Wed, 02 Dec 2020

Senior writer Mike Spofford answered fan questions in his weekly live chat. Mike Spofford

Hey everybody. Thanks for logging on. I see there already are questions coming in so we'll get started.

In the Inbox today you mention that Davante Adams is under contract until 2021 and with the 5th year option would become a top free agent for the Packers to sign in 2022. Isn't he now in his second contract?

The reference to the fifth-year option was Jaire Alexander, who would be under contract through 2022 if the Packers exercise the option. Adams' current contract expires after 2021.

The Badger's game cancellation because of the Covid is disappointing. Hopefully the Packers can make it through the season without a similar development. Any idea how many Packer players had the virus this summer and are now somewhat immune?

There were a few players put on the Covid reserve list at the start of training camp, but the Packers have had no players test positive since (fingers crossed). The situation in our state is really bad and it's unfortunate what's happened with the Badgers, but hopefully no one gets really sick and recovers quickly.

Kamal Martin played his first NFL game but I saw him called the Defense plays, that says a lot about him. Hope he stays healthy and play great for the Packers.

His debut was a strong one, no doubt. He definitely earned more snaps. If both he and Krys Barnes are available, it'll be interesting to see which one wears the green dot.

Hi Mike. What differences do you see in the Vikings between the Week 1 matchup and now?

Justin Jefferson has come on as a big-play threat as a rookie WR. He wasn't much of a factor in Week 1, which was his first NFL game, but he's a major factor now. The Vikings traded Ngakoue, though, and he was their best pass rusher on a D-line that hasn't had, and won't have, Hunter this year.

The Vikings aren't out of it yet but with that trade of the DE last week it feels like they might be throwing in the towel for this year and starting to set themselves for 2021. Your thoughts?

It was a curious move, but with the expected drop in the salary cap for 2021, it's not a shock to see some higher-priced players moving around. Some teams are pre-emptively dealing with the potential offseason cap issues. Money not spent can be carried over.

Just saw the report that a Texans player has tested positive for COVID. Do you expect the Packers to do anything differently on the chance that player (whoever he is) could have infected any Packers?

The Packers are testing every day, just like every other team. I'm not sure what there would be to do differently.

Mike, what is the biggest threat Minnesota is bringing to Lambeau on Sunday?

They have offensive weapons. I already mentioned Jefferson. Thielen, Cook, Rudolph are all proven producers. Cousins has had a rough year thus far, but if he used the bye week to reset, he's always capable of a big game. So, to me, the offense and perhaps a nothing-to-lose attitude at 1-5 are the biggest threats they bring.

What is Aaron Jones' availability looking like this weekend?

Couldn't tell you. We'll see how the week goes. Calf injuries can be tricky, and the Packers have another game next Thursday.

From what my eyes tell me the Packers offense has been more productive when they use pre snap motion. As a veteran flag football player, I can tell you it's a lot harder to play against the motion stuff because your responsibilities can change in a split second, and if you're unsure your first step is going to be back. The one L this year they didn't use motion as much. You think that's in the coaches minds?

I'm sure they're aware of it. They self-scout everything they call. LaFleur said the decision to use less motion against Tampa Bay was opponent-based, according to their film study.

Hi Mike. The last time we meet Dalvin Cook he rushed for 50 yards but scored twice. Perhaps the Vikings try to establish the run, so what can you tell about the necessary adjustments the defense needs to do in order to contain him?

Cook can be tough to tackle. He gets a lot of yards after contact because he's really powerful. The more defenders the Packers can get to the ball the better. Fewer tackles are missed when it's a gang effort.

See the Seahawks just traded for Dunlap. any chance Packers make any real move in the next week?

I honestly have no idea. These are such strange times, as I mentioned, with the pending cap situation next year and all.

If/when Christian Kirksey comes back, do you see a rotation at MLB or has he earned that 3 down role?

That could depend on how the next couple of weeks go. There's no decision to be made yet, and Barnes exited the last game with an injury. If everyone's healthy and the Packers have options, the coaches will consider it a great problem. (Update: LaFleur told the media later that Kirksey is expected to return to practice this week.)

What do you think Detroit's defense may be like with the addition of Griffen?

The Lions have been in need of more pass rush, and Griffen can add that. They haven't gotten the production they paid for out of Trey Flowers, but with a bookend partner, maybe they get better at both edge spots now.

Aaron Rodgers has put a lot of NFC north coaches on the hot seat. Do you think management takes that into consideration when evaluating a coaching staff, that the division has someone like him they are competing against in the standings and x2 yearly?

The NFL is about being better than the other guys. If you aren't better at QB you have to be better in other areas to beat them. Evaluations like that aren't based solely on how a team competes within its own division.

