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Coach Munchak's Dec. 11 Practice Report

Posted Dec 11, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on whether he watched “Houston ’93: A Football Life” last night)

I saw parts of it. I actually forgot it was on, so I’m looking forward to getting a copy of it.

(on his thoughts on the documentary)

You forget all the things that did happen that year and really what a talented team we did have with a lot of players, but it brought back a lot of memories.

(on his fight with Ray Childress that was shown in the movie)

I do quite well. Those fights then, no one broke them up. You just went. Now guys get in fights knowing someone is going to break it up, so they feel easier about it. Like it said in the film, we always competed. We went against the first group, and it was pretty much like a game situation. We had a 20 play deal every day, and it happened to be one where Ray (Childress) actually beat Bruce (Matthews) late and shoved Warren (Moon) in the back. I saw that, and I shoved him. Next thing you know, it turned into a huge deal. There were many of those, but those were interesting times.

(on whether he won the fight)

I’d say I win. Ray (Childress) caught me in the eyes though. He poked me in the eye, and that’s what kind of got it going. No one wins with pads on. It’s one of those things where you can only hurt yourself by swinging. We both kind of just stopped at one point and realized this wasn’t working out as well as we thought. I think we wanted someone to break it up, and they finally did.

(on whether he was fined for the fight)

No, you didn’t get fined back then. You could do whatever the heck you wanted to do. It was  free for all. It was a badge of courage if you got in a fight, you battled. The game was a lot different back then in those days. You got away with a lot more stuff.

(on frustration over sustaining offensive drives)

Upsetting is an easy word. For me, for all of us to watch plays that are there that we’re just not executing at times. Like the two minute thing, we had two screens called, two good plays to call. We had very good looks at it, then we’d have someone miss a block, and they would make a play. There were some big alleys to run like the one when CJ (Chris Johnson) fumbled. I just think the holding call on Chance (Warmack) was a bad call that hurt us with a first down then. For some reason those things happen to us. I know it happens with all teams when they get stopped. You give credit to the defense also, but it is frustrating because we felt we could have scored two or three more touchdowns that we left on the field. We knew we had to do that to win the game. We knew what it was going to be. If they didn’t turn it over, we were going to have to score a lot of points to win. They didn’t turn it over, and we didn’t hold up our end the few times where we could have done better than we did.

(on having trouble establishing a rhythm with the running backs)

That’s the hard part of not having Shonn (Greene) all year and now just feeling like the last couple games he’s really feeling good about himself. He’s running good, and I think he’s feeling good about his knee. He did have some nice runs. We were trying to mix them both in there. Sometimes it works the way you like, and sometimes you can sit back and say, ‘Well, maybe he should have gotten a couple more carries here or there.’ That’s going to be the challenge the next three weeks. I think we haven’t been doing it all year. It’s really been CJ’s (Chris Johnson) baby all year other than the last three weeks or so when Shonn’s been back. That’s something we have to continue to do a better job at.

(on combatting Arizona’s aggressive defense)

I think you have to know how to attack a team like them. They are similar to some teams we’ve played, but they have a nice mixture. On defense especially they have a lot of sacks, a lot of pressures; they’re playing very confident right now. They have a nice mix of veterans that have been around for quite a while and have played well in this league. They’re big. Like I said, the reason they’ve went 5-1 in my opinion is they’ve created turnovers, sacks. They’ve allowed the offense not to worry about doing too much in games by how they’ve played. For us, we have to find ways, which I think we will, to have some success with them running the football, having the right person on the field, getting the right matchups that we want because this is a team where you have to be smart about how you attack them. They are very good at what they do, and they can make it miserable for quarterbacks as they did last week with the Rams. The Ram game got out of hand because of sacks, fumbles, and picks because of pressure. We have to do a good job avoiding that and putting pressure on their offense so they do have to score points and not let their defense control the game.

(on Justin Hunter developing as a deep threat)

The good thing about him is he dropped the ball early and doesn’t let things bother him. Some guys it bothers them, not just a receiver but other positions. He dropped one, had the big catch early, dropped one, and came back and played well. He’s a guy that when they started cheating down to play the run, when we started having good runs, Dowell (Loggains) I think called a good play, the play-action, and caught them off guard and got behind them. He’s getting better every week. I think he’ll finish strong this season, and he’ll be a guy that is going to be special for years to come.

