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What's the state of the NFC North?

Posted Oct 18, 2017

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


Hey everybody, thanks for logging in. I can go up until practice starts around 12:45 today. Let's get to it.

Comment From Ray N.

I'm reminded of a scene in Apollo XIII. Flight Director Gene Kranz overhears a conversation describing all the problems and variables with the mission. "I know what all the problems are Henry. This would be the greatest disaster in NASA's history." Kranz retorts, "With all due respect sir, I believe this will be our finest hour." Get out the green and gold vests Packers fans. Button up. This will be our finest hour ...

We shall see. We're all going to learn a lot about McCarthy, Hundley, and everyone else over the next couple of months.

Comment From Katie

Mike, what do the Packers do now? I am heartbroken. I just want Aaron Rodgers to be healthy… What should us fans do now? Live in denial?

Embrace the new. See what happens. Get behind the new guy. What's the point of anything else?

Comment From Luke Mashak

Have you seen Rodgers around the building since the incident?

I have not.

Comment From Jon

How soon would Biegel be able to come off of the PUP list and potentially get into a game?

Biegel is practicing for the first time today. I can't imagine he'll be ready to play in a game in one week, with one practice in full pads, but it'll be good for him to get a week of work in before the bye.

Comment From Nathan

We all know about 2013. What will make 2017 similar or different?

This is a different situation because the backup QBs now are guys who have been here, been in the system. In 2013, Wallace & Tolzien came in Week 1. They were brand new, and the ship wasn't really righted until Matt Flynn, with experience in GB, came in.

Comment From Diego

Hey Mike, seems like everyone in the NFC north are liking their chops to play the packers, there are also people saying the season is over. Oh boy, seems like evrybody will get a big surprise. People forget this team plays the best when tbeir back is against the wall. #TrustHundley

Seeing McCarthy's demeanor and determination in his Monday press conference told me a lot. He is not one to wallow in despair.

Comment From Dennis

You've seen a lot of Brett Hundley in practice, Mike. Can you speak to his particular strengths? What can we expect to see?

He's got the arm strength and the athletic ability to move around and make plays with his legs. It's all about getting him experience. He's going to grow up fast.

Comment From Chris

I think Barr knew exactly what he was doing, legal hit or not ...

As I've said in different forums, it was a typical, early-game "send a message" hit.

Comment From Jack T.

Hey Mike, any word/update on how Montgomery is doing after his first game back with the fractured ribs? Any setbacks or will he continue to add snaps to his workload?

We'll find out this week. McCarthy suggested they need to get a handle on where Ty is medically.

Comment From Chris

With the emergence of Adams being a legit number 2 WR in the final year of his rookie contract, can you imagine the Packers being able to retain three large salaries at the WR position? Or will someone have to go? Allison is ready to be a number three WR.

I understand the angst, but it's really not something to worry about right now. The Packers are going to play the 2017 season with who they have, and 2018 will get figured out in due time.

Comment From Guest

Seems as though Brett used his legs and speed more in his pre-season success, with very little of that sort of play visible against the Vikings. Play calling, Aaron's game plan, or do you think MM will try to reign him in to the pocket?

I don't think you reign him in, though you tell him to be smart and slide if he takes off to run. So much of that MN game had to do with the injuries up front and the troubles with the line. There are no definitive answers on the lineup for this week yet, but that was a huge challenge Hundley was dealing with, on top of MN's stout D.

Comment From Joe

Hi Mike, tough decisions coming up for the IR. Currently three OL coming available in which the team needs at least two of them. Would make TT carry Rodgers on the roster for the rest of the year if there is any hope he is coming back. How do they figure this out?

Good question. I think that's why they're waiting until after the surgery before making any roster decisions. They're going to know more about Rodgers' future prognosis after the operation.

Comment From Luke Mashak

What was your first word when you saw Rodgers down?

I said, "Wes, he's down." And then I glanced at the TV, and as soon as I saw the replay, I was fearing collarbone but hoping for a shoulder sprain or mild separation. Bad luck.

Comment From Dante301

In order for this defense to take that next step do you believe HaHa has to arguably be the best player on the field for us? I believe he's been underachieving he hasn't been impactful like Earl, Kam, Berry, Collins.

