty darn good.

 

 

-----------------------------------

Ken Lass is a former Green Bay television sports anchor and 43 year media veteran, a lifelong Packers fan, and a shareholder.

NFL Categories: 
16 points

Comments (26)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
splitpea1's picture

June 14, 2020 at 07:58 pm

He'll silence the critics by bringing the Trophy home--that's what it's all about. Don't care much about anything else.

+ REPLY
0 points
4
4
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 14, 2020 at 08:40 pm

Murphy was slow to move on from TT and Mike McCarthy. So far, Gutekunst looks competent with free agents and average with drafting. The latter part needs more time. LaFleur looks like a pretty good replacement but again it is early.

Russ Ball is going to have a helluva time retaining talent. But that really isn't in his control. The list of known quantities who are likely to depart Green Bay in 2021 is fairly long and is filled with important names. Gute indeed got players LaFleur appeared to want, but only Dillon looks like a replacement for a player likely to depart GB in 2021. Gute needs some day-three guys to step up and play.

Damned if I know how the Packers will be able to retain more than one of Bakh, Clark, Linsley, Jones, Jamaal Williams, and King or if they can give a contract to even one of the first four guys named.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
dblbogey's picture

June 14, 2020 at 10:05 pm

I think they'll sign Bakh and Clark. That may be it. At least we'll be getting comp picks again.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Brad.S's picture

June 14, 2020 at 10:15 pm

I think, and hope, that they'll sign Bakh and Clark. That will cost a fortune, but they're already paying Bakh pretty much. I'd be surprised if they resigned Linsley. They have several potential replacements on the team, and you can't re-sign everyone. I'm sure that they'd like the other guys back, but perhaps they're hoping that one of them accepts a hometown discount. They may lose them all.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
croatpackfan's picture

June 15, 2020 at 06:08 am

I respect your football knowledge and, especially, your knowledge in Salary Cap issues. There is no doubt.

But, as you wrote correctly: "Damned if I know how the Packers will be able to retain...", that is the difference between be in the Russ Ball Shoes and your shoes. And that is not all. We do not know all the information Packers organization has regarding many issues that may strongly influence their decisions regarding players, like some hidden long term injuries, some decline in capabilities, player preferences to play somewhere else (e. g. no TAX states) etc...

I remember many occasions where angry masse where calling responsible persons for letting some players to leave (the most recent it was cases of Josh Sitton, TJ Lang, Tretter etc) just to find out how badly are the problems Josh Sitton had with his back, or how Corey is much better as center than JC Tretter. Remember Brian Bulaga and issues with his injuries?What do you think about paying lot of money for the player who will play 1/3 of games and become injured when you need him the most. I believe it is better to adapt yourself to, maybe weaker player at the position, but reliable one.

So, I will be careful in criticizing people responsible for that kind of decisions. Maybe they know much more than we, as they are at the source of all information they need to have...

+ REPLY
-4 points
0
4
murf7777's picture

June 15, 2020 at 09:17 am

TGR...then why would you want them to sign Jones for a for 10m when it would seem Bak or Clarke are more important?

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 16, 2020 at 01:58 am

Yes, I remember writing something to that effect, even if I don't remember where or exactly what I wrote. IIRC, I meant that in terms of giving 2nd contracts to RBs, I am fine with giving Jones $10M per year if there is no huge signing bonus to go with it. RBs can get paid well, but no to a bunch of dead money (that is, no to the traditional Packers' contract structure). RBs just get hurt too often.

I didn't mean to imply that I would prioritize paying Jones over Clark, Bakh, et al. I might pass on Bakh if his market is more than $22M AAV or on Clark if his is $19M AAV or more and advocate settling for Jones at $9M or $10M with a good structure.

Just saw this article on Bakh: last nine games allowed zero sacks and 14 pressures. First nine game he allowed 2 sacks and 24 pressures. Bakh attributed it to thinking about the new offense too much early in the season. IDK, he might be worth that much money, even if it would be very difficult for GB to find that kind of space.

https://packerswire.usatoday.com/2020/06/15/packers-lt-david-bakhtiari-e...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
PhantomII's picture

June 14, 2020 at 10:12 pm

As far as the power structure you have the coach who desires certain type players currently not on the roster that MM will know about.
You have BG who is suppose to seek out this talent in the draft and otherwise that MM will know about.
You have R. Ball who has to juggle the salary cap and keep it right while feeding Gute available resources to get and keep the players you want/ need. Each of the three has his purpose and (1) who gets to see if it is working or where the problem lies. There was a talent drop and lack of free agent talent in the past, but there is positive movement now. A better blocking and running game will make for a smoother transition from A.Rodgers in the future as well. Future Cap was suppose to go up 40 Mill next year but w/ C-19 and stadium crowd distancing that will take a big hit on local teams sales until a silver bullet cure for the virus is proofed, reliable.

