Will Packers’ Gutekunst Channel His Mentor, Wolf?

Lately, he’s been more like Ted Thompson

In 1998, when I worked in public relations for the Packers, the general manager was Ron Wolf. He wasn’t afraid to tell you what he thought—like the time he sent a sternly-worded memo to all staff telling them the buffet lunch was for players, coaches, and trainers only. (True story.)

No soup for office staff. 

In fairness, Wolf was equally hard on himself, cutting a WR/KR draft pick after a few practices of fumbling kicks and telling reporters and PR staff during practice, “well, I f—ed that one up, didn’t I?” He didn’t mince words, and he didn’t hold on to his mistakes.

In contrast, Ted Thompson would say things like “I like our guys” and, with a few exceptions, gave them a really long rope. Lately, Gutekunst has stuck with his draft picks like Thompson.

On the other hand, when Wolf acquired a player and didn’t think the coaches were using him, or using him as he envisioned, he wouldn’t hesitate to march into the coach’s room and let them know. Thompson left the coaches to it.

We hear from Gutekunst and coach Matt LaFleur that they communicate regularly. What we don’t know is whether Gutekunst ever tells LaFleur he wants to see personnel used as he envisioned. For example, if Gutekunst evaluates Zach Tom or Yosh Nijman as better than Royce Newman and Jake Hanson (we don’t know that he does, but Gutey did draft Tom knowing he had Newman and Hanson, so…), would he pull rank on LaFleur?

His mentor, Wolf, sure would.

Tom showed promise in the preseason and, when the team faltered and suddenly started moving the ball when he came in. Nijman played well at left tackle. Were they perfect? Of course not. But they were better than this:

Most Packers fans know Thompson, Gutekunst’s other mentor, wasn’t one to make trades or moves in season, at least not often. And definitely not a big “splash” move. But some younger fans might not realize that Wolf made key in-season acquisitions (often for “future considerations”) and wasn’t afraid to be bold. Like the time he signed wide receiver Andre Rison—who caught the first touchdown pass in the Super Bowl from Brett Favre.

With his team at 3-3, two games back in the division and teetering on disaster, Gutekunst could play the long game ala Thompson, try to have just a ho-hum year and build the team for Jordan Love in the future.

Or, he can be aggressive—find a dynamic, difference-making receiver by hook, trade, or crook (most likely, trade), demand the offensive linemen play where he sees fit, and give this team some juice to make the most of what could be the last year with a first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback and a talented defense.

We all know what Wolf would do.

__________________________

Chris Hollenback worked for the Packers in 1998-1999, he has written for Packers.com and other media outlets, he's much shorter than Derrick Mayes and Brett Favre nicknamed him Chris "To-hell-en-back." Follow him on twitter at @CHollenback

8 points

Comments (47)

Fan-Friendly This filter will hide comments which have ratio of 5 to 1 down-vote to up-vote.
Roadrunner23's picture

October 18, 2022 at 06:08 pm

Somebody gotta kick some AZZ!

This team is soft as charmin and as unmotivated as a 26 year old living in moms basement eating Doritos and playing video games all the live long day.

Now get out there you bunch of snowflakes and show some AZZ!

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KenEllis's picture

October 18, 2022 at 06:53 pm

Expect Gute to be just as aggressive as his mentor Ted Thompson leading up to this season's trade deadline.

No organization is more involved in trade discussions without ever actually consummating a trade for a player than the Green Bay Football Packers.

When is the last time the Pack sent a round 1-5 pick for a player? Keith Jackson?

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dblbogey's picture

October 18, 2022 at 10:43 pm

We could start trading away our 3rd round picks, since the last good one was Morgan Burnett 12 years ago.

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Packers1985's picture

October 19, 2022 at 02:30 pm

Exactly we are not really hitting on 3rd picks so better to trade them for good mid season acquisition.

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dblbogey's picture

October 18, 2022 at 10:41 pm

Show some AZZ? Try the ladies bikini football league.

