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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 10

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Monday press conference. Coach McCarthy answered questions in the media auditorium following the coaching staff’s film review of Sunday’s game. - More Audio | Video | Watch ’The Mike McCarthy Show’

(How's Al Harris doing?)

Al Harris. I'll tell you what, I'll just go through the injuries right here. Michael Montgomery, his existing injury of knee, he'll be out this week still. Jason Spitz has a calf strain, so we'll get more information on him the next two days, and I'll know more. He'll be limited participation for Wednesday. Al Harris has an elbow sprain. We're waiting back for his MRI, but he feels good. He's in here for treatment and so forth. We'll evaluate him during the course of the week. Carlyle Holiday had some knee swelling. I think he'll probably be limited participation this week. Greg Jennings has the hamstring, hopeful he can go. Tony Moll still with the stingers. We'll see where he's at on Wednesday. Vernand Morency, same thing. Vernand will go full participation Wednesday and then we'll see how he feels Thursday. Aaron Rouse with the hamstring. Hopeful that he can go this week. That's what we have.

(If you get Morency back this week, how much do you expect from him?)

I think it's important really to look at the running back group, and just try to break it down. Have Vernand do certain segments, same thing with Brandon and same thing with DeShawn, just how we went into the first game. Just try to package those guys. I think it really helps them in their preparation, but it also helps the quarterback and the other participants on offense to get the timing and continuity that you're looking for.

(What led to the ground game struggles?)

Offensively, we really weren't very good. I'll just address the whole offense at once. Number one, I need to look at the volume of offense we took into that game. We took in a little more than you normally do. The first week you have more time to prepare, but just the way we were built from a personnel standpoint, there's a number of different personnel groups we took into the game if needed. But I think in hindsight I thought we did too much. Fundamentally we need to clean up a lot of things. We just had a bunch of common mistakes, and that was the most frustrating thing for myself watching the film this morning. We really didn't execute very good in the run-blocking unit. You can talk about the stretch on the front side, the cutting on the back side, the course of the back. All fundamental things we need to improve on. Because we weren't in sync. The blocking angles were not in tune with the course of the back. The pass protection, I thought we did a good job picking things up, making the proper calls. But we just flat-out lost some one-on-one situations that occurred and resulted in quarterback hits and sacks. Pass perimeter, the route-running needs to be better. Quarterback decisions need to be better. So we have a lot of things we need to clean up on offense.

(How nice is it to run down that whole list and still have won?)

Clearly, it's a great feeling to win against an excellent opponent to come in here, and some people picked them to win a lot of games this year, so we knew it was going to be a big challenge. I'm very pleased with the defense, the way they played. The special teams had a number of individuals that played very well on special teams. You can go down the list, Jason Hunter, Jarrett Bush, even John Kuhn. He's only been here half of a week and made two big-time plays on kickoff coverage. So all the young guys from year one to year two that are now core players on special teams really stepped up, so that's great to see there. What can you say about Mason Crosby in his first game. Excellent team win, and we've got a little work to do on offense, and we'll get that done.

(What's the feeling in the building today compared to last year at this time after the Bears game?)

I think it's a little different than this time last year. I really like the confidence level of our football team. I think anytime you have success, but there are small failures you need to fix, I think that's healthy. I think that's a healthy environment because obviously everybody is going to push harder when you do have success, but you still clearly can identify with the common errors that were made that we need to improve on. This football team will improve. That's something that's evident the way we're built. People want to talk about the youth of our football team, but I think it really helps the fact that this is the starting point and we really need to keep pushing forward to improve.

(How much did it throw a wrench into your plans to lose Jennings so late in the week?)

If you had watched us practice, Greg was a big part of the game plan. I think Greg and Brett are really starting to develop that connection in year two that you like to see between a quarterback and receiver. We had planned on him potentially having a big day, but that's no excuse for the way we played on offense at all. I don't want to try to use it that way. I think Greg Jennings, he's really developing and ready to take that next step as a receiver.

(Did Coston play better than Spitz had?)

Well, Jason's calf started to tighten up there, probably two or three series before he went out. But I think we talked about Juice in here the other day. Just the fact that he's backing up all five positions on the offensive line tells you what we think of him and what he's done. He's definitely pushing those guys. He'll play the right guard position as we go into Wednesday, based on Spitz's status.

(How did he do when you watched the tape?)

