Mike McCarthy gave his last press conference for the 2007 season, and he was the most defensive I've ever seen in front of the press. He has good reason to be defensive because he and his team just finished an excellent season with a close loss. His biggest problem with the loss was fundamentals and execution and he knows his team can play better than they did on Sunday.
I agree with him that they couldn't have done any more to stop WR Plaxico Burress. Obviously it didn't work and he torched CB Al Harris, but with CB Charles Woodson playing with an injured knee there was no good Plan B and it was a matchup that Harris can win.
Well, I thought we did a good job in the second half of adjusting to that. But also, that's why we play the game. You can also go back to the second contest and the match-up was very favorable as far as Al (Harris) on Plaxico. So I thought their quarterback made some good throws, I thought he made some plays. A couple times he took the ball out of the air that was contested by Al. You can talk about scheme, you can talk about it all you want, that's why it's playoff football and he had a big day against us. We all take responsibility in that. You can sit here and talk about playing Cover-2, but we're here for a reason, we play our defense that way for a reason. There's a match-up we felt good about going into the game. And, frankly, if we played again tomorrow, we would do a lot of things similar.
There was a lot in the game on offense that they could have done to get them moving, but his answer was that they only had 49 plays which isn't enough of an opportunity. This was only a partial explanation and didn't answer why they couldn't maintain a drive for longer than 3 minutes and 12 seconds..
Offensively, just going back through the call sheet, our biggest problem on offense was first of all the production in normal down and distance, and then the inability to convert third downs. We can question all we want about the game-plan, but when you play 49 plays and you're an up-tempo offense, there's something wrong. Do you run enough keeps, do you attack the middle of the field? I mean, to me, that's all open for conversation. But the fact that the time of possession, when the other team had 30 more punches available to them just based on number of plays compared to your plays, there's obviously a lot of things that the play-caller didn't get to that he would have like to have done. But to start the game, wanted to move the quarterback, get the ball on the perimeter if they did pressure us, which they did, and we didn't take advantage of the one-on-ones when that did happen.
He said he doesn't know about Favre's future, who GM Ted Thompson will draft, and he hadn't thought much about coaching in the Pro Bowl until a reporter mentioned Hawaii ("The Pro Bowl?"). They are still working on his contract extension.
I really liked his answers to these next questions. The best way to build a football team is start with first with the quarterback and then build from the football out. You start with a good offensive and defensive line, and the last thing to do is add the players the farthest away from the ball (receivers and secondary). Everyone is important on the team, and you need twenty-two good players to make a great team, but you start inside, give the young players time to develop, and let offensive lineman get used to playing alongside each other.
(But now that you have an established running back, do you think you're going to be a different team, focused more on the running game?)
I agree with you. It goes back to our first conversation that I've ever had at this podium, talking about offensive football and what the team needs to look like. I think the game against the Giants is a perfect illustration. You need to run the football in January to win in Green Bay, Wisconsin. And it's not actually the run average, it's the attempts. Now, third down was a big part of the failure in this particular game against the Giants. But the running game, there's so many things that come off of that. The keeps, the attitude, the wear and tear of a four-quarter game. So that is a focus of ours. The identity of our football team will always be built around our offensive and defensive line, and we need to improve the run-blocking. That will be a primary focus of ours in the offseason.
(To be a better running team, do you need a different body type on the offensive line?)
I like the body type of our offensive line. The positive is they're all young. They're all going to get stronger, they're going to get bigger, they're going to be smarter, their fundamentals are going to improve. We have so much in front of us. I'm extremely pleased with our ability to pass protect. I'll take our group over anybody in the league as far as what we ask them to do in pass protection, and the performance level of our pass protection. Our pass protection was clearly better this year than last year, and on top of that, the stress of what we put our players in this year was 10-fold what we asked them to do last year. So that part of it, they've done a great job of. But we need to pick up the run-game performance, and having Ryan Grant is a big part of that. Having a full offseason to develop and play the upcoming season the way you want to play, as opposed to going through growing pains like we went from last year's offseason program when we didn't really know who the runner was going to be, and offensive linemen fighting for jobs, so now we have a lot of competition there. I think just the maturation of our players and being in year three will help us.
I didn't think K Lawrence Tynes had any shot at making a game winning 47 yard field goal in that weather either.
Frankly, I thought about it. I didn't think he was going to make it. I even said that to the offense on the headset. But that was my decision. I didn't think he was going to make it.