Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 10

(Anything new on Barnett's eye?)

He was treated. Just talking with Dr. McKenzie, we're sending him to an eye doctor today, but he doesn't think it's serious.

(Did you see that poke on tape?)

No I didn't.

(How's Clifton's shoulder?)

Clifton has a right shoulder sprain. He probably won't practice until Friday. But I think he'll be ready to go this week.

(Who would be the guy there if he can't go?)

Daryn Colledge would be the left tackle.

(Was it hard to be talked into keeping Blackmon active for those two months?)

Was it hard? You just have to trust your medical people in that type of situation. I thought Dr. McKenzie did a very good job of assessing the injury, and Will and the rehab staff did a very good job of staying after it and showing progress. And it's ultimately Ted Thompson's call. So I didn't think it was hard at all. He showed yesterday how valuable he is to our football team. He's clearly one of the best athletes on our football team, a young, improving player. I just hope he stays healthy the rest of the year.

(Any reason to believe he's not your guy the rest of the year on punt return?)

Well, he'll definitely be part of the punt return. When we came out of the preseason, we really felt we had a two-headed monster in that particular area. Charles Woodson is outstanding in his decision-making, and Will is obviously a young talent. So as we move forward, that's how we'll evaluate it week in and week out.

(How did Woodson come out of the game?)

Good. Charles and Brett both came out ... didn't take a step backwards, that's for sure.

(Your decision on Blackmon and Woodson, will that be game-to-game or in-game situations?)

Well, when we started in the preseason we talked about different areas of the field, time of the game, it was more of a situational game plan. But obviously with Will's injury, we didn't get to that. But that's something we'll discuss as we move forward.

(Is there time for him to get back on the field on defense or is he too far behind?)

No, I think we illustrated that yesterday. He didn't play that many snaps, but we wanted to get all those young guys in there, because we feel they're all at a pretty even level and have a very bright future, and they all can contribute. We feel confident to put them in there, and that's the way we'll go forward. We talked about it this morning as a staff. I'd like to see them all play.

(Did Bush hurt himself?)

Yeah, he had a calf strain. So I'm thinking maybe Friday, he probably won't practice until at least Friday. He played through it.

(Would he have played more or was that roughly how you wanted to break up the nickel snaps?)

The numbers are not always, I'd like to balance it out a little more. We went into the game with the intent of playing everybody.

(Did Collins have an injury?)

Don't have anything on Nick Collins.

(So you went to Rouse just to get him some time?)

Yeah, just like I said in here Friday I think it was. We had 10 defensive backs up for a reason. They all contribute on special teams. I think that's the first time we've had 10 up since I've been here. We also wanted to roll them in there with different personnel groups.

(Do you envision this continuing even into the playoffs, rotating guys like this?)

I think that's something we have to talk about week to week. I think we're in a situation, when you have an injury to Charles Woodson, I think it's a testament to the development of our younger players, the confidence the coaching staff has in their younger players. But to answer your question, as far as the continuity, that's important, no doubt. But I think these last three games, probably the most important statistic is going to be the health of our football team. That is my focus, to make sure we enter the playoffs as healthy as possible.

(How do you balance that, the work you have to do to get the No. 2 seed with the health issue?)

You have to play to win. You start the game with that approach. It really falls right into the category in my view with our philosophy, winning and improvement. We're going to do whatever it takes to win the football game, how we're focused as a football team on improving. We've come to the point where we feel comfortable putting our young players in regardless of their experience level. Those are good problems to have. It's a great question, how do you balance it. It's something we talk about week-to-week game-planning, if it's a certain personnel group or situation, you'd like to get other guys in, and we'll continue to do so.

(The rushing yards are important, but are the attempts just as important to give other teams more to think about in preparation?)

I agree with the first part of it, the attempts are very important. I think the attempts is probably the most important statistic outside of the actual production in the run game, because when you're able to run the ball that many times, you're accumulating first downs. So just to have the opportunity says a lot. But as far as our other opponents, that's not the goal. It's really to wear the actual opponent down. I'm not really concerned what people think of us self-scout wise, to answer your question. Because one thing I think we have shown offensively is we can play at whatever end of the spectrum we need to based on who we're playing. That to me is the ultimate goal of an offense, and it's a reflection of your system having the versatility. I think we have accomplished that. We need to continue to improve in the run game. It's been an emphasis that we've talked about over and over again. But just being a complete offense is really the most important goal. But the attempts is very important. When you're running the ball 35 times a game, that tells you a lot about what's going on in that particular game.

(When you traded for Grant, realistically what did you think you'd get from him this year?)

I don't always view player acquisition, particularly with the younger players, as this is going to be the guy who's going to run for 100 yards a game over the next seven games. You'd like to think that about everybody. But when we acquired Ryan Grant, he was a football player that showed toughness, good special teams player, versatility, his running style was something we felt fit our offense. So those are all the things that we thought we were getting when he arrived. Now what any individual player does with his opportunity is something you always with for the best, and he's taken full advantage of his. But the body type and the production, really on special teams, in the preseason were the two biggest things I recall at that time when we made the trade.

(If Rodgers is healthy, would you take Brett out earlier?)

That's something that you definitely would think about there. I think we've shown we're confident with Aaron Rodgers, but I didn't feel we were in any danger with Brett as far as the point in the game and what we were doing with him. It's a little concerning as you watch the tape today, a couple of low hits that he took from Burgess, the two low hits that he took in the pass rush. But at that particular point in the game, we were managing the game, managing the clock. I did not feel that he was in danger.

