Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 16

(How have you worked with Brett Favre to play a more controlled game and how would you assess his season overall?)

I think he had a great season. I thought he played extremely well against Seattle. I just think he's doing a great job of running the offense. We've asked him to do some things. We've asked him to do more of things that he hasn't had to do a lot of in the past. I'm talking more spread offense and taking advantage of (things) at the line of scrimmage situations. So he's done a very good job managing that and you have to give a lot of credit to Tom Clements in the quarterback room and the way they operate, and a lot of credit to the teammates. I think we're better in the offense, everybody has a better understanding and it leads to a lot more production.

(What thoughts do you give to the way you guys played against the Bears and the bad weather and the forecast for this weekend? What is it you try and tell your players they have to do better?)

I thought the problem we had in Chicago was clearly focus, and our fundamentals were very poor. And you could apply some of that to the focus. That's been addressed. We've hit it again in a small sense this morning. I thought wind factored very much in that game, and hopefully it won't factor this week.

(Do you think you lost focus because of the conditions?)

We didn't play well fundamentally. I can't get inside everybody's brain. We looked like a team that was very cold and the Chicago Bears did not look like they were very cold and that's something that we definitely need to learn from.

(You said the other night you wouldn't game-plan based on weather. So do you have a Plan B or what happens if you show up on Sunday and all of a sudden ...)

I think what I said, part of the weather is part of your plan. I know people have, quote, bad-weather plans on their call sheets. In my experience, that's more for a lot of rain, wind is something that factors in your decisions there. It factored in the way we called the game in Chicago because there's only certain things you can do in the wind, just to look at the way the game went when they played on defense. They just squatted down at 5 or 10 (yards). Those are things, wind and rain will affect more than just cold, from our experience. But that's all part of your base plan. So, I mean, we're ready for the weather, to answer your question.

(You seemed to enjoy playing in the snow on Saturday. It wasn't windy. Is it a confidence boost?)

Yes, we'll take it as a confidence boost. Saturday was a winter wonderland, 30 degrees, no wind, 30 degrees, snow. That's a nice day in Green Bay, Wisconsin. That's what it's supposed to be. As you remember, as a kid playing in the backyard when it's zero degrees, windy, it's different. It's a totally different atmosphere, and that's what we have to prepare for.

(As a head coach in this situation for the first time, leading a young group of players, how reassuring is it to know that the quarterback has been through this situation many times even though not so much in the recent past?)

Very reassuring. I think the playoffs is a lot about your quarterback, the quarterback's performance. If you look at the performance just this past week and other quarterbacks, it has a lot to do with the success of the football team. I've always felt that. It will continue as you move through the Super Bowl. If you look at the Super Bowl winners, you can almost directly draw a parallel to the quarterbacks waiting for that particular game. So quarterback play is huge in playoff football. And it's big when we play in this type of environment at Lambeau, and we're blessed to have a quarterback that's played 17 years here.

(Last week it was kind of new for your players, with all the media and podium and stuff. How did they handle it; how did you handle it? And now it only ramps up this week, how do you think it will go this week?)

All the feedback I've received and from what I notice, I thought they handled it very well. We talked about it again as a football team today. We have media topics we talk about every Wednesday. More this week than last week. They continue to grow as you move forward, as we're aware of. They're a focused group. They illustrated that today at practice. We had a good practice. We have some things we need to clean up. But every indication is we're focused on the game and that's all that matters in our professional life right now.

(What enabled you to stay in front of the team or begin talking Super Bowl as a goal this year, if you didn't do it last year? What enabled you, what gave you the confidence and the belief they were ready to hear that kind of message and believe it?)

I've been talking about the Super Bowl since the day, since the first day I stood up here. So the first overlay I ever put up in front of our team was to win the Super Bowl and the toughest challenge we'll have as a team is the handling of success. And that's something I put in front of them as a reminder every so often when it needs to be addressed. This is always the goal. It will always be the goal as long as I'm the coach here. It's part of coaching the Green Bay Packers. The standard has been in set, the history is in place, and it's our responsibility to make sure we get that done.

(When you first got here and looked at the landscape of this franchise, when you tried to prioritize what had to happen first to get from that point to this point, what exactly is at the top of that list?)

You have to create the culture that you feel gives you the best chance to win. And it's a positive environment. It's an environment that involves communication. Accountability is at a premium. The importance of availability from your players. Those are all key factors that we've stressed here since Day 1. And I think we're doing a very good job of that. And I think the culture has been created and we need to continue to manage that culture as we move forward.

