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Mike McCarthy Press Conf. Transcript - Nov. 22


OK, I'll start with the injuries. Atari Bigby had a hamstring strain. He'll be challenged to make it back this week. Anthony Smith had an ankle sprain. He'll also be challenged to make it this week. Scott Wells has an arch strain, and we will monitor him during the course of the week. And with that I'll take your questions.

(You talked about plus-10 being a goal for turnover differential. What has been the difference in the improvement in that area in the last few games?)
As far as setting goals for turnover ratio, plus-10 is where, you want to be above that. I think history would show it's very favorable to a football team as far as accomplishing the ability to play in the playoffs and so forth. We're doing what we're supposed to be doing the last month of the season, particularly on offense, taking care of the football. We did not do that in the first month of the season. And the defense has really been consistent taking the football away. Time and time again, I've talked about it. We train it. It's important. We clearly feel it's a building block. It's part of our team identity, and we really need to continue to do that. It really factors in winning football games.

(What has been the key to the defense's success of late?)
The defense, they're in excellent rhythm right now. Just yesterday's performance alone, if you look at the first time we played the Vikings this year, as far as our win-loss efficiency, that was probably our lowest of the year, and yesterday's performance was the highest. You want to play your best football in November and December. Our defense is in excellent rhythm as far as the communication, tackling, playing with the fundamentals, getting in and out of the personnel groups, the ability to play an approximate 40-60 pressure-coverage ratio. It gives you the ability to play fast. We're in Year 2. There's an excellent understanding. Very happy with the progress we've made with where we are on defense. We're No. 1 in the league in scoring defense, and that's exactly where we want to stay. Our defense is doing a great job.

(When you say win-loss percentage, that's per play?)
Correct. Yes.

(That was the highest percentage this season?)

(How about the improved red-zone defense?)
That was one of our No. 1 priorities coming off the offseason. We spent a lot of extra time on red-zone defense throughout the offseason study, going back to March. Dom and the staff, as far as the things we did last year, we adjusted some of the things conceptually coverage-wise, and our players have really bought into it. We've actually spent more time in red zone on both sides of the ball, training against each other in the spring and in training camp, and the dividends have definitely paid off. We're doing a great job keeping them out of the end zone, especially on the road.

(How often is Aaron finding those one-on-one matchups before the snap and how many are coming after a couple of reads?)
It really depends on who you play. The Vikings, they're not a multiple-defense coverage team, but they do a very good job of disguise. I think it's like anything in this business, where are you going to spend your money, where are you going to spend your time. They do a good job of holding coverage really until you snap the ball. Aaron, particularly in his performance yesterday, did a very good job in his post-snap reads and adjustments of how they were playing us.

(Is Aaron back to playing at the high level he was last year?)
I think Aaron's clearly playing at a very high level the past three or four weeks. Definitely.

(You have been the best in the league at points off of takeaways. Is there anything you do to stress the importance of taking advantage of the turnovers?)
To me it all falls in part of the push-pull principle. That's the way I view calling plays in this game. Obviously when you take the ball away, that's a big momentum boost for your football team. It usually puts you in very good field position. How you react to that, as far as do you push the envelope as far as taking a shot or being more aggressive, or do you go in the other mindset. There's not a drill, there's not a technique, there's not a package of plays that we have called for that specific situation. It's more a reaction to the momentum that you gain and really what's gone on prior to that in how the defense has responded to your offense up until that point in the game.

(Do you have any reaction to Brad Childress' dismissal today?)
I think like any coach in this industry – Jeff just told me walking through the door that it occurred – you're disappointed. You feel for his family. I have great respect for every individual in the coaching profession. I know the struggles, the challenges and the rewards that you go through as a head coach in this league. You never want to see that happen. It's really tough on a family. Like I said, you just don't ever want to see that happen.

(Is it sobering because this is such a bottom-line business?)
It's part of the deal. It's part of the job description. It's a tough business on a lot of different angles. It just goes with the territory.

(What has happened since the 18-penalty game since you have improved so much in that area?)
Well, the 18-penalty game clearly factored in the outcome of that game. Because it was a game when you look at it, how the hell did we lose that game? That was the key in that loss, because of all the productivity and the other positive plays that went on in that game. We emphasize it every week, just like every team in this league does. We have the officials at practice. We communicate it. We do the continuing education session in our Thursday team meetings every week. It's always at the forefront of everything we do as far as playing with the discipline, staying within the rules of the game. Mike Eayrs does an excellent job. We go through the videos that the league sends us. We just emphasize it the best we can, and our players have responded.

