Mike's Mid-Week Chat: What will the offense look like with the rookie receivers healthy?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

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WR Christian Watson

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on. Hope all is well. I see some questions already coming in so I'll get started.

What time does practice start?

The Packers don't have practice today. The usual Wed-Fri practice regimen has been pushed back to Thu-Sat with the game being on Monday night. The team came back from the bye week and practiced yesterday. Today is like the players' normal "Tuesday" off.

Wondering if Aaron Rodgers and Brady ever look over their shoulder at each other's retirement plans

I think the two are rather independent thinkers, don't you?

Hey Mike, having had appendix out as a kid, I see no way David Bakhtiari could play again unless we somehow make a playoff appearance. Took me weeks to recover.

All I know is when I had mine out a couple months ago, my surgeon said no lifting anything over 20 pounds for a month because of the incisions. I recovered fairly quickly, but as far as doing any strenuous exercise, it was a while.

How would you anticipate that the offense will function with both Romeo Doubs and Christian Watson on the field at the same time?

I don't expect it to look drastically different, but we're all waiting to see. Route combinations can be designed with specific players and their strengths in mind, and I'm curious to see what LaFleur & Co. come up with.

I saw that we worked out some running backs but I've lost track of who's available considering elevations to the active roster. Can you give us a quick summary?

Right now the Packers have Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon on the active roster, plus Patrick Taylor and Tyler Goodson on the practice squad.

Hey Mike! If we beat the Rams on Monday, will you then begin the "path to the playoffs" again, or is that a little too optimistic?

I've promised to bring it back if the Packers get to 7-8 by winning their next two.

Weston Wisdom could be a new podcast or part of 3 things, or even a column under itself some day :)

He's gonna write his own book someday.

Is there an injury report today? Any idea when we'll know what the prognosis is for Bahk for the rest of the season? I know anecdotally it's not likely to be positive

The first injury report of the week will be after tomorrow's practice. David Bakhtiari did not practice yesterday. He was the only member of the 53-man roster not practicing, though.

Have you been watching any World Cup soccer? Those guys are certainly fit cardio wise.

When I was home sick I watched the U.S. knockout game against the Netherlands. I know very little about the sport, but I was rather impressed with the Dutch team. They looked awfully good and I'm not surprised they nearly beat Argentina.

Playoffs! Playoffs! We're talking about Playoffs? Any playoff scenario requires winning the next four games. I'm thinking lets win the next two before we start talking about what other teams need to do for the Packers to move into the 7th spot.

That's pretty much where my mind has been. Get to 7-8, it feels realistic, and the scenarios come into focus a bit more.

Since jet sweep was so useful, y'all plan to use it more with Watson?

I think the Packers will use Watson in motion plenty moving forward. How many times he gets the ball on the jet sweep is anybody's guess, but that action forces defenses to honor it.

How do the Rams, or any team, prep a QB to play in 3 days? The play calls alone must take a quick study. Or do they stick to simpler calls and just tell Mayfield to hit the open guy?

In a situation like last week with Mayfield, there's a certain amount of simplification going on to be able to function. But they're also relying on Mayfield's skills and experience to just get things done. How the Raiders lost that game is mind-boggling. That was an inexcusable loss for a Vegas team that was starting to get on a roll.

Following up on II today, can Walker be the reverse of Matthews' change in '14?

No, no. They're not going to go that far. He's a rookie who has plenty on his plate with his own position. They're not making a wholesale change there.

Christmas Day game not ideal, especially on the road. How will this affect you and Wes?

We basically have to sacrifice both our Christmas Eve and Christmas Day. We travel on the 24th and then will get back in the evening on the 25th. Not ideal, especially with the team playing on Christmas two years in a row. Selfishly, it would be nice if the league spread out that burden a bit, but it is what it is.

Has Rodgers commented about his thumb and ribs are feeling after the bye?

He mentioned on McAfee's show that both are doing a lot better. He did not have a wrap on his thumb at yesterday's practice.

Yo Mike. You seem like a guy that takes his wellness seriously. I think we are about the same age. What's your typical workout routine? I know you were a pretty good athlete back in the day so I'm curious how you've maintained your prowess.

