Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 10

(What's the severity of Nick Barnett's injury?)

We've lost Nick Barnett for the season because of a ligament tear in his knee. Just got the word here about a half-hour ago. He's very disappointed. It's unfortunate, but we need to have the other guys step up.

(An ACL I take it?)

He has a ligament tear. If he wants to tell you which one, he can tell you.

(What's the timeline?)

He's out for the season. We haven't discussed that yet. There's an operation that has to occur and so forth. That hasn't been scheduled. I spoke to him briefly for about 10 minutes.

(Does Bishop go into that spot or do you move Hawk to the middle?)

Well, that's what we're talking about. We talked about it a little bit as a defensive staff this morning, the potentials. Obviously Desmond Bishop, A.J. Hawk, and Brandon Chillar also factors into that too. We'll probably make that call tomorrow.

(The first play Bishop had after Barnett went out, is that a tough play for a guy coming in cold or does he have to make that play?)

Chester Taylor was on the check-down, and that was his coverage responsibility. There are some other things we probably could have done better on that particular play. But that's obviously, he's probably the second or third option in the route progression.

(Have you gotten a further explanation on the illegal forward pass or will you seek a further explanation?)

I don't need further explanation. I was quoted I'm sure what I was told on the field yesterday. That's what the referees told me. It's still an infraction in the end zone, regardless of how they officiated it. That's where it's at from my standpoint.

(So it's a safety either way, whether it's grounding or an illegal forward pass?)

Correct. I was told, and I told you exactly what I said yesterday. I was told it was an unnatural throwing motion by the quarterback which resulted in the penalty.

(Does that make sense, though? What if he completes the pass?)

I asked that question. It's OK. That's the communication I was part of.

(Are there any decisions or play calls you wish you had back?)

Why don't you be more specific.

(Like the way you handled the plays before the field goal, or throwing the ball with less than a minute left in the half on your own 9-yard line? Do you second-guess any of those?)

I don't second-guess myself on the 2-minute part of it. Frankly we didn't do the job that we expected to do in pass protection. I think that's well-documented. Everybody saw the game yesterday. You can just go up there to two years ago, or a year ago, and we were in a similar situation, and the result was positive. I don't have any problem with that. In every football game you're looking for matchups. We do things particularly in the passing game to try to create matchups, because we feel we have a very good perimeter passing game, and particularly our perimeter players are very good players with the ball in their hands. That's why we did some of the things we did in the passing game. As far as the end of the game, my mindset was clear. I was trying to get a first down and take all the time off the clock. It was as simple as that. As far as the plays that were called, the first down call was a very similar play that we ran here at home in the opening game when Ryan Grant went 50 yards, or however far he went. I don't have a problem. Third down call I was expecting pressure. I wasn't expecting empty pressure. They brought empty pressure, we threw hot. And I'd kick that field goal with Mason Crosby 10 out of 10 times, and I'm confident that he'd make it 10 out of 10 times. I wasn't worried about the distance based on the information that was given, that's given every week, as far as where his range was from. He kicked the ball extremely well in pre-game. But yeah, definitely, you'd like to be closer. There's no doubt about it. We were planning to get the first down on that series, but I was also planning to get the first down and take all the time off the clock. That was my goal.

(Were the protection problems a factor in your thinking there? Because you can't have a sack, right?)

Well, let's go the other way. Let's take a positive. Maybe your protection is positive, you don't want an incomplete pass. You want to keep that clock moving. I think I've answered the question. My thought was to get a first down and empty the clock out, and kick the field goal and walk off the field. But we did not accomplish that.

(Is there a shot down the field on that last play, the third-and-7?)

Is there a shot? There's an alert part of that play, yes. There's an opportunity to go down the field there. But he went empty pressure, though. He emptied it out. When they go empty pressure, they have one more than you have in the pass protection part of it, and we threw hot.

(Is that the right guy?)

Yeah, he has hot responsibilities on both sides.

(Did the constant pressure deny you the opportunity to stretch it deep early in the game?)

I'll say this guys. You can sit here and dissect it all you want. And I'd love to tell you the play-calling was just flat awful. You can blame it on me. I'd be all for it. But I don't think that's the case, especially after viewing the film. I think defensively, just to give you my overview here, defensively I thought we played outstanding from a turnover standpoint, to generate the number of turnovers that we did in the game and put the offense in position to score points, and they scored points, I thought they did a very good job. Frankly I think the offense needs to play much better to keep the defense off the field, because I think it factored in the run defense. As far as the run defense, we won the down percentage-wise more than we have been, so we're improving in that area, but it's the explosive gains. We had five explosive gains in the run game. That was a big factor in the game. Special teams I thought we played very well. The coverage units played well. We had the big return. But the punting wasn't what it needs to be. Offensively, we were 1 out of 11 on third down. That's a big factor in the game, particularly when five of them are third-and-11-plus. Those things add up on you, and that's the reality of the game. We had a chance to win the game in the end, we did not. I understand how this works. You get to swing all the way to the right when you win, and you want me to swing all the way to the left when we lose. I'm not going to do that. We were one play away from winning the game. For as many things that went wrong in the game, there were many things that went right. It's tough when you're on the road, particularly in division games. A lot of emotion goes on in this football game. I was proud of the way our team played. Unfortunately, I hate to sound like a broken record, but we were one play away from being successful yesterday. We need to get ready to learn from it today. We'll go in there and watch the film when I get done here, and we'll move on to Chicago

(With the versatility on the O-line, do you consider any personnel changes there?)

