Skip to main content

What's the recipe for success down the stretch?

Senior writer Mike Spofford took questions in his weekly chat


Hi everybody. Sorry for any confusion on the shift in time today. Not everything was set up properly for 11 a.m., but I'm here now, and I can go until almost noon, when practice starts. Fire away.

Comment From Jesse

Mike, should be exciting Starr, Favre, and Rodgers all on the same field. Lambeau field should be roaring to help for a victory

It should be a pretty special atmosphere, no doubt. It seems fitting this Favre game is against the Bears, a team he practically owned during his career.

Comment From Chris

Morning Mike. What did you think the chances were the Peterson was going to be held under 50 yards?

Hah. Good one. Vic put the line at 125, and I thought that was about right. Little did we know. The guy was leading the league in rushing by more than 200 yards. That was an incredible job. 45 yards with a long of 11, plus a fumble. Can't take a star out of a game much better than that.

Comment From Guest

What are you thankful for Mike?

I'm thankful for my family, good health and an enjoyable job. Thanks for asking.

Comment From Tony C

"Release the squirrels !!! "

Did they ever catch it?

Comment From Zach

Mike, nice win on Sunday. Is balance on offense and stopping the run going to be this team's recipe for success the rest of the way? Would make sense to me with the lack of explosiveness.

*If you can stop the run and have balance on offense, you're going to be tough to beat. Adding explosiveness would be a great ingredient down the stretch.               *

Comment From Douglas

Hey Mike! Maybe a dumb question, but what happens in a game if we have WRs going down and run out? It's starting to look scary thin.

As long as you have two healthy ones, you can still be in a lot of your basic sets. The way the Packers split TEs wide and such, there are plenty of variations. But yeah, you don't want to get any thinner there.

Comment From Michael K

Hi Mike. I would figure the Packers want to keep the details hush-hush, but do you know when they plan on having Starr Favre Rodgers on the field together? Before the game?

I don't know the details myself. I think a lot depends on how Bart is feeling when he gets here. That's understandable.

Comment From Josh

Mike, is Quarless ready to go? Can he play this week?  

He's eligible to play but has not been activated, and I would think he would have to practice for a week or two before he would play, given the time he's been out.

Comment From Bob

How do you feel the secondary is playing? It was easy to overlook on Sunday because the Packers won comfortably, but they gave up a lot of yards again, and most of it wasn't in garbage time.

*Teams are going to make plays passing the ball in this league. That's how it is. I thought the secondary played pretty well, helped by a ferocious pass rush that was unleashed when the Vikings couldn't run it. I felt there were only two pass plays surrendered of major significance -- both to Rudolph, one for the TD and the other to set up a TD. Other than that, the Vikings didn't have any really big plays. That's how you win, limit the big ones.            *

Comment From Kyle

Hey Mike! Have you ever seen a football player wear a hoodie durning a game? If you're a coach would that be a concern and is there a rule about what players can and can not wear? GO PACK!!!!

*Can't say I've seen it, but as the guy handling the Packers Twitter account during game action, I found it hilarious that James Jones Hoodie had its own Twitter account by the second half.           *

Comment From Chris

Can Ty Montgomery realistically be an offense threat this year considering the practice time he has missed?

They need to get him back and get him working with Rodgers again. As I said last week, we have to temper our expectations for his return given the time he's missed this rookie season.

Comment From Nathan

Visiting Lambeau Field today from Arizona! Very excited!

*Stay warm!        *

Comment From Scott LC

Is there hope Richard Rodgers will develop into a better run after catch guy, or should be just hope for a better blocking possession receiver?

I think there's plenty of promise in his development, given his size and skills. Right now his best contribution is as a red zone target. I don't know if the replay showed it, but on Cobb's TD right before the half, the safety lined up behind the man covering Cobb ran over at the snap to double Rodgers, and Cobb was wide open. He's a factor down there.

Comment From trevor

Hey Mike, I noticed clay matthews seemed to be limping at the end of the game. Any word on if its anything serious?

He's been dealing with an ankle injury for a few weeks. I'm sure the short turnaround for a Thursday game will not help him, as it doesn't help anybody dealing with that kind of stuff. That said, I thought Matthews played a fantastic game on Sunday. The Vikings couldn't block him, and he's probably still kicking himself for letting Bridgewater spin away on that potential sack.

Comment From Joel

Mike, in what ways do players best prepare for games on a short week such as this?

*Get the body recovered as best as possible and stay on top of all the film study and mental preparation. If you're as mentally sharp as possible, then you push the body through the game, I suppose. Honestly, I don't know how these guys do it.             *

Comment From Bongo

I am thinking the last 5 minutes of the first half when GB stopped MN at mid-field with a couple sacks, drove down for a TD then scored again on the opening drive of the second half to basically win the game will be the turning point everyone will look to if the Packers can win it all

That was a heck of a sequence. You could feel the game tilting toward Minnesota when the punt was partially blocked. It wasn't two sacks, it was a TFL on Peterson and then a sack, but yeah, that stand by the defense defined the game. I wrote about it on Sunday in my locker room report.

