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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What can one win do for the Packers?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered questions from fans Tuesday


Hey everybody. Sorry I'm a couple minutes late. Let's get started.

Hey Spoff - thanks for the midweek. Why the pandemonium? This is what makes it fun!

As I continue to say, beat the Vikings on Sunday night, and it's game on, season on, however you want to say it. Two years ago, nothing that happened in November mattered anymore once the Packers started winning. But they have to start.

Hi Mike, any updates on injured players

As I wrote yesterday, Daniels is out for a while and Graham is going to try to play with some kind of splint on the thumb. Clark returned to the game for the final defensive series in Seattle. King and Cobb sound anxious to get back out there, but we'll see if they practice this week. No word on Breeland or Greene.

hi Mike. i wanted to start with an obvious positive. i was impressed with the play of Kyler Fackrell. it looks like he has a positive career trajectory. what can he do to solidify his role with the Packers?

He just has to keep doing what he's doing. He's getting to the QB, but he's also doing better against the run and dropping into coverage. He's had a strong season and can keep improving on it over these last six weeks. Can't say enough about the strides he's made and the impact he's bringing to the defense.

Mike, you've been around the game for a long time. Do any of the coaches ask for your opinion when things aren't going well? I feel like they'd be wise to tap into someone that has such a depth of knowledge.

Ha. If any coaches start asking for my opinion, then I'll know the team is really in trouble.

Hey Mike, did you watch the game last night? Even with the incredible number of (questionable?) penalties and the high number of turnovers, there was a record setting number of points scored. It was a strange game to watch, honestly.

As much as the defenses got shredded, they also made a ton of big plays. Both defenses. That's the new NFL defense -- make a big play here or there. If you have that with an offense that can get rolling, you have a great chance to win any game.

Hey Mike, last night was truly a glimpse of the new NFL. Seems like the 2011-2012 Packers would have fit right in. Is this the type of football that the Packers want to play in 2018?

It's about doing what it takes to win. KC stresses every team to score as many points as possible, but the Chiefs' defense has proven vulnerable all season long. If the Chiefs turn the ball over in the playoffs, like the '11 Packers did, they will exit quickly.

Hi Spoff, Sunday's game has the feel of a playoff game, What do the Packers need to do to beat the Vikings (and please don't say score more points!)

They need to protect the ball and win the turnover battle. I've been looking at Minnesota's losses in their new stadium since it opened, and no opposing offense has gone in there and really lit it up. But if you protect the ball from the MN defense and take it away a couple of times, that's how you win there.

Who is the injured player whose absence will be felt the most?

I think the Packers are going to miss Daniels up front. I know he hasn't had as many flash plays this season as in years past, but he and Clark have been a really tough interior tandem, and he'll be difficult to replace. I like what I've seen at times from Lowry and Lancaster, and they have to take it up another notch now.

Mike, the Vikings went out and spent a ton of money in free agency & locking up existing players. Why hasn't that translated onto the field this year?

Because it's never that easy. The Vikings were a miracle play from bowing out at home in the divisional round, the Packers were 4-1 when Rodgers went down, and Keenum had an incredible year. There was a lot that went into their '17 season and repeating that level of success is incredibly difficult. That said, the Vikings are right in this and their defense is playing much better than it was earlier in the season.

Hey Mike! Happy Thanksgiving.. Having seen the Alex Smith injury gives me a dose of perspective. I wonder if he will ever play again? We are so blessed. We have a now healthy Aaron and a sluggers chance.

Happy Thanksgiving to you as well. The Smith injury is really unfortunate. Washington was right where it wanted to be, and now they have a short week and road trip to a division rival amidst the change. Tough deal. The hype train on Dallas will hit full speed if the Cowboys take care of business on Thursday.

Hi Mike ... Any big plans at the Spofford house for Thanksgiving? Special recipes? Odd traditions?

I'm buzzing over to my in-laws as soon as I get off work on Thursday. I know my mother-in-law will have way too much food available.

Hello Mike, Rodgers seems to look for a wide open receiver. Does he need to take more chances when it comes to wrs and/or look for the rb checkdown (As he seem to overlook a lot in critical moments)?

I'm not going to tell Aaron Rodgers how to play quarterback. I see a QB going through his progressions and trying to make plays. Missing receivers here and there, checkdowns or not, happens to them all. To me, something is just off about third downs. I saw an offense last Thursday that put itself in plenty of manageable third downs, but then there was no timing or rhythm to those plays. I don't know where the blame lies, but as with most things, I think it lies with many.

I'm worried about the O line. Ever since the Patriots game, it seems like teams are abusing our guards. How can that get fixed?

Block better, move the pocket, get the ball out. Everyone involved can do better, and if they're better for just a few plays each game, it could make a world of difference, because this past month they've been legitimately close every time.

It really feels like Rodgers could use a familiar face to find on scramble drills moving forward. The rookie WRs have been great, but it seems like getting Cobb back on the field could be just what the doctor ordered for the offense. What do you think?

It certainly wouldn't hurt, but Cobb also needs to be at full strength to help this offense. The rookie production is going to come and go. McCarthy said as much that the coverage on MVS has changed since he started making some big plays. Everyone has to adjust.

Hi Mike, as you and Wes are saying all the time; who is your guy to win the game against the Vikings?

Aaron Rodgers. He's due to have one of those lights-out, indoor games that silences a road crowd. No better time than Sunday night against this MN defense.

Hey who looks better? Saints or Rams?

I still like the Saints. Their defense has been more consistent, and Brees has been there, done that in the postseason. If New Orleans gets home field in the playoffs, it's going to be even tougher for anyone to beat them.

