Mike's Mid-Week Chat: How do the Packers prepare for the Chiefs?

191023-mikes-mid-week-chat-2560

Hey everybody. Let's get started.

Good morning mike. Got your bags packed and ready to go for some traveling over the next 5 weeks. Which of the upcoming venues do you enjoy the most? The least?

I've never covered a prime-time regular-season game at Arrowhead, so I'm looking forward to that, Mahomes or no Mahomes. I also think the upcoming trip to LA in the smaller soccer stadium, which I expect to be chock-full of Packers fans, will be a treat as well.

Any news on Davante Adams?

The Packers don't practice today until around 3 p.m., so we won't know if there's any update on Adams until then. Same with Savage and others.

What will be the key to stopping the Chiefs? I feel a heavy dose of running backs with Travis Kelce sprinkled in is coming.

Kelce and Hill are the guys Andy Reid is going to scheme to get the ball to. He'll want the ball out of Moore's hand and into theirs as quickly as possible. The Chiefs will also try to run the ball with McCoy and establish something on the ground, because that'll help Moore, too.

With just under a week before the trade deadline, would you expect BG to make a move? I know he always said he would be in those conversations.

I can't really predict whether a move is coming or not, because it's not just about how much you might like a certain player, but what's the cost? We don't know how much Gutekunst was in on conversations regarding other players who were already traded.

Good mourning Mike, It seemed their were plays designed with five different positions used as primary receivers last weekend. All credit to LaFleur and the playbook. Will we continue to see that when Adams returns? The more weapons they use the better this offense seems to look.

Adams is your go-to guy when he's back, but you can line him up anywhere you want to. He's done it from everywhere. You also see how the defense reacts to where he's lining up, and Rodgers will make the reads accordingly.

Do the Chiefs actually have an advantage with Moore at QB considering the Chiefs have 10 days to formulate a game plan that'll come with more unscouted looks?

No offense to Moore, but you're talking about replacing the league MVP with a 35-year-old who was out of football last year. Believe me, there's no advantage for the Chiefs. They'd much rather have their MVP.

I think the Raiders game was closer than it looked. Defense had some breaks and stiffened up, but the sequence at the half determined the score gap. We are going to have to improve during this stretch of the schedule on big plays and TE coverage, which was almost non-existent. Too often it looked like broken coverage, so at least that is fixable I don't see a talent problem.

The number of pass-catchers running free and making easy grabs against Oakland was the most alarming thing. Yes, those are fixable issues. Too many of Oakland's big plays were too easy. LaFleur suggested on Monday defenders were trying to do too much pre-snap in making adjustments instead of just playing the call. He talked about communication needing to improve.

Hi Mike, Do you think that the defense will blitz more with the change at QB?

If you don't have to, don't. If a four-man rush isn't generating enough pressure, then look to alternatives. It's how the game unfolds. You go in with your best plans for both.

Hello, Mike. Arrowhead is known as one of the loudest stadiums in the league. Besides the obvious communication issues, are there any other challenges in playing in such a noisy environment?

It's about weathering the storms and momentum surges. If the home team gets on a roll, can you stop a drive and force a FG to limit the damage? Can the offense respond after the defense gives up a score, and move the ball to give the D a break to regroup? All of that is harder on the road with a frenzied crowd.

What's been your favorite celebration, if any, by a Packers player/side of the ball this year? I thought Geronimo Allison and Marquez Valdes-Scantling doing the motorcycle ride after MVS's long TD was the best.

I really liked Z. Smith's Ray Lewis dance in Dallas after the HOFer made those comments about defensive leadership.

Mike, 3 more games until the bye, which I think is a good point to seriously evaluate the season and the potential for playoff seeding. How many of these 3 games do you think the Pack need to win to feel really good when they get their week off?

Generally speaking, if you split the two road games and win the home one, you'd take that. But it's just one game at a time, as boring as that sounds. I think the Packers could win all three. There are also no guarantees. The Chargers aren't as bad as their 2-5 record suggests, in my opinion. The Panthers are playing well and look dangerous. The Chiefs will give the Packers all they can handle. The locker room has had extra time to mentally adjust to the Mahomes situation. They'll be ready.

How good is KC's O-line? Will we see some sacks again?

We're going to find out. They haven't run the ball all that well, and it's hard to look at sack numbers because Mahomes is such a good escape artist making plays on the run.

In reviewing the game Sunday, it seemed the Pack got caught out of possession a number of times with late changes of defensive personal, also they seem to be a much better team in man to man. What did you see?

I assume you mean "position" not possession. LaFleur talked about getting the personnel and the calls in faster from the sideline so guys can get lined up and survey the offense to react at the snap accordingly. Let's see this week if that smooths out.

Before Mahomes was side lined I envisioned quite the shoot out with KC's suspect defense and our ability to give up a lot of big chunk plays. I don't see why the Packers can't easily score in the 30's still. Would scoring 30 pretty much guarantee us a win with Moore at Qb for KC?

Who knows? I like GB's chances to score enough in this game, but night games on the road are no picnic, no matter the opponent.

Who is the Tom guy that Rodgers refers to in press conferences?

