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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Who presents the biggest challenge for the Packers' defense?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa
Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on. It's awfully cold here in GB today but the office has heat so we're good. Let's get to it.

Nixon makes a joke, MLF makes a comment, and reporters lose their minds as if they're legitimately serious. Their articles are why we can't have nice things. I don't know whether to be amused or disgusted. You?

I'm rather amused by it, honestly. Hey, whether anything tricky is in the works or not, nobody's going to send a telegram in advance. But no one needs to get carried away, either.

Thanks Mike, why does the secondary consistently play off 10-15 yards on 3rd and long? Seems like there's lots of room for the offense to maneuver easily for a first down as what happened Monday night.

I don't know. Those two early third-and-10-plus conversions by the Rams were obviously frustrating. What I see from the press box is what appears to be a lack of awareness of where the chains are. I always believe third-down defense must be played knowing exactly where the marker is, but I'm no coach and I've never played. That said, the Rams ended up 4-for-11 on third downs, which is a decent overall effort. But those two early long conversions shouldn't happen.

Hi Mike, not to beat a dead horse, but I believe a simple way to improve the replay operation would be to remove the call on the field as the determining factor. It's only human nature for these refs to call a score or a turnover if they didn't get a great look knowing it'll be reviewed. However, that unfairly sets the table. Just call it as you see it on video.

I've been saying that for years. The rules are geared toward letting plays go so they're automatically reviewed without a challenge (TDs, turnovers), but then giving precedence to the call on the field is ridiculous. It's anachronistic as a rule anyway. The original intent of "call on the field" language was due to there only being a few cameras at games when replay review first came into existence, and there was no guarantee a camera angle would provide a better view than the one the official on the field had. That is absolutely no longer the case. The cameras see everything better than the officials on the field, so why stick with the same old language in the rule? It's senseless.

By Sunday night we should have some clarity on the NFC wild card picture but that NFC South is really a mess. All 4 could be tied Sunday night. With two games left have you ever seen that?

Can't say I have. I'm really rooting for a 7-10 division champion. I don't know why exactly, but I am.

On a more serious note, do we have an idea of whether or not South Beach can be very Green and Gold friendly? As a Floridian, you'd think I have a beat on that but I'm at the other side.

Any Packers game I've covered in Florida has always had a decent contingent of Packers fans in the stands. Whether the holiday will impact that one way or another, we'll have to see.

Is this the toughest test for the last 4 games?

I think each of these last three games is a huge challenge, but playing a playoff contender on the road as opposed to at home in your elements adds to the difficulty for sure. But you can't win them all unless you win the first one. I think Miami's offense is the biggest challenge Green Bay's defense has faced all season.

So, if it appears the Packers realistically have no shot at making the playoffs, but the circumstances actually dictate there is a 7% chance, does that make this the season of Schroedinger's Playoff Chances? I'll see myself out ...

I honestly don't care about the percentages and all that. It's about the Packers winning out and seeing three of the teams in front of them, among the Giants, Commanders, Seahawks and Lions, get to 8 losses. The rest of the math is conjecture.

Look out for Quay Walker as he gains more experience and gains confidence in what his eyes are telling him. Good grief that dude can fly.

His rookie season has been up and down, but his athletic ability has been on display at all times. As he continues to learn the pro game, hopefully it all comes together for him. He's got a ton of talent.

In the last three losses that MIA has (who played the Bills tough in BUF which I watched), I can't get an exact feel as to how those losses happened - have opposing defenses mainly played cloud coverage against MIA's explosive offense, or have they jammed them at the line?

I can't say I've seen how those games unfolded. I just know Miami had a tough road stretch -- at SF, at Chargers, at BUF -- and lost all three to good teams. They were right there to beat the Bills in Buffalo weather, too. You have to limit the explosive plays, which usually comes down to making tackles. Missed tackles are almost guaranteed to rupture into big plays against these guys.

Turning the page to Sunday, I still get indigestion thinking about Raheem Mostert 3 years later.

Who doesn't? And he's averaging around 5 yards a carry this season, even though he hasn't had a huge workload.

Another word I don't want to see from you in your live blog is "shoot."

Yeah, used that one a couple times Monday night. It felt like the Aaron Rodgers INT in the first half was a huge missed opportunity and kept the Rams in the game longer than they should've been.

With Motsert, Hill and Waddle the Packers are gonna need all the speed they can muster on defense. Do you see Savage playing more than one snap this week?

I don't know what the plan will be in the secondary. I don't think it's as much about speed as it is tackling. The Packers got schooled in Philly because they couldn't tackle worth a darn. If they're in position, they have to make the tackle, and being in position is more about anticipating, reading and reacting than speed.

What is the biggest matchup you are looking forward to in this upcoming game for the Packers?

With the offense coming together and getting healthier, I want to see what it looks like in ideal weather conditions. The Packers moved the ball really well at Philly but still could've scored more points. They need another game like that Sunday in Miami.

I was a little concerned about the ease the Rams had in converting 3rd-and-long with uncontested passes. And really concerned about the easy TD pass to Bigbee. I don't think that will fly against the 'Fins.

No, it won't. The pass rush can go a long way toward helping things. The Rams were pretty banged up on their offensive line and the Packers took advantage, but that kind of pressure has to continue so the longer-developing routes -- which is where speed really kills -- don't have the time required.

