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Mike's Mid-Week Chat: Where will improvement come from for Packers?

Editor Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his live chat


Hey everybody. Thanks for logging in and adjusting to another new time. Needed to push back the chat today so I could attend the GM's press conference at 11:30 and write a story, which is about to go up on the site. But I'm here now so let's get started.

Mike, when will Gutey have a presser to explain the Douglas trade?

He just did, and it's the first thing I wrote about in my 5 things recap of the media session.

Good afternoon, Mike! Do the coaches pick certain plays for the opening scripts and run them more in practice that week? Or do they try lots of plays in practice and pick the ones that work best to go on the opening scripts? Either way, why do the players make so many mistakes on the scripted plays?

The issues with the plays early in games is a huge mystery. Generally, the plays early on the call sheet are the ones getting repped the most in practice. Sometimes, those get adjusted toward the end of the week based on plays that look sharper (or not as sharp) in practice. But usually early calls in games are ones the coaches and QB are most confident in because they've been repped and sharp. But that hasn't translated to the game and it's eminently frustrating for all involved.

Mike, except Jennings (any maybe Sharpe), I don't remember receivers coming in and lighting it up immediately, usually taking a couple years to shine. Still, there are some like Jefferson who do. Is it easier now or are these still rare.

It depends on the player, the system, the QB he's with, all of that. There's no magic theory or everybody would draft the guys they know are going to step in and shine right away.

Good afternoon Mike,
I believe you captured much of the current Packers' difficulties with your comment regarding the lack of effectiveness of the offensive line. I fully agree. If that unit can start moving people and give Jordan Love more time to throw, good things should follow.

I don't think it's just the offensive line either. Yes, they can improve. But how many weeks have I mentioned on here the receivers needing to make some contested catches to help Love out? Make some plays for him, not just the catches when you're wide open. Love needs to sharpen up some throws, too. He's made some good ones and others that have you scratching your head because they don't look difficult but aren't on target. LaFleur said it best the other day -- this team isn't good enough to overcome its mistakes yet. It's not good enough because the mistakes and shortcomings are across all the positions.

So . . What was the point of dumping Douglas? It appears we got nothing of value?

You can watch Gutey's press conference video or read my story. Essentially, the chance to get another pick in the top 100 of next year's draft was the biggest reason. He wasn't shopping Douglas. The Bills called him. He wasn't going to move him, but when the compensation rose to a top 100 pick, he said it was too good to pass up. The cap savings next year and ability to get Valentine and Stokes (when he comes off IR) more playing time the rest of the year also factored, but a top 100 pick is usually a top 50 player on a team's draft board, and that's what convinced him to do it.

It's certainly been a harder season to watch the recent seasons. However, I still willing to stay patient in hopes to continue to move forward and see some improvements throughout the rest of the season. Still excited to see the potential of this young team!

10 games left. Everybody's looking for improvement and better results. All they can do is keep working at it.

Hey Mike, what was the biggest takeway from Gute's presser?Hey Mike, what was the biggest takeway from Gute's presser?

Honestly, he didn't say anything I didn't expect him to say. He stressed that what he sees behind the scenes, the way the team is practicing, working at it, staying together in the locker room, all those things tell him better times are ahead. Those are all the things we don't see. He does and believes staying true to the growth process will get things going the right direction.

Switching a 5th for a 3rd is apparently "an offer too good to pass up"

I think he was willing to give up a 5th to get the 3rd because he's expecting to still have a 5th through the compensatory formula.

The Packers received draft grades from the "experts" ranging from B- to D for Rashan Gary. Why do fans get themselves so wrapped up in what so-called experts say about anything?

Because we live in an instant analysis, instant gratification world. If you don't have a hot take on something, nobody wants to listen. Hot takes drive interest in this business, unfortunately. That's not me and I don't think it serves anybody all that well. But at the end of the day this is all entertainment, so if that's what entertains people then that's just where we are.

Looking into the Ineligible Downfield penalties, looks like they increased last year (just not for the Packers). 2021: 0.24/game 2022: 0.48/game 2023: 0.34/game

Wow, don't remember seeing such an increase last year. I guess it's struck me more this year because the Packers have been called for it more. I do think officials could use some discretion if a guy being one yard too far downfield is really having any impact. If he's blocking a guy, running interference of some kind, fine, that can have an impact. Moving one yard too far and then standing there while the play is developing way on the other side of the field is not a flag worth throwing. But what do I know.

