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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 28

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

OK, I have two injuries to report on. Derrick Martin had an ankle sprain. He will be doubtful for this week's game. Mike Montgomery also had an ankle sprain, and he will potentially be doubtful. With that, I'll take your questions.

(Derrick Martin has given your special teams a bit of a jump lately ...)

Derrick Martin has been outstanding on special teams, he really has. Hopefully he can get back sooner than later. But he's made a big impact, and that's what we saw of him coming over here from Baltimore. He's done a very good job for us.

(How's Ryan Pickett looking for this week?)

Ryan is probably about the same place he was last week. We'll take him through the rehab on Wednesday, as far as potential practice on Thursday. He has slightly improved.

(With a guy like him, will you be extra cautious during a week like this with what's ahead?)

We're going to play it the same way. I'll just answer that question right here. I'm not going to get into who's playing, how long, if ... The game-planning for this game will go accordingly, just like it always has. Now, if a player has health issues, we'll go through the same process, and when we sit in here on Friday, we'll make final decisions.

(What do you mean?)

We're going to game plan for the Arizona Cardinals, and then we're going to decide anything to do with personnel, health, and so forth at the end of the week like we always do.

(Why would you game plan for Arizona when it's likely you'll play them again?)

I'm not sure what you're asking. Why wouldn't I game plan for them? We play them Sunday.

(Because this game doesn't matter. Why reveal things before you play them in the playoffs?)

I'll just say this. Every game plan that you have going into a game, you don't run every one of your plays. I think any NFL football team in all three phases could play a doubleheader from a game-planning standpoint if they needed to. I'm not worried about showing anything. You play football games to win games, and that's not going to change.

(It is a little bit of a cat-and-mouse game between the two teams, though, right? To save something for the game that matters?)

I guess it depends on your view. I think frankly a lot of this gets overhyped, game-planning and so forth. Football is about fundamentals, and the people that do that win games. Putting this individual against that individual, yeah, you try to do that, but also, the opponent has the ability to grab the chalk and get on the board too and take that away from you. That component never changes. If we do play them in two weeks, great, we'll be ready. If we don't, we're going to make sure we're ready for them this week. That's our approach.

(Would you consider pulling some starters, for instance Aaron Rodgers might not play the whole game?)

I understand the desire to ask those questions. As far as who plays, where they play, how long they play, those are all part of game-plan decisions. I'm not going to get into those situations.

(But when it's like 90 percent chance you're going to play them again ...)

Is it 90? I'm learning here too ...

(We saw the value when you unveiled 'Psycho' and it confused Cutler, so is there value to holding something back and using it when it's one-and-done?)

The reality of 'Psycho,' we'll use that as the example. If I recall, the particular game was Chicago. We ran it five plays. Yes, it worked, but at the end of the year, and at the end of every game, when you go back and evaluate the plays that count probably the most, it's your base concepts. It always is. Everybody is known for something at this point in the season. We're not going to change the way we approach games, the way we play games, and I'm sure our opponent's not going to, this week or next week. To me, I think a lot is being made of this, but it's also part of game-planning. It serves me no good to sit here in the best interests of our football team and discuss those things today.

(Are you approaching it the same way you did Detroit at the end of the '07 season?)

I think it's a totally different situation. Detroit in '07, we had a bye week following. I think this is a totally different situation.

(That same year the Giants had a game against New England their final game, and they played everybody to the wire. Is there a benefit to that? Is that something to consider?)

I think there's definitely benefits. You're talking about New England's approach or New York's?

(New York's, even though their situation was settled.)

But they both had ... well, New York I guess didn't have the bye week afterwards. Yeah, definitely, there's benefits. Momentum is a benefit. That's obvious. We have a lot of momentum the second half of the season, so you want to keep that going. The health of your football team is really the one aspect you can't control. Now, you can lessen the risk factor of injury by trying to save a certain individual, and I'm aware of all that. We've talked about all those different options and so forth, and those are things you look at and we'll do what's in the best interests of our football team.

(Would you toy with the idea of staying out there for the week?)

Number one, it's a hypothetical. Number two, I would lean against that.

(There's not enough advantage to staying out there?)

I don't believe in the philosophy of that. I think when you take your football team out of its routine, to me, I think routine is a big part of human regularity, and to change because you're playing in Arizona two weeks in a row, it's a three-hour trip. I've coached on the West Coast. That's a different situation, flying from San Francisco to Philadelphia and then going home and coming back and going down to Miami the next week. That's a lot different than I think our situation in going out to Arizona.

(You have a good road record here. How do you view that routine and what are the keys to success on the road?)

