Mike's Mid-Week Chat: How do the Packers match up against the Saints?

Editor Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat

Saints QB Derek Carr

Hey everybody, thanks for logging on. Hope all is well. Go ahead and start sending in your questions and I'll get rolling shortly.

Ever remember going into a game where an opponent's best runner was the BACKUP QB??? Very strange, but I'll throw a brick through the TV if we don't have at least 8 in the box when Hill is in the game.

It's going to be strange to see how the Saints go about attacking the Packers on the ground. But Taysom Hill can throw the ball, too, you know.

While I'm happy to not have Jamaal gash us, I'll also be sad because he's so fun to watch. Do you think he'll still travel and be able to say hi to the AJs before game?

Different teams have different policies on injured players traveling, but I would guess Williams would want to make this trip to say hello to some old friends.

Do coaches do any Detroit prep this week ? Or was that already done during summer ?

Usually in this situation, by the end of the week some coaches on the staff will start prepping ahead for the short week coming up. But yes, there was a lot of prep done on division opponents in the offseason already.

You going to the concert Saturday night?

Nope. Gonna rest up for game day.

Is there any word on the status of Christian Watson, Aaron Jones, or David Bakhtiari?

I'll be heading to practice in about an hour and 15 minutes and I'll see what I see then.

Mike, is Lukas Van Ness healthy?

It was announced he left the game in Atlanta with an elbow injury. That's all I know.

Jaire Alexander didn't have an Alexander like game. He gave up 5 catches on 6 targets, 99 yards and a TD. I thought the dropped interception affected the rest of his game. He's a real professional and not someone I would think would let that happen. Thoughts Mike?

It was announced he left the game in Atlanta with an elbow injury. That's all I know.

Alexander didn't have an Alexander like game. He gave up 5 catches on 6 targets, 99 yards and a TD. I thought the dropped interception affected the rest of his game. He's a real professional and not someone I would think would let that happen. Thoughts Mike?

I don't know if the dropped INT affected him throughout the rest of the game or not. Only he does. It wasn't his best game overall and he admitted as much. Trying to pinpoint the specific reasons as an outside observer feels like a fool's errand to me.

Who's the next man up at running back for New Orleans?

They have rookie Kendre Miller and then Taysom Hill, as mentioned. I would expect to see some creativity on offense for them.

Mike, any idea when Full Consistency will arrive? HAH!
But seriously, I like how our young WRs are progressing and am eager to see Watson come back into the line-up. How does it look to you after the first two based on what you thought going into the season?

Jayden Reed has carried over what he did throughout training camp into the games, and I think we're seeing what we would've seen from Dontayvion Wicks had he not missed so much time in camp with the hamstring injury. Both of those guys have plenty of growth in front of them, but they've shown they belong.

What has made the Saints D so tough this year?

They can stop the run, and they can affect the QB with a four-man rush, not having to compromise their back end with blitzes. And when they do blitz, guys like Lattimore and Mathieu in the back end are darn good coverage players. But it starts with being able to rush four, cover seven and make life difficult.

Players seemed to be in position for INTs in Atlanta but dropped the ball and were in position to make the tackle in the backfield on Robinson but whiffed because he's that good. Ye, everyone still yells for Joe Barry to be gone. seems strange but yet it's par for the course, correct?

Of course. That's how it goes. If the Packers have three interceptions in Atlanta instead of just one, it's a different game and everyone is singing a different tune.

What are your top 3 concerns going into this game? Mine are AJ Dillon being the feature back, the new OL makeup going against a much stronger defensive front, and a quarterback that has many more years of experience.

How the Packers sort out their offensive line against this defensive front is certainly a key matchup. We'll just have to see, but they've got options. Beyond that, I think Green Bay's defense matches up pretty well against this New Orleans offense. I guess what I'm saying is I don't expect a shootout, but what do I know?

Did you just get promoted to Editor? If so, congratulations! It is well-deserved.

That occurred during the offseason, in conjunction with Wes being promoted to senior writer. Thanks.

What r we going to do different this week to stop the run?

