Ted Thompson Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

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Packers GM Ted Thompson
Packers GM Ted Thompson

1) Introduction:  I think the biggest mistake that fans make when criticizing front office personnel like general managers is using the same rubric and time frame as they use for for players.  Take Ted Thompson for instance, whose first pick for the Packers was a quarterback deemed too short with a weak arm when the Packers already had the best quarterback in franchise history.  Naturally, we’re having arguments now on whether Aaron Rodgers is better than Brett Favre (personally, I still think its Starr, but Farve and Rodgers should be legitimately in the conversation).

Thompson was also roundly criticized for picking a cornerback to play safety from a college no one had ever heard of or drafting another wide receiver even when the Packers had fantastic depth but Nick Collins, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb have all been fantastic players who have made Thompson look like a very smart man. Overall, Thompson should not be graded per game or even per season, but over a span of 5 years or more.

2) Profile:

Ted Thompson

  • Age: 61
  • Born: 1/17/1953 in Atlanta, Texas (There’s an Atlanta in Texas?)
  • Height: 6’1″ (man, he was a short linebacker)
  • Weight: 220
  • College: Southern Methodist
  • Rookie Year: 1975
  • NFL Experience: 10 years as a player, 22 years as a scout and front office executive

Career Stats and more

3) Expectations coming into the season:  High.  In the last 5 years the Packers have won the Super Bowl, been in the playoffs every year and managed a 15-1 season.  Added to that the Packers have always had one of the youngest and deepest rosters in football and always have had a very healthy salary cap situation.  Thompson also has reportedly great rapport with head coach Mike McCarthy and his staff and Packer’s “system” of draft and develop has benefited all parties more often than not.  The Packers were expected to win the NFC North again and make it to the playoffs.

4) Season highlights/low-lights: Thompson’s highlight is definitely sticking to his guns and grabbing rookie Eddie Lacy at the end of the second round; multiple news reports linked Lacy as high as the top half of the 1st round while many others had linked Lacy in the 3rd or 4th round due to serious injury reports.  Lacy ultimately providing fantastic value as he became the focal point of the offense when Aaron Rodger was injured, while Lacy’s injury concerns didn’t really manifest themselves too significantly this season.  Thompson’s lowlight is also getting caught off guard not having a decent backup to Rodgers as neither Vince Young, Seneca Wallace nor Scott Tolzein were really the options, but Thompson was luckily able to sign Matt Flynn in free agency mid-season and who essentially saved the season (while Flynn might not have won the Packers any games, he wasn’t as responsible for losses like Wallace or Tolzein was).

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  Significant.  Thompson has essentially drafted or developed every player on the Packer roster outside of Ryan Pickett in 2013.  Furthermore, Thompson has hit on a lot of undrafted rookies like Sam Shields and Jarrett Boykin.  While the 2013 squad was perhaps not as deep as it has been in previous years, the Packers still managed to record a 8-7-1 season and qualify for the playoffs even with key players like Aaron Rodgers, Randall Cobb, Jermichael Finley and Clay Matthews missing significant time.

Arguably his drafting percentage in the early rounds has not been as good as in the past, but this is likely more an effect of regression to the mean more than anything else; simply put no team drafts particularly well, with the success rate of high draft picks being something like 50-50 (if you don’t believe give me an example of a GM who hasn’t made his fair share of misses).  Also keep in mind Thompson has lost a lot of scouting talent over the last three years with Reggie McKenzie becoming the GM of the Raiders, Jon Schneider going to Seattle and John Dorsey heading over to Kansas City.

6) Contributions in the playoffs: N/A. Arguably a GM’s contribution cannot be accurately assessed in one game alone, even if it is a playoff game. Arguably, as long as the team deserved to be in the playoffs (which is subjective), the GM should be commended. The Packers had a good chance of beating the 49ers in the wildcard game (remember the 49ers needed a last second field goal to win) but fell short not because of personnel but due to the team playing worse than normal.

Season Report Card:

(B+) Level of expectations met during the season

(B) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  B

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Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s AllGreenBayPackers.com.

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59 thoughts on “Ted Thompson Green Bay Packers 2013 Evaluation and Report Card

  1. This is going to be an interesting discussion. You make valid points, but , with being bounced early from the playoffs 3 years in a row, I’m curious to see how many readers argue against the B.

