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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 14

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Monday press conference from the Lambeau Field auditorium.

OK, I'll start with the injuries. Johnny Jolly, he will probably miss some practice time this week with his knee sprain. Ryan Pickett will test probably Wednesday, possibly Thursday, to see if he'll go later in the week. Brandon Underwood, he will be limited this week in practice. And B.J. Raji will also be limited this week in practice. With that I'll take your questions.

(What does it mean to get Brandon Chillar signed to a contract extension?)

I think it's great for Brandon and the Green Bay Packers. I'm excited to be able to continue to work with Brandon. It's something that's definitely well-deserved.

(Did his injury have any bearing on the timing of this extension?)

Just like we have in the past, I really don't discuss the business affairs, and frankly those are questions for other individuals in our organization.

(When you look at his development and value in this scheme, what does he mean to the defense with his versatility?)

He's a good football player, he's a good pro, a high-character individual. But I think you've really hit the nail on the head, it's his flexibility, his versatility to play in the different sub-packages and really his skill set, what he brings to the table. He's been playing outstanding on special teams. He won the award last week for special teams, and he has a good chance of being part of another award on special teams. Very versatile football player on our football team.

(The natural reaction when a guy gets a contract is to look at the other guys and what it might mean for them. A.J. Hawk is still a key part of your plans, right?)

Absolutely. We're trying to ... you cannot have enough good football players. I think that's shown every single year in the National Football League. Injuries are the one variable that you cannot control as you go through the season. We're definitely trying to do the best we can to keep as many good football players as we can.

(Is Dom's creativity energizing your guys week to week?)

We're growing as a football team, and I know a lot has been made of the 'psycho' package. But it's really setting a menu for your defense and your offense and special teams during the offseason, and really frankly we're getting to some of the other packages that we haven't done yet. It really comes down to trust. It comes down to the players trusting one another and the responsibilities that they have. It's the coaches trusting the players to do things the right way. And it's just that variable of using all the different schemes we do have in place and making the adjustments, trying to continue to utilize as many players as you can, and we have that flexibility and those resources on defense. It's great to see players get excited about new wrinkles. I think that's human nature. But more importantly, it's the players taking the plan, believing, trusting the plan, and going out and executing it at a high level, because frankly, that's how those packages get called. It's one thing to have a great playbook and have all these great ideas, but to get it to Sunday, it has to be executed and it has to be done correctly, and there has to be trust from the coordinator making that call to the players. That's what I see probably the biggest part of our defense as far as we're growing and moving forward.

(As an offensive coach, is it rare to get into Week 14 and face an unscouted look? Is there value in that?)

The highest percentage of your unscouted looks on either side of the ball are definitely Weeks 1 through 3 in the season. Our situation is different this year because we are a new defensive scheme and we are a multiple defensive scheme, and you can't run everything in Weeks 1 through 10. And we're growing into some other areas. You're finding out more about your players as you move forward in Year 1. I think that's a normal progression. And we're starting to target and get to some of the things we haven't done yet.

(How much more does he have?)

He's got a big book. It's about concepts and principles, and that's the most important thing. Building on different concepts and principles, and utilizing the players that play to that skill set - use those principles because it plays to their skill set, and you're just trying to change the face. Football is still football. You're just trying to change the face of a number of different things.

(Have you nailed down any reason for the red-zone struggles? Are you going to tinker with the plans?)

The planning? Well, we've got a big playbook over on that side of the ball too. We feel good about the plan that we put together. Really, for the most part, a number of our issues have been execution. I'm very critical of some of the play-calling. We had the pre-snap penalty on the one series as we go forward. Had an opportunity on third down. The first part is our red zone possessions are close to where they need to be. You always want to be in the top five in the league. I'm not exactly sure where we're ranked. We're getting down there enough, but yeah, we need to score more touchdowns. We'll continue to work on that. That's just something that I feel the process of putting the plan together, and it's the same thing, ... we're not designing new plays and new things, and frankly that's not the answer, because you can't invest the time and the reps to get new concepts and new things ready for a game in my opinion. Now, you can have adjustments and variations, and we'll continue to look at that. But our red zone package will apply to our opponent like it does every week, and our players and coaches will work exclusively during the week and get it ready to go. But yeah, our production needs to improve in the red zone, there's no doubt about it.

