Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media at the NFL scouting combine in Indianapolis on Friday afternoon.
On the run game last season:
When I evaluate this yearís run game, obviously thereís definitely room for improvement. We talk repeatedly as a staff and an offense, the ability to run the football smart, and Iím not just talking about scheme, talking about decision making, the attitude that carries over from two-back schemes to one-back schemes and those types of things. There were periods of this season that we ran the ball better. Our attempts improved. I think we can still run it more than we have the last two years. Itís an area of focus for our offense. We definitely need to do a better job.
On striking balance between run and pass:
I donít pay a lot of creed to the fact that you need to run it as many times as you throw it, particularly with our quarterback. Our quarterback, aaron rodgers, gives us the ability to do a number of different things at the line of scrimmage. So with that itís really the production. If you look at the history of our offense as long as long as aaronís been playing, the number of attempts, the rushing attempts, is a pretty good indicator of the success of his productivity, when you tie those two together. Those are the numbers I really pay attention to, because when you donít hit the targets. The attempts are the body blows, then obviously the quality then counts. Quality obviously helps the quantity to get to where it needs to be. But as far as being 55-45, things like that, I donít really operate like that, which I did early in my career.
On how loss of woodson and Driver affects locker room:
No. 1, donald driver, charles woodson, weíll see what happens with greg jennings, greg obviously is in a business situation, you donít replace charles woodson, you donít just go out and replace donald driver. Iíve talked about the type of people they are. Locker room is culture is something that I wouldnít say is a moving target but itís something thatís either growing or not growing. So itís important for the leaders and particularly our young guys, leadershipís not always designated by how many years youíve been in the league or how good a player you are, thereís leadership opportunities for every man in that locker room. Itís important for our leadership to grow, for out culture, we have a very healthy culture in our locker room itís something we pay close attention to, itís part of the process here in indianapolis, gather as much information as you can about the people youíre going to bring in to that locker room. Charles and donald are special people, special players, so itís not trying to replace them. itís really putting the energy, the effort, the focus, the education, on the individuals now there for that locker room to grow.
On what playlers need to assume larger leadership roles:
Every one of them. I look for the youngest guy to the oldest guy. I know you look at our team, aaron rodgers now is the longest tenured Packer, thatís something heís very conscious of, embraces the leadership role, embraces the role of being the face of the franchise, itís not all about aaron being more of a leader than he is today, he needs to grow just like we all do. but itís all those guys, whether itís a young guy like morgan burnett to continue to grow, BJ raji is definitely a guy, TJ Lang, josh sitton, bryan bulaga when heís healthy, we have a bunch of guys, jordy nelson, randall cobb really took a big step in a leadership role as a young player last year, so heís definitely an example Iíd use as a young man in his second year. You donít have to wait until your fifth, sixth, seventh, eighth year, to be classified as a leader. Leadership is from the top to bottom, and we need to do a better job of that as a football team.
On practicing against the read-option:
Our practice reps during the week are really focused on the individual (opponent). Definitely thereís a lot of conversation about the read option Ė rightfully so. 579, thatís a number that will stick in our focus as a defense throughout the offseason. Weíre studying the read option, the teams that are doing it in the NFL. Weíre even going to the college ranks, weíll have a couple college coaches come in, spend some time with our staff. Actually, our defensive staff is going to take a trip to Texas A&M, Kevin Sumlin is someone I have great respect for and with his ability to share from both the offensive side and the defensive side his experience in the read option. Itís something from an education, preparation standpoint that we will grow as a staff and be better prepared for in the future.
On regretting not preparing more for read-option:
I donít regret anything about the last season. Thatís really what this time of year is for. Regret is something I think is an excuse. I donít really live in that mindset. Weíve looked at our preparation, weíve looked at our performance, we evaluate every aspect of our performance, you look at the communication Ė player-to-player, player-to-coach, coach-to-coach Ė you look at the relationships Ė coach-to-coach, player-to-player, all the way through Ė the teaching, the demand of the coaches. We go through an extensive evaluation every year. Thereís more things in certain areas than there were in the past, thereís not as many things in certain areas as there were in the past. So itís about getting better, itís about improvement, and we need to do a better job stopping the read-option. Thatís definitely something weíre focused on.