(on whether there is room for improvement with Justin Hunter)

He has missed some things. He’s missing some coverage. When he gets stronger, he’ll get more open. When he goes against some bigger guys, he’ll lose control, get knocked out of his lanes too much, misread some things that he hasn’t seen before. He’ll get fooled a little bit, and there’s all that stuff going on, the game within the game stuff when guys try to get after rookies a little bit. He’ll learn, but you can’t discourage him. That’s what is fun. He just doesn’t get discouraged, and he comes to the sideline with a smile on his face all the time. You can coach him soft, you can coach him hard, he likes it all different ways. He responds, so we’re excited for him and Kendall (Wright) and Nate (Washington). That group is playing good.

(on whether Michael Floyd’s development has made Larry Fitzgerald even more dangerous)

That has helped him a lot. I like watching the way he plays. I think he plays well, I think he is definitely a good complement there. I guess he’s in the second year of the league now, and you see him getting better. They’ve got some nice weapons, and I think it’s been the quarterback. I think the defense has always been good. When you play Arizona, you always talk about the defense. The last few years the quarterback has been the struggle of having someone consistent in there. I think at the beginning of the year they didn’t have what they wanted. They were turning the ball over, and that’s why they weren’t winning. Now, they’re not. They’re not turning the ball over, and their defense is playing like they usually do, probably even a little bit better. (John) Abraham has obviously been a good addition for them because of the situations they’re in. they’re playing good as a team right now. They’re still fighting for that playoff spot, and it’s a big game for them. It’s going to be a great one for us. 

(on whether he wishes the Titans snagged John Abraham in free agency)

We’ve talked to him. You never know how things would have worked out if he would have gone anywhere else. (Dwight) Freeney was available then. You just don’t know how things are going to work out with players if you get them in the right spot. He leaves Atlanta, everyone thought he was crazy. Atlanta is struggling, and Arizona is not. Things work out sometimes for guys if you get them in the right spot, and he’s in the right spot.

(on bringing Kevin Matthews back)

Well first thing was, when it first happened we had the injury during the short week on a Thursday night game. (Brian) Schwenke got hurt, and we knew he couldn’t play. It was Monday or Tuesday, and we were playing a game on Thursday. We had no one else on the roster that could snap a football, that could go in there and play a game if something happened in that game on that Thursday night. We scouted to see who was out there, and he was a guy that was a good fit that could come in and knew exactly what we were doing and could have finished the game if we needed him to. We brought him in for that reason, number one. Kind of like what we did to (Kyle) DeVan a year ago. We brought him back because of his knowledge of the game. It’s hard to get a guy caught up that fast to help you out on a short week, so that’s why we did that with Kevin (Matthews). We brought him in and Schwenke we thought would be healthy, so we actually cut him because we thought Schwenke was healthy and would be OK, but he wasn’t. We were looking to sign some other players, and it didn’t work out to get those guys signed. Schwenke’s ankle was still not as good as we would have liked. He’s struggling in the game, struggling in practice, not where he wants it to be. We needed someone that if he had to play, (Chris) Spencer could play, and someone could be the next center in an emergency. That’s the best fit for us right now to do it that way.

(on whether he is concerned that re-signing Bruce Matthews’ son might be considered nepotism)

No. Why would that matter…so what? What does that have to do with anything…the fact that he is his son is the reason we bring him in or not bring him in? We need someone that could play center. (Practice squad member Tyler) Horn isn’t a center for us. To me, that never crossed my mind. We would never do something like that for a place on the roster.

(on starting Zaviar Gooden last week)

That game turned into what we thought. Every week they play, there’s probably 80 or 90 snaps. Eighty I think is usually Denver’s average offensive plays, so we were concerned about not being able to get substitutions with the long drives. Like I said, (Zaviar) Gooden did a solid job playing when he was in there. He only played 30 snaps. The other guys played 60. The other guys still played quite a bit. Plus, (Zaviar Gooden) played special teams. He did a solid job, and we thought it made sense to do that. I think the defense was happy with how he played. I think it was good.

