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McCarthy and Rodgers Discuss Sunday's Contest

Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy and Quarterback Aaron Rodgers spoke with the New Orleans media via conference call on Wednesday


Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy

Conference Call With New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How easy or difficult was it to get back to work with the guys and make sure they were focused?

"Today was a good day. We moved everything back coming off of a Monday night schedule and being on a six day schedule leading into the game with New Orleans. It's been a very productive day. The staff was in early. We had the chance to finish some situation work that we wanted to clean up from yesterday's gameplan. Players were in the weight room this morning. We had our full dose of meetings we would have on a normal Wednesday morning and just got off the practice field. I feel good about the quality of work."

Are you surprised by the Saints' 0-3 start?

"They're a very good football team, but nothing surprises me in this league anymore. The longer you're in it, you think you've seen everything and something else happens. It's a very competitive league. Parity has been evident forever. Scheduling definitely enhances parity when I look at our first four games. It's always a challenge. There's new obstacles you have to deal with every year, as unusual as they may be. I'm more focused on 1-2 right now frankly."

Can you put your hand on your team's offensive problems?

"We tried some different things and did some little things adjustmentwise in camp, probably didn't have it as honed as we'd like. We have a couple new veteran players that have fit in very well that I'm happy with. I'm confident that our better days are ahead. I didn't think we'd be where we are as I stand where I am right now, but we've had some rough patches, whether it was as a run blocking unit in week one. Catching the football has not been where it needs to be. In our game Monday night, we obviously had protection issues the whole first half."

Are teams defending you different on offense because of how prolific you were?

"We've played three games. Frankly we've had two opponents that dared us to run the ball and we've had one that dared us to throw it. So far, I think it's a normal path that you take as a football team. People are playing to their strengths and how they feel they need to match up. I don't see anything different or totally unexpected. The unscouted look is probably holding up 20 to 30 percent, which is common in the NFL season, the first two or three weeks. Everybody's had an opportunity to go through an entire offseason working on new things. You definitely see new things each game. That will probably start to level itself out, probably as we move past this week into the second quarter of the season."

Last year was such a big game and hyped. Does 0-3 and 1-2 change the setup of this game or is it just as big as last year for the teams?

"For the players and coaches to me, it's always about the game. Now, I don't know that I've ever been around an atmosphere, particularly in the regular season, as close to what week one was up here. I thought in my time in Green Bay, the best football game we've ever had at Lambeau Field. We've won a few playoff games and had some big wins. Just the environment of the kickoff classic leading up to the game and also the game going down to the last play, that was a big time football game and the environment was incredible. I'm expecting Lambeau to be like it always is. It will be a great day hopefully and our fans will be raring to go. Football is still football. This is still a good football team and obviously I'm sure they don't like their record and we don't like ours. It's going to be very competitive."

What was it like going to Lambeau as a visiting coach?

"The only time I went to Lambeau was the (2004) preseason with the Saints. That was a bad night for us with the Saints. It was a preseason game, we had a couple guys get injured. They blitzed us nearly every snap. That was the only time I was on the opposite side of the field at Lambeau."

Isn't it fun and lively and almost like a college crowd?

"Definitely. It's a unique experience, especially to the National Football League. There's nothing like it. It holds true. I can't tell you how many people you run into. They have tours every single day. I just ran into a tour group running into my press conference. That's common and it's a very unique place."

Your defense last year was near the bottom of the league and is near the top of the league now. Can you talk about the improvement?

"We're playing with a lot of confidence. We're doing a good job of moving some veteran players around and creating some problems, whether it's Clay Matthews or Charles Woodson. I think the depth on our defensive line has helped us and I can't be more excited about our young players. Our young players are playing their role and contributing. That whole blend has been good for us the last two weeks. I feel good about what we've been able to accomplish. This will be our biggest challenge this year."

Are you surprised at where Aaron Rodgers and Drew Brees stand in the quarterback rankings?"Frankly, I don't even look at the quarterback rankings after the first week. I've been in this long enough to understand where statistics factor and how much of a sample size you need to put your teeth into it. Week three, compared to week 13, I do have confidence for both Aaron and Drew that it will be different."

Are they similar at all?

"Yes, I think the common thread watching Drew play and having the ability to coach Aaron is how fast they play the game. They have total command of their offenses, the ability to move through the progressions. They know exactly what they're getting whether it's the matchup or particular read or the coverage element. Their play speed is similar."

Would your sample size theory apply to defense as well, specifically the Saints defense?

"I think coach Spagnuolo does an excellent job. History will support that. I think they will improve each week. History will tell you that. Once again, we're staying true to the film, true to the personnel evaluation of their whole team, the defense in particular, so I'm sure they still have a few different wrinkles we haven't seen yet. That will be a part of the game Sunday."

The way Seattle came at you did you learn something about your offense that is good to learn early in the season?

"I thought they handled the adversity of it. That was one of the positives that came out of the game. We went in at halftime and clearly changed the path of how we were going to play against the Seahawks. I thought we were productive. The one failure is the red zone offense, kicking field goals instead of scoring touchdowns. I don't feel good about that."

Do you see any difference between Curtis Lofton and Jonathan Vilma?

"I think the comparison is that they are both very, very productive. I've had the opportunity to compete against Curtis Lofton when he was in Atlanta. We have a lot of respect for him. I think he has 35 or 36 tackles already this year. So, he's been very productive and that's definitely the case of the defense. Jonathan Vilma was clearly one of the quarterback type linebackers that have been in our game. You could see he was really in command of the Saints defense when we competed against him and those guys last year. The design is the defense puts a lot on those guys and we have respect for both of them. Curtis is having an extremely productive year."

