Mike McCarthy Season-Ending Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 31

Read the transcript of Head Coach Mike McCarthy’s season-ending press conference Wednesday from Lambeau Field.

(Can you run down the end-of-season injury report, and any surgeries?)

Yes. We have ... Nick Barnett's doing very well with his rehab on his knee. Atari Bigby's surgery went very well, and he's back in Miami, rehabbing. Breno had the ankle sprain. He's probably three or four weeks away. Korey Hall had the knee sprain, but he should be fine in a couple weeks. Justin Harrell, they're re-doing the studies on his lower back, and we'll continue to evaluate that as we move forward. Kenny Pettway is doing very well with his rehab on his knee. Mark Tauscher will probably have surgery in probably 10 to 14 days. Scott Wells will have postseason shoulder surgery, and Chad Clifton will have a couple surgeries. That's our medical report.

(Was Bigby the ankle?)

Ankle surgery, yes.

(Why did they wait so long for Tauscher?)

Every surgery is different. They're doing some pre-hab, to strengthen it before they go in. I just talked to Dr. McKenzie before I came in here, and he's projecting probably another 10 to 14 days.

(What are they doing to Clifton? Both knees?)

Just kind of a clean-out procedure.

(Both of his knees?)

I think so. At least one.

(With the season over, how would you self-assess your job and what are some things you can improve on?)

Well, 6-10. My name is on the front door. It's not what we were looking for. It's not what we prepared for. I'm not satisfied, and I'll start from the top down. It's evaluation time right now. I had an opportunity to meet with the players, and we'll look at every aspect of our program.

(What time do you evaluate all the assistant coaches?)

What time? Well, I'll start with the coordinators today, and I'll get with the assistant coaches next week.

(Have you ruled out making any changes on the staff?)

I'm really at the beginning of it. Those are all the things that we'll look at. I'm looking at the offense, the defense. I'll look at every aspect.

(Is that tough when you work closely with guys and you have to make a tough call when things go wrong?)

I go back to the beginning of hiring a staff. We focused very hard on hiring quality people, good teachers, and men that demand. On a personal side of it, I think we did an excellent job with the quality of people we have on our staff. That's definitely always tough if you go in that direction.

(Is there a hesitation of making changes based on one season?)

I don't look at it that way. I think it's important, ... the evaluation isn't something where you just wait until the season is over and let's get together one time and talk about it and we'll talk again next year. I think you look at everything. We have three years together as a football team, a number of players and coaches. We'll look at all the different factors and we'll evaluate and get ready to set our plan for next year.

(What do you ask players about in exit interviews? What sort of topics?)

Everything, frankly. When I look at people that are employed under my command, I think of availability and accountability, and no different with the players. We talk about their availability, their health history during the course of the season, as we move forward, the individuals that have postseason health concerns. We talk about their performance level, the pros and cons of that. We have a public relations evaluation, if you can believe that. Because you guys are so hard on them, we have to evaluate that part of it. We have a strength and conditioning evaluation. We talk about every aspect of their time this past season, and all the areas that they touch and the people they're involved with.

(If they have suggestions, particularly the veterans, is it an open environment where they can speak freely about those things?)

Absolutely. It's a long process. Monday we did all the veterans, and Tuesday we did all the rookies, and everybody, the practice squad players and so forth. We have 15- or 20-minute slots, I don't even recall. But some guys are 45 minutes, some guys are 5 minutes. It's an opportunity for them to ask me any question that they want. It's very open dialogue. Like a lot of people, when you're in that particular structured environment, when you have a lot of people working towards one goal, there's opinions that you agree on, and there's opinions you disagree on, and there's plenty of that too. There is some emotion involved in our season. So you look at all that. But I thought it was very healthy. Very, very healthy. It always is. It's probably one of the, clearly one of the most informative times of the year, because you take the time and let them speak. I know the players appreciate that. They feel like they at least have an opportunity to be heard.

(Were there any kind of themes that emerged from that? What did the players think went wrong?)

Really, it's pretty consistent on a number of things that we talked about. Just the inability to win close games. I'll just tell you this. When you sit down and you talk to 60, 70 people in a two- or three-day period, and you hear 45 of them tell you they have an opinion pro or con on one item, that probably has some validity to it. But if you have one guy that has this opinion, one guy has that opinion, those are the types of things you look through. I'm still in the gathering-information mode, and I'll continue to do so, and then I'll make my decisions accordingly.

(Did you have 45 guys whose opinion was the same on anything?)

