Times are changing at 1265 Lombardi Avenue. Not only did the Packers usher in the Brian Gutekunst Era on Monday, but team president Mark Murphy shook things up with a change to their front office structure.
Guntekunst takes over for one of his mentors, Ted Thompson, as Green Bay’s general manager. At the same time he joins new executive vice president of football operations Russ Ball and head coach Mike McCarthy as a group of three that reports to Murphy. A system that mimics other franchises in the NFL, but a big change for the league’s only publicly owned team.
“In order to continue to move forward and be successful, you have to evolve. I’m hopeful, I think this will be a very positive move for us going forward,” said Mark Muprhy.
The Packers president clarified that he will stay out of day-to-day football decisios and roster moves. At the same time there are some big decisions that will now be his responsibility, like hiring and firing a head coach. Previously that would be part of the general manager’s job description.
That job was a dream for Gutekunst. One that came true over the weekend when Murphy decided to keep the long time personnel man in Green Bay, despite other opportunities looming.
“I let Mark know on Friday that this is my dream job, that I absolutely love this place. I’m really, really excited about this opportunity. This is an amazing place, there is a standard of excellence here that has been here for a long, long time and I’m excited to get after this and get us back to that level,” said Brian Gutekunst.
While some things are changing, there are others that will remain the same. Guteknust was hired by Ron Wolf as a scouting intern back in 1997, and has spent 19 of the past twenty years in the Packers personnel department. It would only make sense that Gutekunst will stay true to Green Bay’s draft and develop program, at the same time staying active in free agency to help fill holes in the Packers roster.
“Our foundation is going to be the draft, but I think it’s an absolute must as an (additional) piece. We have to be prepared enough to pull the trigger,” said Gutekunst.
The first task for Gutekunst will be taking over a Packers roster that missed the playoffs for the first time since 2008. A far cry from the Super Bowl contender that many thought Green Bay would be entering the season, but all is not lost heading into the offseason according to the new general manager.
“First off, I don’t’ think we’re very far away, but there is a substantial amount of work to be done but I think it can be done shortly. I think there’s a lot of reasons for what happened this year, there’s certain areas that needed to play better. We’re still in the process, I think, of kind of dissecting that and moving forward. We’re really excited about the opportunity before us. I think there’s a window here in the next few months where there’s some new coaches coming in, and there’s some new things that can be done on the personnel side where we can really come together, and move this ball forward,” said Gutekunst.
Two of the biggest concerns heading into the offseason were already taken care off in week 17. That’s after former general manager Ted Thompson locked up Davante Adams and Corey Linsley with contract extensions.
That’s not the biggest impact the current Packers senior advisor had on his protege.
“Ted Thompson, he’s been a mentor and a friend to me for a long time now. The last ten years with Ted Thompson have probably been the most influential of my career, because of his humility, his strength, his discipline, his calmness in the face of really tough situations, and just understanding why he did what he did. That will have the most lasting impact in my career,” said Gutekunst.
Only time will tell how Gutekunst’s resume stands up to his mentors’ is a matter of time.