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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Bye week boost

Mike discusses the Packers' key areas of improvement in his weekly chat


Hey everybody. Sorry to keep switching chat days on everybody, but this just worked better with the Packers changing their practice schedule this week. Thanks for hanging with me. Let's get to it.

Any word on if Breeland will get his debut this week?

He was practicing yesterday, so we'll see. The first official injury report for the week comes out after today's practice.

This will be a tough game to say the least. If the Packers don't win what kind of performance will still qualify as a success?

This will be a tough game, but clean, balanced football and more consistency on defense will give the Packers a chance to win this one and those that follow. Get something reliable with the running game established and limit the big plays on defense.

I looked it up, and you're right: Randall Cobb has thrown 2 passes in the NFL, including a 10-yard completion last year. I can't believe I don't remember this... Do you know which game and quarter this was?

He attempted a pass against the Giants on the road somewhere in the '11-'13 years, I don't remember which game, and he completed one last year in Week 17 at Detroit, to Hundley.

Vic says the Coliseum is the worst NFL stadium at which he's covered a game and it's not always a friendly place. So you have that going for you.

I'm looking forward to seeing it and being able to say I was there, but I haven't heard many good things about the working conditions, that's for sure.

Will the Packers take Kumerow or Davis off IR? Or simply wait and see what the rookies do?

No decisions or moves this week. I guess it's still wait and see mode.

Hey Mike, I wanted to say thanks for your commitment to the Packers and the fans. I really enjoy your matter of fact (read: no BS) style. My question is simple - what is your single favorite Packers memory from before your time in journalism?

No question it was the first game I attended. My dad took me to Packers-Bears at Soldier Field in December of 1984, the first season the Bears began holding their training camp in my hometown of Platteville. Both teams were using backup QBs. Walter Payton even QB'd a series or two for Chicago. A Rich Campbell to Phil Epps TD pass in the final minute of the game gave the Packers the upset against a Bears team that reached the NFC title game that year.

Will it be double teams all day against Aaron Donald?

You have to do whatever it takes to block him. He can single-handedly wreck an offense. Green Bay's interior three, assuming it's Taylor, Linsley and Bell, will have their hands full. Linsley will be the helper most of the time when it's needed.

I know McCarthy likes to put his defense on the field first when he wins the coin toss, to give a chance to 'double up' after halftime. And this has been asked before, I'm sure, but do you have any numbers on the times he chooses to receive or kick at the start of the game? I would like to get our offense on the field first and get out to a nice start for a change.

I haven't kept track of it. The majority of the time if the Packers win the toss they defer, but not always. McCarthy has taken the ball on occasion. It's a decision they make week to week. I don't get too wrapped up in it either way. Four quarters is a long game.

Mike, a lot is made of west coast travel. However, Green Bay is already part way there. It's not like traveling from Philly or New York to the coast. What do you writers do to combat the "jet lag" issues? Hydrate more to keep your fingers limber or something else?

I've never had any problems but I'm not exerting myself to the extent football players are, clearly. Just stay hydrated and get a good night's sleep, which isn't too hard. Four hours is a pretty long flight, though, and we'll have another one on the short week to Seattle coming up.

Hey Mike, a little late. Any news on Aaron's knee?

He said he was hoping to be able to get rid of the brace for this weekend's game, but the fact that he didn't practice yesterday after the full week off, and just his tone of voice, it didn't sound promising this would be the week to get rid of it. He hasn't had any setbacks really, but it's just taking a while to get and feel fully healthy.

The Packers did a fine job getting down the field against San Francisco. Most of the drives ended in the red zone or fairly close. What hump do the Packers need to jump over with plenty of weapons to start racking up red zone TDs?

It just comes down to execution in tight quarters. Sharper routes, a clean pocket, and accurate throws. Rodgers has been disappointed with some of his throws in the red zone, and they haven't used the running game much down there, either.

We need to control the time of possession this week, for obvious reasons. Do you envision more dink and dunk this week along with a complimentary running game? Or do you think Aaron will still take his shots downfield?

I think you have to take some shots at some point, but as I said earlier this week in Inbox, Rodgers will have to pick his spots.

