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Coach Munchak's Monday Press Conference

Posted Oct 30, 2012

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on what he saw on film regarding the play on which forward progress was ruled to be stopped before Akeem Ayers forced a fumble)

Let me just say that we ask the players to make plays and I thought right there Akeem (Ayers) made a great play at a time when people thought the game was ours. At that time, we weren’t sure if they were going to try to go down and get points, but it was a great play, got the ball out, we thought, and unfortunately the official didn’t see it that way. I haven’t talked to anyone from New York yet, but we’ll turn those things in along with some usual things we do every week with some calls that we have some questions about or need to get the interpretation of, and we’ll do that, but like we said, that’s not why we didn’t win the game. That was just a play we thought we had made and we didn’t get credit for.

(on the number of offensive pass interference calls and if some officiating crews call that more than others)

Well, again, you hear what guys are known for (but) you just go play the game. We have to be aware of guys that call holding if it’s offensive line or if they are looking for certain things, but you’ve still got to play and I don’t know if it would have changed what we did. I think guys have to be smart with how you use your hands and how you respond, but the thing about the league is it’s hard, especially with pass interferences. You just want things that are consistent week-in, week-out. Like you just said, you don’t want to have one group does this, and one group does the other thing. You want all the rules to be interpreted as the same. That’s pretty much, as a coach, I think that’s all you want so you’re on the same page on what’s allowed and what’s not, and you know, it’s hard to do that because you have different groups and there’s a lot of judgment involved in those kind of fouls, just like holding calls. People see those things totally different from one week to the next, so it’s unfortunate. Luckily, two of them we overcame, just the first one was the one we didn’t, and we ended up punting on that drive, and the other (two), they were both on the same drive and we came up with a touchdown on that drive eventually, so it worked its way out. It’s unfortunate, but hopefully we can avoid those things because they’re some big plays, and it hurts us on the other side, losing the 10 yards.

(on how forward progress is consistently called week-in and week-out)

Again, you hope they let the play finish and then decide if the ball carrier was down or not. That’s pretty much how you look at that, then you would make the decision. It was clearly recovered by us; that made that part of it easy; it’s just a matter now of what they saw, and especially that late in the game, and I don’t know, I’ll have to wait until I get their interpretation. It’s hard during the game to get a feel for what they thought. Obviously, they’ll watch it in slow motion and this and that and then we’ll see what they think about it, but it’s a tough play. I thought we made a play; we didn’t get credit for it, and we’ll have to move on.

(on if it seemed like officials ruled forward progress had been stopped quicker than other plays)

I would say that it’s an emotional game, and in live time it seemed like, I always think of forward progress is like four guys pulling a guy back and they blow the whistle. At that time, I just didn’t really hear a whistle and I thought the ball was out before anything was really ruled one way or the other. I don’t know if people thought the ball was out, actually. It seemed like the other official, I don’t think he saw the ball from his angle, so I just thought it was a play we had made, and I think most teams are going to think, if you’re the one that recovered it, you made the play, so at that moment, obviously, our whole sideline was excited about what we saw happening and the fact that we felt we made a play and didn’t get credit. It didn’t work that way, and obviously we have to move on when we went into overtime, and we didn’t.

(on the status of Leroy Harris’ injury)

We’ll have to wait and see I guess. He went for his MRI. I didn’t see him since he’s been back, just something odd. He was backing up, I think, it happened on that same series when we had the penalty. He got his knee caught, his foot caught, I guess and felt a pop. We’ll just have to wait and see.

(on if the injury to Leroy Harris has potential to be season-ending)

We don’t know. It’s hard to tell that way. I don’t think so, but again, I don’t know all that. He’s walking around and we’ll have to wait and see what they see and if it needs attention, if it doesn’t and can kind of heal on its own, if rest takes care of it and it’s just a matter of there’s not enough information.

(on if Leroy Harris heard a pop)

It just gave out. Let me rephrase it that way. It just kind of felt like it gave. It’s hard to tell on the tape if he actually caught someone’s foot and that’s why he slipped and lost his balance or kind of what happened. When those things happen, for the player himself, it’s hard to know what happened because you think one thing and you see the tape and see another. It’s kind of hard to see the tape, so I just think something happened when he was trying to pass off the stunt and then he came off and we realized he had a problem.

