Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 4

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

(What's the update on Charles Woodson?)

Charles Woodson had a shoulder strain. Frankly, I think Charles will go through the same week of preparation that he has here the past probably six weeks. I fully expect him to be ready to go for Arizona.

(When you're trying to gauge how to handle a situation like Sunday, is it just a gut feeling or do you ask around?)

Our focus as a football team was really to complete the 16 games, to make sure we take our best football into the playoffs. I think that's a key responsibility of the head coach. Every team is different, everybody's path is different. I felt clearly it was important for us to approach this game from a week of preparation no different than we did for the first 15. I feel strongly we accomplished that. I felt very strongly we needed to approach the beginning of the game the same way, and I wanted the players to go into the game to win the game and play it like they did the first 15. Now, when we met in our game management meeting with the coordinators, I told them specifically, at the end of the third quarter, we're going to assess where we are, and we'll go from there. We had that meeting at halftime. Due to the score at halftime, we decided to play the starters one more series in the third quarter, and then we made the substitutions that we could. We only could make a few substitutions on defense, because we only had the seven linebackers going into the game due to the injury to Brandon Chillar. But we were able to make the 4-5 substitutions with the offense after the long series in the third quarter. That was our plan. I was very happy with the way it worked out, the quality of work that we were looking to achieve Sunday. We feel like it is important for us to stay in tune, stay sharp, and now we feel we're ready for the playoffs.

(Generally speaking, how do you feel about your team heading into the postseason?)

I feel very good about our football team. It's like anything you're trying to build as far as the vision, the plan. I like the way our football team looks right now. I like the energy they're playing with, I like the way they prepare, and I like the way they're focused, and we'll be totally in tune with the fact that playoff football is different. We have a group of men that experienced this two years ago. We have a group of men that have not experienced it. Through our week of preparation, I'm looking for a focused, disciplined week of preparation, and we're getting ready to go play Arizona. We're playing an opponent on the road, they're the defending NFC champions, they've won their division. There's definitely some challenge of playing a little bit uphill, and that's the mindset we're taking into this game.

(When you look at the NFC, do you feel you're one of the hottest teams right now?)

I think this. I think that's great conversation really for yourself and the media and everybody else. We're worried about Arizona, and that's playoff football. That's really what I'm talking about. That's part of the charge, that's part of the discipline, that's part of the focus that we need to make sure we stay in tune with this next game. Playoff football is different than regular-season football. Anybody that's been through it will tell you that. It goes to a different level. We're the opposing team on the road. We had 20, I don't know how many thousands, the Green Bay Packer fans at that game yesterday, it was phenomenal. To hear the 'Go Pack Go's' throughout the game was incredible. I hope we can accomplish that again. But playing on the road in the playoffs is a challenge, and that's really what we're focused on. What goes on around us, really, it makes no difference. Because there's no next week if you don't take care of this week.

(In scouting the Cardinals, what are you able to take away from yesterday?)

I think the biggest thing about yesterday's game, you can look at the personnel matchups that occur, based on the way they played the game. Also, how they adjusted and so forth, and frankly how they played us and being ready for the adjustment or the next personnel group, or where you think they're going to go from there. But it's one of 16 games. We hit the target that we wanted to hit yesterday. Now we're preparing for once again the defending NFC champions. That's the way we'll view it. They're a very talented football team. They're a hell of a football team. They've won their division two years in a row. They have experience. They're coming off of a Super Bowl run. They have playoff experience, pretty much their whole football team. Those are the things that play to their strengths, and not to be redundant, we need to have our best week of preparation.

(Was there much decoy stuff going on yesterday?)

They did some things that I'm sure we probably won't see this week. I think that would be accurate. But still, football is football. I'm more focused on how we play fundamentally. That's where our focus will be. We didn't roll out everything we had either. There's two sides to that.

(In deciding how to handle Sunday, how much of it is being around these guys for 3-4 years and your familiarity with the group?)

That's my job every day. My job is to keep my finger on the pulse of our football team. I'm in charge of their pulse and make sure when they need to get kicked in the ass, that happens, and when they need to be picked up, that happens too. But also, that's all part of your scheduling, the mindset and so forth. I like what our football team looks like right now. But once again, this is a whole new deal here. It's a whole new season. These are different kind of games, and we have to make sure we get ready to play.

(How much of what you have in mind for this game did you develop in your game plan meetings last week?)

A lot of it. We're not going to just change everything that we did in yesterday's game when we play these guys Sunday over there in Arizona. Our principles are still the same, our base concepts are still the same. We've established who we are, the way we want to play, that will not change. Now, what you do, change the face of it, those types of things, that's all part of the game planning. But we need to do the fundamental things that we've been doing very well. We need to take care of the football, we need to take the football away, we need to tackle, and we need to block. Those are things we're going to spend more time emphasizing this week.

(With the game Sunday, will the practice schedule change at all? You said you would bring the guys in on Tuesday.)

We're going to bring them in tomorrow. Yeah, we're going to work Tuesday either way. Tuesday was set whether it was a six-day or a seven-day schedule. It's important for the team to get in here and really correct what went on Sunday. So we'll come in and we'll watch the film and we'll start our preparation for Arizona tomorrow.

(What's the key to your road success?)

