Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Vandermause: Still Playing The Sherman Card

Don't you hate it when you choose to unabashedly and publicly support someone, then find yourself having to make excuses for them when they don't come out as glowing as you made them out to be?

Yeah, I've been there, too.

But Mike Vandermause of the Green Bay Press-Gazette has consistently taken such a pro-Ted Thompson stance in his writing over the past year or so that you've started to wonder if the sports editor is gunning for a ghost writer book deal from the GM.

Going back over his articles, everything has been glowingly Thompson, fawning over Aaron Rodgers, and damning of anything to do with Brett Favre. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but I've been critical of any member of the media who takes such a blatant bias, from Chris Havel's worship of Brett Favre to Vandermause's torch-bearing for Thompson. It's the media's job to report the news, not shape it for us.

Today, to be expected, Vandermause tried to spin the release of punter Derrick Frost to present Ted in the best light possible, perhaps as just a victim of circumstance, a warrior trying valiently to figure out the rubiks cube that is the punting position in the NFL.

Of course, doing what Thompson Supporters have been doing ever since he came on the scene: comparing anything he does to Mike Sherman.

What is it about Green Bay Packers general managers and their boneheaded decisions regarding punters?

Mike Sherman wasted third- and fifth-round draft choices on B.J. Sander in 2004.

It’s bad enough Sherman squandered a third-round draft choice to select Sander, who wasn’t rated nearly that high. But Sherman inexplicably traded up to get him, meaning he flushed a fifth-round draft choice down the drain in the process.

Sander was a bust, spending one season languishing on the inactive list before suffering through a forgettable 14-game career (39.2 gross average, 33.9 net) in 2005.

Thompson’s attempt to improve his team blew up in his face. If it’s any consolation, he’s not the only Packers general manager to screw up on a punter.

The Sherman card has been played and played so often the past several years. No matter how questionable a draft Thompson has, it's always been better than Sherman's. If Thompson goes an offseason without a significant free agent signing, people bring up names like Joe Johnson to show how bad free agents can be. Justin Harrell?? I give you Jamal Reynolds. Ha.

However, over 80% of Sherman's Packers have been "upgraded" since Thompson took over. Ted is in his fourth year as general manager and the "Wait and See" period is officially over. After a 13-3 record last year and the purge of quarterback Brett Favre this offseason, this team is inexorably Ted Thompson's, and Ted Thompson's alone.

The decision to take a known and valuable quantity like Jon Ryan and cut him in the final cutdown for a player you've never actually seen in your own practice field was a highly questionable call when it was made, and went downhill from there fast.

Ted Thompson and the coaches should take accountability for this move, and in a sense, they have by (finally) cutting Frost as the season appears to be in dire straits. Or, they may be starting to make some desperate moves as criticism starts piling up.

Mind you, I have never...ever...booed at a Packer game, but I was astounded at the volume of the round of boos Frost received after his first punt against the Panthers.

I liked Jon Ryan. Yes, he shanked or line-drived one punt a game, but he could always be counted on to boom one or two of those 50+ yarders, too. Some say that Ryan's poor showing in cold weather games and inability to directional punt was the reason for his ouster. No way...if you're going to judge Ryan harshly in his games against the Bears and Giants last year, you can put him on a pretty long list of players who came in unprepared.

Yes, Ryan did fade the last three games the Packers played in 2007, but certainly had given little reason to doubt this preseason, when he had kicked for a 48 yard average with seven inside the 20 out of 23 attempts. No, he wasn't the next Ray Guy, but he hadn't punted so poorly that you should have been willing to ship him out for a commodity untested in Green and Gold.

You pick up final cutdown waiver wire scrubs for your third running back, or your fifth linebacker...not your punter, who you depend on for field position.

Thompson took a risk, and the Packers have paid for it.

And, Vandermause offers us this picture and caption in today's article: B.J. Sander wasn't the answer to the Packers' punting woes, even though they used a third-round draft pick to get him.


Is the fact that Mike Sherman made a bad decision in the draft four years ago supposed to be some sort of excuse for Thompson, a reminder that perhaps the Ryan/Frost deal was bad, but not as bad as what Mike Sherman did!

