Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Will the Packers be at full strength on offense?

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

WR Allen Lazard

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

Any word when AJ Dillon can return?

Nothing yet.

Hello Mike, the upcoming game will be the first this season that I can watch live on TV. What can I hope for?

Hope for? I don't know how to answer that. I think you can expect the biggest defensive challenge for this Packers offense thus far in 2020. Tampa Bay's defense was really good, I think Indy's might be even better. It should be a great matchup.

If we were to step into the Twilight Zone and you could ask Coach Lombardi one question (either in person or via Zoom), what would you ask him?

If he had another play in mind aside from the QB sneak that Starr suggested at the end of the Ice Bowl.

Mike, this didn't make the II cut so I'll try again here. I was pulling for the Bears on Monday night because I don't want there to be any possibility Cook has a chance to run through our defense again. But then I watched Cordarrelle Patterson run by and run over would-be tacklers time and time again. Pick your poison?

No comparison. Cook is way more explosive and dangerous, from scrimmage, than Patterson. That kickoff return was really something, and that's where Patterson can really hurt you, but Cook is a way bigger problem as a running back.

I'm going to the game on Sunday. Any tips or insights you can offer me about Lucas Oil?

It's a neat stadium and Indy's downtown is great. I don't know how active it'll be in the current circumstances, but it's a cool venue.

I know that speed is not everything in jet sweeps, but Malik Taylor has speed, and he has acquited himself favorably as a WR, and I thought that he did justice whenever the ball came his way. Is there a possibility that he could be one of the jet-sweepers in the absence of Swerve?

He could be, but I still think the better options are Aaron Jones and Marquez Valdes-Scantling if Tyler Ervin is sidelined again.

Is this game the toughest test the Packers have left on their schedule?

Hard to say. The Tennessee game will be no picnic. I know the Colts just beat them. The Bears have their bye to figure things out and the Packers have two left against them. This is a tough game, but there are plenty of challenges still ahead, win or lose.

Aaron Jones makes Packer offense look different. Hope Packers keep him.

Couldn't agree more.

Hi Mike. It's my birthday today and can you tell me how good is Rashan Gary doing this year? Go Pack Go!

Well, happy birthday. Gary's finish on the final drive on Sunday was impressive. He's coming along and earning more playing time I think.

What is the answer for 3 and 1? Short yardage situations continue to hamper the offense and there is not much consistency to win these battles in the trenches..

They just have to execute the blocks up front. That third-and-1 with Jones was blocked well except for one guy, and it wrecked it. That said, they've had more success with Jamaal Williams on third and 1 than Jones this season. What was more alarming in the last game was the number of third-and-3s that failed. They were in manageable situations much of the game but couldn't convert on several.

Any thoughts on Aaron Rodgers's remarks that he would prefer coaching high school football to a TV commentary gig post-retirement?

Didn't surprise me at all. I've never seen him as someone interested in going to the broadcast booth. Favre did the same thing, helping a high school program when he first retired, if I recall.

This game will be a great test. Will make for a very intriguing matchup. Colts defense is #1 for a reason.

First in total yards allowed, second in passing yards allowed, third in rushing yards allowed, fourth in points allowed. And they shut out Tennessee in the second half last Thursday for a huge win. Yes, this is a big test.

Why didn't we draft or trade for a WR?! Just kidding. I like our WR room. Speaking of, with Allen Lazard coming off IR, any indication on if he's ready to resume his normal snap count? Or do you think he will be slowly brought back into the rotation?

We'll have to see if he's listed on the injury report this week, and if he's a limited or full participant in practice. That'll be the first sign. But I do think it would be tough after his layoff to suddenly go out and play 60 snaps on Sunday.

Do you see having both Jaire Alexander and Kevin King back and healthy (sometime hopefully soon) would allow us to drop a safety in the box more to help shore up the run defense? The backup corners have been impressive but down two starting corners is a tall order to fill.

Yeah, losing your top two corners is tough on any defense. The Packers held up well against a rookie QB who was missing his No. 2 receiver and playing in bad weather, but Sunday indoors vs. Rivers will be different. It would be a huge boost to the defense to get Alexander and King back. We'll just have to see.

Do you think the Packer offense on Sunday will be as healthy as it's likely to be for the rest of the season?

Perhaps, but I'm not sure about Ervin after he left the Jags game. As much as the offensive line has made all the shuffling work, I'm sure they'd like to get their best 5 playing regularly each week. And getting back to Davante Adams, Lazard and MVS as the top 3 WR should help, too.

A friend of mine says barring injury to #12, the Packers will go 6-1 the remainder of the season. I think that is overly optimistic. What do you say?