What are you most excited for on away trips like this besides the game and experiencing a new stadium? I hear LA has a lot of good Mexican food...

I haven't been to southern California since road trips to play the Chargers in 2011 and 2012 (the latter in preseason). The Mexican food out there is always top notch. I just like the chance to see a new city and relax a bit, even if it's just for a day or half-day.

With Wes coming off his bye week and now fully rested, what type of output or new wrinkles can we expect from him during the remaining weeks of the season?

Good one. Wes always has good stories in the hopper. The one we posted while he was gone last week on Martinez's childhood friend was fantastic. If you haven't seen it, be sure to check it out.

How can you not feel for Jordy... It broke my wife's heart when we cut him

The business side of this game isn't really fun for anybody, and for Nelson, that goes for leaving here as well as what he's dealing with now, a veteran on a team in full-scale rebuild. I just hope he and his family are doing well.

Has it been confirmed what jerseys the Packers are wearing this Sunday?

I have not heard, but if I see one of the equipment guys later today I'll be sure to ask.

With all the parity in the NFL today, what are the odds the Packers easily beat the Rams and Patriots pretty easily these next few weeks?

Easily? I don't really understand your question. Anything can happen in the NFL, and I expect the Packers to play better now than they have thus far, but nothing's going to be easy, especially during this upcoming schedule.

Hey Wes, I used to live in LA. Rather than the Mexican food (the Midwest is getting good stuff now), try the Japanese food or Chinese food. Or if you can make it to Santa Monica, hit Bay City Imports for their godmother sandwich. Best on the west coast.

It's Mike, but I'll take the advice anyway.

Mike, Do I HAVE to root for the Seahawks this weekend?

That's a tough one, isn't it? Both Detroit and Seattle are 3-3, so one of them is getting a fourth loss. That's all that matters.

Is Wes back yet? Chipper and refreshed from his week off?

Wes came back on Tuesday, but I still wrote Inbox this morning just to get us back on our regular schedule (I post Mon-Wed-Fri, he does Tue-Thurs-Sat). We'll keep alternating days now.

Mike, So when do you guys head west?

The team charter departs sometime Friday afternoon, but I haven't seen an exact time yet. We have a pep rally out in LA on Saturday night as well.

Mike, nothing more than a sincere thank you for the opportunity to have this chat with you during what I am sure are some very hectic weeks for you. It is greatly appreciated.

No problem. Something's not quite right with the way the questions are coming in today, so please keep sending in more. I'm not sure what's up.

From a receiving game perspective, who do you envision having the most favorable matchups against Rams D? Are they weak against TEs or WR3? Trying to figure out where we can exploit that Rams D...

If the Packers protect Rodgers and can find some footing with the running game, I think the rest can take care of itself. Minnesota had a big offensive day against this LA defense, and I think the Packers can, too.

I'm headed to the game Sunday with my wife and our unborn child. If we win this game at the Rams, would you think we're a good enough luck charm for you to line up Superbowl tickets for us when we make it there?

Wow, the chance at one big win and you're already talking Super Bowl? Long way to go, win or lose.

Road games against elite teams can be a springboard. I remember the 2010 game against the Jets in New Jersey. The Packers showed that day that physically they could match up with anyone. They need to have a game like that in one or both of the next two weeks.

This team just has to start playing better on the road, period. The losses at Washington and Detroit are by far the team's worst performances this year. It has to start turning around.

Is it me, or have the Packers played most of this season being down on the scoreboard? What will it take to gain and preserve early leads, instead of always clawing from behind?

A fast start on offense and taking away the big plays on defense. The Packers jumped out 17-7 on San Francisco, their first real fast start of the season, but then a long TD right away got the 49ers back in the game pronto.

As of this point in the season..log jam in our division. I have seen several others dismiss our team as Aaron and not much else. Still saying the Vikings are likely to win the division. This angers me but are the Vikings a better team in your opinion?

The Vikings are the favorites to win the division until someone in the division beats them. The Packers had them beat. We all know that. But the final result wasn't a win, and Minnesota hasn't played any other division games. I think the Vikings are playing better now, having posted road wins at Philly and at the Jets. Their debacle at home against Buffalo looks like the aberration we all thought it was. But there's a long, long way to go in this division. Every team has flaws.

