Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 28

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s press conference Monday from the Lambeau Field auditorium.

(Any health issues you weren't aware of yesterday?)

Our injury report, I'll just go from the top here. Atari Bigby, don't anticipate he'll make it back this week, with his knee. Chad Clifton, we're going to give him the opportunity to try to get back. We'll see how he is. Our Thursday practice will be a Wednesday schedule for us. Brandon Jackson had a setback with his ankle sprain, so I don't know if he'll practice this week. We'll see how he feels Thursday. Jeremy Thompson has some knee inflammation, so he's doubtful for practice this week. We'll see how he is. And I've got a bunch of guys just kind of banged up.

(So you think Clifton might have a chance this week?)

We're going to give him a shot. He's feeling a lot better, made a lot of progress in the rehab last week. We'll see how he is at the end of the week. He's going to have to practice if he's going to play.

(If he's able to be something of the Chad Clifton you know, how big a shot in the arm would that be for your offensive line?)

Well, he's played a lot of football. He's a veteran left tackle. He's clearly our skill position on the offensive line. But I really just want to see how he comes back off the injury. If he's able to practice at the end of the week, we'll be glad to have him back.

(In a normal week, would that cause problems in practice with the reps in getting Colledge ready?)

Good point. Anytime you play a game, you definitely want to give Daryn Colledge and it even goes as far as Jason Spitz if you have to move people around, the opportunity to get ready to play. But I think the extra day with the guys being examined on Thursday morning will definitely help us.

(What are you doing with the extra day this week?)

We're going to treat Tuesday like a Tuesday. It will be the players' day off. And then we're going to come in Wednesday and we're going to do primarily everything that we normally do on a Wednesday morning, except for practice. We've got extensive film review, meetings, and jog-throughs in the gym.

(How do you think the O-line performed yesterday?)

Not good enough. I definitely felt that we left some opportunities on the field, particularly more in the run game part of it, and that's always a combination of the run-blocking unit and the runner. So we'll look at that today with our team. We did some things that we did very well in the second half, we just didn't get it done early in the game. I thought as the game went on they progressed, but we need to do a better job starting faster in the run game.

(What's your concern level with the production on first down?)

First down has not been a positive so far this year. I think it was evident really yesterday and our first two games. The second-and-longs that we're playing in is definitely not in our favor of playing downhill. So that will be an emphasis as we get going. But clearly, we have to do a better job running or throwing it on first down.

(What's going to be your message to the team this week with all the hoopla and playing against Favre?)

Really, to keep it about the football game. We had an opportunity to go through that type of environment in the past. It's important to learn from that experience. This is an important football game for both teams. It always is. It's a difficult place to play. I really like the fact that we're coming off of one dome game into another, because dome games are different, they really are. Just the way it feels to the players, the crowd noise, even the way it looks at some point, as far as throwing the football indoors and things like that. We're going to clearly focus on the game.

(What do you mean that you've been through it before and learned from it?)

Just that all the questions that we're going to have to answer have nothing to do with what goes on between the white lines.

(How much advantage did you gain by playing in a dome this past week? Does that help?)

I would say it would help you, like I've said. I'm glad we're able to play back-to-back games coming off of one dome game into the next because I do think it's different. It's a different environment. Turf's different, indoors than outdoors, those types of things. I think the crowd noise will definitely be a lot louder this week at Minnesota than it was in St. Louis. It gives us an opportunity to work in the Hutson Center a couple times this week to get ready for that. But it's definitely an adjustment when you go over there.

(What is your thought on the run defense yesterday? On the one hand, you gave up around 120 yards, but Jackson didn't have any really big runs for touchdowns.)

Well, I thought we did a very good job as far as the overall run game, as far as the wins and losses. We had a number of zero runs, negative ones, 1-yard runs. But the time where we jump out of a gap, play pass before run, things like that as far as contain, I thought Jackson, like I said afterwards, I thought he did a very good job of recognizing the defense, particularly if we had fire zones on, he did a good job of trying to cut it back to where the support was softer, things like that. Fire zones are hit or miss sometimes when you are going against a really good run game. We just have to eliminate the double-digit runs.

(Is there anything fun or enjoyable about facing Favre, or is it all about handling the distractions this week?)

I think it's going to be a lot of fun when the game starts, personally. I think it's going to be a lot of fun because it's going to be a very competitive football game. It was definitely that type of game when he was on this side, so I think it's going to be a lot of fun. Now, outside of the pure football, me personally, answering all the questions and things that I feel that have nothing to do with the game, that's not something I wake up every day and am excited to do. But that's part of the deal, it's part of our business. But I think it's going to be a lot of fun when the ball's kicked off.

(When all this went down a year-and-a-half ago, did you ever think you'd be facing him in a Vikings uniform?)

Well, nothing surprises me in this business, it really doesn't. I've been around it long enough that there's no surprises. I know the last time we talked face-to-face, he had a desire to play in Minnesota, so yeah, I'm not surprised by it.

(That was the night you met?)

Correct.

