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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 5

(Is this the first time you've had all 53 on the field for the jog-through?)

That's a good question. I'm not sure. I haven't kept track. But it was nice to have everybody there today.

(You're 5-0 vs. the Vikings. Why such an edge on these guys?)

We've had some positive outcomes against the Vikings in our past experiences. It's really a one-game-at-a-time approach. This game I'm sure is going to be different than the others. It's just important for us to stay focused on where we are today as a team - the ability to have everybody there at practice, the improvement in the details of our plan throughout the week, and get ready to go up into that environment. Anytime you play in an indoor stadium, it's a little different. It will be loud on Sunday, and we started with the preparation today with the crowd noise. It's really staying focused on getting ready for the type of landscape that's really different than the normal gameday events. We'd obviously continue to like to have continued success against the Vikings. It's an important game. Anytime you play a division game it's important, and road division games are definitely tough.

(Where do you think you are as a team halfway through the season?)

Where do I think we are? I don't want to be rude, but we're 4-4. We're 4-4 for a reason. We haven't made plays in critical times of football games. We've been competitive in every outing this year. We've had opportunities to win those games. We did not. So it's important for us to continue to build off the positives that we have accomplished. There's a lot of positive things about our football team. I really like this team. I like the way they work. They give you everything they have on Sundays. Effort is never an issue. Frankly, we don't need to talk about it much anymore. But it's the details. The last game, the last loss is a very good description of the things we need to do to win tight games. We have to win the close, tight games. We haven't done that this year.

(How is the Vikings' offense different with Gus Frerotte as opposed to Tarvaris Jackson?)

Well, from what I see with Gus Frerotte, is they're pushing the ball vertically a little more. He has confidence in Bernard as far as when he's throwing the ball. There's a commitment to a vertical game more than I recall in the past. Still running the ball very good. Conceptually they're doing a lot of the same things. I'm sure just because of the way we play defense, we'll see some similar things, and they're conceptually doing some of the things that we do on offense now that I haven't seen in their game before. I think they've advanced their scheme a little bit, and they're more productive this time going into this game prior to the other contests that we've played in the past.

(How do you balance using the run game the way you want to versus just running into a brick wall? Do you have purpose runs, or at some point do you just have to give up?)

You need to run the football. So when, where, how, that's why you game plan. Pat and Kevin Williams are outstanding players in their own right, in regards to your question. But how you run the ball, ... is why we practice, this is why we plan. You're looking for matchups and different techniques, the situation, the expected defense, how they're going to play it. They do a good job getting their linebackers up in the gaps and try to force you to block everything one-on-one, put you in a man situation because of the potential matchups they feel that are in their favor inside. We'll run the ball. When and where and how, that's why we play the game. But I don't just run the ball just to kind of get it off my sheet. We run the ball for a purpose. Whether it's down and distance, whether it's the formation that we feel creates an edge for us, whether it's the personnel group we feel creates an edge. Every play call has a purpose, whether it's a run or pass.

(How do you feel you've run the ball against them? You have had some success...)

We've had some success, but once again, this is Week 9. This is our ninth game. Going into the home opener, it's different. The first four games of the season are so much different than Week 9, 10 and 11. It's November football. Things are established. Secrets are few and far between. When you play Week 1, there's 20, 30, 35 percent unscouted looks. You're going to see a bunch of things that people had the whole offseason to prepare for. I think teams are definitely more established now. I don't think there will be a ton of surprises. Execution will be at a premium, and that's what will win this game.

(Aaron has not played in the Metrodome yet. Do you prepare for the noise any differently?)

Preparation, we'll do as much or maybe a little more crowd noise. Today you have to get your teaching done, and it kind of usually works out the way it does. You have to repeat a few plays in the earlier team periods and that's kind of pain when you've got the crowd noise. It's hard to coach. So we'll do a significant amount of crowd noise tomorrow, and frankly the Hutson Center is really from a surface and being inside is a really good training ground in my experience for going up to the Metrodome. It's a very similar environment as far as everything involved. But the mechanics and how we handle it, it will all be very similar.

(Rodgers has answered every challenge so far. Is this week another challenge, to show resiliency and come back from not playing his best game?)

The thing about Aaron and the criticism from myself and everyone involved, there's a lot of positive things that Aaron Rodgers did in the Tennessee game. It just seems like we didn't focus on those as much. He's a fine young quarterback. I say it over and over again, and the beauty of Aaron is he's going to get better. I believe that with my heart, I believe that with my eyes. He's going to continue to get better. The challenge of the quarterback for his first year starting is answering that bell every week. The ability to practice every single day and to continue to get better with your teammates, to keep the timing as sharp. Once again, you get into November football, then you get into December football, everybody is beat up, everybody's sore. I just think this is another challenge for him. Every week's different. I think he can play better than he's played, and he's played pretty darn good. That's the way I view it, and he'll be coached accordingly. We believe in a consistent, positive environment, and that won't change, regardless of the outcome on Sundays. But it's important for him to continue to grow. I definitely think he has that ability, and I'm counting on it.

