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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 3

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Wednesday press conference from Lambeau Field. - More Audio | Video | Watch ’The Mike McCarthy Show’ Packers-Bears Game Center

(With getting off to a fast start, what's been the difference between this year and last year?)

The confidence of our football team was much higher than last year coming out of training camp. Second, we won the close games. At this time last year we lost two tough games at home against the Saints and Rams. Those are probably two of the bigger factors.

(Did your decision in training camp to ease up on the players make a difference?)

I don't think I eased up on them. You guys keep trying to make our training camp out to be soft. I thought we were smart with our time management. Every decision that we make is in the best interest of our football team, particularly health. Injuries are a part of it. Anything you can do from a scheduling standpoint to eliminate those types of injuries, particularly the fatigue injuries, then you do. That's what we did with training camp. I think it helped. It may have helped more mentally for the players getting through camp because camp is a tough period for your football team. We did enter the season healthy. We did have a number of guys on IR already. More than at that time last year. You can really go back and forth on that. We're a better football team today than we were in Week 4 last year. I think our individual improvement in the offseason paid off. We're a team that's getting better. We're a good young football team, but we're a football team that's improving.

(Do you recall a return specialist making the impact Hester has, and why would anyone kick to him?)

He's an exciting player. Tamarick Vanover, I was around his rookie year. He had an exciting rookie year in Kansas City when I was there. He won a couple games for us actually. On the other side of the field I remember Deion Sanders was an exciting returner. I think Devin, the impact that he's made in 20 games with eight touchdowns is incredible. We have to be very smart with the opportunities that he will have in the game because he can change a football game. That was evident last year here at Lambeau.

(If you decide not to kick to a guy, what are you giving up?)

You may give up some field position. That's the flip side of it. That's all part of the strategy of the game.

(Is that easier said than done, not kicking to a guy?)

I think so, sometimes. It depends on what you want to give up. You're giving up potential field position.

(Is it easier on punts than on kickoffs?)

They also do things with their rush. There's a whole thought process that goes into it. You don't just line up and say I'm not going to kick the ball to the guy and it's that easy. I think everyone would have done it already. There are other things that go on in the planning and execution of keeping the ball away from the returner.

(Today in practice you got after the guys more than usual. Are you trying to set a tone this week?)

Practice didn't start very good for us but we ended up having a very good practice, though I haven't seen the film yet. We actually fell behind because we repeated a drill early in practice. We fell behind by five or six minutes but we still finished four or five minutes early. That illustrates the tempo we were able to get going. We just didn't start off very good. I know they're a little bit sore from the game. It was a physical game Sunday but Wednesday is an important practice. It didn't look the way it needed to look. Then we got it going. I felt good that we had a pretty good practice.

(At 4-0 do you have to more conscious of malaise setting in?)

I don't view it that way. We go down there to get our work done. I think it's important. I'm very in-tune with how long we're on the field, how many reps we're having, how many reps are planned, the number of things you want to repeat. We repeated five or six plays today because of defensive offsides. It's more of the opponent stuff. I'm very conscious of that. I'm not interested in having three-hour practices on Wednesday and Thursday to get our week done. That's not smart. The record has nothing to do with it in my view. We had things that we needed to get done today and we got it done. It's really clear for me. When I go to practice every day there are certain things I'm looking for. It needs to look a certain way, the tempo, the pace, the execution level, the energy. All of those things are very important. And it's talked about all the time. The first thing we do every morning at eight (o'clock) with the team is go through the practice, the expectations. If we are hurt, two weeks ago against San Diego we backed off. That's my job. Clearly, the practice did not look the way it was supposed to look in the beginning.

(How can you exploit quarterbacks who are prone to turnovers?)

Decision making, play good coverage, be in-tune with their pass concepts. I think a big part of winning football games is being in-tune with where the football team you're competing against is, what their strengths are, what they're weaknesses are, who their going to play this particular game. You need to create targets, and we do every single week in all three phases, people that we need to take out of the game where they cannot be productive. We had a target on Peterson last week in Minnesota. We did not accomplish that. It's important and it's really the same mindset as things you practice. Ball security, we practice it every single day and you turn the ball over twice. That doesn't cut it. The things we practice every day has to show up on Sundays. It's no different with game-planning. If we say we need to take this guy out of the game, we tilt the front or coverage to that guy, then we need to take him out of the game. That's the way we approach it. If they throw us the ball more than normal that's great. But we're going to play our defense. We're not going to change. We will tilt towards players.

(Did you ever see Favre's interview when he was coming off the field in Chicago last year?)

I never really saw it. I don't think I've even watched the whole interview. I've seen bits and pieces of it.

(At any level, did you say uh-oh?)

