Author: Zach Epstein
If the Packers want to capitalize on their championship window, they must make a change at the GM position. It’s an unfortunate reality that the Packers’ Super Bowl window with Aaron Rodgers at quarterback is closing.
Rodgers, 34, is on the back side of his career. The Packers won their only Super Bowl appearance in ten seasons with Rodgers as the starter. While he has consistently been one of the best quarterbacks in the league, the team around him has certainly not been at the same level. Ron Wolf has often said his biggest regret as GM of the Packers was not giving Brett Favre enough weapons. Favre, like Rodgers, won only one Super Bowl; however, he played in two. It could be said that Ted Thompson hasn’t given Rodgers enough help defensively to win more Super Bowls.
Rodgers has lost six playoff games in his career. In those six losses, the defense has given up an average of 36 points. Since 2009, the Packers have averaged nearly 28 points per game offensively, and have consistently been in the top ten for the league in that category. Over that same time span, the Packers have had a top ten defenses only twice. Clearly the offense has not been the problem in the Packers playoff setbacks under Thompson.
Why has Thompson failed to provide Rodgers an adequate defense capable of winning a Super Bowl? There are several reasons. First, Thompson’s reluctance to re-sign players entering the prime of their careers – most recently Casey Hayward and Micah Hyde. In his first season with the Chargers, Hayward led the league in interceptions.
Second, Thompson has not drafted well defensively. With Thompson’s best available draft strategy, positions of obvious need are often not filled until late round picks. This leads to an endless cycle of mediocre play at key positions such as middle linebacker. Another pitfall of Thomson’s is his reluctance to sign free agents. His best moves into free agency were signing Charles Woodson in 2006 and Julius Peppers in 2014. Some of the best teams in today’s NFL, specifically the Patriots, Eagles, Rams and Seahawks, go out and sign free agents to fill holes in their roster. While the Packers have had one of the best offenses in the league, the defenses have been their Achilles heel under Thompson.
His reluctance to change his management philosophy to align more with today’s NFL will prevent the Packers from utilizing Rodgers’ greatness by winning Super Bowls.