Vandermause has certainly painted himself in a corner with his effusive praise for all things Thompson. This article goes a long way in painting Mike Vandermause as little more than a Thompson Apologist.

In Thompson's defense, I have always been amazed that out of a world population of over 7 billion people, the NFL can never find 32 people to do what appears to be a simple job of catching a football and kicking it 50 yards away, taking up five seconds or more in the process.

But, let's call a spade a spade. Thompson made a questionable decision in letting go a punter that had been pretty spot on for two years, and paid for it in picking up a castoff that he hoped might be better. It ended up being the wrong decision, one that has cost the Packers precious field position in many close losses.

The time for playing the Sherman card is long gone. Vandermause should know better than to think that Sherman can continue to be some sort of measuring stick for last year's GM of the Year.


Chris said...

I would note that the Packers made the post-season each of Sherman's four years as GM. GB is looking to be one for four under TT.

Don't get me wrong: I like TT. I have glossed him the steely-eyed assassin. But his record just shows that Sherman wasn't the incompetent dunce many like to believe.

ricky said...

Hey LA, just visiting from Packerchatters. Sorry, but you failed to mention that Vandermause also criticized Wolf for letting Hentrich leave- rather harshly, in fact. Nowhere did Vandermause directly compare TT to Sherman. And if you'll remember, there were many, many posters who were completely baffled by that move. And the decision to keep two punters. And the inability of Sander to effectively punt.
One other thing I'll mention- its almost as if TT and Sherman are mirror images of each other as far as drafting goes. Sherman would be willing to end up with five players at the end of the draft- TT would prefer having 12.
Is this bashing Sherman or defending TT? No, its meant to point out a weakness in your argument.
I'll ignore the comments about Vandermause's drooling over Rodgers and hating Favre. That is simply too subjective.
However, labeling someone as a 'TT lover' (my words, but your strong impression), while including some of the article and ignoring other parts is rather disingenious.

C.D. Angeli said...

Hey ricky...

Actually, your argument did little more than to solidify my beliefs.

The comparison of Wolf's cutting of Hentrich is right on...and no one bemoaned that move more than me (even more than Vandermause).

But, it's not the same. It's apples and oranges. Wolf had a solid punter on his hands who was a free agent. Wolf had some cap room, but elected to believe that Hentrich wasn't worth a million dollars a year. This wasn't a matter of Wolf deciding Hentrich wasn't cutting it or that there was someone allegedly better out was an offseason bidding competition that Wolf backed out of, whether it be because he was tight against the cap or had other plans for the money. Or, that he simply didn't believe ANY punter was worth that much.

Jon Ryan was not an all-pro punter up for any level of a payday on the horizon. He was a decent punter who had done everything asked of him...changing his approach, etc. In fact, it could be stated that Ryan was, by far, the most consistent and quality punter the Packers have had since Hentrich.

Thompson made a choice to cut a guy who had a solid preseason, who was under contract. He didn't do this over the course of an offseason, when there was plenty of time to bring fresh legs into camp and work with them over a preseason. He did it at the final cuts and brought in someone he hoped would do better, sight unseen.

Vandermause's efforts to gloss over this error by using "other struggles" with punting by other GMs (and the focus was on Sherman, not Wolf) was typical for him...and rehashing the whole BJ Sander incident was, again, making an apples to oranges comparison in order to emphasize the terrible decision by Sherman to minimize how dumb the Ryan decision was.

I didn't write this to bash Thompson. But I did write it for two reasons:

1) Mike Vandermause is a "Thompson Lover" (your words) and a "Thompson Apologist" (mine). He isn't willing to call Thompson's errors in the same manner that he is willing to slather honey over anything he does. He's not objective, and that makes me not trust what he writes, as he has an agenda.

2) Ted Thompson got this team to a 13-3 record last year, earned GM of the Year awards, and can take accountability for his mistakes. He doesn't need excuses or the eternally short measuring stick of Mike Sherman to show us how much better off we are.