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

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

WR Amari Rodgers
WR Amari Rodgers

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

Comment on the submission regarding Walker's "Non-Successful Blitzes". Sure, no sack was made, but on a few of those it definitely disrupted TB's timing with his WRs and forced several incompletions. No positive yardage gained is still a plus. Wonder if that would continue with more success this week?

Hey, sacks are great -- loss of down and lost yardage is tough to beat. But defensive coaches always talk about "affecting the QB" with the pass rush, blitzing or not, because that's what it takes to win games. Some games with no sacks the QB is affected more than games he's sacked 3-4 times.

Padded practice today?

I don't know. I'll see when I get out there in a while.

Hi Mike. Before turning the page to New England, I had one last thought on Tampa. We all knew it would take the offense some time to hit its stride this year. I think that's why the win Sunday felt so good. Stacking a few wins during the "figure it out" process, especially one against a conference contender, is huge.

That's pretty much what my postgame editorial was about. Yeah, there's a ton to work on and figure out, but to be 2-1 during this process with two of the toughest road trips of the season out of the way is huge.

Mike, what do make of coach LaFleur's commenting on being 'outcoached' the second half of the Tampa Bay game, since nothing on offense was working well?

He was giving credit where it was due. I'm sure it's not a good feeling as a coach to know the counterpart is getting the best of you, but LaFleur was being honest about how frustrating it was. The Packers dominated the first 3 drives and made one mistake, which cost them. LaFleur never gives himself enough credit for stretches like that, but he's always looking at himself when things go wrong. It's all part of his culture of accountability.

I have to admit I really don't pay much attention to the Patriots anymore. What about them will be cause for concern?

They've moved the ball pretty well on offense but haven't gotten the point totals to correspond to that yardage production. It's hard to say where that goes now with Mac Jones out. Their defense has racked up a fair number of sacks, too.

Mike, I know it was tough sledding against the Bucs defense in the second half, and part of that probably is on the Packers offense. But jeez, do you think they will see a better defense in the NFC? I sure don't

The Niners and Eagles look pretty darn good defensively in the early-going this season, but I think that Bucs unit is better.

All wins look the same in the standings columns

Nobody's worried about style points when they're checking the standings in December. It won't be about how the game went, just that it was chalked up in the W column.

Haven't heard much about Dean L. Any news, or just Mr. quiet and consistent as usual?

The latter.

I am quite pleased with the improvements on we-fense. What's the next step there?

Bigger impact on field position for the offense, which we would have seen after the punt from the back of the end zone except for the questionable flag. Rodgers had returned that punt to the TB 32-yard line, meaning a net of only 30 on that punt. That would've been significant. The special teams are helping the defensive side with field position considerably already.

Any thoughts or updates on the status of Jaire Alexander? The secondary did fine at Tampa, but I think we all feel better with him on the field.

Haven't heard anything. We'll see what his practice participation is as the week goes along.

Mike, Sammy Watkins on IR already seems to be a continuation of his history. Should we tamp down any expectations that he is going to be a significant contributor this season?

It's unfortunate Watkins is on IR, but I still think he can be a factor for this offense for any games he's healthy. He's a veteran who picked things up quickly. When he's back from IR, I don't think it'll take much for him to ramp back up.

Has Yosh Nijman ever practiced at Left Guard or Jon Runyan at Right Guard? If David Bakhtiari can return to full health, it seems like the combination that gets the best five linemen on the field would be Bakh - Nijman - Josh Myers - Runyan - Elgton Jenkins.

I don't see Nijman playing guard. He's a tackle. Runyan switching sides could always be an option depending on how things unfold.

In response to Larry, I live in MA so I see them frequently for obvious reasons. As Mike said, they can get after the passer and they can pound the ball on offense with Stevenson and Harris. The OL and front 7 need to be ready for this one.

I think they'll really try to pound the ball to help out Hoyer or the rookie QB, whichever they go with. The Packers' run defense was pretty tough last week, but the Chicago game is on film and you know the Patriots are studying that.

