Former Packers beat writer on the future in Titletown
Tyler Dunne spent four seasons covering the Green Bay Packers for the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel and now works for a national media outlet, Bleacher Report.
So what does a former beat writer think of the current and future state of the Packers? WBAY Sports Reporter Dave Schroeder caught up with Dunne at the Mall of America for Super Bowl LII. The following quotes are from the interview:
“Ted Thompson was ahead of the game the first half of his tenure. The draft and developing and not taking risks on free agents that can really make you go bankrupt as a franchise but then the game kind of changed.
We saw this new cycle these last three years where the salary cap keeps rising and you do need to take those chances or you are going to be left in the dust. You look at both of these (Super Bowl teams), they sign veterans that have led them to this point and that’s something that Ted Thompson hasn’t done most of his tenure and it’s the reason why they haven’t taken advantage of the best player in the game.”
“You got to be aggressive. You have to take some swings. That’s why the team is in a good place now. It sure sounds like Brian Gutekunst is going to take those risks and that was one of the first things he said at his press conference, just watching from afar. They are going to do some things that Ted didn’t do. I don’t want this to turn into a big Ted Thompson bashing. He obviously did a lot of good. They uncovered some gems. They found undrafted free agents that had NFL careers. He’s a scout to the core. I think he relied on that scouting to an extreme that it might have cost them a Super Bowl or two. Both of (the Super Bowl teams) have signed veterans and I think there’s a value to always being worried about your job.
The Patriots are constantly bringing in veterans. Constantly going through players. Look at Legarrette Blount, the starting running back for the Eagles. They’ve got rid of him twice. They’ve let him walk twice and here they are playing against him. There’s just this fear that there’s always somebody behind your shoulder, breathing down your neck coming in for a Monday workout that could take your job. I don’t think the Packers really cultivated fear to that level and it’s a powerful thing.”
“I do know they do have that challenge trying to recruit players to play in northeast Wisconsin. That could be part of it. It could be tougher to bring in guys there when they have offers elsewhere but at the end of the day with the pull of playing with an Aaron Rodgers, playing with a contending team, I think that outweighs anything. If they have the money to spend then they should be able to find some guys because the effort just wasn’t there. It just seemed like Green Bay wasn’t really trying when they should have.”
“They find starters on day three of the draft which is testament what Ted has done, what everybody underneath Ted has done. They obviously can scout talent and that’s probably why Ted Thompson is going to stick around. It’s not like they are firing this guy and not giving him his keycard to the building. They still want him to scout. That’s what he is to the core. That’s what they do as well as any team in the league. You can go right down the list. Look at the last Super Bowl team they had. Sam Shields was a wide receiver at Miami, Florida. How do you know that this guys is going to project, with such limited experience at the position in college, into what he was for that time. Tramon Williams before that so that’s great.
There’s a lot of teams that don’t have that eye. I covered the (Buffalo) Bills at the Buffalo News after I left Green Bay and they don’t’ really have a lot of those keen eyes in the scouting department and they literally nuked the whole scouting department. They got rid of everybody and had to bring in a completely new staff so I think that’s what they do well. You look at how these last couple of seasons have ended. In Atlanta to be trotting out the corners they were trotting out to cover Julio Jones isn’t fair to those players. They shouldn’t be put in those positions.
They need to get some dogs. I would hear that constantly from players in Green Bay on-and-off the record in the offseason. ‘Let’s go sign some dogs. Lets’ sign some guys that will help us win in January.’ They need more of those players. They need more of those hungry veterans. It’s kind of cruel irony that the year they kind of take a chance on somebody, Martellus Bennett, (it) didn’t work out. They sign a veteran that you think is going to fill a position of need. It didn’t work out. I think you take a few more swings and they hope they work out this offseason.”
“I think if you are a Packers fan, you are really encouraged what you heard out of Brian Gutekunst in that first address in that they want to go out and try things that the previous regime wasn’t trying and that’s signing free agents, taking some chances. I don’t know if it’s to make a name for himself but I really think you can do both. I think you can sign players, sign veterans that are going to help you now while still accumulating draft picks and building through the draft. I don’t really look at it as one or the other.
I mean there are teams out there that are going to do really stupid things like sign Albert Haynesworth to really ridiculous contract and you can go right down the list. The (Washington) Redskins, that’s something they’ve done most of Dan Synder’s tenure. Look at Philadelphia’s roster and what they have done. They have done such a good job of getting veterans but not overspending for them in free agency. Trading for them. Trading a low draft pick for Jay Ajayi who’s there starting running back.
Making these little moves, little tweaks almost mid-season at a good rate, at a good price that isn’t going to cost you a lot of money in free agency. Green Bay can sign guys in free agency but they should be taking those gambles, year round. They should be looking for those trades year round. I think that Philly is a great example of that.”