(Is there a tangible value to have been his coach, knowing the guy? Though obviously he knows you guys as well...)

I think so, to some degree, really on both sides of your question as far as how well we know him, having the opportunity to practice against him every day for our defensive players that were here when Brett was here. He's also practiced against our players every day also. You talk about the experience of an NFL quarterback, the one thing that I felt was invaluable when he was your quarterback is the fact that he not only played in more games than any other quarterback, but he also practiced every day, so he has a ton of experience. But frankly, I just want to watch the film. I haven't watched him play yet this year. I want to see what he's doing, how he's doing it and what they're asking him to do. That's really where my focus is.

(A small advantage that he doesn't know the new defense?)

Yeah, schematically, yeah, no doubt. We're going to go through the game-plan process like we do every week, and we're going to start with their strengths and try to expose the things we think are the weaknesses. That won't change.

(Will it be hard to be objective watching him? Will you look at the film differently?)

I'm not sure what you're asking me.

(Knowing Favre and his tendencies, will it make your film study more exciting?)

Exciting? Personally, I enjoy watching film, I really do. If there's something that I feel the administrative aspects of my job take me away from, it's the ability to watch more film. Frankly I'll be honest with you. I'm curious to see what he's doing, what they're asking him to do, how he's playing with the new skill position players that he's with. It will be clearly just to line up and try to give Dom some information. But Dom has to set his plan and he needs to call his defense. He is not going to be calling defenses based on what my opinion is of how Brett Favre is playing. That is not going to be the focal point.

(You and Ted had to know he might only last one year with the Jets and possibly go to Minnesota, even with the poison pill in the trade and everything, so wouldn't it have been easier just to trade him to Minnesota back then, and gotten a lot more for him than you'd have gotten from the Jets?)

As far as your question about the poison pill in the trade, that is really a decision that was made as an organization. I was not concerned about if we were going to play him, when we were going to play him. That was not part of my thought process during that time. Frankly, I was more focused on getting back coaching my team because of the amount of time that I was pulled away from the team during training camp dealing with that scenario.

(Do you look back on what you went through and acknowledge it had some impact on your season last year?)

I don't think so. I think it's an excuse. I think you're weak-minded if you think that way. I think distractions, challenges, adversity come upon your football team. Every single team in this league will go through it. Some are different than others. I think it may tap into your energy level that may show up at some point in the season if you want to get real technical about it. But the fact of the matter, everybody knows what the score is, everybody knows what the challenge is week to week, and at the end of the day, you're judged by what you do when you cross the lines. I believe that, that's the way I coach, and that's the facts.

(You want to win because you'll be 3-1 and 2-0 in division games, but the competitive side, you want to beat the guy, right?)

Oh yeah, no doubt about it. Definitely. We want to beat the Vikings. We want to beat everybody on the Vikings, Brett Favre included. There is no doubt about that. Let's not...yeah, we want to win the game.

(It was thought anyone who followed Brett Favre was set up to fail. Are you amazed things have gone so well with Aaron Rodgers in the early stages of his career?)

I understand the mindset or the history of some of the scenarios that have happened in the past in the NFL, and trust me, those are big shoes to fill. But frankly, the way we go about playing offense, it's the way I learned the West Coast offense back in the old days. It's about making the quarterback successful. So Aaron Rodgers deserves most of the credit for that. He's put the time in. He is talented. I think he has learned the pro game the right way. He was able to sit and watch, learn, improve certain aspects of his skill level and get ready to play, and he is off to a good start. But that's really all I look at. I never really looked at his numbers and just hoped that we're trying to beat what has gone on before at other places. I think we all clearly recognize the fact that he stepped into fill some big shoes really from a perception standpoint, but the every-day grind of the job, Aaron Rodgers needs to play quarterback, period. Now we all have secondary responsibilities that come with these jobs, but he needs to focus on playing quarterback and that's all I have ever asked him to do.

(Was there a lot of nurturing along the way to make sure he handled the process a certain way, or did he do it mostly on his own?)

No, that's all part of developing a quarterback. Tom Clements has done a phenomenal job with Aaron. I have had experience developing young quarterbacks for the first time, and frankly the things they have to handle off the field is almost sometimes as important as the things on the field. That's all part of developing that position.

(Any sense of how the fans perceive this Favre situation, and has it evolved over time?)

I think that is the beauty of our business. You have ones that are with you and ones that are not. That's all part of the deal. That's why you have two different colored jerseys, in my opinion. You have them and us. I'm not concerned about it. I'm with the Green and Gold.

(Where would Aaron be right now if last July you had taken Brett back?)

That's a hypothetical situation. I haven't really given it much thought. Really, to go back to that, I don't think anything positive would even...I haven't even thought about it. I couldn't give you a good answer.

(But your concern was with Aaron, and that it was his team ...)

You're talking about things that happened over a year ago. To me, once again, you guys are doing a great job. We're up here and we're focused on the football game. I have zero interest in going back to last training camp.

