What's the focus the last two weeks?

Packers.com senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in Mike's Mid-Week Chat


Hey everybody. I can take your questions for a little while, so fire away.

Comment From Tony C.

Is the NFL serious about player safety or not?? Unbelievable decision to reduce suspension on the Adams hit. Nuts.

I think the union's potential (hopeful) involvement in this issue with the NFL in the offseason will be worth following closely. I seriously wonder how many union members are glad Davis got his suspension reduced.

Comment From Jack

I hate to be asking this in December, but who are our upcoming free agents?

Everyone from the 2014 draft class, except Clinton-Dix, because the Packers exercised the fifth-year option on him. So that's Adams, Linsley, R. Rodgers, Janis, Goodson. Also Evans, House and Brooks were signed to one-year deals this year. Burnett's deal is up. There are others I'm missing, but that's off the top of my head.

Comment From Jon from Tallahassee

Hi Mike – thanks for doing the chat. Now that the games don't matter for playoff purposes, should the Packers sit their veteran super stars? Maybe treat it like pre-pre-season for next year and get the young guys some experience and more film?

I don't see McCarthy doing that. He didn't in 2008 when the playoff hopes were extinguished. I could see him rotating in more young guys here and there to get some snaps, but I don't see the regulars, if fully healthy, just totally sitting out.

Comment From Andy

Since the Packers won't be in the Super Bowl, which two teams would be your personal preference as the Super Bowl match-up?

I don't have a preference of who I'd like to see, more who I don't want to see. The Vikings and Patriots would be at the top of the list, as far as the teams that have clinched playoff spots at this point.

Comment From Ron

Will the Packers make any "BIG" changes with management or player personnel for 2018?

I really don't know. I'm just being honest. McCarthy always evaluates everything with the coaching staff at the end of the season, and he'll do so again. Personnel? I don't see Thompson retiring if that's what you're asking.

Comment From Guest

Wow. No Pro-Bowlers. What does that say about the group of players we have? Thanks!

Everyone wants to make this an indictment of the entire roster. The Packers won 3 games without Rodgers. In 2013, they won two games and had a tie, and nobody was voted in to the Pro Bowl then, either, as I recall. Lacy and Sitton went as alternates. If you don't win games, you won't get recognition unless your stats are just too incredible to ignore.

Comment From Joe

Hi Mike, How did Martinez get snubbed? Not even an alternate.

The recognition never comes the first year. It always comes later. Now he's on the radar, so if he follows it up next year with another good season, he'll have a chance.

Comment From BrettGB

Get loud Lambeau! I don't want to see any purple in the stands on Saturday!

I have a feeling there will be plenty. Vikings fans are enjoying this ride, as they should.

Comment From Jack

Just a statement - I'm blown away that we as spectators can't look at a play and say "that's a catch" or not...frustrating!

If we just got rid of HD and super slo-mo, we wouldn't have all these controversies. That's not going to happen, but that's the only way to avoid them, frankly.

Comment From Hans

We are not alone in our misery... living in CT and listening to the Giants fans wring their hands brings some comfort...

It can turn on a dime in the NFL. The Giants won 11 games last year, and now look. Never take success for granted.

Comment From Rodney

What are the chances we see Davante Adams get shut down for the last two games? May be in both his and the teams best interest since he is in a contract year and has already had 2 concussions this year.

McCarthy said today he's working through the concussion protocol. Whether or not he'll get clearance in time to play again, we'll see. If he does, I would imagine it'll be up to Adams if he wants to play.

Comment From Tom

With Adams availability questionable, is there a chance we see Janis or Davis in at receiver?

I would say maybe Davis, based on what we've seen so far, plus a lot more of Allison.

Comment From Joe

Do you think that if the last play of the game was a slant to Adams it might have played out differently?

That's the question everyone is asking, but who knows? I thought the CB made a heck of a play. Unless Adams breaks it for a TD, which based on how the play looked wasn't going to happen, there's no guarantee the Packers were going to go the final 28 yards.

