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Can the defense play even better? Read Mike's chat senior writer Mike Spofford took questions in his weekly chat


Comment From Ben

So, I guess Gurley is the real deal, huh?

No question, Ben. Fisher stuck with the run when it wasn't working early, because he really believes in it, and he had to protect his QB. Gurley got going and the Rams were a different team on offense.

Comment From Greg

Why do you think Lacy had suck a hard time running?

The Rams have a stout front, Greg, and they had a second safety up closer to the line of scrimmage. Their corners held up in man coverage with a lot of press, so they could stick to the way they were defending the run.

Comment From Kyle

Mike - nick perry shoulder injury is it the same surgically repaired shoulder?

Comment From Nathan

Will stopping Antonio Gates be priority #1 for the Packers defense?

He's a tough matchup, Nathan, no doubt, but so is Keenan Allen. Gates is such a security blanket for Rivers, though, that for the most part I agree with you.

Comment From Pam

Where did that fantastic D Come from?

Young players getting better, Pam, and veteran players staying healthy and performing. It sounds like Raji's groin injury isn't too bad, so that's a good thing, and Matthews and Peppers are having All-Pro type years. Sam Shields is having a top-notch season, too, for all those who were so worried about him after Week 1.

Comment From Chris

Will Abberdaris see more gametime now that he has had 2 weeks with the team

Everybody is wondering about Janis and Abby, Chris. All I can say is we'll have to wait and see. If they're not in the game, I have to trust the coaches that they're not ready. It's as simple as that.

Comment From Larry

Mike - I haven't seen much talk about where the issue lays with the passing game Sunday. Was Aaron just off or were receivers not running the good routes?

Coach McCarthy referred to mental mistakes a lot yesterday, Larry, so I gather from that there were some route adjustments that might have been missed. Also, Coach Bennett said the receivers have to do a better job getting off press coverage, especially when Cobb is doubled, which he was often.

Comment From Owen

Is Janis not doing enough to get on the field? It seems like if we need a field-stretcher in Adams place- he's the guy.

Everyone wants Janis to be a field-stretcher, and that's natural to think because of his size and speed. But he can't just be that, or the defense will always know what he's doing. He has to be a complete receiver to make a difference. As I said before, when he's ready, he'll be in there, I believe.

Comment From Linda P

Mike, Well that was certainly an ugly win for our offense. How much of that is due to Adams being out? The guy who filled in for Lang did ok, don't you think? Thank God Bulaga is back!

The offense misses Adams for sure, Linda. Rodgers said so after the game. Walker did quite well in Lang's place for getting thrown in there, I thought. He could be a real asset for this team. Yes, Bulaga was solid in his first game back. He recovered quickly and looked as though he hadn't been out at all.

Comment From Craig  

Update on TJ's knee?

Sounds like nothing serious. What that means for this week, don't know, but it sounds like Lang will be fine.

Comment From Heather  

Hi Mike! Great win against a good team on Sunday. Coach Capers talked a lot about how the QB hits really set the tone for the entire day. Will Clay get fined for that first monster hit on Foles, even though it wasn't flagged? Do players get fined for plays that aren't called on the field?

Yes, players can get fines for plays that aren't flagged in the game, Heather, and I suspect Matthews will have a FedEx envelope in his locker on Wednesday. You can't hit the guy with the helmet first, and that's what it looked like to me.

Comment From Josh S.  

Do you expect a better showing from the offense against San Diego?

Absolutely, Josh, not only because of the struggles the past two weeks, but San Diego does not have the same type of defense as these NFC West teams the Packers have been playing.

Comment From JoeV  

What are your thoughts on the throwback jerseys being worn this weekend?

It's a nice change-up, Joe, but I'm glad the Packers will wear them only once per season.

Comment From Peter  

Did the surprise interceptions make Rodgers a bit gun-shy or less willing to put the ball in traffic than he normally is?

Not at all, Peter. He wasn't finding anybody open. Let's not forget one of the biggest plays in the game was the crossing route to TE Rodgers that he dropped in the red zone. Probably would have scored on the play. If that play is made, the Packers have 24 points on offense (31 total) in the game and there isn't as much discussion about all the struggles.

Comment From David  

What's up with Eddie Lacy? He hasn't seemed to be playing like his normal self. Do you think that will change?

