In this week's "Tuesdays with McCarthy," the head coach discusses penalties, the draft process and "Hunting XLVI," among other topics.
- Three fan questions will be selected each week and presented to Coach McCarthy. Go to the Green Bay Packers' official Facebook page on Monday mornings to post your question.*
Jeff from Elk Grove Village, IL
Q. Penalties have plagued the Packers in previous years. What has been the key this year with cutting down the penalties?
Our players have done a great job of staying disciplined. We did have an issue with penalties in my first couple seasons with the Packers. We have emphasized fundamentals and utilized open-field drills to help us cut down on technique penalties. Our defensive scheme has also helped us reduce penalties because we're playing with more vision to the football. It has allowed us to be penalty-averse as opposed to playing a lot of man or match coverage which puts you in higher-risk penalty situations because your back is to the football. To me, penalties are lack of discipline and fundamentals. It's something every football team emphasizes. We're doing a better job of emphasizing it during our practice structure every day and it's showing up on Sundays.
Emily from Newbury Park, CA
Q. Does being undefeated at this point in the season add more pressure, or is the pressure to win always the same?
The pressure to win is always the same. I can't speak on the players' behalf, but I don't talk about being undefeated. I talk about the next game and concern myself with the next game. The NFL is too competitive to get outside of that thought process. It's similar to dealing with any type of distraction. The media creates a lot of questions and storylines that can potentially break your focus, and you can't let that happen. That's something you address as a football team daily in the NFL. As you have more success, you have more storylines and increased coverage, but that goes back to our initial message at the beginning of the season about handling success. Success comes on all different types of levels. As they say, "New devils at every level." We've handled the success of winning the Super Bowl and I think that experience has helped us. Our veterans have been able to help the younger players handle success in the regular season. I don't see a football team that's real caught up with its record. I see a football team that's focused on winning games and getting better. As long as we stay true to that, we're going to be fine.
Ray from San Antonio, TX
Q. What role during draft time do you take? Do you and Mr. Thompson scout and review players together?
Ted and his personnel staff do a phenomenal job. I don't know if there's a general manager that gets out on the road to evaluate as much as Ted Thompson. When the draft process starts for the coaches, and you have an opportunity to sit in those draft meetings, it's impressive. The scouts give the background and their evaluation of every player, then cross-check it with other scouts in the personnel department along with Ted's evaluation. He's not only studied these guys on film, he's seen the majority of these players in person. It's the most detailed evaluation process that I've ever been a part of. Generally, my role in the evaluation process is secondary. There may be certain players that Ted will ask the whole coaching staff for evaluations, but our personnel staff does a great job of setting the draft board. They assign a value to each player as to how he fits in Green Bay. As a head coach, you sit in the chair next to the general manager on draft day, and you think it'd be a lot more complicated. However, because Ted knows the draft board so well, he is very patient and comfortable in that chair when making selections. I always liken it to calling a game offensively. You know your players, you have great confidence in your quarterback, you know your plan, and you just stick to your plan. He does the exact same thing on the personnel side. He never sweats a pick. Our personnel operation is very impressive, and everybody in football operations and throughout the building has great confidence in their ability to select players. Ted is the best I've ever been around.
Q. What do the "Hunting XLVI" signs in the team areas at Lambeau Field mean?
Anytime you carry the label of defending champion, it's a common mindset for you to feel as though you are the hunted. The signs are in line with our theme that we continue to hunt and refuse to be hunted. We have one goal here, and it's the same every year, winning the Super Bowl. "Hunting XLVI" means we refuse to be hunted and we will continue to hunt every single week in pursuit of Super Bowl XLVI.
Q. What do you tell Aaron Rodgers after he runs and takes a difficult hit?
I just give reminders to be smart and safe. He's a very instinctive player. When players have the ability to make plays, whether it's Sam Shields on an interception or Aaron Rodgers running, you can't automatically become over-corrective when something negative occurs. You teach your players risk assessment, particularly quarterbacks as special as Aaron. He has to be mindful of putting his body in bad positions, especially at certain points in the game. It's a conversation that may go on during the week, but if it happens in the game, it's just a simple reminder to be smart in space. He is such a playmaker and has a phenomenal ability to extend plays, but he also has plenty of experience to keep his body out of bad positions.
Q. The gameday activities featured "Salute to Service." What wishes do you have for our military men and women?
Number one, you have to say thank you. I thought the tribute last night was special. It was right on the money. It's truly a blessing to be able to express the appreciation for what our troops do for us to maintain our freedom in this country. I thought it was an incredible salute, taking the time to let those men and women know how we feel. We can't thank them enough.
Q. What was stressed in the defensive preparation for the Vikings game?
The biggest thing was communication, learning from our past performance. We wanted a clean game and to be aggressive with pressure. We wanted to take away Adrian Peterson while maintaining an emphasis on Percy Harvin's unique role and big-play ability. You have to be aware of where Percy is aligned, because he's not only an excellent perimeter player but he's dangerous from the backfield. We were able to hit the quarterback and get a lot of pressure on him. We wanted to get back to our style of play, and we exhibited that last night. That was great Packer defense. That's what we're accustomed to, and it's a performance we can build from.
Q. What's the approach coming into the Tampa Bay game and turning around to face Detroit four days later?
There's been a lot of pre-planning by the staff, but the players will operate on a normal week this week. We will be smart with their time on the field, particularly on Wednesday. We have a good plan for our players. We spent some time last week as a staff getting ready for Tampa Bay. We haven't played the Buccaneers in a couple of years, so we will spend more time in the classroom utilizing film study, just to make sure that we're in tune with the personnel matchups and their scheme. Playing on Thursday the following week is a whole different challenge, but we've been preparing for this stretch since the offseason. When the schedule comes out in April, you look for the tough stretches in your schedule, and this is one of them. A lot of pre-planning has been done just to make sure we're giving our players a creative game plan for these next two contests.
Q. What will be the team focus for Tampa this week?
The focus is to build off this last win. Last week, we talked about getting a significant win. We accomplished that against the Vikings, and now it's about another constant theme of ours – stacking success. It's really not about the score, it's about the quality of play. We had quality play in all three phases last night. When you can walk off the field saying all three phases won, that's what you're looking for. Moving forward, we want to play at a higher level than we did last week. That's what we try to do every week.
*For last week's "Tuesdays with McCarthy," click here.