Comment From Joe

Hi Mike, Regardless of what MM and Rodgers said after the game. It appeared to me that the arm strength wasn't there.

I don't know how to judge it. Did the arm feel fine, but the usual strength wasn't really all the way back? Rodgers is pretty well in tune with his body, so I still chalk it up to the long layoff.

Comment From Mike

Would you say the o-line played good enough to win against the Panthers tough front seven?

I thought so. There were the three sacks in the fourth quarter, and those were costly breakdowns, but I didn't think either team was dominating the other at the line of scrimmage for the bulk of the game. It looked like a pretty fair fight.

Comment From Rodney

What's the atmosphere like around the building? In another story it was noted that McCarthy said the players weren't very chatty. Is there a noticeable damper on the whole place?

Monday and Tuesday there definitely was. Reality is settling in. It's a strange feeling around here.

Comment From Johan

Does GB seek justice on Saturday for Barr's senseless brutality visited on AR eight weeks ago... ???

I hope not in any kind of intentional way. Beating them so they blow the first-round bye, that would be good.

Comment From What is your take on Dom Capers returning as DC for the 2018 reason?

What is the greatest area of need for the Pack to address this off season and in the draft?

There are a lot of needs, particularly depth-wise, but I put pass rusher at the top. I said the same thing last year. And I think you can never draft enough corners and big guys. I expect the Packers to address all those areas in the draft, many with multiple picks.

Comment From Itsa me

Larry on Unscripted = Gold

That was a blast doing Monday's show/Tuesday's podcast with him. I really appreciate him filling in for Wes. I'm not sure how to even do the show solo. Would have been pretty boring.

Comment From Brett

Do you think the Pack have any chance of beating the Vikings on Sat, the rosters just don't seem like the are even close in talent, now that AR is done?

Did you watch the Pittsburgh game? That roster had 8 Pro Bowlers and the Hundley-led Packers were 17 seconds from taking them to OT, on the road. It's the NFL, man.

Comment From Matt

In your opinion, what does this defense need to do to improve? Is there anything more obscure than just beat the other guy?

The Carolina game was a failure both in communication and discipline. When guys are that wide open, and you jump offside 4 times, communication and discipline were sorely lacking. It's inexcusable in mid-December to play like that, no matter the opponent.

Comment From Adam

With what happened to Shields, do you risk signing Adams to a big contract?

The doctors will have some idea how great the risk is, based in part on how long it takes him to recover from this one, but there are no guarantees regardless. I don't think the Packers can afford not to bring Adams back. If there's risk, it's a risk they're going to have to take.

Comment From Dan

I had a moment of clarity this morning: We can still enjoy these last 2 games. Even though there are no playoff hopes for us, each game can provide us entertainment, there will be fun moments of players stepping up from all depths, and we can root for the Packers to just win each game.

Not much else to do, really.

Comment From Blaine

It is going to be a longer winter than normal.

Indeed. The only upside football-wise for me is I'll get to actually watch more of the playoff games because I won't be covering any.

Comment From Matt

How does a defense improve communication and discipline in the limited practice time allowed by the CBA? I'd imagine there are many causes to the defense's stunted growth since 2010, but this seems like a hurdle that must be overcome no matter who you're putting on the field.

There's no excuse for the discipline issues at the line of scrimmage. Regarding communication, it comes down to having the same guys on the practice field and in the games week after week, and that has not been the case for the last couple of years now. There's no defensive continuity when the injuries are constant. I don't have a solution, but for comparison, take a look at how many Vikings starters on defense have missed games this year. They've got the same crew out there every week. It makes a difference.

Comment From Jeff

I also have a big concern about the "headhunting" mindset some players (or perhaps teams) have. The concussion protocol is so severe with the concussed person being automatically being removed. Meanwhile the players inflicting the injury goes merrily along the rest of the game. There is nothing to stop the intentional removal of an impact player such as Adams or Rodgers. This skews the game in one teams favor. Who wouldn't trade a pawn for a queen?

