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Tuesdays with McCarthy


In this week's edition, the head coach discusses keeping his cool, the halftime talk in Indy and the focus of the team, among other topics.

The Festival Foods Facebook question of the week is from Eileen of Appleton, WI. Her question is: How do you keep your cool on the field when the refs call bonehead infractions?

I talk under my breath! In all seriousness, it's something I've learned as my career has progressed. My current approach with officials is completely different from my first couple of years as a head coach. I've learned to communicate through difficult times by trying to take emotion out of the situation. The game environment is very competitive and it's very easy to be emotional, but it's important to be disciplined. Successful communication with the officials affords you an opportunity to correct the situation and emphasize it with your team. Every officiating crew is different and each has its own points of emphasis. Each week, we use that information as part of our game management. At the end of the day, you want your football team competing with a clear mind and not worrying about officials.

Alex from Pewaukee, WI
What are your plans the get the team back on track and to bring up the players' confidence after the disappointments early this season?

Our plan is to get back to the basics. That's the best way for us to improve our performance. It's also important for our team to maintain its confidence and to make sure we're on the balls of our feet and continue to fight. Our team is really looking forward to the opportunity to play an undefeated football team on Sunday Night Football. We have a chance to get back to .500 at 3-3 while trying to build some consistency as a team. We have a lot of respect for what Houston has put on film, but we're going down there to play our best football game of the year. We're confident we're going to get that done.

Mark from Abernathy, TX
If you could go play football again, would you prefer to play by the rules we grew up with in the late '70s and early '80s, or the rules of today?

I wish I could have played in the late '80s and early '90s when I was supposed to be playing. It's a great game. I was fortunate to play in college. I think the opportunity to play in the NFL is special. The professional athlete is a very gifted individual, especially guys that are able to play 10-plus years. I have so much respect for what they're able to go through physically, emotionally and mentally to compete at this level.

Q. What impact did Cedric Benson's injury have on the second half of Sunday's game?

There were certain things in the game plan we took out at halftime based on what the Colts were doing defensively. We also wanted to make Alex Green comfortable with the plays that would be called for him, which is normal in a situation like that. Losing Cedric was definitely an adjustment, but the game plan has to be diversified enough to be able to adapt. The most disappointing thing on offense was our inability to win on first and second down and create more favorable third downs. We had some production in various situations, but we struggled on third downs in the second half. That had the biggest impact on our point production. Scoring 27 points while missing two field goals is not bad point production, but we focus on scoring as much as possible, and more importantly, scoring more than our opponent. We stay true to the film and it told us there were a lot more scoring opportunities.

Q. The impact of B.J. Raji's injury?

B.J.'s injury created more opportunities for the other defensive linemen. C.J. Wilson and Mike Neal played a lot more than we anticipated. Anytime you lose a three-down player like B.J., it either has a negative impact or creates opportunities for other individuals to step up. I hated that B.J. Raji got hurt, but I prefer to examine the latter.

Q. What were your thoughts at halftime, leading 21-3?

Knock them out. That was my message to the team, but I also talked to the players about fundamentals. Despite a 21-3 lead, I didn't think we were very fundamentally sound in the first half. We weren't catching the football, tackling or sustaining our blocks as well as we needed to. I challenged them to play with higher intensity and more detail to the fundamentals, and to knock them out. We didn't get that done.

Q. You said after the game that the Colts were very aggressive. In what ways were they aggressive?

They played a lot more bump-and-run, and they stuck to their plan regardless of personnel. During their bye week they scouted our offense, set a plan and stuck with it even though they had two defensive backs and a linebacker out of the game. Dwight Freeney returning from injury helped them as he gave them pressure off the edge that they hadn't had for a couple of weeks. In the secondary, they played us no differently than if cornerbacks Justin King and Vontae Davis had been playing.

Q. What's the challenge in front of the Packers?

Beat Houston. The challenge always has to be the next game. Everyone wants to talk about the big picture, but the only thing that's important is beating the Houston Texans. That's what everybody needs to stay focused on, including the people outside of our locker room. The big picture isn't concluded after five games. The statistics will only mean something if you don't do something about them, and for us that means beating Houston. It's a one-game-at-a-time profession. It's our professional responsibility to answer the questions that don't pertain to this game and everybody wants to continue to talk about the things that haven't gone as well as we would have liked. But, our focus is clearly on beating the Houston Texans.

Q. You were at a similar stage early in the 2010 season. Can you draw from that?

I hope it concludes the same as the 2010 season, but every year is different. We can draw from past experiences, because a lot of those individuals from 2010 are still in the room. It's something I'll point our leadership to for reflection, but I don't spend a whole lot of time in the past. I'm about today and tomorrow. I don't like having total focus on yesterday. It's not a healthy way to approach the future. There are always lessons, but the application of the lessons is most important. Everybody wants to talk about the past and draw on it, but I'll fully focus on the past when I'm sitting on the porch when my career is over. Right now, we have to talk about today and tomorrow, and the application of the lessons from yesterday.

To see previous editions of "Tuesdays with McCarthy," click here.

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