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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: How will the Packers handle the Bills' weapons?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs
Buffalo Bills wide receiver Stefon Diggs

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. I see some questions already coming in, so keep sending and I'll get rolling.

Mike, we keep hearing how great things look at practice, particularly Romeo Doubs. What do you think is the disconnect between practice performance and game performance?

I think that's the biggest mystery, not Doubs particularly, but as you said, the disconnect between practice and game performance. Unless every coach we've heard from saying practices have been good is not being truthful, which doesn't seem productive, something's not translating. They have to figure out what that is.

If Allen Lazard can't go this week, who needs to step up?

Everyone. Hopefully Sammy Watkins can play more snaps. I would expect Samori Toure and Juwann Winfree to be options. Doubs of course. We'll see if Christian Watson can get back from his hamstring. A lot of questions right now but everybody who's healthy has to be ready to play.

Mike, what has happened to the hard count and free plays? This was a big part of Aaron Rodgers' game in previous years.

Defenses aren't substituting as much in the middle of drives, so catching them with the 12 men isn't happening as often. Hard counts? They've played only one game at Lambeau during the three-game losing streak. You're not going to get hard counts on the road, which is where they'll be the next two weeks.

How does this crop of receivers compare to other years with Rogers as QB? I would think it would be the least accomplished.

That was a given before the season started. Cobb and Watkins both have plenty of accomplishments in this league, but they've been dealing with injuries. This is Lazard's chance for a big year, but now he's banged up again. Watson missed a bunch of time in the summer. It's been a revolving door of opportunity due to health.

This week is gonna be hard. I'll always root for my first team against my second team, so GPG. Singletary has been improving as a runner, but the main part of their running game you gotta be concerned with is Allen any time deciding to run for 20-30 yards.

No question. Allen is a major dual threat. He'll get out of the pocket and fire a rocket 40 yards downfield, or he'll take off and run for 20, like you said. Some plays you have to defend for 8-10 seconds against a guy like him. Nothing's easy.

They have to make a move for a WR right? Watson, Lazard, Cobb all injured and the offense needs a spark.

I'm sure Gutekunst is exploring options. Which potentially available players he might target, I'm not going to guess, because I don't know his staff's evaluations and how they feel about fit. But he's definitely looking around.

Mike, Rodgers was always good for a few first down conversions with his feet. Do you think a few designed runs would help get him back into that groove?

I don't think having a 38-year-old QB on designed runs is going to solve anything. You're just exposing him to more potential contact.

Mike, what do you make of Rodgers touting the grade the coaches gave him for last week? Rodgers has played plenty of superb games over the years, and I have a hard time believing his performance last week was on that level.

I don't think that's what he said. He said it was his best grade for this season. He didn't compare it to any other seasons.

Mike, I have a fear that what we are witnessing this season is the same thing Packer fans witnessed in 1968, the end of an era. Your thoughts?

One three-game losing streak and it's the end of an era? Way too early for that. This team is in transition, trying to find itself. The hope was they'd be farther along in that process by now, but they aren't, partly due to injuries, but there are other issues as well.

Obviously Rogers doesn't practice because of his "thumb", so why is he playing?? I know dumb question, but I believe it makes a difference!!

He has missed the Wednesday practice the last two weeks but has practiced on both Thursday and Friday.

We've been beaten by the Giants, Jets and Commanders. These three teams that have been toward the bottom of the NFL for a while. Is what we're seeing maybe just the result of years of picking late in the draft each round? Maybe the players they are adding are just better than our, and these perennial "bottom dwellers" are finally catching up?

The Giants and Jets are definitely on the way up, and yeah, those franchises have had a lot of high draft picks in recent years. If you draft well up there, you're going to turn things around eventually. I'm not sure about the Commanders, though. Other than that defensive front and one star receiver, I wasn't impressed with much else. The Packers' problems were self-inflicted to an even greater extent in this most recent loss than in the other two.

Mike, who do you like in the World Series?

Neither team. I hate the way the Astros cheated the game a few years back, and the Phillies won just 87 games in the regular season, finishing in third place in their own division. I have nothing against their team, but it's hard for me to stomach a team that wouldn't even have been in the playoffs a couple years ago going all the way. If baseball wants to expand the playoffs like this, then there's no point in playing 162 games anymore. That's just how I feel as a lifelong baseball fan.

Mike, other than the Panthers, who do you see as sellers prior to the trade deadline? I think the Broncos know they are cooked and may want to get something for Jerry Jeudy.

There are nine teams in the league right now with two or fewer victories. I would think any of them might be interested in dealing players.

