HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on the team’s schedule this week)
The players were off today, other than for injuries. The coaches obviously came in, graded the film, did what we normally do on a Monday, get ahead on the Jets. Players will come in tomorrow like it’s a normal Monday, get their workout in, watch the tape of the Indy game. Then they’ll take Wednesday off like it’s a Tuesday and then we’ll start our normal game week which will be Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday, and play Monday night.
I thought it was fun to watch him play. He hit the quarterback I think seven times. When I say hit him, he took him to the ground seven times. He created the turnover for the touchdown, he had a sack. Other than jumping off sides one time, he played as well as a lot of defensive ends can play. He only got the one sack, but he was hitting him a lot and was aggressive and played the run well. To watch that group in general, the defensive line, I thought throughout the game, sacking him four times, all over him, making tough throws, making him earn everything he did upfront. That’s the thing that is encouraging when you watch us play. Especially right now on the defensive side of the ball the last five weeks, I think on third down, we’ve done a great job. Yesterday, we held them to 30 percent on third down, we held them to the least yards they’ve had all year. We were at 24 percent last week against Houston. I think we’re in the top five in the last so many weeks on that, or the top 10 I should say, in the last five weeks. We’re heading in the right direction as far as what we want to accomplish on defense. The bottom line is winning football games, we get that. Guys are playing better. The thing you want to look at when things aren’t going well, maybe on the win, loss, we’re looking at are we getting better? Are players getting better? Are they coming around? They are. That’s why it’s more disappointing when you don’t find a way to win a football game when you feel, especially on that side of the ball that we’re taking about right now, played very well in a lot of ways. Unfortunately, they made some mistakes too, and didn’t make some of the plays that as a defense we had an opportunity to make. You have a fumble on the ball right before half which was an easy pick up. The ball got pulled out, just like you ask. We stripped a guy, the ball is bouncing uncontested, we can’t cover it. That’s a huge play. Then we actually cover a fumble on a third down, but we’re offsides. We cover the fumble on a bad snap, and the game’s over. Those are the things, why the ball bounced that way, why he jumped offsides on that play. For all the good that is going on, those kind of plays are still happening and that’s what takes wins away from you.
(on playing on Monday Night Football)
Our plan is every week to play well. I thought last week, we came out showing that. Definitely it adds more to the game because it’s a Monday night game, I think that’s just in general. I think that’s helpful because we are going through the season we are. You say, ‘Well, you’re out of the playoffs.’ I think these guys will play hard, and I think Monday night will bring that out in them also. You’re playing against a Jets football team that is still fighting for a playoff spot. We know we’re a lot better than 4-9. I know people don’t know much about us. They haven’t seen us play other than the Pittsburgh game, which we won when we were on national TV. We want to win and play well and having it on national TV just adds to it, so maybe people can see really what we’re about. I think that’s what the plan will be and that’s what we’ll do.
(on the struggles of the run game on Sunday)
I think on both ends, we’re inconsistent in the game. I thought protection was very good for the most part in an environment like that with pass rushers like they have, the speed they have, the crowd noise, silent count, three new players. Jake (Locker) got hit probably twice in the pocket the whole day, maybe three times max. he moved around the pocket a little bit, but compared to what (Andrew) Luck went through at home, that’s a huge difference. Running the ball, we weren’t as consistent as we needed to be. There were times that (
(on at what point should
It’s not handcuffs. That’s the reason why we have the choice, because he’s not handcuffed. But when something doesn’t go right, you think, ‘What’s our part?’ You don’t just say, ‘That’s the player’s fault. He knows how to do that.’ I think sometimes the coach’s issue is that Jake (Locker) knows on that play he had an option, he did the wrong thing. It’s something that he’s done since he’s been here. On our behalf as coaches, it’s not excusing him from blame. He wished, obviously, he did not make that play. On our side, we look at it that in certain games, maybe in just that time of that game, where we were in the situation, just run the snake. You take out the chance of getting a six-yard completion, usually we feel that is a gimme if they’re playing way off. That’s where you’re looking. If he was handcuffed, we wouldn’t even allow that. That wouldn’t be called. We feel he can handle everything in the offense, that’s why we do what we do. We have him moving around, we have him checking plays, we have him making decisions because we feel he can handle that. We don’t want to make it too complicated for him. We made sure the routes, some cutbacks in some of the gray areas there. In certain protections, we make sure he’s not going to have to always adjust protections, that things are built into where during a game, you’re not putting pressure on him every snap to check protections, where every so often you do that. You don’t want to do that every snap where you’re putting pressure on a quarterback. Same thing in the run game, we’ll do some checks. We’ll call plays where he can run no matter what happens. It doesn’t matter what the Colts are doing, that’s a good play, let it go. Then there may be other plays as you go through the game if it’s going well, where there is a choice, run this play or this play. I think you have to be smart as a staff to where if certain things are going on in games, then you decide, just give him some go-to plays because of the flow of the game. That’s where you say as coaches, you look at what you did, then maybe don’t give him a choice, just do that now and then later on come back and give him a choice. I think that’s what coaching staffs try to do, is try to help the players and us realizing when maybe because the flow of the game is not the way we hoped it was, then maybe we should cut back on the choices and let us make more of the decisions, and vice versa. He doesn’t have the handcuffs on him, I think we put him in a position to make a lot of plays. Heck, he had over 300 yards of offense yesterday with him running and throwing. If I was a fan, I’d be excited about his future. He’s going to be a very good quarterback for a long time. He’s played 10 games now. He’s special, threw some great balls to
(on Jake Locker’s turnovers)
When you look at what the turnovers are, this game, obviously, both of them hurt us. They were tough times for them to happen. The second time, he is running on the move, and he gets a bad feel for it. He should have been, looking back, yeah, just run the ball. He thought he could get it to Nate (Washington). Nate ended up breaking the wrong way, and obviously, he threw a ball in a spot that normally he wouldn’t throw it on the run. I think last week, I think one of the picks was a throwaway, was at the end of the game. When I say picks, I mean Nate caught the ball and he fumbled it up in the air, it’s a pick. It’s not necessarily that the quarterback threw a bad ball. When you just call out turnovers, you have to see what happened on that play and what the cause was. Yesterday, the game we’re talking about here, no doubt, he threw two balls that hurt us. One turns into seven points, and one gave them a three-point play. Those are ones he wants back, and hopefully he’ll limit those.
(on if fault can be assigned to
No, you can’t blame either one. It’s just that it happens in a split second. He’s making a split-second decision and the reality is we’ll say, ‘The next time…,’ just like earlier in the game right before the half, what did he do? He kept the ball. I looked at the film and Kendall (Wright) comes wide open in the film on that play before half that he ran, that was actually our only sack of the game. He decided, ‘I’m going to run because I’m going to get three points,’ so he didn’t turn the ball over there. He could have thrown a touchdown pass, but he could have thrown a pick there. You never know when you’re running. I don’t think it’s anyone’s fault. He’s got to make the decision if someone’s not open and obvious, run, and maybe he would have gotten a first down there. He decided he thought he could stick it in there, so it’s not anyone’s fault. He ended up making the decision that turned out to be a bad one.
(on if Jake Locker is losing confidence by not finishing games with wins)
I think we’re just all upset we didn’t win, and I think we all take responsibility for what we could have done to finish the game when you don’t win. I think quarterbacks tend to take more, coaches take more, coordinators, head coaches, because your quarterback touches the ball, obviously, every snap so he feels more responsible when you don’t win, but there’s a lot of things in that game, that you need everyone to contribute to win a football game at the end. It’s not all on the quarterback to finish the game, and as a team, they have to finish a game better than you’re finishing them. Like I said, there’s a lot of great things in that game that are going to be fun, things that you’re going to continue to see. We talked a little bit about the defense, and some of the plays that Jake (Locker) is making, seeing Kenny Britt go for about 150 and run about as good as he has in a game. I think that was exciting to see, so there’s a lot of things pointing in that direction. The bottom line is when we have some easy plays to make and some ways to put games away, we haven’t done that.
