What This Weekend Will Teach Us About Brian Gutekunst
We’re approaching one of the most interesting single weekends of the entire football season, one that could perhaps be described as the reverse NFL Draft. Instead of adding a bunch of new blood to their rosters, NFL teams will be reducing their rosters from 90 to 53 and we have the pleasure of sorting through each of the cuts, claims, and signings as they happen over the next few days.
Just one preseason game stands between Brian Gutekunst and this very difficult weekend. He has 36 cuts to make and 10 players to add to his practice squad and how he chooses to handle each of those moves will teach us a lot about the new Packers general manager.
A few episodes ago on Blue 58 we talked at length about the 15 biggest moves Brian Gutekunst had made in his first six months at the helm. Outside of his work in the draft, almost every one of the moves was something he could sit down and consider before proceeding, whether it was cutting Jordy Nelson, deciding not to re-sign Morgan Burnett, signing Jimmy Graham, or flipping Damarious Randall for DeShone Kizer.
In those cases, you can see the architecture of Gutekunst’s philosophy as general manager, but with days or weeks or even months between decisions, it’s tough to really gauge his quality. It can be difficult to really see the character of a general manager until you see him execute his philosophy in a short amount of time. The draft gave us a glimpse of that, but over the next few days we’ll get to see it on a bigger scale, teaching us several key things about Gutekunst and how he’ll handle this job.
How does he handle mistakes?
The first thing we’ll learn is whether or not Gutekunst can admit a mistake, whether it’s his own or his predecessor’s.
Right now, Byron Bell is looking more and more like a mistake. He clearly can't play tackle and the results at guard were not much better. You could argue that Hunter Bradley is also looking like a bit of a mistake, although the impact of a such a mistake is probably minimal given that he was taken with the 239th pick in the draft. But still, should Bradley not make the team, that’s another draft pick the Packers could have spent elsewhere. Though he’s not Gutekunst’s problem per se, Quinten Rollins looks every bit like a mistake at this point as does Kyler Fackrell, though we’ve predicted the latter will make the roster. We’ll see this weekend how Gutekunst navigates around those mistakes.
How does Gutekunst compare his roster to the rest of the league?
This weekend will also show what Gutekunst thinks about his roster versus the rest of the NFL. He’ll have an opportunity this weekend, on the doorstep of the regular season, to potentially bring in some new faces at positions of need. For instance, should someone become available who can reliably man the tackle position, you’d have to think that Gutekunst would be willing to make a move there. Kyle Murphy and Jason Spriggs have hardly been spectacular there (to say nothing of Byron Bell). It would be tough to even bank on Murphy making the roster at this point, and given the importance of backup tackles, it could be worth exploring an option from outside the organization. That would tell us a lot about how Gutekunst feels about players his predecessor put in place.
How Gutekunst fills out his practice squad will also show us his opinion of the guys the Packers have had in camp versus players throughout the league. If Gutekunst brings in guys from elsewhere, it’s not exactly a stellar reflection of the roster the Packers carried through a month of camp.
What does the rest of the league think of Brian Gutekunst?
Thirdly we’ll also learn a lot this weekend about what the rest of the NFL thinks of Brian Gutekunst’s roster. The Packers will be cutting more than 30 players this weekend. Who will be claimed by another team? Who will end up out of the league entirely? The answers to those questions will show us a lot both about the Packers and about what other teams think of the job Brian Gutekunst has done so far. If other teams are tripping over themselves to pick up the scraps from the Packers’ roster, it’s a pretty good sign that Gutekunst has brought together a quality bunch. If not, it’s fair to wonder what other general managers around the league know that the Packers don’t.
This post is an adapted transcript of episode 97 of Blue 58, a Packers podcast from The Power Sweep. Listen to the full episode below, and don’t forget to subscribe on iTunes, Stitcher, iHeartRadio, CastBox and more to stay on top of the best in Packers news and analysis.