What kind of schedule is the team on this week? Do they get an extra day off to travel for Thanksgiving, or is it business as usual, just with more turkey in the team cafeteria?

The schedule is adjusted with an earlier Thursday practice, and some of the Thursday meetings moved around to other days, so everyone can get out early and enjoy the rest of the holiday.

As crazy and exciting as last night's game was, I just personally don't like that kind of football. What teams would you say are the most balanced this season? It seems Bears and Saints are the real powerhouses when you look at all phases.

I'm not crazy about track-meet football either, but anything else last night would have been a surprise with those two teams. The Bears' defense is legit, but Trubisky has to protect the ball better. If he cuts down on the turnovers, the Bears will become that much tougher.

Mike, what's your greatest athletic accomplishment? I sense that you have some ability and really got it done in your youth.

I once robbed a home run by crashing into the CF fence in a Little League playoff game as an 8th grader. Trust me, if there had been camera phones and the internet, it would have gone viral.

As of now the Packers are out of the playoff picture. I have to think if Aaron Jones becomes a 1,200 yard rusher and Adams' becomes a 1,300 receiver the playoffs are a maybe. Your thoughts!

The Packers are going to get the ball to those two guys, but defenses are going to make that difficult at certain junctures, too. It's on everybody else to make a play when needed. When that happens -- Tonyan, MVS, EQ -- the Packers have put themselves in position to win games, but it's on everyone to make the plays at crunch time, too.

Hey Mike, I know you mentioned last week or so how the TV networks aren't broadcasting strictly NFC (Fox) or AFC (CBS) games on certain weekends. As I recall, the Fox contract with the NFL was for more money than the CBS contract. Is the NFL giving refunds or requesting additional funds, respectively?

I don't know the ins and outs of the dollars. The league just wants the flexibility to get better matchups more exposure and not be locked into the old conference-network arrangement.

what do you think on the cancellation of the game at Mexico City?

The league obviously did the right thing. They'll certainly try to make measures to assure they're never in that position again.

I think Rams and Saints are clearly the best NFC teams. Chiefs have an explosive offense, and Patriots still have BB and TB. But are there any other AFC teams you think are a clear cut above the rest?

I just never count out the Steelers when Big Ben and AB are healthy, and when they can run the ball, which they can with Conner. Their defense always seems to keep them in the game, and Ben can come through in the clutch no matter how a given game has gone, just like last week.

Mike, last nights game broke the 35 year record that the Packers and Washington set back in October 1983 for highest scoring game in Monday Night Football history. I'm guessing last nights game doesn't hold that record for anywhere near that long. Props to Dickey, Coffman, Lofton, Jefferson and Ellis for one of the most exciting games ever!

That game was two days after my 11th birthday, but I still had to go to bed at halftime. said this stretch of games would show the character of the team. I think the team has demonstrated great character in hanging in with some great teams. I also think the Packers are a team in development...not from scratch...but developing new young and emerging talent mixed with some veterans. This has been a learning year similar to 2009. We will see the fruits of their development and the inclusion of more talent next year. I urge patience for everyone.

I think there's some truth to that, but with so many opportunities right there, all it could take is making the most of one and this team could take off. That said, they have to win one first. The real reason they're in this predicament is the first two road trips of the year to Washington and Detroit. Those opponents and venues, in my view, aren't as difficult as what the Packers have dealt with lately, but they got off to terrible starts in those games and couldn't recover.

Obviously the season is far from over and we don't know where everyone is going to finish, but isn't it interesting that, if the rumors are true, the Raiders chose to trade Mack to the Bears over the Packers because they figured they would get a better pick out of it... Looks like they could get the short end of the stick on that one.

Yes, they could, and the Packers were hoping for a better first-round pick from the Saints after Week 1. Just goes to show you never really know in this league.

Do the coaches see replays anywhere other than on the big score boards? If not, then the home team is controlling what they see, and that is not fair.

The coaches up in the booth can view the TV feed, but if the network doesn't show the definitive replay soon enough, you might not have the information needed to challenge.

What do you think of new MNF broadcasting crew?

I rarely listen to the announcers when I watch a game at home. If I have the sound on, it's just to hear the refs explain penalties and reviews. I tune out everything else.

Did I see a challenge last night of a penalty call? It was an interference call in the end zone that was reversed because the ball was tipped.

That's the only aspect of pass interference that's reviewable, because whether or not the ball is tipped -- which nullifies DPI -- is not a judgment call. It can be conclusively determined by the video.

This sure feels like the 4-6 season where we needed to go in to Philly in prime time to start a run. If we somehow can beat the Vikes at home Sunday night, the schedule isn't all that crazy to run the table the rest of the year.

To be honest, this doesn't feel like 4-6 in 2016 to me, because the Packers were kind of getting their tails kicked that year, and the defense was really struggling, before they went on a run. This year, they've been much closer to victories and I think the defense is playing better. The other side of it is there are more young players being counted on offensively than back then. I don't know. All I do know is one win can change the outlook. It doesn't mean the Packers can or will run the table, but it does mean you get back to .500 with two home games -- where you haven't lost all year -- and a chance to get back in it.

What's your favorite thing to eat at Thanksgiving? Gobble, gobble!

Green bean casserole is my favorite side dish, and I read the inventor of it died recently, so I must pay homage on Thursday. Otherwise, pie. Doesn't matter what kind. Just pie, any pie. With that, I'm going to sign off and wish everyone a Happy Thanksgiving. Enjoy the holiday, and talk to you again next week. Best, Mike.

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