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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What will it take for Packers to get a victory in Detroit?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

Ford Field
Ford Field

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on today. Hope all is well. I see a few questions already in the queue, so keep sending them in and I'll get started.

Good morning, Mike! I'm glad we didn't outbid the Bears on Claypool. The Vikings got lucky to bring in a reasonably priced player at a position they suddenly need. What do you think is the Lions' mood after yesterday?

Great question. I was floored by the Hockenson trade, especially to a division rival, and for a compensation package that seemed very light for a guy taken No. 8 overall in the draft a few years ago and your leading receiver yardage-wise. It was a baffling move to me all around. Detroit's offense has been really good at home this season and I wonder how this changes the way they attack, and how the Packers defend, on Sunday.

Here's something for Packer FANS to focus on:

  • Get a W in Detroit and then we get back-to-back home games. 6-5 very possible.
  • Minny plays its next 2 on the road, including at Buffalo. We get Minny at home week 17 as well. These next 3 weeks could get us within striking distance.

That's all fine and good, and I understand fans trying to look at scenarios like that. But the Packers just need a win, plain and simple. Get one win and then see what the next week brings. There's no point in paying any attention to anybody else unless and until you get back to .500 and have a chance to climb over. That's how I look at it anyway.

Are the injuries to David Bakhtiari and Elgton Jenkins small setbacks to their previous injuries or new injuries?

Bakhtiari played the whole game in Buffalo, so we'll see what his practice plan is this week, but hopefully he can get into a pattern that keeps him available. Jenkins had a foot injury added to the injury report late last week when he got stepped on in practice. It wasn't considered a big deal, but by Sunday it just wasn't feeling right so they held him out of the game. We'll see if he's back at practice today or tomorrow.

Mike, I don't see 9-8 making the playoffs, 10-7? The margin for error is maybe two games? Is this a must win?

I'm not looking at playoff records, etc. It's a must win because the Packers have lost four in a row and have to start moving in the other direction to make something of their season.

Hey Mike, if Hockenson becomes a free agent next year, couldn't the Lions offer him what they would have anyways after this year and pocket the Vikings draft choices if he accepts?

The Lions exercised Hockenson's fifth-year option, so he's under contract with the Vikings now for 2023.

Are there any lessons that the Packers can learn from the Brewers this year? I think of how badly sending Hader away was for the locker room for pieces that didn't work out. At least doing nothing at the trade deadline is better than doing something negative?

I didn't see the Packers selling anybody off. Reports are they were exploring trades but nothing worked out at a price they felt comfortable with. The Brewers trading Hader at the deadline was a morale killer and the team never really recovered. I don't know if that's a lesson learned by anybody because I don't know if any team in first place had ever before traded one of the best in the league at what he does.

I was more impressed with Toure's release off the LOS on that deep touchdown. It seems like the rookie WR's took some big steps in Buffalo.

No doubt. As I said in a couple previous written items, Doubs made two catches that were like the ones we saw him making in training camp every day. To do that after his rough game in Washington (four targets, zero catches) was a huge sign of growth. Toure has sneaky speed, and his adjustment deep downfield for the TD was a great read and exactly the kind of thing Rodgers sees when there's a void in the defense.

Maybe the Lions felt that the saved salary cap money and the draft choices were worth giving up on a tight end who's had 2 100yd games in his career. With the cap issues the Vikings will have, it's all or nothing for them this year. I don't get why everyone thinks its such a great trade for them.

The Vikings just put Irv Smith on IR so they wanted a proven tight end so their offense didn't take a step back. I don't care about the 100-yard games, Hockenson had 395 receiving yards this season, most on the Lions on what has been a pretty productive offense. It's just strange they didn't see him as part of the future, but I'm obviously missing something. I don't think getting second- and third-round picks, while sending back a fourth and possibly another fourth (conditional) was much return.

Mike, can you make any sense of why the Bears traded for Claypool? I would have thought they would be in a selling position at the deadline, not buying.

