Sports Illustrated’s Greg Bedard is a well-connected NFL source, but for a national football writer he has especially good contacts with the Green Bay Packers. Bedard spent time with the Green Bay Press-Gazette as a Packers beat writer, so it makes sense that he would have an in with some good team sources.
That’s why a few nuggets from Bedard’s latest column make for some interesting food for thought. Here are a couple of items regarding the Packers’ coaching staff and front office that Bedard discussed this week in his “Black Monday” breakdown.
The first, and most significant, item that Bedard brings up is the status of Packers General Manager Ted Thompson. Ted is signed to a contract that runs through the conclusion of the 2018 season, and some of the prevailing thoughts are that he intends to evaluate his situation at the conclusion of that contract.
To be sure, the Packers have a succession plan in place, and it almost certainly involves the promotion of Eliot Wolf to Thompson’s position when he vacates it. However, Wolf has been seeing increased interest from other teams in the last year or two, and the Packers have even blocked him from interviewing for GM positions with other teams.
That all sets up Bedard’s comment:
The Packers should win this game going away. If they don’t, things could get interesting in Green Bay. One rumor making the personnel rounds is that general manager Ted Thompson is preparing to step aside for Eliot Wolf sooner rather than later, but no one knows when that will be.
As long as Wolf remains under contract, the Packers can continue to block interview requests. It’s also possible that he may not hold any ill will towards the organization for blocking the interviews. For one, that is often standard operating procedure, and secondly the Packers are the team that Wolf grew up with in the 1990s, when his father Ron Wolf was in the GM chair.
The other interesting nugget here is Bedard’s implying that the decision could be tied to a potential Packers loss on Sunday in Detroit.
Dom Capers/Rex Ryan?
With the Packers’ defense still having issues late in games recently - giving up a total of four touchdowns and 29 points in the fourth quarters of the last two games - Dom Capers’ name continues to come up as a possible departure in Green Bay. To be fair, the defense has forced 12 turnovers in the past three games, and they are +13 in the turnover battle through the team’s five-game winning streak.
However, Bedard mentions an intriguing name for the Packers’ defense, should they choose to part ways with Capers (or should Capers decide to hang up the headset for good). That name is Rex Ryan:
I made the pitch two years ago that after the Jets, Ryan should take a step back, learn from a more offensive-minded coach, and then give it another whack. No one listens to me. My dream team last time around stands. Mike McCarthy and the Packers (if Dom Capers retires or moves on) would be a perfect fit.
Ryan’s Jets defenses were always among the best in the league, though his units in Buffalo have been middle-of-the-road squads the past two years.
One of the recent complaints about Ryan from a former player, however, is that his schemes were too complicated for the defensive personnel to understand. The Packers continue to have young players in starting roles, which suggests that this would be the case in Green Bay as well. Bedard even jokes about that item, saying that he is capable of being a great schemer if the GM gives him personnel who can absorb the scheme.
The question there would be whether Thompson could and would do so; his propensity continues to be building through the draft and undrafted free agency rather than by bringing in experienced players. Still, many of the top players drafted recently come from Power-5 schools with complex defenses - Alabama, UCLA, etc. - so perhaps that would be less of an issue than it would appear by simply looking at experience level.
It’s unlikely that anything is truly imminent, either with Capers or Thompson; still, the possibility that one or both of them could move on as soon as this offseason is worth considering.