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Lambeau Leap of Faith


June 26, 2010 8:39 PM

Packers Unit Grades: Ted Thompson

The easiest way to grade a General Manager is by results.Ted Thompson earned GM of the year by a vote of his peers in 2007, when the team finished with a 13-3 record and made it into overtime of the conference championship.

However, in looking at the 2009 results, history is not much of a factor. Rather than look at his record since taking over as GM (42-38), it is the 11-5 record for this past season that is paramount.

Only 12 of 32 teams making the playoffs (37.5 percent) and only eight made it deeper than Green Bay did (25 percent). Furthermore, only seven teams won a playoff game and only four finished with a better regular season record (three of whom also won in the playoffs).

Clearly, that is a successful season.

In practical terms, the playoffs are what matters. With five grades available for 32 teams, logically six or seven teams would get each grade. So it seems right to assign any team making the playoffs a B and the seven teams that won a playoff game an A.

Green Bay had the best regular season record among teams without a playoff win, and took the game to overtime on the road. They also endured terrible officiating, including the play that resulted in the loss which replays showed involved a facemask to force the fumble.

But it is always important to look at factors that contribute to that finish before assigning a final grade.2750299475_537455dbda.jpg

The GM is responsible for assembling both player and coach personnel (even if the head coach chooses his assistants, choosing a head coach that knows who to hire to support him is on the GM). Thus, what he has to work with would only be a factor in his first couple years: Thompson has almost no player left from before he took the job.

Still, there are variables one might consider. In other seasons, there may be other public relations and fan-related factors, such as the poorly handled Brett Favre divorce in 2008 or stadium renovations, but there was nothing like that in 2009.

The variables that do exist are the Packers youth, the fact that they are substantially under the salary cap, injuries, and even the difficulty of schedule. But the first two are his choice; arguably the cap issue should be considered a positive if he is being directed to run the team on a budget, but one cannot grade on what one does not know for certain.

Regarding injuries, the buck stops at Thompson on every factor from who he drafts, (such as injury-prone Justin Harrell) to the conditioning staff and the grounds crew responsible for the surface integrity that can lead to injuries. Thus, whether the team is able to win despite the injuries or falls short because of them, it is the results that count.

Thus, none of these variables will be factors in his grade. That leaves the schedule.

Green Bay technically played six games against playoff teams (Arizona, Baltimore, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Minnesota twice): 37.5 percent of their schedule, or exactly the average ratio. But Arizona did not play their starters in their game, and did not have Anquan Boldin for the playoff game.

Moreover, four of the other games against playoff teams were at home. Finally, the average record of their opponents was .458 outside of the games against the Packers.

Thus, in both elite competition and overall strength of schedule, Green Bay had an easier than normal schedule. This will count against Thompson more than any speculation about what might have been with better officiating in the playoffs counts for him...His final grade is a high B.

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