Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 1

Read the transcript from Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Wednesday press conference. Packers.com will post these full transcripts after each of Coach McCarthy’s press conferences during the 2006 season.

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(Do you have an update on Jennings?)

Greg went through the jog through today, the individual drills and group activities. We then felt it was best to rehab him. We'll see how he feels in the morning and our goal is to try and have him go tomorrow. He's questionable.

(Are you encouraged by what you are seeing?)

I think he's making progress. Like I said, Sunday he was close. He's kind of working his way back. It's a little more significant injury than anticipated because he made such good progress last week. If you watch it on the film, it was uglier than you thought it was. He made a lot of progress last week, and we're just trying to get over the last hurdle.

(What is Woodson's injury?)

He has a knee - a bruise.

(Expect him to go Sunday?)

We're going to rehab him probably all the way through Friday. We're going to look and see how he feels Friday, make a decision on it. We'll see if he practices, and I'll have more information then. He's just really sore.

(Surprised it wasn't worse?)

Oh yeah, did you see it on film? We're fortunate, fortunate.

(Who would be at corner then?)

I want to see all three guys - Dendy, Blackmon and Bush.

(Do you have a pecking order behind Jennings?)

It's really the role. If you wanted to list them, you'd go Ruvell, then Chris Francies because he's been here, and then Shaun. As we move further, it will be more based on packages, what we're asking that position to do, things like that.

(Does Jennings' status determine how many active WRs will play?)

That's something that Friday's practice will be a big indication on where we go, whether its four or five receivers.

(Barnett effective in the blitz packages you've used him in?)

Nick is a very explosive player. I think he's a good pressure defender, and it's something we've done more of particularly in the past two games. It's been effective for us. I think it really fits his make-up because he has excellent explosion, gets off blocks, so we've definitely been doing it more the last two weeks.

(He seems to be doing well in pass coverage too, is he having his best season?)

It'd be unfair for me to judge his other three, but we're very happy with his production at the middle linebacker position.

(Have you found some offensive identity and rhythm in play calling?)

Well, the starting point of our offense is ultimately running the football. There are so many positive things that come off of running the football, and I think you're seeing that in our offensive production. When your run game improves, you pass protection usually improves, your first-down win percentage improves, so there are so many things that come off of that. I believe in running the football because I believe it needs to be a common thread that runs through your whole football team. We are running the ball better, and our run defense is better. That's something that you can build off of from an attitude standpoint because running the football is frankly all about attitude. I'm happy with the progress we're making. If you're looking for an identity, you need to be able to run it week in and week out in the NFL in my opinion. There are going to be days when you're not going to throw it well and days when you aren't going to catch it well. The passing game has dropped off for us a little bit the past couple of weeks, but the ability for us to do both is important.

(What kind of role does Brett have in getting you out of bad plays at the line of scrimmage?)

More traditionally, you call a play and you go up to the line of scrimmage and go 'oh my gosh that's going to be a bad play' and audible. That's not what we're doing. There are usually two or three options built into the play. He's making good decisions, which is probably a better way of stating it, making good decisions and keeping us in a better play, particularly against the defense we just played against because they do have overload schemes. But as far as wholesale audibles, we've done very little of that this year. The part where he's done a great job is that there is a lot more asked of him in the preparation phase of it Wednesday through Saturday to prepare him for that. He's done a very good job of it.

(Is it mostly just switching which side to run or pass?)

We're doing all of that. It depends on the particular week - we could go run-to-run-to pass, or just run-to-run or run-to-pass. We have all those options in our offense.

(Does his experience help? Could a young quarterback grasp this?)

His experience plays into it because he has great recognition of defenses, and he does a good job of getting them to show what they're doing. A lot of it is film study. It's real important for a young quarterback to learn it in their career because if not, you're playing based off the defense instead of being able to take advantage of the defense. His experience plays a big part in it.

(Is it almost like having a coach on the field with Favre?)

Absolutely - I think the quarterback position, regardless of who your quarterback is, needs to be a coach on the field. His understanding needs to be as clean as the coach, particularly the play-caller. I've always felt the play-caller and quarterback need to be on the same page. When you call a play, he has complete understanding why you called it in that particular situation and exercise the proper decision, even moreso with Brett with all the experience he has, it's definitely like having a coach on the field.

(How important is it for him to be so durable?)

I mean his durability is second to none - that's well documented. I believe accountability and availability are two important components of being a successful football team. It's something we preached to our players since day one, and he exemplifies that. He's an accountable individual, his preparation as I've said over and over is better than my past experience with him, and his availability, well he's the best in history, so that's very important.

