Are Seats Getting Warm?


Ted and Mike

The annual ritual that around 24 of 32 teams’ fans discuss is upon us. Who gets fired and who earned another year. With the Vikings strongly in command of the NFC North, that time is upon us as Packer fans. What will become of Ted and Mike?

Ted Thompson – Ted has his good points and his bad points. Is his seat warm?

The Favre fiasco was handled poorly, but one has to remember, Ted was in constant communication with the board and higher-ups throughout it. They were well aware of what was going on and certainly had to approve some things. For being a black mark, I’m not so sure that it is as black as many fans make it out to be.

His strong point surely is self scouting. Ted has rarely made a mistake with regards to who to extend and who to let walk. Along with that, his financial management has been top-notch. He has been fair but generous to his players. He rarely signs players to contracts that the teams can’t easily walk away from (aside from rookies, where he sticks to the system).

His drafting has been so so. His high round picks haven’t been stellar, save for a few, but he has made up for it with some strong showings elsewhere. Ted is surely one of the top guys when it comes to undrafted free agents and extracting value from the bottom of the roster. His scouting department is one of the best. Green Bay is typically noted as one team that is always there for every workout, no matter how small.

If Ted has a huge Achilles heel, it is free agency. I understand why he does it that way, how a roster is financially constructed. I actually think that I understand his system. I think Ted and co scout the league, find the team fits, set a $$ point to their tape and projected performance, and offer a visit when the market is giving close to that $$ point. The reason for only offering a visit, which causes many “top” players to look elsewhere, the guys that really want to be there and want to be Packers will come. The others won’t. Weeds out the ones that don’t really want to be there from the get go.

Ted does have a darn good free agency track record, he has hit pretty big, and has few misses of any $$ consequence. But he uses it so sparingly. Which can be viewed as detrimental to the roster construction from a skill perspective and experience perspective.

This is a results business though and his record isn’t stellar yet. Is it bad enough, is he not performing well enough to keep his job?

I say no, Ted stays. It would be hard to move on from Ted unless a top guy such as Parcells becomes available. Ted found a QB, rebuilt the roster and cap, and has an overall pretty talented roster. I don’t think that the board and Murphy would be willing to buy him out and put somebody else in place, unless they had a guy in mind and that guy was out there. I don’t think that Ted gets fired for somebody else in general. This year. He’s coming off of a pretty strong draft.

Mike McCarthy – Many Packer fans however are willing to concede that Mike’s seat is warming up, if not already hot, following the start to this season. Where does he stand?

Mike was hired as a first time head coach, after a single failed year coordinating the worst offense in the league. He did though have a pretty strong run as offensive coordinator in New Orleans prior to that. And he was a noted QB developer. He was a shocking hire at the time. After a 13-3 season his 2nd year, his contract was extended and his future seemed bright.

Since the team moved on from Brett Favre it has seemed stuck in the mud and lost in general at times, despite many strong performances by Aaron. Some not so positive trends have emerged, and what was once seen as a McCarthy strong point, game planning and play calling, is now under fire.

McCarthy’s teams tend to play very sloppy and undisciplined. They are heavily penalized and rarely sustain stretches of consistent play, being very mistake prone. McCarthy is a players coach that rarely will confront a player about issues.

His defenses have been nearly autonomous. Aside from mundane day to day procedural stuff for the whole team, McCarthy seems to interact very little with the defense. His first attempt at a defensive coordinator was a failure, and he is now on his second.

McCarthy is a QB coach and spends the bulk of his effort there. He did a good job turning around Brett Favre’s career, and did a good job developing Aaron Rodgers and Matt Flynn. That is definitely his strong point as a coach.

For a while Mike seemed to be a pretty creative playcaller, and quickly came up with solutions to problems that came up. As of late it seems that much of that has been sapped, he almost seems to ignore problems. His game plans as well have begun to wane in effectiveness over the last few years. His first 15 plays, a WCO staple, rarely work. Despite years of paying lips service to running the ball, he rarely calls runs, when he does, they aren’t very effective.

