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The Morning After – The GM Torch Is Passed

As I write this on Saturday morning, the sun is shining in on my sofa. Is it a signal that winter is over – or that the Ted Thompson era is now firmly dead and buried?

Though the Green Bay Packers’ web site has yet to issue a statement, I assume the news about the Damarious Randall and DeShone Kizer deal is fact. It’s understandable that everyone is trying to read between the lines, as this move came out of nowhere. Here are some of my reactions and speculations.

Brian Gutekunst

I doubt that CEO Mark Murphy had much to do with this bold move. This is new general manager Brian Gutekunst’s way of introducing himself to Green Bay fans – and to current Green Bay players. It’s a seismic move, and one that will reverberate throughout the organization. There’s a new sheriff in town.

Gutekunst has shown himself to have the heart of a gambler – he just took a risk that Ted Thompson wouldn’t have considered in his 13 years as GM. That Gutekunst led off his tenure with such a multi-faceted deal tells me this is not only a man of great daring, but also one who has plenty of self-confidence. This deal has every chance of backfiring in its main details, but I give him credit for issuing one hell of a statement, namely: players must give full effort and they must produce.

Brett Hundley

Unmistakably, the new GM has no confidence in Brett Hundley. This isn’t to say he’ll be dropped, as he’s only making about $600K in the last year of his rookie contract. But we won’t be seeing him play again (when it counts) unless both quarterbacks ahead of him go down.

Damarious Randall

I’m inclined to agree with those who feel there’s more to the Randall story than has been revealed. While Gutekunst made the deal, I think new defensive coordinator Mike Pettine played a key role. Because coach Mike McCarthy is so hands-on regarding the offense, the DC has almost unfettered responsibility over defensive matters. I’ll bet that Pettine was more turned off by Randall’s attitude than he was by his ability. In a word, Randall is immature.

Kevin King

There is simply no way that Ted Thompson would have moved on from a first-round draft choice, Randall, after just three years. This deal also appears to be a big vote of confidence in Kevin King. I just don’t see the Packers expending another first- or second-round draft pick on a defensive back. Pettine must think King will do well at the press coverage he likes to employ. As I keep saying, however, King needs to get into the weight room and add from seven to 10 pounds of muscle to his 6’3” frame – he’s currently listed as a 200-pound string bean.

Ha Ha Clinton-Dix

Ha Ha is entering the final year of a four-year, $8.3 million deal. He has shown himself to be the exact opposite of what Pettine looks for in a defender: he’s soft, unaggressive, and he gives receivers oodles of space. If it appears that Kentrell Brice is going to take the starting job from him, it’s likely the Packers could get some value by trading Clinton-Dix.

I would think that Pettine will give him a chance during the preseason to retain his job, but he’ll have to prove he’s ready to give full effort. The signals are that the Packers’ defense is going to be remade to Pettine’s specifications. LaDarius Gunter, come back.

Draft Choice Upgrades

The Packers moved up from overall draft choices 114 and 150 to 101 and 138 with the Randall trade. This is significant – and it’s also indicative that the Packers are doing all they can to put an unprecedented number of rookies on the 2018 roster. This draft could be the team’s foundation for the next decade. Gutekunst is dealing.

DeShone Kizer

I’m as mystified as anyone by this acquisition. Kizer, as a rookie, started 15 games for the Browns, so he’s had a substantial time to show some talent and instead he recorded a 60.5 passer rating. That was worst in the league among qualifiers, and over 10 points worse than Hundley.

On the other hand, he was considered the fourth best quarterback going into the 2017 draft, and he was indeed the fourth QB chosen – number 52 overall, a pretty lofty position.

The Packers, and this probably includes Gutekunst, McCarthy, and OC Joe Philbin, must be pretty high on the guy. It certainly looks like Kizer was rushed into being a starter before he was ready. His stat line was terrible: 53 percent completion rate, 22 interceptions (league-high), and only a 6.1 yards per pass attempt.

Before writing him off though, consider that he was sacked 38 times and fumbled nine times – the man was constantly harassed. And it’s not like he’s immobile. DeShone rushed 77 times for 419 yards and five TDs – fourth best among NFL quarterbacks.

He also had a bunch of no-name young wide receivers: Rashard Higgins, Bryce Treggs, Ricardo Louis, and Corey Coleman are all 23 years old. Throw in young tight ends Seth Devalve and David Nioku, veteran Kenny Britt, and mercurial Josh Gordon – and not one had more than 33 catches on the year. That left third-year running back Duke Johnson as Kizer’s main target – he caught 74 of 93 throws for 693 yards and three touchdowns.

Kizer certainly fits the profile of the modern-day quarterback: he’s 6’4” and 233 pounds, has a big arm, and is said to be able to make all the throws. He has a thick frame and showed last year that he could take a lot of punishment.

