McCarthy Proud Of First Season, But Regrets Missing Playoffs


Much like his players did two days earlier, Head Coach Mike McCarthy expressed both pride and disappointment with 2006 during his season wrap-up news conference on Wednesday.

McCarthy said he was proud of some of the smaller achievements - instituting his program, changing the culture, improving on last season, and making improvements during the year, including a season-ending four-game winning streak.

But to a coach whose aspirations are to win a Super Bowl, McCarthy was disappointed the Packers so narrowly missed the playoffs, particularly because the team is as healthy as it's been all season and was playing its best football the past month.

"I have mixed feelings," McCarthy said. "I'm proud of the smaller successes that we have accomplished since we all came together here in February, and I'm proud we have those in place and are able to build off them.

"But I'm disappointed we didn't get in the playoffs. I'm disappointed that I couldn't lead this team in the playoffs and see what happens. I'll never be completely satisfied until we reach the top. So I'm proud of a number of things we accomplished, but we still have a lot of work to do."

During his half-hour question-and-answer session with the media, McCarthy addressed numerous topics involving his players, assistant coaches and the upcoming offseason. Here is a brief summary of some of those issues:

Offensive coordinator

With offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski leaving to become the head coach at Boston College, McCarthy has a major opening to fill on his staff. He said he will look at candidates both inside and outside the organization, and he expects to make the hire within the next couple of weeks.

McCarthy said he's spoken to several people about the position, but he declined to go into specifics. Ideally, he'd like to find someone with knowledge of the zone-blocking scheme Jagodzinski brought to the offense this year, but he's also looking for a good person, a good teacher and a good leader.

"It's a position of leadership, so those are qualities you're looking for in that position," he said. "And really, I'm more concerned about fit more than anything, because of the direction that's already been established with our offensive staff. I'm very comfortable with the operation we have there, the personalities we have there. With me calling the plays, I'm obviously very involved there. We have a lot of things in place, but it's my responsibility to look at every possible option, and that's the way I'm going about it."

Favre's decision

McCarthy said he, General Manager Ted Thompson and quarterback Brett Favre talked before Favre headed home to Mississippi, and he and Thompson told Favre they'd like him to come back next season.

As he has the past couple of years, Favre is contemplating retirement but hasn't made up his mind yet and said he plans to discuss it with his wife Deanna and his family. McCarthy and Thompson didn't set a timetable for Favre's decision, but McCarthy feels it will come sooner this year than last, when Favre waited until late April.

"Brett more than anybody doesn't want to draw it out," McCarthy said. "I just felt it was important for Brett and Deanna to get away from here, take the emotion out of the decision, look at the facts on both sides of the ledger and make a 100 percent committed decision. And from our conversation, I think that's what he's in the process of doing."

McCarthy said he doesn't think he'll talk to Favre any more about it or try to lobby him to return. Because this off-season doesn't contain the uncertainty last off-season did, when a new coaching staff was coming in, tweaking the offensive system and trying to rebound from a 4-12 campaign, McCarthy said Favre knows where everything stands. He added that he and Thompson aren't going to make any promises regarding off-season acquisitions to entice Favre to return, and he doesn't feel that would factor into Favre's decision anyway.

"Ted Thompson and I both sat down with him, told him what we thought about him as a player -- pure player evaluation, nothing to do with what he's accomplished in the past, where we felt he was at today -- and we told him we wanted him back," McCarthy said. "So with that, he talked about some of the things that he was thinking through. He knows exactly how the organization feels about him."

Favre did not have the minor ankle procedure he was expected to undergo on Monday, and McCarthy did not know when that would take place. Favre's ankle has calcium build-ups or bone spurs that have caused him discomfort for several years and can be cleaned out with a minor arthroscopic surgery.

"I guess this is year seven in a row that he has not gone through with it," McCarthy said. "It's really up to him."

Most improved player

When asked who he thought was the team's most improved player this season, McCarthy singled out rookie offensive lineman Daryn Colledge.

{sportsad300}Colledge, a second-round draft pick out of Boise State, entered training camp as the starting left guard, lost his job after the first pre-season game but then worked to regain it early in the regular season. He ended up starting 15 games - 14 at left guard and one at left tackle in Miami when Chad Clifton was ill - and is a candidate for all-rookie honors.

"You look at Daryn, what he went through in training camp, and I clearly thought out of our young players he was most improved and battle-ready," McCarthy said. "I was very impressed with his performance."

Healthy team

McCarthy said no one on the team needs a major surgery in the off-season.

Cornerback Charles Woodson, who played through a shoulder injury much of the year, is not planning to have surgery at this point and is hoping rest will help his shoulder heal.

Favre's ankle is the only other potential procedure being discussed at this point, and there are others in a wait-and-see mode.

"We're an extremely healthy football team," McCarthy said.

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