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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What is known about the Packers through two games?

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

TE Robert Tonyan celebrates with teammates after touchdown
TE Robert Tonyan celebrates with teammates after touchdown

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on. Hope all is well. Go ahead and start sending in questions and I'll get started shortly.

What scares you about San Fran?

I wouldn't say anything scares me, but I think the Packers are going to have their hands full with George Kittle more than anyone else. He's just a tough matchup, and tight ends have been productive against the Packers through two games, so Jimmy G will be looking to Kittle plenty. San Fran's defense is also pretty good. Other than the last 5 minutes vs. Detroit, they've played really well.

The 49ers' offense seems to be characterized as a sophisticated scheme that can distract defenses and be productive with just about anybody at RB. Is that fair? And what are the keys to stopping it?

There is a lot of distraction and misdirection, which means it takes discipline on the part of defenders to stick with their keys and execute assignments. But also don't slow down, don't hesitate. They try to get you to react to the wrong thing, so you have to make sure you're reacting to the right thing and doing so at full speed.

Hello Mike,

Is Coach Smith OK after his exuberant sideline contact with Eric Stokes? I believe it was Coach Smith.

Yes, it was Mike Smith. He of the chipped tooth and broken wrist from offseason home improvement projects. He's speaking with the media tomorrow afternoon so we'll find out if he's all right. I suspect he is and we'll all have a good laugh.

Thought Elgton Jenkins played great week and poorly week two. Is this a case of facing a better (quicker) player or has the defense seen something they can exploit?

I don't know if I'd say Jenkins played poorly. Got called for holding, which you don't see often. But he'll be fine. Just because he can play left tackle doesn't mean he's going to be an All-Pro out there. What he's doing is still rather remarkable.

Given the talent limitations on the Dline and inside LB, how can the Packer defense realistically compete against top offenses on the upcoming schedule, in particular, stopping the run and ceding ball control to the other team seem to be huge challenges with this group.

I'm not making any grand pronouncements after two games. The Packers have plenty to work on defensively, but guys also have to play better, as they've shown previously. I think Dean Lowry and Kingsley Keke can play better than they've shown this year. Maybe Slaton plays more up front. De'Vondre Campbell had a really good game against Detroit and Krys Barnes is still a young, rising player. The pass rush can't all fall on Preston Smith, Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark, though. The other edge guys, Jonathan Garvin and Chauncey Rivers, have to contribute, which they did Monday in spots.

Let's take a second to talk about Dean Lowry. The comments section continue to rip this guy but coaches say he does the dirty work. From what I see he may not make the splash plays but does seem to eat up or at least occupy two offensive linemen per play. I'd say that's doing his job.

No one expects superhuman achievements against double-teams. You just have to deal with those. I think Lowry would tell you when he gets one-on-one chances, he needs to win more of them. He was starting to late last year.

Nick Bosa vs Elton Jenkins....I cant wait

Should be fun to watch.

Liked Eric Stokes on the outside against the Lions and thought he was an upgrade over Kevin King. King seemed OK in the slot but that may have been the result of who he was facing. I think SF has the receivers to take advantage if he plays the slot this week. Is their a better option on where to play King?

That's going to be an interesting call for the coaching staff. There are certain matchups in the slot that won't suit King at all, so then the question becomes with only two corners on the field, will Stokes play over King? When it's three and the slot matchup is not good for King, does Jaire Alexander take the slot, or does Chandon Sullivan and then either Stokes or King sits? Stay tuned I guess.

What did you notice the Packers defense doing differently in the second half?

The rush/coverage combinations were different. If they didn't send extra rushers, they played zone behind it to hold up longer in coverage. If they sent an extra guy, they played man and sped up the QB's clock. They also moved Clark over the nose to get more interior pressure.

Who is the 'Tom' that Aaron Rodgers constantly refers to or looks over at during his press conferences? Rodgers puts him on the spot a lot...LOL.

