Mike McCarthy Season-Ending Press Conference Transcript - Jan. 13

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

(What were some of the injuries from Sunday, and what does the offseason look like in that regard?)

I had an opportunity to meet with Dr. Pat McKenzie today. We've had a number of players over the last 48 hours and we'll continue this week with scans and so forth. But we do not have any surgeries set for the offseason. There's a couple guys, there will be some discussion. But relatively, coming out of the game, we feel pretty good the way we came out of the game.

(Where does Jeremy Thompson stand?)

Jeremy Thompson is seeking more advice. He will probably have at least two more opinions, and we'll continue to work through the process with Jeremy.

(Have you come to grips with what happened? How are you dealing emotionally with the loss?)

It's a tough loss. Really, since the game, I've gone through the evaluation process that you go through every year. Spent the last two days with the exit interviews of all of our players -- active roster, IR, practice squad, all the way through. This morning I started the day with a staff meeting, and actually when we break here, I'll start the evaluation with the coordinators, and we'll continue to do that throughout the week. I'm really in the information gathering mode. Definitely, it's a tough loss, but this is an opportunity for us to improve as a coaching staff, an opportunity for our support staff to improve, and you need to make sure you go through the process of gathering the information, sort through the emotion of it, and apply it to your program, so you can definitely learn from the experiences that we've had throughout the season.

(It took a while for you to watch the tape from the NFC Championship loss. Will you look at this tape?)

I'll definitely watch the tape. There's some things that I'll want answers to questions just over the next couple of days. I have not watched the tape yet. I watched a little bit of the offensive tape on the plane ride home. But when I get through the coordinator evaluations, we'll spend some time on tape, and frankly, once you get back near the end of the month you start your scheme evaluations. This game will be in the cut-ups six, seven, eight times, so I'm not going to avoid the tape. I'm not that drastic. It's definitely something we can learn from.

(The question still out there is the no facemask called on the last play. What's your assessment?)

Well, I'll say this about officiating, and it's consistent with what I've said all year. I think anytime you're sitting around waiting on calls to win football games, you're in a mode of excuses. The only things I look for in officiating ... I look for them to make sure they have command of the game. I felt the crew definitely did that. Communication on the sideline I think is very important during the course of the game. I thought the sideline referees were excellent in that regard. And really, the only penalties that I really get upset about are player safety. I'm more concerned about Aaron Rodgers taking helmet-to-helmet shots that are not being called. That's happened a number of times this year. But the facemask, and some of the calls that went on during the course of the game, I thought the officials let us play on both sides and I'm comfortable with that. I would prefer that than the other. The way the game ended, you don't want it come down to an officiating call. Nobody wants that. You want it to be about player productivity. There was a lot of productivity in that football game, especially from an offensive standpoint. But I'm not going to sit here and try to discredit Arizona's victory by no means, because it really doesn't do any good. They're either going to say they were wrong, or they're going to explain why they were right, and that still doesn't change the outcome. We need to learn from the experience. That's the difference between winning and losing in the playoffs, and that's where we have to make sure we go as a football team, that we're not in that position. And that's the way I view it. We're never going to count on the officials to win a football game.

(What was it about veteran quarterbacks with multiple weapons that gave your defense so much trouble, when you look at Minnesota, Pittsburgh and Arizona?)

Vikings, Pittsburgh, Arizona ... well, I think in the earlier days of the season, the Viking games, we definitely weren't playing in sync as we were later in the year. I think that was obvious to everybody. Then we went through the injuries, losing Al Harris, and then we had some guys playing different positions and so forth. Those are really the questions we'll look at. Trust me, we'll take a long look at Arizona from a defensive standpoint, and Pittsburgh. You're talking about over 1,000 yards of offensive production in two days. We will take a long look at that, and particularly the quarterbacks. The Minnesota games, I think our issues in that game were different. They were more team issues in my view, looking back on that. The thing that jumps out for me about the Minnesota games, number one, the turnovers that we had, we didn't put pressure on the quarterback, and field position. I think we were 150 yards both games minus in field position in the Minnesota games. I look at those as more overall team things we can improve on there. But definitely the Pittsburgh and Arizona game, with the offensive production versus our defense, we need to take a close look at it.

(The similarity between those two games is both teams know your defensive scheme inside and out. Is there something in retrospect that you needed to hide from them or change?)

