Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 7

(How bad is Chad Clifton with that knee?)

Just a normal Wednesday for Chad. He has some history with his knees and we're just being cautious with him.

(Did Grant pass all his concussion tests?)

He's close. Dr. Gray feels good about him. We went non-contact today. We feel that he'll be fine for Sunday. It was a preliminary diagnosis.

(Are you inclined to give somebody else a shot at left guard this week?)

Am I inclined? We have a rotation going on with our guard positions. We'll do that Thursday and Friday and I'll make a decision at the end of the week.

(Are there enough reps to go around in practice?)

It's not ideal. You'd like to think that you're beyond that at this point in the season but that's where we are. The productivity and performance level of that position needs to improve. We're going to give the three guys an opportunity and see where we are at the end of the week.

(So you're rotating Colledge, Barbre and Spitz?)

It's really four. Coston worked today. It's really the four guards.

(How is Coston moving around after being out a couple of weeks?)

James Campen thought he moved pretty well. I think tomorrow will be the biggest indicator, when we put the pads on. Today was a cut-down practice. We had more jog-through than we normally do. We cut out probably 15, 20 minutes of team and individual.

(How's Rouse looking on defense?)

I think Aaron has done a good job. He has a good opportunity for us this week. It's our job to make sure he's in a position to be successful. The thing with younger players any time they get an opportunity, especially at the back end, is communication. He needs to make sure the communication is clear, that he's vocal and that we're lined up and ready to go.

(Can you pay too much attention to Adrian Peterson?)

When the running back gets the ball that's who we're paying attention to. That's the same every week. He's obviously a talented runner. The thing that we're paying attention to is what we're doing. We need to stay square in our run-gap fits, and make sure we are where we're supposed to be as far as our support. Their receivers did a nice job blocking against San Diego. We'll spend some extra time on that. We have to make sure our run fits are secure and with that we have to gang tackle.

(Is the biggest improvement in the run defense the reduction in explosive runs?)

I'd definitely think that's been a big positive for us in the run defense. Our explosive gains aren't what they were last year. We have improved there.

(What makes Peterson such a special running back?)

He has an excellent combination of size, strength, speed, quickness and he plays with a lot of heart and passion. He attacks the line of scrimmage. He can finish the runs once he gets to the second level. I was impressed with him as a kickoff returner in the first game. He's a dangerous football player when the ball's in his hands.

(When you look back at the first meeting, what could you have done better against him?)

We did a good job against him. He had two that got out of the gate on us in the first half. San Diego was doing a nice job on him also. All of sudden there's seven, eight minutes left in the game and it's a 17-14 ballgame and he takes off. That's what the great runners do. They wear you down and when they do get an opportunity to finish the run, they do. That was very evident in the San Diego game. We have to focus on what we do. You're point of spending too much time worrying about the back, we can't control what he does. We can control what we do. That's going to be the focus.

(Is he most effective between the tackles or running to the outside?)

I think he's been excellent on the stretch course, or the wide-outside zone, whatever you want to call it. He does a good job stretching and being patient. He puts his foot down, one cut and runs through the arm tackles. That's where I think he's been very impressive, getting on the edge and cutting it back.

(Are you rotating at both guard spots or just left guard?)

We're rotating four guys in two positions. We're going to find the right combination.

(Is Barbre part of that?)

Yes, he's not getting as many reps as the other three.

(But Moll is not a part of that?)

Tony's a little nicked right now.

(What makes the Williamses so dangerous on their defense?)

Pat Williams is a force against the run. I've fell into the same mindset myself. You get upset when he has production against you in the run game. But you sit there and watch every single game they've played in the last year and a half, because we play them twice a year and you spend the off-season looking at their defense, I don't think anybody blocks him. He's a force in their run game. We need to prepare for that and we need to do a better job of handling him in the run. Kevin has the flexibility in the run and pass. He's a good football player. We've done a pretty good job against him. I think our guys have a done a solid job, particularly in pass protection. There's a reason why they've been No. 1 in the league two years in a row in run defense.

(Who's behind Peprah as a backup safety?)

Tramon Williams will get some work back there. He'll get some reps. We've been preparing him and trying to stay one step ahead of that situation.

(Do you have other guys to step in at linebacker with Tracy White hurt?)

John Kuhn is someone we may use as a backup in goal line. Korey Hall has played linebacker. He has a lot on his plate right now. As far as a situational linebacker position, John Kuhn is someone we talked about.

