Packers coach Mike McCarthy reaffirmed his commitment to struggling kicker Mason Crosby during his Monday news conference with the media. Here are some highlights, along with McCarthy's thoughts on Crosby:
What can you do to help Mason Crosby?
Mason Crosby, he was here today. He and Shawn Slocum had a chance to go through a number of things. I was not part of the conversation. But I have confidence in the plan as we move forward. Mason is an extreme fundamentalist and he just needs to trust the process through his preparation and stay focused on that and carry it through as far as his performance. Mason Crosby is my kicker. So, we can just stop it right here.
Why'd you go for it on fourth-and-four early on?
I felt comfortable in the situation. I feel comfortable with the quarterback. You want to play a specific game and we were looking for a fourth-down conversion. At that point of the game, with the week of preparation I wanted to be aggressive to start the game.
Confidence going into Sunday's game with him?
Iím going to trust the work week. Thatís why we practice. Iím going to watch him hit the football, itís no different than the pregame. Itís the process you go through every pregame and when you come out on the field Shawn will share the information from what he though of the workout Tim and Mason had, how theyíre hitting the ball, the wind conditions and so forth. Obviously, in the dome nothing to talk about there. Iím just going to trust the process and trust the players.
Importance of sticking with Crosby?
You have to practice what you preach. You spend a lot of time together. Our guys work hard. In Masonís case, heís an excellent fit for the type of human being he is and he is a great representative of the Packers in his time here. We have history together and I believe in him. I donít think you really need to go past that. He has a job to do. Heís not doing it. He recognizes it. I recognize it and heíll work through it. I know he can do it. Itís not that. Iím not worried about asking a player to do something he canít do. Thatís not the case. I believe in the process, I believe in the way we train our players. I believe in the way we treat our players. We feel we go over the top in everything we do here in Green Bay, itís about the players, the locker room, the facilities, all the way through, especially during tough times, thatís when it has to show up.
On James Starks getting more work than Alex Green against the Lions:
As far as our running game, we left a lot of production on the field was my conclusion after going through the tape and going through the grading sessions with the coaches. And frankly, Alex Green not getting carries was a poor performance by myself managing how we were running the ball. Weíll continue forward working both James and Alex and get those guys ready in our preparation for the Giants.
Is B.J. Raji's ankle less severe than the previous incident?
I would say the early diagnosis on B.J.ís ankle, yes itís less than the injury he suffered a few weeks back.
On how the young defensive backs stepped up:
I thought our young players in the secondary played extremely well. Casey Hayward was extremely productive, had a lot of opportunities. I was very impressed. It may have been his best performance of the season. MD Jennings had a big, big play. I thought he graded out well. Who else? Oh, McMillian. He played very well. I was just thinking about the game balls because we actually had a hard time sorting out who was getting what, but with that I thought our younger players, I thought Dezman Moses played extremely well in his first opportunity at outside linebacker playing a full game, the number of snaps that he had. Defensively, we graded out very well. It clearly was a strength of our performance yesterday.
Who received the game balls?
Actually, AJ Hawk and Ryan Pickett are going to get the game balls on defense. But we always recognized MD for his play and also Casey Hayward for his play.
On M.D. Jennings play still being on of his favorite as Packers coach:
Definitely. Weíve had some big plays here, but I think part of it too is sometimes the emotion of the game and itís just been fun to watch MD get better and better with his opportunities. But the ability to go up and make the play also to avoid the first tackle that he broke to extend the play and also with that the reaction of the rest of the defense to get out in front of him and the blocking down the field and so forth. It was a great finish. We talk a lot about time clock of plays, extending plays, and itís just such a great example of our defense on that particular play when obviously we needed. Clearly it was one of the most exciting plays in my opinion.
On assessing how the offensive line performed:
Well first talking about our offensive line versus their defensive line, I think you first have to give credit to their defense, in particular to their defensive line. I thought they did a good job against us. We felt it was going to be a hard day going against them. We have a lot of respect for their ability. Playing on that surface and the crowd noise and so forth, it was a challenge. But I thought the communication and the way things worked out during the game, I thought our front guys did a really good job and that was part of us being able to go down there and score when we needed to. I thought our quarterback was exceptional. I thought Aaron, when you think of Aaron Rodgers you think of big plays and tight spirals and just doing all these big things. A game like that for a quarterback is hard. I think that shows you the true character of a tough, championship quarterback, just to stay the course. We put him in some tough spots. It wasnít the best game that I called as a play caller, but I just thought the way we grinded that thing out. It wasnít our best day on offense, by no means, but the way they kept grinding and grinding and was able to score there at the end, I thought thatís something that we can really build off of.
What didnít you like about the play calling?
I knew that was going to be a follow up, so Iím ready for this. When you go back and watch the game last night, thereís calls that you donít like. Thereís a few too many frankly. Didnít adjust as well or as quickly to some things as we should have. But once again, itís about information that youíre given and obviously you have the pictures. I probably wouldíve went a different direction earlier in the game.
On winning games when you don't play as well as you'd like:
Well you have to learn from the past. Thatís important. Our whole focus coming into this season was to be a more athletic football team, to be a more well-rounded football team, and I feel like weíve definitely accomplished that from a personnel standpoint, and youíre seeing that come together as a football team. We have challenges and adversity just like every team during the course of the year. But you get into these division games, especially the way theyíre lined up now with such a long stretch of so many, obviously, with four of the next six, but these games bring so much more. I meant what I said yesterday, every winís a good win, but division wins are special, especially on the road, especially in November, and it gives you that big chunk of confidence that you can build off of. Thatís how you grow. Thatís the energy for growth. Winning that game yesterday is frankly how you want to win it. We knew it was going to be some tough sledding. You come off of a bye ó thereís benefits of the bye ó but also theyíre a team, they now have six losses. There was a ton of urgency from the Lions, which you fully expect. Itís becoming a little bit of a rivalry, just the energy in that game, so thatís a big win for us.
Will Jennings and Matthews join us back in the real world this week?
Just had a chance to talk to Pepper and didnít get a chance to ask him about Greg or Clay. Iíll know better on Wednesday. I was really in there checking on B.J. Raji. We feel like weíre in pretty good shape there.
On last year's playoff loss to New York Giants?
My real concern about the loss to the Giants last year, just watched it, itís part of the cut-ups, we have history with the Giants, recent history, which regardless of what happened itís still part of your preparation. Our game last year in the regular season, the playoff game, the games theyíve played this year. If itís painful to the individual, I guess thatís something weíre going to have to deal with, but it is part of our preparation process. Weíre focused on getting to 8-3. I understand there will be questions about it, but we canít change it now. Itís video and thereís things you did to prepare for that game that hopefully will help us in our preparation this week.
How do you feel about winning game behind defensive plays?
My whole goal this year was to be a better, more-rounded football team. I feel like we are headed in that direction clearly. Our special teams has graded out consistently as the best unit. The defense graded out this week as the best unit. Offensively, we have to pick it up. We didnít grade very well. But with that, thatís how you win the hard games, thatís why you win the tough games, thatís what good teams do. I really like the character makeup of this football team. I think we have excellent leadership at the top of our team as far as experience with the veterans, but I see a lot of young guys growing. Thatís something we challenged the football team in training camp. Leadership, you donít just starting being a leader after your sixth or seventh year. It starts from the first day you arrive here. Weíre trying to continue to develop those guys and I like the way itís going.