I thought he did OK. He did a solid job, he did a good job. But as a group, that offensive line, the continuity and everything they do together, sometimes it's hard to sit there and say one guy played great and the other guy didn't. I know it happens. We have a lot of work to do, but I thought Juice did a nice job when he got in there.

(Is that a position where if Spitz is healthy, could it be 50-50 as far as deciding who to go with?)

Personally, I'm not a big fan of that, but it's something you could definitely justify. There's some sentiment in our room that feels Juice Coston is at that level, to push for a starting position. The flip side of that is the continuity you're trying to establish with five guys. So I'm not opposed to it, and that's something we have talked about.

(What do you make of the fundamental errors in the zone-blocking scheme after you've already had a full year in the system?)

It's one game, we didn't play very well. To me, systems are starting points. Football is a game that is played, ... when you play football the way it's supposed to be played, we don't ask our players to do anything they're not capable of doing physically. So we will improve on the zone system. I don't think it's a reflection of the system, because I think our players from an athletic standpoint up front, fit the system. We need to do a much better job. And frankly, the play-caller needs to commit to it a little longer too. That wasn't the mindset going into that game. I did not walk into that game thinking I was going to run the ball 40 times. I'd like to run the ball 40 times, but based on the film study and game-planning, we felt there were some other things we could be successful in.

(With the pass protection, are you surprised the offensive line struggled as much as they did?)

I'm disappointed, because the one thing we established particularly last year when we went seven-man protections, there was great confidence and understanding in those schemes. And with our quarterback back there, you give him time, and we do have good perimeter players that can win the one-on-one's, that we'd be successful. When you do call plays or when you do get into offensive game-planning, there's always something you know you can hang your hat on, and that's something that I still believe I can. Now, we didn't do very good yesterday, but we will do a much better job with it as we move forward.

(Did you use seven-man protections at all?)

Used a bunch of them on third down. Most of our pressure came on second-and-long, and exclusively on third down. We didn't get a lot of pressure on first and second down, and really, the key statistic for us was our first down and second down production wasn't very good. Third down is always a lot easier when you're successful on first and second down.

(On special teams, is this a one-game thing or do you have a collection of players who are sound in that area?)

Well, the biggest thing you're seeing on special teams ... hey, we've got work to do there too now. We played one game. We're 1-0. But just the confidence, the understanding, the recognition that you see from those particular younger players on special teams is something to get excited about. We can definitely improve. Because we made some mistakes on special teams that did not hurt us. There's room for improvement there too. But it's just nice to see. Experience is something that you need to obtain, through your own experiences or the information shared with others. The core players, establishing the core players. Our kicking game. I thought Mason did an excellent job. Jon Ryan did not punt particularly well. We have some things we need to work on, but this is their starting point. They need to shoot to play better than they did this week, every week. Same with the defense. The defense played well, but there's some things on defense we can improve on too. We need to collapse to the ball better when the quarterback scrambles. Their quarterback stepped out of a number of sacks, and that's a credit to the type of player he is. The tackling sometimes could be better. For all the positives that we need to move forward and build on, and we'll continue to do that, we still have to keep cleaning our own house.

(Was the offense getting the play in time? It seemed like a lot of times the snap was last-second.)

Part of that is just the way we operate. I don't want to get into specifics of everything we do. But best play available, there's a number of things, particularly certain personnel groups that there are run and pass options. That's more by design. The biggest thing I was disappointed with was our tempo wasn't what it normally is. That's more illustrated on when you're breaking the huddle. So we need to do a better job. That's something we've always done a good job of, and that we were excellent at tempo and getting to the line of scrimmage in the preseason. I think part of it is when you don't get in that rhythm and you're not being productive on offense, that's the kind of stuff that kind of slacks on you, and as a coach, we can't let that happen. So we will get that cleaned up this week.

(On the third-and-1 in the fourth quarter when Favre took the shot deep, was that his first option?)

The one to James Jones? Yes. There was a particular defense I was looking for, and we got it, and we took the shot.

(What can Morency add to the offense if you get him back this week?)

Mo has experience in this offense. I thought he played well with his opportunities last year. Third down, he would definitely show up there. He's a good pass protector, has a good feel for the checkdowns, recognition, things like that. I think he's developed into a pretty good zone runner. He's learned the one-cut assignment that we're doing here. He's a good football player.

(Are you happy with the balance in the play-calling - 17 runs in 63 plays?)

