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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Is this a must-win game?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

K Mason Crosby
K Mason Crosby

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. Go ahead and start sending in your questions and I'll get rolling.

What's one thing on offense and defense that needs to be improved to pull out a win on Sunday night?

Offensively, I think they just need to make the plays that are there. Plays were there Sunday, we all saw them. I expect the offensive line to settle in a little better, too, playing at home. That was a tough place for a first game with a lot of young players up front. Defensively, the communication and overall play of the secondary. That group is better than that. They know it, everybody knows it.

Any update on Allen Lazard?

Nope. The team hits the practice field in about two hours so we'll see if he's out there.

Why doesn't AR12 run any naked bootlegs the way Favre did? Favre seemed to be pretty successful with it and AR12 still seems to have some motor in him.

The bootleg pass is a common play in this scheme. They'll run a lot of exaggerated play-fakes and get the QB on a designed rollout. But the objective is to hit a downfield throw off of all that action, not take off and run.

What was the overall impression on special teams and what still needs to be improved?

I thought it was a solid first game for Bisaccia's crew, but a few punts were too close to being blocked. I mentioned in the live blog the Packers are going to be challenged that way by a lot of teams with what they put on film last year. They have to shore it up. I also thought on one punt return Amari Rodgers was a little too early with the fair catch signal. It looked like he had a lane down the sideline if he played it more aggressively.

I think it is to much to ask Aaron to win games with backup offensive line + veteran receivers pass their prime and rookies with no experience. I am optimistic for the long run but will need to survive September and October first. How can coach set this team up to do so.

By what I was saying all offseason and by what he knows he needs to do and not get distracted from it -- run the offense through the running backs until everything else settles down a bit. Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are dynamic players and need to be featured as such.

Mike, some more armchair coaching. In Vikes game saw Preston Smith drop back from line of scrimmage several times to watch Jefferson. Yikes. Part of zone coverage?

Yeah, that's just Preston dropping into zone coverage, which he does from time to time. It just so happened Jefferson was in the shallow flat zone here and there.

Thanks as always for doing this Mike. Outside of Justin Fields or David Montgomery who should the Packers defense be keeping an eye on?

Herbert is no slouch of a running back. He had nine carries for 45 yards in the muck last week and might get the ball more this week. Mooney looked like a receiver coming on strong last year, too.

What was your impression or what was communicated to you around the words Z and Aaron Rodgers exchanged? Good fun, or trash talking?

Probably some of both.

If Quay Walker can't go, who will likely be lining up alongside De'Vondre Campbell?

Isaiah McDuffie would be next in line with Krys Barnes on IR. McDuffie had a great camp and preseason. The early reports on Walker were positive, though. We'll see what the week tells us.

Obviously way too early...but would you say this is kind of a must win game for the Pack?

It's as close to a must-win game as you can get in Week 2, playing a division rival, after a loss to a division rival, and with a road trip to Tampa next week.

Do you ever watch any of the Rodgers interviews on Pat McAfee show?

Sure, usually not live. But I find the time to watch. It's pretty much a job requirement to know what's going on with all his media appearances.

What's the weather forecast looking like for Sunday night?

It's awfully early to know anything, but at this point, temperature wise it should be pretty comfortable. The only question is whether it'll rain.

For what other team you'd like to work Mike, other than the Packers?

Haven't given it a thought. I'm pretty happy where I am.

LaFleur's offense usually includes a lot of motion and scheme to get guys open vs. west coast offense that Rodgers used to play in involved guys winning matchups. To me it appeared the offense reverted to that play style more last Sunday. What did you see?

The use of jet motions and the like seems to come and go in LaFleur's game plans based on the opponent. There are times they feel it'll be effective, and other times they must not, because the deployment is definitely inconsistent.

Just wanted to say thanks for how you guys report on the Packers and avoid the ridiculous hot takes. I'm getting tired of the media constantly pointing out the last couple days how Adams had more yards than the Packers receiving core. Did people already forget we offered more money to stay?

Various outlets are going to latch onto certain narratives and ride them for as long as they'll generate interest. I wish Adams all the best with the Raiders. Looks like he had a good game Sunday but they lost, too, in part because his QB threw three picks. It's a team game.

Preston Smith dropping into a zone may be a part of the scheme, but if that means the Vikings can scheme to get Jefferson matched up against Smith, then there is some failure of design and/or execution of the defensive game plan. Should there not be a defensive adjustment within the rules of the scheme that allows the packers to change their coverage responsibilities on the fly?

I'm not an X's and O's expert, so I'll let the coaches sort that one out. But if Jefferson is going to run routes near the line of scrimmage, the Packers will take that. Those plays didn't hurt them. It was him making five receptions of 20-plus in the game, the downfield plays, and those had nothing to do with a linebacker in a shallow zone.

Is Josiah Deguara a player to watch on offense moving forward? I saw he had the highest PFF grade on the offense last Sunday.

