COMMENTARY | When Donald Driver decided to retire last week, he inadvertently put the finishing touches on an era.
Ted Thompson's legacy is officially on notice. Driver was the last of pre-Thompson players to leave this roster.
The so-called fingerprints of Thompson are not on the 2013 group, but rather the entirety of Thompson's identity. Every player on the 2013 Green Bay Packers will have been signed or drafted by Ted Thompson. In other words: show us what you got Ted.
In Packers circles the phrase is, "In Ted we trust." After all, he drafted Aaron Rodgers, Greg Jennings, Nick Collins, Clay Matthews, Randall Cobb and a host of other Pro Bowl-caliber players since 2005 when he took over.
Cries for a new running back were loud in 2010. Thompson stood pat and the Packers won a Super Bowl.
Thompson is famous for eschewing the free agent approach, although two of the defense's stalwarts over his tenure, Charles Woodson and Ryan Pickett, were free agent signings. He prefers to build through the draft, and almost no one has done it better.
Don't expect any changes to Green Bay's approach to roster building. Rotoworld's Evan Silva ranked the Packers roster as the third best in the NFL heading into 2013 behind San Francisco and Denver. There is talent on this roster.
But that is exactly the point: Green Bay, a team looking like a potential dynasty after the 2010 season, now looks up at San Francisco and sees a superior team.
The 49ers have a young quarterback, a cadre of defensive studs and emerging offensive play-makers. More importantly, they know who they are and they play within themselves.
Ted Thompson has assembled an impressive roster of talent, but as we stand today, it's a team without purpose.
The futures of Greg Jennings, Charles Woodson and other mainstays on this team certainly don't help, but it's up the coaches and the front office to continue to shape and mold this team.
Losing players is the nature of the beast, be it to unexpected injury - like Nick Collins - or through free agency.
I've written before about the importance of finding an identity with Green Bay's defense. There's no need to decide to blow up the group because the talent is there at key positions. But there's no form or cohesiveness at this point.
Don't expect Thompson and McCarthy to succumb to the recency bias of seeing San Francisco and Baltimore pummel each other in the Super Bowl. This team will continue to be based on the offense, but both Thompson and McCarthy are no nonsense guys who appreciate discipline and toughness.
There's a certain ruggedness that is missing from the defense that is more a missing spirit than a type of player. Thompson attempted to address it last year in the draft. Expect him to continue that trend this offseason.
But to be clear, it's on Thompson. All of it. There is no one else to credit and no one else to blame. From here on out, it will have to be "In Ted we trust" for Packers fans because there's no other option.
Thompson and his staff are considered among the best in the business. It's why three of his former employees are now running their own NFL teams. If you were going to hand your team's legacy over to a general manager, Thompson would be at or near the top of the list.
With San Francisco here to stay, Green Bay has some work to do if they want to get back to a Super Bowl. Being the 2nd best team in the NFC - which I think Green Bay was, and is where Silva ranks them - won't be good enough in Titletown.
That has to be fixed. "In Ted we trust."
Peter Bukowski lives in New York and has been covering sports since 2007. He is an award-winning television and newspaper reporter. Follow him on Twitter @BukoTime
- Sports & Recreation
- American Football
- Ted Thompson
- Green Bay
- Green Bay Packers
- Charles Woodson
- Greg Jennings
- Nick Collins