Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Will the Packers stay focused?

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his weekly live chat

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Washington QB Taylor Heinicke

Hey everybody, hope all is well. Thanks for logging on today. Go ahead and start sending questions in and I'll get going.

Hello Mike, I like the way #29 played. Just hope he will get more play times and want to see what he can do when he learn the D.

That was a good debut for Rasul Douglas, especially getting thrown in as a sub after one quarter. The personal foul on the QB slide was unfortunate, and he knew it right away. But his aggression was otherwise a positive and it looks like he can really help while the secondary is a bit depleted.

Do you think the Packers will make a move before the trade deadline and if so would you assume they'd more likely target a WR like Brandon Cooks or a CB like Fuller?

I don't know if they'll make any moves. They've made plenty already to deal with all these injuries. The fact that Kevin King hasn't gone on IR would indicate they're expecting him back soon. I don't see pursuit of a WR with Marquez Valdes-Scantling coming back soon as well. Defensively, you never have enough corners or pass rushers so if there's someone out there they feel can help, I'm sure Gutekunst will look into it.

Hey Mike, I have seen a lot on Twitter about Rodgers' deep ball accuracy falling off a cliff this year. You think this has to do with no MVS? Or just an outlier in the data that will even out over the course of the season.

I disagree with the premise. No, he's not connecting on every deep ball, but the two deep shots to Davante Adams the last two games were absolutely perfect throws. There are concerns with this team, but Aaron Rodgers' deep ball accuracy isn't one of them.

Hi, Mike. Thanks for chatting. "If the Packers get to the bye with a record of _, they'll be in solid shape to win the division." I know: We still have ⅔ of the season left to go. But I think if we can hang on until the final stretch and we get our starters back on the field, ably supported by the guys who are holding their own right now, I'd like our chances against any other team in the playoffs.

I'm not going to put a number on it. But as I look at the schedule, if they win their home games and win at Minnesota prior to the bye, I think they'll be in fine shape.

Good thing we listen to the pundits and blew the team up after week 1.

Serenity now, right?

Tom Brady Just Trolled The Bears On SiriusXM Radio: .... "Aaron Rodgers Is Part Owner Of The Bucks and He Now Owns The Bears"....

I guess everyone is having a little fun with it.

Do you have any injury update an Za'Darius Smith?

No, there's been no update. It's definitely possible his back surgery was season-ending, but the team hasn't ruled out a late return.

I read some negative comments about Robert Tonyan not getting open, but Rodgers has thrown him some bad balls that would have been big gainers if better thrown.

That's probably true. It's also true Tonyan has a bigger target from opposing defenses after what he did last year, and with MVS out the last few weeks, too. I still think his time will come. As I keep saying, guys who have produced before can be counted on when their number is called.

Despite all the injuries the defense has been commendable for the most part. However 15 TDs in 15 Red Zone trips is disturbing. They seem to sitting back on their heels and waiting to react while bad things happen? I might suggest something different, All out aggression and attack. 7, 8, or 9 guys coming. 2 or 3 DBs playing press coverage. This will lead to some epic failures but some epic success as well. Really What Have They Got to Lose at this point?

It's easy to say that but it's not practical. Several of the relatively easy-looking TD passes by opponents have resulted from miscommunications with the coverages. It's not what fans want to hear but it's the truth. They have to execute what's being called in the red zone better. But as I said in Inbox earlier this week, I'd rather the opposition be 100% in the red zone at 2-for-2 than 60% at 3-for-5.

Hi Mike, What can you tell us about taylor heinicke? All I really know about him is he almost helped Washington pull out the W against TB last postseason.

His performance in that playoff game last year was impressive. He hasn't been sacked much, but Washington's passing game is lacking in explosive plays. He's averaging only 11 yards per completion.

I know a lot of Bears fans that complain about unfair officiating. The real story is 30 years of Hall of Fame QB play. If it were the Bears who had 30 years of this, the Pack would be on the losing side of most these games.

No question about it.

I know you posted a story earlier this week updating us on all of the Packers' injuries, have we received any more updates since then?

No. Practice today is at 2 p.m. so we'll see who's out there.

my biggest surprise this season has to be how well this team has been winning the line of scrimmage on both O and D. Am I seeing things or are they more consistent with it this year? what do you attribute the success to?

I thought the Packers won at the LOS the bulk of last year as well, and it's continued for the most part this season. As noted, for the running game to average 5.6 per carry against a defense that only allowed 3.9 coming into last Sunday, that says something. Kenny Clark and Dean Lowry combining for three sacks as interior rushers says something too.

What one thing do you look forward to most with regard to covering games in-person at Lambeau as opposed to via TV feed?

Just being able to see the game live, and see the whole field, hear the crowd noise and all of that. I'd much rather watch a game from the press box than on TV.

It still look like Packers are still having kick off coverage issues You agree??

It's not where they want to be. I haven't studied the film, but it seems they have someone in position to make a tackle and the returner makes the first guy miss.

I've noticed a few times in the last couple days 12 blocking on run plays....reminds me of 90's era 4. One of the best was against the Bengals in which 12 pitched left, spun around, and blocked the backside LB that was crashing hard, negating him from the play. I don't know if a lot of others notice, but he is truly one of a kind.