I didn't score all the points just to get ready to play on the road. I'd like to be playing at home, but it didn't work out that way. It's really a compliment to our football team. We're playing very good defense. We're taking the ball away from the opposing offense. Offensively, our time of possession is as good as I have ever been around, so we're putting together long drives. We also have the ability to score over the top. We're just playing good, balanced football, and really everybody is talking about our offense and defense, our special teams has played extremely well the past five or six weeks. We're playing complete football. We put together a good body of work over 16 games, and it's important for us to take this body of work into the playoffs.

(Bigby seems to be making more plays as the season is ending. Are you seeing something different with him?)

Yeah, I think Atari Bigby is playing at a very high level. He's going to receive another game ball this week and I think that is three in a row. He's playing outstanding. He has always been a very good communicator. He has done a very good job of being the last line of defense back there, and now that he has been given some opportunities, he's definitely cashed in on them. I think Atari's confidence is as high as I have seen it. He has battled through a couple of injuries and now he has been able to put a full season together. He has a lot of confidence in this new scheme, and he is playing at a very high level for us.

(Were injuries bugging him earlier in the season?)

Yeah, definitely. He missed a couple of games. I think he had a little bit of almost "here we go again" because he had the back-to-back injuries that happened very early in the season. Yeah, I think that definitely affected him a little bit, but he is such an upbeat personality. He brings a lot to the table as far as the way he fits into the group. They really trust him. He's an excellent communicator. It's just really part of the growth of the whole defense. Nick Collins has put together a Pro Bowl season back there, so I really like our safety play. It has really picked up and it is a big part of our defense. They are the key communicators in our defense, and you're just seeing a defense growing and getting better and better each week.

(You like to switch captains every week, but do you have to designate captains for the entire playoffs? Who are they going to be?)

Yes. We're going to present that to the team tomorrow. We'll let you know tomorrow. I'd rather do that with the team first.

{sportsad300}(You spoke yesterday about Woodson and the defensive player of the year award. How deserving do you think Clay Matthews is for the rookie of the year?)

I mean, definitely. He had my vote, but I haven't studied or broke down the other players, so I would only be going off of what you hear. I can only tell you what I know about Clay Matthews. He comes to work every single day. He's a true pro, whether it's his upbringing, whatever you want to say it comes from, but I love the way he goes about his work. He's a very talented young man, and for him to have the production that he has had in this scheme, missing a bunch of training camp with the hamstring injuries, he has been so consistent. You don't see that in younger players. He has just had an incredible year for us. I'd love to see him win the award because I think it definitely reflects your productivity as a defense, and he has been a big part of that. He's a young man, how can you not root for him because he does everything right. He does it the way it is supposed to be. You never have a discipline issue with him. He is always where he is supposed to be, he is always doing what he is supposed to be doing, and he's an exceptional athlete, plays with a great motor. I hope he is here for a long time playing that way.

(When you go back to Tampa Bay, did you think this team was capable of going 7-1?)

I go back to March. We put together a good body of work. We're 11-5. We had some tough lessons that we encountered in the first eight weeks, and the most important thing is we learned from them and we were able to put together eight weeks of good, quality football. Yeah, I'm not surprised by anything because just the way they worked, their attitude, the ability in the locker room, the cohesiveness. They are playing with a lot of energy. They are playing with a lot of energy, a lot of enthusiasm. I think the greatest strength of this football team is overcoming adversity. I see it time and time again, more than the teams I have coached here in the past. So I think those are all strengths of our football team. Once again, we're going into the playoffs. We're playing on the road, we're playing an outstanding opponent, and we need to play our best football. But I think their preparation up to this point has put us in position to do that.

(Was yesterday's game important from a psychological standpoint because you're going back there to play the same team?)

Frankly that was not part of my thought process. I was really totally focused on us playing very well. Obviously the bottom line is winning, because during the course of the week we didn't know who we were going to play. I didn't know if we were going to be playing Arizona. I knew we had a 75 percent chance to play Arizona and obviously when the game started it was pretty much a done deal that we were going to be playing Arizona. So that was not part of our thought process. Our thought process was simply this: we're playing good football. We've got a chance to get better. Let's make sure we take advantage of this opportunity, that we take our best game into the playoffs. The Good Lord blessed us keeping us healthy. That's the only concern that I had going into the game. You can't control it, so were fortunate that way, but I like what we were able to accomplish yesterday.

(You like staying in a routine, so is the Sunday game preferable to you?)

I prefer playing Sunday. I just was preparing for a six-day schedule playing on Saturday. But, yeah, Sunday, definitely. I think anytime you have an opportunity to gain some rest and recovery for your football team at this time of the year, I think it definitely helps you, and you can't deny the fact that you're going to be going on another three-hour flight going out there too. I definitely would prefer to play on Sunday, but I was anticipating a Saturday game.

(Will you leave at the normal time?)

Yeah, everything will be exactly the same, correct.

(How do you feel about Crosby these last couple of games?)

I think Mason has kicked the ball very well. He had a great pre-game going into yesterday's game. We really didn't have an opportunity for him to kick a long field goal, but yeah, he's a talented young man. He's a stubborn guy, I like that about him. He is a hard worker. I definitely think we have turned that corner. The future will obviously tell us clearly, but he has put together very good weeks of practice and I feel very confident when his time is needed to kick it through, he'll kick it through the uprights.

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