GREEN BAY – Mike McCarthy spent 20 minutes on SiriusXM NFL Radio with Adam Schein and his old friend Rich Gannon Wednesday, and the Green Bay Packers coach talked about everything from the team’s eight draft picks to the season-ending playoff loss to the New York Giants to his trip to Los Angeles earlier this week to watch veteran wide receiver Donald Driver compete on Dancing With the Stars.
In the interview, McCarthy praised fourth-round safety Jerron McMillian; said seventh-round quarterback B.J. Coleman “definitely has NFL arm talent;” reiterated that tackling and ball security will be major emphases in training camp; vowed not to put too much on NFL MVP quarterback Aaron Rodgers after his phenomenal 2011 season; and sounded as if the team did not anticipate an eight-game suspension for defensive end Anthony Hargrove for his role in the New Oreleans Saints bounty scandal.
Here is an edited transcript of McCarthy’s appearance:
(Recap the rookie orientation camp and what you saw from your draft picks) Nick Perry, he’s a very powerful young man. To learn the particulars of playing that position from Kevin Greene, it’s going to be a fun process to watch. Kevin’s played that position as good or better than anybody’s ever played the outside linebacker position in the 3-4. Nick is off to a great start.
Jerel Worthy, that first step, that was really what I wanted to see in person. That was something that really jumped out to us on film. So I definitely feel he’ll have an impact inside and will help us immediately on the defensive line.
Casey Hayward, he’s going to have an opportunity to compete. I liked the way he moved around. Frankly, we put in two defenses, so we didn’t do a whole lot, but to see the movement skills (was important).
Mike Daniels didn’t practice because we were just being smart with his shoulder.
Jerron McMillian really jumped off (the film). I thought he had one of the more impressive three days of practices.
Terrell Manning was really in charge, commanded the huddle very well, I think you’ll see his ability to play sideline to sideline and things like that.
And the two offensive guys, I’m excited about both those guys. Andrew Datko is a young man from Florida State that would definitely be able to play four of the five positions on the offensive line for us. And B.J. Coleman threw the ball very well, so I was very impressed with his reps and what he was able to pick up in the classroom.
(What the Packers liked about Coleman) He definitely has NFL arm talent. We just trusted our board. We had him rated a lot higher than the seventh round. Just the fact that we traded to move up and down, our spacing in between (picks) was different than we’ve ever had. There were times when we were 56 picks away. It was just great to see B.J. still on the board when we were picking.
(fundamentals he plans emphasize in his practices this season) The game of football, in my view, will always come down to fundamentals. You only have so much time, so how are you going to break that time up? Really, the two biggest things we’re going to spend more time on is tackling and handling the football. You have a regular season schedule that you play, and the postseason is obviously the most important because you’re fighting all year to get into that post-season. We were the best team in football throughout the regular season. But you have to play your best football at the end of the year. Our issues were fundamental. We had some of that recurring throughout the year. I’m talking more about the tackling.
In the Giants’ playoff game we did not handle the football very well at all, as poor as we’ve played in that area in quite some time. Those are the things that I really focus on. We did a lot of positive things on defense, as far as taking the football away. We’ve talked about the pass rush. We’ve talked about the pass coverage. Those are things that the coaching staff has looked in the mirror – how did we utilize the players last year, how can we better utilize them this year? We have players here who are currently here that have to get better through the offseason programs. I am confident they will do that. I don’t like the attitude that we drafted six new rookies and all of sudden everything is fixed. That is not the case. That’s false expectations putting on these rookies. We need to improve from within. That has been our strength every single year. That will be no different this year. And this rookie class needs to come in and compete and contribute to our success.
(Changes to the offseason program, especially QB school and kickers/punters) I’m hopeful and optimistic that they’ll adjust the future rules for the quarterbacks and for your kickers and punters. To have your kickers and putners here throughout the program, and we have to make arrangements with St. Norbert College and Notre Dame High School for (them) to kick the football. And on top of that, hope for good weather. That’s not practical.
(offensive line) (Josh Sitton and T.J. Lang) are one of the best pairs in the business, and Bryan Bulaga is on the verge of being a Pro Bowler. I like our offensive line. It’s a young group that has grown.
(DWTS) I had a chance to go out there and see Donald and his family. It was a great experience just to be part of the show and spend time with Donald and his family before and afterwards. He’s doing great. It was a lot of fun.
(What was it like live) A lot of clapping. A lot of standing up and clapping. It was fun, though. It was very entertaining. ABC does a great job. I enjoyed it. We had a good group go out there. We had Aaron Rodgers, Clay Matthews, Rob Davis and Edgar Bennett and their wives. We had a really good time. It was fun.
(Anthony Hargrove, did you know he’d be suspended, any idea what his role was in bounties when you signed him) I don’t think anybody really had any idea exactly the involvement and what the discipline was going to be. That’s really what the situation is. It’s a league matter. This is new territory for us. We’ve never been through something like this. We’re just paying attention to what the league is doing. But at the end of the day, it’s a league matter.
(Can Rodgers improve from MVP season) My number one focus for Aaron – and it’s something Tom Clements and I and also Ben McAdoo who is now coach of the quarterbacks, we have talked about it since Day 1 – is really don’t make him do too much. I think it’s an easy trap to fall into when you are planning your offensive vision for the season, because he played at such a high level. Now, we have some things we are going to do that are new that he’s excited about. But he’s back at it. He’s going through the fundamentals. I hate to give you bad news, Rich – he’s crushed all your records in quarterback school. … He looks great and we look for Aaron to have another big season.
(safety) I feel good about it. Really the thing with the safeties and the corners, with Charles Woodson having the ability to play safety or even corner, it’s really a combination of how many guys are going to come out of that group. Is it five and five? Six and four, with the corners and safeties? With Charles playing so many different positions … I really like the group. Morgan Burnett, I think he’s ready to be a front-line starter and contributor. And I really like our young guys. And Charlie Peprah played almost a thousand reps for us there last year. So we’ve got a lot of depth there, a lot of experience, and three young guys who are going to compete. I think that’s definitely a position to watch.
(Levine and Jennings) Whether you keep four or five (safeties), there’s going to be tough decisions to make there. … Those guys have done a great job, and (they’re) people you don’t really know about. I think it’s their time to step up and compete for the 53.
(staff) I look at the staff very much the way we look at the roster. You want to be able to create growth for your staff, and we’ve been able to do that offensively. Jerry Fontenot’s coaching his third position, Ben McAdoo is coaching his second. Tom has been a coordinator before. We have a plan in place for what we’re going to do on game day, and it’ll be seamless. That’s what the offseason is for. We’ve had those conversations, and we talk about the in-season responsibilities immediately when the season is over. We’re just like the players.
(loss to the Giants) It’s a learning experience. That’s really how I have it filed away. There’s winning and (there’s) learning. There are definitely things we all can learn from from that game, and we need to apply it to our training and make sure we are ready when we are in those types of situations again.
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