Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 8

(Is Spitz clear?)

He's doing better. We'll have an injury report filed tomorrow. I think we'll be very healthy for the game, including Jason.

(How do you like your practices since you came back?)

Practice Friday and Saturday was very good. They were two spirited, padded practices, I would categorize them. Today's practice I thought was very good. The tempo was outstanding. We'll watch it here at two o'clock with the players. I was pleased with today's work.

(Did Brandon Jackson have an injury?)

Brandon Jackson is sick. He went home today, flu or GI tract infection or something like that. He'll be back tomorrow.

(When you go against a team where you know the quarterback really well or some of the personnel really well, is that an advantage?)

You'd like to think that you know everybody that well, week in and week out. Those are coaching points that you present to the whole football team. The offense and defense breaks them up as far as the objectives of how we're going to approach that team. Then you take it another step and make sure you show it on film, different things that you (see) maybe in the quarterback's play, tendencies, how he carries the ball. That's why we study film and that's what we're looking at. With an opportunity to play against Matt in the past, and people talk about how I coached him. I coached him a long time (ago), it was almost 10 years. I think he's an outstanding quarterback. He's probably the best or one of the best players on their football team. He's a part of their success. He's definitely a target for us this week.

(Did Blackmon's test not go well yesterday?)

We didn't feel he was ready to be tested today so we'll test him tomorrow.

(When you look at the level of cross-pollination between the two franchises, how unusual is that?)

There are a lot of relationships. It's a system that works with the approach from personnel coinciding with the coaching. I'm fortunate enough to be a part of it with Ted Thompson, and you can't argue with the success of it. It's not normal, that's for sure. But there are different families that people derive from. You're always trying to learn from your past experiences. Again, this is a system that works and I'm glad to be a part of it.

(When did you finally get that (Washington) game film?)

It came in the late hours but I really didn't to watch it until the next day. It didn't affect the game plan. It wasn't a factor. We had a preliminary game plan. We just had the opportunity to watch them play. I was very impressed, particularly with their defense the way they played against Washington. I thought they played with a lot of speed and energy. It is more about personnel and the matchups that you're looking for.

(You got that Sunday?)

Today is Tuesday so that would have been Monday morning.

(As a first-year playoff head coach do you try to keep this week normal? Is there any difference?)

It's a different week. Look how many people are here today. That's something that we've talked about as a football team. To me, I think you need to simplify your approach. We have a primary focus: that's the game. Everything involved in the game and how we go about preparing for the game we're not going to change. It's worked very well so far this year so there's no reason to change that. We also have to be in-tune with all the secondary responsibilities that we have. We need to manage that, be smart about our rest and things that are not normal taking away from the appropriate time when players do leave here. We talked about all of those topics.

(Do you notice more attention to detail or is there a little extra jump to their step in practice?)

There's no denying the playoff atmosphere is outstanding. It doesn't just start on the game day. The energy today was very, very good. The attention to detail was excellent. You can tell when you walk into the team meeting room, there was silence. Usually they're a pretty loud group. They're ready to go. So far we've had a good day of work.

(When you play against a smaller, quicker defense does running the ball become even more important than usual?)

I think it's important at this time of year. It's something that will factor, in my opinion, on both sides of the ball. Run defense will be challenged, just like they challenged us last year on Monday night. I think they'll challenge us more in the sub-personnels. We definitely need to run the ball successfully to play the game we want to play Saturday. It's all a part of it. We're not looking to come out and throw 60 times. That's never the plan.

(How do you weigh your play-calling between what you want to do and what is actually working during a game?)

We're going to call what's working. If I have to choose between what I want to call and what's working, I'm going to go with what's working. You have a plan, a starting point and gears do shift in a game. It happens every football game. You need to try to stay one step ahead of the defensive play caller. Just make sure you're putting players in favorable situations. That's the job of the play caller. A big part of it is how you scheme during the week but you're always going to go with what's working.

(Is taking a few more chances something you have to be cognizant of with Brett if you get behind?)

It's really something that you need to be aware of coaching quarterbacks. That's always been a sideline reminder that I felt was important. It's a constant education as far as is if it's a one-score game, or a two-score game. You don't really want it to affect their decision-making. The key to playing offense the way we want to play is making the quarterback successful and that's not taking a lot of chances. If you're taking chances then I'm not calling the right plays.

(If Blackmon's healthy is he your nickel or is Tramon the guy regardless?)

I don't really want to get into that.

(What is the key to pressure?)

Offense and defensive line, I addressed it with the football team. We need to win those battles up front, starting with the offensive line. It starts with the run game, pass protection. You could see how productive Seattle was against Washington in that area. That's a challenge for us. You're playing against the sack leader. I think they have excellent tempo across the board. I think that's a big challenge for us.

(What's your confidence level in Ryan Grant going into these playoffs?)

I'm very confident because I think Ryan's best football is in front of him. I think Ryan has done a very good job with his opportunity. I classify Ryan like a number of our players, young and improving. Now we need our best performance. This isn't about training camp or trying to get better. This is playoff football. I have all the confidence in the world in Ryan Grant and I will give him the opportunity to be successful.

{sportsad300}(Will you consider Woodson at punt returner?)

It's something that is a part of our rotation. I think Charles has done a very good job for us in the past. He's an excellent decision-maker. That six, seven, eight, nine, 10 yards of field position shows up every time at the end of the day. Field position will be very important this week. It's definitely an option.

(Where does Kerney fit in terms of guys you have to game-plan for?)

I think Patrick does an outstanding job. I've had an opportunity to play against him in the past in his time in Atlanta when I was in New Orleans. There is no such thing as a play off as far as his approach to the game. He has an outstanding motor. That's the thing that you really have to be aware of. He does a good job. He's a good hands player. His second reaction, second effort is going to be the key with him. Just have to get ready to go.

(Are you personally more nervous or excited for your first game in the NFL or your first playoff game?)

I would have to say the first game. I'm excited. This is what you work for. I think coaches, as a whole, you get caught up in the process. You get caught up in the journey. Just walking in here today I've never given any thought to this being my first game. I've moved past that. I may feel different when I walk out on the field Saturday. I'm excited for this opportunity. I think the first time you go out as a head coach, really in the preseason, there's such a new-ness to it. This is definitely different than the first opportunity as a head coach in your first game.

(You said you aren't going to look at past playoff film of Brett?)

I don't think it factors into how we're going to play this game or how he's playing today. It's not like we arrived here five or six weeks ago. We've been here. This is our second year. We have history with Brett. You can see the progress we've made with Brett running this style of offense. I don't really feel it's to our benefit to go back and look at those games.

(Do you feel the so-called Lambeau mystique is back?)

We definitely have an advantage playing at Lambeau Field, there's no doubt about it. We have a responsibility to play well. In the same breath I think it's important for our football team. I think they've done an excellent job because on the other side of the spectrum is how well we played on the road. I think we do a much better job of focusing on playing the game and using the phrase 'out in the parking lot' or wherever we play, we're ready to play. I'm not calling Lambeau Field a parking lot, so don't get me wrong there. It's important for our guys to stay in-tune with that. Some of the communication that I received from people when we went through that drought that maybe it was the hot tubs before the game and other ridiculous things, and maybe it was too much pressure playing at home. We need to play football. We're going to play football in one of the best sports venues in all of sports. That's a blessing but we need to play football the way we're capable of playing regardless of where we play it.

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