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Roadrunner23's picture

October 19, 2022 at 10:59 am

😂 I may have to instead of the Packers

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Coldworld's picture

October 18, 2022 at 06:45 pm

Who would you trade? We can’t afford to trade Bakh for example, or any other big salary vet due to cap implications as well as team need. Jenkins? Gary? Savage? Stokes—first contract guys, but the ones people here would offer may not get us much. Dean Lowry is the only vet who is tradeable in cap terms, maybe Amos.

So two questions. Who do you trade or is it just picks? I’d say the trade options that would garner interest (Gary) hurt us more this year than any likely benefit. Savage, Lowry some will push. I don’t think they get us much and I don’t like the depth behind at S all that much.

So picks. We have very little cap to do more than plug injury holes, if I understand TGR. A trade of Lowry would give us some extra, but giving up future picks won’t. So how high to go? I’d trade a first for Jefferson … but I doubt that there are takers. Which begs a question, what position to trade for.

Ultimately I think the only position I’d spend significant resources in is a catcher. A true TE weapon or a non slot WR with pedigree and either a mostly paid out contract or still in a rookie one (we can’t afford market rate pay this year and we have to be under cap to sign him).

If out OL can’t sort itself out with the talent it has, then we’d best forget it. It’s not going to make a difference. If we sign a WR for picks, we’d need to be willing to keep him in my view to make sense as an investment and he’d need to be genuinely good. An average receiver won’t do much at this point, not enough to make us contenders. I’d be interested in an OLB, but, let’s be honest, no OLB makes this team a contender with this passing O.

And that’s the key, if we trade serious draft capital it’s got to be a trade that has a realistic potential to get us over the top. I mentioned Jefferson. It’s going to have to be that level or close in my view or it’s a waste of resources. Trading for any other goal than a return to the Super Bowl is almost certainly a “no thank you” waste of resources or is really just glorified churn that won’t change much this year.

So nice idea, but I don’t see the bait to dangle and I don’t see anyone being dangled that would even come close to get us to realistic contention that we can afford after 2 prior last dances and accompanying large contracts and dead money this year. It’s not impossible, but I think the realistic chances that such a player is available are next to none. The NFL world has changed since the ‘90s and our last dances have only made ours more frugal.

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LLCHESTY's picture

October 18, 2022 at 07:10 pm

The big rumor today was Chase Claypool. He's a 3rd year player so they'd have control through next year. I guess he's getting most of his snaps as a big slot and they like Heyward there too. I would think they'd have to give up at least a 2nd for him but maybe a 3rd and a conditional or two.

I guess there are questions about his effort at times.

2 points
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splitpea1's picture

October 18, 2022 at 08:12 pm

A third and a conditional might make sense--he's got the size the Packers like, and besides, we're desperate. The thought of giving up a higher round draft pick probably makes Gute cringe, but I think we need to make a "bold" move in an attempt to restore some credibility to the passing game.

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Packers1985's picture

October 19, 2022 at 02:32 pm

I would say give away the 3rd pick. Anyhow we are not hitting on that.

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Coldworld's picture

October 18, 2022 at 08:17 pm

Do we want another slot type, big or not? I think we need perimeter players to really make a significant difference. Unless we are falling into the trap of either relying on Watkins or assuming Lazard is a full time perimeter type? Claypool is like a slightly faster and slightly smaller Lazard. Would he make us better? Yes. Would he make us good. Probably not. At that cost one has to ask if it’s worth it (though with Green Bay and third rounders you could ask the same of. the pick). To me shelling out to be a little less bad is pointless.

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LLCHESTY's picture

October 18, 2022 at 11:12 pm

He's playing out of position in the slot because they like Pickens and Johnson more outside. IDK, the questions about his effort bother me. He did have a good rookie year.

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Johnblood27's picture

October 19, 2022 at 08:56 am

I am interested in Golladay.

-1 points
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PatrickGB's picture

October 19, 2022 at 02:50 pm

I have been seeing those rumors. The rub is that he is starting to play better. Something like 99 ends and catching all his passes in his last game. I would not mind getting him but I doubt that a team trades away an improving player.

And then there is that pesky cap thing…

1 points
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MainePackFan's picture

October 18, 2022 at 07:31 pm

Jefferson obviously won't happen , but DJ Chark could.