I think that makes for good writing. I think it makes for good conversation. But the fact of the matter is, from my viewpoint, which will matter the most with our football team is, we lost that football game because we didn't take care of the fundamentals that we focused on going into the game. You look at the first three offensive snaps of the game, we had two turnovers, and we had three turnovers in the football game. That's something we talk about extensively. We didn't try to change who we were going into that game, but we do a good job of taking care of the football all season and taking the ball away. We did not do that in the game. Defensively, I'm very disappointed in the tackling. We were a poor tackling unit all four quarters. Really, the breakdowns in base coverage concepts again started with the first third-down play that they were on that we dropped the flat on a buster coverage. Those are the two big things that will factor the most in an outcome of a game. Now, trust me, we'll be very critical of ourselves from a coaching standpoint. We'll look at all of our tendencies and so forth. I don't want to take any credit away from Arizona and the production they had on offense versus our defense. I mean, 29-for-33, obviously there's no pressure on the quarterback and so forth. We'll take a close look at that. But the biggest issues we had, and I don't need to look at the film to answer those questions, because I saw it live, was our fundamentals.

(Can you rule out making any staff changes?)

Staff changes? I'm going through the process that I go through every year, just like I've already stated. I'll talk to the coordinators through evaluation, interviews and so forth. I'll do that throughout the course of the week. They've had an opportunity to evaluate their assistant coaches, and I'll go all the way through the program. It's a process that takes time, and I'll do it this year just like I've done it in the past.

(You made a lot of moves last year on the staff. Do you feel you're headed in the right direction now?)

I like the way the season's gone from a staff standpoint, but we'll look at everything. We're going to evaluate every individual, myself included, because this is an opportunity to improve, and we need to improve our program. Coaching is a big part of that. We definitely improved in the areas we set out to from last year to this year, and the coaching is a big part of that. We will go through the process.

(With the pass defense, will getting Pat Lee and Will Blackmon back bolster that enough, or will you have to add somebody?)

I like Patrick Lee, Blackmon. Definitely we have some good players on IR. Every team goes through it, and that's really what we'll focus on. We'll take a hard look over the next two months of our scheme evaluation. Our goal is to have our scheme evaluation done before we go to the combine, just going through the schedule this morning with the coaching staff. And then when we get back here in March, it's about individual improvement, and we'll attack those young players like we have every year. I think we've done very good job in that area, in our offseason program. Patrick, Blackmon, all those guys are part of that. But you're going to have injuries. You go through them. You never have enough good players, and we'll do the same thing in player acquisition. We'll just keep trying to get as many good players as we can, and we'll develop them and get them ready for next year.

(Did you see enough improvement on special teams since you made the change last year?)

I think we definitely improved in a number of areas on special teams. Once again, I'm not making any decisions today, and we'll go through the whole process. We have goals, grades, it's a detailed process that we'll go through, and it's important to go through that. Step away from it, take the emotion out of it from the playoff loss. I think that's very important. Step away and evaluate it, make sure you have your check and balance in order, and move forward.

(Do you view the season as a success?)

As a success? I'll say what I say every year. There's only one team in my view that has success, and that's the team that wins the Super Bowl. That's the ultimate success. One team shares that. But I think you do have different levels of success. I think we've had some successes. There's definitely a lot of opportunities we can learn from. I look at the type of games we played in during the course of the year. We played in more big games this year than we did last year, and the youth of our team will definitely learn from that. We have the playoff experience with the youth of our team that we can carry forward. We'll learn from that. I had an opportunity to go through the exit interviews with all the players, and I'll say this -- we're a more mature football team this year than we were last year. There's a lot of positives that come out of the conversations, and in particular our locker room,, the strength of our locker room, the level of leadership, Aaron Rodgers' presence in the locker room. A number of players commented on Aaron's leadership this year, so I think he's clearly taken over the identity of this being his team. That was very evident the last two days. Those are the types of things you look for. We have improved in a number of areas, so we've had some successes, but there's only one team that can say it had a successful year when the season's over.

(Are you comfortable if you have the youngest team again, or are you hoping for a different type of roster?)

