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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Rest and regroup

2018-Mikes-Mid-Week-Chat-TRANSCRIPT-2560

Hey everybody. Hope your bye week is off to a good start. OK, let's go.

Hey Mike, Happy belated birthday first off. My question is Do you think that Aaron Jones can develop into a better blocker this season? He definitely is the best running back the packers have as far as being a shifty power back. The only thing that I see him lacking is his blocking. McCarthy has said the same thing basically. Wondering how hard would it be for him to pick that up?. Thanks

He's gotten better and will continue to get better, but that's where the time he missed in training camp with the hamstring injury is really detrimental. They do a ton of drills in camp to develop those skills. That's how Montgomery has improved so much over the last couple of years.

Any word on Gmo's health?

McCarthy did not give any health updates on Tuesday. The players are gone and will be back on Monday. I think the chances are good Cobb, Allison and Alexander will all be back on the practice field next week, but you always have to wait and see. Those types of injuries (hamstrings, groins) are forever tricky.

Did you have any concerns on the Packers and A-Rod running an additional play with 6 seconds left? My concern was a "flinch" by anyone and a 10 second run off. The MNF ESPN crew was surprised that Crosby wasn't already on the Field.

There was no concern for a 10-second runoff because that's only if the clock was running. Adams had gotten o/b on the previous play, so a false start would have cost only the 5 yards.

Do injured players stay around during the bye week to receive treatment? Are any players around or is it a bit of a ghost town?

Some injured players definitely stick around to get treatment from the training staff. That's common. Some can take a rehab plan and do it elsewhere, too, though that's usually more of an offseason thing.

Thought you bailed on us yesterday, Mike. Forgot we do this a two days after game day, not always on Tuesdays. The lengthy 3rd downs were a problem still Monday night. It was almost painful to watch. But I didn't see any one major factor contributing to that. Any thoughts?

I was on very little sleep yesterday, so it would have been tough. Not that I'm any more rested today after last night's 13-inning playoff game. But to your question, the long down-and-distances have plagued the offense all season. It's been all kinds of issues -- penalties, sacks, other lost-yardage plays. One on Monday night looked like a trick play gone awry that lost 6 yards. It's another reason the Packers have to commit to the running game, to keep the third downs manageable.

What a great game to be at on Monday! Lambeau was electric, at least in my section. Do you think run-defense is going to be an ongoing issue this season?

It's like anything, it'll be an issue until you fix it, because teams are going to attack the weaknesses they see on film. The Washington and SF games are the only ones that stick out to me as struggles against the run, but the SF game is now the most recent, and Todd Gurley is up next. Get ready.

Hey mike, wondering question here—is there a lot of during the play communication that happens in football- example- tackle whiffs on a block and yells at qb to look out!

There's probably plenty of it, but depending on the situation, there's no way to know if something that's said actually gets heard. It's loud down on an NFL field even when it's not super loud, if that makes sense.

I saw that it was pretty easy for the defense to run down Jimmy Graham along the sideline. Is he slowing down? Or has that never been his strength? I had hoped that he could run it all the way into the endzone.

Graham isn't quite as fast in the open field as he once was, but the 54-yarder was his longest reception since 2013.

How much more time do you think Jimmy Graham needs to become fully acclimated to the offense? I've shared with many friends that I wasn't particularly moved by his addition to the team because he seems to have had his best seasons behind him. The TE position continues to be a sore spot for our offense. As this point, it feels like Kendricks may be more valuable in that position than Graham. Thoughts?

I think we're starting to see it come around for Graham. His trajectory, if that's the right word, seems similar to Jared Cook a couple of years ago in terms of finding his way and making an impact. Defenses have focused a lot of attention on him, but the last two games the Packers have still found ways to get him the ball. I expect that to continue.

Did Clay Matthews receive any grief from his teammates for his whiff on Garcon in the open field?

It's not a play anyone would be proud of. If I had to guess, I'd say Matthews didn't know he was all alone at that moment with no immediate help to make the play. I think he believed he was forcing Garcon right to a teammate, except that teammate wasn't there. Garcon would take just as much grief if he let a linebacker bring him down in the open field.

How do you interpret/explain McCarthy's comments about why he doesn't run Jones more?

I was surprised Jones didn't get the ball more Monday night, given the Packers were never down by more than one score. McCarthy suggested there were RPOs and checks on plays that could have been runs, but Rodgers keeps talking about Jones, too, which tells me there's going to be some schematic work put in over the bye to focus on what this offense has done best.

Hey Mike! I've been thinking how Trevor Davis could have come in handy and how his absence was an early negative portent. How's he doing?

He's one of two receivers, along with Jake Kumerow, eligible to be activated from IR after the bye week. The Packers haven't announced anything, so we'll see what happens on Monday. Davis would be a great option on punt returns. Williams has handled the ball fine, but Davis has more potential for an explosive return. Montgomery has done well on kickoff returns, so I wouldn't see him being replaced there. The penalties have wiped out Ty's long ones.

Do you see the last split second snap count as a problem that is playing into the opposing defense's hands? They can see the clock running down too and burning time-outs at non-critical times is poor time management. Are the plays coming in too late from MM or is AR trying too hard to "see the field" or change the play?

Rodgers is always going to exhaust his options to get the Packers in the best possible play at the line of scrimmage, but they self-scout everything during the bye, and if they feel draining the play clock so far is hampering them at all, they'll do something about it.

I think if Alexander is playing we probably don't see Goodwin have quite as big of night.

I would agree with that. I continue to maintain Alexander is a potential high-impact player on this defense, not just another corner.

Hi Mike! While I'm thrilled with the win, the quality of play on both offense and defense did not inspire much confidence for the upcoming tough opponents on the road. What do you think will be the biggest challenge for the Packers on both offense & defense against the Rams?

