Time To Give Thompson and McCarthy Some Credit
When I first read the list of players not fortunate enough to survive the Green Bay Packers’ final cuts, several names made me uncontrollably shriek a “What?!” to myself. Two in particular stood out – Vince Young and Tyrone Walker.
Young was the most surprising culprit. Without him, the Packers don’t own a reliable backup quarterback in case Aaron Rodgers suffers a significant injury (knocking on wood as I type). Walker looked great in the preseason and seemed poised to become yet another great find by general manager Ted Thompson at wide receiver. As it turns out, Walker isn’t even being offered a spot on the practice squad.
I became annoyed about the decision to get rid of these two. However, I calmed myself and remembered one thing that made me feel much better about these cuts: No one is better at finding and developing talent at the wide receiver and quarterback positions than Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy. There may be other duos out there equal to the abilities of Thompson and McCarthy, but no one exceeds their success at those positions.
While some say Rodgers falling to 24th overall in the 2005 NFL Draft was more luck than anything, remember that 23 times, an NFL GM could’ve taken Rodgers but instead either said, “I’m happy with our quarterback situation. We don’t need Aaron Rodgers,” or, “I want Alex Smith instead.” Thompson already had a living legend at quarterback in Brett Favre but saw the talent Rodgers possessed and couldn’t pass him up. And while Rodgers makes McCarthy look good, McCarthy never gets the credit he deserves in helping build Rodgers up. Hey, Favre wasn’t teaching Rodgers the way of the NFL from 2005 – 2007.
The Packers struck out with Graham Harrell, but don’t forget what they did with Matt Flynn. They developed the seventh-round pick into one of the league’s best backups and earned him a generous contract for a man with only two career NFL starts. Now, Flynn has been traded and looks like he will lose his presumed starting job for the second preseason in a row.
As good as Thompson is at finding quarterback talent, it doesn’t compare to his knack for constantly bringing in talented wide receivers. Greg Jennings, James Jones, Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb were all picked by Thompson, and now he’s got a solid number four guy in Jarrett Boykin, an undrafted rookie from a year ago. It’s his genius in finding these receivers that makes Packers fans OK with getting rid of greats like Donald Driver and Jennings. To question his decision on whom to keep is ridiculous.
Remember Diondre Borel and Tori Gurley? They, like Walker, were preseason stars for the Packers in 2011 and 2012, but were let go. The thought was Thompson was giving up on young talent way too soon. But look at the rundown injuries since. Borel went to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers practice squad before being signed by the Tennessee Titans. He was just cut by the Titans last Monday.
Gurley spent time on the practice squad for the Minnesota Vikings, Oakland Raiders, Buccaneers and San Diego Chargers last year and signed with the Cleveland Browns this past May. Gurley also failed to make the final roster of his most recent team. If the Browns and Titans don’t need you at wide receiver, you can’t be anything too special.
Thompson and McCarthy know talent at the wide receiver and quarterback positions when they see it, and that's the bottom line. Their track record more than speaks for itself. If they let a receiver or quarterback go, there’s a good reason.
Who are we to question the men who brought us Rodgers, Flynn, Jennings, Jones, Nelson and Cobb? Not only do they have a proven record of success, they have seen a much more complete tryout from Young and Walker than just four preseason games.
If you want to complain about the Packers’ moves at the offensive line or running back positions, I’m all ears. That’s a whole different story.
But with Young and Walker, and now Seneca Wallace as the third quarterback, be at ease, my Cheeseheads. Thompson and McCarthy know what they’re doing.