Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 6

(How did Pickett look?)

Ryan Pickett practiced today. It was good to have him back. He's been out for a couple weeks, but I thought he had a solid day's work, without seeing the film.

(You said you expect Charles to be ready. How is he progressing? Do you expect him to be 100 percent?)

I don't anticipate Charles' shoulder to be an issue come Sunday. His plan for work is in line with what he's done here the last 10 weeks.

(Was there some excitement in practice with the guys? Were they workmanlike? What was the attitude?)

I thought there was a lot of energy in the building yesterday and today in the meetings. But I thought the practice was very blue-collar like. We were 11 minutes ahead of schedule, so that's the pace and tempo we wanted to practice at today when I addressed the team this morning as far as what we needed to get done today. I have not viewed the film, but walking off the field, I thought it was a good day of work.

(You said you're keeping this as much like a regular week. Are football players creatures of habit that way?)

I strongly feel that regularity is important for your team as you go through the preparation phase week to week, and that doesn't change for the playoffs. Playing the same opponent two weeks in a row, playing Arizona two weeks in a row, we were able to carry a lot of volume into last week's game and frankly didn't use much of it. In a lot of our meetings and our practice structure is a lot of review. I went back and looked at more of their tape and just trying to make sure we're prepared for whatever direction they go as far as the way they want to attack us. As far as our scheduling, as far as our plan, it's pretty standard this week.

(Is playoff experience a big factor and where does your team stand on that?)

I think anytime you have experience, it definitely helps you. But the reality of this particular game, I think we're definitely, not at an advantage, but our experience of just flying out to Arizona, going through the locker room, staying in the same hotel, playing there twice this year, we have an understanding of the stadium that we're playing in, and frankly we're on the same time clock as last week. We'll leave at the exact same time. I think our game is probably 30 minutes later than it was last week. Those are all things that you can draw from, because at the end of the day, the ball is going to be kicked off, and we need to play our style of football.

(With this being Aaron's first playoff start, do you need to say anything to him?)

I don't think so. I don't think I really need to address it with the football team as far as what hasn't been addressed already. I look at the course that we've taken through the season, we've played in some big games. You can definitely look at our home opener against Chicago, on Monday Night Football, or Sunday Night Football, that's a big-time game. The two Minnesota games were as well-covered or viewed in the history of television. So we've had a lot of big games, and those are experiences we can definitely draw from, and I think we have. I think we've had the opportunity to take our experiences from the season into our preparation. I think just playing there last week helps us, because we know exactly the type of environment we're going back into.

(Aaron has handled everything so well the past two years. Do you expect the playoffs to be any different for him?)

I would think Aaron's going to line up and play football. That's my view of how he's prepared. He's no different today than he was last Wednesday. So I think to answer your question, the week will answer that, but that's my anticipation.

(Understanding you enjoy Lambeau, but as a play-caller and offensive guy, do you relish the fact that weather won't be a factor in what you want to try to do?)

Well, yeah, that's nice. With what the temperature is going to be, that's one less thing to prepare for. But we're going on the road. That's a challenge, that's an added stress. We're going to be playing in a loud stadium. I assume the roof is going to be closed, so I anticipate it to be a loud stadium. That's another challenge. That's really what we're focused on. We have road rules, we have road emphasis, and we'll work crowd noise tomorrow, and that's really where our focus needs to be. Playing on the road is different. Playing on the road in the playoffs will be probably even more energy for the home team, and that will be part of our approach and our preparation.

(You've done well in road games. Any secret to it?)

I just feel the way you prepare and the way you build your team from a communication standpoint, it helps you. Everybody goes about it a little differently. Our guys do a good job communicating on the road. We've been in the same offensive system for four years, so that probably plays into it. I've already talked about regularity, routine. We attempt to keep our away routine as close to our home routine as possible. I think that may help. We're a good football team. I'm sure that's probably the biggest part of it.

(How confident are you in your secondary if Arizona spreads you out with three and four receivers?)

Well, we fully anticipate Arizona to spread us out. That's what Kurt Warner likes to do, and that's what he does very well. We saw a number of snaps last week in spread formations, and I'm sure coming off the Pittsburgh, everybody is looking at the empty formations. I have a lot of confidence in our players, a lot of confidence in our scheme, and we fully anticipate the game could possibly go that way.

(When you were out there in August, was the roof open or closed?)

No, the roof was closed. It was about 116 degrees I think that day.

(They leave it closed for the noise factor?)

I don't know the answer to that. I'm not sure when it's open or when it's closed. I think it benefits them from a noise standpoint, and that's what we'll prepare for.

(With all the Packer fans out there last week, did it seem noisy, what you prepared for?)