I think the Packers need a number of defenders to make high-impact plays -- HHCD, Clay, Perry, Daniels. They have a number of guys capable of changing games, and Hundley needs them, just like Keenum had Harrison Smith to do what he did on Sunday.

Comment From Declan

If I were a player, I'd have a huge chip on my shoulder hearing all the noise surrounding the demise of the Packers after losing AR12 (and by no means, no disrespect to the man and future Hall of Famer). Do you get the sense that the players are ready to respond with a similar chip?

They're pros. They have pride, and jobs to do. I expect a professional approach that ignores the outside noise.

Comment From Scott

Speaking of Perry, will the club get smaller, and will this season see its removal?

He didn't really have a club on Sunday, as far as I could tell. It's already rather minimal.

Comment From Tony

Do you think that McCarthy opens up the playbook (not more plays, just more creative) for Brett? Run more jet sweeps, screens, and other things to slow down the pass rush?

They tried a bunch of screens in MN, but none looked good. It's hard to do that a lot with backup offensive linemen who aren't in sync, but now they have more practice time with whoever's available.

Comment From Matt W.

How about we add Burnett to that list?

Definitely, but he needs to get healthy first.

Comment From Hans

Heard a piece on radio. Made the point that across the league games are more competitive, but the quality of the football being played is diminished. I agree completely. What do you think?

There are a ton of stars in the league not playing, so it won't be the same, but the league is as competitive as ever. 30 of 32 teams have two or more losses right now.

Comment From Reggie

I'm more concerned about the defense. Very poor tackling, missed assignments, etc. We can put up 21, 24, 27 points with Hundley at the helm. If defense can hold teams to field goals and get off the field on third down, we can get to 11 - 5...

The defense needs to tackle better for sure. Turnovers will always help. The secondary this season has been like the O-line, not much chance to see the full starting group they planned on. Brees will be a huge test. He's got the Saints rolling.

Comment From Joe

Hi Mike, Currently there is only one starting QB in the division that absolutely tilts the field and he is playing hurt. This tends to leave the Division wide open. If the Pack can win 5 more games. How would you like their chances? Especially if two of them were Detroit and Minny at Lambeau.

As I said in Insider Inbox this morning, the North is absolutely wide open. Every team has a shot, and there's a lotta football left.

Comment From Chris from Cincy

Mike, do you remember the 70's Packers? There were constant changes at QB, nothing ever seemed settled. However as fans, we kept tuning in and hoping for the best. It's like Back to the Future (to keep the movie references going...)

I started watching more in the '80s, but I get your point. I think we just settle in and watch a young QB develop right in front of us.

Comment From Jim

Our run game against the Vikings didn't seem very effective. Do you think that was mostly due to our revolving O-line door?

The Vikings have a heck of a defense, but yeah, the injuries up front didn't help. I'll be curious to see how much opposing defenses focus on stopping the run now, because I would think they'd want to make the new QB beat them.

Comment From Joe

Mike, I am still having problems with the talent on the defense versus the lack of pressure we put on the QB. If we have all our corners Sunday do you think our best defense is to press and blitz often?

You can't just blitz a QB like Brees relentlessly. He's too smart and he'll make you pay. You have to mix it up and try to keep him from getting in a rhythm. He's thrown two INTs this year and only been sacked four times. The Saints don't beat themselves on offense, they get outscored because their defense is always vulnerable to the pass.

Comment From Peety

1 tackle. No sacks. When does this team need to acknowledge that Matthews is in decline? He's not even double teammed that much anymore. He needs to step up and be a playmaker.

They're asking a ton of Matthews this year. He's been strong against the run, and he's dropping back in coverage on TEs a lot. He's playing both on the LOS and off the ball. Yes, the Packers need more plays out of him given the current situation, but that's not say he hasn't been playing well, because he's been invaluable versatility/scheme-wise.

Comment From Nathan

Of course no one's worrying about playoff seeding right now, but are the Eagles really the front-runner in the NFC?

They are right now, but there are 10 games left. A lot can, and will, happen.