It's a different scheme with different personnel, so the main thing I'll be watching for is the tackling. You knew Robinson was going to break some tackles, but the Packers still missed on him too many times.

Public service announcement (also submitted to II this morning), anybody having issues with videos or anything else on packers.com, clear your cache and reload. Changes were made recently to packers.com. This should solve your problems.

Always worth a shot.

Some Packer fans panic too much. It was game #2 and we are firing everyone. They are always going at the negative things, just ignoring the positive. Packers will be fine even when they lose, they still have lots of positive thing to show.

I agree. They played one bad quarter and it frustratingly cost them a game they should've won. But there was a fair amount of good football in three quarters, and it could've been even better. Just keep playing, learning, and hopefully chalking up some wins. Then see where things stand in a couple months.

Do you gather it is possible MLF wanted to run some more plays for Luke Musgrave, but lack of offensive snaps in 4th quarter limited the playbook ?

Sure, he wanted to run more plays, period. They didn't give themselves that opportunity.

The Atlanta game felt too much like the game that shan't be remembered. Did you feel that way as well?

Not at all. The stakes weren't as high, and the teams are nowhere near the same place.

Where did Malik Heath disappear to, talking about young WRs?

The other guys are just in front of him right now. He got the call on the first third down in the fourth quarter, but he didn't win his route and Love's pass should've been picked off.

Growing pains on offense, i can relate to that. But the performance of the defense was iirringly similar to what we sometimes saw -and disliked - last year.

Totally agree. Nobody's disputing this defense has too much talent to play like that. As I always say, if it were just one thing, they'd fix it. They had a lot to go over from that film, but now it's move on and get ready for the next one. The carousel doesn't stop.

Shout out to Anders Carlson. Has looked very good thus far.

For sure. Would've loved to see him get a crack at a game-winner on the final drive Sunday, but alas.

Do you think Baciassia told Keisean Nixon that jumping up to catch a ball 9 yards deep is a bit over the top and not protocol ?

I don't know what discussions they've had. Nixon is incredibly talented, but starting your momentum from scratch after jumping to make a catch is not ideal for any athlete.

Mike, I feel like whenever our team is aggressive and gets penalized, the next week they soften up to avoid penalties, but at a cost of yards and points yielded. Not including unsportsman like or egregious discipline related penalties, does logic at this point dictate that you accept that aggression is going to bring a few more penalties?

If you're saying all the flags in Chicago led to a passive approach in Atlanta that produced the loss, I wholeheartedly disagree. It was 24-12 after three quarters. The Packers just didn't finish.

I also saw a bunch of "fire Mike Pettine" I mean "Fire Dom Capers" I mean "Fire Joe Barry" posts since Sunday. What's the thing in GB about always wanting to fire our defensive coordinators?

Because fans don't like to blame the players. The players are their heroes. I'm not saying the coaches don't bear some responsibility, but the blame is shared in almost all cases.

We got beat pretty bad the last time we played the Saints and it seems like they still have a good chunk of their squad from 2 years ago (-Kamara.) What will the packers do differently this time?

The Packers are a vastly different team compared to Week 1 of 2021, two years ago.

What I saw last from the Saints defense tells me our D needs to play very solid and keep this a low scoring game. Sounds a lot like what you said before the season, which was something like "The D needs to carry the load early to allow the young O to grow and find what they are good at"

There's still some truth to that. The unfortunate thing is the Packers haven't been healthy on offense, and the ground game hasn't been the reliable support it needs to be for the passing game to not have to carry too large a burden. This Saints defense is going to pose a huge test for the Packers on offense. Green Bay's defense needs to make things just as difficult on the other side.

I do not get the anti-AJ vibe that so many in II seem to have. The man is a steamroller that we have not had in many years. Okay, he stumbled a bit but that is not reason to put him on the bench. Jones is a special talent in being squirmy, and that type of runner is very rare in this league.

I think both backs work best in tandem, because they have such different styles. That makes it harder on defenses. They haven't been the "1-2 punch" for the last 5 quarters now.

