Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Feb. 26

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


(How have you divided your time down here so far?)

Well, I got in yesterday. I had an opportunity to go to the interviews last night, and I actually spent some time this morning on special teams, with our special teams play. Had a couple meetings this afternoon, and my favorite part of the day has arrived.

(Do you at this point have a sense of what you're going to do on the offensive line next season?)

You mean how we're going to line them up? I think it's too early to obviously set a starting lineup because, as much as I've talked about it the last four years, I'd like to have one set and like to see them practice together every day and play together all year. Obviously with Chad Clifton and Mark Tauscher, with their situations, we're not ready to have a starting lineup yet.

(Have you expressed to Ted you want both of those guys back?)

Definitely. We'd definitely like to have Chad and Mark back. You can never have enough good football players. We've definitely reached the point with our football team that now we're going to have to make tough decisions, and the competition is where you'd like to see it especially from the coaching staff standpoint. That's part of building through the draft, and it's taken us a few years to get to this point. But we'd definitely like to see all of our free agents come back.

(When you first worked with Aaron Rodgers, did you look at his tape and see anything you felt you needed to adjust with his mechanics and release point, things like that?)

When I look at Aaron Rodgers' tape today, you still look for things to improve. I think quarterbacks, the techniques for quarterbacks is no different than any other position. You're always trying to improve, you're always trying to get better. The way we do it in our quarterback school, we address areas of fundamentals that we feel are a must, that we feel we need to address and try to fix immediately. Then there's things we're cautious of that you see the particular quarterback may have a tendency to do once in a while. In Aaron Rodgers' particular situation, he had a very high ball carriage, which I felt there was a stiffness to the way he carried the ball. It wasn't as natural, because he is a very good athlete, and it's something you didn't see in my opinion in his earlier days, how good of an athlete he was. I think it's something that we've adjusted and he's very natural with it. Every quarterback that I've ever coached, you're always looking to improve their mechanics.

(Are these spread quarterbacks that come out of college at a disadvantage as they enter the NFL because of their mechanics and they way they're taught out of the shotgun and the way their offensive line is protecting them?)

I think the spread quarterbacks in college are definitely maybe at an advantage, just because in my time in the NFL you're seeing more offenses being more wide open. They're throwing the ball more. The transition from college to pro is all those reps of building a time clock, the ability to get the football out of your hand, checking protections. I actually think the spread offense helps quarterback get ready for the NFL. Now, things you're asking them to do from a technique standpoint is obviously changed. It's almost the norm now because you see so much spread offense, not only in college but in high school, you're going back and teaching quarterbacks how to take a snap, where 15 years ago that was assumed. I think the spread offense helps quarterbacks get ready from a competition standpoint, getting ready to play. But you're always trying to improve your quarterbacks and any other position fundamentally.

(Can you break that down more as far as adjusting to taking the snap, having a drop, marrying that up with the routes, the technical part of it?)

To me it's all about the time clock. Every offense is a little different. I'm sure every quarterback coach and every coordinator may have a little different opinion of how long a three-step is and what the route combination on the other side of that drop is. They're such valuable reps that take time to develop. It's nice when you see a young quarterback that has a history in certain concepts that you're putting in your offense, because frankly those are the concepts that he's probably going to perform at a higher level of efficiency early in his career. Because at the end of the day, whether he's taking the ball from center or he's taking it from the shotgun, you have to build that time clock, and it takes reps. Every quarterback throws it a little differently, every quarterback gets the ball to his point of release a little quicker. There's just an adjustment from one individual to the other. Some receivers run routes different. There's just no replacement for the reps that it takes to get your time clock in order.

(What are you looking for from these guys at the Combine?)

I've always felt, outside of going to work a quarterback out loud, that the NFL Combine film was the best evaluation of their fundamentals, because the way they have the camera real close. You can see the size of their hand, not only the width, but the height of the hand, the tightness of the video of the flexibility in the elbow, the point of release, the draw. So I've always put a lot of stock in the fundamental breakdown of the Combine film, because a number of times you'll see the quarterback that's prepared for the Combine where his mechanics don't match what you see on film. All film is different. Some film is better than others. It's sometimes hard to get a real good fundamental evaluation on a quarterback on game film. But the opportunities that you do, you want to compare that to the NFL Combine film. I thought the workouts they have here are excellent for quarterbacks.

(As a quarterback guy, can you make a Tebow, and would that be the kind of project that as a coach you wouldn't mind getting him in your quarterback school?)

I don't know enough about Tim Tebow, but what I do know about him, I would definitely love to coach him. I think the guy's a winner, just the way he plays the game. I know a lot's being said about his mechanics. Just the way he approaches the game of football, I think he'll do everything he needs to do to improve. You look for football players, and his record in college I think speaks for itself. I'd love the opportunity to work with a Tim Tebow.

(What's a realistic timeline for him, given what they're trying to change in his mechanics, to get him comfortable?)

I couldn't give you a timeline. I'd be up here trying to act like I really know what I'm talking about, to give you a timeline. That's something I think will be answered once people have an opportunity to work with him.

(You lost Brohm off the practice squad. Would you like to get another young guy?)

In season, there's definitely benefits in having two. We're fortunate, we really like our two guys. I'd have five if I could. I just think the quarterback position is so important and you cannot ever have enough of those guys. We're just getting started with Pizzotti, and we'll definitely look at all these guys here. I'm excited to get started on the process like I do at this time of year. This is always really a good evaluation, how they throw and see them live, and go back and break down the fundamentals of the film afterwards. The draft board really will dictate that.