We're going to watch the film together, and then we'll make it loud and clear on the things we need to do better, and the things that we can build off of. As far as making changes and things like that, that's not for today. Those are things I think we've shown in the past, we're going to do what's in the best interests of our football team and give us the best chance to win, and that's the way we'll go about it this week as we get ready for Chicago.

(After playing so efficiently the first 7-8 weeks, how do you explain Rodgers not pulling the trigger on some of those throws and holding the ball too long?)

I haven't talked to Aaron yet, I haven't watched the film on him yet. I think it's important to always go through that process. There's communication on the boundary, as far as with the pictures, and then you watch the whole thing, there are some things that are cleaner now as far as what happened as opposed to what you thought happened. But I'm not going to make excuses for Aaron. He did not have his best game. He can definitely play better. It's a learning experience for him. It's his first opportunity under the gun up in that dome. That's probably the loudest venue that we'll play in. It's a credit to the way they generate the crowd noise there. I think the fact that our fans were there, they did a great job. They stepped up to the plate a number of times for us, particularly in the fourth quarter. The only problem with that is I think it makes their crowd get a little louder. It's his first experience in that environment, and he needs to learn from it.

(After seeing him struggle in the first half with the pass rush, did you consider closing it up a bit?)

I'm comfortable with the way the game was called. I really am. If that's your opinion that's fine. I don't agree with it.

(I'm just asking if that was a consideration.)

Just to close it? What do you mean, close it down?

(Like going max protect to give him more protection instead of four wides.)

Max protection is more about numbers. We have the ability to help particular people in the protection scheme. Those things were in place. If you feel that you are struggling at the tackle position, we have things built into our scheme that help the tackle. We have things built into our scheme that help the guard. Those were all evident there yesterday. They do a good job of getting their linebackers up in the gaps and try to force you to go man as much as possible, but I was fine with the way the game was called.

(Did you think the pressure got to Aaron, that getting hit that many times affected how he played and the decisions he made?)

I don't think any quarterback...the amount of pressure was too much. It's a challenge to keep battling to play above that. If you look at the way he played in the second half, he actually played better in the second half than he did in the first half. His grades illustrate that. The one thing that is disappointing for me from an offensive focus and emphasis this week was the ability to start fast, and we did not do that. Our tempo was not what it needed to be to start the game as far as getting in and out of the huddle, just the way we started the first series. We emphasize it all week and we didn't do it. So we need to go back and emphasize it again in a different way and we'll continue to do that. We've got to start the game faster. I thought our defense the first half played one of their better halves of football.

(How much did field position early hurt you?)

The field position was just so overwhelming in favor of Minnesota. It never helps you. It's just like the Will Blackmon has the great return, but his decision to try to make a play on the one punt. There is a big difference when you call plays on the minus-9 than the 20-yard line. It's a whole different situation. It goes in the situation of being backed up as opposed to being on the 20-yard line and you are in the normal down and distance flow. Field position is big when you are backed up inside their 15, inside their 10 all of the time. It factors into the game. We made mistakes in the backed-up end and it resulted in two safeties for their defense.

(Do you have a set rule on a play like that, like if it's beyond the 10 you let it bounce?)

Yeah, we have a marking with that. It's something that is practiced. Obviously there are other factors involved, but that is how most people do it.

(What is that marking?)

I'm not going to tell you.

(Was the punter pressured much?)

I didn't think so. No, I didn't think that. I thought our punt protection and punt coverage, I really thought the coverage units performed well. I really thought our special teams outside of the actual punting played very well.

(When you look at Frost, the first game against Minnesota he was exactly what you wanted. What has happened to him since that first game?)

It's just like anything we do. I'm a big believer in preparation and that's our structure. You go back and you prepare every player the best you can. He had a very good week. I don't know if you guys watched pre-game, he had a great pre-game. Now how that transfers to the game, every player goes through it. We need to try to do a better job in that transformation. I can't tell you why. I wish we would have punted better.

(Are you going to stick with him?)

Personnel decisions, we don't ever do that here in front of a microphone.

(What do you think you'll do with Barnett's roster spot?)

We have talked about a couple of things. We'll see what happens. There is definitely some options out there, but I really don't have anything from a personnel standpoint for you here.

(Will it be a linebacker or not necessarily?)

We have a couple of different options position-wise.

(The protection, other than yesterday, has it been up to your standards for the season?)

