Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 8

(Can you update us on the injury report?)

Yes, injuries. Brandon Chillar, groin strain. We will test him on Wednesday, see where he is. Mark Tauscher, we've lost him for the year with a ligament tear. We'll probably try to do some rehab with Mark and hopefully operate next week. Jeremy Thompson, he will test Wednesday also with his ankle and knee sprain. Nick Collins, he's questionable for Wednesday's practice with his contusion. I anticipate he'll be ready for the game. Korey Hall had a knee sprain. It's going to be a challenge to have him ready for this week. Tory Humphrey, calf and thumb contusion. I think he'll be fine this week. And Danny Lansanah had an upper arm contusion. I'd say he'll be ready to go this week also.

(Is Tauscher's knee ...)

We will place Mark Tauscher at some point this week on IR.

(I meant he won't be back until next year, training camp? Is it an ACL?)

Yeah, it's an ACL tear, and really just talking with Dr. McKenzie, the focus on Mark right now is to get the swelling out of there and hopefully operate by next week.

(Did you see exactly what happened?)

Not really. I didn't get a good look at it, as far as our review this morning. But I just know the communication when he came off, he knew. He's done it before. It's the same knee that he hurt before.

(He's been a constant around here for a long time, and he's at the end of his contract. What are the emotions, and how does that affect the locker room, since he is a leader?)

Mark is clearly one of our veteran leaders. He's on our veteran council. The way he's lined up and played week in and week out, he's played through a hamstring injury. He's the guy you point to. He's a true pro. Practices hard. He was here in the offseason program. I know that was a little bit of an adjustment from the way it was before with him. He's lined up and he's done everything we've asked. Very steady person. Has an excellent disposition for the position and really for our football team. Just consistent through and through. As far as his future, time will answer that. Really our focus, just coming out of the medical meeting is really to get the rehab started. My understanding is Pat's going to do the operation, and just see where Mark's at.

(How did Tony play in Mark's place?)

Tony played OK. Tony's tough. He competed, just like you knew he would. He went in there. He did a couple things from a technical standpoint that he needs to clean up, but as far as the way we played the game and as far as the game plan, we didn't adjust anything. He was able to, I know Mario went right over to him after the injury, and we thought he graded out OK.

(Does this give you a chance to evaluate Tony the rest of the season?)

To evaluate Tony Moll? We're going to play the best people available, and if we played the game today, we'd go right back out there with Tony at right tackle. We'll start, we haven't really discussed specifics on Jacksonville, how we'll go forward this week. But we're going to do everything possible to win the game in Jacksonville. That's our mindset.

(From a technique standpoint, did Tony do what he was supposed to do on the play he was called for holding?)

Absolutely. He did exactly what he was taught to do.

(If something happens to Tony, is Giacomini ready to play if you need him to?)

I think Breno has really come on. Just the opportunity to practice against Aaron Kampman every day, you can see it in the one-on-one drills and the team drills. He's really made a lot of progress. Breno is a tough guy, really fits into the way we like to play, and he's made a lot of progress. But you also have the ability to move Josh Sitton up, and we have a couple different opportunities we can take advantage of. Allen (Barbre) factors into that also.

(Why do you think the game plan on defense went awry?)

Went awry? Well, we had plenty of corrections to go around. You can start with the run game defense. There were times there we didn't get to the right gap a couple times, our tackling wasn't what it needed to be. The pass defense, the pass rush did not factor, and our pass defense was put in tough situations, and they won the one-on-one routes, particularly in third down. If you just want to take the third-down statistics as a whole, it's really the case of one side getting it done, the other side not. We had the one-on-one's on our third down on offense. We were third and 1-to-5 seven times, if I recall correctly. I think we were 1-out-of-7. Those are favorable down-and-distances that we expect to win week in, week out. We did not. They converted theirs. Their ability to convert third downs and the explosive gains I thought were the two biggest factors in the game.

(Bob put in some more blitzes to be more aggressive, but with Chillar your best blitzer being out, was it wise to do that? Would it have been better to be more safe?)

I don't know how to answer that question. I think it's convenient to say we could be in one coverage over the next. It's still about playing the game. When the defense is called, we need to play the defense. Just no different on offense. When the run is called or the pass is called, we need to convert that. As long as we're not putting our players in bad angles, overload situations and things they can't win in, that's really I think the key to evaluating your game plan. I thought Bob tried to be aggressive because of the lack of pass rush. The pass rush coinciding with the pass defense, it all works together, and we didn't do a very good job of it.