(on how close Jake Locker is to putting together a game-winning drive)
We feel like it should happen every week. Like that game yesterday, the one last week, we assume it’s something that he shouldn’t have to get close to. He should be ready to go. He’s our starter, he should be able to finish games if we need to. He should make plays, the guys around him have to make plays. You learn from your mistakes. It’s a tough time we’re going through, there’s no doubt. When you’re losing, it’s difficult, but I think we’re doing a good job. If you were in our locker room at halftime, we came out ready to play, we came out, I thought, playing well on a lot of levels. Even though we weren’t making all the plays we wanted to make in that first half, we were up 20-7. I think we were disappointed at halftime, thinking it should have been more. I think that’s the kind of team we have here. Like I said, the second half, we had a chance to put the game away with the mistakes they made. We didn’t capitalize on them, and they capitalized on ours. You want to point to one guy, people always say, ‘Well, the quarterback took them on the drive.’ Guys have to make the right catches, guys have to protect. There are a lot of moving parts there. I know the quarterback gets the blame and the success if you go down and win it. But as a team, we did it three times this year, win games at the end. We have to continue to do that. For some reason, the last two or three weeks, we haven’t been able to do that.
(on if he’s concerned that the team’s mistakes could cost him his job)
I think that’s not my worry or my decision. We have to win football games, I get that. I think it’s all about, for me, knowing that we’re heading in the right direction. I feel we’re doing that, I feel we’re getting the wins and I get that. That’s what I’ll be judged on when it’s all said and done, and that will be for someone else to decide. I think seeing how guys play when things aren’t going well is a testament to how we do also—the game yesterday, the next three weeks. I feel good about, like I said, Jake (Locker) and some of these young guys. I think we’re starting to develop the way we hoped we would. The games aren’t ending up the way we hoped they would right now. We’re just going to keep battling through this thing the next three weeks and put the best guys on the field and play with a positive attitude and fight our way through this thing and not feel sorry for ourselves, and not worry about the consequences at the end of the season. If you do things like that, then things get blown away if you start worrying about what may happen three weeks from now. There’s going to be a very good football team here. We’re not showing it right now, as far as our record goes. Believe me, we could easily have three or four more wins than we have right now, and it would be a different story. I feel like, again, you’re seeing enough stuff that we’re close enough, it’s here, we’ll get it. Hopefully, we’ll show you that over the next three weeks.
(on if he feels like he needs to win a few more games to secure his job)
That’s not why we want to win. We need to win because that’s what we’re supposed to do every Sunday. That’s not my concern. Believe me, that’s not something that crosses my mind, about the consequence to me if we end up with four wins, five or six. To me, it doesn’t matter. At this point, if we end up with seven, that’s not good enough. Seven wins, does that mean that we had a great year now? We want to win, don’t get me wrong. The goal is to win these next three, but to me, we need to be in the playoffs. That’s what I want to do. That’s what our goal is. It’s not, ‘Hey, we came on strong the last four weeks.’ That’s not our goal, but that’s where we are. Our goal right now is to finish the season and win these three games and build confidence in the guys. This is a young football team that’s going to be here for a long time. We have a good, core group here that we’re going to keep adding to. Again, these are tough times to go through, when things aren’t going your way, you’re not getting breaks the way you hoped. It’s how you handle them, and I think this group will grow because of it and be a better team because of what they’re going through right now. The goal is to be sitting here next year at this time and saying, ‘You know what? Last year was a tough year on all of us, but now we see all of the stuff we’ve learned from what happened last year.’ That’s what we’re going to have to do with this in these next few weeks, do the best we can, bust it, work hard in practice, which we will, there’s no doubt about that. Win all three, then whatever happens, happens.
(on what he wants this team’s identity to be)
Right now, you win four games, you’re not consistent enough with what you want to accomplish. We want to be like every offense wants to be. You want to control the line of scrimmage, you want to control time of possession, you want to finish drives. You want to know that when you need to run the ball, you can. In games where we haven’t done that, we’ve struggled to finish games. On defense, it’s obvious, everyone wants to get three-and-out, you want to do a great job of getting off the field and getting the ball back for the offense and all those great things. That’s what I said earlier, we’re doing much better at it the last five weeks than we did earlier in the season. We’re trending in the right way in a lot of areas, as far as the development of our team. We have a lot of work ahead of us, we get that. We just have to find a way, again, to play the 60 minutes as well as we did the first 30.
