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What's the Packers' toughest matchup against the Eagles? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hi everybody. Hope your holiday week is off to a good start. Let's get started.

Comment From Tony C

So here we are. Hope is still in the building, but she's next in line at the coat check ....

Yeah, it's going to be a tough road now. Either Minnesota or Detroit will be 7-4 after Thursday, so the Packers will have to win just to stay two games back. Not impossible by any means, but the odds are getting slimmer.

Comment From Don H

Not at all happy with the season of course; I've been critical of MM but on Sunday night, I actually felt some sympathy for him and the coaching staff. He held a decimated team together, called a very good game, and demonstrated leadership. I respect that.

The team hasn't been able to play a 60-minute game, whether it's too many injuries, too much youth, etc. The offense can't start with three straight three-and-outs, and the defense can't allow a barrage of big plays in the last 17 minutes like that. This team does it right for stretches, but every game is 60 minutes. It has to be frustrating for everyone involved.

Comment From Ben

Would you say that Rodgers is playing better this year, than last?

Without question. I think he's playing much better this season.

Comment From Sean

Mike is it possible the secondary can bounce back at all or are they just too hurt and young?

They can bounce back. Getting Randall back at some point here should help. The young guys are so up and down, and it's hard to find consistency. They've shown they can do the job, at times. They have to do it more often, obviously.

Comment From Guest

Shouldn't our DL be the strength of our defense? Shouldn't they be able to apply consistent pressure from multiple positions?

The lack of pressure from a four-man rush has made things more difficult on the banged-up secondary. Earlier in the season, the Packers were getting pressure on the QB with four. When that's not happening, they either have to cover too long, or you have to blitz and expose holes in the coverage.

Comment From Liam

Do you think Christine Michael will bring back the running game?

I think he can help. I'm curious to see what he can do.

Comment From Bruce

Running back, offensive line, defensive line, corners, linebackers, etc. We have so many needs, how can we possibly expect to fill them for next year, especially using a draft and develop philosophy?

That's a really good question for the offseason, but I don't want to go there yet. The current players will be evaluated on their full season of work. When you have so many young players playing major roles, you have to see where their development is at the end of the year, not mid-November.

Comment From Marin

Mike, I heard a report during halftime how Don Barclay had a shoulder injury prior to kickoff. It was surprising he played and not surprising he had a rough time of it. Do you believe MM would have started Barclay had he been aware of this injury?

I'm sure he was aware of the injury, but Barclay probably felt he could give it a go. The two holding calls weren't good, and throwing a rookie tackle in at guard was not an easy decision either. The Packers were in a tough spot there.

Comment From Jacob

I miss the days when Thanksgiving was the only Thursday for football. I think consistent Thursday games have caused a lack of interest for me in the Turkey-Day games. Thoughts?

Not for me, not when I see MN-DET and WAS-DAL on the slate. But I confess, I don't watch the Thursday night games. Those are the ones I tune out for the most part.

Comment From Lawrence

Except for the fumble, Cook was a very bright spot. Is he signed for next year, too?

No, he is on a one-year deal.

Comment From Linda P

Mike, Well this season reminds us of how lucky we have been. I really hope there aren't any draconian reactions in the off season. Do you remember what happened the last time we had a sub par season afterwards?

The last time the Packers didn't make the playoffs, in 2008, McCarthy cleaned house with the defensive coaching staff. The month of December was a disaster on defense, and it wasn't a slew of injuries like it is now.

Comment From Luke

What is the strangest question you ever asked a player off the camera?

Probably when I asked Jeff Janis if he wouldn't mind me tagging along to go hunting. I don't think he saw it coming, but he was really gracious about it and I'm glad he went along with our plan.

Comment From Mark

Hey Mike, I've been following your work since the Daily Herald days in Wausau. Love your work! Why do so many fans call out coaches and the GM, and even Rodgers? I get that they can't us injuries for an excuse, but while fans like to deal in fantasy, coaches have to deal with reality. The reality is, this team has been hit HARD by injuries to big time starters. That's what the coaches have to deal with. No team can win without a team of starting quality players? Agree?

Thanks Mark. Wow, Wausau was a long time ago, but a great town to get started. The Packers haven't dealt with injuries this year as well as they have in the past, but I always say it comes down to which players are injured. To me, the three most indispensible players on defense heading into the season were one on each level -- Daniels on the line, Matthews at LB, and Shields in the secondary. Only one of them has played regularly, one has been lost since game 1, and the other has missed half the season so far. Not a good recipe.

