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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Who can provide a spark to the offense?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

WR Christian Watson
WR Christian Watson

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

Did Wes have any funny "goofups" doing the press box in Detroit by himself? At least that you know about? :)

Wes handled everything just fine, as I knew he would. He doesn't need me there, that's for sure. It was strange not being together for the game, though, I'll say that.

Mike, in Inbox you asked us to stop bringing up Aaron Rodgers petulance after a negative play, saying you want him to be genuine. But this is behavior is somewhat new, and I don't think it helps the younger players. Is this something LaFleur can address with him or do you think Lafleur is afraid of ruffling Rodger's feathers?

I don't think it's that new. He's been more demonstrative during the struggles, but people have questioned his demeanor and gestures on the field for years. It doesn't look all that different to me, just more emotional than in the past. Call me a fan of professional athletes being themselves, not something fake, I guess.

Good morning, Mike! Instead of just beat the Cowboys, how can this team just not beat themselves this week?

Good plan. Looking back at the streak, it's easy to forget the Packers were up 17-3 against the Giants, 14-3 against the Commanders, and had two goal-to-go situations in Detroit in a 0-0 game and came away with nothing. They have put themselves in position for wins and then just given the games away.

Kenny Clark, Jarran Reed, and Dean Lowry are the established three. Thanks to WYMM, along with a couple games prior, it does seem like T.J. Slaton is taking a big step forward and Devonte Wyatt is growing a lot through his first season. I understand you want to do the main three, but could GB take more of a sub approach that BUF does? Could fresher up front help with Rashan Gary being unavailable?

You're talking about two different position groups there -- DL and OLB. On the DL, Slaton has definitely progressed, and Wyatt is starting to show flashes and earn more snaps. I've been impressed with Reed. All three of the main guys absorb double teams at different times, which has to be exhausting, so having a rotation is necessary. As for Gary's injury, Kingsley Enagbare and Jonathan Garvin are the main guys who will have to pick up the slack.

Which injury is most critical at this point?

I think it's Gary's. OLB is the position, as I said all offseason and through training camp, where the Packers have the least amount of proven depth. His absence probably sends more attention to Preston Smith's side, too.

Mike, it's already been a tough month for the Packers. To add to the fire, we had a plethora of injuries last Sunday, resulting in a season ending injury for Rashan and multiple weeks out for others. How substantial will these injuries be in the Packer offensive and defensive schemes? Do you think we need to change some aspect of our strategies?

What happened to Romeo Doubs was a total fluke while getting tackled. It happens. Looked the same with Gary (non-contact). The Doubs injury will be tough to overcome as well because Randall Cobb isn't back yet, Sammy Watkins hasn't made an impact, and Allen Lazard is battling through a shoulder injury. It sounds like Watson and Jones are fine, for the most part. Nothing against Stokes, but his injury is probably the easiest to absorb because you have Nixon at CB and Ford at S to handle any shuffling around. Those guys are vets. But regardless, the Packers are going to have to make do with what they have.

Any update on Eric Stokes?

It sounded on Monday like there was a high level of concern with him. I don't expect to see him back out there for a while. Whether or not it's season-ending, we'll have to see.

Morning Mike, the hits (injuries) just keep coming. Some of them seem questionable upon review. Do the Packers ask the league to review questionable hits? Last week I thought the play that knocked Watson out was a forearm to the helmet?

It sounded like Watson took the brunt of that blow to the chest, not the head. The one in Buffalo was the really questionable one, in terms of a possible flag or fine. The Packers, like all teams, send in questionable plays all the time for the league to review. Most of the time the league's response is not made public.

Will you heed McCarthy's notice that he is taking attendance of WI reporters in his postgame presser? or do Wes and you do rock paper scissors for the honor?

Ha, good one. Wes and I will do what we always do postgame -- he'll be in the Packers locker room and I'll be at the press conferences. We cover this team, not the visiting one.

Mike, a lot is being said about turf fields, and for good reason. But it seems like a lot of stadiums just don't have the option to go natural grass. What is the solution?

There's data out there from recent seasons indicating the rate of non-contact injuries on turf vs. grass is roughly the same. I know the players don't like playing on turf, and there'd be no way to have real grass in all the dome stadiums in the NFL anyway, but the data doesn't support any kind of wholesale change.

