Nover’s View: Laments of a Packers fan

On May 4, 2021, in NFL, by Stephen

By Stephen Nover

If Brian Gutekunst was just half as good at his job as Aaron Rodgers is at his, the Packers wouldn’t be in the mess they are in now. 

It’s not just Gutekunst’s decision to trade up to take Jordan Love. The Packers have had terrible drafts each of the last two years. 

Aside from taking Amari Rodgers in the third round and Kylin Hill in the seventh round, the Packers’ draft was horrible again. Every other pick was a reach at a need position. Nothing wrong with trying to patch up holes, but astute drafters don’t reach to do it. Instead they go best athlete available. 

Time after time, Gutekunst passed on talent in order to take a linemen, linebacker or defensive back that went too early than what the experts and respected opinions in this field thought they should be. Some of Green Bay’s middle-to-late round picks were on players who may not have been drafted by any other team. 

Power-hungry Mark Murphy made a wrong decision when he chose Gutekunst to replace the late Ted Thompson. The Packers had other strong candidates to run their draft, including John Dorsey and Eliot Wolf, son of Hall of Famer Ron Wolf. 

The Packers should replace Gutekunst. Not because Aaron Rodgers may say so, but because he’s just not good at his job. 

The proof is in the stiffs he’s taken during his four years. Here’s a look:

2018: Gutekunst hit a home run trading up to draft Jaire Alexander. However, that draft was ruined by Gutekunst taking Josh Jackson – who can’t cover – in the second round, Oren Burks in the third round, J’Mon Moore in the fourth round and Cole Madison in the fifth round. 

2019: Rashuan Gary has flashed, but the jury remains out on him. Same with Darnell Savage, who Gutekunst traded up to get. Elgton Jenkins is looking like a tremendous second round pick. But third-rounder Jace Sternberger is a bust, unlikely to even make the team this season. 

At this point Gutekunst is in the C range. I want to give him more time. However, his reputation has dropped considerably following these last two drafts.

2020: Love, AJ Dillon and tight end Josiah Deguara were the Packers’ first three picks. Gutekunst should have realized it was premature to consider Rodgers’ eventual replacement especially at the cost of a first-rounder when taking the right linebacker or wide receiver might have pushed the Packers into the Super Bowl. Tim Boyle was a capable backup quarterback, who beat Love out this past year for the No. 2 spot. If Love wasn’t Gutekunst’s worst pick ever then Deguara in the third round surely was. This was a guy slated to be tabbed as a late-round pick. 

2021: Eric Stokes (reach), Josh Myers (reach), Amari Rodgers, Royce Newman (reach), Tedarrell Slaton (major reach), Shemar Jean-Charles (reach), Cole Van Lanen (major reach), Isaiah McDuffie (reach) and Hill (excellent value). 

Instead the Packers could have gone for best value in each round while also swinging for greatness by taking some chances instead of trying to fill needs with just bodies who have limited if any upside. For instance, the Packers could have gotten Tennessee offensive lineman Trey Smith in the sixth round. What an exciting boom-or-bust pick that would have been at just the price of a sixth-rounder. 

But now because of Murphy’s obtuseness, Gutekunst’s terrible drafts and Matt LaFleur’s inexplicable decision to kick a field goal at the end of the NFC title game against the Buccaneers trusting his defense to hold Tom Brady to not making one first down instead of giving Rodgers the opportunity to produce a fourth-down touchdown, the Packers may have lost one of the greatest QB’s of all-time. 

If Rodgers had Bill Belichick as his coach instead of dim-witted Mike McCarthy and LaFleur and Ron Wolf as his general manager instead of Thompson and Gutekunst he would be the one holding six Super Bowl rings instead of Brady. 

If Rodgers exits the Packers probably lose Davante Adams next year and their prestige vanishes. They would then have to pay above market value to draw any attractive free agents without the lure of Rodgers and a potential Super Bowl. 

No player being bigger than the team used to mean something. It doesn’t in today’s realistic, profit-driven sports world. Power has shifted to difference-making superstars such as Brady and LeBron James. Rodgers is in this rare class. 

So getting rid of Gutekunst would be a win/win situation for the Packers. They lose someone bad at his job while getting Rodgers back on board. 

As a long-time Packers fan, I know what it’s like not to have a quality quarterback. I’ve experienced a washed-up John Hadl, Jim Del Gaizo, Jack Concannon, first-round draft busts Jerry Tagge, and Rich Campbell and Randy Wright. Packers fans have been spoiled by 28 consecutive years of excellence behind center thanks to Brett Favre and Rodgers. 

Because of his combination of accuracy, mobility, leadership, intelligence and ball-protection, Rodgers is the greatest quarterback in Packers history. Bart Starr didn’t have Rodgers’ arm strength. Favre, because of his recklessness, didn’t have Rodgers’ ability to limit turnovers.

This isn’t a case of ego or a power grab. Rodgers is just frustrated – and I don’t blame him. The Packers need to make things right with him. The consequences are too important not to.  


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