Well, we don't ... I haven't been in a personnel meeting where we sit there and look at the depth chart and say OK, we have to get this guy here and here to be the youngest team in the league. It just kind of worked out that way. I know free agency is coming up and everybody wants to know if we're going to sign players. We're going to go through that process and try to get better. You have the CBA out there. You have a whole different landscape that everybody's getting ready to try to navigate through. We'll deal with that. But our conversations from a personnel standpoint have always been about making our team better, and that won't change. Does that lead us to being the youngest team in the league next year? I don't think we will be. But you never know. Change is constant in the National Football League, and we're going to look to make the appropriate changes and try to get this team better. The answers to those questions are down the road.

(Would you like to have Tauscher and Clifton as your starting tackles again?)

Those are all personnel questions, and is really the process I'm going through. Every coach has done evaluation on his players. I'll have the opportunity to go through that with the coordinators, with the coaches. We'll have personnel meetings with Ted. I really like what Mark Tauscher has done in his time here. I thought he definitely got stronger as the season went on. He thinks he's over the hump from a rehab standpoint with the strength in the knee, so those are all positives. No different with Chad. Chad has come back from multiple surgeries last year and was kind of grinding and fought through the season. He's had some injures this year. We'll look at all those types of things as we move forward.

(Did Rodgers exceed your expectations in his second year as a starter?)

I'm a quarterback coach by nature. I'm probably the wrong person to ask, because I'm still the guy that wants to talk about how to improve your footwork and things like that. But I think Aaron has had a very good year. I don't think there's no doubt about that. When you go win it all, I think that's when you start talking about great seasons. But he was definitely a very bright positive for our football team, both on the field and in the locker room, and we feel very good about that as an organization. I definitely felt that he had a very, very good year.

(Are you confident Spitz will be done with his back issues and be healthy and a guy you can count on?)

Well, he's definitely turned the corner. If you talk to Jason, he's here working out, and he's not all the way back, but he's getting close. We're definitely hopeful. He's played good football for us in the past, and I look for him to that. Once again, he's not fully cleared and he's not ready to go, but we definitely feel very strong about he'll be able to be fully recovered from his injury.

(How bad was Clifton's ankle injury from the other night?)

Talking with Pat, he had a contusion and a high ankle sprain. Ryan Grant kicked him and the way he had it planted. As far as how bad it is, I don't know if he would have been able to play this week or not. We didn't talk in those terms.

(Woodson said yesterday he thought the guys went into the game Sunday with the wrong mentality, that players thought they would just win the game because of what happened the previous week. What's your feeling on that?)

Like I've stated already, I've talked to every single player on our football team, and frankly, Charles was probably the only one that has shared that. I know what the message was all week. We clearly knew we were going into a different environment. Heck, that was very evident in pre-game. It was a playoff atmosphere. We expected them to come out strong, with a strong surge. We obviously didn't handle it very well, just the way we started the game as a team. But, I don't know if that's emotion. I'm not going to speak for Charles, but that definitely wasn't the consensus going through the interviews. We were not sharp on defense, particularly from an assignment and a fundamental standpoint. The ball security is something we've done very well that we did not do in that game. I thought special teams played very well, pretty much throughout, especially the coverage units and the big play with the onside kick. But I would not say we had the wrong mentality going into that game. You're talking about a football team that played in the Super Bowl last year. I think we were very prepared for that game, and we just didn't handle the playoff atmosphere as well as we would have liked.

(What's your schedule for the offseason program and do you expect to get high participation again?)

I'm fully confident we'll have high participation in our offseason program. Frankly, I have not set it yet. I do not have a couple of dates from the league that normally come out probably this week or next week, so we'll probably have that finalized here in the next coming weeks. But our players fully understand the importance of our offseason program.

(How close is this team to being a true Super Bowl contender and is that a legitimate goal?)

Our goal will never change. You guys probably think I'm nuts when I sit up here and say it every year; that's just the way we go about our business. But the reality of it is expectations are, 'what are we going to get done in the offseason program?' Every year is different, every football team is different. You need to rebuild, reload, restructure. We have a good foundation. We have a program, a blueprint that works, but we need to improve it because we did not get past the first round, and that is something that we'll identify with and so forth. No. 1, we need to have a very good offseason program. We've got a lot of younger players that need to take full advantage of individual-improvement opportunities in March, April and May. That will be our focus as a coaching staff as we go through our scheme evaluations getting ready for March when our players return. That's the way I view it. You've got to build it. You've got to stack those successes. We have some successes and some experience from this past year that we'll be able to carry over that we did not have last year, so I'm confident that will help us. But the goal will never change here.

