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What's your honest assessment of this team right now? Read Mike's Chat

Senior writer Mike Spofford took questions in his weekly chat


Hi everybody. Hope the holidays were kind to everyone. Thanks for logging on. Let's get to it.

Comment From Mark

Mike have you picked up on any rumors that there is dissension growing in the locker room?

Not at all. Josh Sitton said after the game if he were on defense he'd be pretty ticked at the offense for how it's playing. Defensive players have been asked about that comment and no one is playing that card. This is a pretty tight team.

Comment From Matt.

I agree with players, not plays. So why did we continue to throw out of the shotgun against their secondary and at the same time leave Barclay and eventually Walker on islands?

*The Cardinals came into the game in the bottom 5 in the league in sacks, or something like that. The game plan was set accordingly. There probably should have been adjustments before the game got out of hand, but I'm not sure it would have mattered. *

Comment From Nate

Do you think Rodgers should look to run more? I think it could cause hesitation by the defense that would help receivers get open.

I saw a couple of plays on Sunday where he scrambled to run, but it was clear a LB was going to be right there to get him for minimal gain. Maybe that wasn't clear on TV, but you could see it from the press box. When the corners can play man successfully, the LBs can but off the scramble lanes.

Comment From Brad

What needs to happen in order for this team to become hot going in to the playoffs?

They have to find some rhythm in the passing game. That's been said for lots and lots of weeks now, obviously. Back-shoulder throws and scramble drills are only going to get you so far. Beat man coverage so Rodgers can get the ball out quickly, and/or maybe Rodgers just has to pull the trigger and hope they can make contested catches.

Comment From Daniel

Mike, Are the Packers injuries just too much to overcome?

They were on Sunday. Losing both starting OTs did not bode well. If the line can get healthy -- and that's a big if considering the guys who have been playing are banged up and not practicing much -- that would be a start on offense.

Comment From Scott LC

Mike, what did you think of Clay Matthews offering his hand to help Carson up off the turf only to quickly pull it away? I laughed out loud but was it unsportsmanlike?

I'm just guessing, but maybe that was something of a USC thing, even though those guys didn't play there at the same time?

Comment From Jordan 

How can receivers get open. Is better routes really the answer or do we just lack speed?

When CBs don't fear getting beat deep, they can cover tighter. That makes setting up moves and routes all the more important.

Comment From KK 

There's a lot of frustration out there, but do you feel this is a great opportunity for the team to show the Vikings and the rest of the league how resilient it can be?

*Absolutely. In past years, resiliency has been a hallmark of McCarthy teams. This team needs to show it now, too.               *

Comment From Jon 

I'd be lying if I said I wasn't concerned about the relationship between 12 and MM. It's been a winning combination for so long, but you always hear stories about a coach's message becoming stale after time. Correct me if I'm making a bad assumption here, but from the outside it hasn't looked good. Is the "tension" just a product of losing?

This team has lost five of its last nine games, with one of the four wins an absolute miracle. I think that says plenty.

Comment From Guest 

What needs to happen for the Packers to play the Seahawks instead of the Vikings in the first round of the playoffs?

Packers beat Vikings, Seahawks lose to Cardinals

Comment From Sean-Luc 

I know you've heard this question time and time again, but what's your take on Abbrederis' playing time? From my perspective, it looked like he got benched for a tough drop while Adams played the whole game after MANY missed opportunities. What's the deal?

*I was expecting Abby to play more on Sunday as well. I'm not really sure what happened there, and other than the one drop, there wasn't much of an explanation given by the coaches in their press conferences yesterday.      *

Comment From Carli 

Do you think they will be one and done in the playoffs like someone people are already saying.

If they win on Sunday, I like their chances playing at home. If they lose, Washington isn't the worst matchup. So, I guess my answer is no.

Comment From Dennis 

Where have the screen plays gone again?

They ran one for a TD. But don't you think teams are onto those? They've run a ton and they're all over the film for teams to study. At some point you have to be able to do something else.

Comment From Mark 

Mike, one last thing, Starks has fumbled the ball at least 3x this year. That kid Crockett looked like he has some explosiveness why aren't they using this guy more?

He may get more of a look now. We'll see. Four fumbles by Starks in four games may cost him on the depth chart.

Comment From Bill 

I keep reading that receivers aren't getting open, yet it sure looked like some guys were open at times Sunday and Rodgers apparently didn't see them. Did you see this from the press box?

