Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Whose offense is better?

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

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RB Aaron Jones

Hey everybody. Merry Christmas a couple of days early. Hope everyone is healthy and well. Thanks for logging on an hour earlier than normal. The team has a different schedule this week so I had to adjust. Let's get started.

How is it possible that a running back that got 18 yards on his first carry early in the second quarter never gets another carry in that game? Did AJ Dillon get hurt?

No, but I think LaFleur made it pretty clear he regrets not running the ball more, and that would have included more action for Dillon with Jamaal Williams out of the game.

Happy Festivus!

Back at you. But let's not make today's chat an airing of grievances, OK? At least not too many.

If the Packers have the bye secured with a win over the Titans do they rest some starters against the Bears?

We'll see if that's a discussion for next week. It might be, it might not be. No point in pondering it now.

Can't wait for Tyler Ervin or Tavon Austin to get more involved again. That extra dimension's been missing.

Yeah, there was very little jet motion used in the last game, so we'll see if LaFleur employs it more against Tennessee. Austin could become the main guy for those duties with Swerve on IR.

Hi Mike. Just wondering, what do you think the odds are we see a lot of Jaire Alexander/Kevin King on an island a lot this weekend so we can afford more resources to slowing down the monster that is King Henry?

Well, I don't see the Packers playing with no safeties back, but devoting one extra body to the run game is probably in order at some point. This Tennessee offense makes you defend everybody. The stats at RB, QB, WR all reflect that.

Does Christian Kirksey begin to see less playing time. And how has Kamal Martin been in his rookie season?

We're seeing Krys Barnes and Martin used more lately. Martin just flies around all over the place, almost looking out of control at times. Barnes really played well vs. Carolina, and not just on the fumble play. I think Kirksey has actually played better with a lesser snap load. It's a good situation.

Hi Mike, Read the breakdown of all the stats comparing Engram and Robert Tonyan. Engram has been Bad this season! I can understand Hockenson but how on earth can the voters put in Engram? Who are those voters?

Engram over Tonyan makes no sense. it just doesn't. As a reader said in Inbox this morning, we don't need to spend any more time on it.

What happens if the Packers are in a 3-way tie at 12-4 with NO and SEA for the 1 seed?

I believe it depends if the Packers' 12th win is against Tennessee or Chicago. If it's against the Bears, the Packers get the 1.

I hate looking forward to the offseason, but the cap is looming. Do you forsee the NFL raising the cap to 200 million instead of the 175 million?

No, the $175 million is the floor for the cap and it sounds like it's staying there. As I've been saying all season, it's going to be a difficult situation for everyone to deal with.

I remember my first time to Lambeau with my dad during a shareholder's event. He was in a wheelchair at the time, and we were blown away by the history and kindness of everything and everyone we encountered. Here's to hoping we can have a normal 2021 where other kids can have their first Lambeau experience too.

Absolutely.

Hi Mike. What do you think the limit of rushing yards Derrick Henry might gain in order to beat the Titans?

It's hard to put a number on it. I don't think the Packers have to hold him under 100 or do anything magical, but I don't think they can let him average 6.5 per carry or anything like that, either. It's going to come down to the defense getting a key stop or two, however it does so -- turnover, big sack, stopping Henry on a key short-yardage play. Whatever. That's how I see it.

When is Corey Linsley available to come back from IR? It would be nice to have him get some game reps before the playoffs.

Linsley returned to practice yesterday, so he's eligible to return. Whether or not he's going to play Sunday night, we don't know for sure yet.

With the NFL allowing teams to (virtually) interview coaching candidates starting today, who on the GB staff might be getting a call soon?

I think Coach Hackett could get some head-coaching looks at some point. I'm not sure about this year. He might need to be an OC where he calls plays, like LaFleur did in Tennessee, to take that next step, I don't know.

Hey Mike, there appear to be 9 or 10 teams in the NFC playoff hunt right now. Which appear to be the hottest teams heading into late December?

I don't think anyone in the NFC qualifies as really hot right now. Everyone in the playoff hunt except the Packers has lost a game in the last three weeks, and GB had three pretty tight wins against sub-.500 teams. No one in the NFC is the "it" team right now. Everyone's had their lulls and struggles here and there. If the Packers beat the Titans on Sunday night, I think a lot more attention comes GB's way, for whatever it's worth.

Weather has been mentioned as an advantage for us going forward but do you think that our team has really been exposed to the cold enough to make that big of a difference?

It's more about practicing in it regularly, which the Packers do. Nobody plays flawlessly in the cold weather, but teams that aren't used to it might make one or two more mistakes in a game -- a dropped pass, or losing the handle on a run -- that you hope the Packers wouldn't make.

Until this morning's Insider Inbox, I was completely unaware of the Titans' passing success this year. This matchup is going to be a fun challenge for the Packers, even at Lambeau.

And the Packers' running game is as underrated as the Titans' passing game. These two offenses are pretty complete.

I've been watching NFL for about 60 years and the stiff arm has been around for much longer. It's always been used to hold off would-be tacklers. Derrick Henry is the first player I've ever seen that truly uses it as a Weapon meant to punish the defender. What other backs have you seen whose stiff-arm might compare?

I'm with you, I'm not sure I've ever seen a back use it the way Henry does. Guys like Earl Campbell, Emmitt Smith, Adrian Peterson all used it to a certain extent, but not like Henry. It's just another element that makes him special.

