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What's the highest priority during the bye?

Posted Oct 25, 2017

Packers.com senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in Mike's Mid-Week Chat


Hey everybody. Happy bye week. Let's get to it.

Comment From Ray N.

For all that's been written about AR12, the problem is the defense.

I don't think you can pin the last loss on the defense when the offense puts up only 17 points, and just 3 in the second half. But the lack of pass rush and the third-down struggles are hurting the D, and it has to improve. Pass rushers have to win their one-on-ones, and yards after the catch on third downs have to be cut down. I don't have solutions for you. The job just needs to get done.

Comment From Tommy

Why were you late to start? Busy finishing your ham salad sandwich?

Actually, no, finishing taping an episode of "Unscripted."

Comment From tghn

Mike, Which team is better equipped to be without #12? 2013 team or 2017 team?

I think this team is because the defense should be healthier after the bye than the defense was in 2013. Offensively, Jones can be your Lacy, a RB to ride and keep the defense honest.

Comment From Dylan

Hundley staying in Green Bay over the bye I assume?

He said he was, yes. I'm sure this will be a different bye week for him than usual. More studying of film, etc.

Comment From BigCheesFan0386

Has any one seen our fearless leader (Rodgers)? Are we gonna get to hear from him, while he is on IR?

The only thing we've seen/heard is the Instagram post from the hospital bed. When he comes back to GB, and I'm not sure when that is, perhaps he'll talk to the media at some point. If he does, we'll cover it.

Comment From KD

Seems like the bye week came at a very good time for this team. What are the chances the team comes out of this week as healthy as it was to start the season (minus Aaron obviously)?

That's the hope. You'd love to get the O-line all healthy and able to play a number of games together. Getting Burnett and the corners back to full health would be good, too.

Comment From Emily

Did you ever play hockey? You look like a hockey player. Defenseman?

I love hockey, but I could never skate worth a darn.

Comment From Zack

Mike McCarthy is awesome after the bye. We need a win to get confidence going. I'm confident.

McCarthy's track record after a bye is strong, no doubt. The first win with Hundley I think could start a decent run, but they need to get that first one.

Comment From Ursula

Does Mr. Thompson ever come see you before making a roster move and give you the inside scoop?

Ha, no.

Comment From Anton

The sack numers maybe don't tell it, but Clay Matthews is having quite a season. Strong against the run and in coverage.

I agree. You'd love to see more splash plays, but he's playing off the LOS a lot, he's defending the run pretty well, and his pass coverage has stood out. He's really valuable to this defense, even when the sack numbers aren't there.

Comment From Jeremy from Edinburgh, UK

Mike, I find the Justin McCray story incredible. By any expectation, he seems to be playing high-level football. Should we credit his performance to coaching? If so, how many "by the wayside" players could be viable starters with the right investment?

The player has to make an extraordinary commitment, and he has to prove it when the lights go on. It doesn't happen for everybody. McCray deserves a ton of credit.

Comment From Bruce

Hi Mike, In your opinion what is the one thing on offense, defense, and special teams that is needed to help turn this recent slide around? My opinion is getting our wide receivers involved on offense, better secondary play on defense, and eliminating penalties on special teams.

I would agree, except I think the bigger issue on defense is the pass rush.

Comment From Eric

Thanks for scheduling this during class (at UWP). Clutch.

I do what I can. If my parents still taught there, I'd get you an exemption.

Comment From Hyo

I think our defense has been adequate. If the offense puts together one long drive against NO in the 2nd half, I think we win that game. We're not good enough defensively to dictate the game, but good enough there to have won the last 2.

That's fair, but the defense has to get off the field in the fourth quarter, too.

It did against Minnesota, but not against New Orleans.

Comment From broadwayjoe

Mike, Is "Unscripted" really unscripted?

Pretty much. We have an idea of the topic for each segment, but we don't really talk about anything else in advance. Just turn on the camera and go.

