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Coach Munchak's Monday Press Conference

Posted Oct 1, 2012

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on the results of Jake Locker’s MRI)

Similar to last time with the shoulder, the MRI is very similar. It popped out, they popped it back in, I guess on the side of the field. Real sore right now, so it’s just a matter of waiting a couple days to see really where it is, so he can get a full examination on it. So we’ll know more probably tomorrow or the next day.

(on if he’s less optimistic about Jake Locker playing this weekend than he was for Week 2)

Well I think he’s a little sorer today than he was last time. Those things can change day-to-day, so I think it’s just a matter of trying not to predict anything, and just wait and see how he is tomorrow. If he’s a lot better tomorrow than he is today, that’s a good sign. You take it day-by-day, and we’ll probably be able to evaluate him better then.

(on if he expects that Jake Locker will practice this week)

I don’t know. If he feels better, obviously he would. But to this point, we don’t know that.

(on if there is any structural damage to Jake Locker’s shoulder)

No, not that they’re aware of right now. Like I said, his MRI was very similar to last time. I think last time he healed and responded a lot quicker than we all thought. So now it’s just a matter of seeing how he does this time around.

(on if this is a type of injury that lingers)

Obviously, rest is better than playing football for any injury. Not playing anymore would be safer for all of us, I guess. I don’t know that he would sit out for that reason. Unfortunately he got hit, it wasn’t even where he got hit, it was where he landed. Unfortunately, the way he landed created the problem again. I don’t know. I really couldn’t answer that question.

(on what he anticipates Jake Locker’s attitude will be this week)

I hope he’s at that point. I hope he feels that good like he did last time. Like I said, last time it surprised a lot of us how quickly and how good he felt within 48 hours or 72 hours of that injury last time. I hope he’s that way so we can make the decision of what is best for him and the team at that point. We’ll find that out the next couple of days. But again, if we don’t feel he can function and play, he won’t play.

(on what Jake Locker was supposed to do on that play)

Yeah, it’s a three-step drop, which means…You’re down in a tough area, so it’s almost like catch-and-pitch. You catch the shotgun snap, and the ball is pretty much out pretty quickly. He didn’t do that. He decided to hold the ball to try to see if he could get something else to develop. He thought he had a little more time than he had. The ball should have been out and could have avoided the play.

(on if Jake Locker should have slid the protection over)

Like I said, there’s nothing you can do there. They bring six, you have five, and someone’s going to be free. The guy that was closest to the play was blocked. The furthest guy away is the guy you try to leave free, that’s the guy that hit him. The ball has got to be out, or he’s got to run. Obviously, you want a different outcome than the one we had.

(on if he anticipates that Matt Hasselbeck will split reps in practice this week)

Yeah, I think it will just be a matter of seeing how things are Wednesday. Again, I hope we’re in that situation where we have to decide which reps to use. Yeah, we’ll worry about that on Wednesday.

(on if he could tell Matt Hasselbeck was a little rusty on Sunday)

I think when you don’t get the plays and the feel of the game, doesn’t matter if you’re a veteran or not. I think the last couple of weeks of not getting a chance to play in real time and real game speed on the road. It’s hard to just come in there. He came in there and completed a couple of passes early which was good. We had two interceptions—one the ball was behind Taylor (Thompson), unfortunately got batted up in the air and made it an easy interception. The one at the end of the game was more the receiver.

(on if Jake Locker doesn’t practice on Wednesday, does that mean he won’t play on Sunday)

Well I think it’s just a matter of how he’s feeling too. He’s a guy, that if we felt he can practice Thursday and Friday, then we’d look at it, but we wouldn’t rule him out that soon unless it was more of an injury. If we felt he was coming on and doing well…Last time he played he was limited on that Wednesday. We’ll just wait and see.

(on if the trainers popped Jake Locker’s shoulder back in on the field)

I’m not sure, I thought they did. Like I said, once we realized what it was, and that it was similar to last time, they wanted to get him in to examine him. I’m not sure exactly where, if it was on the field, if it was once they got him inside, how it ended up being.

(on if Taylor Thompson should have batted the ball down on the interception)

He was just trying to make the play, he’s reaching back trying to make the play. I don’t think there’s much you can do about it. You need a better ball thrown to him. I don’t know what else. He’s trying to turn and make a play. He doesn’t know there is someone right behind to catch it. He doesn’t know the ball has been batted up. That’s all things that happened at the last second. He’s just trying to make a play. He played hard all game. That’s just one of those plays that you wish were thrown a little better, and maybe we make a play instead of him making a play.

