Super Bowl hangover?
Asked this question, McCarthy flashed his sense of humor, which he rarely does during media sessions. "I thought that would mean because of all the extra alcohol. It's a lack of sleep is what it is. No, I don't think so. I think it's a new season, I really do. Trust me, I don't know if it hasn't hit me yet. Every time I ride down I-65 and pull into Indianapolis, it's time to move onto the next year. I'm not trying to wipe this thing away, and I know players are enjoying it throughout the country, and they should. Really, the staff is moving on. That's what Indianapolis does for you. They've made it such a big event but there's a lot of work that gets done when you come down here for this week. Tonight, we go through interviews from 6 to 11. This has always been a big night for us There's a lot of information you can gather from these players coming down to Indianapolis, and that's what we're doing. We've made a living on this draft and we need to have another good draft class. That's our focus.
Need a receiver?
I maintain that the Packers have a major need at wide receiver. McCarthy didn't agree.
"You know, we have very good depth throughout the perimeter group. We have tight ends that are multipurpose players, we have receivers that play all four positions. It's important that when we get to that time and go to training camp, you get those 80 players out there and you line em up, we'll have plenty of weapons. To me, that's a part of having a quality scheme, quality system in place. You guys know how we play. We're multiple personnel. We'll have plenty. I'm not worried about Donald, I'm not worried about James. I hope everybody's back and competing and we're going to be a heck of a football team again."
McCarthy on the podium
On the fly so forgive any typos ...
- "I was able to get out of town this past weekend" due to death of close friend. "In my mind, this has always been the kickoff to the next season. I'm always excited to come here. It illustrates a new opportunity. this is exciting times for us as an organization."
- Packers as a model as build-through-draft team: "That's a credit to TT and his personnnel staff." Draft-and-development program. Important draft class "to keep competition at a high level" and keep the depth.
- Very excited about coaching staff changes. Bennett is excited to move to WR coach. Jerry Fontentot to RBs, Joel Hilgenberg offensive quality control, Rushing to offensive quality and assistant special teams. "This is something we've been preparing for."
- More OL duties for Philbin.
- Morton still an assistant special teams coach.
- Stopped scripting the "first 15 plays." Too much emphasis on the first couple calls and didn't like the result. Spends a lot of time on first situational calls. "First 15 thoughts" is what teams calls them. Philosophy still there but no longer a major emphasis.
- "We plan on being a better offense next year."
- Apologizes for not being able to break down Newton and Gabbert, the top QB prospects. "We'll definitely take a close look at that whole class."
- Happy about new concussion policy since it takes decision out of his hands.
- Improved NFC North: "I think we have an extremely competitive division." Thinks Detroit is a very good football team and "distinctly different" in how they play defensively. Calls it as competitive as any in the NFL and will be be better in 2011. "I think Detroit is definitely a football team the rest of the NFL" has to be aware of.
- Wants to improve on returns, including personnel.
- James Starks receiving key to Niagara Falls ... will role evolve: "I get a charge out of seeing our players out there on a national stage." ... "It's part of winning a Super Bowl." Says Starks has "tremendous future. You could see the talent from the first day he arrived." Looks for "big days ahead" for Starks.
- Long run? "I'm worried about 2011." Says it's nice for people to say nice things but "we don't hang the newspaper articles up in the locker room. We're a young football team. We're built this way be design. That's our plan. We believe in drafting, we believe in developing, creating competition, having a healthy locker room. I plan on going on a long run, too. We have to take care of business, just like everyone else."
- Dave Redding's departure: Great personality, experience was huge asset for strength program. Able to marry the old with the new techniques. "He was a pioneer" in the NFL. Related to players well. Well-liked. "It was time for him to move on and retire."
- Hawk's future: "he's a Green Bay Packer as far as I'm concerned." Hopes the "business decision" works out. "He's exactly what you're looking for." Wants him back but there's a business side. Hawk grew tremendously as player and leader. Had heck of a year.
- Raiders DC opening, wtih Moss and Perry: Won't comment, but happy it's still intact.
- Cullen Jenkins: I have great respect for Cullen. It's part of the business side of it. Like to have all the players back.
Greg Cosell on the Packers
When the brilliant NFL Films analyst Greg Cosell talked to Scout.com's John Crist, he said teams that run 3-4 schemes and don't have good pass-rushing outside linebackers should switch to the 4-3 because the defense has to count too much on X's and O's to succeed.
So, I asked Cosell how the Packers had such success without a reliable player opposite Clay Matthews.
"Because the Packers played a lot of 2-4-5 and they even did that against base offensive personnel," he said. "They did that because of Charles Woodson's ability as an inside slot blitzer. The league has changed. What teams are trying to do now are they use more second- and third-level players as rushers because of the speed. It's very difficult for offensive linemen to, No. 1, identify and, No. 2, react to third-level players who are rushers. Charles Woodson is a third-level player who has great timing, great instincts and great speed. The Packers are a little different. Most teams' blitz packages come from their sub packages, when they're either in nickel or dime, and when they're in their sub package, Woodson's in the slot."
I also asked what area the Packers should focus on in the first round if, in a perfect world, there was talent available at every position at No. 32.
