Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media on Wednesday afternoon. Here's some highlights of his season-ending news conference:
I want to thank everyone for their patience. 2014 was an excellent season. I want to thank our organization and commitment to our football and our team. I thought they really impacted our success this year. Our fans, we understand their disappointment. We're right there with you. Felt the home games (were) tremendous. They took it up a notch this year. The team, the players, the coaches, support staff, commitment and preparation, football IQ was the highest of my tenure here. Guys did a great job each week preparing and performing. Proud of what they accomplished. Very disappointing loss in NFC title game. Felt we had plenty of opportunities to win and let it get away. Special teams, definitely a tough performance for us. Anytime you give up seven points and give up a turnover, it's very difficult to overcome, especially in the second half. Felt strongly we could handle Seattle defensively and keep them under 17 points. The first 11 series of football (were) tremendous. We didn't finish it in the overtime. Offensively, I thought we had a very good plan with some of the things we did. Running the football was a primary when going against an excellent defense like that up there. Two-minute drive was a testament to our offense and (quarterback) Aaron Rodgers. The evaluation process begins now. We'll start the process of change, adjustment and emphasis as I do each year. I try to adjust our program for the 2015 season.
On anticipating change with special teams:
Every year, you guys come in here. It's important to evaluate. I haven't had that opportunity. We'll look at everything. We'll look at every job description and performance. We'll look to make changes. I thought the changes we made last year there was a benefit. There was a unanimous opinion in speaking with players in exit interviews that the changes we made were in the best interest of the team.
On the process:
Well, the first thing what the coaches have done last week, they're off this week. We have a format we follow. We start having your exit interviews with your coordinators and then your assistants.
On the team's support in the wake of his brother's death:
Unbelievable. I can't talk much on it. Thank you.
On special teams:
Special teams is no different than offense and defense. Healthy scheme, executing fundamentals. Our special teams errors have been critical more because of the timing of it. It definitely showed up in the Seattle game.
On next season:
We'll go into next season. It'll be its own opportunity. That process will get start Monday or Tuesday next week. (General manager) Ted (Thompson) has started on the college draft. We have a system. We believe it works.
On avoiding NFC championship hangover:
Every game is an experience. You have to learn from victories and defeats. The 2015 football team will not bear the burden of the 2014 football team and before that. We're going to create another opportunity to create the best football team that we can and go forward.
On what he learned from the loss:
There's a lot of things. We treat big plays as one of the five fundamentals of Packers football. Seattle made the big plays at the most critical time of the game. The fundamentals and applying them to everything that you do.
On Seattle's fake field, keying on Brad Jones:
It's not as much as self-scout as what your call is in that situation. It's a heck of a play by (holder) Jon Ryan and so forth. We haven't really look at it from that standpoint. You look at that third-down conversion they had. Creating the opportunity is where we error. … Fakes are risky. Jon Ryan can run. We know that. From a responsibility standpoint and pursuit, it would've been a foot race for the first down. We didn't execute our responsibility the best that we can.
On linebacker Clay Matthews' injury late in that game:
I don't know about a concussion. I know he was being looked at the end with his knee. He had a couple of collisions. (Wide receiver) Jordy Nelson waved to me. I talked to Clay. He said he needed him a minute. Looking him in the eye, I didn't see any reason for his concern. Unless it impacts a game, I'm not going to be notified.
On free agents:
I think free agency is an ongoing situation. That process really hasn't begun. The emphasis right now is on the college draft. This is how we've always done it. Our scouting department has started that process.
On whether he wishes he would've done anything different in the NFC championship game:
There's always plays you can go back and look at. I take responsibility for whatever happens in the game. Particular play calls.
On not going for it on either of two early drives:
I called a fourth-down call on the headsets. The penetration I saw it again on second down, I saw on third down on the backside. That's why I went for it. The second one, it was fourth-and-2, so I took the points. I think it's convenient to go for it now. You have a game plan. It was a very confident defense going in with how they started. Eleven series into the game, our defense held our opponent to zero points.
On the difficulty of watching the Super Bowl:
That's hard. It's definitely hard. You have to go watch it somewhere where you can watch the game. I've made the mistake of watching it with family and friends. It's a lot harder this time. I'm going to try to get down there (to Phoenix) to see Aaron and go to the (NFL Awards) event.
On Matthews in 2015:
It's really coming off last year and moving him around. We were able to be more flexible in how we utilize Clay and Julius (Peppers) and the elephant position. I felt those changes were positive for our defense. Clay is an outside linebacker. I think we all recognize that. He was very productive when he went inside. I think there will be more answers and options.