(on the pass intended for Damian Williams that was intercepted)

I think it was route was part of it. That ball should not have been intercepted. That’s more on the receiver’s side than the quarterback’s side. The other one was on the quarterback. That ball was thrown behind him. He should have stepped into the throw. He knows that, make a better throw there. There was pressure as he was letting go of it, but he needed to step up and deliver a better throw.

(on if he would like to see more of Chris Johnson’s runs coming between the tackles)

That’s something we’ve done a lot with him. That’s something we had in versus…It wasn’t a lot different. The amount of yards he got was different. But as far as the plays and the formations, things we’ve done before were similar. That’s the type of defense, we thought where the runs would come. It’s no different, we played San Diego thinking the same thing. They play a very similar type of defense, Patriots, similar type of defense. We were going to stick with what we thought was working there in the first three quarters when we were running the football a lot.

(on how much it upsets him that the Titans are giving up over 30 points a game)

After the first two drives when they made some plays on us throwing the football as their offense does, I think the defense settled down and played pretty good the rest of the day. They ran for 100 yards, I think were averaging 3.1 a carry. (Arian) Foster was averaging, I don’t know if he got (3.6), so we did a good job of shutting him down. They didn’t make a lot of big plays on us, it was just the fact that we didn’t make any plays on them. They didn’t make any mistakes on their side of the ball. They didn’t turn the ball over, they converted. We stopped them on quite a few third-and-ones, gave our offense a chance. It was 14-7 middle of the third quarter, and we had penalties that hurt us and the pick got us in trouble. We were there, 14-7, and we have to do something right there. We have to tie it up, we have to get competitive there. Like you said, the touchdowns came after that. The piling on came after that, in most of these games we’ve played. Same thing with the Detroit game, those points at the end. Last year we did a better job with that. We have to try to reduce the amount of points we’re giving up.

(on if Taylor Thompson’s hit on the punt return was a legitimate penalty)

They are tough calls to take because they can be called a lot. Those guys in there on the punt return, on both sides of the ball, you’re grabbing, you’re holding, you’re trying to hold guys up from running downfield. He’s got to be smart. It ended up that his guy ended up on the ground. So can they call that play? Yes, they could. The thing about the officiating, like I said before here when we used to talk about officiating a lot, is just so it’s consistent on both sides. If they’re going to call that on us, they’re calling it on them. The same things are happening on both sides of the ball throughout the game. That’s the part that you usually get upset about.  That could have been called, yes. I could see where they think if both guys are trying to toss each other, his guy ended going to the ground on the throw. That could be called, that’s a 50/50. They call it half the time, the other half you wouldn’t. It just so happens it is one on us that we return to the 30-yard line.

(on why the defense can’t seem to hold teams early)

You wish we would. I wish there was something that we could say, ‘This is what the problem is.’ We come out ready to play. They converted some nice throws. First down it seemed like we were doing a nice job, and then they beat us on, not a pick play, but one of their receivers got picked off 80 (Andre Johnson). He made a big play there. I think he had two in a row there. The good thing is we settled down from there. Yes, you’d like to go out and go three-and-out. Believe me, that’s the goal. We weren’t able to do it. The good thing was, once it was 14-0, I thought we absorbed the big shot that happens on the road a lot with the noise, and it was 14-0. We finally come back and make it 14-7. We have a chance before halftime to make it 14-14. We’re there. Whatever is happening at the beginning, we want to fix that and hold them to zero. But the point is we had a chance to get back in that game and make them nervous because they weren’t necessarily playing their best game of the year. If we could have jumped that thing to 14-14, you never know. The problem is we didn’t do that, that’s our problem. That’s the thing, we have to be able to do that. The opportunities were there again against a good football team at their place to give them a good scare in that third quarter. We could have tied it up and then seen what happens, and then see if they make a mistake. But unfortunately if we make the mistake, now there is no more pressure on them, it’s 21-7. Now all of a sudden, they can kind of do what they want to do and take their time. That’s where as a football team, you’re watching tape, if we’re going to win those games, we need to make those plays.

(on the grade he would give the team at the quarter mark of the season)

That’s easy, we’re 1-3. We’re not happy, disappointed. I don’t think anyone wants to be 1-3. We know we played a tough schedule, we knew it wasn’t going to be easy. But there’s no excuse for it. We’re not going to settle for 1-3. That’s how you have to look at it, it’s a long way to go. That’s one quarter we didn’t play as well, and we’ve got two games in 10 days. We have to win both of those games, and then we’re 3-3. Then we can go from there.

