Packers Fans – Do We All Think Like Ted Thompson Now? All Green Bay Packers All the Time

Let’s change the pace a little bit, let’s talk about you.

Let’s talk about you the fan.

Now that General Manager Ted Thompson has won a Super Bowl using the “Thompson Method ™”, he can apparently do no wrong in the eyes of the fans.  People who had been clamoring for years to get more veteran free agents and big name signings have quieted down, ready to admit the error in their ways and venerate the white-haired one.  Even the most staunch Thompson hater is now ready to board the “draft and develop” bandwagon that Thompson preaches.

One interesting fact that I’ve noticed is that almost as adamantly as fans were criticizing him before he won a Super Bowl, fans are now just as adamantly supportive of him now that he has won one.  Fans now seem to think the same way as Thompson now, which brings up a interesting question: are Packers fans now psychologically predisposed to think like Ted Thompson?

It’s an interesting thought.  If you are a Packers fan right now, you couldn’t be happier and you’d like status quo to continue (repeat anyone?).  Obviously Ted Thompson did something right to win a Super Bowl (right?), so it makes sense that people are following in Thompson’s rationale now.

For example, currently one of the big stories in the news is how long veteran wide receiver Donald Driver is going to remain a Packer.   Jason Wilde and Bill Johnson at Green and Gold Today have argued that if you took Driver’s name out of it, he’s one of those players that Thompson typically likes to cut and fans seem to echo that sentiment.  What I think people have forgotten is that Driver beat out Jordy Nelson and James Jones for the #2 wide receiver spot behind Greg Jennings last year and appears to still be the #2 wide receiver in training camp this year.

It’s not like the Packers gave him the spot because of his name either, he’s had to hold off every other wide receiver for that spot just like everyone else.   One other thing to consider is that the only way they will cut Driver (or any player for that matter) is if they get a player with more upside.  Do players like Brett Swain, Shaky Smithson, Tori Gurley etc. have more upside than Driver?

The same sentiment goes for Ryan Grant.  Many are starting to see Grant as slightly expendable or tradable since many are predicting a dominant James Starks.  Fans will point that Starks looked better in the preseason than Grant.  Lest we forget, Starks had a total of 2 attempts for 14 yards before being sidelined by an ankle injury.  While I would say its an unknown how Grant will fare after being sidelined for an entire season, I would say it’s just as unknown how Starks will fare when he’s asked to tote the rock for an entire season.

Either way, just because Grant is “old” by Packers standards doesn’t mean that he’s going to get kicked off the team.  Again, keep in mind that if Grant gets replaced, his replacement needs to have significant upside to warrant it.  Does Dmitri Nance or Brandon Saine have better upside than Grant?

Finally, there is the case with tight end Andrew Quarless; he was only drafted a year ago and fans seem ready to give up on him already.  They look at his mediocre rookie season and see two potential stars in D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor (they also see a Mackey Award winner versus GOD’S GIFT) At this point fans would rather dump Quarless than risk losing Williams or Taylor or fan favorite Tom Crabtree.

However, rookies typically have mediocre season and as a rookie Quarless did.  Jermichael Finley also did. B.J Raji also did.  I’m willing to bet D.J. Williams and Ryan Taylor will have mediocre seasons as well.  In fact I would wager that no one knows what kind of player Quarless is after only one year, but he does have the body type that the Packers like in their tight ends which gives him an advantage over Williams and Taylor.

So why is this?  Why are fans so dismissive of veterans and so ready to see younger players succeed?

