Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Nov. 8

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


(Jennings and Woodson missed practice - how are they doing?)

We're going to rehab both of those guys. Obviously for sure today, probably again tomorrow, and shoot for Friday.

(Did you rest Ahman?)

Correct, yes.

(What do you have to do to get your special teams going?)

Well, the thing we're failing in is part technique and part finish. I think a lot of that comes with confidence. We do have a number of young players in that area, and actually it was a big emphasis in today's practice. I thought the work was very good. We need to improve both the coverage and return phases.

(Was Nick Barnett at practice?)

Nick was not at practice today. He has a personal matter he's attending to right now. He'll be here tomorrow.

(What did you see in Jagodzinski in 1999 and after that which led you to hire him?

When I hired Jeff, from a professional standpoint I knew I was getting a very knowledgeable football coach. I always liked his energy and his communication skills. I thought he had a very direct approach to his teaching style with players, and on a personal level, I think he's a fine human being. That was a big part of it when I was putting together a staff because a lot of times when you do put together a staff, the bottom line comes down to fit. There are a lot of outstanding resumes out there, but I just thought he would be a perfect fit with what we were trying to accomplish on offense.

(Were you set on looking at a zone-blocking scheme?)

I didn't hire him just because of zone blocking. It was part of the conversation - he was my first choice.

(What makes the Vikings so tough to run against?)

It starts inside with Kevin and Pat Williams. It really starts with those two guys, and you can see the way they structure their defense. It's how they fit their linebackers and what they try to do with some of their linebacker pressure schemes to try to get you to single-block those guys. As you watch them on film, you can't single-block them. They do a great job of anchoring, splitting double teams. They're clearly the best tandem of defensive tackles that we've played to this point. Frankly, our emphasis leads those schemes into cut blocking, and last week wasn't our best day in that area. That's a major emphasis for us this week because frankly we need to cut them all day. To stand up and try to go toe-to-toe with those guys with single blocks doesn't make a whole lot of sense.

(New England had success in spreading Minnesota out, you want to establish the run - how do you balance that?)

I think you look at the makeup of a football team when you break them down on film. You look at how they attacked the defense, how did the defense respond to that. Especially in Week 9, you really are who you are. It's important from a systematic standpoint to have flexibility for personnel matchups, scheme designs - run or pass - as you go throughout the course of a season. But to sit and say 'We're going to go be the New England Patriots', I don't think that's in our best interests. There are definitely things from that football game that we can learn from because they were very successful. We've reviewed the film, and it's a game that's a part of our breakdown.

(This team beat Seattle but lost to Buffalo and San Francisco - how do you gauge their identity?)

I think they're a talented football team, a veteran team. They have some good frontline players. They've been in a bunch of close games, and the defense is clearly the strength of their football team. It's a divisional, rivalry game for us. We anticipate a hard-nosed, tough football game, and I'm sure it will come down to the last series.

(When you became coach, what were your thoughts on the kicking position?)

Every free agent decision, there is a market you deal with. There is an evaluation of the player involved. It did not work out for Ryan (Longwell), and he has moved on. We trusted in our personnel department, and we're very happy with Dave Rayner. Ryan Longwell had an excellent career here, but some things in this league usually come to an end when you talk about relationships and things like that. I talked to Ryan Longwell when I got the job during the course of free agency, and he went to Minnesota. That's what stands in my mind. I was here in 1999, and he had a very productive career here. That's part of our business.

(Do you believe it's easy or difficult to find a solid kicker?)

You could say that for any position. It may be easier some years than others. We were fortunate that we created a competitive environment between Billy (Cundiff) and Dave, and Dave has taken full advantage of his opportunity. I think he's the type of kicker you need in our environment. He's strong -legged, and we're very happy with him so far.

(Has the number of sacks and pressure from your defensive line surprised you at all?)

Not at all - I think since day one, we've always stated that our defensive line is probably our most talented position, and I think it's the position that has the most depth. I just think you're seeing a group that's getting better and better each week, so their productivity is no surprise.

(What do you see out of their running game and offensive line?)

I think they're built to run the football, particularly if you look at the left side of their offensive line, their center. They've got a good running back, and I've always liked Mewelde Moore. He was at Tulane when I was in New Orleans. I think their team is structured that way. Brad Johnson is a quarterback who does an excellent of managing the game. He's a completion thrower, does an excellent job of throwing the check down, but it starts with the run game for them. As far as the West Coast offense when you look at the personnel of the football team, I think they're built for the run.

(How do you handle the noise?)

