Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 5

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s Wednesday press conference. Coach McCarthy answered questions in the media auditorium following practice. - More Audio | Video | Watch ’The Mike McCarthy Show’

I'll start off with the injury report. Mike Montgomery is listed as out. Donald Driver, limited participation. Ryan Grant, limited participation because of a hamstring. Brandon Jackson, limited participation because of a concussion. Tony Moll, neck, limited participation. Vernand Morency, limited participation with a knee. Aaron Rouse with his hamstring, limited participation.

(Looking at the season as a whole, do you view anything less than a playoff berth as a disappointment?)

I view every season that way. You want to get into the playoffs and win a world championship. I viewed every season that I've participated in this league that way.

(What have you seen from Brandon Jackson to make you comfortable with him as the starter?)

Talented young man, excellent lower body strength. He is explosive. I think he has natural running instincts. As far as how he's adapted to our offense, I think he continues to get better. I feel good about him on first and second down. He's getting better at third down and some of the specialty things that we're doing. I'm very comfortable with Brandon.

(What was Morency able to do in practice?)

He's limited. He went through pretty much everything. We'll see where he is at in the morning.

(Will the blitz pickup with the backs really be tested on Sunday?)

I would think so. Jim Johnson, I have a lot of respect for. I think he's one of the better defensive coordinators in the league. I always like the way Jim calls a game. He's clearly one of the best at attacking your protection schemes, in my opinion. He does an excellent job of running two defenders through a gap and challenges your slide protection, adjustments and so forth. This will be a challenge for our protection. We have spent a lot of time on it. It's something that we spend a lot of time on regardless of who we're playing. This will be an excellent challenge for us and our guys will be ready to play.

(What are your plans for a third-down back without Herron?)

It will be one of the guys that we have. It could be Vernand. Vernand played there last year. He did an excellent job with his opportunities there last year. Brandon Jackson has shown some ability. DeShawn Wynn is a very distinctive football player. He has a good understanding of what we're doing. He probably picked it up as well as any of the younger guys that I've been around. Grant is a bright, young man also. We'll have somebody in there on third down. I can tell you that.

(What do you tell young players about blitz pickup to help them learn it?)

The most important thing about the blitz is the recognition of it, the pre-snap information that you're given. There are certain keys that you can help them with. Our quarterback is outstanding at sniffing out the blitz before it occurs. It's all a part of training. There are only four pressures in football. They're either coming off the edges, to the strong side, the weak side or in the middle. When you categorize those four and break them down, it cleans it up for your players. Everybody wants to talk about designer blitzes. Jim Johnson is an overload blitzer. He challenges your protection schemes so you have to have particular adjustments for that. But those are all base teachings in our offense.

(Where is Jackson now compared to the beginning of camp with blitz pickup?)

He's clearly further ahead than in the beginning of training camp. He'll continue to get better. This will be an excellent opportunity for him. The one thing I like about Brandon is that he continues to improve. That's important because I thought that was a key component to our success at the end of the year last year. It was a football team that continued to improve. I think we are better this year than we were last year. It doesn't mean anything as I stand here today because we can't prove that until Sunday. Brandon Jackson is a young, talented, improving football player.

(With five linebackers and two tight ends, are you concerned about the depth at those positions?)

We may be thin with numbers there but we're heavy somewhere else and there's a reason for that. That was built into our plan. I said from the beginning that we would go with the best 53 because if you don't do that, in my opinion, you never get off of this cycle of building the bottom half of your roster. We're prepared to play with five linebackers with the personnel grouping on defense. We're prepared to play with two tight ends with the personnel on offense. I think it's important that you do game plan. You never want to be one player away from getting out of a primary personnel group in your attack. You have to be smart with that. It's different this year on offense because we only have two fullbacks and two tight ends but that's something that we prepared for.

(With all the injuries, is this team ready to get off to a fast start?)

