Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy took the podium for the final time to discuss the team's 2013 football season on Wednesday. As can be expected from the coach of a team that recently lost a playoff game, he was disappointed and, at times, agitated in his press conference, but ultimately showed a lot of optimism in his team moving forward.
McCarthy opened by addressing the season as a whole and the disappointing end in the playoff loss to the 49ers:
First and foremost, the fact that i'm standing here on a Wednesday during a playoff week isn't where I want to be...Frankly when I look back at this season, the tough times, the losing streak, a lot of information about your program (and) the people really comes out during that time.
I think when adversity hits, people go through it one way or the other. Some good, some not so good. Everybody has to buy into the program, when you do that you're able to get through things that we got through this year...people say it felt like 2010, it didn't feel like 2010 at all, it was totally different circumstances...I was really impressed with our young players...just the way they've grown, the things they've seen.
McCarthy then discussed the process of evaluating the players and coaches over the next few weeks:
We're in day three of our evaluation process. I've spent Monday and Tuesday going through exit interviews with every player on our football team, today we'll actually start with the coaching staff and we'll get back to evaluating the game...then we'll get into staff evaluations and things like that.
When asked about whether Dom Capers would be the defensive coordinator moving forward, McCarthy was firm in his response.
Once again, we're not even 72 hours from the game. Dom Capers is an outstanding football coach. Nobody will be evaluated today...I'm not going into this thing looking to make big changes...there's things that you like about your program...there's things you don't like or need to get better. With those areas we will change and adjust.
On Ben McAdoo interviewing for a head coaching job, McCarthy said "I think the world of Ben, I've been with Ben a long time. Whatever opportunities come by Ben, I think he'll do a good job." Whether or not McAdoo gets the head coaching job in Cleveland, it sounds like McCarthy is accepting the idea that he will get a job with a different NFL team for 2014.
McCarthy was then asked if the team was too reliant on Aaron Rodgers being healthy and productive or if they lost confidence when the backup QBs were playing, and he defended his team:
Aaron Rodgers is arguably the best player in the NFL, so if you say 'are we too reliant'? Clearly he makes a difference...how many teams play four quarterbacks and win a division championship? I think we were the fourth...Who stepped up when other guys were in there? You have to make sure that's part of your evaluation.
When asked about the number of injuries that befell the Packers this year, he also expressed disappointment with how the season unfolded.
Injuries are a moving target. We'll look at facilities, the way players are cared for, nutrition, We’ve made a number of adjustments in favor of making us a healthier football team and we didn't get that done...we have to find a way to keep guys healthy...I'm not going to place blame. I'm not a fan of the offseason program (under the new CBA)...it's not good for young players...it's not going to change and we need to find a better training schedule and regimen and a little bit of luck.
He was then asked to discuss difference between the Packers and 49ers, since they have knocked Green Bay out of the playoffs each of the last two years:
I'm clearly aware that we've lost the last four in a row, and the two playoff games are the most important. You look at what those games come down to, you look at this last one and we have to be better. We haven't stopped their quarterback...that's the one common thread that jumps out at you. We had a lot of opportunities on offense, defense, and special teams, and we didn't get it done.
The next topic was the poor play of the Packers' safeties, but McCarthy was more inclined to discuss the defense as a whole:
Frankly, talking with the players, some of them have an opinion about that. We need more players making plays on defense, I think that's stating the obvious. I feel that those guys are here, are we going to bring in more, yeah, that's what the off-season is for...I'm not going to give a personal evaluation on (Morgan Burnett)...he definitely has room to improve.
When asked for an evaluation of his own coaching job this season:
That's probably a question for Ted (Thompson). I didn't win the last game, so I didn't do a good enough job.
As for whether David Bakhtiari's strong play could potentially lead to shifting other tackles to the right side:
We told Bryan Bulaga and Derek Sherrod, as soon as we decide how we're going to set reps as far as positions, we'd let them know as soon as possible.
Finally, McCarthy discussed the play-call on first and goal from the nine-yard line against the 49ers:
Randall (Cobb) runs that run concept the best of our guys, we got the defense we wanted...there was obviously a mistake by the run block unit. I have no problem with that call.
There's a lot to absorb here, but from McCarthy's comments, I interpret these things to be the case this off-season:
- It's likely that Dom Capers will return as defensive coordinator.
- There will be substantial turnover in personnel on defense.
- McCarthy wants Bakhtiari to be the left tackle moving into the future, but is unwilling or unable to commit to that at this point.
We'll see how this off-season turns out. For now, it's safe to say that McCarthy and the coaching staff is unhappy with the team's 2013 result, but saw many positive signs that can be expanded upon moving into 2014.
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