Do you expect some opportunities for Marquez Valdes-Scantling this week? If the Vikings focus on Adams like we expect, somebody else should be open.

The Packers will have to figure out their best options. The Vikings will have a better plan for Adams than the first game, and a better one than Houston had last week. Adams will still get his chances, but MVS, Robert Tonyan, Jace Sternberger, Darrius Shepherd, Malik Taylor, etc., will have to make a play when it comes their way.

Why is the first Packers/Bears game so late in the season this year? I thought the NFL had moved toward first division games being earlier.

One of those quirks with how the schedule fell. The Packers are playing the Vikings for a second time four weeks before they play the Bears for the first time. The league packed a lot of division games into Weeks 1-2 -- the Packers had two -- but then didn't have any in Weeks 3-4.

It worked! I wore my Kelly Green INDUBITABLY shirt the first quarter, took it off for the rest of the game and proudly put it back on at the end! The defense tackled very well as there were a lot fewer broken tackles!! Thanks!

There you go.

Who's your guy on offense this week? Same question for defense?

I mentioned in Inbox I look for Rashan Gary and Kenny Clark as key guys on defense this week. Offense? I need to see the injury list, but the other WRs aside from Adams will need to contribute because Kendricks is as good a cover LB on TEs as there is in the league.

Based on YTD production, who's your MVP?

It's definitely Rodgers. If not him I'd say Aaron Jones, even though he missed one game, but if Davante Adams doesn't miss any more time, we could be in the midst of a really amazing season.

Had the pleasure of being at the game in Houston this past Sunday. Saw lots of fans in Packer attire. In my section, appeared to be 60% Packers fans. Could you tell from the TV coverage that the Packer faithful were in lots of the seats?

I didn't really see many crowd shots on the TV broadcast, but LaFleur and the players definitely noticed the cheering and GPG chants from those who attended.

You know what I don't miss? Reviewed pass interference calls.

It was a good idea that was poorly executed, and if the rule isn't going to be applied with any consistency, it's better that it's gone.

What's with the League scheduling Thursday night games with such travel. There should be plenty of matchups without having to make a team travel two time zones. Your thoughts...

I've always thought Thursday games with long flights were really unfair. It's not necessary.

Have you ever seen Aaron Rodgers salty at a presser like he was last week?

It happens. He thought the questions were bad. He's not normally like that. One of those things. I don't think it needs to be a big deal either way.

What can you tell us about the two new guys, James Burgess and Roberts?

Wes posted a 5 things to know item Monday on Burgess if you want to check it out. They both have plenty of NFL experience. These aren't newbies to the league. Experienced depth is never a bad thing in my mind.

Why was our practice squad player, Dexter Williams, in on the blocked punt last week? Injury to someone else?

He was on the active roster due to Aaron Jones being out, and he took the special-teams spot of Jamaal Williams because Williams was playing a lot more snaps on offense than normal. Williams was back in there after the block.

It seems like the Packers either win BIG, or lose HARD! No in between from what we've seen so far. Do you feel the Packers can play Tampa and win BIG in the playoffs? I just see the 49ers game all over again.

Long way to go before it's worth talking about.

Your mention of Flowers got me thinking about how former Patriots players and coaches tend to fare after leaving NE. It tends to be not well. Gostkowski missing the game-tying FG etc. I even thought TB might be susceptible to the curse when he forgot it was 4th down, but he seems to have righted the ship.

The Buccaneers have made a pretty big statement the last two weeks. The Packers and Raiders are no slouch teams and they handled them both, convincingly. That Tampa Bay loss at Chicago seems to have set them off. They had no business losing that game and they knew it.

Did you catch the quadruple doink in the Rice game last week? Football is a weird game sometimes.

Yeah, I saw the highlight. That was nuts. You couldn't make a ball do that if you tried from 10 yards away.

Wisconsin-Nebraska football game canceled after 12 positive coronavirus tests.

Yeah, that's unfortunate. The positive tests apparently include the head coach. I just hope everyone's going to be OK.

Will the Packers make a trade for a receiver?

Everyone's asking about trades. I really don't know. The incoming player's contract can have a lot to do with it given the implications.

It looked like "Matt" Pettine dialed up more blitzes against Houston. Do you see him staying aggressive with the blitz?

I think that's a week-to-week thing with the defense. I don't think he dialed up any more blitzes against Houston than other weeks, but they were more effective. The 7-man pressure in the red zone is a call he rarely makes, and it worked to perfection. There's no guarantee with those all-out calls, though. The more the players can get the results, the more inclined he'll be to dial it up.

Do you feel there will be a playoff bubble with the pandemic not slowing in any way?