Comment From Joe

I agree with waiting on the results of the surgery but how about this weekend. Any move on the roster will have future effects. Like bringing on board a lineman if Taylor and two starting tackles can't go. Or do you go in with 6 lineman and pray for 60 minutes that they don't go down?

They'll make those decisions as the week goes on and they see where the O-linemen are health-wise. There are two options on the practice squad if needed.

Comment From Derek

I really feel trepidation, but mostly due to the uncertainty of who will be available to play. My expectations will range according to who is healthy. Sad but true.

It's the way of the league right now. Everyone's injury report is the most-watched item.

Comment From Henry

Why do think Aaron hasn't had his surgery yet? If it is displaced the sooner it is realigned, the sooner it heals. Read he could be throw in 5 weeks post surgery. The longer it's delayed, the longer the recovery.

I don't know the specifics of the injury. I'll leave that to the guys who went to medical school.

Comment From Nate D.

Do you think this game is a must win for the team? Meaning they need to go out there and prove they are a team of 53 players not a single player...I know 12 is special but there are 21 other guys that play (not including special teams).

It's not a must-win, but a win would do wonders heading into the bye. They can't play like they played last week, with the pass protection and tackling issues. That's what McCarthy is focused on. Play a cleaner game, and the chances for positive results increase tremendously.

Comment From Scott

I keep remembering "we're nobody's underdog!" followed by an opening on-side kick at New England in 2010. I wonder if MM dares to be THAT bold against the Saints to send a message?

That would be something. I remember that as well.

Comment From Randy

Did the team practice yet today? If so, any insight from Larry on how Hundley looked?

I have to head out to practice in about 10 minutes.

Comment From Sean_C

Lions lose, and Falcons lose. That's pretty good news in wake of all the bad going on around here. I didn't watch the game but is ATL really that bad on real grass or is it something else?

Hard to figure the Falcons right now. They've lost twice in their new building. But every team goes through stretches where it clearly hasn't hit its stride.

Comment From Nate D.

Will Aaron be talking to the media at all during the course of this injury or is that off the table until he's back practicing?

I haven't heard anything. If he does talk, we'll certainly have it covered on the site.

Comment From Joe

Dodger/Yankee World Series....now that would be old school.

Indeed. The first World Series I remember watching were the back-to-backs in '77 and '78 between those two.

Comment From BC

Do you really think the Bears have a shot at winning the North?

I'm not ruling anybody out. They ran the ball 50 times against Baltimore. 50!! Trubisky is a big unknown, but he could come along quickly, and their defense is not awful. They're the least likely of the 4 to win the North, but they're not dead in the water at 2-4.

Comment From Scott

Not that Ingram and Kamara aren't a handful, but given what he's done to us in the past, a small silver lining is not having to worry about Peterson.

The Saints weren't using him anyway. Kamara looks like a dynamite, and dangerous, fit for a Brees offense.

Comment From Mike

My Packer buds and I discuss the injury situation each year and how entire rosters are decimated- just not the Packers. Is this just going to be the nature of Pro football going forward?

Looks that way. I don't see the injuries going down, do you?

Comment From Scott

Martinez All Pro or just pro bowler?

Hold on. He's neither yet. But his game is at a different level compared to his rookie year, no doubt about that.

Comment From Joe

How did the Giants beat the Broncos? Gives you eternal hope doesn't it?

It's a week to week league. OK, I've gotta run shortly. A couple more.

Comment From BC

Who is the one guy the Packers can't afford to get injured now that the one guy they couldn't afford to get injured is injured?

I think I'd have to say Matthews or Daniels.

Comment From Sam

Will Beigel be eligible to play this week, or not until after bye?

He would be eligible this week, but the Packers would have to put him on the roster. He can practice for up to three weeks without being on the roster, so that's the window within which they'd have to activate him.

Comment From Ray L.

Being from NJ with the last name Lombardi, I've been a Packers and Yankees fan my whole life. Been spoiled since the early 90's, but there is something special about winning when you are not expected to. '89 Packers, '92 Packers, '96 Yankees, now the Baby Bombers. Here's hoping this Packers team can find some of that magic.

Sounds like a good last word for today. Thanks everybody. Take care, Mike

 
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