  1. Ted Thompson preaches youth and fans believe it:  People always want to emulate winners and Ted Thompson is now a winner.  The classic argument now with signing veteran free agents is that Ted Thompson didn’t have to sign veteran free agents to win a Super Bowl so obviously veteran free agents are useless (while conveniently forgetting about Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett)
  2. Young players offer an optimistically unknown commodity:  For better or for worse, a player is often defined by big plays (perhaps why AJ Hawk, a very good player who never seems to make the big play gets so much flack from the fans; fans are quick to show Pat Lee the door after failing to get his head around on Joshua Cribb’s touchdown play and just as quick to give his spot to Josh Gordy, who had a sack and a interception in the same game.  But that was one preseason game and Lee was with the starters while Gordy was with the 3rd team.  Simply put as a player, unless you’ve already proven yourself to be a star, fans will quickly turn on you for a more unknown player who at least has the potential of being the next star.
  3. Fans see finding successful young unknown players as the norm in Green Bay: While many have alluded that the science of drafting is really not that great, overall the vast majority of good players are indeed drafted.  The Packers, who might be the post child for undrafted free agents really only have a handful.  Keep in mind that with every undrafted free agent success, 32 teams had to collectively whiff around 250 times.  Ted Thompson has even admitted that signing Sam Shields was mostly a matter of luck, as even he passed on Shields 7 times in the 2010 NFL draft.
  4. Fans tend to quickly forget about the young players that don’t make it: Everyone likes to tell stories about Tramon Williams and Sam Shields but Williams and Shields are the vast minority of all the cases.  Ted Thompson actually brings in a ton of undrafted rookie free agents every year and most never pan out.  Can you name an undrafted rookie free agent cornerback who tried out for the team last year and didn’t make the cut?  I sure can’t.
  5. Fans love the underdog story: American’s love the idea of a guy coming from nowhere to fulfill his dreams as an NFL player.  The media only exaggerates this by putting every rookie as an underdog; check out every bio piece on this year’s rookies or undrafted rookie free agents.  Unfortunately the underdog story only lasts so long; as some might recall Ryan Grant was an undrafted rookie languishing on the New York Giants practice squad and almost never got a shot to play football.  But now that he is a successful, multiple 1,000 yard running back, he’s seen as Goliath to Starks’ David

I would argue that yes, fans now do seem to be predisposed into thinking like Ted Thompson.  I think that the most fitting example is Packer’s fans reaction at the Philadelphia Eagles, who by all account had the most exciting pre-season of any team ever by signing basically ever free agent available on the market.  While other fans were sure to be at least partially jealous (or really jealous if you are a Redskins, Cowboys or Jets fan) Packers fans for the most part scoffed at the idea of signing so many free agents.  Would this have been true a couple of years ago before Thompson had proven that his method was successful?

I think it’s important as fans not to just blinding follow Thompson’s thinking.  When the Colts won the Super Bowl in 2008, many people were quick to venerate General Manager Bill Polian.  Colts fans were dismissive of linebackers (since Polian always seemed to manage to find good ones in the scrap heap of free agency) and overall people thought Polian was a genius.

Fast-forward to today and I think it has become apparent that the majority of the Colts dominance can be attributed more to quarterback Peyton Manning than Bill Polian.  Polian is a great General Manager but hasn’t managed to find a bona fide star in the first round since drafting Dallas Clark in 2003 (while other teams have managed to find stars in the bottom of the 1st round, like Aaron Rodgers 24th in 2005)

In the end, as a Packers fan, keep in mind that Ted Thompson is not a god and you shouldn’t blindly follow him; he’s a really good General Manager but he does not always know what he’s doing. Just look at Justin Harrell.


Thomas Hobbes is a staff writer for Jersey Al’s


53 thoughts on “Packers Fans – Do We All Think Like Ted Thompson Now?

  1. I think most GMs think like Ted Thompson, but lack the discipline, job security and confidence in their college scouting skills to stick with a build from within strategy. Thompson knows his strength is college scouting and he sticks to that strength.

    His job has also been relatively secure, even through the Favre fiasco. Who knows, if things would have continued to spiral downward after the two Vikings losses and the TB loss in 2009, and Thompson’s job would’ve been on the line last season, maybe he would have reached for a few free agents to make it look like he was “doing something.”

    1. Certainly, “In Ted we Trust” is now the mantra. Two years ago, it was “Fire Ted Thompson”.

      Adam, I can’t imaging Ted “reaching”, even in bad times. Hopefully, we’ll never have to find out.

    2. Discipline is definitely that Thompson doesn’t lack. But really, I’m not all that sure that other GMs really believe as much in the “draft and develop” as Thompson does. At this point though, I almost think that fans would raise an eyebrow if Thompson signed someone they knew by name.

