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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 13

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


(How's Tauscher doing?)

We just got his MRI back, he'll be doubtful. His groin, it's sore. We're going to give him through Thursday, take a look at him Thursday. He will be doubtful for the game, 25 percent. So he's slim to none to play this week.

(Will you go with the same offensive line that finished the game?)

Probably, with Tony. Yes.

(How's Bodiford?)

Bodiford will be out. Whatever the bone was, but he has a significant injury, so we'll get more information on him from Dr. McKenzie, but he'll be out for the game. It probably is (broken). I don't have all the information. That's something we'll decide (if it's season-ending) in the next couple of days.

(Is the team buying into what you wanted them to?)

I think like any football team you set a course, particularly this last month I think we are a football team that has been playing very well. Particularly going into this game, the emphasis was we need to finally play our best football as a football team in all three phases. Like I said yesterday, I thought that we did that. I just think you're seeing the dividends pay off. I think this group works extremely hard. I think their attention to detail and preparation is very good. I think you're now reaching a point where we're starting to get in a groove. Now we played a very physical football game, we knew that going in. Being a rivalry football game, we have a number of guys that are nicked and beat up, and we need to take care of our bodies this week as we move forward for New England. But I think what you're seeing is a group, yeah some of them are young, but the continuity, the regularity in going through the schedule, the preparation, and really the way they go out and compete on Sundays, it really started Wednesday in practice in the padded segments of practice. I thought they were extremely physical and their preparation is carrying over to their performance. I think that's important, and that's what you look for when you create a structure, and that's what you look for from a coaching standpoint, and we're accomplishing that week in and week out, particularly the last four weeks.

(Will Morency and Miree be able to play?)

We're going to work them hard tomorrow in the rehab. I'm hopeful they'll go to questionable. But they're both going to work out tomorrow extensively.

(With New England, is there any sense of comparing yourself to the team that has set the standard recently in this league?)

I think when you look at their overall program there's things that you admire. But when you get to this point in the season, as far as competing against them on the game field, they're different than we are from their approach defensively. They're different than we are in their approach probably offensively. There are some things you look to learn from because they definitely have set the standard here of late. But this game here is going to come down to where we're both at at this point in the season. We are who we are and they are who they are, and that's how we'll approach this football game.

(How did Moll do in Tauscher's place?)

I thought he played OK. He had the one look on the defensive front that he didn't adjust very well to. But I thought he was solid. Particularly, we threw the ball a bunch down the stretch there, and that's never easy just to jump right into that, but I thought he was OK.

(Is he more comfortable at one of his positions -- guard or tackle?)

I think his natural position is tackle. I say it over and over again, we couldn't avoid it, but when you move young linemen around, that's really a disadvantage for really any player in their positions. And we've moved Tony all over the place because once you're not the starter, that's kind of the role you fall into. But his natural position is right tackle, and I think it will be in his best interests if he is probably going to play this week that he takes all the reps there. Because for young guys to move around that much, that's difficult. I went through it last year and we're going through it again this year. I think you'll see him settle down and play better when he gets to stay in one place for a while.

(How did you exploit the middle of the field against Minnesota?)

That's something that was part of our game planning. Really, the players executed it and just carried it out, without getting into specifics of it. But we focused on throwing the football with different concepts and we were able to attack the middle of the field for some big gains, and that's really a product of the players executing the plays.

(Did the illegal block on the kickoff return help that go for a touchdown?)

It was part of it. I'm glad they called it, and we'll just leave it at that. He was in position to potentially make the play, yes, Jarrett was.

(Can you expand on the comments you made to Peter King about Brett's future?)

Yeah I'd like to expand on it. Number one, i I opened the door for that type of scenario, I need to close it. That was not the intent of my conversation. We talked about Brett Favre as far as the way he's playing this year, we're excited about the way he's playing. We referred to I think he has plenty of gas in his tank, and he could play another couple years if he wants to. But those are postseason topics. I know he doesn't want the distraction, our football team doesn't need it, and if I opened the door, I need to close it. There's no need to go there anymore.

(How would you evaluate Jennings' performance, producing when he plays hurt a little?)

He's done so many positive things. I sound like a broken record, but he's come in and played so consistent for a young guy. He's done that week in and week out. Now he's crossed another hurdle that all pro football players have to jump over and that's to play with injury. For him to play as fast as he has on this ankle I think tells you a lot about him. He just has the ability to separate, has a very good understanding of what's asked of him. He's got excellent hands, and he just has outstanding awareness, particularly on the play to Donald. We've got ball security issues and we're flipping the ball all over the place, so that's another topic. But I can't say enough positive things about him. Just for him to be out there and compete I think says a lot about his character and his will. But very talented young man.

