Mike's Mid-Week Chat: How much will the Falcons test the Packers' run defense?

Editor Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

RB Bijan Robinson

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. I see some questions already coming in so I'll get started. I'll be copying-pasting questions in due to the technical issues we've been experiencing with our interface, which is out of our control. So if it works for some of you and you see double questions, just bear with it because it's helping out others. OK, here we go.

How much did that 52 yard FG boost the confidence of Anders Carlson, did he talk to the media? He must feel good after an up and down camp and pre-season. Hopefully he can keep it going.

I'm sure it felt really good for him to hit his first NFL FG, and for it to be in a clutch situation. But I've never sensed Carlson lacking any confidence, even during his ups and downs in camp. He seems pretty headstrong to me, and I'm sure having an older brother go from a struggling NFL rookie to Pro Bowl kicker has an influence there.

Do you have any prior experience with the internet service in Atlanta? Here's hoping you have an easier time this Sunday than last.

It's not the internet service itself, but the software and programming required to make the live blog go (which is the same as this chat). It's out of our control and we're hoping others we've called upon can get it fixed for us.

I didn't really get the chance to watch the ATL/CAR game went. I know ATL has a young stud at RB, but how much of a stiffer test is it going to be for both our sides in the trench? It's weird going into ATL and not concerned about Ryan/Jones connection.

It's a whole new world in Atlanta with a new QB, first-round RB, and a lot of new faces on defense. They got a big win over a division rival last week, too. it's going to be a battle of two young, up-and-coming offenses still trying to figure things out.

What is your short analysis of the safety position going on to week 2?

I thought Darnell Savage was active and played a great game. His anticipation was obvious and made a difference for the defense. Ford's speed and hitting ability is evident out there. He might've missed a couple of tackles, but we'll see if that's just a Week 1 thing. He really brought the hammer on some others. The personal foul he picked up was the biggest negative. That's got to be avoided.

do we get word on A Jones hammy later today ?

I'll be headed to practice after this chat to see who's out there, and the first injury report of the week will be out later this afternoon.

Good morning, Mike. How is Tyler Davis already eligible to sign with another team? I thought players had to wait 3 weeks after an injury settlement.

I believe a player can sign with another team as soon as his injury settlement expires. The original team has to wait an extra 3 weeks after the injury settlement to be able to bring him back.

What's any word on Aaron Jones? If he's out how about Emanuel Wilson to fill-in?

As mentioned, no word yet. If he's questionable or limited at all, it'll be interesting to see whether the Packers go with Wilson behind AJ Dillon on Sunday or elevate Patrick Taylor again.

Rasul Douglas is on track to be both the emotional and lead by example player on D. He brings it every game, every play.

He was like that all training camp. His intensity during practices, whether in one-on-ones or 11-on-11 was audible every day. I don't remember that as much in '22, his first training camp here, but his attitude and approach was noticeable this summer.

Has there been any chatter amongst players or staff about the AR8 injury?

Tuesday was the players' off day, and no media access at all. I'm sure LaFleur will be asked about Rodgers' injury and players in the locker room will be asked about it after practice as well.

How's the press box at Mercedes-Benz Stadium? I always thought it looked like a neat stadium.

I've only been there once, when the Packers were the first regular-season opponent there back in Week 2 of 2017. I remember walking out onto the field when we first got there and being pretty impressed. I don't remember much about the press box, though, honestly, other than it doesn't provide nearly as good a view for the media as the old Georgia Dome did. That's typical of newer stadiums, where the more premium views are reserved for the high rollers, so to speak. I'm not complaining. Trust me, I get it.

Hey Mike, I've been having trouble accessing many of the features, particularly the in-game blog, WYMM, and this mid-week chat. I usually use the Android app but my backup would be Chrome on desktop. Neither of those work. The blog and chat widgets don't show up and there are no videos for WYMM. Thankfully, I discovered that Safari browser seems to work for all three. Am I the only one experiencing these issues or are these known problems?

You are not the only one. I've been seeing a lot of messages sent to the Inbox of people having issues with accessing the live blog/chat and the videos for WYMM. I'm not a technical person so I can't be of much help. One thing I know is if your browsers/apps/etc. aren't updated to the latest versions, that can cause issues. Beyond that, I know a lot of people are doing fine with everything, and I wish I could help more with those experiencing troubles. We're having troubles on our end already as well, which I mentioned.