It really comes off of the last question. I think it's about regularity. We keep our away and home schedule as close as we can to one another as far as the time that they are finished on Saturday. Obviously you have to factor in the travel, but try to get to the opposing city as fast as we can and to get them on the same program. Encourage them to go to dinner with one another. I think it's great for team dynamics, team-building. You'll see a number of our positions eat dinner together in opposing cities. We have the chapel at the exact same time so that the schedules home and away are as close as they can be, obviously factoring in the travel time.

(You'll probably have to win three road games in the playoffs. Is that as big a challenge as it seems?)

It's a big challenge. Everybody is in the position they are in for a reason. We've earned this playoff berth with 10 wins. Obviously people have played better, but the NFL is a great example of you get what you earn, and we're going to have to earn it on the road, and we feel good about our chances.

(With Brandon Jackson's performance Sunday, would you like to see him get more touches?)

Brandon Jackson played very well yesterday. He played exceptional also in the Pittsburgh game. As far as opportunities, we feel we're fortunate with our whole perimeter group. You just spread the ball around and you like to see guys like Brandon when they get the opportunity take advantage of it. Brandon is going to receive the game ball on offense this week, so I was excited with his performance.

(Who got the other game balls?)

Atari Bigby, Spencer Havner on special teams, Jarius Wynn also got the 'Big Hit' award on special teams, and I think Johnny Jolly.

(Bigby finished the '07 season strong. Are we seeing a repeat of that now?)

I think Atari has really been consistent for the most part this season, just the communication part of it. His role is different in this defense than it was in the prior defense. What I like about Atari is he has now been given some opportunities and he is making those plays. A lot of times when you are the deep safety you don't hear much about him, and that's probably a good thing. But I think his communication and his consistency, you can tell that the defensive players are very comfortable with him back there. That is something that goes back to two years ago that was evident when he became the starter. He is someone that they trust and someone that they believe in, and he definitely has the ability to make big plays. That obviously was evident yesterday with his two big interceptions.

(Did you have much concern about the defensive line when you made the transition? At No. 1 in run defense, they're a big part of that.)

I did not have concern with our defensive line, and frankly the No. 1 objective was run defense. I felt that was the area in my prior three years that needed to improve. Anytime you set out to accomplish something for your football team primarily on defense, and you're sitting at No. 1, I think that speaks volumes. You still have to make the offense one-dimensional and I understand that the offenses in today's game are going more with the passing game, but the ability to shut down the run and dictate the flow of the game, it helps you with your calls from Dom's standpoint. We're very pleased with our production so far in the run game.

(Is there something about the home run in the run game, like Grant's 56-yarder, that's more important than a long pass because it's so demoralizing to a run defense?)

If you break a run down versus a pass, to have a long run come out, really, you get the back to the second level and he makes the free safety miss, you've got a number of individuals that are doing their job exactly right or being productive. Where sometimes you can have a breakdown in the passing game where one player can make up the difference or make a couple of guys miss in space. So I think it is, in my opinion, a little harder to generate big plays running the football than throwing the football. I think if you'd ask any defender when a team is running the ball at them, that definitely gets to them because since we all have started playing this game the first thing you ever learned on defense is you've got to stop the run first.

{sportsad300}(With Martin likely out, who's the backup at safety there?)

Not really that far yet into the game-planning. Our schedule this morning is the players, they've been in already to do their weight training and they are meeting with the individual coaches right now going through the film. So as far as any game-planning, who is playing where, we haven't gotten into that yet.

(Were you OK with the pass interference call on Havner on the TD pass?)

It happens. It's officiating. It hasn't always gone our way. I forget the gentleman's name, but I talked to him on the sideline about it. The way he saw it is, based on definition, it's the correct call. Now whether I agree with it or not, that's for another day. I don't think Spencer was blatant in his release on that particular route.

(What was the thinking in going for it there? To put them away?)

I felt we had the momentum. Fourth-and-1, I had a couple of options there. The ability to put Aaron in space, I think that's definitely a strength of it. I felt we had a good call, and it was a good call. But yeah, definitely, 28 looked a lot better than 24.

(On the challenge, did somebody see a replay up top?)


(That's why you decided to challenge it?)


(Mason got straightened out, but Kapinos did not have a great day. Are you concerned there?)

I think Jeremy has improved over the last probably four or five weeks, and that doesn't really answer your question about yesterday. He did not kick the ball well enough yesterday, but he is a young, developing punter and I like his work ethic. He is our guy, so he is going to have to punt big down the stretch here because we all know how important field position is in playoff football.

(Has that whole group played better lately, on special teams?)

I think the coverage teams have really played very well, and a big part of it on the kickoff has been the way Mason has kicked the football. Just his ability to change it up with the different types of kicks, I think that has helped us tremendously. We still spend the time every week on the fundamentals, both in special teams, offense and defense, and I think it's paying off.

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