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Who's the Packers' next breakout player? senior writer Mike Spofford took reader questions in his weekly chat.


Hi everybody. Thanks for logging in today. Let's get to it.

Comment From joe 

Good afternoon - How many victories do you predict will win the NFC North this year? What about to get the playoff byes?

Wow, jumping ahead of ourselves right away. I don't mean to cop out, but I really don't have a prediction because I think all these NFC North vs. NFC East matchups this year -- the first of which is Vikings-Giants on MNF next week -- are going to be good ones. I don't see winning the division with less than 11 wins, though, I'll say that.

Comment From Andrew

Hi Mike, what changed from last week? Is the opposition that much weaker than the Vikings

The Lions were banged up on defense, just like the Packers, and Green Bay was playing at home. Those were two huge differences. Minnesota's defense is for real. The Vikings proved it in Carolina.

Comment From Zeke

Howdy insiders, nice to be here after a great team win. After the game, both McCarthy and Rodgers insisted that nothing changed on offense, that they just executed better. But we clearly saw them get back to the West Coast Offense finally, after getting away from it last year and the first two games. I guess this weeks buzzword is "balance" after last weeks buzzword of "process". My question is, am I wrong in seeing a completely different offense than the last 15 or so games?

I don't think it was completely different, but I see your point to an extent. I saw the Packers hit on a couple of early timing routes -- the slant to Cook and the TD slant to Adams -- and that opened up other stuff in the passing game. When those timing routes aren't there, it's hard to get anything else to flow. The Packers also stayed more committed to the run game as well.

Comment From Guest 

Did the Vikings uncover the formula for defeating the Panthers?

Eight sacks and three INTs with a safety and punt-return TD will beat just about anybody. Minnesota's offense almost didn't need to do anything.

Comment From KK 

Shouldn't Packer fans feel good about the way the offense finished off the last 3:30 of the game?

Absolutely. That's four-minute offense at its best. Needed two first downs to kill the clock and not send the defense back out there, and they got them. The Packers closed out a handful of games that way in 2014, and it was good to see that return.

Comment From Roger 

Strange scheduling with the Giants on MNF and on the road while we have bye.

Yeah, now that you say that, they have back-to-back prime-time road games, and the second one will be against a team coming off a week of rest. The schedule maker creates challenges for everybody.

Comment From Tom 

We really found a gem in Martinez huh? That bad, bloody man looks and acts the part of a true NFL player. Kudos to Thompson & the front office again.

He's going to be fun to watch develop and play over these next few years.

Comment From Christopher 

Spiffie, do you miss working with Vic, or is the "idea" of Vic better than the reality? |

Vic is an enigma wrapped in a riddle.

Comment From Tim, Iowa 

Hi Mike, A lot of "experts" said the strength of the Packers defense would be the secondary. My concern after three games is the amount of big plays against us in the passing game, especially on 3rd down. Opposing teams are converting big plays on us in the secondary at will. I see the secondary as a big concern! Your thoughts?

Lots of folks worried about the secondary, but every season has its ebbs and flows. McCarthy pointed out yesterday that the running game is ahead of the passing game on offense, and the same goes on defense. The tape from the Vikings game shows some man-to-man issues that need work, and the tape from the Lions game shows zone issues that need work. It's still a relatively young group, especially with Shields and Barnett missing the same game, so I'm willing to give it time.

Comment From David B. 

Hi Mike, I'm concerned with how Mike McCarthy lets teams catch up when we do get a big lead, he takes his foot off the pedal when things are going good which lets teams get back in the game?

Anyone who wants to complain about the foot on the gas issue needs to read my Insider Inbox column today on the site. I'm just not buying it.

Comment From joe 

Lacy had a long TD run in Tampa 2 seasons ago, and then ran out of gas on a long run in Arizona last year that wasn't a TD. Through the 1st 3 games this year - how do you describe the Lacy you've seen?

I think he's been productive when given his chances. Ball security hasn't been an issue. He's never going to have that breakaway speed, but the way he and the line can move some piles is how you wear out a defense.

Comment From Ron 

I agree the Packers offense kept its foot on the gas pedal. Was the lack of production in the second half a matter of the offense reverting back to the same old problems, or a matter of miscues (a penalty and a drop) getting in the way?

I thought the two miscues were huge. The holding on Bulaga was questionable at best. It would have been first down in the red zone. The drop by Davis just can't happen.

