Philadelphia Eagles News

Game Vs. Packers: Packers HC Mike McCarthy

Opening statement: "I'll start off with our injuries. (WR) Donald Driver has a bruised knee. Just an overall outlook of the football game, we just want to congratulate the Philadelphia Eagles on a great year. We have so much respect for them as an organization and what Andy Reid's done here over the last decade. So to come in here, to this environment, is a big win for us. I'm very proud of our football team and the way we played in all three phases, coming down to the end with the big turnover for our defense. So with that I'll take your questions."

On how confident he was in his defense on the last drive: "Oh very confident. You know, we talked about it all week, just to keep them out of the end zone. They're a big play offense and I thought (defensive coordinator) Dom (Capers) really did a great job of sticking to the plan and with the coverage and pressure, in particular there in the red area, with the amount of pressure he was able to bring with the red zone blitz to keep them out of the end zone. They're an explosive offense and you hope you hold them under 20, we felt very good about that. We would like to have some point production on offense, that's always the case. When you put 21 on the board, we're very confident in our defense we're going to come out of the thicket."

On the performance of RB James Starks: "James Starks is just a fine young man, very talented young man, just hasn't played a lot of football over the last two years and that's really been the biggest challenge. And everybody knows his story coming off of PUP and we've just been trying to get him ready, had a couple packages in the game plan today for running the football. He established a hot hand early and I rode it. So, we're very proud of him individually, it really speaks volumes about our offensive line and I thought we did a very good job playing on their side of the line of scrimmage and James did a good job of hitting the holes and running after the first hit and so forth. Very talented young man, he's got a lot of football in front of him."

On if he encouraged QB Aaron Rodgers to be patient:"Absolutely. I mean look who we're playing. We're playing in Philadelphia, it's a credit to their organization, just the crowd noise, the atmosphere. We did a very good job with communication, we didn't have the pre-snap penalties, didn't handle the ball probably as well as we would have liked with the two turnovers. But our communication was excellent today. So we knew we were going to have to be patient, take what they give us. They played us pretty conservative from a pressure standpoint, third down was more of their pressure down. Played a lot of quarters, they played with a lot of patience on defense, we had to do the same thing. So just a couple conversions here, we probably would have had more production. This is a tough place to play, clearly one of the tougher places to play in the National Football League, in my opinion."

On this being a milestone win for QB Aaron Rodgers: "Milestone? That's what you talk about. We don't look at it that way, I think you know that. Gosh, I just don't know why we have to talk about that today. We're just getting started. This is the first round, we've established ourselves as a football team. We won a big game here in Philadelphia versus a championship caliber program. And we have the opportunity to go to Atlanta, so we're excited about playing the number one seed down there. Aaron's got a lot of football left in front of him. He's going to be playing for a long time, and I think those conversations should be talked about at the end in my opinion."

On his ability to contain QB Michael Vick and WR DeSean Jackson: "Well, you can't take them all away. And I'll tell you, they're dynamic. Just the week of preparation, was just very impressive. The statistics speak for themselves and just the ability to run the ball, you just got to keep Michael contained, that's hard. He caught us a couple times in a four man rush and was able to get out of the pocket. And he's so dangerous with the ball against the space. They did a good job blocking us up with a seven man protection, eight man protection coming back to the ball with two vertical out-of-field routes. I thought it was a well-coached game. I thought it was, schematically, there were a lot of challenges out there. I'm sure from your standpoint, it was probably a heck of a game to watch."

On their long scoring drives and third down conversions: "Well frankly, that's the way we like to play. I think you have to be able to play in the NFL to win over the long term. We have individuals on our offense that can make big, straight plays. We have a quarterback that can stretch the field and make all the throws. But to win week in and week out, you got to have a combination of run and pass, and that was our plan, obviously, coming in here today. So we have confidence in the 3rd and five, six, seven range. It's just with our pass protection, we feel that's a strength of what we do. To be able to handle multi-scheme pressure schemes like Philadelphia has, the ability to keep the defense off the field, especially playing against an offense like that. So our plan was to come in here and establish the run and play a favorable dime distance, have the patience and take ourselves where we can."

On RB James Starks' contribution:"Well I haven't seen the final statistics, but I know he was the hot hand. When I call plays, I watch the line of scrimmage, the line of scrimmage and the quarterback's feet and that tells me about as much as I need to know during the series as far as what's going on out there. So you're able to gain a lot of information and James was a difference maker. He was a difference maker for us, just the way he was running the ball. He's a gifted athlete, he's a longer levered individual and he falls forward. I just love running backs that fall forward, especially when they're 6'2". So that's a big part of his success."

