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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What will it take for the Packers to beat the Bears?

Editor Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields
Chicago Bears QB Justin Fields

Hey everybody, Happy New Year and thanks for logging on today. Let's hope this new platform works as well as it did last Wednesday and not the way it broke down Sunday night in Minneapolis. I see some questions already so I'll get started.

Hi, Mike. I haven't been watching Bears games the past several weeks. I know we've improved a lot since week 1– but I hear they have, too, and I'm worried after the Lions spoiled our playoff chances last year. Which team in your opinion looks more different/more improved since our last matchup?

Both teams are dramatically different from Week 1. The Packers controlled that game, but the Bears were really struggling and started 0-4. The Packers obviously hit plenty of struggles after Week 1. There's really very little about this matchup that feels the same from the beginning of the year.

Jordan Love quietly having a top 5 QB season statistically. Most of the national talking heads are now saying he IS the QB of the future. I never had my doubts.

Everybody wanted to rush to judgment, have a hot take. That's what this business unfortunately has become. When we let things play out there's more to go on and everybody's opinions are more informed.

Mike, you are the only reporter I've noticed who, in your Rapid Reaction article, pointed out the LaFleur presser nugget regarding Love 'playing it true' on a given call so everyone can get a feel for what's working." Rather than speculate, I'm curious how you interpreted that comment.

I just think LaFleur meant Love goes through his progressions the way the play is designed, and by doing so, he gives himself as well as the play caller the ability to build off of things that appear to be working and move on from concepts that aren't on that particular day.

Hi, Mike. I was saddened to learn this morning of Kenny Bowman's passing. Cliff Christl's article provided some fascinating depth to my understanding of Bowman's toughness as well as his life beyond football. Do you have any personal recollections of Ken Bowman?

I do not. I really learned a lot from Cliff's piece on Bowman. Sounds like he was a great man.

Not sure if your team knew this or figured it out, but last time we used this platform, sometimes the questions/your answers would stop 'updating' - especially after you answered one of my questions.

Well, let's hope that doesn't happen today. I think the issue Sunday night was the amount of traffic for the live blog overwhelmed the platform. For this particular chat, the live audience isn't as big so it seems to work fine.

Jordan Love has 30 TD passes and Dak leads the league with 32. Love has a chance to lead the league. I say again LOVE HAS A CHANCE TO LEAD THE LEAGUE IN TD PASSES! If I or someone else had said that back in August they'd probably get a sedative and taken to bed. How did he get there Mike?

By continuing to work, learning from every experience, not letting the struggles bother him (and not letting any success change his approach). Plus the young surrounding cast improved right along with him and the coaches have been able to learn what different players do well, and they've built game plans accordingly. So much of this offense was experimental in the early stages of the season, out of necessity. You have to play games to learn about your players in this league.

I saw that Samori Toure was put on IR, which opened a spot on the 53 and that allowed room for BO80 to be signed. I didn't hear what injury Toure sustained so what happened to him?

I don't know any of the specifics but I assume he got hurt on the muffed punt when it appeared he took a pretty tough shot to the legs.

If De'Vondre Campbell and Isaiah McDuffie can't go what does the MLB depth look like?

Quay Walker, Eric Wilson and Kristian Welch would be the top 3.

Aaron Rodgers was known for his humility and low-key private life. Now he's outspoken, opinionated, controversial, and kind of annoying. What do you think changed in his life to cause such drastic shifts in his communication?

I don't know and frankly I don't care. I'm happy to live and let live.

Hey Mike, what did the packers defense do last week to change the tide and be successful? What is the biggest focus to stop the Bears offense?

The Vikings starting a rookie QB, who was clearly overmatched, had a lot to do with it. As soon as Mullens came in, he started marching the Vikes right down the field and the defense got the big fourth-down stop inside the 10. Then the offense just killed clock and didn't let the Vikes back in the game. As for the Bears, you have to keep Fields in the pocket and make him beat you with his arm. He's really elusive and he's going to run, both on designed plays and scrambles. Tackle well is the other key. Missed tackles will lead to explosives and killer plays against him.

Good morning, Mike. I'm having mixed feelings about this game. With the Bears having the number 1 pick they have nothing to lose. Their going to throw the kitchen sink at the Pack. Will the Pack be ready for it all?

They have to be. But you prepare the way you always prepare and adjust during the game if needed. The Bears are playing really well and I don't think they'll get too crazy. They'll believe the way they're playing should be good enough to win.

