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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What's the key matchup vs. the Lions?

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

Lions TE T.J. Hockenson
Lions TE T.J. Hockenson

Hey everybody, sorry I'm a few minutes late. Let's get started.

What matchups on offense do you see as favorable matchups for the Packers offense on Monday?

I think the Packers have plenty of favorable matchups against Detroit's defense, which isn't off to a very good start this season. I think this game will come down to how the Packers' defense contains Stafford more than anything.

Loved the Jimmy Graham blocking last week! I hope that Jimmy, MVS, and GMO can catch more passes if Davante is still our this week! Do you think that they can?!?!

Sure they can. They're all capable. The more effective Aaron Jones is running the ball, the more it can open up throwing lanes to all those guys you mentioned.

In your WYMM segment I was impressed not only with the downfield blocking by our guards, but with how fast those big bodies got downfield. Is our offensive line really faster than other most or is this something else that I might have missed?

They can get to the second level pretty quickly, which you need to do in this scheme. There are times they don't get there fast enough, either, because these defenders aren't slow. But when the guards don't have to start on a double-team and can get a clean look at a linebacker, they can be effective and they were against Dallas.

Is eliminating the big plays worth it if it is at the expense of lower turnovers created?

I personally think so as long as you're still winning the turnover battle overall. You don't have to win the turnover battle by a margin like 3-0 every week, but you do if you're going to hemorrhage big plays too often.

Hello mike, I thought it was a great win sunday. My question is. Do you think we are going to struggle if Marquez and Rodgers dont get on the same page. Once Adam's is back. Other teams are going to double on Adam's once again leaving Gmo, Valdez, jimmy to step up. Rodger does not look comfortable throwing the ball to any receiver besides Adam's. Thanks and keep up the work..

I wouldn't say that. I think the timing with MVS is there on some plays, not on others. Rodgers didn't get to where he was with Nelson, and is with Adams now, in their second seasons. It takes time. If Adams is going to get doubled when he comes back, that's also another defender who's not concentrating on Jones.

During the first quarter Sunday, I actually thought to myself, "There's one thing, Mr. Spofford, I did not miss" after witnessing a couple stellar blocks by our TEs, especially Mr. Graham. In your opinion, does he deserve the bad blocking rap he's gotten, has he improved or just sometimes he wins, sometimes he don't?

Everybody remembers when Graham gets beat, like the sack he allowed to Hunter against Minnesota in Week 2. But if you go back to my WYMM from that week, he actually threw some good blocks on Everson Griffen in that game when called upon. You're not going to live every play with Graham blocking a starting defensive end, but he's not getting beat every time he's asked to do it, either. And when his assignment is a second-level player, he's usually pretty effective.

Will there be an injury report even if they don't practice today?

No, we have to wait until tomorrow.

So running the ball was supposed to be inefficient and a slow way to get to miami. matt breida sure didn't take long... maybe san fran has a hyperloop?

Those Niners are really playing good football. Interesting that at 4-0 they're playing the 3-2 Rams this week, with LA having lost two straight I believe. They have a chance to put the defending NFC champs at 3-3, while the Rams can show it's going to be a long, drawn-out fight in that division. Should be interesting.

Do you know how many snaps Oren Burks played against Dallas? I think he's going to be important to help cover Lions' newly acquired TJ Hockenson

He played around a dozen snaps or so. I'm interested to see how the Packers want to match up with Hockenson. Pettine has generally not assigned one player to a tight end but mixed and matched with different players.

I haven't seen much discussed about the mistaken "direct snaps" to Jones. How does that even happen, and moreover how was Jones able to make positive yards out of a blown play?

I've written about it plenty on the site in my stories the last two days about the O-line and Patrick. It looked like on those two plays, Patrick was trying to reach a guy to his left and his timing was off so the snap wasn't straight. It doesn't strike me as something difficult to fix. It was his first career regular-season game playing the position.

Mike, if there's one stat that tells the tale of the Packers this year, for me, it's turnover differential. Same for this game, protect the ball, and take the ball away. I like Green Bay's chances

We all know Rodgers is going to protect the ball. The only reason the Vikings game was close was the fumble by Allison and the bad snap by Linsley. If everyone else protects it, too, like they did at Dallas, it sets the team up well the way the defense is causing problems for opponents. Not getting any turnovers against Philly was obviously a factor in the loss, but the Packers still were right there.

If A. Jones had two more games with 4 TDs each, will he be considered as a candidate MVP for this year, or is that just for QBs only?