(Does he come to the line with two or three options every time?)

No, it's not every play.

(Is it a small percentage?)

I've never broken it down, but it depends on home and away, defense you are playing. There are different factors that go into it.

(Is it a number call? A letter call?)

I'd have to kill you if I gave it to you (laughter).

(What do you like about Pope and is it realistic to expect something?)

Well, our scouting department really liked him, and I just had my first experience watching him in practice today. He's an explosive young man, has a nice run style and he puts his foot down. He has a one-cut mentality, which is what we're looking for in our run game. He was pretty stout in the pass protection today in our blitz drills, so I was impressed with him for his first day of practice.

(Did he run the zone scheme in school (at Bowling Green)?)

I couldn't tell you coming out of college. I don't know exactly what they ran.

(With David Martin catching more passes, is it hard to sell to Bubba?)

Well, when you put together a particular game plan, sometimes the ball just doesn't go your way. I don't look at it that way, that (David) has more opportunities than Bubba and I need to sell Bubba the offense. I don't think it's practical in my approach as we put in our offensive game plan. Bubba's done a lot of positive things - his run-blocking is as good as it's been all year. What we ask him to do in pass protection, he hasn't done before, and he's done an excellent job for us. The red zone opportunities he had last week just didn't work out where the ball was thrown to him based on coverage, route or decision of the quarterback. I think players look for opportunities, and I think stats sometimes cloud the reality of what's really going on. The reality of what's going on is Wednesday and Thursday when that game plan goes up on the screen, the players know when their opportunities are going to come and when they're not. I haven't had to sell him anything recently.

(Are you going to practice outside at all this week?)

Anticipate it, yeah, probably tomorrow just based on what the weather brings us.

(Just one day?)

Potentially, I guess Friday there's a state volleyball tournament.

(With where Charles is, do you have to think about moving on to somebody else with punt return?)

Friday. I talked to him about that today, and we'll talk more Friday. We'll see how he is there. But I'd probably caution against it if I had to make a decision today.

(How would you assess the kickoff coverage?)

I thought two weeks ago we were right where we needed to be. We just had the one that came out against Miami, but I think the other three or four were outstanding. We took a step backwards this past week, so that's something we addressed this morning and we need to do a better job of. I think we'll be challenged up in Buffalo this week, because now you may have factors with the weather up there. Their special teams coach in my opinion does a good job. He'll challenge us schematically. Really, if you look at the Buffalo Bills, they're about playing fundamentally sound offense, defense and special teams, and they play with excellent effort, so we definitely need to pick that up.

(How has communication with Brett gotten better?)

I think we have history together and that made that part easier. I think we view the games very similar. I think anytime you go through being a position coach for somebody, and you sit there as a position coach, and everybody's got ideas, and now you get the chance to implement those ideas, and we have a lot of common beliefs in how to attack the defense, so I think that may play into it. But Brett is as coachable a player regardless of his status in the history of this game that I've ever been around. He really is. He wants to win, he wants to do it right, and he has a lot of ideas. Ideas are great, but the final decision, he does it and does it well. He's a very coachable coach's son. We've talked about that all the time. He's a joy to coach.

(Why do you think his interceptions are so sharply down?)

I think when you talk about interceptions from a quarterback's standpoint, the two things he can control are decisions and ball accuracy. I think his decision-making has been good and his ball accuracy has been solid. He's missed a couple throws the last couple weeks I'm sure he'd like to have back, or more in tune with the timing of the route, but we're going to have some of that because we do have some change at the receiver position, and that's part of where we are. But those are the two things as a quarterback you can control, and he's doing a good job with that.

(Was getting that down one of your biggest priorities coming in here?)

Well, I wasn't interested in coaching a quarterback that had that many interceptions. But really as a team, ... it falls under that umbrella. Turning the football over, you can't win that way, whether you're fumbling it, interceptions. That's a focus. We're putting as much focus and energy as we can, we're coming up with different ways of emphasizing it with drills just over and over again, because we emphasized it in training camp and in spring and early in the season, and it wasn't working. We were leading the league there for a couple weeks in giveaways, or tied for it. It's just a major emphasis for our football team, and if you look at the success we've had the last two weeks, we're plus-3, and that has a lot to do with it.

(Have you seen a progression from him in terms of really believing in what you're trying to do offensively?)

