Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 4

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

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First of all, sorry I'm late. I'm going to start with the injury report. We had a couple guys, nothing serious. Patrick Dendy, concussion, we're getting him tested today. Nick (Barnett) actually has a potential injury to his other hand, he's going to be fine. Nick Collins, he came out OK. Noah Herron had an ankle sprain. I think he's going to be fine. And Cullen Jenkins broke his nose. He's going to be fine.

(How are Tauscher and David Martin doing?)

Tauscher, we're doing some more tests today. We're going to have another MRI. I know we were hopeful for San Francisco, but he's still a longshot. David Martin, we're actually going to work him out tomorrow, see how his ribs are, but he's not getting much better.

(After watching the film, what's your assessment of the first half?)

It was as bad as I thought it'd be. That was probably the only thing that was consistent about the first half. You start with the defense. Frankly it looked like we took turns, starting with the run defense. I thought we played high, particularly inside. Our run fits were not consistent. We had a couple opportunities to low tackle, we did not take advantage of that, and they were very effective running the football. Pass rush was not very good, it was non-existent. They ran a number of five-man protections on us, we had a number of one-on-one's, and we did not win those. In pass coverage, a lot of times we did not maintain our leverage and those types of things. And as you watch the film, when it goes that sour for you, you see a lot of guys playing hard but really getting outside of themselves, outside of the scheme trying to make plays, and we had too much of that yesterday. A guy holding his leverage and then jumping inside to make a play and then he loses his leverage and it screws up the fit with everybody else. There was plenty to go across the board as far as the defensive performance. Offensively we have to finish drives. We started the game with two protection errors in the first five plays of the game, you can't play that way, and that's unacceptable. We had the turnover there when we crossed the 50. We're in a three-score game and the offense has had the ball for eight plays, so on offense we just did not get into a rhythm. Third down was not very good, and we're not finishing drives. Special teams, really except for the one kickoff return, their kickoff return, one kickoff coverage when we had someone jump out of their lane, I thought we were pretty solid there.

(Is this a normal Monday or do you have to do something to shake things up?)

There's a method of making change to change. I don't think that's necessarily the best way to go. You definitely need to evaluate everything. That's frankly why I'm late. There were a little more meetings than I normally have in the morning, so I can move on to San Francisco by dinner time. But we're looking at some options, we're looking at things, because we do have a pattern of certain things that have gone wrong and we will look to correct that. We'll take the next 48 hours discussing that amongst us as a coaching staff.

(Does that mean coaching changes?)

No, we're not changing. We're in the middle of a job right now. We just finished the third quarter of our season. It's not gone very well, particularly the last three weeks. So we need to roll up our sleeves a little more, get a little more dirty, we need to get the thing fixed. We have work to do.

(How do you handle the assistant coaches?)

I think you need to be consistent. I'm striving to have a consistent football team as far as performance. I'm also striving to have the same consistency in every aspect of our program. I think it's important for the head coach to be consistent, and I feel I've done that. I've directly shot those guys exactly what's on my mind, good, bad and ugly. They know exactly where I'm coming from, they know exactly what's asked of them, and it's more important as an assistant coach, after being one for a number of years, that you really need to farm your own land, clean your own house, however that hits your brain, and you need to manage your players, and we need to get the performance level to increase on game day. Frankly, we talked about the structure and practice. We had a good week of practice last week. Our preparation did not reflect our performance, and that's a problem. That's a problem and we need to get that fixed.

(Are there any grass fires with the players to put out?)

Grass fires? Son of a fireman, yeah, I think I could handle that. Same way. I'm not going to change. I'll talk to them today, the one-on-ones I'll probably have with a number of them, and also with the team. They're going to know exactly how I viewed what happened yesterday, what we're going to do to correct it, and how we go forward as we get ready for San Francisco.

(How many starters could you change on defense?)