Yeah, that's an ongoing thing of his. It's Tom Fanning, assistant director of communications who handles Rodgers' media obligations. He actually was my writing partner for for a few years (2008-10) before moving full-time into a team communications role.

Curious of how Josiah Deguara's health looks for this week, how does his injury affect what ML wants to do on offense?

We'll see where he is in the concussion protocol as the week progresses. Right now, Dominique Dafney is doing a lot of FB stuff and handling other alignments that Deguara might if he were available. Deguara has more speed as a downfield passing threat, though, so it adds another wrinkle when he's in there.

How's your fantasy team doing Mike?

I don't have one. Haven't had one for more than 20 years.

When is the last time we had a return as long as Kylin Hill's?

On a kickoff, I think it was Tyler Ervin back in Dec. of 2019, pretty much when he first got here.

It seems the best defenses figure out who and what to take away from the opponents offense every week. The first two games it didn't look like the Packers D had a plan of what they wanted to take away going into either game

I think Barry was counting on the run defense to be better in the early stages of the game, and when it wasn't, it created all sorts of play-action opportunities for Goff. When he went play-action, he had a ton of time in the pocket because the guys up front had to play run first, and they weren't transitioning well to pass rush after the fake.

What are your biggest takeaways from the guard battle through two weeks and how do you see it playing out moving forward with Lucas Patrick coming back?

I didn't have time to watch the offensive film start to finish so I don't really have a read on how Jon Runyan performed. But that job is definitely in play on a regular basis. If the coaches really liked how Runyan played, I could see him taking that spot. If not, they'll probably go with the more experienced Patrick when he's healthy enough to get the practice reps during the week (which last week he wasn't).

I love listening to Wayne and the Rock call the Packer games on radio. The Manning brothers (Peyton & Eli) however, have changed the way I'll watch Monday night football. They are fun, honest, and refreshing! I love it, as they give great insights into the preparation and thinking that's going on inside an NFL quarterback's head as he processes the game!

I missed the Mannings in Week 1, and obviously two nights ago as well. I am definitely tuning in next Monday.

Did Matt Lafleur Have To Nudge Joe Barry Into More Blitzing In The Second Half Of The Lions Game?

I think they discussed if they're going to rush 5, don't make it a straight 5-man rush, but do something creative with how the fifth guy is coming. And when it's a straight 4, play zone behind it. I didn't see any snaps where they blitzed in a way that threw the kitchen sink at the QB.

Will the Packers look to put Sternberger on the Practice Squad?

Perhaps, but he may look for another opportunity elsewhere, too, given how deep GB's TE room is.

When does the team announce which practice squad players get elevated to the active roster for the game?

Usually the day before the game, but if it's a night game, they can do it the day of.

Does it come down to pad level on the D line?

Sometimes, sure. Other times it's just getting off blocks. Their job is to block you. Your job is to not stay blocked.

If Kylin Hill continues to impress on KO returns - do you think there's a chance we will use him as a punt returner, also? I know Amari Rodgers has more experience but we might want to ride the hot hand

Two very different jobs, so I don't know. I think they'll still want to use Amari's skills there, but he'll learn from that first one Monday night that he has to get up the field in this league. He can't run laterally.

we talked about it so much through training camp, so 2 games in how would you grade special teams performance so far this year?

Up and down, but plenty of promising signs. Corey Bojorquez showed he has a big leg and can kick directionally, too, which is important. I think Rodgers will get better on punt returns. The coverage units have allowed a little too much, but no major breakdowns.

Did you happen to see the Europe Ryder Cup team arriving on the first tee for their morning practice? They wore Packer colors and cheeseheads! They then tossed the cheeseheads into the crowd - very cool!!

I did not see that, but I don't know if that's going to get many of the locals to cheer for them over the American team, if that's what they're after.

View some of the best photos from the Monday Night Football matchup between the Green Bay Packers vs. Detroit Lions at Lambeau Field on Sept. 20, 2021.