Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 25

(What about Tony Romo concerns you?)

Tony's a very good football player, No. 1. He makes a lot of plays. He's having a very good year. His statistics reflect that. He has the ability to find the open receiver. It looks like he plays with very good vision and instinct. When he gets out of the pocket, it's very dangerous.

(How does it help your defense to see Brett Favre every day in practice?)

Brett doesn't run around like that anymore. That part is still not there. Actually Aaron Rodgers will be a great look for our defense for the way Tony plays because Aaron's very athletic, has the ability to run around and make plays.

(Did you sign Underwood to the roster or the practice squad?)

He'll be on the 53(-man roster).

(Did you have to put Cole on IR?)

Cole will go down.

(And did you make another practice squad move?)

Yes, Joe Porter.

(Is the Underwood signing an indication Rouse's injury may be worse than thought?)

We don't know yet. We're just protecting ourselves.

(Any update on Woodson?)

Jeff told me I'm not allowed to talk about injuries until Tuesday.

(You can talk about it, you just can't put anything on paper ...)

The Dallas guys were drilling me so I'm ready for you.

(If Charles plays, you won't use him on punt returns, will you?)

If he plays, that's something we'll talk about next week. Tramon Williams worked there today. Will Blackmon is back working so he's another candidate.

(Did you get a lift getting Blackmon and Collins back at practice?)

Nick has a chance, he practiced today.

(Is it good timing to have those guys back?)

Absolutely, you'd like to have everybody but it is very good timing.

(Can you talk about the conversation you had with Brett in the offseason about his completion percentage?)

It's really a conversation for our whole offense. We were a 56 percent completion percentage last year. That's not good enough. You want to be 65 or higher. That was the goal for the offense. As far as his part, decisions, ball accuracy and you can really see the development and maturity of our perimeter group. It's really about everybody being on the same page. Our drops are way down. I think our route-running is drastically improved. We're doing a good job of getting everybody involved. I think we tend to forget how conservative we were last year as far as pass protection. We're doing a lot more five- or six-man pass protections than last year when we hardly did any six-man protections. I think those are all factors involved in the increased production of our passing game.

(Brett mentioned you talked to the team about how long it's been since the Packers won in Dallas. What did you tell the team?)

I just told the team, this is technically a Wednesday morning for us, in our team meeting I always have items or notes that I feel are important. We also have media topics, some of the things that I've dealt with the last two days. One of the subjects was that the Packers haven't won in Dallas in a long time. Like I told our football team, 90 percent of you were in little league the last time we played there. It's really irrelevant. What they should be talking about is how many road games we've won in the last two years here because that, in my opinion, pertains to us as a football team. It's a process. You update your football team on what topics are out there.

(Nothing definitive will be decided in this game, but how important is home-field advantage in the playoffs for you?)

Home-field advantage is really important. I think it's been proven over time. I know it hasn't been as much statistically. It's something that we want to accomplish. It's an important football game. We always operate under the mindset that the next game is the most important but, like I told the team today, this is probably the biggest game in the NFC this year. Everything at stake is evident. It's not going to change the way we prepare and it's not going to change the way we perform. We need to keep in-tune with that. We have to challenge ourselves with the best week of preparation. As you always do, you want to go out and play your best game of football.

(How does Underwood look?)

He's kept himself in good shape. I didn't study him at all today. I know his workout was very good the other day when he worked out for the personnel department. It looks like he's kept himself in good shape and ready to go.

(Do you think Brett is the league MVP right now?)

He's my MVP. I make no bones about it. He's playing at an extremely high level. With everything that he does off the field, in the meeting rooms, in the locker room, he's definitely our leader and he's a big part of our success this year.

(Brett said he didn't think the offense had found its identity yet. What is this offense's identity in your mind?)

I've said this before, I'd like to run it 50, 60 times a game if I had my preference. That's not the way pro football works anymore. There's so much more emphasis on match-ups. We tilt our game plan every week based on our opponent. That's the identity of our offense. People want to talk about 60-40 and I used to operate in that mindset moreso than I do now. We're going to line up and play. We have enough flexibility in our scheme to put our players in the best position to be successful. That's the way we approach it week-in and week-out. As far as, did we run it too much or throw it too much this week? I really don't get caught up in all of that anymore. Our job is to put points on the board and control the time of possession. Those are the two things that we stay in-tune with week-in and week-out.

(What changed your mind as far as worrying about balance?)

It's something you learn as an offensive coach. You want to win and you want your team to play a certain way. As a football team, we've accomplished that the last couple of weeks. As far as the offense, because I'd like to play a certain way as opposed to where we are in the development of our players, if we're not on the same page yet then you have to play to wherever you are as a football team. We had some issues running the ball earlier in the year. We've improved on that. I think we'll continue to improve. You have to do what you have to do to win games. If you have match-ups then you have to take advantage of that.

(Does Collins have a chance to start?)

Yeah, he has a chance.

(Did you have to wait for the offensive line to come along a bit to be able to play this way?)

I'm not going to say we couldn't with multiple receivers last year because we did use that protection. We have not used that protection in as many different situations. Using that protection is one thing but to use it on as many situations as we're using it this year is different because normal down-and-distance is different than third downs, you encounter different problems versus defenses versus certain match-ups. We have the ability this year and the confidence to use it in every situation.

{sportsad300}(Can you talk about the progress you've seen with Justin Harrell?)

I thought Justin was making a lot of progress before his injury. He's only 14 days back from being at full strength. He's exactly what we thought he was, a big body with the ability to be a run stopper and has shown some progress on how we play run defense and with what we're asking him to do in pass rushing. It's definitely all in front of him.

(What kind of match-up problems does the Dallas defense present?)

I'm very impressed with their front seven. I've always like Greg Ellis. I always thought he was just a tough football player in all the years that he's been there. He's been a productive player for a long time. Ware is a primetime pass rusher. He causes match-up problems for you. You need to be aware of that. I really like the activity of their linebackers too. This is going to be a big-time challenge. Roy Williams is an outstanding box player. He's a force coming in there. Newman is one of the better corners that we've played all year. I think this is s a very good defense.

(Can you talk about A.J. Hawk and his development?)

The best thing I can say about A.J. is that he's a lot more consistent than he was last year. He's doing all the little things right. His run fits have been very disciplined. He has a lot better understanding of the defense. We don't use him much as pressure which would benefit his play-making ability. That's a compliment to our defense as a whole. He's put together a very consistent season for us.

(What problems does Jason Witten present for the defense?)

He has the physicality to get away from linebackers. You don't see too many linebackers that handle him very well. He has the ability athletically to win on some safeties. He's a primary target in their passing game and he'll be a big challenge for our defense this week.

(Do you feel you have a handle on that since those other tight ends had such good games against you?)

You always have a handle on it during the course of the week in practice. That's part of your planning and preparation. We feel that have good match-ups there. I like our safeties. We are particularly young there, young and improving. I think Atari Bigby has big-play ability both in coverage and as a pressure player. I think it will be a good match-up to watch.

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