Look on the bright side. Although we allowed 200+ rushing yards and got dominated in time of possession, we only lost by 1 point. The stat I noticed is Atlanta's longest run was only 19 yards.

The Packers limited the explosives, but the Falcons were living in third-and-3 or shorter all day it seemed, especially in the fourth quarter. Down the stretch, the defense didn't give itself many, if any, realistic chances to get off the field.

Has AJ Dillon lost his burst, or are these just 2 bad games?

He's in a tough spot. He's off to a slow start, coming off a personally disappointing 2022 season and now in a contract year. But there's a lotta football left.

I don't think AJ Dillon is the every down replacement for Aaron Jones. He may be powerful but doesn't have the shiftiness or balance. It's too bad Tyler Goodson is gone as he was more in the same mold. Does Emanuel Wilson have enough of those qualities to make a difference in the long run.

Wilson is so young, there's no telling exactly what he brings yet. He had a dynamite preseason, but that wasn't against a lot of front-line defensive players. We'll see if he gets more opportunities moving forward.

Aside from one time the announcers pointed it out Sunday, Romeo Doubs was not talked about much. Was it coverage or is he hurt enough he should sit?

With Watson out, Doubs is going to get the most attention. But now I wonder if that shifts a little bit with how Reed is performing. Nothing stays the same in this league. Doubs only had two grabs in Atlanta, but he also did draw the big DPI penalty in the third quarter.

Missed tackles and dropped INTs. That's basically it in a nutshell. Just catching 1 INT or making 1 key tackle may have very well changed the L into a W.

That's this league. If the Falcons had lost the game, they'd be lamenting settling for a field goal after having first-and-goal on the 1, and the dropped pick-six in the fourth quarter. But nobody's talking about those issues because they overcame the setbacks and won anyway.

I think the switching from LT to OL6 while starting your first game was not the wisest strategy for Walker by the coaches ? Or did they want to see if Yosh was better at LT ?

I don't know. If the Packers truly didn't know until the morning of the game Bakhtiari wouldn't be able to go, and they had the 6-OL package in the game plan with Walker as that sixth guy, then they didn't have much of a choice but to move him around if they wanted to use what was in the plan and what they'd repped.

Does a decades long waiting list and a historically loyal fanbase give too much freedom for them march out the same sad defense year after year without consequences? I feel like we are being treated like suckers who will pay no matter what so why fix it?

You seem to be suggesting the people in charge here aren't interested in winning. Trust me, nothing could be further from the truth. There is no lack of effort put into trying to win here.

Defensive Coordinators don't give up outside contain.

Again, there's plenty of blame to go around.

Do you think once Whelan gets settled in, they may try some coffin corner ? Or continue with Aussie kick and hope coverage keeps ball from touchbacks ?

He seems to use the Aussie kick pretty effectively. I don't see that strategy changing.

Going to next Wednesday's Brewers game. Hopefully, they've clinched by then. Will you get to any on the last homestead. Go Brewers! Go Pack Go!

I think last week I got to my last game of this regular season. We'll see if they make the playoffs and if a home game somehow magically fits into the right place with this work schedule.

In terms of talent, depth, and experience on defense is it unreasonable for fans to expect better on that side of the ball?

No, but again, it was one bad quarter. They had allowed 12 points through three quarters. You'll take that any Sunday. But yes, the overall performance must improve.

Love made his share of mistakes but, from Love's and LaFleur's pressers, the late misses to Doubs and Reed seem to have been on the receivers.

Reed and Love clearly weren't on the same page on first down. On second down, the protection broke down when they were trying to hit Reed deep. LaFleur pointed out Doubs' route on third down wasn't quite right. Yes, the details matter, for everyone.

"the Falcons were living in third-and-3" and we were lined up 8 yards downfield

That was on one play, with Campbell split out wide across from Robinson. Yes, bad matchup. But guess what? If Campbell is up on him at the line of scrimmage, a guy with Robinson's speed is running a go right past him for a touchdown. Out near the boundary, there's no safety in the world who could get over there fast enough to help.

