Mike McCarthy doesn’t just say it at the podium. He says it to his team, too.
McCarthy preaches that the game of football is always about the fundamentals, and upon reviewing the latest game tape of his 6-0 Packers, he sees plenty of work that still needs to be done.
“This isn’t coachspeak here, but we have to improve,” McCarthy said on Monday. “It’s not exactly the way it’s supposed to look right now.”
McCarthy rattled off a handful of fundamental areas on which his team will continue to drill, particularly in their one padded practice per week on Thursdays. Tackling, timing and blocking fits will all get due attention following Sunday’s 24-3 victory over the Rams.
He didn’t spell it out, but a glance at the stat sheet makes it clear what McCarthy means. With better tackling, the Rams probably don’t gain 424 yards. With better run-blocking fits, the Packers average better than 3.0 yards per carry. Shore up those couple of drops in the passing game and the offense likely doesn’t get shut out in the second half.
“That’s the game of football. That’s the beauty of it. That’s the challenge,” McCarthy said. “It’s the challenge of chasing perfection and having your team show up and play with excellence.
“You just can’t lose sight of reality. It’s about winning. We’re 6-for-6 in that area.”
A division road game this week would seem to be the perfect backdrop for McCarthy to continue his push to clean things up.
The Packers have had their share of sharp efforts in Minnesota’s Metrodome – such as last year’s 31-3 triumph – and some not-so-sharp ones – like a last-second loss in 2008.
“You really have to detail your work when you go in there,” McCarthy said. “You have to get ready for that surge of energy that most dome teams throw on you. There’s a lot of added salt to this one, always will be, and that’s the way we’re approaching it.”
The Packers could be without a couple of defensive regulars this week. Nickel cornerback Sam Shields sustained a concussion on his ill-fated attempt to run an interception out of the end zone on Sunday, so his availability will be subject to the league-mandated concussion protocol.
Also, outside linebacker Frank Zombo, who played in his first game of the season Sunday after recovering from a broken shoulder blade, hyperextended his knee and will be evaluated further on Wednesday, when the team returns to the practice field.
Otherwise, right tackle Bryan Bulaga’s return from a knee injury and safety Morgan Burnett’s first game with the club-cast on his broken hand both went well against the winless Rams.
The Vikings are 1-5 and could be making a change at quarterback from veteran Donovan McNabb to rookie first-round draft pick Christian Ponder, but McCarthy has no concerns his team will overlook Minnesota, even with a bye week coming up.
“That’s really a tribute to our locker room,” McCarthy said. “It’s a mature team. I know we have 10 rookies, but I like the way they work.” Additional coverage - Oct. 17