Comment From Nicholas

With the league's apparent increase focus on player safety, do you have any thoughts on the backwards-ness of teams playing on Thursday after playing that Sunday? My thoughts are that what if the teams that are going to play on Thursday, have a bye week before that week.

I agree. I don't know if it could be worked out logistically for a whole season of Thursday games, but I hear your point.

Comment From Gary

Still no viable deep threat to speak of. Janis is fast, but has not proven he can catch the long ball. What do the Packers do from here?

Keep working at it. Janis was open on that play-action shot. Not sure if he didn't run the route quite right or if the throw could have been better, but they didn't miss by much. All you can do is practice and work on the timing.

Comment From Josh

Did Janis just take over the kick returning and punt duties with his big return? Do you think having success making plays in the kick return unit translated to more confidence on the field or is that overblown? I think if he can produce like that it will be huge for the kicking game as the weather turns.

I'm expecting to see him on kickoff returns again with Montgomery and Hyde on the injury report still. Punt returns? I doubt it at this point. With not as many kickoffs going for touchbacks in the cold weather, it will be interesting to see if that 70-yard return was a sneak preview or a fluke.

Comment From Brett

Mike, Favorite Favre memory?

If you're talking since I got this job (in 2006), it would have to be the OT pass in Denver to Jennings for the win on the first snap of OT.

Comment From Zach T.

How about Datone Jones? The combination of development and healthy ankles has him looking like a major matchup problem for opposing teams.

Mike Trgovac (D-line coach) has said to me and other reporters multiple times in interviews that it's a matter of keeping Jones healthy to see the progress. Until now, every time he started to flash something, he'd get hurt. He's showing he can really help this defense.

Comment From Scott LC

Mike, do you foresee the hoodie being outlawed? The league can't take a chance on someone being strangled on the field, can it?

*If they aren't going to outlaw the dreadlocks outside the helmet, I don't see why they'd outlaw the hoodie.   *

Comment From Tom

Wisconsin vs. Northwestern...Was it a catch?

*It was a catch, until it wasn't a catch, at which time a catch is only a catch instead of a catch.      *

Comment From Don H

Who would have thought that Mason's five FG's of 40 yards is the first time that's ever happened in NFL history. Impressive performance. Having confidence in the kicker (and the kicker confident in himself) is enormously important. Always is, but especially this time of year ...

Didn't know that was a first. It was a heck of a performance on a cold day coming off that blown opportunity vs. Detroit. Crosby is a real pro.

Comment From Joe

JC stood out. Great job coming off the bench cold. Do you think he will be around next year?

Why wouldn't he be? Next season will be his fourth year. No reason for him to leave.

Comment From Balaji

Hey Mike, Any idea why there is no Pep rally at Oakland?

Vic was afraid of getting attacked by Raider fans.

Comment From Steve

Do you like there being three NFL games on Thanksgiving?

I think it's great to have a night game that rotates around to different stadiums. I wish all teams would get a chance to host a Thanksgiving games and this Detroit/Dallas stuff would end, but that's me.

Comment From Bongo

If the packers can take care of business the next 3 games, it looks like the Arizona game could decide the #2 seed in the playoffs. I just don't see Carolina sliding that much in the last 6 games.

Hey, there's a lot of football between now and then, and all signs point to the division being decided in Week 17. That's what I'm looking at when I look ahead. With the Packers having lost to the Lions, Green Bay will probably have to be two games ahead of Minnesota or the Vikings can steal the division title in Week 17. The flip side of that is the Packers can afford to be one game behind the Vikings heading into Week 17 and steal it, because they can get a head-to-head sweep.

Comment From Tom

Last night, Tom Brady delivered despite being hit repeatedly. Is he your MVP?

Right now, there's absolutely no debate on that subject.

Comment From Benjamin 

Mike......why aren't the Packer's getting more INT's? I'm not an expert, but it seems the DB's are continually running with the WR's, but they just don't seem to be making plays on the ball. Am I the only one who thinks this is a problem. Too many WR's taking the INT's away by their ball hawking.......Thanks

*If a guy is covered well, the pass normally isn't thrown. INTs usually happen when throws get a little errant and the defense capitalizes. Or the QB doesn't see someone in coverage, in a zone look perhaps.         *

Comment From Joel 

Mike, when my wife was at the grocery store in Seattle wearing a Packers shirt, she was cussed at several times even though she didn't say or do anything. Is this a product of an unhealthy sports culture? Have we as a society gone too far in making the NFL a reason to despise another human being?

I would agree with that. I would hope seeing someone in your town wearing another team's jersey would be reason to start a friendly conversation about football. But that's probably more rare than the experience you just related, unfortunately.

Comment From Gary 

Mike - let me guess, the OL and JC Tretter will be part of your WYMHM piece this week?

