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Aaron Rodgers, Mike McCarthy on facing the New Orleans Saints

Transcripts from Packers coach Mike McCarthy and quarterback Aaron Rodgers' conference calls with New Orleans media on Wednesday, Oct. 23, 2014

Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Are you surprised by the Saints 2-4 start? When you look at them on film, do they look like a 2-4 team or do they look better?

"They are better than that. They are 2-0 at home I believe. They are better at home. They have lost some close games. (They have a) Very talented offense, a very talented defense and (are) very well coached. I have competed against Coach (Rob) Ryan before and I have a lot of respect (for) the whole family, Rex, Rob, and their father, a guy who obviously changed how defense is played in the league. I have a lot of respect for them and their defense. Talented group, they play really well at home, they put up a lot of points. You have to be expecting Drew (Brees) and those guys to be scoring points so we need to score touchdowns in the red zone and score some points ourselves."

Looking at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome where the Saints have played very well over the past seven years, is it a typical road environment? Is it louder than usual? What factors make it tough? What steps do you have to take on offense to contend with it?

"It is atypical. It is a fast surface. They obviously play faster at home. It is a really, really loud environment. I remember when we went down there in, it must have been six years ago now, they put a whooping on us and it was a loud whooping. That place was rocking. Obviously Drew has had a lot of success there, (and) put up a lot of points there. Their offense has very high scoring potential. Defensively, every time you have a crowd that can back you with some noise it makes it a lot more difficult for the offense."

The Saints have the worst turnover margin in the league and the Packers have the best. How important has that been to your success?

"It's been a staple of how we play around the here the past couple of years, taking care of the football and being in the positive. Mike (McCarthy) always talks about getting to double-digit turnover margin and we just there this week with 10. When you are taking care of the football like that than you give your football team a chance to win. Offensively we know that if we take care of it and we turn our defense's turnovers into points we are going to have a chance to win."

How have you seen Eddie Lacy handle the ups and downs of the NFL season?

"Eddie is the same guy every day. He is one of the funniest guys in our locker room. He has a really contagious laugh and he's very steady, steady Eddie. He comes with the same attitude every day. Monday's after games whether it is 14 carries for 105 yards or whether it is 14 for 40, he comes in with the same attitude. He's a very positive person, he's great to be around. Our running back group with Eddie being there is really positive and engaging and contagious personality and then James Starks is one of the nicest guys on the team and then DuJuan Harris is one of the biggest clowns on the team. It's a great running back room that brings different dimensions in skillset but also personality-wise to our team."

What kind of feedback did you get about your "Relax" comments earlier in the season?

"First people were impressed I remembered how to spell it. I think when you say something like that you take on greater responsibility as a leader and you take some of the focus off the team and I think there is a time and a place for that. Maybe we needed a little something like that before our Week 4 game in Chicago. We responded with a good performance, four in a row, our defense is playing really well, offensively we are starting to get things going a little bit, so every now and then you say stuff like that that sticks. If we had lost Week 4 it probably wouldn't have gone over as well as it has because we've won four in a row."

Playing in a smaller market but with a strong connection to the fans, how much do you see an impact on your status due to national advertising that you are involved in? Have you seen a change in your popularity?

"Well in the humblest way possible, in Wisconsin because we are the main thing going this time of year, we are all pretty well known around town. I found that the State Farm endorsement got me a little more notoriety. Kind of across the country when I was traveling, or in different cities for various events or vacation, I am finding more people recognize me. I think it is directly related to the State Farm ads. As far as what people say to me when I am out and about, the top two topics are usually fantasy football and some version of "discount double-check" regardless of how closely they follow the commercials. Occasionally they screw it up a little, but those are the top two things that I hear. It is a unique environment to live and play in Green Bay because the fans have such a tight connection to the team. It is the smallest town with a professional franchise, and we do not have an owner, so there is a tight connection between the fans and players."

Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy
Conference Call With New Orleans Media
Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Thinking back on your time in New Orleans, do you have any friends, neighbors, or places that you still remember after ten years?

"Absolutely. I have great memories of New Orleans, I definitely still have friends down there. It doesn't seem like ten years but I guess it has been. New Orleans is a great place, and just like all great places it's about the people, just blue-collar, tough people. As far as restaurants and all of that other stuff, I've told some of our players that you can go out to eat 365 days a year down there and always have a great meal. It's a unique place and, like I said, I have great memories."