Absolutely. We only have 11 out there at a time. That's the focus. Our guys are ready to play. I thought the meetings were very good. I thought we had two really good practices, on Sunday and Monday. They were off Tuesday to get them on a normal schedule. I thought the practice today was physical. I haven't viewed it yet but coming off the field I felt very good about it. There's a lot of energy in the building, a confident bunch. We'll continue our preparation throughout the week but we'll be ready to go.

(Do you have any doubts you'll be able to run the ball well enough?)

I have no doubts in our plan. We'll do whatever it takes based on any group. The only concern I have about our running back group, and I'll say it all year, is the health of our group. It's the responsibility of the coaches to put the player in a position to be successful. The healthy running back will have that opportunity. That's the way I view it.

(Do you have a feel for how many snaps Jackson can take?)

I really couldn't give you that today. We still have some health issues to work out through the week.

(Do you anticipate him being cleared?)

Based on the way he practiced today I'd be surprised if he is not cleared. I'm not trying to be super secret but this is Week 1 of our season. I'm not interested in talking about who our returners are. I'm not interested in talking about who the back will be in there. I'm not really interested in who will be the nickel. We can talk about that next week. We do have some uncertainty. Will that give us an opportunity to win the game? I don't know but let's make them prepare for all of our guys. I hope you can respect that.

{sportsad300}(What have you learned from last year's game?)

I felt last year that we played a little too close to the vest. I don't know if that factored into the outcome of the game. The thing that was disappointed last year was the way we got behind and never responded to the adversity of that game. When you do get behind against that particular team, you're playing uphill. That's to their strength. You talk about those things. They've been addressed throughout the off-season. You hit the key components. In the off-season we put those in our practice structure and did them everyday. That's what this game comes down to. When you go through your opener, one in three snaps is unscouted looks. Everybody has had a year to prepare for this game. They're going to do some things differently that we haven't seen. We'll do some things differently that they haven't seen. It's the base of your foundation - offense, defense and special teams - that's what it's going to come down to. We have to play hard-nosed, good fundamental football and we'll be successful.

(What's the most important part about game-planning against McNabb?)

Donovan does a very good job when he's high in the pocket. He's developed into a very good drop-back passer. He looks to be comfortable when he's high in the pocket. They're 67 percent pass. They have been in the past and in the preseason. It's a big part of what they do, getting the ball to Westbrook and L.J. When he breaks it down is when he gets out of the pocket. If you go back to our game last year, I thought when the game changed in the middle of the third quarter, I thought he made some plays outside of the pocket with his feet. We got beat on some big plays down the field. I hope we don't see that happen this year. He's a difference maker when he's outside of the pocket. That will be key, keeping him from scrambling and making big plays.

(Why were you a better road team than home last year, and are you doing anything to change things at home?)

We talked about that. We had the problem with the hot tub and the locker room is too nice. I don't want to do any damage in there. The lockers are smaller on the road so you're closer together. We talked about all those things. We need to play better at home in my opinion. I'm not trying to make fun of it. If I'm wrong, I'm wrong. We need to do a better job at home. We have a great home-field advantage here, great energy. We just didn't handle the adversity, that's what I'm most disappointed in. When things don't go right we need to keep playing and keep rolling. We'll do a better job of that this year.

(Do you think your team is stocked with young, talented players?)

This may be the anti-personnel answer but I don't think we're in the talent business personally. I told this to the football team today. We're in the people business, the character business. There's not a football player that would not be in our meeting room this morning that doesn't have enough talent to be a productive player in this league. I believe that from my experiences and I know that's true in my heart. To sit there and see who has more talent, what is talent? Is it the 40-yard dash? It's about character. It's about a team coming together, the continuity, the confidence, the ability to overcome adversity week in and week out, the toughness to beat the guy across from you play in and play out. I think it's a people business. It's a business of making the right choices all the time and being ready to play. Do I think we have enough talent to win them all? Absolutely, and I'm sure every coach thinks he has enough talent. I don't think this is a talent business. I think it's about people and the way they pull together and stay on the path that your particular team has to take to win each game. That's how I see it.