I was curious when you watched the game/film, but did Carrington Valentine and Corey Ballentine have good games because the MIN QB never really had time to throw the ball, or were they very consistent with their coverage? I ask out of curiosity from a "If the rush isn't as good", did they show enough to still handle covering guys pretty well in that situation?

Their coverage held up. The Packers kept safety help over the top a lot of the time, as expected, and there were times receivers got free but the QB missed him or the pocket broke down. That's football. Rush and coverage go hand in hand. The Packers' pressure was rather relentless with 13 QB hits in the game. That's a ton.

Mike, will the question be asked of Bisaccia later this week if Toure was supposed to fair catch the punt that wound up being fumbled? I can't believe that the third string punt returner would be sent out with the green light to return a punt.

I would imagine that question will be asked, yes.

Several people speculated we traded Rasul because we were throwing in the towel on this season but even if that was the case the way he has balled out why wouldn't he be part of our plan for at least the next couple seasons? He seemed like such a great fit for us and now he's balling for the Bills, 4 picks for them so far. Thanks Mike! GPG!

I'm happy for Rasul that he's still having success in Buffalo. He was a treat to get to know. I think Gutekunst had decided that based on his contract, he wasn't likely to be around for the Packers next season, so he got something in a trade when the team was 2-5. Sure, they'd love to still have him here, but GMs always have to have their eye on the future as well as the present. It's part of the job.

Not only did we lose our comments during the game but, at least I had to continually refresh as, after a few of yours, it would stop. Don't know if that helps.

It's disappointing to hear about the issues, but I know we're not the only team experiencing them. This platform is what the NFL is making us use, and lots of teams are having problems of one sort or another. We appreciate your patience and suggest to keep trying different things on your end to try to smooth out the experience. Thanks.

Finally finding some consistency on defense will go a long way to making it a game on Sunday. Hopefully the players and coaches got a lift from the Vikings game and can "bring it" on Sunday.

Confidence is big in this league, and Sunday night should give the defense a needed boost for another big game. Sunday night reminded me of Thanksgiving at Detroit when the defensive front was just so disruptive all game. Everything else fell into place fine from there.

Mike, The Valentine/Balentine defense seemed great last week minus Eric Stokes and Jaire Alexander...and arguably the best that secondary has looked all season. Who gets the starts this week with JA coming back but not having his best outing this year?

I mentioned this in Inbox this morning. Those decisions are up to the coaches, and regarding strictly Alexander's performance, I'm willing to cut him some slack from Carolina after missing six straight games. I hope he can get out there and help this defense, in whatever capacity the coaches decide to use him.

During the Ravens game, the TV announcers made a big deal about Lamar Jackson having five rushing TDs and 20 passing. Isn't Love approaching those numbers?

Love has 30 passing TDs and 4 rushing, only the second QB in GBP history to reach those marks. Rodgers did it twice.

Mike, do the Packers have to decide on the fifth year option on Stokes before the start of next season?

Yes, that deadline usually is in May.

Hey Mike - the criticism of the D has been quite loud this second half of the season. All was quiet after Minnesota proved very little threat. From your perspective, did the Packers really adjust that well (or on the flip side continue to show stark inconsistency) from week to week? Or, did the Packers just take advantage of the opponent and situation in front of them?

As I said, I think Minnesota's QB situation had a lot to do with it, and the offense building a big lead certainly helps. I've been saying for the last two years the defense has been very inconsistent and that's been the biggest issue, never knowing what to expect from that unit. Hopefully they can settle in and build on last Sunday night, even though this week (and hopefully moving forward) they'll be facing much better QBs.

Is there still a world where Love isn't the Packers franchise QB?

Not to me.

Did you notice there were very few, if any, jet sweeps run by the Packers in MN?

Those calls are opponent-specific in the game plan. But the Packers still used the jet motion and other variations plenty, even if they didn't run any handoffs or push passes directly to the motion man.

Hi Mike! I am glad that Love has not really lived under A-Rod's shadow this season. I feel like he has played his own game and being himself instead of trying to measure up, so to speak. I have been a Packer fan since mid 60's and so have seen the best and the worst. If I remember correctly isn't this season's record and playoff potential better than A-Rod's first season? How can we complain regardless of what happens in week 18 and after?

The Packers were 6-10 in 2008. They were 5-5 and then lost five in a row when the defense fell apart. Rodgers was still playing pretty well in that stretch, though. There weren't any doubts about him.