(Did he get a talking to about the lateral?)

That's a conversation for another time. They're off today.

(Do you expect Tauscher to lobby to be able to play on Sunday?)

I expect Mark to do everything he can to get on the field, just from my short time with him this year. It's a pretty good groin injury, and we'll see how a couple days of rest do for him. We'll have more information by the end of the week.

(Do you think this team has a legitimate shot to make the playoffs?)

Absolutely. I believe that every year. I think every team has a makeup from talent to character, the scheduling, injury. There's so many factors that go into the course of a football season, and if you're able to stay the course and stay true to who you are, and have a good plan and execute the plan, you definitely have a chance. There's a lot of football left to play. This is a big game, this is a huge game. It's at home. We'll have to get back to 5-5 and we'll be right in the middle of it. So yes, I think we have an excellent chance.

(Did you foresee that possibility early in the season after those first two games?)

I'm the wrong guy to probably answer that question because every NFL season I've walked into, I've always felt we had a chance to win the Super Bowl. I think there's a path to get there. Some may have an easier path to get there than others, but there's only one goal and that will always be the goal as we move forward. We're going to do everything we can to win this game and just keep stacking successes like we talked about earlier and be in position to get in the playoffs.

(How many times did Favre elude the rush yesterday? Is that not normal for a 37-year-old quarterback to do?)

I think when he marches out there, you can say, man, that's not what the normal 37-year-old quarterback does. My experience is the legs are usually the first you see to go. He still has plenty of juice left in his legs. You see that in the movement phase, when we move him around on the keeps and things like that. He still likes to be out in space. But I'm trying to think off the top of my head ... I thought the protection for the most part was excellent, I thought we protected very well ... but I'd say probably five or six times off the top of my head, I'd be guessing.

(Are those special plays he makes?)

Yeah, just moving his feet and sliding. Sometimes I think when people talk about quarterback mobility, they think of the guy sprinting out of the pocket and making a play. The most important mobility is to be able to slide from A gap to B gap. Slide and get your feet set and get the ball out. That's the mobility you practice all the time in your re-direction drills and things like that. He still has the knack to do that and the arm strength and the ability to get it out. So that's a key thing you look for as you train them and as they play on Sunday.

(How would you describe Poppinga's attitude and abilities?)

I don't think anybody would ever suggest Brady Poppinga didn't have a linebacker's mentality. He's always had that since the day I've been around him. That was a big impact play he had on the pressure there. Once again, he's a young football player. He's a young player to come off a major injury. So he's had some obstacles to overcome in a short time this year, and he's another player you just see improving every week. Earlier in the year I had to stand up here and defend some of his coverage ability. He's a good football player, he's a good young football player. That linebacker group yesterday impacted the game. They had their share of things that we need to continue to work on, but we're getting them more involved in the pressure packages, and I thought they were a major force in our defense's performance.

(Have you ever had to settle him down?)

Not really. You don't see as much of that. Ruvell Martin we had to settle down a little bit yesterday. But that doesn't happen very often.

(Is Poppinga a good example of being patient with a young player, waiting for the talent to take over?)

The other thing too, we have the benefit of, we work together every day. We're in the meetings together, we're at practice. You see all the potential and you see the productivity leading up to the game. Now ultimately, Sunday is the final test, but you do have to have some patience with younger players. There's so much there to build off of. There's so much positive that you see on a daily basis, so it was really never a concern earlier in the year.

(How do you foster team development at this point?)

That directly reflects your structure and your atmosphere that you create for the development of group dynamics. That's what team sports is all about. That's something you promote whether it's in the weight room, starting in the weight room in the offseason, you go through training camp. The trials and tribulations as you prepare for the season, and really the trials and tribulations as the season goes on. So I just think it tells you a lot about that locker room. That's a very healthy locker room, and it's a locker room that's going to continue to grow. You can see the confidence growing that was not evident earlier in the season. That's just a product of us growing as a football team, and frankly winning has a lot to do with that.

{sportsad300}(Were you in Cover-2 on the long touchdown pass? Did Collins err in coming up?)

Correct, but as far as coverage, the coverage is two. I'm going to use this as an analogy - it's probably one of the first coverages we put in. It's no different than the pass Donald scores on. Sometimes mistakes happen in the most simplistic aspects of the game. I feel like I have to get up every week and say 'Cover-2, Cover-4' - it's a play we need to make. It's a coverage where everyone knows what to do, we need to get it switched off where the route recognition is. The mechanics of how it went from 4 to 2 is irrelevant in my opinion. We need to clean that up. It's no different than taking on the lead block, no different than some of our route running on offense. That's unfortunately part of the game. You want to be talking about all the positives, but there are negatives that happen in the game. Explosive gains on the defensive side were up, and we've been better than that the past three games. But, I thought they (defense) dominated the second half, and that's the type of football they've been playing for three weeks. The coverage was Cover-2.

