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Are the Packers finding an identity? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hi everybody. Thanks for logging in today. Let's go.

Comment From Don H

There is huge difference between effectiveness of drives to start the game and drives to start the second half. In fact, GB seems to go 3-N-Out on the first two or three drives to start the second half with some regularity (and not just this season). Why the difference ?? Poor offensive starts to the second half have allowed opponents to hang around leaving the outcome in doubt until well into the 4th quarter. Lions game should not have been close and the Giants should have been blown out as well. Troubling pattern this ineffective start to 2nd half, IMO.

The Packers have traditionally been pretty good coming out of halftime, but they're definitely struggling in that area this year. I'm sure it bothers McCarthy because he loves to double-up at the end of the first half/start of the second any time he can.

Comment From Bálint

What do you think causes Aaron Rodgers to play below his career averages?

I don't know, other than to say he's human. He's not playing his best and admits he needs to play better. I think he will. A handful of dropped passes get caught and his numbers don't look so pedestrian, either.

Comment From Nathan

How about the offensive line winning their one-on-ones Sunday night?

Great work by that unit, and great work by Lacy, Cobb, etc., to break tackles at the second level and get extra yards. It was happening a lot. This team is showing it can grind out games. That's not a bad thing.

Comment From John

With respect to concussion protocol, you mentioned that the players take a baseline test that is used later to see if they have recovered from a concussion. Couldn't a player just act dumb during the baseline test?

If they know what's good for their health, they wouldn't. I think there are parts built into the test to counter that possibility. I think this type of testing started with hockey players, if I'm remembering my research correctly.

Comment From BenC

I like the Packer opening drives where everything clicks on offense. What happens on the successive drives when the execution is off?

Sometimes it's just one play. That tremendous opening drive on Sunday night needed four third-down conversions, three of them before the Packers were in scoring range. One breakdown on those third downs and they're punting. It's football.

Comment From JD

How big do you think it might be if Dez were to miss another games this week? Would certainly allow the D to put another body in the box to stop that Cowboy running game.

The defensive game plan would have to be different if Bryant were playing, I would think.

Comment From Jeff

How is Tom Brady able to come in off a long layoff and "light it up", while we are still sometimes struggling to "get on the same page"? Is he that much better or was it just the Browns?

Brady is amazing. I take nothing away from him. But the Browns are the Browns.

Comment From Felipe

Have we seen the last of Rodgers at MVP level of play? consistently at least

I don't think so. No.

Comment From John

Mike, After the first 2 drives (which were game planned perfectly), why did the offense go to more of a hurry up and not change the personnel as much? They were doing great when they were mixing and matching players and formations. Then they went to 11 personnel and struggled. Why change what is working?

It's about making the defense adjust in another way, and getting all aspects of your offense working. This is still coming together. McCarthy wants to have all options at his disposal.

Comment From Duane S

Any idea how serious Lacy's injury is?

No. McCarthy said he didn't think it was serious. We'll see if he practices at all this week.

Comment From Ethan

Don't know if I can stay for this whole chat, Mike. These people finding nitpicky flaws in the Packers wins are really getting to me. We won! And that's all that needs to be said. Not sure how you do it every week!

Serenity now.

Comment From Ray

The Giants rushed four and dropped seven often, leaving Rodgers a lot of time with no open receivers, or should they have rushed 6 and shortened the time? Which approach do you favor?

The Giants were banged up in the secondary and played coverage to help out younger, inexperienced players. The Packers did the same, keeping two safeties back most of the game without Shields and Randall on the corners.

Comment From Lee

Who is the most productive and dangerous WR for the Cowboys instead of Dez? If Packers can stop the their running game, they should be just fine. Dak is good but he's like Kap and Wilson, I think Packers know how to play those guys.

Beasley seems to be a go-to guy for Prescott. Witten is still getting it done, too. I think those two have caught about half of Prescott's completions this season.

Comment From Ryan

Morning Spoff, Can we talk about the punting woes. Schum does not help us at all. We need someone that can flip the field and he is not performing at all.

No, he's not getting it done right now. No one is blind to that, but McCarthy said he's not crazy about changing that spot in the middle of a season. They've seen Schum do it. He just has to perform.

Comment From Jeff

To defeat the Cowboys do you think we will try to get an early lead and use up the clock? This will make the Cowboys one dimension and negate their number one ranked offensive line--thus forcing the Cowboys rookie quarterback to try and win it?

I wouldn't expect the Cowboys to abandon that running game, even if they fall behind early.

Comment From Dennis L

Do you have any inclination as to what roster moves will be made to make room for the two guys coming off suspension?

