Ted Thompson is proving that devotion and dedication mean more than stats.
The Packers general manager has stuck to his draft and develop philosophy. He has signed four free agents in Sam Shields, Mike Neal, Andrew Quarless and even B.J. Raji to come back and play their home games at Lambeau Field.
I’ve seen and heard numerous people bash Thompson for not bringing in free agents from other teams in order to help the Packers win their fifth Super Bowl title.
Frankly, the fact that Thompson likes to embrace loyalty and reward his guys shouldn’t be overlooked.
Remember, when you bring in outside guys, there is a bit of a transition period as the newbies get acquainted with how things are run. They must get acclimated to the playbook, varying types of schemes for different types of situations and know what and how is expected.
Obviously, former players already know that. They’ve already got strong bonds with teammates, which doesn’t hurt the all-important team chemistry, but most importantly, they already know their roles.
Neal is coming back after a season in which he was tied for third on the team in sacks. It would be ridiculous to even assume that he would demand a Clay Matthews role as the focal point of the defense. But if the Packers had brought in a guy like DeMarcus Ware, Jared Allen or Julius Peppers who’s to say that wouldn’t have happened?
Same thing on the offensive side. Quarless all-of-a-sudden isn’t going to demand Jordy Nelson or Randall Cobb targets because he knows his role in the delicate Packers ecosystem.
There were, heck there still are, decent guys available. Brian Orakpo is still hanging around, but since he was franchised by the Redskins nobody wants to part with two first round draft picks for a guy that is now arguing with Washington about whether he should be franchised as a linebacker or a defensive end. (It should be noted that the franchise designation as a linebacker is $11.455 million as opposed to $13.116 million for a defensive end).
It may not look flashy or sexy but Thompson is building a team in the truest sense. He rewards production and hard work from former players — as long as the price and age are right — which goes a long way to laying the foundation to a stronger cohesive unit.
I guess in a way, you could look at Thompson as a psychologist. He would rather have his own guys that trust each other and are willing to motivate each other by any means necessary as opposed to assembling an all-star roster or “Dream Team.” Putting those kinds of special guys on the same team looks amazing on paper, but how long does it take for those guys to work together and understand where everyone is going to be?
Put it this way, you wouldn’t have it any other way at your place of employment. Say your boss knows of some guy that is bucketloads more efficient at TPS reports and wants to bring him in to do it better than you. However, after thinking it over, he opts to keep you instead because you’ve been a hard worker and are well-liked. When you hear that, how much harder do you think you’re going to work? The answer is a lot. And the reason you are is because your boss believed in you when it looked like he wasn’t.
Same thing here. Thompson is terrible at press conferences and doesn’t look good in baseball caps. But he is great at getting guys to believe in the team-concept and in return he has players that would do anything for him just for the sole fact that their general manager believed in them when there were plenty of guys that could do their job better.——————
Cory Jennerjohn is from Wisconsin and has been in sports media for over 10 years. To contact Cory e-mail him at jeobs -at- yahoo.com or follow him on Twitter: Cory Jennerjohn