Packers look to get defensive under Gutekunst

Drama in the NFL postseason is most often centralized on the lined, grass rectangle, and last week’s Wild Card round was no exception.

Tennessee’s second-half comeback made Kansas City a playoff loser again, and the Carolina-New Orleans game came down to a frantic final minute.

A nice weekend of action, all told — even if the playoff field seemed a bit fragmented with one of the usual entries out of the picture.

Off-the-field polemics were popping up all over last week, too, from the top of the heap to the bottom.

There was a regular soap opera playing out in New England, where the legendary coach is still irked about trading away a good backup to the legendary 40-year-old quarterback, who is tight with the owner and thinks he can play at least another five years thanks to the benefits he gets from the health maintenance system of his not-legendary friend and business partner, whom the angry coach has barred from team practices and meetings.

Will the legendary coach move on in the wake of this power struggle? Stay tuned!

In Cleveland, about 3,000 people turned out to watch or participate in the Perfect Season Parade commemorating the Browns’ recently completed dash to infamy.

Billed as more of a protest than a parade, fans showed up in the near-zero weather carrying signs and venting their anguish over Cleveland’s 0-16 finish.

To what end, it wasn’t clear, but a few of the Browns players had their feelings hurt by the Perfect Season Parade, and registered their displeasure on social media.

From the sound of some of those quoted at the parade, even they weren’t sure what they were doing there. Angry enough to gather and protest, but not to the point of cancelling their season tickets. What, then? This was like topping off an intervention with a round of drinks. At least it was something to do outside on a freezing cold morning.

To cut them some slack, it’s hard to fathom the state of one who has emotionally invested in a team that has lost 41 of its last 43 games.

Fortunately, the faint hint of theater in the Green Bay Packers’ week was attached to no such torment. The only item remotely adversarial was the report that coach Mike McCarthy didn’t want Russ Ball to be the new general manager.

Understandably, McCarthy sought to avoid the sort of discord simmering with the defending Super Bowl champs and ensure that the new hire and he would be on the same page with regard to player personnel.

Asked about Ball’s credentials, McCarthy searched for a favorable adjective and came up with “diverse,” going on to add that Ball has done a lot of good things. McCarthy was not asked about a report that if Ball had been named GM, he would not be sticking around.

It became a moot point when the Packers hired their director of player personnel, Brian Gutekunst, capping off the search that began with the re-assignment of former GM Ted Thompson, and promoted Ball to a vice president of operations.

Gutekunst spoke of his predecessor with gratitude, thanking Thompson for all of his help throughout the process of the hire, and for his years of work with the organization.

Asked to describe his view of “the Packer Way,” Gutekunst repeatedly referenced the expectation of success, and the continued upward trending of one of the most accomplished franchises in all of pro sports. The Packer Way could be summed up as simply winning.

Credit to the Packers for hiring in-house. May Gutekunst’s term bring the right kind of parade.

Veteran sportswriter Gary Seymour’s column appears weekly in the Leader. He can be contacted at