Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 12

OK, I'll give you the injury update from the game. Mark Tauscher has an ankle sprain. He'll probably miss some practice time this week. Cullen Jenkins had a knee bruise, he may miss some practice time this week. And Tracy White had an ankle sprain going into the game, and we'll probably hold him until Friday. So with that I'll take your questions.

(Could Tauscher have gone back into the game?)

Yes he could have.

(Are you surprised at the emergence of Ryan Grant?)

Ryan Grant was someone our personnel department had been watching. I know with the whole group of running backs in New York, they felt there was a lot of depth there throughout the preseason. I really liked his running style when he was presented to the offensive staff, and he really fits what we're doing. He runs downhill, he's a one-cut mentality. I've been impressed, I didn't really know that he was as effective as he's been on the second level. It's nice when you get young players, when you give them opportunities, because Ryan is only going to improve. I've been impressed with what he's done with his opportunities, and I look forward to moving forward with him.

(Do you see the similarities with Dorsey Levens?)

Dorsey was a little bigger, and Ryan is still young enough with the strength and conditioning program here, I think he could probably put on some size. But as far as their frame, their history, their background, as far as where he played college, there are a lot of similarities. Brett said it the first week he was here, that's the closest body type he's seen compared to Dorsey Levens.

(Grant's a quiet guy, he doesn't say a whole lot does he?)

I think he's beyond his years as far as his professionalism. He has a veteran's presence to him, very smart, does a very good job of communicating. We started him out on special teams earlier in the year, and tried to give him a role at the running back position, and he handled that very well. Edgar Bennett told me from day one that he picked up the system right away. They're all not as quiet as you think they are, but I like his personality. He's a good teammate.

(How did Rouse fare yesterday?)

I thought Aaron had a solid game. He graded out, you look at the communication, his alignments, he did a good job with that. He was competitive when he had the opportunities. The negative was, I think it was three tackles where he needs to wrap up. We thought he played solid in his first opportunity. The defense as a whole I thought played outstanding. We had some missed tackles there down the stretch. But Aaron Rouse, we thought he had a solid performance, and something we can build off of.

(When you were here before, did Brett spread it around to so many different receivers?)

Are you asking did he do that in '99? He threw for a lot of yards that year, I do remember that. I don't recall going eight, nine, 10 week in and week out. Because I know Schroeder and Freeman were both over 1,000 that year receiving, and Dorsey Levens was a 1,000-yard back. Just with that, their productivity was probably not as spread out, because we had lost Mark Chmura that year to the neck injury. I would say no, just thinking off the top of my head. But we're playing a little different than we did back then. There was an established run game here. Sherman (Lewis) was going to go a little more vertical than they did in the past. Still a very productive offense in '99.

(How healthy is that for your offense?)

Extremely healthy. What I told the offense at halftime, the productivity was excellent, we just didn't have enough points on the board. We had two throws in that first quarter that if we hit either one of them, it's potentially a 21-0 game. And that's what you're looking for. I think Brett and the receiver group has done an excellent job in the three- and five-step, and with that we've been given some opportunities to go vertical, go deep, whether it's inside or outside, and we have been productive in the last three or four weeks. We had the post there to Donald early that he had missed, and Greg had the inside slant there that he had dropped. But other than that, I thought they played at a very high level in the passing game. When you're able to control the clock for 40 minutes and you're throwing the ball that much, I think it's a tribute to the offense, not only the perimeter but the protection.

(Will Brett need to take the concussion test after that hit he took?)

I just checked on him, they said he checked out fine. He's not even on the medical list.

(How do you go about handling success?)

These times for me, I don't want to say easy, they're on the forefront of my mindset when I talk to the football team. Frankly, I can go right back to the first speech that I had given this football team and go right to the first page of the powerpoint, and just throw that up there on occasion. The first thing I told the football team that spring was the biggest challenge that we'll have here is handling success. That's something I talk about a lot. Just be honest with them. I'm going to tell them Wednesday they played a hell of a game. We played very well in that football game. There are some things we're going to clean up, but then we'll move on to Carolina. And we've already moved on to Carolina in my view. I think it's important just to be real. I'm not a psychology major, don't pretend to be one. You just have to keep your finger on the pulse of the football team.

(Why is it so challenging to handle success?)

Right here, you guys help us out a ton, one way or the other. I think it's human nature when people are throwing you flowers and saying a lot of nice things, you can kind of take a step back and have an attitude of trying to smell the roses. The roses in my opinion don't come until after Glendale, Arizona. And that's been our outlook since day one. I'm sure it's the outlook of every NFL team when they start the season. One step at a time, we have Carolina coming in here, but we're also aware of the short week going into Detroit and that will really affect how we prepare for this football game from a scheduling and repetition standpoint. We're just taking it one at a time.

(Why is it more of a challenge than handling adversity?)

