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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Nothing gets easier for Packers

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered questions from fans


Hey everybody. Thanks for logging on today. Let's get started.

It looks like 2 more losses is all the Packers can afford unless they can run the division games and win the division with 9 wins. I think the wildcard would require at least 10 and even then that is not a guarantee. Thoughts?

There's really no point in talking about it until you can win a couple of games in a row. The Packers haven't had a two-game winning streak yet. They have to get one to get securely above .500, then you see where things stand. It's way too early to start projecting how many wins will be needed for anything.

Let's start with a softball question. The NFL just announced there will be four games in England next year. Will the Packers finally travel across the pond in 2019?

I've maintained for a long time the Packers-Chargers game next season will be the one in London. I don't have any inside info on that, but it's my best guess. I just don't see the NFL, especially after the crowd we saw in LA on Sunday, playing that game in a 30,000-seat soccer stadium.

Does anyone ever sit back and just enjoy the drama as it unfolds? The uncertainty is what makes this whole thing exciting!

I liken it to fans always wanting to win games by the end of the third quarter to avoid the drama. Don't be scared of crunch time. Embrace it. At some point your season will come down to it.

88 has been remarkable dedicated to this team in his young career. Yet everyone seems ready to throw him to the curb, including some teammates who are apparently tweeting mean stuff about his one critical mistake. How does MM regain control and a sense of unity in the locker room after this?

You tell everyone to knock off the garbage. Anyone still hung up on what happened in LA, it'll show up on the practice field. The coaches will know.

Jaire Alexander and Kevin King were all over the field Sunday, but I don't remember seeing Josh Jackson. Was that a good thing because he did his job and wasn't targeted, or a bad thing because Pettine doesn't feel he's worthy of a lot of playing time?

The Packers rarely ran a true dime with four corners. When they went six DBs, the sixth was usually a third safety (Whitehead) playing more of an inside LB role. Without Cupp, I don't think the Rams really spread the Packers out much to force the fourth corner to come on the field.

Did the football game look as good in person as it was on TV? Should the Rams go back to those uniforms permanently?

It was a whale of a game. Highly entertaining on a Sunday not a lot of games were all that great, aside from Bucs-Bengals. I've always felt those Rams uniforms are their best. I don't know why they ever changed to that metallic gold and then to the white. That color combo they wore on Sunday takes the cake.

I don't have a question, but I just want to say how incredibly disappointing it is the way some fans have reacted and what they have said about 88.

Couldn't agree more. The personal attacks are so out of bounds. I just got done taping Unscripted with Wes, and I said I don't understand fans that need to lash out at a player just to feel better after a tough loss. I pity them, and I share Montgomery's despair for the state of (some of) humanity.

One of the big causes of the Packers' low 3rd down conversion rate seems to be #12's inability to complete a 3 to 5 yard pass on 1st and/or 2nd down. He keeps throwing them at the feet of the receiver, causing an incompletion or a wide receiver screen with no YAC.

I don't get the correlation, necessarily. I thought the Packers had their share of third-and-5 or less on Sunday, and they still struggled to convert. That's the biggest thing holding up this offense right now, third downs. They scored 27 against one of the top teams in the league and went 2-for-9 on third down. A couple more conversions and you're pushing 35-40 points easily.

Saw some continued looks of the rookie receivers on Sunday, and not a lot of Geronimo. Was he out there more than I noticed, and just didn't get many targets?

The Packers were rotating in their receivers and using more packages than they'd used in previous games. Early on, it was all Adams, Cobb and Allison. Injuries forced MVS and EQ into the lineup, and they've shown enough progress to maintain a role. The variety is going to help the offense moving forward.

Johnny Cash: How high is the water mama, "5 feet high and rising." Ok, so we're not under water yet by any stretch of the imagination, but what did we learn about this team Sunday in the Con column?

The Packers have faced two first-place teams from a year ago so far, and who still look pretty good, and what was the downfall -- execution late in the game. Horrible penalty aside, it turned a victory into a tie vs. the Vikings and cost them a great chance to beat the Rams. To beat good teams, you have to do it with the game on the line. The Packers get another crack this Sunday in a much tougher environment.