(Do you think you're in a position now where you don't need as much turnover on the roster? Would you prefer not to have as much turnover?)

If you look at the way we have done business the last four years, I could see why you would ask that and I think on paper that would hold true. But it's like anything; this league is about change and the opportunity to improve. We will never stop from an approach standpoint. Now, it probably doesn't look that way because we may not be as aggressive in some areas as other people are, but we're always looking to improve. Will our roster change a lot? Today, I really can't answer that question.

(Does Aaron Kampman have a future in Green Bay?)

Aaron Kampman is just like everybody else I have talked about. We're going to go through the personnel depth charts. I had a long talk with Aaron yesterday as far as how his season went and his future. That's what we're doing, we're going through all of the information, continue to gather it and so forth. We'll watch his rehab, which will be a big part of it. He is off the charts as far as where he is at in his rehab. It's pretty remarkable how he has responded in coming back from his surgery so fast. Those are all the things that we'll look at.

(Do you think he's a good fit for the 3-4 defense?)

I thought Aaron played good football in the 3-4, and that's what the film shows. He was productive. I know it was a transition. We definitely had a transition as a defense early in the season. I didn't like some of the selfishness that went on on our defense early on in the season. We grew through that, we got past that. There were role changes for a number of our players. We had to make some adjustments, and I thought the defensive staff did a very good job with that. I think the results and the improvement from last year to this year speak for themselves, but there is definitely a lot of room for improvement, and that will be our focus.

(What do you mean by selfishness on defense?)

I'm not going to get into specifics. When you have a change of defense, philosophy, role changes, there is definitely some hesitation. It really never shows its head until you get into the regular season and you get into actual game-planning and so forth. I think it was clear to everybody that we had some growing pains there in probably the first four weeks of the season.

(Where's Justin Harrell at?)

Justin is doing well. He is going to be here full-time. I met with him yesterday. He is close. He is getting close to being fully recovered. It's just like any time you come back from a back injury. There are definitely come targets that he is going to have to hit throughout the offseason, but he is doing very well in the weight room and the rehab part of it. But he is going to be here full-time.

{sportsad300}(Winston has been mentioned for the Oakland job. Is he ready to be a head coach someplace?)

I think Winston Moss has done an excellent job for us, and really just as far as all of the other assistants. Anytime you have people in your organization that are recognized by other clubs, it definitely speaks about your program. There will be opportunities or talk of opportunities that come, but as far as specifics and individuals, those are really conversations that will stay between myself and the other assistants because I'm not going to really get into all of that publicly. But I think it's just a reflection of the job that Winston has done and a number of our other assistants.

(There are reports you turned down the Bears' request to interview Clements. Is that true, and was that because it's a division opponent?)

I think that question could fall right in line with my last answer. I think Tom has done an excellent job, just like a number of our other assistants. I'm sure the mention or the pursuit of some of our coaches, that's what goes on this time of year. That is what will go on probably the next four to six weeks, and that's all part of the business.

(Have Ted and Russ shared with you the plan to deal with all these potential guys who might or might not be free agents?)

Well, there is definitely two plans and that's something that we'll continue to work through. Once again, everybody is going through it. The landscape for this offseason has changed. There is uncertainty there, and that makes personnel decisions even harder. So we'll just continue to work through it and obviously always make the best decisions in the best interests of our organization. But the uncertainty really is where we're at.

(You told some players in their exit interviews that you thought a CBA was going to get done. Are you optimistic about that?)

I don't really have an opinion one way or the other. I think it's like anything; you hear the negatives and then you hear some of the positive things that are going on. For me to even sit here and comment on negotiations would be irrelevant because I'm definitely not even involved or an expert. But I think there is definitely a positive vibe. I think everybody would like to eliminate the uncertainty. Trust me, I have nothing to do with the CBA, but I think it is definitely something that I think everybody would like to see an answer one way or the other.

(All the guys who have four years in, do you consider that troublesome because of the sheer number of guys in that situation?)

I don't view it that way. It's no different than a number of conversations you have with players or staff members or anybody. It's just part of being in a leadership role. Everybody at some point in their career would like to do more or would like a different opportunity, and I fully understand that and respect that. But we're always going to make the decisions in the best interest of our team. I know the uncertainty is probably the biggest issue for everybody, both players and management because everybody wants to know what they are doing for next year, and I understand that. We're in the business of collecting and taking care of as many good players as we can. That's the way I view it as the head coach. I'm preparing for all of the names that are on that board, but the business landscape has changed. I hate to be redundant, but there is uncertainty, and that's why when you ask me about changes in personnel, without a CBA agreement, you can't even answer these questions.

