Ted Thompson Green Bay Packers 2014 Evaluation and Report Card

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Packers GM Ted Thompson
Packers GM Ted Thompson

1) Introduction:  Like the team he put together, Ted Thompson didn’t get off to that great of a start this season. Top draft pick Ha Ha Clinton-Dix couldn’t even crack the starting lineup out of training camp. Mid-round picks Corey Bradford and Khyri Thornton looked like busts from the get-go. Late-round pick Jared Abbrederis blew out his knee. Corey Linsley looked like a short-armed powerhouse who didn’t have the mobility to play center in the NFL.

Thompson finally dipped into free agency, but even those moves looked iffy at first. Julius Peppers was old and Letroy Guion was hurt all of training camp.

By the end of the season, however, the Packers front office once again looked like geniuses. The majority of Thompson’s moves worked out, and the Packers should remain in contention for the foreseeable future.

2) Profile:

Ted Thompson

  • Age: 62
  • Born: 1/17/1953 in Atlanta, Texas
  • Height: 6’1″
  • Weight: 220
  • College: Southern Methodist
  • Rookie Year: 1975
  • NFL Experience: 10 years as a player, 23 years as a scout and front office executive

3) Expectations coming into the season:  Get the Packers over the hump. The Packers have been good for most of Thompson’s tenure, culminating with a Super Bowl win in 2010. Since then, however, the Packers haven’t been able to get over the postseason hump and get back to the big game. Injuries, combined with a glaring roster weakness here or there, have sent the Packers home early. With a new draft class in tow and a couple of outside free agents on the roster, this was the year the Packers were supposed to get back to the Super Bowl.

4) Season highlights/low-lights: Seeing this rookie class develop is one obvious highlight. Clinton-Dix, Linsley, Richard Rodgers and Davante Adams improved during the season and appear to have high ceilings. After a dismal start, free agent Letroy Guion came around. So did Julius Peppers — in a big way.

The Packers are also sitting well with the salary cap. With a few minor roster adjustments, they should have the cap space to bring back both Randall Cobb and Bryan Bulaga, and maybe even add a second- or third-tier free agent, if necessary.

A lowlight that didn’t get covered much was the Packers lack of punch in the kick return department. Dujuan Harris was ineffective. And, of course, the Packers were again weak at inside linebacker with A.J. Hawk and Brad Jones. Unfortunately, that’s become a yearly tradition.

5) Contribution to the overall team success:  Thompson is the reason Aaron Rodgers quarterbacks the Packers. He’s also the reason the Packers are never in salary cap hell while still fielding a Super Bowl contender every season. Yes, Thompson takes a lot of grief from fans for not signing free agents and playing things a little too conservatively. Sometimes, he deserves some of that grief. Sometimes.

Overall, Thompson is one of the best general managers in football and 2014 was one of his best teams.

6) Contributions in the playoffs: Thompson might be the one person in the Packers organization who doesn’t deserve any blame for what happened in Seattle. I’ll go to my grave saying the Packers were the best team in the NFL in 2014.

Season Report Card (Coaches Grades):

(A) Level of expectations met during the season

(A) Contributions to team’s overall success.

(N/A) Contributions to team during the playoffs

Overall Grade:  A

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Adam Czech is a a freelance sports reporter living in the Twin Cities and a proud supporter of American corn farmers. When not working, Adam is usually writing about, thinking about or worrying about the Packers. Follow Adam on Twitter. Twitter .

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  • Razer

    I like everything that you said about Ted Thompson. He has us in good financial and roster shape. Other than leaving us with a consistent ILB weakness he has done his job. His foray into the FA market to shore up the defense was unexpected and very successful. I am glad that we have him and are not looking at annual messes like Cleveland, Chicago, Buffalo, the Jets or any of the other teams that hit reset every year.

    I will take a point away for the ILB thing since it has been the Achilles heal of this team for 3-4 years. That and his lack of real success on the big body DLine drafts earns him a “A-“

  • Big T

    Not saying TT is dumb, I think he is bright, but as far as looking like a complete dumbazz he gets an A++

    • marpag

      Your ever-changing views on TT remind me a a quote most often attributed to Mark Twain: “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.”

