Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 23

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s season-ending press conference Wednesday from Lambeau Field. - More Audio | Video | Watch ’The Mike McCarthy Show’ Packers-Giants Game Center

(After watching the film, is there anything you would or could have done differently from a strategic standpoint on Sunday?)

Well, personally, I haven't watched the film. I know the coaches have graded the film. We talked about it as a staff. Strategically, I mean, off the top of my head, I would say no. I think anytime you go into a game-plan, you look to put your players in position to be successful. Based on the way the Giants played us, I don't think anything they did was a complete surprise. It was more about execution.

(Is that unusual for you not to watch the tape three days later?)

It's unusual but it normally happens at the season-ending ...You have your exit interviews, I start meeting with the coordinators today. So we haven't had time to sit down and do it. I'm not looking forward to it, but ...

(Has any of the pain subsided?)

Well, it's a disappointing loss. There's no question about that for everybody involved, for our fans, the Green Bay Packers organization, and for our football team. It was an opportunity that we had earned, to be in that game, and to have the game at home, and to have a number of opportunities in the game made available for us to win the game and we did not take advantage of it. It's a tough loss, it's a loss we need to learn from and I've had a chance to look back at the game, I look at the Giants game, I look at the Seattle game and I look at the Dallas game. I think those will be three particular contests coming out of last year that I think our football team can learn from as far as the environment we played in, the path that each game created and how you respond to the adversity and the opportunities within those games. Those are lessons we need to learn from and apply to our future.

(Can you be more specific on the execution shortcomings?)

Fundamentals. You can go through the game. You talk about run defense being a primary focus in the football game, it was not our best day against the run. We felt matchups were favorable with our perimeter against our perimeter on offense. We did not take advantage of the opportunities that we had. We did not run the ball very well. So just a lot of the basic, fundamental aspects of football that we work on every single day. When the ball's on the ground, you jump on the football. The things that frustrate me, people want to talk about penalties and what they've done, I don't have control of how the Giants would play. I don't have control on how penalties are applied in the game, both to you and against you. But the thing we do control is the way we practice every day and how we play. And when you don't execute at the level that you're capable of executing with the things that you practice every day, that's what is disappointing.

(Is there something you could have done to shut Burress off?)

Well, I thought we did a good job in the second half of adjusting to that. But also, that's why we play the game. You can also go back to the second contest and the match-up was very favorable as far as Al (Harris) on Plaxico. So I thought their quarterback made some good throws, I thought he made some plays. A couple times he took the ball out of the air that was contested by Al. You can talk about scheme, you can talk about it all you want, that's why it's playoff football and he had a big day against us. We all take responsibility in that. You can sit here and talk about playing Cover-2, but we're here for a reason, we play our defense that way for a reason. There's a match-up we felt good about going into the game. And, frankly, if we played again tomorrow, we would do a lot of things similar.

(Did you not feel you could attack the middle of their defense? Were they playing to take away the slants?)

Offensively, just going back through the call sheet, our biggest problem on offense was first of all the production in normal down and distance, and then the inability to convert third downs. We can question all we want about the game-plan, but when you play 49 plays and you're an up-tempo offense, there's something wrong. Do you run enough keeps, do you attack the middle of the field? I mean, to me, that's all open for conversation. But the fact that the time of possession, when the other team had 30 more punches available to them just based on number of plays compared to your plays, there's obviously a lot of things that the play-caller didn't get to that he would have like to have done. But to start the game, wanted to move the quarterback, get the ball on the perimeter if they did pressure us, which they did, and we didn't take advantage of the one-on-ones when that did happen.

(You always run the risk of those bad-weather days up here in the playoffs. Is there anything you need to do to become a better extreme-weather team?)

Well, that's a hard environment to create from a practice environment. But I thought our players handled the weather much better than the first time in Chicago. I have a point of reference to point from a coaching standpoint, but as far as practicing outside, there's other factors involved with why we don't go outside. But I'm comfortable with the way we practiced, if that's what your question is.

(I mean more personnel-wise or scheme-wise...)