How he has handled the offensive line however has been very, very concerning. To a point, Ted can only do so much. He has provided a pretty steady supply of offensive lineman for Mike, an average of 2 per year, and all but a couple could play guard or tackle. Mike’s choices have made the line of today. The tackle problems don’t need to exist. He has been supplied adequate talent. Their coaching has been subpar IMO and they took a long time to settle on spots.

One dynamic that isn’t considered much, is how much McCarthy asks for free agents. What parameters for players McCarthy gives Ted. And what McCarthy communicates as his needs to Ted. None of us knows this, we can only speculate, but this is a very important dynamic in the NFL.

Some of McCarthy’s roster decisions have led to good/useful players leaving in lieu of other project players that didn’t play and didn’t prove worth it. It is hard to fault Ted for drafting guys like Clowney, Tollefson, Haynos, Culver, Meredith, and Harris, when they are today contributing in the NFL, and would contribute to our team, when McCarthy decided to let them go at the end of camp (I would think that Ted cedes almost full decision-making at this time to Mike).

Another thing about Mike is that he is a players coach that treats his players like grown men. He is not a rah rah guy that gives fiery speechs, and he relies on his team leaders to do the leading among the team. Mike is not the team leader.

Is Mike’s seat getting warm? I say yes. One problem for him that I see, if Ted is the strategist that I think he is, and wants to keep his job, McCarthy could be in trouble. If Ted’s job is safe, but he has discretion to change head coaches, especially if we fail to make the playoffs this year, changing head coaches is in his best interest. One more bad year and a change is likely to both Ted and Mike. If he gets rid of Mike, he most likely gets a few years with a new coach to try to make it work, though he surely is gone with the coach (if fired). With the number of coaches on the market, Ted could sell his superior on an upgrade to one of the guys on the market, and in doing so attach his fate to a proven head coach. Having a big bank account and a good young QB, Ted has a very attractive opening should he make it happen.

Another hint that could be pointing this way, the roster has a huge amount of leeway currently. The number of guys not under contract next season is staggering. If a new CBA is reached prior to the tag date (drop dead date I believe), something that appears more and more likely by the day, there will be a lot of good free agents on the market, and Green Bay will have deep pockets. Either way, if a new coach is hired, there is a lot of leeway in the roster with guys to keep or get rid of, and the team has a ton of cap space (or useable money if uncapped) to work with.

Lastly, I think that Mike’s job is complete. More than anything at first, Ted needed the finest QB developer to get Aaron ready to replace Brett. While Aaron still has a little to learn, the job of turning a raw prospect into a starting NFL quarterback is complete.

Summary – In summary, I think that Ted’s chance of getting fired is very low, and he could take steps to securing his spot. By firing McCarthy. McCarthy has a very, very hot seat in my opinion, the chances that he is gone if he fails to make the playoffs is very good from my point of view. If Mike makes the playoffs on the other hand, it would be hard for Ted to fire him, and really he would have no reason to.

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2 Responses to “Are Seats Getting Warm?”

  1. Lars Says:

    Waldo,
    Very enlightening analysis of the Packers current management. I would hold Ted more accountable for his refusal (since 2006) to add free agents, which would take some pressure off of his “so-so” drafts.

    At some point “adequate” talent along the OLine and at RB could be improved by using high draft choices in those areas as, opposed to spending the majoritiy of first day picks on the defensive front 7. Harrell, Hawk, Mathews and Raji being examples.

  2. Lars Says:

    Disagree, Waldo, that Ted’s OLine draft choices have bewen “adequate.” And, “adequate” isn’t good enough, anyway.

    Barbre, Coston, Whitacre, Moll, Breno, Merdith, et. al. are not “adequate.” Spitz and sometimes Colledge are adequate. Lang, we’ll see. It’s interesting to note that Clifton, Tauscher and Wells (Sherman-era holdovers) are still starter five years into TT’s reign.

    Drafting small-school projects and hoping to “coach them up” has been a dismal failure. And, Thompson stubbornly refuses to add OLine FA? Is that MM’s fault?

    “Guards are a dime a dozen,” says Ted Thompson. Well, that disdain is evident each week in GB.

    Circle the wagons all you want around Thompson, but he is as much to blame (despite his strengths) as McCarthy if the team fails to make the playoffs.

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