  2. If Tampa Bay beats Detroit in week 15 this article would be about what Thompson has to do to save his job. Fans would be screaming for McCarthy (who has no defensive responsibilities) to get his face out of the play sheets and coach the TEAM, special teams included.

    But the magical ride to the Super Bowl covers a lot of sins. Congratulations to Ted and Mike. Now let’s repeat and prove all the doubters wrong.

    1. I agree, but that part of the reason why I think fans are starting to publicly agree with Thompson, he did win a Super Bowl using his method and people are quick to board the train of a winner. I do think that Thompson and McCarthy would still probably have pretty secure with their positions, undoubtedly the media and fans would have pointed out the amount of key players on IR and just written it off as a unlucky year (which is was)

  3. I am an avowed Ted-hater from back when. I’m willing to admit that he has proven me wrong on several occasions but I stand by hating his total apathy towards veteran free-agents. The right free-agent that fits makes a world of difference. I don’t want Dan Snyder or an Eagles’ like spending spree by any means but look at Reggie White or even Don Beebe. As our linebacker corp grows more and more depleted and TeddyTom just sits back and watches, I again grow angry. We cut and traded good LB’s and “In Ted I do NOT trust” on these young unproven LB’s who will be our starters. Again… he’s proven me wrong before, and I truly hope he proves me wrong again but no, I do not think like Ted Thompson.

    1. Well I don’t think that the linebacker corps exactly went down like Thompson had imagined. I highly doubt that the medical staff wouldn’t have caught Chillar’s injury in the post-season if it wasn’t for the lockout. If that’s the case, then maybe Thompson cuts Chillar first and then tries to renegotiate with Barnett. But the way it went down, you can’t go back and try to sign Barnett after cutting him, you’ve already shown your hand that you are willing to let him leave, and Chillar can’t pass his physical so he’s no good either. Thompson got screwed by the lockout obviously.

  4. If Thompson was a blackjack player he would follow his chart and NEVER deviate from it. If he was a poker player he would play tight and only play pot odds. In the end those strategies generally work well, but you need time to do it. As Adam pointed out, not having a mercurial owner is perfect for TT.

    On your point of the success of UDFAs being luck, that is partially true. But the Packers have the largest scouting department in the NFL. Also, TT and MM are willing to bring in 15-20 UDFAs every year. Some teams only bring in 5. The more you look at, the better your chances are you are of finding one or two. These guys are the lowest risk commodity in the league. Cheap and no guaranteed money. It is a good thing that you cannot remember the ones that got cut. No harm, no foul. Everyone remembers Al Davis cutting Deangelo Hall and Javon Walker one year into $50 million deals.

    Having said all that, I would like to see TT bring in some low risk vets every once in a while. A guy like Jimmy Kennedy this year could be brought in for the vet minimum and if he is not working out you cut him. No major guaranteed money at risk. I would like to see him use his UDFA strategy in the UFA market. Low risk, average reward. See who floats to the top.

    1. Going with your poker analogy, after winning a huge hand, Thompson has the luxury of just playing pot odds since his stack is so big to start off with. But Thompson, outside of this off-season, hasn’t always had the biggest stack so how did he pull it off for the first couple years? I agree that it helps that he has to get voted off by the Packers board members.

      1. Research before you call something absurd. No teams only brought in 5 during the 2011 season, but the Redskins only brought in 6 and the panthers brought in 8.

  5. It doesn’t matter what fans think. TT will do things his way. But more important than free agents is his signing our core young players and bringing in great coaches. Also, of course, his drafting is meticulous. I wanted a greater sense of urgency from him and he’s proven me wrong.

    1. Well ultimately it does matter what fans think as fans are ultimately paying the NFL for the service of football. My feeling is that owners such as Jerry Jones, Dan Synder and Steven Ross like to make a big free agent signings because it excites fans. From a pure economical standpoint it does make sense, fans were ecstatic that the Redskins got Haynesworth etc and that sells tickets and jerseys for a while, but more often than not the team gets worse as a result. I think the more correct statement would be that Ted Thompson doesn’t care about what the fans think.

