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Mike previews the Detroit game in his mid-week chat

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered questions from fans


Hey everybody. Hope your week is off to a good start. Thanks for logging on. Let's get to it.

Do you think Mercedes Lewis will get a real opportunity against the Lions? Also I'm looking forward to Tate vs Alexander on Sunday

Well, Alexander left the Buffalo game with a groin injury, so we'll see if he's able to play. With Allison in the concussion protocol and Cobb dealing with his hamstring, we may see more of the tight ends in Detroit. Lewis hasn't been involved in the passing game yet, but that can certainly change.

Hey Mike, how good our secondary can be against Matthew Stafford?

Well, Stafford certainly carved up the Packers last year, but this is a new defense and several new DBs. It's not easy to confuse a veteran like Stafford, but if some looks make him pause just an extra click or two, we'll see.

Will this be a great chance for the offense to put it together fully? Playing in a dome where weather is taken out of the equation hopefully results in really good offense.

As McCarthy continues to harp on, the Packers have to handle the football better. They didn't handle the rain in Washington. I'm not sure what the issue was against Buffalo. But things need to clean up. Maybe playing indoors will get that part of the game back on track.

Hi Mike - Did Mike McCarthy address Aaron Rodgers' dissatisfaction with the offensive performance during yesterday's press conference? What were his thoughts on the offense?

McCarthy was far from satisfied as well. That was obvious. He said he has no issues with his relationship with Rodgers, and, as he's said before when these things have come up, it's two really competitive guys who want the same thing.

Mike, any news on Kevin King yet? What are his chances of playing this week?

Nothing yet. The fact that he was back on the practice field a little last week was a good sign. We'll have to see if he practices more this week.

Last week, I watched a compilation of sacks by JJ Watt. He consistently aimed for the waist and legs. After our Sunday game, perhaps that is the new style?

I saw a lot of sacks and hits over the weekend where defenders lowered their shoulder into the QB's midsection and didn't bother wrapping up to avoid the flag. It's a sensible approach, but I'm not sure if it's all that much safer for the QBs.

The defense did a great job! how much of that was Pettine knowing the Bills, being in their division?

Virtually none. New coaching staff, new QB, new everything since Pettine was coaching with the Jets.

Do you think Aaron Jones will emerge as the starter this week for the Packers? I would love to see him get more reps.

Everybody is clamoring for Jones to get more touches, and I think his workload will increase some more yet. But with his health history and the other productive options the Packers have, Jones is not going to be a 25-touch back right now, at least not this early in the season.

Glad to see Fackrell getting his opportunities out there. I think we're going to need to pressure Stafford out there so he doesn't get too much time because they have three really good receivers.

The defense will have to disrupt Stafford's timing, because when he's in rhythm he's as good as there is. As I said before, mixing up looks and coverages might make him pause here or there. Disrupting routes can throw off timing, as can pressure to get him off the spot. The Packers will need a combination of all three.

Mike, do you see some similarities between the start of this season and the early 2014 season, in relation to the offense? Both started slow, but I think this offense will get better soon, just like what happened in 2014.

I think it will, too. As Rodgers gets healthier, the new tight ends get more comfortable, the running backs' roles get more defined ... there's a lot of potential here, especially the way the offensive line is playing.

Detroit's pass defense is currently ranked 2nd overall, and their offense is 11th overall - this feels like a huge test for the Packers. Do you think this is an early must win game to avoid going to 2-2-1?

The Packers have played some great games at Ford Field and some duds. But any building you've had success in before is a good place to get a road win, because the more unfamiliar road venues later (LA, NE, NYJ) can be tougher to deal with.

Do you envision the Packers keeping the 8th defender out of the box, and dare Lions to run the ball against our D?

Kerryon Johnson has given the Lions' running game new life. The Packers have done well against the run so far this year, so if they can keep stopping it with their current personnel and packages, I don't see a lot of changes in that respect.

Depending on the status of Cobb and Allison, it appears MVS is the first rookie receiver out of the three drafted. How are the other two and are they ready to step in?

