Mike McCarthy happy for Packers, says he's learning from former team

Cruz picks Packers to down 49ers in NFC Championship (2:43)

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FRISCO, Texas -- Mike McCarthy has been the Dallas Cowboys' coach for a little more than a week, but he is glad to see the success the Green Bay Packers are having in reaching Sunday's NFC Championship Game (6:40 p.m. ET, Fox).

Let go during the 2018 season, McCarthy continued to live in Green Bay, Wisconsin, as he spent a year away from coaching, so it was difficult to ignore the Packers.

"Well, you can't live in Green Bay and not follow them. It's probably the same here [in Dallas], I would think," McCarthy said. "It's part of the fabric of the community. The people have been awesome. That's our home -- that was our hometown. They've been great to my family and I, but it's great to see them back where they should be. You've got to give those guys a lot of credit. I think the roster and the coaching has given them a chance to get to the Super Bowl."

Matt LaFleur is looking to get the Packers back to a Super Bowl for the first time since McCarthy's team beat the Pittsburgh Steelers in Super Bowl XLV following the 2010 season at AT&T Stadium, which will be McCarthy's new home starting in 2020.

The Packers went to the playoffs in nine of McCarthy's 13 seasons and made it to the conference championship game four times.

This season's Packers won the NFC North with LaFleur running a different scheme with quarterback Aaron Rodgers and a stout defense, led by high-priced free-agent signings Za'Darius Smith and Preston Smith. The Packers rarely made major free-agent acquisitions with Ted Thompson as general manager when McCarthy was the coach.

McCarthy said he watched the Packers with an interest in how he could grow whenever he returned to the NFL.

"If they're doing something I like, I wrote it down," he said. "If I didn't like it, I didn't write it down. But that was the same with the other 31 teams, too."

McCarthy's final two seasons did not go as planned. The Packers went 7-9 in 2017 and were 4-7-1 when he was fired in 2018.

He was asked if Green Bay's success this season has been bittersweet.

"Let's be honest, you go through the emotions of it, but I think the reality of living there, it was something that you had to work through in the beginning," McCarthy said. "To be transparent and reflecting on improving myself, it wouldn't have been very smart of me to not watch them, because that program that's there, that's something that was built over a 13-year period. Now what they've done with it, obviously, they've moved it forward and are having success, so I think it's important to watch.

"That's your last experience, so however they're doing this or doing that, I think it's a good way to spend your offseason. It was definitely part of my research to improve."

As for his time for the Cowboys, McCarthy is close to finalizing his staff with a couple of positions to fill, such as wide receivers coach and the strength and conditioning staff. He is staying at a hotel attached to The Star, the Cowboys' practice home.

"I haven't been outside since I got off the helicopter [last week]," he joked. "That's a fact."

He said the plan is for his wife, Jessica, to remain in Green Bay until her son, George, finishes high school in 18 months. However, Jessica has already looked at houses in the Dallas area.

McCarthy wants to be the Cowboys' coach "for a long time."

"That's the goal," he said. "Gotta win some games. A lot of games."