Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 18

(How was practice this week, coach, and how prepared do you think your team is?)

I thought the practice was very good. This Wednesday was a lot like a normal Wednesday. We had some corrections that we were able to work through. Thursday's practice was our padded practice. It was clearly our best practice of the week. And I thought today was very sharp, and we're ready to go.

(Some of the players have talked about you putting footballs in a freezer during practice and having Brett handle them and throw them in that circumstance. Can you discuss where you came up with that idea and what the practical application is for Sunday?)

Well, the idea really came from what I've done in the past with rain games, putting the football in a bucket of water and just use the same theory as far as the cold affecting the football. We froze the balls, really didn't tell the players about it and just rolled them in there on Wednesday and did it throughout the week. Really I was just trying to get them to focus more on catching the football. We had a couple of quarterback center exchange in the shotgun problems there on Wednesday, but I thought they handled it very well.

(How familiar are you with Tom Coughlin and the job he's done this year with the Giants? And could you talk a little bit about what it's like for a head coach when he's in a difficult position the way Tom was going into the season and gets his team to respond the way it has?)

I think Tom has done an excellent job with his football team. I think it's important to note any time a football team improves and plays its best football at the end of the year, I think that's a reflection of the structure in the program. That's something we try to achieve, and we were able to the last two years. As far as being in his position, it's, ... I've never experienced that, but it's a credit to him. I think he's a very good football coach. I had a personal experience with Tom back when I was a coordinator in New Orleans. I had an opportunity to be around him for a couple days. He came to our training camp. I have a lot of respect for him.

(The job he's done with Eli Manning this year and the progress you've seen with Eli Manning, could you talk about that?)

I think they're doing a very good job. I think it's a credit to the offensive staff, just his development. Any time you can win big games on the road, and a big part of that is the play of the quarterback, I think that points to his development, so they're doing a great job with Eli.

(Although Brett obviously has a great reputation and history for playing in cold weather games, this is a completely different team, and for many of your players it will be only their second experience or third experience doing so. Were there guys that failed that test in Chicago for reasons you thought they could control and that that's become an issue you've addressed with certain players?)

Well, the failed test in Chicago really starts with me. That football team, my football team that day was not as focused as it needed to be. That responsibility starts with myself. It wasn't a matter of going down the line and saying you weren't focused, you were focused. That was not the case. Our focus was not what it needed to be. I think it showed up in our fundamentals. We really didn't handle the football very well. That was the biggest issue we had throughout the day. Chicago handled the ball very well. Actually that's been an emphasis this week illustrated by the way we practiced with those footballs. In this type of weather, handling the ball is critical, and we need to do a better job of handling this time.

(I know you never really second-guess game plans or anything, but are you going to spend any time tomorrow just thinking about anything else I could do, anything else we can do, and how will you kind of spend the day before the day?)

I have a routine that I follow as far as going back and watching film. I watch a lot of film on Saturday and Sunday mornings prior to the game, and I'll stick with my normal routine.

(Has Will Blackmon shown you enough to be active on Sunday? And with Feagles' ability to directional kick, will that affect your thoughts at all?)

Feagles' ability in how he kicks does not affect who we're going to use at punt return. Will has done an excellent job with his opportunities there. I thought he progressed through the week. Wednesday and Thursday and Friday during special teams work I thought he looked great. But the defensive work he improved through the week. We'll see how he feels tomorrow and it'll be a game-time decision.

(People are trying to draw parallels maybe to the last title game here in '96 and certainly with Brett's experience, but also Edgar Bennett, is kind of something these younger guys can draw on. Talk about some of the things he's said to the younger backs and maybe younger guys on the team maybe as a resource going into this game.)

Edgar, number one, has an excellent relationship with every one of his players. You can see that in the way they respond to him in a classroom environment and also in the practice environment. So I'm not going to sit here and tell you about all the stories he's told them. I'll leave that up to Edgar. But he does a great job on a personal level and in a professional sense of sharing his experiences of playing here in Green Bay, and we give him a hard time all the time about being Hall of Fame assistant coach. Sometimes I feel like I have to run things by him in a kidding sense. He has a lot of credibility with our football team.

(What's this week been like getting your team ready, preparation, breaking down film, staying late at night? What's it been like for you?)

The football part of it has really been the same. The week has really flowed. I'm sure the excitement will build here tonight and tomorrow. But it's been a normal week with the benefit of the extra day, which has been helpful because you do have the extra responsibility as far as with the media and the administrative things that surround this type of game. But it's been a pretty normal week for me.

(Have you ever been around a football team that has gone through the transformation that this team has seemingly gone through? It almost seems like it's been two seasons, before Ryan Grant and after Ryan Grant offensively. Have you ever seen anything like that?)

The closest experience I've had to this, and really I'd say two of them, the 2000 year in New Orleans we were a football team that when we arrived we just had a lot of turnover as far as players, a lot of free agents, and the team just started off I think 1-3 that year. And then they slowly started to build confidence and took off and had a bunch of injuries at the end of the year that we were able to overcome in our first playoff game. So there's some similarities there. And I can recall, I don't remember if it was the '95 season or '97 season in Kansas City, we won four times in overtime that year, so with that the confidence building, things took off and we ended up 13-3. Those are two situations that I've been a part of that are similar to this year.

{sportsad300}(Ryan Pickett yesterday talked about how he made the Super Bowl his first year and expected to get back. Aaron Kampman said that you relayed an experience of being in Kansas City, getting to the AFC title game. There was an expectation to get back and it didn't happen. These young guys have been successful all the way through their careers and they think they're going to win every year. Is it hard to explain that part of it, how rare it is to get to a championship game and to have that chance?)

I don't think it's hard to explain. I think we have players on our football team that have experience, we have a number of coaches that have experience, and I used the example in 1993 was my first year in the NFL, and we played in the AFC Championship game and got to coach the Pro Bowl, and I thought this was the way it was going to be every year. It's important for players and coaches alike to enjoy the process and enjoy the journey. That's been pointed out throughout this season. I made a note of it this morning in the team meeting, how fortunate we are to be in this position and to enjoy practice, enjoy the things surrounding the game because ultimately that's what you'll remember, too, besides the football game.

(This team has proven to be mature beyond its years, but what do you say to them Saturday night when you meet for them for the last time to make sure they don't get out of what they have done all year long?)

Saturday night's talk for me is really a combination of what has gone on throughout the week. It's not completed yet. We have meetings tomorrow, and there may be something that comes up tomorrow that I'll use. But that speech Saturday night is something for me that builds throughout the week.

(Is Scotty Wells more or less in the clear right now? And from a preparation standpoint, is he the kind of guy that can miss a practice and a half with the stakes being what they are and still not miss a beat?)

I would say yes, yes, to your two questions. I think he's going to be fine to play. I have no indication throughout the week that he would not play in the game, and he's a very detailed, very organized in his preparation, and I think he'll be, he's fine with the amount of preparation that he's had.

(On the sleeves thing in the cold weather, do you totally leave that up to individuals, and have you ever seen guys who went along with their position group and maybe kind of seemed to regret maybe going without sleeves once the weather did get cold out there?)

Great question. I'm not a micromanager from those types of things. I think we have in our equipment department, our training staff, we have a number of individuals that have been here a long time that have a lot of experience in these type of games. They have more gadgets and things that I've never even heard of and probably will never see, and I think that's okay, too. But I don't get involved in that. But also if I do look over and it is an issue during the game, I'll address it. Sleeves or no sleeves, I don't check that.

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