McCarthy: Offense took a step back last year
Packers coach Mike McCarthy spoke to the media Thursday at a news conference to introduce new assistant coaches. Here are some highlights:
Well thanks for coming out today. We had an opportunity to finalize our coaching staff, I know everybody’s seen the press release. I’ll take questions on each individual coach. It’s been a long process since the conclusion of the season. Had an opportunity to go through the exit interviews with our players and with that always comes out some information and things you can use to apply, recognize certain things to look that. From that we went into the evaluation phase with our coaching staff. With another process of exit interviews it was obviously broken up a bit with our participation in the Pro Bowl. So, it’s great to get to this point. We’ve actually just started getting into the scheme evaluation – started that yesterday – and we’ll meet with the personnel department as a coaching staff tomorrow and get ready for Indianapolis. So with that I’ll take your questions.
On why he fired running backs coach Sam Gash and tight ends coach Jerry Fontenot:
Well, when you have change, each and every year there’s obviously a process that you go through. I think it’s important first to thank Jerry Fontenot and Sam Gash and their families for the contributions that they made in their time here in Green Bay. The changes we’ve made on offense, I think we definitely had two young coaches when we hired them two years ago – both David and Luke, you’ll get a chance to talk to them here shortly – we felt that we had two promising prospects that were going to grow and frankly have earned this opportunity and we’ll be better for that. And both Ben and Brian, what they bring to the table, Ben with the running backs and Brian with the tight ends, it brings new energy, it brings new ideas. It brings a freshness aspect that we really haven’t had a whole lot of. Mike Solari I felt brought that last year to us when he came from San Francisco. It’s an opportunity to improve and grow, and that was a big part of the change.
Does blame for underperforming positions fall on the players or coach?
I can’t give you a percentage and frankly I’m here to announce our new staff. I’m not going to go back and get into the details of evaluation and how those decisions were made.
On if he had any connections to Ben Sirmans and Brian Angelichio:
I did not, personally. No, just through recommendations. A part of your job as a head coach is obviously to be aware of people around the league and that’s really a product of having the opportunity to hire both of those guys
On need to have a full-time receivers coach again:
I think we had a plan last year. It wasn’t executed obviously to the level we look to achieve. The quarterbacks, wide receivers, tight ends and o-line, running backs, the interactions between position groups has been a staple of how we operate the last four or five years. I think more has been made of it frankly as an excuse. With that, the excuses are over. We’ve changed and adjusted frankly the job responsibilities back more to what we’ve done in the past. My outlook is hopefully it’ll be a much better process.
On his schedule now that he’s calling plays again:
I think the time distribution on Monday will be very similar. You have to get into game-planning for next opponent. Tuesday will be more pretty much dominant towards the offensive game-planning. Wednesday, I think, hopefully will be between what I did last year and what I’ve done in previous years. There’s definitely things that I’ve done during the week that I would like to continue to try. I’m going to have to work through that. Really Thursday after practice through Friday is more dedicated to calling the game just with the demands of play-calling. Monday morning will be the same as far as the evaluation of the game. We have an offense, defense, special teams process, then we get together as a staff. That part won’t change.
On not losing sight of the big picture now that he’s back to play calling:
Any time you change the responsibility, where your area of emphasis is, you are more on top of the things – obviously there’s a reason I went to those areas based on past performances. So there definitely will be input into the defense and the special teams. Offensively we took a huge step back, there’s no question about that. Defensively we did some good things but we’re not a championship defense, and that has to be the next step next year, that will be the focus of our defensive staff and our defensive players. Special teams, we made some big strides, particularly in coverage had some really good individual performances. But we need to take another big jump there too. We’ve still got work to do on defense and special teams, and we have to get back to basics on offense.
On how much Sirmans is responsible for Eddie Lacy’s weight/conditioning:
Like everything, you have different components of your football operations. Your strength, conditioning, training, nutrition, all those things. And everybody’s accountable to their area, and the position coach is ultimately accountable for the performance and the training of their players. But eddie lacy, conditioning and so forth, is something I have great confidence will improve or is improving as we speak, and he’ll learn from his performance last season.
On Sirmans and Angelichio’s track record:
Well, definitely. The performance of your position coaches is obviously more than just the actual statistics of how their players perform. There’s insight from relationships you have around the league throughout all the different interactions that you have. There’s a lot of conversation that goes on in these particular cases, particularly in the timeline that we moved them. It was excessive there for a number of days because we’ve never really moved that fast in prior years. It was important to do that to have the opportunity to interview Brian and Ben.
On Luke Getsy and David Raih:
Well, Luke Getsy and David Raih, we interviewed both young men two years ago. There’s definitely a focus on the quarterback position. To me, you can’t have enough line coaches in your building, you can’t have enough quarterback coaches in your building. It’s just a philosophy of mine as far as building an offensive staff. And definitely, let’s not kid ourselves with Aaron Rodgers. If you’re tied to Aaron Rodgers, your opportunities to move on to new opportunities will be in front of you. That was really the long-term plan, vision and so forth. When we interviewed both of those guys, David had a great interview and Luke was coming in the next day and I just remember leaving Lambeau being so impressed with David and then to come in the next day and I felt David knocked it out of the park, just using the words of our … because we had the whole staff involved. It was an extensive interview where both Luke and David visited with every coach for half an hour to 45 minutes and we had it all structured with different components – video, drawings, scheme evaluations, there was a video breakdown, put them on the board. It was an extensive interview for both guys. David, like I said, knocked it out of the park. Coming in the next day, Luke had a tremendous interview and, frankly, when we sat around as a staff and went through both guys, everybody just felt Luke hit it a little further. With that, two years later, now we have two young men that have earned this opportunity and I’m excited for them. They bring a lot of energy. They’ve gained the respect of the players and now they’ll have the opportunity to coach a position and get our players to respond.