Rodgers isn't going to throw a hard shoulder into a big defender, but he'll put his body in the way and run a little interference when necessary.

What side do you expect Chase Young to line up on? Do you expect the Pack to double team him?

I'm not sure which side is his preferred alignment, but I would suspect they'll see if Billy Turner and Elgton Jenkins can handle him on the edges, with chips and other adjustments at the ready if needed.

How's Gary been playing? I don't remember you calling his name in the live blog on Sunday.

I didn't, but when I watched the film, he was bull-rushing the Bears RT time after time and collapsing the pocket. His impact on the game wasn't in the stats.

Through 6 weeks Campbell Is The Highest Graded Linebacker In The NFL According To PFF. Amazing!

That's the under-the-radar personnel acquisition of the year in the NFL, if you ask me. He's been a revelation. Steady and high-impact at the same time.

Hello Mike, is Sunday's game an all green weekend?

The Packers are wearing the 50s historical replicas for the first time. I think they look pretty sharp. Hope it's a sunny day to really show off the colors.

Can't wait to see how the new 50's throw back jersey's look on Sunday! Should be an interesting color combination seeing it paired against the WFT Burgundy and White. Beauty in simplicity

Christmas in October, I guess.

Defense has played statistically well- is this due to Joe Barry or from facing weaker offenses the first 6 weeks?

The Packers are going to face better offenses than they've seen as the season wears on, but I think the defense will continue to grow and progress at the same time. The entire unit has shown steady improvement since Week 1, I feel.

This is a very difficult game for the fans to not overlook with the 5 game stretch before the bye coming up. It's also got to be awfully difficult for the team. Do you think there might be a little lack of focus Sunday?

There shouldn't be, and LaFleur will do everything in his power to make sure there isn't. There are two really good reasons not to look past Washington. Their defensive and offensive lines. On D, the group of Young, Payne, Allen and Sweat is talented. On offense, their QBs have taken only six sacks all season. Washington hasn't put it all together yet, but they have talent in the trenches.

After Yosh Nijman's play at LT, were you surprised at the decision to return Jenkins at tackle rather than guard? With a full week of prep without Josh Myers, do you foresee any other changes along the OL compared to last week?

No, I would expect the Packers will go into the Washington game the way they finished last week. Nijman played well, and he's to be commended. But every play you provide help or a chip blocker impacts how many perimeter players are involved in the passing game. If you don't have to provide that as often with Jenkins at LT, it opens up the offense more. Also, LaFleur is a believer in the best five, so I take his decision to mean they rated Runyan's play higher than Nijman's. It doesn't mean Nijman played poorly.

What can we expect to see when David Bakhtiari returns to the line? Who are the packers going to move around and move down?

I would think Jenkins moves back to LG to replace Runyan. The only caveat would be if they feel among the guards that Jon Runyan has played better than Royce Newman, Runyan might hop over to the right side. But we're a ways off from any decisions at this point. Today is just Bakhtiari's first practice.

Game after game this rookie class continues to produce dividends, 2-4 year developmental players continue to perform, free agent acquisitions making instant impacts. Just throwing some love to Gutey and the scouting department, they really have been hitting on all cylinders lately.

There are acquisitions who are expected to step in right away. Others they know will take more time. And not every move works out. But the Packers believe in their scouting process and the developmental process with the coaching staff. It all works hand in hand.

Didn't hear Stokes name at all on the TV broadcast Sunday. Looks like we struck gold on another corner. Really like the way he is playing.

How can you not? Another young guy who just keeps making strides. He's been forced to grow up fast, and he has succeeded.

What do you think about Lucas Patrick? Do you see him jumping back to a starter position in the future?

Patrick is invaluable as a veteran guy with a ton of experience who can play any of the three inside positions. He's always ready to answer the bell and comes through. I have no idea what the future holds for him. I believe his contract is expiring, so who knows. There are so many games left to play there's no telling what the situation will be in the offseason at this point.

If a TD is negated by offensive PI in the end zone, why shouldn't the play be reviewable? All scoring plays are reviewed and a questionable penalty should be part of the play. I know PI isn't reviewable but Equanimeous St. Brown doesn't get many chances.

They tried making PI reviewable a couple of years ago, and they got rid of it. If a receiver catches a TD pass and the play is automatically reviewed, it doesn't matter if they see an obvious OPI on the play, the replay official can't change the call.

Mike, remember in 2017 the game Rodgers came back and played against Carolina and he threw 3 INT's and people in the inbox were concerned if his arm strength and accuracy would ever come back? Those were the days.

Judging anyone on one game coming back from a long absence is totally absurd. It's worth keeping that in mind when Bakhtiari, a five-time All-Pro, plays his first game since last December.

On Rock Report there was a wide open receiver, but the referee was near him. Do you think a young QB may see the ref as a defender? Especially when looking into the sun.

No, Fields definitely wanted to throw that ball to Robinson, but he just didn't have the space to step into it and get everything on the throw he needed to. You're not going to confuse the zebra stripes for a green jersey.