Is there going to be a Pep Rally for the game in Las Vegas? If so, where might that be?

Yes there is, but I don't have the info in front of me. It'll be on our website if it hasn't been already.

If the Packers hadn't missed so many opportunities to score early and had a bigger lead after three quarters, wouldn't that have taken the ball out of Robinson's hands?

It's hard to take a team truly committed to running the ball to abandon the run. Usually that means a three-score lead in the fourth quarter. It never got there, but yes, one play here or there and the Packers could've had that kind of lead.

I did notice Doubs had a heat pad/sleeve on his leg on the sidelines for much of the game. I gather that is a common thing for an injured hamstring?

I don't know how common it is, but it would make sense for a hamstring issue.

The NO-GB deciding factor, like almost every game, is going to come down the the trenches. NO has a good DL going against a possibly very young packer OL with top 2 guys potentially out. GB's DL will need to generate pressure to keep Carr off balance. Should be very intriguing.

The Packers' defense has to put the Saints in passing situations on third downs. That's how you generate a consistent pass rush, by continuing to put the opponent in unfavorable situations.

The most important thing I learned on Sunday is… I don't like having to watch the Bears, listen to the radio broadcast, watch the NFL red zone, while also trying to stay up with the game day blog.

Why are you watching the Bears? The other three I get.

Hi Mike ... relative to getting videos to load in your WYMHM segment....I had the same issue. I fixed it by deleting all my cookies and other site-specific browser data for Packers.com, reloaded and viola!!!

Good to know. I hope people see this and try the same thing.

How do the Packers fix giving up 200 yards rushing?

Set the edges and tackle better.

Mikes Mid-Week Chat: Come for Insider Packers content, stay for the wild fan conspiracy theories

We're getting there, aren't we? Goodness, it's only Week 2.

I guess it's Week 3 now.

As I said in Insider Inbox on Monday, 1-1 after two road games isn't a bad place to be. It just doesn't feel good because 2-0 was well within this team's grasp, and it got away. So it goes. Dust yourself off and move on to the next one. Don't let one bad quarter of football lead to multiple losses.

Watson was able to practice on a limited basis late last week. Do you think we'll see him play this week? And what about Aaron Jones?

Watson's return to practice Friday as a limited participant was a good sign. We'll see what happens this week with both him and Jones. All the reporters going to practice, for the portions we're allowed to view, will have their eyes open.

What do you think the line will look like this Sunday? I'm hoping they keep Tom at RT. I know they want "the best 5 out there", but it seems each time we've replaced 2 positions to replace one player, it's not gone well for us (eg, last 2 playoff losses)

In the past, they've made those decisions based largely on experience of the players. All the guys they're deciding amongst now are pretty young, so I guess we'll see.

NFC North weakest division in football or just weeks 1-2 jitters?

I don't know about weakest or whatever. I said all offseason there was no clear favorite to win this division and I stand by that. It looks like the Bears are still a ways away compared to the other rivals, but this is there for the taking, and I believe it will be come the stretch run, too.

The injuries, especially on Offense, are troubling. Is it your sense that we have been particularly cursed this year compared to other teams in the league, or is this pretty much business as usual in the NFL?

It's always less about the number of injuries than the individuals who are injured. The Packers were without three of their most valuable offensive players on Sunday, and lost a fourth in the first half.

Why do you always go 3rd in 3 things we need to know? It's time to push Wes out of the way and stand your ground!

Huh? I'm usually first. Larry is the show closer, as he should be.

Well, suddenly I find myself excited for the next Packers game. It's like golf. I get mad after a bad round, but by mid week, I'm ready to go back out to see what I can do. HAH!

There you go.

This past weekend's loss is another one of those games that seem to happen with Atlanta. Recall tough losses in both 1981 and 1983, as well as the home playoff loss after the 2002 season. But then there was the playoff win in Atlanta after the 2010 season that showed what was possible with that team.

The city of Atlanta has never been kind to the Packers in the regular season it seems. The losses there in '10 and '16 were really tough, as was last week. The playoff win in '10 and reg. season win in '11 was a nice little stretch for visiting that city.