(on whether or not David Stewart crossed the line on Sunday)

I think crossing the line was on both sides of the ball. I don’t think that’s a one-sided thing. I think we do like the way David (Stewart) plays. I think David or any other player has to be smart not to hurt the football team while you’re doing that. So he had two instances where he was called for penalties where he needs to know when to shut it down, no matter what is happening around him. He knows better than that. He’s been known to be an aggressive guy, a guy that is the first guy around the pile, a guy that is helping the backup, a guy that is protecting your quarterback. He’s all that. You want guys like him. You want that mentality. You have to be smart where it becomes a penalty and playing stupid and not playing smart. He knows that. He can’t have that. That was going on, on both sides of the ball. They played the same way. That’s why they’re a good football team. They have guys that play hard and push and shove and play until the last second and try to get away with as much as they possibly can. That’s football.

(on if penalties mean the team is undisciplined)

I guess we’d have to define what you mean by that. In what way? To me, Tommie Campbell is running full-speed, and he’s got to make a decision in a split second. He thinks he has the angle. He pushes him on the shoulder, and they think it’s his back. The next time, the guy falls, so it’s not necessarily that he’s undisciplined. It’s a matter of he’s got to make a better decision when he’s in that position. If he’s running with him, then he needs to not quite, maybe be away from him a little more and maybe they won’t call the penalty. It means there, he’s just got to make a better decision. I don’t know if that’s because he’s undisciplined, but he made that decision. It happened once, which would have been enough, but he does it twice. He thought he had the angle, and the guy turned. On one, the guy fell. I don’t know if he pushed him or not. It’s hard to tell, but they threw the flag on it, so it’s hard to tell. Dave (Stewart), I mean, to me, yeah, it shouldn’t happen. He’s playing hard. He’s got to know when to stop. Two guys are blocking him. He can’t swing; he can’t do anything stupid to encourage it. We just need to play smarter. That’s an example of not playing smart. You have to know when you need to stop what you’re doing to avoid penalties, just like when you’re hitting the quarterback. You have to know when to pull back or pull the body language back, so you don’t make the bad decision. I don’t think it’s undisciplined if you hit the quarterback. You’re working your butt off to make a play, and in a split second, you have to pull off that guy. That’s hard to do, so we’ve got to get better at it is what we have to do. No one is intentionally doing those things, but again, these are things that hurt you in a football game. When you’re playing a good football team, you can’t have eight or nine penalties and have one that, you know, the field position, the Taylor Thompson (penalty) cost us, we had a first-and-10 at the (Houston) 30, and we (instead) started at our own 30. So, things like that, we just can’t afford to have done.

(on if he saw anything on tape to indicate play that invoked penalties)

Like I mentioned before, we send all that stuff to the league, either stuff on tape or either stuff we saw from the sidelines, you do all that for all plays, for holding plays, for any situation where we think guys got hit late, the quarterback got hit late, the running back, I mean, there’s a lot of that that goes on on the field, and obviously they’re not going to see all that. It’s hard when you’re watching the game and you see everything happening, so as coaches, that’s stuff we turn in to bring to their attention that these are some of the things that are happening that are being missed, and then they rule on what they see. So, yeah, there’s things we saw that were going on, but like I said … you just need to call it both ways. That’s all we’re saying.

(on if Chris Johnson was hit late)

Yeah, there’s a few of them. I mean, that’s the point. There’s plays (where) that happens in the game. To me, that’s part of it. That’s what happens in games. These guys are not perfect. You’re going to miss things as an official, whoever’s officiating the game, like I said, the guys doing the first three games, the guys last week, you always miss a lot of calls. As coaches, we always think calls are missed, obviously. So, you turn them in, and they’ll give you their opinion. They may not agree with us. They may say, ‘No, that wasn’t late, or that wasn’t this,’ but they’ll give us some feedback so we can learn from them too, what they’re looking at, as far as why they called this a penalty and not something else a penalty. As a team, you’re just looking for consistency, that if they’re seeing that the same way as they see this. That’s when you get concerned. That’s when you see arguments, but you can’t get caught up in that. We didn’t win the football game (Sunday), and not because of the officials. We needed to make more plays in order to win the game.

(on if the offensive line got a better push)

I think that’s a very good defense. They were ranked second in the league, I guess, before we played them, one of the best against the run. It just shows you it doesn’t always work that way. We matched up well, I thought, that way. We got opportunities to run the ball more. We ran it 25 times versus 10 one game, 12 one game, I think we got a feel for what they were doing and we did our fits good, and you saw a successful run game. I thought it was successful from the beginning. I think we only had one bad run the whole day, as far as a negative run. I thought, for the most part, even before we got to the fourth quarter, that we were running the ball pretty effectively and we wanted to run the football. That was a good thing to see. I was happy for (Chris Johnson), that he got some success doing that, that the line had some success. Again, you’ve got to look to the positives when something doesn’t go well because you have to line up next week and play Minnesota, and we need the running game to be a big part of the offense, so yeah, it was good to see us having more success than we’ve had.

