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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What's in store for the Packers after the bye?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his weekly live chat.

Buccaneers QB Tom Brady
Buccaneers QB Tom Brady

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on one day later than usual. The Monday night game just made it too hectic to squeeze in a chat on the usual Wednesday, so here we are. Go ahead and start sending in some questions.

Hello Mike, have you ever felt you personally jinxed a player during the game? Mason Crosby's missed XP was my fault. I looked away because he's automatic, most of the time.

Nah. It crosses your mind from time to time if you said or reported something about a guy, but when you're doing that all the time you're bound to say something that sounds like a jinx. It's kind of crazy, though, that Crosby I think has missed more PATs in his last 8-10 games than field goals I think. I'd have to look it up to be sure. Him drilling the 48-yarder after the PAT miss, when Scott got a good hold off a low snap, was pretty clutch.

Will Allen Lazard be unable to play again until after week 7?

The Packers have given no timetable on Lazard's return. They are hoping he can be back at some point later in the season. That's all I know.

Is Robert Foster not making a good impression? Seems his speed would be an asset on game day?

Reporters don't get to see any of the 11-on-11 work in practice during the regular season, so I can't give any assessment of the impression Foster is making.

Is Allen Lazard most likely out for the year?

The hope is that he's not. He won't be back right after the bye week or anything, though.

Is Equanimeous St. Brown looking to be available after the bye?

I haven't heard any updates on St. Brown's status. Based on missing three games, he is eligible to return from IR now, but I don't know whether he's been medically cleared to do so.

I need some questions, folks. Don't be shy.

I haven't pay much attention to him, but Krys Barnes seems to impress a lot of people. What can you said about him?

For an undrafted rookie who had no offseason or preseason games, he's been able to show the game isn't too big for him. Pettine mentioned yesterday that he's earned some of the vets' respect because he's always prepared and very dialed in on the field. He was wearing the communication helmet part-time on Monday night, too, which says something. It sure looks like the Packers have themselves another undrafted find.

If you folks are trying to send in questions, I'm not getting them, so I apologize for any technical issues. Please keep trying.

Mike, did you see the Tarik Hill TD on Monday night? How could that be a TD if the ball hit the outside of the pylon?

I think the rule is for the purposes of determining a TD, the pylon is essentially an extension of the goal line, so if the ball touches the pylon, even on the outside, it's good.

It seems watching live that our defense has issues but at the end of the game the numbers show different. I'd be happy with 16 points given up any day! Does our defense pass the eye test?

As I wrote earlier this week, I think the defense is showing improvement but there's room for more. Tackling was an issue for the second straight game. This most recent one, it was missing tackles in the backfield that should have been for lost yardage and set the defense up in good position. Offenses are going to move the ball and score in this league. That's just how it is. The defense could use more takeaways, but holding a good QB like Ryan to 16 points without any big splash plays was a pretty solid effort. You'll take that every week.

Good morning, with the release of players, how many "open" spots do the Packers have on the 53?

I think there are currently two open spots, and another one will open up assuming Josiah Deguara is going on IR.

Hey Mike, Jonathan Garvin has looked really impressive filling in for Rashan Gary. Did you see this type of play in training camp?

Garvin definitely flashed at times in camp. He's a young, raw player with some upside, which is the kind of guy you draft in the seventh round. Getting some in-game experience this early is big for him. It could really help the Packers down the road.

You got us now Mike?

Yes, there seem to be more questions funneling in. Thanks for your patience.

Who wins tonight?

Well, the Bucs have been on a roll since losing in Week 1 at New Orleans, and not even a 24-7 deficit last week could stop them. It's hard for me to see the Bears' offense bouncing back on a short week with the type of performance that'll be needed to beat Brady after they got shut down so thoroughly last game.

Anything in particular that Packers fans should be paying attention to in tonight's game against a future opponent?

I don't know. There are not a lot of similarities scheme-wise or personnel-wise really between the Packers and these two teams, except for the HOF QB angle. How the Bears decide to defend Mike Evans will probably be a good indication of their approach against Davante Adams later this season.

Still not getting our questions Mike? I think getting a W this week - as in no infections and staying healthy might be more important than a single W in any other week. Would you agree?


Hi Mike! Have you ever interacted with a player that gives such insightful and excellent press conferences/interviews as Aaron Rodgers?

In a word, no. I enjoy listening to Rodgers talk because I've learned so much about both the X's and O's and the human sides to this game from him. He is insightful about how the QB sees the game, and the dynamics of a locker room and how teammates are viewed. All of it. It's enlightening.

Should the Titans be punished by losing games to the Steelers and the Bills for violating NFL protocols? If not, what do you think the NFL should do with them?

That's a great question, and I'm not sure what the answer is. If an investigation finds they willfully violated protocols, I have no problem with them being handed forfeit losses, but what I don't like is if that means those opponents get a win for doing nothing, because that really disrupts the rest of the league. Stay tuned I guess.

