3. Ted Thompson’s lessons still ring true for Gutekunst.
Now five full years into his tenure as Green Bay’s GM, Gutekunst still thinks of his late predecessor when draft season comes around.
With double-digit picks in this year’s draft, the Packers’ scouting department is readying to burn through quite a bit of midnight oil in preparation for April. As daunting as that may appear, however, Gutekunst’s philosophy remains rooted in Thompson’s simplistic, yet proven, way of viewing a draft board.
“There’s going to be good players,” Gutekunst said. “Every time I would start talking to Ted about the strengths and weaknesses of the draft, he’d just look at me and say, ‘Brian, every time we pick there will be a good player there to take.’ I believe that.
“I’m excited. We’re going to end up probably with 10, 11 picks again, and probably do some moving around and try to help this football team.”
4. Mike McCarthy still has fond memories of Aaron Rodgers‘ breakout moment.
While Rodgers ponders whether to return for a 19th NFL season, McCarthy was asked about his former quarterback on Wednesday and how a team knows when a young quarterback is ready to play.
It triggered positive recollections of Rodgers’ breakthrough performance between the Packers and McCarthy’s current team, the Dallas Cowboys, in 2007. Rodgers was called upon in the second quarter to replace an injured Brett Favre, who exited with elbow and shoulder injuries. The Packers lost 37-27 in a battle of 10-1 teams, but Rodgers played well. The future four-time MVP completed 18-of-26 passes for 201 yards and a touchdown.
“We didn’t pull back on the game plan and Aaron went in there and played extremely well that night,” said McCarthy, who’s entering his third year as Dallas’ head coach. “I just recall on the plane ride home, Ted and I talking about his performance. We knew then that he was ready. So that was kind of a moment for us.
“But the reality of it is, you see it every day in practice. The way Aaron practiced, ask our defensive players from ’06 to ’07 and they’ll tell you that everybody knew that he had a chance to be a great player.”
5. Detroit has big goals after “barometer” performance in regular-season finale.
The Lions secured their first winning season in five years when they knocked off the Packers, 20-16, in the 2022 regular-season finale at Lambeau Field.
Although Detroit missed the playoffs on a seventh-seed tiebreaker with Seattle, head coach Dan Campbell felt the win over Green Bay was a major feather in the cap of a young Lions squad that improved from 3-13-1 to 9-8 during Campbell’s second season at the helm.
“Winning games comes a long way,” said Campbell on Wednesday. “To be able to come out to Lambeau, last game of the year, outdoors, at night, against that quarterback, against the team that’s won the division repeatedly for a number of years, I felt like that’s a barometer of where we’re at – where we started, where we’ve come to and where we continue to go. That’s a good way to finish out.”
An interesting landscape is forming in the NFC North. On top of the improvements the Lions have made, Minnesota is coming off a 13-4 season in Kevin O’Connell’s first year as head coach and Chicago currently holds the No. 1 pick in April’s NFL Draft.