The Green Bay Packers are one of the most prestigious organizations in the NFL, and there is a particular way they do business. The NFL is always changing, and the Packers and the NFL have not been in the same business the last few years. The NFL is a “what have you done for me lately?” type of business. One look at the Packers organization, it is easy to see that is not the way they operate just look at the draft and develop process they still live by. Their old style will simply not survive in today’s version of the NFL, and the decline has been obvious.
We all saw a glimmer of new hope with Brian Gutekunst. Gutekunst has a very different way of doing things rather than what the Packers have been used to. However, Gutekunst does not have the control a lot of GMs do in the league. The question was always how much control and say would he actually get. Again, this year, the decline and fall behind has been obvious. The Packers continued their business the way they have since the beginning of time. Until late Sunday night, when Mark Murphy and Brian Gutekunst agreed it was time to part ways with Mike McCarthy. I believe this came at the perfect time, and it shows me the Packers are dedicated to catch up with the rest of the NFL. This move is important for everyone from the president and GM down to practice squad guys.
The Packers stuck with McCarthy as long as there was a chance left in the season. Regardless of any of allegations, as long as the Packers were alive McCarthy was the guy. After losing Sunday, the Packers season is over. The decision was made to start the off-season early, and stop anymore of the allegations that were true from tearing the locker room and organization farther apart. Gutekunst deserves to have his own head coach, and this lets him get an early jump on finding the perfect guy. It is not easy by any means to build a NFL team, but I think it is safe to say after year one that Gutekunst deserves some trust. This also allows Gutekunst and the rest of the staff to evaluate the roster.
There were many things this season that were new to Packer fans including an active free agency, drafting and singing players with incredible athletic scores, and not being afraid to make moves that may ruffle feathers. This is only the beginning. With a lot of the players being from Ted Thompson’s era, those guys are going to have to prove they belong on the current roster. In my opinion, there are multiple players and starters on the Packers roster that are just good enough to get you beat. This off-season, which started Sunday, will be the most important off-season for this organization in a very long time and especially moving forward. Gutekunst deserves the chance to prove what he can do, and I am glad Murphy sees it that way as well.
Counting the 53 man roster, IR, and practice squad the Packers have 43 players that are 25 and younger. Regardless if this is a rebuild or reload type of year, they need to figure out how many of those young guys are worth keeping. This leaves you with a perfect opportunity to see if some guys can play down the stretch to end the regular season. Lately, all we have seen is potential, but potential means nothing if it can’t be capitalized. Gutekunst will decide which of these young players fit his model for the team moving forward and which will be let go and replaced. The ones that are kept (that are not his draft picks) will probably be going through a make or break year.
This will put a decent amount of weight on if next season is rebuild or reload. I believe there are good players and good role players on this team, but it is time to either show the “developing” part of the draft and develop concept or be replaced. There is a plan for this team and how it is going to look next year and moving forward. These young guys have to prove they fit that plan.
The coaching staff is just as important as the players. The staff and their schemes will also play a big role on if certain players fit the mold. The sooner the Packers can put a staff together, the sooner the players can start learning and figuring out their role. These four weeks essentially give the Packers a head start on the other 30 teams (not including the browns). Coaches have connections and friends all throughout the league and even some at the college level. This gives certain candidates time to make calls and try to put together a dream staff as well.
I am sure Gutekunst and Murphy are also discussing if they want a true head coach and an offensive coordinator, or an offensive coordinator/head coach with other assistants. It also needs discussed if the head coach has the ability to bring in an entire staff or if guys like Mike Pettine are staying on board. There are multiple things that need worked out. With the Packers changing the way they do business, there is no telling which way they will go just yet.
Two things that are certain is this is not the same Packers organization of old, and Aaron Rodgers is not getting any younger. The front office knows Rodgers can no longer be the mask to all their problems. They need to do what they can to win as many super bowls as possible while he is here. Other teams around the league are doing it and going after it year after year to better themselves and try to win a super bowl. They are constantly making moves and finding the right pieces and combinations. I believe Gutekunst is dedicated to following suit.
There are a lot of questions still unanswered, but you can absolutely hang your hat on this organization changing. They have realized they need to catch up with the times. Change is inevitable. It is how you deal with that change that makes you who you are.