The Packers were No. 3 in the league in rushing until Sunday, so I'm not going to get too worried about Lacy from one game against a strong defensive front. It was just a tough day, and who knows if that ankle is still bugging him. We'll see if he looks different after the bye.

Comment From Mark  

Rivers likes to audible , a lot. Who is the main person on the defense responsible for making the adjustments?

Usually that would be an inside linebacker or safety. Matthews has worn the helmet communicator, so has Palmer. If Burnett comes back, it could fall to him, too.

Comment From BrettGB  

Mike, why not end the 1st half with a hail mary?

I wondered the same thing at the time, Brett, but I guess McCarthy figured with getting the ball coming out for the second half, no reason to risk a potentially big hit on Rodgers when he has to hold the ball back there that long.

Comment From Craig  

Seems like our draft is paying huge dividends already!

No question. The Packers have found major players in Randall and Rollins in the secondary, and Montgomery certainly belongs. That's a lot of talent to add to a team that was so close last year.

Comment From Lee  

how is Letroy Guion doing so far?

Seems to be doing pretty well against the run, Lee. He's big and strong and doesn't get moved easily. Haven't seen much from him in the pass rush, but there's been so much pressure from other players he hasn't been needed in that facet.

Comment From Dan  

When a team has an extremely short week like the Pack will have Nov 22 at Vikings and then home on Nov 26 with the Bears, when does the team start preparing for the Bears. Before they play Minnesota or do they cram it in the 3 days before the game

Division opponents are prepared for a lot in the offseason, and in training camp, Dan. It's different with the Bears this year because of the new coaching staff, but often those really short weeks are against division opponents and teams can get ready. The coaches work ahead in their offices on the game plan and such, but generally they keep the players focused on the game plan at hand.

Comment From David  

In your opinion, do you think there an advantage to having your bye week scheduled around mid-season as the packers do vs. earlier or later in the season?

I think it's all luck, really, depending on where the team is health-wise. With the Packers' current situation, adding Raji, Lang and Perry to an injury list that already includes Adams, Burnett, etc., it would seem this bye will be at a good time. Get through this next game and then get healthy.

Comment From Michael   

Mike - What will be the premeier one-on-one matchups to watch this upcoming game against the chargers?

Haven't studied it that closely yet, Michael, but you can look for my Five Key Matchups post on Friday.

Comment From Guest  

Mike - it's difficult to believe the Packers run defense is ranked so low. Aside from one half against Forte and 1 long run by Gurley, they've appeared pretty stout up front.

The Rams ended up with 191 rushing yards, and the Bears had 189 in Week 1. The Chicago game wasn't good, but the Packers started out stuffing Gurley last week. Only Fisher's commitment to the run gave the Rams a chance. Most teams, without the type of defense to keep them in the game, would have had to abandon the run in those circumstances. The Packers had to defend it for all four quarters, and that's not easy.

Comment From Kevin  

Other than the Packers, which team in the NFC do you think has the horses to make a strong NFC run (barring more injury of course)?

The Falcons sure look tough, and with their weak schedule, it might take a 15-1 record to win the No. 1 seed. I'm not counting out the Seahawks or the Giants, either, Kevin.

Comment From Jeff  

Don't count the Arizona Cardinals out.

My bad. Meant to include them, definitely. I knew I was forgetting someone.

Comment From Benjamin  

Mike....Rivers is a statue in the pocket. With that said do you see the Packers coming after him with some not yet seen blitz packages?

You have to be careful, Benjamin. He's a veteran QB who can be pretty crafty. He'll get the ball out. I'm sure Capers will dial up some pressures, but it's always best if you can get pressure with just four. I'm always of the mind to win that battle first.

Comment From JoeV  

I didn't hear Aaron Donald's name a lot on Sunday? Did I just miss it or did our line take him out of the game, so to speak?

From what I saw on the game film, I thought Sitton did an outstanding job on Donald. Linsley, Lang and eventually Walker did fine, too, allowing him minimal impact. But when he went up against Sitton, he was completely shut down.

Comment From Casper Banke  

Mike. This defense looks fired up this year. I know we have gotten younger, but I see a spark, and a hunger is saw last year, but more intesified. Do you agree?