Comment From Johan

I'm not sure what McCarthy told Damarious after that Thursday night game, but Randall has responded better than I'm sure many thought he would. What does McCarthy need to tell Ha Ha or Josh Hawkins?

Not the same situations, but Randall's response has been positive, for sure. This defense needs him at his best.

Comment From arboristjoe

Did Kevin King have some other responsibility on the TD throw in which he bit on a pump fake ? From replay , I could not see any receivers near him that he had to be concerned with at all besides the one catching the TD.

I don't know the defensive call there, if the safety or corner is more responsible for the receiver running underneath. But it looked like King and HHCD were both up on the pump fake. A few plays earlier, a different WR from the same position ran all the way across the field to convert on third down. I think that route set up the pump fake for the TD.

Comment From Linda P.

Mike, I will continue to be hopeful for the season and the development of Huntley, however am I alone in that "the thrill is gone?"

Don't give up. 2013 produced memorable wins over Atlanta and Dallas, and an exciting OT game with Minnesota. Let's see what happens.

Comment From Judi

I think you're right. Getting the first one may begin a turn around. Which game will be the first game?

That's the million-dollar question. You'd hate to lose another home game, and to a division opponent no less, in prime time after the bye. A win over Detroit could change the outlook entirely.

Comment From Paul

Here's hoping RB Williams is benched because of holding call on Davis run back and RB Mays gets on the field. He looked like a CC of RB Jones only with Lacy size. Any thoughts?

I'll leave those decisions to the coaches, but given how Jones took his opportunity and ran with it (pun intended), it makes me really curious what Mays could do with a shot.

Comment From Hyo

I think to get the first win, Hundley has to make the first big play with his arm. If he hits Nelson on that deep ball, it's not only 6 points, but the Saints now have to play him more honestly, which opens the running lanes again, etc.

This game is all about making a play here or there. That's the way it always is.

Comment From Jack

What should I be for Halloween? (21 year old college student)

I hear the "IT" costume is popular this year.

Comment From Reggie

Tell Eric his Civics professor is on the chat too so he has nothing to worry about ...

10-4

Comment From Guest

Does it seem ironic at all to you that there is a good chance this team will finally be as healthy as one could expect this time of year, and this has to be the year we lose our leader?

No more ironic than the one year the team wasn't prepared at backup QB, cutting everybody at the end of training camp and bringing in all new guys in Week 1, was the first time Rodgers broke his collarbone.

Comment From Chris

I would argue DET at home is a "must" win. Can't lose another division game and expect to have a shot at winning the division.

I'm not saying the Packers want to be 4-4, but the division could still be won. It'll be important, though, as I've stated. I'm curious how the Lions play coming off their bye at home this week against the Steelers, in prime time.

Comment From Bruce

Mike, I don't understand. If pass rush is one of our biggest defensive concerns, why is Clay Matthews playing off the line of scrimmage so much? Isn't he supposed to be one of our two best pass rushers?

The lack of depth at inside LB, with Joe Thomas out and Jake Ryan in and out of games lately, has forced Matthews to step back and play some different roles. Getting Brooks back would help the pass rush, too.

Comment From tghn

Mike, how many times in this day and age can a team win throwing only 7 times and scoring only 3 offensive points? Unbelievable.

I'm sure Mike Glennon is wondering where the 75-yard defensive TDs were when he was under center for Chicago.

Comment From Walt

I thought Chris Odom would provide us help on the edge? Any hope or plans to see him this year?

He's been rotating in here and there at OLB, but we haven't seen much impact.

Comment From Luke Mashak

Growing your beard for November?

Ha, good one.

Comment From Judi

Have you heard that 12's surgery was done so he could return to the field quicker?

From everything I've read, surgery was the best option to get the injury to heal properly, with it being in his throwing shoulder.

Comment From Jack

You turn on the camera for Unscripted? All I've ever noticed is an audio-only version.

It's a TV show on in-state cable here, but we're only allowed, contractually, to post the audio on our website. So it's both a TV show and a podcast.