I would say yeah, on our record, and just the disappointment of it. Everybody was disappointed. Not satisfied. They're still very confident. They believe in the way we go about our business. The positives were clearly 50-1. So the structure, foundation, those types of things are definitely in place. You feel good about that. But you have a lot of group opinions. I thought the rookies actually did a good job. When you talk about the youth of your football team, I think the maturity of some of the players today, it's interesting and the perspectives some of those guys shared.

(Charles Woodson said after the game Sunday this team needs to add more playmakers on defense via free agency. Do you agree with that assessment?)

I think that's a convenient opinion. I talked to Charles and all the other veterans about a number of different things. There's not just one thing we need to do, and we'll look at all those things. Like I said, everybody has a right to their opinion. I think it's convenient to attack the youth of our team. I'm fine with our football team. I like our football team.

(Going back to the staff, you don't meet once a year and you're always evaluating. But don't you already know what you're going to do and you're just not ready to tell us?)

I don't want to hurt your feelings, this isn't about you, or the media. It's about doing the things in the best interests of the Green Bay Packers. It's appropriate, it's right, and it's the way that I'm going to do it. I'm going to go through the evaluation process, and I am going to set the course and the path for success, and that's my plan.

(So even though you're evaluating the whole time, your mind is not made up on your staff?)

Absolutely not. I'm not going to sit here and hold back decisions. Once I make up my mind, then I'll act accordingly.

(Do you think you need to do much with the personnel for next year, or do you feel almost all the pieces are in place and you just need growth there?)

I don't think it's that easy. I don't look at a football team and you're just playing a chess board and you add a couple pieces and then you're a paper champion. It's a totally different mindset from my chair. Every football team that I've been a part of, and it's no different than this year's team, when we line up in the spring for OTAs there will probably be, I'd probably say, 20 percent change in personnel. My focus right now, between now and then, is to develop the other 80 percent. I think we have a very good foundation, and it's a priority, has been a priority. I think we do a very good job of developing our players in the offseason program, the way we're structured, the individual time that they spend with the coaches and so forth, the extra time we spend in the strength and conditioning. So I'm going to focus on the 80 percent. Now, the 20 percent, whether they come through the draft, through free agency, we'll put them into our program and we'll make sure we have a plan to use them, and put them in positions to be successful. And then from that we'll build the strongest team that we possibly can, and then we're going to take that into the season, and our goal will never change. We'll line up every week with the ultimate goal of winning the world championship. That's how you build it. I think it's convenient to say we need this or we need that. And that may be true. There may be a piece here that we agree or we disagree on. But the focus is on the whole, and I know 80 percent of those players will be here March 16, and that's the group we're going to develop, and we're going to do a damn good job of it.

(Do you like this defensive scheme so much that you're committed to it for next year whether Bob Sanders or someone else is coordinating it?)

All of our schemes are under evaluation right now. That's what you do right now. That's what this time is for. We'll look at the run defense, we'll look at all those things. We'll look at the base concepts in normal d-and-d all the way through. That's what you spend the time for. That's why you make educated decisions. It will be no different when I sit down with the offense and special teams.

(Would the zone blocking scheme be another scheme to evaluate and make decisions on?)

We kind of lump things, and we don't just run zone-blocking schemes. It's a starting point for us. We're doing more variations of that than we did Year 1, and we'll evaluate that, and we'll look to continue to try to improve that and we'll tailor it to our players, because at the end of the day, it's really about the players. I'm not a guy that runs schemes because so-and-so ran them and won world championships with it. That's not the way we operate. We're creative, we're aggressive with our scheme development. We'll spend probably the next five to six weeks up until the combine developing our scheme, and then we'll have it ready in March for when the players come back.

(You lose Rob Davis and Brett Favre and you're the youngest team for the third year in a row, and you have veterans saying you could use more veterans. Is it just convenient to say you lost leadership, or are you OK with being young?)

I'll just say this. I have the opportunity to talk to everybody. I don't know how many people you've had the opportunity to interview. But we talked a lot about leadership, both with the veterans and the young guys, and it was interesting. I think we have exceptional leadership by example, and that was confirmed. Now, do we have the guy that's out there screaming and yelling and so forth? Maybe we don't. Is that why you're winning games, or why you're not winning games? Those are all convenient things, and I think those are the things you've got to watch, because when you lose, everything is wrong. I stood up here and everything was right, and I knew it wasn't all right last year. That's why you take the time to go through all the evaluations, you take the time to talk to everybody.

(But those are two tangible things you can look at, losing those two veterans and their impact on the field and in the locker room. So when you have veterans saying what they did, isn't that something you have to strongly consider?)

I don't disagree with what you're saying, but I think there's a lot more to it than that. I don't think it's let's fix the leadership and then everything else is OK. I don't think that's the case. I've acknowledged that. Rob Davis is still part of our program. I think we have excellent leadership that we have to do a better job of developing in our locker room, and I think that was the consensus.

(Do you see yourselves being the youngest team in the league for a fourth straight year or would you rather not be in that position?)

That's not on my statistics board when we set goals for the year. I think we would be hard-pressed to be the youngest team in the league next year. I think what's nice about our team, we talk about the offensive line, how many starts those guys have in three years. I think the most important aspect of our football team is our experience level is increasing, and they're still young, and I think that's exciting.

(Are the injuries an excuse for being 6-10? Would that be the overriding factor in your mind?)

No, because it's part of the game. I think injuries play a big part in potential success in our league. It definitely makes you go different directions than you probably would have initially before the injuries. But to me that's all part of the landscape of the National Football League. It's all part of the chess match or the journey through an NFL season. It's no excuse. You could make a case we probably didn't overcome our injuries as well as we should have.

(Are you surprised you weren't able to stem the tide and stop that losing streak?)

It was disappointing, but I think it's also important to look inside those games, and how we lost them and so forth. We're going to take a very, very long look at the fourth quarter, because that's obviously something we didn't do a very good job in, on both sides of the ball, really all three aspects. Whether it's two-minute offense, going down and going ahead and then the defense doesn't hold them and then we have to go down again, or if it's the kickoff coverage in critical spots. That's all part of the evaluation process, and we'll apply that to our practice structure as we move forward.

(You go 6-10 and you're 0-7 in games decided by four points or fewer. Does that tell you you're close to being good or does it tell you there's a real issue there?)

I think statistics, a lot of them are barometers. That's definitely one you have to look at. If you have a situation that you are 0-7 in, my goodness, you had better take a close look at it and I can promise you that we'll continue to do so.

(Any overriding feeling or theme as to what went awry in those games?)

I would say a lot of it is execution, but we'll look at everything. No one will not be evaluated.

(You said you like the maturity of your team, but does part of being a young team factor into those situations?)

The one thing you can take out of it is now we have more experience in those situations. It's very important, in losing you can't lose the lesson, and that will be a big focus in all of the situations that we feel we need to do a better job of in. More importantly, the situations that we have done a very good job and we need to do a better job. That is all about developing moving forward, and that's how you win championships. We don't have everything figured out. There are some things that we've done well. We've had some players that had good seasons. They need to play better too. I need to coach better. We need to do a better job all the way through. That's why it is important to break it down all the way to zero and start over again. You have to break down your installations, run, pass, protection. No different on defense. You've got to break it down. It's a check and balance. If you ever get into the mode of, 'Hey, we did this right last year. We're OK there.' That's not going to work, not in this league, because you're either improving or you're going backwards. And we took a step backwards in some areas.

(When you assess the play of Aaron Rodgers, are you willing to say the organization made the right move in moving on with him at quarterback?)

Yes, I think we definitely made the right move at the quarterback position. I was pleased with the productivity from the quarterback position. From an individual standpoint, I think Aaron Rodgers played at a very steady, steady level, which was a high level based on his statistics. He has given us a baseline, a standard that we will hold him to and the offensive group as we move forward.

(What was the best thing he did that you're most happy with, and what would you most like to see him improve on?)

He held true to the type of quarterback that I felt he was going to be as far as his decision-making ability and his ball accuracy. That's something that he showed in his opportunities as a young player in our first couple of years here, and he was able to sustain that for 16 games. That's what I was most pleased about. There are a number of things he was very positive (in). I thought he was very good outside of the pocket making plays with his feet. I thought he was smart in space. He took a couple of hits earlier in the season that you didn't see later in the season. I thought he learned from his mistakes, the Tampa Bay game as opposed as he moved forward. The beauty of Aaron is he is young and he has the opportunity to only improve. But I think he has a good baseline to start from.

(Besides Aaron Rodgers, are there other positives you take away from this season?)