What are the strengths and weakness of the Bears defense as going into Sundays's game?

They've just tightened everything down from earlier in the season. Their pass rush is the most improved aspect, but they stop the run better, too.

The Packers beat themselves last year vs. the Lions week 18, the personal foul penalties, ejections, and they seemed unprepared for Campbells trick plays. Are the Bears the type to call those types of plays? If not, since this is a "nothing to lose" type game for them, do they change their ways?

That's what a lot of folks are asking. I really don't know. You never know. All anybody knows is they'd love to end their losing streak against the Packers and end GB's season.

AJ Dillon left the game with an injury and Patrick Taylor got some snaps was this related to 28's thumb or something else?

Dillon got a shoulder stinger, unrelated to the thumb. I thought he was running really hard when he was in there. We'll see where he is as the week goes along.

How much impact did Darnell Savage have on the defense Sunday?

Hard for me to say, but I think Savage is the best communicator in the back end. He has the most experience and knows this defense the best.

... the site was "overwhelmed" with users because the NFL scales it for fan bases that far less engaged than ours ... We are different critters ...

As I said, other teams were having the same problems, and all the issues you folks are mentioning here have been brought up. Whether or not anything gets fixed before Sunday, I have no idea.

I don't recall seeing Yosh Nijman in the hornamajiggy game. Did he get any snaps?

Only when Clifford came in at QB. Walker has played all the snaps at LT the last two games when Love has been in there.

I hope Lambeau is all green and gold on Sunday. Last week in Minneapolis it sounded like a split croed.

Vikings fans had to keep drowning out the Go Pack Go chants from the GB faithful. It was a good turnout.

Better to for a front office to throw in the towel than throw ice cubes on the other team's fans...

You said that, I didn't.

Is the new strategy going forward to take the ball first after winning the coin toss?

LaFleur makes that decision on a weekly basis, not as a blanket strategy. I'm guessing it usually depends on certain plays he has dialed up for the first offensive possession and whether he just wants to get right to them.

Going to the game on Sunday and I hope there aren't too many Bears fans there. The thing I'm most anxious about is the injury report. Alexander, Christian Watson, Jayden Reed, Dillon; who will be ready.

We're all waiting to find out, and we probably won't know much until the end of the week at the earliest. Dontayvion Wicks and Luke Musgrave are question marks right now too.

... do you anticipate a large contingent of Bears fans at 1265 on Sunday ??? Hopefully, the Ticket Exchange is not a busy place ...

I hope not either, but I have no idea. I'm sure plenty of GBP fans put their tickets on the market earlier in the year when things weren't going so well, so who knows who bought them.

Jon Runyan looked fine in relief of Josh Myers at center, but Myers didn't look fine coming out of the game. Any idea what he injured?

I don't. We'll find out when the first injury report comes out later today.

They mentioned on the NBC broadcast that talk around the league is that Barry will be let go at the end of the season. I know that type of talk and speculation are not things you like to engage in, but I was wondering if you had any sort of insight into how the locker room feels about their DC? It definitely doesn't feel like he's lost his players with one making it a point to credit his play calling with their success on Sunday.

I don't think he's lost the players at all. For all the struggles, I've never sensed it was from any lack of effort.

How much can we learn from game 1? Both teams seem to have changed so much throughout the season. Does it really help to study that tape?

Probably not, to be honest. The one thing the Bears will definitely be on guard for are the big plays Aaron Jones made against them back in Week 1. But both teams are spending more time watching the last month of film on each team, not anything from September.

Looks like we have Romo and Nantz on CBS. NFL views Packer Bears game is appealing.

Of course. As soon as I heard it was on CBS, I figured Romo and Nantz were getting the game.

Cold and snow in the forecast for Lambeau at 3:20 Sunday afternoon?

Neither, really. I think it's supposed to be around 30 degrees.

One player I'd like to give mention to is Preston Smith. Great play on the field and a great attitude.

He's as steady as it gets and he's made some really big plays for this defense. Preston is a true pro everyone can count on. There's a lot to be said for that.

I agree with Terry in the sense of that he's his own person. If I were to not say that there are some throws in the game where like, "Holy - that looked a lot like AR12 there" - I'd certainly be lying. But I'm more impressed with those throws going to different WRs, and Love playing consistently no matter who's in there due to injury.

That's been the most impressive thing to me about Love, which I wrote about in my Rapid Reaction piece after Sunday's game, is how he's made it work the second half of the season no matter who's out there with him. An injury here, another substitute there, and he just keeps rolling along. That's not easy.

