Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 3

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s season wrap-up press conference on Wednesday by clicking here. Packers.com posted full transcripts of each of Coach McCarthy’s press conferences during the 2006 season. They can be found in our press releases archive.

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(Given what you inherited, how close is 8-8 to the goals you set?)

Well, there's always just one ultimate goal. I've been asked this the last couple days, how do you register success for your football team. I think success comes in different levels. The ultimate success is winning the Super Bowl, and I know only one team achieves that this year. As you look at the levels you need to climb throughout the season, first instituting your program, I think we definitely achieved that. Changing the culture, the environment, the attitude, we were successful doing that. Improving on last year, making improvement throughout the season, that's important. I think that's a success. So I think we have achieved a number of small successes, but until we ultimately achieve the ultimate success of winning the Super Bowl, we will not be satisfied.

(Several of your defeats came to playoff teams. Does that give you hope?)

Frankly I don't look at it that way. It's nice to have statistics spun in a positive manner, and I appreciate that. But really every opportunity you have to line up in this league, there's other different factors that happen that week. That's why it's a 16-game season. More importantly it's not who you play, I think it's more important when you play those teams. I guess you could say that's a positive, but I've never looked at losing to someone as being a positive based on how we progressed as a football team.

(What ultimately kept you from that one extra win to make the playoffs?)

Well I think clear-cut is just the way we started the season. We didn't make plays at critical times in football games. We didn't win the close football game to start. I thought we hit a stretch there, particularly against Philadelphia, Seattle, I'm trying to recall the other game we were winning at halftime, and we didn't finish the game in the second half. So winning the close game, coming out and doing a better job in the second half, those are two things we need to do better as a football team.

(Are you considering candidates from outside the organization for offensive coordinator?)

You have two pools to draw from, and that's one of them. So yes, to answer your question.

(Will you be interviewing candidates?)

I've already done so.

(Ideally, would knowledge of the zone-blocking system be in their background?)

Ideally, yes.

(Is it a pre-requisite?)

You mean am I looking at their resumes? Really, just going through the hiring process last year, fit is very important. One thing I think you have to look at, hiring good people, we accomplished that as I look back on the hiring of our coaching staff. Good teachers, we definitely have that. So those are things you're looking for. But it's a position of leadership, so those are qualities you're looking for in that position. And really, I'm more concerned about fit more than anything, because of the direction that's already been established with our offensive staff. I'm very comfortable with the operation we have there, the personalities we have there. With me calling the plays, I'm obviously very involved there. We have a lot of things in place, but it's my responsibility to look at every possible option, and that's the way I'm going about it. So I've had a lot of conversation more than anything with people.

(How many candidates are there on staff?)

I don't really want to get into specifics.

(Have you interviewed anyone on staff yet?)

No, I haven't.

(How soon do you expect to make a decision?)

I'd like to have it done in a couple weeks. I'd like to have it done yesterday, but I want to go through due diligence.

(Do you expect a decision from Brett in the next two weeks?)

In two weeks? I can't really answer the exact time frame. In conversation with Brett, Ted Thompson and myself, we didn't specifically set a time frame. Brett more than anybody doesn't want to draw it out. I just felt it was important for Brett and Deanna to get away from here, take the emotion out of the decision, look at the facts on both sides of the ledger and make a 100 percent committed decision. And from our conversation, I think that's what he's in the process of doing.

(Is there anything you can do to try to convince him?)

I don't think I need to try to convince him. I think Brett has all the information he needs, frankly. We've had quite a bit of conversation of late, so there's nothing out there that he needs to go find out about. I think last year there were more questions in the air, as far as the new coach, the new staff, system, terminology. There were a lot more things that he needed to find out about. The unknown is not nearly as much as it was last year. I think all the facts are clearly on the table. I think he just needs to go away. He has a lot of things going through his head. I'm not going to speak for him, but he's had a very fulfilled career, to use his words, and it's a decision him and Deanna need to sit down and I'm sure they're talking about, and I would think we'll know soon enough.