No, I don't think our scheme hurt us in that game. No, I think we're fine.

(Is there any value in opening the doors to the Hutson Center for two hours before practice to make it very cold?)

Let me ask you, what does that accomplish? What are we trying to accomplish?

(The thought is handling the ball ...)

The balls were cold. The balls, and I actually asked the equipment guys to make sure during the game, feel the balls -- because in this practice structure it's the first time we've ever done it - to see if it was similar. And the feedback I received was that the balls we had in practice were very similar to the footballs we had in the game. With that being said, we accomplished that. I don't think that has anything to do with what happened in the game. But those are all the things we'll look at.

(Is there any reason you wouldn't have the doors open to simulate as best you can when the forecast is so extreme?)

We tried the doors open the week of Chicago and that didn't work out very well. We'll talk about it.

(Can you put your finger on why the focus and fundamentals were not there?)

First of all, you have to give credit to the New York Giants. They played very well and I don't want to take away anything away from their victory and what they've accomplished on the road, and I'm in charge of the Green Bay Packers and it starts with me, the responsibility. We did not play our best football in a time when we needed to play our best football. That's something our whole offseason will be based on. There are a lot of positives throughout the season that we'll move forward from and if we need to change anything with our structure, our practice structure, anything involved, I think we've shown in the last two years we've been here we're not afraid to change if it's going to make our football team better.

(Do you have a wish list of upgradeable positions?)

I'm not there yet. I'll spend the rest of the week, I'm actually meeting with the coordinators, I probably won't have a chance to meet with the assistant coaches until I get back from the Pro Bowl. But that's an ongoing process. Ted left for the Senior Bowl on Tuesday, so we had some preliminary talks just about personnel, but I'm not really ready to answer that question.

(Did you get any sense of where Brett's head is at going back to Mississippi?)

I had a chance to talk to Brett yesterday for quite some time. He was actually heading back, him and his family except for Deanna were headed back to Mississippi today, and we really ... as far as how to handle the decision, very similar to last year. Take a couple weeks, take the emotion out of everything that's going on positive and negative and make the best decision that's in the best interest of him and his family. We talked about all the reasons why to come back and some of the reasons why he wouldn't come back. We ran through that gauntlet. He's always been very open and forthcoming with how he feels about every situation. I told him I'd call him or he'd call me in the next seven or 10 days. That's really how we did it the last two years. We'll talk probably every seven to 10 days and see where he is.

(Do you get the feeling there's unfinished business, doesn't want his final pass to be an interception?)

We covered all that and then more.

(Did you talk at all about what his obligations would be in the offseason as far as mini-camps and so forth, if he does come back?)

We really didn't get that far, but it would be the same as last year. Our offseason program is in place. The only thing that might change are the dates, but as far as how much we do in the offseason will be very similar to last year because that gives us the ability to use the training camp schedule we use.

(Does he plan on going to Hawaii?)

I'm not sure where he is on that decision.

(How do you and your staff feel about coaching in Hawaii?)

The Pro Bowl? I don't disrespect the Pro Bowl, but it will be exciting when we get there. I had an opportunity to coach the Pro Bowl quite some time ago, 1993, and it's a fun trip for everybody, family, the players, the coaches. The NFL does a great job with the resort and how everything is handled over there. I'm sure I'll enjoy it once I get there.

(So at this point, it's kind of a distraction? Would you rather not go?)

A distraction? Everybody goes through it when your season comes to an end. You come in the next day and you've been on such a routine for months, it's Wednesday and you're supposed to be talking to your team today and practicing. You have a little bit of a lost feeling. Players probably laugh at this, but the coaches miss the players, you miss the interaction and you miss practice and those type of things. You'd like to be preparing for a football game this week. You go through that, but we're also doing all our evaluations and moving forward because we need to move forward for the offseason.

(A year ago, you were ending on a high note. What's it going to be like this year getting guys back on the horse?)

