HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on the decision not to attempt a two-point conversion at the end of regulation)
(on re-thinking the two-point attempt after the Cardinals jumped offsides)
It’s the one and a half-yard line it would have went to. You still figure you’re going to throw it, so what’s the difference between one and a half and two and a half? You have to get the completion and execute the play correctly. Anything at all with the ball being tipped, anything going on with penetration…we didn’t necessarily feel good about a run right there. We didn’t have a timeout to sit and talk about it. If we had a timeout, maybe we would have considered other thoughts once the penalty was there. We didn’t have one, so I thought we could tie it up. I thought we felt great on the sidelines. We were excited about where we were at. There was no doubt in my mind that I thought we would win the football game in the overtime. I think our team did also, but we didn’t.
I thought it could have been a successful play. We would have settled for second-and-10 if we didn’t get a completion. You never know what could have happened. There was one more person coming than we could block, so an adjustment would have had to be made by the quarterback. We didn’t do that, and they made a play. We have to make that play there. We talk about it all the time; that’s the difference right there. We knew it was second-and-ten at the worst case, and we’re at the 45-yard line. The game wasn’t over. They got the ball at the 45-yard line, and we had plenty of opportunities to stop them on three-and-out and get the ball back. There were a lot of things that happened, but when the timing was there to make a play, we didn’t make it.
(on the team showing heart with the comeback)
Well, that’s what I told them after the game. We’re very proud of them, always have been. I knew that would never be a concern I’d have as far as how they approached the game. Like the sign says, they’re pros. They’re going to do whatever it takes to play well for themselves, for the team, for each other, for the city. All those things are important for the players. The record is not what we all want. We didn’t finish the game when we had opportunities to make plays. When you throw a pick-six like we did there, they make a play there, it gets out of hand. It turned a three point game into a 17-point game in minutes. I thought it was a great testament to them as a group that they weren’t going to let the game end the way it was. We started making plays. Guys found a way to make a catch, get out of bounds. We got an onside kick. Guys stepped up and the rally was on. It was good to see that side of them. That part was great, but now just finish the overtime part and we’re real happy. That’s the characteristics that’s good to see, that in adversity these guys are stepping up. You see their character in tough situations, but the bottom line in this league is winning. We all know that. They know that. They still don’t feel great about what happened in that game. We didn’t win it. Two more opportunities is all we have, and we have to win them.
(on struggles with the run game)
I think it was their (the Cardinals) plan. I thought the Cardinals’ plan coming in was they were going to blitz at the line of scrimmage and not let us run the football. If they could make us throw it because of their pass rush and guys they had up front, that was their strength. They were going to make us have to throw and come after us and take over the game. You saw us have a couple runs early, and you saw them bring seven, eight, shooting gaps, taking risks to stop the run game. They had success doing it as we got into the second quarter, and that’s why we ended up throwing for 400 yards on them because they made us have to throw the football. I thought we protected well. I thought they blitzed and did a lot of things to our front. I thought Jackie (Battle) came in and did a great job protecting. The tight ends did a good job chipping. They ran a lot of stunts, a lot of blitzes, a lot of activity going on. That’s a good group of guys up front. I think we called over 60 passes. I know he was sacked a couple times, but some of those were coverage sacks. They did a really nice job of giving us a chance to get back in the game. The Cardinals made us a little one dimensional because of that. We’ve got to block better at times, and we had some mistakes here and there on some runs we did call, but they were making a big investment by attacking the line of scrimmage with their safeties, their linebackers blitzing rundowns, trying to discourage the run game. We went to what we thought we had to to win the football game, and we almost did.
(on whether the team would have run the ball in overtime)
He has all of his runs available. There’s no doubt Ryan (Fitzpatrick) is more comfortable not being in the huddle. He just is more comfortable. He can call the whole offense from the line of scrimmage, so we were letting him, with Dowell’s (Loggains) assistance, call things he felt comfortable throwing. You saw the success he was having. I mean, he was 17 for 20 or whatever he was throwing in that fourth quarter where he got a rhythm going. The receivers got a great feel for what they could get open doing. We definitely would have mixed them in as we went and obviously wish we would have mixed it in on first-and-10 than doing what we did. We didn’t, and we could second guess all the things we didn’t do right. He had the ability to do that, and we would have done that, yes. If he completes that one, that would have probably kept the pressure on him a little more. We felt we had our foot on their throat a little bit with them trying to figure us out, especially after Nate (Washington) had that big catch down the middle of the field. They were wondering what was going on and how they were going to stop this and their confidence was at where it was. They made a play. They made a play that we should have made, and that’s the hard part about this game. Having said that, we need to make a play back and stop them. We didn’t, so that hurts.
(on the team’s mindset after being eliminated from the playoffs)
I think exactly how they have been. I don’t think anything changes for a player. Ultimately, on Monday or Tuesday, they’re probably depressed because you worked too hard, put too many hours in to play in January, coaches too. There’s no way around it. We all had the same goals to be playing past the guaranteed 16 games. That is hard, but come Wednesday, I would expect they’re going to come in, we move forward with the Jacksonville thought process as we would the Houston game the following week. You’ll see them prepare hard. If you came in and watched practice, you would think we were preparing for a playoff game. These guys practice hard, and they should. They’re paid to do that, it’s important to them. I’m not worried about that part at all. It’s hard mentally when you go there, so you have to stay away from dwelling on disappointment and move forward. We will for the next two weeks, and they know there is nothing they can do that’s going to…other than go out and play well, only good things can come from that whether it be for a coaching staff, a player individually if we’re doing his contract next year, for us to figure out how this team is going to come together a year from now. There’s no good in not giving it your all. The character we have in this room when we play is not the concern. We’ll play well, hopefully play smart enough to win the next two games.
(on the decision to limit
We had high expectations for Zach (Brown). I think we all do. Last year he came on strong the last part of the year with some big plays, some sacks, some interceptions, and things kind of fell his way there at the end of the season. We expected a lot from him, and we felt the last few weeks isn’t quite what we want to see. Zaviar’s (Gooden) been healthy for a while, so he has been getting a few more reps. We just wanted to create a little competition there. We thought the game started off and he was real flat, so we gave Zaviar a chance to play. We thought he was pretty solid when he was in there, so that’s how it played out.
(on some of the issues with Zach Brown’s play)
Just a little bit of everything, just inconsistent in what he has been asked to do. He just needs to play better. It’s hard. You’re going through a season and you want guys to play at a certain level. There was inconsistency. If you have someone else to create some competition, just like we did at other positions, the receiver position, other positions throughout the team…we need to find the right mix and need to find a way to create turnovers, find a way to get off the field. A lot of times it is mix and matching people to see if combinations help us more. That’s what we’re in the middle of doing. Like I said, the turnover, getting the ball, we’ve been struggling to do that, so it’s just part of the process of trying to find a way to do that.