  6. Those low risk,average reward players will only insure your team to be average and risky.As for seeing who floats to the top,that could be like hoping their cement shoes dissolve when placed into the water.
    The exception was Green,simply because cement shoes didn’t come in his size so he was just tossed into the water and was just buoying around and TT got lucky using his Huck Finn fishing pole for the first time.

    1. Reward is hard to quantify in the NFL, or else all 1st rounders would be pro-bowlers. The one thing that teams can definitely control is risk, contracts are pretty rigid in their structures. So really players are either high, medium or low risk and ??? reward.

      1. The great teams have about 8 superstars and the rest are average to above average players. Low risk/average reward sounds pretty good to me. The packers knew that Howard Green was not going to be an elite player, but I am sure they knew he was a big body with some skill. You do not project every player on your team to be a superstar. Do you really think TT thinks James Jones is going to be a #1 WR in this league? No, he thinks he is an above average WR in this league.

        1. It still totally throws me off that that you are now “Dan” and not “FireMMNow” >.<

  7. I think fans like UFA because its exciting and holds promise. Fans think in terms of upgrading positions, TT thinks in terms of upgrading the player. Young players get better. Even though we arent replacing many positions we are getting better at a ton of them

    1. I think Packers fans like UDRFA since it basically takes all the hype usually given to veteran free agents (since fans usually get nothing to hype on that front). Is this true for other teams? My feeling is that Packers fans are definitely more in tune with the younger players than other fans. Also, the Packers sign a huge amount of UDRFA every year so there is always someone to root for, but if a team only signs like 5 UDRFA then just statistically they are less likely to show up. Also the Packers do a very good job of showcasing their younger players (almost by default since there aren’t that many average veteran players on the roster)

  8. I think there are a couple of missing points within this story.

    First, this is not TT’s first time in using this approach to make a successful run. He bailed out Mike Holmgrem at Seattle to create a roster that went to the Super Bowl. This when the organization was ready to fire Holmgren when he was both goach and GM. Since their departure, the Seahawks have been a mess and start looking like USC north on their roster.

    Second, TT gets nearly no credit for his talent as a scout. He has mentioned in previous interviews that scouting is his true passion. Does he miss, sure can anyone say Harrell, but overall he has a plan. Six years ago, Green Bay has no receivers, fixed. Woodson and Pickett are signed. He went for depth by trading down 5 and 4 years ago to acquire more players. He needed quantity. Three years ago, amongst all of the criticism of trading down, he trades up and get Matthews and last year does likewise to get Burnett. Even at linebacker, you can see that they bring in a variery of Div 1A or DII lineman with the hope of one of them to convert to a linebacker.

    So when put all together, all you can really say, is that he doesn’t share his plans with us the fans and as far as I am concerned that’s fine.

    1. That’s almost half the fun, usually Thompson gives the media and the fans absolutely nothing so you have to figure him out based on his actions.

      As for Holmgren I’m pretty sure he was still a head coach & GM while he was in Seattle, as VP of football operations I’m pretty sure Holmgren could still over rule him, so it’s not all just Thompson.

  9. The reason TT brings in so few veteran free agents is that he drafts so well. The cost of drafting poorly is the need to bring in free agents. All 7 draft picks from 2010 will probably make the roster in their second year and he also has 4 UDFA/waiver guys that are key (Shields, Zombo, McDonald, Masthay).

    On today’s roster, the only possible places where a free agent may be needed are a backup G, a DE in the case that one of the starters gets injured, a backup ILB, and an OLB.

    The problems with plugging in free agents are: 1) they sign at or above market price (and if you are going to have a roster full of blue-chippers like the Packers, you need to have low-priced guys filling out the roster), 2) they stifle the development of younger players.

    TT is not a perfect drafter, but he is the closest to perfect GM that there is in the NFL. He is using methods that have been proven to work and does them better than his peers.