(on conversations he has had with Mr. Adams)
I haven’t talked to Mr. Adams in a couple of weeks, as far as about that. That’s something, again, at some point we’ll obviously have those kind of conversations about where we’re at. I haven’t talked to him in about two weeks.
(on if he’s gotten any assurances from Mr. Adams that his job is safe)
He’s never given me any assurances from the day he hired me. He hired me to take over this football team, head it in the right direction, and win football games. As far as that goes, he’s never either way said one way or the other. We talk a lot, we talk throughout the season, obviously, throughout the draft, all the things that come up. When the season comes to an end, I usually talk to him once a week, once every couple weeks worst case, especially if he’s in town for a home game, so he gets an idea of what’s going on. That’s something at the end of the year we’ll discuss as far as what went wrong, what we need to improve upon, what our game plan is, that kind of thing.
(on if he says anything extra to the team after the incident in Dallas over the weekend)
We haven’t had a chance to talk about this incident, it happened on Saturday afternoon. It’s a topic that our organization does a great job with. They have a confidential car service available for this whole organization for guys when it comes to if you’re out drinking or have a drink, to make sure that you have someone to call if you need to, so you don’t drive. I think they’ve done a great job here for probably the last four or five years, at least that long, with that program in place, so everyone can take advantage of it, so you can avoid situations like that. The league does a great job of talking to these players, bringing people in. During the offseason, Tina (Tuggle) does a great job with our player development with our young players as they come in. When something like this happens, we remind these guys how easy these things happen. It’s about making decisions. There are ways to avoid especially the driving part at night, if you end up getting in a situation that you weren’t planning on doing. You go out and have a drink and really didn’t think you were going to, there is an alternative to driving. I think they’re very well educated on that and given options on other alternatives to avoid something like this from happening.
(on if the players are receptive to the message)
I think when anything happens in life, that you realize, it can happen to anyone. I think it hits home with guys, to realize that you’re not invincible. When you’re an athlete, sometimes guys think, ‘Well, that won’t happen to me.’ Your neighbor thinks, ‘That happened to that guy, it’s never going to happen (to me).’ Not in this case, but in a lot of situations, when something happens like this, speeding, which a lot of people do, driving too fast, whatever the situation ended up being, I think that they think about it. You hope they’re educated on it. We talk about it a lot with the programs the NFL has. You hope to limit this kind of thing from happening.
(on the fact that a third of arrests of NFL players in the last 10 years are DUI-related)
Yeah, it is (shocking). I don’t know what it is in society, how bad it is. That’s why I think the Titans have done a great job with what we offer the players, with the car service. We encourage that, and make it easy to use. Not only when you’re in town, but when you’re out of town, that’s something that is available to them. What happens a lot of times is you have a drink or two, and you weren’t planning on it. It is getting guys to realize that it isn’t a good alternative. All you can do is keep educating them, and hope when the time comes, people make good decisions with that.
(on plays in the red zone the last few weeks)
Nothing that is consistent. Usually if you can find one thing, it makes it easy to fix it. Sometimes it’s a penalty, we had a couple yesterday that hurt us, five-yard penalties that hurt us. We actually overcame one holding penalty. We had the great catch by Jared (Cook), the first touchdown on third-and-six that overcame the one holding call that we had. We had opportunities, it’s not one thing. You would like to be able to run it better down there maybe, but there is nothing that stands out other than the fact that we’re not scoring as many points as we’d like.
