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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Feb. 20

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s press conference Friday from the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis.


(Does the defensive change alter the way you go about evaluating players for the draft and free agency?)

I think the challenges will still be the same as far as finding players for your football team regardless if you're in a 3-4 or a 4-3. Now, we'll probably play more attention to certain body types more than we have in the past. But once again, like I've stated throughout, the 3-4 defense is a starting point for us, and for our defense from a terminology and language standpoint, and we will definitely still have the ability to get into 4-3 schemes and even moreso into our sub personnel groups. But I'm very pleased with the transition part of it. Dom Capers and his staff have been meeting extensively on a daily basis, putting together the playbook, and that's been impressive to watch Dom and his staff go through that process.

(What's that process like?)

Dom and his staff meet every morning and every afternoon. They break for lunch. But it's really going through every single page of the playbook, building the lesson plans for the first interaction with the players. They went through every aspect of the base defense, just completed yesterday for the most part the sub packages and the situational defenses. It's a very grueling, ongoing, detail-oriented, checking and re-checking process, and Dom has done a great job with that so far.

(Do you think Aaron Kampman will be a good fit for this scheme?)

The most important thing is the scheme will fit Aaron Kampman and the rest of our football players. It's not about taking someone and forcing him to do things that may be not in their best interests on an individual basis. This scheme will put our players in position to be successful.

(How often would you say you play in your base defense? Half the time, less or more than half?)

I'd say probably somewhere between 150, 200 snaps. It's less and less through my time in the NFL. Offenses are doing more in sub personnel groups on first and second down than they have in the past. Once again, that's really based on how your team is structured, and injuries over the 16-game period, all those things factor into that.

(Do you think the economy may factor into free agency in any way?)

Shoot, I couldn't tell you. I'm sure it may be part of the conversation. But I really don't have a strong opinion on that.

(Aaron Kampman is going to be one of the 3-4 outside linebackers. How about the other side? Is that a main priority and where do you think you might go for that, the draft or free agency?)

That's why, the first step is why we're here today. We're here looking at all the college prospects. Our scouts have done a great job grading those players and fitting them into the positions we think they can play. We do free agency the exact same way. We have a draft board for the draft prospects, and we also have a board that's very similar for the free agent prospects. Those questions will be answered as we go through the free agent period and into the draft.

(Are there players from last year's draft class you could see becoming starters this year, specifically on the offensive line with Sitton and Giacomini?)

I'll say both young players, Sitton and Giacomini, will have an opportunity to play. Whether they start, that's really up to them. But the opportunity definitely may present itself. I'll say this, and it's something we've talked about internally that we need to try to migrate away from, and that's the musical chairs that we've had with our offensive line. I know injuries have played part of that and you can't avoid that, but we've had a number of, particularly our younger players, that are moving around and playing different positions, and the continuity that you do establish by setting a five or creating more competition at specific positions is something that we're definitely looking at. With that thought process in place, our younger players Sitton, Giacomini and Allen Barbre is definitely another one you could throw into that conversation, will have a better opportunity to play this year.

(Can you change it that much?)

Everybody has to do it, it just matters how much. Obviously you're there every day. We've done it extensively. If you just look at Daryn Colledge, Spitz and Tony Moll, their path into the National Football League, if you look at them on paper how many starts that they have, but also, look at the number of reps that they've played at other positions. We're just probably doing it more than I would like.

(Does availability factor into it too?)

Availability is very important. That's how you have continuity. The best teams I've ever been around are teams that practice together week in and week out, and you take a lot of pride in playing your best football in November and December, and that's how you accomplish that. The availability of your players not only on Sunday but throughout the week is important. We have benefited from that for the most part. The youth of our football team definitely helps us in that area.

(You have Colledge, but he's at left guard. So do you need to get a guy to be a backup to Clifton at left tackle, be the heir apparent to Chad?)

You'd like to have someone behind every one of your older players in a perfect world. Those are all conversations that we have. It's also part of how you move forward in acquiring players. You still have to pick the best player that's available, whether it's on the draft board or whether it's in a free agent situation, that you're trying to bring onto your team. It's our responsibility as a coaching staff to try to make those guys successful.

(How much do you think Clifton has left?)

He's been very positive, both himself and Dr. McKenzie with his post-season surgeries. He's there every day, so I see him almost on a daily basis. He feels it's definitely going to help him, based on the way he felt through last season. I can't give you how many years. But he feels he'll feel better this year than he did this past year.

(He had both knees scoped?)

Both knees, correct.

(In your division, Lovie Smith now says he's going to call the defensive signals himself. It's not uncommon for an offensive guy like yourself to make the calls, but why for a defensive guy is it more foreign territory?)

That's a great question. It's one I really don't have an answer for you. I've never really thought of it why defensive coaches don't call it as opposed to why offensive coaches do. Maybe offensive coaches have bigger egos than the defensive coaches. That's a joke. I couldn't tell you. I couldn't answer that.

(Where does Aaron Rouse fit in with your defense?)

