Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 11

Read the transcript of Mike McCarthy’s press conference on Monday, the day after the season-opening loss to the Bears. Packers.com will post these full transcripts following each of Coach McCarthy’s press conferences throughout the 2006 season.

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I'll start with the injury report. We had one player who will be on the injury list, and that will be Jason Spitz with a thigh contusion. That's the only thing we had come out of the game. With that I'll take your questions.

(Worried about team confidence after loss like that?)

I'd say no. My experience with young players, I think they're the ones who are so resilient because they're so eager. I think they're always focused on what's in front of them, the new opportunity, the next challenge, things like that. I think the older players, it's a bit of a wake-up call for them.

(Five passes in first half, was that game plan or not making enough first downs?)

I think it's clearly not making enough first downs. We don't plan to go three-and-out. Our biggest failure in the first half was the short-yardage offense. We had three short-yardage situations in the first three series we did not convert on. That was the downfall of the start of the game, really for both sides. They converted their third downs on offense and we did not. That was really the downfall of our first half.

(Did you watch the film again on third-and-short when Green missed before fourth down? Did Green have it? Should you have challenged that?)

No, I didn't think so.

(After looking at the film, was it as bad as it felt yesterday or not as bad?)

I hope this stays true, it's never as bad as it feels the day of the game. It's disappointing walking off the field yesterday. But when you have a chance to go in and watch the film and confirm the information you got through the game, and also see the positive things that did occur. For us I'll start with the run game. We almost took turns having a breakdown in there. We had good looks, we felt the game plan we had good angles. It was evident in how much success Ahman had. It wasn't as bad as you would think in the run game. The pass protection is the thing from an offensive standpoint we need to get cleaned up. That was a losing performance in that area.

(Why the QB sneak when you don't practice it live, and was that a tough block for Moll, something he didn't see?)

A quarterback sneak, I would think with our quarterback it's not something we need to practice a whole lot for his number of reps through his career. But it is something that you really don't want to expose your offense or defense in a practice environment to injury. It's all based on footwork. It's a wedge play, it's just another form of a combination block. I disagree with the fact that we don't practice that. We're a zone team, so combination blocks, we do that every single day. Tony was high and his split was a little too wide.

(Could Favre have done anything different?)

I don't know. I think the timing of the hit on his legs, he caught him with his feet off the ground, so I don't think so. I think he was kind of in between jumping and lunging. But I thought we had excellent push on the front side. I thought Scott and Jason did an excellent job on Tommie Harris.

(Play before that, no tackle in the one gap, would you encourage Favre to make that call on his own, tap the center and go?)

We have a call in our offense. Yes that's an option. I also think giving the ball to Ahman Green is a good option too.

(What did you see on film with the interceptions?)

Pretty much what we talked about yesterday. The route depth was incorrect on the first one, and the second one he has to set his feet to make the throw. That's a throw that probably in his younger days he can make on the move, but that's a ball that needs to go into the end zone. It's a long throw. We were taking a shot, it's a high-risk play. Design is part of it, but it's pretty much what we talked about yesterday.

(Is that what your offense will look like, from schematic standpoint?)

That will not be what our offense looks like in the future. Every game plan is different. There are days you want to come out and establish the run, and there's days you're going to come out and mix it, and I hope there are days we'll come out throwing it. That's a week to week thing. That's what game-planning is all about. I'm not locked into starting a game the same way every week. I think there are things you need to establish in your game plan, which is the run game at some point. Running the football, once again, is a four-quarter commitment. We committed to it from the first snap, that was our game plan going into Chicago. The game plan will dictate how we start the game.

(Was Favre spraying the ball or was it largely protection in the second half?)

I think the throws in the fourth quarter, the pressure was up and the coverage was softer. The holes were tighter, and he had a couple that went high on him. That's usually a product of the pressure around you. He's about as accurate a guy as I've ever worked with.

(Tommie Harris called Tauscher's hit dirty. Did you see anything?)

I didn't see that, no. I didn't see it that way.

(Those complaints are leveled against zone-blocking teams a lot, is that something you have to get used to?)

The thing about cut blocking is once again, you have to do it the right way, as long as your hat is in front. We're not teaching bad technique here, we're not trying to high-low players. Player injury is something that's a two-way street. We're not teaching bad football. When you're fast, you want to protect your legs. If I was playing defensive line, I wouldn't like it either. But it is part of the game when it's done correctly, but by no means are we teaching bad technique.