(If he comes to you and says he's done, will you ask him to take more time?)

After last year, I think I'll say OK, you're done. But, no. That's a great question because I haven't thought about it, and frankly I don't even want to think about it. I think when we do talk about the decision, he'll be at a point that conversation from him and I will not be needed.

(You said the facts in front of him are more clear this off-season. What are those facts? That you want him back? That he can still play? What have you told him?)

Just what you've already stated. Ted Thompson and I both sat down with him, told him what we thought about him as a player, pure player evaluation, nothing to do with what he's accomplished in the past, where we felt he was at today, and we told him we wanted him back. So with that, he talked about some of the things that he was thinking through. He knows exactly how the organization feels about him.

(What's the situation with his surgery?)

I don't know. I thought he was going to get it done Monday. But I guess this is year seven in a row that he has not gone through with it. It's really up to him. He's played with it now for seven years. It's something that's more of a nuisance than anything. So it's really up to him when he gets it done.

(Is he home?)

I'm not sure, but my understanding is he may have left today.

(There was an altercation at Nick Barnett's nightclub the other night. What's the organization's stance on that?)

I talked to Nick Barnett yesterday. I had an opportunity to talk to every single player on the roster the last two days in the exit interviews. I did talk to Nick Barnett about that. It's obviously in the hands of law enforcement. I'm comfortable with the feedback I've been given about everything that has gone on there, and I'm sure that will be dealt with in due process.

(Are you concerned about his continued involvement with the nightclub?)

Really, that's a personal matter that I probably shouldn't even comment about. But I have shared my personal experience. My father owned a tavern, and we have talked about the pros and cons of that business, and he knows how I feel about it.

(Can you prioritize your needs in terms of personnel?)

Well, where we are, just with us getting back so late on New Year's Eve, it took me two days to get through all the players. I'll spend the rest of this week going through the coaching staff, doing all the evaluations of the individual coaches, the coordinators, the structure as far as responsibilities and how we did things throughout the off-season, training camp, in-season, review it while it's still fresh in everybody's mind. That's really what's on my immediate radar. I'd like to have all the cut-ups, everything from a scheme evaluation done before we get to, ... we will have it all done before we go to the Indianapolis combine. So really, those are the things I'm focused on right now.

(Can you rule out replacing anyone on the coaching staff?)

I'll just say this. I don't anticipate any changes, but once again, it's no different than evaluating players. It's no different than evaluating practice schedules. We will look at everything. There will be a lot of conversation the next four days about everything we've done as a coaching staff, and I'll always do what's in the best interests of the Green Bay Packers.

{sportsad300}(How would you assess A.J. Hawk's performance this year?)

Just speaking off the top of my head - without having seen Sunday's game actually, offense, defense or special teams, with everything going on - but I think A.J. is off to an excellent start in his career. He's everything we thought he was coming out of college as far as his personality, work ethic, his performance level. I think his performance level for a rookie was exceptional. We're very pleased that he's a Green Bay Packer.

(What are your thoughts on the season Charles Woodson had?)

I thought Charles, like a number of individuals, started slow at the beginning of the season. But I think as he got comfortable with his teammates and the scheme, really the second half of the season, I thought he was exceptional also. His ball skills and his ability to diagnose route concepts and try to steal a play here and there is exceptional. He's probably the most instinctive defensive back that I've seen or worked with in person. And I think his interception production was evident of that. So I was very pleased with his performance.

(Does he need shoulder surgery?)

As far as his surgery, they're going to take some time off. He doesn't anticipate having surgery, but rest is his focus on his shoulder right now.

(Any other players need procedures?)

We really don't have any major surgeries. Nothing to date. There are some guys we're kind of wait-and-seeing on. Brett was one of them. We already talked about him. But it's a shame, because we're an extremely healthy football team. If you take away the 14 guys on IR, this is probably the healthiest we've been all year.

