Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Can the Packers' offense repeat its opening performance?

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


Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. Hope all is well. Let's get started.

Hi Mike. Any update on Kenny Clark´s injury?

Nope. Practice is this afternoon, and the only update I expect to get is whether or not he's out there.

You think Davante Adams and Aaron Rodgers will be able to torch another young secondary this week?

Well, the Lions put their nickel corner on IR and he's out a few weeks, so that's going to affect their depth chart. Not having Slay anymore changes the look of the Lions' defense considerably to me. I'm sure Davante will be prominently featured in the game plan.

That was an amazing offensive performance by the Packers, but looking ahead do you think they can repeat it in the playoffs? (Ha! Just kidding.) But seriously, do you think they can repeat it against Detroit?

I think that'll be difficult to repeat against anybody, but that's why they play the games. I don't think Detroit's defense has as many big-name players as Minnesota's, but it's going to be a salty group after that fourth-quarter collapse against the Bears on Sunday. They had played darn good defense for three quarters and fell apart. It's a unit that'll be out to prove something.

Hello - I just wanted to say that David Bakhtiari was a wall in that game, and anyone who questions whether he deserves an extension needs to watch how much time he provides Rodgers. If they were able to sign him to an extension, is there a way to prorate out his contract to open up 2020 cap space?

I don't think anyone's questioning whether or not to re-up with Bakhtiari. It's just a question of how much it's going to cost. I'm not versed enough in cap gymnastics to know what would be the best way to go about it, but the Packers have one of the best in that department in Russ Ball, so I'll leave it in his hands.

Depth in the trenches will be huge this year. What did you think of the players who stepped into the lineup Sunday?

I thought Rick Wagner and Jon Runyan held their own. Nothing spectacular, but no glaring liabilities either. What Elgton Jenkins did was impressive, too, kicking out to RT to start the game. The depth got tested right out of the gate and the Packers passed the test. It's a rough blow to lose Lane Taylor, but hopefully Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick get healthy soon and some stability returns.

I asked this question in II, but it did not make the cut. The Packers prevent defense left something to be desired Sunday. Does the team practice prevent defense much or is that something the team doesn't want to spend limited practice time on?

It's not something they really practice per se. I don't think it was the so-called prevent defense that hurt them as much Sunday as just not matching Minnesota's tempo when the Vikings went no-huddle. The Packers looked a step slow the whole fourth quarter.

Were the red zone issues attributable to any single thing, or were the various breakdowns unrelated?

I don't think it was one thing. I'm sure LaFleur has gone over his play calls and they've looked at the execution on film. Minnesota's defense rose up early but couldn't keep it up. That's a factor, too.

In a young mans league, talk about how Adrian Peterson can continue to produce? The guy just keeps going!

He's a marvel. Now with his third team, and facing the Packers again. They can't get away from him.

Do not want to seem unhappy with the roster but do you think (whether it's because of injuries or performance) do you think the packers look to add an FA over the next week or two?

Gutekunst leaves no stone unturned with the roster. If there's someone out there they feel is better than someone they have, they'll bring him in. He's proven not to hesitate with that in the past.

MLF talks about getting the best 5 players on the field for the O-Line. Obviously player's versatitilty plays into that. But who do you think the "best 5" are right now, assuming that Billy Turner and Lucas Patrick can play, and with Lane Taylor out?

Interesting question. I think Turner is one of those five based on the way camp was going before he got hurt. Bakhtiari, Jenkins and Corey Linsley are clearly three. I don't know whether the other is Wagner or Patrick, but whichever it is will determine where Turner plays. Based on the coaching staff's decision for Week 1, it was Patrick.

Do you think AJ Dillon get's a goal line carry next time Green Bay gets down to the 1? Seems like a lead block from Josiah Deguara followed by Dillon would lead to an easy TD.

We'll see. I wasn't surprised he didn't get thrown in there on that goal-line sequence early because that would have been his first NFL carry. But he got a couple of carries to get his feet wet, so we'll see where it goes from here.

Thoughts on Allen Lazard I think he is going to prove that he is a legit number 2 receiver?

He's on his way to doing so. Consistent production week in and week out will tell the tale.

Do you think the packers end up allowing fans before the end of the season if the NFL continues to have no positive tests? It was so hard to opt out of season tickets!

I don't know. Wisconsin's situation with the virus right now is not good.

One must never overlook an NFL opponent, but anyone who ever complains or second-guesses anything the Packers ever do should try being a loyal Detroit Lions fan for awhile. My hat's off to those fans, year after year.

One playoff win since 1957, I believe. Think about that.

Hey Mike, Super job on WYMM. I remember hearing that misdirection plays would not work in the NFL years ago. What a well executed philosophy at the pro level. Thank you for pointing out the details to an old football coach. Apron has to smile walking up to the line running this offense.

