Wisconsins Morning News

Gene's Blog: Somewhere, Ted Thompson's head just exploded

Gene Mueller's blog

Maybe the Packers didn't want to compete with the Democratic National Committee.

Green Bay stayed on the free agency beach Monday as other teams dove into the tricky waters, shelling out big bucks for some of the game's largest names. GM Brian Gutekunst made no splashes, meaning Titletown wasn't going to be competing with Milwaukee's DNC victory lap as the state's biggest city found it that morning it'll be home of the party's 2020 convention. 

Then came Tuesday morning. Wow. All of the wows.

Green Bay signs a pair of Smith's at outside linebacker--Za'Darious, late of Baltimore and Preston of nearby Washington as well as former Chicago Bears DB Adrian Amos. In the process, the fairly new general manager didn't just kick down the door blocking the Pack from such a strategy. He blew it into splinters. Insider Ian Rappaport says the Packers tried trading for Za'Darious Smith a few years ago when he was buried deep in the Ravens' depth chart. Now, he's all theirs, coming off a great 2018 that also happened to coincidentally be the final year of his Baltimore contract. We'll see if that fire in the belly follows him to Lambeau. Preston Smith is in his prime, and the pair is seen as the answer to Green Bay's problems getting to the opposing quarterback. 

Bye bye, oft-injured Nick Perry and what's left of Clay Matthews. More proof the NFL is a cold, heartless, what-have-you-done-for-me-lately game.

"Reliable", "sound" and "consistent" are some of the adjectives used to describe Amos. "Former Bear" is the description Packers fans will savor best, as it's always sweet to pluck fruit from a divisional foe's talent tree. Many taunted the team they love for Monday's inaction, only to embrace (for the most part) the next's day's flurry of free agent activity, the likes of which we haven't seen in these parts in years.

Thompson's beloved "draft and develop" approach served the Packers well early on in the former GM's tenure but wore thin with fans, and apparently some on both the roster and in the front office. Change that many craved put Gutekunst in a position where he not only re-arranged the furniture--he put some of the more beloved stuff on the bonfire.

Green Bay just doesn't do business like that. At least, until now.

The Packers defense slowly deteriorated since the Super Bowl XLV win over Pittsburgh. It was gradual, but obvious in more recent seasons. Fans could no longer blame defensive coordinator Dom Capers, at least not last season when replacement Mike Pettine made chicken salad out of chicken you-know-what. 

What happens on the other side of the ball? Aaron Rodgers and his new head coach Matt LaFleur need to craft a relationship, the run game has to keep developing, a gaggle of young wideouts have to ripen and the offensive line...well, it needs work. There isn't enough spackle to fill those kinda gaps. This is gonna take some serious sheet rock in a few places. And what's left in TE Jimmy Graham's tank? The Pack apparently sees it as half full while others call half empty.

Democrats owned the headlines as the new work week began. Now, sports is king with the Pack's gaggle of moves, the Bucks roaring to a regular season end and the Brewers champing at the Cactus League bit. Oh, and there's college hoop, too, with Marquette and Wisconsin sure to have speaking parts during Sunday night's bracket reveal, that after doing conference battle where both hope to feather their NCAA nests. Milwaukee got its 15 minutes of DNC fame. Now the sports world takes over.

At least until our next big dump of snow. 



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