Notebook: Team Must Clean Up, Move On To Detroit

What Coach McCarthy saw result from the horrendous weather conditions in Chicago were several fundamental breakdowns that will be the focus of the team’s preparation for the regular-season finale against Detroit. - More | Packers-Lions Game Center Mike McCarthy Press Conference Transcript - Dec. 24


Detroit QB Jon Kitna takes one of six sacks in last December's meeting with Detroit at Lambeau Field.

Much was made of the horrendous weather conditions in Chicago on Sunday, but what Head Coach Mike McCarthy saw result from those conditions were several fundamental breakdowns that will be the focus of the team's preparation for the regular-season finale against Detroit.

"Fundamentally, I thought our pad level was poor," McCarthy said. "We had a number of breakdowns just in technique, and we did a number of things that just were not characteristic of our football team."

McCarthy is a firm believer that football games are won and lost over the fundamentals - blocking, tackling, and the like. What the whipping winds and cold weather did Sunday, in his opinion, was distract the players to an extent they lost focus on the fundamentals.

That, more than anything in terms of Green Bay's play, led to Chicago's 139 rushing yards and two blocked punts, and the Packers' fumbled snaps and dropped passes.

"I'd say the biggest lesson that we will learn from, because it's the first time we've gone through it with this team, is how to handle the weather conditions better," McCarthy said.

That starts this week with the Detroit game at Lambeau Field, the first of at least two more cold-weather games, with the Divisional Playoff coming after the first-round bye.

The coaching staff already has begun game-planning for Detroit, and after the entire team takes Christmas Day off, everyone will return Wednesday to begin the usual three days of practice prior to the game.

With the Packers locked into the NFC's No. 2 seed for the playoffs, the Detroit game cannot factor into Green Bay's position. McCarthy said the starting lineup would remain the same for this game, but how substitutions would be handled has not been decided yet.

The primary objective will be to get the mistakes from the Chicago game corrected and the team back to resembling the one that went to Chicago 12-2, not the one that left there with a 35-7 loss.

"It's important to get back on the field and get going as far as playing to the level that we need to play," McCarthy said. "And, also with the fact that we won't play for another week, I want to make sure we stay sharp. We need to clean up a lot of things fundamentally just off of our last contest, and that will be our focus as we go through the week."

Wouldn't have helped

With the winds gusting up to 40 miles an hour off Lake Michigan, McCarthy said he doesn't think practicing outside last week would have prepared the team any better to play the Bears.

For the most part, McCarthy believes practicing outside in the bad weather becomes counter-productive, because the quality of practice suffers and there's more lost in preparing the game plan then gained in getting acclimated weather that can be rather unpredictable anyway, like Sunday.

"I prefer to go outside, I prefer to be on grass," McCarthy said. "But there's a point where the returns are not there."

McCarthy also said he talked Monday morning with General Manager Ted Thompson, who relayed a story about playing for Houston Oilers coach Bum Phillips in the days the team would travel north regularly to take on AFC Central rivals Cleveland and Pittsburgh towards the tail end of the season.

{sportsad300}"He said, 'You can't practice misery,'" McCarthy said. "That was a miserable situation yesterday. One team handled it, another team did not."

Not pretty

After some post-whistle pushing and shoving on Sunday, Nick Barnett was forcefully removed from the scrum by umpire Jim Quirk using what the linebacker termed a "choke hold" when speaking to reporters after the game.

McCarthy, for one, was not pleased.

"I've never seen anything like that in all my years," McCarthy said. "I didn't see the whole thing, but I thought the official was totally out of line, the way he grabbed Nick around his neck and pulled him out of there."

McCarthy said he hadn't spoken with director of officiating Mike Pereira yet, but judging from his comments he seems inclined to have some communication with the league office about it at some point.

"I thought it was totally unprofessional," McCarthy said. "I thought it was totally out of hand."

Injury update

McCarthy said the ankle injury to receiver Greg Jennings was mild and he could be available to play this week. Jennings apparently was kicked in the ankle, classifying the injury as more a bruise than a sprain, and the medical staff is not overly concerned.

Defensive tackle Ryan Pickett should be healthy enough to put in a full week of practice, McCarthy said. Pickett was held out of Sunday's game in Chicago with a groin injury.

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