(Is Taylor a better option in coverage than Poppinga?)

Brady is a young player, actually Brady played very well in the run game. Played exceptional actually. In the pass coverage, he was in man, good route, good ball, he got beat a couple times. They looked to be more secondary routes and things like that. For the linebacker position, that usually comes second. He'll continue to grow there, and Ben has been a solid player for us since he's been here throughout the summer and the preseason, so he's definitely an option.

(How did that punt return get away, and how about special teams?)

It has not been consistent. The line integrity on the return was not in tact. We had two individuals out of their lane, that was probably the biggeset breakdown. We need to improve that because plays like that change the game. I think it definitely had in impact at the time, taking it to 26. We need to improve that, as far as the coverage unit and coordinating where the ball is supposed to be kicked.

(Do you need to go out and look for a kickoff returner?)

We're always looking for good football players. Samkon and Noah, we need to get more productivity out of that position. We're always looking to acquire as many good football players as possible.

(Will Blackmon be considered there?)

He's definitely a candidate on both punt and kickoff, yes.

(Do you have to combat the possible "here we go again" mentality of the veterans?)

I'm not concerned this early. But we had a very negative experience yesterday, and we need to learn from this. This was an opportunity against the Chicago Bears we did not take advantage of. They clearly played better than we did, they out-executed us and were successful. But with that, we have a chance to learn from that and we need to move on. I think times like this is when you find out about people, particularly in the fourth quarter. I could have played the fourth quarter a lot differently, got our offense out of there and saved the quarterback the embarrassment of throwing two interceptions. But I don't believe in playing that way. I think you play to win. I wanted to see how our guys finished the game. Finish is a big product of who you are, especially in tough times. We can learn from this, we learned about one another from this, including the head coach all the way down, so this is an experience we need to build off of, in my opinion.

(How much do you lean on veterans to let younger guys know this is not how it's supposed to be?)

That's a good point, I think we've been doing that all along. The tradition and standard of the Green Bay Packers is something we're trying to educate our younger players on all the time. To go out there in Week 1 and experience what we did is not how we want to illustrate how the Green Bay Packers win here. To me that's an ongoing process. I know it comes to the forefront right now because of what happened yesterday, but that's an ongoing learning experience. Leadership is critical, it's critical in any team sport.

(What's your Monday schedule after a game?)

We'll go (with the film) at 12:30 with the special teams, and then we'll go offense/defense at 1:00, and we'll have our team meeting at the end, because I want our players to see the film before I talk to them.

(How soon will Blackmon be available?)

Time will tell. He was a little sore this last week. He's day to day. He's still having some soreness.

(How sore is Clifton, or how beat up was he coming into this game?)

How sore? I have not gotten an injury report on him. He did not come across my desk. He had the flu, the 24-hour bug the other day, but he's fine.

(What happened to Manuel on the long pass play?)

It was quarters coverage. I refer to it as quarters, they call it switch. The run fake, he probably jumped on the run fake too much, and Al's supposed to be on the upfield shoulder. It's just communication between two guys. They ran the exact same play later in the game where they threw it to the right where Charles had it well-covered. So if you're looking an illustration of how it's supposed to be covered, take a look at the second one. But on the first one we were out of position.

(What's the communication on that play?)

It's based on what the coverage is. Not to get into all the terminology, but they have one of two options. Who's outside leverage, who's inside, things like that. He should have been on the upfield shouder. There was too much separation between the two guys, and he was able to split it.

(Is Spitz going to practice Wednesday?)

Don't know. I just heard that as I walked in here right now. They're doing the tests right now so I'll know more probably tomorrow.

(Running a lot of plays from the same personnel grouping, is that something you want to stick with or was it because of the Bears?)

Game plan. There will be games where you'll roll personnel groups if it's to your benefit, and there will be games where you'll stay in one personnel group. Those are game-plan decisions.

(How would you assess the play of the rookie guards?)

There had some things they could do better. What's encouraging about both Jason and Tony, they improved on some things they did wrong in the preseason, Tony in particular. But really the things on the backside of the blocking schemes are the things they need to do a better job of. I thought they were a lot better on their front side blocking assignments, but the pass protection is the area that really the whole offensive line, the whole protection unit needs to improve on. That's where their biggest struggle came.

