Friday's Combine Hot Topics: Head Coaches

What were the hot topics during head coach press conferences at the NFL Combine on Friday? The Packers' Mike McCarthy, the Jets' Rex Ryan, Minnesota's Brad Childress, Kansas City's Todd Haley and the Titans' Jeff Fisher fill you in.

Green Bay Packers

The Packers are making the switch to a 3-4 defensive alignment this year, so head coach Mike McCarthy talked about how that impacts evaluating new talent for their club in 2009.

"We'll probably pay more attention to certain body types more than we have in the past. But once again, like I've stated throughout, the 3-4 defense is a starting point for us, from a terminology and language standpoint, and we will definitely have the ability to get into 4-3 schemes and even more so into our sub-personnel groups," he said.

McCarthy also seemed to be excited about what the 3-4 defense would do for his team's secondary.

"I definitely think it helps our secondary," he said. "I think our secondary does a very good job, particularly at the corner position, of playing bump and run. But if you play something every single snap, obviously you should be better at it than the other techniques that you play. 

"I think it will definitely help our corners from a vision standpoint, changing it up from not being in a press man-to-man situation as high as a percentage as we have been in the past."

New York Jets

Rex Ryan made it clear from the start of Thursday's press conference that the Jets were going to be a team with an attitude under his leadership. 

When asked what he'll be up against this year as he looks at his opponents in the AFC East, New York's new head coach replied, "I'd rather focus on what they're up against. We're going to have a team
that's going to be a physical football team. We're not going to back down from any challenge." 

As far as the types of players he'll be seeking as he adds talent to his team, Ryan said, " I've been doing this a long time, and I just want guys that can represent our football team. 'Plays like a Jet'—that's going to mean something. Physical, tough, passionate-type people. That's what we're looking for. 

"In the past, we've always tried to build our defense that way in Baltimore. Now we're going to try to build our team that way. That's the formula we had for success in Baltimore, and we're going to look
for that with the Jets."

Minnesota Vikings

Brad Childress talked about his team's quarterback, and believes that Tarvaris Jackson will continue to improve.

"I think he gave glimpses coming back in cold off the bench, doing some of the things he did. Then, obviously, he's got to eliminate some of those turnovers. I'd like to see the touchdown-turnover ratio change," Childress said. "And then we need to put somebody in place that will push him and compete with him."

The Vikings head coach also said that he expects that running back Adrian Peterson will be striving to put himself into a position where he'll be able to do more for the team on third down. Childress noted that Peterson has made changes to his offseason regimen that should help.

 "That said, you have to be able to use all the tools in your toolbox and I think Chester Taylor, I think the numbers speak for themselves in terms of his third-down conversions and what he was able to accomplish," Childress said.

Kansas City Chiefs

New head coach Todd Haley was asked if he could coach a player like running back Larry Johnson, even though he's asked to be released or traded.

"With all situations, there are solutions," he said. "I haven't spoken specifically to Larry. As we move forward, I'll get a little better feel for what we have to do as a team. I know what my policy is going to be—a clean slate. Everybody is going to have a fair opportunity to show what they are and what they want to be."

Haley also made it clear that he understands the situation the Chiefs are facing as a team, and what his role will be in helping to fix it.

"You are what you are. Last year the Kansas City Chiefs won two games. That's what they were last year. This year is a new year," he said. "I'm going to be about trying to win games. Do everything possible to give us a chance to win games.

"It's going to start with one. Right now, we haven't won a game here as the Kansas City Chiefs, and that's going to be our goal, to figure out how to win one game."

Tennessee Titans

With star defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth ready to test unrestricted free agency, Titans head coach Jeff Fisher said that the team hasn't given up on the thought that Haynesworth will be wearing a Titans jersey this season..

"Anytime you have a player that enters free agency, and for whatever reason you're unable to re-sign him, you have to have a plan," he said. We've been discussing alternatives, but we're not there yet. I know that Mike [Reinfeldt] and Chad [Speck] are going to continue to talk, so we're still hopeful that we get things done."

But if another team comes along and makes an attractive offer to the 6-foot-6, 320-pound defensive tackle, Tennessee is hoping that Haynesworth will give them an opportunity to match the deal.

"I believe that'd be the case, because I believe he really likes it there, and he's made a second home there, and he's got friends there," Fisher said. And it's hard to write songs outside of Nashville.

A member of the Pro Football Writers of America, Ed Thompson's player interviews and NFL features are published across the network and at You can contact him by email through this link.

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