Comment From Dan

Mike, I agree NFC North is wide open, but if this isn't the year for Matthew Stafford and the Lions, is it fair to think why the heck not? Rodgers is hurt, the Vikings have been without their top QB, RB, and WR, and the Bears are breaking in a rookie QB.

That has to be what the Lions are thinking, but that was the case in 2013, too, after Detroit pummeled GB on Thanksgiving. Then they fell apart. Lotta season left, and Minnesota's defense isn't just the best in the division, it's one of the best in the league.

Comment From Ted

Can the running game continue is we can’t pass the ball?

Teams are going to be ready for Aaron Jones now. Schematically, the Packers will have to be able to take advantage of that.

Comment From Keith from Normal, IL

Hey Mike, what are you and Wes doing during the bye? Any traveling?

No, just chilling and staying close to home.

Comment From Guest

Packers have above average talent at every position on offense. Hundley couldn't ask for more, personnel wise. The young man has to step up and take advantage

I agree, and I think he will.

Comment From Dylan

How far can the Vikings get riding their defense?

If you don't turn the ball over on offense, you don't have to be all that dynamic. But they've got playmakers, too, even with Cook out. Diggs, Thielen and Rudolph are no slouches.

Comment From Jake

Mike, who do you think will come out on top this weekend, Penn St. or Ohio St.?

Hard to bet against Penn State the way they're playing, but OSU is at home, right? I'll still take Penn State, but it should be a heck of a game.

Comment From Guest

Since it's bye week, let me ask a non football question. If you could only listen to one album, what would it be?

Get me the Beatles White album.

Comment From Johan

How can McCarthy get Cobb involved more? He seemed to be a focal point of their offense starting the season and has seemed to tail off the last several games. Line him up in the backfield?

They've been trying that. The play-action jet sweep to Cobb followed by the swing pass for a running start was a great play. It looked like later they were running something else with similar action, but it got botched in the backfield, so I'm not sure what the expansion on it was.

Comment From Jack

Were you surprised by Aaron Jones' breakout? He flashed brighter than the others in the preseason, in my opinion.

I thought all the rookie RBs showed promise in the preseason, but you never know who's going to emerge until it's for real. But that's why you give yourself options and don't pin it all on one draft pick. Packers did the same in 2013, taking Lacy and Franklin, when they needed to rebuild at RB.

Comment From Paula

Mike what are your feelings on the Badgers making the college football playoff? Should they if they go undefeated, even though they aren't likely to play a top 25 team until the conference championship?

If they go undefeated and beat PSU or OSU in the Big Ten title game, I don't see how you keep them out. But anyone thinking about a "close loss" in the conference title game getting them in is dreaming.

Comment From Ben

Mike, does the injury to Rodgers this year and now all the problems with the team he mask now at the surface going to be a bargaining chip for him when it comes to his extension and big pay day? I can see him getting even more money now!!!

He was going to get plenty regardless.

Comment From Gary

What's your take on this whole national anthem deal? Stand? Sit? Stay in the locker room? What do you do up in the press box? I see Jason Wildey as someone who might kneel to support the players.

I've always stood for the anthem, but in a free country, I respect anyone's choice to do what he/she wants. I also respect those who are upset by others' choices, but that's the country we live in. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Comment From Dan

I don't understand players constantly running on and off the field between plays. It seems very confusing to me.

It has to do with certain personnel packages being called, both on offense and defense. When the offense changes personnel, usually the defense has a personnel package with which it wants to match up. It's caught the Packers a few times on D when injured players have been in and out of certain personnel groups and the sideline communication hasn't made sure of who's in/out.

Comment From Andrew

Do you think less personnel groupings would help solve some of the mental mistakes on defense. With so many young players doesn't it seem like a more basic approach would allow them to play faster?

You need to be able to match up or the opposing QB is going to find someone totally mismatched in coverage. You just can't have the communication breakdowns.