(After the positions you addressed last off-season, and the problems in the red zone, is it a no-brainer that you need to focus on offensive playmakers?)

I think you're always looking for playmakers. I don't think you can ever just say we have enough playmakers. It's no different than the way Ted always talks about the draft. Anytime you have a chance to add a playmaker, or a good football player to your football team, you have to look into that. And that will always be the case here. I think our personnel department does a great job of staying on top of everybody that's available, who possibly can be available. Those are things we'll always look at, and we can point to red-zone production as a need, but there's other factors too involved in that. But we'll always try to upgrade our playmaking ability.

(What did you learn as a first-year head coach?)

I learned a bunch of different things. As I'm standing in front of the camera, all the different angles the same questions can come at you, that's something you can't really be prepared for. And I enjoy it. It's really gotten to be fun.

(Do you count on Koren Robinson in your plans for next season?)

You can't really count Koren because of his situation with the league, and that's really all I can comment on it.

(Who was the team's most improved player?)

Most improved player? I thought we had a number of players that improved. That's a great question. I'd say Daryn Colledge, because you look at Daryn, what he went through in training camp and I clearly thought out of our young players he was most improved and battle-ready. I was very impressed with his performance.

(Did you share any specifics with Favre about personnel plans?)

We really didn't get into specifics, and not to speak for Ted, but Ted never wavers in his beliefs of how to build this football team and will always look at every option. But to put promises out there, that will never happen here. I'm not going to try to dangle carrots for Brett Favre to come back, and frankly it's bigger than that. It's a decision that he has to make, and all the facts are on the table. I don't think you can sit here and worry about the unknowns, the ifs and buts. Like I said, I don't want to speak for him, but I don't think that will factor in his decision.

(What factors go into evaluating your assistant coaches?)

It's not something that's going to be based off just one conversation. It's an ongoing process. The latest information you're able to gather is your exit interviews with your players, feedback from the players. So you're always gathering information, and with that you have your pros and your cons, identify their strengths and things you need to work on, and how I could better utilize their talents. Those are really the gist of the conversations we'll have.

(What conclusions did you draw from talking with your players?)

Frankly, it was very positive. It confirmed a lot of thing that we were trying to accomplish and have accomplished. As far as talking about structure, we did have a lot of change here from the past. It confirmed a lot of things we were doing right and confirmed some of the things we can do better. The feedback was excellent.

(What did you think of the year Marquand Manuel had?)

Once again, without studying and having the opportunity to go through every snap - I had the opportunity to go through the defense, watched all the game film, the practice film, the communication, but I'm not in every meeting and have my finger on every instance that's happened with every player, so I'll have a better understanding of that. I think he's an excellent communicator. I think he definitely has some strengths that he brought to this team. He's what we thought we were getting. The negatives as far as the safety play when you look at some of the big plays, and being deeper than the deepest, we've talked about that over and over again. Those are the things we need to go back and look at.

(When looking at the defensive staff, how do balance the first 12 weeks versus the last four weeks at the end of the season?)

It's a 16-week season. I say it over and over again. It would be convenient for me to sit here and say they were growing pains. Some of it was, but there are definite identifiers that we need to go back and look at and make sure we get it ironed out. We cannot have that again. To go through the stretch that we went through with the explosive gains, and be so productive in the other areas, there's something wrong there. We just need to make sure that doesn't happen again.

(Where are the guys on IR with their progress?)

I talked to Ferguson - he feels like he's coming along fine; same with Will (Blackmon). Will is not coming along as fast as we'd like, but they're both going to be here for the offseason program, and I don't anticipate them missing anything as we move forward.

(Are you going to change anything about the offseason schedule - Tauscher remarked it was like 'a small training camp' with the installation of the new system?)

