Mike McCarthy conducts end-of-year press conference: Difficult season; looking ahead

Not a whole lot of breaking news came of Green Bay Packers Coach Mike McCarthy’s season ending press conference late this afternoon, though he did  say his former MVP, Aaron Rodgers, has (health) “issues” and didn’t pass the physical to play in the Pro Bowl

As an aside, one has to wonder if Rodgers isn’t real disappointed that he’s skipping that joke of a game in Hawaii, given how he ripped his fellow players last year for their lack of effort. One thing is for sure, his head coach and staff will be there – they’ve been assigned once again to coach the fiasco.

But back to McCarthy’s press conference: He talked about the disappointment of losing to the 49ers “the better team;” he talked about the issue of injuries; he talked about the problems of training a football team in this day and age of the new collective bargaining agreement which limits the number of “padded” practices; he gave a vote of confidence (but not a full vote) toward defensive coordinator Dom Capers, saying he trusted him and respected his experience; he said he was very pleased with the play of tight end Jermichael Finley the last part of the season, making one believe that the talented player will be back to play for the Packers in the final year of his contract.

Looking a bit peaked, but relieved to be moving forward, McCarthy said just enough to make one walk away with these impressions: He likes the talent he has at his disposal, but isn’t happy with the way the season transpired, especially with the injuries; He is happy with the way his MVP quarterback played, but indicated he had some physical issues at the end that the coach hopes are resolved; and he’s looking forward to evaluating each and every player and coach and getting on with the management of his team in the offseason.

It will be a challenge for McCarthy to get back to the Super Bowl. He said as much.

“Had the opportunity to speak to every player throughout Sunday and Monday,” he said. “… looking back on the season … lot of adversity, but one thing that I really appreciate about this football team was its ability to respond. Every time we encountered adversity through injuries, through a loss, we lined up the next week and responded. The goal around here is not to win 12 games, to win division championships. The goal here will always be the same … so I do appreciate the support, concern and understand the disappointment of the fans. But this is the best organization in all of professional sports. We have the resources, we’ll make the right decisions as we move forward.”

McCarthy also said that much of what is brought out through meetings with coaches and players over the course of the next few days will “be applied” toward making improvements to the team.

Dom Capers (left) shares some words with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell.
Raymond T. Rivard photograph

On Dom Capers, the beleaguered defensive coordinator, McCarthy was adamant that there would be no knee-jerk reactions to any decisions made about his coaching staff. But when asked specifically if Capers would be back as his defensive coordinator, McCarthy said, “I’m not making [any] decisions but I feel very confident that Dom Capers is going to be our defensive coordinator. But I think it’s totally premature to make those types of … that’s what knee-jerk, reactive people do. You don’t make crazy decisions like that, especially a man of Dom Capers ability, his experience. I trust him. The level of responsibility he has with our coaching staff, and I think it’s ridiculous that I have to answer the question, frankly. I’m appalled by it. There’s a process that goes [on]. I would not do my job, I would not fulfill my responsibility if I didn’t look at the job Dom Capers has done, the job Mike McCarthy’s done, what Tom Clements has done, all the way down, and I can promise you that’s what’s going to happen. I don’t dig the drama stuff, and I get the concern. We have great fans, but there’s no decisions going to be made today, and we have never operated that way and never will … our process has already started there’s no decision on anybody. I have great faith and respect for Dom Capers and all our coaches …”

He did say the defense was going to be first up when he begins his evaluations at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning.

Looking ahead to next year and considering how his team might have a different look next year, McCarthy said, “change is constant … it’s around 20 percent on how your roster changes each year … that will probably hold true again this year. We’re a draft and develop football team …”

On the ultimate goal of the Super Bowl, McCarthy talked about the difficulty in achieving it. “I think … once you get there how hard it is to win one … the excitement, the youthfulness … look back on it look back on everything involved in it. One of the biggest challenges in this business is handling success. How the individuals handle winning the Super Bowl and a 15-1 season  and now this year is factored into how your locker room operates, it’s a factor in how your coaching staff operates, it’s a factor in how your personnel department operates, so success changes people. You always want to make sure it’s for the best and that’s … not always true.”

And with that, McCarthy was gone to the inner sanctum of 1265 Lombardi Avenue to begin anew; to look at how he can best improve the Green Bay Packers.

The silence that is the offseason for most football coaches, aside from the occasional snippets of information that leak out through beat writers or bloggers, it’s time now for everyone to take a breath, enjoy what has been and look toward late July and early August when the players – old and new – once again take to the field in 32 cities across America.

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