Offensively, it'll be protecting Rodgers from a pretty strong Rams pass rush. That's a disruptive front. Defensively, it's cutting down on the big pass plays. The Packers have given up four long ones in the last five games, and the Rams are going to attack deep. It's as guaranteed as anything in the NFL can be.

Who else is eligible to be activated off IR? Kumerow and Davis, yes. Jake Ryan and Wilkerson won't be returning this season... Who else would be a candidate?

It's pretty much those two receivers right now, and anyone else going on IR from here would have to miss eight games before being able to return, which takes you to mid-December.

I heard someone say that on Eq's catch on the last series that the play called was an "all-go". Do you know what that means? Do the players just all go out in different directions? And if so, that makes the perfectly executed back shoulder even more impressive.

All-go means all go routes, or fly patterns, or straight up the field, however you want to say it. The guys on the boundary, like EQ there, have to anticipate a back-shoulder throw based on the leverage of the defender, and the rookie and Rodgers were on the exact same page for a clutch play.

Hey, Mikw. What do you think the coaches can do in these two weeks in regardless of adjustments in the defense? Do you think the edge rush can improve with the players that we already have in the roster?

It's going to have to. You're not likely to find any help at edge rusher midway through a season. The Packers need more pressure on QBs from everyone. In my opinion, Pettine has had to dial up a blitz too often in order to hurry the QB.

Do you get as nervous as I do every time Williams decides not to call a fair catch with defenders bearing down inches away from him? Talk about fearless.

He's incredibly fearless, but he's also got the surest hands of probably any punt returner I've ever covered.

Adams is ALWAYS open! Why isn't he getting 20+ targets and 12 receptions a game?

Again, that's something Rodgers keeps talking about. He wants to get the ball to Adams and Graham more, and he has the last two games. I expect that to continue.

Can we expect to see more MVS even with the return of Cobb and Allison?

I think so. He'll still get at least a share of snaps.

Hi Mike, I’m not the kind to over react at all. Over the course of the season thusfar I’ve been pretty disappointed with the safety play though, and help is not on the way. Can those guys on the back end turn it around?

They have to. The Packers have to stop giving up the balls over the top. Clinton-Dix has had a handful of turnover plays, but it also appears he hasn't been on the same page with the corners on some red-zone concepts. Brice has been solid in the box, but he hasn't played the ball very well. Their inconsistencies are in line with the inconsistency of the defense as a whole.

Even though Davis and Kumerow are eligible to return, do they have to be activated? In other words, could they stay on IR until the Packers are ready to activate them?

Yes. But once a player on IR practices, he's considered activated and you've burned one of your "designated to return" IR exemptions.

Very curious to see if Gute makes a Letroy Guion type of acquisition in FA or via trade the next few weeks.

I think Gutekunst has proven if there's a move that can be made at the right price to help the roster, he'll do it. I don't know who's really out there or being "shopped" by their current teams.

When the all of are receivers are healthy, with the added experience that MVS, Eq and J'Mon, do you think the Packers will rotate through their receiver core more (to keep them fresh) or will stick pretty much with their first-stringers?

I think they'd like to get back to their main three, plus Graham, and try to get the offense rolling, but the rookies will rotate in. Four-wide packages without a TE would provide another opportunity, too. But it also comes down to production. The guys that produce will play.

Hi Mike, I thought Aaron Rodger's comment about the Packers finding out what kind of team they are over the next stretch of tough road games was insightful. Do you think those several games are going to essentially reveal how the Packers season will look or do you think too much is being made of the Packers' difficult schedule this year?

I don't think too much is being made of it. It's a really tough stretch. We have the luxury from here of looking at the big picture, while players and coaches have to stick to one week at a time, but they aren't oblivious to the circumstances. We will find out a lot about the Packers in this stretch, I agree. Their two worst games this season, by far, have been the two road trips. Road wins are galvanizing forces for football teams. The Packers have to play a lot better on the road, and a big road win could do wonders.

A lot of the issues on offense Monday were the result of the Niners not biting on bootlegs. I think that's something that is easy to overcome and could benefit the offense going forward.

It's a self-scout issue that can get adjusted for sure.

Based on what you saw in the PIT/CIN game, and now hearing Big Ben's comments, why doesn't the Bengals or the league hold the door open for Burfict and tell him not to let it hit him on the way out? Seems contradictory to their safety message and taunting penalty rule.

I haven't followed the latest, but Burfict is a repeat offender whose punishments from the league continue to get harsher and harsher. Eventually a team has to decide whether it's worth it.

How in the heck do stop the Rams offense?

It starts with trying to take away the big play, and tackling well in the open field. If you can do those things, you see how the rest falls. If you can't do either one of those, you're in for a long day against that unit.

what does the variance in the defenses 1st and 2nd half performances mean to you? I don't see it as playing good or bad QB's because the variance has been for both. In all 4 occasions we faced the same QB and Offense in both halves and shut them down in the second. I look at it as Pettine is 0-4 against QB's and 4-0 against Off Coordinators. I will take that anytime.

I don't know what to make of it, frankly. Is there hesitation on defense early in games due to the schemes they're seeing, and then they settle in? Maybe, but you still have to be able to get stops and play full speed from the get-go. One bad half is going to give you too much to overcome against the next two opponents.

Just an observation . . . teams have to deal with a short week when they play Thursday and Monday games. It is nice the Packer's bye week falls after a Monday night game. It avoids a second short week.

Very true. The short week with the West Coast trip to Seattle for a Thursday night game will be tough enough.

All right, I think I'm going to sign off now. Thanks for all the participation today. I'm not sure on a day for a chat next week, so stay tuned. Take care and enjoy a your-Packers weekend. Go Brew Crew. Best, Mike.

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