Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 24

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Monday press conference from Lambeau Field. - More Audio | Video | Watch ’The Mike McCarthy Show’ Packers-Bears Game Center

(How significant is Jennings' ankle?)

Just visiting with Pat McKenzie, he has a mild ankle sprain. I'm hopeful he'll go this week.

(Would you consider holding him out?)

Wednesday will probably answer that question for me.

(When did that happen in the game?)

I'm not sure exactly what play, but it was more of a bruise than a sprain. Pat thinks he might have just gotten kicked on the bone. He wasn't very concerned about it. I know Greg wasn't either.

(Any thoughts about your plan for playing players?)

As far as our plan for Detroit, we're going to play to win the game. We will start the football game just like we have every single week up until now. Now, how it will unfold during the course of the game, that has not been decided yet.

(How much of that is wiping the bad taste out of your mouth?)

That's part of it. I'm clearly not happy with the way we performed yesterday. So it's important to get back on the field and get going as far as playing to the level that we need to play. And, also with the fact that we won't play for another week, I want to make sure we stay sharp. We need to clean up a lot of things fundamentally just off of our last contest, and that will be our focus as we go through the week and have the opportunity to go out and compete and win the game against Detroit.

(Did any other injuries come out of the game?)

No, just bumps and bruises. Nothing significant.

(What's the biggest lesson you learned yesterday?)

The biggest lessons? Well, number one, that's the first time we as a football team have played in those types of conditions. We did not handle it very well. I felt during the game, after the game and here today, you have two teams out there playing in significant conditions, number one, we had the ball on the ground, we didn't manage the football very well. I thought they did an excellent job with that. Fundamentally, I thought our pad level was poor. We had a number of breakdowns just in technique, and we did a number of things that just were not characteristic of our football team. I'd say the biggest lesson that we will learn from, because it's the first time we've gone through it with this team, is how to handle the weather conditions better.

(You were with the 49ers in that game in Chicago. Do the Bears just see the crazy wind more often?)

Just being involved in both of those games, the importance of special teams even increases in my view. Special teams factored in the outcome of both of those football games. We said that going in. We felt that was going to be the biggest challenge for our football team. We came off a very impressive performance against St. Louis. I feel that's a strength of their football team, and it has been, is their special teams, and they factored huge in the outcome yesterday. And going back to the San Francisco game, the Vasher return was the biggest play in that game. Their team is built for that. I feel our football team is also. We have very good special teams play and have been improving, but there are some tough lessons that will be learned from that performance yesterday.

(Is there any real way to prepare for wind like that? Had you practiced outside last week, would that have even helped?)

If I felt practicing outside would help our football team playing in poor weather, trust me, we would have been outside a long time ago. I prefer to go outside, I prefer to be on grass, those are things. But there's a point where the returns are not there. When people are not focusing on practice, and the quality of practice decreases because you want to appease the weather pattern, that's counter-productive in my opinion. That's why we practice inside. I don't think being outside would have factored at all as far as our preparation.

(You said their focus, if you practiced outside, would lag a little bit?)

Well, I just think because when you're playing outside is different than when you're practicing, in my opinion. You've got the heaters and this and that. When you're practicing, certain guys are up, and now the guys that are not in the period, what are they doing? Are we going to pull the benches out there? I don't think it's practical. We have an excellent facility, it's clearly one of the best indoor facilities I've been involved in. Opening the doors, you could make a case we need to close the doors after the way we played this week. I don't think that factors.

(You said you did a lot of uncharacteristic things. Was that focus-related?)

I clearly don't think I can stand here today and say we were an extremely focused football team. That is not accurate. Just look at the way we played compared to the way our opponent played.

(Did the Bears have as much trouble with the wind blowing the long snaps?)

The wind was moving them, just from what I've seen. We haven't had a staff correction period like we normally do on Mondays. We have moved ahead to Detroit today just so the staff can be home for Christmas tomorrow. I haven't sat down and watched and studied it. But the ball moved around just as much for them as it did for us. You could see that during the game, just on the field goals. He took both of them, or the one, clearly outside the left upright, and the wind took it right inside. You saw that on the field.

(Was the difference they brought pressure on those punts, knowing the snaps could be bad?)

Really, the rush, the technique of how we handled the rush was the biggest factor. They didn't have a special blitz. They didn't do anything that Mike Stock and Shawn Slocum, that we did not practice Wednesday and Friday. Our punt protection was as poor as it's been in our two-year period here, clearly. We had bad technique on the right side for the first two, and then we make a switch and put a veteran player over there to handle the twist that was going on, and he goes over and makes the same mistake. I don't want to discredit the Bears. I'm sure they feel very good about their performance yesterday. We played very poorly.

(Can you talk about the importance of running the football and grinding out drives in the winter conditions?)

Running the football is very important. I stand up here every week and talk about it. That was the game plan. I did not like some of the positions I put Brett in, in the second half of that game. But I was trying to get that score to a two-score game. I felt if we were able to line up and run the ball in a 30, 35-plus attempt game, that was clearly the course that I wanted to take. It did not work out that way. But I think just in the times we did run it, we were effective. I thought Ryan ran the ball well. I thought his decisions for the most part were good. The first run he has a chance to score if we get the second-level block on Tillman. And he had the big run for the touchdown. We just did not ever, because of the score of the game, were able to settle into a heavy run dose.

(How concerned are you about your team being able to handle the conditions, or were those so unusually bad you won't see that again?)

The only thing I can promise you is the things that I can control. We will learn from the experience. Was it unusual? That's the worst environment I've played a game in. That makes no excuse. The other team played in it also. The score of the game is not a reflection of how we're capable of playing, and that's our responsibility. Now, I'm disappointed, and we will correct the things that went wrong in that game, and we'll get ready for Detroit.