Well, Price started the season on the practice squad on the DL, so that would be the obvious move with Pennel. There's always a chance Price gets claimed but he wasn't claimed at the end of camp. With Goodson, it seems harder to say. They didn't play Hawkins at CB on Sunday night, but I don't know how much to read into that.

Comment From Steve

What was the rationale behind not having Lacy in the last two drives before the half? Wouldn't it be wise to go with the hot hand and the time?

Those were two-minute offense situations. He hasn't been the two-minute back very often.

Comment From Timmy

When the Packers and Cowboys met in the divisional round of the playoffs in 2014 the Packers were undefeated at home and the Cowboys were undefeated on the road. This time around the headlines are obviously the Packers #1 Run defense vs the Cowboys #1 Run game. Who do you think has the edge in this one?

I like Green Bay's run defense, but as I said before, they're going to have to stop the run for 4 quarters. It won't be easy.

Comment From Ferd

What is going on with Starks? I've been a big fan, but this is painful to watch.

I'm no expert, but it looked to me after the missed screen pass early, which could have gone for a TD, he started pressing. Trying to make up for it. That rarely works.

Comment From John

Regarding the penalties on touchdown celebrations: I think you should be allowed to do anything you want short of giving the crowd the finger. If the NFL doesn't like it why show it? They control the broadcast.

Actually they don't. The networks pay a lot of money to broadcast those games. Within reason, they're going to show what they want to.

Comment From Ryan D

Hey Mike, If Lacy does not suit up Sunday who becomes the backup RB since the packers only carry 2?

Don Jackson on the practice squad is an option. Montgomery could also back up Starks in a pinch. For those asking about signing another one, I don't rule it out, but a quick signing like that is not going to be able to help the team right away, and if Lacy isn't going to miss much time, it's probably not worth it.

Comment From James

Do you think because of the Cowboys running game that Mike Pennel will be activated immediately?

I think there's a good chance of that, but I don't know anything for sure.

Comment From Markus

A question about "claiming" regarding e.g. Price: Can the player decline to play for another team and rather go back onto the practice squad with the team that waived/cut him?

No, that's why it's called claiming. Players who aren't vested veterans don't have that freedom.

Comment From John G

I don't think I have seen a player make as big of a jump as Fackrell has made since the start of training camp. There was talks of him possibly not making the 53. Now he is just making plays every time he is on the field.

They've given him a limited number of snaps and a specific role, and he's excelling with it. It's been fun to watch.

Comment From Terry

Hi Mike, any chance the game gets flexed this weekend?

No. That has to be announced 12 days in advance, until Week 17, when it can be six days' notice.

Comment From Dan

Does having the quick turnaround to a Thursday night game affect the game plan at all, especially with the Thursday game being a little more important as a division game?

It doesn't affect the game plan, but some of the coaches will spend time later in the week preparing for the Bears in advance.

Comment From KD

It's nice to see two of the previous NFC powerhouses (Arizona and Carolina) struggling, but clearly other powerhouses have emerged to take their spot. What two teams are most impressive in the NFC thus far?

I think you'd have to say Minnesota and Atlanta. The Vikings have lost their starting QB, HOF RB and both starting OTs, yet they're undefeated. The Falcons looked like a train wreck in Week 1 and have been taking off since.

Comment From Eric

Does Gunter now become a starter? He's been nothing but impressive and plays with an edge.

He's going to keep seeing the field plenty if he keeps this up.

Comment From BenC

So, when opposing teams see Fackrell on the field, they know he's there to rush the QB?

Pretty much, yeah, but he's mostly being used in obvious passing downs. They're not asking him to do too much.

Comment From Jeff S

What can the Packers do to shore up their pass defense? It still seems quite porous.

To be down your top two corners and not allow the Giants more than one completion of 20-plus was a heck of an effort. The only guy they struggled with was Tye, the TE, on a couple of plays, and fortunately Manning barely overthrew one.

Comment From Edward

The offense actually seems more effective when playing at a more methodical pace; less frantic and more in control than the no huddle we saw earlier this season. Do you think we will be seeing a slower pace on offense going forward into the season?

Like I said before, I think McCarthy wants to have the whole playbook open to him, but eventually I expect this team to hang its hat on something. If methodical, time of possession football is the best complement to the defense and is executed most consistently, then it'll be that.

Comment From BenC

What did you see in the Packers this week that was a positive sign for the future?

The offense being able to run the clock out in a one-score game at the end is no small thing. They've done it two wins in a row now.

Comment From Matt

We need to watch out for the Cowboys' read-option, they run it as well or better than any team I've seen.

They can run the ball a number of different ways, yes.

Comment From Nathan

What is the Cowboys' greatest weakness?

10 sacks in 5 games doesn't say much for their pass rush. That's what jumps out at me.

