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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: It's a Bears week chat

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his weekly live chat

Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. Hope all is well. Go ahead and start sending questions in and I'll get started.

Mike, I loved how you noted the little hitch in Aaron Rodgers' delivery on one of those passes to Davante Adams this week. I've noticed that before, and am always amazed at the release speed/accuracy he can still generate after a hitch like that.

Yeah, it's just another one of those little things that's remarkable about him. So many QBs can end up throwing a wildly inaccurate ball or poor spiral after an unintended hitch like that, but it doesn't knock him off his target.

Hi Mike. What are some key to beating the Bears?

Well, their defense is as good as Cincinnati's if not slightly better. It's actually kind of spooky how statistically the Bears are like the Bengals defensively through five games. Running the ball will be the key to slowing the pass rush, in my opinion. Chicago leads the league in sacks. Run the ball effectively, run play-action, etc. It'll be hard to have any rhythm and consistency on offense if you're doing straight drop-back stuff constantly against that pass rush.

Packers-Bears meeting for the 203rd time. Do you know first year they played and if they have played every year since?

They first met in 1921, when the Bears were known as the Staleys. They did not play in 1922. They were the Bears when they met in 1923 and they've played every year except 1982, when the strike-shortened season wiped out both scheduled games.

Any of the new players gonna be playing this week?

Good question. I have no idea what the coaching staff's plans are. This will be the second full week of practice for Rasul Douglas, who was here last Wednesday, so I'd think he has a chance. Harder to say with Jaylon Smith, who only showed up Friday.

Did you expect this game to be for 1st place in the division?

Well, it basically is at this stage, because if the Bears win and both teams are 4-2, they're technically in first with the head-to-head win. If the Packers win, they go up two games on the whole division after six weeks. That would be a nice spot to be in.

Do you expect to see Jaylon Smith active Sunday? Do you think he could see any snaps at OLB (edge) or on ST?

Smith didn't play any special teams at Dallas to my knowledge, so I wouldn't expect him to be jumping in there for GB. When he'll be ready to help on defense, I don't know.

What's the game day status f our O line look like? Any idea?

We'll see if Josh Myers and Elgton Jenkins are back on the practice field today. The team practices around 2 p.m. CT. Myers' finger issue was not anticipated to be long-term, and Jenkins did practice on a limited basis last week Thursday and Friday, so that's a good sign the ankle is coming around.

Mike, here is some low hanging fruit. What are the keys to beat Chicago?

I didn't address the defensive side for GB earlier. I think anytime you're facing a young QB, stopping the run and putting the game in his hands is often a good path to victory. No disrespect to Fields, because he's talented and has tons of ability, but the more you put on a young QB, he's liable to make one or two key mistakes that can impact a game. The WR combo of Robinson and Mooney will be a challenge if King remains out.

Hey Mike, Even without Za'Darius Smith the Packers are still putting presser. Do think there's a chance that Krys Barnes just plays QB spy if fields

Certainly possible. I think De'Vondre Campbell has even more speed to be able to play that role. Or Darnell Savage might be an option in certain packages. It's a tactic I would expect the Packers to employ at least in certain situations with a really mobile guy like Fields.

Seems like we've been seeing a bit more of AJ Dillon and less of Aaron Jones the last couple weeks. Is this just the coaches trying to take some load off Jones so he can get fully healthy, or has Dillon grown into a larger role in the offense?

I think it's Dillon's growth and also the perspective that there are 17 games in the regular season, plus hopefully playoffs, and you want a guy like Jones healthy the whole way through. Running back is a brutal position. Having two guys carry the load all the way through should really help in the long run.

Question on IR status or designation. The players on IR, are they all eligible to return this season or do they have to be listed as such when they are placed on IR?

Anyone on IR is eligible to return after a missing a minimum of three games now. There's no limit to how many players can return.

With this being Week 6, I hope we're close to seeing David Bakhtiari back. I imagine even if he could be activated after the game Sunday, he would need a few weeks of practice before actually being active

We will see. He's first eligible to practice starting next week. Whenever he begins practice, he doesn't have to be officially activated to the roster. There's a three-week window in which he can practice without taking up a spot on the 53.

Hey Mike, why is GB having trouble closing out games. My blood pressure can't take it anymore

The struggles in the red zone offensively last week were frustrating, because that kept Cincinnati in the game. The Packers were otherworldly good in the red zone last year and it hasn't clicked this year yet.

I still think the offense is too predictable at times down in the gold zone or even from the 30-35, both in the play call and running the play clock down so far most of the time. No offense to Mason, but wouldn't you like to see him more on the sideline because of more shots to the end zone and not because he missed some kicks?

The Packers have definitely called some runs in the red zone that defenses were prepared to stuff. I think LaFleur put those on himself, plays he called that didn't give Rodgers the option to get into a better play at the line if the defense was overplaying something. That's what I heard in his comments. But also, Rodgers missed Adams open in the end zone on third down late in the Cincy game before Mason Crosby's first FG miss, too. That play was there, and the QB normally puts that throw on the money.

Have you seen Jaire Alexander around the building at all in the last few weeks? We all sure hope his shoulder heals the right way. Talent aside, he's such an easy guy to root for.

No question. I've always enjoyed my prior interactions with Jaire. But as reporters we haven't been in the locker room or in any of the team areas really since the 2019 season. So I can't really say I've "seen him around" because I don't see anybody who isn't at practice or in the media auditorium.

How do the offenses compare statistically so far this season?

The Bears are last in the league in yards and 30th in points. GB's defense needs to keep them there.

Yelich has not been the same since he injured his knee. Do you think its a case of the yips? Maybe more mental than anything else. What can he do to get back to his MVP form?

