Since on a 90-plus-degree day every Wisconsinite thinks about the Packers, you cannot help but be impressed with this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel interview with Packers coach Mike McCarthy:
Q. Having won a Super Bowl, though, and going 15-1 last year, where do you set the bar?
A. I think I said it the first day I was here. It’s always about winning the world championship in Green Bay. I don’t think you ever settle for less than that. Just take a look at last year, 15-1 doesn’t cut it.
Q. So to you, 15-2 last year doesn’t cut it?
A. That’s not what I’m looking for, and it’s not what our players want and that’s really all that matters. If we can stay focused on what the group’s trying to accomplish and continue to do the things that are necessary. We have a blueprint of success for the way we train, but it’s a challenge every year. The team takes on a new face every year. There’s a path out there for us to get to New Orleans and win the championship. It’s our responsibility, and with a little touch of grace from the good Lord, we’ll be able to stay on that path. …
Q. At the 2011 NFL combine, you said one of your goals was to become the No. 1 offense in the NFL and then you went and scored 560 points, the second most in NFL history. What’s your level of pride in achieving that, and can this offense get better?
A. We felt we clearly left a lot of offense on the table (in 2010). There was actually a lot of offense we didn’t even use because of the injuries. That year was clearly the highest of all the years here where things we did in training camp we never even used during the season. So with that being said, I was very confident and I thought the offense was ready for Aaron (Rodgers). Aaron’s been ready for more responsibility, but it’s more is everybody else around him ready, too? And we felt Aaron was ready for more responsibility at the line, and I think it’s been very beneficial to our team. To me, last year was the standard. We set the standard on offense, and that’s what we’d like to hold ourselves to.
Q. So 35 points per game is now the standard?
A. Yep. I like that. …
Q. [Aaron] Rodgers is at almost the identical point in his career as Brett Favre was when you were his position coach here in 1999. Can you compare how it is to coach the two at this particular juncture of their careers?
A. I’m in a different job today, and frankly, I miss coaching quarterbacks. I just have too many responsibilities. The most important thing that I’ve done as far as the quarterback room is make sure the structure and the emphasis was put into place, and I did that my first year here. Tom (Clements) did a fantastic job of carrying that through and now he’s doing that with (new quarterbacks coach) Ben (McAdoo). The only thing is when I look at the quarterback room, I just want to walk over and be sure it’s continuing to be done the right way, because everybody has a certain way they’d like to see a quarterback trained. As far as coaching Brett, he was a lot more accomplished in the offense, so it was a transition. I’d say it’s a lot different. I look at Ben walking in the room now. Ben’s been here. Aaron knew Ben. I was the new guy coming in. I didn’t coach Brett until the first minicamp. To me, it’s a whole different off-season layout. Brett was a great player. He went through a bunch of injuries that year and did a remarkable job playing all 16 games that year.
Q. Have you ever had anybody quite like Jermichael Finley – on and off the field?
A. Oh yeah. He’s not that hard. I’ve had a lot more challenging situations. I think with Jermichael, people are on Jermichael a little bit too hard because he’s the only one that carries himself that way. The guy has a big heart and he means well. He’s extremely competitive and very talented. Everybody expresses themselves differently and obviously his style is very resourceful to the media, and that kind of takes on a different life. But I like him. I enjoy working with Jermichael. And if people didn’t enjoy working with Jermichael Finley, then he wouldn’t be here, and that’s not the case. We think he’s a young man that still has so much in front of him. The only thing I concern myself with Jermichael is I just want to see him stay healthy. But I’ve been around a lot more challenging people than Jermichael. …
Q. Do you ever want [Ted Thompson's] job, here or somewhere else?
A. No. If I did that job I wouldn’t coach. I don’t think you can do two. I think it’s too much. I think you’d be robbing Peter to pay Paul. You can’t be in two places at one time. I’m a football coach, and I don’t see anything in the near future that’s going to change that. But I’ll also say this: I feel like I have something bigger in my life than being the head coach of the Green Bay Packers. I think there’s something out there for me to do after my time is up. I hope it’s not up for a long time because I enjoy it. But those questions are always answered by someone a lot bigger than you and I. But when that time comes, I do feel like there’s one more big challenge out there for myself professionally.
Q. Most people in this state don’t think there’s very much that’s bigger than where you’re sitting.
A. Well, it’s the best job I’ll ever have. I’ll never have a better one.
Q. You hint about that next challenge. Any idea what that is?
A. No I don’t. I’ll let the good Lord tell me what that is. …
Q. Once July 26 arrives, will you have any type of home / work balance over the ensuing seven or eight months?
A. How do you define balance?
Q. Let’s say seeing your family an hour, maybe two a day.
A. I like to think we have balance here as far as the coaching profession goes. We’re not going to have coaches sleeping here in the office. I can promise you that. I won’t allow that. I’ve done that. I know why it’s happened, but I’m very conscientious of the time management of our staff. I’ve done the sleep in the office thing, or two or three hours of sleep, but you’re not the same guy on the field. The thing I’ve noticed from the old way and the way we do it is I want the coaches fresh. I want them getting home, getting a good night sleep. The most important time you spend is with your players, in your meeting room, on the field and you need proper sleep to get that done. …
Q. You obviously learned something from the loss in 2007. What did you learn from last year’s loss?
A. Really, it takes you right back to the emphasis of the fundamentals. That’s something I feel we do every day, but maybe we had to take a look. Maybe I wasn’t doing it enough. We adjusted some practice things because of it.
Q. That was also one of the most unique weeks leading up to a football game that I’m sure you ever had [with the death of the son of Packers offensive coordinator Joe Philbin]. In retrospect, how much did that hurt you?
A. Unique is a kind word. I don’t know how you explain that week. It was like getting run over by a truck. That’s a better description. …
Q. What do you want your legacy to be here?
A. That he was a better person than a coach.
Q. In 2010, you went with the ‘Super Bowl or Bust’ theme. Will you do that again?
A. I just don’t believe in the crash and burn theory. I believe in winning and learning. I don’t believe in that other word. I don’t even like to say it. I believe you keep building and keep working at it, keep winning. And as long as they keep giving you opportunities, make the best of it. I’m not satisfied with coming close. I’m going to do everything I can to win the championship and that will never change. And when that does change, I probably need to step out and let someone else take a swing at it.
Wouldn’t you want to play for a coach like that?