I am going to miss Sul. I was at the Arizona game and that interception happened in front of where I was sitting. That was such a crazy ending to that game.

I'll miss him too. I enjoyed the chances I got to talk to him. He kept it real with reporters and didn't search for the cliche thing to say. He searched for how to express his true thoughts and feelings. He was incredibly refreshing that way. And he was a pretty darn good player for this defense. I thought this was probably the best season of his NFL career overall, better than '21 even though he had five picks that year.

Is it possible the packers are "pressing" too much to make plays on the offensive side of the ball? I believe MLF made the comment a few weeks ago that the volume needed to be dialed down and the offense needed to simplify a bit. Have you noticed evidence of simplifying things?

I'm not expert enough to notice that kind of thing, and I'm not privy to the game plans or call sheets. The offense needs to focus on execution, and I'm sure some players are pressing because they haven't executed well enough, so that gets players thinking too much out there because they don't trust they're going to react correctly to what they see. They have to trust themselves and just play.

I was watching the end of the Ice Bowl the other day. I was thinking how sad it would have been to have seen everyone pushing Starr across the goal line (tush push) instead of the Iconic sneak, and Kramer's block. A great moment ruined forever.

Ha, hadn't thought of that, but I couldn't agree more. I mentioned on Unscripted yesterday how the Eagles ran Swift on an end-around out of tush-push formation and he waltzed into the end zone for a touchdown from something like 25 yards away. Philly just made that play that much harder to defend.

Why do the Bears keep trading away day 2 picks?

I don't know. The only rationale I see is they believe the players they're getting will be re-signed to long-term deals and they expect those guys to be core pieces of their team. It didn't work out with Claypool. We'll see if it works out with Sweat for them.

What's with all the penalties?

I'd encourage you to watch/listen to Tuesday's Unscripted and read this morning's Insider Inbox. I talked quite a bit about penalties in both places. Those are my thoughts at the moment and I don't have the energy to retype them now.

What's the mood like during the building on a losing streak? Gotta be brutal from the top down.

It's not as much fun around here as when the team is winning, obviously. But everyone is just focused on their work.

Mike, your thoughts on the Gary extension? Nice to know we'll have the big guy around for several more years.

Absolutely. Well deserved. He came back from the ACL with a vengeance, like many figured he would. He's a defensive player you build game plans around.

We often hear about the adversity this team is facing. How much of that adversity is self-induced? Some is due to unlucky injuries but the rest does come into question.

Sure, the penalties, dropped passes, whatever other mistakes on the field are self-induced. Other forms of adversity are beyond anyone's control. The key is how you respond, and keep the focus on what you have the ability to change or improve.

Is Zach Tom to LT a consideration? Seems Nijman was better suited for the RT position.

That's a question for next offseason at this point, as far as I'm concerned. It seems the Packers are going to let Tom play RT and go from there. I actually think Nijman has been better overall at LT. His adjustment to RT last year took a while.

NFL is a copycat league. It's got to be difficult for the offense to change their entire years game plan mid season to adapt. My assumption is that the teams figured out how to defend us and we can't adapt and overcome it.

Game plans are week to week in this league. I don't see defenses stalemating everything the Packers are trying to do. I see a lot of plays to be made on offense that aren't being made.

Mike, it looked like Nixon stripped Addison on the TD and came away with a 3rd down PBU near the end, but you didn't seem to mention his performance. Did he not perform well on other snaps? Even more curious with the shakeup.

I thought Nixon played pretty well against the Vikings. Preston Smith and T.J. Slaton probably had the best games of anyone on defense, but Nixon was solid from what I saw. I like his constant aggression and the mentality he plays with.

Outside of Jaire....our secondary is extremely young and inexperienced. Does JB dial up more blitzes, potentially exposing the back end, knowing they cant hold up very long in coverage? The current pass rush doesnt seem to be affecting the QB enough.

Yeah, I thought the pass rush left a lot to be desired until the 4th quarter against the Vikings. The Packers actually sent quite a few five-man rushes, and they just weren't effective. That Vikings O-line handled SF's front in the Monday night game and were doing the same, until late in the game. When a five-man rush doesn't affect the QB, it doesn't take long for a hole to open up with only six in coverage. When you send that extra guy on the rush, some pressure has to develop from it.