I'm concerned about some veterans getting close to getting taunting penalties after big plays. Players like Jai and Rasul come to mind.

LaFleur certainly indicated that was going to be a major topic of discussion in meetings coming out of the Bears game.

Any updates on Watson?

He spoke to reporters Monday and said he has a better chance to play this week than last, but that was about it. It wasn't much to go on, but that's to be expected. We'll just have to wait and see.

Were there some accuracy issues on Sunday from Love or was it just a guy ran the wrong route?

There were some throws that didn't look in sync, for sure. But it's hardly going to be perfect. The QB is young, his pass catchers are young. It's all a work in progress. Love was dynamite on third and fourth downs, which is how the game was won.

What was your sense of the broken play to Luke Musgrave? Did the defense get distracted looking to pounce on the fumble, or is the play designed for the TE to get lost in the shuffle?

The latter. LaFleur said the play is called "leak," where the TE leaks out and the idea is for the defense to react late (if at all) or catch them in a bad matchup downfield. Obviously it worked.

Did ML talk about where Aaron Jones went after that first drive, Jones was so effective and then it was Dillon until Half time...

He didn't belabor it. There was a lot to try out in Week 1, and it's a 17-game (plus hopefully longer) season, so they aren't going to abuse Jones to where he's not the same guy come December and January.

With Atlanta's "positionless" offensive scheme which group of defenders will be stressed the most. I feel like having two ILB with athleticism helps, but it still makes me semi nervous with the of the explosive offensive weapons Atlanta has…i.e. Patterson, Robinson, Pitts, London

It's going to pose a different offensive look for sure. This is where we'll hear defenders talk about following their "rules," in terms of how they react and what the assignments are when they see things that aren't fully scouted. Everyone has to know what to do in those situations and stay on the same page.

Was it ever confirmed if Jayden Reed's injury was indeed cramps?

Yes, he came back into the game and recovered the onside kick.

Any comments on how Bakh feels? I wasn't surprised because he is a vet and pro's pro, but it was nice to see him play the full game and be dominant.

We'll see what he says this week, but by the looks of it he was having a lot of fun out there and not dealing with any issues. I'm sure the media is going to follow up with him on Rodgers' injury and his feelings about playing surfaces.

Nice story about Kenny Clark.

Wes was all over that story when Clark's father was released from prison a couple of months ago and then did a nice follow up story about him coming to the game Sunday. It's on the site now for those who want to check it out.

Mike, thanks for doing this chat. Gotta like these next 2 noon games.

Noon games are always the best from a work perspective. The work day is always long, but it never feels as long when the game starts at noon.

Regarding Wilson vs. Taylor if Jones is out, why not both?

Entirely possible if not likely, should Jones not be able to go or be iffy in any way. I'm just not sure who would be next up behind Dillon.

How was Soldier Field food offering ? Did the turf seem improved, or too early in season to judge ? Ask David Bakhtiari if you can later

The Soldier Field food was about what it usually is, which is not worth writing about. The field looked great, and Bakhtiari already commented on social media how much it's improved there from previous years.

These tech problems are just week 1 issues. I promise you it won't be the same website in December as it is now. Just beat the Falcons!

Works for me.

How beneficial has it been for not only Jordan Love to sit and learn but to have the same coach for all four years? That seems virtually unheard of for young qbs

Same head coach and same system certainly has its benefits, but so has the tutelage of Tom Clements last year and this. Rodgers was always effusive in his praise for how Clements helped him, and I think he's doing the same for Love. The guy is a CFL Hall of Famer with a law degree. He's a fascinating guy who's incredibly smart and knows football/quarterbacking with the best of them.

Hey Mike, how much of a snap increase do you think Rashan Gary will have Sunday? When do you think he will be at his max reps and with the rotation what is the number you think maximizes his effectiveness. Bane is a problem.

He is a problem. I don't want to guess how much his snap count will increase, but it would certainly make sense for it to go up week by week as long as he has no issues. Eventually, you want Gary on the field about as much as he can go full speed but without getting too fatigued every week. It's a long season for everybody.

Feeling bad for AR8 injury, but wondering why Jets didn't do more to beef up that o line that was questionable at best.