What did you think of the Bills decision on 4th down at the end of the MNF game?

As I said in Inbox this morning, I understood the decision to go for it, especially if they felt their defense was on empty and wasn't going to be able to stop Derrick Henry in OT. But look at how the Titans' D-line was lined up for that sneak compared to how the Bears lined up on the early 4th & 1 last week. Night and day. The way that Titans' front looked, I'd want my QB to be able to check out of the sneak call.

I don't think we need to focus on one red zone stop but how to be more effective overall in red zone defense.

Clearly, but one stop would break the streak and then you move forward. You have to start somewhere.

Mike- If the Packers and Bears somehow would meet in the playoffs in Chicago would you have any trepidations? The players, #12?

Well, if that were to take place, there'd be plenty of bulletin board material for the Bears. It would be a bigger media thing than a player thing, I can guarantee you that.

Hey mike, while you have to plan for the best out of WFT, is this a good week to ease a player, coming back from injury, into the fold?

I don't know. The vast majority of the time, if a guy is healthy enough to play, he plays. That's what he's getting paid to do. The only consideration that's different in this regard is the quick turnaround with a Thursday night game coming up. If a player's health situation won't allow him to play two games effectively just four days apart, then I could see more caution being exercised this weekend.

Oren Burks. I just checked and it's 4 years he's been playing. (Feels like 2 maybe). But it seems like we don't see him that much. Am I wrong? Or has his development been less than expected? Or is it just his "tweener" body type makes him more situational rather than an every down guy?

Thanks!

Burks has been a regular on special teams since he arrived here. He's playing more on defense now than maybe he ever has. The Packers like what he brings as an extra pass rusher in some of the sub packages, and he's done well in that role.

The secret is out, Packers Game Live Blog is a hit...Congrats

Yeah, thanks. The live audience these last couple of games has been tremendous. I know a lot of it has to do with the Packers being on at noon and not a national TV game, so people are looking for a way they can follow what's going on. But hopefully people are entertained enough to log on even for the late-afternoon and prime-time national games now too.

WFT has a new kicker with no NFL experience. Maybe we could force him to watch Bengals game highlights and get his mind spinning?

That was an interesting move, dumping Hopkins for Blewitt. I know Blewitt tried to win the Bears kicking job a couple of years ago when they had all those guys vying for the gig. I guess we'll see how he does.

Love the live game blog. Only downside in another state is sometimes you describe the play before I see it on TV due to a delay on Satelite. :)

Yeah, I've heard that. I know I'm even further ahead when it's a home game because I'm in the press box. So it goes.

Hey Mike, I was wondering if the NFL has representatives at team practices to monitor situations like David Bakhtiari's. Or does the league trust the teams to be honest when he starts practicing.

League officials can show up anytime, so it's not a good idea to try to get away with anything.

Mike- If you went on IR, would Wes take over for you on Game Day Live Blog?

Someone would have to take his in-game duties of doing the quarter-by-quarter updates on the website if that were the case. No way anyone could do both of those jobs.

Spoff, Do you ever find yourself designing plays/schemes in your head? I would think with your vast experience and knowledge of the game you'd have some good ideas worth sharing.

Nope, never. I feel like I know a lot about football but there's still a mountain of details that aren't part of my knowledge base I'd have to understand in order to design plays.

How is WFT's run defense? I would love to see the Pack keep pounding the run!

They're giving up about 115 yards per game, in part because teams have had some big leads on them and run the ball late. They're only allowing 4.0 yards per carry, which is pretty good.

I'm with Dave on the run thing! Seems like this year there is a real renewed commitment to the run and it makes EVERYTHING better!

When the Packers ran the ball well last year, this offense was at its best and I don't think that's changed. It's really hard to defend Aaron Rodgers when the defense has to honor a legit ground game.

Mike. You seem like a spry fella. What's your secret to staying in shape?

Ha, I do my best. Racquetball and exercise bikes. And yardwork I suppose.

It's interesting to hear the chatter that the Packers are a dynamic receiver away on offense. It seems that the offense works better with a couple key focal points (Devonte, Jones), and the rest of the guys playing their roles well (Allen Lazard blocking, MVS running long) and coming up in key moments. Another big receiving name seems like it could mess up the "role player" dynamic.

I don't look at it that way so much as just the effectiveness of using the RBs in the passing game takes away opportunities for receivers. But this offense also has been without MVS for a while now, and when he comes back, defenses will have to adjust. It's a long, evolving season.

With the Thursday game next week are you still doing the Wednesday chat next week?

I will still try to do a chat next Wednesday, I just don't know what time because I don't want to schedule it when there might be a press conference or something. So stay tuned.

Dumb question but do teams literally a "bulletin board"? Like 12 is coming in after practice and sees a quote from the WFT coach dissing him? And now he's REALLY fired up to beat those guys? Seems weird to me. I would be studying their defense and thinking about how to beat them instead.

No, it's just an expression. But they get asked by the media for their reaction, follow-up, etc., so the media serves as the bulletin board you might say. There's plenty out there on social media these days, too.

All right, I think I'll call it a chat. Thanks for all the questions today and enjoy the rest of your week. Take care everybody. Best, Mike

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