    1. I think it was Andrew Brandt at National Football Post that argued that the bottom 3rd of a football roster is interchangeable from team to team. I think the difference, like you have mentioned, is that this bottom 3rd of the Packers doesn’t have many “costly mistakes” players (either from free agency or drafting) unlike other teams that that have to keep players based on their salaries (like high draft choices or expensive free agent acquisitions)

  10. Maybe what is happening is that TT supporters are more vocal now than in the past. Because I’ve always sustained that TT’s philosophy was the right one. Maybe not as strict as now, but, personally, I’ve always believed in building through the draft, in BPA, and in always thinking about the future.

    Yes, it’s much more rare nowadays to find TT doubters, and I have no doubt some people changed their thinking because of TT’s success, but I’m not sure it’s just that…

    1. Very valid point, could it be that Thompson haters were quick to bash Thompson supporters so they usually kept quiet? Though I will argue that I don’t think I’ve ever seen the media so pro-Thompson, and conceivably they aren’t going to be intimidated by the Thompson haters (hell I would say that getting so much response from your readers would make more writers pro-Thompson)

    1. Everyone has their own opinions, though I will say that it seemed like everyone in the media was predicting Lang would start from the beginning so obviously they are going to keep writing pro-Lang articles.

      1. To make a conclusion based on not even a month’s worth of practices and preseason games that there’s something wrong with a guy?

        That’s not being pro-Lang, that’s being incompetent.

        And that’s not even including the stupidity of this:

        “Nobody rolls out of their mom’s womb an offensive lineman.

        Defensive backs, receivers and running backs, those guys are born. You’re either fast or not, but offensive linemen are made.”

        And this man is PAID to give ANALYSIS? Are you kidding me?

        1. I hate to break it to you, but the media sometimes doesn’t even give it a full month. The media first and foremost wants to cater to its readers, and readers often want to know what the writers think (since I can’t go to Wisconsin and watch practices and sit in pressers). Obviously someone liked Lang and they stuck with it and it caught on.

    1. Poor Cubs fans. Apparently there was a study done of the Cubs that showed that beer prices correlated more closely to attendance than winning percentage. Needless to say the Cubs should be keeping beer prices low since its not winning that brings in the fans.

  11. I thought that this years draft was a good
    opportunity for TT to trade up, after all he had
    15 players coming off the IR list. But he didn’t,
    now he has to make twice as many cuts of good
    players. All the low end teams are circling like
    vultures, too bad they can’t lump the last 4 or 5
    cuts for a 2 or 3 draft choice

    1. Good point, but Ted would only do it if there’s a specific guy he really wanted at a certain spot. My guess is that didn’t happen.

    2. Actually, I think Thompson was trying to trade down with the 1st overall pick; it’s the only explanation I can come up with on why he took all the time to pick Sherrod. Conceivably he might be trying to trade for a future 1st round pick, but that’s a little dodgy at best since you might get very little value from the trade. On the flip side, the more players you draft, the more likely one pans out. What happens if Julio Jones doesn’t pan out for the Falcons? Well the entire 2011 draft for them is a total bust and they’ve probably set themselves back a couple years.

      1. Well, Brooks Reed was there too, who they reportedly (according to NFL scouting) liked quite a bit. So besides entertaining offers, he had to make that decision.

  12. I must admit that I was a TT doubter for some time. I finally started changing when they cut Brent. Keeping him at that time would have sent AR to another team. and we’d be stuck as an also ran for another 3 years.

    I still have my concerns in the areas of FG/KO’s, ST’s and, most of all, Oline. But I can understand why he does it now. He has to manage a TEAM not a group of idividuals. Most important, he has to deliver a level of return on equity that allows GB to continue to field a competitive team and expand and invest in facilities that will keep our beloved team alive and well. That forces him to do cost/benefit analysis on every element of the organization. That unfortunately requires tough decisions and that includes players who we might have long attachments to. So, when DD makes the squad and holds the #2 spot it will be because he earned it.

    News Flash: Have you heard that Waste Mgt. made a pick up at Lambeau and as the truck drove off, the ST playbook started blowing out of the back all over Onieda. ST PLaybook? Let’s hope the opponents will get a good laugh. Sorry Sean!

    1. I highly doubt that any opponent will find anything useful in the Packers ST playbook. The Packers have been near the bottom of STs for a while now, and you can’t blame the players (since the ST squad probably changes the most every year). Maybe MM finally decided the playbook was shit.