That's Tom Fanning, communications manager who handles Rodgers' media obligations.

Hey Mike, while I understand that you are constantly looking to improve the team, I wonder why people seem to undervalue our current (non-Adams) WRs. MVS already has more receiving yards than any other WR for the first 2 seasons with Rodgers (other than Cobb and Jennings) and has 9 more games to go. And how fast would even a veteran learn our offense? The offense is just starting to take off; why mess with that?

The ongoing potential for MVS and Allen Lazard in 2019 really intrigue me, so that will be taken into account in any discussions of roster moves. But you always keep the door open to improving personnel, if the price is right. You never know when guys might get hurt or whatever else. It's still a long season from here.

I know this defense makes up for it in the red zone, but they have to find a way to stop these big plays. Do you see this as a big concern too and what will help eliminate them?

I don't know the answer. That's up to Pettine and the players. But the big plays must be cut down, absolutely. They've surrendered chunks of field way too readily the last three games.

The defense has had a lot of timely turnovers and stops, but hasn't been particularly stout otherwise. Do you think our big-play crunch time defense is sustainable?

The Packers' defense has shown an ability to respond well when something goes awry. That's extremely valuable. But it's difficult to lean on that every single week. I like this defense's chances of getting an offense to make a mistake if it's forcing the opponent to take 9-10 plays to score.

I may be in the minority, but given that Rodgers has shown the ability to carry the offense, I think Darnell Savage's return is more important than Adams' for now. Savage's speed on the back end is simply amazing

There would certainly be a domino effect with Savage coming back, allowing Amos to go back to playing to his strengths. I'm curious how close Campbell is to possibly being activated. It's stay tuned on defense as far as personnel.

I look for Reid to scheme some success early. Weather the storm the first half and I think we will be good to go.

Handling any momentum surges whenever they happen will be key.

People talk about a 1-2 punch at the RB position. With Aaron Jones and Jamaal Williams, I feel like the Packers have a 1-1 punch, if that makes sense. Both have proven capable of trampling over defenses. How do you see these two working together on Sunday night?

The Chiefs are allowing 5.0 yards per carry on the ground. I expect the Packers to pounds both running backs at that defensive front and see what happens. Keep both guys fresh and see if the run game can be sustained for four quarters.

I was looking to seeing the Halloween themed sack celebration by the Smith bros last Sunday. Is it still on the table this weekend?

Presumably.

What has to improve in the return game and against the return game? I thought there was an emphasis on special teams this year, with more coaches and so on, but the results are lacking. Although the number of penalties is much(?) lower than last year, which is good. And Mason Crosby and JK Scott are playing very well, which is even better.

Scott and Crosby have held up their end, for the most part, and special teams is not the flag-fest it's been in the past. But there's been no production in the return game, and it doesn't look like the returners have had anywhere to run. The Packers need more from this phase.

Mike what does mike Pettine need to do to slow down Travis Kelce?

I don't know. I'm no expert. I suspect he'll try to mix up coverage plans and try to not let Moore get a read on how Kelce is being defended down after down. Keep him guessing a little.

Not only is the offense learning on the fly but the coaching staff is also. Hence, getting the calls in from the sideline quicker etc. etc. After the bye week this whole team should be rockin'. Get to the bye at a minimum of 8-2 and the last part of the season could be special. Do you agree?

The progress on offense has been steady and noticeable. But as the season progresses, defenses will have seen more and start adjusting. It'll come down to how the Packers adjust from there. It's such a week-to-week league.

Do you think the defense will go with more of a zone scheme like they did against the raiders or will they be playing more man coverage?

Couldn't tell you. I do think Alexander is going to see Hill plenty, with King on Watkins for the most part. That'd be my guess. But as I already mentioned, mixing up coverages can help against a QB who is getting thrown in like this.

A few weeks ago, a submission wanted to know if we would have 4 teams from the division in the playoffs. Now I say Da Bears look like the bottom of the division and the Lions are lost. What are we going to be saying about this division in a few weeks? Will it flip over again?

It's way too early to write off the Bears or Lions. The Bears were 3-3 last year and won nine of their last 10. The Lions are dealing with injuries and personnel changes, but Stafford is playing well. Long way to go here.

I think clock management will be key in Arrowhead. That's a loud place to play and if we can keep that place unentertained then we can keep things in line of sight for us. Also 3rd down both ways needs to be addressed.

The Packers were much better on third down against the Raiders, offensively, and you'd like to see that trend continue. Third-and-long is tough enough, and it's even tougher on the road. Defensively they need to generate more third-and-longs, and that starts with stopping McCoy. The Packers were rather stout vs. the run against Detroit but took another step back against Oakland.

Will Bryan Bulaga get the recognition he deserves for his stellar play this year?

I certainly hope so. He might be having his best season in Year 10.

I saw that Elgton Jenkins is leading the league in pass block win percentage! I'm stunned at the quality of our O Line and since we have 2 great receiving backs, the run blocking ability hasn't been a liability at all.

I think this Packers' offensive line continues to get better the more it plays together. The current group has started five games together now. Keep them healthy and it will pay dividends.

i've asked II before but who are the 3 fastest Packers on the roster today?