Comment From Ben

Is there actually a need at the multiple positions listed previously or is it just a perceived need due to the current injuries to said positions?

That's what needs to be determined in the offseason as they set a plan for free agency and the draft. There's plenty of time for all of that once the offseason arrives. That's why nobody is talking about it now. Everyone is just focused on getting a win, somehow, some way.

Comment From Bill

I saw us make some TE catches Sunday night that were noticeably different to me from anything I have seen in a long time. Is Cook a possible Pro Bowl caliber talent?

That's been the word on him his entire career, but he's never had a QB like this throwing to him. It's really a shame he's missed so many games, but let's see how these last six go for him.

Comment From Dean

Seattle or Dallas? Who's the top NFC squad right now?

Coin flip. No question they are the top two in the NFC at this moment, and in my opinion, no one vying for third is very close right now. We'll see what Washington does on Thursday down in Dallas.

Comment From Stripping the ball??? How about working on How to cover a receiver

did you ask datone Jones WHY he stepped on the players helmet ??

I was not in the locker room after the game, I was at the press conferences. I'm sure he'll be asked this week.

Comment From Cory

Any update on Martinez after he went down? Any chance Clay moves back inside?

McCarthy said tests were being done on Martinez's knee. With Ryan's status still iffy from the ankle, I think moving Matthews back inside could be a consideration this week, but they've got a few days to figure out the situation.

Comment From Jeff

It seems as though Rodgers used to fit long passes into tight windows years ago. I don't see that happening as much any more. Does he not have the same confidence in these receivers or is he being more conservative? Kirk Cousins did it repeatedly.

With all due respect, I didn't see Cousins having to deal with a lot of tight windows. His deep throws were spot-on, which was impressive dealing with the wind, but I thought Rodgers had two good deep throws to Cook as well.

Comment From Ray N

Get to 9 - 7; beat Minnesota, beat Detroit. That's how Hope walks away from the coat check and stays in the building. Both DET and MIN could end up 9 - 7 given their schedules ... Don't put your coat on yet, Hope ....

I think that's the Packers best-case scenario. Get to 8-7 with Detroit 9-6 heading into Week 17 and steal the division. But that means four wins in the next five games.

Comment From Shaun

With the defense giving up a score at the end of every first half why do we call timeouts with the defense on the field to try and get the ball back with time? I understand hindsight is 20/20 but we did the same against Dallas and since we helped stop the clock for them, they walked down the field. This especially frustrates me because our defense gives up the big play so easily.

As I mentioned in Insider Inbox this morning, every opponent has scored with 2 minutes or less left on the first half clock, seven TDs and three FGs. The timeout strategy has worked repeatedly for the Packers in past years, but it's backfiring this year because that has been a black hole for the defense in 2016.

Comment From Dave

Plans for Thanksgiving?

I actually get the day off so I'm going to head to my in-laws for food and football and family. Can't wait.

Comment From Mike

Let's get away from big picture and offseason stuff: what is the Packers toughest matchup against the Eagles?

I think it's Sproles if he's healthy enough to play, and Ertz the TE given what Walker and Reed have done against GB's defense the last two weeks.

Comment From tyler

We let Tramon, House and Hayward walk. Seattle just let Christine go and now their backup is out until playoffs. It's IMPOSSIBLE to know what will happen. Unfortunately, our young guys have not been able to be consistent.

Yeah, that's pretty much how this league is, and how things can go sometimes.

Comment From Mike

Would you agree that the near total absence of a pass rush without Matthews playing is the greatest cause for concern moving forward (even beyond this season)?

It certainly ranks up there. They needed more pass rush with Matthews in Washington, but only two sacks and not moving Cousins off the spot much really hurt the D. The Redskins have given up only 14 sacks now in 10 games, I believe. It was a huge weakness for them and they fixed it. The Packers must do the same.

Comment From tyler

Yes our corners got beat deep a few times on TD's, but Mike said in the press conference it starts with turnovers. A turnover in that game would have been huge

No doubt. Look at how Detroit and Minnesota won close games on Sunday. Both had an INT-TD, and the Vikes added a KO return TD also in winning by just six. Those types of plays flip games. The Packers have generated no takeaways in three of the four games during this losing streak. It's a major sore spot.

Comment From Stan

Hi Mike, i think this team just needs to get someone to run the ball. When you can run the ball, you can hold the ball longer, give your defense some rest, show the opposing team who is the more physical team. There are still issues on defense, but getting Randall and Ryan could just be the difference.