His comfort level with it is showing, that's for sure. What's really impressive to me is on a lot of those jet sweeps and tap passes, he's making the choice on the fly whether to give the ball to the motion man or run the regular handoff. He made a lot of efficient decisions on Sunday. Some of the end-around stuff is designed without an option necessarily, but Rodgers is making a lot of calls as those plays unfold.

With the level of play across the NFL this past weekend is that another hit in the eventual elimination of the Pre-season games?

I don't know. I still think the owners are going to want their 20 games in some form or fashion, but maybe when the new TV contracts are signed soon, they'll reconsider.

Has Taylor already been places in IR? (If so I missed it). How do you think that will shuffle the O-Line lineup?

He has not officially been placed on IR but the move is inevitable.

Do you think the SF coach has more to do with their wins? It's hard to go against the guy who you learned from. He knows your counters to the counters.

We'll find out in early November. This Packers offense is in a different place in Year 2 compared to last year, as expected.

If we see more of these soft tissue injuries in the coming weeks after no preseason games, is there any chance the NFL allows additional designated to return players from IR?

There's no limit on how many players you bring back from IR this year. Covid-related rule change.

It seems like the no fans in stadium helps the visiting offense most, but I wonder what the impact is on the defensive side of the ball. Do you believe the lack of fans makes it more difficult for defenses to regain momentum after a difficult series without their fans to provide a bit of juice? Seemed like the Vikings D became demoralized fairly quickly, and never regained their edge.

I think that's a valid point. Home defenses feed off the crowd, and when you get punched in the mouth, that next third down is all on you, no roaring crowd to distract the offense and/or energize you. It's going to be an interesting storyline as the season unfolds.

Don't know if you can share this, but seeing Marquez Valdes-Scantling ups and downs un the game, where you surprised? I mean while I think overall his performance was really good, some of his catches and routes were awsome (as advertised throu camp), but his two drops we're awful. Was that present during training camp practices?

MVS did not have drops like that in camp that I can recall. His hands were reliable and his practices were as consistent as we'd ever seen him. Now that level of consistency just has to transfer to the games.

Why do you think the four-man rush is the key against Stafford? From last year I seem to remember, that Stafford was so quick to release the ball, that the rushers were always too late.

True enough, which is why it usually doesn't pay to blitz him. Play coverage and make tackles, but if there is a play with longer-developing routes, the four-man has to get home.

Matt LaFleur's play calling deserves more respect around the league. People say he attempts to copy McVay or Shanahan, but he still has his own creativity that he deserves credit for.

Without a doubt. If anything, LaFleur has too much in his game plans. He mentioned the other day that Rodgers gets on him, wanting to repeat plays that have worked. I think LaFleur could call a whole game without repeating a single play if he wanted to. It's interesting to hear those comments.

Hey Mike, The Packers managed to win both games against the Lions last year without actually having a lead at any point during playing time. Does the HC remind his guys about that stat at all this week to keep the team focused on Detroit and not look ahead to New Orleans? The Lions always put up a good fight against GB.

He said it a couple of times already, once after the Minnesota game and again on Monday I believe. If he's repeating it to the media, I'm sure it's part of his presentation to the players. He won't let these guys sleep on the Lions.

Krys Barnes has an amazing game. Was he thrown in because there is still an injury concern with Oren Burks? I was shocked to see him get so much playing time 24 hours after joining the team. I can't wait to see him again with a few weeks of learning his new defense.

Barnes had a really good debut, and he likely earned more playing time, depending on packages. I don't know if Burks' camp injury and missed time played into the depth-chart decision.

What are your key matchups for this Sunday against the Lions?

It depends somewhat if Golladay plays. If he's in there, he's their biggest weapon. Stafford's deep-ball, big-play guy. You can't let him beat you over the top. Otherwise, be ready for the Lions to test you with the run (as everyone will this year) and pay attention to Hockenson. I expect over time he'll develop into one of Stafford's favorites.

With AP coming i hope the run defense is able to at least slow him down if they are unable to slow him down it could be a long day for the defense. How can packers try to stop AP?

Peterson isn't what he was, but when a Hall of Famer loses half a step, he's still better than many. He's a gang-tackle guy because he's so hard to bring down one-on-one. You have to be ready to help your teammates tackle him.

I was pretty excited to see Jenkins start at Right Tackle. After years of solid play from Bulaga, I thought Jenkins could be the rock that anchors that position for the next decade (with all due respect to Turner and Wagner). Any chance that eventually becomes a permanent piece, or would they rather have him as a potential all-pro at a less coveted position?

Hard to say where that's going. All I know is the Packers are thrilled they have Jenkins and he gives them so many options to put the best possible unit together.

What is the hardest thing for you to get used to this year with all of the Covid adaptations?