I don't project things that way because so much can change week to week in this league. Sunday is a big game. That's enough to think about.

Hi Mike, if King and Alexander are going on Sunday I like our match up against the Colts receivers.

This defense is always better with those two guys on the field together, which unfortunately hasn't been enough. But it just gives Pettine so many more options.

Adrian Amos's game has been steady this year, but does it seem like Darnell Savage is in a bit of a sophomore slump?

I wouldn't call it a slump. He's not making the splash plays everyone was hoping for after a solid rookie season. I still think he's plenty capable. He dropped the easy one at SF.

Philip Rivers has had some big days against the Packers in the past. What's the key to stopping him?

You have to stop the run to take away play-action and then make him hurry. He'll get the ball out quickly, but if he has to take the short stuff, then the defense has to tackle well.

Hi Mike, how crazy is it that the Packers have had to deal with 40+ mph wind gusts in back to back home games? The offense still has to find their rhythm consistently for sure.. but that's got to be the toughest element to deal with. More strange occurrences in a strange season.

It probably means one of these December home games is going to be a sunny, balmy, calm day.

Mike, I've seen JK Scott's tackle attempt compared to a "Kramer-style pratfall". Any insight as to the ribbing he's surely taken from his teammates?

No idea. I'm sure he's not proud of it, and the film session probably wasn't fun. But we don't have access to the locker room like usual to ask about those things this year. Fortunately everyone can laugh about it after a win.

Will King's injury history result in this being his last year with the Packers?

I don't know. The time he's missing this year might be driving down his price as a pending free agent, because he's only had one fully healthy season out of four. Whether that means he comes back to GB, I have no idea.

Yikes on seeing Philip Rivers so soon after last year and the numbers he put on us back in 2015, how has his Indy season been going?

He's thrown 7 picks but his passer rating is still above 90 on the season. He's completing almost 70 percent and he's only been sacked 8 times in 9 games (see comment earlier about getting the ball out quickly).

Packers never won a game at Lucas Oil Stadium. Time to rewrite the history. Don't you think?

They certainly should have won the game in 2012, which is the only one I've covered there. That was brutal to watch in the second half.

We're the #1 seed, but it feels weird to root for New Orleans drifting further down given Brees' injury. Hopefully he's not out too long.

It's terrible what happened to Brees and hopefully he comes out of this OK. I can't imagine how much pain he was in Sunday.

I thought Gary had a bad game until that last 2 series, primarily because I did not notice him during the game or hear his name called. But I also read that he had a good game. Was that recency bias - the last few snaps being monster snaps for him?

Crunch time decides a lot of games in the NFL, and when guys can perform in those moments, it really matters. If the Packers can rush the passer like that in close fourth quarters, it'll go a long way.

With David Bakhtiari now extended, how tough do you think it will be for Gutekunst to get deals done with Corey Linsley, King, Jones, and Williams? Especially with a depleted salary cap next season. Packers need to be ready for most if not all of those players walking away.

It's about setting your priorities and working on them. I would suspect the next priority is either Jones or Linsley, but Gutekunst isn't going to specify which one. Clearly Clark and Bakhtiari were the top two priorities and those are done.

Wow, rough special teams outing! What is going on with Scott and I know the winds were tough but someone make a fair catch. Probably added up to 40 yards of missed ground!

The Packers lost a ton of yardage in the kicking game on Sunday, even without the long punt return against them. I'm sure it wasn't easy to catch punts in those conditions, but something has to improve there.

Do you see Gary getting more snaps for Preston Smith going forward?

Maybe, or Pettine will try getting both Smiths and Gary on the field together. We'll see.

Saw a stat that in past 2 years MVS is 4th in league in catches of 40+ yards! If he can be somewhat consistent with the shorter routes as he was last week, look out!

That's why I commented on Unscripted yesterday about how strong a game that was for MVS -- the variety of plays he made. Long bomb, shallow cross for an explosive gain, saving a third down on a scramble drill, WR screen against the slot blitz. He made plays in a lot of different ways and that's what needs to continue for him.

How to beat the Colts defense? More run, more pass? Do they have a weakness? Or must we hope the bad version of Rivers is on the field Sunday?

I'm not sure they really have a weakness, but in general you want to try to stay balanced. If they get you one-dimensional it makes it that much harder. Stay balanced to keep them honest and execute.

When's the last time you got to play racquetball? It's been over seven months for me. I gotta figure out some way to exercise while reading II and doing mid-week chats...while at work.

Yeah, I'm pretty sure early March was my last game. Not good.

Lot of fans asking what results in other games would best favor the Packers. It seems to me that the Packers control their own destiny. If they win out they own the number one seed in the NFC. Is that accurate?