MVS played a ton of snaps vs. Buffalo, a big step forward. He's not the first young WR to earn the wrath of Rodgers for a mistake in a game, but he came back and made a big play later. We haven't seen enough of Moore or St. Brown in games to know how ready they are. Their playing time will indicate the coaches' opinions on that.

Who do you think has the most favorable matchups for Packers offense this week against Lions defense?

Detroit's pass rush is not what it used to be, and as I noted before, I think GB's offensive line is playing really well. Slay vs. Adams on the perimeter will be a good one. I would expect them to go head-to-head every snap.

Do you think the Packers have any advantage playing in their 3rd division game, while this will be the Lions 1st?

Not really. The advantage big-picture-wise for Detroit is at 1-3 but with all six division games left, they have plenty of time and opportunity to get right in the thick of it.

I haven't seen anyone mention Aaron Rodgers turning and smiling at the camera late in the game. With all of the things he has to process out there and the offense struggling yet he made time for that really made my day.

I didn't actually see it, but I've heard others mention it.

Do you find some games to be more boring than others? I mean, is it hard for you to get excited about going to Detroit? It's Detroit, after all.

It's not my favorite road trip. We usually stay in a hotel that's way out in the suburbs somewhere. I'm sure I'll just settle in to my room and watch the baseball playoffs and college football. I have no problem doing that.

In your opinion, how have Burks and Morrison looked next to Martinez after a couple games in.?

I like the opportunity to keep both fairly fresh, rotating in and out. Burks is the better cover linebacker, Morrison the bigger hitter right now.

Jimmy Graham played most of his games in a dome in New Orleans. I think we may see a little extra giddy up with him on turf.

Perhaps. He needs to become a major player this week, especially if Allison and Cobb end up both out.

Hi Mike, Perhaps you already covered this, but I think the Packers are going to have a really good running attack against the Lions, given how the offensive line is playing and the triple-threat running back situation for the Packers. What do you think?

The more wins on first and second down, the better the third-down situation and the more you take the crowd out of it. Third-and-10s will get the home crowd going and give pass rushers an edge at the snap.

What do you think of the Packers pass rush so far? It doesn't feel like Matthews/Perry are getting to the quarterback very often so far this season.

The pass rush vs. Buffalo was pretty consistent, by far Green Bay's best performance of the season in that area. It'll be difficult to do that every week, but if guys like Fackrell and Gilbert can keep making an impact when they rotate in, that'll help Matthews and Perry, too.

Spoff-IMO from being at the game on Sunday it appears Jaire Alexander can and did stick with anybody he lines up against (albeit) a week Buffalo corps. However it appears his confidence is skyrocketing. You seeing the same thing? Does he stay CB1 as King nurses his injury??

I think a fully healthy King is still your best corner when he's out there. He's got more size to take on the No. 1 targets. But Alexander backs down from no one.

I saw that the last guy called you Spoff. Is that a nickname you commonly go by? Does Coach McCarthy call you that?

It's my nickname around the office. Aaron occasionally uses it. Coach McCarthy calls me Mike. Not a big deal to me either way.

Do you get the sense that Randall Cobb's injury is one that will keep him out multiple weeks, or something that he might come back from this week?

No way to know at this point.

The announcers Sunday mentioned Green Bay had the longest average 3rd down to-go distance in the league so far, something like 3rd and 8 or 9. Is that true? If so, I can completely understand Rodgers frustration with the offense.

That was true through the first three weeks. I didn't tally up all the third-down distances against Buffalo, but GB's higher percentage would indicate they were in better situations.

Have you noticed any differences on Offense so far this year with Philbin being back with the team? They talked about adding more wrinkles into the offensive playbook... Have you seen anything drastically different yet compared to last year?

Nothing drastically different, but I'm not a huge X's and O's guy. They're only four weeks in. Long way to go. I'm sure there are some concepts they came up with for specific opponents, either in the division or conference they see frequently (Seattle, Atlanta).

