In this week's "Tuesdays with McCarthy," the head coach discusses playing on Thanksgiving, adversity football and sideline heaters, among other topics.
Three fan questions will be selected each week and presented to Coach McCarthy. Go to the Green Bay Packers' official Facebook page on Monday mornings to post your question.
Wyatt from Valencia, CA
Q. How is preparation different during the week with only three full days to prepare?
The difference with the short week is in our physical preparation, because you have to be smart with the players’ workload. We’ll have practices today and Wednesday before we fly to Detroit, but they’ll be shorter because we have to monitor the stress we’re putting on the players’ bodies. As it pertains to the coaching staff, it helps that our opponent on a short week is in the same division because we already know so much about them. We took some time during the bye week and the eight-day week leading into the Monday night game against Minnesota to do some early work on the Detroit game plan. We’ve been able to finalize the plan over the last couple of days. We received the film of Detroit’s last game, against Carolina, late Sunday evening and the coaches stayed here to review it. It will be a quick work week, but we took advantage of any opportunities we had to get a head start and we will be ready.
Doug from Marquette, MI
Q. Why is play-action so effective?
To be effective, the play-action has to look like the run. That’s how I would define it. You want to get the initial reaction of the defense to be playing their run responsibilities, followed by a transition into their pass responsibilities. The hope is that by the time the defense makes that transition, the receivers and protection unit have gained an advantage for a potential successful pass play.
Joan from Wausau, WI
Q. What did the win over the Bucs mean to the team?
The team has high standards. There are interesting dynamics in the locker room. I think everybody is very in tune with the two goals every week – winning and quality of play. Everybody felt good about the win, and we’re 10-0, but the quality of play was not what we’re looking for. We played very well against Minnesota. However, we didn’t reach that level against Tampa Bay. We were able to handle adversity well, and that’s a positive. We have faced some adverse situations throughout the season and again versus Tampa, and I think that’s healthy. It reveals the character of your team, and our guys answered the bell.
Q. In the postgame press conference you mentioned “adversity is good for us.” Why?
Because you can’t teach it and you can’t coach it. It’s a variable that’s important to winning that you can’t create on the practice field. The only way to actually get adversity experience is game action. There are certain situations in any game, whether it’s a key fourth down, your defense in the red zone or after a turnover, or the offense needing to respond with a long drive, that are great character-builders for your team. You’re foolish not to take the opportunity to learn and grow from adversity and use it as valued experience. Anytime you gain experience like that, it’s an investment toward success.
Q. Tackling seems to be a leaguewide issue. Why?
I can’t speak leaguewide, but there are times in my career I’ve felt – and I don’t have statistics to quantify this – that when the temperature goes down, there is an increase in the lack of fundamentals. Guys tend to lose their fundamentals and tackle higher. We will emphasize, like we do every week, low tackling. Our tackling was too high in Sunday’s game. We played a big running back and we weren’t wrapping with our arms and we were tackling too high. Those are basic fundamentals that we work on all the time. We do a good job of coaching it and I think our players are good tacklers, but we didn’t do that very well as a team on Sunday.
Q. What’s your philosophy on sideline heaters and such?
The use of heaters on the sideline doesn’t bother me. There’s a fine line between being ignorant and being tough. If you’re able to keep your body warm and display toughness on the field while performing at a high level, that’s what matters. I’m not interested in seeing guys freeze while trying to be tough. I mean no disrespect to the philosophies of the past. It is important to realize there’s a difference between keeping warm and staying in the game mentally and keeping warm and being mentally absent. I don’t like a bunch of guys hovering around the heaters by themselves not focused on the game. You have to make sure you’re in the game. If you need heaters and hats, use them, but stay in the game. If anything, we have the opposite issue; our guys crowd the sideline too much. They want to be part of the game. We talk about boundary discipline and awareness a lot.
Q. What does the team need to do to be 1-0 on Thanksgiving?
Stay true to our identity and understand the challenges that the opponent is going to create. It’s as simple as that every week. It’s an honor to play in this game. There’s nothing like Thanksgiving and what it stands for, and the National Football League has always been part of that day. As long as I can remember, I was watching Detroit and Dallas play on Thanksgiving. Now, having the opportunity to play in the game, I enjoy it. It’s an advantage to the home team, but I don’t feel it’s a huge disadvantage for us because it’s a short trip. If you’re able to be part of any NFL tradition, it’s an honor. The game is still a big division game, but I think it’s a big game because it’s Thanksgiving and what that day means to everybody.
Q. What is your favorite Thanksgiving memory?
Every year my mother would start cooking early in the morning. We’d eat the meal between the first and second game, and then at halftime of the second game we’d go back to get more food. I probably caught a nap or two in between meals as well. The memories revolve around having our family together. A few times we’d travel to Syracuse to see my Aunt Edie and her family and that was always a fun trip. We were always together as a family on Thanksgiving. I have great memories of Thanksgiving as a kid.
Q. What will you personally give thanks for this year?
I always start with my family. I’m very blessed to have my children, my wife, my parents and my siblings in my life. Personally, my cup runneth over. Professionally, I’m thankful for the opportunity to work here in Green Bay, for the players and coaches and what they stand for as people. They are tremendous representatives of not only the Packers, but of their families. I’m very thankful.
For last week's "Tuesdays with McCarthy," click here.