You aren't the first person to bring that up. The concussion protocol was instituted to help players, but are there guys out taking advantage of it, so to speak, in the way you describe? The punishment for hits like Davis's have to be more immediate and more severe. That's the only potential effective solution I see.

Comment From Barry

Regarding those off-sides calls, it's my understanding it's a penalty on the defense if the move causes the offense to jump. Otherwise the defender has the chance to vacate the neutral zone and re-set. I would argue that not once did the Panthers player "jump." Rather, they just stood up and pointed. How is that a penalty on the defender rather than a false start on the O-line, and why didn't the Packers try to use the same loop hole to slow the Panthers rush, if that's the way the refs were calling it?

You can read what I wrote in Inbox today about the history of this rule. It's better than the old way. Why didn't the Packers use the loophole? Because the Panthers weren't jumping offside. The Packers have used it plenty against defenses, sometimes getting free plays.

Comment From Baby Jay

You said in the Inbox that the Pack will pick somewhere between 9-20 in next year's draft. If you were GM, are there any names that stick out in that pick range that you would scoop up?

I'm a long way from having any idea. I don't have time to watch many other NFL games during the season, let alone look at college prospects.

Comment From Barry

The way that Davis squared up and launched himself sure made it look like that shot on Davante was exactly what he intended to do. Having not played the sport on any meaningful level, I would like to know how quickly does pro athlete process what is happening in front of him and how he's going to approach it? Are we to believe him when he says he was just trying to make a play, or was there plenty of time to approach the situation differently? Personally, I don't buy that it was unintentional or a mistake.

I don't either. If you want a comparison, go back to Trevor Davis' long punt return in Cleveland. I pointed it out in a clip in WYMM, how Allison was in position to absolutely blow up a pursuing cover man, but instead of bracing himself and launching into him for the highlight-reel (and potentially illegal and damaging) hit, he turned his back and let the guy run into him. Both guys fell harmlessly to the ground, and the block was effective.

Comment From Kläus

The NFL front office can't be terribly excited that GB, NYG and potentially DAL (all teams with big national fan base) are on the outside looking in...

Philly and New Orleans can generate plenty of ratings, and you'll still have the Patriots and Steelers on the other side.

Comment From Bruce

I agree that the Packers have had communication and discipline breakdowns in the Carolina game, and quite honestly in other games as well. So who's responsible (defensive coordinator, position coaches, players), and what's the remedy?

That's for McCarthy to decide.

Comment From Jack

How does our cap look moving forward? Is it possible we could franchise Adams if a long term deal can not be worked out before hand?

I think the franchise tag could definitely be in play for Adams, as a tool to work out a long-term deal as an exclusive negotiator.

Comment From Bob

Maybe this is what the the Packers need to get over Playoff hump into the Super Bowl. They will not want to go through another season like this. Santa, please give us some Defensive talent that will last every game!

After the Packers went through this in 2013 -- when they were extremely lucky to make the playoffs at 8-7-1, let's be honest -- they put together a whale of a 2014 season. The window is still wide open.

Comment From Corey

I agree with Barry. How is just pointing at someone causing a penalty on the defense? And to me it seems pretty obvious when an offensive lineman actually jumps and when they just free yards by "accidentally" jumping

I hear you. It's against the spirit of the rule, but I don't see a reasonable solution.

Comment From Joe

I'm guessing Biegel will show what he brings to the dance in the next two games?

I'll be interested to see how much he plays. The Packers drafted him at the top of the fourth round to be a key piece of this defense moving forward, and he needs to play.

Comment From Carla

... at least we won't have to listen to that ridiculous Helga horn on Saturday ... I'm going to make it my mission in life to disable that thing ....

Sign me up. I'll have to mute the TV sound when the Vikings host a playoff game. I won't be able to take it.

Comment From Jeff

"If ifs and buts we're candy and nuts, what a wonderful Christmas we'd have". I guess we'll have a great Christmas now, right?

Sorry folks, I've gotta run. Enjoy the holidays, everybody.

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