I say give Henry his yards. Key will be clock control, fundamentals/situational football, and turnovers. Can't whiff on possessions. Going to need points.

The Packers are going to have to get back to scoring 30-plus in this game, I think. They've done it 10 of 14 times, and they've only been beaten once when they scored 30-plus, and that was OT at Indy.

Why do you think the offense has been so ineffective at making in game offensive adjustments? The opposing defenses adjust and our offense just seems to fade away.

I understand this last game was frustrating in that regard, and it wasn't the first time this has happened, but I don't see this as some horribly troubling trend. Just the week before, they came out in the second half and put together two clock-eating full-field drives for TDs vs. the Lions. Before that, they came out to start the second half and ran the point total vs. the Bears up to 41. I just don't buy the "adjustments" narrative because of a couple of games.

Might the best way to 'defend' against Henry is to get off to a fast start. Make them play from behind - requiring more passing, less running?

They're not going to abandon the run game and Henry just because of a fast start, but you certainly don't want to get multiple scores behind where their running game can control the clock and limit your possessions to rally.

Any word on Jamaal Williams' status?

He did not practice yesterday. That's all I know.

Home field advantage is about so much more than the fans and the weather. I'm not sure why this is so misunderstood.

Agreed. Not having to travel late in the year when the players' bodies are all beat up and run down matters, too.

If we happen to win the coin toss would you defer or take the ball Mike?

I'm always a fan of deferring. The game to me is almost never won or lost in the first half.

AJ Dillon has some pretty mean stiff arms on his Boston College highlight reel. Just sayin!

Maybe he'll bust one out this week.

In Aaron Rodgers (and Matt) we trust. With the Titans defense deficiencies, those two will figure bit out. W. Ed got the weapons.

I agree. I think the Packers can have a big night on offense.

Mike, it would seem Green Bay has at the minimum Four games to make it to Super Bowl. Do you think the players see it that way right now while in good health?

I don't think they'll be looking at it that way unless and until they get the No. 1 seed secured. Without that, you're looking at having to win three playoff games, and probably at least one of them on the road, to get to the Super Bowl.

Rodgers ability to read a defense and put the offense in the correct position, his cadence, and his ability to know when to not throw the ball is uncanny. How much do MVP voters factor this in?

The MVP is about putting up big stats that leads your team to great success. That's the simplest way I can put it. I don't think a whole lot else factors in, really.

If ML sticks with a balanced run game, do you AJ Dillon can wear down the titans D in the 2nd half? He's a load.

Tennessee defensively has been much better against the run than against the pass this year, but you're right in that a balanced approach is when GB's offense is at its best, regardless of the opponent.

IMHO I think stopping the Titans run game is gonna take a total commitment from the D regardless of down and distance for all four quarters. If Pettine and Lafleur feel the same what will that total commitment look like. i.e. What keys should I be looking for?

It's all about how many guys can beat their block and get to the ball. If you're constantly asking one guy to tackle Henry because no one else can get off their blocks, he's gonna gash you. Get lots of hats to the ball. That's what it's all about.

Is the NFL concerned at all about the Repercussions of a lowered cap?

It's up to the teams to figure it out. The structure moving forward is what the owners and players agreed to in negotiations before the COVID season started.

Mike, I'm buying a home for the first time, and it's exciting but scary. Any advice for first time home buyers?

Take a fixed interest rate.

Henry over/under 125 rushing yds?

Aaron Jones over/under 100 total yards?

Gambling is illegal at Bushwood, but I think the over on both of those is a decent bet. If the Packers hold Henry under 125, their chances of winning go way up.

Tight ends seem to take longer to develop than those at other positions. If true, what makes the transition more difficult?

Usually tight ends coming out of college are good at one thing -- either blocking or running routes/catching passes. They have to become more efficient in the other element when they get to the NFL, and the responsibilities play after play increase along with that.

I vaguely recall that we picked up a player very late in the season of our last SB win. If I am correct about that do you see any options for someone like that being available Mike?

It's getting a little too late for that. If you're thinking of Howard Green from 2010, the Packers signed him in late October.

In case Seahawks lose before our game, would you, as Play caller, be very aggressive in this game and go for it on fourth down. Knowing you have another swing next week?

I don't think anyone looks at it that way. You have a plan for what you think it'll take to win the game. Those fourth-down decisions are made in the moment, based on flow of the game, situation, etc.

I'm encouraged by Lafleur's words about needing to stay more committed to the run. I think it can be a positive lesson heading into this Sunday's matchup.

He's always very introspective, and I don't think the talk is lip service. The lack of commitment to the run last week was on both him and Rodgers. I'm sure they've had discussions. Rodgers' words yesterday to the media indicate he's given it plenty of thought after watching/reviewing the film too.

Definitely some exciting possible Week 17 matchups: Cowboys/Giants, Browns/Steelers. Which games do you think will be the most dramatic for the playoff picture?

If Brown-Steelers is for the AFC North title, that would be a classic Week 17 matchup. Two old rivals like that.

All right folks, I've got to sign off because we've got some media sessions coming up shortly. Sorry to cut this short. But thanks for all the participation, and we'll talk again next week. Have a Merry Christmas, everyone. Take care, Mike

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