Now that Jones is out, what will our run game look like against the Cowboys?

I'm not sure Jones is out. LaFleur on Monday gave him a chance to play this week, so we'll see. But Kylin Hill becomes the No. 2 behind AJ Dillon if Jones can't go.

Who could provide the bigger spark to the offense: Watson or Josiah Deguara? Hoping both guys get more chances to show what they're capable of.

I think the Packers have missed Watson terribly. He's the jet sweep guy when he's in there, and defenses have to account for that. His speed brings an element to the offense nobody else can. All of his missed time in training camp due to the knee, and then in-season with the hamstring and concussion, has held the offense back from getting it to where it was projected to be, in my opinion.

Just want to re-iterate how great the blog is. I'd have had no access to the last two games without it. Thanks for the yeoman's job you do.

My pleasure, Gretchen. It's been a rough five weeks to be live blogging these games given the results, but I know a lot of people rely on it when they can't watch the game on TV. I will always do my best.

Mike, its been a rough season offensively for the Pack. The offense this season does not resemble the LaFleur offenses of the past few years. It seems like there's less motion, less condensed formations, etc. I understand our youth at the skill positions, etc. but what is the identity of our offense at this point? Do we even have an identity?

I don't see how anyone could pinpoint one. The receiver position hasn't had reliable availability. The offensive line is constantly in flux. Rodgers hurt his thumb a month ago. All of those have factored into where things sit now, which is not in a good place.

Mike, I have been pleased with Zach Tom so far, but his lack of size is really obvious. Do you think he can get bigger, or overcome his lack of size?

He can definitely get bigger. David Bakhtiari wasn't as big as he is now when he was a rookie. There's room to grow into the body for sure.

Honestly, a couple of the drops that Toure had in DET I don't really put on him. I think we should expect to see more of him and Juwann Winfree going forward, maybe?

I'm not sure about Winfree. They've had chances to sign him to the 53 and haven't done it. Maybe this will be the week. Toure has flashed, and the one on the scramble drill in Detroit was an underthrow by Rodgers. As was the deep ball down the middle for a potential TD, though it was only underthrown by maybe a foot or two. Toure can't get the ball stripped from him after that fourth-down catch, though. That was a stroke of luck the game didn't end there.

Who looks to be available for WR this weekend?

Lazard, Watkins, Toure, Rodgers and I believe Watson, if the update provided Monday hasn't changed. As noted, Winfree would be another possibility if they want to make room for him on the 53.

Mike, every other week we fail to utilize are #1 offensive weapon and afterwards say we have to do a better job of that. Obviously Dillon isn't getting it done in goal line situations... why the reluctance to use Jones?

I don't know.

How many snaps did Kylin Hill play last week? Is he ready for a heavier load this weekend?

He just had the one snap on offense when he got a handoff, and he played three snaps on special teams. He's absolutely ready, health-wise, from what he told reporters Monday.

Hey Mike, I appreciate your answer to my II submission. I agree that the Pack has a long, tough road ahead, but our remaining schedule is more winnable than the records might indicate. I believe GB has beaten themselves in most of their losses. I also looked at the victories of our remaining opponents, and while I don't discount them, I'm also not entirely impressed by them. If (keyword) Green Bay can figure it out this weekend, I think they're a legitimate dark horse moving forward.

One win can always change the picture and the direction. It's happened in this league many times. But they have to get that win, and this would be a very beneficial time to get it with a short week and another home game. If there's any momentum to be generated, this week is it.

Mike, I think we can all agree it was a lost gamble to count on these young WRs to bridge the Davante Adams gap. But looking back, I don't see what they could have done differently. Adams refused to return and resources were invested in the position. Can you think of anything other than trading up even higher than we did?

That's why I continue to say Watson's availability (or lack thereof) has been a big setback. He was selected very high in the second round to be a key piece of this offense. They weren't going to pay MVS $10M per year with their cap situation. Adams wanted out. The Watkins signing hasn't paid any dividends yet, but it was low-risk cost-wise. Cobb has an injury history in recent years, too. Doubs has shown he can be a player, and an important one, but he's been very up and down, and now he's hurt. There was risk in how the group was constructed.

Any tips for enjoying a Packers game at Lambeau Field despite the recent lack of success?