Two more four-TD games is no easy task. Let's see where this goes before we enter that discussion.

I haven't seen any Lions games this season. Other than MD on the d-line, what other off-season changes are noteworthy?

From what I've seen, they look like a team much more comfortable in Patricia's second season. They brought in Kerryon Johnson last year to give them a running game, and he's doing that. Golladay is a young receiver who's a legit deep threat, and he keeps getting better. They have a veteran QB running the show. Darius Slay is one of the game's best at corner. It looks like there's a lot of buy-in to the type of team Patricia wants.

Last year I believe week 5 Darius slay had trouble against Adams. If Adams is available this week should Aaron go back to that matchup and target Adams?

Rodgers is going to look for Adams no matter who the matchup is if Adams is healthy enough to play.

Do you think the players are extra motivated because of the embarrassing losses of last year?

Not really. I expect them to be motivated because they have a chance to get to 3-0 in the division, and you have to win your division games at home. These are the games that can swing races if you don't hold serve. GB's win at Chicago in Week 1 is the difference in the division right now.

Which DB's do you see having the flexibility to function across corner, nickel and safety roles? Having such flexibility among the secondary group seems critical, especially considering the current health of the unit. Thanks!

Tramon Williams can do it, and so can Will Redmond and Chandon Sullivan if called upon. Savage has some cover skills as a nickel guy as well.

Are you surprised of how good Jenkins has performed?

Not at all. The Packers drafted him 44th overall for a reason. Nearly two decades ago they drafted another offensive lineman 44th overall. Chad Clifton. He was pretty good, too.

So far the pass rush has been well above anyone's expectations. Now they're facing a less than mobile QB. Is this week we see a huge sack number?

Stafford has been sacked only seven times through four games. They're protecting him well. Getting to him isn't a given.

When do you think the National media will start showing the packers some well deserved respect. 4 / 1 is a great start yet they focus on the one loss to Philadelphia. It's irritating because it seems like it's always been like that.

Sorry, but I couldn't care less about the "respect" thing nationally or otherwise. You are what your record says you are, and if you have one of those strong records when it's all said and done, they'll be talking about you plenty.

The Lions beat a common opponent, the Eagles earlier this year. Most notable is how the Lions contained the running game in a way we could not. Was that a product of Detroit's DLine or some other combination?

The difference in that game was the Lions getting a 100-yard kickoff return for a touchdown, and the Eagles' receivers dropping a bunch of passes, including a huge one at the end of the game. The Packers have struggled with their kickoff coverage this year. Detroit is going to try to break another one and test the unit.

any word on Jamaal Williams? I thought he might be back already

We will see on all the injured guys at practice tomorrow. The first practice this week is not until Thursday because of the Monday night game.

Mike, thanks again for chatting with us. Do you want to take a stab at who you think will have the first pick six this season? I know you and Wes don't like to make these kinds of predictions but I feel like it's coming sooner rather than later

The natural choice is Alexander, but the outside-the-box one is Preston Smith. I could see him making the type of play like Julius Peppers did back in '14.

Josh Jackson notably came on in the 2nd half of last week's game and seemed to take the role covering TE Jason Witten. With us facing TJ Hockenson this week should we expect to see Jackson resuming that role? It seems tailored for his skill set plus playing an ex-teammate could give him and edge.

Interesting thought. Certainly wouldn't rule it out. The overall health of the secondary come Monday will likely play into those decisions.

We know it's a game of inches and "if ands or buts were candy and nuts..." yet I couldn't help but wonder during the game what if Dac's pass to Cooper is where it should have been on their first drive and goes for a TD? What will it take for GB's defense to out play an offense, not just out big play them, or does it even really matter?

The game is geared toward offense. Offenses are going to make their plays. If you can take the ball away a few times and not allow too many huge explosive plays, you've got a chance. Make a team work for it and it's likely to make a mistake somewhere along the way. Let them score quickly and easily and life gets difficult.

Last week I kept hearing that with Adams out we didn't have our best player on the field. As far as I'm concerned, we DID - Aaron Rodgers is so much better than anyone else he still tilts the field.

The best player on the field in Dallas was Aaron Jones, but there was a huge difference at QB, and I'm not talking about the 200 yards of difference. Rodgers threw nothing close to an interception, while Prescott threw three and the Packers could have had two more.

When E Jenkins was drafted the thought was that he would eventually move to center. With him playing as well as he is at guard and Linsley still young is there more consideration to letting Jenkins stay at guard?

