Sunday, January 16, 2005

The Packers introduced Ted Thompson as their new GM. Although President Bob Harlan was talking about how Mike Sherman understood the need to reduce his burden entering Sherman's lame duck season of his contract, this was the first real firing in the Packers front office since Ron Wolf was hired in 1991. Since 1991, only two head coaches have been fired (Lindy Infante - 1991 and Ray Rhodes - 1999) and the Packers have been a remarkably stable franchise. There are a few ways to look at this move.

Thompson was a panic hire. After the second Lambeau playoff defeat in three seasons, Harlan had to do something to seem decisive. Thompson was an easy hire because he worked for the Packers for most of the 1990s (1992-1999) and is someone whom Harlan is very familiar. The downside is that Thompson has failed to improve the personnel in Seattle over the last three seasons; the only impact players acquired from 2002-2004 were CB Marcus Trufant and FS Michael Boulware. Seattle's big free agent in 2004, DE Grant Wistrom, was often injured and only recorded 3.5 sacks. Thompson leaves Seattle before the start of a dangerous offseason with their three best players (QB Matt Hasselbeck, RB Shaun Alexander, and LT Walter Jones) all entering unrestricted free agency.

It was necessary to hire a GM. Mike Sherman was only able to act as GM/Coach because he could rely on Mark Hatley, the former personnel director for Chicago who had never been officially given the title of GM in either Chicago or with the Packers. Unfortunately, Hatley passed away last summer and finding someone of Hatley's caliber willing to work under Sherman was probably an unlikely situation. Therefore, a true GM needed to be hired and Sherman's title would have to be trimmed back to coach only (I haven't read anywhere if Sherman gets to keep the VP title he had).

This contradicts Ron Wolf's last decision as Packers GM to hire Sherman to replace him. Maybe, but the last time Harlan hired a GM was Wolf and Wolf thought enough of Thompson to work alongside him in the Packers front office for several seasons.

In the end Thompson doesn't address the biggest need the Packers have this offseason; fix the defense. Thompson could bring in better defensive players, but I don't blame the players as much as I blame the defensive coaches. Thompson might know how to throw a bunch of high draft choices on Trufant, Boulware, and SS Ken Hamlin, but he can't teach them how to play a zone or cover-2. Thompson's going to have to prove to me that he deserves this job.

No comments: