McCarthy: Rodgers Was Right Move
GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) -- Too many things went wrong for the Green Bay Packers this season, and coach Mike McCarthy will spend the coming days and weeks figuring out what needs to change.
Coordinators and other assistant coaches may be fired. Offensive and defensive schemes will be rethought. Even things that worked OK will come under scrutiny.
But one thing McCarthy won't spend time second-guessing is the decision to go with first-year starter Aaron Rodgers at quarterback.
"I think we definitely made the right move at the quarterback position," McCarthy said Wednesday, in his season-ending news conference. "I was pleased with the productivity from the quarterback position. From an individual standpoint, I think Aaron Rodgers played a very steady, steady level -- which was a high level, based on his statistics. He's given us a baseline, a standard that we'll hold him to."
But as definitive as McCarthy was about Rodgers on Wednesday, he was equally vague about the future of some of his assistants. McCarthy didn't rule out staff changes but insisted he hasn't decided what moves -- if any -- he will make.
McCarthy says he needs to gather more information before making big decisions. After conducting exit interviews with players on Monday and Tuesday, McCarthy planned to meet with coordinators later Wednesday.
"(We're) 6-10," McCarthy said. "My name's on the front door. It's not what we were looking for, it's not what we prepared for. I'm not satisfied, and I'll start from the top down. It's evaluation time now, I had an opportunity to meet with the players and we'll look at every aspect of our program."
There has been a great deal of speculation about the job security of defensive coordinator Bob Sanders and special teams coordinator Mike Stock after the Packers took a major step backward in both areas -- a major reason why the team lost a seven games by four points or less.
An inability to overcome significant injuries also played a major role.
"I think injuries play a big part in potential success in our league, it definitely makes you go different directions than you probably would've initially before the injuries, but to me that's all part of the landscape of the National Football League," McCarthy said. "It's all part of the chess match or the journey through an NFL season. It's no excuse. You could make a case that we probably didn't overcome our injuries as well as we should've."
Should McCarthy fire Sanders, he could look outside the organization for a replacement or give the job to assistant head coach Winston Moss. But Moss, who also coaches the Packers' linebackers, will soon interview for the St. Louis Rams' head coaching job.
While not looking forward to the possibility of replacing Moss -- either this year or down the road -- McCarthy offered words of encouragement.
"I'll do the best I can to help him prepare," McCarthy said. "I think it's a great opportunity, it's well deserved. Ted and I both (and) as an organization wish him the best of luck."
While coaching staff changes are only a possibility at this point, player changes are certain. McCarthy said he expects 20 percent of the roster to be different next season.
The Packers again were the youngest team in the league this season, but McCarthy doesn't expect that to last.
"I think we'd be hard-pressed to be the youngest team in the league next year," McCarthy said. "I think what's nice about our team, we talk about the offensive line, how many starts those guys have in three years. I think the most important aspect of our football team is our experience level is increasing. And they are still young. And I think that's exciting."
But even with veteran defensive back Charles Woodson openly lobbying for the team to sign some veteran free agents this offseason, McCarthy doesn't necessarily draw a straight line from the team's youth to a lack of leadership and all those close losses.
"I think we have exceptional leadership by example, and that was confirmed," McCarthy said. "Now, do we have the guy that's out there screaming and yelling and so forth? Maybe we don't. Is that why you're winning games or not winning games? I mean, those are convenient things. And I think those are things you've got to watch because when you lose, everything is wrong. I stood up here last year and everything in the world was right. And I knew that it wasn't all right last year. That's why you take the time to go through all the evaluations."
That said, McCarthy doesn't want fans to mistake his deliberate decision process for a lack of accountability.
"I don't think anybody in the Green Bay Packers organization is flippant about what just happened here," McCarthy said. "I'm the head coach. I was given an opportunity to coach and we won six games. I clearly understand the responsibilities of the great organization I'm working at. It's not acceptable. I'm not satisfied. There are reasons why we're here. You correct them as we move forward."
Notes: McCarthy said LT Chad Clifton is scheduled to have surgery on at least one, and perhaps both, of his knees after spending much of the season sitting out practices. McCarthy characterized the surgeries as relatively minor, calling them "clean-out" procedures. ... McCarthy said the team's medical staff is "redoing" studies of DT Justin Harrell's lower back, and the injury will be re-evaluated in the offseason. ... McCarthy said S Atari Bibgy had surgery on his ankle, and RT Mark Tauscher will have knee surgery in 10-14 days.
(Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)