Prowess? Ha. I don't think I'd call it that. I try to ride an exercise bike regularly and play racquetball, though I haven't done the latter for a couple months due to everything I've dealt with recently. I plan to get back into racquetball after the holidays.

Snow for Monday?

The snow is coming this week. I don't think there's any in the forecast for Monday, though it's going to be cold. The low is in the single digits.

I thought Taylor has been elevated three times already this season, so wouldn't he have to be signed to the 53 if the Packers want to use him again? Or does the number of elevations reset because he was briefly on the 53 in between?

That's been a common question and I honestly don't know the answer. We may find out this week if they want him up for the Rams game again.

Were you ever tested in the 40 back when you were tearing it up in your youth? What did you/do you think you would've run?

I wasn't clocked in the 40, but I was clocked home to first in baseball drills. In college, I cracked 4 seconds on a hand-held timer as a freshman.

Mike any chance if Mayfield plays well the rest of the way that a starting job is out there for him again next year?

The Rams are committed to Stafford long term as far as I know.

What are the lions doing to make a push for the playoffs over the past 6 games and how can we have success like they have had recently.

The Lions have cut down on mistakes and are playing clean football. Nothing fancy, a trick play here or there, but they're not hurting themselves and that's why they're winning. Big test for them on the road vs. the Jets this week.

What are reasonable expectations for the run defense at this point? They have been downright bad lately, but the Rams (and, looking ahead, the Dolphins) have not been having much success with any of their backs.

And you can bet those teams will test the Packers' suspect run defense. I don't know what to say as far as expectations. We've seen this GB defense play very well at times. They're capable. It's all about putting it together when the team needs it most.

It may just be me, but the Packers usually don't perform well after bye weeks under MLF. Would you agree? If so, what do you think is the reason? Thanks.

In 2019, the team after the bye was San Fran, who went to the Super Bowl. In '20, it was Tampa Bay, who eventually won the Super Bowl. LaFleur won playoff games after a bye both of those years. Last year, the Packers beat the Bears after the regular-season bye but lost to the Niners after the playoff bye. I don't look at those results as some sort of systemic problem.

Can we get an attempt by yourself and Weston to cover the Chipmunks version of "Christmas don't be Late" in your final thoughts before the Miami game please?

Uh, no.

Are the packers in your opinion still in the playoff hunt regardless of what the numbers say

They're in it until they get a ninth loss. I've been saying that for weeks now. Just don't get a ninth loss and you're still alive.

Do you see any parallels between this team and 2006 when even though we didn't make the playoffs a four game win streak kind of gave us some good vibes going into the following year?

Not really. That was a different scenario with a new head coach in '06 and then heading into his second season. This doesn't feel the same at all, and there could be more change around here before next season compared to the transition to '07.

The question is - is Stafford committed to them long term? Could be, but I also wouldn't be surprised if he retired.

Valid question. I don't follow the ins and outs of their team all that closely.

Do you know when Mark Murphy's "mandatory" retirement date is and any leading replacements? We're sure going to miss him!

There's been no discussion of replacements that I've heard. He's still got 3 years left. That's a lot of time.

I would think that Mayfield could possibly play himself into the conversation to start for another team with less stable QB plans though, definitely a backup.

Oh for sure. If he finishes strong for the Rams, he'll be a name to watch in the offseason.

How is your work week different with the Monday game? More time at the office on Saturday?

Yeah, Saturday is like a Friday, and then Sunday is the rest day since we don't have to travel. The nice thing is it'll allow me to watch other NFL games for a second Sunday in a row. That doesn't happen often.

Spoff. I assume you have to have a certain "look" as decided by the Packers to appear on camera. Do they provide you with Pro Shop gear or a stylist? Looking good!

Ha. They provide me with gear from the Pro Shop, but we don't have any stylists next door to the studio or anything.

Were you pleasantly shocked at the tricky way the Brewers were able to nab a catcher for a AAA outfielder who steal bases but lacks power so far? From Slinging Stearns to Making Moves Matt (Arnold)

Seems like the Brewers came out of that trade pretty well. Oakland had a very high evaluation on Ruiz, the outfielder Milwaukee got in the Hader trade, and the Brewers took advantage of that to fill the biggest need on their roster.

Quick question - I saw comments about Donald. I thought there was a chance Donald wasn't going to be playing against the Pack due to his own injury. Did I miss something?