I never said I'm changing starters. It's all about opportunities. It's about creating opportunities for people that deserve to have opportunities, and it's about opportunities created that people haven't taken full advantage of their opportunities. You have two things you're really looking at. So with that, whether it's a role, increase somebody's role, decrease. We're not having no fire sale, we're not having a big drama meeting. We need to get better at what we're doing. We have a plan, there's a foundation of our plan, we need to go back to that foundation, it has worked. If I didn't think it worked, trust me I would have changed it a long time ago. So we need to get back, we need to clean our house up here. Our performance on game day was a mess yesterday in the first 30 minutes. You guys look at the statistics, looking at the film. On offense, we had the ball for 19 plays in the first half, 53 plays in the second half. They had the ball for 48 plays in the first half, they had it for 19 in the second half. There's plenty to go around. Opportunities are there. We are not efficient and we are not consistent, and we need to continue to work to do that. We have been very efficient and consistent in phases throughout the season offensively, and we have been defensively, but the last three weeks have been rough sailing for us, and we need to get it straightened out.

(What options are you looking at?)

We will be looking at opportunities created for some of our other players, or how we use certain people. You have only so many options, and we are looking into them. I'm not trying to be naïve, I'm not trying to skirt the issue here, but I'm also not getting pinned down into, 'You said this.' That's where we are right now.

(Will there be more opportunities for Jason Hunter?)

Potentially. He's a young man that may deserve an opportunity. We talked about him today and also about his specific role on special teams. He's done some very good things. He's got great energy. He's a force, particularly on the coverage schemes. He's definitely one that was a topic of conversation today.

(Is it too dismissive to call these growing pains?)

Frankly, I feel better today than I did yesterday, because I've had the opportunity to see exactly why it went haywire. Particularly the first half with the defense, just on the first drive, the number of technique errors, the number of mental errors, just on the first 10 plays of the game. But you see why. And to me, you have two types of mistakes. You have pure blown mental mistakes, and you have aggressive mistakes. And we're having a number of guys making aggressive mistakes, and frankly, I can live with those. Well, I shouldn't say that. You don't want to live with either one of them, but that's the better of the two.

(Is this the biggest crossroads you've hit as the leader of this team?)

I hope it is the biggest one. It's a challenge. Anytime you lose three games in a row, it's not fun. It obviously tells you you're not doing a good enough job in certain areas. But yeah, it's definitely a challenge. I guess you could say so.

(Are you changing the structure of practice at all?)

Nothing that I think anybody would really notice. It will be more situational specific, scheme specific. The structure will stay the same. We're still putting the pads on twice a week for the team run and the blitz drills, because I think that's important, especially with the experience level of our football team. So from a structure standpoint, no.

(Is it young or old players making aggressive mistakes? Or both?)

It's both. There's plenty to go around. I've said it before, if it was just one or two guys, trust me, we would have had it fixed already.

(Did you see any lack of effort?)

No, I didn't. Especially with the production they had. We had all our timeouts in tact, you look at all the things that went on, in game management it's as good as we've been during the course of the game. The shifts and motions when they were at the line of scrimmage really didn't factor. We didn't have a bunch of guys running around, so I thought we handled that part of it. And I really credit the opponent offense and the coaches for the look they got all week. That goes back to preparation. Our preparation was really good. Just after watching the film, going back and we talked in specifics about what things we practiced and things like that. We felt like we prepared them for that.

(It's production then, not a question of effort?)

No, I didn't see (lack of) effort. The point I was going to make was I think it was evident in the way we played the second half. Even for as lopsided as the score was at the end of the game, I thought we finished with more urgency in the 2-minute drill at the end of the game than we did in Seattle. In Seattle, we had two 10-second runoffs in the last minute. Should have had one also yesterday too, but they didn't take it off. So no, I didn't see any lack of effort.

(Changes need to come in production of the players?)

Roles. The individual's role. Individuals roles as far as how they are used week in and week out.

(Couple of zone blitzes where defensive ends were covering receivers or backs - do you want that?)

Well if you are zone blitzing, they shouldn't have time to throw the ball 20 yards down the field. The one big play where Aaron Kampman was on the back, can't recall which one, you know we had two guys free there. The urgency of the pressure - we don't line up and say 'we want to cover the back with our defensive end'. That's not what we're looking for. Also, they haven't done a lot of scat protection. They've been primarily using their backs and chipping them. They chipped Aaron a lot in the game, and that particular time they went scat on us. We refer to it as a key blitz but frankly the breakdown is in the pressure. If you recall, he had plenty of time to throw the ball.