(On the final play Sunday, had Rodgers seen Adams right away, does he have a place to go with the ball to get the first down, or if he didn't see him, would you rather see him take the sack than try to make a play?)

It's what we call a strong-fire pressure. They had come with it before in the game. It's something that they have done a number of times, but as far as having an opportunity of where to throw the ball, I think Aaron has already answered that question. When you are in a three-step drop and they come with a pressure off of the slot, we have an opportunity from a time clock to get the ball out, to answer your question. It's just like anything; at the end of the day, the quarterback and the people that handle the ball, and it's something that we put a lot of time in from a practice perspective. You have to take care of the football, and we didn't do that as a football team and it really factored into the outcome of the game. We had three giveaways in that game. I thought that was a huge statistic, a positive for Arizona, something that we have done very well all season.

(As good as Aaron was, is that something you can correct and help him with, getting the ball out quicker?)

Well, we're talking about one play. I know we had a lot of conversation on that earlier in the season. I think we definitely improved in the area of protection. I think the biggest key to that was really the health and the continuity of our offensive line because it all starts up front. The second half of the season I felt like we were really in sync. The ability to run and throw the ball, and to play more of a balanced game and 50-50 is not balanced, but the ability to be balanced on what you want to do from a play-calling standpoint. I don't think he has that issue. That's something that younger quarterbacks do have an issue with. You're never playing fast enough, but I think if you are on the other side of the ball, if you are coaching defense, you're pretty impressed with how fast Aaron Rodgers plays with the football in his hands.

(At the end of the first half, do you think at all about what if a pass interference is called? Do you have to factor that in so you have a few extra seconds in case there is a defensive penalty?)

Yeah, I wasn't anticipating a horse collar on third down there. I felt, going into the time management at the end of the first half, a little bit like you think going into the end of a game. I felt it was to take as much time off the clock as possible. We had not stopped them on defense, and that was the thought process, and then obviously we get the penalty on third down. I'm fine with the management of it. Would I have liked to have had 10 seconds after the penalty? Sure. I had plenty of timeouts too. I don't know how you can anticipate penalties, and maybe that's something that we'll look at from a game management. We talk game management all of the time, game education we're always trying to improve. Maybe some of that is something we'll look at.

(With the pass rush, is the only way to improve it through the linebacker position, and are you set with what you have there?)

I don't think you can just have pass rush coming from the linebacker position because you are in the 3-4. I don't agree with that at all. I know a general belief for myself and it's always been that way, from my time in Kansas City and just the way they tried to build their roster and competing against defense as an offensive coach, is when I am involved in a personnel discussion the thing that I talk about all of the time are pass rushers and corners. You don't have to be a linebacker to be a pass rusher. So to answer your question, you never have enough pass rushers, whether it's inside pass rush, outside pass rush, whether it's the ability to create rush schematically from a linebacker location. Obviously we've got a defensive back in Charles Woodson that is as good as a blitzer as there is in the league and plays four positions on our defense that gives us the ability to create pass rusher. Pass rushers and corners or pass rushers and cover guys that can cover, you never have enough of those guys.

(Regarding free agency, do you come up with a priority list to show Ted here are the guys you most want to keep?)

The way we do it is actually tomorrow we'll go through the board. Really, personnel depth chart for Ted Thompson and I, it's really an ongoing conversation. It's not something that we wait until the end of the season to talk about. We usually do it on Fridays, particularly when Ted is out of town going to the college visits and so forth. It's an ongoing conversation, so we are always talking about our depth chart. We are always talking about how individuals are doing, so that in itself is nothing that we need to have a big sit-down to have. But now we'll talk about it from the standpoint with our coordinators and their opinions and we'll go through that depth chart. Frankly, we'll get a list. Reggie McKenzie is actually the individual that heads it up in the personnel department. We'll have a list here in probably about two weeks of all the potential free agents and we'll look at those guys and break those guys down and we'll continue to build the free-agent board, just like we build the draft board. We have two boards down there in the personnel department, one is for free agency and obviously one is for the draft. It's all about player acquisition and trying to improve your football team.

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