How about Jaire Alexander?! Cant wait to see a WYMM or a Rock Report on that performance. His highlight reel was highly impressive considering he is rookie that only played 5 games this year. Now imagine he hadn't had those two interceptions taken away be penalties? He'd be the top candidate discussion for defensive rookie of the year.

I didn't focus on Alexander for WYMM because that performance kind of goes against the theme of the piece. How could anyone miss that? What a game. You make an interesting point about the INTs that were nullified. Alexander and King together as cover corners make this defense look really different.

It seems like Pettine's disguised rush schemes confused Goff. Brady won't be so easily confused, will he? What will the Packers need to do differently Sunday to have as good an outing defensively as they did this last?

You're right, Brady won't be as easily confused. He's seen it all. If you scheme to get a rusher free, he's going to know it and get rid of the ball. If the coverage makes him hold the ball a tick longer, that'll go a long way. The Packers also have to tackle well in the open field, because the Patriots rely on a lot of yards after catch. I thought GB tackled well on Sunday, and it has to continue.

Any good stories from the LA trip?

I took it easy, really. Big cities are not exactly my thing. Between college football and the World Series games, I was plenty entertained. The pep rally was fun, though. Great turnout, fun to meet a lot of people.

With the trade deadline today, do you think we're going to see a lot of last second trades (not packer specific, just league wise)? How does this year compare to past ones in terms of how many trades we've already seen?

It seems the rumor mill has been churning more rapidly this year than in prior years, but whether that will mean more deals or if just more talk leaked out remains to be seen.

The Patriots seem to move WI alum, James White, all over the place. How do you see the defense lining up against him?

White and Gronk are the interesting matchup questions for this game. Burks, Brice, Whitehead, and Jackson are some of the options. I really don't know what Pettine will decide. His plans have been very opponent-specific, and it's not easy to read what he's going to do.

Just checked out the schedule and I can easily see this team winning out. I also can see them losing every game. Frustrating they can't seem to find consistency.

They came out of their bye week, got healthy and played their best game so far, but I believe this team can still play better. It has to through November to stay in the hunt.

Is it just our fanbase that is so easily enraged, unfair, overly critic towards coaches (MM in particular) and somehow entitled? Or is it more the current state of affair nowadays? Or is it just the things you see on twitter and the blogosphere and it doesn't reflect the fanbase overall?

I don't attribute it specifically to Packers fans, even though that's what I see and deal with mostly. It's everywhere. It's how we are as a society. I can only imagine what things will be like in Minnesota if the Vikings don't win the Super Bowl this year. They went all in, and I'm sure the fans are throwing up their hands after the home loss to the Saints last Sunday night.

How was JK Scott's overall performance Sunday (minus that last one, ouch) in comparison to how he's been this season? He boots it so high that watching it in person from where I sat the Packers fan around me (in which I was surrounded, it was incredible!) didn't seem to think he was doing that great, were their eyes just deceiving them?

I thought Scott's punt and the coverage on the free kick after the safety really gave the defense a chance to get that to halftime at 10-2, but the two close catches overturned on replays made the difference. His punt at the end of the game was the worst of his young career so far. Another crunch-time learning moment. He'll be better for it.

Hey Mike, how come I can get questions answered during halftime chat, but I get no inbox love? Am I just at my best on Sunday and add nothing to the convo the other 6 days of the week? Did I get banned without knowing??

I'm not the most active on Twitter, except maybe on gamedays, so there's less for me to parse through than the Inbox. From the time the game ended until the time I got on the plane Sunday night, which was a span of about two hours, the Inbox had nearly 400 submissions, and it didn't stop. After a game like that, that's pretty typical.

How do you win against the Patriots? What are their specific weaknesses?

I didn't watch any of their game against Buffalo last night, but over the bye I watched a good portion of their game in Chicago, and I saw a defense that can be scored upon. The Bears were moving the ball pretty regularly, and the Patriots didn't account well at all for Trubisky's scrambles. The young QB tried to throw into some tight windows later in the game and his mistakes cost him. But the Bears scored plenty and would have won that game if not for giving up two TDs on special teams.

I was in the Coliseum on Sunday. What a great atmosphere for Packers fans! My favorite moments were when the "Quiet Please — Offense at Work" prompts would come onto the Jumbotrons. GB fans used them as the cue to Get Loud. I'm pretty sure I saw a group trying to start the Wave.