Because, I'm not an expert, but in my opinion, I think to be a professional football player, you clearly have an innate ability to survive, to overcome. Because they would never make it in that meeting room or that locker room if they didn't have some high level of ability to survive, to overcome. Just to be a professional football player, I have the utmost respect, because I never played the game at this level. So I think that's part of their makeup. They're always going to step up when their backs are to the wall. But some people don't have the success through their careers. Some people have success in college, some people don't. So when it's new, everybody handles new situations differently. You can go one way or the other.

(You were taking over a 4-12 team, it was your first head-coaching job, and your roster was going really young, what made you think you'd have success to even worry about?)

I believed in the plan, I believed in the vision, I believe in this organization. I had the opportunity to work here before in 1999. That's the way I started from day one. You're given an opportunity to coach for the Green Bay Packers, you have all the resources that you need, you have no excuses. And I think it's important that everybody in that locker room is held accountable to that. That's the way we started, and that's the way we'll go every day. We're going to be successful, and we need to handle that. Because in my opinion, that's where failure comes in, when guys don't handle success the right way.

(Is the plan here for Ted to give you players you have to plug in, or is he getting players specifically to fit your system?)

Ted Thompson and I talk about the depth chart at least once a week. We went back and had a philosophical discussion on what we were going to do schematically, and with that, have the ability to take advantage of variations of personnel. I think sometimes you can lock yourself into only going just one way as far as players, because you may miss out on a great player because you say he just doesn't fit your system. Some players fit certain systems and some players fit others. I'm not saying that's not the case. I would clearly say Ted Thompson and I are on the same page as far as how we're building this football team.

(Is that a significant reason for where you're at right now?)

A significant reason? Absolutely. We have a lot of character in that locker room. We have young talent. Hey, we didn't have this all figured out when we came out of training camp, there's no doubt about it. We were finding ways to win and keep working to improve the areas we needed to improve, and that's a reflection of where we are as far as our youth and the combination with the veterans. You have to point to the personnel department for giving you those type of players because we have a number of players that will continue to improve as the season goes on. Now it gets tougher here because you get into the later part of your season, you don't get the padded reps and the practice environment that you may want. But yeah, I think it's a direct reflection of the personnel department.

(How did the guards grade out on film, and was their response enough for you to settle on your two guards for the rest of the season?)

I thought they played well. I thought they handled the whole process of what we went through and the way we went about the practice reps. We haven't really talked about how we'll move forward. But I was pleased with the way they played. And once again, we're going to need all those guys. It was evident in the game. Mark Tauscher went (out) and Allen Barbre went in and played OK. He did a pretty good job. It was good to get him some experience that we can build off of there. We'll just continue to work those guys, but I was happy with the way Daryn and Jason played.

(Is your goal to have the same five guys every week?)

You'd like to, you'd like to. But if you look at our situation, Jason Spitz, Daryn Colledge, Tony Moll and Junius Coston, you're looking at a number of players that are all from an experience standpoint at very similar points in their career. So the combination, ideally yes, you'd like to have five. But that's not a position we're in right now.

(How was the run game in the second half?)

We had some things we could do better. We had too many negative runs. We had the course the one time where the back and the quarterback collided and lost yardage there, and we had the breakdown on the one run-blocking, as far as the perimeter blocking, that resulted in, that was a heck of a run by Brandon just to keep his balance on that play. We had a couple checks by the quarterback that probably should have went the other way. When you're a one-back run game mindset and you're in a four-minute offense situation, it's a little bit of a challenge. You prepare for it. But that's the first time we've been in that situation going four-minute offense out of one back. We could have done a better job there.

(Are you going to practice for Detroit this week too?)

No, we'll prepare for Carolina strictly with the players this week. But the coaching staff will spend Friday and Saturday working on Detroit.

(Last year after the Patriots game, did you ever question where this was going?)

I never questioned the plan. There were some tough moments. It makes me think of the phone call I received from Marvin Lewis when I was 1-4, something I appreciated. I saw him later at the Combine and we kind of kidded about it. I told him I was under the desk when the phone rang. I had to reach up and pick it up. Just kidding, obviously. No, I never questioned it, because the evidence was there. I think it's important as you do build your program, whatever scheme you're in, what you're trying to accomplish, to stay with the mindset of stacking successes. You may get tired of hearing it, but when you have something positive happen, keep building on it. And it's something you can refer to all the time. I'm not asking these players to do anything they haven't accomplished yet. There's not a play they haven't run already that they have done successfully. There's not a technique or a position we've put them in they haven't been able to be successful. So when it doesn't go right, you refer back to that. It's positive reinforcement every chance you get.

(Did you know Marvin Lewis?)

Marv, yeah. Worked with him in the past, yes.

(What did he say? Just keep your chin up?)