Our protection problems really have come in bunches, and that's something that really falls back into as I talked about earlier about tempo. Any time you have a negative play, we had seven negative plays and eight penalties, so technically we had 15 negative plays. That's very hard to overcome as an offense. Ours have come in bunches. You hit that part where it doesn't go good, we need to clean it up and move on. We've had some games where the protection has just been outstanding. We were an excellent protection team in the past but we are just kind of having spurts in games where we just need to overcome the one negative play. We have been kind of a little inconsistent in the pass protection for the season.

(How come Hunter was down?)

Just a combination of defensive responsibility and special teams. He has been a core player for us on special teams, but those are all of the decisions of being healthy. We had all 53 guys practice last week, so there were a couple of really tough decisions to make frankly. You go one way or the other based on particular matchups you have on the offensive or defensive side of the ball, and really the true factor that makes the final decision for you is the special teams responsibility.

(Did you like what you got out of the five wides the plays you used it?)

Not really. We didn't get the ball distributed probably as much as we would have liked. I thought it was something we talked about before3 the game. The thing about five wides, go back to the down and distance too, we just never got into a rhythm because of the favorable down and distance, whether because of the negative play or whether it was a penalty. Five wides we feel gives us a personnel matchup advantage somewhere across the board.

(When you looked at the film, were there opportunities to get the ball downfield if Aaron had more time?)

Those are all hypotheticals. To run the ball, you've got to run block. You've got to run block on the first level and the second level and the runner has to make the right decisions, and the same thing on throwing the football. You've got to pass protect. It all starts there first. Everything we do starts with pass protection. We don't walk into the pass game meetings and throw out great ideas because they look good and we think we can get this guy or get that guy. Everything we do starts with pass protection first. You ask every one of our players and they will tell you 'protection first.' We did not do a very good job of it yesterday and those are the facts.

(In nine games you've been penalized 655 yards, almost 75 yards per game. Anything deeper than focus and discipline to clean that up?)

Focus and discipline is your opinion. I answer this question every time. I understand when the penalties are high you want to talk about them. You've got to look at them, you've got to look at the film. Are they mental errors? Are they pre-snap penalties? Unacceptable. The way we train our players, the way we practice them, everybody knows that. Now, you have your combative penalties, whether it be holding or defensive holding, contact and things like that, there is judgment to that. Do I agree with every call that the referees make? No, but it's part of the game. I can't control it, but we're always going to err on the side of being more aggressive and the players know that. Now, are we making combative penalties and there is poor judgment involved? Then we need to fix those. Now you can talk about focus and discipline. I don't think we have that problem.

{sportsad300}(Did you get caught in a bad defense on the Peterson TD run?)


(Where was Woodson going on that play?)

We were in man coverage. Every gap is covered, to answer your question. I'm not going to nickel and dime specifics here for you today.

(You run a pretty tight ship around here, so what do you do to eliminate the bad penalties?)

I think I have already answered the question. I don't think we have a poor judgment, combative penalty problem. I don't. We have an overhead that goes up every week and every penalty that occurs in a game, the player's name is by it and it falls into a category. The ones that need to be corrected are corrected and the ones we feel that there is judgment involved, we address that. When it is not right it is corrected. So it's all part of football. I'm disappointed that we didn't win the game but I am really on to Chicago. It was a tough, divisional game, a lot of emotion involved in it. Sometimes penalties are a little higher in these types of games if you look at history. We won't apologize for that. That's just the way we play.

(After Collins came back from the toe thing, were you rotating safeties there?)

We talked about having Aaron ready because Aaron has played well with his opportunities. It was just more on...I know Nick was kind of up and down with the toe. He gutted it out and obviously had the big play with the interception return.

(Any other injuries?)

We had Nick Barnett, we talked about him. Jarrett Bush had an ankle sprain, so he's going to be challenged to play this week. Brandon Chillar, we're running tests on his shoulder to find out exactly where he is. So I'll have more information Wednesday when I am in here. Nick Collins, he had the toe sprain, but he did return. Those are the four that I have for you.

(When you look at these last seven weeks, how much margin for error do you have?)

No one wants to hear it, and I don't want to keep standing up here and saying it. Your opponent is making one more play more than you are. Those are things we need to stay focused on. That's what we're not getting done. We're not making enough plays to win the games. Is that one play the kick or is that one play the touchdown that is a false start? Those are the things that you need to look at, so we need to stay focused. I don't want our team to swing all the way to the left and think, oh. We're very close. We feel we have a good football team. I love the way they work. I think they play the game the right way, but we need to do some things better and that will be our challenge as we move forward. We've got a big opportunity coming here this week with Chicago coming. It's all about Chicago for us right now. Everybody knows what the standings are and everybody knows everybody else's record, so there is a lot of football left. We've got to keep working to get better. I thought our football team improved during the course of the week. I'm disappointed that we didn't carry the practice over to the game because I thought they had a great week of preparation. I'm disappointed for them because I thought they put in what you need to put into it to be victorious. We didn't get that done, but that's the NFL. It's tough to win a game in this business. You guys all know that. You don't' really want to sit here and listen to me talk about it. You're probably saying, 'I wish he would shut up so I can go on to the next question.' But that's the reality of where we are at. We've got to make more plays to win games.

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