The Green Bay Packers had a team that could have been one of their best ever but they instead encountered "a challenging season" in 2013, coach Mike McCarthy said in his end-of-season press conference on Wednesday.
Here are some highlights from McCarthy's press conference
♦ It was a challenging season. Wish we were still playing. Had a home playoff game here. You have to congratulate our fans. I thought Lambeau Field was an unbelievable sight. When you see the orange in the stands, you know itís playoff time in Green Bay.
♦ Weíre in Day 3 of our evaluation process. Spent Monday and Tuesday going through exit interviews. Today weíll start with the coaching staff and evaluating the game, Sunday and last few games. Itís a very comprehensive time. A lot of info flies around at this point.
♦ The stretches of losing were a great learning experience for me. Weíll take our information and do everything we need to do going into next season.
♦ When adversity hits, people go one way or another. A lot of it is good, some wasnít so good. Itís about the program. Everybody has to buy into the program. Things show up you may not think were there, it gives you more information and opportunity to grow. People say this feels like 2010. It doesnít feel like 2010 at all this year. It was a totally different circumstance. You have to stay on top of your culture. Itís never the same. Itís either going one way or another. I was extremely impressed with our young players and conversation that went on. The way theyíve grown and the things theyíre saying.
♦ (Asked whether Dom Capers would stay as defensive coordinator.) Weíre not even 72 hours away from the game. Dom Capers is an outstanding football coach. No one will be evaluated today. You guys did this to me last year. Iím not going into this thing looking to make big changes. When I go through this process, thereís things you like about your program and thereís thing you feel need to get better. Thatís the process weíre going through right now. I think Dom is a great football coach and Iím glad heís part of our staff.
♦ (Asked about other teams' interest in the Packers' assistant coaches.) Itís that time of the year. I think we have a very talented coaching staff. Iíd anticipate interest throughout. (Quarterbacks coach) Ben McAdoo, in particular, heís prepared himself for opportunities that are out there. I think the world of Ben. Iíve seen him diligently prepare himself to move forward.
♦ You have to recognize the people. Top to bottom, football operations is what weíre looking at right now. We have a lot of quality people. It gives you a chance to get through tough times. That was evident throughout the whole time. Itís like anything. Thereís a lot of opinions. A lot of people have things to say. Iíve been through this process a number of times. Weíll meet with the coaching staff today. Weíll rank all the players on offense and defense. Itís interesting to see how much those rankings change. It happens. Weíre human. Itís important to continue to evaluate, take the emotion out of it. Make sure weíre in line with the personnel department.
♦ (Quarterback) Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best player in the NFL. To say youíre too reliant on him, depends on how you look at it. He makes a difference not only on Sunday but when heís involved in the meetings as a starting quarterback. Clearly it makes a difference when he plays. How many teams played with four quarterbacks and win a division championship? Itís a challenge. Who stepped up when Seneca (Wallace) went down? Who stepped up when Scott (Tolzien) and Matt (Flynn) played? Make sure thatís a part of the evaluation.
♦ Injuries are a moving target. Theyíre a part of the game. Everything we do from a training standpoint. You look at our facilities and the way players are cared for and practice structure. Weíve made a number of adjustments to create a healthier football team and we didnít get that done. You have to look at the individual more and the timing of the injury. When you put the injuries on a spreadsheet, I think weíre fifth or sixth in the league for most injuries this year you have to look further. Statistics to me are for losers. If you focus on positive statistics, you build false positives. You have to understand everything that happened inside that statistic. Itís a challenge when you canít get guys to practice and you have to get a football team together and the same guys arenít playing together. Iím proud of the team. We didnít get the goal. Weíre not happy. We didnít hit the target. We have to find a better way to get guys healthy.
♦ I wonít place blame on anything. Iíve said it before, I donít like the offseason program. I think the stress points of developing your football team have changed. Itís challenging but itís not going to change. We have to find a better training schedule, regimen and a little luck. I didnít like our training camp. Coming out struggling the first couple weeks didnít surprise me. We were not hitting on all cylinders coming out of training camp. Weíve had fast starts and this year we did not.
♦ Iím clearly aware we lost the last four in a row (to the San Francisco 49ers). The last two playoff games were the most important. You look at those games. We have to be better. We had opportunities throughout that game where we didnít convert.
♦ Weíre division champs. We have work to do. The average change of your football team is like 20, 25 percent. That will be no different. As far as windows, I donít know how you look at our team and think there is a window closing. I donít see any window closing.
♦ I havenít seen (injured tight end) Jermichael (Finley) in two weeks. I know heís going through rehab. Heís splitting time between here and Minnesota.
♦ Talked to (injured defensive lineman) Johnny (Jolly) on Monday. Heís going to see a second opinion (on his neck injury) in Chicago.
♦ (Rookie running back) Eddie Lacy is an impact player. The way we know we were going to commit to the running game. Eddie was the lead dog doing that. I canít say enough about his performance. Thereís things he can do much better to be an every-down back.
♦ Itís easier when impact players come in, but thatís what coaching is about. You donít get finished products coming out of college. I watch the first round (of the NFL draft) and personally it makes me sick. The expectations these guys have. Itís a big step coming into the NFL.
♦ Talking with players. We need more players making plays on defense. Thatís stating the obvious. I feel those guys are here. Do we have more coming in? Thatís what offseason is for.
♦ I understand (safety) Morgan Burnett with his new contract. He has room to improve.
♦ I didnít win the last game, so I didnít do my job.
♦ Clearly my most challenging season. I look back at my first year. Thereís points of that season, my first game, starting 1-4, it seemed like at points I got run over by a truck. This year, it didnít stop. I thought special teams was extremely challenged this year.
♦ I thought (rookie left tackle) David Bakhtiari, I donít think you could ask for more. I think Josh Sitton did an excellent job with David. I thought he had a good solid season for us. Talking with both Derek Sherrod and Bryan Bulaga, as far as weíd set reps and identity.
♦ First-and-9 call (late in Sunday's NFC wild-card playoff game against the 49ers), Randall (Cobb) runs that run concept the best of the guys we have. There was a mistake made by run blocking unit. It was a good call. Defensive drive, you go to the two third downs.
♦ I think it couldíve been one of our best teams. I felt like this is one of the best offenses weíve had here. I thought we were going to go past 2011. After (defeating) Minnesota (on Oct. 27), I thought we really hit our stride. We got the no-huddle offense where it needed to be. I felt very good about our offense.
♦ I had an opportunity to talk to (injured cornerback) Casey (Hayward). He led our team in interceptions as a rookie. Casey Hayward is a playmaker and he didnít play for us this year. I expect him to come back and make an impact.
♦ Hell, yeah, I think weíre built to win in these elements. We ran as well as any team in the league. We have the best quarterback in football. Iíll put our offense up against anybody. Weíll play anywhere Ė cold, rain, hot, snow.