Well, I don't agree with Mark's assessment that it was a small training camp, but our offseason program will be very similar to what we went through last year. The extensive, extra stuff that we were able to legally implement, we did. That's normal for first-year teams that go through that. Our schedule will be very similar.

(What do you have in Aaron Rodgers and Ingle Martin?)

Two young quarterbacks, and I think Aaron Rodgers is a young man that has excellent ability. Mentally he has an excellent understanding and the ability to comprehend and communicate our system. The thing about Aaron that you don't know is if he can lead the football team. You never know that, I don't care who you are, until you put the young man in there in real football games. I think he's done a very good job in the time we've been together in preparing himself, going through quarterback school last year. We'll take the same path this year, so I look for him to improve. Ingle Martin, in my experience, is a traditional rookie. He's taken that first year and had the ability to just grasp what the pro game is all about, what's needed of him. You can see that he's definitely improved just from his limited opportunities in training camp. You'll see a different quarterback when spring comes around and training camp because he'll have an opportunity for the first time to go through quarterback school. They're both young, developing quarterbacks.

(Did you learn anything different about Aaron this year from what you had previously scouted?)

I've said this before. In evaluating him at Cal-Berkeley, I didn't see or give him a high enough grade as far as his athletic ability and as far as his movement skills. Watching him move outside of the pocket, just as far as the drill work you're not able to do during the evaluation period in the draft, I think he has excellent movement ability that I was not aware of. He's had a significant knee injury back in high school in his past, but he's a better athlete than I realized. I knew he had a strong arm - I saw that in his workout at Cal-Berkeley. I knew he was bright - I saw that in the interviews. I had a chance to interview him two or three times during the draft process. It (working with him) confirmed a lot of things I did know about him, but I did not realize he was as good an athlete as he is.

(Some players seem to lose it overnight - Bubba Franks fall into that category?)

Lose it overnight? I don't know if I agree with you that you can lose it overnight. As far as Bubba Franks, you can blame some of it on the way he was used and you can blame some of it on his confidence when things didn't go well. I look for Bubba, just in the conversation I had with him, to come back here and go through the offseason program. He's not getting any younger - attack it like he needs to attack it and get ready to play. Hopefully, we'll move more towards a number of basic pass concepts that the tight end is more of a primary option in the passing game. The opportunities will increase for that group, but also he needs to get back to fundamentals and get his confidence back.

(Was your offense hamstrung by having the tight end stay in and block, and do you look forward to not doing that as much?)

To say that it was hamstrung, I don't know if I would necessarily agree with that. You have a system of offense - we moved the ball effectively well. I think our ranking in total offense would dictate that. How you do it frankly to me doesn't matter. If you have to do it with seven-man protection and that's the best interest of your team, then that's the way you do it, and that's what we did. Our quarterback I thought did an excellent job of handling that and keeping us in favorable play selection. As far as using the tight end in six-man and five-man protections, if that was in our best interests overall, then that's the way we went. Yeah, it's fun to throw the ball with five-man and six-man protection. It gives the quarterback more options. When we go through the offseason, we'll just evaluate that and take the course that's in the best interest based on the linemen, based on the quarterback. You just have to look at all the different factors. I really didn't think it hamstrung us, we just played differently than people have seen this offense played here before and frankly a lot differently than I've ever played, and I've been in this offense since 1989. That's the way we had to go, and it worked.

(How much more did you have to throw the ball this year than you would have liked?)

Well, statistically I do not want to throw the ball that much, if you look at us on paper. Like anything when you go through the evaluation process, what we do is look at the number of two-minute drills, look at the score of the game, look at the games we lost. Off the top of my head, we lost three games by significant margin, so those games right there the passing was clearly too high, and I think the game dictated that. The second factor that played into us throwing the ball more was we did a lot more run-pass options at the line of scrimmage. We had the most experienced quarterback in the NFL; we tapped into that. The defense dictates whether we run or pass it in their base plays, so we threw the ball in those instances probably more than we would have liked. That's playing smart football. I do not like the numbers, but as far throwing the ball, you have to look at the productivity. The productivity between the 20-yard lines for our offense was very good. The two things that are glaring statistically and factual are the red-zone production and the giveaways.

