Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 25

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.


(How's Jennings look?)

Jennings is a lot better today than we anticipated. He's off the crutches and he's going to try to give it a run.

(What's with Ahman's knee?)

We're just being cautious with him.

(When you say Jennings is going to give it a run, do you mean he's going to try to practice Thursday or Friday?)

If you saw the injury on film, it looked to be pretty severe. But he feels good today. He rehabbed today and we're shooting for Friday, so we'll see what happens.

(If you don't have him, how challenging is that with just Driver and the three young guys?)

It's an opportunity for the young guys. That's football, that's what this time of year sometimes puts you in this situation. That's why you have a 53-man roster. We talk about accountability and availability. Now the guys that are available are accountable to make it happen. We'll game plan with the people that we have. There's a reason we have four tight ends and two fullbacks and a number of other positions. We still feel very comfortable with Ruvell. I thought Chris stepped up in his first game. Shaun looks like he'll be ready too. So we've got plenty of weapons.

(What's realistic to think you can get out of Bodiford?)

I'll tell you, he's a bright young man. I know the coaches spending time with him yesterday feel comfortable in the way he's picking things up. And also he has special teams experience. We look for him to contribute.

(Did Miami cover Jennings different than other teams had?)

No, I wouldn't say so. Miami played their scheme. They played their cover scheme the way we expected. They're a bump-and-run team. Part of the bracketing is part of what they do with their quarters, and you see it more on third down. But it wasn't like they came out specifically and said we're going to take this guy away.

(You've faced adversity and had some surprises, yet you've remained calm and steady through it. Where does that come from?)

I've never sat and thought about it. I just think it's important not to make emotional decisions. I've made enough emotional decisions in my younger days, particularly in my personal life, to learn from it. So I think it's important, especially in the environment we operate in, particularly on game day, that's my responsibility, that's a coach's responsibility. You're always dealt a hand, and I've always been a half-full type of person and that will always be my approach.

(Are you different behind closed doors than you are with us? Are you more of a yeller and screamer?)

(Laughs.) Yeah, this is a very natural thing to do, stand up a podium every day and talk to people. They don't prepare you for this. I'm sure we're all different behind closed doors. I have a sense of humor and things like that. But I just think when people do a good job, you have to tell them they do a good job. When people don't do what they're supposed to be doing, it's your responsibility to tell them that they're not doing what they're supposed to be doing. Corrective verbalization comes in different manners, and I'm capable of using whatever I feel needs to be done at the time. You need to be consistent. I never try to be somebody else. I've been very fortunate as a young coach to be around a number of coaches and players earlier in my career that have impacted the way I approach things. That's the way I've always looked at it. I'm not real comfortable talking about myself a whole lot because I don't think it's about me. I think it's about our football team, because the players ultimately play the game.

(Some coaches after a tough loss would get up there and start venting. Do you have to fight that urge or does it come naturally?)

I'll just say this. You'd feel a lot better if you could come up here and throw microphones back at you guys, yeah, that would make me feel better. But that's not the right thing to do. It's not fun to come in here after a loss, and particularly the home losses. But that's part of the environment we work in. It's a little bit of a challenge.

(With Bodiford on the roster, now 16 rookies on the roster. Did you ever envision a number like that?)

I don't count those things, but it's nice to have these get-togethers because I learn a lot. I learn about all the problems I'm supposed to have or should be worried about. Once again, that's who we are. That's where we are as a football team. So I don't have a problem with that. I talked about it a little bit on Monday. I think it's important, number one, to create the environment for young players to grow in, and to give them the opportunity when needed. They're playing for a reason. There's a reason our young guys are playing. With that, give them the attitude, give them the presence that you do believe in them. Don't ask them to do things they can't do. On the other part, the older players need to do their job too, and just trust the system, trust the structure, trust everything we're doing, and good things happen, and I think Sunday's game was evident of that.

(Is there a threshold where it can be too many rookies?)

When it gets to 20, that's when it's too much. I don't know, shoot, I've never counted them, to be honest with you. If you had asked me how many rookies were on our team, I wouldn't have known the answer, before you said that.

(How frustrating is it that you guys still haven't won here at home?)

It's disappointing. Frankly, I'd be lying if I didn't say I never envisioned us being 0-3 at Lambeau, but hey, we need to learn from those three losses. There's a reason why we did not complete those games, and I think that's part of the improvement of our football team, where we've been able to go back and continue to build off the positive things that have happened to us and continue to correct the negatives. This is an important football game this week for a lot of reasons. Number one, home-field advantage. We've got a great home-field advantage, and we need to take advantage of it. We're coming off a big win, we need to continue the momentum, and get to 3-3, whatever it takes. That's our viewpoint as a football team.