(on how Leroy Harris graded out in pass protection against J.J. Watt)

He did well. He got beat for a sack when he got around him, but overall, I thought he played well. But again, we gave up four sacks (Sunday), and three of them were guys getting beat one-on-one, which we don’t have happen very often. It just so happened the quarterback was still holding onto the ball, but three of the sacks were guys getting beat. One was, the first one on Jake (Locker), was coverage, a scheme sack, so we gave them three yesterday (against) the offensive line.

(on if Harris allowed two sacks)

Yes, he had two, and the left guard (Steve) Hutchinson (allowed one).

(on if guys are graded tougher when they allow a sack)

That’s the thing. That’s the life of an NFL lineman because that’s all people watching the game see. They don’t see what (Harris) did. He’s a good football player. We all know that, but you don’t see the rest of the game where he’s got (the defender) locked out maybe 20 times. That’s the life of the NFL. You get a sack, or you’re the guy that gave up the sack, but what did you do the other 60 plays, so that’s disappointing for the line because it obviously hurts that you could have a negative play, especially if the quarterback, if the ball came out, or it created a fumble like (what) happened in the Patriot game: giving up a sack turned into a fumble. That’s a nightmare for an offensive lineman, so yeah, those are plays that are hard to take, but that’s the way it is. You’ve got to be able to do your job, and you’ve got to do it every snap. You just can’t, it’s not like baseball, where 3-of-10 is you’re a great hitter. Football, on the O-line has got to be 100 percent, or hopefully, the times you get beat, the ball is out before it happens so nobody notices it. But unfortunately, those three times, the ball wasn’t out, and they made plays on us.

(on if Kenny Britt was close to playing Sunday)

No, we didn’t feel comfortable with where he was on Saturday. We tried to run him a little bit, and had he tried to do all those things, that wouldn’t have been fair to him or the team. He wasn’t ready to play, so obviously, our hope is that he had a good chance to help us this week, so he and (Colin) McCarthy, I think McCarthy should be able to practice on Wednesday, as far as at least to do individual (drills) and see how his ankle responds to doing football stuff. And then the same thing with Kenny, we’ll be kind of wait-and-see, but obviously we’re more optimistic this week that he’ll have a shot, so it’s just a matter of seeing how his ankle comes along once we start working him out.

(on if Kenny Britt’s ankle injury is less severe than Colin McCarthy’s)

His wasn’t from the beginning. His wasn’t quite as bad. He was never, he never got to wear the boot and do all those things right off the bat, so his wasn’t as bad, but he’s playing a position that obviously (requires) a lot more cutting and things like that, high speed, so we’ll see. They’re two of our best players. We need to have our guys back, and that’s a big part of if we’re going to win these next two that we’re talking about or at least this one on the road here, we need both those guys back.

(on potentially activating three quarterbacks to avoid an emergency QB situation)

I think we have to make that decision. In years past that’s come up where we’ve kept three guys up for that reason. We’d have to see, really, where Jake (Locker) was at, if it was worth having him up if he couldn’t play. Even like last time, I don’t know if we would have suited him up if we felt he couldn’t play. We’d probably put him down and Rusty (Smith) up for the San Diego game, for example. We do that with other positions also: offensive line we always suit seven up. If you get someone that’s kind of tweaked, a couple of guys, then we’ll suit up eight that game. So, if we’re concerned for it, then yes, we would.

(on increased playing time for Zac Diles)

We wanted to get him in there. The week before I think he played about 15, 18 snaps. We feel that he’s an explosive player. I think he had some nice tackles on (Arian Foster), I thought he did a nice job of filling (gaps) quick. He just brings a different type of style, how he plays. So we just wanted to get him in there more. We thought (Will Witherspoon) was getting a lot of reps because he was playing nickel and base, so I think it worked out well yesterday with him in there. We found out a little more about him. We know what (Witherspoon) can do. It gave us a chance to see what Zac (Diles) can do out there playing, and hopefully, we’ll have (Colin) McCarthy back so we can kind of work things around, but I think it was good for him to play more. That was the intent going in, especially against a running football team. We thought he would fit in nice to help us stop the run and he did.