(You lost a bunch of close games last year. What have you done this year to get those wins?)

I think you look at adversity. Football is about overcoming adversity in so many different forms and fashions, and I think yesterday's game is another example of it. The ability to get out in front of your opponent, and they make a surge to come back and just keep answering the bell. I think we're doing a much better job of that this year than we did in the past.

(Is that part of growing up as a team?)

We're just doing a better job this year. Every year is different. Every football team is different. To sit here and compare, I know a number of the same players may be here from this year to last year, so is there some maturity? Yes, that could be part of it. But every year is so different, whether it's injuries or opponents, the way you play and the maturation of your team. It's a whole different year.

(Is Collins playing as well or better than last year when he made the Pro Bowl?)

I think Nick's having an excellent year. That's something that, yeah, I think Nick's having a great year. I'm very happy with the way Nick has dove into the new scheme, and he's progressing and getting better as a communicator back there, and he's very comfortable. You can't say enough about his instincts and his ability to break on the football, especially when he gets his hands on the football. He's such a dangerous returner. Had a big play on special teams in the kickoff cover yesterday. Yeah, I think Nick's having an excellent year.

(How did Tauscher hold up? Was fatigue an issue for him?)

Well, that was the biggest challenge Mark has had this year as far as the number of reps, and that's something that we have to look at. Really, I'm curious to see how he comes in here Wednesday, because I'm sure he's sore today, and anytime you come off that major injury, the first time you go to a full game, that's something that we're watching very closely. But we feel like we've prepared ourselves as far as having T.J. ready to go. But we'll be smart with his reps. Wednesday will be a big day.

(Are you going to bring in any kickers this week or work any out?)

I'll just say this. I have all the confidence in the world in Mason Crosby. As far as what players, what position, we bring players in here all the time on Tuesday, and I've never commented on it in the past, and I won't today. But I have all the confidence in the world in Mason Crosby.

(We all know what Collins went through in the offseason. When he sees Chillar get a new contract, do you have to talk to him and make sure he's in the right place or do you not have to worry about him?)

Really, the business part of it is not for me really to sit up here and talk about. But I find Nick Collins, and for the most part all of our players are very professional. Everybody understands the way the business goes. You want to see the positives work out for everybody. Nick Collins is having a great year, and I'll leave it at that. I think Nick has been a core guy in our locker room, and he's playing at an extremely high level.

(With the red-zone opportunities, is there one that sticks out in your head where you had the right play called and thought you had a touchdown, one that bothered you more than any other?)

Not really. I'm not going to sit here as a play caller and blame it all on the players or the execution. We need to perform better in the red zone. We look at all of the calls every week, evaluate them. We review what the opponent gave us. Did we give the players the proper reps during the course of the week as far as what we expected to give there? That's all part of the evaluation; it's all part of the game-planning. We just need to do a better job.

(Were you satisfied with the explanation on the Jennings incompletion in the end zone?)

I thought Mike Carey did a good job communicating, but we'll go through the normal process there. We'll take the game, and that will probably be one of the plays we'll talk about with the league office and we'll have further communication. We participate in that procedure every week. But I thought the group as a whole, the crew, did a very good job explaining everything.

(But you challenged it because you thought he had two feet in before ...)

Yeah, I challenged it because I thought it was a touchdown and I would have liked to have seen it be a touchdown, but it doesn't always go that way.

(Are you pleased with the improvement in the penalties and the discipline? Four is a low for this year.)

The number was low, but it's just like anything. You always look at the numbers and what penalties occurred. The three pre-snap penalties I was not excited about. We'll definitely address that today with the players in their individual meetings. You can't control how the other team plays or how it's called. But yes, to answer your question, it's nice to be on that side of it, no doubt about it.

(When you first brought Dom in here, what did you think? Did he show you his defensive playbook so you could see what all he had?)

It's football. The size of the playbook didn't really have anything to do with why he was hired here. But it was interesting; he brought along the original notes and some of his game plans and things that he did in Year 1 in 1992 in Pittsburgh. So he talked about the origin of the defense, how it started, when it was brought into the league. That was interesting, but going through that whole process, it's about so many other things. He was brought in here for a reason, because of his expertise in that defense. But it was more about fit, to be honest with you. I think all of the candidates were excellent, but it's more about fit, and fit is a two-way street. I think he has been an excellent fit for us.