Confidence breeds more confidence and more success, CB. This defense is picking up where it left off last Jan. 18, minus the final 3:52, and keeping it going. They will have a bad game here, make no mistake. Every unit does. But they've done this for enough games now to believe they're one of the better groups in the league.

Comment From Josh Z  

When was the last time you saw a running back get 30 carries despite his team being down 2 scores for the whole 2nd half. Sure, part of it is Fisher's commitment to the run - but it's also a testament to our pass rush and secondary.

Totally agree, Josh. The way Foles was getting battered around, Fisher had to protect his QB, so he stuck with the run. The Rams defense keeping them in the game was also a major factor.

Comment From Jack  

Mike, We love following both you and Vic on Do you remember covering your first Packer game? Any memories stick out from that day?

The first game I covered as a reporter (not in this job) was the 1996 NFC Divisional playoff game vs. SF, the one in the mud and rain here at Lambeau. You don't forget that. The first one I covered in this job was a preseason game at San Diego in 2006, and we got back when the sun was coming up the next morning. I wondered then just what I was getting into.

Comment From Chris  

It appears Ty Montgomery is struggling with the same back shoulder throw that Adams struggled with last year. What makes that such a hard play for a rookie receiver? I am missing that play without Jordy.

As other posters have pointed out in the comments I'm reading, that type of connection doesn't develop overnight. Nelson wasn't catching back-shoulder throws from Rodgers back in '08 and '09.

Comment From aaronqb  

I don't understand why Rodgers' second interception wasn't reversed. It sure looked like the ball hit the ground.

I thought so too. If the Dez Bryant ball is not a catch and that INT on Sunday is, then the rules have really messed up this game.

Comment From Mark  

Why so many mental mistakes? McCarthy always had done well with preparing the team to avoid penalties.

Mental mistakes aren't necessarily penalties, Mark. They can be assignment errors or adjustment miscues, those sorts of things. Plays are called, but any player on offense may have an adjustment to make with his assignment based on the defense. I think that's what he was getting at.

Comment From Scott  

Your thoughts on Joe Thomas?--I think the Packers are very fortunate he was still on Cowboys practice squad to be able to bring him back. I like his quickness for pass coverage.

He's been a valuable pickup. Clearly the Packers didn't really want to release him in the first place, but they ran out of roster spots. I just posted a story on Thomas for my weekly Player on the Rise feature. It's on the site now.

Comment From Doug  

You think Vic will be in a better mood this week? Any idea why he's been such a crank lately?

He needs the bye week to get here.

Comment From Guest  

The Chargers have long trip to Lambeau after a short work week following a trip to the East coast. The schedule maker was kind to us on this one.

San Diego was at home last night, but yeah, it's basically the same situation the Packers were in after the KC game and then heading to SF. If the game were at noon, that would really have messed with SD's time clock.

Comment From Guest  

When Abby played for Wisconsin, he seemed to always to be in the right position for a pass. Now everyone seems to say that "he is not ready to play yet." Is the Packers offense so complicated that it takes several years to get a grasp on it?

I'll always remember a comment I got from an NFL player at my first reporting job. Wisconsin fans will remember Cory Raymer, the All-America center. He was doing a football camp in the state, and I went to talk to him when he was fairly young in his pro career. I asked him about the transitions from playing in high school to the Big Ten to the NFL, and he said h.s. to the BT was a pretty big step, and if he ever has to make the climb to the NFL again, he would take an elevator.

Comment From Sam  

What should we know about Josh Walker? Seems like he passes the eye test.

In interviews at his locker, he strikes me as very bright. Combine that with size and strength and good mobility for a big guy, and you have a lineman who can help you.

Comment From Jake  

I am looking forward to Rivers and Matthews jawing back and forth on Sunday? Both like to talk. What are you looking forward to?

I don't get into that extracurricular stuff much, but I enjoy watching players like that have fun. I'm looking forward to seeing how Aaron Rodgers plays, after the self-critical comments he made on Sunday.

Comment From Ben  

Who wins the NFC East?

Probably the Giants, though it could depend on whether the Cowboys can survive until Romo and Bryant come back.

Comment From jeff  

Who's more dangerous right now? Packers or Patriots?

It doesn't matter now. Ask me in January.

Comment From Evan  

The offense had a poor game (according to Rodgers' standards) and the Packers still came out on top by a decent margin. To me, that says something about this team and its improvement on defense.