(Was that a physical thing?)

It was technique, footwork. We didn't have a lot of mental errors.

(What did you think of how Kampman played?)

I thought he played well, played very well. He was very active in the run game, pressured. I really thought as a whole the front seven played very well. You take a look at the first three series, once we got through the first quarter the defense played some good sound football. I think they converted their first three third downs, and after that they were 1 for 11. I think that speaks volumes about the way they played. Their two biggest breakdowns were the two big plays they gave up, and just the way we started the game.

(A player like Kampman with a big contract can either get complacent or try to hard to live up to it. You don't seem to have to worry about either of those with Kampman, do you?)

Kampman? No. He brings his lunch box to work every day. He's the same guy every day. He's a true pro.

(Pass to Lee, was pass slightly behind him or did he just stumble?)

On the field I thought it was behind him, but watching the film I think Donald needs to run through that ball. He has a chance to score. You can't draw it up any better than that. We had the coverage we wanted, Brown bit on the fake on the front side, and we had the safety isolated. It was a big-play opportunity that had a chance to score.

(Red zone defense another positive?)

Definitely, keeping them out of the end zone. I thought our defense, once we got past the first quarter, played pretty good football.

(What was this like for you, your first game, how do you deal with it?)

Disappointed. That's the thing. I was more disappointed for the players, everybody else involved, for the fans. There's so much hope and excitement riding into your first game. But also I think once you have a chance to get away, you have to keep in touch with reality. My reality is obviously different than your guys' reality, I'm aware of that. The reality is we are 0-1. We did not play very well. We had some situations on both offense defense and special teams where we were out-executed. If it was out-schemed, I would be the first to admit we put the players in a bad situation, but I don't think that was the case. So we just need to go back and stick to what we're doing. I thought we had good angles, particularly in the run game. The pass protection is something we're going to continue to grow on, that's playing football. The defense starts faster, they have an excellent game. And the special teams, the coverage unit, we need to get that fixed. That's the reality of the things we need to improve on. Take the positives, build on those, and we need to continue to correct and grow off the negatives. That's my outlook and that will always be my outlook.

(Can Green play that many snaps all season?)

I hope so. He looks the part. He said he felt good, and I think Edgar has his finger on the pulse. Edgar probably knows him better than anybody, he's been with him. There's a fine line there. You want to push him as far as he can go because he is a play-maker. He's one of our key play-makers, and we do want to run the football. The only negative I had with the running game is we only ran it 20 times. If you want to have a big day you need to get up into the 30s. If that's 20-25 for him and 10 for the other guys, that's great. That's what I'm hopeful for, I'm hopeful we can get him 20, 25 carries a game.

(Did you have a dime defense yesterday, or were you OK with just the nickel?)

I'm fine with nickel. I like our linebackers. If you go to dime, you're taking A.J. Hawk off the field, so I think we're fine where we are.

(What needs to be done to improve third-down efficiency?)

The first one is the short-yardage offense. We were in favorable down-and-distances the whole first half, and the first third-and-3, we have a player step on the quarterback's foot. That's not very good. So we need to get that cleaned up. I felt in the second half, now it swung the other way. The third downs were now long down-and-distances and now you're playing to the strength of the defense. Execution on the third and short, and you have to stay out of third and long. When you look at third and long, why am I in third and long? Was it a penalty, a sack, stay out of the negative plays. We need to get that fixed.

(What was the play supposed to be when Favre got stepped on?)

It was a three-step drop. Donald was the primary receiver. Donald going big on the nickel. It wasn't a conversion, a chance for a big play in the game.

(Rayner's miss, does it change your outlook on him at all this week?)

I haven't talked to him, but it doesn't change my outlook on him. He's young and talented. We're in the business of winning football games. Production is the primary focus, and he needs to produce. That's where we are. The tryouts are over. He's our kicker and we believe in him. But he needs to make that kick. It gives us a little momentum going into the half, and we come out getting the ball. That could have been a good shot in the arm for our football team.

(Assess how Ryan punted, and was his kick OK on the return?)

OK. I thought his ball placement could have been better in the fourth quarter, but we need to improve in that area also. The coverage wasn't very good, like I said earlier. The lane integrity was not in tact.

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