+ REPLY
0 points
2
2
jannes bjornson's picture

June 15, 2020 at 08:34 pm

Never let accountants run your business.

+ REPLY
1 points
1
0
johnmiltani's picture

June 15, 2020 at 12:26 am

Thanks for the article! I am also researching freelance websites online. There are a lot of Websites providing freelance works like up work.
But they are charging 20% which is too high for me after a lot of research now I'm working at https://www.fieldengineer.com, I'm very satisfied working here.

+ REPLY
-11 points
0
11
Turophile's picture

June 15, 2020 at 01:08 am

There was plenty of talk about Murphy being on a power grab, trying to make everything go through him. I never paid any attention to that talk. He was the CEO anyway, he didn't need to power grab. The only extra power that he seems to have added was the power to fire the head coach (instead of Gutekunst).

You cannot really claim that Murphy was slow to deal with the TT situation and communication problems, then complain when he makes changes to deal with it...........and yet many Packer fans not only did exactly that, but failed to give his changes time, to see if they worked. I think he WAS a bit slow to act, but when he did, he seems to have got it right.

Most of us would agree that Murphy isn't perfect as a CEO but having seen the results of his changes over time, they appear to have succeeded (and it can be tricky to balance roster, cap and all the non-football executive stuff). It was always going to be difficult to follow Harlan, they were pretty big shoes to fill.

Perhaps one reason that Murphy got as much stick as he did, was because his favourite candidate for GM appeared to be Russ Ball, and that didn't sit well with others, both within the organisation and with fans. At least his final decision to hire Gutekunst seems to be at minimum an adequate hire, and possibly a rather good move - and the most important thing is not what he nearly did, but what he actually did do.

After the loss of senior staff like Scneider, MacKenzie, Dorsey, Wolf and scout Highsmith among others, it was a relief that Murphy chose to hire Gutekunst at the eleventh hour (who was interviewing elsewhere when hired).

+ REPLY
5 points
8
3
murf7777's picture

June 15, 2020 at 09:51 am

Good thoughts turophile...“You cannot really claim that Murphy was slow to deal with the TT situation and communication problems, then complain when he makes changes to deal with it..”. And even if it was delayed, I believe it was because they felt some loyalty to him due to his disease and past excellence, which I for one appreciate as a fan of the GBP.

Empathize the situation by being an employer.....one of your very good long term employees skills diminish, do you A. Immediately terminate or B. Keep the person on for awhile and allow them time to leave with some dignity and time to get their life prepared. I’m an employer and faced the situation and chose B and would do it again.

+ REPLY
-2 points
1
3
Thegreatreynoldo's picture

June 16, 2020 at 02:34 am

Yeaaah, I don't really agree, but not strongly enough to downvote. From 2007 to 2015 or so, as to football-only issues I think TT had absolute authority regardless of what Murphy thought or what de jure authority Murphy had due to his title. Like most good executives, it appears that TT delegated real authority to MM and to Ball.

Clearly, Murphy did not have the juice to name Ball as GM. The changes in the organizational flow/reporting structure were a power grab. Yes, other franchises do it that way, but most have an owner, and there is no doubt about that owner's authority (some franchises have multiple owners, true). Murphy is not an owner: his authority always rests on the good opinion of the executive board. It is different then in that regard. Murphy did decide to hire LaFleur, apparently mostly on his own authority. That authority is augmented by the decision to hire a first time GM and HC, both very young, rather than people with stature in the NFL.

I could be wrong. I could be right and it transpires that Murphy did a good job and chose good people in the GM and HC. More time is needed to assess the results.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Turophile's picture

June 16, 2020 at 05:53 am

Although in this case we have differing views TGR, I always have the greatest respect for what you write - you are one poster I always look to read.

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
flackcatcher's picture

June 16, 2020 at 03:33 pm

It has been very clear that the Executive Committee was tardy in moving to restrict Murphy's 'authority' once they hired Brian Gutekunst as Vice President of Football Operations. That it took the illegal (By packer bylaws) firing of Mike McCarthy by Murphy to force the EC to act to clearly back Gutekunst as GM. The return of former Packer President Bob Harlan to oppose Murphy in the GM role clearly spelled Murphy's doom. We still don't know what Murphy role in 1265 is these days, outside of holding on to the President's title. While I have been extremely hard on Mark Murphy on his handling of the GM hiring, and his power grab of the position. I am death on the Executive Committee. They had one job, to oversee the organization. They failed and let three years of chaos reign. That it took the second return of Bob Harlan to restore order, says nothing good about the long term at 1265. "Personnel is policy" at all levels. Let us hope when the Executive Committee meets to pick a new Packer President they remember this. (While Murphy's record is somewhat mixed these days. Let's not forget the job Murphy has done in building up the revue stream and infrastructure in Green Bay. When the down turn comes with the loss of TV money, Green Bay will be able to handle the loss far better than most of their fellow NFL franchises) Finally, it should be remembered that Mark Murphy did not hire Brian Gutekunst. The Executive Committee did over Murphy's objections. Or to be blunt, Bob Harlan convinced the committee to hire Gute over Murphy objections setting up a power struggle that Murphy lost. In the staid Green Bay Packer's organization. Insane...