That's interesting. He's certainly a willing blocker, and he caught both of his targets on Sunday. It'll be interesting to see what evolves as Robert Tonyan gets further removed from his rehab/recovery, because I think he's going to play more over time.

Should we expect more targets for Sammy Watkins and Randall Cobb? They seemed invisible at times

Everyone wants more targets for this guy, more targets for that guy. If the Packers can establish the running backs as the dominant forces in the offense, the rest will come with it. That's how I see it.

Here's my hot take: Adrian Amos and Darnell Savage rebound from what might've been there worst game together and at least one gets a pick

I could definitely see that. Amos has a tendency to haunt his former team, and Savage is going to go on a binge at some point. Whether it was their "worst game together" or not, I don't know, but the breakdowns certainly were not all on them. It was a collective failure in the back end.

Yeah, let's get touches to the backs. If either Jones or Dillon got 20 touches they would have been NFC offensive player of the week.

I couldn't care less about the awards, but I think those two guys on the field together give a defense a lot to think about, both run and pass. I know the coaches will be leery of overusing them when it's such a long season, and there's merit to that, but there's so much transition going on elsewhere in the offense I think Jones and Dillon are the top threats right now. They can work a lot of short area stuff, and then see what happens with other downfield routes, including wheel routes of their own down the sideline perhaps.

Do you get to view any practices from here on out or are they all closed now?

The media gets to attend the opening portion of practice now, which is pretty much their stretching time and one period of individual drills, and then we're dismissed. It's enough time to take attendance, look at who's out there and who's not, but that's about it. We don't get to see any 11-on-11 the rest of the year.

My concern about all the touches for the RBs is we only have two on the active roster. At what point do you think a third gets bumped up from the practice squad?

I think that's a possibility every week. The options are there. Amari Rodgers can do some things from the backfield, too, if needed.

Mike thanks for your article yesterday explaining your thoughts on the game. It helped me make sense of things.

If you're talking about the Insider Inbox column, I'll be honest, those are not fun to write after losses like that. But I just try to take a measured approach and keep it real. The other guys get paid, too.

Will Micah Abernathy get a chance to play this week?

He got 6 snaps on special teams on Sunday, and I would expect for games he's elevated, special teams will be his primary role for now, barring injuries.

With the game being on Sunday night are you able to catch any of the earlier games? Any matchups that are intriguing to you?

I'll definitely keep a close eye on the noon slate, since I won't have to come in to the stadium until after those games are done. Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, but I hear Detroit is favored to win (over Washington) for the first time in something like 24 games. Tampa Bay at New Orleans should be interesting, too, because for some reason the Saints have just had the Bucs' number in recent years.

It was your “No Easy Answers on the Packers’ Coverage” article I was specifically referring to, but thanks for II as well. You do steady the shop in the Stilton .

Oh, yeah, OK. I just thought it was important to get LaFleur's explanations out there and make his points understandable. Folks may disagree, and that's their right, but coaches always have their reasons for doing things, which is why I'm never quick to fly off the handle questioning a game plan. "Steady the ship in the Stilton ..." ... I like that. Thanks.

Oh my goodness, my eyes are failing me. That was supposed to say ship in the storm. Hahaha

I like your original version better.

Yes many thanks for II. I can only imagine some of the submissions that can't be published...

Oh yeah, it's brutal after games like that. I know fans use it to vent, but doing so only makes this job harder. Part of the deal.

Is there anyone you think might have a big game against the Bears, outside of Amos and your go-to-guy, Savage? :)

As I said at the start of the chat, I expect the entire secondary to have a strong bounce-back performance. There's a lot of talent, and pride, in that group. I think the pass rush will be a bigger factor as well, because it usually is at home. The trick with Chicago is not letting Fields run around a bunch back there. It's better to bother him and contain him than to sack him sometimes.

Even Christian Watson dropped a pass, I still like what I saw from Watson. He has the talent to be great. He can block pretty good too.

Having not seen him take any preseason snaps, the thing that jumped out at me was his willingness and aggressiveness as a blocker. He stuck his nose in there plenty of times. The game will settle down for him. It just might take some time.


What where you thoughts on Hackett trying the 64 yard FG on 4th and 5?

I couldn't believe it, frankly. Maybe if the game's in Denver and the altitude helps those long field goals. But off the top of my head (or pulling numbers out of wherever), it felt like 4th and 5 with Wilson was about a 50-50 proposition, and that field goal was a 10 percent prop at best. It's a decision that can't be defended unless the kick goes in, and Hackett admitted as much yesterday.

I think the key on defense is getting the pass rush home and containing Fields inside the pocket when it collapses. I watched their game last Sunday and his improvisation seemed much improved from last year despite the elements.

Fields made more plays in the muck than Trey Lance did, and that's why the Bears won. I think he is dangerous as an improv player and the Packers have to be aware of that come Sunday night, good or bad weather.

All right, folks, I'd better get going. LaFleur has a press conference shortly. Thanks for the participation and we'll talk again next week. Take care, Mike.

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