(Obviously if you're going to be the quarterback in Green Bay you have to have some success being a cold-weather quarterback. Brett Favre has been phenomenal when you look at those games. What physical characteristics does he possess that allows that or what is his approach that enables him to perform under those conditions?)

That's something I've always looked at quarterbacks just from their measurable standpoint. Long levers, big hands. Brett has the hands, so does Aaron. Their measurables are very similar, so that enables them to potentially handle the ball better. I'm not saying that's the key reason why he's a very good player in bad weather, because I'm sure there's players that have played in this environment that don't have those measurables, but I think it definitely helps them.

(This is the first time that Brett has been in this environment in a decade. Do you sense any change in him? Any difference in him?)

Not at all. I mean, he's extremely focused. He spends a lot of time here, a lot of extra time. His truck's here at all hours of the day or night. I thought he was diving in big-time last week, and this week I anticipate the same thing.

(When you started talking championship, when did you sense from him that he got it? Did he believe it? Did he ever express any doubt that he could get to this point with you?)

Brett Favre is a champion. He's already stood at the top of the mountain. So I never was really concerned about him believing that he could win a championship. I'm sure not everybody totally bought into me when I said it the first time I stood up there, and as we moved forward I'm sure it became more of a reality. But I've never been concerned about him wanting to win a championship, because he's done it and he's in the position to do it again.

(A few weeks ago, before the Oakland game, you talked about the attitude of the team expecting to win every week. Has that been the case since the beginning of the year or was there a turning point somewhere along the way where you had the expectation to win every time?)

I thought we had a big taste of it finishing the way we finished last year. I thought we were playing at a very high level at the end of last season. We played our best football of the season. We used the momentum. We referred to it a lot through our offseason and through the training camp and then everything was re-created through your training camp process. And we found ways to win some games that were tough games early in the season, and the confidence continued to build. But I would like to think that our football team expects to win every week. That's the way they're coached and that's the way their head coach is and I think they exhibit that every time they step on the field.

(When they talk about you becoming a head coach, Mike Nolan talked about your last season in San Francisco. He said he felt like you were a little held back, and Jim Haslett talked about some of the things you went through in New Orleans, and they both talked about how that sort of shaped you, prepared you to be a head coach. Do you look back on those situations? Anything that sticks out in your mind as you look back on those and think they really prepped you?)

I can't say enough about my past. I can't thank the Jim Hasletts, the Mike Nolans, the Marty Schottenheimers, Paul Hackett. I've been so blessed if you look at the background of the coaches I've been able to coach with. Go back to my first job at the University of Pittsburgh staff. Marvin Lewis, Jon Gruden, John Fox had just left. I think most of our staff at the University of Pittsburgh at that time has either coached in the NFL or still is coaching. So I've been around a lot of very good football coaches, very good players that I was able to learn from different situations like you've already stated. So I think we're all a product of our past, and I've been very fortunate to be around those type of people and to go through those experiences.

(How many guys did you see come in on their off day? Did you want them here yesterday on their day off or did you want them to get a break?)

It's the normal flow. Our guys do a great job of coming in, extra weight room work or the training room is something that has a constant flow. You walk down the hall, the doors are closed so they're in there watching film. Probably a little more than what you see, but it's part of the way we operate here. I think it all goes back to the environment that you create. It's a place where if our players want to come in and do extra work it's not an 'I'm not going to go in there' type of attitude. So that's a credit to them and it's a credit to the Green Bay Packers organization, because our facilities are phenomenal, and it's just a great culture to work in.

(We talk so much about, quote/unquote, youngest team in the league. Do you have the veterans in place and in the right places to keep this success? Whether it's the corners or Favre, I mean, do you think you've got not only the right veterans but the right veterans in the right positions to have kind of shepherded this young team to where it is?)

I agree with you from experience standpoint. If you look at the way we like to play, the quarterback position has a lot to do with the way we game plan and the things that we do both in running, protection. So that's a benefit. A stress point of our defense is good corner play. So the veteran cornerbacks definitely benefit there. You never have enough good corners and pass rushers, I don't care what defensive scheme you're running. I agree with your point, but everybody wants to talk about veterans. They think it equates to leadership. I think leadership is something that everybody in our locker room has. It's just at what level or what style, and just because you're young doesn't mean you can't lead. It's just a great group of players that are accountable. They're available. This is the healthiest we've been and it's a good situation to be in.