Well, I'll say this, for as tough as the loss has been, 99 percent of the conversations I've had with the players and coaches has been extremely positive. This group of players was a fun group to coach, it was a fun run we were on. We won a lot of football games, won a lot of them in big fashion, won some tight ones, too. But just the culture that's been created. I feel very good about the program, the direction of our program that is in place. So do the players. They feel they're treated extremely well, the communication and all the key elements of being successful are in place. There has been so much positive about how the year went along, but everybody to a man is disappointed the way it ended. So we have a lot of positive energy, a lot of positive experiences to tap into as we move forward and I would anticipate come March that we'll pick up and have a better offseason than last year.

(There were reports last week you had agreed to an extension. Have you reached an agreement and signed it?)

Number one, we haven't reached an agreement. That was not accurate, the report. We're going to try to talk again at the end of this week. I can't even remember the last time I talked about it, I think it was the bye week was the last time we talked about the contract. Hopefully we can get something done this week. But I'm very excited about the progress that we're making, excited about being a part of the immediate future of the Green Bay Packers, and it's still a work in progress. We haven't had a chance to meet, and I'll hopefully get something worked on by the end of the week.

(In your mind, just a matter of when not if?)

Maybe I should be more concerned about it than I am. I feel very good about the conversations that Ted Thompson, Jason Wied and I have had. We haven't had a whole lot of time to spend on it because it hasn't been the primary focus. But I trust and believe it will be done in a timely fashion and it will be done the right way.

(You morphed into a passing team this year, but you've said you like to run first ...)

That's what you'd like to do. You don't always get to do what you like to do.

(But now that you have an established running back, do you think you're going to be a different team, focused more on the running game?)

I agree with you. It goes back to our first conversation that I've ever had at this podium, talking about offensive football and what the team needs to look like. I think the game against the Giants is a perfect illustration. You need to run the football in January to win in Green Bay, Wisconsin. And it's not actually the run average, it's the attempts. Now, third down was a big part of the failure in this particular game against the Giants. But the running game, there's so many things that come off of that. The keeps, the attitude, the wear and tear of a four-quarter game. So that is a focus of ours. The identity of our football team will always be built around our offensive and defensive line, and we need to improve the run-blocking. That will be a primary focus of ours in the offseason.

(To be a better running team, do you need a different body type on the offensive line?)

I like the body type of our offensive line. The positive is they're all young. They're all going to get stronger, they're going to get bigger, they're going to be smarter, their fundamentals are going to improve. We have so much in front of us. I'm extremely pleased with our ability to pass protect. I'll take our group over anybody in the league as far as what we ask them to do in pass protection, and the performance level of our pass protection. Our pass protection was clearly better this year than last year, and on top of that, the stress of what we put our players in this year was 10-fold what we asked them to do last year. So that part of it, they've done a great job of. But we need to pick up the run-game performance, and having Ryan Grant is a big part of that. Having a full offseason to develop and play the upcoming season the way you want to play, as opposed to going through growing pains like we went from last year's offseason program when we didn't really know who the runner was going to be, and offensive linemen fighting for jobs, so now we have a lot of competition there. I think just the maturation of our players and being in year three will help us.

(Favre has been so good over the years in crummy weather. Is he not quite as adept at handling the cold now that he's older?)

You mean arthritis and things like that?

(Well, I'm 35 and I know I feel different about the cold than when I was 25.)

I agree with you. I don't like it like I used to. That's a great question. I have no information to say yes he's affected by it. But I think just the way the ball came off his hand, he looked to be able to throw the ball where he wanted to throw it and so forth. That's really a question probably for Brett.

(What will it be like next year with a target on your back with the expectations raised?)

Our challenge to improve on 13-3 is much bigger than the challenge that we encountered this year in my opinion. Because a lot of people outside of our locker room really didn't think we would be that good. We were a team that improved week to week and grew up as the season went forward. So with the fact that our schedule seems to be on paper tougher, I'm a big believer that it's not really who you play it's when you play them. But also the fact that, I don't know how many noon games we had this year, but we had a lot of noon games, there was a lot of regularity to our scheduling. We were able to stay in a teaching progression, which I prefer, because I think that helps you as a teacher. There's a lot of continuity and consistency there. That now has a potential of being broken up a bunch with Sunday Night Football and Monday Night Football, I would think we'd be a bigger candidate for those types of games. So those are all new challenges that our football team has not seen yet, the majority of our football team. So those are things we'll try to prepare for, and talk about and continue to educate. But we have a whole different set of challenges, alongside what you said about the target being on your back.