Have there been any moments this season where you've thought "Man, I wish we still had a fullback"?

Frankly, no. No offense to Rip or Kerridge or any of those guys. The production from GB's running backs has been quite good, especially the last two weeks.

Do you go to all the road games or do you get some weekends off? Has to be tough to never get a day off if you do.

I travel to all the games. This is my 13th season, and I can probably count the games I've missed in that time on one hand.

Hi Mike, With AR playing with a gimpy knee, and the questions on the offensive line, I was curious why Boyle did not dress and did the only dress 7 offensive linemen last Sunday?

They're obviously confident enough in Rodgers' health they don't need the third QB active. Seven offensive linemen active on game day is pretty standard. Sometimes there's an eighth, but if you need that spot on defense or special teams ... some area always has to sacrifice.

What is your belt size? You appear to be a rather skinny man. Perhaps you should talk to the strength coach about adding some bulk.

I've never been accused of being skinny before, so thank you. I'm not sure what I'd do with any added bulk.

I remember you saying that you're a big Brewers fan. Did you get to see yesterday's win in Chi-town or did your boss make you work? What are your thoughts heading into the playoffs?

No sick days during the season. I would have loved to get there, but we have our routine and responsibilities for game weeks. Great win. Glad the Brewers have avoided today's wild-card game. I'm hoping for a long October.

Given Rodgers' unhappiness with the offense - how much of the current offensive struggles would you say could be attributed to the lack of practice time these past few weeks between Rodgers and his receivers?

There's no question that's part of it. Rodgers has missed 4-5 throws over the past two games that he normally hits with his eyes closed. It's only natural. Being healthy is the top priority for Sundays, but the more Rodgers can practice, the greater chance of getting into that rhythm we've seen so many times.

I notice that as soon as a kickoff bounces onto the end zone, the refs blow the play dead, rather than waiting for it to go out of the back. Is that a new rule?

Yes. Once the ball touches the ground in the end zone, it's a touchback, just like a punt.

Reading between the lines this week from the NFL, it sounded like they wanted to have fewer RTP penalties. Were any called in the Packers-Bills game? Do you know how many were called league wide?

I haven't seen exact numbers, but I've heard the volume of calls was down. I'm sympathetic to working through some of these issues, but this was pretty much a debacle. I don't think the communication to the officials was really clear on what constituted a penalty under the new rules and what they should be looking for. Just my opinion.

How did Brice look? Unlike common opinion I think he's played well - he's been in good position on the few gaffs he's had.

Brice's miscues haven't been about positioning or being where he's supposed to be. It's been more about playing the ball in the air and/or finishing the play. The coaches really like his combination of smarts and speed. The more he plays, the more the rest should come along.

So the drops problem continued this week, what can be done to work about it?

Just stay after it in practice. Not much else to do.

You and Wes look very natural on Packers Unscripted. Who's idea was it to start Packers Unscripted? I hope the viewers are also watching because you guys go over lots of great info each time.

Appreciate that. The director of our department came up with the idea a couple of years ago, and the show was on in-state cable (and as a podcast on the website) for the 2016-17 seasons. Now we're not on cable anymore, so we have full video and podcast on I'm glad it's still finding an audience. We enjoy bantering back and forth.

Even though the Bills seem to be a lesser team than the Redskins - what are some things you thought the Packers definitely improved upon between games?

The defense was more consistent and pressured better, and the offense ran the ball more effectively.

For this week and this week alone.. would you choose the running game to be dominant or A rodg and WR/TE to finally come back to what we expected them to be?

I'd take a dominant running game anytime because that'll make Rodgers' job a lot easier.

Any bold predictions against the Lions?

I don't know how bold it is, but now that Graham has his first Packers TD, I'll call Marcedes Lewis getting his first one Sunday.

With Boyle not dressing on Sunday and Cobb ruled out, who was the third QB for the game last Sunday?

I don't know. Maybe Wes. With that, I've gotta run so we'll call it a chat. Thanks for all the participation. Talk again next week. Best, Mike

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