Are you looking forward to the bye after back to back night games?

Indeed. Back-to-back night games are a lot tougher to handle now than 15 years ago for me, I'll say that.

Biggest competitor to the Pack in the NFC this season?

Right now I'd say the Seahawks and the Buccaneers, but there could be a lot of jockeying for position in the NFC West and South divisions yet. The Rams are right there, too, and I'd never count out the Saints or 49ers.

I watched a recording of the game yesterday. It seemed there were some phantom penalties on our linemen. Did you see them that way or are my glasses just too green and gold?

I didn't look at things too closely after the fact, but a lot of fans in the live blog during the game were questioning the calls. I thought the RTP on Za'Darius Smith was definitely weak, though yes a penalty by the letter of the law.

Is it true your wrote for the Bears as an intern when you were 13?

Ha. I didn't write for the Bears exactly, but I wrote for a local publication in my hometown of Platteville that produced a preview magazine on the Bears training camp before the team came to town. I don't think I was doing it at 13, more like 18 or 19.

Such a quiet start for Preston Smith, do you think he's getting frustrated in his new role? And when do you think we will start hearing his name?

It's coming. I believe that. He was right there on one of Z's sacks Monday night, but Z just got there a millisecond sooner. To his credit, he hasn't shown any frustration and has not complained about being asked to drop into coverage more, like Fackrell did last year. He's clearly more effective at it than Z or Gary, so he's doing what he's asked. His time will come.

I'm waiting for Rick Wagner to get the call and punch it across the line for a 1st or a TD. Who's your favorite big man turned occasional back?

The original. William Perry. I know that's a bad memory for Packers fans, but the Fridge was the first to do it regularly.

Hey Mike, do you get the feeling if all our weapons are healthy on offense we can lock-up a #1-2 seed and dominate the playoffs even with an average to just above average defense?

You're getting way ahead of yourself there. The season is only 1/4 done. The Packers will look different in December than they do right now. Just keep winning games and see what develops.

Speaking of AR, he appears to be having more fun than throwing snowballs at Donald Driver. What's different? Is it just a renewed appreciation for things in these strange times?

It may be partly that. He's no longer learning a new offense but mastering it, so for a mind like his that has to be a blast. For as challenging as last year was with the whole new scheme, I think he's seeing the benefits of the big reset and just really enjoying himself.

Mike, disappointed in your closing of II today. It was a softball for a response of "wash their hands and wash their butts". And then you could have stated "and staying safe".

My bad. Still sleep-deprived.

Hey Mike, do you know what the pre-draft knock on Krys Barnes was and why he went undrafted?

Some reader mentioned to me, I can't remember if it was in a chat or Inbox, that Barnes wasn't fully healthy his final year at UCLA and his previous season was his best one. So that might have played a factor in him getting overlooked.

How do you think the Packers have handled injury's this season?

Quite well, obviously. As I've said before, I think what the offensive line did in the first three games with all the shuffling around was impressive. The Christian Kirksey injury hasn't dramatically altered the defense with Ty Summers and Barnes filling in fine. The D-line misses Kenny Clark but Tyler Lancaster and Kingsley Keke have turned it up the last two games. The offense hasn't suffered without Adams. A few DBs went down Monday night so we'll see if they can get healthy over the bye, but that would be another challenge if Kevin King, Chandon Sullivan, etc., have to miss any significant time.

I think this team's only weakness through 4 games is sloppy tackling. But is something so fundamental as tackling able to be improved throughout the season?

No question. The Packers tackled well the first two games, not so well the last two. That can be fixed.

Game 1 Adams and Rodgers had a great game, game 2 was Aaron Jones, game 3 Lazard and game 4 Robert Tonyan. Who will be week 6?

At some point the rotation will start over, and I think we're going to see more of Adams and Jones being the stars, along with Rodgers, if they stay healthy. They're just too good to keep down for long.

Any word from Aaron on his knee/leg after that sack play where his knee kind of buckled?

He said he's fine. He was more embarrassed about the stumble than hurt.

Are Packers still looking for D-line help? And is it just to bolster what they have or are there major concerns there?

They'll keep their eyes out for anyone who might help. Billy Winn has played a few snaps here and there, so he might work into the rotation more. Getting Clark back will change the whole picture. The defense has its issues and it's been tough without Clark, but the whole thing didn't fall apart or anything.

Jaire Alexander played the run and the pass very well against the Falcons. Pro bowl this year?

He'll certainly be in consideration, but he'll need to get some interceptions most likely to get enough votes, regardless.

A friend sent me an article from Sports Illustrated Kids, mentioned the Bears thing and 13 years old. I suppose a few minor details help get kids excited a bit more from the article. Pretty cool either way boss, thanks for answering that one!

I was 13 when the Bears first started coming to Platteville for training camp, so that's where that number comes from. I wasn't writing for any publications as a middle-schooler, though. :)

If you could go back now, who do you see that was picked at the end of the 1st or early second round of the draft that would be best fit for the Packers this year?

