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Tuesdays with McCarthy

Posted Dec 10, 2013

In this week's edition, the head coach talks about the performances of the defense and Matt Flynn vs. the Falcons, plus getting his team focused on the Cowboys.

Q. What changed for the defense in the second half?

It really started on first down. In the early parts of the game, we were playing tendency football and we were giving up 4, 5 or 6 yards on first and second down. However, in the second-half those runs went for 1 or 2 yards, forcing them into longer down and distances. Subsequently, we did a great job on third down. Our defense did a really good job of winning first and second down, creating long third-down situations and keeping them out of the end zone. It was a very good second half performance by our defense.

Q. Did the boos put an edge on your players?

No one likes to get booed or hear bad words yelled at them, but it’s part of the environment. The fans came to be entertained; they didn’t come to see their team down by 11 points at halftime. I’m a believer that conflict is good because it raises the hair on your neck. However, the crowd was phenomenal in the fourth quarter. That’s the Lambeau atmosphere that I always remember. The stadium was jumping up and down, filled with fans wearing blaze orange and their winter gear as the snow fell. There’s nothing like it. It’s such a classic venue and our fans were outstanding in the second half.

Q. Do you have a good feeling for your team’s direction?

I have a good feeling about the next game, and we have to pour everything into each and every opportunity. That’s really where I’m at. This afternoon, we’ll be 120 hours away from the kickoff in Dallas, and we have to pour everything we’ve got into those 120 hours. We can’t get away from that mindset. You have 120 hours from Tuesday at noon until the game. You have 40 hours of sleep and 30 hours of mandatory work at the facility. What are you going to do with the other 50 hours? What is your commitment and how are you going to get ready to play? Our backs are against the wall. We know it and you have to like it. We like it when we’re challenged like this. We have to pour everything into beating the Dallas Cowboys.

Q. What were the strengths of Matt Flynn’s performance on Sunday?

Consistency. He created flow, and I think it was just the second time in the last five weeks we were able to get the quarterback that plays in the game all the practice reps. We saw a carryover of preparation to performance and I’m a big believer in that. Matt felt very comfortable with the plan and how the game was called. We had some negative plays that we were able to overcome, but I thought Matt had a rhythm and flow throughout the game.

Q. What’s the key to winning in Dallas this Sunday?

We have our road rules. We have to handle the crowd noise and handle the momentum swings. Most importantly, we have to take the ball away from them and take care of the football. We have to get into our plan and make sure we exercise our strengths for 60 minutes in Dallas.

Q. What are your thoughts on Andrew Quarless’ performance?

He did an outstanding job in the passing game. We need a little more from Andrew in the run game, and he knows that, but he’s getting better. He’s still a young player. Looking at how much he’s played, I still classify him as a young guy that’s taking a step. These men go through a lot over the course of the year as an NFL player, and then add a major injury to that, it really takes a full year to get back into it and that’s what we’re seeing with Andrew. I was happy for him personally. Andrew was an offensive game-ball winner for his performance and he took a really big step for us.

Q. How about David Bakhtiari?

People didn’t realize he was sick all week. He didn’t look good all week, and he finally looked like he had some color in his face on gameday, but maybe that was from the cold weather, kidding. You can’t say enough about a young guy who just went out there and fought through a rough day. We appreciate what David’s done as a rookie, but it’s rewarding to watch a guy mature as well. I was pleased with the way he fought through that game.

Q. A lot of fans were saying play for the higher draft pick. Would you ever do that?

Absolutely not. We are here to win. That’s all we’re about. We’re about winning.

Q. What are your expectations for your defense going forward?

To take a step. We’re seeing a defense that’s starting to get all of its guys back. Units that practice all week together and play together on Sundays improve as time goes on. We’re finally getting a healthy rotation at the outside linebacker position. Hopefully we’ll get healthy in time for the game at inside linebacker. We have a good rotation up front on the D-line, and in the secondary, there’s been added production. Sean Richardson has added some juice back there, and Micah Hyde is playing better. We have a healthy rotation of guys that have played a lot of football, and it’s our responsibility from a packaging standpoint to get them opportunities on the field. We’re starting to see a defense that has flow and rhythm to it. That was evident in the Atlanta game, and we need to build off of that.

Q. What can a coach do to focus his team for these kinds of big, late-season games?

Keep them focused on the immediate target, which is the Dallas Cowboys. We’ll have a theme, like we do every week, an emphasis that needs to be highlighted with the team, and that will be presented to them on Wednesday. We feel good about what we accomplished on Sunday. It was a great reminder of how difficult it is to win, and what we need to do to win close games. It’s December and these games are going to be close. We thrive on opportunity. Playoff football has arrived early for us, and we’re in a playoff mindset.

To see previous editions of Tuesdays with McCarthy, click here.

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