The atmosphere in the stadium is still pretty special, and it's a great place to watch football. Trust me, I've been to all the stadiums, and none of them are like Lambeau. If they hang with the Cowboys, there will be a ton of intensity in the air at crunch time.

Mike, how bad is that injury of Rodgers after all? We all know he is a competitor but maybe shutting him down for a game would make more sense than have him struggle week after week?

That's up to Rodgers, LaFleur and the docs. He hasn't really said how much the thumb is affecting his throws, but the Packers are definitely running more shotgun rather than under center. It's a factor, but if he can be effective, he's still the guy. He was plenty effective except in the red zone in Detroit.

We rarely catch you with a grammar error, Mike. The word "data" is the plural of "datum". "There are data" is correct.... not "There's data".


Did Rodgers give any explanation on what happened on the goal-line or red-zone INTs? If not, do you think he will today? Just very uncharacteristic of what we've come to expect from him.

He said the first two were (crappy) throws and the third one he gave credit to the Detroit safety for making a good play. That's about all he said after the game.

What do you think has caused the limitations with Watkins? It seemed like he was starting to click with Rodgers at the beginning but now I never hear his name.

There have been obvious instances where he and Rodgers are not on the same page, as far as the expected route and where the ball is going. I thought there'd be less of that, given how Watkins has adjusted in his career to Mahomes in KC and Jackson in Baltimore and made an impact when healthy. It hasn't come together here, for whatever reason.

With Veterans Day being Friday, is there any plan to recognize this Holiday at Lambeau on Sunday?

It's the annual Salute to Service home game, so there will be some recognition. Also, for those who saw late last week that former Packers O-lineman Daryn Colledge was named the organizations Salute to Service nominee for 2022, I wrote a story about his post-football military career three years ago. If you want to check it out, here's the link: Called to duty: Daryn Colledge (

Could this be the week we finally see Savage in the slot more?

As I said in Inbox, if they want to go that route on defense, then they're choosing to have Ford in the game at safety over Nixon at nickel. Anything's possible, but at this point I don't consider it likely.

Has Sammy Watkins been asked about his route decisions? Film breakdowns continue to show it doesn't look like he is doing the right thing time and time again. The last play of the game was a great example.

His comments after the Detroit game indicated he wasn't sure what went wrong on the final fourth-down play. That's all I've heard.

Mike, what are your thoughts on the Jeff Saturday being named the Colts interim coach?

It's a curious choice with two former NFL head coaches -- John Fox and Gus Bradley -- on the Indy staff.

Are we still nobody's underdog?

Interesting how all those circumstances have suddenly converged this week, eh?

So - on PMS, Rodgers didn't exactly use the "Relax" or "Run the table" words, but I do expect fireworks from him Sunday

I expect a bounce-back game. He's often delivered those.

I think your doppelganger is being optimistic this weekend. As everyone knows we have been right there in most games but for a play or two here or there. Are the Cowboys good enough to lay a whooping on us?

I think the Cowboys look like a serious playoff contender, as they were expected to be, and they haven't peaked yet. Will they start to peak coming off their bye? We'll see. That's a solid, confident team.

Mike, in reference to the question regarding turf earlier in the chat, as you point out, this has been a long time issue, and interesting that the stats show minimal difference between turf and grass. I still remember Eddie Lee Ivery tearing up his knee in the openers of 1979 and 1981 on the turf at Soldier Field.

That artificial surface at Soldier Field back in the day was like cement, and now the grass at that field is one of the worst surfaces in the league.

You can moke me if you wish, but i have a feeling that we will play Philadelphia for .500. I will be back to enjoy the applause or ridicule nonetheless.

I think plenty of folks would love for that to be the case. It would make these last couple months a lot more exciting than the past month has been, that's for sure.

I'm joining quite a bit late today so forgive me if this has been covered, but do you think we'll get an extended look at Love if we lose one more game? There is a very important decision to be made in the QB room this offseason.

As I said in Inbox, Rodgers is the QB unless the Packers are mathematically eliminated as a playoff contender. Then the Love question becomes a real one.

Has Gutey been out on the college scouting circuit during the week?

I'm not familiar with his schedule, sorry.

I have to run Mike... nice chatting this morning. Always enjoy the opportunity to bounce things off you when it works out! Thanks.

I have to run, too. LaFleur is heading to the podium in about 5 minutes. Thanks everybody. Take care and talk again soon. Best, Mike.

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