Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 19

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Monday press conference from Lambeau Field. - More

I'm here today just to talk about Dom Capers. We've agreed in principle with Dom and he will be our new defensive coordinator. I know a lot has happened since the last time we've spoken, so with that I'll take your questions.

(Can you take us through the process from Jan. 5, when you made the decision to relieve the defensive staff of its duties, through today?)

Number one, on a personal note, it was a very difficult decision. I have great respect for the coaching profession, the sacrifice the individuals make with their families, so it's something I put a lot of time and thought and gathered as much information as I could in making that decision. Really, what it came down to was I just didn't feel we were headed in the right direction on the defensive side of the ball. It was really an evaluation of our last three years. It was a three-year process and I felt that a number of things that occurred in Year 1 showed up again in Year 3. So those were some of the factors that put me in that decision. I spoke with Bob Sunday, that Sunday in the afternoon, and from that I jumped into the hiring process that Sunday evening. I had the opportunity to speak to the assistant coaches on Monday, and really have been involved in the hiring process and still am, all the way through. It's just a lot of time on the phone, a lot of background and a lot of research on all your candidates, and I feel Dom Capers is an excellent fit for the Green Bay Packers.

(Will you pick out the other assistants or will you leave that to Dom or will you do that together?)

Upon Dom Capers' arrival, we'll move forward with the other assistant coaches. We've had a number of coaches in town throughout last week and we'll continue this week. He's been updated of the individuals that we're talking to, and we'll move through that process this week together.

(Why do you think Dom will be such a good fit here?)

Number one, if you look at Dom Capers as a person, what he's accomplished. I think he brings a credibility, which will improve with his presence, his communication. Clearly one of the most thorough interviews that I've been through, taking myself back to Pittsburgh in 1992 when he instituted that defense there with the Steelers and bringing it from the New Orleans Saints in 1991, and just the progress that defense has made in the NFL over the last 15 to 20 years. His vision of playing defense and my vision of how we're going to move forward in Green Bay I would say is a big part of why I think he's an outstanding fit for our organization.

(What is that vision, and were you going into this process wanting to switch to a 3-4? Do you see yourselves playing that now with Dom?)

Our starting point will be the 3-4. I'm a big believer in the 3-4 defense for a number of different reasons. From an offensive standpoint, I think it creates targeting problems. It gives you the ability to utilize your personnel, the flexibility now. You want to put staples on 3-4, that doesn't mean we won't line up in a four-man front. We'll move in and out of both four-man and three-man fronts. But it's an opportunity, it's an excellent run defense, creates pass rush on the quarterback. I know from an offensive standpoint, when you look at it, when you play the 3-4, it creates targeting problems just from your initial game-plan meeting, and it really cuts the menu of the offense probably in half of what you would normally do on a four-man front. From a personnel standpoint, I'm in favor of the 3-4 because it's the body type that I think will enhance the type of football we want to play here in Green Bay, particularly in November and December.

(Do you have those body types here now? Does your personnel fit this, for example Aaron Kampman?)

Absolutely. I think Aaron Kampman and Cullen Jenkins will be excited about their roles in this defense. It's an impressive system that utilizes the talents of its players. That's really the bottom line. It's about utilizing your players, and this is a system that we will institute.

(Are you excited because this defense is all about being more aggressive?)

To me, I came up as a quarterback coach in this league, and I think offensive and defensive football revolve around the quarterback position. I know as an offensive coordinator, to make the quarterback successful, number one, you need to run the football, and number two, you need to protect him. So running the football and pass protection are the two most important factors in making a quarterback successful, because it gives him the ability to be effective in throwing the football. I think on defense it's the same way. You need to get after the quarterback on defense, number one, you need to stop the run, and the second part of it is you need to hit the quarterback and break down their protection schemes, and that's what I'm looking for.

(Based on who you interviewed, were you set on hiring somebody with prior defensive coordinator experience? Was that a requirement?)

Just based on the list, you would definitely say that was one of the priorities. I wanted someone that had experience. The 3-4 defense was the primary target. I was still open to the 4-3 as you move through discussion. It's really about utilizing personnel, and having the experience at the coordinator position. Once again, when you put a system of football in, if there was one system that was absolute, everybody would be running it. Every system has stress points, and you need to have answers to those stress points and make sure those are taught in a pro-active mindset.

(Did you interview Winston Moss?)

Winston Moss was involved in the process throughout the last two weeks. As far as who and what, it's irrelevant. I think he's a big part of our staff, the future of our staff, and I think this will be an excellent pairing with Dom Capers and Winston Moss on defense.

(So he's staying unless he gets a head-coaching job?)


(He'll continue to oversee the linebackers?)

Winston Moss will be the linebackers/assistant head coach.

(I don't see Kampman as that type of defensive end in a 3-4. Does he need to get bigger?)

