Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 27

Read the transcript of Mike McCarthy’s Wednesday press conference. Packers.com will post these full transcripts following each of Coach McCarthy’s press conferences throughout the 2006 season.

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(The franchise hasn't won in Philly in 40-plus years. Can you talk about the challenge of playing in a hostile environment like Philadelphia?)

We're looking at this as one game. It's a tough place to play. It's a great game-day environment that will be enhanced by Monday Night Football. That's definitely part of the challenge of going on the road. We're looking forward to the challenge. They're an excellent football team, a veteran football team, and we'll be ready to go.

(What do guys from Pittsburgh think of Philadelphia?)

It's not positive. That's why they're on the other side of the state.

(As an environment, how different is it with how the fans treat the opposing team?)

They're great fans, for Philadelphia. It's a beautiful stadium, a new stadium. I've played up there twice. It's a great challenge, I don't know what else to say. We're looking forward to it. It's one of the wildest places to play.

(Do you find it surprising that the last Packers coach to win there was Vince Lombardi?)

I didn't know that. I don't think that's going to factor into how I call the game. I'm focused on the game.

(Did Kenderick Allen break a bone in his foot?)

No, he didn't break a bone. He's just got a sprained foot.

(With the veterans in the secondary, is it surprising you've given up so many big plays?)

Surprising? Well, you don't want it. It's a talented group, and we need to get better at being on the same page, and it's a problem. That's where the majority of the success of the opposing offenses is having, is on the big plays. I hate doing this with statistics, but you sit there and talk about the other 85, 90 percent, and it's really good defense. That's a problem we need to get fixed, and we're playing against the top-rated offense in the league. They've played wide open their first three games, so I anticipate they're going to play wide open Monday night. That's a great challenge for us, and I think it's an opportunity for our secondary to have a big day.

(Are you at the point of considering lineup changes?)

No, we're not at that point.

(What's your timetable for picking the two of the best three guards?)

Tomorrow being the last padded practice of the week, we'll probably make a decision tomorrow, no later than Friday. But Jason, he was limited work today.

(Is it a given Colledge stays at left guard and Spitz would play right guard if ready?)

I really don't want to get into that right now. I'll have more information tomorrow.

(How does Brian Westbrook compare to other backs in the league?)

I think Brian Westbrook is special. He's a guy that can score from anywhere on the field. He'll be a primary target for our defense this week. He can do it all. You look at the run he had at San Francisco, just the way he finished it. They do a good job of getting him the football and getting him in space. Once again, he's a primary target for our defense.

(Any ideas of scheming Collins against Westbrook like you did with Bush?)

We'll have to watch that on TV I guess.

(What do you think of what Pickett has given you, for the money?)

For the money? I'm happy with Ryan Pickett's performance to this point. He's clearly been our most consistent inside player. As far as the money, I'm happy he's here, I'll say that.

(Is that group in the middle of the defensive line better than you thought they'd be?)

Really, we felt all along through the spring, through training camp, that's the group that has the most depth, and it's very competitive. We've had to put an inside player down the last two weeks, even Johnny Jolly is really coming along too. I can't say enough about that group. It's the group that has the most depth. You'd like every position to look like that quite frankly, so we're very pleased with the defensive line group.

(Has Pickett been your best guy against the run?)

I'd say he's been the best overall player, consistent, both run and pass.

(How hard is that to replace in the short-term against this type of offense?)

We feel we've got a lot of depth there. Corey Williams was our defensive player of the week this past week, so he had an excellent game, and he will start this week. Cullen Jenkins and Colin Cole, like I said and Johnny Jolly is coming along, we feel like we have excellent depth there, and they will all play.

(What happened with Pickett that he was able to finish the game? Did he have more problems Monday when you came back?)

He fought through it, he fought through the game.

(Is this a trial for Spitz, or is he ready to come back?)

We're trying to work him back in. This is his first day in pads. He's been doing a lot of work with the trainers, did some individual work with Campen and Joe down in the indoor facility. This was his first day back in group activity.

(Do you have him back for the rest of the week?)