A lot of positives, and that was very evident in talking with the players. I think we have an excellent foundation as a football team. We have a young team that has gained more experience. They are still confident. They believe in what we are doing. I think we have excellent representatives of the Green Bay Packers. I think they go about their business the right way. They are proud to be Green Bay Packers. But the bottom line is winning football games, and they'll come back here. A number of them are taking a couple of weeks off and having workout programs leading up to the offseason program, which is important. So I think that also shows the maturity of some guys that did not do that in the past and they came to the offseason program not ready to go. I'm excited about our future.

(Are you going to have the same offseason schedule with the OTAs and then the mandatory mini-camp at the end?)

I'm definitely leaning that way. I know Kickoff Weekend is a week later, so that is something that actually I spent this morning working on, trying to finalize the schedule going into training camp. That is always something you have to get confirmed from the league, exactly when your training camp is going to start. But I know Kickoff Weekend is a week later, so that's something we have to factor into May.

(You lost 10 games. Can you cite specific examples here your game management or calls down the stretch contributed significantly to defeat?)

Not today. I didn't get the job done. We are 6-10. I can't stand up here last year and take the credit for our record last year. It starts with me. I didn't do a good enough job, whether it was the disconnect between me, the coaches and the players. There is always a play or two that you would like to have back. I think our teams were prepared, our teams played hard, and it was clearly evident all the way through the season. There wasn't one time that I walked off the field where I didn't think that we were out there giving it everything we had. We didn't get it done. It was close. I'm not looking for moral victories because they don't count. We lost 10 games and I didn't do a good enough job

(On defense, is the pass rush the biggest concern? There's a trend toward more blitzing in the league, so is that something you consider?)

Pressure is a concern, definitely. That is something that Bob and I will talk at length about. Our run defense and pressure on the quarterback, those are two areas that we did not excel in this year, and those will be primary topics of conversation.

(Can you keep the same defensive philosophy but add a blitzing element if that's what you decide to do?)

I understand what you are trying to ask, and there are starting points of every system, whether it is offense, defense or special teams, but there really are no absolutes in our business. When things go wrong I think it's convenient to say, 'They play so much match coverage that you can't win with that defense.' There are always different variations, different personnel groups. We don't line up in just one personnel group. You have to take a look at everything involved. You have to look at our pressure packages. Why are we not getting the production out of that? You have to look at everything. Blanket statements are convenient. That's why it's important for me to continue through the evaluation process.

(Did you talk to Bob about pressure packages last offseason? What happened, and where did those packages go?)

They were used. We used Frisco and Bulldog. Defense is obviously different than offense. Offense, they determine how you line up and when the ball is snapped. Defense, you prepare for certain personnel groups and certain situations and when they do occur, you call certain defenses. If they don't occur, those types of packages may not be used. They are all still part of our defense.

(Were you satisfied with the implementation you guys talked about last offseason?)

That's really an ongoing conversation during the year. There are a number of factors that are involved in that. It would be convenient to sit here and say, 'OK, we didn't have any pass rush. We didn't use enough pressure.' Those are the type of blanket statements that I think it's important that you go through the evaluation process, and that's what we'll continue to do.

(Losing Cullen Jenkins affected the pass rush, but I don't know if that was as big a factor in the run defense ...)

Oh, I think Cullen Jenkins is clearly a major player on both sides of the spectrum. I think he is a force in the run defense. He is a defensive lineman that creates penetration, whether it is in the run game or the passing game. He is a problem on first and second down, particularly at defensive end for a tight end. He can go inside and rush on third down. You're able to create different matchup problems with him. I felt Cullen would definitely factor in both the run and the pass. Now, once again, we already talked about it, you need to overcome injuries regardless of who it is. But I mean Cullen Jenkins is one of the best football players on our team.

(So would you say that was a huge factor in where you ranked?)

We didn't overcome his injury is what I am saying.

(You've worked with Winston a long time. Are you torn between wanting to keep him on your staff and wanting to see him get the opportunity in St. Louis?)

I think like anything in this business, there is always a personal side to it and a professional side to it. I don't think it's right for me to talk about career advancement with your staff and trying to help guys and then when the opportunity comes you hope he doesn't get the job. That's not the case at all. I had an opportunity to spend some time yesterday with Winston and we'll spend some time tonight after our meeting, and I'm going to help him the best I can to get ready for his interview. I think it's a great opportunity for him. I think it is well deserved, and Ted and I both, and as an organization, we wish him the best of luck.

{sportsad300}(Grant's yards per carry went down significantly this year. Why do you think that happened?)