      Nice to see that you are growing up, T. Sort of…

    • Neal Richter

      Lincoln said (and I’m paraphrasing): It’s better to be thought a fool than open ones’ mouth and remove all doubt”.
      That fits you to a tee. Look around the league my friend. You have no idea how fortunate the Packers are to have Ted Thompson in charge.

  • I think you should have limited yourself to this year only (but you’re the author and can set the rules, I suppose). Thus, drafting Rodgers 10 years ago should not be a topic; otherwise, I’d have to discuss the terrible draft classes of ’11, ’12, and so on.

    Strong 2014 draft class: Check. It might turn out to be great.

    Wise use of Free Agency: Check. Guion was brilliant for the price. Peppers was a great addition. Minuses for the structure of Peppers’ contract, failure to bring in any competition at ILB, overpaying Shields (rectifying a mistake the prior year when TT made Shields play for the tender rather than extending him). Extended Nelson for a fair contract. I don’t blame TT for not extending Cobb and Bulaga due to the injury concerns; we are about to see how that plays out.

    Roster Management: Generally good. Liked the UDFAs. Messed up with Rolle. For such a good team there was quite a bit of dead weight on the roster: Bostick, Gerhart, Sherrod, Ryan Taylor, Lane Taylor, Dorsey, Hawk and Brad Jones. I don’t count Dujuan Harris as dead wood: I place the blame for his lack of contribution squarely on MM. Obviously, TT’s strength is self-discipline/cap management.

    General: Not doing well with the Favre situation. Get it over and have it in the stadium. Why is this even an issue? Re-signed MM. I am okay with it, but the contract was pretty rich for MM. I trust Zook got a one year, prove it contract. OTOH, love the hirings of Zolari and Montgomery. [I know, MM hires the coaches, but I assume that TT signs off on the amount of the contract. I would have offered Zook cab fare for a contract.] Finally, I give TT credit for some funny one liners this year, and more over several years. Grade A.

  • barutanseijin

    The article is rather thin on specifics to back up those high grades. I’d say it’s a mixed bag. Some of TT’s mistakes in years past bit the Packers on the ass this year, specifically, the retention of AJ Hawk & the Brad Jones re-signing. Special teams could have used Jon Ryan, too, since Masthay was awful. Then there’s the Lane Taylor mystery. Why? I can’t figure out the problem for which Lane Taylor is the solution. TT & the Packers were lucky the OL starters stayed pretty healthy. Kudos to TT for finally figuring out that Derek Sherrod cannot play football. Peppers & Guion were good pickups. I’m not completely sold on HHCD or Adams, but you gotta admit that TT hit a homer with Linsley.

  • Bobby D

    As in the case of MM, Teddy gets too many accolades because he lucked into AR. Who would have known what this guy was going to turn into? Certainly 24 other teams and especially SF, guessed wrong! That being said, one can’t ignore all the mistakes he’s made. Two top 5 picks and both mediocre at best. He gets thumbs down for carrying Hawk the last three years. Leading in down the field tackles/pile on and making zero big plays and now borderline comical. Yet he’s still around! The last #1 pick that made the Pro Bowl? CM I believe. Many misses and yes a few hits as is the case with many GM’s. Past year looks like it may prove to be one of his best…..Linsley a gem for sure! Bottom line, can discount the team was 2-5-1 in ‘`13 when AR went down. IMO you have to take advantage of a HOF qb in his prime. If it takes a FA signing here or there to get to the SB, then so be it. Most frustrating TT trait is his refusal to venture outside his comfort zone. Lose ours, get comp. picks, sign Peppers and Chong off the street and lose nothing. Starting to wonder if he’ll actually let Cobb walk. He can’t be that off his rocker! Can he?

    • Neal Richter

      I keep hearing that TT lucked into Rodgers. What a joke that is. Rodgers didn’t even play Division 1 football at first because no one wanted him.
      And on draft day, I read countless numbers of Packers fans protesting what a stupid pick it was because TT should have drafted more offensive help for Favre. It was obvious Favre felt that way, too. So pissing off your star player with an ego as big as Favre’s was not easy, either.
      And I heard fans also say Rodgers was too frail to be a starting QB in the NFL, that he wouldn’t last.
      Plus, if Rodgers was such a sure thing — why did he last until the Packers picked at #24? I am a history nut and love revisionist historians. They are just like Monday Morning QB’s. They change what really happened from the reality to fit their opinions.