Any word on Adam's ankle?

Nothing yet. He's scheduled to speak to the media after practice today so we'll see what he says.

Is it too much to have the Smiths, Kenny Clark and Rashan Gary on the field regularly at the same time?

That's probably the best four-man rush in an obvious passing situation, and Pettine has gone with that a lot. It's not the best run front, though, so you have to pick your spots.

Does it make it easier to see Rivers two seasons in a row? Thinking the four year gap ala 2015 to 2019 puts a very different defense on the field.

Interesting thought. I don't know. He's with a new team now, new personnel around him, probably not the same system (though some similarities).

Matt LaFleur now 20-5 (.800) without back-to-back losses....not a bad start to a coaching career?

Ya think?

I was really glad to see MVS step up last week (and week before). I hope that continues. If he stays confident and we get Lazard back, we have an awesome three receiver set.

It changes the landscape for how teams will defend Adams and Jones, I believe.

There was much criticism about Sunday's game. But with wind conditions, a rare interception and fumble by guys who normally do not commit such errors and a 90-yard punt return they still got a W. That's coming up BIG in the face of adversary.

They pulled it out at the end, but all those things you mentioned made it a sloppy performance. The Jags special teams didn't make any huge mistakes, and their only turnover was when the TE fell down. The Packers made the avoidable mistakes and it almost cost them a game.

Ka'dar Hollman looked great in your WYMM segment. Did you happen to notice how he looked on some plays not shown?

I thought he was solid. The Jags only having a couple of 20-yard pass plays is a testament to the work of the whole secondary against the pass. I'm sure there are plays he wants to improve upon. What stands out to me is he can run. He has closing speed.

Check out photos of Lambeau Field as the snow falls on Nov. 16, 2020.

The NFL has said the lost revenue this year will be spread over several years in regards to the cap. Any reason to think 2022 the cap will be back to "normal"? Lot of contracts out there that are scheduled to make a huge jump in 2022.

We'll just have to see. All those calculations will be made after the season is over, assuming we're back to full stadiums in the fall of '21. But the cap dip isn't going to be just for one season. The '22 cap and probably '23 will be down considerably, too, but then everything could change if/when new TV contracts are negotiated.

I would have thought going into a game with a broken rib was asking for trouble. Why would teams do that? The Saints were not in dire straits, and could very well have rested Brees. I can understand the player wanting to play... I am disappointed in the Saints medical staff.

From what I understand, they didn't know he went into the game with a broken rib. It didn't show up on the scans they did after the previous game. That's what was reported anyway, if I heard it right.

In your opinion, which Packers are deserving of a Pro Bowl starter vote if any. My number one who comes to mind is Linsley. Seems like not many talking about what seems to be a career year.

As far as guys who haven't gotten it before, I really hope Linsley and Mason Crosby make it this year, even though the game isn't being played. I also think Alexander is deserving.

The Browns haven't been in the playoffs since 2002. Wouldn't it be interesting if they finally get in this year, but only because they squeak into the new 7th seed?

I'm sure they won't complain.

I don't recall which of the Smith's it was, but after a sack, he was down on his knees, looking to celebrate, motioning to his teammates, but they just all walked away and he appeared to shake his head/roll his eyes. A reflection of lack of energy or cohesiveness?

That was Za'Darius Smith, and maybe they figured he was just going to do his own thing. I don't know.

Knowing the Packers can't sign everyone they would want, do they make someone on the bubble a low-ball offer in the hope that just maybe they accept it? Or would the player see that as an insult?

The latter is always a risk. If you want to keep a guy, be fair to him. You can always tell him to check back depending on what other offers he gets on the market and make the decision that way. If you have good relationships with agents, they'll work with you like that.

Roster depth so important with decisions on potential FA's. Linsley is so solid, but moving Lucas Patrick or Elgton Jenkins to center and sliding a youngster like Jon Runyan in at guard potential saves enough to sign Jones. Tremendously difficult decisions for the GM....

Yeah, it's not going to be easy. They won't be able to bring everybody back, but like I said before, I'm not sure who the next priority is.

Does it seem to you that the Packers run game has regressed? Are defenses playing us differently than the first few weeks? It just seems like we have not been able to consistently move the ball & get first downs (and points!) like we were able to in the beginning of the year.

It hasn't been as steady and consistent as it was earlier, and I'm sure LaFleur is working to figure it out. This offense is at its best when the run game is respected and Rodgers can run play-action. That's how they were lighting things up earlier. They'd love to get back to that, but it's easier said than done. The season is long and defenses adjust.