No, it wasn't noisy at all. Just the way the game went, the score of the game. Coming out in pre-game was unbelievable. There was all green and gold around the railings. Their crowd came a little later. I know our players enjoyed the pre-game. It was a very friendly atmosphere. It really wasn't very loud. It was loud probably the first couple series, but after that, you heard 'Go Pack Go' throughout the second, third and fourth quarter. This Sunday will be a totally different environment. It will be a playoff environment. I'm sure their crowd will be in full force, and we anticipate, once again, we're going to practice crowd noise, so we're anticipating a loud environment.

(Your defense tries to confuse quarterbacks. How big a challenge is that with Warner?)

Kurt Warner, in my opinion, has Hall of Fame numbers. I think he is definitely someone that will end up in Canton, and I think that alone speaks for itself. He has seen every blitz. He has probably seen every disguise, but that's part of playing the game. That's why you line up to play. He is very good at defensive-concept recognition, safety displacement and so forth, but yeah, that's definitely part of our challenge.

(How's Jarrett Bush playing?)

Jarrett is playing well. I think really after the game in Pittsburgh, being critical of myself, I felt that I probably spread Jarrett a little too thin as far as the combination of how many reps he is playing on special teams and playing on all of the sub-defenses. We have been smart with his reps. I think really the last two Fridays have really helped him because you all have been in our Friday practice. There is a large segment of special teams. There is just a lot of running, and I felt like Jarrett was getting worn down a little bit there. So I think that has helped him and it has helped him really concentrate more on defense, because he has been such a special player for us on special teams and he does a lot for us on special teams. Just watching his reps I think has really helped his productivity on defense.

(Do you think you'll have Derrick Martin?)

We're hoping. We're going to take the week. He is treating around the clock. Dr. McKenzie is encouraged. Last week he would have probably told you no. This week he thinks he definitely has a chance, so he's made a lot of progress.

{sportsad300}(With the improvement in the run defense, was there a point this season where you said you could be really good at this?)

I think that question was answered in training camp. We had a very spirited, physical training camp, and you could see right away, just the way the players were committed to it. Now we had some bumps in the road there in the first four weeks. We had some guys that were jumping out of their gaps and so forth, and it was an adjustment going from the 4-3 to the 3-4, and the discipline and the commitment and the unselfishness was something that improved each week. Now that we stand No. 1 in the league in rush defense tells you that there is no selfishness. They are playing with a lot of discipline. Guys are taking up two blocks when they are supposed to and so forth. I think you could definitely see it in training camp when we were competing against them from our offensive standpoint.

(Do you sense other teams would rather try to pass than run against you?)

I think that is really a weekly issue. I can't speak for every offensive coordinator or how Arizona is going to approach this game. I'm sure they are going to have their personnel groups and their concepts that they believe in that they are going to run at us. They have been running the ball better of late so I would fully anticipate that they would line up and still try to run it. But they also, with Kurt Warner and the receiver group that they have, have the ability to spread you out.

(A columnist out there wrote that they were irked about the way you game-planned for the preseason game, and the way it went on Sunday. If you were on the other side of it, how would you feel?)

I don't know anything about Ken's comments or feelings. Everybody goes about preseason differently, so I don't even know what in the heck are you asking me to be honest with you.

(Do you see any reason for Ken to be upset?)

I am worried about my own football team. His feelings toward my team or my feelings toward his team, it's a non-topic with me. I told you, I stood in here Monday and Wednesday last week and told you what our goal was. We went out there to keep our momentum going. He took a different approach.

(Do you think he could use that as a motivational tool?)

That's a question for him.

(What's been the difference from the first half to the second half with the offensive line?)

Health, continuity. If you recall the first eight weeks, we had a period there we didn't practice with the same five offensive linemen and didn't play with the same five offensive linemen for a number of different weeks. I have always the opportunity when you build an offense, the center, those two guards, the quarterback, I always talk about the core of your offense, they have to practice every day and obviously play every week if you want to get the continuity that you are looking for. We had so many moving parts in our offensive line. We were just totally out of sync and I think it carried over to a number of different areas. The credit to bringing Mark Tauscher back has definitely given us a huge boost, Chad Clifton was injured, Scott was injured, Jason Spitz got injured, Allen Barbre went through a performance stage where he didn't play as well as you would have liked. We had a number of different factors going on. I really liked the way they rallied and continued to work. They definitely have a huge impact on the way we played here the last eight weeks.

(The issues in the first half, you mentioned sacks, and also penalties. Are those far enough in the rear view mirror they won't come up in the playoffs or do you have enough to cover them up if they do?)

I just think we have matured as a football team. We had some lessons that we definitely needed to learn from. Our numbers were not where they needed to be in a number of different areas, and we improved. That's always been our focus. You focus on doing whatever you can to win football games, to improve as you do go through the season. We accomplished that. We're a very young football team in some areas. I really love the way our young guys have stepped up and played. We had five starters on defense that were rookies last week for a big part of that game, and I think that has helped us immensely. We've had an opportunity to overcome some big-time injuries, Al Harris and Aaron Kampman, but the guys just kept working, kept working, kept improving, and I just think we have grown up as a football team.

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