McCarthy press conferences are rarely occasions for extreme excitement. Apart from some important injury updates, this first press conference of the season was little different...until McCarthy delivered a statement that seemed addressed to the rookies in camp this year. Compiled from multiple sources:
My concern frankly is this rookie class came in here and … when we hit the field, (they felt) ‘This ain’t so hard. Pro ball isn’t maybe what I thought it was going to be. That’s something that will not be the case when we hit the field tomorrow. Complacency, relaxing, any type of comfort … we’ll make sure that doesn’t exist.
This was certainly an interesting departure from press conference norms for McCarthy, not only saying that he would not accept complacency, but also implying that it already exists in this rookie class. Among the many experts and writers responding to his words, Kevin Seifert of ESPN hit the nail on the head in my opinion:
I have no doubt that some of the Packers' rookies had moments of nonchalance this spring. It happens every year for every team, at one point or another. But I took McCarthy's words as a broader attempt to raise the temperature for a team that is ripe for complacency after following a Super Bowl victory with a 15-1 record last season.
It's McCarthy's job to steer clear of all that. But there's no sense in taking shots, directing hostility or playing mind games with established veterans. Most of them would have seen right through it. After all, McCarthy is entering his seventh season as the Packers' coach and his methods are well known.
The Packers' rookies? Not so much. They're easy targets. If you're the coach, you ride them and watch the resulting energy push the rest of the team. Makes sense to me.
Considering McCarthy's statements in past preseasons as well as last year's regular season success (if you look at nothing beyond the final record,) it makes perfect sense that McCarthy will "raise the temperature," in his efforts to motivate and compel the team to continue to improve and build off of past accomplishments. It wouldn't surprise me to hear further statements like this during the remainder of camp if, say, a unit or group of players isn't meeting or exceeding expectations. With the Packers perfectly poised for another Super Bowl run, McCarthy will adopt, and really has already begun to adopt, a zero-tolerance policy for any sub-par effort at any point in the season, and that's exactly what this relatively young team needs.
Rob Demovsky answered my question about McCarthy's statement in his chat a few minutes after I posted this, so I thought I would add in his opinion:
That certainly stood out, didn't it? The guess here is it had a two-fold meaning. One, he wanted to send a message to the rookies they better come to camp ready to fight. Two, with all the restrictions on practice time under the new CBA, McCarthy wanted to dispel the notion -- both to rookies and vets -- that training camp will be anything but easy.