Is it realistic to expect 2 wins in the next 5 games?

Sorry, I don't look at it that way. It's a week-to-week league, and the Packers have to play better than they have to start chalking up wins. That's really the jist of my perspective right now.

So far this season, the Packers are ranked in the top ten in yards offensively and defensively. The last seasons that it's happened that I can find are 2010, 2009, and 96 through 98. Those were pretty good seasons with 2 Super Bowls.

I think we all know the Packers' offensive yardage ranking is partly a product of playing from behind in so many games and having to rally with long drives. The defensive ranking is a product of wild inconsistency from one half to the next. The Packers have shown, in stretches, the kind of team they can be. Now they have to do it for a whole game, and then another game after that...

Hi Mike. We know how competitive Aaron can be, but is there any chance on earth he knows (or cares) the Packers are an 8.5-point dog in Vegas? Lots of talk about that by the pundits.

I have no doubt he knows. Whether or not he cares, I couldn't say.

Spoff, I may have a gotcha, though you will always be the expert. I think it is gist, rather than jist.

You are correct. My mind is a little ahead of my fingers sometimes.

People are wanting the Packers to activate Kumerow and/ Davis right away. Don't forget that in order to activate them someone else has to be cut or put on IR. My guess is they are waiting until someone gets hurt before they will activate either of them.

That might be the case. The Packers also don't have any depth issues at WR right now. The rookie draft picks have all stepped in and contributed. I think Davis could help on punt returns, and get Williams a break from doing it, but I don't even know if he's fully healthy yet.

Parting thought for the day:

Pessimists= glass half empty,

Optimists = glass half full

Engineers= glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

Sportswriters: Is there beer in the glass?

When a team shows flashes or is on the brink of being great, what is typically missing? Clearly the talent is there.

It's such a fine line in this league. It's the one or two plays in the red zone that result in field goals rather than touchdowns. It's the one costly penalty on third down on defense that prevents you from getting off the field. Sometimes a good bounce of the ball can get a team going, like a deflected pass that falls into the right hands instead of the wrong one. It's a crazy league.

Simple question Mike, how are you doing today?

I'm OK, aside from the calf muscle I pulled last night playing racquetball. I was on a good run of no injury issues for a while, so I'm rather frustrated.

Since you spent a large portion of your days typing at your computer, do you do anything special to avoid wrist and back issues? I'm personally a fan of the vertical mouse and keyboard, and an adjustable sit/stand desk.

Maybe I'll try the standing desk, after my calf heals.

How is the Titletown District coming along? Have heard nothing but great things. Can't wait to get back to Green Bay and see it someday soon.

It's rather impressive. It just keeps growing and I continue to be amazed at how quickly it does so.

I think red zone is where the major improvement comes this week. Not AR12 like, and that was supposed to be a Graham special. I think they put it together during the bye.

It's an area that has to improve for the Packers, no doubt. Defenses have really focused on Graham in the red zone, so we'll see if the Packers have some other concepts for him, or just work the ball to other guys.

A lot of talk of odds this week, when there is a high valued favorite team, like the Rams this week, do you think it ends up being a factor in mental prep for the game? Or just something for people to talk about being a factor? If I send Sean McVay a sheetcake that says "Congrats, on being the favorite!" do you think he'll cancel practice?

No one involved in the games really pays attention. There's a reason only one team has gone unbeaten through the regular season since 1972.

Do you expect MVS and ESB to continue their contributions over the next few games, or will Rodgers go back to relying on Allison/Cobb?

If Allison and Cobb are healthy, I expect them to take the majority of the snaps, but I can see MVS and EQ rotating in more than they did in the first month of the season.

Soft tissue injury. Must not be hydrated or stretching properly!

Or I'm just too darn old.

All right, I've gotta run, so I'll sign off. Thanks for chatting, everybody. I'll try to settle in to a regular day/time again soon, but with the Thursday night game coming up I'm sure there will be some adjustments again. Thanks for your patience. Take care, Mike

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