Regardless of Kizer’s potential, the Packers’ interest in him must be solely as a backup. I’d say it’s a bit of an over-reaction to Hundley’s failings – but after watching 13 years of under-reactions, I’m not prepared to be overly critical of this new regime.

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Rob Born

Due to Aaron Rodgers’ reckless ways, I’m officially launching the Campaign for GM Gutekunst to Acquire the Best Available (Veteran) Backup Quarterback – NOW.

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5 Comments

  1. TyKo Steamboat March 10, 2018

    Great article

    The Randall/Kizer move really came down to would you rather have:

    1.) a former 1st round draft pick whom is your best slot corner & showing signs of improvement & coming into a contract year so you essentially get him for 1 more or 2 more seasons

    or

    2.) a potential solid #2 QB & slight upgrades in draft positions with not much cap space saved

    I would have stayed with option #1

  2. Truth March 11, 2018

    TT brought in Casey Hayward, he brought in Michah Hyde, Sam Shields, Tramon Williams, Morgan Brunett, Mike Daniels, Nick collins,Perry, m
    Mathews, Raji, Cobb, Nelson, Finley, Sitton Baktiari, Lang, Bulaga, Adams, jennings….Rodgers……..Janis!!

    Not to mention the free agents like Woodson, Peppers, Saurday, Evans, Pickett, Guion, Ryan Grant ( trade).

    The change in GM has made me appreciate all TT has done for the packers more than ever. If players leave to other teams and become instantly successful that is a compliment to TT for bringing that player to green bay and an obvious sign that something is terribly wrong with the packers coaching staff.

    You can lead a horse to water but you can’t make it drink

    1. KILLER March 11, 2018

      C’mon, Truth!

      Looks like a pretty nice list there but it is really selective/deceptive reporting. Let’s dig in a little…

      Hayward and Hyde are debits, not credits. They were both allowed to leave just as they blossomed into pro bowlers. Raising pro bowlers so they can be pro bowlers for other teams does not mean the GM is good.

      The next group of names has some good players. I will point out a few that actual go under the “Fail” column (sometimes considering relative to draft position sometimes relative to contract vs. production) —

      Raji (very poor for Top 10 pick)
      Perry (now overpaid)
      Cobb (super way overpaid)
      Finley (Finley? For serious?)
      Sitton (organizational disgrace the manner of his departure)
      Lang (organizational disgrace the manner of his departure)
      Adams (brutal early years and now likely overpaid)

      Most of the rest in that group have asterisks and some warts but at least held their water. However, even a blind squirrel finds some nuts. There were many more failures than successes by TT. You don’t judge a QB by a few completions or a few incompletions. But 50%? Bad QB. TT as a GM was about 36% in completing draft picks, re-signing for wise amounts and good play, or signing free agents.

      Those free agents you listed–

      Woodson let go too soon.
      Peppers let go too soon.
      Saturday was an ABJECT FAILURE. They were forced to bench him and he was only in GB one year. How dare that debit be listed as a credit!
      Guion was an organizational embarrassment.

      That list of outside free agents — from 2005 to 2017 — which other teams in the NFL do you think that beats? I think maybe none but, who knows, maybe you can find 2 or 3 other teams in the 32 team NFL who have done worse.

      1. KILLER March 11, 2018

        Just to put that outside free agent list in perspective:

        Compare those 13 years with those 6 free agents. Two were failures. Two were successes. Both from offense and defense.

        Let’s just compare it to the Vikings over the last 4 years — less than one third the time — and only looking at one side of the ball. You choose!

        On defense: Vikings got a steal in pro bowler NT Linval Joseph. A great deal on expert nickel corner Captain Munnerlyn. A top player for cheap in Terrence Newman. A steal of the discard bargain basement bin in DT Tom Johnson. All great additions, all better output than what they are paid.

        On offense: OT Mike Remmers. OT Riley Reiff. RB Latavius Murray. QB Case Keenum. And, guess what? That was last year alone!

  3. Truth March 12, 2018

    Idk where to begin with your ignorant assemement. First off I my point was to show that player development (lack of) did not do thompson any favors. Also it should be noted, although I would have expected you to know this, Russ ball was walkways in charge of negotiations, so I’m not sure how much of the overpaid contracts is actually his doing or fault.

    As for the Vikings I’m sure there are some players they are proud of aquiring..the. again there is also plenty to be ashamed of:

    Datone jones (packer reject) we can look back at the Vikings rich history and tradition of grabbing packers trash.

    Adrain peterson looked pretty good in Arizona..and YOU wanna talk about disgrace to an organization in departure?

    Let’s just group together the infinite number of 1st round draft picks spent on qbs….with…no qb to start 2018?????

    What do you use as a gauge for sucess?

    Vikings overall record since 2010 is 63-64 V.S Packers 83- 44

    How about head to head since 2010?

    Vikings: 5 wins
    Packers: 11 wins

    Keep telling yourself how great your acquisitions have worked out.