(Does it help to have Shawn Slocum and Joe Whitt Jr. down there helping with some of the workouts on the field?)

I think it helps a whole lot. You'll see a number of our personnel people also involved. Obviously Ted Thompson is very involved in the coordination of the drills of the combine, and has been for years. We have Alonzo Highsmith, Sammy Seale, they have groups that they are responsible for. We always encourage our coaches to be on the field for that. It's all part of that evaluation process. We definitely feel that it gives you an advantage.

(Last year you had some new coaches. Did you do anything during the combine process to adjust to those guys as far as who you picked and how they fit the scheme?)

Everybody knows our draft philosophy is to take the best player available, and when you do that you like to stand up here and say, 'He can play in any defense or offense or any type of special teams.' That hasn't changed. I don't ever look at the prospects on the field as in I am looking for this exact guy to fit into our system because I think if you do that, you need to take a step back and look at your system. I feel that our systems on offense and defense give us the opportunity to take advantage of football players' ability, and if they have a special ability, something that they are unique at, we should have that within our system to take advantage of that. So that's the way I have always viewed it from an offensive standpoint, and I feel very confident that we also have that in place in our defensive system.

{sportsad300}(What are the areas you have to get better at to be a Super Bowl team?)

I have had a chance to get through all of the offensive cut-ups and actually I am going to finish up the special teams this week with Shawn Slocum and Chad Morton, and then I'll start with Dom when I get back. But just going through the special teams some today, penalties and the punting production, clearly those are two big emphases that we'll have as soon as our players get back. We led the league in penalties on special teams for the second year in a row. I think it was 42 percent of our penalties on special teams were a first-year player, so we've got to do a better job from a coaching staff standpoint of getting our younger players ready to play with better technique in special teams. That's something that the players are going to hear Day 1 when they get in there, and our performance in the punting game was not nearly good enough. Offensively, it's well-documented, we had an opportunity to go back through the sack reel again and that's the one glaring (area) on offense that we need to do a better job at. Then you look at defensively, and I'll go through that page by page with Dom, but the veteran quarterback. When we played the Brett Favres and the Kurt Warners and the Roethlisbergers in the spread-out type situation in those type of games, we didn't do very well, so that's something that we're taking a close look at. Sudden change is another area on defense that we need to do a better job of. On top of that, the positives clearly outweigh the negatives. Those are the negatives, those are highlighted things that we'll talk about and we'll have a clear-cut evaluation and point of emphasis for our players when they get back, but we have a lot to build off. We have a lot to build off on defense, especially with it being our first year. I was very pleased with the way the players bought into it throughout the offseason, the commitment they made. We struggled there a little bit in the beginning, but I thought we got going where we needed to be. Offensively, we can be better. We broke a number of records offensively in the history of the Packers, but we've got an opportunity to get better. Our quarterback gives us that chance, and special teams is the area where you are going to see the most improvement on our football team.

(How do you think the dynamics of the division would change if Favre does actually retire this year?)

I don't know how it will change the dynamics of the division. Minnesota won the division and they'll carry that target with them as we go into the season regardless of who their quarterback is. Really, our focus will be on self-improvement like it is every year in March, April, May, whether that is with our players coming back and spending the extra time with the coaches in the offseason program, whether it's through signing our free agents back and the draft process. We really stay focused on us, but as far as the division, we'll watch what goes on and we'll do our offseason study of our division opponents and we'll be ready to go.

(You haven't run the Wildcat at all. Is that a philosophical reticence or do you not have a guy or guys to run that?)

Right now I really don't feel that we have that type of player. I've had a number of our perimeter players outside of the quarterback throw the ball and I was not impressed, so we could put another running back back there just to run it. We look at all of those types of things. We'll take it if we think it's going to help us win. We have no problem looking at other people in the offseason and in-season when you see someone that is doing something that is giving them an advantage to win games. We obviously take a look at that. It just doesn't fit our offense right now.

(Do you think Favre will be back?)

I have no idea.

(You are entering Year 5 as head coach. Is this team taking shape as to what you and Ted sought out to do with it?)

Yeah, I definitely feel that the vision of the football team is coming into focus. Just A, look at what we are going through right now. Now we're trying to sign our own free agents back. There is a lot of depth on our boards. I can remember coming to the combine my first year and the depth charts in my office were probably half-full compared to what they are now. There are players now that we have been together two, three, four years, so that part of it is definitely. I think the way we are playing, our defensive versatility matches our offensive versatility, so I feel like that is definitely where it needs to be. Definitely the vision is what you are seeing, particularly this year.

(Are you confident that you can get enough big plays out of your running game?)

Yeah, I think our running game was good this year. We can get better. We can get better at stretching the defensive ends. That's something that came out of our offseason study. We can do a better job of breaking more second-level tackles. So those are the types of things that we'll continue to work on. I'm confident with the people we have. We're always trying to improve, whether it's through the draft or a perimeter or in-line standpoint. I think our run game has really evolved, and there will be some changes, whether you notice them or not, that we'll do this year schematically. Our quarterback gives us a lot of flexibility in our run game because of his ability to handle so much information at the line of scrimmage, but I like where we are running the football.

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