That's always a hard thing to gauge, because the QB has his progressions, and someone may be open, but the QB hasn't gotten to him in the progression yet. If only one guy is finding some space on each play, that makes it tough.

Comment From Timmy D 

Why is there so much hatred for Mike McCarthy? The man is a brilliant coach and has taken us to 7 straight playoffs and a superbowl. I just don't get why all of these radio shows are crucifying him, most likely for conversation and drama?

Of course. You answered your own question.

Comment From Jack 

Mike, did you see the Arizona game as a reflection of the season and a hint at what's to come, or just a fluke that me/we as fans shouldn't put a lot of stock into going forward?

The Packers were soundly beaten. No getting around that. They have a huge gap to close should they get another shot at Arizona, who I think is the best team in the league. All you can hope for now is to get that shot and see what happens.

Comment From Pug. 

Was a new sack record set last Sunday? I never remember so many in 50 years.

I remember Rodgers being sacked eight times -- same number as Sunday, the ninth sack was Tolzien -- in the Fail Mary game, in the first half. Two sack-fumble-TDs really took the cake, though.

Comment From Guest 

I get the idea of draft and development theory. I am one who looks long term and I just don't see any sure fire Packer "drafties" destined for stardom. Who do you see in the future on becoming a legitimate probowl starter that was drafted in the last five years?

*You're kidding, right? Randall, Daniels, maybe Bakhtiari, Clinton-Dix, Linsley. Lacy already has been to the Pro Bowl I think. I could see any of those other five developing their games to that level.             *

Comment From Troy 

Too me it seems like we have heard all year about getting better, but it seems like it is broke and won't be fixed.

You may be right. Would you rather be right or hope you're wrong? Hey, as a writer, I'm thankful this team is always playing meaningful games at this stage of the season. The last few weeks in 2008 were way more brutal than anything that's gone on this season.

Comment From Dennis 

Would it be possible that the Packers would have to play both Carolina and Arizona in the playoffs?

Sure. One in the divisional round and the other in the NFC title game, possibly.

Comment From joe 

Hi Mike. It seems to me the poor starts in the first quarter is what is getting the team out of sorts. Dropped passes and holding calls early on takes them out of rhythm early on. Do you see the same thing?

The two holding calls early last Sunday I thought were killers, and I'm not surprised McCarthy has repeatedly referred to them. They were moving the ball. Some runs sprinkled in with back-shoulder throws. Manageable down-and-distances. Then the penalties put them in long yardage and hurt field position. The game was never out of hand in the first half and the Packers easily could have stayed in it. Would they have won? Doubt it, the way Arizona was playing, but they never gave themselves a chance.

Comment From James 

Hi Mike. I was puzzled in regards to your Charles Woodson answer from last week and I hope you can explain. The ring of honor around Lambeau Field includes PFHOF players who made significant impacts for the Packers. I would assume Woodson will be considered to have a significant impact for the Packers and the Raiders. (Reggie White made a significant impact for both the Eagles and Packers) Other NFL players have made significant impacts for more than one team as well (Fran Tarkenton) If this is true, wouldn't Charles be in the ring of honor? However you said that you hope so. He has a majority of his int's, sacks, pass deflections, and defensive touchdowns with the Packers (Also a Super Bowl win and DPOY).

Giving it more thought, you're probably right. On the spot, I wasn't going to assume anything that's not my decision, but everything you said would point toward Charles' inclusion.

Comment From Eric 

What can the league do differently to help fans going to these late season games that suddenly get "flexed" to a different time? 70,000 people just became a bit inconvenienced.

*If the league really cared about that, they wouldn't be flexing games in the first place. It's all about the TV ratings, which is how they generate the ad dollars. Given the price of tickets these days, I agree with Vic that the NFL is not helping the most loyal of fans -- the ones who shell out the bucks to go to the games. *

Comment From Carli 

Do you think we need Sam Shields back in the game to cover up the offense good like he did with the Cowboys?               

Last Sunday's game might have been the worst time not to have Shields. The Cardinals have the deepest WR corps in the league, and to not have your top corner to match up against that made it pretty tough.

Comment From Stephen 

The packers held AP to 45 rushing yards on 13 carries. Can the packers limit him to under 100 again?

Sure they can, but it won't be just the defense. It'll be the offense controlling the ball and time of possession, getting a lead to try to limit Peterson's carries. It all came together like clockwork in the first meeting.