(on if Zach Brown will remain a starter when Colin McCarthy returns)

I don’t know. I think it’s good that he’s getting a chance to play. I think he’s like a lot of young guys: inconsistent. That’s probably what I could say about our whole team right now. I can probably say that we’re pretty much inconsistent right now as a bunch, but he’s got some valuable playing time. He’s learning what the speed in this league is all about. He’s made some nice plays. He’s learning on plays that he didn’t make, so you know, like all young guys, he’s a work-in-progress, and I think the more a young guy can play, the better it will help us as the season progresses. I think it’s very valuable for him. As far as what we do when (Colin) McCarthy’s healthy, it just depends to what level he’s healthy. Can he play every snap again? Or does he only play certain packages, so that may affect who we have in there playing.

(on minimizing the contact that Jared Cook encountered)

We kept him out, pretty much the fourth quarter. I think we took him out when there was really no reason for him to be out there at that point after we had the last turnover, so we just wanted to be smart with him because he got through the game fine, as far as health, which means he should feel better this week, so he’ll practice more this week. So that was a good thing for the game, that he didn’t have any setbacks.

(on Mike Martin playing more snaps than Karl Klug)

I think the team we were playing was pretty much run, play-action, especially when they were trying to quick snap it. They were smart. They weren’t going to let us get, they were going to max, eight-man protecting when they were going to take their shots down the field. They wanted to run the ball. Like I said, if we didn’t allow them, if we had tied that thing up at 14, then all of a sudden it’s a different game, and then Klug, maybe gets to play, there’s more passing going on, and maybe some real chances at pass rush, but when we allowed the game to stay the way it was, then Mike Martin fits that game better, as far as stopping the run, dealing with the cut blocks, you need a bigger body in there. That’s why the reps didn’t go Karl (Klug’s) way.

(on if Locker’s injury has set his progress as a young quarterback back)

I think it’s hard. It’s disappointing for all of us. I mean, you know how excited we are about him and about his play. We thought people got a good shot of that last week when you saw how he played in the Detroit game and was able to do a lot of things for us. That’s how we saw him going forward, so I know it was disappointing for him to have this because there’s no doubt it affected him in the second game after it happened in the Patriot game. There’s no doubt he wasn’t himself in San Diego. We didn’t feel like he was able to do as much as we wanted him to do. I thought the Detroit game, he started feeling better at the end, and then coming into this week, no doubt, I was excited to see what he was going to do against this team on the road. It was disappointing that he wasn’t able to play this football game, and like you said, it’s hard. You always want your best players playing. It’s been hard to watch Colin McCarthy stand there since the first game, and Kenny Britt not playing, and the different guys that have gotten hurt, but that’s how this league is. A lot of guys get hurt. All teams have the same problem, but it’s hard. You want the best guys to play. You think you can do a lot of things, you get excited about the season, and all of a sudden, certain guys are missing, and especially if it’s the quarterback. That’s why we’re lucky we have Matt here. We talked about having two, and unfortunately, we’ve used him a lot more than we planned.

(on if it is best for Locker to shut him down for the upcoming game or games) 

Well, we’ll have to wait and see how he is or where we think he’s at, but you can go back to the San Diego game, he was ready to play. When I say that, I mean, it’s like every other player. No one feels great on Sunday. Everyone has, people like to put percentages on it, you know what? Everyone’s sore. I don’t know if there’s a 100-percent guy playing on Sunday as far as your health. When you play in the league, you have something that’s sore, so it wasn’t like he was limited in any way to play that game. You have to rehab all day. It’s just a burden, then you have to go to practice, watch tape, and on top of that, you have to get treatments. It just adds to the routine of the week. That’s what I mean by it, it adds to the routine, versus not having to do that. Health-wise, I think he was OK. I think, all of a sudden, now you are rehabbing every day. It just adds more to the grind that you wish you didn’t have to deal with. That just comes with the job.

(on dealing with injuries at key positions)

It’s been hard. Losing a center, losing Eugene (Amano) right off the bat as your starting center. We knew he was going to be in the mix somehow. We knew Kenny was going to come into the season limited, but to have him now (deal with) an ankle after his knee was doing great, that was hard to take. We thought after last week that he was a guy that he could have made a big difference in this game yesterday. The quarterback thing going on, with this little uncertainty going on, (Colin) McCarthy, really was a huge loss for our defense in this first quarter of the season, not having him out there, and just seeing where he’d be right now if he was playing all four games, as far as being a leader and you say, he’s your guy, he’s your playmaker, it just kind of got put on hold. Yeah, that’s hard to take but like we said, we all deal with it, and hopefully we’ll have all those guys back for the next one.

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