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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 9

(How come you didn't practice outside (laughing)?)

Really the answer is the same as every time you ask me that. Player safety and quality of practice. I don't think we would have accomplished either one of them out there today.

(If it snows, can you practice out there? Do they have the ability to clear the field?)

Yes, they do. The ability to have 65 yards now is available to us. That's the portion of the field that is heated, and that's why frankly last week the other part of the field froze. I think it was the day we came back off of the bye week, the field was not frozen so we were able to use the whole field. But the second day back we were able to just use the 65 yards. So that's why we're just mainly doing team drills out there, because you can't use the other individual areas to do one-on-ones and the other individual drills. And that's really the mindset is to do the team drills out there because then we're always on that part of the field.

(Will they be able to clear this mess?)

We'll be indoors tomorrow and Friday. That's basically because of the wind more than anything. I have the weather report on my desk every morning and I didn't anticipate getting out today or tomorrow. Just the way Friday's practice is structured, just going back to only the 65 yards available, it wouldn't be wise from a structure standpoint to do the Friday practice out there. So all Friday practices are going to be indoors, more because of just the way the practice is laid out.

(Does the head coach of the Green Bay Packers plow his own driveway?)

Absolutely. Yep, got up about 4 a.m. I was so excited I got up at about 2 a.m., but waited until 4. The equipment makes a lot of noise. I probably don't have happy neighbors, but yeah, I got the driveway cleared and was at work at about 5:45.

(In all seriousness, is weather any excuse for players not getting here?)

Some players have to lift in the morning. Some players have the option to come in the morning or lift after practice, so we had a couple of guys that normally lift in the morning that did not. So we made that work, but we communicated. We had a plan in place. There was communication that went on all morning through Matt Klein and Doug Collins and Rob Davis, so that was all coordinated. A couple of guys needed to be picked up because they couldn't get out of their driveways and so forth, but they are actually kind of giddy about it to be honest with you in the locker room. Four-wheel drive and so forth, particularly the guys that hadn't seen that before. But that's the biggest storm that I have seen since I've been here. We were able to roll this morning. We've had a good day so far.

(What time do they have to be here?)

You have 7:30 (for) special teams and 8:05 is team.

(Who gets the job of picking up guys?)

We had a couple of people out there. Rob Davis, Pepper Burruss, and I think Doug Collins, those three guys.

(Any update on Barnett's knee?)

Nick had a strain in his knee. I think he is going to be OK by the end of the week. He'll have a chance to practice tomorrow, but I anticipate he'll probably go by Friday. He just has some swelling in there and we're being smart with him.

(Do you have a better feel for Pickett's hamstring injury?)

It's going to take the week. He'll probably be a game-time decision. Really you could put all four of those guys, the d-lineman, I'm concerned about it obviously having all four of those guys miss practice, but it's probably going to take the week to really sort that out.

(What is different about Chicago from Week 1?)

Well, I haven't seen their offensive tape yet. I'll probably get to that later today or tomorrow, but defensively, you always look at the Bears and the Vikings and the Lions differently because you spend so much time preparing for those three teams in the offseason and they're all really different. The fact that we played the Vikings so close together, we played the Bears so far apart, so really you look at schematically what they're doing. You feel like you have a pretty good handle on conceptually what they are trying to do against us and so forth. I'm sure they feel the same way when they look at us. It's really just seeing where they are at and how they are utilizing their players and so forth. But what I see is a team that has gone through some tough injuries. To me that's the biggest challenge you face every year. They are fighting to overcome some injuries, but this is a big rival game. We're approaching it that way and we're looking for a hard-nosed, tough football game that we always feel we play when we go down there. So that will be our approach.

(Why have you been so efficient on offense on third down?)

Third down is an important down. We spend a lot of time on third down, like most teams do. It starts with the pass protection. I think our guys do a very good job of identifying. We have kind of hit our niche there. We obviously had some issues there earlier in the season. The quarterback is playing at an extremely high level. He is doing a good job of taking the completions and giving our playmakers the chance to get the first down. We have had some opportunities to go up top too. We're just doing a good of running our offense in that particular situation.

(So you divvy up responsibilities, correct?)

Tom Clements is the red zone. Jimmy Robinson is the third down. Ben McAdoo does short yardage and goal line.

(Can you give us an idea of how guys formulate things?)

Well, they take that area and they research it and study it as it's their own. It's a product of now being together year no. 4 as a staff. We build our menu during the offseason. We're always trying to build enough things for the people we have, and once again, you do division study and you also do a situation study. Jimmy Robinson will do a study based on third down, of the top five third-down teams in the league. Same thing with Tom. We're always looking to get better, new ideas, if there's something out there that we feel that can help us. I think we've been very creative in all aspects of our offense, frankly. We get in there Tuesday, we do normal down-and-distance. We always start with the run game, and then from that we meet as a staff on third down. Jimmy kind of presents the outline, there's a certain outline we use every week. We watch the tape. He has ideas. He has a preliminary game plan that he feels will be a good package, and we kick things around and then ultimately Joe and I make the final decisions and we build our plan.

