Packers coach McCarthy: 'Our football team will improve'

GREEN BAY, Wis. -- Packers coach Mike McCarthy doesn't believe splashy free-agent moves and wholesale scheme overhauls are the main things needed to fix his team's defense. McCarthy knows it might cause a few eyes to glaze over, but that doesn't stop him from talking about fundamentals.

Harrison: Packers Exit Interview

In a "championship or bust" season, Green Bay busted. Elliot Harrison says the Packers must plug leaks in the NFL's worst-ranked defense. More ...

When McCarthy and defensive coordinator Dom Capers sat down for most of the day Wednesday to review the season from a defensive perspective, the one thing that kept coming up was poor tackling.

"The tackling just was not there all year," McCarthy said in his season-ending news conference. "Without getting into the specific statistics, we did not tackle well enough as a football team, from start to finish. It's something that's emphasized every single day in practice and something that Dom and I talked a lot about today."

But tackling wasn't the only trouble. The Packers didn't muster much of a pass rush all season and had trouble covering downfield -- a formula for giving up big plays, something they did with alarming regularity.

The defense bailed itself out all season by causing turnovers and handing the ball back to an elite offense. But everything fell apart in Sunday's 37-20 divisional playoff loss to the New York Giants.

Watching Eli Manning pick the Packers' defense apart was one thing. Watching him seemingly have enough time in the pocket to solve complex math problems, then still find an open wide receiver, was even worse.

"Our football team will improve," McCarthy said. "I believe in what our coaching staff gives us during the offseason program. History reflects that, and we will be adding another significant draft class to this football team. So as far as free agency, veteran free agency and all of that, those are really hypothetical situations. I'm sure it's fun for everybody to play GM. But we'll go through the process like we always do."

An underperforming defense isn't the only issue facing the Packers.

Tight end Jermichael Finley, center Scott Wells and running back Ryan Grant are among the players who could be headed to free agency, although the Packers could use the franchise tag on Finley. The Packers have tough decisions to make on bringing back some veteran players, including wide receiver Donald Driver and left tackle Chad Clifton.

The team also is waiting to hear if safety Nick Collins will be able to play again after sustaining a season-ending neck injury in Week 2.

And the Packers could be losing some of their assistant coaches, with offensive coordinator Joe Philbinreceiving a second interview for the Miami Dolphins' head-coaching vacancy and several other coaches being linked to other open jobs.

Copyright 2012 by The Associated Press

This article has been reproduced in a new format and may be missing content or contain faulty links. Please use the Contact Us link in our site footer to report an issue.