(Back to Barnett, if you have video evidence of that poke would you send it to the league?)

I'm sure it's something that will be discussed. The league looks at the TV copy. I don't really look at the TV copy unless I have to, if there's something I'm looking for. The explanation that was given to me on the field by the referee was that he extended his hand into the facemask. That's what was seen, and that's why no flag was thrown. Obviously the result, Nick is going to the eye doctor, so that's the result of it. But to me that's more of a discipline, league matter. I don't have any evidence of it.

(What did you think about those low hits to Favre? Any intent there or just how it played out?)

You're talking about during the game? During the game you're playing the game and a lot of times, probably a majority of time when the quarterback gets hit, you're addressing the pass protection.

(How did they look on film?)

The one he was in contact with the tackle and then was pushed a little, but the other one he went low on him. It was clearly evident. It was unnecessary.

(Replays indicated Blackmon stepped out of bounds on that punt return, but the Raiders didn't challenge it. Why is it you never seem to miss on those? Do you have a better system in place?)

I want to say I hope it stays that way. I hope you ask me the same question after the season is over. Yeah, I think our guys do a very good job. Home and away makes a difference. We have a system in place. Kurt Schottenheimer, Robert Nunn, the guys up top, Joe Philbin. They have some experience and they've done a good job of pointing things out. As a head coach too, I think there's times where you have to look at it too. If it's close, particularly in the first half, you throw it anyways, even if it costs you a timeout. I think that's something you learn as you go through the head coach responsibility. But we've been fortunate with our challenges up until now.

(Are those guys in the booth at the mercy of the TV replay? Because it didn't look like CBS was real quick on some replays.)

Most of the time, you're clearly counting on the information coming from the TV, and at home, obviously the scoreboard, when they play it. I'm looking at the scoreboard and talking to the coaches up top.

(The interception Brett threw, did he expect Robinson to go the other way?)

No. Brett was trying to put the ball outside. It was an inside vertical route. They were playing bump-and run. We had Greg Jennings on a shallow cross, and they came with an inside pressure. The line did a good job picking it up. Greg is actually the primary receiver and Koren is No. 2. But Koren, he beat his man so quickly and Brett was trying to put the ball on the outside shoulder. I think it was more the ball may have been in the air too long, from what I saw on the film, and I don't think Koren was expecting it over his outside shoulder as opposed to an inside vertical route, usually that's thrown right up the (seam). Just wasn't very clean execution-wise.

(Are you concerned Sapp was calling out some of the plays toward the end?)

Am I concerned? I thought the execution of the plays was pretty good. That's really what my concern is.

(How did you feel Coston performed yesterday?)

I thought he was solid. It looked like he hadn't played a full game in quite some time. His footwork was not what it was earlier in the season, which I think you would suspect coming off an ankle injury. But I thought he was competitive and athletic and did a lot of things that we like about Junius, and we look for him to just improve as he goes forward. He had a couple technique minuses, but I thought he had a solid performance.

(That's different than the secondary, you want to stick with those two guards now?)

We'll look at that week to week. I think it's important to keep the competition there. Daryn Colledge is a very good football player, and our plan is to be a good football player here for some time. You see Daryn go in at left tackle, I think that tells you the value that he has on our football team. He played left tackle in the game and we didn't miss a beat. That's a competitive situation right now.

{sportsad300}(Can you assess the play of the fullbacks this season? Are you happy with where you're at there?)

I'm glad you asked today, because they both played very well. Korey Hall, probably his best performance of the year. I think he had six knockdowns in the run game, I think he had five tackles on special teams. Korey played at a very high level. John Kuhn continues to improve. He's been a core player for us on special teams. We've been putting him more into the lead-blocking situations, like at the end of the game there, with the two-back, two-tight end sets. I think John is a young, improving player that's now comfortable with our scheme. To answer your question, yes, I'm happy with their performance and I think they definitely can improve.

(How come only two halfbacks were active yesterday?)

We went with 10 defensive backs. Charles Woodson, just the concern about his injury, coming off the injury, and most of the time those situations come down to special teams.

(You blitzed more yesterday. Is that something you want to explore more down the road?)

It's a game-plan decision. I don't think we're really going to explore as far as new schemes. I think it's important to try to put your playmakers in position. You saw Atari Bigby coming a few times, more than he has in the past. Just with the run emphasis that they've shown up to that point, that was an emphasis in stopping them yesterday and the ability to get after their quarterback. So it was really tailored towards the game plan.

(Did those two, Bigby and Collins, respond well to the challenge last week after the Dallas game?)

I would say they responded based on the way they performed yesterday. I thought they both played well. I thought Nick Collins had a number of exceptional plays. On the fourth down, the pitch out there, for the big stop there, that was a big-time play. I thought he tackled very well. He was aggressive. I was impressed with the way those two guys played.

(Have you seen a shift in the way teams defend you because of the way Jennings has emerged? A little less focused on Driver?)

I would say there's no evidence of that to point to. The Oakland Raiders came in here and played their defense. They've primarily been a Cover-1 football team, and we saw more quarters than they've probably shown coming into the game. But the only receiver really to point to that was specifically double-teamed has been Donald, and that's more based on the defensive scheme. But we didn't see that yesterday.

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