    1. TT is good, but not great. Most years he would live up to a B, but not the 2013 season.

      TT’s grade should be a C for 2013, on the strength of drafting Lacy. Without Lacy, 2014 would be a D. I’m concerned that the front office has lost too much talent. I also question how much accountability MM is held to. This is an important off-season for TT. Fingers crossed. Go Pack!

      1. I don’t understand the rationale behind taking out a player from a year’s draft. Should we give credit to Thompson for not drafting Jamarcus Russell? You have to take Thompson’s actions in their entirety and I honestly wouldn’t put too much stock on either the 2012 or 2013 draft, its much to early to really see how these players are going to develop.

  2. But, a least we are making the playoffs on a constant basis and we are not in cap hell. TT just needs to get us back to the title game. I’m hoping this is the year we start seeing the improvement this team needs on D. I hope TT can find the extra pieces needed to get this D in the top 12.

    1. people in this day and age want everything right now now now now now.people are calling for TT head on this site all the time, this frightens me. It shows me mucho packer fans are not to intelligent on this site.this article is fantastic and really shows a very high football mentality.the only thing was the backup QB this year.NO OTHER TEAM COULD WITHSTAND AS MANY INJURIES AS WE DID AND STILL MAKE THINGS INTRESTING…VERY VERY INTRESTING VS THE 9ERS. MR HOBBES I LOVE YOUR WORK TY

    2. Exactly. It’s ridiculous how spoiled Packers fans are sounding. 5 straight playoff appearances, yet people are still complaining.
      I live in South Fla, where the Miami Dolphins, the only team in the Super Bowl era to go undefeated, have not been to the playoffs even once in the time frame.
      Great management is hard to come by. Packers fans have no idea how lucky they are to have a top notch front office.

      1. Why compare to the bottom, or even the mediocre middle? Is that something to strive for? No.

        1. Wow, so many dislikes. I’m surprised and embarrassed that mediocrity is welcomed by other Packers fans.

      2. “If we chase perfection we can catch excellence”

        Yes we are spoiled. We don’t just get the trophy we had the man. Sadly, it is a different era, not just in football.

  3. I think the only major mistake Ted has made in recent years is not finding playmakers on defense. Address that issue and GB will be more effective in post season play.

    1. Agree, but playmakers don’t grow on trees. Collins and Bishop took till year 4 to turn into playmakers, Woodson was a great FA signing but those are rare in today’s FA.

      He’s drafted to try to find those players and this year w/ some cap room I expect him to try to find a playmaker in FA.

      A B grade is very fair IMO. Possibly little higher given he found the best young RB in the NFL and Hyde. Just need a player or 2 to take the next step a la Bishop and Collins!

  4. What other GM has a team that has won five straight Division Titles and a SB to boot. I think a B+ for that alone. Bellicheatk?

    Being bounced is as much the coaching and player execution. We evidently have the talent to get there, we just need a few key players to go all the way. again.

    1. Boy…are we spoiled or what? We’ve had 2 great GMs back-to-back, 2 great quarterbacks, 2 Super Bowl wins, and a lot 2 brag about (especially with all those wins against the bears). I suspect that we’ll see the Pack in the big game in the near future with Thompson at the helm, but if we don’t, he sure is one of the best at what he does.

      1. I don’t think fans really understand how lucky and how hard it is to win a Super Bowl. If everything was completely equal, every team should win 1 Super Bowl every 32 years, the Packers have won 2 in 18 years.

        1. Sherman was terrible as a GM. Wolf handed him the keys to a Lamborghini, he turned over a pacer to Thompson, along w/ a salary cap mess.

          NFL is about the GM/HC/QB combo. Packers have been very lucky w/ all of the above. Sherman was OK as a HC, but not good enough to get to the big game.

  5. This might be the year to go all in for a:
    TE – (give up two 1st rounds for the best one the NO Beast) take the risk TT

    FB – sign Vontae Leach and Kuhn

    S – Sign byrd and/or Ward the kid from Cleveland

    NT – DE – find two hungry players that want to WIN – they are out there.

    ILB (Barnett and Bishop) bring em back & draft the kid from Wisconsin a ST demon and good run stopper

    re-sign EDS, Shields and Jolly they all earned it.

