GREEN BAY — The Packers' three coordinators met with the media on Friday to conclude the playoff bye week.
Here's a summary of their key comments:
Special teams coordinator Shawn Mennenga
(on what has led to the improvement)
It's our guys growing within the system. There's been some consistency with our personnel. It was a revolving door at the beginning of the season, but now we have guys settling into roles. It's young guys growing and getting better, and (Ervin's) definitely a threat back there in the return game.
(more on improvement)
Just the techniques. Guys are understanding what we're trying to do. You only have so much time in the spring, in the OTAs. It takes a while for guys to understand what you're doing with the drills, the whole setup, and what we're doing to improve. I can see that getting better each week.
(on how things change in the cold)
Our guys know they'll have to be ready to cover. We'll try to have great direction and as much hang time as we can. But we'll be ready to cover. The guys know that going in, the ball's not going to travel as much.
(on the buy-in from the players)
Once you create that culture where guys care about special teams, they start running it themselves. When the players start running it themselves, then you've turned a corner. We've got a lot of young, core players, and I think the future is bright.
Defensive coordinator Mike Pettine
(on the defense finishing the season strong)
I think it was a combination of a lot of things. Continuing to grow in the system, being more confident in the calls and recognition of things, pre-snap. We had some communication issues, we overemphasized it and guys responded and found the overcommunicating part was a positive. It forced guys to buckle down. Guys dug a little deeper and the results were beneficial.
We looked at the explosives and there were some that were a tip of the hat, they made a good play, great throw, great catch. But there were a lot that were on us, had we communicated better, we'd have been in position to defend it.
(on Za'Darius Smith)
That was our guy when we evaluated the outside backers. He was the one we were most excited about, so we knew the moment we signed him from a football standpoint, he was going to bring what we saw on tape. There was some point in the spring, I can't pinpoint it, you could feel the presence in the room and leadership, the infectious confidence and the personality. We didn't realize that until we were around him, both him and Preston. That's been a big boost to the room, not just from a playing standpoint, but all those things we've talked about, the intangibles.
(on pressure up front compared to last year)
We did a much better job affecting the quarterback, whether that's completion percentage or just forcing the ball to come out quicker than they would have liked. Against us, quarterbacks don't tend to hold it as long because they know it's only a matter of time until someone's breaking free. As far as moving the guy off the spot and affecting the ability to throw a completion, I think it's been a world of difference this year.
(on Kyler Fackrell)
He's the consummate professional. Unselfish. Knowing his playing time is limited, he's the same guy whether he knows he's featured in the plan and pressures are in for him, or he has the more thankless jobs. He just goes out and does his job and does it well. This year there were times he was winning, just not winning fast enough. He's had a lot of near misses. He's been one of our better droppers as well. Whatever we're asking him to do, he's just coach, tell me what to do and I'll do it. He's a team guy, and very quietly been a really big part of our success.
(on the cornerbacks)
I think Jaire Alexander has been very consistent. He's had a couple hiccups here and there, but I think overall he's been very consistent. The guy we're most pleased about is Kevin. Kevin is confident and he's finally healthy. The corners are physical, and that's what we need this time of year. We have to be disruptive, we can't give free access into the secondary, and we have to tackle. Our guys have taken that challenge. They've tackled very well, especially over the last month. With Tramon Williams, he has that feel in the slot. He's a better blitzer than people think, and he has a good idea of how teams are trying to attack us.
Offensive coordinator Nathaniel Hackett
(on moving Davante Adams around)
We don't want to lock him in at one spot, one thing. We always want to make it a task for the defense to be able to find him.
(on the benefits of the coaching staff getting to know each other)
You're able to be more efficient and isolate it down to how we want to attack and all be on the same page. That's solidified itself as we've gone on, the things we're looking for, the things we want Matt and Aaron Rodgers to like. It's been good growth and we've had a good time doing it.
(on finding consistency on offense)
That's been the whole season. It's been up and down. It looks really good, then there's a couple hiccups and things don't go the way we want them to. It's about guys continuing to get more comfortable. It sounds basic but it's really not. The more they can play together and get those opportunities, we can capitalize on those. We just have to keep working on the timing and consistency of everything we want to do.
Now's the time. We've been very efficient in certain aspects of the game, which has allowed us to be in the game. But when you see the offense really get rolling, you'll see those plays. We just need to get about 50 percent of those and it'll look a lot different.
(on Lucas Patrick, Jared Veldheer in Detroit)
I think both those guys really stepped up. The way that defense plays, too, they isolate the center one-on-one a lot. We were going down thin there. It's a lot of credit to Coach Stenavich, Coach Butkus, to make sure those guys were ready to go in there and execute and not miss a beat. It's a testament to all those guys.
(on Rodgers in the playoffs)
Not only does he have an amazing skill, but as a person as a leader, how he brings the team together and gets those guys to be able to play at a higher level, just how he goes out there and how he composes himself. I think everybody knows they have to get up to where kind of his standard is, and I think that rises the level of everybody. In this situation, I think the stakes are so much higher, it's so much more exciting, and there are going to be guys that are going to be so fired up, but you're always going to have Aaron, a guy that's been there, that's done that, he's always going to be able to bring people back and lead them each game, and I think that's the key. I think not only will it be his arm, it'll be his voice, his demeanor, everything.