(What have you seen Jennings do to take his game to the next level?)

He does an excellent job finishing the play, finishing the catch. I think he's an exceptional player with yards after the catch. I think he's an exceptional route runner for where he is in his career. He has an understanding of coverages, leverages, leverage of the defender, his route-running principals. He's someone you can point to. He does a good job of dropping his weight, stair stepping and all the coaching points we use in our route-running techniques. I've been very impressed with his big-play ability, especially of late. If Greg Jennings stays healthy, I don't see this pace stopping. He's an exciting player. The only negative is the injury against Miami last year and the hamstring at the beginning of the year. Other than that, he's been a productive player for us.

{sportsad300}(How do you feel Koren Robinson is doing?)

Koren is doing a good job. It was good to get him out there against Kansas City because that's what he needed. He needed to get back on the horse and get going. I've said it before, he needs to get his feet underneath him a bit more. He needs to get comfortable with the quarterback, the quarterback with him. He just needs reps. He is exciting when he has the ball in his hands. When he gets the ball on kickoffs he has a chance to go the distance. I'm glad he's back.

(How much of the deep passing game is reacting to what defenses are doing?)

A big part of it is week to week. Where do you think you can attack the defense? The most important thing from a passing game is splitting it down the middle. You have action passes and drop back. If you lean too much to one it's going to eventually get you in a situation. If you're really good at running the football and have an excellent action-passing game but you can't drop back then it's going to show up in third down and two-minute. We like to feel that we're balanced. We have been better of late. It's because our running game has picked up. I know so. It's important to stay balanced. If we need to lean towards a three-step one game, or a five-step, or quarterback movements or fakes, you need to have that movement ability.

(So early on, the shorter passing was more out of necessity?)

It was more out of match-up and how we went into the games.

(Do you expect the Minnesota defense to do anything differently to get to Favre?)

I thought they did a good job pressuring San Diego. You don't see it a whole lot schematically different from before but they got after San Diego. Philip Rivers got hit a lot that football game. I think Henderson is playing very well. I think their whole linebacker group is playing very well. I'm very impressed with them. I think the strength of their football team is their defensive line. I think they're doing a good job up front.

(When Peterson is in space and head-on against a defensive back, what's the common mistake defenders make in allowing him to get by?)

You always have to play to your leverage. You have to play to where the support and the help is coming from. The thing that's different about Adrian is, I don't what he ran in the 40-yard dash, but he plays fast. I can remember the one particular kickoff that he broke to our sideline. He was running right at us. He's a big, strong, physical runner. He plays fast. You have to play to your leverage, low tackle in the back end, basic fundamental things that we believe in in run defense.

(Pro Football Weekly's midseason all-pro team has you as coach of the year ...)

It's a good magazine.

(How would you assess the job you've done?)

I've made some mistakes. I'll tell you what, the second half of the Chicago game bothers me. You'd obviously like to be standing here 8-0, but we're 7-1. The most important thing that we've accomplished to this point is that we're in first place and we need to maintain that. That's what we talked about as a football team this morning. We're entering the third quarter of our season. We need to go 4-0 in the third quarter. That's our focus. We talked about the schedule in front of us, four games in 18 days and things like that. I don't think you can assess your performance until the season is over. I think we're off to a good start to answer your question.

(Is one of your strengths the brutal honesty, finding the balance between being happy with what you've done and focusing on what you need to improve on?)

I think it's your responsibility. It's one of the key responsibilities of a head coach. The coach has to supply the vision and the plan. To have a vision of what you want to accomplish, you have to have a vision of what you want your football team to look like. I've echoed that since the first day I stood in front of the football team. When it looks the way it needs to look, then I'll congratulate them and push them to keep it that way. We're not there yet. I won't stop until we get there. I hope that answers your question.

(Being in first place, does it help with a young team to have another team nipping at your heels rather than having a bigger lead?)

I'd take the bigger lead. I don't think it has anything to do with youth. I think Detroit, we've seen them in our cut-ups, in our breakdowns, I think they're playing extremely well right now. They're plus-8 in the turnover ratio. That's a football team that looks the way their head coach wants them to look. That's really the most important thing. We really need to stay focused on us. That's all we can control. That will never change. If you worry about all the other things that you can't control, then you're wasting a lot of energy. You're not applying all the energy to the things that you need to be working on. We want to win football games and we want to improve. That is our focus and that's it.

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