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PackyCheese500's picture

October 18, 2022 at 08:32 pm

Why couldn’t we trade Bakh (this coming off season, at least)? Adrian Amos, Aaron Jones, and Dean Lowry are all on the trading block because their contracts expire next year.

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 20, 2022 at 11:46 am

Savage is a candidate.

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Bearmeat's picture

October 18, 2022 at 07:50 pm

At what point do you you stop bailing out the Titanic? The choices were made to steam full ahead across dangerous waters the last two years with an old and finicky QB and a feckless HC.

As CW said, the only type of player that could save this team is a bonafide WR1 or top end TE superstar. And those aren't available if they're first contract guys, and we can't afford them if they're 2nd or 3rd contract guys.

It's getting very close to time to admit that Murphy, Gute and MLF screwed up. That we should have traded Aaron Rodgers after last year and started the rebuild. Chasing a Lombardi with an old QB for a 4th straight year was dumb as hell, and it shows in the quality of the team right now. This team sucks.

So, I guess, could Gute make a move to save his job? Maybe. Would it help the Packers this year, or long term? Probably not. It would actually probably make the coming dip even worse. I'm readying myself for a top 10 pick right now.

3 points
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Coldworld's picture

October 18, 2022 at 08:28 pm

It does seem a tad nuts to spend draft capital just to end up with less.

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Since'61's picture

October 18, 2022 at 11:42 pm

Bearmeat we go all the way back to the ALLGBP days and I think this is the worst that we have seen the Packers plays in all that time.

I posted on another thread that I don't see how trading for a top receiver or OL or even a DL would help the Packers much at this point even if we could acquire an impact player. This team has so many issues to address that one player can't possibly make a difference.

The Packers need to start with the coaches because they are clearly not getting this team ready to play. Then they need to figure out the OL or our offense is going nowhere this season. As for the defense, does Barry have a clue?

Murphy wanted to keep Rodgers while Gute was trying to build a team for the post Rodgers era. And we wonder why we have communications problems on the field when the team President and the GM are pulling the team in opposite directions. Meanwhile the coaching has no idea how to adjust during the game or even get the team motivated to play. So yes, I would agree with you that Murphy, Gute, MLF and the coaches have screwed up at every level.

The Packers should get past Washington this week but after that the schedule doesn't do them any favors. In London the Packers played like they just wanted to get on the plane to come home in the second half. In the Jets game they played liked they had yet to get off the plane. Maybe they'll arrive in Washington this week.
Thanks, Since '61

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jannes bjornson's picture

October 19, 2022 at 01:34 pm

Stasis is the operative word in Packertown,LLC. When the stands are empty for the Cowboys game, we will see the low-water mark of the Three Silos Solution.

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Since'61's picture

October 19, 2022 at 08:19 pm

The stadium won't be empty because the Packer fans will sell their tickets to the Cowboy fans. That's been a problem at Lambeau for several seasons now. Plus management knows that the stadium is sold out before the season even begins and that is all they care about. Thanks, Since '61

1 points
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UdderApocowlipse's picture

October 19, 2022 at 12:25 pm

Could Gute make a move to save his job?

Maybe so, but I'd keep in mind that won't be determined by the team's transition away from Rodgers under center. Gute's GM ability isn't going to be judged based on whether he can keep the Titanic afloat for an extra half-hour.

What will determine his ability as GM will be whether he's able to consistently put together a good and find a quality HC. We haven't seen MLF without Rodgers so we haven't really seen what he can do without the gifted yoke.

It's unfortunate that the Packers have only been able to squeeze out two Superbowl victories from back-to-back HoF quarterbacks, but I'm not sure I'd trade the HoF QBs for additional Superbowl wins. I'd be totally fine with a reincarnation of Steve Mcnair. It's about the chase.

Having a HoF Quarterback can just be so entertaining.

Maybe I'm nearing the end of NFL for entertainment. It was a fulfilling enough run, I guess. I've lived through the highest highs and the lowest lows that NFL football offers a fan. Maybe it's time to be new.

