On the Clock: Reaction to general manager hire

GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - A lot of news has come out of the 1265 Lombardi Avenue since the Packers 7-9 season ended. General Manager Ted Thompson was asked to move into a senior advisory role, Offensive coordinator Edgar Bennett and Defensive Coordinator Dom Capers were both let go along with other coaches on Mike McCarthy's staff.

Packers Director of Player Personnel Brian Gutekunst has since been promoted to the team's general manager. To shed some light on the decision WBAY gathered Packers beat writers: ESPN's Rob Demovsky, ESPN Wisconsin's Jason Wilde and WTAQ.com's Mark Daniels.

Wilde: “I think it is (a good thing)… I don’t think I have anything against Russ Ball, I just think when you take a guy who’s not a personnel guy that didn’t come up in scouting, you are taking a greater risk and Brian Gutekunst is a smart, humble, very good personnel evaluator. I think this a good choice.”

Demovsky: “Someone high up in the organization told me over the weekend John Schneider would be a grand slam but Brian Gutekunst is a home run. Gutekunst, I’m told, knocked it out of the park in his interview. (He) was the most complete candidate in terms of on the pro and the college side. Eliot (Wolf) is very good on the pro side but (he’s) young. He’ll eventually get there on the college side…Another person around the league told me that Brian Gutekunst is the next John Schneider and that’s what everyone thinks of him around the league.”

Demovsky: “I talked to somebody that said ‘I told you in 2013 what the succession plan was and that was Russ Ball’ now did it all the sudden change just because of (McCarthy mentioning it had to be the right fit) or because of the interviews? I don’t know that we can say that. I do think though that it was clear that (Mark) Murphy listened to a number of people which is what someone in his position should do. They should fully investigate and go through all the candidates and say ‘look this is the pluses and minuses of all these guys’ rather than just saying ‘you know what this is the guy I’m going to hire and everybody else get out of the way.’”

(On Russ Ball)
Demovsky: “They don’t have any bad contracts even of their own guys. Obviously you can say they made some mistakes in letting guys go but I don’t think you can say, maybe people get on the Randall Cobb contract.”

Daniels: “Look the Packers need someone very astute in the things Russ Ball does. I think what Russ Ball has been doing in the last couple of years aside from sitting in with Ted (Thompson) on some scouting type of things and film sessions, is that he’s getting a greater understanding of the franchises as a whole. The succession plan I always thought was going to be in place was that Ball will be the next Mark Murphy.”

Wilde: “I don’t know that (Ball) has done a fantastic job? They don’t sign free agents so you and I could manage the (salary) cap if we are not going to sign free agents…I like Russ. I think he does play a very important role, my point is that the most important job a GM has is evaluating and accumulating talent. So I firmly believe that (Ball) was the heir apparent. You don’t tell Rob Demovsky at the scouting combine ‘we have a succession plan in place’ and then you say that the succession plan, well really we know about the interview process. That’s not a succession plan. I think it’s a couple of things. I know the quarterback didn’t like the idea. I know there are people within the organization that had questions about who was making decisions on which guys were re-signed and which guys weren’t. Whether that was Ted Thompson or not and I think what Mike McCarthy said carried some heft. It had to be a fit.”

Daniels: “A Super Bowl. And he did it in five years. The plan just like (Mike) Holmgren and (Ron) Wolf, was a five-year plan. They got it accomplished. Ted got it accomplished. Made some bold moves the (Charles) Woodson signing, obviously the Rodgers’ draft, missed on some ones on the defensive side of the ball over the last 6-7 years or so but I think his legacy is pretty secure. He did a pretty good job.”

Demovsky: “Player acquisition is important. He acquired the best player at the most important position. I don’t care that he fell into his lap. The next general manager is charged with finding the next quarterback.”

Wilde: “Unappreciated. I remember sitting with him in 2007 and he said something I’ll never forgot, ‘I just want people to feel like the Packers are in good hands.’ And I don’t know if Packer fans ever felt that way and they should have. And I think they were wrong that they didn’t.”


Additional topics in part two: Grading Packers President/CEO Mark Murphy, McCarthy’s contract extension and discussing coaching changes.