    Let’s go 5 – 0 on SB winds the next five years

      1. Yes, it is a joke. In TT I trust and I hope everyone will just relax and let him do his job. Guess you were the one to get it.

    1. Perfect! Since we’re not gonna use a salary cap or common sense lets also sign Eric Decker, Hakeem Nicks, Brandon Albert, Michael Johnson, Lamarr Houston, Linval Joseph, Alterraun Verner and Aqib Talib. Then we’ll trade our first round picks from 2016-2026 for JJ Watt. Trade Tom Clements for Sean Payton. And trade Aaron Rodgers pads for Robocops armor, so he won’t ever get hurt again and he can play forever!

    2. TE – No TE is worth 2 1st round pick, actually no player outside a quarterback is ever worth that much

      FB – Kuhn has a good shot to be resigned

      S – The Packers have the cap to sign one, but definitely not both, or neither if they trade for Graham (keep in mind you will have to sign Graham to a large extension after you trade him)

      NT – DE – They are out there, but if you don’t list anyone its the same as if they weren’t there

      ILB – Barnett and Bishop are both old and injured players now that might not even play next year.

      re-sign EDS, Shields and Jolly they all earned it. – If you sign Graham, Bryd, Ward, Leach, Barnett and Bishop you will have a worse cap situation than the Cowboys, let alone if you add EDS, Shields and Jolly.

      Let’s understand this isn’t Madden with cheat codes turned on.

      1. It was humor meant to show what a GM can do to mess the team up! I still trust TT to get ‘er done!

  6. I think ‘B’ is fair. He has done a good job of finding talent and managing the cap. The B means that there is room for improvement. Given that we rely on the draft, improvements take time to arrive and they don’t always pan-out. Ted needs to expand his toolbox, particularly when we have a known weakness. This might be his defining off-season and a chance to move up to an ‘A’.

  7. Thompson has done some very good things and Packer fans should be happy for that, but this seems like more of a puff piece to counter all the negativity going on in Packer land right now, rather than a true evaluation of Thompson.

    Other low-lights would include not doing anything to address the safety position, and handing out big contract extensions to Morgan Burnett and Brad Jones, neither of who came close to living up to expectations

    I think it’s kind of a cop-out not to give a grade for the playoffs. The Packers have been in the playoffs for 5 straight years, and that is commendable, but other than 2010, they have only won 1 game. Expectations should be much higher when Aaron Rodgers is your QB.

    1. “The Packers have been in the playoffs for 5 straight years, and that is commendable, but other than 2010, they have only won 1 game. Expectations should be much higher when Aaron Rodgers is your QB.”

      Well said QOTSA1!

    2. If you want a grade for all the playoff games since the Super Bowl I’d still have to give him a B, the 2010 squad won the Super Bowl and getting to the playoffs every year since 2009 is a feat. Cleveland for example hasn’t been to the playoffs since 2002

  8. The goal should be to “always” be in the playoffs. If you are not in, you cannot win the prize.

    1. I agree, I think statistically the best teams consistently get into the playoffs year in and year out, and then it takes a certain amount of good luck to get real deep into the playoffs.

  9. The B grade is justified. TT could not have expected Burnett and Jennings to play as bad as they did at safety in 2013. Also, no way to expect Brad Jones to fail so miserably, based on his prior performances. No one expected Raji to disappear during a contract year either. Not trying to give TT a pass but those 4 players need to be held accountable for their performances. Those 4 players poor performance plus injuries to CM3 and Hayward doomed the defense in 2013. As for backup QB, we will never know what Seneca Wallace might have done had he played more than one series as a starting QB. Again TT never expected Rodgers to go down for more than a game or 2. In any case we still made the playoffs. Since 2006, counting the playoffs TT’s team is 87-51 for a .630 winning %, with an SB win and 5 straight playoff appearances. I left out 2005 because it was his 1st year and hopeless. When I measure TT I compare today’s team with the 2005 edition. Are we better off today than 2005-2006? Without a doubt, not even close. The current team needs a few play makers on defense and a new attitude. The team also needs a season with few serious injuries instead of the plethora of season ending IRs that we have endured since 2009. If we can add some quality players at DL, ILB and safety and stay healthy in 2014 we might finally be able to see and accurately evaluate TT and the team that he has built. Go Pack Go! Thanks, Since ’61

  10. Let’s see: our defense sucks with no hope of improvement and our offense sans AROD sucks too. TT wanted to trade the pick instead of drafting Rodgers but had no takers. Every year our best FA walks in a salary squabble with the GM and we don’t participate as a buyer in the FA market. And he has more blown R1 picks than I can count, especially on defense. He has drafted one star defensive player in 10 years. Take away the 2010 miracle and what have you got for the last decade? This team is now headed down. AROD’s prime will be wasted if TT stays the next 2 years. And you opine that TT is a great GM. Amazing.