After watching the film, how did you think the reshuffled O-line performed? To my untrained eye, it seemed better than previous weeks, even without having 69.

I thought it was a decent performance, but it was obvious they were helped in pass protection by all the quick throws. There were very few full dropbacks where they had to protect for 3 or more seconds. The run blocking was hit or miss -- a handful of really positive, good-looking runs, but other negative-yardage runs that really hurt -- and the two holding penalties on Nijman, starting at RT for the first time, were frustrating to be sure.

Mike, what adjustments does Matt LaFleur need to make with play calling, if any?

It's not about the play-calling right now, in my opinion. It's about executing whatever play is called.

I was happy to see Jaire Alexander shadowing Terry McClaurin, and it seemed to work early, and then not so much. Is Terry just that good? If so, shadowing Jefferson week 1 probably wouldn't have made the impact fans thought it would.

I don't know. Every game is different. As I mentioned in Inbox, I thought McLaurin made 3 impactful plays, and on two of them, the coverage wasn't bad. The ball was in the right spot and McLaurin was able to attack it.

Maybe not designed runs for Rodgers but there seems to be a lot of green in front of him at times. In the past he would take off for 10-12 yards, that helps move the chains.

Oh no question. I wouldn't say it's happened often, but he has passed up on what looks to be a sure 7-8 yards on a scramble/slide and tried to make a throw instead.

Honestly, should Ja actually shadow Gabe Davis and have Diggs doubled with Rasul Douglas or Eric Stokes and one of the safeties helping? Diggs is good, don't get me wrong, but I feel like Davis has been the home run threat for them the last season and a half.

That would be one way to play it. I'm not really sure how the Packers will handle things. Davis has just 14 catches this year, but he's averaging 27.4 yards per catch, which is absurd. Do you put your No. 1 corner on a guy with only 14 receptions? Diggs has 49 catches for 656 yards, 13.4 per with 6 TDs. Diggs is still the No. 1 guy, but the strategy you mention isn't out of the question in certain situations.

I think LaFleur was hesitant to move Yosh Nijman to the right since we were not out of the woods with David Bakhtiari's injury, which now seems like it will be a lingering issue. Maybe we are going to see a lot more of Zach Tom, which is fine with me

I think the Packers are going to line up this way, as far as LG across to RT, for a while now. And it'll be Bakhtiari and/or Tom at LT.

Also, all of our 2nd- and 3rd-round draft picks since 2019 have been on offense. Given that none of those guys have played particularly well this season (and several have not played at all), it's not surprising the offense as a whole has not been very good. Now if Elgton Jenkins can settle back in at LG, AJ Dillon can get back to breaking tackles like last year, Watson can get back on the field consistently, etc., etc., things could change.

Absolutely. We haven't seen the offense at its full potential, for a lot of reasons. It has to get there soon, or as LaFleur said, yesterday.

Do you think it may help Amari Rodgers to just focus on offense for a bit? Especially since his snaps are more plentiful with all the injuries.

I'll leave that up to the coaches, but he's certainly another option at receiver and I should have mentioned him earlier. The Packers are going to need all hands on deck at that position.

Although the defense hasn't been mistake free, it seems the fault has been overplayed due to the lack of productivity on offense. Don't you feel most of the second half let downs could be avoided if there were fewer quick drives? It seems to me the defense is playing winning football most of the time.

I agree and that's what I've been saying in Inbox and other articles during this losing streak. The offense isn't helping the defense. The defense has had stretches of really good football in every game, but it's being asked to do too much. The offense hasn't done its part, and I think Rodgers even acknowledged after the Washington game he can see all phases of the team looking better if the offense starts getting on track.

Maybe it is time we admitted that the idea of fielding a great offense with a couple of established, yet injury prone, veterans and a couple of rookies was unsustainable.

The Packers knew the risks they were taking. The real curveball in the equation was Watson missing so much time in training camp when they needed to get him up to speed to contribute right away, and then since he initially returned he's had hamstring problems as well. They traded up and drafted him 34th overall to play, and play a lot, right away.

You can call me crazy but I think Packers can beat Bills this Sunday. Any given Sunday, remember the lowly Chiefs shocked the undefeated Packers in 2011.

That's how this league is. You never really know. It's an extremely tall task for the Packers on Sunday night, on the road, against a team that has lived up to very high expectations so far. But no game is a given. They all have to be played.

I hope we get to see more of Toure, too. I can't remember - has he done punt fielding/returning, before? Or was that just Doubs?

Toure took some return reps in training camp, if I recall, but Doubs is next up in that area as far as I know.

Do you think BG looks at the current situation and decides a quick fix isn't worth trading in the future? I am hoping they make a deal for a projectable, young WR but at what cost? Maybe standing pat is the most viable path.

