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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What's next for the Packers?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered questions from fans Tuesday


Hey everybody. Thanks for logging on. Here we go.

Hey Mike, what, if anything, do you expect to see changing in the offense these past 4 games? Do you sense a greater sense of urgency among the players, especially the younger ones?

Everyone without a secure contract is playing to state their case to be part of the future of the team. That goes for young players and veterans in some cases. The NFL is as competitive a business as it gets, and that won't be lost on the players over this final month.

Hey Mike . . . Just hear me out . . . Vikings lose 3 of 4 (Seattle, Detroit, Chicago), Panthers lose 2 (Saints twice), Eagles lose 2 (Rams, Cowboys), and Packers win out, they are in as the 6th seed! (Bucs and 'Skins are still alive but neither will win out). It could be a Festivus Miracle . . . I'll get the pole from the crawlspace!

I'm not going to hold my breath, but just think how much different all that would sound if you take away one needed loss from every opponent, which would be the case had the Packers just beaten the Cardinals. I'm not saying the Packers were suddenly going to morph into a playoff team, but December football is just more fun when the scenarios are realistic.

What is the atmosphere like at work Mike?

Different, but everyone understands it's a business and it's how this league is sometimes. It just hasn't happened for a long time around here, and most employees in the building, including me, have only known McCarthy as the head coach, though I covered other coaches at other media jobs. By the time Sunday rolls around and the next game kicks off, everything will feel pretty much back to normal, really.

Does Philbin have a chance to return as the OC if he is not chosen as the next head coach?

That would almost certainly be up to the next head coach.

Mike, I understand that the NFL is a business, but I remember feeling the same way about how Tony Dungy was let go here in Tampa bay. Why is it necessary to do this in the season?

It's best for both sides this way. Why subject McCarthy to a miserable month of speculation about his future? Why subject the organization to that? I think it was more respectful to do it this way, though I've heard many disagree. In all honesty, I hope McCarthy gets to enjoy Christmas with his family, which I think would have been difficult otherwise, and he gets to take a break and reset to plan out his next move. I have no doubt he'll be strongly considered for any open jobs, and he can go to those interviews without having just come off finishing out the string in the circumstances I just mentioned.

HI Mike, will the run and pass game coordinators likely take on some of Philibin's OC duties these last 4 weeks ? What are their names ?

Philbin didn't make clear how his duties are being divided up, but James Campen has been the run-game coordinator this year and Jim Hostler is pass-game coordinator.

Hey Mike...thanks for the chat. How to you foresee Coach McCarthy being viewed after the dust has settled and fans crawl off the ledge.

I hope his tenure is viewed fondly and given due respect. The man won a ton of games here, experienced a lot of success, some thrilling, unforgettable moments, and he represented the Packers in a first-class way no matter the circumstances.

There are rumors that Josh McDaniels is a favorite to be in the running for the Packers next head coach. After the debacle with the Colts last year, do you think the organization should be hesitant in some one like that?

I have no idea if the Packers will be interested in McDaniels, but anyone who is simply needs to get to the bottom of what happened there. When you know all the facts you can make the proper judgment. I don't pretend to know all the facts there.

All the other coaches are in their same positions (except Philbin taking over as HC) right? The players should still have most of the same people around them. I wouldn't expect any drastic changes until a permanent coach is hired.

I would agree.

Hi Mike. Do you think that was the worst loss in your tenure with the Packers?

It ranks up there. The midseason loss to the winless Buccaneers in '09 will always be the other one that comes to mind, in terms of a game I covered. But the Packers had plenty of time to rebounds and went 7-1 the rest of that season to make the playoffs. This one came in a down season that simply reached rock bottom.

Mike, are coaching interviews done at 1265 Lombardi, or do they choose secret locations to keep things under wraps ? Or in today's world have they given up on keeping secrets in our 24/7 twitter world. ?

I don't know how the Packers are going to conduct their search or how forthcoming the decision-makers are going to be about who their interviewees are. That's up to Murphy and Gutekunst.

What are the rules on when the Packers can talk with candidates? College coaches? Other current NFL coaches?

They can talk to college coaches anytime now, because their regular season is over. My understanding is they can't talk to any NFL coaches until the regular season concludes, and then there are windows made available to reach out to playoff teams. I'll have to check on all those parameters.

Can you please share your favourite McCarthy game? For me, it has to be 2007 Seattle or 2013 Dallas.

Wow, that's tough. A ton of special moments. In the regular season, 2013 Chicago is right up there. 2007 Denver too. In the playoffs, 2010 Atlanta, 2016 Dallas.

Hey Mike, first of all, do you expect the play calling on offense to alter next week against the Falcons? If so, what might you anticipate?

Based on what Philbin said on Monday, he's going to try to get the players to have a handful of concepts they can rely on in go-to moments, the hang-your-hat-on calls, so to speak. I think that's a reflection of trying to fix the third-down issues. Not that the approach wasn't tried before, but maybe simplifying things even more? Just speculating.

Will Mike McCarthy address the media in the near future? Anything planned you're aware of.

That would be highly unusual and not something I'd expect. I think his next formal press conference will be when he's named the head coach of a new team, if he indeed desires to keep coaching.

As for the timing of this decision, Murphy mentioned that it had a lot to do with playing a bad game against a bad team bringing it over the edge. But it seems to me that the tipping point was the Packers now being effectively out of the playoffs. Had the Packers won this Sunday, do you think they were still ready to let Mike go immediately after whichever the next loss would have been this season?

Perhaps, or had the Packers stayed in the hunt for a couple more weeks, maybe that changes the timing. But it doesn't matter now.

