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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 27

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Wednesday press conference. will post these full transcripts after each of Coach McCarthy’s press conferences during the 2006 season.


OK - injury report: Everybody practiced except for Donald Driver, Charles Woodson and Ahman Green. Their injuries are the same; they're all probable for the game.

(Did Clifton sit out some reps?)

No, he took his share of reps.

(Did you notice any added bonus in practice with the extra rest and practice yesterday?)

I would say yes. We primarily focused on base concepts and fundamentals yesterday, so the transition was smoother. We didn't have as many repeats and things like that. Yes, I think we benefited mentally from an extra day of practice.

(By the time you start Sunday, you'll know whether it's meaningful or meaningless - do you like that?)

It's a meaningful game regardless. It's the Green Bay Packers versus the Bears, and that's the way we're viewing it. I'm not naïve to the fact that everybody will be playing close attention and it will be public knowledge. Those are things we can't control. We're excited about playing in Chicago, playing against the Bears. It's our archrival, and that's the way we'll approach the football game.

(How will your team react if they know heading into the game?)

I'm just hopeful they'll view it just the way I'm talking about it. It's a football game - the Packers versus the Bears. It's an important football game, and that's why they play 16 games. Our focus is on getting to 8-8. There are a lot of positive factors that can come out of being 8-8. Everyone wants to talk about the playoffs, but I think there are a number of other positive factors that we could attain: 5-1 in division, finish with four (wins) in a row and carry it into the off-season. We're really focused on winning the football game.

(Do you believe there is a carry-over from the end of the season to the off-season?)

Absolutely, and I think history has proved it. You look at some of the teams that have recovered from poor seasons and how they've finished. I can recall a recent one which I saw was the Carolina Panthers. They finished with a couple in a row there and went on a Super Bowl march. I think history supports that.

(What's your read on Lovie Smith - think he'll play a lot of his key players until the fourth quarter?)

I do not have a read on what they're going to do personnel-wise. We're just going through the film study like we always have. I anticipate if they do cut back, they may approach it like a lot of people approach preseason games. Once again, those are things we can't control, and we're just preparing for the individual match-ups that are available to us on film. We'll push forward.

(Mood after the Jets game was somber - how did you keep this team focused?)

I just think you need to clearly keep your eye on the target. The Monday meeting after the Jets game - those aren't fun for anybody. I think it's important at that time to just stay in touch with reality. It wasn't the best of losses, there isn't a good loss that I've experienced. But I think you need to just sort through the facts, make sure you answer the questions why that happened, how it happened, and correct it and move on. And we really have. I think our players have done an excellent job just taking it one day at a time, as far as how we've prepared each and every week, in trying to get better. I think the defense has really exemplified that in their performance of late, and we're just finding ways to win football games, and that's what it's all about.

(Do all the young players really have a clue that this is one of the most storied rivalries in football?)

Part of that is our responsibility as an organization, is to educate our players on the rivalry of the Bears and the Packers. History is very important here, tradition is very important. I think it's illustrated everywhere you walk in the building. Every opportunity you have to educate your football team, we take advantage of that, and that's part of the process of maturing as a football team.

(Do you take any extra steps in meetings, stick in films of old games?)

I don't really want to get into the specifics of what's coming the next couple of days. But the first game we talked about it, had a video and so forth. So we'll continue to educate our players.

{sportsad300}(How different are you guys and how different are the Bears from the first game of the season until now?)

We're healthy. I feel good about our health. We have a number of players on IR, and they're experiencing some health issues of late. So from a health standpoint, I feel good about where we are as a football team. Hey, they're 13-2. To me that speaks for itself. I know there's been some criticism of how they've won games, but 13-2, that's the bottom line, and they're having an excellent year. But I think we've definitely improved in a number of areas as a football team and need to continue to improve, because there's some areas we have dropped off in. I think we're an improved football team. I think for the most part they've been consistent throughout the year, and I think their record reflects that.

(At nickelback, Patrick Dendy has been picked on a little. How has he held up?)

I think he's held up very well. You answered your own question, people have gone after him. I think Bob has done a good job of putting him in positions to be successful, and we've backed off in some of our coverage schemes and just been smart, and I think Patrick has really responded.

(Does he have that short-term memory you have to have at cornerback?)

I think so. I think he's reflected that. The thing about it, some of the plays that have been made on him, they're competitive plays. It isn't like guys are running wide open and things like that. When a guy catches a go route on the boundary and the coverage is tight and it's a good throw, that's football, so I don't view that as a negative. For as much bump and run and as competitive as we are, getting up in the face of receivers, you're going to have some of that. I think Patrick has been steady every week.

(What are you emphasizing this week to improve the offense in the red zone?)

Really, just fundamentals. When you look at the breakdowns in the red zone, the first thing that jumps out is the turnovers. You can talk about any situation in football. If you turn the ball over in that specific situation, it's not going to be very good. We need to improve at that, number one. Number two is just making plays, taking advantage of the one-on-one matchups, and that comes down to just the fundamentals. We're just really stressing the same things in Week 1 that we are in Week 17 and just continue to work on them.

(Have you liked what you've seen so far this week?)

We actually put the red zone in tomorrow. The offense will spend more time on it than it normally does, because it is an emphasis, but that goes in in the morning.

(How big of a challenge are Chicago's defensive ends to block, particularly the rookie Anderson?)

They're excellent edge players, and their scheme allows them to play up-tempo, up the field, and their statistics speak for themselves, and they're a challenge. But I really thought Tausch coming off his injury played well last week, and that's Chad's strength. Those will be good match-ups to watch.

(What's the biggest key to beating the Bears on Sunday?)

It's the continuity of all three phases. Special teams is something that has been a strength of theirs, particularly in the return game. That's a focus for us, for our coverage units. So that will be important. It's really the fact of putting a game together in all three phases. You look at the games we played the best in, San Francisco of recent, where all three phases went out and played very well.

(How do you stop a guy like Devin Hester on special teams?)

Well, don't kick the ball down the middle of the field is probably a good starting point.

(Is he that special or are their schemes particularly effective?)

I think Hester is special. You could see that in college. I think it speaks a lot when he's drafted in the second round. I think he's everything they thought he was. I think he's a unique returner in our game right now. He's had an incredible season.

(How much can that make or break the opposition when he makes a big play?)

Special teams is a huge part of the game. We talk about field position, how critical that is. It's a weekly must as far as our formula for success, so that's something we're always emphasizing. And when you have a returner that has scored as many touchdowns as he has, that can change a game, and he has.

(Does that keep coverage guys on edge with the threat he brings?)

I think he's definitely earned respect because of the success he's had in the league. But once again, I think our guys pose that as a challenge.

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