      Let’s give TT his due. Picking Rodgers was no slam dunk by any stretch of the imagination given what he knew at that time and knowing he wouldn’t even get on the field for years with Iron Man Favre never missing games. It was a great pick by Thompson and he should be lauded for it, not dismissed as having been given a gift. Because that’s just not true.
      And give Rodgers his due, too. He worked his butt off to become the player he is and he still does that. He’s handled himself at all times in a classy way. He came out as the shining star during the Favre controversy because he always maintained his class in spite of whiny, misguided Favre fans slamming him unmercifully.
      And think about this: Just like Favre, Rodgers has not had one great WR or TE since he’s been the Packers’ QB. Yes, Jordy Nelson is very good, and so is Cobb. Jennings was good, too, but he was obviously passed his prime. Jermichael Finley always talked a better game than he delivered, and couldn’t stay healthy.
      Nelson and Cobb are not great WR’s, though. I reserve that word for only the top WR’s in football such as Calvin Johnson, Dez Bryant, or Larry Fitzgerald. Nelson and Cobb are not in that group. They’re a notch below that. Bryant can be a head case, so I want to leave him off that list, too. But he simply has too much skill to do that.
      Like Favre and like Tom Brady, Rodgers makes his WR’s and TE’s better than they are. As good as Cobb is and as much as I want him to be re-signed, he’ll find that out if he leaves GB, unless he winds up in New England. Peyton Manning can’t do that any more, and neither can Russell Wilson, Colin Kaepernick, and Andrew Luck on a consistent basis — yet.

  • Since ’61

    Agree with grade on TT based on 2014 results and draft picks. He’s done a solid job for the Packers since coming on as the GM. The 2014 class with HHCD, Linsley and Adams could be one of his best and that will be confirmed if Janis and Abbrederis become big contributors down the line. Now he needs to get it done with Cobb and Bulaga and find at least one impact ILB in the draft or FA and also a legitimate deep threat TE via either draft or FA. Thanks, Since ’61

  • White92

    Very good analysis. We are very blessed to have Thompson in Green Bay.

  • shavager

    I think he’s done a very good job–an issue I have with him is stockpiling draft picks. Since 2010 nearly half of Thompson’s picks are GONE from the team and most from the NFL. He’s passed up some great athletes at top of the NFL ‘best player available’ lists in past 4 seasons to settle for some players like Ricky Elmore, BJ Coleman, Terrell Manning, Caleb Schlauderoff, Sherrod, etc…imagine had just 2-3 of those picks been used to MOVE up to grab some ‘better athletes’ which include Jason Pierre Paul, Kam Chancellor, Richard Sherman, etc.. The Packers are CLOSE to a complete team, they need help specifically on DEFENSE–ILB, D-line and secondary that can be drastically improved now and rather than come home with 6-7 picks, maybe Thompson should look at the BEST 3-4 picks he can get by trading a pick or two early in draft. Those ‘best athletes’ available don’t last beyond the first couple of rounds and out of Packers reach without some moves. Unless he can get some street FA’s that can replace Hawk/Jones in middle and Guion at NT, and somebody to beef up this secondary–this draft will be a very important one for just two-three most important positions for GB.

  • Neal Richter

    I cannot agree more. Ted Thompson assembled a team which was good enough to get to and win the Super Bowl. That’s a very difficult process each and every year.
    Had Mike McCarthy not done a lousy job of coaching against Seattle, the Packers would have been in that game, despite Aaron Rodgers not having his best day. Critics of Rodgers have been harsh, forgetting he was playing against the best defense in the league with a torn calf muscle which took away a key part of his game — the ability to scramble. It’s not an excuse, it’s a fact.
    And, Mike McCarthy’s play calling hampered him as well. I like Mike and am thrilled he’s turning over the play calling to Clements because I think Rodgers will have a greater voice in game planning than ever before. But he coached not to lose in that game, and lost complete control of the team with 4 minutes left in the game. Lombardi must have been rolling over in his grave watching McCarthy spit the bit in that game.
    Thanks to Thompson, I have complete confidence that this team will be right back in the thick of things again next season. Seattle learned this year that it’s just not easy to win Super Bowls, even when you have the best talent “on paper”. When they finally have to start paying their star players big money — starting with Wilson — they’ll find it will be even harder.