(What are your impressions of Matt Leinart and your thoughts on his potential in this league?)

I think he's a very poised quarterback. That's something you see he's carried over from his college career. Just going through the evaluation process, he's a very bright individual, just talking to him on a limited basis at the Combine and going through the draft meetings. You can see he has a complete understanding of what they're asking him to do. He doesn't play into panic, which is good for a young guy, because that's usually when it happens. He's at the point in his career that he's going through the storm. That's what happens to young quarterbacks, they're going to come at you in different ways. I think he's off to a solid start. To play the way he did (against) Chicago, I think that's a tribute to him. But I think they're doing a lot of good things with him. They're not asking him to go out and win the game. They're committed to the run game. Edgerrin James leads the league in attempts, so there is a commitment there. The production's not probably what they want, but I think they're playing the right way with him, and I think he has a bright future.

(They appear to be a team more talented than one win. Does that make them a dangerous team coming in here?)

I think they're a very dangerous team. I have a lot of respect for Denny Green. He's won a lot of football games in the National Football League. We fully anticipate him to have his team coming in here ready to go, whether it's the us-against-the-world mentality or something, but they're a dangerous football team. They do have talented players. Being in the division last year with them, last year we played them twice. So we fully expect this to be a heck of a contest.

(Is it natural to throw all kinds of defenses at Leinart because he's a rookie?)

I think if you're playing a game on the chess board, that would be a practical approach. But I think where we are as a defense, we just need to continue to get better at who we are. I thought we made progress this past week against Miami. I know the statistics don't support that, but once again, you need to look through that. I think we need to just keep progressing with the way we're going with our defense, a couple different packages and highlighting the individual players we're trying to do. But with that, he is a young quarterback. When the challenges with a young quarterback show up is situational offense, particularly third down, red zone, those types of areas. For the most part, if you play into the extreme, you're challenging him in the normal down-and-distance situations, so that's something we obviously discuss week in and week out.

(With Hodge is that an MCL or more than that?)

I'm not a doctor. It's not an MCL.

(Is it cartilage?)

I don't want to get into specifics. He's got a knee injury.

(What kind of timetable do you have with him?)

I'm hopeful he can go next week. That's what we're shooting for. Same with Cullen. We're hopeful both of those guys can go next week.

(What are the benefits of the Frisco package?)

I like what we're doing with our linebackers. You're able to create the different fronts, as far as covering the core, playing with both guard bubbles. It challenges the offense schematically, and I think it's putting good pressure players in position to be productive, which I think A.J. is a good pressure player, Brady is a good pressure player, things like that.

(Are you also forced to do that because of depth at defensive tackle is where it is?)

Not really. As you all know, that's something that was put in during the spring and we ran throughout training camp. We're not creating new personnel groups or new packages, and it's not different on offense. It's just which are we're emphasizing more.

(Did you ask Bob to use that more, to get the linebackers more involved?)

We talked more about playing more nickel, which that would be classified as a nickel sub-group, than dime. Because once again, A.J. Hawk is a player that gets better every week, and we need to continue to put him in positions to be an impact player. So that was part of the decision.

(How happy are you with Rayner now and what do you like about him personality-wise?)

I like his personality. He's aggressive. I don't want to stereotype. He's an aggressive personality as a kicker. I think he's talented. I think we all see the talent that he has in his leg strength. I think you're seeing him slow down and kick the ball with a lot more consistency. I say that and he didn't have a very good day at practice today, but he's kicked the ball very well as the weeks have gone on. He nailed the 55-yarder and lined right back up and hit the next one. So I think he's a guy who has a bright future here at Lambeau, because frankly you need to have leg strength and arm strength in kickers, punters and quarterbacks, in my opinion, to be able to play the way you want to play throughout the course of the season. So I'm excited with the improvement he's made and the productivity that we've gotten out of Dave in the long field-goal situations.

(Kickers can be weird guys sometimes. He seems fairly normal.)

You said that. I like Dave.

(What about his reaction at the end of the first half there? He seemed a little emotional.)

He was pretty fired up. I was hoping we'd get another chance to kick the third one, but the call was correct. But yeah, to kick the ball the way he did two times in a row, I'd be a little excited too.

