Packers coach Mike McCarthy on Aaron Rodgers, free agency and new power structure
The NFL scouting combine rolled on Wednesday afternoon with a news conference from Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy, who spoke with reporters for 15 minutes in Indianapolis.
The following is a summary of McCarthy’s remarks:
(How do you keep things fresh with Aaron Rodgers after so many years?) "Well, I think it goes all the way around, the way you interact with everybody in your program. Obviously, you have the one-on-one component, and we’re both driven and focused on the same thing. But just the ability to as I watch Aaron now compared to his younger years, he’s the oldest guy in the locker room so it’s a different relationship for him in there than it was in the early years. So just staying in tune with that. But from a pure football standpoint as far as the scheme, just continue to grow that, too. In specifics, kind of what we’re going through now as an offensive staff is we’re spending a ton of time in the passing game, particularly doing a study looking at his first six years and then compared to the last four, particularly the last three. We’re kind of breaking it off in the first seven and the last three and just seeing the differences of everything that’s involved in that. This is the time where he goes away, but when he returns in April, that initial meeting of, ‘these are the things we’ve done, here’s the history of the past, these are the changes and so forth,’ that part is always fresh for him. He likes a challenge, and we make sure we continue to challenge him as we grow as a football team."
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(How do you feel about GM Brian Gutekunst being aggressive in free agency?) "Well, we like the word aggressive. But I think it’s like anything, you have to just be in touch with the reality of the process. The process of veteran free agency is different today than it was prior to Brian being the GM, so it’s a whole different breakdown and approach. That’s the first part of it. So you’ve got the evaluation stage, then the application of it is really what it’s all about. There’s not just one thing that leads directly to another. We don’t want to lose good players, that’s something we always focus on, particularly our own. We’ve spent pretty much our 12 years here really focusing on improving from within. But we need outside resources, we’ve determined that. But at the end of the day it’s a market, it’s a market that every team is involved in and we’ll see what happens."
(How is Mark Murphy’s new power structure working so far?) "Well, it’s different. It’s a different structure. So there’s meetings, the communication is weekly, but the reality of what I’m doing specifically, I have new coaching staffs so I’ve been predominantly, probably the last five weeks, been in the bunker down with the offensive perimeter group going through the passing game and Mike Pettine has done the same with the defense. So, you know, we’re kind of in a Year 1 format, kind of what you go through when you go into a place and it’s a new staff. Unfortunately, we had an early start, so we had a couple extra weeks there before the Super Bowl. Our approach is the same. We’ve always made sure that when the players get back April 16, we’re ready to go. Because every minute they’re available, they’re our priority."
(What is the future for Ty Montgomery?) "Well, you know, first thing, Jamaal (Williams) and Aaron (Jones) did a lot of good things, and probably the most important statistic for me in evaluating players as we move forward to the next season is availability. I have a depth chart board in my office and it has their picture, their original tag, their number, and it has a tag of their play time. Play time is really the reflection of availability. None of our running backs this year were available for the whole season. So that’s the first hurdle, the first challenge that they need to meet. In Ty’s particular case, his availability the last three years has been his challenge. But he’s a multi-positional player. So he’s a running back, to answer your question, but he gives us great flexibility to use him so many different ways. That won’t change. We’re going to need all those guys next year. So that’s going to be our approach."
(Did you need a culture change on defense?) "Well, that’s a big statement. I mean, culture change, I think you can look at more the definition of it is from my perspective, my approach is, again the evaluation that you do each and every year, you have filters that you run your day-to-day conversations and all the input that you take from within your organization or even from outside your organization at some small level. And then with that you’re assessed. Obviously the last nine years, I felt that internally we were able to take the resources that we had, built a vision and a plan for upcoming season. Now, obviously I felt differently this year, we went externally and obviously the result was all the coaching changes. So, I don’t get too far away from the reality of how our operation is every day and that is the culture. The culture is what makes it go, that’s how you sustain success and it definitely has been changed. And at a lot of levels it’s just been adjusted, so that’s our outlook."
(How do you feel about Brett Hundley?) "Well, I think you look at Brett, I just think you look at what he was able to accomplish, so, now his live reps are on video. We felt that he could have been better prepared, so, we’ve got to make sure that doesn’t happen again. Just as a whole, as far as our whole operation, so, you look at the evaluation, the things that really where he started, how he ended the season, he definitely improved throughout his opportunities there, so I feel very good about that. I believe in Brett Hundley, so, I do fully recognize that he has a lot of football in front of him. He has a big upside. Our structure and our coaching staff, we need to make sure we maximize that, but we also need to learn from the other parts of the offense that we didn’t do as good as we would have liked and we’ll learn from that platform. I do believe Brett has a big upside and looking forward to getting back to work with him."
(Was it the coaches who didn’t prepare Hundley well enough, or did Hundley slack in his own preparation?) "The reality of everything that goes into that. It’s not a blame game. So, we had to make a lot of adjustments when he first started off, but I thought he progressed nicely as the opportunities went on. But I think it’s a good lesson for everybody because you want the competition throughout your roster. That’s no different for the quarterback position."