Comment From Philip in Madison 

Hey Mike, there were gaping holes in the zone/hybrid coverage Sunday that Stafford and Co. repeatedly exploited, particularly in the second half. Is that purely the result of too many injuries, or is there more reason for concern?

The injuries didn't help, but the DBs need to do a better job of passing off receivers from the corner to the safety. Stafford just kept firing it in that hole. I'm no defensive coach, but I think it's a timing thing. The corner is leaving a tad too early and the safety is getting over a tad too late. Tighten that up and those throws aren't so easy.

Comment From Alex Davis 

Thank you for taking our questions! What's going on with Dr. Randall? Has he lost his ability to cover, or his confidence?

He was playing with an illness on Sunday, and I give him credit for gutting it out and getting the big INT and long return. I'm sure he wanted to show better following the Vikes game, but I'm not going to get all down on a guy who was sick like that.

Comment From Guest 

Mike, aside from the dropped pass, how do you think Trevor Davis looked, both to you and the coaches? It looked to me as if he would've caught that 60 yard pass that drew the P.I. and of course there's no room for argument on the kickoff return that had to be called back.

The guy's speed can be a weapon, and I think the Packers will use it more. He has to catch that fourth quarter pass, though.

Comment From Brian 

Does it feel like fall yet in Green Bay?

It's starting to. Been dropping down into the 40s at night this week, but it might hit 70 again over the weekend, so we'll enjoy it while we can.

Comment From Bill 

Mike, did McCarthy give the team the full week off as he has in the past during the bye?

Yes, they were dismissed yesterday after team meetings and don't have to report back until either Sunday or Monday.

Comment From Linda P 

Mike, I know a lot of us were complaining about the early bye when the schedule came out, but wow do we need it. I hope we don't lose any of those injured for the year!! Anybody in danger of that?

It doesn't sound like it at this point. McCarthy said yesterday that Matthews, Burnett, Guion and D. Jones could all be back for the Giants game. We didn't get an update on Shields, Cook or Rip, tho.

Comment From joe 

What's your evaluation of the first month of this season?

The Packers have not hit their stride in all phases. Right now, they can run the ball pretty well and they're stopping the run better than anybody. The passing offense is coming around. The pass defense has its issues, but there's plenty of talent back there. On special teams, you'd like to see more consistency at punter and the development of some sort of return game, but coverage units are solid.

Comment From Alex 

Few people are talking about Josh Sitton. How has Lane Taylor looked so far?

I think he has done just fine. I haven't watched every snap of the game film through three games, but he and Bakhtiari look like they're forming a good duo on the left side.

Comment From Alex 

Have you noticed Jordy regaining his explosiveness? Will the deep post soon return?

Yes and yes.

Comment From Theodore

What will you be doing during the bye?

Spending some time with my family. Having four straight road trips before this past week was a little rough.

Comment From Saul 

How about Alex Hornibrook?

Yeah, how about him? Another big test in the Big House on Saturday.

Comment From Tom

Did you watch the debate or MNF last night?

I watched the debate.

Comment From Aro 

Has the negativity from last week lessened or do you feel the Packer nation is still in a state of angst?

Isn't PN always in a state of angst?

Comment From Roger 

Thoughts on our old OC Ben McAdoo coming back to Lambeau. He knows our systems and has some firepower at wide receiver.

He wasn't OC, but he was a position coach here. Ben's proven to be a really good coach, and McCarthy saw him as a rising star a while ago. I don't know how much the system knowledge plays into it. Everything is on film, regardless. Manning and those receivers can get rolling. Big challenge for GB's DBs.

Comment From Packyr 

Does Janis's club come off after the bye?

I think that's the plan. That was the last I heard.

Comment From Josh 

What will the Packers d-line look like when Guion returns and Pennel return? Who do the Packers drop off their roster? And do the Packers change the rotations at d-line even though what we have now is working?

I'm not sure about the roster moves, but I'm guessing there will just be fewer snaps for Ringo, Price and Lowry, provided Pennel has stayed in shape and is ready to go. He's a really big man up front.

Comment From Xavier 

In your film study, have you seen the benefits of Cobb/Montgomery in the backfield? It was successful two years ago against New England, but seems to have gotten a little stale.

It hasn't produced much yet, but that doesn't mean you scrap it. Different defenses will react to it in different ways, and that's when Rodgers will find some matchups he wants.

