GREEN BAY - Less than 24 hours after one of the Green Bay Packers' most thorough beatings in years, Mike McCarthy was defiant. Unwavering. Even arrogant.
If you wanted some timidity, some reservations from a coach who may or may not be dangerously close to the hot seat, you would be disappointed.
McCarthy showed no weakness during his Monday news conference at Lambeau Field. When asked whether his message was still carrying through to players, he showed no hesitation.
“Oh, absolutely,” McCarthy said. “I love this group of guys. It’s an extremely healthy culture. Our performance level is not high enough right now, and that’s what we’re focused on.”
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That’s usually how McCarthy’s answers go in a news-conference setting. He says what you need to know, nothing more.
Later, McCarthy was asked how he handles the adversity of being 4-5 through nine games after years of success, and he broke from his usual script. McCarthy delivered a rousing, 537-word response that lasted almost three and a half minutes.
Here it is in its entirety:
“Let’s just state the facts: I’m a highly successful NFL head coach. With that, I’ve never looked at the ride to this point as smooth or whatever the words you used. To me, it’s always bumpy, and to me that’s the joy of it. That’s this game. That’s how hard it is in the NFL. Really, what you did last year or 2010, as we know, doesn’t factor. It’s even more so with the parity and the youth of the team.
“To me, you have to stay in tune with the now. Obviously, people outside of our room don’t feel really good about the now. Personally, I enjoy these type of moments. I think this is kind of how my life has gone professionally. That’s just a personal thought. This is about our team, and I trust and believe in what we do every day: what they do on the practice field, the conversations in the room, the conversations during the game, the reaction to the tough moments
“Our adversity football production is not high enough right now. We need to improve there. We know it, our players know it. That’s really where our focus is. That’s the difference in this league. There’s a fine line between winning and losing, and we are on the wrong side of the line right now. We clearly understand how and why we’re here. That’s what we’re focused on.
“It’s even like messaging. People talk about messaging. You talk to other coaches on how you message your football team. Personally, it kind of drives our video department crazy, but I don’t have my message quite solved for the next game because it has to tie into the plus of the team. Every team’s different, every opportunity’s different, every season is a different ride. It’s a different journey, it really is.
“We knew that when the schedule came out it was going to be … we knew there was going to be a lot of twists and turn of this season. Did I still think we were going to win them all? Hell, yeah. I’ve never entered a contest ever that I didn’t feel we were going to beat the other guy. That won’t change, especially this week. That part of it is real, and that’s what we’re focused on.
“It’s important to understand the twists and turns of a season because you’ve got to learn from it. Every week, there’s a different twist and turn that you’re not going to see coming, and how you handle that is important. We didn’t handle that very well yesterday. I think it’s very evident. I mean, there’s two or three of three touchdowns where it’s clearly, when a guy’s wide open or he runs 75 yards unabated for a touchdown, something went wrong there. I mean, something obviously went wrong there.
“So that’s what we need to learn from and improve on. So twists and turns definitely weren’t handled properly by us, but that’s yesterday. If you need to learn big-picture stuff, that’s all there in front of you. I really don’t spend a lot of time on that. I’m into the now, and it makes our players stay into the now and improve.”