Actually he called me, after the first win is when it was. He just said hey, you're doing it the right way, and you'll appreciate it more because he says trust me, all these guys that are winning a bunch of games in their first year as a head coach, he says they're in for a tough rude awakening. Because he says you'll appreciate it more when you have to earn it like you did. That's very true.

(Why did you have Martin active instead of Bodiford?)

Ruvell Martin has played very well for us when he's had his opportunities, but he was primarily used more on offense. So when I did not make him active in Kansas City, we had a conversation, and it really started a couple weeks before that. I just told him you need to do more on special teams if you're going to play, and he's really picked it up. H e had a little back injury there a couple weeks ago. He's fought through that. He's done a really good job with his opportunities offensively dating back to last year. With that was one element. The other was five wide receivers was a big part of how we were going to go after the Minnesota Vikings defense, and we felt better about Ruvell.

(What do you call the five-wide?)

Big Five.

(What matchup problems does that create?)

It's really about matchups. Conceptually, you're doing a lot of the same things that you do in the other spread formations, but it's clearly for the benefit of matchups. You go back to the Kansas City game, the biggest play in that game was a favorable matchup, with Greg Jennings down the middle of the field.

{sportsad300}(Favre had that throw from his knees. Any opinion on that?)

I haven't coached that. We haven't worked on that. It's not advised. Minus footwork, if you want to know what his grade was.

(That was two plays after he got hit in the head. Were you worried about him?)

I can talk to him, and he kept saying he was OK. Ryan Grant, I spoke to him right after the play, told him to go look in his eyes, see if he was OK. But he said he was fine. I don't think it had anything to do with him getting hit in the head. You'd like to think it would. You'd like to give him a mulligan there.

(Through 25 games you're 16-9, better than any coach who's ever been here. Do you feel pretty good about what you've done after 25 games?)

I feel good about where we are this year. To me, last year was a year to rebuild a foundation that we were able to build off of this year. That's the way I view it. Those records, those are nice. I think they're nice when you get to Brett Favre's point in his career. I'm sure he'll appreciate them when he's done. My focus is on winning the world's championship. That will always be the focus regardless of how many games it takes to get there through the regular season and so forth. Because when you win championships, everything else takes care of itself.

(Does practice change this week because of next week?)

Correct. I'm going to go with the same practice schedule this week that I went with coming off the game last week. We're going to go shells on Wednesday, cut down the padded work. We'll probably go normal Thursday and normal Friday.

(With all the offseason work and the day off in training camp, did you sense the guys buying into your program?)

I think they clearly bought into it some time ago, and it was a very simple formula. I stood up and told them we have that much work to do. We can either do this much in the spring, that much in training camp to get ready for the season. Or we can do that much in training camp, this much in the spring. I want to do this much in the spring, here's the plan. With that, that's the way we went, and I think they definitely see the benefits of it. I think our communication, just in the spring compared to the season, was so much better. I'm talking about defensively, offensively with the protection recognition, the blitz pickup. And all that is a credit to our offseason work. Because last year you come to work, it was like where do I line up, how are we going to beat these guys, what are we going to do? When they come here Wednesday, it's what do we have to do this week? What are we using this week? And that's where you need to be as a football team. That's the only way you improve.

(Bush took a lot of heat after the first Vikings game. How did he do this time?)

He graded out well. He had a good game. Once again, he's been very, very solid for us. Getting better as the season went on defensively. An excellent player on the special teams. I thought our coverage unit was excellent. Just had the one kickoff that they bounced out there for the one return that got away from us. But I think Jarrett has done a great job. I just love the way he plays. He's a tough, improving young corner. I think he has a very bright future ahead of him. He's just so competitive, and he fits what we're trying to do at the corner position.

(How much of your success against the run is due to Ryan Pickett?)

He's a big part of it, and Johnny Jolly, and the fact you had nine defensive linemen yesterday. We only had 44 plays on defense. The film this morning was 2 1/2 hours for the offense. It took us an hour to get through the defensive film. Those guys do a great job of staying square. You can see they really have hit their stride, the rhythm, the rotation, and just the calls, the different stunts. It seems the operation is so much smoother this year. I think Ryan Pickett is having an excellent year.

(Is Brandon Jackson finding a little niche in your offense?)

I think Brandon is getting better. He just needs opportunities. This is probably the first time I've said this. He probably was compromised from getting all the reps in training camp, because he never really got to zero in on a certain role in our offense. Because he did everything. Everybody else was hurt during training camp. He also played very well in his opportunities on special teams. So Brandon just needs an opportunity. He's another young player that's done a good job with his opportunities.

(Do you see that expanding a little bit, using him more?)

I like the way the rotation is going right now. Vernand Morency has been productive with his opportunities. Brandon is doing a good job. Vernand and Brandon both played well, they graded out with positive grades on the special teams, and Ryan is our feature back.

(Will Coston be able to practice more this week?)

I'll know Wednesday. He has that ankle sprain, and we thought he was close last week. We'll see where he is Wednesday morning.

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