"I think the Packers need to focus on the offensive side of the ball. When you have a dynamic quarterback, you must make sure he has weapons. I think it's imperative that they get another quality wide receiver. Driver's very, very good – you could argue he's a notch below a Hall of Fame-type player with his body of work, but he's certainly at the end of his career. James Jones is an uncertainty at this point and I'm not sure Jones is really more than a 3 or a 4 in an ideal world. We forget that Jermichael Finley is the most athleticly gifted tight end in pro football and assuming there's no lingering effects from his injury, he almost becomes another wideout in many of their packages. I also think the offensive line is an area I would make sure is always fortified. Aaron Rodgers has made great strides in pocket feel, pocket awareness, getting sacked less because he understood the pocket better. I think you have to make sure that you have offensive linemen. You don't want to be in a situation where he's not protected."
Dimitroff on the Packers
The Falcons rolled through the regular season and earned the NFC's No. 1 seed but got whacked by the Packers in the divisional round.
"Listen, we were obviously very disappointed," general manager Thomas Dimitroff said. "We thought we had a good regular season. We had two very good weeks leading up. We were healthy, we were sharp. Matt Ryan never looked better in three years that we'd seen him on the field. Things were on the dial but we got out there and after that first quarter, we lost it. We got behind and we couldn't get back, and then we deflated. We realized there that we still had some growing up to do. We still need to mature. We're still a fairly young team. We have a handful of veteran players but we still have a lot of three-year players who are going into their fourth year – who, by the way, we're very excited about because I think you start getting that four- to six-year area, I think things really start to gel and that's important for us."
Thompson meets the press
Some highlights from Packers general manager Ted Thompson, both at the podium and in the hallway to the local reporters:
-- Life changed in last month: "Not a lot. We've been pretty busy trying to get ready for this and get ready for the draft. You still pinch yourself from time to time. Sometimes, even in our draft meetings, we'll say, ‘What do we think about that guy?' There gets to be a tense moment and Sam Seale will say, ‘Well, we are the world champions.' We only do that amongst ourselves. It's cool. We understand what it means to Green Bay and Packer fans all over the world. We have an appreciation for that. But we understand this league is about what's next. We're trying to get ready for the next play."
-- Cullen Jenkins says the team won't re-sign him: "We would like to keep all of our free agents. We think that's good business, good policy. We'll try with Cullen.
-- Status of Johnny Jolly: Says only that he's still suspended.
-- He refused to answer any questions about lockout, on how it would affect team business, the development of draft picks or draft plans since the draft might come before free agency instead of vice-versa, chalking them all up to being "hypothetical."
-- Finding good players late in the draft: "Our guys do a lot of work. Almost the entire staff was trained by Ron Wolf and believe very strongly in scouting and going seeing players and doing due diligence and working just as hard on the second-round guys or the free-agent guys as we do on the first-round guys. That's just the way we do business."
-- Adjust approach with last pick of each round: No, but "the first round will be excruciating because we'll sit there and watch all these really good players get drafted before we can do anything. That's a problem that's OK to deal with."
-- On finding a new backup quarterback with Matt Flynn's contract expiring after the 2011 season. "We assume he's going to be on our team."
-- Is there a "Packers way" when it comes to building a team? "Everybody's got their own way of doing things. We don't do anything any differently than anybody else. Everybody's been very gracious. They've said congratulations. I used to do the same thing – didn't mean it. I was just being nice. They're being nice. Everybody's very competitive in this league and I'm sure we've got 31 teams who want a piece of us."
Lovie on the Packers
Fresh off signing a two-year extension to keep him as coach of the Bears for the next three seasons, I asked Lovie Smith how long it took for him to get over the NFC Championship Game loss to the Packers.
"Get over it? We're long past that right now. We were beaten by the better team that day. They beat everyone. There's only one team in the end, of course, who feels good about what they've done. We played the Super Bowl champions as well as anyone over the course of the year, and we need to, they're in our division, like some of our other division opponents. I feel like we'll make ground on them next year."
In his introductory comments, he said the Bears are "looking up" to the Packers and "we're looking forward to this year of trying to get ourselves in position where we can hold up the Lombardi Trophy."
Smith seemed irritated about questions over Jay Cutler's toughness after he was pulled in the third quarter of the title game. "No, there's no question about Jay's toughness or anything like that. For guys to even challenge that or question that don't know what they're talking about, don't know him. He's as tough as any quarterback in the league. I've really kind of said enough about it."
Smith also said the Bears would be active in free agency. "We're trying to bring in impact players to help our team. That's what we've been doing."
Welcome to Day 2
Good morning from Lucas Oil Stadium in slushy downtown Indianapolis. The snow follows me everywhere, it seems.
Up first today is coach Lovie Smith, who received a two-year contract extension. Ted Thompson goes at 10:30 a.m. (Eastern), with Mike McCarthy at 3 p.m. It's a big day for prospect interviews, with more offensive linemen, plus quarterbacks, running backs and receivers.
Here's a recap of yesterday's action:
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Bill Huber is publisher of Packer Report magazine and PackerReport.com and has written for Packer Report since 1997. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave him a question in Packer Report's subscribers-only Packers Pro Club forum. Find Bill on Twitter at twitter.com/packerreport and Facebook under Bill Huber.