He's back, it's just how far he can push it. It was a pretty distinct bruise, so we'll see how far he can push it the first time here. It's different pushing on bags and going through rehab than getting in there and getting in the team drills, so we're just being smart with him.

(Do you have Coston back now?)

Yes, Juice had a good day today. We'll see how sore he is, but I would say he's back. He's further along than Jason.

(How do you weigh playing the best two of three guards versus wanting to get continuity?)

Their experience level is similar. Not to be hypocritical, but we've been trying to get continuity, and that's why we made the decision we did early in training camp. Jason prior to the injury was the most consistent of the three. So we're just trying to find the best combination.

(Are you pleasantly surprised with how Colledge has responded?)

I think Daryn has responded. He's playing much better week to week. I think he's getting comfortable with Chad over there on the left side. He's definitely responded and is improving.

(Did he play that much better, or how much of it was the help you gave him with the max protects?)

He did play better. The game plans for New Orleans and Detroit were frankly very similar. There's a lot of carryover in the protection game plan, and he played much better from the first week to the second week.

(What are your thoughts on Donovan McNabb coming off last year's injury?)

I think he looks great. He's in his seventh year in the league, he's been in the same offense. You can see he has a great comfort level with where his receivers are as he works through his progressions. He gets the ball out of his hand. I've always felt he was an exceptional out of the pocket, he's probably the best quarterback in the league outside the pocket as far as throwing the ball down the field. He really looks good.

(Which side is better for Spitz, left or right?)

Just depends on which way we go schematically. I like the power play, so I'd say left because we run more powers to the right. But there's an argument that he's better suited to the right.

(How would you assess Al Harris' first three games?)

How would I assess it? Not as consistent as he would like, and this is a great opportunity this week for him to get back on track. This group he's getting ready to play against, I don't know how many times they'll throw the ball this week or how much they'll challenge us, but he just needs to be more consistent.

(What do you see as the difference in Stallworth between now and when he was in New Orleans?)

I think Donte Stallworth is one of those players who has a chance to be a special guy in the league. He's an explosive player. He's a really tough kid. People don't talk much about it, but he's a guy who can go in there and do the crackblocks on the linebackers. You give him the reverse, run him up inside, which is not real natural for a receiver.

I think he has a huge upside talent wise. He just didn't get off to a good start early in his career, junior coming out and then he had the hamstring injuries. But I'm very fond of Donte Stallworth, and I think he's a young man who has a great future in Philadelphia.

(Did you inquire about him when he was available?)

You always inquire about the people you think positively of. Yeah, I inquired about him.

(Was the price just too high?)

I just inquired about him.

(Communication problems with the secondary - just with zone defense?)

Well, no, like I've said it's never just been one thing. If it was always zone defense, we wouldn't play zone anymore. Like I said, our big plays are spread out - it's not one guy, it's not one check, it's not one thing. So, to answer your question, no it didn't just come in the zone coverage.

(Are some of these defenses new?)

No, they're not new.

(As the weeks go by, are you happy with the punting position?)

Yea, I'm very happy with both the punter and kicker because they're young and talented. It was just a matter of if they were going to be ready, in my opinion, as we went through training camp, how I viewed it. I think they both earned their positions, which is important, and they're going to continue to get better. But they're both strong-legged, and I'm very happy with the way they're progressing. I really like the way they go about their job - they're hard workers. I think they have tremendous upside.

(As Ryan becomes consistent, how valuable is a Ryan's leg and the ability to change field position significantly?)

Overall, when you play football in this part of the country, whether you're kicking it or throwing it, you need to be strong. You need to have a strong-armed quarterback, a strong-legged kicker and a strong-legged punter. That's my personal belief. That's very important because when we get into the winter months and you get the windy days, it's going to be important. I think his (Ryan's) leg strength is a definite plus.

(What kinds of things do the team or NFL have in place to help guard against depression or other off the field issues?)