    1. Well waddya know? I used to think that EVERYTHING Archie said was false. But now Archie says, “[TT] has more blown R1 picks than I can count.”

      Chalk one up for the “true” column.

      1. TT has only been GM for 9 years – surely you have that many finger? Especially since Arod and CM3 came in the first round???

    2. Lets see, five straight Divsion titles and a Super Bowl win, all despite some major injury issues. And he’s horrible? Archie you lose all credibility when you go off on these rants. Is he a great GM? No. Is he infallible? No. but I don’t think anyone has said that and I don’t think a “B” grade says that. However,there are about 28 other teams that would kill for those results. Yet he’s “horrible?”

      1. I call Ted’s 1st Rounders.

        2005 Rodgers ++
        2006 Hawk +
        2007 Harrell —
        2008 Jordy* ++ (still got him in 2nd)
        2009 Raji +
        2009 CMIII ++
        2010 Buluga +
        2011 Sherrod –
        2012 Perry +
        2013 Jones -/+

        Three superstars, four solid starters, one guy too injured, one guy an absolute bust, one guy too soon to tell.

        Yup, just ring meat.

        1. Agree for the most part, but I’m not sure I’d put Perry at “solid starter,” at least not yet. Maybe he’ll become that. Also, Hawk and Raji could certainly be considered solid starters, but at the 5 and 9 slots in D1, you are still hoping for something more. But you’re right… overall, the first round picks are better than TT gets credit for, especially since you can’t really blame the GM when his first round pick in 2011 snaps his leg in two.

    3. “Take away the 2010 miracle and what have you got for the last decade?”

      That’s like saying, I’m taking out the bits of your comment that I don’t like:

      “TT is a great GM. Amazing” – Archie 2014

  11. So the goal is to be one of the youngest teams in the NFL. Save at least 8M off the cap each year. Draft, play and lose to free agency. Show no signs of real development for most players. Go to the playoffs and lose. I guess a “B” is alright with such low goals. When Rogers career is over we are in for another 30 years of losing. How quickly they forget.

    1. Actually, no, when Rodgers is done, TT will kick him to the curb after having drafted another blue-chip QB option when all the rubes were clamoring for a D-lineman or something, because that is what we needed. Replenish the roster, always replenish the roster with new, young talent…..

    2. Thompson saves all this money so that he can do something like sign Rodgers and Matthews to huge extensions in the same year and still keep the team cap stable in the future. If this were the Cowboys, they’d probably be 50 million over the cap.

  12. I’m proud of Archie for resisting the temptation to type that whole rant in all CAPS. Good job buddy! Personal growth at its finest. GoPack!

  13. Ted Thompson gets a B. What a joke!! As he did earlier he wasted the final years of the Favre era by not getting Moss among other free agents. And he is now wasting the middle years of the Rodgers era by building a team on the cheap. He could have had Marshawn Lynch and he would have a made a big difference and he has not filled the weaknesses on the defense. To think he will be a player in the free agent market, like many think, is a fool’s errant. He will continue to stick his head in the sand and think undrafted free agents and castoffs are the way to build a dynasty. Coach Lombardi (Willie Davis, Henry Jordan, Fuzzy Thurston, Lee Roy Caffey, Carroll Dale, Don Chandler)and GM Wolf (QB Brett Favre, C Frank Winters, DT Gilbert Brown, DE Reggie White, DE Sean Jones, KR Desmond Howard, DT Santana Dotson, TE Keith Jackson, WR Andre Rison, PK Ryan Longwell, LT Bruce Wilkerson) did was add the final veteran pieces needed to put the team over the top. Thompson will not and never will. Not since signing Woodson and Pickett and Howard Green in 2010 has he added any free agent that made a contribution. Here’s the complete free agent list including the others in his first year (WR Marc Boerigter, S Marquand Manuel, LB Ben Taylor, CB Frank Walker, ILB Brandon Chillar, S Anthony Smith, G Duke Preston, (over the hill) C Jeff Saturday, DT Daniel Muir, DE Anthony Hargrove, DE Philip Merling, (over the hill) RB Cedric Benson and (over the hill) RB Ryan Grant for the second time. Last year it was S Chris Banjo, and four QB’s Vince Young, Seneca Wallace, Scott Tolzien and Matt Flynn. Only Flynn and Banjo look like keepers. But 3 (or 5)out of 21 free agents is not a good average. As far as trades are concerned Grant was a good pickup (for a 2008 #6) and the trade to trade up for Clay Matthews paid off as did the trades to trade down to get Jordy Nelson and Greg Jennings. Four out of 34 trades is not a good average. Thompson will never get this over the hump be continuing to build on the cheap and not add the final veteran pieces.