(You mentioned the fans yesterday. Are you cognizant of their cheers?)
How can you miss it? To be in somebody else's home, especially with that big old stereo system over there and hear your own fans, it's just a tribute to the support and for the Packer fans. It was awesome. The fourth quarter, our sideline was having a lot of fun. I was worried about keeping players healthy and getting the clock to run down, but that was a fun sideline in the fourth quarter.

(What have you done to get Greg Jennings involved consistently of late?)
Just really nothing out of the norm. We are putting Greg in some inside positions, and that's really the beauty of that whole wide-receiver group. Every single receiver in the room can play all four, and sometimes we have a fifth receiver position. Greg definitely has been doing that, playing the No. 2 slot, the No. 3 slot, and just moving him around. Just being cautious and cognizant of the matchups or how people are trying to play us, but we really are just staying with our base concepts. Aaron is doing a very good job of taking what the defense is giving us and running our offense. We are not designing new plays for Greg or anything like that. Greg is an outstanding football player, he is an excellent route-runner, and Aaron and Greg have really been on the same page here of late.

(I would assume with the injuries defenses have had to put more of a focus on him, but you haven't done much differently?)
Sometimes I think a little bit too much gets made of the X and O aspect of our game. Some defenses line up and say they are going to take away that individual player or they are going to play their scheme and maybe tilt toward that particular player. You see different things each week. The flexibility we have, we don't line up our players in the same position on every play or on certain formations. If we are in a three-by-one, Greg doesn't line up in the same spot or vice versa. It's something that we stay on top of with our self-scout and we are doing a good job right now.

(How did Pickett come through the game?)
Pickett and Driver both came through fine. I had a chance to visit with both players on the sideline there in the fourth quarter, and Dr. McKenzie thought they both came out fine. We'll probably look at their reps as far as their practice reps during the week.

(What did you think of Nance's performance?)
I like what Dimitri did in the game. It was good to get him started. I look forward to going forward with him and Brandon. I think that is a good 1-2 punch. He did some good things. He had a couple of tough looks there in the fourth quarter, which really has been a big part of his work up until yesterday's game. He did a nice job.

(Can you talk about the season that Scott Wells has had?)
Scott has done a very good job. He has been so steady, and it's what you want. It's something, from an offensive philosophy focus, you want the middle of your offense to be smart, disciplined, stable, and it really starts with that center, the two guards and the quarterback. I think that group has done a very good job of that and Scott has at the point of those four people especially. He has managed the games very well from an adjustment standpoint, scheme standpoint, the direction of the huddle, the tempo. I think he is having clearly his most consistent year in our time here together. He is fighting through some bumps and bruises like a lot of offensive linemen are, but I think he has been a real steady force for us.

(Any advantage playing in that dome atmosphere two weeks in a row?)
You have some carryover in your preparation, so if you want to put that in the advantage column, you can throw it over there. It will help us that we had a chance to work on the crowd noise inside the Hutson Center during the course of the week and to play up in the Metrodome is loud. I've been in Atlanta's dome time and time again. It's a great venue. It will be exciting. I can promise you that down there Sunday. It's a game we are looking forward to, and it's a big-time challenge. Atlanta is playing very well. It's evident by their record. But to be able to play in those types of environments with the practice carrying over from one week to the next  is a little bit of an advantage.

(You mentioned Rodgers' improved play. Is Tom Clements more of a help to you during the game or is it during the week as well?)
Tom Clements does an excellent job. Compared from Year 1 to Year 5, I very rarely go back to the bench during the course of the game, which was not true during prior years. So I think that just really tells you where we are as an offensive staff I think. I think, I know where we are as an offensive staff. Just the continuity, just the game management, the ability to make adjustments and changes, it's very seamless for us now. It really has a lot to do with the continuity of our staff. I think Joe Philbin is as fine as a football coach, as fine as a teacher, that I have been around. He is the one that coordinates all that on the offensive side. Tom is an outstanding quarterbacks coach and has coordinated in this league. He does a very good job managing the quarterback group. It's really the network of communication and the continuity that we have established as an offensive staff. We are really working five years together now.

(When you hired Dom Capers, did you see potential for him to be a head coach again or were you hopeful to work with him for a number of years?)
Dom Capers is a head coach-caliber individual in this league. He has built two programs. He has been a tremendous asset to me personally, just sharing his experiences as a head coach. It has given me an opportunity to grow from that. Like I said last week, if I was an NFL owner, there are a number of coaches on our staff. I don't want to lose anybody, but I definitely want to see these guys grow if they have the opportunity. If I was an NFL owner, there are a number of guys on our staff that I would look at and you definitely would start with Dom.

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