(Why does this seem like the one thing that keeps creeping up?)

It's part of the game. Route recognition is something they go through. It's not like we're getting tricked. Cover-2 is a good coverage to be in versus that play. That's part of the game, and it's why you play. The game isn't played on computers, not played on drawings and things like that. It's like play-calling. I sit here and answer things about play-calling and kind of laugh. I could sit here and tell you what the bad play calls are, and frankly sometimes the quarterback gets you out of them. There's more into it, and that's why you play the game. I hate to sound redundant, but we need to play that coverage better at that point.

(Have you thought about stepping in and taking over in regards to how that is being taught?)

I go to all the meetings, watch all the film. I'm at practice. I have the ability to see what is being taught. It's the first coverage that goes in, and I have no problem with the way it is being taught. I have no problem with the way it's being communicated. We didn't play it very well on that particular play, and that's what happened. I don't know what else to tell you, and I think the players will tell you the same thing. It's not like we're teaching it different and there is a better way to teach it. That's not the case, and if it was, then I'd change it.

(Isn't the safety supposed to play deep?)

Deeper than the deepest, correct. I wish I could, because if I could have stopped it, I would have. I don't know what to tell you - we didn't play it very well that play. We need to play with better technique there, better recognition.

(Is that different from the long touchdown vs. Buffalo?)

(That was) clearly a breakdown - that was a communication error there.

(LB group living up to your expectations?)

I think so, definitely. Nick Barnett has been very consistent in the middle. A.J. had one of his best games yesterday. He'll be a candidate for a game ball, and we talked about Brady. It's a group, particularly in the pressure schemes, that's where they really show up. I'm very happy with the progress and production they've had in the last three or four weeks.

(On second-and-goal, were you trying to go hurry up before calling a timeout?)

We were in a hurry up, and then I called it off. We have a certain play that we get into, and frankly, when you're that close to the goal line, if they're a quarters team, that's not very good because the safety is right there. That's something that's better from the 10-yard line and out. That's why we called it off.

(What was the thinking in taking the first field goal?)

Pace of the game, timing of the game, pulse and all that have a lot to do with it. Kicking the field goal there was clearly to just take the points. It's easy to sit here today and be frustrated and say 'I want to throw the ball' when you get done looking at your red zone statistics. That's not smart. At that point in the game, it was 0-0, second drive of the game. We had hit a couple of big third downs. I just felt like we had to take the points. I was disappointed we didn't convert it, but I think it was the right move to take the points there.

(If William had gone down, who would have stepped in at fullback?)

That's why we carry so many tight ends. We probably would have gone to more one-back personnel groupings, but we also have the ability to maintain our two-back offense. That's in place if that ever happens.

(Surprised R. Martin didn't get flagged for the spike? How do you manage the line with enthusiasm?)

I think if you recall Donald's catch early in the game, and him jumping around like a rubber band. You don't want to see it, but it's a fine line. You want emotion, passion, and we just had a little too much at that point.

(Where is the team physically at this point?)

I think we're a well-conditioned football team. To me, it starts back at training camp when you're going through your dog days. You sit there and watch the pace of practice, and you didn't see us do a lot of sprints. That's all calculated into your training camp scheduling. Coming out of training camp, I thought we were in good condition. Frankly, it concerns me being in this part of the country when you got a game like Miami coming down on the road. As we practice during the course of the week, I'm very conscious of the tempo and the pace of everything. It's all timed, every drill is timed. Our pace and tempo has not dropped off. That's a big part of our conditioning. We don't line up and run gasses and things like that. You're seeing it carry over to Sunday. As a new head coach, you have to be conscious of the health of your football team. We're sore, we're banged up, have a bunch of guys nicked. Wednesday's practice will reflect that. You just have to be smart. I've said it over and over again, from coaches to everyone involved, we have to be fresh. I want fresh coaches on the practice field, fresh players on the game field. That's something I'm very conscious of every week when we go through our planning.

(Any other injuries from this week?)

Will Blackmon has a rib injury; he'll be doubtful. We talked about Bodiford, he's out. Tory Humphrey has a hamstring, he'll be doubtful also. Tauscher, we talked about him, he'll be doubtful. William (Henderson) had the left knee, David Martin had a shoulder and a quad but I think he's going to be fine, and Michael Montgomery had a hamstring. Those three I think are going to be fine, but we have a bunch of guys nicked up.

