Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Oct. 31

(Is it a big advantage for Kansas City coming off the bye while you're on a short week?)

It depends on how you want to look at it. I do not get caught up in that. It's an advantage sometimes to keep playing when you're playing good. That's the way I view it. One thing about bye weeks, there's also a theory that you may have regrets because you haven't played for so long. We could make an argument just coming off our bye week there were some things fundamentally we could have done a better job of. You can go back and forth on that. I'll just say this, we won a big game on Monday night, and our guys will be excited and prepared to play Sunday. That's the way I view it. Everybody gets a bye week, when it comes, it changes every year, but I don't think we're at a competitive disadvantage.

(How did you change things logistically in preparing for this short week?)

I don't want to say we changed. As a staff we had the extra time preparing for Denver, so what we did, we put the heavy part of our workload on the front end of the week for Denver, and went with the shorter practices at the end of the week, and with that we had preparation time as a coaching staff Friday and Saturday, and we set preliminary game plans for Kansas City.

(On Monday night you had the running game, short passing and long passing all working. Is your offense more difficult for opponents to prepare for now?)

Anytime you show versatility it plays to your advantage. We've had some opportunities to go deep early in the year that we may have hit on and may not. I never viewed ourselves as a football team that did not try to go vertical. We haven't tried to make a living at it. We've stuck with the high completion percentage passes. But anytime you show versatility, I think it plays to your advantage.

(What do you remember about Herm Edwards when you first joined the KC staff?)

Herm Edwards, he's an excellent coach, number one, and I think he's an even better person. He's a great guy. He has a lot of personality, a lot of energy. I think he's an excellent head coach, a lot of natural leadership ability. He was an excellent player in his day, still looks like he can play. I have a lot of respect for Herm Edwards.

(He said he gave you the business about coming in with Paul Hackett as an offensive genius.)

Typical defensive coach with a chip on his shoulder. He's a lot of fun to be around. Paul Hackett was clearly one of the coaches that made a huge impact on my professional career, but Herm Edwards is a very good coach. He'll have his team ready.

(Has he added any wrinkles to that cover-2 defense he learned under Dungy?)

No, they're playing more variations of coverage than the traditional Tampa scheme than in my opinion what Herman was under in his days in Tampa. I've coached with Gunther Cunningham, and you can definitely see his fingerprints on the scheme there. You can see both their backgrounds when you watch their defense on film.

(Al Harris has had some nagging injuries. How have those impacted his season and how would you evaluate him to this point?)

I think he's played solid for us. He's still exceptional at the line of scrimmage. I clearly think Al's one of the better or best bump-and-run technicians in the game. But he is banged up, and he's fighting through it each week. He's better this week than he was coming off the Washington game, so that's a plus.

(What has Kampman done the last two seasons to elevate his game?)

Well number one, he's extremely consistent in everything he does, as far as his productivity on the field and as far as the way he attacks his profession. He's got a blue-collar approach in the weight room. He takes great care of his body. He's definitely one of the players that will think or look outside the box for different training techniques to improve himself. He's a technician. He works at his fundamentals all the time, and he really doesn't have a weakness in his game.

(When he's called an overachiever, does that short-change how good a player he is?)

That's for you to say. I think he's an excellent football player. Sometimes when you're not a number one pick, maybe that's how they identify you because of where he started. But anybody that's played against him, or anybody that's been around him, I've been around him now for a year and a half, he's a Pro Bowl football player. He's very consistent. He brings the same energy every day, and he doesn't really have a weakness in his game.

(With the running back situation, will you leave Morency as the third-down back and have Jackson as the backup on early downs?)

The way we're going to go about it is Ryan Grant will go into the number one slot. We have a one slot, a two slot, which is primarily situational plays, and then the third halfback will be primarily special teams and backup. Brandon will be in the number two slot, and Vernand will be in the three slot. Now, based on Brandon not playing in a couple weeks, we're also going to spread those situational packages also with Mo because of his experience.

(What do you expect from Brandon after this injury period and not being in the mix?)

Looks good. This will be his second full week of practice where he's been full-go. I expect him when his opportunity comes to go in there and be productive. Very sharp. He's done a great job with the blitz pickups and things like that, the tougher things. His coursework looks to be good in his opportunities he's been given down here in practice. He's a tough kid.

(What's been the common denominator in the road victories?)

The common denominator? Number one is we won, that's the clearest common denominator. I think our football team does a very good job of focusing on the road as far as the way we play. We've been productive on the road offensively, and I think our defense has also been consistent. This is a football team that prepares and there's a consistency to the way we go about our business. I think really about the middle of last season, towards the end there, as far as the preparation in the classroom and onto the playing field, it really looks the way it needs to look, and I think it's really carried over to our away games. Frankly I wish we played with that same urgency or focus at home. That's something we need to work on.

(Brett said his experience can be a difference-maker on the road. How much value do you place on that?)

You place value on the experience of your quarterback. It doesn't matter where you play, home or away, out in the parking lot. Because he has seen it all. He's able to get you out of tough spots, anticipate when those spots are coming. I'm talking more the crowd noise, different types of situations. We handle crowd noise very well, which is going to be a big challenge going into Arrowhead Stadium this week. But an experienced quarterback, he makes up for so many things.

(Do these young guys almost not know any better, how hard it's supposed to be to win on the road in the NFL, so they don't get intimidated?)