Absolutely, especially here at the Packers. Our resources for players and employees is, I'd say, second to none. In our industry, we're so blessed to have people on staff that can help you with any off the field issues. We have a player development program headed up by George Koonce. He keeps his finger on the pulse in the locker room and tries to be proactive if any of these issues potentially occur. And then we have a support group in place to deal with issues as they do occur. Whatever are you need help in, help is available.

(Are athletes more prone to depression because of pressure and high expectations?)

I don't think we work in a normal industry. We work under a spotlight and a microscope. The benefits are high, too. Yeah, I think there is a tendency - the pressure is different than most other professions.

(How would you rate A.J. Hawk's progress from the beginning of camp to now?)

I think he's a young, aspiring player. I just think he's a physical, competitive player. I keep using the word "comfort", I feel like I'm being redundant here but a number of our players are young, but as we progress through the season, you're just seeing more and more players get comfortable with the way they fit into the scheme, who they play next to, and so on and so forth. I think if you take Week 1 to Week 3, he's steadily on the up climb and will continue to improve.

(Do you see more situations like Sunday where he'll blitz?)

Yeah, I mean he's a good pressure defender and that's something we knew coming out of college. He is part of our blitz packages, but also the way the game goes dictates that. It's based on what the offense lines up in, so there are a lot of factors involved in that. I need to start playing them video games, but I don't think it works like that.

(How happy are you with the linebacker unit?)

Good, I think Winston Moss has done an excellent job with that crew. A.J. is coming on, Nick's been very consistent, Brady is improving, Ben has been real steady and Abdul Hodge is a young guy that has a bright future too. I'm very happy with that group.

(What was the thinking with the roster move - Miree and White?)

Just a young player that is ascending. We wanted to get Brandon up on the 53, and it was a factor of Tory Humphrey and (Jason) Hunter playing very well on special teams. We like the bigger body type, physical, guys who can run. We felt like those two bodies - don't want to call them bodies but those two individuals improved our special teams.

(Miree help in the zone blocking scheme?)

Yeah, that is the primary way we run. He has a background in it, he's natural at it, he understands the reads and could be very productive in those situations.

(Did any other teams come after him?)

No.

(Why did you feel like you needed another fullback?)

Well, it's really the combination with the special teams. We want to try to work him at special teams because his body type is advantageous to the way we want to play special teams.

(Will you use him at fullback at all?)

He and William are both working at the fullback position.

(Would you rather have him at fullback than one of the tight ends?)

Depends on what we're doing. Flexibility is important, especially throughout the course of the year. That's a body type you can't have enough of. I think it illustrates why we have five tight ends, four on the 53 and one on the practice squad, and two fullbacks. That's the most I've ever had. But it gives you great flexibility to stay within your schemes whether you want to be a one-back offense or a two-back offense, so it just gives us great flexibility.

(You mentioned you were going to watch the game Monday night in New Orleans. Just your thoughts on that?)

I thought it was incredible. I don't think you could put that into words. The pre-game, and just the way they came out and played. Just to see the Superdome lit up like that, it's something I'll never forget. I got a chance to talk to a few of my friends with the organization, and hopefully it's a once-in-a-lifetime event, because Katrina played a big part in creating it. But I was very happy for the people of New Orleans and the way that turned out. I don't think it could have turned out any better.

(What kind of challenges does a Jim Johnson defense pose?)

He's an excellent football coach. I've had an opportunity to go against Jim a few times. He tests your protection schemes from a pressure standpoint. They're very sound. This is the best defense we've played to this point in the season. You look at them in the run game, the linebackers and their fits, everything is tight, they tackle well. The secondary is a little nicked up, but it's a veteran secondary. They have a complete understanding of the scheme. This is going to be an excellent challenge for us, and I think he does a very good job.

(The interior line has faced challenges with Tommie Harris and Shaun Rogers. How is this different?)

This is different just from the defensive line personnel because they play so many guys. They roll three or four guys in at a time. They have a lot of depth there also, keeping their guys fresh and so forth. Just in standard defense, that will be a challenge. But in their pressure schemes, we refer to them as overload, they will overload you weak or overload you strong. That's the thing with your offseason and all your protection adjustments, we'll have to use them Monday night.

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