(Did you rest Favre today?)

No, he practiced. Aaron took more reps than he normally does in team. But he went through all the team drills. Didn't take as many reps as he used to.

(Just to go easy on his arm?)


(This will be the second game for the Cardinals under a new offensive coordinator. How does that alter your planning for Sunday?)

I don't think it drastically changes much. We're not treating it much different. You don't really have any tendencies on the way Mike calls games. You've got one game. That's something Bob will probably continue to look at during the week. From a play-calling standpoint, getting a feel for the play-caller, that's probably to their advantage.

(How do you view Ahman's progress?)

I think anytime you take the ball that distance, regardless of where you are in your football career physically or in the football game, that speaks volumes. It's hard to bounce that ball from 70 yards out. I'm very happy with Ahman. I think we did the right thing by playing the high side of caution with his hamstrings. He's putting his foot down, taking one cut, and running very physical. I'd have to say he's back because I thought he ran the ball very physical up to that point, and that's a part of the way he came out the back end on that 70-yard run. When it was there, he hit it, and it was one-on-one with the safety. I'm excited about him - he looks good.

(Can he be healthy for the rest of the season? How do you play him?)

It's just being smart. You have to be smart with your older players, and it goes down as one of the basics of your program. You need to communicate, talk to those guys every day. I think Pepper does a good job with those guys and their rehab. He's (Green) very conscientious about his rehab, about getting treatment. I don't see him as a problem. We felt we could run him more in the beginning - maybe that wasn't the best thing in hindsight. He was fine when he did it, but he hurt his hamstrings in practice. We just have to be smart with him and some of the older players.

(How does he handle the fact that he may not be getting as many carries?)

He's about winning. I've never had a conversation with him saying 'I'd like to have this many carries'. It's never even been a topic. He wants to win football games - that's the only thing we've ever talked about.

(Starting to see a nice blend of rookies and veterans coming together?)

Like we have discussed in the past, I think it's very important for our veterans to step up. I said it in training camp, said it in the spring - the success of this football team will directly reflect the productivity of our veteran players, and I think Sunday's game was a perfect illustration of that. Frankly, our younger players have continued to improve. I don't think we are asking them to do things they can't do, and that's our job. The young lineman are improving every week, Greg Jennings has been solid and performing at a high level, A.J. Hawk is getting better every week, even the special teams guys are getting better too. The consistency from our veteran players will be directly reflective of how much success we have as a football team in my opinion.

(NFL approving international games - would you like to be a part of that or too much of a hassle?)

Would I like to go to Mexico for a regular season game? It was a neat experience - I was on the wrong side of the field that night, so it wasn't a very good evening for the team I was with. The travel wasn't as bad as I thought it would be. We flew down on a Friday. Being in San Francisco, we flew out on Fridays anyways, so it really wasn't different for us. To have 107,000 people in the stadium, it was an exciting crowd. Mexico was playing a soccer game that night too, and every time they scored, you'd never heard anything like it - they would flash it on the screen, so that was neat. The travel part of it doesn't make it a hindrance - and I don't know how they're going to do it, bye week afterwards or what. That's part of us spreading our sport around the world. I've been to Japan, that was neat. I'm all for it.

(In the regular season, would you hope that was one of your road games?)

Yeah, ideally you'd want it to be. I don't have any control of that. You guys trying to get me in trouble or something? I'm all for it.

(Said before it was important to handle success - what did you mean by that and does this week show a perfect example of that?)

I think this is a small case of what I was talking about. My experience in this league has been not overcoming failure, because frankly if you're a player in the NFL, your ability to survive is off the charts because it's not a normal business for an individual to operate in. I think NFL football players are special in their ability to overcome, and I think it's an innate ability with every man in that locker room. My experience has been the biggest challenges are when you have success. They start to believe what they read, start to believe what they see on TV. That's where the ability to focus and keep your finger on the pulse of reality is critical, to stay on the path of the positive momentum that you've established.

(That's a good problem to have?)

Great problem, but it's a challenge. Since we're so young, younger than I thought, it's something we'll have to keep our eye on.

(Bears-Cardinals a great example that you can't take your foot off the pedal during the game?)

You can't take your foot off the gas ever in this league. Everyone is aware of it. I'm not going to say it's never happened. They are going to come in here, be emotional, and we anticipate Denny Green having his troops ready to play. Regardless of the potential distractions that they have, they're a talented bunch, and we expect this to be a heck of a contest Sunday.

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