(on if Kenny Britt overcame a mental and physical hurdle with a good performance against the Colts)
I hope so. I think that’s just part of the process for him. The road to recovery that he’s been going through has been hard, mentally and physically for him, in a lot of areas. To finally have a game that picks him back up where he left off back in Week 2 last year after our first two games where he had about 150 a game. I think that’s a good thing for him. The exciting part is, I think you’re going to see that combination hook up for a long time to come. The more they get comfortable with each other, that’s something that’s going to be one of the matchups. With Kendall (Wright) and Nate (Washington) and (Jared) Cook, you’ve got guys that, like I tell these guys, it’s going to be special to be part of this. I keep trying to tell these guys, maybe not right now the wins and losses aren’t what we want, but this is something. I’ve been a part of teams where for my first three or four years, we didn’t win a lot of football games, and then we went to the playoffs seven years in a row. Guys hung together and we got comfortable with each other and we stayed in the same system, all of a sudden, you built something that was pretty special. We’re talking about the offensive side of the ball, that’s what I think they have a chance to develop there with a young quarterback and the weapons they have around them. They have a chance to be part of something that could be very special for years to come. Even though it’s not right now happening at the level we want, it’s something that could be there if we allow it to develop and keep these guys together, it could be something that is going to be hard to deal with. You throw (Chris Johnson) in there as the running back, and you have a lot of good weapons that this offense could be hard to deal with once we get consistent week in and week out.
(on the separation Kenny Britt was getting downfield)
He made some tough catches. There were some great balls dropped in there. Guys were all over him, he made some great catches. The one was a PI on them, and he still caught it before the half. He’s a big target, there are a lot of things he can do. I thought Dowell (Loggains) did a good job of getting him plays and running things that he’s good at. I think his confidence will just continue to grow from that. He ran as good as he’s probably run, which is a good thing for him. These are games that are important for a lot of people. People say, ‘Well, you’re out of the playoffs.’ There are a lot of guys that can make a big move these next three games, a guy like Kenny (Britt), a guy like Kendall (Wright), (Jared) Cook. Guys continue to play because there is a lot to play for. The guys on defense, there are a lot of guys that are starting to come into their own. It’s a great way to end strong, and that’s what we’re trying to do.
(Scott) Solomon hurt his knee. We’ll have to wait and see, he had an MRI. He was sore, I don’t think he came back in the second half. I think he just played the first half and maybe a very little bit the second. Jared (Cook) tore his rotator cuff, so he’ll be out for the year. He’ll be put on injured reserve at some point, on the play on the bubble screen to the left side where he got hurt during the game. That was very unfortunate, losing another great player after making such a great catch and being a big part of our offense. That’s going to be a big blow for us.
(on the size of the IR list)
It reminds you what a brutal game it is, and how hard it is to stay healthy. When you hear about teams that do stay healthy, what a difference it makes in the wins and losses. It makes it harder, no doubt, but guys have to step up and play. A lot of guys have done that this year, taken advantage of the different things that have happened. It’s hard and you hate to have it happen, but you hope that these injuries are stuff that guys can get the surgeries and be back and ready to play next year.
I assume. I didn’t get all the details other than the fact that it was a little worse than we had hoped. With only three games left, he won’t be able to play the rest of the year.
He got to play. Mike (Preston) played hard, he’s been working hard. We feel he’s been improving quite a bit in practice. He always plays the scout team. The guy has great energy, he goes and gets the balls. The quarterbacks have confidence in him from working with him. We felt that it allowed him to play the ‘X,’ have another big receiver up to help us give Kenny (Britt) a rest at times, which we did in the game, and let him go out there and play. It worked out. We felt that’d be good for the rotation, and actually we felt that if we needed another slot receiver, we could put Jared (Cook) in the slot if someone got hurt. It gave us ways to protect us on both ends by not having both receivers up because we needed some help on special teams. We suited up a linebacker for that. We had to choose between one receiver, and we thought the best fit was Preston, give him a chance. Like I said, he’s done a great job on the outside, give Kenny a break at times, which he did. If we had to do something in the slot, we’d put Jared in there for the three-receiver set.
(on if he expects that
He’s another one that we’ll have to see how the hamstring is this week. We thought that his would be a two-week deal, we were hoping that was all it would be. We don’t know that yet, so we’ll see how he is this week. With the Monday game, we’ll see. With things getting so close with only a couple weeks left, you start making decisions about if it’s worth bringing certain guys back or not depending on what their injuries are with only three weeks to go. I think Preston did a nice job in the game when he was in there, caught a ball, blocked hard, good energy. We’ll see how he does.