(How has this team handled successes?)

I think you'd have to say we handled it very well. The games that you can really draw from are the three I've stated earlier, the Dallas, the Seattle and the Giants. And I know two of those were losses. But it's what happened in those games and how you respond to that. I thought in periods of the Dallas game we responded very well in certain phases of our game. Seattle, the whole team responded nothing like I've been a part of in all my years. And the Giants, we kind of responded in spurts. We had a number of opportunities in that game that we didn't take advantage of, but really at the end of the game, you look at the big plays. And if I recall, I think the big plays in the game were 11 for us and 11 for them. So at that point, for however long they had the ball, and I know they had more first downs, but we made enough big plays in that game for it to be tied at the end of the game, and in overtime they made the big play and we didn't. Those are all things you can learn from.

(Do you plan on watching the Super Bowl and how difficult will it be for you?)

I don't think I'm going to be able to watch the Super Bowl, just for the fact that I'm going to be traveling to Hawaii, conveniently.

(Last year's NFC title game was the Saints and Bears, and neither team made the playoffs this year. Do you feel this team is set up for more sustained success?)

I don't look at trying to predict records and so forth, and really to answer your question, it's a conversation I had with Joe Philbin today when we were talking about the offensive coaching staff. I think what we've done as a program is we have a lot of consistency built within our program. I'm talking about the coaching staff is really the conversation that made this come to light. And also the way our players practice, I think for the most part we were fairly consistent in the way we played throughout the course of the year. I thought our curve went upwards, which is what you were looking for. So I think there's a lot of consistent aspects of where we are as a football team. I think our organization gives us an incredible advantage in that area, because all the resources are here. That's what I focus on is staying consistent and improving. And I think if we continue to do that, we'll be right back in the mix.

(Did those tests on Woodson show anything?)

I haven't met with Pepper on it. I'll have a final medical meeting with those guys at the end of the week. I talked with Pepper at length last night. Actually Brett was still in there. To answer your question, I haven't gone back through the roster, so I don't have the information on Charles.

(What was your final message to the team as they left?)

First of all, to say thank you. I appreciate the way they go about their business. You feel like the head coach gets up there every year and says this is the best bunch of guys I ever coached. But they are a great bunch. They were a lot of fun to work with. It's a group of players you could really push, day in and day out. I really liked that about them. You couldn't push them hard enough, and they'd bite back, which I always like in a player, and that's important, to have that type of relationship with your players. We talked a little bit about the game, briefly just went over the schedule from now until training camp, just to give them an idea of some dates. And we talked about what we created, the culture we've created, and how they're a big part of the positive morale of our organization and all the positive things they accomplished this year, and what we have to move on to the future with.

(You called a timeout before the kick at the end of regulation. Why not in overtime?)

Frankly, I thought about it. I didn't think he was going to make it. I even said that to the offense on the headset. But that was my decision. I didn't think he was going to make it.

(With the match-up you thought you had, how were the Giants able to hold the receivers down so much in that game?)

The first part is attempts. I know our attempts were up, but third-down production, one out of 10 doesn't really give you your best opportunities for completions and big-play opportunities on first and second down. The fact that our attempts, the opportunities on first and second down were down, that plays into it. And we didn't do a very good job on the other side of the ball too. They had 80-plus plays and time of possession, so I would say more opportunities. Execution was not where it has been all year. Yes, they did a nice job, but as far as the coverages they played, and the things that they did, it was really nothing new for our guys.

{sportsad300}(Do you anticipate anyone on the coaching staff leaving or any additions?)