He's an outside rusher. Who's to say we're going to play him at the defensive end position? There's two types of 3-4. You look at the old two-gap 3-4, and you look at the 3-4 that Pittsburgh, Baltimore, San Francisco and Dallas, what they're doing with their personnel. I think this is an excellent defense for Aaron, particularly in the base defense, and we'll also utilize Aaron more in the sub-packages.

(How does this change how the secondary plays? Do you do as much bump-and-run or do you have to play more zone in a 3-4?)

Those are all questions as we move forward, because just like I've stated, you're going to fit the schemes to your personnel. You watch the AFC Championship Game yesterday, Baltimore played a lot more man-to-man and bump-and-run from what I saw on TV, and you saw more of the zone principle with Pittsburgh. Those are all options in the 3-4 defense.

(Did you feel because you were headed toward the 3-4 that you had to let everybody go on defense, or was it more about going in the wrong direction?)

Two separate issues. The evaluation standpoint for the defensive staff was really the direction that we were moving as a staff, and that's why the decision was made. It had nothing to do with the 3-4 defense.

(How much if any influence did Ted Thompson have on changing the staff?)

It was clearly my decision. Ted Thompson and Mark Murphy have been very supportive. I communicated with them my intentions, and it was clearly my decision.

(What did you like about Shawn Slocum to hire him?)

Going through the special teams coordinator hiring process, I had an opportunity to talk to a number of different people. I had an opportunity to bring some individuals in, and time and time again, frankly, it just kept going back to Shawn. I think Shawn Slocum is an excellent coach. I just think the response in the building was evident, from his fellow coaches, the people in personnel and throughout, and the players, the feedback from the players, how excited everybody is for Shawn to put his blueprint on the special teams. I clearly thought he was the best choice for that position.

(Does he have significantly different ideas than Stock did? The perception is when you promote the guy behind, that's not much of a change. Is there more of a change ...?)

I think that's such a misconception of any assistant that's promoted for his first coordinator type position. It's important for anybody to step into the new chair and to be himself, to put his blueprint on that group. I'm not looking to hire an assistant that wants to do it like the coordinator that was there before him. That's not the intent, because the game of football in the NFL is always revolving. It changes. People do different things. Schematically every year there's new ideas, and I say new ideas, things that may have happened 10 years ago, but people are adjusting and moving all the time, and it's important for the new coach, in Shawn's circumstances, to put his ideas, to put his blueprint on the special teams.

(Was Capers the first person you actually offered the job to?)

I don't think there's ... I had conversations with all the candidates about how they would move forward and so forth. A lot of them were very high-quality former head coaches. But I'll say this. I feel Dom Capers is clearly the best fit for our organization.

(Do you have a prior relationship with Dom?)

I did not. I did not have a prior relationship with Dom. I have had an opportunity to compete against him a few times in the past, but we really started from scratch on the telephone.

(What kind of learning curve do you expect as far as changing the base defense?)

Good question. I don't have a time frame to give you as far as days or months, but it's a normal process that anybody goes through in the offseason. I think we do a very good job with our offseason program. Our players are very much involved, not just here for the strength and conditioning but also to spend the individual time with their coaches. So we'll take full advantage of our players being here and I'll assure you we'll be ready when we kick it off for the opener.

(Will it change how you've done the offseasons in the past because you have to learn a new scheme and you will have a new strength and conditioning coordinator?)

From a scheduling standpoint, the blueprint will be very similar. We'll go about it the same way as far as the time allotments, but what we do within that obviously will be different, because it's no different for the new strength and conditioning coordinator. It's important for him to come in here and put his stamp and put his program in place. We're going to make sure that he has the time and support and resources to get that done.

(What went into that decision? When you got here, you talked a lot about Rock's approach. To see you change course, it's hard to figure it out.)

Really it's similar to the issue on defense. It was about making progress. It's important for everybody that is part of our program to make sure there is growth and improvement, and I did not see that. There is an environment that existed that was not what I was looking for frankly, and that's why it was another tough, difficult change to make, especially on a personal level. But it's a big part of our program. It's a part of our program that needs to improve. We are a young football team, and we need to make the changes. I don't care if we're lifting free weights, flipping tires, or whatever we are doing, but we need to do a better job in there.

(I understand you and Rock go way back, but what do you mean the environment needed to change. Was it injuries, the strength and conditioning wasn't preventing those as much?)

I mean, statistics I guess is what you are alluding to based on where our players were. You look at all those types of things, but once again, at the end of the day are we moving forward and is there growth? I know there is opportunity. There are resources. The attendance, the work ethic, you look at all of those types of things, and it was not headed in the right direction. That's why I made the change.

(Are you close to hiring someone there?)

Yes, I am. I should probably do that in the next couple of days.

(Is Mark Lovat one of the candidates there?)

Mark is one of five finalists, yes.

(Is there a chance you'll go back to the machines?)