On offense, silent count is a premium, and we'll practice inside all week and go through the crowd noise. It's hard to coach during it on offense, but we go crowd noise every away game. It's part of playing in a dome.

(When you play a team with two defensive tackles like them, do you base everything on working around those two?)

Everything you do in game planning is personnel matchups. I'm not naïve to the fact that we have a first-year starter at center and two rookie guards, and those are the two best players on their defense. You need to take care of that, and those are 'targets', things you need to address. When you have a target on a certain individual or a certain scheme that causes you problems, every decision you make in the run protection and the pass is done with that in mind.

(Plan to rest Ahman on most Wednesdays?)

It really helps him, and I think it keeps the stress off his knee. Him and Flea (assistant athletic trainer Bryan Engel) do a really good job on the rehab part of it, so it was something we talked about initially. We went to it after he came back from the hamstrings, and I'm pleased with the way he responds because he's fresh on Thursday and Friday and has two excellent days of practice. I think it's also triggering to the game on Sunday, so that's something we'll consider doing all year.

(Ahman still continuing his rehab?)

Absolutely, just very proactive in staying ahead of it. Keeping the hamstrings and knee very strong and pole work, things like that - taking the stress off the joints.

(Did Collins bruise his kidney?)

Did he bruise it? He had a back bruise and there was some concern about the kidney, but from my conversation with the doctor, he had a lower back bruise.

(The injury listed here on the report is the kidney.)

That's what they were worried about. Lower back, kidney. I think the kidney is in the lower back, last time I checked.

(So it's not the lower back muscle then?)

No, he's fine. He practiced today. He has a lower back bruise.

(Has Rayner exceeded what you thought he might do?)

I don't know if you can say exceeded because he'd really never been given a chance. Once again he has a strong leg, and you need that in this part of the country. I think he just needed the opportunity to kick field goals on a regular basis. We were all there, he struggled at some times during training camp, but I wouldn't say he's exceeded. I'm hoping he can be a guy that's here for a long time.

{sportsad300}(Last four times these teams have met it's gone down to the wire. Do you see this being a close one as well?)

I do. I think when you play rival football games, I think that's a constant that happens. I think it's going to be a very physical football game. I think the turnover ratio will be a key statistic in the game. It's a primary emphasis for us right now as a football team. We need to fix what we've done in the past in that area. I would not be surprised if it comes down to another field goal.

(How do you get a young team ready for a rivalry game like this?)

As a head coach, I think it's important for you to set the tempo Wednesday morning in your team meeting, identify clearly what the game plan is in all three phases, and give them a clear indication of how we're going to approach the game. I think the physicalness of practice and our team drills are reflected in our approach to this football game.

(What do you make of Sharper right now?)

I think he's still a playmaker and I don't know how many safeties you can say that about. He does a great job cheating off the quarterback's eyes, jumping routes. One thing that's constant I do remember about Darren from my time here is he has excellent ball skills, when he breaks on the football. But he still looks like he has good range. We still think he's a good player.

(There was a time when people thought the Vikings were built for their turf, but do you think that's nullified now with the FieldTurf and the fact that you're a younger team?)

I think that's a good point, because working for a dome team at one point in my career, when they went from the Astroturf - which we were all in favor of because of the injuries that occur on it - to FieldTurf, I think the quicker teams lost a little bit of an edge. I think you saw that in St. Louis and some other areas. With their FieldTurf and the speed they used to have, I don't think they're like they used to be as much. I look at their front, their defensive tackles are bigger, more powerful men. The offensive line is a bigger offensive line. As far as us being built for our stadium, I think that's accurate. I talk about the conditions we're going to play in, because we plan on playing in December and January, and that's our goal. So I think it's important to build your team based on where you play your home games.

(Do you think with all the young players you have you're a faster team than they've had here in the past?)

I think there's some evidence of that, and I think it's what we're asking our guys to do too. I look at the lines that were here before, I don't think they're asked to do what they're asked to do now, so I don't think that's saying they couldn't do it. But the quickness particularly in our line play is a strength of ours that may be more than the past. I'd be speculating if I said so, but that's the way we want to go. On both lines.

(What's the key to the low yardage you've given up the last two games?)

I just think it's come together. Everybody wants to talk about pass coverage, and the best course of pass coverage is pass rush. So I think you're seeing improvement in both those areas, and it's nipped the explosive gains down, they've been taken away pretty much the last two games. Frankly, this past week was probably - I don't want to say poor because it wasn't that bad - but one of our worst games against the run, because actually we've been very good against the run all year. I think our defense is hitting their stride. This was what I saw in training camp, and we're looking forward to them being the best defense on the field this week.

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