On Peppers telling Morgan Burnett to get down after his fourth-quarter interception:
When I look at things like that, everybody on the field and every coach at a certain level, you have decision-making responsibility. Obviously, Aaron has the highest level of decision-making responsibility. (Defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers_ makes the call on defense, but (linebackers) A.J. (Hawk), Brad (Jones) or Sam (Barrington) can make adjustments. There are decision that are made on every single play. You're calling outside zone run and you could have three or four different combinations. Those are decisions made in the heat of battle. I agree with the intent of the decision. I expect us to me the ball and change the field position. Morgan went down and gave him the ball back at the 40, that's Morgan's fault. I understand why he did it. Defensively, we were in command of the game.
On changes to the offseason program before last season:
It's been great. The change in the schedule and the new facility was the final hurdle for me to make the change. I wasn't totally sold it would go the way it did this year. Obviously, we got into the new facility after the Thanksgiving game in 2013. When you make a big change, it has to get off the ground. I've been around a long time to see great ideas don't get off on a great foot and they fail. You have to give our training staff a ton of credit. Mark Lovat was very instrumental in these changes. Conversations we've had for three years with starting players' neurological clock on Saturdays. We definitely felt like we hit a home run with the changes we made.
Is it sustainable?
The biggest change is the fatigue injuries. Really, from my position with being a draft-and-develop program, this really doesn't add up. You're on the field a lot less, your high-speed training is less, so where do these young players learn and develop. That was always the part I could've go forward with it and the new facility and the CRIC (conditioning, rehab and instruction center) and our learning environment. We started a half an hour later, hydration. (Director of performance nutrition) Adam (Korzun) was an awesome addition to our program.
On offensive problems late in the season:
We'll go back through it. When you sit down and go through all the rankings, there's emotion involved in those rankings. You look at the whole season over and over again. We go back and we rank them again. Offensively, I think it's a great point. We haven't run a quarterback movement for the last month. You have to take your hat off to Aaron that he was so productive just from the pocket.
On continuity of the coaching staff:
I think it definitely equates to success. You're trying to have continuity throughout your whole program. There's devils with that, too. You have to fight against complacency. Continuity has definitely been a strength. It's a great place to work. I feel strong that our program is built and we'll look to adjust and change whatever we need to if we feel it will make us better.
On assistant coaches being frustrated if they're blocked from interviewing with other teams:
It's part of the business discussions you have between club and employee.
On defensive additions Julius Peppers and Letroy Guion:
I thought they were impactful. Letroy playing against him in the division with his age. His personality and his energy is something I always felt he was a heck of a football player. Julius Peppers from a leadership standpoint knocked it out of the park. Charles Woodson's time as a Green Bay Packer was unique and special. His first year was production. Every season is its own opportunity, nothing every stays the same. That's for sure. We'll look at it like we always do. It was kind of nice to add a few free agents last year.
On whether the offense needs to be more diversified when facing top defenses:
I would categorize our offense as diversified. I think the way we're designed, we're built to make the quarterback successful. Healthy run game was a key component of that. I think this was our best group of offensive line and running backs that we've had here. I'm impressed with what (rookie wide receiver) Davante Adams gave us. We'll look at it and make some changes offensively. It's important not to just stay the same. To me, the best offense in the league is the one that scores the most points.
On Adams and other rookies:
I had same conversation with rookie class I had with every class. It's important to realize the biggest opportunity to make a jump is from Year 1 to Year 2. That's where we go about the offseason program and where we put the emphasis. I'm excited about that whole class.
On the offensive line's push on goal-line plays:
I don't agree with the struggling at the goal line. Playing on the road and playing at home is different. We all recognize that. Goal line, there's some things we'll look at. We'll probably get creative and do some things there. I thought our run-blocking as a whole I was impressed with.
On his health:
I feel good. It's something, I know my family, it's gut-wrenching. Makes us all take a closer look.
On exit interviews:
The exit interviews with 73 players. The young players, those are pretty similar. They don't know what to expect. There's a list of topics I work through with every player. Thought the feedback from veterans was the best that we've had. I look at exit interviews for an opportunity for me to improve. They'll definitely be some changes that occur from those discussions.
On whether his brother's death puts everything in perspective:
Definitely. Life is precious. I don't have the words or emotional discipline to take you through it. We're pressing on as a family.