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Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Sept. 9

(With the success the defense has had so far, should the players go into the first couple of games feeling like they have an advantage with the new 3-4 system?)

Well, you're not going to trick anybody in this league. It's very common. Every season, when it starts, when you play in your home opener or opener on the road, that you're probably going to see 20 to 30 percent of what we refer to as un-scouted looks. So we're in the same boat that Chicago is in. They're going to run plays that we haven't seen them run before and we may run plays that they haven't seen us run before. Conceptually they'll have something to draw from, no different than we will. The principles of their offense, defense and special teams are intact, no different than ours, and that's why you play the game. I don't see us going down and tricking people in the first couple of the weeks of the season based on us having a new scheme.

(When you project Cutler in the Bears' offense, do you look at Chicago preseason tape or Denver tape?)

The reality of playing in the opening game is you have the whole offseason to prepare. We always spend time in the offseason on our division opponents. We always spend more time on our opener, so we have had plenty of time to research Jay Cutler in Denver. We played there two years ago, so we have some familiarity with him as an individual. I had a chance to watch all of his snaps in the preseason and try to project how they are going to use them in their offense.

(Where are you at with the 3-4 scheme and are you completely comfortable?)

Yes, I'm very comfortable where we are. I think really the biggest accomplishment that we achieved was in the offseason. I felt coming out of the offseason program that our players had a pretty good grasp of our defensive scheme when we left here in June and it showed up in training camp. It's a tough scheme to practice against every single day. It's very challenging, so that's the first hurdle. We create a lot of problems for our defense based on the way we play offensively with the different personnel groups and formations. There is a lot of good, quality work on the practice field in the installation phase of our training camp, and we have had some productivity in the preseason games. I'm very comfortable where we are, but it's the start of the season. We're 0-0 and so are they, but I feel that we have hit every target that we set out to hit during the preseason.

(How do you feel the scheme matches up against the Bears and did you take into account teams like Chicago and Minnesota when you made the switch?)

I really didn't make the scheme change more based on our opponents, our division opponents. I was clearly aware at the time when we did make the change that we would be the only 3-4 team in the division. That may be an advantage, but really the scheme change was as much a personnel change as it was going to the 3-4 scheme. I just think it helps our overall football team. It gives us an ability to be better on special teams, which was an area I felt we really needed to upgrade

(How has Nick Barnett looked and what will the process be for deciding how much he plays?)

Nick looked good today. We've had two padded practices, Monday and today. I think he is definitely on course of having a full recovery. He looks good. His game tape was good. We don't have any questions about that. I've said it before and I said it Monday; I just think you have to be smart with how much you play players coming off a major injury. That's something that will factor into our planning.

(Is it Thursday night that you make those decisions on how much a guy plays?)

Nick will play in the game. He's going to play in the game Sunday. You build it during the course of the week.

(As an offensive coach, how much of a challenge would it be preparing for a 3-4 team that was a 4-3 scheme, especially in the first game of the year?)

I think so, but once again it is which 3-4 do you play against? Do you play against what some people refer to as the traditional 3-4, the two-gap scheme that has a little different personnel makeup than our 3-4 scheme, which is a more athletic and multiple scheme look. I think anytime you are a multiple scheme look, whether it's 4-3 and you can do the same thing in a 4-3 as 3-4, it's a challenge. And the first game is a challenge. I think it's really the way the NFL goes. We're not sitting here counting on fooling Chicago on Sunday night. It's going to come to fundamental football. That's where we're spending our time.

(How much can you read into Aaron Rodgers' strong preseason or any quarterback's for that matter?)

The big thing about quarterback play and really offensive football, everybody talks about it but it's really what you're chasing every single day in practice and you're trying to carry it over to the game field, is the rhythm and the timing. That's where I think Aaron is at a high level right now. He's played very well in the preseason. Regardless of you are playing against or how long you are playing against 1's and 2's, you still have to out and play and he's in sync right now. You have to keep working every day to keep that, but he's had a good preseason.

(Is this the best you have seen him play?)

In the preseason? Clearly, compared to last year. He played some good football last year too in the games. He's playing at a high level.

(How is Raji doing, and if he can't go, who would take his snaps?)

Raji, he tested yesterday and it did not go as well as we would have hoped. Just like every player that comes off an injury, they go through a testing procedure with the medical staff. He'll test again tomorrow. That's the first step. As far as the people that will play there, Johnny Jolly has been taking snaps there. He took snaps there Monday and again today at the nose position.

(Where is Brandon Jackson at with his ankle?)

He's making progress, slow progress, so we'll see how this week goes.

(What does it do for an offense when you have two tight ends?)

Two tight ends, it gives you the ability to be more versatile in formations I have always felt. The ability to get in and out of one-back schemes vs. two-back schemes if you have those type of tight ends or they have the ability to do the in-line blocking, the backfield blocking, the displaced formation routes and things like that. It gives you a lot of versatility.

(Given Chicago's issues in the secondary and the way Rodgers is playing, will you be more tempted to air it out?)