On Rodgers' ability to buy time in the pocket: "I think, and I'm obviously biased, Aaron Rodgers is probably as good as any out-of-pocket quarterback there is in football today. His ability to play in the pocket, trusting his footwork, the time clock, the ability to come out of the pocket to buy time, that's Aaron's strength. And I'll talk about what I've already said, he has the arm strength to make all of the throws. He gives you a lot of versatility as a playcaller and as an offensive schemer when you have a quarterback…and now with his experience, playing as well as, he's a special player."

On the difference between this season and last season's defense: "Oh it's a number of factors. We've talked about this time and time again. Second year in the system is just so important, just number one the communication is just so much better. The second part is you're really streamlining the concepts, you have a better understanding of what individuals can handle certain things, what are their strengths, areas to stay away from. We've had so much change on defense, but we've been able to stay true, conceptually, to the things that we do best. As far as statistically, our adversity defense is so much better than last year. Our red zone defense is so much better than last year. Those were our number and two emphases coming out of the off-season, the evaluations in the off-season. So when you're able to go through that, spend the time in training camp and you see it show up over the course of the year, that's what you like to see. We're playing very good defense, particularly the scoring defense."

On why he decided to go to Starks as much as he did today: "Well it's hard, it's a juggling act. We have so much faith in (RB) Brandon Jackson, (RB) John Kuhn has done very well in packages.(RB) Dimitri Nance really hasn't had as much opportunity. He's given us a spark here and there. But you have James, everybody recognizes the talent, the ability and he has a chance to be a big time player in our offense. But he just doesn't have the experience. I think everybody understands the schedule. It's hard to go back to training camp OTAs and all the things that he missed due to his injury and to catch him up to speed Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. It's just a little different and we try to give packages each week and every opportunity he's been given, he's done a pretty good job."

On what winning two consecutive close games does for his team's confidence: "Well you have to win the close games in the playoffs. We knew we were going to come in here, we knew it was going to be a 60 minute fight. We spent so much time on the overtime rules this week I thought, heck, we might as well go into overtime too. This is the way it's going to be. We're on the road, you play uphill when you get off the bus and you have to overcome the atmosphere that you're playing in, particularly the communication challenge. It feels good."

On retaliating after the Rodgers' turnover:"Well it was very important. I think it was evident to everybody the momentum really swung in their direction. The crowd was really into it. We had the two long drives in the first half, so it was very important for us to respond. And more importantly, we were playing with the wind and that was a focus of mine just from a play selection standpoint, the third quarter, to lose a series like that, take that away from you, was something you didn't want to get into and they responded. That drive was very important because the wind was going to the Eagles there in the fourth quarter."

On the repeated 2-point conversion attempt: "Well I'm just glad we got it right and I think everybody feels that way. Just talking to the officials on the sideline, I'm just glad we got it right because no one wants to be talking about it a week after the game—coaches, officials, players all included. I thought they did a good job of stopping it and getting it right. We're going to focus on Atlanta right now."

On if he has any time to savor this win:"Not really. We start Thursday night on Atlanta just because you have to from a preparation standpoint. For me personally, I'll watch Atlanta on the bus ride and plane ride home because tomorrow our game plan day. So I think it's going to be one of the ones after the season is over, you'll look back on."

On the rotation of kickoff returners: "Well it's a little bit…we're not quite sold on one yet. It's just an uncertain thing, just to be honest. We're working ourselves through a couple of things back there, so that's definitely something (RB) James (Starks) does very well. I thought (CB) Patrick (Lee) did a good job last week. Just kind of working our way through that."

On WR James Jones' drops:"Well in fairness to James, he clearly had the obvious opportunity right there before the half to put it to 21. But he has a thumb he's dealing with. So he'll fight through it, he's a warrior, he takes great care of his body, but he'll be the first one to tell you he needs to make that catch."

On if he intended to punt to WR DeSean Jackson:"Well it depends when you're on the field. Obviously kicking into the wind was a factor, but we weren't real excited to give him too many opportunities punting the ball. I think that was evident we were trying to get the ball out of bounds. But field position was at a premium there and we needed to cover that last punt. We were able to get the holding on the return, which obviously helped."

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