(How big is your role in that?)

You have to make sure it's communicated. To stay on the path someone has to drive the car. I'm in charge of keeping my finger on the pulse of the football team and being brutally honest with them. I think I do that on a daily basis. I'm the eyes. That's why I wear the hat.

(How important is it that your players see you in that role?)

I was confident last year. There were some things I saw early that I thought we could overcome. We didn't and it took us longer to fix them. Hopefully we'll have it fixed this year with the different set of problems. I've never lined up in this league and didn't feel there was a way to win that game. I feel the same way Sunday. If we do the things we're supposed to do and the things we're capable of doing, we will win this game. There is no doubt in my mind.

(With the schedule changes in training camp, do you feel the team is more fresh?)

All the feedback on the schedule has been positive. I had a meeting with the trainers and with the doctors. Their statistics are overwhelming as far as the hamstring, fatigue injuries that occur. We did a five year study and the numbers are almost two-to-one as far as the schedule vs. past schedules. I saw it in the team. What happens in pro football camps, there's a mental toughness to overcome the rigors of training camp. I'm of the opinion that you don't have to lose your legs to gain toughness. I'd rather have the football team out there competing everyday to get better. I think we accomplished that. I think it's clearly evident in the condition of our football team. Our conditioning, particularly the no-huddle situation and some of the things we did in the preseason, we felt very good about what we did on our side of the ball. I think our football team is in shape. I think it's a product of our schedule. I think it helps every time you have that padded practice it was go-busters. It was a two-hour, fifty-five minutes practice. We got a lot out of them. They knew they had that carrot in the middle of the week, Wednesdays, when they knew they weren't practicing. I didn't think we maxed out their hamstrings. We were real smart with the fatigue injuries. The statistics support that. More importantly they mentally believe it. They feel it and the feedback has been positive. I think it was a success. We have nine guys on IR so I don't know about that.

(Do the Eagles blitz with a lot of substitutions or the same 11?)

He's like most people. He's smart when he does it and he's aggressive. The thing that I always liked about Jim is that he's aggressive when he calls a game. When he wants to come after you he'll empty it out. I like that. I like a guy that gets up and pushes the envelope and challenges you. He also understands protection from my experience with him. You have different types of pressures the way I see it. You have concept pressures. You have run pressures. You have guys that are systematic at how they get after the quarterback. I think he does a really good job of, and I refer to it as a pocket protection scheme as opposed to a slot protection scheme, attacking the things that give those particular schemes problems and I think he does a good job.

(Can your tempo or no-huddle keep them on their heels?)

I don't think so. He has a veteran football team. They're well-coached and schooled. They do a good job with disguise. This is a very mature football team coming into here Sunday. No-huddle or whatever, not that we're going to it but thanks for bringing it up, is irrelevant. They're going to play their scheme. We're not dealing with at bunch of young guys.

(With the camp schedule changes, what did you do to not lose mental toughness?)

The point I made is that I don't think you gain mental toughness by wearing down the players. I know it's a process that players have to fight through. To sit there and say that we had a cushy camp or whatever, I read that too, I didn't like that either. You guys go to practice. The practices are long. The work is done. It's just time management. We've taken the workload and broken it up. It's not something genius. I just think it's smart. You talk to any expert in strength and conditioning, rest and recovery is the key component. You train your football all off-season with recovery, so why would you not do it in training camp. That's why we did it. It's as simple as that.

(In the division, are the Bears still the team to beat, and have you closed that gap at all?)

I think they're clearly the team to beat. They're the defending champions. They represented the NFC in the Super Bowl. There's nothing better than beating the Bears, it's our archrival. They're clearly the team to beat. Closing the gap? We'll start to answer that Sunday. They have to play their games and we have to play ours. I'm sorry I'm so boring here but that's just the way it is. That's why you play the games.

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