    1. First of all neither Lombardi or Wolf had to deal with the current cap rules. Wolf had some cap rules to deal with but not as restrictive as the latest set of cap rules. Most importantly Lombardi did not even have to deal with free agents. He traded for the players you mentioned. No team would be able to keep the Lombardi Packers together in today’s NFL. Wolf did not keep his team together very long either. Jackson, Rison, Wilkerson, and Howard were all short timers. Again, trying to keep those players plus Reggie and Favre would blow up your cap in today’s NFL. Yes, you might win an SB as Wolf did but TT has one SB win also. If you compare TTs FA signings with other teams you will find that 5 out of 21 is about right. Most teams are actually worse. Check out how it has worked for Atlanta in 2013. If you don’t manage the cap you end up like Oakland, Jacksonville, and now Dallas just to mention a few of the cap nightmares around the league. Or you could sign some high priced FAs and not have the money to keep Rodgers and CM3or Cobb and Nelson for 2015. Manage the cap or wallow in obscurity. Signing FAs doesn’t guarantee anything but spending money. As Jersey Al says, he is not perfect or infallible but TT has done a solid job and his record proves it. Thanks, Since ’61

  14. How do you evaluate a GM for one year? Tough question …

    1) Did he draft well in that year? Sure looks like it. Lacy and Bakhtiari were spectacular picks. We won’t know how the entire draft shapes up for another few years though. Jones, Hyde, Boyd, and Barrington could all pan out

    2) Did he put the team in position to make a run at the title? Again, yes. Unfortunate injuries to Rodgers and Matthews (and then Shields in the playoff game) put a big damper on their performance. Even so, the Pack was a dropped INT away from advancing past the 49ers.

    3) Did he mortgage the future to go for it in the current year? No way. The Packers are $35 million below the 2014 cap and have their best players signed to long-term deals. They have the money to extend Cobb and Nelson. They will likely have 9 picks going into the draft (their own 7 plus 2 compensatory picks).

    I think about a B+ for 2013. The 2011 and 2012 drafts look to be mediocre and his grades for those years should be dropped a bit now that we have the benefit of hindsight.

  15. Only thing not to like about TT s performance this year was not addressing safety at all, or back up qb early enough. The pack did well for an injury riddled bunch, and TT’s contributions played no small role. They would have done much better with the safety help however, B is fair, I’d take Thompson any day.

  16. Since the 2012 season ended, TT let Woodson and Jennings walk. He also drafted Lacy and resigned ARod. All of these were good moves.

    His drafting of Hyde and Baktiari look like solid picks.

    TT also selected D. jones and signed Clay to a huge new deal. The jury remains out on those moves.

    He also resigned B. Jones and Burnett and went into camp without a viable backup QB. Poor decisions. Allowing M.D. a Jennings and McMillian to be the 2nd and 3rd safeties was ridiculous.

    TT had a C- year.

    1. Letting Woodson walk was a good move? Huh? Woodson played the entire year in Oakland and the Packers put out some horrible dreck in his spot at Safety. Meanwhile, the Packers rolled about $9 mil in cap space forward so it is not like they couldn’t afford a vet back there.

      I agree that Woodson was no longer worthy of his contract number but TT never even asked him to take a cut or asked him about re-signing a lesser deal after being cut. I’m sure Woodson would have listened, at least.

      TT’s handing of Woodson was a big negative, as far as I’m concerned.

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