It sure seemed like they got aced out on the OT they wanted in the draft with the trades and jockeying for position that was done. I can't speak to how hard they tried to improve the unit. We have no idea how many calls they made, but it wouldn't shock me if no AFC teams were willing to help them out on that front after they got Rodgers. And capable O-linemen don't just show up on the waiver wire very often.

The run defense will certainly get tested again this week against Bijan. He looked as explosive as Wilson in the preseason.

Robinson was drafted where he was for a reason. He's a playmaker, and an elusive one. The Packers will have their hands full. He's this week's Justin Fields from a running focus standpoint.

What, if anything, will you be watching for tomorrow night from our neighbors across the St Croix?

I'm curious to see what their offense looks like without Cook and Thielen, who were major pieces for Cousins the last few years. It's hard to just remove big-time players like that and pick up where you left off. All teams go through it at some point. That's a tough turnaround for the Vikes after a frustrating Week 1 loss and then a Thursday night tilt against the defending NFC champs.

Has that play when Jones got 51 yards on the pass across the field been used before? Look like something out of college, hopefully there are more creative plays like that down the road!

I've heard some guys say it's been in the playbook, but if it was tried, they clearly didn't execute it as well as they did Sunday. Sometimes it's about dialing up the call and getting the right defensive look against which to run it, too.

It's one game, and the Bears are not good. To me the biggest positive you can take from it is the confidence both sides gained that they can make the plays that are there. "Execute and it will work" helps calm the rough waters

Agreed. That's one of the biggest takeaways from this game. I thought the Bears would be better and look better than that, to be honest. That was a rough performance.

How bad is the Bear's o-line and can we expect Green Bay's d-line to have that effectiveness every game moving forward?

There's no such thing as having the same effectiveness every game in this league. Opponents change, and they adjust as well. That's how it works.

It was good to see our rookie DL Brooks and Wooden play well and keep our starters fresh for later in the game ,hopefully they can keep it up all year!

The Packers are going to need that rotation up front because they don't want to wear out Clark, Chris Slayton and Devonte Wyatt every week. Colby Wooden and Karl Brooks certainly look the part as rookies, and this defense will be counting on them to hold up their end and make sure there's not a dropoff when the guys in front of them need a breather.

Of all the plays the defense made on Sunday, the one that impressed me the most was Lukas Van Ness and his sack of Fields! Such patience he showed, and then the speed to take him down. Great play!

As I've mentioned in a couple of different places, that was great discipline by Van Ness to stay home, and then I think he surprised Fields with his speed. There's no doubt in my mind Fields thought he could outrun him to the edge, but no dice.

Any thoughts on what happened with Dillon last week? Is he losing a step or was the blocking substandard for him compared to Jones? And if the latter, why, do you think?

LaFleur said there were too many "free hitters" in the running game. Jones was able to dodge a couple in the backfield and make something out of nothing. That's what makes him special. Dillon doesn't have that same level of quickness at his size. There's a lot the Packers can improve on with their running game, and it'll benefit both backs.

Did Musgrave say if it was the turf monster that "tackled" him or was it just rubbery legs from 1st game jitters that threw him off balance?

I think he just got his body in an awkward position but had to make sure he'd catch the ball.

Obviously you have to have "the man", but can we please remind people that you MUST take the big guys early when they are there. That whole game was won between the tackles.

On both sides of the ball.

Word from Nagler is that Gray has the Atlanta defense being very unpredictable. Who are their top defenders ?

They spent big money in free agency on Jessie Bates at safety and he had a big Atlanta debut with 2 picks. Their edge rushers are Calais Campbell and Bud Dupree, who both are new. Old standby Grady Jarrett is in the middle.

Mike, which of the rookies were you most impressed with on Sunday?

I thought Reed and Carlson had the biggest impact on the game, but the encouraging thing was how many rookies contributed. Musgrave made a big play and might've had another one. Van Ness and Brooks had sacks. Wooden was involved up front. Carrington Valentine got his feet wet with some snaps. It was all good to see.

If only there existed parallel universes where Aaron Jones either plays 700 snaps in a season or keeps getting regular breaks...

Exactly. The one thing you'll never hear from Jones is any complaints about not getting the ball, or see any bad body language on the field if something goes wrong.

Did I see Packers run out 3 TE's at the same time, all rookies? Wouldn't call them rookies by week 17.