(What did you think when you saw that he took most of the blame? Some quarterbacks avoid that. Is that good leadership, or is it not important?)

He's probably making some of the mistakes that I have made. He's probably too honest. I think he gives you a very honest answer. I think if you ask him a question he says, 'Hey, I could have did that better.' I don't ever see him try to skirt issues. I think when he talks about things that maybe aren't proper for him to talk about, he respectfully doesn't do it. I think it's part of the type of person that he is and the way that he goes about his business. I'm sure everybody that went into the locker room after that game did not feel very good, and I know he didn't feel very good because he had some opportunities in that game. I think he just answered those questions honestly. Now, how they are perceived and what happens after that, we can't control that and he knows that. To sit here today, and I don't know why we even talking about the last game because we've got a big game in front of us, he didn't cost us that football game. Aaron Rodgers didn't lose that game.

(I was just curious how that played with his teammates ...)

How does it play with the teammates? I don't know. I didn't ask them. I think he is very well respected in the locker room. That's the way I see it.

(Have you seen him progress from your first mini-camp here until today?)

Absolutely. We can go through every facet of quarterback play and I'll tell you about improvement. His challenges are what every quarterback goes through the first year. You've got to keep your weight up. You're not used to getting all of the reps. You're the guy all of the time. You're the guy with the bruises Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday. Those are the challenges that he needs to keep pushing forward. He's had a serious injury already that he has fought through. The footwork and things like that, he does a good job. Tom Clements does an excellent job of staying true to the fundamentals. The decision-making I think is a strength of his. The ability just to play good situational football is a positive. You're talking about a guy that is in his first yaer. I think he has had a good, solid season so far but I'm excited because I think there is definitely improvement in front of him.

(Are you unlikely to keep five receivers up every game?)

It's going to be a challenge and it really comes down to special teams. It's something that we are creating competition through the week. The players are identified Tuesday on how we think we are going to sort out the board so we can game plan accordingly. Sometimes you really don't know about a player until Wednesday. You have a better idea from his medical state and you kind of work through that. These are the good problems that you have. It's disappointing for some individuals when they are not up on Sunday I'm sure, but you can't stand up there as a head coach and talk about the philosophy of your football team start with defense and special teams and then come Sunday make all of your decisions on throwing the football for offense.

(Are the bottom guys competing on special teams?)

It's the whole thing. The more you can do. The more you can do.

(You had all nine defensive linemen up on Sunday. Was that specific to Tennessee or do you want to do that all the time?)

Special teams factored into that too. Jason Hunter, Pettway, they play special teams, and so does Jeremy. Mike Montgomery has been a solid player. We haven't played him much here late. It factors for all of those guys.

(So is it not as important to get the Big 5 going again? Are we making more of that than you are?)

I like Big 5. I'm sure there are a lot of things that are more important to you guys. There is more to it. I think I have answered the question.

{sportsad300}(Is Peterson better this year, and if so, how?)

I think he is a lot more confident. I think any time you see a rookie come in and make the impact that they are able to make, it's really a combination. Yes, I think he is a better player but also people have had some time to study him and know what kind of player he is and his tendencies of how he runs and so forth. I've been impressed with him from his rookie season and what he has done so far this year. I had an opportunity to be around him at the Pro Bowl. He's an impressive young player. He plays physical, tough, hard-nosed football and he's going to try to challenge you on every run. It will be an excellent challenge for us this week.

(With how tight the division is and these next two games, can you overstate the importance of these?)

They are all important. Division games are important from the time the schedule comes out. That is an important game. Based on where we are today, we are tied with Minnesota so it's important for us to beat them. Yeah, it's important. I'm not going to sit here and wave flags and all of that. It's an important game.

(How different are they if they don't have Allen?)

I think he'll play, if you look at his history. I think he is an old-school type pro and we are preparing for him to play. There is a reason why they paid him that kind of money. He is an impact player. He is important to their defense.

(They've been playing more nickel and dime without E.J. Henderson. Is that an added challenge for you?)

I wouldn't say it's a new challenge schematically. It's more of a personnel matchup because they are a system defense. I think Leslie Frazier does an excellent job in Minnesota. But as far as what they do from nickel to base, schematically there is a lot of carryover. So from an identification standpoint and what we are expecting how they are going to play us, I don't think there is going to be a huge change. I think it's more of a personnel matchup adjustment for us.

(Do you feel better about your field position the last couple weeks?)

It has improved. Yeah, it has improved. The hidden yardage last week we came up negative but it was more because of the two failed fourth downs and the two turnovers, but the actual special teams part of the formula was a positive. But yeah, I'd agree with you. We definitely improved.

(Have you had a chance to discuss with Finley his comments?)

Yes, we had a conversation.

(How'd that go?)

It went well.

(You did most of the talking I take it?)

I talked a lot, not a lot. It's over with, so he made a mistake.

(Any reaction to the election by any of the players today?)

Yeah, we have a segment in our team meeting, team business. A number of things we covered and we anticipated election questions. When we hit that topic everybody clapped and was excited about the future.

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