Green Bay Packers Quarterback Aaron Rodgers

Conference Call with New Orleans Media

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

How do you know Drew Brees?

"We have known each other for a few years. Not this offseason, but the last couple, we worked out together in the offseason. We both live in Del Mar so I see him from time to time out there. We have been buddies for a few years now."

How much does it fuel you when you play a quarterback that has won Super Bowls and been to Pro Bowls?

"You know going in this game, like last year we when we played them in the opening game, you have to score some points because it is tough to stop Drew (Brees) and that offense. He has been one of the elite quarterbacks in the league the majority of his years starting, especially the last couple (seasons). He's put up incredible seasons. He's the kind of guys who can get hot and you just can't stop him. We have to pick our defense up. They've been playing really good and offensively we've been struggling. Hopefully this week we can help them out because we're going to need to score some points."

Why has your offense been struggling so much?

"We're trying to figure that out right now."

Are you taken back by the Saints' 0-3 start considering how well they've done the past few seasons?

"Yeah, I expected maybe both teams to be 3-0 at this point going in, but we both had some frustrating games. They've had a couple of real close ones and so have we. There's still a lot of the season left to go. They have a lot of pride on that team and a lot of talented players and so do we. It's going to be one of the 1-2 versus 0-3 matchups you're going to see."

How challenging is it to move past this last difficult game?

"You learn in this league that every loss is difficult. It's even more when it shouldn't have been a loss. We're moving forward and we know what kind of challenge the Saints pose this week. Being able to be around a good amount of those guys during the two Pro Bowls I've been to. That offense is able to put up a lot of points and their defense has a lot of talent as well. It's going to be a big test for us."

The Saints defense is off to a tough start. What types of challenges do you expect them to present this weekend?

"They have a lot of talented players. They have a new scheme, so every week they're going to be a little more comfortable and some different pieces with Curtis (Lofton) coming over from Atlanta and new guys playing a different role for them. When you look at the talent on the defense, we expect them to play well every week. We're not taking them lightly at all."

Does throwing yourself into the next week's challenge make it easier to put aside a tough loss?

"Yes, slightly, but that was a situation that hasn't happened in the NFL before. There have been some disputed issues throughout the first three weeks of the regular season, but I don't think anything has come close to that."

What do you guys say to try to move on considering this topic now has your team at the center of this controversy?

"The easy way to move forward is to look in the mirror and take ownership of the part you've played in the two losses. I personally have done that. I haven't played good in the first three weeks. If I had played better, we probably wouldn't have been in that position and wouldn't have allowed the refs to make the calls they made. There's a lot of blame to go around. I think for us it's better to focus on putting the blame on ourselves because we put ourselves in that position than trying to blame the refs, even though that call was bizarre."

Does it make it hard that it constantly on TV?

"Yeah, I don't really watch ESPN. I don't really watch a whole lot of stuff. I have plenty to keep me busy and hopefully the guys are doing the same with their preparations. I don't get a chance to watch that stuff and when it comes on, it is not something I am going to keep on the TV. I am busy watching the Brewers trying to make their run."

What is your experience with a Steve Spagnuolo defense and his style?

"I have a ton of respect for him. I think he is an excellent coach. I always have enjoyed the challenge of matching up against him, I haven't had a ton of opportunities but I've seen it first hand on a number of occasions as well as a backup. He is always coming up with new designs and ways to try to get guys free in my face, in the quarterback's face. I have a ton of respect for him and the way that he coaches. Obviously, he has done some great things with defenses over the years."

Is his ability to come up with new stuff why you are unable to judge what you are going to see with what you saw in the beginning of the season?

"I would say that, I can't speak for them but I know, offensively, we are still trying to figure out what our identity is going to be this year because every team is different. You have to adapt and evolve and try to improve on the things that you did last year and realize that people have been watching film and making adjustments. I am sure their defense is still trying to figure out exactly what combination coverages they like and personnel and scheme. We are still early in the season. We have to go into this game expecting them to play really well on both sides of the ball and we expect to play well also."

Did you expect your offensive identity to change from last year?

"I think every team is a new team. Every group of 53 is different. We have 14 or 15 new guys on the 53 and there is always a turnover. You try to incorporate the talent that you have and also cover for some of the things that may be missing as well. We had most of the guys come back on offense but we added Cedric Benson in the mix which gives us a different look in the backfield. We are just trying to figure out how we want to really attack teams and find out what's going to be the best route to get points on the board."

How much different is it preparing for this game last year and the season opener last year when there was so much hope to begin with?

"I think there is still a lot of hope here in Green Bay. Last year was exciting because we had the lockout and also we were coming off of Super Bowl season and playing the Saints, a big time team with a great atmosphere at Lambeau. This one is going to be also great atmosphere in a game that I think both teams need to have to get this thing back going the right direction. It's going to be a hyped up atmosphere and I am excited to be playing this one at home. It can pretty noisy down there, I know, in the Superdome. It is good to have this one at home."

Does the 0-3 and 1-2 records change anything at all?

"No, I don't think so."

Did you expect Seattle's pass rush to try to get to you as much as it did?

"I expected them to try to get to me. I didn't, maybe, expect it to be that effective."

Is that a point of emphasis that you hope offense deals with?

"Obviously, we want to cut down on the number of sacks and we all have to take our part in that. It's obviously a point of emphasis after last week."

You could say that the Packers are one game out of the last playoff spot with 13 games to go and the Saints are only two games out. Is that sugar-coating it or is that realistic?

"I would say that is realistic."

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