(Have you been outside at all since it got cold or have you thought about going out maybe once a week for the team periods just so the players get used to it?)

I don't think our players need to get used to the cold weather because we live in it. That's my opinion. Ted Thompson and I had this conversation this morning because we were anticipating this line of questioning. He had a great story. He talked about Bum Phillips, when they used to go up to Cleveland and Pittsburgh in their days in Houston, and he said you can't practice misery. That was a miserable situation yesterday. One team handled it, another team did not. Does Chicago practice outside? I don't know. I answered the question earlier. I think it would be counter-productive to go out in this type of weather and go through a practice. That's why we stay inside.

(Is that a reflection of the team you are, relying so much on the passing game and going with four and five wide receivers?)

I think it's a good angle for a story, but I think we've shown the flexibility to run and pass the ball. I think if you had that opinion of us after Week 6, I'd totally agree with you, because I was concerned about the run game then. I am not now. I wish we had more consistency in our guard play inside. I would like to settle in on a starting rotation. I think that could help. I think our runner has established himself as a front-line runner. I'm happy with the way Ryan plays, as far as the decisions. He's a plus-runner. He doesn't take too many bad decisions where he gets in negative-yard situations. So I'm comfortable with our run game. I would like to have committed to the run for four quarters, and I think the outcome would have been different.

(What do you think of the guard situation after yesterday?)

I think Jason has clearly been the most consistent of the three. As we move forward, I would say we will continue to keep him at the right guard. I'd like to get some continuity there. With Daryn and Junius, somebody needs to take control of the left guard position.

(If it's just cold and not windy, does your passing game function like it has all year do you think?)

I think it's affected a little bit, because the hands of the thrower and the catchers are affected by it. Wind, to me, is the biggest factor in bad weather, because it puts you into a more one-dimensional type game.

(How would you evaluate the defensive line play, particularly Justin Harrell?)

Once again, without grading the film as a staff, I felt that the problems we had in our run game defense was more fundamental and technique. Our fits weren't as clean as they have been earlier in the year. We had some problems down there in St. Louis last week, had a couple plays in the first half, and you saw some of that again yesterday in Chicago. Pad level was high. I felt that was a common problem. I could see that during the game. I thought they played with better pad level than we did. I thought what I did see of Justin, I thought he might have even improved from last week to this week. I'm not going to stand here and pass out any plusses today, because I don't think there are too many of them. But we need to clean up our run game defense. The last two weeks, it's not been where it needs to be. Ryan Pickett is our best inside run defender, but that did not factor in what happened yesterday. We need to play better.

(Do you have an idea if you'll have Pickett this week, or use him?)

I think Ryan will be up this week. I'd be surprised if he doesn't go Wednesday and go through a full week. If I had to make a decision today, I would say he'd probably be up.

{sportsad300}(When they were running the ball, did you see guys getting washed out?)

I thought it was more fits. Just the couple that come to mind, maybe we have high pad level on the backside where the linebacker doesn't get over the top. You've got one linebacker fitting off the lead blocker, the other wrapping over the top, things like that. I didn't see a whole lot of guys just getting washed out of the hole. But once again, I didn't study the film. Like I said, we've moved on to Detroit.

(Do you consider that sloppiness?)

Pad level, footwork, technique. It's more technique.

(You talk about pad level a lot. What causes a bad game with that?)

There's a number of things. That's why you play the game. It's no different than sometimes you throw the ball more accurately than you do, or you catch it, you make good decisions as a runner. Those are all fundamentals of the game. It's experience, the match-up, the body type against the guy you're playing. Those are all factors. That's why we play the game.

(Did you talk with Ted about how long you played Favre? Buck and Aikman were killing you on the broadcast about that.)

I have no problem with how long I played Brett. I didn't think it was a concern, really until the series before it went to 28-7. Because that's the only time where I felt if we could get it to a two-score game here and maybe an onside kick, maybe we can generate something going down to the final half of the fourth quarter. And then after they scored on the interception return, I really wasn't comfortable putting Craig Nall in there just to hand the ball off. I was comfortable, Brett wasn't in danger of being injured in my opinion. With Craig not playing the whole game and being on the sideline and then putting him in to have him take snaps, I didn't think that was a very smart decision.

(How was your team reacting late in the game, when it was cold and the game was out of hand?)

I didn't like the way our team handled the cold, period, for four quarters. To answer your question, I'd say it was OK. I didn't see a difference from the first period to the fourth period. Both teams, when guys weren't in there, they were either on the heaters or had the coats on. So I think our sideline for the most part yesterday and throughout the season, they're into the game. I didn't see anything different.

(How do you think the guys are going to handle the adversity? You haven't faced a ton this year.)

We haven't faced it this year, but I think you need to address both of them when we get together Wednesday. You talk about handling adversity and how you overcome a performance like we just had. And also, I think you need to take a step back like we have the past couple weeks, and revisit talking about handling success. You're a 12-2 football team and you go down and play a football team that's out of the playoffs, they're a rival game, and to perform the way we did. That's something else we'll talk about.

(Did you see what happened with Barnett and the run-in with the official?)

I tell you what, I've never seen anything like that in all my years. I didn't see the whole thing, but I thought the official was totally out of line, the way he grabbed Nick around his neck and pulled him out of there. There was a lot going on throughout the game on both sides of the ball after the play was over. Their offensive line was getting after Nick there a bunch down the stretch, and that goes on in these type of games. I didn't see the whole thing, but I saw the end of it, and I thought it was totally unprofessional, I thought it was totally out of hand.

(Did you talk to Mike Pereira about it yet?)

Not yet.

(Do you intend to?)

I'm a little busy this morning.

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