Every week during the regular season we get an opportunity to talk with the opposing head coach via conference call. This week it was Green Bay Packers head coach Mike McCarthy. We also got to talk to quarterback Aaron Rodgers on a conference call, and I scanned the Green Bay media websites and the Packers website, to see what else the Packers players and coaches are saying about this week's matchup with the Lions.
Here's what they had to say:
1. The Packers put up 423 yards of offense last Sunday against Buffalo, but scored just 22 points in a game in which they probably should have had more. Rodgers called the offense terrible after the game, and said it was as bad as they've played on that side of the ball with that many yards in a long time. Asked about those comments on Wednesday, Rodgers said he's turned the page on last week and hopes both individually and collectively the Packers will play better on offense in Detroit Sunday.
2. McCarthy was very complimentary of Detroit's run game. He's noticed a commitment to the run game on film that hasn't always been there in their past matchups with Detroit. He said Detroit's run game complements Matthew Stafford much more now than it has in the past.
3. Rodgers has a ton of respect for Lions cornerback Darius Slay:
"For years he's done star coverage where he's playing both sides and playing inside and not every top-rated cornerback does that," Rodgers said. "For me, that gives a bump in the respect category, because it's not easy playing right corner, left corner and in the slot and he can obviously do it all."
4. Packers safety Ha Ha Clinton-Dix said the toughest part about playing against Stafford is that his arm strength allows him to make any throw. He also commented about Stafford's ability to make plays with his legs, whether that's extending plays in the pocket or scrambling for yards.
5. Like the Lions, the Packers have a new defensive coordinator (Mike Pettine), new scheme and some new faces on that side of the ball. Packers defensive tackle Mike Daniels said it takes time for all those moving pieces to come together under a new scheme, but thought he finally started to see it all click last week in their shutout of Buffalo.
"We have a lot of new guys figuring out how to play with each other," Daniels told packers.com
6. The Packers have had some of the worst passing defenses in the NFL over the last couple seasons, ranking 23rd and 31st in passing yards allowed per game the last two seasons. Green Bay has spent a lot of resources via free agency and the draft on revamping their secondary, and currently rank seventh in the league in pass defense. McCarthy said Wednesday that his secondary has a chance to be one of the team's better units this year when it's all said and done.
7. Asked about playing against Stafford, Rodgers first called him "Matty," and then said Stafford is one of the quarterbacks around the league he likes watching during film study of common opponents because of how tough Stafford is and his ability to play through injury, and also because of all the different arm angles Stafford can throw from.
8. McCarthy has a division game emphasis that's been part of his program there in Green Bay for the last 13 years. His players clearly understand the rivalries throughout the division and the history between the Packers and Lions.
9. Rodgers has had to put in some "extra work" this week because of Detroit's new defensive schemes and new personnel.