Comment From Leander

What is MM's highest priority during the bye?

Figuring out how to get Hundley in a rhythm with the passing game, using all the weapons available to him.

Comment From arboristjoe

When are the various IR players eligible to come off the list ? I know only 2 can be activated, with AR being saved a spot. I see we decided one would Not be Barclay already

Yeah, I thought Barclay might be the first candidate, but with injuries you never know what's going on behind the scenes. They are going to save one for Rodgers, I would imagine, unless at some point in his recovery they get news that a comeback this year isn't feasible.

Comment From Steve

Love our every year in and year out success, but do you think that contributes to our yearly defensive struggles due to always picking towards he end of the draft each year for good defensive players?

It's definitely a factor, but it's not like the Vikings have built their defense with all top-10 picks.

Comment From Larry

Hi Mike. When will Mike McCarthy hold his next press conference?

Probably next Monday or Tuesday.

Comment From DCB

Prior to the season it seemed that Hundley being gone next year was a forgone conclusion. Just a matter of what they'd get for him and when. How do you see that playing out now?

No way to know. Everything about the landscape has changed and what happens in the next two months will factor greatly.

Comment From Johan

Why is it so hard for refs to get accurate ball placement, as in the Dallas game, or see that the ball hit the ground in the Minnesota game? The Dallas game reminded me of Arizona's 4Q drive in the '15 playoffs with David Johnson, but McCarthy didn't have any challenges left, like he did in Minnesota two weeks ago. This has to be corrected somehow because at crucial points in the game, coaches don't have challenges to use on botched referee calls.

I'll keep preaching for a two strikes and you're out system as long as it takes. It's the only thing that makes sense to me if the NFL doesn't want to copy the college way.

Comment From Ray L.

I think this rhythm thing is overrated. When a few plays in a row are executed successfully, it looks like rhythm. When they are not, it doesn't.

But that's what it's about, finding the plays the QB and the offense as a whole can execute the best, to get things going and get the defense on its heels.

Comment From Keith from Normal, IL

What does a bye week look like for the players? When do they have to be back?

The players come back Tuesday, which is a day later than normal, because the next game is on a Monday night. So they're getting an extra day now, because they'll have a short week after the Detroit game.

Comment From Timothy P.

You said earlier today "Jones can be your Lacy." Do you think that might be a high bar set for the rookie? Eddie Lacy was a force in the backfield, rushing for more than 1,100 yards in two seasons. Just want to keep our expectations in check.

Jones has about 350 yards in 3 1/2 games. Lacy was fantastic as a rookie, but Jones is capable.

Comment From Dennis

Coach McCarthy’s critics accuse him of being useless without a HOF quarterback. I think MM is very motivated to succeed. What do you think he’s got up his sleeve?

I don't know, but I'm curious to find out. I'll also say that Coach McCarthy is very motivated to succeed regardless of what anyone else says about him. He's a driven man.

OK, the hour is almost up. I'll take a couple more.

Comment From Orifice

Mike, excellent run blocking this past week. Line getting better, poor job on the defensive front, or Jones hitting the right holes - or maybe a combination?

All of the above. A 46-yard TD run doesn't happen without someone mis-fitting a gap on D, but everyone else was blocked. Jones' explosion through a hole when it's there really stands out to me.

Comment From Josh

How impressed are you with Blake Martinez? I think he is the biggest bright spot we have going right now. Even more than Aaron Jones!!

Martinez has really come on in his second year. He looks like a different player to me, and he's been fun to watch.

Comment From Guest

Why don't fans give McCarthy any credit for helping Rodgers become the best QB in football?

Because it's a what have you done for me lately deal, as unfair as that is.

Comment From Al

What's your hurry to leave us? You don't have anything else to cover this week. You and Wes ought to consider doing a 24-hour marathon chat during the bye week. You could get some nice publicity I bet.

24 hours? Yikes. On that, I'd better run. Thanks everyone. Talk to you again next week. Best, Mike

 
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