Crowd-wise, that was a road game for the ages. Never seen anything like that, especially in the stadium of a team coming off a playoff appearance and with an undefeated record. Amazing.

Mike, I didn't see much of the game last night apart from keeping track of the score online. Seems like BUF held that offense in check for most of the game, and a competent offense of their own could have really put NE in a hole. Anything the Packers can learn from the Buffalo D?

The history on Belichick is his approach is truly week-to-week depending on the opponent. The trick is trying to figure out what way he's going to attack you that might not seem obvious and be ready for it.

Mike, is there anything the league can do to discourage the public mistreatment of players by fans? I'm serious. The only time I feel like football has no future is when I hear about the sorts of things being addressed to Ty Montgomery.

You can't really police social media. It's a free country. If I were a player, I wouldn't even have a social media account of any kind. No way. I wouldn't care how much money it would cost me as far as brand/image. Not worth it in my book.

I think the Patriots are a bit overrated. Yes, they have Brady and Gronk, and James White can cause some matchup concerns. But their schedule doesn't exactly scream difficult, especially over their 5 game win streak. Not saying the Pack can let their guard down, of course. Just not sure this is as unstoppable a New England team as we've seen in the past few years.

I've felt that, too, and the Bears game confirmed it for me. But they're also capable of playing a lights-out game at any time. I think they're another team that hasn't really hit on all cylinders yet this year.

Mike, Seemed like the team came out of that game with no significant injuries. Aaron got hit and I am most worried about him. Any news?

No injuries were reported after the game, and nothing came out on Monday, either. That's very good news. We'll see if anyone is sitting out practice tomorrow, but the Packers were as healthy as could be for the Rams game, and hopefully they're headed in the same direction for the Patriots. Keep knocking on wood every chance you get.

I'm as high on the Packers right now as I've been in years. Minus one mistake, they beat those guys 9 times out of 10. What do you think is the main thing the Packers need to fix to turn the corner and get the wins necessary to make the playoffs?

The Packers are on the verge. I said it last week in Inbox as well. The problem is they're playing the toughest stretch of their schedule right now, so even elevated performances don't guarantee wins if you aren't solid in all phases. I mentioned third downs on offense. Special teams lost the field-position battle, even before the bad punt and fumble late. You have to be even or better everywhere against these teams, and then make the plays at the end. That story will remain the same the rest of this month, because all the teams on the schedule are tough, and only one game is at home.

Did the Packers play cleaner than usual or were the officials not being as ticky tacky as they have been before? Seems as though there were less flags all around.

There were definitely fewer flags than in any game I've seen this year. I don't know the track record of Torbert's crew, but they definitely let guys play on Sunday. Four penalties for 25 yards, total, both teams.

Mike, Having now seen the Rams and our play against them I feel good about our chances given the close records in our division. What do you think?

As I said in my postgame editorial, it comes down to what the Packers do with this latest performance. If it's the new bar, wins will start coming. If it was a one-game rise, only to revert to the inconsistencies we've seen all season, then it's going to be a long month. It's up to them. The NFC North is up for grabs and will remain so. I've said that all along.

Just because it is often mentioned: Accountability does not mean you're immediately fired when making a costly mistake. Does everybody want to have it that way? I make mistakes on a regular basis, daily, we all do... And just a player is unhappy because of his playing time, it does not mean the coaches lost the team. There's 63 players, not everybody can play, players are gonna be unhappy.

It's all part of life in the NFL. I'll leave it to the coaches and others to decide what accountability means.

Easier to beat Brady via the rush, or coverage?

Great question. If someone knew the answer he wouldn't have eight AFC titles and five Super Bowls. I think he's too smart to go blitz crazy. Blitzes leave voids in the defense and he'll know right where to go with the ball. If you can successfully disguise what you're doing all the way up until the snap on a few key plays, that could be the difference.

Its still hurts! how do I move on? Help!

Look at the standings in the division, and take a deep breath before Sunday night. Then settle in and see what happens. With that, I've gotta run. Thanks everybody. Appreciate all the participation today. Take care, Mike.

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