That's the million dollar question everyone is wondering. He's had the bad knee injury, the back issue this year. It's been a tough go and he's as frustrated as anyone I'm sure. The Brewers need their MVP back on offense for '22 and he knows it.

Any thoughts on the Bears RB situation? Looks like the rookie had a pretty good second half last week.

Yeah, they seemed to run the ball pretty well without Montgomery. Williams looks quick and slippery. It's good the Packers have a game of him on film to study now.

Besides Mack & Quinn, I don't know a whole lot about the Bears D. Who do we have to look out for?

Well, those two guys you mentioned have 9 1/2 of their 18 sacks, so there's that. Roquan Smith is a darn good player, too, and Akiem Hicks is always a monster to handle on the interior. Jaylon Johnson is a solid corner, and the safety tandem of Eddie Jackson and Tashaun Gipson has played together for quite a while now.

I know several Bears fans that are really high on their team right now. Obviously the defense is as good as it usually is, but what do the Bears hang their hat on offensively?

The growth of Fields as a rookie QB loaded with talent will determine where that offense goes. He'll be learning and improving on the fly. He already looks so much more comfortable than when he first took over for Dalton, in my opinion.

In order for the Packers to win Sunday, this player needs to have a break out game ( not one of the big 3 Jones, Adams, Rodgers ) ?

Offensively, it doesn't really matter who, as long as one complementary piece plays a big role. Two weeks ago vs. Pittsburgh, it was Cobb. Last week, I thought it was Dillon. Maybe this week it's Allen Lazard or Robert Tonyan.

It's crazy how every or almost every field goal the packers intend, they have a player flying off the edge into Mason´s face. What do you think about the operation of the kicks Matt LaFleur mentioned?

I thought the protection was improved over what we've seen. His other comment about the operation I took to mean either the snap or hold or both.

I see the Bears defense as similar to the 49ers. Powerful front 7 and young secondary. I would suspect the ball will be out of Rodgers' hand quickly this week.

That may be true, but I wouldn't call it a young secondary. Young at corner maybe, but as I said before, those safeties have been around a while now.

Thanks for chatting today, Mike. What do you think about the Bears potentially leaving Soldier Field in the near future?

That would just seem odd. But anything is possible. I know from friends and family that live in the Bay Area that it's not the same now that the Niners play in Santa Clara. I would imagine it would feel different in Chicago, too, if the football team plays outside the city.

What's your take on the Gruden fiasco? Out of 650,000 e-mails, certainly there has to be more than one person caught in the crossfire.

Oh for sure, but that all depends on how transparent the league wants to be regarding its Washington investigation. I saw the players' union is now asking for all the emails from the investigation to be released. We'll see.

Hey, Mike. Would you say the Raiders played with a sort of distracted, lackluster effort? Can't imagine why, eh? Bears were lucky they didn't play them a week earlier.

The when-you-play-em thing is very true in this league. I can't speak to whether the initial story about the one email that came out before the game had any impact on the Raiders' performance. Teams can also just have bad games anytime. It happens to them all.

Are Josiah Deguara's early struggles still from the knee injury or do you see anything else holding him back?

I don't know if I'd say he's struggling. He hasn't gotten opportunities in the passing game much, yet, but that's the way this game goes sometimes. He did miss some time with a concussion early in the season, too. He's being asked to do a lot of blocking, and he had some really good blocks on the opening series vs. Cincy when the run game started hot. I know Rodgers wasn't happy with him when it appeared he failed to get a check or adjustment on a certain play, but I don't want to chalk up one mistake and call a guy "struggling."

When Jones had the 57 yard run my immediate thought was too much too quick. I expected the Packer to meticulously work their way downfield and eat up the clock and I think they did as well. Do you think that big run sort of threw off their plan and got them out of rhythm?

You take explosive plays whenever and however you get them. It wouldn't have been too quick if they finish the drive with the TD, which they had a great chance to do on the third-down throw. You take the TD and give your defense the whole field to defend. That was a whale of a run by Jones. I know the 77-yarder vs. Philly last year is everyone's favorite highlight, but considering the game situation, I thought that 57-yarder last week was the best run of his career.

I make a point of watching 52. I see him most of the time out of the play. What grade do you give him?

I don't grade players. I'm sure Rashan Gary would like more sacks. They all would. But his pressure/hit numbers are solid from what I've seen. He's impacting the game. They're going to need his run defense, which I think is really good, and his chase ability vs. Fields this week.

I just want to thank you for all your hard work! It honestly doesn't go unnoticed. I have a goal to take my Dad to Lambeau this year sometime so maybe see ya there this year! But keep up the good work and just enjoy it. And as always Go Pack Go!!

Good luck getting your dad to a game. It's a treat anytime, for sure.

Matt LaFleur has done a great job for GB and considering the two Bad seasons that proceeded his arrival maybe better than great. 26-6 but I don't think he's gotten any serious consideration for coach of the year. Why not? Does he have a serious shot this year or is that gone with the week one humiliation?

Week 1 won't prevent LaFleur from getting any award consideration. We've talked about this a lot in Inbox, so I don't want to rehash it. I would say this year, given the injuries the Packers are dealing with and the schedule they're playing, if GB wins 13 games again he absolutely needs to be in the running.

Mike any opinion on why davante only has 1td through 5 weeks?

Well, he has two, and I already mentioned the missed throw last week that would have been a third. The Packers just haven't been efficient in the red zone overall this season. When that changes, he'll be one of them doing the scoring, I'm sure of that.

All right, I'm going to sign off on that. Thanks everybody. Have a good rest of the week and take care. --Mike

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