Based on his emotion? I think that would have been natural to say he's not coming back.

(Is it safe to say it would have been a big mistake had he called it quits?)

I think so. It's no different than when I talked to him in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. I think it would have been a mistake for him not to come back then. He has a lot to offer. He has a lot to offer to the football team, a lot to offer to the organization, and more importantly, he loves to play football. He should play as long as he still loves to play. It's a mutual, beneficial relationship. He's one of a kind as far as the ability to go out and play every single game for 17 years. But I don't' know how you could expect anybody not to be the way he was after that game. My God. All the people in his face. That was a nice victory for us. I don't think anybody wouldn't have been emotional. I thought it was a very natural reaction the way he was. Talking to him the next day, I felt comfortable he probably was going to come back. He just needed to go home and sort through it and talk through things. It was kind of a rough stretch, down the stretch there at the end. It wasn't like we were playing great football on offense. He was pressing a little bit in a couple games. But I think what he did after that game was very natural.

(When you talked to him in Hattiesburg, are you referring to when you first got the job?)

When I first got the job, yes.

(You didn't go down there this past year at all?)

No. We knew two or three weeks, we knew pretty fast that he was coming back, whereas the first year it was quite some time.

(Do you draw anything from the victory over the Bears last year, with where they were in their season?)

I think you definitely can point to it. There's been some things made about, well, they didn't need to win and so forth. My recollection of that week was how important it was for them to play well in that game and carry momentum into the playoffs, and they played their starters into the third quarter, they played a fair amount of time. If memory serves me correct, we were in control of that football game at halftime. I don't recall what the score was, 20-nothing, or 20-something-to-nothing. And really, our season was over. We found out the night before. You can definitely point towards that. But also, I've been in this business long enough to know that Week 16 of one season is different than Week 5 of the next. I think we've done some positive things on the football field in our first four wins. I don't think we've really put together a complete game as a football team. I think our offense has played some really good games, I think our defense has played some really good games, I think the special teams, three of the four games has played very well. But I don't think we've gone out and played our top game in all three phases and put one together, and that's our focus, regardless of who we're playing this week, and that will be our focus as we move forward. They've had some rough patches, but I clearly think they feel they can come in here and win. They're probably going to get a couple guys back. We're expecting their best shot, and I tell you what, we're excited about Sunday night.

{sportsad300}(What are the reasons for such a large scoring margin in the fourth quarter?)

We're making plays when it counts. The one thing about throwing the football, you score points throwing the ball. And on the other side of it, our defense is playing their best football down the stretch when it counts, particularly our pass rush. So when the game is on the line, I think our pass rush has been excellent, our offense has produced, and I think our special teams, really, if you want to rank all three phases, our special teams outside of this past week's performance in kickoff coverage and punt coverage, has been the most consistent area of our football team in the first four weeks. I think that's a big part of it.

(With the pass rush, are guys turning it up late or is the constant pressure during the game starting to go your way?)

I think it's a process that they're starting to win more frequently. Plus, you're playing with the lead, and the opponent is throwing the ball more at that time, because they're trying to score points also. I think that factors into it. And I think it's really just a credit to the execution of our players.

(So you don't think you're fresher because of training camp ...?)

We're fresher because of training camp, thanks. I appreciate you laying it out there. That's exactly right. That's exactly right, yup. Boy, that guy can put together a training camp schedule, I tell ya.

(Are there more distractions and phone calls with each victory, and how do you handle that?)

I haven't had a chance to return them, so it really hasn't been a problem. The reason I talk about it is because I know a number of people in the organization are going through the same thing. It's just keeping things in perspective, making sure your priorities are right. It's nice that people do call. I don't know why they would call you in the time of year when you're the busiest you've ever been, but they're just trying to support you, things like that.

(Brett mentioned teams might do more jam coverage against the short passing. If so, what will that open up for you?)

Well, you have to win the man-to-man contests. The foundation of Minnesota's defense is very similar to Chicago. It all comes from the same tree of defense. They play a lot more two-man. If you look at the way they played us last year. They played more zone up there, we had a big day up there last year, and they played more man here last year, and they felt the game was lower-scoring. So we actually anticipated more man-to-man going into that game, and they played probably even a lot more than I thought they would. If people think they can come up and challenge our receivers, we still have to win against man. We've been effective versus zone. That's just part of the challenge.

(How much better are your receivers versus bump-and-run because of what they go against in practice every day?)

I clearly think our training helps us. No different than ball security drills and ball awareness drills. Things you practice every day, you need to be good at. That's something we talk about all the time and something we try to build on. We play bump-and-run every single day through the OTAs and training camp, so we do get a ton of work. Today, on Wednesdays, we go competitive 2-minute against one another, and you're playing a defense like Chicago's and then you flip and turn plays against our defense, it's a whole different mind-set and philosophy. It's good to keep our skills sharpened because people who want to get up and challenge you to stop your passing game are going to play you man-to-man.