Well, we're all pretty accustomed to the Zoom calls now. Watching a game on TV for the first time in 10 years was tough on Sunday, but that'll be the routine for road games this year. Sunday for the home game I'll be up in the press box, but it'll be a sparse press box crowd, not the full house it normally is.

Do you think Min D fatigue played a role in Runyan and Wagner playing so good? Min D had to be gassed at the end.

No question they were worn out. Wagner entered in the second quarter, though, so he played a lot more than Runyan. I think the biggest help, especially for a rookie like Runyan, was neither guy coming off the bench had to worry about the silent count on the road.

Is Rodgers comfort in the offense from year 1 to now noticeable?

Without a doubt. The only time he didn't look comfortable to me was when he didn't get the play call early enough, to get in and out of the huddle sooner. I saw him at least once motioning to the sideline to get the call into his helmet.

Thank you for helping us get through these times. This is a tremendous organization. I laud their stance and willingness to engage in a long overdue conversation. Football is the greatest team sport and it continues to pull people through these challenges. It is not thee answer but it is a catalyst for introspection. Proud of your transparency. Take care Mike. I appreciate your work.

Thanks. I like that phrase, catalyst for introspection. That's a good way to put it.

What's your best baseball analogy to week one in the NFL?

You've stumped me. I'm not coming up with anything on the spot.

With Clark probably out, who needs to have a big step-up in D line? Dean Lowry, Tyler Lancaster, and even Preston Smith didn't seem to get name mentioned much last time.

Yeah, it was a quiet game for the guys on the defensive front, except for Za'Darius Smith's sack. I thought Rashan Gary was pretty active, and Lowry had a good rush once early but couldn't quite finish it. Regardless of Clark's status, I think everyone up front has to play better, and I think they know it. I doubt any of them were satisfied with how things went.

I didn't see much from the TE in the Receiving game as far as catching the ball. Robert Tonyan is someone I was expecting to see more. Why the limited targets to TEs as a whole?

I mentioned this in Inbox ... Kendricks and Barr are awfully good cover LBs in the middle of the field, and the Vikings had a bunch of young corners. It was pretty obvious where to attack. It won't necessarily be like that every week.

Who could you see taking a big step this week and make their presence known?

I doubt Preston Smith will have two quiet games in a row. Just a hunch.

Big Ten is coming back in October with 8 game season.. Everything is starting to feel right in the world.

That was great news to hear this morning, and for all the consternation, I applaud the Big Ten for getting the answers it was looking for on rapid testing and heart scans before moving forward.

Please give best regards and speedy recovery to Lane Taylor. Also, was Equanimeous St. Brown a healthy scratch on Sunday?

You can't help but feel bad for Taylor. A really good guy and a humble, hard-working player. St. Brown was not on the injury report last week, so yes, that would go as a healthy scratch.

Lions CB are thin. Do you see more of the same passing from Packers attack?

We definitely could. They'll be looking at how the Packers attacked the Vikings, so I don't expect the exact same plan by any stretch, but they'll make that secondary cover and test them in different ways.

GM Spoff gets to wave a magic wand and pluck a player from any roster. Who does he grab?

If Clark is out, give me Aaron Donald. Who wouldn't want Aaron Donald in any case? That guy blows me away every time I see the Rams play.

On Lazard's catch up the seam where he broke off his route, is that something he had been working in practices or does that come from tape review and discussions with Rodgers and the other QBs?

I think it's film review and also making the right read of the defense on the fly.

Mike, Great job with game blogs, I like the way it's facts and not allot of garbage talking heads complaining about everything the Packers don't do perfectly. You keep it real.

Glad you enjoyed it. Would love to have you back every week.

Was curious why you and Wes or especially Wayne and Larry didn't go to the game in Minnesota, one of the Press Gazette reporter said they sent five guys.

We normally fly on the team charter, and the NFL reduced traveling parties this year considerably, so we've adjusted.

If Swerve can stay healthy, do you see him more on offense only and somebody else on special teams just to save on wear and tear for him?

No, I think he's the return man as well as an offensive option. I think that's his dual role moving forward.

Mike, did you get a new haircut for your mid-week chat photo? Or am I not paying enough attention to your mug lately?

I got the haircut before Week 1 and shot the new photo for the chat graphic. I try to get a new picture for that every year if I can. I just happened to be in need of a haircut right when camp ended.

Have you watched many of the other games around the league, and if so is there anything that surprised you either overall, or specifically about a team or two?

I got to see a chunk of the Cowboys-Rams on Sunday night, but that's about it. Otherwise, I'm just catching up on highlights of other games either late Sunday night or Monday. I can't say anything blew me away, but I was taken aback by the Bears rallying for 21 in the fourth quarter at Detroit after their offense had been struggling so much all day.

Way Too Early Super Bowl Prediction?

Sorry, not interested. And with that, I've got to call it a chat. Thanks for all the participation, folks. Take care and talk again next week. Best, Mike

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