I think a third round pick is pretty good for a player the Packers got from another teams practice squad Gutey must be confident in Valentine and Ballantine

He also wants to, I believe, have a spot for Stokes to play full-time when he comes off IR.

Hi, Mike,
With Douglas traded, it seems a sign we have decided to focus on the future. Why not experiment with Jenkins at LT to see if he's our future there? We need a bedrock like him at LT and it gives him more earning potential.

Then who plays LG? The Packers have more depth and options at tackle right now, and LG is Jenkins' best position. Keep your best lineman at his best position and build around it. That's what I see them trying to do.

Maybe Douglas will intercept Rodgers yet this year

Wouldn't that be something?

Mike, your thoughts on the firing of the Head Coach and GM by the Raiders? Somehow, I think if Davis would have kept Bisaccia as coach after the 2021 season, he'd still be there and the team would have continued winning.

With all the personnel changes they made there, I have no idea what state the team would be in. But them passing over Bisaccia was a big help to the Packers, so thanks for that.

Why do players commit silly penalties especially on critical downs they must know there is a high chance of them being seen

Some of the Packers' penalties have definitely resulted from a lack of discipline. I can't speak to what's in a player's head in those moments.

Las Vegas is 3-5 and just fired their GM and coach. Do you think they regret not hiring Rich Bisaccia?

I have no idea. But if I were them, I would.

The receivers aren't just dropping contested balls. Lots of uncontested ones too. Catch those and good things will happen.

Agreed. I don't like to harp on individuals, but that drop by Wicks on the slant near the goal line was an absolutely game-changing miscue. Would've been first and goal with half the fourth quarter left and a chance to get within one score. Costly, to say the least.

Please explain the too many men on the field penalty against the Vikings in the 1st Qtr. The challenge flag was thrown on a sideline pass to Doubs along the Packers sideline. How can the officials call into question an infraction that wasn't seen in the camera angles of that play? Also, where do the officials draw the line on what is reviewable during a challenge?

My understanding is anything that falls under the purview of "reviewable" can be reviewed when a play is looked at. 12 men on the field falls into that category.

Mike, in other sports there is a common theme of trading away "win-now" players for future assets. Even Vic has mentioned on occasion how hard it is to win with late-20s picks over time. Do you see the trend of trading the present for the future growing in football and do you think finally having a top first round pick could help GB like it did in 2008?

I assume you mean 2009, when the Packers had the No. 9 overall spot. I don't know about trends and such. I just think every team looks at its own situation, and those in charge will have different perspectives and philosophies about how to move forward. Gutey said today he expects to have seven picks in the first four rounds -- that means two 2s, two 3s and two 4s (one a compensatory, I assume). That's a lot of picks and opportunity to move around the board to get specific players he might like to target.

OverTheCap currently projects the Packers to get a 4th for Lazard and two 6ths for Reed and Lowry. Maybe one of those will end up a 5th, but it would be weird to have no picks in the 5th and multiple picks in the 2nd, 3rd, 4th, and 6th

Not really. I've seen it happen before. I think the GM's projection at this point is 11 picks total.

Looking at the next 4 games after the Rams, Sunday seems almost a must win game for many reasons.

I'm honestly not concerning myself with the future schedule. The Packers just need a win, period, against whomever.

Did you sleep well Sunday?

I'm looking forward to that extra hour this weekend, I'll say that.

What is the status of Luke Tenuta? Is he in Green Bay? Rehabbing? Does the team hope to play him this year?

They do hope to get him back, and he's been here all along. I haven't heard any updates.

I would have tried to sell the Bills on the idea that our comp picks next year will only be 6ths and therefore we could only send back a 6th to them

Maybe he tried that. Who knows.

Hey Mike, has interaction from the fans fallen off as a result of this rough season?

Not that I can tell. Inbox submissions are flowing in like mad, participation in these chats and the gameday live blog is quite high. I'd say some traffic on articles is down from other years, but nothing like a precipitous dropoff.

Is the trade a clear signal that there are shakeups coming in the lineup? Giving some guys a chance at more snaps?

