Transcript - Mike McCarthy Conference Call With Vikings Media - Sept. 26


Q: Are you surprised at all you guys got off to a fast start?

A: Am I surprised? That was the plan. We talked about it all offseason and we geared a number of things to the start of the season just like most teams do. I think it's just very important that we're winning the close games and that's what you got to do particularly early on in the season.

Q: It seems like Brett Favre's making better decisions than he was ever since you've got there. What went in to convincing him to make better decisions?

A: I wish I had something real special for you. We installed the offense and it was a lot of carryover conceptually from systems that he has run here in Green Bay in the past. We coach the play just like every play that certain plays are read a certain way and just hold him accountable to the decisions like all of our quarterbacks. He's in a rhythm right now, particularly the last two weeks. He's making good decisions but his urgency and accuracy with the football has been very impressive.

Q: You guys have passed a lot more than you've run so far. Is that more because of how well Brett's playing or more because of the uncertainty you have at running back?

A: It's just really what we are doing from a game plan standpoint. Every game you enter you fell there are certain matchups schematically what you want to do week in and week out. We've definitely been tilted a lot more toward the pass than the run; there is no question about that. I think it is important not to be one-dimensional in the National Football League and that's not our desire.

Q: Is his arm strength every bit as good as it was when he was winning those MVP titles or is there a drop-off?

A: I'll say this; he can still throw the football probably with the best of them in the league today. Having the opportunity to work with him in 1999, which was a couple years after he won his last MVP, I had never worked with a quarterback that threw the ball with the velocity he threw with at that time in his career. To answer your question he has dropped off a little bit, but dropping off from where he was before until now it doesn't really mean a whole lot because he can still make all the throws that are necessary in this offense or any other offensive system.

Q: How about his legs, has he lost a little bit on his mobility?

A: No, he still moves around. He takes great care of his body. He's lean. He was very lean the year I was here in '99 but he's a lot lighter than he was in his MVP days. He can still move around and play in the action passing game and the movement phase. We don't feel we like we are limited at all as far as what we ask him to do.

Q: Is there anything you can do to create more of a running game or are you just as saddled with what you've got?

A: I am not as down on the run game as everybody else. I feel number one, to run the football the guy calling the plays needs to commit to it and he hasn't done that the last two weeks. That's the first thing. Actually we left some yardage on the field in last week's game; I thought our run-blocking unit actually blocked very well. We won 58% of the plays that we did run the football. It's more of a commitment. I think a big part of running the football in today's game is more commitment and attitude. I think a lot is made of the schemes and things like that. I am OK with where we are in our run game. I do know we need to improve that and the first thing you've got to do to get to that is improve the attempts.

Q: As you mentioned his arm is still one of the best in the league; is he as football smart as any quarterback in the league and is that what has helped his longevity?

A: When you talk about quarterback play as far as being a smart quarterback, experience plays a big part of that. He clearly has more experience than any quarterback playing. Obviously just with the number of games he has played and he doesn't miss games. His preparation just from, I keep referring to my first time through Green Bay, and now is much better. He prepares a lot more, he watches a lot more film and he's really into all aspects of the offense. To answer your question he's definitely a lot smarter quarterback today than he was in the past in my opinion.

Q: Do you think he could almost do it all physically but now he has to depend on his brain, his acumen for the game?

A: I think that is a natural progression for an NFL football player in the later part of his career because Brett was clearly one of the most talented players in the game, especially what he was able to do with his legs and his arm in his early days. I think that's common as players get older and their gross motor skills and their fine motor skills may decrease a little bit, they rely on their experience. I think that's probably the case with him also.

Q: From your experience dealing with quarterbacks, how long does it take them to learn how to play in the NFL?

A: Ideally you would like to play the quarterback in my opinion in his third year because the first year there is so much thrown at them. You have an adjustment period, learning a new language. You're just starting to build the foundation and the investment of reps into that particular system, let alone the reps with his teammates from a timing and rhythm standpoint. Then the second year I feel is when they really finally grasp the offense. I have seen the progression happen a number of times where the second year the quarterback, when you go back through the offense that second year says, 'OK, now I know what you mean, now I know what you want'. I think it really benefits from that offseason after their first year because you are able to break everything down to its simplest form. Whether it's the fundamentals of his footwork, the fundamentals of his throwing motion and apply it to every aspect of the passing game. He can learn to study the opponent better because every quarterback comes out of it at a different experience level coming out of their college experience. I really think it's the third year when you see the quarterback has really arrived and where he is playing the game and he's not chasing the game.

{sportsad300}Q: What are your thoughts on Tarvaris Jackson?

A: Tarvaris, I was very impressed with him physically. I know he played in the nasty game we had here last year in the rain. I think he is a talented young man and I think he's a young quarterback that is going through his progression as an NFL starter. He cannot get enough reps. He definitely has the ability to make all the throws and seems to be decisive when it's clean for him as far as in the passing game. I think he is a young man with a bright future.

Q: With Favre one touchdown away from breaking the record, is the Metrodome as fitting of a place for him to do that outside of Lambeau?

A: I would think so. I know our players are very excited about the Vikings game. It's clearly a big rival game for both football teams, and that's clearly one of the toughest places to play. We anticipate a lot of energy in the building this Sunday and definitely I think it would be fitting if you had to do it away from Lambeau.

Q: Knowing Brett Favre the way you do, do any of this and these numbers mean anything to him?

A: Just in my experience with Brett, I think the numbers when he is back at home sitting on the tractor when it is all said and done, he'll look back and he'll probably appreciate it. His focus is on winning the next Super Bowl. He'd like to have another opportunity to get in the postseason and take a run at it. He's all about winning. Him and I have talked about, I don't view him as chasing the record; I just think it is inevitable. We're chasing victory number four and everything else will take care of itself.

Q: When he is done playing he will hold most if not all the major passing records. Do you feel like he should be viewed as the best quarterback in NFL history or at least one of the top two or three?

A: I am not qualified to answer that question. I can only comment on people that I've actually had the experience of working with or competing against. I'll just say this; I had the opportunity to be around Joe Montana when I was in Kansas City. I was the quality control coach there and I clearly thought he was one of the greatest quarterbacks that I had ever been around. Just the way Joe played the game, he was a clinic in everything he did. You could pull Joe's tapes out today, 10 years from now, 20 years from now, and any young quarterback could learn from the way he plays. But when I look at Brett Favre, I think he'll definitely go down as one of the greatest football players that ever played the game because first of all to accomplish records you have to be available and no one has been more available than he has. He's broken the record for consecutive starts and then will continue to put that record in an out-of-reach perspective. Just the fact that he's able to play week in and week out and has won more games than any other quarterback in the league; those two records to me are the ones that I clearly admire. The touchdown I know is significant and everybody compares it to the home run record and some of these other records that he is going to break, but I think at the end of the day when you talk about being an NFL football player and you can stand up and say you were available to play week in and week out throughout your whole career, you won more games than any other quarterback that has ever played. I think those two are as significant of a contribution that you could make to your football team.

Q: Have you come across many players that have the tenacity about winning and just his will to win no matter what the situation?

A: He is clearly one of the most passionate individuals I have ever seen on the football field, regardless of what position. He plays the game at a different beat, to a different drum, that's for sure.

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