Comment From Nathan 

Say Randall rips that ball away from Ebron but can't hang on himself, and it falls to the ground. Fumble or incomplete pass?

I think it would have been ruled incomplete because Ebron hadn't completed the "process."

Comment From JayGB 

It's speculative, but let's say Perry stays healthy this year and keeps producing. Will teams be ready to give him a prime paycheck or will his health background bring his price down you think?

If he stays healthy all year, I don't think his past injuries will have much if any impact on the market.

Comment From Packyr 

Didn't we see the deep post once last week?

We saw Nelson go up the middle seam on the first play of the second drive, when the Lions, for some reason, had a linebacker across from him. I think the previous poster was referring to the play-action deep shots that worked so well in 2014.

Comment From Tyler 

When can the NFL start flexing games for SNF?

Flexing can start in Week 5, but as someone else asked before, I don't see Giants-Packers getting flexed out.

Comment From Timmy 

Is it just me, or does this defensive front seem more fired up and ready to battle this season than we've ever seen? I may have to buy myself a Daniels jersey!

They are firing off the ball and getting in the backfield an awful lot. If you want to see Daniels at his best, go back and watch the third-and-goal play from the 1 on Detroit's opening drive of the second half. I know they scored on fourth down anyway, but how Daniels blew up that play was amazing.

Comment From ra 

Ty's knowledge of the kickoff rules is a direct result of proper coaching. My question is if Ty touches it being out of bounds, and doesn't recover it and Detroit picks it up, is it their ball?

I'm pretty sure if he touches it when he's out of bounds, it's dead.

Comment From Patrick 

Bold Prediction: Week 16 Vikes @ Lambeau, winner gets a 1st round bye, loser gets the 5-seed.

Could be. That was the same scenario in 2014 vs. the Lions in Week 17, right? Except the loser was the 6. But we're a long, long way from that.

Comment From Chris 

Hi Mike, I just wanted to tell you, I like how you pronounce "everybody" when you sign-off as "every buddy." It makes us all feel like we are your friends.


Comment From Matt 

I liked what I saw from Fackrell. Watch out when that guy bulks up.

You're not kidding. Same with Spriggs on the other side. Those guys are going to get bigger.

Comment From Guest 

We've seen Nick Perry make a name for himself on this team early on. Who is your next big breakout candidate as the season progresses?

One of those young guys in the secondary is going to emerge. Clinton-Dix would be my first pick, but I could see Randall, Rollins or Gunter as well. I know that group has been struggling and fans are worried, but trust me, there's talent there.

Comment From Linda P 

Mike, I know it's only the beginning of the year, but if you were to hand out the award for most improved player who would it be??

I'd have to say Perry on defense and Taylor on offense. We saw this coming with Perry in the playoffs last year, and he hasn't disappointed. Taylor was thrown unexpectedly into the spotlight and has come through so far, similar to how Bakhtiari and Linsley did the same in '13 and '14, respectively.

Comment From Gale

If you could interview one NFL player from the past, who would it be and why?

Hmmm. I think I'd want to interview Don Hutson, just because he was doing things on the field that no one else was doing at the time.

Comment From Charlie 

I was watching Red Zone. I can't remember which QB did it, but he audibled with "Favre, Favre, Favre". Then he put up four fingers. I love that respect and playfulness in the NFL. Most of the time it takes itself too seriously. Like when Hochuli has to explain the excruciating details of the call. Do you have an example of this you would like to share?

I'm wondering if Rodgers will go back to his "New York Bozo" line this season, maybe during election week? Then again, maybe not.

Comment From Sean 

I always laugh at the SOS when it's released based on last years records. Hows that easiest schedule in the league looking for the Packers now given the NFC East fast start?

That's why that kind of analysis in April means nothing. Not one of those four NFC East games is going to be a gimme, and the Packers and Vikings have to play them all.

Comment From Kristin 

Which of the 0-3 teams do you think has the best chance to turn things around? Or the best chance to go winless?

The Saints are going to be in every game because of that offense, but boy, they've got to figure out something on defense.

Comment From Jeff 

Had you ever gotten to meet Arnold Palmer?

No, unfortunately. When I was in grad school, I covered a senior golf event near Chicago and saw him there, but never got to talk to him or interview him or anything.

Comment From Nathan 

Before the game, NFL Network was reporting in some detail how the Packers planned to get Montgomery and Davis more involved in the game. Do you think that was an actual leak or a smoke screen?