We'll find out Sunday. Obviously, I expect Valentine to start at corner with Douglas gone. LaFleur said the LT spot with Nijman or Walker is up for discussion this week. Nijman's health may factor in there.

Think there's a chance that Davis tries to bring back Bissacia as their HC next year?

Who knows. But that would look pretty bad, wouldn't it?

I bet Davante wished he'd stayed in Green Bay

I feel bad for Adams. Nothing has worked out the way he envisioned, but that's how this league can go. I get the impression he'd be happier almost anywhere else right now.

Qbs don't generally play under contracts with one year left in their deals. Hard imagine the packers having both a top 5 pick and giving Jordan Love an extension, no? Fair or unfair feel like he's got 10 games to prove himself or with the current situation we're going to be hitting reset on the rookie qb contract

I don't want to predict the future regarding Love. Gutey said these next 10 games mean a heck of a lot. No argument there. These things tend to work themselves out one way or another.

What is the biggest change you expect or hope to see Sunday?

A touchdown in the first half.

With the cousins injury, is there any way that Detroit doesn't walk away with the division crown?

They are in the driver's seat, to say the least.

Hello Mike, I believe we have talent on defense. However, how many times do we see seven or even eight in coverage and the receiver is wide open. What's going on? (Please just don't answer "too often")

I wish I could answer that for you. All I know is rush and coverage work together. On certain coverage calls, the rush better get home or a veteran QB will find a hole. Other times guys don't pass off routes from one to another smoothly and offenses take advantage.

In 2008, the Packers had a poor record and it vaulted them into BJ Raji and CM3 range. Are we a "top of the first round" plus another first away, or more than that?

No idea. We have to see all these young players needing time to learn and grow play these next 10 games to have any idea where this team will be come next April

I'm not sure I can take another game of listening to John Smoltz. He's the MLB version of Aikman.

I think Smoltz has a lot of interesting things to say. That's coming from me as a baseball junkie. But he also doesn't have to analyze every single pitch. Save the nitty gritty analysis for the big moments when it's really important.

I thought there was a 'short list' of things that are reviewable on any play not all conditions. Guess you don't have that list in front of you.

I don't, but the list is a lot longer than it used to be.

With Stanford sporting a banged up thumb do you think the Packers will increase blitz packages on Sunday? He's been known for playing through a lot of injuries.

Stafford has burned GB blitzes plenty of times in the past. I don't think his thumb will have anything to do with the game plan. It sounds like the cooler weather over here could impact the decision on whether that thumb can handle playing a game. We shall see.

Hi, Mike. Having been a Packers fan in the 1980s, I am familiar with the territory the team finds itself in now. But this feels different somehow -- at some point in the '80s, I gave up believing and just let myself watch and hope a little. This feels more like waiting for the light to turn on. How's it feel to you?

I've seen plenty of these players show what they can do out there. They just have to perform at that level more often.

I was surprised Preston Smith was not traded

Gutey said he wasn't looking to trade anybody. Douglas was sought out specifically by the Bills. Smith wasn't getting traded unless a team called to ask about him and made an offer that Gutey liked.

Alexander seems to be having a tough year. Is it more than his back?

I don't know. But there are very few players I've seen over the years whose play doesn't suffer in some regard when they're trying to play through injuries.

I just don't see this season as a Jordan Love failing

I continue to say it -- Love needs to play better, but so does everybody else around him. The failings on offense are collective.

I would settle for points, any points, on the opening drive.

That, too.

Living in Michigan is tougher this year than last 20 years have been.

Ha, well. The Lions have been waiting for a while to be this excited about their team.

Seven games in and the OLine looks like they've never played together before. How can that be?

That looks like quite the duo. The Packers have handled the Rams' passing game pretty well in past meetings, but the Vikings certainly put a lot of third-and-long conversions on film for them to study.

Regarding our guys watching the replays to challenge a call, do they just get the network feed or are there other views to look at.

They have the network feed and whatever is put on the video board in the stadium. They don't have all the angles that New York might be looking at.

I just appreciate how Love is handling himself and his teammates with the "failings" around him.

Agreed. It can't be easy. He has to be frustrated, just like everybody is.

Back to work. Good day, sir!

Me, too. Though I've been at work this whole time. Just got the message practice is over so I have to get downstairs. Thanks for all the questions today. Talk again soon. Best, Mike

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