I never felt that he didn't buy in. The only thing I felt were hurdles we needed to overcome was the language change, and I felt like we accomplished that with his commitment to the OTAs. Then through training camp we had some bumps in the road. Frankly, I gave in on a number of things, and in hindsight it was probably just me being hard-headed because I had done it since '89 that way, where Jeff Jagodzinski and guys that had been here before have done it the same way Brett's done it, so OK, fine, that's 5-to-1, I lost, so we do it that way. That's all good and healthy. But the biggest challenge I've seen with Brett is more with the language. It's never been about the plays, because we've gone back to concepts that he has a lot of history in, he has a lot of reps in, he's seen it over and over again. In my experience with quarterback play, give them something they've seen over and over again, and they'll get the ball to the right guy. I learned that at a young age. Don't think of plays, think of players. In times of crisis, Marty Schottenheimer would say, and I hate to keep quoting Marty all the time, but he used to say it all the time, in times of crisis, think of players, not of plays. And if you're going to put the ball in that guy's hand, give him something he's done over and over again, and I think that's what we've done from a starting point in our offense.

(How much does your knowledge of the players, getting to know them, influence the game-planning, play-calling?)

I think every coach goes through that with his players as the season goes on, particularly young players, particularly players you haven't competed against, how players handle injuries, some react differently than others. All those things are part of the process of going through a season. I always refer to it as keeping your finger on the pulse of the football team. Really, that's a big part of my job, knowing when to push the right button at the right time. That's a big part of coaching and your decision-making responsibilities.

(Has Scott Wells been as consistent as anyone up front?)

Yes. Absolutely. I've said this before about him, it reminds me growing up with my father. When he didn't say anything to me, I knew I was having a hell of a day. That's how Scott Wells is. We haven't talked about Scott playing the center position since the spring, when he was proclaimed the next starter. He has been so consistent, the operation up front has been as smooth as any center I've been around. I've been fortunate to have a lot of veteran centers that I've coached in the past. We're very pleased with the performance and steadiness he has given us at that position.

{sportsad300}(Do you have a feel for where Hodge and Jenkins are with their injuries?)

Hodge practiced today, limited. Cullen felt a lot better this morning than he did Friday and Saturday, so he's making progress. I'm hoping Cullen can go this week. I'm holding out hope. I've been hopeful a few times and been wrong, but I'm optimistic he'll go. And Hodge is coming along.

(Would Favre ever make a good coach if he wanted to do that?)

He has too much money, he's too smart to get into coaching. But yeah, he's coaching those young guys every day, whether he realizes it or not. Just to sit there and watch those young guys hang onto every word he says, that's part of it. Ingle Martin is getting an education of a lifetime right now, and he knows. He just sucks it all in, and he needs to. That's how we all learn. That's how I learned as a young coach, and it's a great experience for both Aaron and Ingle.

(You look at great QBs in the league - Marino, Montana, Young - generally don't go into coaching. Can you put your finger on why?)

Like I said, they don't have to go work 20 hours a day.

(Is there any downside to matching up Harris against the best receiver?)

I don't think there's anything you lose, not in my opinion. When you can take a playmaker out of the game from your opponent, that's a plus. Unless I'm missing something. I'm trying to learn to, trying to grow at this position, if there's something to learn, tell me.

(Is that something you see yourself doing the rest of the season?)

It's an option, and it's an option that has worked out very well. There's other factors involved in that too, but I know Al likes to go about it that way, and that's great. When you can just go and shut a guy down like he's done, that's a great option to have.

(How confident are you in the run game this week with the guys who have gone down?)

Very confident. We talked about it again today, it's going to be the Packers against the Bills, and we're going to run the football. It doesn't matter who's back there. That's the way you have to play. Running the football is about attitude, and that's the attitude we need to take from last week into this week, and continue to build off it. We're very confident with the runners, the fullback and the line, everybody involved in the running game to run the football.

(What have you seen Bob Sanders doing differently or adjustments he's made?)

I think Bob's biggest strength, and it's something that was very evident when I first met him and went through the interview process, he just stays the course. He's a very consistent person, as far as the way he comes to work, the way he carries himself. He's put in extra hours. He's just really stayed the course. He has a scheme he believes in, he has a scheme he's been a part of that's been successful, and he knows what the adjustments are to the problems before they happen, and that's what you want as a player, and that's what I was looking for in a coordinator. I think he's an excellent communicator, but his consistency and the way he's stayed the course I think is a big part of why we're seeing that thing turn.

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