They had been selling, trading Robert Quinn and Roquan Smith. They obviously want to upgrade their perimeter players for Justin Fields, and with Claypool under contract for another year, they liked that as an option rather than using the second-round pick on a rookie next year. When the Bears played here in Week 2, it was obvious their receiving corps was in need of an upgrade for Fields to have a better chance at success. Apparently the Packers were interested in Claypool, too, because he wasn't just a rent-a-player for half a season and didn't come with huge cap cost.

The report I saw was the Packers offered a 2nd for Claypool but lost out to the Bears. So why were the Steelers looking to trade him. Would think they would want to hang on to him.

Can't speak to whatever was going on behind the scenes in Pittsburgh. The Steelers are in a different place with the QB transition now and everything.

Detroit ranks 30th in the NFL in opponents rushing yards per game. Given Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon's production on Sunday night, is this week's matchup another opportunity to commit heavily to the run?

Absolutely. And if the Lions load up to stop it, then the guys outside have to win one-on-ones and get open for simple pitch and catch. The Packers ran the ball with some real force in Buffalo and that has to continue to set the tone and make the Lions adjust.

Aaron Rodgers mentioned they had special plans for Watson. If he clears concussion protocol do you think we will finally see him complete a pass to him beyond the line of scrimmage? His injuries and setbacks have been sad to see. I keep hoping to see him unleashed at some point.

They had a handful of plays for him in the game plan and obviously called one of them early in Buffalo. It's just a bummer nothing has gone his way health-wise. It was good to hear he was OK after that hit. That's a different type of injury than a hamstring, obviously. When he's healthy and able to go, I think they'll go into every game with certain plays dialed up for him. He brings an element to the offense no one else does.

So with TJ gone, St Brown is now their best receiving option. Do we play a little bit more man and load up to make life difficult for our old buddy Jamaal and exceptionally difficult on Goff? When he's pressured and has people in his face, it is hard for him to recover.

LaFleur mentioned Monday how difficult it is to play straight up man coverage against a scrambling QB like Buffalo's Allen because the defenders have their back to the QB and he can take off anytime. Goff has 30 yards rushing this season. He's not the same kind of threat, so I would expect potentially more man coverage this week.

Did Gutey seriously consider Jeudy from Denver?

No idea.

Liked the blocking highlights on WYMM. He may not be the deep threat but would like to see Big Dog get more catches to keep the defense honest.

I think a screen pass or something to him is coming. It's just a matter of time. They've always used that to catch the defense off guard.

I am ok with no trade yesterday. If each player in the locker room takes a good look at their performance it sure seems as though the season could turn around quickly with a good game against Detroit and then stacking success from there. It takes one win to start the process of stacking successes right?

That's basically what Rodgers said late Sunday night. One win can turn the momentum around. But they have to get that one win.

Vic always used to say that some teams take what the defense gives you, but great teams take what they want. If our running game is our strength, is it possible to keep the chains moving even if the opponent loads the box?

I think the Packers can still challenge the Lions with the ground game even if they brace to stop it. You have to find out. But please remember that old line of Vic's is how football was played decades ago (Steelers in '70s, Niners in '80s). With ongoing substitutions and personnel packages, etc., it's a different game now and being stubborn doesn't win games in the 2020s.

As someone just mentioned, it's very possible the Packers offered the same compensation for some of these guys but teams like the Steelers ultimately took the Bears offer because they felt that pick would be higher than the Packers once the year was over. Just tough to see as a fan and can't know everything that happened in those discussions

For sure.

No one can get a handle on how we've been playing. I say flush the season so far and start the new 9 game season with the goal to make the playoffs. Just beat the Lions.

If ever the adage of each week being a one-game season applied, it applies now.

I haven't been a huge fan of Josiah Deguara up until the other night. He really laid the wood to a couple guys. What do you see happening for him going forward?

The Packers are using him as a blocker from a number of alignments and with a number of assignments. He continues to get more effective in that role. Next is to use play-action to spring him loose from a blocking assignment for a reception. He did have one catch in Buffalo.