I've said it before, when the Packers traded up 4 spots to 26, I thought they were taking Patrick Queen. I really did. Clearly Gutekunst had other plans.

Sucks what happened to Kirksey, but Ty Summers doesn't look too shabby....I'm excited to hopefully see him play more and develop, I think he could be very good for us.

He's had his ups and downs, but to make your NFL defensive debut on SNF vs. Drew Brees, Alvin Kamara and Co. after only playing special teams as a rookie, he held up pretty well. The more he plays, the more he'll settle in.

I like Kamal Martin a lot. Watched him played for the Gophers, a very physical player and flying to the ball a lot. Hope he's doing and improving every day.

That'll be another potential defensive boost down the road, if Martin is able to return. With no preseason games and missing so much practice time, though, it's hard to say how ready he'll be, but I hope we get to find out, for his sake and the Packers'.

Please compare our depth on defense to other years in general. I'm pleasantly impressed with them.

The depth the Packers have in the secondary and at outside linebacker doesn't even compare to recent years. The secondaries from '15-'18 weren't good enough, and they haven't had this kind of depth at edge rusher since Peppers was here.

Any games you find interesting this weekend?

Sunday night, Vikings-Seahawks will be my main attraction. But I also want to follow the NFC East a little on the off weekend. Giants and Cowboys face each other, and Eagles (vs. Steelers) and Washington (vs. Rams) will be underdogs. Can the NFC East change the narrative?

Speaking of the Refrigerator. Temp's are dropping, what's your go to beer in the fridge this time of year?

I like to try all kinds of Oktoberfest varieties while they're available.

Every time I see pre-snap motion I get a big smile on my face. I was very frustrated with the MM offense the last few years he was here. What's your overall view of all the motion and how it ties in to AR's start?

It's just a reflection of how different the offenses are. It was a big adjustment for Rodgers but now he's seeing the benefits, with how the motion can draw the defense's eyes elsewhere and clue him in to their coverage plans. There are a lot more fakes for Rodgers to carry out, but I think he's doing that more enthusiastically now that mentally he's in a better place with the offense. In MM's last few years, I saw a lot of half-hearted play-action fakes that didn't help anything.

Mike, any idea why Atlanta used a timeout when the Packers had the ball before half? They had been moving the ball at will all half. Why give them more time?

With the Packers getting the ball coming out of halftime, Quinn wanted to get his offense one more possession before intermission. He was fearing a double-up of TDs on either side of the half by the Packers would have made the score 27-3 before his offense got the ball back.

Are you seeing many woulda, shoula, coulda comments in the inbox about Snacks Harrison on the Seahawks practice squad?

Lots of folks asking about it. I don't know how it all went down, how interested the Packers were, what they might have offered previously or what Harrison was looking for. There's a lot of unknown we'll never find out.

I submitted a very similar inbox comment on lumens/watts to the one in today's column. Looks like I missed out by a parsec or so, Mike.

Yeah, you did. Sorry.

Will Butler get in the HOF?

I hope so, but I don't think it'll be this year. With Manning, Woodson and Megatron all first-year eligibles, this will be a tough class to crack for LeRoy. But I do think he'll get in eventually.

Mike, great place to be 4-0 and a bye ahead. What do you see the next four games win/lose?

I don't go down that road, but it's a tough stretch. Three of the four are on the road (though that's not quite what it usually is, obviously). The Bucs will be coming off a mini-bye after tonight's game, so the Packers' extra rest isn't as big of an advantage. The Houston game doesn't look as daunting as it did previously, but maybe the coaching change lights a fire. Then the Vikings might be playing to save their season, followed by the Niners on a short week with a long flight. It's the toughest stretch of the season in my book.

Offensively, the team does very well on 1st & 2nd downs and gets to manageable 3rd downs, yet the team seems to struggle on 3rd/4th & 1. Saw this issue last year too, most pronounced in the Eagles game. Why is an offense so prolific struggle so much on short yardage plays?

Short-yardage is usually about execution. One missed block and the play is wrecked. Sometimes it's about play call versus a specific defense, which was the case at the goal line Monday night. I don't have the magic answer for you, but if I know LaFleur, he's using the time over the bye to look at short-yardage options.

Since Rodgers makes decisions on play options based on the defense, how long before our opponents learn his keys?

His keys? The defense doesn't know what play options he has available to him when he's making that decision, so they can't know what he's looking for.

Mike, with no fans to this point this year, do you see this as a huge advantage for Aaron Rodgers?

Well, when the schedule first came out and we were thinking things might be back to normal by fall, with the first two road games being Minneapolis and New Orleans, anyone would have taken a split of those two. And the Packers won both, with multi-score leads in the fourth quarter. This is an advantage Rodgers and the Packers have maximized on to this point.

All right folks, with that I'm going to call it a chat. Sorry for the delays early, but I appreciate all the participation. Take care and stay safe over this non-Packers weekend. Best, Mike

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