It's really not that simple. I know we try to categorize things in here, 3-4, 4-3, machines, free weights. It doesn't really work that way. It's really the types of exercises, whether you are doing them with machines or you're doing them with free weights. There is a lot of conversation that I have had throughout the interviews (as far as) injury prevention, nutrition, the flexibility of programs, specific needs for players. Those are all the types of things that you deal with. Really whether you do it with machines or free weights is not of primary importance in my view.

(Three years in you're going with a totally different defensive scheme and changing course in the weight room. Do you wish you had gone a different route to begin with, or ...?)

I don't think you can look backwards like that. We were a group of individuals, number one, a high-quality group of men. On a personal level, it was very difficult but a change in the direction of our program was needed, and that's why I made the changes. Each change is in the best interest of the Green Bay Packers bringing home the next world championship here and that's the view. That's part of my responsibility, and we need to improve in every aspect of our program year in and year out, and that's what I am in the process of doing.

(When you make this many changes, does this put more pressure on you?)

I mean, how much more pressure can you have? My view of how I attack the job is going to stay the same. I think I bring passion, energy, work ethic to the job every day and I have one goal in mind. I'll do everything in my power to bring home the next championship, and that's the way I view it. That will never change. Unfortunately you have to make some tough decisions, and that was part of the last two weeks. Trust me, it was very difficult.

(There's a claim that's been made that firing half your staff is an act of desperation. How do you respond to that?)

I don't agree with it. I think I have answered that question here today. It was an evaluation period that went on and I felt it was in the best interest of our program to make changes.

(How do you envision this new defense fitting your linebackers?)

Having the opportunity to talk to Dom, if you look at the number of players that he has coached in the past and the body types and the attributes that they bring to the table, you can see the similarities in some of our linebackers. We talked in detail about Nick Barnett, his place, A.J. (Hawk), Brady (Poppinga). So that was all part of the interview process and I'm very confident that we'll utilize their talents.

(Are you anticipating you'll have to bring in a different end, a different linebacker, to fit this scheme?)

I think your personnel format changes. Obviously you are dealing with more linebacker types, both inside and outside. The description and body types and measurable and so forth of our down linemen we all need to be on the same page of. I feel strongly that most of those pieces are already here.

(Do you have any nose tackles on the roster?)

Yeah, I think Ryan Pickett is a pure nose tackle. Once again, I think most of the pieces are here.

{sportsad300}(This was your call, but how much did you talk it over with Ted and how much it will mean for the personnel side, looking for the right guys?)

Ted Thompson and I, it's just an ongoing conversation. We talk on a daily basis. I keep him abreast of all aspects of our program, and I go back to the day that I was hired here. He was looking for a partnership and that's something that I keep at the forefront of my focus. All of the concerns that I have and the direction that I anticipate going on all fronts, it's just really one continuous conversation.

(I'm just thinking more in terms of changing your approach in free agency and the combine.)

I don't know why you would think you would change the approach.

(Do you have to look for different body types and stuff?)

You're looking at different body types and those positions will be defined as far as what we are looking for. That's something that he told me from the start of this process, he says whatever you feel from a scheme standpoint, he is all in. He had no problem with the 3-4.

(Sometimes you have to project guys, don't you?)

That's an ongoing process. Our personnel department has all of that outlined. It's a board that is done no different than the college board. We have a free agent board. It's not the exact same thing but it's the same format as far as how we project all of the players.

(You took a very methodical approach to this, but then you interviewed Capers and hired him quickly when the Giants reportedly wanted him too. Did that factor in, or was it, boom, you found your guy?)

Well, I'll tell you, a very, very smart coach that won a lot of games in this league, he told me, 'Make sure you hire slow.' And that's something I definitely took into light as I went through this process. I was not in a hurry. You are looking at the right fit. Dom Capers had a number of different options. He was definitely someone that was well sought after. But at the end of the day the Green Bay Packers had a lot to offer here to Dom Capers, and Dom Capers has a lot to offer to the Green Bay Packers. We felt it was the perfect fit and that's why, I know in my conversations with Dom, that's why we got the deal done.

(Did you have to move a little quicker yesterday to get it done?)

Didn't go fast enough for me, so I don't know how quick is. But no, I thought it went on for quite some time. I think it was a process that he took his time and he made the right decision based on what he was looking for, and we definitely made the right decision based on what we were looking for. I think it's an excellent fit.

(Was that Marty Schottenheimer who gave you that advice?)

Good job. Yes, it was.

(When will he be here to start working?)

He will arrive soon. He's having travel issues right now, so I don't know exactly.

(Do you have a rough draft of where guys might line up once you start?)

I think that will really be better answered as we spend a little bit more time with Dom. We have a preliminary depth chart that we talked about during the interview process, but I think it's too early to really get into that.

(What's the timetable on filling out the rest of the staff?)

As long as it takes. I wish I was done today. I have a couple of coaches here today and I have a number scheduled over the next three or four days. We'll just continue to go through the process of bringing in the candidates, and when Dom gets here he'll obviously be involved in all of the interviews of the defensive staff.

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