(Editor's note: Due to the holidays, Tuesdays with McCarthy is appearing on Thursday this week.)
Q. Is that one of the wildest games in your coaching career?
We’ve had a wild game two weeks in a row. A lot of ups and downs. We talked about it potentially being a crazy game and how we needed to take care of the football, take the ball away and the importance of tackling. There were big plays back and forth with the game on the line. I’m sure it was a great game to be a spectator.
Q. Did you expect the Steelers to take a knee a couple of times and then kick?
That’s a decision for their team. I understand the rationale, but after it was evident they were going to run it the first play, we decided to let them score.
Q. Was your offense delayed in snapping the ball with 10 seconds to play?
The mechanics of when the clock started and when the umpire gave us the go-ahead to snap the ball was not coordinated. It obviously doesn’t take 10 seconds to snap the ball and run a three-step drop in the red zone on the 6-yard line.
Q. Everything now is on the line this week. What’s the mood of your team?
They’re excited. We have a renewed energy and an opportunity to play for the NFC North division championship. It’s been a grind to get here, and now we have to finish it. I’m excited to get through this week’s work.
Q. Packers and Bears for the title; as it should be?
As it should be. As I told the guys in the team meeting, I quoted the late, great Steve Sabol. My first year as a head coach at the owners’ meeting, I had a chance to visit with Steve. He was talking about the history of the NFL and how as a young man he was around Coach Lombardi, Don Shula and other great coaches. He expressed the great admiration he had for the Green Bay Packers and Lambeau Field. He told me, “Don’t ever forget this: When things are good in Green Bay and Chicago, things are great for the National Football League. It’s the greatest rivalry in professional sports.” I’ve never forgotten that and I think it’s held true.
Q. Is Christmas an obstacle to the routine, or do you know the Bears well enough that a day off is a good thing?
I like having Christmas in the middle of the week, because it puts things in perspective. It gives people a chance to step away for 24 to 36 hours from work, and come back rejuvenated and ready to go. I like it when Christmas falls on a Wednesday.
Q. What is it about your offense that fits
With Matt, we’ve gone back to basics. We’re running the football and staying in clean plays. Matt does a very good job of running the offense. We’re a quarterback-friendly system. Everything we do is based around making the quarterback successful, because ultimately he’s the player that has the ball in his hands every single play. The starting point is the running game, and from there you have the protections, protection adjustments, and the ability to have an action-passing game and a drop-back passing game. Matt’s a very consistent, athletic quarterback. He’s a better athlete than people realize, and he’s getting better each week.
Q. Did he play well against the Steelers?
He played very well in spots. If he were sitting here, he’d talk about the two turnovers. They were obviously big plays for Pittsburgh. He did a lot of good things, and he gave us a chance to win the game.
Q. What are the keys to beating the Bears?
We have to play great team football. All three units have to play to one another. Our special teams are definitely going to be challenged. Every year that's the case when we go down there. Offensively, we have to do a good job exercising our game plan, getting in and out of our personnel groups. Defensively, we’re facing a Bears offense that’s hot. Their perimeter players – the running back, tight end and two receivers – and their offensive line is much improved from last year. They’re playing together and they’ve solidified since the first game against us. This is a great challenge for us.
To see previous editions of Tuesdays with McCarthy, click here.