Coach McCarthy said exactly the same thing yesterday, Evan. They beat a good team by 14 points. It says plenty.

Comment From Jason  

Mike, saw articles about Sean Richardson's from other sports sites, but nothing from Any news on that injury?

Coach McCarthy declined to discuss it yesterday, out of respect for Richardson. He, and by extension our website, will report something when it's appropriate to do so.

Comment From Lonny  

What does San Diego do best?

They need to get their running game going to complement Rivers, Gates, Allen, etc. That's why they drafted Gordon in the first round, but it hasn't come together yet. It's a work in progress.

Comment From Joe

Hi mike, Do you think that the secondary is that good or just benefiting on the pressure being applied by the LB's and line on the QB?

It all goes hand in hand, but I think the coverage is certainly holding up its end. Shields has played outstanding, and Clinton-Dix is having a really good year, too.

Comment From Snake Plissken

The Rams on numerous occasions crowded the line and had either 1 safety or zero coverage….. the Packers have to at least take a shot at the deep ball there and never did….. I don't even care if they complete it, but it will make other teams back off squeezing the line…. agree?

You have to make it work for them to respect it, and it takes time for the deep route, time for that front four to get there. That's why defense always starts up front, and the Rams have the front to play defense differently than a lot of other teams, SP.

Comment From Linda P  

Mike, Do you think Aaron was concerned about the streak coming to an end? Vic suggested Aaron seemed concerned about something after the game. What do you think caused him the concern??

The concern wasn't the streak. It was scoring only 17 points for the second week in a row, and having only two drives longer than 40 yards in the game. The Packers had great field position a number of times on Sunday and didn't cash in. That's what bothered him. Comment From Chris  

Mike, Apparently Randall is a top 10 cover corner so for that year (with a limited sample size of course). Pretty impressive for a guy with his arrow still pointing up. Is Joe Whitt that good or is it pure talent?

Coaches will tell you there's no substitute for athletic talent. But coaching matters, too.

Comment From Isaac  

Mike, are you concerned with Tim Masthay's performance so far this year?

I thought Masthay had a great game Sunday and appears to be totally out of his slump, Isaac. He twice pinned Austin near the sidelines with long punts, and he placed that one perfectly inside the 5 but Janis got overzealous.

Comment From Phil (UK)  

Does anyone understand the rules on a catch anymore?


Comment From Dale  

'Bolts Focused on Quick Bounce Back from Heartbreaker' headline on Chargers website. Might have a chip on their shoulders?

Of course they will. They'll want to wash that taste out of their mouths as quickly as possible. You never know how that's going to do. After the way the Chiefs lost to the Broncos on the Thursday night game before coming here on a long layoff, I thought they'd be spitting tacks, and they came out so flat and were dominated for 2 1/2 quarters. Maybe the short week will help the Chargers in that regard.

OK, I've gone an hour. A couple more. Thanks for all the questions.

Comment From Hank  

There was intense competition during training camp for the third running back position, but the third back has rarely been on the field. Lacey and Starks are doing a great job, but what are the chances of seeing a little more change of pace in the backfield?

The third RB didn't do much last year either, Hank. I consider it a good thing if the third RB isn't needed, no offense to Alonzo.

Comment From Roarke Moody  

Will Clay win DPOY?

He appears to be on his way.

Comment From Zach  

Hi Mike, Coach McCarthy always talks about being able to get into a "normal week" routine with games on Sunday. Do you and Vic appreciate getting into that routine as well?

Definitely. I just wish this Sunday's game were at noon like last Sunday's. Those are the best.

Comment From Bill  

Mike, How do you select the "What You Might Have Missed" theme each week? Do you see something while covering the game? Or do you pour through video afterwords? Great job on that program...I look forward to it each week.

It depends. Sometimes I see something from the press box and take a closer look. Other times I go by something I hear from the players afterward. This week, Rodgers talked after the game about the Rams taking Cobb away with double teams. So I focused this week's video on that. It should be up on the site later this afternoon.

Comment From Dave/Vermont 

42 questions in 50 minutes. Thanks for keeping up with us Mike.              

And with that, you've burned me out. Thanks everybody. We'll talk again next week. Take care. –Mike

Comment from Jon

My son and I refer to you as "The Spoff" when watching the videos online. Is that cool?

Cool :)

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