Not doing one this week because of the short week, but I'll do one next week that combines the Vikings and Bears games. I did look at some stuff on Tretter, so we'll see. Thanks for the interest.

Comment From Bongo 

Minnesota's schedule is brutal the rest of the way that includes at ATL, SEA, at AZ. I believe the division "should be" decided by then.    

If Detroit wins on Thursday, which the Lions very well could, the Packers will be heading there to face a team on a three-game winning streak. Dallas with Romo will be no cakewalk. The Packers go to Arizona, too. I'm not taking anything for granted.

Comment From Matt 

Mike, Manning just recently broke Favre's passing yard record. My question is, who reached that number the fastest of the two?

Well, Favre played 19 seasons, not including his rookie year. This is Manning's 17th season, I believe, not counting the one he missed with the neck injury.

Comment From Balaji 

Mike, do you think this loss to Lions is going to come back and bite us in the back to decide playoff seeding?

*It could be a factor in the division title race. If the Vikings don't lose to the Bears at home in a few weeks, they'll come to GB in Week 17 with a chance to split the head-to-head with GB and win the division record tiebreaker. That's why I say the Packers will have to be two games up by then for the last game not to decide the division (unless the Bears go to Minneapolis and win, then other tiebreakers would come into play).   *

Comment From Tim 

Hey Mike, Happy Thanksgiving! I am really impressed by the defenses play this year. I know the move to ILB for Clay was big, but is it THAT big? It seems like there has been an increased level of play all around.

Matthews has played a big role inside in the wins over Seattle and Minnesota, stopping Lynch and Peterson. When you can get that kind of pass rush from the other guys, like on Sunday, and you don't need it from Matthews, you don't need him outside. But not every game has been like that.

Comment From Simon 

Last time Packers won the Superbowl, they did not take the easy way. They had injuries and they went 10 - 6. Could this be that kind of season again?

I'd rather not be a wild-card team, if that's what you're asking. I'd rather be a division champ and get at least one playoff game at home. The all-road route has been done, yes, but it's not the norm for a championship.

Comment From Luke 

Mike, the Packers beat the Bears if...

I don't like giving away Final Thoughts in advance, but I'll say if they intercept Cutler a time or two. That's what it always seems to make a difference in these games.

Comment From Tom 

Who's your college top four?

Can't say I've studied it closely enough to provide an educated opinion. But as a Big Ten fan, I'm really curious to see if Iowa can actually win the conference title and crash that party. I don't think they can, but in a one-game shot, who knows?     

Comment From Shalen 

During the packers three week slump, was Aaron Rodgers injured but played through it?

He was on the injury report last week, and both he and McCarthy acknowledged he was "banged up," but players always say there's a difference between being hurt and being injured. That's how most of them look at their profession.

Comment From Cameron 

Favre is the reason I started to like football. Who did that for you?

Walter Payton.

Comment From Raff 

Happy bird Mike, what I saw last game, was a DL that set the tone for that game. Do you agree that the D line elevated their game last week?

No question. The very first running play by the Vikings, Raji blew up his guy in the middle, and Guion and Daniels both made their guys whiff at the line. That absolutely set the tone.

Comment From Scott LC 

Mike, do you share Vic's "disinterest" in soccer?

Pretty much, though I don't hate the game. One of the greatest experiences of my life was going to a World Cup qualifying match between Spain and Denmark in the fall of '93 when I was studying in Seville. The whole ordeal was unforgettable. When in Rome, you know ...

Comment From Taghon 

Mike, did you steal Vic's "things"?


Comment From Pack4Ever 

My apologies if this has already been asked - will the halftime ceremony be televised?

*To my knowledge, yes, that's why NBC wanted this game in prime time.            *

Comment From Benjamin 

Mike I'm curious about your thoughts on what's fair game and what's off limits as far as sports reporting. I guess I'm asking do you think it was fair to report on someone's personal life and how it effects play. In particular I'm asking do you think it's OK to report on things such as Aaron and Olivia's relationship as it was last week?

Their relationship wasn't reported on. It was tossed out in a purely speculative manner as to a possible reason for Rodgers' struggles. I don't think speculation is a writer's job, especially in this day and age when speculation is taken by many in the public as fact, not just in sports.

OK, almost noon and I have to get across the street for practice. A couple more. Thanks for all the participation with the mixup/change in schedule.

Comment From Andrew 

Mike, Do you think Cobb is fully fit? He seemed to be a step behind where he usually is when Aaron throws to him. It's not like they were on different pages but to have so few completions is uncharacteristic. He'll probably catch ten passes on Thursday to prove me wrong.

Lots of folks asking about Cobb. Fully fit? Of course he is. He dropped one when it was obvious he was trying to make a big run-after-the-catch play. It happens. I think he's due for a big game. These are the times he usually shows up big.

Comment From George from Norrie 

White or dark meat? Apple or pumpkin pie?

All of it. Thanks everyone, and Happy Thanksgiving to you all. --Mike

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.