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NFL meetings day 3: McCarthy identifies defensive problems, other tidbits

Nov. 6, 2013
 
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PALM BEACH, Fla. — Now that we’ve gotten the most newsy stuff out of the way — see earlier posts about Nick Collins and resting Aaron Rodgers — it’s time to empty the notebook from an hour with Packers coach Mike McCarthy at this morning’s NFC coaches breakfast. McCarthy talked at length about the defensive problems the Packers had last season, when they ranked last in the NFL in total yards allowed per game and last in passing yards allowed per game. It should come as no surprise that McCarthy broke it down into three main areas: * Pass rush. * Pass coverage. * Tackling. The question remains is how does defensive coordinator Dom Capers fix it? McCarthy said he didn’t plan to implement any more tackling drills to training camp because “I don’t think the risk is worth it.” “I always go back to the fundamentals,” McCarthy said. “We were not a very good tackling team last year. That will change. Those are the things we’re clearly focused on, situation defense, how much you’re playing base and stuff. There’s a whole list of secondary things we want to change the vision of how we look and how we play. Frankly, we were so explosive on offense, maybe we weren’t ready, maybe we went to too much sub. These are the things we went back to… we played so much sub defense that last couple of years, we’d like to get back to playing more base and doing some of the things this defense was built on.” The Packers played so much nickel, McCarthy said, because they put so many points on the board that teams were forced to play from behind and thus threw the ball at a high rate. “So teams played us extremely aggressive,” McCarthy said. “We need to do a better job of stopping that on defense. We got into a year that we can never get into again on defense.” Here’s more from McCarthy on: * if he was surprised the Packers weren’t put in the NFL season-opening game against the Giants: “Am I surprised? Oh, I’m never surprised. There’s always a lot of elements that go into the scheduling. So I can understand why they want the Giants and the Cowboys to play, and that being a division game, it obviously gives a heightened excitement to the game. I mean, it’s a great game to play in, especially if you’re the home team. But I wouldn’t say I was surprised. I’m anxious to see where our first game is going to be played, whether it’s a Sunday game or a Monday night game.” * holding just one training camp practice day and eliminating most night practices: “Most likely. A longer, maxed-out, one-a-day. I think we need to get some afternoon practices. We need to get in the heat a little bit. Our conditioning’s always been good, but I think it’s important to get in that heat. * the Saints bounty on Aaron Rodgers: “To be honest with you, I’m past that. I’ve moved on. I think it’s been addressed. I know you guys have to still continue to cover it, but I’m really past that issue.” * Chad Clifton’s possible return: “Definitely. There’s definitely a possibility. We haven’t taken him off, so he’s someone we’ll continue to talk about and get the reports. He’s down in Tennessee now, so we’ll see how he recovers.” * Donald Driver’s return: “Absolutely. Donald’s still on our roster. I thought Donald, the second half of the season, he played very well. His role, as far as opportunities, was not as high as it’s been in the past, but I thought Donald was very consistent down the stretch. I thought he played well in the playoff game.” * Jordy Nelson’s expanded role: “We’ll keep moving him around, probably play him in the slot a little more than he’s played in the past. Those are the kind of things we continue to look at, give him more matchups, expand his route tree where he’s maybe more of the focus. Not that he can’t run those routes, it’s more about having the opportunity because statistics speak for themselves.” * Derek Sherrod’s recovery from a broken leg: “He looks better every time I see him. I obviously haven’t seen him since I’ve been down here. They’re projecting probably training camp, so we’ll know more when we get to OTAs. Hopefully, he can get out there in June and do something.” * Alex Green and Andrew Quarless recovery from knee injuries: “Alex looks really good. Just seeing him in the weight room every day, he looks like he’s really progressing. I know they feel good about where Andrew is but the timing of the injuries were different, but I feel good about Alex.” * concern level with Mike Neal’s suspension: “I have not spoken to Mike personally yet, so that’s something I’d like to continue and have that conversation with him. Mike’s in a medical situation, he needs to get healthy. He obviously wasn’t healthy at all last year, and we’re counting on his development. But there’s going to be more competition there, and he’s going to have to get himself ready to go.”  

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