Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 3

(How's Scott Wells coming along?)

He's coming along. Anytime you suffer a concussion there's procedures the player needs to go through, a series of testing. So he's passed the first segment of testing, and we'll move forward as far as his conditioning and then he has to pass that segment before we can clear him to practice.

(So Sunday?)

I'm still hoping that he'll be there for Sunday. Our goal, just talking to Pat McKenzie this morning, would be for him to practice on Friday.

(Are you encouraged? You didn't sound as optimistic on Monday.)

Well, the report wasn't as positive Monday as it was today. He was still groggy Monday. He's made a lot of progress and feels good today. Went through conditioning with Mark Lovat. He'll go through the series of tests that you need to go through to pass the concussion test.

(Does Rouse seem over the hump with his injury?)

I think so. He practiced full today. I had a chance to watch him in some of the special teams work. It looks like he's responded well. The weekend probably helped him, being off.

(Will you still go with Woodson at safety?)

We're going with Charles as we go through the week, yes. He would be the starter in the game Sunday.

(With Brandon Jackson, do you see him getting a few more touches?)

Really, the game dictates that. I've said it before, I don't view Brandon Jackson as someone who gets an opportunity once Ryan Grant goes down. We've always tried to play two halfbacks, and even at times when we had three halfbacks up in the past. I don't want to get into the committee thing, that's not my point. But it's important to have those guys ready, because the flow of the game really dictates how many carries each one of those guys gets. But based on performance, I'd play every situation with him. We're very comfortable with him. The running back group is kind of nicked up, and we'll work through this week. Ryan was able to practice today. Hopefully Brandon will be able to go tomorrow, or for sure by Friday.

(How did Ryan look in terms of ball security?)

He looked OK. We weren't in pads. He went through the ball security drills, had a chance to watch him go through that. He looked to be better than he was on Sunday.

(On Monday everyone seemed down. On Wednesday, have you turned the page or are there still things lingering?)

We've turned the page. I felt that was very clear in the meetings this morning. We've had time to address the Carolina game in Monday's meetings. We went through every phase, watched it together, and then met as a team afterwards. That's our normal Monday after a game routine. We've moved past it, and it's important for us to focus on the Houston Texans. They are an uncommon opponent. The extra time that's needed as far as personnel, scheme adjustments and so forth, tendencies, just because once again, we haven't played these guys. They're not in our conference. So that's really what our focus is on.

(Have you picked a punter yet?)

No we haven't. We have two candidates down there working out right now, so I'm hopeful we'll have a decision by the end of the day.

(How's Justin Harrell come through these 5-6 weeks?)

Justin Harrell I think has been making progress and he's been getting the necessary reps that he needs. He's had some minor injuries that he's been fighting through. He's like a number of our younger players, he just needs to play.

(Has he showed you much?)

I'm pleased with the progress he's making, yes.

(When you try out a punter, is there another component besides having them punt, like working as a holder?)

We had an indoor and outdoor workout yesterday. I'm not sure if we'll be able to accomplish that today, because of the weather and just the mechanics of getting on the field and everything. The holding, I'm not concerned about that. Matt Flynn is our holder. Brian Brohm and Ruvell Martin will work behind Matt. We're very comfortable with Matt there, and I know Mason is also. This is purely a performance issue, and we're looking for the best candidate.

(When you look at the plays Steve Smith made at the end of the game, do you subscribe to the theory that you need special players like that to win close games consistently?)

Well, explosive gains are a big part of winning in the NFL. Turnover ratio. We practice it every day. Explosive gains, it's something we emphasize and coach every day, and obviously that particular play was a big factor in the outcome of the game. And he's done it time and time again. But we also feel good about a number of players who we have to make those types of plays, and Charles Woodson is definitely one of those players. It's definitely a factor, particularly in November-December type football.

(Do you have enough of those players on offense?)

I would say so, yes.

(Does Slaton add an extra challenge because of his speed? Is it more about angles for your linebackers and defensive backs?)

I would definitely agree with the angles emphasis. He's a dynamic player. He has the ability to score from anywhere on the field because of his speed, and I think he's really comfortable in that offense now. I'm sure it was a little bit of a change from what he came from and the way he's coached, particularly with Alex Gibbs and Gary Kubiak in that zone scheme. He looks to be very comfortable. Our gap control and our ability to lay downhill and close the gaps immediately is going to be important in our run defense.

(Sunday was the first time we saw Aaron play in adverse conditions. What makes a player good in cold conditions and how does Aaron fit that mold?)

Experience is something that definitely helps. He's been here. He's gone through it. His measurables and the way he holds the football and all those things are factors that are emphasized. I just think based on his ability to throw with velocity and the long levers, arms, big hands, are all key components of playing in bad weather.

(Overall, how much should December weather be to your advantage, and has it been?)

I like playing here in December. I think it's great. I think it's definitely an advantage, and you play a particular team that's not used to it. I know my years in New Orleans, they talk about your blood thinning out and everything. I can remember going to a game in Cincinnati, I thought it was 30 below zero and it was about 35 degrees, and I knew I'd been in the south too long. It factors. You think about it. You can say you don't, but I think human nature is to think about the weather a little bit.

(With the suspensions handed down by the league, what safeguards do you have in place to make sure players don't take something they're not supposed to?)

I'd really put that under the category of continuing education and communication. I think it's important for the players to have the relationship with the strength staff and the training staff. There's conversation about different things that are out there, because ultimately you're responsible for what you put in your body. I think our departments do a very good job of that with our players.

