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Tuesdays with McCarthy

Posted Sep 17, 2013

This week, the head coach discusses the changing culture of the game, the atmosphere at Lambeau Field, and the improvements shown by the Packers in Week 2, among other topics.

Q. What does that win say about the Packers?

It says that we’re 1-1 with an opportunity to improve while playing some quality football. Physically, I like the way our team has played. We’ve done a lot of good things, including yards after the catch, and defensively we’ve started very well the first two games. However, our mental performance needs to improve, and we’ll continue to do that. It’s exciting. It’s exciting to see where our team is, but the reality is we’re 1-1 with an opportunity to grow.

Q. What’s the rule on helmet-to-helmet hits on the running back?

In regard to the Eddie Lacy play, the league will look at whether the defender launched, and whether his tackling motion included using his helmet as a weapon. Those are the hits that the league doesn’t want in the game. Unfortunately, Eddie was in the air when he was hit as well. I’m sure it would have been a different collision if Eddie had his feet on the ground.

Q. The commissioner has spoken a lot about changing the culture. Do you think it can be done?

Clearly, the culture has been changed. It’s definitely changed since my arrival in the league in 1993, and it’s changed just in my time as a head coach. The emphasis on player safety has been dramatic and remarkable in a lot of ways. I think you’re seeing the results of it, too. The game has changed.

Q. Where do you draw the line between ball security and the risk that goes with reaching the ball out for the goal line?

The line is clearly when you score versus not scoring. James Jones was in position to make a play and had he executed the proper fundamental technique, the result might have been different. It’s an opportunity for everybody on our football team to learn. We will drill that fundamental this week in practice. The goal will be to enhance the importance of putting two hands on the ball, or if it’s only one hand, it needs to be the off hand. In this instance, football is no different than basketball. You always want to keep your body between the ball and the defender.

Q. How was the atmosphere in Lambeau Field on Sunday?

It was excellent. Opening day is always enjoyable. It’s very special to have the alumni present, seeing all those great men come out of the tunnel wearing their jerseys from that era. The level of involvement of our alumni is very unique here in Green Bay and I’m very appreciative of what those men have done for this organization. The crowd was awesome in the South End Zone. It was a great atmosphere.

Q. The defense took a big yardage hit late in the game. What are your thoughts on those kinds of stats? Do they lie?

Definitely. When the defense surrenders the majority of its opponent’s production with a 31-0 lead, it’s a little different than when the score is 0-0. However, that’s no excuse. We’re paid to play 60 minutes of football, and it’s something we need to learn from. Fourth-quarter football is very important. We need to learn to play with the lead, and we need to learn to play without the lead.

Q. James Starks had a breakout game. Did you see it coming?

I saw a breakout performance for our running game coming. I’m very happy for James as he was able to maximize his opportunity. We had a good plan and it was well-executed up front. The second-level blocking was definitely a factor in our production as well. James, for the most part, had clean reads, made good decisions and didn’t waste any steps at the hole. When James gets that big stride going and gets leaning forward, he’s a tough guy to handle.

Q. How about the offensive line’s performance?

They played well. We played with better leverage and finished blocks better. We definitely improved up front.

Q. What does Aaron Rodgers see that other quarterbacks don’t?

I can’t really speak on what other quarterbacks don’t see, but I can tell you what he sees. He has the ability to see the whole field. He has a clear understanding of the offense, how to utilize the different adjustments in the offense to keep us in clean plays, and he’s very good at seeing the game. He has excellent discipline with his eyes. There’s a big difference between eye discipline and vision, and he has both of those intangibles, which is a big part of his success as a quarterback.

Q. What are your thoughts on the way Jermichael Finley is playing and all of those yards after the catch?

Jermichael is off to a really good start. He has picked up right where he left off in the second half of last season. Everybody is working hard to get better at yards after the catch. It’s nice to see hard work pay off on Sundays, and that was definitely the case for our perimeter group against the Redskins. Jermichael and the rest of the perimeter group did a terrific job.

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

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