1 points
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Rarescope's picture

October 19, 2022 at 01:25 pm

"Maybe I'm nearing the end of NFL for entertainment. It was a fulfilling enough run, I guess. I've lived through the highest highs and the lowest lows that NFL football offers a fan. Maybe it's time to be new."

And that's why I'm always ready, willing, and able to find another team or three to route for. I can barely muster interest in the college game and don't give other sports even a passing glance. Sure, I'll always be a Cheesehead - it's in my blood. But after last year's playoff loss I learned the value of emotionally distancing myself from the outcome of the game for my favorite team. And if we underperform, I've got someone else to look to for success - whether its Derek Carr (really was hoping for more from him this year w/ Adams, but... Oline - who knew?) Josh Allen and the Bills, watching what the Steelers can come up with post Rothlisberger, Justin Herbert never saying die w/ the Chargers and even a growing appreciation for Mahomes after they got stomped by the Bucs a couple two tree years ago... I think there's always entertainment to be found in the NFL in a way that stands above every other sport out there.

0 points
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PhantomII's picture

October 18, 2022 at 08:53 pm

What we CAN do is move Nijman onto the starting OL and that big fella Caleb at L/R G. Put our blocking TE on the bench and put a 300 lb plus G on the line instead and run the ball and play action like we are suppose to. Use both RB's and alternate pass/ run or screens, etc. Move the chains and good things happen. I don't care if we use a #1,2,3 or 2 #1's...We need a TE like Andrews from the Ravens and a Legit #1 WR Minimum to compete.

-2 points
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dblbogey's picture

October 18, 2022 at 10:45 pm

I'd like Yosh at RT, Elgton at LG, and let Zach Tom and Runyan battle it out at RG.

3 points
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Galacticat's picture

October 18, 2022 at 10:23 pm

The author wonders if Gute would “pull rank” on LeFleur? And what rank would that be, Chris? Matt doesn’t report to Brian. They both report to Mark Murphy. And lots of fan comments lately like suggesting Gute should fire Joe Barry blah blah blah. As if the coaching staff are in Brian’s scope of control and not Matt’s. “We all know what Ron would do”. I’m sorry man, but how dumb. The Packers had a different power structure back then, so to try to draw some apples to oranges comparison between the GM’s is not a very informed argument. #orgchart

5 points
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Guam's picture

October 19, 2022 at 08:11 am

Well put Galacticat! The author's better comparison would have been Murphy to Wolf since Murphy is the guy at the top of the Packers football decision making tree now. Gutekunst simply does not have the organizational power to do what Wolf did.

I hope Murphy is held accountable by the Board for his decision to offer Rodgers a huge contract and go "all-in" one more time. Given what was apparently on the table from Denver, this decision is going to haunt the Packers for years to come.

3 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 19, 2022 at 09:02 am

Here's to all of you downvoters throughout the entire offseason when I literally screamed for AR to be traded to Denver.

I
TOLD
YOU
SO
!!!!!

P.S. - ayahausca surely must sap all of your competitive spirit and common sense.

-3 points
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Guam's picture

October 19, 2022 at 09:31 am

It was always going to be a tough decision to trade a HOF QB, but I am reminded of that old axiom that it is better to trade/cut a player a year too early than a year too late. We are now seeing the product of a year too late.

And given what was apparently on offer from Denver, that decision really hurts.

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 19, 2022 at 07:16 pm

Take your thumbs down, turn them over, and sit down on them!

I
TOLD
YOU
SO
!!!!!

Eat that all you AR sycophant apologists!!!

1 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

October 19, 2022 at 02:15 pm

Agree with you and Guam. Murphy has decided he wanted to be in charge of football operations, making his decisions similar to the control The Wolfman had.

His management by committee for the Football Operation has Gutey, Ball and ML assigned duties but all report to Chairman Murphy who has final say.

And one lieutenant's suggested decision for Murphy to decide on can be easily challenged by the other two of his direct reports. Micromanaging at it grandest!

Can you Ron Wolf working under this structure? (Moot point, Harlan would never manage this way)

1 points
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friedt's picture

October 19, 2022 at 04:42 am

Watching the video of the offensive line play is nauseating!