Been a big fan of JT since he was a Badger (how could you not be) but I know he has struggled with fumbles. Do you think the D-train is practicing popping the ball out more so than usual?

They've made a habit of going for the ball much of the season. I'm sure they're aware of Taylor's reputation.

Feel bad for McCarthy in Dallas. Lost his star QB and many others in a year of transition and pandemic. Yet through it all they are still alive because of the NFC East. Go figure. 2020...

Yeah, that division is crazy. Who knows?

What positions on offense has a Packer not made the NFL Hall of Fame? I can't think of any on defense where no Packer is in Canton.

The Packers don't have a tight end in Canton, I don't believe.

In your opinion, what has been the Packers' most consistent game, defensively?

I thought the performance against Atlanta was a solid, all-around defensive game.

Interesting that Gary is only 22. Kenny Clark was only 20-21 when drafted, and I believe Jonathan Garvin is also very young. Obviously it may take a little while longer for these players to develop, but it seems like TT and BG may factor that into their draft and develop process.

Absolutely. Big difference between taking a guy in the first round as opposed to the seventh like Garvin, but it's all about the crystal ball and what they believe a guy can become.


2021 Pro Bowl Vote

It's time to cast your votes for the 2021 Pro Bowl!

Dallas is getting Dalton back for the Minnesota game which should help their chances. How much will Mike McCarthy's familiarity with Minnesota be an asset?

Anytime you have a familiarity with a defense like Zimmer's, it'll help. They're really good at disguising stuff and knowing that going in, and potentially getting a veteran QB back to face it, will be big for Dallas.

I was really impressed by AR's comments on how having a role increases buy-in, and can inspire performance beyond expectations. I don't see him wanting to coach after playing, but I think he could be a good one. He already is part owner of a pro sports franchise...any chance he will ever get involved in leading from the front offices of a team?

I don't know about that, if by front office you mean GM and building rosters and such. I could see him going further with the ownership thing, though.

What if anything has AR said about his thought process on the interception on Sunday?

He said on the McAfee show yesterday he was looking to Equanimeous St. Brown first and when he came back to MVS on the cross, he didn't see the defender undercutting the route.

Are the Bears going to need to go out and find another quarterback?

It sounds like they're confident Foles will be OK after the bye week, if that's what you mean. I don't think Trubisky is out for the season, either, with the shoulder.

Of all the players currently on the roster, who do you think are best placed to get the players more energized or do you think this problem is more for the coaches to resolve?

It's on the players. I believe they'll get it figured out.

With all the injuries every team has to deal with, are you surprised Clay Mathews career seems to have come to an end?

I'm surprised he's not playing somewhere this year, but I don't blame him for not playing if he's not interested in playing for the league minimum. Maybe that's all he's been offered, I don't know.

It looked like Davante landed pretty hard with all his weight coming down on his elbow/shoulder on that TD catch last week....hopefully all is well for him now that Lazard is back.

That was pretty amazing he could jump that high to haul in that TD on the bad ankle.

Are you feeling good about our prospects in this game?

The Packers are plenty capable of winning this game. They'll have to play their most complete game of the season in all three phases to do it, and that's a mark they haven't hit yet, which is OK. It's still November.

It's not just a week to week league for teams, but for players too. A few weeks ago, Russell Wilson was the unanimous MVP, and 2 losses and 7 turnovers later he's not! Let the games play out and enjoy watching!

Exactly. So much can change.

It seems simple, but the thing I miss most this season is the fun, dual, locker room interviews with the Smith Brothers. That 5-10 minutes of fun and candor always made my week!

There are a lot of things with the media coverage that we all miss this year, but we just have to make the best of it.

While the Packers control their own destiny that doesn't guarantee they'll win every remaining game. So, for this week, Go Falcons, Go Cardinals, Go Rams, Go Cowboys, and, as always, GO PACK GO!

When we get to December, I'll see about bringing back Path to the Playoffs.

When Hicks pulled up lame with a hamstring Monday night, you could see the holes begin to open for the Vikings run game. That could be huge for GB in 2 weeks...in my opinion, he and Cook may be the 2 most important divisional players we face

Yeah, Hicks is a stud. The bye week is at the right time for him.

Having a baby boy and new Packer fan any day now, any advice?

Congratulations in advance, and I'll just say what my father said to me when our first child was on the way: Trust your instincts. With that I'm going to sign off, folks. Thanks for all the participation today. You guys kept the questions coming fast and furious. Enjoy the game Sunday and we'll talk again next week. Take care, Mike

Related Content


Action Needed: Update your Packers Mobile App!

Fans attending any games during the 2023 season should update their Packers mobile app due to important upgrades and enhancements.