I think that's why McCarthy has been insisting on finding some kind of run game. It helps your pass protection unit, it helps your defense. It helps a lot of things. I also don't think it's a coincidence that the two longest running plays against this defense have come right after Ryan got injured. I thought he was really developing into a solid player in the middle.

Comment From Kevin

My biggest fear is that the offense continues its upward trend, the defense gets Rollins and Shields back and starts playing well, we finish 9-7...and miss the playoffs. They really needed that win in Washington...

That could very well happen. If it does, I think the one you look back at was Indy at home. That's the game you can't lose. Inexcusable.

Comment From Eric

Really loved the hunting piece, and would appreciate more pieces like that one. Any plans to do more of those going forward?

Thanks for the kind words. We'll keep looking for those opportunities. They can be hard to come by, but we're glad that one worked out.

Comment From Tom

Hopefully the Badgers can keep it going because I've lost all hope for the 2016 Packers.

Don't lose all hope with six games left, but I hear you on the Badgers. Fun to watch that. Assuming OSU beats Michigan, which I think the Buckeyes will against a backup QB, the Badgers should get Penn St. in the conference title game. Will the committee take two Big Ten teams? A chip shot miss by NC State's kicker is the only reason Clemson has just one loss right now.

Comment From Linda P

Mike, speaking of the best teams. In the AFC I only see one, the Patriots. What do you see?

I pretty much agree with that, but the Raiders sure are intriguing.

Comment From Richard

Mike, great answer on the 2 minute question. And everyone can see it is backfiring, yet we keep doing it. Has anyone asked the coaches why?

McCarthy has said repeatedly he believes in his defense. He always shows confidence in his players. That's how he coaches.

Comment From Guest

It seems like every little penalty or dropped pass is coming back to haunt this team lately. How can the coaching staff overcome these types of errors, some of them mental?

You just have to play above it. You're right, every mistake seems to haunt the Packers. Daniels roughing the passer cost them three points, and probably field position. That's just one example. A false start in the red zone costs them a potential TD, and then the FG is missed, too. The better teams can make those mistakes go away. The Packers aren't doing that, which is why my phrase of the season has been margin for error. It's really slim with this team.

Comment From Rob

I understand why we didn't utilize the running game much last week but this week we were in a dogfight for the first 3 quarters and Starks only rushed 9 times all game. Should he or Ty be used MORE with the running game or is this the most they will use them?

Well, Starks, Ty and Rip combined for 15 carries, so the running game wasn't ignored. But it also became a two-score game late in the third quarter, and what I've seen this year is Rodgers really needs to be in a rhythm with throwing the ball. It's hard to get in a rhythm when you run twice and then try to complete a pass on third down. That mode hasn't been productive this year, for whatever reason.

Comment From Chris

I think the Badgers play the exact game to help them win against more athletic teams like Alabama. Keep the score low and hope a ball or two bounces your way.

As I've heard many announcers say this year, the Badgers know who they are, and they play that way. I think the Gophers are going to be a reasonably tough test on Saturday, though. I shouldn't be talking as though the league title game is a lock.

Comment From Guest

Secondly, can the media please stop blaming Rodgers! That is the one thing that is driving me nuts. He is and has been an all time great quarterback. I can't wait for the day for him to raise the Lombardi trophy one more time. I honestly believe that day will come.

So do I. Rodgers is not winning a third MVP this year, but he's far from the biggest issue on this team, in my opinion.

Comment From Mike

I agree no turnovers and our own penalties/turnovers have been costly as well.

That's for sure. I really thought the Packers would make it a one-score game again in Washington, it would just be a matter of how much time would be left on the clock. Then Cook fumbles. The lone turnover of the game ended things, and the penalties the last two weeks are way, way up.

Comment From JayGB

If Lang can't go against Philly, do you think Spriggs gets the start?

Wouldn't surprise me, but it would be great to see Lang back in there.

Comment From UpHereStill

Our safety group just seems so exposed between helping the corners and run support, is there a silver lining in what they are going through?

They've also been called upon to blitz and help the pass rush, which changes the equation in the back end. There's no silver lining if you can't get to the QB with a four-man rush.

Comment From Matt

What is the latest on Damarious Randall?

McCarthy said he's making progress. If he returns to practice on Friday, I think there's a good chance he plays, but we'll just have to see.

Comment From Jeff in Idaho

I'm certainly disappointed in the Packers performance at this point in the season but have to admit we've witnessed some pretty good football played by the other teams. Sometimes the man playing across from you is just better that day. How do you suppose confidence plays a part?