(Do you have any blanket thing where you say don't take anything unless you run it past Rock first?)

It's an ongoing process. We don't have a three-point outline of every product that comes on the market. No, that's not in place, but people talk in the industry and everybody has an idea. I particularly don't. I don't pay attention to the supplements, but it is part of their job. They are aware and we haven't had a problem so far and hopefully we won't.

(12 games in, do you identify areas you have not been getting what you want, whether it be individuals or areas of the team, compared to last year?)

It's very obviously statistically of the things you have done in the past compared to what you are doing now. We have computer systems, we have Mike Eayrs, director of research and development, so it's an every-day, ongoing process as far as our self-scout. I don't look at it the way I think you are asking the question. I don't sit there and say, 'OK, we were 13-3 because of this and now we are five and whatever we are because of that.' Statistics don't always tell the whole story. I think statistics are important. I think they are barometers that tell you and identify particular problems, but you've got to look inside the statistic and that's really the way we go about it because every team is different. I understand how many people are here compared to last year. Every year is a new year. Every path you take is different, the opponents that you face. It's the National Football League. Close games this year as opposed to last year. I'm aware of all of those types of things, but I really try to stay true to where we are today and the things that we need to improve on, particularly the last couple of weeks.

(Within that you have performance by players who were here last year to this year. Do you try to identify that?)

Oh, yeah. We grade every snap of practice. Every snap of film is graded. It's an ongoing, every-day process, but it's not that concrete sometimes to say this guy is playing better this year than he was last year. Who is playing next to him, who is playing across from him; those are all elements you have to take into the grading and evaluating of your players, your position, run-blocking unit, the offense. To me, it all fits together.

(How do you feel you guys have started games?)

We can start games better. From how much we work on it and the emphasis we have, we need to do a better job of it. We spend a portion of our practice on Friday on our first 15, so we've had a number of self-inflicted (mistakes). We've had penalties, we've had some mental errors early in games, and that's not acceptable. But I think you need to look at first-quarter scoring as really the statistic that I look more to than the first series.

(You still script the first 15, right?)


(Most often do you stay with the first 15 you script?)

It depends on what they do too. They have the ability and the right to come out with something totally different than what you are anticipating. My first 15 is more of a mindset of what I am trying to accomplish with the offense. It's really the first 15 normal down and distance thoughts. I've been places where the first 15 was scripted and play number three was the first third down-and-three call. I don't do it that way. My first 15 are the first normal down and distance calls, and then I have my first second-and-eight plus calls and then we break down third down that week. That's how we do it.

(At what point do you have that set?)

I meet with the quarterbacks Saturday morning at 8:30. Every Saturday we meet at 8:30 and then they have their opinions on the first call in situations. I think it's important to let them have input, and then we will rank them that way. Then I will chew on them Saturday during the day, then either Saturday night or Sunday morning. That doesn't mean I always call what they want, but I think it's important to know what the quarterback is comfortable with in certain situations.

(Chances are the punter you bring in will not have much experience. What are your expectations for a guy coming in here under a lot of pressure?)

I want him to punt the ball in the right direction. I'm expected to win games. He's expected to punt the ball in the right direction. I'm not trying to be funny.

(Do you realistically expect a guy to perform pressure-free?)

That's what we're going to ask him to do. When I talk to him, I'm going to tell him exactly what is expected of him. I think we do with everybody that is involved with our football team.

{sportsad300}(What have you seen out of Matt Schaub this year?)

He's been injured since the Vikings game, but I think Matt is one of the young quarterbacks that is definitely up and coming. He's done a very good job in that offense. It's an offense that has some similarities to our offense. I think he is accurate. He'll throw the tight throw. He plays with a lot of confidence. I can recall him back in Atlanta, I thought he was a very confident young quarterback back then. I know he has had some injuries, but there is a reason why he is their starter. I think he's a young guy that definitely has a huge upside.

(Mario Williams said he switches sides whenever he wants to. Do you go in expecting Tauscher to get more of him, or Clifton?)

The film shows you that he plays both sides, and we'll be prepared for that. Mark and Chad will both be prepared.

(He was pretty good on Monday night. What did you see?)

He has the ability to change a game. I think he showed that Monday night. His ability, it jumps off the film at you, just from his measurable. He has all of the ability. He has the bull rush and so forth and has very good range from the back side. He's a challenge. He's definitely a player in their defense that we have targeted.

(Do you take any extra measures to shore up kickoff coverage this week?)

Yeah, we're in pads tomorrow. Thursday is our padded work day and we'll take the extra time in the special teams period and do more individual drills that you don't really have time to do during the season. Our emphasis will be on the individual aspects of coverage, both kickoff and punt tomorrow.

(How frustrating has it been for you to watch that?)

It is a part of our game that hasn't gone well the last two weeks, so I think any time you repeat mistakes, I don't think anybody is happy about it, myself and players and coaches included. It's something that we need to continue to improve on and make sure that we flip it the other way, the way it has been for half of the year. That will be our focus this week as we go through our preparation.

(Do you see either Malone or Porter helping you much this week?)

Definitely have a chance, yeah. They definitely have an opportunity to be active. It feels good to bring up guys from your practice squad. You see Danny Lansanah and Joe Porter and Alfred now and DeShawn Wynn earlier. I think it says a lot about our program and it says a lot about them as players and now we are giving them an opportunity. So they will have every chance to be a part of special teams and part of the rotation, yes.

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