2 points
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Lphill's picture

October 19, 2022 at 05:40 am

Newman was on his ass more than his feet.

2 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 19, 2022 at 09:04 am

Bakh
Jenkins
Myers (on very thin ice)
Runyon
Nijman

Tom working on his snapping game on the sidelines.

Is it really that difficult? The answer is "NO" if the decision maker has any BALLS at all.

0 points
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LambeauPlain's picture

October 19, 2022 at 02:21 pm

The decision maker would likely be Mark Murphy (I am kidding...kinda).

0 points
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jannes bjornson's picture

October 19, 2022 at 01:47 pm

I would cut him. A Wolf move.

0 points
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ricky's picture

October 19, 2022 at 06:12 am

Time for a shake-up. There are two potential veteran WR's the Packers could sign, IF they can afford them. Those two are Beckham, Jr. and Julio Jones. Neither would be a long term answer, but both would give the WR room a veteran presence. And, again IF Rodgers would be willing to put in some extra time to get in sync with the player, could have an impact on the field. But before that, the team needs to solve their ongoing OL problems. It seems that Bakhtiari is still recovering from his injury, while Jenkins has shown he is having problems at RT. Whether he is still recovering from injury, or is just a more natural fit on the left side remains to be seen. But something needs to be done immediately. Perhaps LaFleur should take over playcalling duties, and ask Stenavich to help mentor Luke Butkus to coach up the OL. Time to get creative. Because at this point, this team has nowhere to go but up.

-5 points
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LLCHESTY's picture

October 19, 2022 at 12:54 pm

Julio Jones has done nothing for the Buccaneers and you want to trade for him??

1 points
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saltandpeppers's picture

October 19, 2022 at 08:58 am

Gutey doesn’t have rank on Lafleur. They’re both under MM

0 points
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Johnblood27's picture

October 19, 2022 at 09:10 am

...and recall what the state of the Packers has been throughout their ENTIRE HISTORY when the Exec has control of the football operations.

They have NEVER succeeded with the Exec calling the shots.

Lambeau
Lombardi - Ole cut off at the knees
Wolf-Holmgren with Harlan keeping his ego under control and staying out of the way
TT-MM early years before Murphys Titletown ego and blindness to TT's dementia allowed a descent.
Murphy "taking charge" and the GM and HC roles becoming nutless. Recipe for disaster.

Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

5 points
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coolhand's picture

October 19, 2022 at 11:03 am

Murphy should stay OUT of the football operations decisions. Those should be left up to Gute and MLF. Now, not to say they can't consult, like trading AR, but MM should let those 2 run the team. Gute should be holding MLF's feet to the fire right now to get this team playing Packer football. MLF's decisions lately have not been the best by a long shot.

0 points
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T7Steve's picture

October 19, 2022 at 09:18 am

Can we just trade Philly for their O-line? Maybe throw them a pick or two.

1 points
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Packers1985's picture

October 19, 2022 at 05:37 pm

It wont hurt us atleast we can try. They always had great lines on both sides of the ball

1 points
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Booner's picture

October 19, 2022 at 10:48 am

Fix the line and you fix a lot of the Packer's issues. Hey McFly I mean Mike Murphy do your job! Get in there and make it happen!!!

1 points
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Packers1985's picture

October 19, 2022 at 05:36 pm

Like many mentioned above the solution is " fixing the line makes this offense better". The sooner they do the better.

0 points
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Starrbrite's picture

October 20, 2022 at 04:07 am

It appears to me everyone in the Packers organization is comfortable—content—satisfied.
When the Packers were struggling in ‘68, Lombardi, the new GM, was overheard saying, “someone has to be a SOB”. It’s clear Wolf and Lombardi agreed on this.
Lindy Infante was apparently a player’s coach, but Bob Harlan said the team had a country club atmosphere and made the appropriate changes.
From my viewpoint, there currently appears to be a lethargy imbedded within the Packers. A “Mo Drayton is (was) doing a fine job,” type of attitude —don’t demand accountability and don’t hurt anyone’s feelings.
Maybe someone has to be a SOB?
Go Packers!!

0 points
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