In this week's "Tuesdays with McCarthy," the head coach discusses pre- and post-game routines, the team's identity, and the value of home-field advantage, 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 to pose your question or Tweet it to @Packers #McCarthyseries on Monday mornings.
Debbie from Twin Lakes, WI
Do you do anything special to celebrate after each win?
After games, regardless of the outcome, I go home to spend time with my family. They always bring the day into focus for me. Winning for most of the past year has certainly made heading home after the games even better. After away games, I get off the plane, go home and hopefully catch the kids before they go to bed. It's similar for home games, but there is often family visiting as well. My parents are normally here for the home games so it's typically family time after the games end. Win or lose, there's a lot going on mentally, and spending time with family helps alleviate that. The anxiety you feel after losing is significant. You don't sleep, and you play the game over and over in your head. Conversely, the adrenaline associated with winning makes it hard to settle down at night. I recommend every coach have young children to wear you out when you get home. You sleep better.
Kate from Manawa, WI
What's something you always tell your team before they go out on the field?
I've used a new routine over the last year and a half, having a player be the last person to speak to the team before a game. That's been interesting. It was unusual at first, but there are good reasons why I did that. The last thing I say to the team is a prayer that highlights scripture from the Bible that's representative of our theme for the week. After the Bible verse, we say the Lord's prayer, and then I call one of the three captains up to speak to the team before we take the field. My last message to the team is actually Saturday night. That's when I go through all the reminders, expectations for the game, and my thoughts on where we are and what we need to do.
Chelsea from Redding, CA
How do you keep the team motivated and focused every week to perform the way they do?
It's most important to keep your finger on the pulse of your team. Football teams don't stay the same. You don't win one week because you won the previous week. It's very important to stay in tune with the team's quality of play. Quality production aligns with the pulse of your team. We're always looking to improve our quality of play each week. Teams have strengths and weaknesses, and it's important to maximize those strengths, and more importantly, work on the weaknesses. There are different themes to emphasize that help push the right buttons. I think messaging is very important and there's a lot of thought that goes into it. We also focus on the continuing education of the team. Without education, motivation and distribution of information, the growth and success doesn't happen.
Q. What does it mean to you to be the coach of the winningest team in Packers history?
That's a big statement. There are things you accomplish along the way in your career that are definitely special. To have the opportunity to hold the Lombardi Trophy is second to none, and that's why the drive to do it again is so strong. After games, I'm given a list of accomplishments and game notes and anytime we've recorded an achievement that's the best in the history of the Green Bay Packers, it makes the hair on the back of my neck stand up. The Packers have such a great tradition. Everybody is aware of our history, and to say you've done anything better than it's ever been done here before is truly special. Also, if it's the best in the history of the Green Bay Packers, there's a chance it's the best in the history of the National Football League as well. A lot of times those records coincide with one another.
Q. Do you feel as though the team is peaked and ready for the postseason?
I think we have more work to do. We have another game with an opportunity to get better and we'll also have the open week to improve. We're going to have two full practices during the bye week. I feel the plan that we have in front of us, with the opportunity to play the Lions at home, will give us an opportunity to peak as a team, and we all know the need to be playing your best football when you enter the postseason.
Q. What do you think is the identity of the team?
The overall identity of this team is to win with diversity and depth. It wins with production. The point production and the quarterback rating differential speak for themselves, along with the ability to take care of the football and take the football away. Those are the statistics I think best describe our identity.
Q. What's home-field advantage worth?
Home-field advantage is very important. It's our goal in every season to reward our great fans with home playoff games; they certainly deserve it and we feed off their energy. Offenses continue to make strides in dealing with crowd noise, but crowd noise continues to be an obstacle that road teams have to overcome and it can be telling. I love the opportunity to play in the elements in front of our great crowds, which provide a great environment for football. It also allows us to have regularity to our schedule and that's important anytime you're competing in a high-level event. Lambeau Field is a sanctuary for our players to come to, to focus and prepare for the game. All of those things are very helpful, especially leading up to gameday. However, at the end of the day we're going to walk onto the greatest football field in the world and play an opponent that has earned the right to be there just as much as we have. It's important for us to play at our highest level to be successful.
Q. Is preparation for a playoff game any different than it is for a regular-season game?
We take in a lot of information for every game. The technology of today, compared to my first five or six years in the league, allows us to review a lot more film because it's much more readily accessible. Our staff game-planning during the week will remain the same for the playoffs, but the prep work will be intensified. Next week, we'll have three teams that we have a chance to play, and we'll do a lot of pre-planning for those opponents. That's not completely unique to the postseason as we frequently pre-plan during the regular season for our next opponent once our preparation for the current opponent is complete. We regularly have a preliminary game plan in place for the following week before we play the current week's game. Following the game, we'll review that plan on Monday to confirm things and implement new ideas, before finalizing the plan on Tuesday. We have a very efficient system of preparation in place, and we'll go through those pre-planning steps during the open week as we look at our three potential opponents for the first playoff game.
Q. Do you get a special feeling for football at this time of the year?
There's nothing like football at this time of year. I don't want to diminish the regular season, because it's such a diverse challenge and there are so many twists and turns that a 16-game schedule takes you on, and the media coverage of the season is very intense. It's remarkable. The media puts all sorts of spins on the season, but at the end of the day, you have six teams in the NFC fighting for that spot to go to Indianapolis, and it's that drama that makes everyone's heart beat faster. It comes down to real football, real toughness. The identity of your team needs to be ever-present in the most important games of the year, and that's why you see the best teams show up in the Super Bowl every year.
*For last week's "Tuesdays with McCarthy," click here.