(After all that's been said, how do you guard against this going beyond just one game in the players' minds?)

Well, I'm just going to say it again. The message to the team is going to be about playing the game. We need to, number one, today, do the self-scout things that you do every Monday. Take care of the pulse of our team, the things that we need to work on, but I clearly am in tune with the size of this game outside the building. For us to play to our ability, we need to focus on ourselves. Nobody in our locker room, nobody on our coaching staff, nobody in the building, needs or will be writing checks that the rest of the team has to sign, me included. We need to stay focused on the football team and getting ready for the game. That's the facts. Our extra-curricular involvement in the media coverage is going to be more than it has been to this point, no doubt about it, but it cannot factor into how we plan for this game.

{sportsad300}(You've won a couple of times over in that dome and were a missed field goal away from winning last year. What's your magic formula for success over there?)

I wouldn't say it's a magic formula. I think today's offenses do a much better job than in the past in my experience of communicating on the road. I think that was probably a big part of our success to go over there and be able to score some points. The game up there last year was kind of an odd game. We had a number of turnovers; I think we were plus-four in that game if I recall. We had an opportunity to win it at the end, but they had too many big plays against us. I thought their defense played the best they had played in our six contests over there last year. I thought they were significantly quicker on the turf last year than prior years. But you've just got to go over there, you've got to take care of the football, you can't let the crowd and the noise factor into it. It's a tough place to play. I think we have done a good job on the road. Overall in our career here we have put together a good road record. Home games are a different story; we can wait until Detroit to talk about that. We just need to stay focused on playing within ourselves and make sure we take the opportunities that present themselves over there.

(Yesterday Aaron made a bunch of plays with his feet, but is there a fine line between being too risky and exposing himself?)

I thought Aaron was smart with his feet yesterday. Both times on our boundary he got out of bounds. There were near hits that were late out of bounds, but I thought he was smart getting out of bounds. A number of times when he broke containment, he definitely was looking to pass first and not run, and I think that is all about being smart in space. I'm not interested in running the Wildcat with him or him turning up and doing whirlybirds and taking hits or anything. That's not what running the football is about for the quarterback, but for the most part I think he has been smart in space.

(Has he evolved in that department?)

I think he is a lot more comfortable, yeah. I think he is definitely more comfortable the more he does it. He is an excellent athlete. I think on the quarterback draw that we ran yesterday, he showed that, the ability to make a guy miss to get into the end zone. He is an excellent athlete.

(Was that a called run?)

It's a run/pass, but that was the run option.

(Charles said in his opinion the Rams weren't very good but you guys weren't much better. Do you feel you have a good team in there and you haven't quite unlocked it yet in the first three weeks?)

I think that's a challenge that every team goes through. You play at different levels throughout the season. I haven't spoken to the team yet today, but my message will be clear in the fact that from my objectives for the game were number one, to win, and to play well in all three phases, and we didn't do that. We won the game, but we didn't play our best football in all three phases. Now, the specifics of that and how we break that down I'll cover to the football team and that will be clear to them because that's the only way you grow. You need the accountability, you need the education. It's constant and that's why we're going to take Wednesday in the format that we're going to do with the walk-throughs and things like that. We're going to get some things cleaned up and then we're going to put a full week of work into Minnesota.

(As far as your vision for Spencer Havner in training camp, are you seeing what you thought you'd see?)

Definitely. He's a primary player on our special teams. He's been a good, solid core player for us on special teams and he's done some good things at the third spot at the tight-end position. I feel that with Donald Lee and Jermichael Finley, we've got two excellent tight ends and Spencer is also able to contribute sometimes in the three-tight end sets or give either one of those guys a breather when they need it. Yeah, I am pleased with what we have gotten out of Spencer so far.

(Was 'Big Okie' what you hoped it would be and is it something you can use down the road?)

A lot of good things came out of 'Big Okie', but there are definitely some things that we need to clean up. We had some alignment things that we could do a better job of, and that always comes with more reps, more formation variation, particularly against that particular offense that we didn't really anticipate. They did more two-tight ends, two receivers, one-back formations than they have shown in the past. Not that we haven't seen those, but just the fact that you keep working those things. I thought it was off to a good start.

(Did you feel you got into a good rhythm play-calling yesterday?)

I thought it was better. We had too many second-and-longs. We have been third-and-long and second-and-long the first two games, so now we have got it down to second-and long. We were only third-and 1-5 one time. Really, the production on first down we need to improve on. We're going to talk about that a lot today and take some time Wednesday to make sure we give the players the opportunity to be successful on first down. Anytime you can have balance in your play-calling, I think it plays to the strength of your offense.

(The running game has started slow the last few years. Have you figured out a common thread or why?)

Clearly I am a big believer in every year is different in this league. I thought the training camp that we had this year as far as running the football and stopping the run has been our best training camp getting ready for the season. Now that has not carried over to Sundays the first three weeks of the season, so that's why we work every day. We're going to work to clean it up. But I really don't feel that this year's success or lack of success in different situations has anything to do with the last two years.

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