In this week's edition, the head coach discusses halftime adjustments, his first team meeting as head coach and his message to the players as they left for the bye week, among other topics.
The Festival Foods Facebook question of the week is from Jeremy from Appleton, WI. His question is: How much time do you have to yourself at halftime for second-half adjustments?
As I'm walking off the field at the end of the first half, I'm handed all the official statistics for review. I'm also looking at some additional statistics that are charted, such as broken tackles, passes defensed, drops, etc. While in the locker room, I meet with the offensive coaches to discuss the running game, protection issues and the passing game. Tom Clements then goes over all of that with the offensive players. Meanwhile, Dom Capers is utilizing a similar procedure with the defensive coaches and players. When that's finished, I collect my thoughts and get together with Aaron to make sure we're on the same page. I finish by addressing the team with three or four items to focus on in the second half.
Matt from Rhode Island
Do you spend time preparing for later opponents during the bye, or is it only for the next game?
This year is unique because we have so many division games after the bye. We spend a lot of time in the offseason preparing for our division opponents and we'll enhance that preparation during the bye week based on what direction their seasons have gone. The goal is to ensure that our weekly preparation is much smoother when the division games arrive. We've always made a point to spend time in the offseason, and even during training camp if we can, to stay updated on our division opponents. That approach allows us to pour everything we possibly can into the seven-day week for those games.
Jessica from Wausau, WI
What was your first team meeting as head coach like?
It was March 20, 2006, and it was a great experience. I also vividly remember my first meeting as an offensive coordinator in the spring of 2000 in New Orleans. Walking into the room, standing up in front and addressing the offense for the first time really had an impact on me. However, on March 20, 2006, I was standing up in front of the whole football team. It was in a larger room, in front of a bigger audience and I was over-prepared. The first slide I put up in front of the team stated that we were going to win the next world championship in Green Bay. The second thing I told them was the hardest thing we were going to have to learn to handle as a team was success. That's how I started.
Q. What's your overall evaluation of the first nine games?
We're 6-3. You are what your record says you are. I believe that. We'll spend this week reviewing all of the game film from the first nine games while emphasizing our self-scouting. We'll continue to approach our opponents the same way in the next seven games, but we must maintain our focus on the fundamentals. The team will continue to strive to improve its tackling, handling of the football, maintaining blocks and getting off blocks. Those are the areas that I emphasize with the staff when we have extra time. It's important to make sure we're reinforcing our individual drills and all the little things we do in practice. We'll go to a winter schedule after the bye, which means less time on the field, and we'll still have some injuries to monitor. We have to be cognizant of the practice times and how much we're stressing the team.
Q. What's your message to your players as they leave for the bye week?
Travel safe and be smart. I told them they represent their family and the Green Bay Packers. I really want them to get away mentally and spiritually, and spend time with their families. I tell them to stay on top of their conditioning, but that's never been a problem. This is the best-conditioned football team I've coached to date. All of our testing and statistics illustrate that. It's important to get away, but it's important to do the right things when they're away.
Q. Have you played your best football yet?
No, I don't believe we have. We're a team that's had a number of hurdles to clear and there are more ahead of us. We're definitely approaching it as though we haven't played our best yet.
Q. The running game came to life against Arizona. What was improved about it?
The fundamentals. I think the coaches did a good job schematically. They gave the players more of a mixture between pattern and zone schemes. We had the one black eye in short-yardage situations, but part of that was because of our in-game injuries. I wasn't comfortable running the short-yardage plays we had designed for Arizona because the backups didn't have the opportunity to run the plays in practice. Outside of our short-yardage production, I thought the rushing effort was right where it needed to be.
Q. Do you see evidence of opponents becoming more concerned about where Randall Cobb is on the field?
Yes, and they should be. He's a productive player. He's a dynamic and diverse performer. They're definitely aware of where he's lined up.
Q. You have five division games remaining. Is that a good thing?
Absolutely, but I'd prefer the division games to be more spread out because they're more physically challenging. In regards to the health of the team, this season has turned into a battle of attrition. However, we've done well in division games. We have a plan for how we prepare and it's been successful. The division games are definitely the most challenging.
Q. What's improved on defense since this time a year ago?
A number of things have improved. The tackling and the pass rush are two areas that stand out. We're getting better. Based on the statistics we study in-house, over the last three or four weeks you can definitely see our defense is improving. I'm excited about that.
To see previous editions of "Tuesdays with McCarthy," click here.