Can you expand on coach's comments about the Campbell man to man call and trying to hold Atlanta to small gains?

LaFleur was just explaining how things work on the offensive side. You split Robinson out wide to find out what the defense is in. When Campbell goes out there with him, they know it's man and not zone. Then, knowing it's man, based on the defensive alignment, they check to a route Robinson can win to get the first down on third-and-3. Campbell was playing off, so they ran a rub/slant concept with the other outside receiver. Like I said, if the Packers are jamming them up front, they're checking to a go down the sideline with Robinson. The Packers got caught. It happens. Your only recourses are to change defenses, which can get everybody running around when the ball is snapped, or to call a timeout, and then who knows what the offense comes back with after that.

One game at a time, all focus on NO. The Lions can wait. It will say a lot if this team can pull a W the next two games. Just win it, baby.

Bingo. Two home games. Take care of business and nobody cares about Week 2 anymore.

Mike….do you think fans sometimes fail to understand that football is a team game? As you pointed out, the D gave up 12 points in 3 quarters, but was gassed in the 4th….because the offense couldn't convert even one first down (without their top 2 playmakers and O-linemen). We'll catch a team this year that's short a few starters….that's the nature of the sport!

Double bingo.

Any chance we see Jaire matched up with Olave all game and Rasul matched up against Thomas? Seems like both are perfect match ups for the Packers. Jaire is fast and shifty and Rasul can cover the slightly slower less shifty Thomas.

That would make sense to me based on size/speed matchups. Like I said, I think the Packers match up pretty well against the Saints.

What time is practice today?

In 20 minutes, so I've gotta go soon.

You don't have to be ahead for any of the first 3 quarters--just the last one.
Same with the division. Being in first place at this point doesn't mean a whole lot.

Right. The Vikings are 0-2 and saying they're only one game out of first. It's a long, long season.

Barry upstairs seems to work well, and he did not strike me as a fire up the players on sideline type anyway. Guessing position coaches did that last year too . Are assistants able to do "conference calls" to the box during game with Barry ?

The guys on the headsets are in constant communication.

What do you think is contributing the most to Love's poor completion percentage? At some point he will need to get that up as we play tougher competition this year.

There have been some misfires where the receivers haven't had their heads turned or their route has turned one way with the ball going the other. That's the "same page" kind of stuff that takes time with a young QB and young pass-catching corps. You can work on stuff in OTAs and camp and practice all you want, but it's always different in the real games against real defenses. No substitute for that.

This is a little off-topic but I was really enjoying your last WYMM that focused on the run offense, and I thought: How in the heck does an offense practice a particular running play when they have no idea what kind of defensive alignment they might be facing in the actual game? Even if the defense lines up in an expected formation that might completely change by the time the ball is snapped.

Exactly. That's why you hear players talk about "following the rules." Schemes/plays/etc. have rules built in where if they do this, you do that, etc. There's a lot of mental processing that goes on with every play in this league. It's not the backyard game we all played as kids.

Thanks for doing the midweek chat - this is cool.
If Jones is out again, what changes do you think the team can make in terns of blocking scheme, types of plays called, etc., to give Dillon the best chance to be more productive?

That's for LaFleur and the offensive coaches to decide. He did mention specifically on Monday they would be examining the schematic things.

I hope you're in mid season form on Sunday. What is your favorite food at Lambeau Field?


Never forget Rodgers smirking as he came to LOS when he saw the Atlanta defense a few times in that playoff game. He was in control of that game mentally and knew the defense's plan

He also got out of some sacks with the type of wizardry I've never seen. It was uncanny.

Quick question..any word on the championship years being replaced back onto the Lambeau facade?

Haven't heard yet. Will be keeping an eye out.

So you can have pudding without eating your meat? Who would've thought

Ha, good one.

Thanks for the chat, Mike. Finally got to sit in on a full one. Always a good break for my day. :)

Appreciate everyone's participation. I gotta run for now. Talk to you next week and/or during the live blog Sunday. Take care everybody.


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