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Published on 02/26/2011 at Sat Feb 26 16:54.
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Packers president Mark Murphy and general manager Ted Thompson hoist the Lombardi Trophy after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV

Packers president Mark Murphy and general manager Ted Thompson hoist the Lombardi Trophy after the Packers won Super Bowl XLV (Courtesy AP)

If anyone read my introductory article, you will notice that I disclosed the fact that I have dual loyalties when it comes to NFL fandom: the Denver Broncos as well as the Green Bay Packers.

As you likely know (and if you don’t, you live under a rock), the Green Bay Packers recently won Super Bowl XLV over the Pittsburgh Steelers by a score of 31-25.  The Denver Broncos, meanwhile, finished 4-12 and hold the number two overall pick in the NFL Draft this coming April.

Since one of my teams is currently at the top of the NFL and the other is dangerously close to the cellar, I figured that now would be a good time to ask:

What can the Denver Broncos learn from the Green Bay Packers?


1. Draft and develop

If there’s one thing Packers general manager Ted Thompson is famous for (aside from trading that Favre guy) it’s his knack of finding talent players in the draft.  While Thompson has stuck by this philosophy every year since he took over as GM in 2005, no one really paid much attention to it until the Packers made their Super Bowl run this year with an insane amount of injuries.

John Elway and Brian Xanders would be wise to adopt the same approach.  While free agency has its uses, the policy of developing from within pays dividends down the road and can set the team up for the long run as the Packers are.   There may be growing pains for a year or two, but faith in the players you have instead of looking outside the organization will pay off down the road.

Yes, Charles Woodson was the lone “big name” free agent he signed, but he has stuck by and large to his draft philosophy.  Thompson has been criticized in the past for sticking so stubbornly to that concept, but no one is arguing with him now that he has a ring.

2. Appreciate your fans, but don’t let them dictate your decisions

If Thompson had followed what the fans wanted, Brett Favre would have remained a Packer in 2008 and Aaron Rodgers would now be slinging touchdowns for another club (perhaps the Raiders? *shudder*).   The Packers also would have endured the soap opera that is Randy Moss while players like Jermichael Finley and maybe even Greg Jennings and Donald Driver would be in other uniforms.

Fans are key role in any organization.  Hell, fans of the Packers actually OWN the team due to its unique ownership structure.  The fans bring in the money every year and deserve to be treated with the utmost respect.  That all said, there are a lot of armchair general managers out there who think they can do better than the actual regime and will call for firings until they turn blue.

Elway and Xanders need to develop thick skin for their jobs.  Elway in particular is used to being adored by fans but his new responsibilities will inevitably lead to a time when he is going to have to make a decision that, while correct, may not sit well with a good chunk of the Broncos fan base.

Their decision regarding the team’s starting quarterback could be that decision.  While fans by a large majority back Tim Tebow, Kyle Orton may give the Broncos their best chance to win at this point in time.

Elway and coach John Fox must make the right decision here, not necessarily the popular one.  Remember, Aaron Rodgers sat for three years and look how much good that ended up doing.

3. Pick your quarterback and stick to him

Speaking of the quarterback decision, once it is made the Broncos need to stand firm behind whichever player they choose.

After Favre’s initial retirement in March 2008, the Packers named Rodgers their starter and stood by him even when Favre began to waffle about coming back or staying retired.  While the Broncos situation is a bit different, they will still need to give the starter their full support unless he either A) gets hurt or B) really stinks up the joint.

Playing musical quarterbacks does no team any good (one could argue the Raiders may have made the playoffs last season if they stuck by ONE quarterback) so once Fox decides on his starter for 2011, he needs to abide by that decision.

If it’s Tebow, then get rid of Orton quickly so that he doesn’t become a distraction.  If it’s Orton, then make sure Tebow is clear that he isn’t ready and should Orton perform at a high level, prepare to get high value for one of the two.

Pick your quarterback of the future this season so you don’t have to endure these questions every year.

4. Don’t show your hand

Around Wisconsin, Thompson’s press conferences are notorious for being a whole lot of nothing.  Like Bill Belichick, Thompson is a master of saying something while saying nothing.  He never tips his hand as to what his personnel moves are going to be and that keeps other teams guessing during draft time and free agency.

Elway swore he would usher in a new era of transparency between the organization and its fans and has lived up to that promise  by tweeting breaking news, scooping all the local beat writers in the process.  While that is all well and good, secrecy from time to time is a good thing.  Finding good NFL players is a chess match and announcing your thoughts before making a move can be a fatal flaw.

Elway needs to keep that in mind moving forward.

Now this isn’t to say the Packers are the perfect example of an NFL franchise, but the Lombardi Trophy they just won should speak volumes.  No longer can NFL teams use the “injury excuse” as a reason for falling short of expectations.