(How do you see that leadership manifest itself? Seems like when we talk about Favre we always talk about how he leads by example. What guys in your locker room are those types, what guys in your locker room are more the guys you would count on to lead vocally? How do you see that dynamic?)

We have key players that are vocal leaders, if you look at Rob Davis and some of our older guys. But I think every player has some avenue that he takes in a leadership role, the way they practice or what they do as far as being good teammates. The chemistry in our locker room is very good. Winning has a lot to do with it, I'm sure. I can't be naive to that.

(Did Wells just feel something in practice?)

Just felt something in practice. So just being safe.

(And Barnett?)

A little sore, just being safe with him.

(When he interviewed you for the coordinator position with Haslett, he actually interviewed you every single day for a week, and he felt it was a particularly grueling process for any candidate to go through. Do you remember that being particularly grueling, that experience?)

Every time I drive down Oneida Street I drive by the Kinko's, it reminds me of the Jim Haslett interview, because that's where I was about three nights before I went to New Orleans. And I can remember leaving here, it was 25 below zero and when I got off the plane it was 75 degrees. We went to the office the first day and then every night about 10:00, 11:00, Jim Haslett and Rick Venturi, we would just start talking about football, different situations, different circumstances. And after about five days it was, I mean, it got to be monotonous. It was like, you asked me that question three times already. So it was a great experience. And we were at dinner with Jeff Blake. We just signed Jeff Blake with a free-agent contract, and Jim said, 'You need to talk to him about what you're going to do on offense.' I said, 'Well, I don't even know where we are,' because I was technically the quarterback coach. He goes, 'Oh, hell, you got the job. You knew that, didn't you?' That's how I found out I had it. Good experience.

(Was he testing you at that time?)

It's the way to do it now. I mean, I'll tell you, it's a good situation to be in, if you have someone on your staff that you're able to interview and make sure he's the right guy. Because everybody assumes that Jim and I are from Pittsburgh (and) that we knew each other. We really didn't have relationship. So I definitely now sitting in this chair now I think it was a great way to go about it. It was a good experience for me, too, because the thing with staffs that I've learned it's more about fit. There's a lot of good coaches out there. It's fitting those coaches together. And he did a good job of doing it.

(He said after the fourth or fifth day he was waiting for you to just snap after continually doing this over and over. Were you ever close to just saying, Jim, are you going to give me the job or not?)

I guess, my focus and patience prevailed. (Laughter.) But I guess Jim wanted me to snap because it was a good experience. It was. It was a heck of an interview, I'll say.

(What were you making copies of three days in a row?)

I'd never really had to interview for a job. I interviewed here in Green Bay in '99, and it puts you on the board. But I'd never had to put together an outline or anything. And sitting up here without a job in '99, didn't have a lot to do, I thought maybe I'd put together an outline. Kinko's just opened up. I wasn't going to do the typing. I went down there and it worked out.

(How did Will Blackmon look today?)

Good. I talked to Will at practice. How he feels tomorrow will be key. He felt a little sore as he went through it, but he was able to work today so we'll see how he is tomorrow.

(Did you get the sense he can contribute on punts or on defense?)

He needs to go through the whole week before we make that call. I'm not comfortable just putting him out there based on this important game. I want to see him do it in practice.

(Did you have any particular message for Ryan Grant this week?)

I haven't talked to Ryan one-on-one yet. But during the course of the week, it won't be a big conversation. I like the way Ryan goes about his business. He's focused. He's a hard worker. He's always asking the details about the game plan in the blitz drill and things like that, so I think he'll be fine. I don't think he'll be one of those guys that will be so revved up that he'll go the other way. I know this is a big opportunity for him. But he's a focused young man.

(Is he as even-keeled behind closed doors as he seems to be with us? He doesn't seem like the kind of guy that will get revved up?)

We're all the same guy when we get up here. No, I think he is. He's pretty even, very, very level-headed.

(With the success you guys have been having, are other teams out there interested in your coordinators or coaches on your staff?)

I have not been notified.

(What happened on the first Jennings touchdown? Brett Favre looks like he gives him some sort of signal, and it looks like the offensive line is run-blocking. Can you take me through what happened there?)