I've never been an athlete at this level, so it's hard for me to speak on confidence. What I have noticed, and it's been said by guys like Rodgers and Capers, is this team hasn't bounced back very well from the tough punches. The KO return TD to start the game against the Colts, the 75-yd TD run to start against the Titans. Those plays affected the entire team for a while and those games got away. On Sunday night, the 44-yard TD pass on third-and-11, when the game was only 16-10 at the time, seemed to be the backbreaker and the floodgates opened for the defense. You have to bounce back from the tough moments. Flush it and move on is a cliche, but it's true how valuable that approach is.

Comment From John

Is Tony Romo in a Bears uniform next year ???

Could be Bears. I could see Broncos. Some other teams will be in the mix, too. Will be an interesting sweepstakes.

Comment From Matt

What do you expect to see Monday night against an up and down eagles team?

I expect to see the same fight we saw against the Redskins. It's just a matter of whether they can play closer to a 60-minute game.

Comment From Mike

What is your assessment on how Spriggs played?

I thought he did well for getting thrown in at guard with virtually zero experience at the position. The false start in the red zone really hurt, but other than that, he held his own in a tough spot.

Comment From Arohit

What's the situation with Demetri Goodson? He looked distraught when he was taken off on the cart.

McCarthy used the term "significant" knee injury on Monday. That has been code for a very long absence and recovery. I wish Goodson the best. He's a very well-liked guy around here.

Comment From John

Rodgers, Cobb, Bakhtiari, Cobb, Matthews Daniels. That's the list of players I am 100% certain will be back next year. Obviously others are extremely likely, but this is the time of year guys realize they are playing for their jobs. Coaches too. I think this team will surprise us.

I'd be all for that.

Comment From Nate

Spriggs one-handed bodyslammed a guy. He looked like Tom Crabtree out there!

I didn't see that. I'll have to check the film. Thanks for the heads-up.

Comment From Brandon

What's happened to Nick Perry? The first 5 weeks he always seemed to be around the QB even when he wasn't getting the sack, but I barely see notice him anymore.

His production had fallen off, for sure, but he got a sack on the first series on Sunday night. Hopefully that's a sign of more to come.

Comment From Charlie

Do you ever feel a conflict between your job as a reporter and your status as a Packers employee?

Of course, but it really holds me accountable for everything I say. I can't just spout off and then pretend I never said it.

Comment From Nate

What's your favorite food for this coming holiday?

This may sound strange, and don't get me wrong, I love turkey, but I always look forward to green bean casserole on Thanksgiving. It's always been one of my favorites. I hope my mother-in-law is reading this :)

OK, my hour is almost up. I'll take a few more.

Comment From max

you cant ignore the defensive woes, but to win games the offense needs to play way better. 10 points in 3qs arent going to cut it. rodgers should start putting up 30+ points every week

Yeah, they need to do that. They can't start with three straight 3-and-outs, and you can't settle for FGs when you have second-and-3 on the 6, and you can't miss FGs when you drive 80-plus yards from your own 2. The opportunities to score more are there, for sure.

Comment From SnoopCobbyCobb

Up until a certain point, I thought the Packers looked genuinely good. They had a very slow start, but after making some plays and a big catch by Cook, it actually seemed like momentum was swinging towards the direction of the Packers. Unfortunately, as Capers said, all Hell broke loose late in the 3rd quarter. Can our December friend help to freeze Hell over?

Let's hope so. Something needs to turn the tide. A big play from the defense in the fourth quarter, maybe a lucky bounce. Whatever. It's time.

Comment From Picard

Any comment on Rodgers shutting out his family for last 2 years? No idea if it's true or not.

I don't either. I'm not going to comment on something I know nothing about.

Comment From tyler

Wentz has been pretty good.. but he has also shown he's a rookie and thrown some bad balls for interceptions. Pack NEED to get a pick or two to give them the best chance at victory

That would certainly help. 7 INTs for a rookie through 10 games is not a lot by any means, but the Packers need to do something there.

Comment From Eric

Mike, Truly enjoy the website and everything you, Wes, Vic, Larry & the others contribute to keep me coming back every day of the year. The Packers Organization is very professional from top to bottom and a reason I've been a Packer fan for life. Win or lose an organization that's been built to last. Happy Thanksgiving to you and all the others!

Thanks for the kind words, and Happy Thanksgiving to everybody out there. Thanks for all the participation. Enjoy the holiday. I'm not sure what next week will bring as far as the chat with the game on Monday night, so stay tuned. Best, Mike

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