(on how the offensive line adjusted to missing two starters)

Like I said after the game, I wish we could have enjoyed that more or praised that more with a win. I thought Mike Otto did exactly what we thought during the week that he would do. He went in there, a guy who hadn’t played all year, like it was pointed out, and I thought he did a nice job against good players, against (Dwight) Freeney quite a bit at times, and then we flipped sides and he went against a good football player there. I thought, overall, he played well. I mean he played a good, solid football game. We ran the ball pretty well, I thought, all day; the protection for the most part was good. I think we gave up two sacks, but one was a coverage sack at the end of the game, and the other one, I thought Matt (Hasselbeck) had enough time to operate. Kevin Matthews came in and hadn’t played guard in a long time. That was maybe the first time he played guard, other than a preseason game, when Leroy (Harris) got hurt, and again same thing, I thought as the game went on, he just played better and better, got a fit, the communication, and my point of the whole thing, what was nice to see, is we could have won with that group going. They were playing good, and we were making plays. We weren’t taken out of our offense at all, which is nice, the fact that we didn’t have to change anything we had planned, and we already, obviously, protection thoughts going into the game plan because of having a new tackle and things like that. I thought (offensive coordinator) Chris Palmer did a nice job of setting things the way he wanted to, so we made sure we didn’t leave guys on the island too much, and we did a good job with that and gave ourselves a chance to make plays and had plenty of opportunities to win that game.

(on Kenny Britt having an MRI Monday and if there is any chance he will miss time)

I don’t know. He gets an MRI every week. He had one last week too. He played, again, we’re trying to watch his reps so it’s not too much. You’ll see us alternate him in and out, that’s why (receivers coach) Dave Ragone is on the sidelines, trying to make sure we’re not over-working him because that’s easy to do because you want to get all your playmakers on the field but it’s hard to do that, and we feel we have a lot of guys that can contribute. I’m sure he is, I mean, I heard he was sore when the game ended, but at this point, we don’t have him ruled out by any means. We’re assuming that he’s going to be OK on Sunday.      

(on if he expects that Kenny Britt’s knee will act back up again)

I hope not. Like I said, we checked him last week also. I think it’s going to be this year, for a lot of guys when they’re coming off the ACL, there are a lot of ups and downs and soreness, working through things. It’s all so new to him, now trying to get back to the type of form he’s used to playing at. He’s used to being at a high level, and he’s trying to work his way back to that. That’s hard to do, that’s not easy to do. It’s a process, and this is part of the process that he’s going to have after some games when he’s sore one week to the next week and have to work through it and rehab it and get his strength back and do those kind of things. Obviously, we’re hoping that’s the routine that he’s dealing with right now and we can get him through these next couple of weeks before the bye week, and then he’ll have that extra boost to get ready.

(on Indianapolis’ ability to run the ball late)

They hit us on a trap. I think that was the play they caught us on in the overtime, caught us on a trap with the blitz. We had a blitz on, they just caught us on the right thing, got the right fit. We had a linebacker coming off the edge, and it was just good timing with the play. We moved them at the last second, it’s not something they checked into or audibled into. It was obviously huddle-called. They got us on that play earlier. They ran it earlier in the game and they hit it, and the back ran it well. It’s one of those things where you get the right play called against the right defense, and that’s what they did in that play.

(on if runs up the middle have been a sore spot for the defense)

I don’t know if it’s been a sore spot. I think we’ve been bragging on the guys inside a little bit. (Jurrell) Casey, it’s been an injury-filled year for him this year starting with the preseason when he got the elbow. They hit a couple of runs on us there. A couple weeks we did well, Pittsburgh tries to run up the middle, we did a good job there. We’re just not consistent with certain things. That’s not one of our main problems, I wouldn’t say, no.

(on the main problems on defense)

You know, we held them to 13 points. I told the team today, you usually win the football game when you give up 13 points. There is no reason you shouldn’t win when you don’t turn the ball over and you’re giving up 13 points, you should win those games. That’s why it’s hard to take, the fact that we didn’t make the plays to win it and they did. On defense, the things we did, we had the interception, we didn’t turn it over, we got the interception there, we blocked the kick. We did a lot of things that were great to watch, guys gave us some great effort to make plays. When we had chances to get that game up by two scores, we had the penalties on us, we had things that just hurt us, unfortunately. That’s the hard part to take about games like that, that we were right there. This is the first time we’ve lost a close game all year. We’ve been 3-0 in games that were competitive all the way through the fourth quarter. I think we all felt we were going to make a play to win that thing. Like I said, we had many opportunities to win that game yesterday, and they outplayed us when they had to.

(on who will start at quarterback on Sunday)

Until future notice, Matt (Hasselbeck).