(Speaking of red zone, what is your goal as far as TD percentage and how do you feel you have done?)

Well, who's leading now? 60? You get up around 60, 70 percent, that's a big-time year, no question about it. I feel that we have the ability to play at that level, and we've been aggressive down there. But, ... what's the second part of your question?

(It seems like you have been up and down there...)

Like we talk about statistics all the time. It's definitely, when you look at our offense, you have a lot of positive rankings, and you always still check those. But then you check the red zone. Like the first one. We had a good play. We anticipated blitz and they did a good job. They pulled up at the line of scrimmage and blocked the ball. I think Aaron has Jordy there for a touchdown. That's the reality of how we look at it. We've got to beat the free defender with the throw. That won't change. As long as we're schematically giving our players opportunities to be successful, then we'll continue to go that course. It's part of playing wide open on offense. I'm not going to get more conservative, and I don't think we can get any more wide open than we are. I know we're 15th, but I'm not concerned about it, because I trust the approach, and I trust the quarterback. We'll see. We've got four more weeks to improve.

(Did Monday night's performance stand out as far as Aaron's ability to buy time with his feet?)

Yeah, definitely. I thought he played very smart in the pocket. Because it's like anything. When you train the quarterback to have in-pocket awareness and out-of-pocket awareness, there's the gray area. When do you stay in, when do you come out? It's a whole another phase of quarterback development that you're always working on. And I thought he was very smart. I thought he was smart when he needed to step up. I thought he was smart when he got outside the pocket. We saw a lot more two-man than we anticipated seeing, and that resulted in him taking off for that big quarterback run. I just think he's doing a much better job feeling it. And part of that, that's just like anything. He's in a groove. The pass protection consistency definitely helps you. Because when things aren't going well and you are getting hit and you think you might have to come out more often than you need to and things like that. But I think he's trusting his feet, he's trusting the pocket, and he's being smart when he steps up and comes out or if he has to come out late. I thought Monday night he did a nice job.

(With the position coaches focusing on different areas, is that typical?)

Yes, that's pretty typical of the staffs that I've been on.

{sportsad300}(What do you think of the Matthews pick?)

What do I think of the pick of Clay Matthews? Can't you just say that's a heck of a pick in Clay Matthews? OK. I think he's an excellent pick. He's playing well. You can't argue with the athletic ability, the versatility he gives you at that position. That's what you're looking for. The ability to put his hand down and rush the passer. Also to play all the different combinations, the pressure packages and the cover packages. I think he's off to an excellent start. When you have a rookie win the defensive player of the week, I think that speaks for itself. We're excited about his start. The biggest part I'm excited about too is his professionalism. I like the way he comes to work. He's the same guy every day. Your rookie year there's always an adjustment that you go through. Do they fit into the locker room? Is he accepted in the locker room? Every rookie goes through it. And he's made a pretty seamless transition here to our program. I appreciate that, I'm excited about that, because I think he's going to have great days ahead of him.

(How has Hawk played the last few games?)

I think A.J. has been very productive. He's getting more opportunities. His interception was a huge play in the game, and I think it was an excellent play by an inside linebacker. A.J. is tough, he's very consistent, a lot like Clay. Clay is in his rookie season, but I'll say that about A.J. also. A.J. is the same guy every day. He's very coachable. He's always working to get better, and I think he's put together some very solid days for us.

(How has Crosby handled his misses this year?)

Well, I'll say this. Mason is as hard, ... I don't know if I could be harder on Mason than he is on himself. He's a pro, a very hard worker, a very diligent technician, which you definitely need to be at that position. He continues to work at it. I have not lost confidence in him. That hasn't changed since the day he arrived his rookie season. I remember when we trotted him out there in the Philadelphia game. He'll continue to work at it. It was disappointing we missed the kick the other night, but we need to handle the snap better, and that definitely factored into it.

(Do you sense Jennings was pressing at all on Monday night or did he just take his eye off the ball on the drops?)

I don't think Greg Jennings was pressing in the game Monday night. Greg is an outstanding football player. I'm excited he's on our team. He's going to be on our team for a long time. I think it's a product of our offense. You come in after the game and you applaud the quarterback for his production, you applaud Jermichael Finley for his production. It's kind of tough to have numbers for everybody across the board. You'd like to. But Greg's a team player and I think he does a great job for us. Maybe he would have had more production Monday night, but I didn't have a sense he was pressing in the game.

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