As far as the team, are there any memories that stand out on the field, in the locker room, with the guys?

"Absolutely, a lot of great memories. The (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome is a really unique place to play. I think currently with Sean Payton and Mickey Loomis and what those guys have done down there it is an electric atmosphere we're preparing for. But yes, the one play that will always stand out to me is when we beat the Rams in the first playoff win down there. We had Willie Jackson on a Stick'n'Nod to go up by like two touchdowns at the time and I just never heard anything like that as far as the crowd noise in my life. I still probably haven't. (It is) A great place to play, and like I said, didn't win enough games but I have a lot of good memories."

You have seen Aaron Rodgers play at a high level this year, is this about as good as you have seen? Have you seen Drew Brees play at a level similar to that?

"I think you are going to see two outstanding quarterbacks on the field Sunday Night, there is no doubt about it. I think Aaron is playing extremely well, and just the things that we're trying to do differently this year than we've done in the past, I think we've kind of hit our stride the last week or two. That is kind of where we are. I just have the most respect for Drew and what Drew and Sean have been able to do there on offense, just his ability, how fast he plays, (and his) production. I had a chance to be around Drew a little bit at the Pro Bowl and get a clear understanding of just how bright of a football man that he is."

These have been high scoring contests between these two teams, is it one of those things where you feel like you have to score every time?

"They look at the game a little bit like we do, we expect to score every time we get it but that's what the other side of the ball has to do and hang on defensively. We have a big challenge with their offense just the way they roll different personnel groups, the speed of it, and they stretch you schematically. Maybe this will be a great defensive game, you never know how these games are going to go. I think you have two very good offenses that are going to play Sunday night."

When you look at the Saints on film, what do you see? Is there anything you see as to why they are 2-4 at this point?

"I think the obvious is that they have lost three games that have come right down to the wire. That is what the NFL is about, you have to find ways to win. All I can tell you as far as our preparation, and as we discussed as a football team today in the team meeting and throughout the morning, is we are not playing a 2-4 football team. This is an excellent football team that has lost some tight games and we are just staying true to what they have put on video and we have been impressed."

Do you have to be sharper with the Saints struggling as they have and then coming down to New Orleans for a prime time game?

"I think every opportunity in this league is its own opportunity. I'm really not thinking about what they've done last week and, really, I don't think about what we've done last week. We're really focused on doing the things we need to do to win the game and that's stay in tune with what our opponent is trying to do to us, what we're trying to do to them, and just trying to handle this environment in the (Mercedes-Benz) Superdome."

A couple weeks ago Aaron Rodgers emphasized to the fan base and media to relax in a radio interview. Do you think that took some pressure off the other players?

"I think Aaron was just being honest and direct based on what he felt the mood was in our locker room. I don't think the guys ever overreacted to being 1-2."

Aaron talked about the importance of turnover margin. How big a part of your success is being ranked first in the NFL in the category?

"Turnover ratio definitely equates to winning. That's something we've always focused on and every team does. We're doing a good job of taking care of the football and doing an outstanding job of taking it away. The turnover ratio will be huge in the game on Sunday night. Our awareness of taking care of the football is even heightened when you go into this environment with this defense. Rob Ryan has a very aggressive scheme and they have some excellent coaches on that staff in Rob Ryan and Joe Vitt. This is going to be a challenge for us. They're going to be on their edges a little bit with the ability to play on the fast surface and the environment. We have to do a great job of protecting the football."

When you talk about the environment, how much are you talking about a road prime time game and how much the Mercedes-Benz Superdome, as opposed to San Francisco going to Denver last Monday night or Cincinnati going to New England a couple weeks ago? It seems like a lot of these road teams have had a hard time keeping up with the home teams in these games.

"I'll tell you what, I don't know who you are but you are more informed than me. I don't pay attention to any of those other games. I don't know what you're talking about frankly (laughter). We're just talking about coming down to the environment that we haven't been down to since '08. We remember what happened in '08. We've played in domes twice a year with Minnesota and Detroit. We played in Seattle earlier in the year. This is about playing indoors on a fast surface against a very good football team, a very well-coached football team."

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