It did look like Dillon's cast was smaller this past game, so we've got that going for us

I didn't see any ball security issues with him. Like I said, he was running really hard and delivering some punishment. Unfortunately, it sounds like he took the brunt of a hit.

Mike, I'm disappointed that Rashan Gary hasn't had the 'breakout season' I was hoping he'd have. Any thoughts as to why? He's my key to success this Sunday.

I think Gary has pressured the QB pretty consistently. Some games you get home, others you don't. He also attracts more attention from opposing offenses than anyone else on the defensive front. When you've put two three-sack games on film this season, opponents are going to make other players beat you. The Packers have devoted similar attention when they faced Aaron Donald, T.J. Watt, Aidan Hutchinson (the second time).

... rush lane integrity from the D front is going to be huge on Sunday, that combined with edge contain ... sacks are great, but lane discipline is even better, especially against a mobile fella like Fields ... let's not have a repeat of the Tommy Cutlets disaster at MetLife (which I bore witness to ...)

I always hold out hope the bad things that happen work to a team's advantage later in the season. That's how I feel re: DeVito and now Fields. If the Packers learned something from Jersey, they'll be better for it in an even bigger game.

There's been plenty of ups and downs this season with some big disappointments but I think it's still the most enjoyable I've seen in years. Is that a sentiment shared by most?

I don't know. I'm sure some feel that way. I just take every season as it comes. Every one is its own entity to me.

FYI hit the ellipses thing on top of page and select pop out. Makes this new service almost tolerable on mobile

Posting the tip for those who might want to try.

Mike, I presume from how the coaches adjusted the offensive line at the end of the game, that if Myers can't go at center Sunday that Runyan would take that spot?

I would imagine so, yes. Jon Runyan is the only backup C listed on the depth chart, and they have a guy who would be all set to take over at RG in Sean Rhyan.

If you were the Ravens or 49ers do you play your starters this week or rest them for 2?

Always an interesting question. To me, the injury risk is way worse than the rust risk. I think you can practice hard during the bye week to keep guys sharp without risking injury like in the games. But that's me. Every team will have its own approach.

I loved Tucker Kraft's stiff arm that put the defender on the ground. Felt like old time football! Hope to see more of that instead of his hurdling. Did the coaches work with him to make the change?

I think he learned it on his own. My other favorite Kraft moment from the game was when he flattened Danielle Hunter with a run block and Jones got about 10 yards. That was one heck of a block.

I loved hearing GPG chants getting booed out on the broadcast, and extra credit for the fans still doing it in the stadium during the NBC post game show. Anyway, I live in MN, like many Packers fans, and am just happy shirtless chained Kirk won't now become an even bigger thing.

I did not have Shirtless Kirk on my New Year's Eve bingo card.

How do you think Joe Barry is going to scheme to limit scrambling of Justin Fields?

He employed a spy quite a bit against Hall last week. I would imagine that would be in the game plan again for certain situations. Whom to use as the spy is an interesting question, though. I'm never sure on that.

LOL I always love us asking injury questions. I always imagine you were just down in the training room for the last 6 hours running the rehab and then have to sprint upstairs in time for this chat.

Ha, sure.

I am sure this has been talked about plenty the last few days but when I watch Reed, I can't help but think we have a baby tyreek hill. I know he's not as fast, but the way they use him I see a lot of similarities.

Can't disagree. Reed can really play. I hope he's going to be OK this week health-wise. He's dealt with various injuries the past couple of months and proven he's a pretty tough dude too.

Do the Bears move Montez Sweat around to get the best match up?

I haven't seen enough of their games since they got him to know how they deploy him.

Seconded on Preston. Very glad his massive tape job was enough to get him back out on the field on Sunday.

Incredible that guy has missed just one game in his career, which is at 9 years and counting now. He's a warrior.

Do you see many blitz calls for the defense against Fields? Or is the risk of him getting free too high?

I could see sending blitzers, but more in a blitz and replace concept. Like when Nixon came off the slot and sacked Mullens, it was still just a four-man rush because Enagbare dropped into coverage. That kind of thing.

Since the Bears have the #1 pick, could you see them taking a QB and keeping Fields as a running back and extra threat. Kind of like Taysom Hill.

I don't see that as Fields' future, no. I'm not sure what the Bears are going to do, though.