(What about the one with Montgomery in coverage?)

Yeah, it was also a key blitz. They're very similar in what we're trying to do.

(When you aren't getting it from the d-line, did you talk to Bob Sanders about bringing more pressure?)

Yeah, we talked about more pressure in the second half. We had a number of one-on-ones in the first half that we did not win. Like I talked about, I think our pad level was high at times. We had some one-on-one opportunities that we did not win.

(Did you talk about bringing more pressure in the 1st half?)

I don't recall every conversation that we had and when exactly we talked about pressure, but we did talk about pressure throughout the game. Chad Pennington was way too comfortable back there. He had plenty of time to throw all day long.

{sportsad300}(With an offensive background, how much do you get involved with the defense?)

First of all, you set a structure in how you structure your staff. Everyone is a little different. As far as the way we're structured (with) my involvement in offense, it is important that the parameters are set in the other two areas. That has been done, and I believe in the foundation of what we're teaching schematically. Once again, it's a performance based business. We don't teach coverages where you don't play to your help. We don't teach run defense where you got two guys in one gap. That's not what is being taught. Once again, I think our players are making more aggressive mistakes because they are competing, and at times are trying to do too much. As far as the structure, yeah, you need to be able to adjust. We have adjusted as far as my time management goes. Has it affected the offense? I mean you have to find a balance in that, because they more you go over there (defense), the more you're not over there (offense). Those are the types of things that I've gone through during the course of the year, and I'm sure every coach goes through it. We need to do a better job. It starts with me. The performance we had in the first 30 minutes of the game: totally unacceptable. It starts with me, and trust me, the coaches know exactly how I feel about their role in it and their responsibility to get this thing turned around. The players will at 2:45pm know exactly about it, and they have been. This isn't anything new that they're going to hear from their head coach, but we're in the emphasis business. When things don't go right, you need to emphasize it and get things turned around. The start of that football game - we need to do a better job. I thought we started strong in Seattle six days before.

(If it ultimately comes down to position coaches to communicate with the players, how do you evaluate that and fix that disconnect in Week 13?)

Well, the thing about it is being a coordinator, you are ultimately responsible for your side of the ball. It's a chain in command, and it's the same answer I just gave you for my responsibility to the coordinator. If there is something wrong with the coordination in one of the three phases, I need to get it done through the coordinator. I'm a big believer in chain of command, and I'm a believer in staying with the chain of command. I don't believe in jumping over levels to get to one another. I'm not saying I don't go down to talk the assistant coaches like a drawn line there, but I refer to it as stress points. Whether you're in a game and schematically you have a stress point, no different in how your offense or defense is performing, if you have a specific area that you feel is stressed out where you're not getting the performance level, then you need to spend more time there. We have done that; our coordinators have done that. It's important for them to be in every room. We're not a sit-behind-the-door type outfit. I'm the head coach; I don't sit behind the door. I'm down amongst the players. It's important for me to evaluate not from my office behind a computer. It's the same thing for the coordinators. If something is wrong in one of the rooms, he's told and he's been in that room to make sure it's right. That's part of growing as a football team and a football staff. That's the way we operate, right or wrong.

(Does there come a time when certain players just "don't get it"?)

That's happened in this league, yeah. Those are all individual situations. Usually when you run into a case like that in my experience, I'm sure there are other circumstances that allow you to stay with it longer than you have to or maybe not as long. There are so many other factors in that.

(Are you satisfied with the emotion level of your defense?)

I think we do have players that play with emotion. A.J. Hawk plays with emotion. I think Ryan Pickett is having a heck of a year; Aaron Kampman plays with emotion. Once again, and not to be a broken record, but I think you're having guys try to do too much. I don't see lack of effort, lack of emotion. We've all been around this game - real emotion is important. Frankly at halftime, I didn't want to hear any emotion. We didn't need any emotion at halftime. We had to talk about exactly what the hell happened out there, what we needed to do to correct it, and how we're going to go about it. There are times when that emotion, you can throw that out the door. Our players play with emotion. I didn't see lack of effort. I didn't see it yesterday, and I didn't see it on the film.