(on if he expects that
We assume that there is a good chance that he’ll play this week. We assume he’ll be OK next Monday.
(on if he considered going for it on fourth down when the Titans decided to punt the ball away with just under three minutes remaining in the game)
No, with it being fourth-and-10 it being, we had the two-minute warning and the three timeouts, we ended up punting and had them backed up inside their 10. As it worked out, they got a first down, but we should have had a great chance to get the ball back there, but we didn’t. I think that way was the right way to go.
He hit a couple 60-yarders. He’s always confident that he can hit the long one. He wants to break the record someday, that’s in his mind. I did it because the conditions were obviously as ideal as they’re going to be to kick a ball indoors. We’re not indoors very often. He was kicking well there. 57-yarder, their guy hit a 54-yarder. I think that thing would have cleared it by 60, the way he hit it late in the game. It was a kick that we felt he could definitely make. Again, where we were on the field, it was 7-0, I thought it was a good way to get three points out of a drive and maybe get up 10-0 at that point, and give him a chance to do that. Unfortunately, we missed it. At the time, I thought it was a good way to give him a chance at it.
(on if he would have made that call again)
If you take me back in time, I would have done it again. After the fact that he missed it, then I’d say no, I wouldn’t have done it. You don’t know what is going to happen. You always rethink things. Would you do that here? It just depends on the game. Our defense went three-and-out the first time, so again, I felt confident that we were giving the ball on the 40-yard line, 39-yard line, but it wasn’t like we were giving up points or giving up a gimme. It wasn’t the end of the game by any means, it was the first quarter. I think he has a legitimate chance of hitting that. Like I said, the other kicker hit his well and made it. I think he had a good chance. I thought the decision at the time was the right one.
(on what Jake Locker should do next time before runs a sneak to make sure it isn’t a first down already)
It was just like everything that could go wrong went wrong on that. We were trying to go hurry-up. He didn’t make the first down because (Chris Johnson) didn’t get to the line. When he put the ball down and we’re hurrying up, I don’t think he could see where the ball was to be honest with you because the official was in the way. We’re trying to hurry up, the Colts are trying to go in there because we’re trying to get a hurry-up sneak to get the first down because where we were standing, it wasn’t a first down. The 30-yard line was. Now where the ball ended up, it was hard to see until he put it down. I don’t think Jake (Locker) had a lot of time. The official, I would have hoped, would have said, ‘Hey, you got a first down.’ He did not. They didn’t let us know. There was a lot happening. My point is that it wasn’t very clear that it was, everyone assumed it wasn’t because there was no signal that there was. Again, the official next to me had their foot on the line. We were assuming that it was not a first down, that’s why the play was called to him to hurry up and run the quarterback sneak to get the first down to keep the drive going so we could catch them off-guard. There wasn’t enough time to communicate because he was in such a hurry to get the thing done to try to beat them, that obviously, they ruled it a first down without really making much of a notification. They thought we were in a two-minute mode, so they didn’t want to get in our way. They were trying to get out of our way, so we could get an advantage they thought we were trying to get, so they didn’t make a real big deal of it being first down or not. That’s what created the chaos. Yes, ideally, you would like at some point in there without trying to hurry it, that we recognize that it wasn’t, so we can avoid that. Hopefully, someone on the sidelines would have recognized that we made a first down, so we get told in the helmet, ‘Hey, it’s a first down, go back to the shotgun.’ That kind of thing, and neither one happened.
(on if Jake Locker could have asked the official spotting the ball if it was a first down)We could have. I don’t think that the official who spotted the ball said a word, I don’t know if he even thought about saying first down. I don’t think they were on the same page in what was happening because it was happening so quick and they were spotting it. When they first put it down, it wasn’t even at the line. That’s why we were thinking it wasn’t. Then they were standing over the ball letting them get set, and then it moved up to where it was barely touching it. I think when the official walked back, the referee just marked it like, ‘Hey, it’s a first down,’ but we were already under center. There was a little confusion there, and basically us trying to hurry up ended up hurting us.