(Why do you think that is? What makes him fit?)

I think everything, everything involved. I think No. 1, you need to be an expert in your area. He definitely walked through the doors with that. The Green Bay Packers, he needed to fit to the Green Bay Packers and frankly we needed to fit for him. It goes both ways. Sometimes things don't always look the way you think they do on paper or the perception of this guy would be perfect. It's about sitting down, interacting with people, make sure they not only fit with me but the other components in the building. That's why you go through the process.

(The times you had Finley split out, did you like the matchups and were just trying to get him more involved?)

Just with Jermichael or with any of those types of formations, it's the same every week. You're looking for matchups, but you're also looking for scheme identification too. There is information that is gathered when you break traditional formations, so that's really been our plan every week.

(You have essentially a two-game lead over Dallas and the Giants in the wild card picture. Does that give you any extra breathing room these last three weeks?)

Oh, no, we don't have any breathing room right now. We're focused on the Pittsburgh Steelers. They have given us plenty to think about and prepare for throughout the week. It was really, two, three, four weeks ago, whenever it was, when I started talking to players about the playoffs, when the playoffs always seem to come up. It really doesn't make any sense for us to even worry about the playoffs until you get to double-digit wins, and then really when you get to 10 or 11 wins, that doesn't guarantee you a spot in the playoffs anyways, what history tells you. Seriously, we are focused on beating the Pittsburgh Steelers and getting to 10 wins. I'm sure when I stand up here next week the playoff picture probably would have changed. There are three games left. There are a lot of things that happen in the last three weeks of the season. The scenarios will change; they always do. Everybody is fighting to get in and that's the type of game we are preparing for this week.

{sportsad300}(What does facing Pittsburgh mean to you?)

Well, it's a very good football team that has had some struggles of late. We know we are going to get their best shot. They are still the defending world champions for many different reasons. We're playing at their place. This is going to be a true test to our football team. We're just starting to break them down as coaches, and we need to have a good plan, we need to execute at a high level to beat this team.

(On a personal level, does it mean any extra to you?)

Oh yeah, it's always neat going home. I had the opportunity to go home two years ago, so that was neat. It's probably good that I had a chance to do that, but this is a business trip for all of us, myself included. Truly, we're focused on getting to 10 wins.

(A business trip with a fair amount of ticket requests?)

That's part of it, yeah.

(Considering who you were playing and the conditions, was the passing game about what you expected?)

The passing game, we had 24 attempts. Frankly I thought the two minuses for the offense were No. 1, the turnovers. We don't turn the ball over and I'm just a big believer in things that you make staples of your football team, things that you practice on every single day, because you want to be good at everything, everybody does, but you have to be able identify with certain variables in your football team, and that's something that we've done a good job of. The two turnovers I thought were two big negatives for us on offense, and the other part was third down. Outside of that, I thought we were very productive. I thought we ran the ball the way we anticipated to run it coming into that game, and really the third-down conversions really kept our opportunities down. I think we were 58 or 60 plays on tape and if you convert third downs, now we're up in 72 or 75 plays that we are more accustomed to playing. I think our passing game would have probably improved with the number of plays. Our two biggest failures were No. 1, giving the ball away, and No. 2, the third-down production.

(On one of the third downs, you took a shot to James Jones down the sideline. Did you like that call?)

Based on what the defense played, yeah, I was fine with the decision.

(Rodgers said something to Peter King about a possible leg injury and almost getting twisted. Do you know what play he was referring to?)

The only play that I thought that he was in position for possible injury was the two-point play when Tommie Harris hit him low after coming off of Josh Sitton in pass protection. That's the only play I can think of. I'm not aware of the conversation.

(If you were to lose Rodgers, how important is he to what you do?)

Oh, I would clearly say that Aaron Rodgers has fallen into the classification of a franchise quarterback. He has played at that level. I know it's only been a year and a half or a year and three-quarters. I think he's definitely at that level of play, so I just think that in itself tells you how we feel about him and his value to our football team.

(Who got the game balls this week?)

A.J. Hawk and Atari Bigby on defense, Ryan Grant on offense, Brandon Chillar was the 'big hit', and special teams was Nick Collins.

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