  13. I’m a hater from way back. I don’t like him, but then who can argue with success? It would be ridiculous to say that he’s a crappy GM because he isn’t. Obviously he can get a team to the top. No arguing that point any more. But once the team has made it to the top, i wonder if TT’s style can keep it there. I guess we’ll see.

  14. Happy to say I have always believed in the “Thompson way” and supported it. But the article is correct in its hypothesis as far as fans automatically thinking that Thompson now knows best, even if they didn’t believe that previously.

    As for Driver, this year I would say that he will be surpassed in production by Nelson and Jones and remain the starter, albeit in name only! I don’t think the Packers are too interested in “insulting” Driver by demoting him. He may be the starter, but its in name only.

    Grant deserves to be the starter, his past production should allow him that to start the season. However, I do think Starks and Green are both more talented and that Starks will overtake Grant as the starter at some point.

    I think Quarless makes the team, at least I hope he does. He has the ability to be the best All Around TE on the roster. 5 TE seem to be pretty likely at this point.

    1. Ah Stroh, I’ve missed you and your Jerry Hughes man crush.

      Well apparently Grant definitely was in danger of being cut (or else why even talk about restructuring), but after restructuring his deal, he’s essentially a lock to make it considering his entire salary is now guaranteed

      1. I think that restructuring the deal doesn’t make Grant a lock..

        I think the only security it truly affords Grant is that the final roster decision will come dome strictly to TALENT AND PRODUCTION. In other words, Grant is assured that his place on the team is NOT determined by financials.

        This sounds exactly like Grant- He is confident enough to stake his roster spot on his skills. If a younger back can best my performance on the field, or is truly more valuable to the team, Grant can accept being cut like a man, but he will not suffer being a victim of his contract. Since the Packers have to pay him one way or another, if he’s cut he knows it’s because another RB out-played him.

        1. Actually, I think its basically exactly the opposite of what you said. Grant re-structuring his deal is completely due to economics. If you were Grant, would you want to give up a million dollars? Of course not, you’d want something back in return. What Grant got in return is that the rest of his salary is now guaranteed, meaning that the Packers have to pay his final year regardless of whether he is on the team or not. In essence Grant is hedging his bets, he knows that Starks and Green etc. might overtake him, but if they do and Grant gets cut, Grant has the chance to make more than the $1 million he lost by signing with another team (while still getting paid by the Packers). Grant essentially paid his way into a roster spot; he already made $1.75 million for being on the roster opening day and is guaranteed $2.5 millon so the Packers have to pay him $3.25 million (at least, he probably has escalator clauses in his contract that could increase that amount) and at this point, his value probably weight outweighs his price, he did rush for 1,200+ yards twice. It’s not inconceivable that he gets cut, but this far into training camp and I don’t think any other running back has shown enough to warrant the Packers swallowing $3.25 million.

  15. My brother always complains that TT is ‘a terrible communicator’, but in a league that is seemingly rather cloak and dagger in terms of secrecy, not saying much is actually being a GOOD communicator: know what to say and what not to say. And that’s why so many fans have issues with Thompson: we’re Americans and we liked to have our bottoms kissed by people who feel our pain (Presidential politics, anyone?) and Thompson does not buy into it at all by appearing to kow-tow to us fans either by bringing in a big star (‘See! Im’ doing something!’) or by patting us on the shoulder and saying, ‘Don’t worry.’ Nope. He just goes about his business. The fact that a Superbowl win still has not sold some people on him just goes to show that perception is more important than or IS, in fact, reality: sure, he won, but he never told me he loved me! 🙁

    Give me a break!

    1. I’ve always felt that Thompson was sort of an awkward guy, I’m not sure if that because of the public demands of his job, or maybe that’s just him. As long as he can communicate with his staff and his players I could care less if he can’t find the microphone during pressers.

  16. I’ve been screaming since 07′ to let the interception happy, brain-farter, Favre go. I have since, been saying “Yeah, that Ted Thompson sure does not know how to run an organization, does he?” Where did all the people go who were wearing the “Fire Ted” shirts?

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