I think there's some truth to that. We have a rookie class that showed up here in (May) and they're 6-1 in their first seven games in the NFL, and they probably think this is great stuff. I know my first year in the league as an assistant coach in 1993, we went to the AFC Championship game, and I thought man, this is a great way to make a living here now, coaching in the NFL, but I haven't been back since. So yeah, there's some truth to that.

(Is there anything you're doing to make sure these players don't get too full of themselves?)

I'm just very honest with them. I was brutally honest this morning with them in the team meeting, and my approach will not change. I think it's important to continue to build off the positives. I know for sure in this business you either improve or you go backwards, and it's important for us to improve. We're finding ways to win games, we have different players stepping up week in, week out. I think that's a reflection of the character and the type of people we have in our locker room, but we need to continue to improve as a football team because we have some basic fundamental aspects of our game that have been repeated mistakes, and we need to eliminate that.

(Was that your brutally honest assessment to them, what you just told us now?)


{sportsad300}(What are your thoughts on Tony Gonzalez?)

Tony is a great player. I was in Kansas City for Tony's rookie season and I think his second year. He's a great football player. He's a tremendous talent. I remember when he came out of Cal-Berkeley, back then you knew he was something special. He's definitely one of three targets on their offense that we need to deal with. Larry Johnson, Tony, and the rookie Bowe. Those are three guys we've been very impressed with on film.

(Why have teams been able to have success throwing to tight ends against you?)

Well, they have a plan when they come in here, and we have a plan. We've had some breakdowns in our plan, and sometimes they make plays. You sit there and watch Gates and be critical of our coverages, and I'm not making excuses for it, but I've seen San Diego a couple times in our breakdowns, and he's catching balls on everybody. We're very matchup conscious in everything we do, and we'll continue to do so, but that's why you play the game.

(After this game, does Bigby understand what he did?)

Oh he understands. He made some mistakes, and that's what we'll continue to talk about I'm sure. But obviously there's a lot of positive things he did in that game, and he needs to continue to do that. But the poor decisions, whether it's Atari or anybody on our football team, we need to eliminate that. Our penalties are too high, we talked about that this morning. We need to clean our house up. It was an emphasis on the bye week. I thought we made some improvements in some areas that we stressed on the bye week. But we definitely got way too many penalties in that football game.

(What has Dr. McKenzie told you about Bubba and Blackmon, and when you might have them back?)

Bubba, you talk to Bubba and his time frame is different than the doctor's. Bubba is moving rapidly in his rehab. He feels good, but I still think he's at least a couple weeks out. And Will, we're actually going to upgrade as far as how much weight he's putting on his foot now. They're going to start that this week. So he still has a chance.

(Is Kansas City still a special place for you?)

Absolutely. Kansas City is a great town. I enjoyed my time there. It was my first professional job. I have so much respect for the Hunt family, Carl Peterson, and everybody in that organization. A lot of quality people. It was a great place to work.

Also with Baker University being right outside of Kansas City, I have great memories. A lot of friendships in Kansas City.

(Does Wells have pneumonia, and will that keep him out a couple of weeks?)

Scott has pneumonia, and I want to say that he's hopeful that he may go this week. I haven't seen Scott today to talk to him personally. He's getting stronger, he's getting a lot of rest. But as far as how long he's going to be out, that's something that's going to take the course of the week to figure out.

(Can you assess Favre's season and how well he's played?)

I've worked with Brett two seasons and seven games. He's playing better this year in his first seven games than he did last year. I don't think it's really even fair to compare '99. Two different football teams. But once again, when you play the quarterback position, you're responsible for your decisions, the ball accuracy, managing the huddle, and all those things. Most of those things he's done for so long and has always done a great job. But I think his decision-making is better this year, his ball accuracy is better, and it's really the improvement of the relationships that he has with the guys around him. He has a better understanding of the perimeter. We're being more aggressive in our protections. We're not a seven-man protection team like we were most of the year last year, so we're being more aggressive from an offensive standpoint. So really, if you took the first seven games this year and looked at our offense and looked at the first seven games last year, there's a diverse difference in how we're playing, and that also affects his performance. I'm very happy with the production and his leadership that he's shown this year.

(Is it hard to believe after the way the offseason went, how frustrated and unhappy he was, that you're now 6-1?)

Well, my opinion of the offseason and your opinion is a lot different. I was in constant communication with him during the offseason. If you have 20 conversations and you have one bad one, that doesn't make for a bad offseason in my opinion. Once again, I think complaining is one thing, or having an opinion is another, but to say that he was a distraction or wasn't happy with the way things were going, I didn't think it was that big of a deal. Now it took a life of its own, and trust me, I'm fully aware of that, I was right at the point of it. But I didn't think it was that big of a deal.

(You can't pin all that on us though, considering some of the things he said.)

I'm not saying who and what. I was there. I know exactly what happened. Remember, I get to answer all the questions.

(Would you say your working relationship with him has improved?)

Better? I thought we had a good working relationship in '99, and I think it's good today. I have the luxury and the importance of being the one who gets to disagree with him all the time, so that's always fun. But we do have a great relationship. I enjoy working with him. Really as a whole, our football team, they really are a great bunch of individuals. It's a fun group to coach, definitely. We do have fun while we do work hard. I've always felt we had a good relationship. To say it's better now, I always felt it was very positive.

(When you talk about his decision-making, are you taking about where he goes with the ball or his decisions on plays at the line?)

Everything. Run decisions, protection decisions, pass decisions as a whole.

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