GREEN BAY – Coach Mike McCarthy closed the book on the 2015 season with a tell-all press conference on Monday that touched on subjects ranging from Eddie Lacy’s weight to the development of popular wide receiver Jeff Janis.
First, however, came the definitive question left over from Saturday’s divisional-round playoff loss in Arizona. Should McCarthy have gone for two and the win?
“You consider all your options. The two-point conversion was definitely an option, but it wasn’t the right option. From my viewpoint, you have to take in the flow of the game. The way our defense was playing, I had great confidence in stopping Arizona’s offense. Where we were with our young receivers and the two-point plays available, I wasn’t comfortable,” McCarthy said.
Topic No. 2: Who’ll call plays in 2016?
“I’ll be calling plays from here on in,” McCarthy said. “That obviously was a big change. What I was trying to accomplish as far as being a balanced, well-rounded football team, I felt that part was accomplished. We did not get it done on offense,” McCarthy added of his decision last winter to turn play-calling duties over to former offensive coordinator Tom Clements, which allowed McCarthy to spend more time with special teams and the defense.
“It really wasn’t about Tom. It wasn’t about Tom calling plays. Tom is a valued assistant coach and I fully anticipate him being back,” McCarthy added.
McCarthy was grilled by the media on overtime losses (2007, ’09, ’14 and this past Saturday) in the postseason. The question was framed as the Packers not being able to “get over the hump” in the postseason.
“Your question is not practical to the game of football. Each one of these teams I’ve coached is different. We put ourselves into position to win games. I thought our team was really prepared for this game (Arizona). It’s about big plays. Big plays in the NFL are really no different than the fundamental attack. You have to make big plays to be successful,” McCarthy said.
A run of injuries at the wide receiver position, beginning with the loss of star receiver Jordy Nelson in the preseason, lessened the effectiveness of the Packers’ passing game. It also caused defenses to load up against the run.
“To have a successful passing game, you have to have big targets that can run through the middle of the field. When you don’t have that, you see what we saw this year. They’re going to add an extra player to the box. That’s the biggest commitment you can make to the run, and that’s what we saw all season,” McCarthy said.
As for the running game, McCarthy challenged star running back Eddie Lacy to improve his offseason conditioning.
“Eddie Lacy has a lot of work to do. I think I’m stating the obvious. His offseason last season was not good enough. He has to get it done. He cannot play at the weight he did this year,” McCarthy said.
Clay Matthews’ role in 2016?
“My goal for Clay is for him to play outside linebacker. He’s an outside linebacker. We didn’t get back to him playing there. That’s the goal. We’ll see what the offseason brings,” the Packers’ head coach said.
Aaron Rodgers’ passer rating, down dramatically from last season?
“This is the most adversity he’s had to play through since ’08. I thought he did a heckuva job dealing with it,” McCarthy said.
“You look for players to take a jump in their second season, and some do it at different points in their second season. They need to earn their opportunities. I thought he struggled in the preseason, frankly. He picked it up on special teams and he had a helluva year on special teams. As a receiver, he was inconsistent. He had a tremendous game against Arizona,” McCarthy said.
Wide receiver Davante Adams and tight end Richard Rodgers?
“Both of those guys need to make a jump. I would say those guys definitely need to step up,” the coach said.
McCarthy said Randall Cobb was on his way back to Green Bay from Arizona, where he was admitted to a hospital for observation after sustaining a chest injury in Saturday night’s game.
“Our team will sleep well because they put everything they had into that football game,” McCarthy said. “We don’t have a loser mentality here. We take full responsibility for the expectations here. We’re not afraid to talk about winning world championships. We were a successful football team this year. We just didn’t reach the level we wanted to attain.”
McCarthy added, “We’ll change. There will be changes.”