(Where is the disconnect between the week of good practice and gameday?)

I think your message is something that is constant. I think it's important wherever you are as a football team. We're 4-8, and there is a reason why. We need to finish games better. I thought we were doing a good job of starting football games. I think when you start a football game properly, it's a reflection of how you prepare. We're not finishing games the way we should be. Take the game yesterday - we're not finishing drives on offense. Your message is constant. You have to emphasize the things you're trying to get done and find different ways of emphasizing the same thing over and over again, the same message to your players with a different style, different voice, and different presentation. I think that's a big part of being a teacher, and that's what we are: coaches are teachers.

(Is Brett too locked in on Donald at times?)

Is he too locked in to him? When he's the primary receiver, he's supposed to be. But I'll say when it breaks down, he probably looks to him. They have a connection just like any other great tandem of quarterback-receivers that I've been around. He's had a lot of success with Donald, but we don't call plays where he's supposed to throw it over there and he throws it to Donald. That's not going on. We have two different types of reads in our passing game. We have a read where we're reading what the defense tells us where our starting point is, and we have the passes where our starting point is declared in the huddle, and that's the way we operate. Obviously with Donald's success, he's a big part of being the primary receiver.

(Do you have a feel for where Brett is at mentally and emotionally?)

I haven't talked to Brett today yet.

(Do you start recruiting Brett now for next year or is that strictly for the off-season?)

It's an off-season issue.

(Are you running the ball as much as you'd like?)

No, particularly with the types of games we got into. We lead the league in pass attempts, that's not the plan. And frankly, I think Ahman Green is playing as well as anybody right now, and needs more attempts. But you could make an argument that I ran the ball too much yesterday at the time that I did, because of the time it was taking up and how far behind we were. But it was a lopsided game in the beginning, and I think you got to see what our plan was, because we played it normal when we came back out in the second half. I believe in the run. It starts with the run. That doesn't mean run it 40 times a game. There's a point in every single football game, I believe that, where you need to run the football. And on the other side you need to stop the run. So those are two constants that I know are important to winning in the NFL and are important to what we're trying to establish here with the Green Bay Packers.

(How much have outside circumstances prevented you from running the offense you want to run?)

I'm not going to make excuses. Every season takes on its own path. That's why you play the games. I'm not going to make any apologies or excuses for the amount of seven-man protection we use. We've done it for a reason. You guys were at the OTAs, you guys were at the training camp, I'm sure you've seen things run in those camps and practices on a regular basis that frankly we haven't run yet this year, and that's OK. There's nothing wrong with that. There's different ways of getting it done. Our job as coaches is to take the players that you have and put them in position to be successful. I think it's a cop-out when you say this guy doesn't fit my scheme. Well welcome to today's NFL. You have to put your players in position to do the things that they do well within your offensive scheme, and also in tune with training the quarterback. Because on offense, our whole system is built around making the quarterback successful. That's why we start with the run, because the running game helps the protection, and other factors throughout. That's just where we are today. I have no problem with that.

(What happened on the third down pass to Greg when the ball fell incomplete in the end zone?)

It's a route, poor route and could have been a better ball. Obviously Brett and Greg weren't on the same page. Because Greg kind of jumped outside and then inside, and Brett was trying to throw with anticipation. That's what you're looking for, we had the bump-and-run, one-on-one situation there.

(Are you concerned this team is regressing?)

I'm concerned number one, we're not winning. We have taken a step back in some specific areas. I think the last two weeks our run defense hasn't been very good. The turnovers the last two weeks on offense, you can't win games that way. Definitely, there are areas of concern, but that's what today is for. We get them corrected, and that's why you play every week. But by any means I'm not feeling like we're moving backwards. We didn't perform very well. We have to stay the course, trust the structure, prepare them, and I have to get them to do a better job to perform on Sundays.

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