Audio from exclusive conversation
What's McCarthy's mindset entering Packers' wildcard war with Vikings?
Photo: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
Next game: Saturday, January 5th in NFC wildcard playoffs vs. Minnesota
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GREEN BAY - "This is what you work for. This is what it's all about."
With those words, Packers coach Mike McCarthy describes the urgency of the moment as his Packers prepare for Saturday night's NFC Wildcard showdown with the rival Minnesota Vikings.
"These are the games that everybody puts the extra time in. It starts with the offseason program, and it's upon us now," he told Newsradio 620 WTMJ's "Wisconsin's Morning News" during an exclusive conversation.
That offseason program, six months of training camp, practices and regular season games have led to what he hopes are the first of four postseason games for the Packers.
He knows the postseason brings extra emotion for his players, so he's attempting to balance that with his approach for the week.
"It's important, particularly in my position, to be more level-headed, more even-keeled for playoff games, because I know the players are going to be jacked up," said McCarthy.
He's focusing his team on not just balancing their emotion, but keeping them detail-oriented.
"Keep focused on the little things, because that's what every game comes down to, especially these playoff games."
Such preparation breeds confidence, and McCarthy hopes that his effort to prepare his players will lead to confidence instead of urgent nervousness at kickoff time Saturday against the Vikings.
"A big part of the message is be loose and confident, because you have to empty your bucket in playoff games," explained McCarthy.
"We're not going to bring anything back when we step on the field. That's our mindset."
Another unusual aspect of Saturday is the fact that the game is the second meeting with Minnesota in seven days. McCarthy says that actually gives his team an advantage and a re-focusing on their own performance.
"It helps you, because it makes you go back to the most important part of your preparation, yourself. It makes you spend more time on self-scouting, and focusing on what you do well, what you need to do better."