Aaron's a young man that's played a lot of football for us. He'll definitely have an opportunity to come back at the safety position. It's a different system now that he'll be playing in. He has the impact type of ability because of his body type, particularly maybe in some of the blitz schemes that we have not used him in, in the past. So I'd like to see him in those particular situations, and he can definitely improve on special teams.

(Question about depth in secondary?)

I definitely think it helps our secondary. I think our secondary does a very good job, particularly at the corner position, of playing bump and run. But if you play something every single snap, obviously you should be better at it than the other techniques that you play. But also from an offensive perspective of calling plays in this league, when you know you are getting something all of the time, whether the help is coming over the top or inside or outside, it makes you a better play-caller. I think it will definitely help our corners from a vision standpoint, changing it up from not being in a press man-to-man situation as high as a percentage as we have been in the past.

(Assuming he is healthy, do you want Mark Tauscher back?)

Mark is going through rehab. Mark is definitely part of the plan as you move forward, but really when I look at Mark right now, he is really in a medical category as far as how we move forward and so forth. But he is there also every day. I see him a lot down in the training room and I know he is progressing well through his rehab.

(How did he play this past year?)

I thought he had a solid year. It started a little slower than the way he played the year before, but I thought he was definitely playing really good football when he was injured.

(When do you think it is realistic for Nick Barnett to be back on the field?)

I would just say with this type of injury, there is always the need to be more cautious than rushing him out there. I know with the defensive change, I know Nick's personality that he'll probably want to get out there sooner than later. But I think training camp would definitely be something that is a target. We'll see how he goes through the OTAs and maybe the last mini-camp there in June.

(When you put together your depth chart, you have Jenkins, Pickett and Jolly up front, and then Kampman, Hawk, and Barnett at linebacker. Is that fairly realistic?)

When you set your depth chart, and really we talk about this all of the time, the depth chart is really for the media. You have a base defense depth chart, but you also have players that play multiple positions in base and so forth. But based on how our board is set, just to line guys up, that is accurate.

(What are you thinking for the second outside linebacker? Would it be Poppinga there?)

I think Brady Poppinga is definitely an outside linebacker candidate. Jason Hunter. Brandon Chillar I think can play both inside and outside. Jeremy Thompson definitely showed the ability to be an outside linebacker.

(How about Desmond Bishop?)

I think Bishop can play inside or outside. You haven't seen Bishop rush a whole lot from an edge, but watching him in the opponent's squad and the way he plays on special teams, I think he definitely has shown ability to play outside or inside.

(Do you see guys having to change their bodies a lot to play in this scheme?)

I don't see major change. I think you may see some players maybe adjust their training, but once again, the scheme needs to fit the players. We're not only going to have certain players play in Green Bay. That's not the path that we are going with this new defense.

(Will Charles Woodson be playing some safety again?)

I foresee Charles staying at corner. He's played the nickel for us too. I think the defensive change will definitely help Charles. I know he is excited about it, in the conversations that I have had with him. Once again, a player of Charles' experiencing and understanding of how the opponent is trying to attack him, the ability to play with more vision to the football I think will definitely help him and his opportunities of getting his hands on the ball.

{sportsad300}(How is Justin Harrell doing?)

I think Justin Harrell's rehab is going better. I think going through it this time of the year, he is able to go through it slower. We need to make sure we try to get him all the way back. There is always that urgency to try and get back on the playing field, and when you are dealing with lower backs, there is just always that uncertainty. More time is better than less.

(Will he be able to avoid surgery?)

I hope so. I have no information that would lead me to believe that he would be having surgery.

(Is the offseason program more important now than ever?)

They are always important. Yeah, they are very important. I have always felt the offseason, being a position coach coaching quarterbacks, that the offseason was clearly the time of year that you can best utilize the one-on-one classroom environment to improve the players on an individual basis. That is the way we have attacked it with our whole football team and that will be no different this year, but obviously with the emphasis on the defense. It is really going to be an adjustment with our offense too. We're going to be playing a lot against the 3-4 where we'd have to take just one day in training camp or one day of the OTAs and work against the 3-4. It is going to be an adjustment for everybody, but the OTAs are always very important.

(Inaudible question)

That is individual time between the coaches and players. To me that is the starting point any time you want to adjust offense, defense or special teams. We have a new special teams coordinator and he'll have the opportunity to meet one-on-one with the players there and just start that process.

(Can you talk about your quarterbacks?)

I like our quarterback group. Number one, Aaron had a very productive first year as a starter. We feel the future is very bright with Aaron Rodgers. There are a number of positives that happened throughout this past year, but there are definitely things he can learn from and we'll take the quarterback school to go through that with him. Both of our young guys, I know Matt and Brian are both excited about getting back here in March and getting with Tom Clements to start the quarterback school and go through the fundamental adjustments that we'll make with those guys and go back through last year's cutups. They'll just be a lot further along in the process of knowing the offense inside and out so when the OTAs do come along that they will just be competing out there playing football.

(Do see any circumstance where it might be possible for Brett Favre to return to the team, even if it was in a coaching role?)

I'm not going to do hypotheticals today, OK? I don't know. That is a very creative question.

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