In this week's edition, the head coach discusses the family atmosphere in the locker room, Randall Cobb's smarts and Aaron Rodgers' responsibilities at the line of scrimmage, among other topics.
The Festival Foods Facebook question of the week is from Larry from Eau Claire, WI: How do you keep a family atmosphere inside the locker room?
I’ve always liked Mike Ditka’s quote, “You get what you tolerate.” Coaching a group of men requires a combination of what you tolerate and what you emphasize. To create a family atmosphere, you have to treat everybody like family. We keep the best interests of the individual at heart as long as they stay in line with the goals of the football team. The only rule I consistently reference with our team is, “No disrespect.” Respect is a two-way street, and it’s important for players, coaches and support staff to encounter that in every interaction that they have. I believe that encourages a family atmosphere.
Jason from San Jose, CA
Randall Cobb drawing a penalty on the kickoff by stepping out of bounds was brilliant. Do you dedicate special time to go over the complete rulebook with all the players? It obviously shows that it can lead to a competitive advantage.
It’s something we discuss when we review game situations. We have a game education segment in every team meeting throughout the spring and in training camp. We’re always reviewing different game scenarios with our players. It was an outstanding, heads-up play by Randall. I’ve never been part of a game in which that play occurred.
Michael from Green Bay, WI
Does Aaron Rodgers ever want to leave the game in that situation or do you make an executive decision?
In the past, I think Aaron would have been reluctant to leave because he loves to compete. However, he’s now at the point in his career in which he’s accomplished a lot, and he clearly understands what’s best for the team. He was very excited for Graham Harrell when I told him we were making the change at that point in the game. They have a very strong personal relationship. Aaron is a big fan of Graham’s, and he was excited to see him get in the game.
Q. You’re in the No. 2 position in the NFC now, which makes this week’s game in Minnesota very important. Are the players motivated by seeding positions?
That’s a great question for the players. I’m motivated to win. Specifically, I’m motivated to win division games. We always emphasize the importance of division games, and headed into the last week of the season we have the opportunity to sweep the division. It’s as simple as that. It’s also a good opportunity to go on the road and compete in a loud environment, not unlike what we may face in the playoffs. This is a great game to be a part of for a number of reasons, but most importantly, we need to go get a win.
Q. Is Aaron Rodgers’ role at the line of scrimmage growing?
I don’t think it can expand any further. Aaron has the most command at the line of scrimmage of any quarterback I’ve worked with. He’s excellent and it’s clearly a strength of his game. His physical skill set is taken for granted sometimes, and the touchdown throw to Randall Cobb against the Titans is as fine a play as you’ll see on the football field. However, what he’s able to do at the line of scrimmage is exceptional.
Q. Why is that important?
It’s important because of how we employ our personnel and the multitude of our offensive concepts. We utilize a complex offensive operation, and it’s not a system that we can just plug a quarterback in to run. In order to maximize its potential, we need a quarterback with Aaron’s ability. Sometimes in this game, there’s too much emphasis on play-calling, or the ability to make the right call. It’s not about being right, it’s about being better. An important aspect of our offense is the potential to have a better play at the line of scrimmage. We have the talent, particularly on the perimeter, that demands and allows us to play that way. We have an extremely talented perimeter group that needs to touch the football.
Q. Does Ryan Grant look quicker than he did last season?
He’s definitely fresher, and I think Ryan would tell you that. Running back is such a demanding position to play for a full season. It undoubtedly takes a toll on every running back’s body, but especially a back with his running style. He’s a downhill, forward-leaning runner who seeks contact. However, there is no doubt that he’s got a lot of spring in his step right now.
Q. What is it about DuJuan Harris that makes him a change-of-pace back?
His physical skill set. He presents a different challenge to defenders. He’s small at impact and he’s as quick as he is fast. DuJuan has the ability to put his foot down and lower his shoulder, and he also has the ability to make you miss. He’s unique and we haven’t had a runner with that skill set in my time here.
Q. What can you tell us about a fun, old-fashioned McCarthy family Christmas?
We have five kids, so Santa Claus will be working overtime at our house. We’ve been watching the traditional Christmas shows all week. Our 4-year-old, Gabrielle, is really into Christmas this year. She thinks it’s Christmas every day. It’s great to have our oldest daughter, Alex, home from college. The boys Jack and George, at 11 and 9, are at great ages and really enjoy this time of year. Our 1-year-old, Isabella, never stops. It’s going to be a great Christmas. I’m really looking forward to spending time with the family.
To see previous editions of "Tuesdays with McCarthy," click here.