Packers head coach Mike McCarthy is widely perceived as an offensive-minded head coach. But the high praise for his defense that McCarthy emphasized in his Monday press conference the day after his team’s 10-3 playoff-clinching win over the Bears altered that perception a bit.
“I think it’s important for your team to be noted for great defense,” McCarthy said of the defensive credo he adheres to more than any one football concept. “Our scoring defense being No. 2 in the league speaks volumes as to the progress we’ve made from last year to this year. It all starts with defense. I’ve always looked at defense as the thermostat. It’s what keeps you in games week in and week out. I definitely believe that great defenses win championships.”
McCarthy traces his staunch commitment to defense back to his coaching experiences in Kansas City under former Chiefs head coach Marty Schottenheimer.
“I’ve been around football long to enough to realize that if you have great defense, you’re in every game. It controls what’s going on. I don’t know exactly when it came to me, but that has always been my opinion as a head coach.”
Dom Capers’ defense matched the Bears’ strong unit hit for hit Sunday, registering an impressive six sacks while keeping QB Jay Cutler under constant pressure.
“Just to watch the system go from year one to year two has been very impressive,” McCarthy said. “They (the staff) have done a great job with a number of different players. Rookie free agents. … the guys we’ve acquired in midseason … there’s been some excellent coaching this season.”
As expected, McCarthy was asked to give an early scouting report on the Eagles, the Packers’ playoff opponent this Sunday. The two teams faced off way back in Week One in a 27-20 victory that featured a statement-making bullpen performance from eventual league MVP candidate Michael Vick.
“I think they’re well-coached. Andy (Reid) has done a fantastic job, with the success he’s had,” McCarthy said. “They play in an excellent division. Michael Vick is playing the best football of his career, and they really challenge you schematically.
"They are a very energetic, dynamic football team, and this will be a big challenge for us.”
What follows is a brief rundown of other key moments in McCarthy’s press conference:
• McCarthy was not happy at all with the way Green Bay’s offense handled the ball and seemed especially perturbed over the four dropped passes on Sunday.
• McCarthy praised C Scott Wells. “He is having his best year in my time with him,” McCarthy said. "He has graded out as the highest offensive linemen week in and week out.”
• McCarthy on his team’s playoff chances: “We’re one of six. Our football team is very confident we can be successful against any of the other five teams. We’ve pretty much played two playoff games already with the Giants and Chicago. We feel very comfortable about our chances."