Comment From Nancy

I know the pass defense will be better when Shields comes back, but the secondary seems to struggle to hold onto the ball when there's a possibility for an interception. Only 2 interceptions so far must not please Donm Capers. Do you think they're going to be better ?

I do. These guys practice ball drills all the time. They're going to start catching those. They've had way too many opportunities to only have two picks.

Comment From Bryan

With the offence sputtering at times Sunday night, was there any point where you were worried we might not hang on to our lead?

Only when Starks lost the handle on that ball around the 35-yard line late in the game.

Comment From Tom

What struggling powerhouse, CAR or ARZ, are you more surprised by their slide?

Carolina for sure. They were clearly the class of the NFC last year and proved it in the playoffs. Goes to show it's never easy.

Comment From Sam

How is Kenny Clark, is he still playing with an injury?

Clark has been fine. He seems to show up more and more each week. That's what you like to see from young guys.

Comment From bob

Julius peppers has done nothing this season. later on this season should he be on the field more

I wouldn't say nothing. He's getting pressure on the QB coming off the edge when he's in there. I do agree he'll see the field more later this season.

Comment From Matt

How's it going for Datone Jones? I feel like I haven't noticed him much.

He's showing up here and there, too. He didn't play as much this past game coming off the injury, but he still had a couple of nice plays.

Comment From Jacob

love rodgers to death but it doesn't seem that his decision making is as fast as it has been in the past. sometimes i feel he passes on open receivers because maybe he sees something that nots there. what do you think? overthinking his play maybe a bit to much instead of just going out and playing?

I think we're all overthinking this a little bit. It seems to be harder for Rodgers to find a rhythm, or make that one play that gets everybody going when things aren't smooth. I don't know the reason. Maybe the bye week came at the wrong time for him. I still believe we'll see plenty of the MVP form of Aaron.

Sorry for the delays. The software seems to be really glitchy today.

Comment From Willie

The Packers have a lot of patience when it comes to draft and develop. It seems to be paying off this year on defense. How big of a concern are the special teams? In particular the punting unit.

Heading into the bye, McCarthy pointed out the team needed to start winning the TOP and field position battles. They won TOP decisively against NYG. Field position has to get better, and special teams will be a big part of that. Turnovers on defense will help, too.

Comment From Richard

I think the Vikings are 11 in turnovers. Can they keep up that pace? What happens when they can't keep that pace up?

Maybe we'll find out. They have one turnover all season and it wasn't even on offense. It was by a defensive guy after he recovered Adams' fumble and Cobb stripped it. Any team that protects the football like that will be tough to beat.

Comment From Bryan

Have you seen Randall Cobb around the facility since the game? How is his neck/head? That was a SCARY hit.

It was nasty. I haven't seen him myself, but he talked to reporters right after the game and McCarthy said he'll be fine. Thankfully.

Comment From Joe

Hi, The packers will put 40 on the board against the Cowboys defense. What is your prediction?

I don't know about 40, but I think this is the game the passing attack truly breaks out. It's coming.

Comment From tom

Ohio State vs. Wisconsin...your prediction?

Ooooh. Tough one. My heart says Badgers but my head says Buckeyes.

Comment From Jeff

I know coach said everybody has their role, when talking about Abbrederis. That doesn't do much to explain why 3 WRs that have seemed to struggle got snaps over him. Any additional thoughts, Mike?

Lots of folks asking questions like this. All I can say is I'm not at practice every day so it's impossible to tell what's going on. The media is only allowed in for about 20 minutes of practice on Wednesdays and Thursdays, that's it, and not for any 11-on-11 work. I think Abby will get an opportunity at some point. He just has to be ready for it.

All right, the hour is about up. I'll take a few more. Again, sorry for some of the delays today.

Comment From Jeff

I've never liked the rule that gives the ball to the other team if you fumble it out of the end zone. I think it's too penalizing in comparison to other rules. It cost the Ravens the game in my opinion.

I don't like that rule either. It's never made sense to me to give the ball to the defense when it wasn't actually recovered by the defense.

Comment From Tom

Hey Mike, just to note, take away the penalty on the TD and the drop from Richard Rodgers in the end zone and Aaron stat line isn't too pedestrian after all.

That's kind of what I've been talking about. Some throws are off, yes, but overall he's not that far off.

Comment From BenC

I like the podcasts. Whose idea was it? Keep up the great work!

Thanks. It's actually a cable TV show for those with access to it in Wisconsin. We have the audio rights for our website so we post it as a podcast the morning after the show airs. It's been fun. Wes and I are having a blast.

Comment From Ethan

Mike, I'm still here. And the Packers still won this week. And that's still all that matters.

Sounds good to me. Thanks for all the participation today, everyone. Talk again soon, Mike

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