Tuesdays with McCarthy


In this week's edition, the head coach discusses his post-victory Sundays, the running game and his sideline demeanor, among other topics.

The Festival Foods Facebook question of the week is from Jennifer from De Pere, WI. Her question is: Do you celebrate after a win and, if so, how?

After a home game, it takes about an hour and a half to complete my responsibilities, which include the press conference and checking in with the medical staff. I then head home. In the past, I'd watch the late-afternoon and Sunday night games, but my life is different now. I have a 1-year-old and 4-year-old who just want to hang out and play when I get home. For me, postgame is family time. It's healthy and it's where I should be. When we win, there's a sense of relief and satisfaction. I sleep better and my mind is clear. When we lose, there's more anxiety and I'm thinking about things that I need to do. Regardless of the outcome, it's important to go home after games and make the most of that family time, because we start early on Mondays. We get right back at it and start grading the film as a staff at 6 a.m.

Brandon from Whitehall, WI
What was the difference in the running game this week compared to last week and how did we do so much better against the Vikings?

The key was the ability to maintain our running game. Anytime we're trying to accomplish something offensively, run or pass, we first look at the number of attempts. In the Giants game, we had far too many long down-and-distance situations and we weren't able to get into a rhythm. We were able to establish that rhythm against the Vikings and stayed committed to the run. I was pleased with our third-down conversion rate, even though we didn't convert a couple of short-yardage third downs. However, we stayed productive in the running game and that kept us in very manageable third downs. Aaron was excellent with his distribution of the football throughout the game. His pass distribution, combined with a 77.0 completion percentage and more than 30 team rushing attempts, is a good formula for winning.

Sandra from Milwaukee, WI
I get very tense during the game, especially when Aaron Rodgers gets hit. You give the appearance of calm. How is that so?

I don't like it when our quarterback gets hit, and he's been hit too much this year. That's definitely a focus this week against the Lions with the talent they have on the defensive line. Our protection unit needs to be up to the challenge and protect Aaron. He has the ability to extend plays and make plays with his feet, but we have to do a much better job protecting him from getting hit. I don't always see the hits he takes. Many times I'm watching at the line of scrimmage and looking for certain things that may factor in to the next play call. I may look calm, but that's not always the whole story.

Q. Is it bad tackling or does Adrian Peterson seem to make every team tackle badly?

There is no question that Adrian Peterson challenges every football team's tackling. However, we have to tackle him or whoever has the football. He has a very aggressive, attacking running style. He's physically gifted, but we have to tackle better by creating the triangle through defensive leverage. A couple of times we did have the ball triangled and he still had success. At the end of the day, we have to tackle low, wrap up and hold on. We need to do a better job this week of tackling.

Q. What is the triangle?

It's the three leverage points with which we are trying surround the ball-carrier. The point of the triangle is directly in front of the ball-carrier with the two anchor points on the left and right side. The idea is to create a triangle around the football with three defenders. Hopefully, we also have three more defenders coming in support.

Q. What did James Starks do better?

I thought James was disciplined in his decision-making, specifically in his running course and reading his blocks. He also ran very physically on the second level and got into a rhythm. Additionally, Alex Green had a very good day. The combination of the two backs was exactly what we were looking for. James did a really good job getting downhill and challenging the defenders on the second level.

Q. What are the challenges the Lions present?

The defensive line is the strength of their team. It's the most talented position on their football team, and they have a very good rotation. They're all athletic players with a lot of length and power. We have to play our best game from an aggressive, technical standpoint. That will be our challenge.

Q. How do you keep from looking ahead to what is obviously going to be a big game in Chicago?

This is the fourth quarter of our season, and this Detroit game is going to be one of our tougher games of the year. They're going to throw caution to the wind and that is often a component to the approach teams take in division games. It is going to be an extremely competitive Sunday night football game.

Q. Don Barclay came from a college spread offense that was very different from the pro style of line play. Did that cause him to be passed over in the draft?

I can't answer for every team, but that's part of the evaluation process. We evaluate every player based on how he fits our team and I think we do a good job of not letting scheme influence our evaluations too much. We do look at how players are utilized in college in order to help determine their ceiling. However, when we talk about prospects, the key question is whether or not the young man is a good football player. There are measurables that we can incorporate, but can he play? I don't downgrade a player because of what system he played in. It might not be a system that highlights his skill set, but that's part of the evaluation process and you have to be able to sort that out.

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

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