Do you think Sammy Watkins will make more noise in the passing game? He has been pretty quiet so far.

I don't know. I expected to see more action from him in Buffalo, especially after he caught the first third-down conversion. But later in the game it was Toure and A. Rodgers getting the action, and they delivered. We'll see.

Maybe I'm the one missing something. If the return on Hockenson was minimal then why didn't we offer it?

Valid question. I don't know if the Packers were interested in him.

When can Randall Cobb return? I see a very different passing team when all 4 of those guys are back.

I believe Cobb is eligible to return after the Cowboys game. Doesn't mean he will, but that would be his fourth game missed, which is the minimum for an IR stint.

What I still don't understand is that the Bears basically traded down in next year's draft (unless they somehow end up better than the Ravens) to swap Roquan for Claypool. Maybe WR is a bigger need for them right now, but wouldn't most teams rather have Roquan Smith?

Probably, but they had been at a contract impasse with Smith. Lots of negotiations, no agreement. It seemed that became a difficult situation for the organization, and then Smith clearly was upset when Quinn was traded, too.

Would they have even considered that TJ would be on the block? No one did.

That's what I wonder, too, but if the Lions were willing to trade him within the division, you'd think they'd have checked with the Packers at some point.

How is De'Vondre Campbell? was his injury significant?

LaFleur indicated it's not a long-term injury, but on Monday he said Campbell's availability for this week would be very iffy.

The Packers only have 3 rushing TDs on the season. Outside of Christian Watson's rushing TD in week 4, the Packers haven't scored a rushing TD since week 2. Do you have a sense of run vs pass plays in the red zone, and how it compares to the rest of the league?

The Packers have only scored 16 touchdowns in eight games. That's just not normal around here. Usually 16 TDs is a month's worth of work, not two. It doesn't matter how they score right now, they just have to score more.

The football Gods were very kind to the Packers in years past in the regular season and seems like this year they're getting the other end which has been bad calls and bad luck and injuries, but season is still early.

Some years are like this, but I also believe teams make their own luck. If you play better, more might start falling your way.

Meanwhile, I'm just glad Smith, Quinn, and Hicks (much earlier in the season) are all aht of the NFC North. 'Bout time I say!

And with Mack being shipped off not long ago, that Bears defense looks so different than it did for quite a while.

Did you see Jordy and Josh's HOF interview? It cracked me up that Josh's favorite games were when Flynn was QB.

Wes was on that call, I wasn't available then. But some of those Flynn games were among the most exciting and dramatic around here, that's for sure. I think it's cool two guys from the same draft class are going into the Packers HOF together.

Hey Mike, would the Detroit game be a good time to get the ball in the young receivers hands a bit more and continue to build on the confidence in the passing game?

It's a good time to score points against the 32nd-ranked defense in the league. Like I said, I don't care how the Packers do it. The offense has to score points and they have to get a win. The rest is just details right now.

Any sense of Allen Lazard's chances of playing this week?

Haven't heard anything yet, but last week Lazard sounded confident he wasn't going to be out for long.

When the Packers lost Quay Walker AND Campbell I had a feeling of dread. Instead, the D actually seemed to get better. How do you explain that?

I give credit to Isaiah McDuffie and Eric Wilson for stepping up in a tough situation. I was surprised, frankly, the Bills were throwing the ball as much as they were with the 17-point lead in the second half, and I think Allen got a little careless with the ball on the two INTs. Campbell and Walker played really well at Washington and this defense needs them to be at its best.

I can't wait to see what David Bakhtiari, Elgton Jenkins, Josh Myers, Jon Runyan, and Yosh Nijman provide the offense if they're able to stay healthy in that orientation, it really should open up the running game and passing game more.

As I've been saying, now that adjustments have been made, and hopefully Jenkins is coming back soon, the new-look offensive line needs to settle in and be the offense's rock -- tough and reliable. I think they'll get to that point, but if it isn't soon it may be too late.

I haven't watched the Lions play this year. What are their strengths and what are their weaknesses?