Actually, Eric Lewis, our defensive quality control, has accepted a job with the University of Louisville. He will coach the secondary there. As far as the coaching staff, that's really what we've been doing the last two days, and I will continue to do that until the end of this week and probably have an opportunity to meet with each coach when we get back from the Pro Bowl.

(What do you expect from the young group of skill guys next year - Grant, Wynn, Jones, Jackson?)

Just the first thing is I look at that group, and I think Edgar does a great job with the running backs. I look for them to be more consistent, have the opportunity to go through an offseason and develop and be a year better. I thought we made tremendous progress and I actually had a meeting with the first- and second-year players after the team meeting and talked about how the progress of the younger players made from last year to this year and the impact that it played on our success this year as a football team and expect the same from this new rookie class. So I really told them the importance of our younger players in our system, and definitely the running back group is a big part of that. I look for them to be here, spend the extra time starting in March. We're actually going to start our first- and second-year players earlier, we're going to start those guys on March 17th, and bring the rest of the veterans back on March 31st.

(Where do you think Grant can be better?)

Grant? Just a complete understanding of the offense, and I'm talking more from a reps standpoint. He's a very bright, very bright player, but he arrived in Week 1. Think about all the reps in OTAs and all the reps in training camp. So he's just going to be that much better player, more in tune with the run-blocking unit, the pass protection. He can improve on the checkdowns, he can be more involved in the passing game. There's a number of little things he can improve on.

(How do you look at that running back group? You've got Grant, Jackson showed some things, as did Wynn when he was healthy. Do you feel like that's gone from a big question mark to a strength?)

I think it's a strength, because it was a young group that lacked experience, and almost every single one of them has been given some level of experience, just through the opportunities that they had this year. DeShawn Wynn played a lot of football for us early in the year, Brandon Jackson, my goodness, he took every snap in training camp and then started playing special teams in the middle of the year. So I look for Brandon Jackson to be a core special teams player, probably one of our better players next year, and he never played on special teams until halfway through the season. So there's a lot that can come out of that group, and I agree with you. I definitely think it'll be one of our strengths.

(Are you going to argue to bring Corey Williams back?)

We're trying to sign all of our free agents, and I'm hopeful to have Corey back. I thought Corey had a heck of a year. I thought he handled his situation very well. I thought he was professional. And I'm hopeful that we can get that worked out for Corey. It'd be great to have him back.

(Do you want Rob Davis back next year?)

Talked to Rob a little bit yesterday. I will meet with him after the Pro Bowl. But we're definitely open to having Rob back another year.

(That loss in the AFC Championship in 1993 has stuck with you. In a general sense, how do you make sure you don't go through the same drought?)

To me, I think it's totally different. 1993 is a long time ago and the experience that I was sharing was just how hard it is to get to the NFC or AFC championship game. So to look at my drought as an assistant and how it's going to apply to how we move forward, I don't really see the relationship.

(Are you going to have Mike Eayrs look statistically at what happens to teams coming off successful seasons and the pitfalls of trying to sustain it?)

That's a good point. Mike's on top of every angle as far as statistics. He does a great job with case studies, so that's something that will be part of our offseason program/self-scout. He does case studies on temperature, how it affects teams playing, so that'll be something we look at.

(Has anyone tried to contact your assistant coaches about other jobs?)

No, I've had no contact on any of our assistants.

(Is that surprising?)

Is it surprising? I don't know. I haven't been sitting in this chair very long, so I think we have a very good coaching staff. Selfishly, and for your best case for the organization, you want to keep your coaching staff intact because I think it gives us the opportunity to improve. As I look at the coaching staff (it's) no different than the football team. We need to improve each year and I really like the quality of people that we have on our coaching staff. I think they're all quality teachers and we have the opportunity to improve. But if other teams do look at them, it's early in the process, I know there's a couple jobs out there that are open, so we'll see what happens.

(Do you know of any surgeries that will be needed for players?)

No I don't. We haven't set the plan for offseason surgeries.

(Are there any assistant coaches in Mobile, Ala., this week?)

Just the personnel department. All the assistants are here until Friday.

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