McCarthy excited about Packers' future
By Mark Concannon
February 9, 2011
Mike McCarthy has joined the elite ranks of NFL head coaches who have won Super Bowl championships but doesn't expect to be treated any differently by the people of Green Bay.
"I'm still gonna go to Starbucks every morning," McCarthy said at his season-ending press conference Wednesday at Lambeau Field. "I had a cup with 'congratulations' written on it this morning. That was nice."
McCarthy said that, while the fan response from all over America has been "overwhelming" and "it would take a month to respond to everyone," he stressed that the new season had already begun.
It is a season that hangs in the balance with the league's collective bargaining agreement set to expire in early March.
"We have to prepare for the known," McCarthy said. "The first order of business is the draft. This year we're going to fully concentrate on the draft immediately with our coaching staff and make it a higher priority. Because that's an absolute. That's gonna happen."
McCarthy, already legendary for his extensive and effective preparation, said his biggest concern was the inability to plan a definitive spring schedule because of the labor situation. He has spoken with the team's strength coaches about staying in touch with players in the event that a lockout would push back the timetable for off season activities or training camp.
"The players are gonna get ready to play," McCarthy said. We'll communicate with them the best we can."
McCarthy was asked about the proposal to extend the regular season to 18 games, which could be part of the new collective bargaining agreement.
"I know what the company line is," McCarthy said. "But you're talking to the guy who just barely made it through 16 games. You can figure it out for yourself. If we go to 18 games, my training camp schedule would definitely change."
McCarthy said he sees a lot of areas where his championship team can get better.
"There's plenty to improve on. We're not perfect as a football team just because we won the world championship."
McCarthy relished the possibility that some of his key players lost to injury would return next season to join a cast that played well in their own right.
"We were the best football team in the NFL and we lost a lot of talent to injuries. Sometimes the most talented team doesn't win. We have an opportunity to start the season as a very talented football team but we have to make sure we're the best football team."
McCarthy said that Aaron Rodgers' superb performance in the regular season and especially during the playoffs will get plenty of attention from opposing defensive coordinators.
"He's gonna have to answer that call every week," McCarthy said. "Aaron's challenge, like everybody else's, is handling success. I have all the confidence in the world in him. He's a consistent young man."
McCarthy said that linebacker A.J. Hawk is the only player who definitely needs surgery at this point. He'll have an arthroscopic procedure on his wrist. The coach also revealed that wide receiver Jordy Nelson suffered a bursar sac injury to his knee during the Super Bowl, played through it in the 4th quarter but would not need surgery.
The Packers have 15 unrestricted free agents, with defensive end Cullen Jenkins a desirable commodity in the football marketplace.
"I've enjoyed coaching him, he's a very good fit for our defense," McCarthy said of Jenkins. "Continuity is great but change happens in this business," said McCarthy who also acknowledged other teams may look at hiring away some of his assistants.
But regardless of who takes the field for the Packers next season, McCarthy is confident that those players will respond to his message.
"They get the truth. It comes from the heart. There's a belief in how we operate. We were a very consistent football team. I think that's why we won the Super Bowl championship."
McCarthy said he's gotten an enthusiastic response from many people in his hometown of Pittsburgh, despite the fact that his Packers beat the Steelers.
"My parents are traveling back there. I hope the house is still standing."
McCarthy and the rest of the organization now head for an offseason full of uncertainty but he is certain about what his team just accomplished, securing a place in Packer history.
"We'll all be connected together through this championship for the rest of our lives."