There were reports the league was looking into the possibility of a playoff bubble in January, possibly after the first round of games. I haven't heard anything since, but that approach would not surprise me. It worked great for baseball. No positive tests until Justin Turner last night, finding out in the middle of the game no less. But that was baseball's first positive test in 8 weeks, I believe.

Any Allen Lazard sightings since the surgery?

He was at practice doing rehab stuff one day last week that Wes observed. He's eligible to practice starting this week if he's cleared, but I have no knowledge of his timeline. (Update: LaFleur told the media later Lazard will be returning to practice this week.)

During the broadcast of TB game, a commentator noted Josh Jackson "was in the doghouse." Just typical jargon, or from your perspective, was JJ in coach's doghouse? if so, any idea what reason?

I don't know how a guy could be in a doghouse and then get called on to start the game. Jackson had a rough second half at Tampa on a couple of plays, but I thought he played well the first half that game, and he did well in Houston. I don't think he's in any doghouse.

With the short turnaround after this week's game, will we still get the usual coverage from you and Wes (WYMM, mid-week chat, etc.)?

We'll have to see what the beginning of next week looks like. Everything is going to be crammed in so we'll do our best.

Since you're having to watch the TV broadcast of games, have you been paying any attention to the commentating? If so, has it changed your perspective on situations in any way?

As I mentioned in Inbox, I have the sound on for the road games, but I'm really not listening unless they're discussing a controversial play or replay review. The rest I tune out. For the home games I'm in the press box, where the TVs are muted.

If they do institute a playoff bubble, I think they should do one for NFC and one for AFC.. hosted by the city which earned the 1 seed (should they advance). Although, that could make field conditions tricky with multiple games on the same field.

I think they'd have to do it at venues with artificial surfaces so you could play multiple games in one weekend. A natural grass field would not hold up in that scenario.

Do you think Cousins will ignore the side of the field Jaire is on like Watson did, or do you see him throwing the ball to Theilen early and often like normal?

Alexander picked him off in Week 1 when his throw was off-target. I don't think Cousins will be able to afford to ignore one of his top targets just because Alexander is on him, whoever that is. But he's thrown a lot of picks this season and teams have made him pay for poor accuracy.

Any comments on Justin Turner testing positive and the Dodgers WS celebration?

It's unfortunate, and really strange that the test results came back in the middle of the game. I completely understand Turner's desire to celebrate with his teammates. I really do. But he shouldn't have. His own manager is a cancer survivor, is he not?

Windy on Sunday. Does that favor either team?

It favors the QB with the stronger arm. I think we know who that is.

Any update on David Bakhtiari?

Haven't heard anything, but the fact that the Packers didn't put him on IR would indicate it's not expected to be a long-term absence.

The "other" Adams (Montravius Adams) seems to be playing very well recently. Sometimes it seems some players just need a little more time to develop, agree?

Montravius has always shown flashes. He's shown a few more this year, but it's all about consistency for him. He needs to keep his level of play steady. The more he does that, the more he'll play and the more the defense will benefit. He's off to a good start this year with the role he's been given.

Who needs a win more, MCcarthy or Zimmer?

I think it's safe to say both have a similarly big need. But I don't think either coach is in jeopardy of losing his job, if that's what you're asking.

Any word on Cook's status? He was injured before their bye, and it seems that as he goes, so go the Vikes.

Nothing definitive, but some reports are he's expected back. I assume the Packers are going to prepare for him to play unless they hear otherwise.

Any thoughts on holding Bakhtiari and Jones for the 49er game?

That's a tough call. You don't want to take any game for granted, but two games in five days, no matter who the opponents are, is tough for anyone coming back from an injury. That's why the medical staff makes the decision. They know better than anyone the risks.

Who's a bigger threat in the division, Lions or Bears? I say Lions.

Right now I'd still say Bears because their defense is really good. But Chicago plays New Orleans and Tennessee the next two games. If they drop both and are 5-4, and if the Lions move up the dynamics in the division will change. Detroit has Indy this week, then several games against sub-.500 clubs. Stay tuned I guess.

Rams released their rookie kicker yesterday, Gostowski missed a tying FG Sunday.....how we take Mason Crosby for granted!

I don't think anybody does, really. Did you see the Carolina kicker come a whisker away from making that 65-yarder last Sunday? That was some kick. Dead center, too. Just under the crossbar.

The bigger threat is who is in front of you right now. Those of us on the west side of WI always see the ViQueens as a threat regardless of records.

And that's all that matters this week for the Packers. We'll call that the last word for today. Thanks for all the participation, as always, folks. Take care and stay safe. Not sure about a chat next week but I'll do my best to fit it in somehow, if I can. Best, Mike

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