I don't know where you got the center idea. I know he played there in college, but the Packers drafted him to play guard, and that's where he's going to play. I think for a long time.

Several weeks ago I mentioned to you that I thought the culture and team chemistry was different this year...seems 12 agrees with me. I see something special

So far, so good. As I mentioned in Inbox, the Packers responded well to the loss to the Eagles. There will be more responses needed. That's when you really find out what kind of culture and chemistry you have.

I saw that we had a bunch of tryout players come in this week.... is that something that happens all year long or is there a deadline coming soon?

Happens pretty much every week. They're always bringing in guys for workouts.

Would you hold for a minute? I have to go microwave my lunch :) j/k What's your WPM? You seem to get the ball, er, words out of your hand pretty quickly!

I haven't been tested since high school, but I think I can type pretty fast.

I love the energy in the defense. But hands to the face penalties concern me, especially when they negate turnovers. Are they a function of fast, aggressive play or can that be brought into check?

Sometimes when the pass rushers throw their punch to separate, the hand can hit a little too high on the chest and slip up to the face. It happens. Just have to improve the aiming point with the initial punch.

Did Kevin King ever come back after his interception? Looked like he banged up his knee after.

It looked like he took a helmet to the knee when he was tackled on the INT return.

With the game on MNF this week, what are your plans for Sunday? Any games got your interest?

Philly at Minnesota and, as I mentioned before, San Fran at the Rams.

Most notable in the Raiders upset of the Bears last week was how the Raiders ran the ball dominantly against the Bears highly regarded defense. It was really similar to how the Eagles dominated the line with All-Pro OL talent just pushing back the DL. Are we seeing a resurgence of OL play and controlling the LOS now that defenses are all adopting a stop the spread focus?

It's a week-to-week league. Teams aren't going to run like that on the Bears all year, just like teams aren't going to be able to go 97 yards against that Chicago defense to win a game in the fourth quarter. But it happens sometimes. No one plays fully consistent football for 16 games in this league. The season is too long.

Mike. Everyone is all high on alexander. He got burnt continually in the Dallas game but as soon as he comes close to making a play he has to "hotdog" all over the field. I wish he would just shut up and play

You can't change what makes a guy tick. If he's forgetting about the plays he got beat on, that's a good thing. It's how you survive the gig.

So the Lions had the bye and they get an extra day for the Monday night game. Do you think that getting both of those benefits in one week delivers sort of diminishing returns? In other words, team health notwithstanding, is coming off a bye and getting the extra day for a Monday game less valuable than having both of those things happen at different times during the season?

Yeah, I don't get that either, the league scheduling a team to play on a Monday after a bye week. That's happened to the Packers a couple of times over the years, too. I don't understand it.

How much improvement could we reasonably expect our young receivers to make from now until the end of the season?

Plenty. I think there's a lot of room for MVS to grow in this offense, and he's just getting started. Shepherd intrigues me, too. Allison just has to settle down and make catches. His hands have let him down at times. He's better than he's shown so far this season.

What do you think is the reason the Packers involved Aaron Jones so much this past week as opposed to the previous week?

Because the run was working. The Packers had no success running the ball against Philly. Dallas was a different story.

I suppose with all your responsibilities before the game you don't get to tailgate very often. But if or when you do, what's your favorite tailgate food?

Brats, without question. I tailgate when I go to baseball games all the time.

Mike, The in game blog doesn't fir properly across phone screen. (Samsung Android). Am I the only one? Are you aware of this?

I am not but I'll mention it to someone who knows more about that kind of stuff than I do.

Do you think a running into the kicker penalty should be able to be applied to the end of a kick return?

Yeah, I think that would make sense. Give the offended team an option.

Speaking of Jaire Alexander, what happened Sunday? Is Amari Cooper just that much better, or was it just a rough day at the office? Are we going to see him struggle against top WRs?

Again, I take everything week-to-week. It looked to me early on Alexander was over-aggressive against Cooper and it cost him. Then once Cooper got the upper hand on the day, it was hard for Alexander to rein him back in. I'm guessing the young, talented corner learned something that will help him moving forward.

if Mason were to have gotten injured after that hit he made last week do we have anyone who can take kickoffs and place-kicks as a backup?

I'm pretty sure it would be JK Scott.

First home game in the 40's Monday night. Does that favor the Pack?

I don't see temps in the 40s favoring anybody.

All right, I've gotta run. Thanks for the participation everybody and we'll talk again next week. Take care, Mike

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