(on whether it was unusual to start Gooden)

No. I just think it was the plan they had going forward. I thought we probably played better early than we did later in the game as far as stops and making them have to earn their touchdowns. We made them punt twice in the second quarter which we didn’t in the rest of the game. I thought when he was in there he did what we asked him to do.

(on Tommy Smith waiting for the season to play out before making any quick decisions about the team)

I would hope that most owners would do it that way. I would think you want to make a good decision. That’s an important decision when you decide how you’re going to go forward with your organization, your business. You want to find out what the plan is going to be and how to go forward with that. I would assume most would do it that way, give thought to how do we move forward, what the best way to move forward and wait until the season is over—which is in three weeks. We’ve got plenty of time to discuss in my view what’s the best way to go forward, and obviously he’ll make his decision off that. That’s how you need to make a decision that is that important to your football team—look at all the variables and do what’s best for the team.

(on whether his history with the team should carry weight when thinking about offseason decisions)

No. I don’t think my relationship or how long I’ve been with the organization should have anything to do with it. Ultimately, it’s about what’s best for this organization, not necessarily short term but long term. A lot of people in this business think very short term where they want change but they don’t know what to do about it. They just want to change it without having a plan. I think you have to have both. I think if you want to change something you have to have a plan about what’s a better way to do it. I don’t think me as far as how long I’ve been in the NFL or this organization should really be a factor. It won’t be when it comes to what’s best for this football team going forward.

(on personnel changes moving forward)

Definitely. Every year changes in this league. We have 11 different starters this year from last year’s football team, and we have a handful of different coaches. I think it changes dramatically. We have 22 or 23 new guys on the roster this year from last year at this time. There’s going to be change. The good thing for this team is there’s going to be less change needed in the personnel department. I think there’s some decisions that will be easier to make I should say of where we need to make changes as the year plays out. I have a front row seat to what’s going on, so I’m going to voice what I think is best for this team. You just can’t do it all when you want it. People want stuff done immediately, but unfortunately it doesn’t work that way in this league. I’ve been here three years. I’ll say it again: I think this team in a lot of spots is much better than it has been since I’ve been here, but there’s things that are holding us back. That’s stuff we have to fix. That’s stuff we’ll talk about when the season’s over. You can’t do all the things now that you need to do. They’ll decide if they think that makes sense or if there’s a better way to do it.

(on concern over the team not putting forth effort these next three games)

We won two out of three last year at the end. Unfortunately, the Green Bay one was in the middle. We won the Monday night game against the Jets, and we won the last game against Jacksonville. The Green Bay game was exactly what you didn’t want to have happen. We didn’t play well there, turned the ball over, did all the things you don’t want to do. We can’t have one of those games, without a doubt. I’ve said it before, these guys want to win. It means a lot to them to win. They’re disappointed if we’re not in the playoffs, but we’re not out of the playoffs yet. There’s still a couple percent chance, two or three I hear, so we’re going to play the odds on that still. We’re told we’re not, so I think you’re going to see us at our best against a good football team. Let’s let the season finish and decide what is best for this team.

(on the importance of having stability at the quarterback position)

I think it definitely helps. You have to play through injury. I’m not going to blame injury on my record, our record. My one season that we were 9-7, our quarterback played all 16 games. (Matt) Hasselbeck played all 16, and we were 9-7 my first year. Last two years we haven’t stayed healthy. Is that the only reason we are where we are? No. We have to do things better in a lot of phases. I think we should be playing better with Fitzy (Ryan Fitzpatrick). We should have won games with him at the quarterback spot that we have not. We all know that. The Indianapolis games, Jacksonville game, those are games we should have won in my opinion. We were good enough to win them, we were in a position to win them, and we got to win them. The quarterback being knocked out twice makes a huge difference, no doubt about it. You build a team around a quarterback, you have a scheme for that quarterback, you lose him. We haven’t done a good job recovering from that. What would our record be with Jake (Locker)? You hope it may be better, I assume, I hope it is because we felt he was coming along exactly how we hoped he would. We weren’t turning the ball over which has obviously cost us since then, all the turnovers that we’ve had that we didn’t have the first four games. They’re all factors, but we know there’s other factors, too. If you’re going to win in this league, you need to have a quarterback that played every weekend.

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