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Mike McCarthy Post-Game Press Conf. Transcript - Sept. 12


(Opening comments and general thoughts on the game)
We have a lot of respect for Andy Reid and the Philadelphia Eagles, and I know there was some historical significance about winning here [for the first time] since 1962, but I can't say enough about the program Andy has in place here. I thought it was a very gutty performance on both sides of the ball, I think they had five players leave the game and we had a number of guys go down. With the injury to Justin Harrell, we came into this game primarily with the sub defense and there was a lot of back and forth. I thought it was a very gutty performance on both sides of the field and we feel very fortunate to come out of here with a win. This is a tough place to play and it's a tough football team to play against.

(How extensively did the defense prepare for quarterback Michael Vick during the week?)
We prepared for Michael Vick more in the Wildcat-type packages, and I thought Michael did an excellent job. He adds a whole different dimension to the game, particularly with his running skills and his ability to extend plays. That's where I go back to our defense, we stressed the whole training camp playing adversity defense and to end the game on fourth-and-one with a quarterback in the backfield who has a number of different options, that's a big play by our defense, but Michael Vick is still a very dynamic player.

* (Did you think the offense was in sync tonight?)*
I'm the offensive coach so it's never in sync enough. I thought we had some spurts where we played the way we feel that we can play, I wasn't particularly happy with the third-down production during the fourth quarter when we needed to extended drives, but I thought Brandon Jackson came in and did a very good job particularly with the run-blocking unit there in the second half with his opportunities. But we have to extend series in the football game, especially at that particular time; our defense was on the field way too much in the second half, we're short defensive linemen and we're playing against a very mobile quarterback; that was a tough, gutty performance by our football team. I thought our special teams played excellent, and that was a major emphasis coming into the game because we have a lot of respect for Bobby April and the job he does over there on special teams. We feel very fortunate and pleased that we came away with a win, but we also want to grow as a football team and there is plenty of film to look at and to correct and get ready for Buffalo."

(What were the injuries coming out of the game?)
Ryan Grant had an ankle sprain, and he did not return, so I can't tell you exactly how long he'll be out.  Also, Cullen Jenkins had a broken hand, he did return with a cast. Justin Harrell, it looked like he had a significant knee injury and he did not return. And Nick Collins had the bruised ribs there in the fourth quarter and he did return.

(Did Ryan make it seem like he could potentially come back into the game?)
They told me he was down, I didn't speak to him. The medical staff makes those decisions, whether a player is up or down, and that's why they take their helmets away.

(Was it difficult to decide what defense to run on the fourth-and-1 because Vick can do so many different things?)
That's the tough call, especially when he goes to the shotgun. Are they still going to run a traditional quarterback sneak? He also has the ability to bounce the ball to the edge and now you're short-yardage defense takes on a little different characteristic. We went with a sub-defense, a sneak defense, and it was just an excellent job of the front line holding their gaps and not letting him penetrate and it was obviously the biggest play in the game.

(What were your impressions of Kevin Kolb?)
Kevin I thought was a little bit like us on offense. He probably didn't get into the rhythm that he probably would've liked and it looked like he took a pretty big hit there. But he's got a lot of excellent football in front of him; I think he's going to be everything that they think he is. He can make all of the throws and I thought that when he did throw, the ball came out with velocity and so forth. This was really the first time I've had to see him play in live action, but I think he has a bright future.

(Was Mason kicking the ball well enough in warm-ups that you felt comfortable giving him that 56-yard attempt?)
No doubt. We talked about it; we get a progress report in every pregame and he kicked the ball extremely well in pregame, so I would've probably extended him out to 59 – particularly in that situation – and he nailed it. He hit the one earlier in the first half very well also, so I thought he kicked the ball very well. He had the one kickoff he pulled to the left, but I thought Mason performed very well today.

(How about Clay Matthews' performance?)
It's a credit to Clay, it's a credit to the coaching staff and it's really a credit to the medical staff for getting him ready to go. We were a little nervous coming into this game with the number of repetitions that our defensive unit did not have with everybody in there. I'll tell you, I thought it was a very gutty performance on defense, especially the second half, and Clay was a big part of that. Kevin [Greene] did a good job of working the linebackers in, and I thought [Frank] Zombo and [Brady] Poppinga did a nice job with their opportunities.  

(How difficult is it to adjust what you do defensively when the style of play between quarterbacks is such a contrast?)
There is nothing you can do about it. It's not like you can change it, and I thought our coaches did a very good job of rotating the players and trying to keep them fresh. Once again, I thought this was a performance that we can definitely build off of, because they were extending plays and Michael can definitely do that to a defense.

(What did you think of the performance of your special teams today?)
I thought Tim did a good job punting, except he probably wishes he had the last one back, the one he kicked down the middle of the field, because that was not the plan. But I thought he did a good job of putting the ball on the sideline and I thought the coverage units were excellent. I can't say enough of the commitment Shawn Slocum and Chad Morton have made with the changes on special teams and it's gratifying to go out there on Week 1 and have the production we had in the return game. I thought Jordy Nelson did a very good job of running the track and trusting the blockers and he had some creases to run through today, so I was very pleased with our special-teams performance.

(Does it concern you that might now be down to just one true running back going into next week?)
I look at like we have five running backs, but we have three that primarily do the running. It's the NFL; injuries are part of your journey and we had a number of guys go down today. Tomorrow we'll see where we are and we'll get ready for Buffalo.

(When do you think Brandon Jackson really elevated his level of play to where it is now?)
I think Brandon really showed his ability to perform at this level at the end of last year. I thought he really came into his own during the second half of last season. He had the injury in training camp last year, but I thought he had a great spring and training camp. I think he's a complete player, first and second down, he's outstanding in pass protection and he did a nice job on that checkdown in the 23 protection out there in the flat. He's done a good job with the ball control, breaking tackles because he is so strong from the waist down, he has tremendous leg strength and he has the ability to make guys miss. I think Brandon has been playing at this level now since last year.

(What did you see on the interceptions Aaron Rodgers threw in the game?)
I'm sure Aaron will answer those questions for himself, but we'll look at the film. He had the one interception that slipped away. I didn't really have a good view of that first one, the one down the middle, but it was tipped. The second one, the ball just slips out of his hand, but he had Donald Driver open there on the behind route. I'm sure there were some decisions he wishes he had back. We tried to get into a rhythm with the quick passing game early and some seven-man protection throws, and we did not get off to a good start. We were able to generate 27 points, but it's definitely a performance we will build off of and improve on.

(Was Mike Neal close to playing today?)
I didn't ask how close. It's a yes or no by this point. A lot of times when you get into muscle injuries, you'll probably do more damage working a guy out – same thing with hamstrings, it was the same decision with Desmond Bishop – to take him out there and work him out and now you're putting him in a position to fatigue it even more over the course of a game.

(Did you think they would take more shots with DeSean Jackson and were you please your defense's ability to limit his effectiveness?)
I can't really comment on it, I'm not sure exactly sure how they wanted to go after us. From an offensive standpoint, we had a lot of two-shell, we had him covered up a lot when he was in the one-slot. He had the chance to get a number of opportunities underneath, but I thought we did a very good job of containing him today.

(What did you think was the biggest difference in the offense in the second half?)
The negative plays hurt us; there were three negative plays in that first half that really affected us with our point production, but I felt that the ability to run the ball in the second half gave us more balance because I thought we were pass-heavy in that first half which can happen sometimes with the way we operate at the line of scrimmage.

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