GREEN BAY – The Packers’ coordinators addressed the media on Thursday afternoon. Here are highlights from their news conference.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
On defending Christian McCaffrey:
Has great vision, he’s always moving forward. For a guy that’s relatively slight he runs upright – he does take some hits but ends up breaking tackles, bouncing off guys. I just think his vision and his ability to – when he sees a crack he puts his foot in the ground and takes it, there’s not a lot of dancing. You see some backs that kind of … when he sees it he goes. That’s one of the reasons he’s hit some of the big runs he’s hit, because he’s decisive. The offensive line has done a good job, and he doesn’t need a lot of space. When it’s there he takes it.
On importance of run defense:
I certainly think it’s important because run defense and run offense, where the correlation is how does it help you down the road on third down? It’s given them third-and-1 to 5, which teams convert more than 6-plus. I do think it’s important to be able to run the football on offense. When you get leads on people and you want to be able to eat the clock up. Run defense, if you had prioritize one more than the other, you’d lean more on the pass but you still want to be functional with the other.
On bend-but-don’t-break defense:
We don’t want to just fall back, we’ll bend but we won’t break and we’re OK conceding yards until teams get into the red zone and then we’ll tighten up. That’s not how we want to play, but we do know if teams do get down there, we do put a big emphasis on red-zone defense and have done some good things down there. We don’t want to be that team. We play our best defense sitting on the bench and we want our offense out there and we want our guys fresh for when it’s time to go back out. There’s a variety of reasons why we’ve given up some of those drives, it’s something that is of concern and we’re working on it.
On Blake Martinez:
A lot of it is Blake should make a lot of tackle.t hat’s just the nature of the position that he’s playing. But I think Blake’s very, very hard on himself. Perfectionist. Wants to get everything right. I know sometimes he’s had; we’ve dealt with some of his frustration with that, which is just borne out of his how competitive he is and his passion for the game. Overall he’s had some long stretches where h’s played really well and there’s a handful of times where I’m sure there are some plays he’d want to back.
On Kenny Clark:
Well, I think if you look at how we grade him, his grades sheets, he’s been – since I’ve been here – ultra consistent. I mean, well into the 90s percent-wise. So I think part of it is teams are a little bit more aware of Kenny Clark. I mean, he’s a guy who maybe last year when he first came into the league when they looked at the scouting report was just another guy, whereas the success he’s had puts a little bit of a target on him. he’s got more double teams. I think teams realize they can’t single block him unless they’ve got a pretty good player against him. so it’s only natural that his numbers have gone down. Teams have realized, ‘Hey, I don’t want this guy to wreck the game for us.’ I know it can get frustrating for him. he’s had a certain style of play where he’s made plays, and he doesn’t have the ability to do that as much anymore. It’s something that we’re aware of, and Kenny has been solid as a rock for us just from the standpoint of successfully doing his job each play.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
On Carolina’s pass rush:
I would say, first thing, is get the ball out whenever we do pass the ball. Get the run game going and stay in those manageable down-and-distances. As we look at the past games, the more we keep those chains rolling, we can hold them back and not hold onto the ball too long.
On Luke Kuechly:
You can tell his knowledge of the game is unbelievable. You can’t really fool this guy. He’s going to study everything from calls to stances to splits. He’ll look out to the wide receivers to get a tip. His intelligence is just unbelievable. He’s the quarterback of the defense and plays like a top notch quarterback.
On Jace Sternberger:
For rookies, they’re always going to get better. Every day, they exponentially get better. As soon as they get that opportunity to be out on the field, we’ll see what happens.
Special-teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga
On Tremon Smith’s 36-yard kickoff return:
He provided a good spark for us. We’re starting to get our core more stabilized. We went in and felt we had a good plan. Anytime you get these returns out past the 30 and 40, you feel good about that.
On what happened on punt block:
It was on overload rush and the snap brought him over a little bit and the operation time was a little longer than what it needed to be, what it normally had been. Then a combination of they ran a guy through, so once we get out to his guy then that guy ended up blocking it. So it was an overload rush. Gotta do a better job coaching those guys up on technique and things. But yeah, it was an overload rush.
On getting more opportunities on punt returns:
I think it's an opportunity thing a lot of the time. We had the one opportunity here the other day. Depending on where it's at as far as if you're backed up you have a chance to maybe go six box and double the gunners and less chance of fakes. I've been conservative. It starts with me. I've been probably more conservative just trying not to have fakes run on us and things like that. If you get into certain down and distances, we may have something called...it's third-and-long and all of a sudden they get some yardage and I'm like, 'OK, I'm not gonna maybe go double the gunners like a lot of people would and I've kept people in, so any time you single up the gunners, it's harder to block those guys one on one out in space, so we've had some fair catches or the guys have been down there to make tackles. It starts with me, first and foremost.