The Green Bay Packers ended their GM search on Sunday, promoting director of player personnel Brian Gutekunst to replace Ted Thompson. Gutekunst, 44, has spent the last six years with the Packers and so he’s familiar with how Green Bay has been doing things.
Is that smart?
The Packers’ entire organization and identity is built around Aaron Rodgers. That’s not just because Rodgers is great but because the rest of the roster is anything but— Green Bay missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008, going 4-1 in his first five starts and then 3-8 after he broke his collarbone. Those three wins were:
They ranked 25th in passing and 26th against the pass by DVOA. Offensively, it’s a signal that they don’t really have a system that works for anyone other than Rodgers, so that means the rest of the roster has to get a lot better. Unfortunately for them, the last seven drafts haven’t netted them enough. (Have I mentioned that Gutekunst is an internal hire?)
Their first rounders since 2011 are Derek Sherrod, Nick Perry, Datone Jones, HaHa Clinton-Dix, Damarious Randall, and Kenny Clark. They did draft Casey Heyward in 2012, but saw him leave in 2016 to go become an elite cornerback for the Chargers. Eddie Lacy was the Offensive Rookie of the Year in 2013 and we know that he did not become elite when he left via free agency in 2017. Green Bay has drafted five secondary players in the first two rounds over the last three years but still have a bad pass defense. And yet, they’re sticking not just with Mike McCarthy at head coach, but with a GM who may not do things much differently than Thompson, who remains in the organization in a different role.
The Packers will likely continue to be a threat in the NFC because of Rodgers, but will it be a similarly paper thin margin for error as it has been in the last seven, not-Super-Bowl-appearing seasons? As a Seahawks fan, I’d say this is a fairly desirable hire.
And not just because it means that John Schneider, who was apparently one of their first choices, is staying in Seattle.