(How often did Brett make the right decision in those run-pass options?)

His decision making was very high this year. I don't have a statistic for you right now.

(If a big money free agent comes free that you think can help your team, do you think Ted will be willing to spend given his philosophy of building through the draft?)

We talk about personnel everyday. Every decision that's ever made on personnel, we talk about everything. We talked about the health of our football team this morning with our medical staff, and it will be the same way as we go through free agency.

(How confident are you that Ahman Green can break the trend of 30-year old running backs struggling?)

I think he gave us all confidence just the way he did come back from that surgery, the way he continued to get stronger as the season went on. I think you have a lot of evidence right there, and I'd like to have him back. Once it falls into a business decision, those are factors between him and his agent and our organization. We'll see what happens.

(What was your exit interview with Al Harris like?)

Very good, very positive. Once again, Al is a veteran. He understands the business. It's in the hands of the business people, and we'll see what happens. He was very positive, and everybody was. I know winning has a lot to do with that, but he really liked the direction, likes the defense. Our conversation was very positive.

(How do you take the momentum of the four-game win streak and carry it through the offseason and into the 2007 season, or doesn't it?)

I think it clearly does. It starts with you guys with all the positive articles you're going to be writing between now and March, so we'll have that to build off of. That's humor, you can laugh. March 19 when we get back together, we'll have an outline of the season - the things we were able to accomplish, the things we were able to build on. We'll use that every chance we get, so they'll be fully reminded of the positives and what we did during those positives so we can continue to build off of them.

(Has Al Harris ever told you he won't be back unless he gets a new contract?)

No he hasn't.

(Have you ever talked about money with Al?)

I don't talk money with the players. I'm not in charge of money. I don't get into specifics of their contracts.

(Will there be any changes with the mini-camps and rookie camps?)

I don't have it set in stone, but I'm looking to do it a little differently. Personally I'd like to have the rookies by themselves. I believe in an orientation-type format where you can get the rookies and get your hands on them before you throw them to the wolves, put them in that locker room for the first time. So we'll look to maybe do that, then have a mini-camp, and I would like to push back the team activity work as much as possible to let our off-season program have an extra week or two. I don't want to stress out their bodies, because when you do that, you're counter-productive and working against the gains they can make in the strength and conditioning program.

(Will you open up the two kicking positions to competition?)

It really depends on who's out there. We're always looking for competition. If we can create competition for both of those positions or any other positions, we're definitely going to create it.

(Are you looking for a dynamic kick returner to improve that area?)

I thought we had the potential early in the season, but field position is critical. We talk about it every week as a weekly focus as far as a formula for success, and 100 yards of field position equates to seven points. So yeah definitely, you're always looking to upgrade your playmakers and your production in that area.

(How do you personally view the 2006 season?)

I have mixed feelings. I'm proud of a number of things we accomplished. I go back to what I said earlier about success. I'm proud of the smaller successes that we have accomplished since we all came together here in February, and I'm proud we have those in place and are able to build off them. But I'm disappointed we didn't get in the playoffs. I'm disappointed that I couldn't lead this team in the playoffs and see what happens. Because I think right now we're extremely healthy, we're playing our best football of the year, and that's what you want. So I'm disappointed in that, and I'll never be completely satisfied until we reach the top. I'm proud of a number of things we accomplished, but we still have a lot of work to do.

(Feel any validation from the season considering those who questioned your hiring?)

No, I don't, because I always felt since the day I stood here in front of you during that press conference that I knew I was ready for that job. I've always felt since Day 1 I never wavered from it, I never doubted it. There were some tough moments, we had some tough losses. But I never questioned my ability to lead the Green Bay Packers, so I never really shared that view.

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