Was Rogers thumb less of a factor Monday night?

It didn't appear to be an issue and he wasn't asked about it after the game.

I was at the game and only saw it live- haven't seen any replays. At the end of the first half we all thought they were going to try a Hail Mary, but never quite got it off. Rogers was running around for so long but never pulled the trigger. Like he was waiting for somebody to be 'open.' Or maybe he didn't think he could get the ball that far? Was that play talked about at all afterwards?

No, but what I saw was him trying to get enough space to really wind up and let it fly, but not have to worry about getting hit, which is how he injured his thumb in the first place in London. He wanted to throw it without taking a shot, and he kept working to find the space to do so, unsuccessfully.

One thing I got from watching MIA defensively against BUF - Be aware of where Wilkins is lining up and be ready to disrupt where he's going, because that dude is an underrated monster this year and I'd prefer to not run at him, or allow him an easy rush at 12.

Miami is very middle of the pack in a lot of categories defensively, but they do have some disruptors up front.

Guessing you'll be ready for a short warm weather break after the arctic blast this week.

If there's one benefit to sacrificing Christmas Eve to travel and Christmas Day to cover a game, a brief respite from the cold would be it.

Did Savage really only play one snap Monday night? I take it he's not in our future plans if that was the case. What happened to him to make him take such a step back this season?

He played one snap on defense and nine on special teams. Rudy Ford has performed better at safety, Keisean Nixon has been more reliable at nickel corner, and the coaches are rewarding those guys for playing better. I don't know "what happened to him" other than he's not playing well enough to be on the field, and the promise he showed in '20 and '21 hasn't progressed as everyone hoped.

Miami forecast for Christmas day is high of 60, low of 52, with a 48% chance of rain. Being a Floridian, this is not going to be warm by any means.

That's still 50 degrees or so warmer than it's going to be here. The difference between 10 and 60, and between 30 and 80, is still 50 degrees.

Surprised Christian Watson was not targeted in the end zone.

They were trying to get him the touchdown late in the game, but he missed a signal from Rodgers and ran the wrong route.

Do you think Rodgers surpasses Marino in passing completions of all time this week? He only needs 23 to beat Marino.

I didn't realize that, but I'd say there's a good chance. Hopefully he can get those two dozen completions in 30-35 attempts rather than 40 or 45.

Not sure exactly when it happened but against the Rams Rodgers appeared to hit his elbow on a DL helmet and it seemed to hurt for a while. Has anyone asked about this week?

Rodgers talks at his locker after practice today so we'll see. It didn't seem to be a lingering issue as the game went on, though.

Hi Mike,

Speed and the ILB1 experience that Quay earned with the absence of DVC flashed what truly Quay is capable of. In coverage he got a big time pbu. In run game he came up with a tfl, that was where the signal caller experience came in handy. When blitzed he came up with a sack. Rest of the defense did great job against the banged up Rams o-line however, I think it would be a good idea to use Quay Walker as the Cowboys using Micah Parsons. As a normal edge rusher. What do you think?

I think the coaches are hesitant to put too much on the rookie's plate given the ups and downs he's already experienced. I think he can help the defense off the edge in certain situations, but they aren't suddenly going to design a bunch of packages for him there when he's still got so many responsibilities to learn and manage on the inside.

If the packers are eliminated, will Jordan Love play?

I don't know. Nobody's interested in answering that question right now, obviously. Gutekunst said he doesn't need to see any more of Love to make a decision on his fifth-year option, which I took to mean he's picking it up, but that doesn't mean he's not going to play if the Packers are out of the playoff chase.

Who do you see Jaire Alexander guarding in this matchup? This reminds me of the Vikings since they have thelien and Jefferson.

I think Hill and Waddle are a very different pair than Jefferson and Thielen based on skill sets and physical attributes. That said, I don't see Alexander lining up on one guy the bulk of the game. I expect him to see both of those speedsters at different times in the game.

So with the obvious decline in some the first round draft choices on defense, did the packers make bad decisions or is the defensive scheme the reason?

That's what will be studied thoroughly and exhaustively in the offseason. I would imagine the decision-makers have some ideas already, but everything will be scrutinized in due time and the decisions made in the offseason will tell us their opinions.

I felt bad about releasing Sammy since he made two great blocks that led to tds against bears. But, this week we have seen that Christian Watson has done the same. Rookie keep impressing me. Matt always find receivers who can block. I think the run blocking is an essential feature when packers looking for a wr?

The Packers definitely look at it. I wouldn't say it decides whether or not they draft a player, because blocking can always be taught (whereas speed cannot), but it's an element of players' games they pay attention to, for sure.

Speaking of Hill/Waddle, do you expect more press at the line from the CBS, especially Douglass? Seems like Douglass playing off against those two is simply begging for trouble.

Mixing up coverages is what every defensive coordinator does in this league, and it's what the Packers will do, too. Can they disguise well enough to slow down Tua's decision-making here or there, or cross him up in certain situations? That's what you're after, especially on third down. If the QB comes to the line and knows exactly what coverage you're in, the chances to convert go way up.

Merry Christmas to you and your family.

Thanks, and Merry Christmas to everyone out there. With that, I'll call it a chat. Enjoy the holidays everyone and we'll chat again soon. Stay warm. Best, Mike.

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