Monday, November 08, 2010

Ted Thompson, Mike McCarthy Deserve Credit

I try to be fair.

When I think people deserve to be criticized, I will do so. It works this way in my writing, and it works this way when I'm on the radio. If someone's performance merits criticism, I'm willing to do it, regardless of who it is. No one can be immune.

Earlier this season, I was highly critical of Green Bay Packers management, specifically general manager Ted Thompson and head coach Mike McCarthy.

In the spirit of fairness, however, it seems we've reached a point where the two need a certain amount of credit thrown their way.

Thompson opens himself up to the criticism for two reasons. One, he is about as charismatic as an ear of corn. Whether it's a press conference or the annual shareholders' meeting, Thompson just doesn't project an image of likability.

That's not his job, because the players and coaches are more the face of the franchise than he is.

His other primary weakness -- in the eyes of the fans -- is his inability or unwillingness to make any kind of impact moves, whether it be through the waiver wire or offseason free agency. Earlier this year, Thompson missed a chance to add running back Marshawn Lynch from Buffalo when Ryan Grant went down. The reality is that Lynch probably adds something to this football team.

Thompson, however, saw it as an opportunity for Brandon Jackson and John Kuhn -- players the Packers had developed -- to step up and help carry more of the load. While they aren't going to put up Adrian Peterson numbers, it's obvious that the two have grown into that role.

More than that, Thompson has found a way to add guys like Howard Green, Frank Zombo, Charlie Peprah, and Sam Shields, defensive players not drafted by Green Bay and generally unwanted by anyone in the NFL. All four have made a serious impact on this team in the last month, with Peprah and Shields looking like legit NFL starters in a secondary that has been ravaged by injuries throughout the season.

McCarthy has generally done a good job in Green Bay, but he has come up short as a play-caller at times. After his team failed to even try to run the ball in a loss at Chicago in September, McCarthy tried in vain to defend his run game. I've criticized his game plans and play-calling before, and while he had it coming, he hasn't stopped working to make things better.

In the end, however, McCarthy has pushed some correct buttons. He found a way to beat the old guy at Lambeau a couple weeks ago, then took his team on the road and rode an unbelievable effort from the defense to a shocking shutout win ... in a game where his offense didn't do much outside of avoiding bad mistakes.

Combined with defensive coordinator Dom Capers, who is doing a simply amazing job with limited personnel and a lot of patchwork guys, the Packers appear to have something going here.

In fairness, it's right to credit Thompson and -- to a bit lesser extent -- McCarthy. The two have taken some heat recently, mainly since Brett Favre's departure in 2008. A lot of that heat was warranted, but fans are typically too slow to credit GMs and coaches when things go well.

Lately, things have started to go well for the Packers, and these two deserve a pat on the back for their work.

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