Ryan Grant, I had a long conversation with Ryan. I think definitely going through the whole offseason will help him. But as far as the statistics, I would not say it was all Ryan. I didn't think we were as coordinated in the run game coming out of training camp that we clearly were in the second half of the season. We'll have the opportunity to go through every run, every one of his runs and so forth. He battled through some nagging injuries throughout the year. Once again, he is a young player too. I think he has an opportunity to really improve this offseason and be a better player next year.

(Can you talk about what you have in mind for the offensive line? You hinted the other day and not wanting the revolving door.)

I have in mind what I think every coach has in mind. We would like to line up and play with the same five guys for 16 games. But we've got to remember why were in this mode that we are in, and it's because of injuries. We haven't been able to stay healthy. We created competition that you like to do. It is a group that is young, that if you look at the experience Jason Spitz and Daryn Colledge have compared to other third-year players, you have to feel very good about that. I feel very good about the level of play that they have given us. But we would like to settle in on five starting guys, and we'll create that completion in the offseason. The musical chairs that we are playing is really driven because of the health concerns that we have had. We have had Scott Wells fight through a number of different injuries and different guys get nicked along the way, but that is definitely going to be our goal as we move forward.

(You had a chance to sweep the Bears, and I hate to go back to one play ...)

But you are going to anyways though, right?

(After the game you said the kick was low, and now Mike (Stock) has said some things. What's the cause of that miss?)

I'll say the same thing I said after the game. The kick was low, OK. There are three components any time you line up to kick the ball, the snap, the hold and the kick. The specifics of it, frankly it's irrelevant. It really is. We're 6-10. It's no different than winning a game or losing a game. Everybody wants to point the finger at one guy. We did not get it done, so I'm not here to say it wasn't Mason or it wasn't the holder or it wasn't the snap. It wasn't done right. I expect to kick that field goal every single time, and we didn't get it done. Poor execution.

(When Nick Barnett comes back, who is your middle linebacker?)

We have not got to the personnel part of it. We're evaluating, like we have already stated, players, coaches and so forth. Ted and I will have a personnel meeting, but as far as guys winning starting jobs and losing starting jobs in January, we're not going to do that.

(When you look at the young guys, Hunter and Finley flashed at the end. Wynn had a good game. Would you like to see those guys spike next year?)

Absolutely. I think it's important, and I told the rookies, the biggest improvement that I have seen in players has always been from Year 1 to Year 2. Now, there are other positions that would tell you it's really from Year 2 to Year 3, and that probably would be accurate at the offensive line position. Also there are always instances where you may have people playing in front of you too that don't give you the opportunity to develop like you want, and that's why the emphasis is put on the individual time in the offseason program. I think that rookie class is really going to contribute. I think Jermichael Finley has a very bright future. I think Pat Lee is definitely someone that is going to learn from his experience. He was coming on at the end when he got hurt. I really like both quarterbacks. They are both very excited to get back here and get into quarterback school and fine tune the fundamentals. They both feel that they have the offense under control mentally now too, so you'll see a lot of growth in their development. But you can go through taht whole class. I think Josh Sitton has a chance to be a very good player for us. I think he is the power right guard that you would like to have in developing an offensive line. I think Breno is really coming on also. Jeremy Thompson I think did some really good things and played injured the last four weeks. I am excited about those young guys.

(Did you get enough out of them this year? Did you need them to contribute more?)

Well, those are really situational based on position. There are other factors involved too. It's who is playing in front of them. You want to do the math, the youngest team in the league for three years and the third rookie class comes in, I would think just by numbers alone it would be hard for them to challenge for starting positions. It's a good group. It's a talented group, it's a hard-working group, and it's a group that fits what we are trying to do here and I think they all have a bright future.

(Will you take a look at Spitz more at center?)

Yeah, that's definitely an option. Yeah, I think Jason did a nice job when he was in there. Scott Wells has done a good job for us. Scott has battled through some injuries. We've had some times where (he's) not been able to get through a week and so forth, but yeah, that's definitely an option.

(Since '92 there were two bad seasons until this one, '99 and '05. Do people in this organization feel what it means to go 6-10 or do they just see it as a transition year to Aaron Rodgers?)

No, I don't think anybody in the Green Bay Packers organization is flippant about what just happened here. I'm the head coach. I was given an opportunity to coach a group of men and we won six games. I clearly understand the responsibilities in the great organization I am working at. It is not acceptable. I'm not satisfied. There are reasons why we are here. We need to correct them as we move forward, and that's the facts. I'm not going to comment on past seasons and so forth, but that's the reality of where we are. We need to do a better job.

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