The network guys have what are called production meetings with the head coaches and other key individuals from each team in the last couple of days leading up to the game. They are given information like that for their broadcasts.

Comment From Ken 

Apple or Pumpkin pie?


Comment From RogersThat

Mike, really you answer questions about Arnold Palmer, but you won't answer a question about Cook's ankle?

I don't know anything about Cook's ankle.

Comment From Tom 

WI @ MI, who you got?

Going to be a tough one for Bucky, but with that defense they'll always have a chance.

Comment From Joe 

Mike, I disagree about the NFC East, although better than expected, they still are relatively week on defense and depth of club.

The young QBs are intriguing. Wentz and Prescott have looked for real so far. It's early, yes, and some of those teams maybe haven't had their depth tested as much with injuries, but what Philly did to a good Pittsburgh club has to make you take notice.

Comment From Jungers 

I've been to several games at Lambeau, but I think that was the closest I've ever seen a flyover. Those boys were close!

One of these times I'm going to have to be out in the bowl when the fly-over happens. It's cool in the press box, but it has to be a totally different experience otherwise.

Comment From Mark 

Do you expect McCarthy to introduce some new wrinkles coming out of the bye?

I asked him in his press conference yesterday about what the coaches would review over the bye with only three games to look at. He said their reviews would be more based on individual evaluations than group stuff. I took that to mean there might be some new personnel packages based on those individual evals.

Comment From KD 

What do you make of the relative ineffectiveness of Cook before the ankle injury? Was it because of the style of play, or has he not been what he was expected to be when he was brought in?

I thought it was coming around. The early slant against Detroit got the offense going. On the play he got hurt, he should have caught that pass, and he might have scored. The injury is unfortunate.

Comment From Ethan 

Too many people take it personally when you don't answer their questions. I want FULL CONSISTENCY from you, Spoff! Answer everyone NOW!

Y'all crack me up.

Comment From ray 

What makes a high ankle sprain so much worse than a regular ankle sprain?

I'm no doctor, but I think it's because the ligaments higher up aren't used to being torqued that way, so the recovery can be longer than a strained ligament that's used to bending but just gets turned a little too far.

Comment From Willie

Do the national media ever call the reporters at for insight or perspective?

I get calls for radio shows here and there. Wes does too, and I know he did several shows before he came here as well.

Comment From Charlie 

Why does Larry wear headphones while interviewing MM? He looks a little ridiculous. I think he needs a style upgrade Spoff! Help him out with a Beats look.

I'm pretty sure that interview is the same one that's going live (or close to live) on the radio broadcast right after the game, so he needs the headphones to hear the radio producer.

Comment From Marin 

Datone Jones and Joe Thomas have taken their play to a high level. Barring injuries, do you believe this can last?

As young as they are, sure it can. They aren't being asked to play every down, and that helps, too.

Comment From Joe

Hi Mike Another interesting question. Does Bradford stay healthy for the whole season based on his past?

That's the million-dollar question with him. The Packers battered him around a bit. I didn't see how many hits Carolina got on him, but the Vikes' offensive line is not the strength of that team.

Comment From Patrick

Do you think Dak has legitimate shot at taking Tony Romo's job?

Yes he has a shot, but let's see how the next several weeks go.

OK, I've gone about an hour. I'll take a few more. Thanks for all the participation today, every-buddy.

Comment From Mike 

Minnesota's defense is great, but they're gonna regress to the mean in terms of scoring points on that side of the ball. Let's not oversell them too much.

They have two defensive TDs and a special teams TD in three games. You're right, I don't see that pace continuing. But the offense hasn't really hit its stride. They have to deal without Peterson, but the 17 points against Green Bay at home is their best offensive output so far.

Comment From Harry 

When is the last time you actually saw Vic in person?

The day after the loss to Arizona, I believe.

Comment From Mark

Were you friends with Wes before he was hired by the Packers?

I certainly knew him. He and I had the same job at the Press-Gazette, covering high schools, just at different times. That's the best way to cut your teeth in this business, but I'm admittedly biased in that regard.

Comment From Blaine 

Any good bye week traditions for you?

Trying to chill and watch football on TV. It's always nice to turn off a game and not have to work for several hours afterward. You'd be surprised how that feels. Gotta run. Thanks and talk again soon. --Mike

Before the game, NFL Network was reporting in some detail how the Packers planned to get Montgomery and Davis more involved in the game. Do you think that was an actual leak or a smoke screen?

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