Off the top of my head I'd probably say MVS, Jaire Alexander and Savage.

It seems that opponents have identified the Packer kickoff return unit as a weakness and are intentionally kicking short to force a return. How do the Packers change that?

Block better. Break one good return and opponents will change strategies.

Also important to note that it's impossible for all 4 teams from one division to make the playoffs.

Clearly. The NFC West looks awfully good right now. Arizona is on the bottom and has won three straight. That might end up being the best division in the NFC, if not the league.

If the Chiefs don't try a deep throw early I'd be surprised. Especially since the Packers have been taking it on the chin early with those deep throws and with Hill being back for the Chiefs. How do they stop those deep balls?

Stay sound and don't bite on play-action. I agree, the Chiefs will likely challenge the Packers deep early. Any momentum they can generate with Moore will be big for them.

Mike, I'd argue that the strength of schedule would be one of this teams best assets as long as they're able to continue playing well, get/stay healthy, and make the playoffs. Right now it's a struggle week to week especially with all the injuries but I think it is a key factor that we will have had a really tough road to grind as it won't be any easier in the playoffs. I think that's one advantage we have over teams like the Patriots who get to play one of the softest schedules year after year. I'd prefer to be battle tested going into it and this division is no joke as well as the NFC as a whole.

There's something to be said for getting tested throughout the season, but really, it comes down to how you're playing in December and heading into January. You have to be ramping up to peak at the right time.

Packers defense has forced a nice amount of turnovers thus far. With Moore in at QB and just joining the team 8 weeks ago I think this has got to be the week a pick 6 is coming.

Packers fans certainly won't complain if that's the case.

How much weight should PFF grades be given? For me, Kevin King has passed the eye test this year and good stats to boot, but he has a pedestrian grade from PFF

King has given up his share of plays and he's also made some. I also think it's hard to tell on some plays whether the CB is supposed to have help, and if that help isn't there he gives up a play that's not entirely his fault. There's a lot of nuance to all this. What I like most about King is he doesn't get rattled if a guy makes a play on him. He just comes back and keeps fighting. I'm also not sure if he's really at 100 percent with the groin injury, but he's not going to let on if it's been any kind of hindrance.

I've never heard of this Moore cat . Can you give us any back story on his playing career and what type of QB he is?

I remember him most playing for the Panthers and Dolphins. He's started plenty of games in his career, but he's never been "the guy" for anybody really. He's never been very mobile and I'm sure he's even less so at 35, so I expect to see a lot of calls where the ball is coming out of his hand quickly.

Mike, what is the most challenging/stressful aspect of your job. Have you had serious writers block with a deadline looming?

Road trips are the most challenging, trying to write stories on the bus and plane rides quickly and effectively. It's never easy but I know people like to see stories ASAP so I do my best no matter the circumstances, and we've had some rough bus rides to the airport, believe me.

Which team, if any, that currently has a losing record makes the playoffs?

I'm not writing off the Eagles. They're in a bit of a rut, but that roster has way too much talent to bow out of this thing.

I think Aaron Rodgers has been playing lights out all season. His stats haven’t shown it til last week but the balls were all where they were supposed to be. The receivers are finally catching them and now everyone’s eyes are opening. I’m really proud of him to ignore the negative chatter and just p oh at his game - even if that means feeding the ball to Aaron Jones. We are so lucky...

I mentioned in Inbox a week or two ago that Rodgers' smarts, ball security and accuracy on the run have really stood out to me this year. He's always been great with the first two, and I think health has factored into the third not always being where it was in the past. I think he's growing to like this offense and the options it gives him.

We should definitely be on the lookout for a bunch of short screens from Reid.

That's what I'm thinking, too. And then after a bunch of those, they'll max protect and take a shot over the top.

I'm not surprised the Packers are improved but I certainly am by how much and how quickly it's come. In the building is there also surprise by how quickly the results have come? How about you Mike?

Nobody who's directly involved is surprised. You have to understand professional athletes and coaches, who live for this, always believe they're going to win. It's how they go about it. So they aren't surprised when they get the results they're looking for. They're realists, yes, but they believe in themselves, and with winning comes greater belief in everyone around them, too.

Some teams seem to start their sell out now, was it always so the last years?

The trading deadline was moved back a couple of weeks a year or two ago, so that has changed the pattern of activity.

Does this year's defense remind you of earlier in the decade, where "bend don't break" was the motto for us? Or, do you think we're past that now with the Smith brothers coming in, Savage coming in, etc.?

This defense has had its moments where it has stood tall from the get-go. It also has given up some plays and then risen up with its back to the goal line. It's a constant evolution as offenses probe different ways to attack you.

Week 1 it was ugly for the offensive line and now I believe we are the best at pass blocking what was the turn around from that group

The Bears got 5 sacks in Week 1. There have been just 7 sacks in the last 6 games. New RG in Week 1, new LG in Week 3. It's a process. Always is.

All right, folks, I've gotta run. Thanks for all the questions and participation, as always. Take care and we'll talk again next week. Best, Mike

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