I'm not entertaining Super Bowl hopes, but I would love to see the Packers win a couple more games and get a crack at the 49ers. With a very good QB on a very cheap contract, the 49ers will most likely be the team to beat for the next couple years, and it would be interesting to see how the current team measures up. Plus, another Packers QB from California heading to the Bay Area in the playoffs would be a cool storyline.

Sign me up.

Hey Mike, is continuing/ending the 9-game slide deciding the Fields v Caleb decision this Sunday?

I have no idea. I think basing that decision on one game would be foolish. It's about the body of work, and I honestly don't know how the Bears' front office feels about Fields. I'd only be guessing.

I think the key to victory this Sunday is to contain Fields, huge task fir this defense.

And the offense keeping it rolling against the toughest defense it has faced since probably the Chiefs game.

Those long sustained drives were a thing of beauty! They need to be continued in the following weeks!

Anytime you can take 8 minutes off the clock and get points, you take it. Those are the kind of drives that keep a team in control.

The return to form by Aaron Jones has made all of the difference in the world to our offense...but he hasn't caught many passes yet. Ideas?

They haven't needed him to. The WR corps is doing just fine. A healthy Jones running the ball and slashing through lanes has changed the way this offense looks.

Mike, saw the comment earlier about the passing of Ken Bowman. I also wanted to note the passing of Carl Barzilauskas. He had a short career with the Packers, but the 1978 team was also a young team, and gave the Packers their first winning season in 6 seasons. Carl and Dave Roller and Mike Butler and Ezra Johnson gave the Packers a very good defensive line that season.

I don't remember Carl, but as a kid I do remember watching guys like Butler and Johnson when I first started getting into football.

With Cobb gone, who takes on the moniker, "Bear Killer?"

Jones was the difference maker in Week 1. We'll see who it might be this week.

As mentioned, stopping the run is key this week. Regarding games where the D gave up 200+ yards, it was noted players weren't staying in their lanes. Can you speak to how GB can ensure players remain disciplined with assignments against da Bears?

The big rushing games vs. the Packers were a result of players getting out of gaps up front or hitting the wrong gaps from the second level. Tackling in those games wasn't good, either, which led to a lot of explosive runs. Stay gap sound, tackle well. That's what it takes.

Who is going to handle punt returner duties if Jayden Reed is injured?

I'm guessing Keisean Nixon.

Just some FYI; this doesn't work on Firefox, so I'm following on Safari

Posting to let folks know.

Hi Mike, I am excited for Isaiah McDuffie to be in the middle. Hope his injury isn't too big.

McDuffie has been impressive. The word Sunday night is he was placed in the concussion protocol but haven't heard anything since.

Just saw that JL was named player of the week!

Yup, his first one.

Regarding our defense, I think last week's performance was what we've seen most of the year; we made a rookie 5th-round QB making his first start look like that. It was really only the last 3 weeks we thoroughly stunk. How do we make sure the "taking care of business" defense is the one that shows up this week?

If I knew that I'd bottle it up and sell it. That's the thing with this defense, it has shown it can play well. In losses to the Raiders and Broncos, the defense played fine overall. Lions and Chiefs games were even better, considering the opponents. As I said, hopefully getting out of that bad three-week rut will be the boost of confidence the unit needs.

Not surprised that CBS is showing Packers-Bears to most of the country Sunday evening, but I am surprised that FOX is going with Cowboys-Commanders over Seahawks-Cardinals. Obviously the Cowboys are the biggest TV draw, but some team's fanbase (could be us) will want to keep one eye on the game in Arizona.

The Cowboys are playing for a division title and they're the Cowboys.

Ok you got me, what movie is the "What are you saving it for, the Prom?" quote from?

That was actually a nod to Vic, who used to say that in the column occasionally.

I want to see a game with A. Jones and Watson together in 2024.

That sure would be nice, yeah.

Hey Mike, just jumping in so maybe you already addressed it, but curious your thoughts on the game time for Sunday. I assume the team would prefer a noon start, but I also assume afternoon is better than Sunday night.

They selected game times as best they could with having the interconnected games within the playoff chase starting at the same time. That's how they've been doing it in Week 18 for quite a while now.

With this transition year nearing the end of the regular season, glad to say at least we're not the Vikings or the Bears with decisions looming on who their franchise quarterback of the future is/will be.

When you have your guy, it puts a lot of minds at ease.

Thanks for the chat, Mike.

Thanks to all who participated, and for hanging in there with the platform issues. The hour is up so I'm going to sign off. Take care everybody and we'll talk again soon. Best, Mike.