(You spoke at the beginning of the season about the identity of the team being on defense. It hasn't worked out. Is that a case of over-estimating the scheme, or the players?)

I don't think it's just one or the other. The scheme and the players, it all has to fit together. I think we've had a number of obstacles on the defensive side of the ball that we've had to overcome. Injuries play into it. That's not an excuse. I'm not trying to make an excuse. But the ability to A, stop the run, and put pressure on the quarterback. Those are the two things you look for from a consistent standpoint in your defense, because that's what stops the offense. When we game-plan, that's what we look at, and we haven't been able to do that consistently at all, frankly the last three weeks. That's why we've had large numbers from our opponent put up against us. Now, the other side of it, our defenders are doing a much better job in our time here of taking the football away, and we'll continue to emphasize that. We had a couple of opportunities in the game that frankly got away from us. We could have been looking at a lot higher takeaway situation than what resulted. But that's why you play the game. We just have to keep working on these things. They're all fundamental. All our corrections are fundamental. They're all things that we can fix, and that will be our focus as we get ready for Jacksonville.

(The way people react, they're going to jump on him. So where's your faith in Bob and how he's done?)

I work with Bob every day, so from a personal side of it, he's a tremendous human being. It's very important to him. And professionally, he has a system and a scheme, and he's doing the best job that he can to put players in position to be successful. I hate to be redundant here, but it all fits together. I have confidence in Bob, and will continue to as we move forward.

(Why was Bishop the single linebacker on that last series? Was something wrong with Hawk?)

No, it was just something really from the scheme, as far as moving a bunch of players around, instead of making two, three changes, just making one. There are some things actually we looked at earlier in the week we ended up not doing. Just trying to, because we've got some guys moving in and out of different positions, we were trying to keep it as clean as possible, for Desmond, for A.J., and so forth. That's why we ended up with that.

(So it's easier for him?)

Yeah. As far as when you're at the mike, or when you're at the will, now you go to the will, or the mike. Things like that, based on the personnel we're in.

(With a young team, are you in danger of having young guys hanging their heads?)

Hang your head, that's something that I think our whole football team won't really take part in. We need to win a football game, and we'll make that perfectly clear when we get together for our meetings, young or old. Everybody's disappointed, everybody's frustrated. No one's happy about what's gone on here. But we know the only people that can fix it is us. That will be our focus. It's disappointing for the amount of work, the quality of work that this team puts in throughout the week, everybody involved, and we're not getting the outcomes that we want. It's something that we need to continue to work at. Our work ethic and our character is the only thing that's going to pull us out of this.

(You spoke about your relationship with Bob. Is it tough for you to see him struggle, personally?)

No one is happy about anything that has gone on with our team. I know the defense, from a numbers standpoint, did not perform well, but we also had the opportunities on offense to win that game. We had an opportunity on special teams to win that game, so there is plenty to go around. This is not just about one person.

(When you say you're not winning enough 1-on-1 routes, do you need to move Charles back to corner?)

I would say really Charles' ability to be back there has put him in a position to be around the ball more. That's what I like about his move to safety, and just the fact that he is playing safety doesn't mean that you can't still bring him down to cover down on a receiver. But not having Charles as a corner by no means means that we can't still have him line up on a certain receiver.

(Walter was beating Williams pretty bad. Would it have been smarter to have Woodson on him?)

I don't agree with your question. I'm trying not to act like I am offended by it. I don't agree with you.

(If you've got three corners, you've got Tramon on a lesser player. That's been the strength of the team, isn't it?)

I think Tramon Williams, the reason why we made the switch is not just because we wanted Charles Woodson to safety. We also felt that Tramon Williams was playing at a very high level. Tramon had some tough times yesterday, but he also had two turnovers. It is part of playing corner, particularly in third down in a man scheme. You have to have a short memory and you need to be able to correct things on the sideline and move on. There is a lot of criticism that can go around, whether it's Tramon or myself, and that's fine. I don't know what you want me to do about it. I'm not second-guessing their decision to play Tramon the way we did, I guess to answer your question. But the game is not played where the corners have to cover the guy all day too. Pass rush factors in some of those breakdowns in routes. Tramon did some really good things; he did some things he needs to do better. But the ability to full fake and go back and sit in the pocket with throwing lanes, that's not the way we want to play defense. I thought Matt Schaub had way too much time to throw the ball yesterday.