That's a storyline to watch this week. Donald has been in and out of the lineup for the Rams. We'll see what the injury report says as the week goes along.

Why were the Packers so reluctant to let Keisean Nixon returns punts as well as kickoffs? So far, the results have been far better than what we got with Amari.

Nixon had never returned punts in games before. And he hadn't done much on kickoffs either until the Packers put him back there. Why they waited so long to make the change from Rodgers I don't know.

Any idea how extensively Doubs will be used on Monday, given the injury layoff?

No idea. But if he's fully healthy I don't see him being limited to just a dozen snaps or anything.

Mike do you like these Rams uniforms better or the old pewter ones?

I've always liked the Rams' blue and yellow look, which was the look of my youth. They never looked right with that metallic gold after they won that Super Bowl with Kurt Warner.

The Green Bay Packers held practice at Clarke Hinkle Field on Tuesday, Dec. 13, 2022.

How's your Christmas shopping going, Mike?

Got some done last weekend on the bye, thanks. Can probably finish up this weekend with having Sunday off.

Mike. What's your typical road trip agenda? I assume you get gussied up and go out for a nice steak dinner and enjoy all that the city has to offer?

If I have friends or family to visit in the city, I'll catch up with them. Otherwise, I honestly don't do much. Game days are long work days and I like to rest up. I'm not so young anymore.

Any thoughts on some of these outrageous contracts being given out in baseball?

Nothing surprises me anymore. The luxury tax doesn't serve as much of a financial constraint, so baseball will continue to be a league of haves and have-nots. The teams with money can buy their rosters, while the teams without have to develop from within and win with young players before they become too expensive. It's been that way for a while now and it's not changing.

Has Allen Lazard performed well this year for what was expected of him, or is he only meant to be mostly a blocker and not a go to receiver?

I think injuries have slowed down the type of year Lazard is capable of having and the one he wanted to have. He's still a valuable piece to this offense, but his health has betrayed him a bit this year.

Do you know if any of the players have gotten out into a blind or tree stand (aka Brett Huntley a few years ago, or George Koonce a few decades ago) to do a little deer hunting during the bye week?

With this being our first year back in the locker room since '19, I'm not as familiar with some of the players' off-field pastimes as I used to be. I still have a picture up in my cube of when I went hunting with Jeff Janis for a website story. That was a memorable day, and we didn't even see a deer until his trail cameras got some pictures after we left.

Do we have a slot receiver in the making behind Randall Cobb now that Amari is no longer on the team?

I'm not hung up on it. I've seen Watson line up in the slot, Doubs has done it. Lazard, too.

Lazard will be an interesting free agent or resign decision. He is so clutch getting first downs, blocks well, has Aaron Rodgers trust, and leads the young guys too. With Cobb and Sammy Watkins likely gone, thinking he stays?

It will all depend on what kind of money he's looking for and how much another team might value his services compared to how the Packers value them. It's very difficult to predict the business side of things, especially with the cap shooting up next year.

On Sunday what games should I be watching that will impact playoff chances?

Essentially the Packers are competing with the Giants, Commanders, Seahawks and Lions. The first two play each other, so unless they tie again, whoever wins will be in good position for a wild card. The Packers have to put together a winning streak or none of it matters.

Question about the line. Do you think they'll flop Yosh Nijman and Tom until Bak' comes back, or will they stick with Tom at LT?

I'm guessing they keep the status quo at this point.

When Marcedes Lewis is in at tight end, is it predictable that we will run the ball? Seems like our tight end room could predict what kind of play we are running more than any other offensive position.

I'm sure that's something the coaches have looked at, because you don't want to fall into those tendencies. The Packers run a lot of play-action when Lewis is on the field, from what I've seen.

Hopefully Aaron Jones and AJ Dillon are both healthy now. If so, are they like RB1a and RB1a, or is Jones still the focus of more of the offense?

I think that's an opponent-dependent thing. Whichever back they feel is the bigger threat to a given defense, and as long as he's producing, will get a larger workload. But I expect both to be factors regardless. When both of those guys are doing their thing, this offense takes on a different character.

All right, folks, with that I'm going to call it a chat. Thanks for all the participation, and enjoy the game Monday night. We'll talk again soon. Best, Mike

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