Well, it depends on what your outlook is. People like to say they're 50-50, but you're very rarely 50-50 with that type of game plan. That wasn't the game plan. The game plan going in was to throw the ball, particularly early in the game. The ratio is one thing, but the number of plays is the first thing. We want to be 74, 75-plus plays a game. Execution plays a big part of that obviously. But also getting in and out of the huddle, the tempo, and things we did not establish. I don't want to be throwing the ball 42 times a game, to give the best answer to your question.

{sportsad300}(What happened on the interception, the pass to Franks?)

The quarterback and receiver were not on the same page. The route, it was a two-way go on the route. Based on the defense, they kind of rolled to the pressure they gave us, and we actually had the same look in practice that we showed them. I think Brett got fooled and then he threw it up late down the middle.

(So Franks is running up the seam?)

Based on what Bubba saw on pre-snap, and I don't know exactly how familiar you are with the play. The corner rolls down, the safety rolls down, and he's supposed to run his route off the first secondary defender. That guy blitzed, so now he runs it off the high player. He actually took a widening on his release because the initial secondary element was outside. So with that, it gave him a gray area. Is he inside leverage, is he outside leverage, that's where the confusion came.

(Will you have Blackmon back returning this week?)

That's really going to depend on the cast. When he first went out there the first week, it wasn't over top of him and it looked like he was able to manage it a lot more, but that's not the case right now. I think until we get back to where he's comfortable, then we'll visit that. My understanding is there won't be any change in the cast this week.

(How do you balance using your top guys on special teams versus the risk?)

The disappointing thing about Al on special teams getting hurt, number one, he was asked to do exactly on special teams what he does every day, which is to play bump-and-run and win in that type of technique. The disappointing thing about the injury was really Atari's decision to go over there. Because Atari is kind of a free hitter on that particular return, really looking for a player inside, but if Al needed the help then to go over there. It was a judgment by him, and that's when the injury occurred. The reason why we have Al out there is he can handle those guys one-on-one, but we'll probably lean the other way as we go forward.

(Was Atari just trying to make a big hit?)

I think the leverage of the gunner flashed to him, but then Al turned and Al was in fine position when you watch it on the film. But I think the initial release of the gunner, Atari reacted to it. He was actually very physical going over, but he hit Al. He did knock the gunner on the ground. That's what happened on that play.

(Did Al go back in on his own?)

I was not aware of that. I have no reason not to believe him. I'll say this about his injury, now, he toughed it out. It was a pretty significant injury. When it happened, Pepper felt that he was done, and then the next thing you know he has his arm taped up and he went back in. From what they told me, he really gutted it out.

(You're pretty confident you'll have him next week?)

Based on what I know. I visited with Pepper before I came in here.

(Is it up to the player in that instance, to go back in the game?)

I think it depends on the injury. Number one, player safety. But if they would have felt it would have been a risk where he could really hurt himself, they definitely wouldn't have let him back in, say for a concussion or something like that. But it was an elbow injury, and he taped it up which limited his range of motion, so he was protected.

(How did Bigby play?)

Played good. He played good at safety. Did not play as well on special teams. But he had a solid game. I think he had eight tackles. He graded out very high.

(Bob Sanders said there were no miscommunications. Is that where you really had to see how Atari did, because Manuel didn't do as well there?)

Well, I'd say that was probably a strength of Manuel's. When we had the explosive gains early last year, it was really more of the front end and the back end not being on the same page. I do the game management report for the whole team, and one of the topics is communication. Mike Eayrs is the individual who kind of drives that for us. He watches a certain number of topics each week, core topics, communication being one of them, and our communication was excellent, as far as the boundary communication, play entry, guys getting on and off the field, things like that. My understanding was the communication was very good.

(As an offensive coach, are you OK with winning games this way a lot?)

I'm definitely OK. The bottom line is to win games. But I'll just tell you this, I'm not OK with the way we played yesterday on offense. It may sting more than normal. As a head coach, you have to be conscientious of that when you're in front of the football team. I don't want to ever tarnish a victory because the offense didn't play well. We're going to win them any way we can, and if it's with a great defense, which I think we have, that's OK. But we're also working to have a great offense, too. I think anytime you are one-dimensional as a football team, if you run across that opponent whose dimensions may be different than yours, or has the two dimensions or three dimensions to it, then you're playing uphill. We don't want to be having any weak links around here.

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