(The offense struggled on third-down conversions, and that's two weeks in a row. Can you do something different schematically there?)

Two weeks in a row? I don't follow you.

(Maybe it was the week before ...)

I think we were fine last week. We didn't play very well on third down this past week. Like I have stated, we were 1 out of 7 on third and one to five. That's favorable down and distance. We didn't do a very good job of winning the one-on-ones. We missed some throws there. We gave up a sack versus seven-man protection that should have never occurred. We made some fundamental mistakes; we are usually a pretty good third-down team. When there are certain protections that you call, you expect to pick up everything, and that didn't happen twice in two big plays in the game yesterday.

(You threw the ball three straight times to start the second half. Was there something you saw, a matchup you liked?)

Absolutely. I clearly think the calls, based on what defense we had on those plays. Yeah, I'm fine with it. Are you asking me if I wanted to come out throwing?

(I'm just asking why did you do that...)

The first-down call was actually a two-way call, so it could have went either way based on the defense. The second play was just a base three-step drop. We were very confident in our perimeter versus their perimeter. I thought we left a lot of yards on the field in the passing game. You may feel the numbers were OK, but we clearly left a bunch of yards on the field. We missed some throws. We weren't as crisp as we should have been in some of our route running. I think the protection got us once or twice. But going into the game, first half and second half, I was very confident in throwing the ball against Houston.

(How did the punter bounce back from that first one?)

He did a nice job. I asked Jeff earlier, I don't think in my time here we have had three punts inside the 20, so it was nice to see. We won the field-position battle and Jeremy was a big part of it.

(With the time Schaub had, were they just that good at play-action, or was that you guys?)

No, that's their strength, if you watch film of their prior games. Really I think Gary Kubiak has always done a very good job with the keep passes as far as blocking the back side or bringing we refer to as the late or the slide or however you want to classify that. He does a very good job of that. But it's winning that second reaction in pass rush. They had a lot of time, and I'm not just talking about the fake and action game.

(Why was Rouse so far back on that last series?)

He was misaligned.

{sportsad300}(People want to know why it hasn't been fixed yet. Is it the players, or is there some disconnect?)

That's a pretty general statement and I understand we haven't won a game in three weeks. If it was just one thing that we were doing over and over again, then I would take full responsibility for that and really it all starts with me. We're 5-8, and we're not getting it done at critical times and those specific plays are really highlighted, but it's really the little things. Going through the film again today, we're talking about pad level, we're talking about beating second reaction, we're talking about leverage and things like that. That's the game of football. You're always coaching it and trying to clean it up week to week, and we are not doing at a high enough level to win games right now and that's the facts.

(Have you ever been around a team that struggled with those basic things an entire season?)

Well, we've had some really good play during the season too, so I don't think our whole season has just been a bunch of negative plays. I won't agree with that assessment. I would say we've played some really quality football but we're not winning games. I understand as well as anybody that is what you are judged on. Our philosophy has always been winning and improving. We haven't won in a month and we're not improving, so the only way to go back at it is working hard and getting it done in practice. They work very hard in practice. They have very quality practices. We're not playing at the level on Sunday that we need to play. That's our challenge.

(You are the youngest team in the league. Is this a by-product of youth, or are you seeing it from veteran players as well?)

There is plenty to go around. You could probably point more toward the youth. We've had some situations where guys, they don't have as much experience in certain situations where it's not clean for them. Frankly the number of conversations that I've had with some of our younger players last week and the week before, in some of the one-on-ones that I had, that was one of the topics that came off. That's just a part of the growth that you have with younger players and everybody goes through it. Some of the older players, I think maybe they are trying to do too much. We've talked about that. The coaches and players, we're all pushing and fighting and scratching to get over the hump here, and we'll continue to do so.

(It's only one player, but how much do you miss a healthy Bigby? Was he playing like a difference-maker for you last year? Because you haven't had him at that level this year.)

I would agree with you. I think Atari Bigby really declared himself as an impact player in our defense at the end of last year and really in the playoffs. You just look at the Seattle game and the plays that he made in that game. Atari has been hurt since Week 2, so we miss him. We miss Cullen Jenkins, we miss Nick Barnett, but everybody goes through that. Those are elements that our defense doesn't have right now, but it's opportunities for other guys to step up and contribute.

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