Green Bay Packers coach Mike McCarthy was feisty and a bit jumpy Tuesday while conducting his annual season-ending news conference, but in the end I think we got a pretty good idea about his plans for change -- or lack thereof -- in the coming days and weeks.
We've noted that the Packers' defensive performance Saturday night at Candlestick Park was bad enough to merit heavy scrutiny of defensive coordinator Dom Capers. McCarthy initially fended off questions about Capers' future, saying he hasn't begun evaluating his coaching staff, before ultimately relenting and saying: "I feel very confident that Dom Capers is going to be our defensive coordinator."
To be fair, McCarthy was addressing reporters Tuesday only because NFL media rules mandated it. I'm sure he would prefer to delay comments until he has graded the film of the Packers' 45-31 loss to the San Francisco 49ers -- he said he has not even finished watching it yet -- and also until after completing his annual review of the coaching staff. Like most coaches, McCarthy wants to remove emotion and even anger from the equation before making any final decisions.
"I think it's totally premature to make those types [of decisions]," McCarthy said. "That's what knee-jerk reactive people do. You don't make crazy decisions like this, especially a man of Dom Capers' ability, his experience. I trust him, the level of responsibility he has with our coaching staff. I think it's ridiculous that I have to answer the question, frankly. I'm appalled by it.
"There is a process that goes on. I would not do my job, I would not fulfill my responsibility, if I didn't look at the job that Dom Capers has done, what Mike McCarthy has done, what [offensive coordinator] Tom Clements has done, all the way down. I can promise you that's what is going to happen. I don't dig the drama stuff. I get the concern. We have great fans. But there are no decisions going to be made today. We've never operated that way and never will."
For the record, I think McCarthy was "appalled" that he had to answer the question before his evaluation process was complete -- and not because the topic itself was so trivial. Regardless, that quote addressed a follow-up question about Capers' status after McCarthy had initially offered this neutral endorsement: "I have great, great faith and respect in Dom Capers and all of our coaches, but everything will be evaluated top to bottom." McCarthy also made clear he recognized that "there was definitely some things we didn't handle schematically" against the 49ers, but he didn't appear to accept the suggestion that Capers was slow to adjust Saturday night to the 49ers' read-option offense.
"We can talk about adjustments," he said. "We can talk about anything you want. … If it was as easy as making another call, trust me, it would have been done. It wasn't one guy. There's more involved in that."
Packers defensive back Charles Woodson was among those who have criticized Capers' lack of adjustments, and McCarthy said he has spent the past two days speaking to every player on the roster.
"Everybody has an opinion," he said. "I've heard all of the opinions from the players the last two days. I've done this long enough that I feel I have a pretty good filter to sort out what's real and what's emotion. That's really what this process is about."
To be clear, I've never suggested the Packers needed to fire Capers to fix their defensive problems. I think his defense's performance in the 2009 and 2012 playoffs, especially, merit significant review. That's what McCarthy said he would be getting into during the next few weeks. Changes need to be made after giving up 579 yards in a playoff game, but they don't necessarily have to include replacing the coordinator. We'll see what McCarthy comes up with.