Their offense has rolled up a ton of points at home, almost 36 per game at Ford Field. Their defense has struggled all the way along. They've lost games in which they've scored 35, 45 and 27 points.

Vic also said "dime a dozen". Do you agree? Do you think any WR could join the Packers and contribute right away as most click bait suggests?

Perhaps, but in a way that changes the team's fortunes? I'm not so sure. One player isn't going to magically make a whole bunch of others play better.

Jordy Nelson is one of my all-time favorite Packers. I still wear his jersey on game days. What's your favorite Jordy Nelson memory? Mine is his sideline catch in San Francisco in 2013, because I was at the game and my jaw dropped.

I'll never forget seeing Jordy gut it out in the 2016 NFC title game in Atlanta with the broken ribs. That was a rough day for the Packers, but what he put on the line for his team that day said a lot about him as a man and a player.

To score points against that 32 ranked D, we do have to be aware of that new Michigan (old Michigan?) kid. That dude is a beast.

No doubt. Hutchinson has 4 1/2 sacks and nobody else on that defense has more than 1 1/2. He's a star in the making and you have to game plan for him.

Moving Darnell Savage to slot corner and Rasul Douglas to the safety position could bring the juice. Because Darnell have better coverage skills and compared to him meanwhile Rasul Douglas is better tackler than Darnell. Do you think Barry would make that move? Do you think it is a good idea?

I don't think asking guys to play a brand new position in the middle of the season is a good idea. Those are the types of decisions, if they're even being entertained, that are made in the offseason when a lot of practice reps are available.

Where do The Packers rank in offense? I have to imagine it's in or near the bottom third.

17th in yards, 26th in points.

I just checked ticket prices. Last year I asked if I could join you in the press box and you declined. How about this year? I still promise to be quiet and stay put of everyone's way.

Ha, I don't think that would be allowed. Sorry.

If the ground game is going to be what gives this offense success, do you see a third back getting rotated in as the season continues?

Perhaps. I wouldn't expect a big workload, but it's possible as a change up. Patrick Taylor was released, which would seem to clear the space for Kylin Hill to come off PUP.

Do you think we will see Samori Toure getting more targets this week based on what Aaron said at the Pat's show?

I think he's going to get more opportunities in the game plan. Whether he gets more targets depends on getting open.

Good morning Mike. I may be seeing things through Packer-colored-glasses, but I think if we get consistent offensive line play, we can turn the offense around. Our young WRs need more reps, and we need to stick with the running game, but it just doesn't seem we're that far off, offensively. Or am I out to an early lunch?

It's not that simple, but yeah, the Packers need consistency up front and with the ground game, and then for the young receivers to handle more on their plate. It's a process and everyone hoped the offense would be farther along by now, but they just have to keep working at it.

Favorite Sitton memory or story?

Josh used to derisively call questions from reporters "brain busters." Got any brain busters for me, he used to ask.

Does Hutchinson line up on a specific spot on the line or do they move him around? If a specific spot, who would be matching up against him?

That's a good question and I confess I haven't seen Detroit play enough this year to give you an answer. But I guarantee the Packers have studied the film on him.

Can Toure become a regular contributor? He seems to have the skills, but relying on rookies isn't really the MO of #12. Is there any hope for a WR class made up of rookies and practice squad retreads?

With Cobb injured, Watson coming back from a concussion, Lazard iffy with the shoulder, Watkins not providing much right now, and no trade made yesterday, the Packers only have so many options, and Toure is one who made an impression last week.

I wouldn't expect to see a third back getting reps, barring injury. It was encouraging to see AJ Dillon get his touches on Sunday night, but I gasped when he went down and got his leg twisted up. Is he feeling okay following the game?

He went back in after that nasty tackle, which was a good sign. I was surprised, but pleased, to see him return.

All right, folks, LaFleur is going to the podium in 10 minutes, so I'm going to sign off. Thanks for all the participation today. Take care and we'll talk again soon. Best, Mike.

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