(How has the team done with penalties, and on the sidelines how do you handle the referees?)

Call the head guy over there 10 times in one game to complain about defensive pass (interference), that's an approach. That's not the one I take. I do think Mike Perreira does a good job. I think, like in anything that you do when you involve different fragments of the National Football League, communication is the most important element involved. We actually send our recommendations, or concerns, issues, every Thursday up to Mike. So we have communication with him on Thursday, things we see during the week of film study. He recognizes that, and then when we have the meeting on Sunday before the game - Matt Klein has gone to a new level - we actually type out those concerns, laminate them on a little card and we give them to the referees and we talk to them about it again, and when I go out on the field we talk to the head referee again about it. It's all about communication, and for the most part, nine out of 10 times, I think they do a great job on the sidelines. Every once in a while, in the heat of battle, things get a little sideways, but you work your way through it. But I do, I think they go out of their way to communicate with you and to make sure that the communication stays open. That's all I want to know. When something goes wrong, just tell me why. Just tell me what you saw, made a good call or a bad call. When they just ignore you, that doesn't work. I think they do a good job communicating with you.

(Whose idea was the laminated card?)

I think it was my idea. It was just to improve the communication. I'll be honest with you, Matt would always give me these big pieces of paper to talk to these guys, and I just said, why don't you give them something smaller to stick in their pocket. It wasn't like this great idea or anything.

(They are things you want them to look for in a specific game?)

Yes, just things, the flip side of it, I'm sure every head coach we play against is going to say, hey, they're holding us in the secondary. There's certain teams that play a certain way, and you just try to make the referees aware of it and hope you get a couple of calls.

(It's stuff you've seen an opponent do in film study?)

Well, we're not going to tell on ourselves. Yeah, it's the opponent. I tell you what, with Mike, the continuing education part he does I think is very good. He sends out a DVD every week. Mike Eayrs and Matt Klein, they watch it and they highlight it for me. The things that have gone on in the league, Mike Eayrs actually talks to our football team every Thursday. If there's a call, you guys probably see it on TV all the time, if there's a certain call that happened the week before, we just continue to educate our players about the rules and where we feel the emphasis is going to be more, because it happens. If they feel there's a lot of holding going on, they're going to emphasize it, and it's probably going to be called a little more this week. Just like the offense has tendencies, the defense has tendencies, officiating crews have tendencies. So we break them down, it's all broken down. Chad Brown, he's 6-foot-10, he's in the way all the time. Now Mike would say he's in the right position, but we talk about that. Brett has played in so many games, you're aware when you have a big guy in there in that position. We talk about the referees, and it's one or two things usually a week. Sometimes we don't even talk about it with the players. But if there's something we feel from a tendency standpoint that they have shown in their past games, we're aware of it.

(How soon in the week do you get the crew assigned to you?)

Shoot, I want to say the week before. They get the e-mails. That's the beauty of having an administrative assistant. You just send it to Matt.

(How much more can you get out of Morency this week?)

He had a good practice today. He's doing a really good job. The thing you forget about Mo, Mo does an excellent job on third down in blitz pickup. He's on the same page with the quarterback as far as checkdowns. To answer your question, hopefully a little more.

(Rouse missed a lot of time. How is he doing backing up both safety spots?)

I thought Aaron when he played on defense, I thought he did a nice job. I think he had eight snaps. He had the one break on the shallow cross, that actually Kelly Holcomb pulled down. It was the one he pulled down because it looked like he saw Aaron at the last second. Aaron had a chance to intercept that ball. So I thought he did a nice job when he played on defense. Special teams, he really wasn't as assertive as he had shown earlier. I think the speed of the game, especially being up there on the turf and everything, it was good for him to play in that game. We look for him to be a potential match-up advantage for us on special teams, and I'm just glad he's back, especially (because) Nick Collins is sore. It's good to have four safeties.

(When you get a player back from injury, are you free to use him any way you can or do you have to be careful of some things?)

It's really a process, and you can just use Vernand Morency as an example. When you tal about him, every time I stand up here, it's been about three or four weeks he's kind of worked himself back in. He's been 30, 40, 50 percent of the snaps and so forth. So I think you find that over the course of three or four weeks. Very rarely with a guy with that type of injury, does he just come right off and play. I think that's the exception.

(But once you get to the game and he's dressed, it's full-go?)

Oh yeah, if his number is on the sheet and it gets called, I expect him to go play. There's no mulligans on Sunday. When he goes in there, he's expected to do his job, yes.

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