This rookie class is going to play enough that come November and December they really shouldn't be rookies anymore. That's part of the idea here.

Is anyone else as excited as me to see Musgrave once he gets his NFL legs under him. He should have had 2 walk-in touchdowns. He pulled up on the one, and was back peddling like crazy on his long catch. It will be exciting to see a field stretching TE again.

It's all right there. The tools, the size, the speed. Just give it time.

Is anyone else as excited as me to see Musgrave once he gets his NFL legs under him. He should have had 2 walk-in touchdowns. He pulled up on the one, and was back peddling like crazy on his long catch. It will be exciting to see a field stretching TE again.

It's all right there. The tools, the size, the speed. Just give it time.

Vic's three teams were the Steelers, Jaguars, and Packers. Which do you think he'd most like to be covering this year if he came out of retirement?

I think he'd enjoy any of them. Vic's a QB guy and all three franchises have very intriguing QB situations at the moment.

Remember there is no 100% consistency! Preparation and execution will change and sometimes not for the better. Young players!

Bingo. If the same stuff works every week, the opponents aren't doing their jobs.

It looks like the Carlson field goal would have been good from 70 yards. What did it look like from your vantage point

Ha, our press box view at Soldier Field was from the opposite end zone, so I have no idea. And the TV feed in the press box was a full 2 plays behind, so it was useless to glance at it to try to get another look. All I know is the kicked looked good by plenty.

Anders Carlson has a huge leg, but do we know what LaFleur thinks his range is inside a dome? At the end of the 2nd or 4th quarter, I wonder how long of a kick he'd let Carlson try.

Maybe we'll find out this week. He'll warm up in Atlanta before the game and his range will be relayed. That's SOP.

Morning Mike. I was surprised the Bears didn't try the Philly scrum on either of the short yardage plays on the first drive. In fact, I didn't see much of that all weekend. Is it (hopefully) falling out of favor?

Maybe. I think we'll see teams use it when it's absolutely critical, but everyone knows the injury risk to the QB with that tactic.

If others haven't asked, since the Bears did not blitz much, do you expect more of that to come?

You're right, the Bears didn't blitz much. Every defense will have its own thoughts on what it does best and what its best way is to attack Love and this offense. I don't think the Packers will really know what to expect week to week, at least not this early.

Loving the new picture. Who took that one?

That's thanks to our new intern, Lauren. She's quite the skilled photog.

Packers might have the best draft class in a decade or maybe longer.

Little early for such a declaration, but it'll be intriguing to follow and analyze, for sure.

I noticed in the Call of the Week that Wayne (and others in the press box) were using binoculars. Was that a function of how bad the press box was or are binoculars a standard tool of the trade for broadcasters?

They're used quite a bit depending on the booth location in any given stadium.

Seemed like Carlson had a handful of high kickoffs received inside the 5 yard line. Think this will be the norm?

Not sure, and I doubt coach Bisaccia is going to clue us in on the game plan every week.

That's what I love about Jones, he's an all around team player.

One of the most all-around I've ever been around.

Even when Watson is back, I think Jayden Reed is going to light a few people up as well. He just looks like a football player in all aspects.

Couldn't agree more.

Whelan seemed to outkick his coverage at times, do you think the gunners misplayed the balls that went in endzone ? I realize 1 went 68 yards 48 net

If the Packers are punting from their own 32 and he can put it in the end zone, Bisaccia will take that anytime.

The TE still pushed love on his sneak. Not a scrum but definitely there. Par for the course.


When Whelan gets his 1st game ball, hope it goes to his mom. Practicing holds in the kitchen musta helped. Kids got good hands!

He did a whale of a job on Carlson's 52-yarder at the end of the half. That was impressive.

Why don't returners take advantage of the new rule and fair catch those high kickoffs? They can't all be Keisean Nixon.

That's something we'll have to see how it evolves as the season goes along across the league. The rule is brand new.

This is the best time of year. The NFL is back, MLB is marching toward their playoffs, and the F1 season is still going. Do you still find time to follow the Brewers?

Yeah, in fact I slipped out of work a touch early (shhh, don't tell anyone) last night to buzz south and catch the game with my son. Best time of year indeed. With that we'll call it a chat. Thanks again everyone. Enjoy the rest of your week. Best, Mike

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