With 15 players on injured reserve, the Packers were able to lean on their depth and were still able to win the Super Bowl.   They have set the example for teams going forward on how to deal with injuries and still get where you want to be at the end of the year.

The Broncos hopefully took notes during the playoffs.  With Elway having such little experience, he would be wise to learn from watching the Packers win the Super Bowl with what amounts to 25% of an active roster on injured reserve.

If a team that decimated can do it, so can the Broncos.

  • 12508

    What can we learn? We need a big time qb and a bunch of good players. We need to fire Brian xanders and get someone in here who can draft them. A GM that knows what he is doing and is a real GM. Im sorry but Brian Xanders saying he has more say now is just sick. Hello? GM'S draft players and the coach does the rest. If a 30 something rookie coach is telling you what to do what are you?

  • TheTroglodyte

    Great writeup!

  • Laramiefan

    Somewhere a new system comes along different than the one being used and understood by most eyeryone in the game . Unto that end it will work until someone figures out the way to defeat it . Speed and dedication speaks really well and lets' not forget pure talent .

  • ziila

    tebow

  • crazykid

    Good write-up.

    Did anyone hear Da'Quan Bowers press conference at the Combine. Wow. I was really impressed with him and what he had to say. He seems like a pretty good guy, no character concerns or anything. I dont know, but i'm not nearly as anti-Bowers as i used to be

  • Charley

    Nice article and I don't agree with everything.

  • NMBronc

    Interesting, but I think you missed it.

    1. Agreed, but you first must hire qualified adults to coach the talent you employ and you must stick with them for more than 1 season.

    2. Don't confuse the issue. If you have a QB (or other player or coach) who is not a true starter, will only take you to the top of the draft, and the amrchair QB fans realize it; then perhaps you should listen to the fans, because you clearly are not deserving of your coaching/GM salary.

    3. You have to find a true starting QB first, before you can stick with him. Rodgers is awesome, Orton, Tebow and Quinn…… Tebow has intangibles, Orton is a backup and we have not seen enough of Quinn (Except when he almost beat us in Cle) to know whether he can play.

    4. Agreed, although some transparency is nice.

  • NMBronc

    He was. Cam Newton sounds like a bust in the making.

    What I did like were two Tight Ends. Housler (FL Atl) and Thomas (Port State). They both looked really fluid in the catching drills.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_KNFQHNROCN7Z4CZSVDKSZ4SX7I Willie Beamon

    Nice writeup Ive had the feeling since the moment that Shanny went with Cutler over Plummer that Bronconation has lost its way. Since the moment we were blessed with #7 back in 83 every good to great year weve had has been because weve had had a defense in the top half of the league the higher the defense was past 15th the more dangerous our team was .

    That has totally been tossed out the window in favor of espn and fantasy highlights with suddenly broncofans deciding that the only winning worth anything is one done with a elite QB as if they are simply picked up by the side of the road .

    What we should be learning from the Green bay packers is that Qb is irrelevant if you dont have a good defense

    The Green bay packers have had elite QB play for 18 consecutive years with Brett favre and Aaraon Rodgers yet the only time they have won a SB was

    in 1996 with the #1 ranked defense in yardage and points

    and 2011 with #2 ranked defense in points and #5 in yardage

    In Favre heyday in the early 90's those years were anchored a by a defenses that never finished lower than #11 defensively in points allowed oh and they had Reggie White .

    Under Aaron Rodgers Green Bays offense has been the same highly potent for 3 straight years but one of those years the packers only won 6 games and missed the playoffs .

    that year was the last time the packers had a defense ranked outside of the top 11.

    Its time for the Broncos to get back to defense and running the football because thats what used to be important to us when we were winning .

    I think #7 understands that and is gonna point us back in that direction

  • http://nation.theorangepage.com/blog Ian Henson

    All I know is that the Green Bay Packers will lose to the Denver Broncos in 2011.

    Then where will your loyalties lay Kris? =P

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  • Blog Comm9

    Betting in college basketball is very hard since a lot of teams are involved. It would be very impractical to monitor the different teams participating

  • lonestar

    great ideas with a little luck they will follow the build via the draft model that all great franchises have used over the past few decades .

  • John Fox

    We have decided to select Nick Fairley

  • TD30isMVP

    All I know is…last time Green Bay won the Superbowl we won the next two, Superbowl here we come!!! Well it was worth a shot.

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  • denverfanindallas

    do i come to BT cause i want to analyze other teams? Go to Cheezehead.net and write this crap. we all know how to look at the top of the league and see what we wish we had?

    can i write for BT? I got a great idea about a piece on how the chiefs are getting better and the Lockout is our plan to fix it… this post was a joke.

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