We have a lot of respect for their corners, both Vasher and Tillman. They're veterans. That's a defensive group that has been together a long time. They do a really good job of route recognition, pass concepts. It's a group that you may hit them the first time with something, but I think they do a very good job on the boundary of making game adjustments and so forth. It's like any other game. You always want to go in and be balanced, but the way they play us probably dictates the way we'll probably respond and play against them too. That's part of the chess match.

(How happy are you to see Jenkins back on the field?)

Cullen Jenkins is a disruptive player. He's done it for us both inside and outside. I think he's an every-down player that I've always felt is one of the better players on our football team. His health is important to the success of our defensive line, and he definitely brings that to the table.

(What kind of role do you envision for Matthews?)

I look at Clay as very similar to Nick Barnett, just as far as being smart coming off the injuries, how many snaps he plays in the different personnel groups that we'll use him in. We'll just be smart with him and just watch his snaps on special teams also.

(Has Blackmon made any progress?)

Will's doing better. We're going to test him tomorrow, so tomorrow will be a big day for Will.

(Who is the top punt returner if he is out?)

We'll just continue to go with the guys that have done it all preseason. Jordy's been back there, Tramon. Also Charles Woodson can jump in there at any time.

(With two quarterbacks on the roster, who is the emergency quarterback?)

It's something that we definitely have to have ready going into the season with only two quarterbacks, and that's something that we'll continue to work through during the week. I don't have the exact ... I'll have to wait and see to answer that further, but we have a couple of guys that we've talked about.

(This team has struggled against the Bears. What has been the difference?)

Well, I think the biggest statistic that comes out of our matchups with the Bears, we're 2-4 in our six contests with the Bears, is the turnover ratio. The loser of the game, or the winner of the game if you go through the record and take the turnover ratio, it's plus-14. That's the biggest statistic. Whoever takes care of the ball better has won the football game. I think the second glaring statistic is the special teams. They've done a much better job in our contests on the special teams front, particularly in the field position. So those are two major focuses for us.

{sportsad300}(Any idea on why the turnover ratio is the way it is?)

That's all part of the game. They do a great job taking the ball away. They play with a lot of vision. They play very well, as far as second and third reaction. Their defensive pursuit I think is a strength of their defense. So you have to take care of the football, you have to be smart with the football. No different. We've had some big games against them when we took the balls away from them. We have to do the same this week.

(You have always put an emphasis on special teams, but the move to the 3-4, some of your roster decisions, is there a greater commitment to special teams?)

I would like to think we've always emphasized it, but it's really the way personnel decisions fall sometimes. Sometimes it's pretty clean-cut, sometimes it really comes down to the special teams responsibility of the players. I think more times this year than in the past three years, it clearly came down to special teams play that really was the deciding factor in these tough personnel decisions.

(Did you feel like you needed to get better?)

I think we definitely need to improve on special teams. It was not a strength of our football team last year. I thought two years ago we were definitely headed in the right direction. We had a good year in special teams, but last year we took a step backwards.

(With Lovie Smith more involved and Rod Marinelli on the staff, do you see a change in their defense?)

If you watch the preseason, there's not a whole lot of difference. If you break down their defensive calls statistically, there's a lot of carry-over from Bob Babich to Lovie Smith. I've had an opportunity to compete against Lovie as a coordinator back in New Orleans, so I spent my summertime looking at those games. Rod's a very good coach. His defensive lines have always been very disruptive. It's a veteran group, so they look like they're playing well. They fly around. I think the best thing they've got going is their experience. I think Pisa was a good addition for them at linebacker. It's a good linebacker group. I have a lot of respect for him in his time in St. Louis. We're playing a veteran defense. They're well-coached and they have a complete understanding of their scheme. You have to play this defense a certain way.

(With the rivalry, what is this game like for you and the team?)

It's exciting. It started Monday for us. If anything, you probably have to watch so you don't overdo it, myself included, in the team meeting today. It's an exciting game. It's a game we look forward to. It's the longest rivalry in the NFL. We'll have our traditional-type conversation tomorrow with our team and show some video, just to educate our rookies as far as the history of this rivalry. We take a lot of pride in the approach to every game, but this is a unique football game.

(Last year Miami unveiled the Wildcat formation in Week 3. How much do you have to look at that as a coach when preparing for teams?)

That's all part of unscouted looks. If it comes in Week 2, Week 3, Week 7, it happens in our business. I think it's very important to try to stay on the front side of the curve. I think the NFL is just a big cycle. There's not too many things that you're going to invent in the game of football. It's most likely somebody has already done that particular scheme or that particular play in the past, and that's all part of building your system, whether it's offense or defense. You have to have the adjustments in place, the core principles in place that you can make adjustments when you have that unscouted look. There's going to be plays that are ran in this game Sunday night that we haven't seen them run, and they may run a defense that we haven't practiced against, and it'll be no different when we line up and they're looking at us too. That's the way it is in this league.

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