And NE has always been known for great defense. Old adage of "run, stop run" works here. Do you think Belichick may stack the box against our AJs, or because he has such a respect for our 12 that he might be balanced?

Rodgers would love to get up under center and see a stacked box. I don't think you can defend this offense that way. It's on the Packers to stay balanced and make the Patriots defend everything.

Coach Bill likes to take away what we do best. What will he try and take away?

Bootleg action is a big part of this passing game. I'll be curious to see if Belichick wants to keep a defender home on the back side to limit the bootleg stuff. But the risk is if it's actually a handoff and not play-action, that backside guy not flowing with the run action is out of the play.

Hey Mike, there's been chatter that Romeo Doubs could be in line for a "WR1" role, do you think this week continues his ascension towards that role? Also, could we get you on our Friday night show sometime?

I don't get hung up on WR1 or whatever. That's for the coaches and play caller to decide. Doubs is giving the offense everything he has right now, and yes, I can see his role expanding. Make the plays that come to you, and more will come. That's all part of it. But he's still just a rookie. As for your show, let me know. Shoot me a DM on Twitter or something.

I imagine you are counting your blessings that the FLA hurricane didn't happen 3 days earlier.

I pray for those folks down there. This doesn't look good.

I've been hearing a lot of "the Packers were lucky" to win that game. Taking advantage of a slow start of a great defense isn't luck, it's smart. Seems like how most tough games are won to me.

Every team has its share of luck in winning a close game. That's how this league works. But the Packers weren't lucky the officials botched the punt call in the back of the end zone, and they weren't lucky nobody saw Kenny Clark getting tackled in the middle of the D-line on the TD pass with 14 seconds left. The list can go on and on for every game. You have to keep playing and finding a way to come out on top.

You and Wes portray yourselves as the insiders. How come you always seem to be the last to report team news like roster moves? Feels like you should be labeled as the outsiders.

Our website does not report any roster moves until they're official, as in, on the league transaction wire and the new player has passed his physical to complete the acquisition.

Keisean Nixon this years Rasul Douglas?

No need to go that far just yet. But Nixon certainly proved his value in two phases and has earned a lot of trust from the coaches. I can't imagine how exhausted he must've been after that game, playing 73 total snaps on D and ST in that heat. Mercy.

I'm curious on the WYMM play with all the boxes, circles, and triangles. It makes sense to me why the outside slot-corner would take the man in the backfield, but not so much why the outside corner wouldn't just take the outside man and the safety the inside man? How do they determine who has who with man coverage like that?

I'm not an X's and O's expert, but I don't think the assignments are pre-determined. It's based on how the routes develop, and they have rules for who must react to what. That's why "miscommunication" is a common reason given for coverage mixups, because guys either don't follow a rule or don't see the routes the same way as a teammate. The game they play at this level is not simple. When players are bunched and assignments are pre-determined, it's way too easy for rubs and picks to mess up the coverage and leave somebody wide open.

Much of the talk this week has been what happened to the GB offense after the first three drive. The Bucs D was exactly what I expected after that. The bigger question might be what happened to the Tampa defense in those first three GB drives?

That's the perspective on the other end, for sure, and what the Bucs were studying on Monday. The Packers were a yard from 21 points, or 17 at minimum without the fumble. That was two good teams getting the better of one another, back and forth. It's what made it a great game in my view.

Mike, is there any expectation Bakhtiari will continue to play on a rotational basis this Sunday? Or can we expect to see him at left tackle the whole game now that he's more ramped up.

I don't know the plan going forward. I'm sure LaFleur will be asked about it in roughly a half hour. Stay tuned.

Nothing better than an October football game on a Sunday afternoon in Green Bay, Wisconsin.

It sounds like the weather will be great on Sunday around here, for the tailgating and the game.

How has Samori Toure performed in practice? I was a bit surprised he wasn't active last week with Watson and Watkins out.