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
Coldworld's picture

June 15, 2020 at 07:45 am

As I see it, Murphy is both responsible for allowing the late teen decline and for what he set in motion when he bought LaFleur’s vision, the one we see reshaping the roster.

It is too early to tell if LaFleur will succeed. If the Packers blossom, Murphy should get credit as the man who saw the path, hired it, and set up a structure where he and LaFLeur has the clear authority to see it through.

If it fails, Murphy will have the responsibility to add to dropping the ball previously and may well be seen as disastrous in football terms. This structure has yet to be tested in any case at this point, because there hasn’t been time to see whether it is bringing results and the stresses that come if it does not.

+ REPLY
1 points
4
3
nostradanus's picture

June 15, 2020 at 08:35 am

Murphy has stones I will say that as he has endured much criticism for his management style but has persevered.

He has the Packers nicely situated to compete both financially and on the field for years to come.

This is a team that has a fine young GM and coach, won the NFC North, beat Seattle in the playoffs and was a game away from the Super Bowl last season!

The Packers are in better shape than most NFL teams and he deserves credit and a big thank you from Packers fans.

So let me extend a BIG THANK YOU to Mark Murphy!

That is all...

+ REPLY
2 points
7
5
PatrickGB's picture

June 15, 2020 at 08:51 am

I got to thinking, what if we let Bak go and keep many of the others. Clark for sure and maybe Jones and one or two others. The offense would change and Rodgers would have to get the ball out faster (which most of us want anyway). Play action then looks more likely. The team would be younger and perhaps a better fit to ML’s scheme. If King, Clark and Jones remain then the team looks pretty good. The biggest drain on the cap is Aaron Rodgers. Maybe that’s really why we drafted Love?

+ REPLY
-1 points
2
3
Bearmeat's picture

June 15, 2020 at 09:15 am

It's early. We'll know how this pans out by the time ARod is done in GB in 2-3 years.

+ REPLY
2 points
2
0
Duneslick's picture

June 15, 2020 at 12:30 pm

Well greenbay was 13-3. In 3 games they won easily. In 3 they were were beaten easily. The other games were so close either team could have won. They got a lot of breaks. Detroit was awful and they did not lead either game until the last play on the game in spite of stafford not playing 1 of them. They could easily have been 9-7 or 8-8. So now Murphy is a great CEO and Lefleur and Gute are great. Lets see what happens in the next 2 years especially when they cant sign Only 1 of BAK, Clark, Jones and King and will have trouble with Lindsley and Williams. No help anywhere this year except drafting Dillion. Lets wait 2 more seasons before we crown murphy.

+ REPLY
5 points
5
0
Lare's picture

June 15, 2020 at 04:10 pm

Funny, but in spite of all the Doom & Gloom reporting on the Packers by writers such as Silverstein, Florio and Dunne, the team just keeps plugging along being successful in the majority of their seasons and business activities.

Go figure.

+ REPLY
1 points
3
2
Archie's picture

June 15, 2020 at 04:23 pm

Can GBP can give us a repeat performance in 2020? If so, none of us will criticize this bunch again - at least not in a major way. However, to sign Bakh and Clark, they may have to trade Rodgers prior to 2021 or 22 season. If the Pack transition from Rodgers and Love and keep winning like they did under Rodgers, then I'm all in on these guys. MM waited too long but once he moved, I like his moves. Gutey has been up and down acquiring talent. Need a little more time still. ML did a helluva job as a rook. If he can keep the team overachieving, he will be the real deal.

+ REPLY
-2 points
0
2
nstewart1's picture

June 15, 2020 at 11:28 pm

Seems to me it was primarily the Media that fanned the flames of discontent with Murphy; gotta get those clicks.

I'm glad to see this article, giving him some credit - but I wonder where a lot of those writers are now.

+ REPLY
-1 points
0
1
lavernwalter's picture

June 27, 2020 at 03:27 am

Behind is the voice to love him, not far away. So do what is best for you https://run3-cool.co

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
nateredgi's picture

August 07, 2020 at 03:45 pm

Great post, I like it

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0
nateredgi's picture

August 07, 2020 at 03:46 pm

You write very good, you can easy lead your blog in instagram for example. At first time I advise you to buy instagram followers and likes from https://viplikes.net/ but then people will follow you themselves

+ REPLY
0 points
0
0

Log in to comment and more!

Not a member yet? Join free.

If you have already commented on Cheesehead TV in the past, we've created an account for you. Just verify your email, set a password and you're golden.