(Are you going to give them Mondays off for the rest of the season?)

No, its performance based. 'Victory Monday' we refer to it as. There is a criteria, and if they hit it, they're off on Mondays.

(What do you do on Mondays and when do you replace it when you're off?)

We have film review. First with the special teams, then offense and defense - then we have a team meeting at the end. Basis for that is so that they see the film before we can get in there as a team. What we'll do is take a little more time in Wednesday's team meeting to address the Minnesota victory. We'll go through all three phases, and with the outline, the coaches will go through specific plays that needed review, positive or negative.

(What are your thoughts on the struggles in red-zone offense?)

A lot of our struggles are self-inflicted. The first thing that jumps out is turnovers. We look at every week, and we turn the ball over too much down there. Short yardage and goal line offense, we need to be more productive there. That's something we spent some time on this morning. Those are the two biggest things that jump out. In the beginning of the year, it was third-down production in the red zone. Just keeping working at it because those are the three things that are the biggest problems for us.

(Is it nice that you're able to get away with it when you win?)

That's why you call it self-scout. The easiest thing to do is to get lulled into thinking you are what you are not. That's why we do a self-scout every week. We identify the all the problem areas, and if we have to get a couple more reps in a specific area at practice, we do.

(Compared to your time with him in 1999 and other QBs around the league, where does Brett rank now?)

I think he's a top quarterback in our league, no doubt about it. I think the way he runs our offense, there are so many things he does that don't show up on the stat sheet as far as the management of play selection, the run and pass checks, keeping us out of bad looks, bad angles. He still throws the ball as good as anybody. He's very accurate, and his decision-making has been solid. I think he's a top flight quarterback. If we get in the playoffs, I'll take him against anybody.

(Did he throw away the ball as much in 1999?)

Probably not - he was probably more aggressive in 1999 than he is now.

(Seems to be throwing the ball away more this year, that something you have coached him to do?)

Throwaways are positives. If you throw away the football, you're obviously doing it for a reason. I don't know specifically how he was coached in the past, but when we grade the passing game and the quarterback gets graded on decisions, a throwaway is a plus. Punting is okay. A guy I used to work for said 'Punting is good'; I don't agree with that, but punting is okay when you play good defense. That's the way he's coached. We have basic quarterback goals and responsibilities and something that's stressed all the time. Those are fundamentals of playing quarterback in our system.

(What was the difference in Hawk's play last week to this week?)

It's like Cover-2 I guess, he just played it better. I just thought he was a lot more aggressive. That was probably the best game he played. I thought his pad level, ... I thought a number of times watching the film as I recall, he did a really good job with same foot, same shoulder, playing with good leverage. Just played with better technique I guess to answer your question.

(You made an effort to pound the ball in short-yardage situations yesterday. Was your play-calling affected by the decision in Buffalo on the 1-yard line?)

No, I'll say this. My play-calling was not affected. We went into the football game to run the football. And really, I think on first and second down, we were 18 run, 14 pass. To me that's very important, and I think it directly reflects how we pass-protected. We didn't run the ball productivity-wise the way we wanted to. But those are like body blows in a fight, and that's important. I've said this since the day I got the job. We need to run the football and stop the run, period. And that needs to be a common thread that runs through our offense and defense and our whole football team because there are so many positive things that come off of that. It carries over to special teams, and it's an attitude and the way you want to play the game. When you play a good run defense, in my opinion, you need to run at them, because when you do have to throw the football, which happened to us yesterday, it will help your pass protection. I think the number of attempts we ran the ball directly reflected how well we pass protected.

(Are you close to where you want to be going into this stretch of games?)

I'll say this, we're playing our best football. And if that's good enough, time will tell. But we're playing our best football. Yeah, you'd always like to come out of the gate playing fast because you look at the best way to get in the playoffs is to get on a roll there early and get some wins under your belt. But this is the most important time of year, November. Where we want to be? Yeah, I want to be undefeated, but that's not the case. But I'm happy with the progress we've made. If you look at the way we started the season and the number of things we did to hurt ourselves, I don't think you're seeing that as much. I think we're playing at a very high level emotionally, physically. The style of football play is what I want this football team to look like, and if we continue to do that, a lot more positive things are going to happen. Frankly, I don't think the ball has bounced a whole lot our way. But I have no control over that. I can only control the way we approach the game, the way we prepare the game, and hopefully it will correlate to how well we play the game, and that's really the way I look at it.

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