We don't get to see any 11-on-11 in practice during the regular season, so I have no idea how he's doing.

Will the jet sweep help the running game? Why didn't the Packers do any last Sunday?

They hadn't used much jet motion in previous matchups with Tampa, so I don't know if they were just continuing in that vein, or if Watson's absence took that out of the game plan.

Being from Central FL and growing up through several of the awful hurricanes in the early 00's, yes, this is going to be bad. I have a lot of family/friends that are stubborn FLs and haven't evacuated. Prayers are important and appreciated.

Please be safe, to all that are anywhere near that thing.

Jake Hanson seemed to do ok when he filled in for Josh Myers. Will he have to play some while Myers recovers?

Myers was just having cramps in the heat from what I understand. I don't believe it's an injury situation that'll carry over to this week.

I'd be surprised to ever see a Rasul Douglas story happen again.

With the practice squad rules being so different now, I actually believe it will happen again. Veteran players that didn't have a chance to hang around because they had to be on a 53 or were out of a job have so much more opportunity to continue developing their games now.

As someone making the trip for the game on Sunday, what's the best chance for a Spoff or Wes sighting?

I have a long walk from where I park my car to where I enter the stadium, so you might see me strolling through the parking lot about 3 hours before kickoff. Once I get up to the press box, I'm there for the duration.

Mike, can you tell Matt to play Douglas on the outside and not in the slot? I think he's at his best at outside.

As I mentioned in Inbox this morning, we'll see what develops there. Alexander's injury will factor into how that group moves forward.

So essentially its a zone that morphs to man once the DBs read the WRs breaks? Pretty cool!

That's my best guess. Because the way it unfolded, you're not pre-determining that a CB (Stokes) is taking the TE (Brate) or that a safety (Savage) is one-on-one with a WR (Gage).

Marcedes Lewis is a very good blocker at his age.

You can remove the "at his age" part.

Mike, you know MLF isn't going to answer directly "Yes, he'll be the LT for Sunday." one way or another.

I wouldn't expect that either, but sometimes he surprises us.

I doubt Gutey would be tempted, but would other GM's be calling him after their OT is injured ?

I would imagine they'll inquire, but if I'm Gutey, there's no way I'm trading any of my offensive tackles.

I get the team value of having a Marcedes Lewis, but because he's rarely used in the passing game, isn't it a running play tip-off to the defense almost every time he's out there?

Not necessarily. He's used in pass protection plenty, too. Last year we saw that when a pass play was called for him to leak out to make a catch, he was usually wide open. We just haven't seen it yet this year, but I bet it's coming at some point.

When does the team leave for London? I hope they don't have their bags packed before they play the game on Sunday. I am a little worried about a trap game.

My understanding is the team is not leaving until after Thursday's practice next week.

Mike...Do you and Wes still do the pregame preview from the field? I remember you doing them pre-Covid. Thanks!!

No, we now do our live preview in the studio on Friday afternoons, right after the injury report comes out. We have better equipment to handle that in the studio as opposed to just doing it with phone cameras on the field like we used to.

Did Lafleur share anything he learned or changed when he took a road trip with the MIL bucks?

He hasn't said anything publicly. I would imagine he'd prefer to keep a lot of those details to himself.

Pat O'Donnell named NFC Special Teams Player of the Week. Thanks to the Bears.

He's off to a whale of a good start this season. True pro in every sense.

On your stroll through the parking lot on Gameday do you ever stop by the tailgaters?

I don't stop but occasionally someone who recognizes me will stop me. If I've got a few minutes, I'm happy to chat. But I have to steer clear of the beer on a game day :)

Do you fly with the Team to London?

That's the plan. Wes and I are both scheduled to be on the team charter.

Just a big thanks, Mike. Special opportunity to have this chat every week along with the daily Inbox.

My pleasure, I appreciate all the readership and participation. With that, I'm going to sign off. Have a great rest of the week, everybody, and we'll talk again soon. Best, Mike.

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