Comment From mike 

Would you agree that it seems WR/TE on our offense are jogging their routes? I dont see full bursts trying to get open

I don't see that. I see cover guys not afraid of getting beat deep so they're that much tighter on the shorter routes.

Comment From Bill 

Any word on Shields or Raji yet?

No, not yet. We'll see if they're at practice tomorrow.

Comment From GeorgeM 

Mike, do you think Rodgers keeps throwing to Adams to try to break him out of the slump or improve his confidence because he knows they need him to win in the playoffs? Also, I know McCarthy and the team doesn't seem to like it, but wouldn't resting the injured guys and losing give them a better chance in the playoffs than playing the Seahawks or trying to beat the Vikings three times in one season?

*As for Adams, I think that's been part of the process all season, but it just hasn't clicked. As for your second part, when you have a chance to play a playoff game at home, you have to go for that with all you've got.    *

Comment From Matt S 

I think last year is evidence that Adams has the talent, and that this years problems stem from more of a mental issue. Do coaches try and employ methods to help with mental errors or do they just continue to hang with the player until the player turns it around?

I think all of the above. That's what coaching is.

Comment From joe 

Where was Randell Cobb Sunday???

Being covered often by probably the best corner in the league not named Revis. And some would argue Peterson is better than Revis now.

Comment From Colby 

Rodgers used to put the ball in tight Windows all the time. Even if a receiver isn't open, what's stopping Rodgers from hitting that window and letting his receiver make a play to catch it? Has Rodgers confidence been shattered where he no longer feels comfortable throwing those tight window passes?

*That may be part of it, but I'm not inside his head. It may have more to do with confidence in the catches being made, I don't know.      *

Comment From Dillon 

Mike, would you rather see the packers play the Vikings in back to back weeks, or see Seattle come to Green Bay as the 6th seed in Wild Card weekend?

I say bring on the Seahawks. Why not? Find out what you've really got right away in the postseason. Plus, if it does indeed become Seattle as the opponent, they'll be coming in on a two-game losing streak.

Comment From Dave 

What does all this say about our needs for the upcoming draft?

There are plenty of positions that need to be addressed, for depth, for competition, for potential upgrades, all of that.

Comment From Louis 

I expected Adams to replace Nelson. Were my expectations to high? Statistically, he's exactly where Nelson was in his second year.

Your expectations were in line with many, including the QB. Why it hasn't come together is hard to say. The recurring ankle injury early didn't help, but beyond that, I don't have an answer for you.

Comment From Mike 

Why don't we use the same man-up coverage that other teams are using on us? That zone coverage just looked so easy to just find a hole and sit and then have Palmer fire and easy pitch and catch.

To go man up against that WR corps without your top corner would have been really difficult. I thought the fact that, given the offense's struggles, the defense allowing 10 points in the first 28 minutes and getting a pick to set up the offense at the 15-yard line was a pretty good showing to that point against the top offense in the league. The defense got no help, though.

Comment From Marin 

How much lead time does the league give teams before it decides to flex the start time? Changing a kick-off from noon to 7:30 PM wasn't exactly right in considering fans attending the game who made travel plans for the evening.

Flex decisions have to be made 12 days in advance, except for Week 17, when the call can be made with just 6 days' notice.

Comment From Mark 

Mike, what did you think of the Arizona coaching staff's decision to challenge the officials' call that the Cardinals' sack on Tolzien wasn't a safety? I mean, good grief, the score was 38-8 at that time, and they challenge a call to push the score to 40-8 and then get the ball back. Wasn't that an example of unnecessarily trying to run up the score?

Arians also got an unsportsmanlike penalty for arguing a call with a 30-point lead. All I can say is he's pretty intense. I see your point, but if that were my coach, I'd love to play for him, know what I mean?

Comment From Jeremy 

We're 10-5 with big game experience and have Aaron Rodgers at quarterback. In a win or go home atmosphere like the NFL playoffs the Packers will have a "punchers chance." Do you agree?

I do. It is interesting though that we're talking about "puncher's chance" for a team that was 6-0 at one time, but that's why they say it's a long season.

Comment From Kati Johnson 

Is it a matter of losing focus on defense that is causing the crumble? (constant missed tackles and penalties are killing the team) I just can't seem to figure out if it's a lack of a leader, lack of talent (experience) or lack of focus.

The defense has been this team's best unit, by far. Yes, they missed some tackles, but this defense is way better than the units the Packers fielded in the playoffs from 2011-13.

