Green Bay Packers Head Coach Mike McCarthy took to the podium at the NFL Combine in Indianapolis, Ind., today, Friday, Feb. 22, to say that he will continue to call the offensive plays next season and to reiterate the obvious – that the San Francisco 49ers will be their target next year.
Not that the Packers won’t consider the other 15 games as important pieces of their sixth most-difficult schedule, but McCarthy said that for the Packers to show improvement, win the North Division and play deeper into the NFL Playoffs, they’ve got to find the answer in beating the Niners, the team the ousted them in last year’s Divisional Round.
“San Francisco had a great year, beat us twice and will definitely be a focus for us this off-season,” he told reporters while spending about 15 minutes answering questions about the offseason, the Combine, the Draft and the future direction of the Packers.
That’s not a lot of time to provide engaging answers, but McCarthy, as is just about anybody, was freer with his comments than was Packers’ GM Ted Thompson who addressed the media earlier this morning.
McCarthy talked about losing Donald Driver to retirement and the cutting loose of Charles Woodson, he called out the running game and the defense, he said all of his players would have to step up as leaders next year, he talked specifically about the injury recovery road of Derek Sherrod and Jerel Worthy, and clarified that the Packers would not be running the read-option with Aaron Rodgers as quarterback.
“You don’t replace a Charles Woodson. You don’t replace a Donald Driver … [there will be] leadership opportunities for every man in that locker room,” he said about Woodson and Driver and moving ahead without them; on the running game, he said, ”We definitely need to do a better job”; on the leadership issue he said, Rodgers has to continue to grow as a leader, Matthews does so with his play, and that Sitton, Bulaga, Nelson, and Cobb all took big steps as leaders last year; on the defense, he made mention of the team’s final game of the year: “579 is a number that will stick in our focus as a defense this off-season” and that the defensive staff is going to visit Texas A&M in the offseason to learn how to better defend it.
He went on to describe how the Packers will be chasing the Niners this year: The difference in the second game was the production of their quarterback, he said, adding that ”San Francisco had a great year, beat us twice and will definitely be a focus for us this off-season.”
On Sherrod: “He’s there every day. I see him in training room every day. Surgery was a success and it’s what he needed.” And he doubled up the injury report by talking about Worthy: ”Training camp is definitely going to be a stretch because of the timing of his injury.”
So, with their obligatory comments finished and the workouts at the Combine looming, both Thompson and McCarthy can now focus on the evaluating work ahead of them and their staff. The offseason progresses and judging from McCarthy’s comments, the Packers are focused on the future, not the past.