On what the team is looking for:
Well, weíre looking for what we look for every year. Weíre look for good football players that definitely add to the culture of the Green Bay Packers. And that never changes. Our personnel staff had the ability to stack the board in the pre-draft meetings, pre-Indy Combine meetings, 17 days before, so we have that board and weíre down here gathering all that information that we possibly can, the interviews are very important and weíll stay true to our system.
On if he'll continue calling plays:
To answer the first part of your question, Iíll continue to call the plays. Thereís advantages of any type of responsibility, whether you do or you donít. Coaches call plays or call defenses probably because itís in the best interest of their football team. And there are coaches who donít call plays, manage the game, itís probably in the best interest of their football team. Thatís why head coaches are head coaches. That part of it wonít change.
On needing to surpass San Francisco:
Well, you take a hard look at the two games that we played. San Francisco, they beat us twice last year. You look at the difference in the first game and the second game, and obviously the glaring statistic and the information in the second game was obviously the production of their quarterback. So you evaluate the scheme, you evaluate the fundamentals, we need to improve No. 1 as a football team, that wonít change, weíll put tremendous emphasis on our younger players, particularly the rookies, to take a big step in year 2. Thatís something we talk about every single year, the players have bought into that. Weíre really focused on ourselves and obviously player acquisition is a big part of improving and those guys can come in and add competition to our football team. San Francisco had a great year; like I said they beat us twice, and thatíll definitely be a focus of our offseason.
On if the read-option is a fad:
Itís a scheme. Anytime Ė I know when I go through experiences like this I remember a conversation with a coach I had great respect for, Jimmy Raye, I think heís coached in this league for 100 years, played in the league. I remember he told me in 1993, ĎFootball is a cycle. Youíre going to see things go in this league or out of this league and in college football.í Itís very important to stay on the front side of that cycle. The teams that do, like San Francisco had the success this year, they obviously benefit from it. You stay true to your preparation and obviously weíll spend a lot of time on the run-option defensively. We wonít run it with our quarterback if thatís what youíre concerned about. Thatís just the way you go about it.Ē
On Derek Sherrod's progress:
ďSherrod is there every day. I see him in the training room every, single day. The surgery he feels is a success and what he needed. As far as a timetable, I havenít done very well trying to speculate on what guys are coming back or not. I hope he can work during the OTAs.Ē
On his health determining if the Packers need to draft another offensive lineman:
Well, but heís in the injury category. I know itís magnified because of where Derek was drafted, but the reality is heís coming through an injury. Yes, weíd like to get him on the field, but there are people who are playing, Marshall Newhouse. He needs to get back out there and compete, but he canít do that until he gets healthy. Itís unfortunate. I understand once again where he was drafted brings magnitude to the focus, but I still have a lot of confidence that when he does have the opportunity heíll be a productive player for us.Ē
On prognosis for Jerel Worthy's torn ACL:
Yeah, Jerel Worthy. I think training camp is definitely going to be a stretch just because of the timing of his injury. Once again, he has to go through the rehab process and get healthy. I like a lot of the things he did. He brings a lot of energy. Thereís a lot of things he can improve on and I definitely think he can be one of those players who makes a jump in year two.Ē
On John Dorsey:
ďWe all definitely are fond of John Dorsey in Green Bay. It was kind of funny being in the interview meetings last night. John always has the Ė I refer to him as Paul Harvey Ė just the way heíd ask his questions and even though youíre in there 30 interviews-in-a-row having John in there always made it a little amusing at some points. Heís a grinder, a hard-worker. He really does a great job in the office as far as communication and the relationships, which are so important in the offseason. I know he enjoys being on the road. I donít know how heís going to structure that being in Kansas City. He always had great passion for college football and evaluating college guys. When heíd come back to town it would always be I saw so-and-so here, so he has a lot of passion, great work ethic, excellent family man. Heís a great fit for the Kansas City Chiefs.Ē