Comment From Josh 

Do you think with the way our offense is playing it would be wise to slow down and get out of the no huddle. Use more personnel groupings and control the clock more. In the early years MM did this a lot more and I think it worked.

I think that's a decision McCarthy makes based on the opponent and matchups. I can't pretend to know half of what goes into those types of decisions, but I saw the Packers trying both on Sunday, to no avail.

Comment From Dylan 

I'm just here so i don't get fined

*Don't worry. I won't ban you like Vic would.     *

Comment From jake 

mike it seems the qb and coach aren't on the same page Rodgers wants to use motion and formations to get recievers open and McCarthy keeps saying they just need to beat man to man do you think the difference of opinion is a problem and will they get on the same page?            

You may be right about a disconnect, or the multiple comments are more a reflection of the many different things the offense needs to do. If it were just one thing, don't you think it would have been fixed by now?

Comment From Scott LC 

Mike, a sports blogger claims "Green Bay's 2015 woes are all on reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers" and provides stats to try to prove it. Is this what journalism has degraded to?

Everyone is entitled to an opinion, and if it gets a bunch of clicks, he probably gets a raise. Hey, I'm not saying Rodgers doesn't deserve some of the blame, but let's be real.

OK, I've gone an hour. Thanks for all the questions. I'll scan what's left for a few more.

Comment From Brad 

What's for lunch today, Mike?

*Hopefully a pillow. Shoveling out from this storm has worn me out.     *

Comment From Mike 

Shouldn't we rest a bunch of players this week and go to Washington healthy. Would that not give us a better chance in the playoff run?

I know that's not McCarthy's MO. I've wondered the same thing about Seattle, given their seed options are only 5 or 6, but I have no idea how Pete Carroll will play it.

Comment From Mike 

Daniels has an average of less than 4 sacks per year. Bakhtiari is one of the most penalized left tackles in the league, a lot have Lacy not even being on the team in two years. The Cardinals have something like 8 pro bowlers. Clinton-Dix has two picks and has a tendency to lay out his own guys.

*I didn't say any of those guys deserve Pro Bowl bids now. The question was about development, and I'm not guaranteeing anything. Daniels is not measured by sacks alone. Not even close. And Bakhtiari has been playing hurt most of the year.  *

Comment From Sean-Luc 

What's the explanation for all the dropped catches? I have never seen so many WR's on a football team drop as many catches (over the entire season) as the Packers' WR's this year. As a coaching staff, what do you try to do with the players to boost their catching abilities?

I've been talking about the drops all year. This team does so many ball drills in practice it'll make your head spin. Maybe those drills have gotten stale, I don't know. But it's not for lack of commitment to the practice time.

Comment From Felipe 

We were blown out by the Cardinals and the Vikes blown out the Giants. I'm trying not to be negative about this game but it doesn't feel good. Do you think the Packers can repeat offensively and defensively what they did last time against the Vikings?

As I said before, the defensive effort was influenced by a solid offensive performance. The Packers moved the ball consistently, stayed in good field position, got points on a lot of drives. The Vikings only lead was 6-3 in the first quarter. It takes all of that to come together to beat a good team.

Comment From Noah 

What's your honest assessment of this team right now?

Struggling offense. Solid special teams. Playoff-caliber defense that may need to go on a turnover binge for this team to make a serious run.

Comment From Greg 

Can you clarify a Vic-ism? "Kicking to the Clock." I know it means kicking the ball in overtime, but why is it called "to the clock?" (Yeah, we can thank Belichik for this question.)

It has to do with an old AFL title game that went to overtime and when the guy at the coin toss was declaring which goal his team wanted to defend, he used the word "kick" in saying "kick to the clock" for the direction and he screwed his team. I can't remember all the details but it's something like that.

Comment From Mark 

Mike, what is the press box like in Arizona? Are the accommodations accommodating?

It was great except for the corner end zone view. That's one reason I like Lambeau better. It was weird, though, realizing as I walked in there that I hadn't been there since the '09 Wild Card OT game. Six years flew by.

Comment From Derek 

so what are the playoff scenarios? win and its the vikings/seahawks? lose and its at washington?


Comment From Michele 

There are women out here asking questions too you know. LOL

Sorry if I was slanted too far one way on that today, Michele. I don't really look at the names as much as the post itself.

Comment From Linda P 

Mike, isn't the term "sluggers chnce."?

I've heard both, but I'll have to sign off now. Lots of questions and sorry if I didn't get to yours. Happy New Year everybody! Talk to you again next week. Take care. --Mike

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