I think it will depend on the cost. If he feels it's worth it, he'll make a deal. But he's not looking at potential upgrades with the mindset that cost is no object. That's not how he operates.

Why do you think Rodgers isn't taking those 7-8 yards? Especially with so many drops/questionable accuracy lately? He doesn't seem immobile. Kind of puzzling to me. They should net positive yardage on every play possible in light of the recent lack of first downs and minimal offensive production.

I don't know. I can't get inside his head there. I think when he's made those throws, he's seeing the opportunity for a bigger play than what he can get with a run/slide. Aside from that, your guess is as good as mind. But as I said before, I don't think it's happened a bunch. Here or there maybe.

Is the Washington press box the worst or close to it in the league for reporters?

Yes. The view is the worst one I can think of. Doing the live blog, I would've been better off covering the game off TV.

Are the Packers documenting what Bisaccia is doing so that when he lands a head coaching job, someone can step in and continue his coaching style/effectiveness? ST still has issues, but I think Bisaccia has done a great job, though we still have execution issues, which is on the player(s).

Every coach is going to have his way of doing things. Copying someone else does not generally lead to success. Whenever Bisaccia's time with the Packers' ST comes to an end, a new coordinator will be hired because of who he is and what he can do, not how well he can copy Bisaccia.

As much as we knew losing Devante would be tough to overcome, it seems the departure of MVS is leaving a bigger scar. While Adams would certainly help the 3rd down success, don't you think the bigger problem on a down to down basis is the lack of a field-stretcher? Watson and Watkins were likely supposed to help that but there is apparently no "next man up".

Teams are playing two deep safeties most of the time against the Packers, so I don't think the issue is the lack of a deep threat to scare them. They're sitting back because they don't believe the Packers can execute a dink-and-dunk drive all the way down the field without making a mistake. A lot of the time lately, they've been right.

Mike, what did you think of the Bears performance Monday night?

I have to admit, I didn't see it and was surprised by the score. It looks like there's a lot of QB confusion or controversy going on in New England. That said, Fields is an athletic QB with a lot of tools, and he's going to keep getting better. A lot of fans wanted to see more by now, but his arrow is still pointing up.

Internet sleuths have noticed that one of Mac Jones' INTs against the Bears was deflected by the skycam wire. Have you ever seen that happen before?

Wow, no, and I hadn't heard that. That's crazy.

So, how can they sit an entire offense? Asking for a friend....

Seriously, is it a good idea, even for a HOF QB, to say that they should sit players who make mistakes?

I don't know what's a good idea or bad idea right now. All I know is the way they've been going about things on offense isn't working. LaFleur has said as much. What's his approach going forward? He's not going to tell us. He's just going to keep working at it.

How close is decision time for adding Kylin Hill back to the 53?

Good question. He's been practicing for a couple of weeks now so they'll have to make a decision soon. We'll definitely keep an eye out for that.

Has anyone asked coach why he doesn't put Arod under center and run the ball on 4th and short? He continually puts 12 in shotgun on those. Crazy

I know he'd like for his QB to have a run-pass option in most situations like that. But lately, there's been acknowledgement the bum thumb has led to fewer snaps under center and more in shotgun, in general, the last two games.

Are the Bucs, Rams, and 49ers panicking now too? Actually, the 49ers might be since they traded most of their next draft for McCaffery...

They gave up a lot for a player who's been hurt a lot, but that wasn't a move just for this year. They're planning on CMC being a big part of their team moving forward into the future, too.

I don't see how adding a WR via trade (as some suggest) is going to help. Maybe I'm wrong, but it doesn't seem like our problem is talent, but with execution. I'm not sure how you can teach "don't drop the ball", or "throw it better", but adding another body who will need to learn nuances quickly doesn't seem like the answer, to me.

I hear what you're saying, but I think the injuries and lack of continuity have forced the Packers to look at the situation differently than they might've otherwise.

Any advantage to a team trading for a practice squad player instead of just poaching him? just wondering if the trading for minor league prospects angle works in NFL?

Why would you give up something when you don't have to? If a PS player on another team wants to be on your 53, then you go get him. They aren't tradeable anyway, to my knowledge, because PS contracts are different from active roster contracts.

The Jones interception thing was called bunk by ESPN. According to them, the video is misleading and the wire is at least 15 feet above the ball when thrown. It would seem the wire was unusually low had it hit it, as the pass wasn't that high in general.

Thanks for the clarification.

All right folks, I've got to sign off now. Thanks for all the participation, and we'll chat again soon. Best, Mike.

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