Normally, Mike McCarthy's press conferences function as an injury update and little else. Well, after a performance like Sunday's bizarre game in Cincinnati, McCarthy has a few extra questions to answer. None of these were more pressing than his decision to go for it on fourth and inches late in the fourth quarter.
I go home after every game and think about every call. ...That's how I deal with it. Was told there's those who second guess themselves and those who lie.
As both Tex and I discussed earlier today, the call was a smart risk given the probable outcomes. Anything short of a fumble return for touchdown and the Packers are in a strong position to win the game. When asked if he'd change his decision, McCarthy emphatically stated he wouldn't, calling the play call "solid," and mentioning he had plenty of time to mull it over. It sounds like the Packers' head coach won't be afraid to go for it again in similar situations in the future.
The fourth and inches call wasn't the only big story today as the Packers announced the release of receiver/kick returner Jeremy Ross. McCarthy did his best to compliment Ross on the way out:
We made a change today with Jeremy Ross. As always, the roster is a constant conversation... Production, performance always part of those decisions. We haven't given up on Jeremy. Had some opportunities. He's obviously not with us right now but I have no problem working with him again.
The only way McCarthy works with Ross again is if he's no longer Green Bay's head coach, which doesn't appear to be on the horizon. As for Ross' replacement, McCarthy deferred to GM Ted Thompson, stating, "I work on improving from within, Ted works on improving the roster." It certainly sounds as though the Packers will at least consider returners outside the organization.
The other big narrative of McCarthy's presser was the rash of hamstring injuries, an issue that dates back to his first few seasons as Packers head coach. Unsurprisingly, McCarthy clarified little about the team's medical process:
It's a valid question. Every injury's different. That's why trainers view each and every injury on film. Today's athlete, I know our football team, these guys do a great job of taking care of themselves. You try not to overreact to the numbers. Do I have a specific for you? No.
If McCarthy won't throw Ross under the bus after he's no longer with the team, he's sure not going to say anything too negative about the medical staff. Much of the criticism regarding the team doctors is unwarranted (I'm looking at you, people who called for changes following Bryan Bulaga's torn ACL). However, conditioning hamstrings falls well within the purview of the medical staff, and it's been an issue for some time. Fortunately, Clay Matthews' hamstring pull on Sunday appears to be minor. However, this will be a focal point going forward this season.
That's all from McCarthy. Keep your internet machines tuned to Acme Packing Company for the latest Packers news and analysis.
Jason Hirschhorn covers the Green Bay Packers for Acme Packing Co. He has previously written for Lombardi Ave, College Hoops Net, LiveBall Sports, and the List Universe. He is also currently a senior writer for Beats Per Minute, an indie-music webzine. Follow him on Twitter: @JBHirschhorn