I really see Zac Taylor being a dark horse for the head coach job,rams Qb coach and highly though of under Sean mcvay,your thoughts?

He's one of many names being thrown out there. I don't know much about him, but a lot of teams, maybe the Packers, will be looking for the next McVay. I don't know that working for him means he's it, or doesn't, but he's a guy who will likely get his chance to interview somewhere and state his case.

Do you know what an interview with a coaching candidate would look like? Reviewing film, discussing concepts, especially those who do not have any experience in the NFL?

In a general sense it's about laying out your vision for the team and the culture you want to instill in the locker room and throughout the building. It's about presenting a big-picture view, and how you're going to accomplish it.

Was it surprising that the organization promoted Philbin to interim head coach instead of Pettine? They both have HC experience, why do you think they went with Philbin instead?

Murphy made it pretty clear it was Philbin's previous experience in Green Bay with some really good teams. It was nothing against Pettine, but he's only been here for one year. Philbin actually came to GB before McCarthy became the head coach.

What do you think about these young head coaches having an impact and now they are the prototypical head coach profile. Is there really enough proof that this is the way the NFL is heading?

I don't know if there's really a trend around the league. For every Sean McVay, there's an Andy Reid who goes to a new place and finds success again. There's no one single way to do this.

After Mark Murphy met with Coach McCarthy to tell him the news, do you know how long he waited with the press release? Did he give him time to tell his wife and kids so they didn't find out another way?

The press release was posted on our website at 6 p.m. My understanding is the meeting took place shortly after McCarthy left the podium from his postgame press conference.

There have been numerous comments in the media about the offense being stale. Is it too late in the season for new ideas?

You can't rewrite an offense for the final month of a season. There's nowhere near enough practice time to revamp everything.

How hard will it be for Rodgers and Adams to remain on the same page in a new offense?

That's what the offseason and training camp are for. You don't necessarily lose chemistry because of a new scheme, because there are guaranteed to be some concepts that carry over.

I'm sure you weren't expecting to be answering Head Coach questions this week. Thanks for being patient and keeping us informed. It feels like there's a sense of excitement at a chance for new beginnings, but also a feeling of sadness almost like losing a close friend. It's going to be an interesting ride.

That's a pretty good summary. It's part of the business. I never thought after the team reached the NFC title game in '16 that the next two offseasons would be so tumultuous, so to speak, and full of change, but I've learned never to be too surprised about anything anymore.

Mike, will the Packers possibly draft a TE before a WR next year ? I have been hearing the Top tier tight ends are better next year and the receiver class is meh.

I haven't looked at any of that yet and won't until probably the combine, but developing a young TE aside from Tonyan almost certainly needs to be a priority given all the veterans will be another year older in 2019.

This team has won 4 games, and 2 of them were in dramatic fashion (Chicago & San Francisco). This team could just as easily be 2-10-1 if not for Rodgers heroics. This could be the first time since 2009 the Packers land a top 10 pick. Eventually, it catches up to you

It's the nature of the league. That's what makes 8 straight playoff appearances so impressive. Sure, everyone wanted another title from the McCarthy era, and we all know where and when the biggest missed opportunity was. But all you have to do is look at this week's opponent, Atlanta. Less than two calendar years ago they were winning a Super Bowl 28-3. Now they have no title and are 4-8. Ah, the NFL.

So Sunday...what's the biggest room for error against the Falcons? (Also, don't predict they're gonna win if they don't turn the ball over like you did last week in the inbox.)

In my defense, I said the Packers needed to jump on the Cardinals early and break their spirit, then don't turn it over. 0-0 after the first quarter and 10-7 at halftime was not what I had in mind. That said, if the Packers can get their secondary healthy and ready to go this week, I'm really interested to see how it matches up against Atlanta's offense. The Falcons have been decimated by injuries on defense, but on offense they still have Ryan, Jones, Sanu, Ridley, Coleman. This game could tell us a lot about where Green Bay's defense is, provided all the top cover guys (King, Breeland, etc.) are able to play.

With the team possibly having a top 10 pick as well as a late 20s to last pick in the first round, would those two picks be enough to move up into the top 5?

We'll have to see what the numbers are when the time comes, but I like the idea of taking two first-rounders, like the Packers did in '09 with Raji and Matthews (which required a trade on draft day). Those were two turnaround picks.

But just as this team could be 2-9-1, they also could easily be 9-3 or even better without much of a stretch. Ah, the NFL . . .

I'll always wonder -- the Matthews call vs. Minn, the crazy/questionable punt play at Detroit, the Kendricks drop in Washington, Montgomery fumble in LA, the Jones fumble in Foxboro ... but any team in the NFL can go through that kind of stuff every year. The best teams overcome their mistakes or the tough calls or whatever. When you don't, this is where you can end up.

Mark Murphy said that our team's play on Sunday made his decision..."easy" isn't the right word....I'll go with "clear". I doubt you and Wes have much time to "reflect" during a game, but I'm curious if your perception of the team shifted as much as Mr. Murphy's. I know I was anticipating much cleaner execution by a team that, historically, plays its best with everything on the line.

I'll just say this ... the second halves of the games in Seattle and Minnesota were not a good sign after what appeared to be a string of better play in the first three games after the bye. It felt like things were going the other direction again, and Sunday that feeling proved true.

Do you think Murphy will be adamant that Pettine stays as DC in interviews for head coaches ?

Adamant? No. Part of the discussions? Perhaps. But if the new guy has someone he absolutely wants, he'll make that clear, too.

All right, I think it's time for me to sign off. Thanks for all the questions, everybody. We'll talk again next week. Best, Mike

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