I don't want to get into specifics about how we do things. I mean, it's a scheme that we use over and over again all year. And based upon what Brett and Greg did on that particular play is on film. But it's a run/pass option that we've done, we do a lot of.

(What does that say about where those two are at in terms of their ability to connect?)

Brett does a great job of that. And Greg is, he's a lot better than he was this time last year. No doubt about it. It's really the whole receiver group. And in my view Brett could have given a signal to any of those receivers. That group is definitely on the same page.

{sportsad300}(Kabeer talked about him getting in front of the team, talking about the movie 'The Little Giants.' You know how he can be sometimes. What were you thinking when he approached you and how did that presentation go?)

I thought it was a great message. And he did a great job. We just put him on a time frame. He was going to have three to five minutes, and he did a good job staying within that. But have you seen the movie?

(I have not.)

Yes, it's a great clip. It's a great message.

(When he first came to you, did you think it was a good idea right away, or did he have to sell you?)

I watched it before.

(Had you heard of it before?)

I heard of the movie, but I've never seen it. It's a great scene. Good message.

(Is there more bounce in your step coming off a game when you go down and come from behind, winning the way you did as opposed to being ahead the whole game?)

That's a good question. I guess with my inexperience, I can't answer that question. We feel good about where we are. We made the mistakes early, which I think was a benefit to us because we played at an extremely high level after that. We went through the grades with the football team this morning, just the overall grades, and we pretty much have pluses across the board. We lost the turnover ratio was the only negative. So I don't know if it gives you more bounce, but to play at that level is something that we can point to, draw from, as we move into this week.

(Was there no discouragement when you were down 14, or what was the mood on the sidelines?)

I'm not going to sit here and say everybody said, 'Hey, don't worry about it, we're going to be okay.' That wasn't the case. It was frustrating. But I think everybody handled it very well. There's conversation that went on. It was so early in the game that there was no (panic) in my view. There was no reason to get away from what we were doing.

(I know you don't worry about our opinions and outside opinions, but you're usually aware of them. What did you think when people kind of reacted the way they did to your hiring two years ago?)

I was excited to get the job, and I was focused on the job at hand. I mean, I knew I wasn't going to win the opening press conference, so I didn't concern myself with it. I got up here that day and told everybody how I felt and about the opportunity and what I planned on doing with the opportunity. I felt that was the best way to approach the job and thankfully it's worked out.

(Do you think you lack the ability to B.S. people?)

I must because Jason asks me this stuff all the time.

(Really, some coaches along the way pick up the ability to manipulate the situations, the media, the players. A lot of coaches who have coached with you say you don't have that ability, that you just, for whatever reason you've never learned how to lie?)

No B.S., ... I'll take it as a compliment. That's all I've got to say about it. I'm not going to comment on other coaches and their ability to talk to manipulate. I will take it as a compliment.

(Do you feel you don't have any reason to do that?)

I hope not. I don't view our business that way. I don't agree with that opinion. I think it's a people business. I think it's about fit. I think you need to fit with, ... I think the general manager, the head coach fit is critical. I think you see it over and over again in our business. I'm comfortable in my own skin. I think it's how groups, people are successful.

(At the beginning of the year as you're struggling to run the football, if you don't come across Ryan Grant or if he wouldn't have turned out to be as good as he was, do you think you would still be standing here talking about the championship game?)

I'm not good about B.S.'ing or the what ifs. I can tell you that. We had a run game that wasn't being very productive, and Ryan earned the opportunity to be that guy, because I felt the running-back-by-committee that we were using wasn't working because we were so young at the position, that we were spreading these guys out trying to get them ready to play a certain segment but also covering ourselves if injury occurred. I used running-back-by-committee in the past but there were veterans involved. So at that point we needed to go with one guy, and we actually decided to go with the DeShawn Wynn for the Denver game. He was injured early in that game, and Ryan Grant was the No. 2 player, and then we haven't looked back. That's the reality of what happened. So the what ifs, I never even thought about it.

(After Grant's rough start, your first touchdown, he wasn't very much involved. The second touchdown drive was when he got involved. Was that by design, to let him settle himself?)

It was by design to have him involved at the beginning of the game even after the fumbles. As I recall, I went right back to him after the second fumble. I know I came out and threw it the first play, the triple post X cross. But we went right back to him. Because, like I said before, he's a big part of the way we approach that game and I felt it was important to give him the ball.

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