(on if Jake Locker is still a long way away from playing)

I wouldn’t say he’s a long ways away. Again, the process we’ve been talking about last week. He’ll visit with the doctors this afternoon and tomorrow morning. Hopefully he’ll be able to do more. It’s more of medical deal, that they’re going to allow him to do more things, allow him to get bumped around a little bit. As soon as they’re not worried about that concern any longer and they feel like the healing is far enough along, we’ll be able to get him back into, like I mentioned last week, playing in traffic where he can get hit and pushed and fall to the ground and things like that can happen during practice, and they feel like his shoulder is at the level where he can take that. It’s not me deciding or us as a team saying, ‘Let’s put him back in.’ It’s more of a medical, get the approval to move forward to the next step, which would be doing all of practice. Once we feel he gets to that point, then we feel he’s ready to play.

(on if he would consider holding Jake Locker out until after the bye week)

That’ll factor into the thinking, yes, as far as when we’re told, ‘Hey, he can go and he has no limitation.’ If that starts up sometime this week or the beginning of next week, then if we feel he’s ready to play, we’ll give him an opportunity to play. If it gets to where he’s really not there, then yes, if it’s smarter to give him the extra week, then we’ll do that. We’re not making decisions too far out, it’s more just a day-to-day thing now.

(on if Jake Locker’s recovery has become a longer process than he expected)

When it comes to injuries, I found it’s not really…There have been injuries where a guy could tell me they’ll be out four to six weeks, and they’re out two weeks. I don’t get too caught up unless a guy has surgery and I see him walking with a cast or crutches. I think guys heal differently. In Jake (Locker’s) case, I don’t know if there was ever really a timetable. All we went by was it was a little more severe than last time when he hurt it. Obviously, he didn’t miss any time when he did that, so that was easy to say. I didn’t know, we knew it’d be two, three weeks. I was thinking in that area, so that was kind of a window. It could have been more or less, but it’s hard to go by those things.

(on if Craig Stevens got more snaps at tight end on Sunday because of the situation at offensive line)

It’s a combination of things. I think you’re running the ball more, (Chris Johnson) has been running more. We talked about when CJ was running eight times and we were behind, obviously we threw the ball a lot more. I think Craig Stevens played about 10 or 12 snaps in some of those games, or 15 snaps because of the change in the way the game was going. When you do a lot more play action and two-back stuff, you’ll have one tight end in there. That’s not necessarily where you want to use (Jared) Cook. Those positions, you want him ready to play in the fourth quarter. You don’t want to overwork him, you don’t want him playing 80 percent of the snaps. So just in certain games, we’re running the ball more in formations where you’ll only using one tight end, he’ll get less reps in those situations. But hopefully he’s fresh then to help us win games at the end like he did against Pittsburgh with a big catch.

(on what he told Mike Martin about his mistakes in Sunday’s game)

We have been happy with how he’s helping and contributing. We can’t afford those kinds of mistakes. It’s not, ‘Hey, he’s rookie, that’s OK.’ He can’t line up offsides. You can’t do that in Pee Wee football, you can’t do it in college, and obviously, you can’t do it in the NFL. It just so happened to be on a play where we create a turnover, we lose a turnover. That’s why you never can get away with those things, because you just never know when a big play is going to happen behind that gets washed away because of an offsides. Then the hit, you just have to use your hands. You’re not going to yell at him, you’re not going to scold him, that’s not going to do anything. You just want to educate him. I know he’s a rookie and all that, but it’s enough that you just use your hands. Zach Brown had the exact same shot at the quarterback, he took it with his hands, no call and move on. Hopefully, that will be the last time that happens for him. Those plays really hurt the team, and it obviously gave them great field position and chance for a field goal there.

(on if Kamerion Wimbley hesitated on the 16-yard touchdown catch by Vick Ballard in overtime)

I didn’t talk to him. He was just reacting. He was playing his position and trying to make an athletic play. From my vantage point too, I thought he was about to make a really big play. For a second there, you thought he was going to get it. It just seems like that was the story of the day for us. We thought we were going to get it. It was right there and right in front of us numerous times, and we didn’t get it. That was a good play by them and almost a great play by him. It was a tough way to lose a game.

(on any issues that Fernando Velasco and Matt Hasselbeck were having when exchanging the football)

I don’t know. It happens sometimes. One time Fernando (Velasco) was late, he was trying to make a change of call. What happens is the snap count is made and he snaps the ball late on that one. The earlier one, he thought Matt (Hasselbeck) was changing something, and he snapped it early. The fumbled snap, it’s hard to tell on the fumbled snap who to blame for that. The one down by the goal line, again, that’s another. It seemed like we did that in the red zone and what hurt us all the time was the fumbled snap, it was motion, it was (pass interference). Stuff hurt us to where when we got down there, we couldn’t quite finish drives. That was another play that hurt us. You can’t have those things.

(on if there was any discussion about kicking a field goal instead of punting at the end of regulation)

Not a whole lot. I was thinking about it before the play. When we got to the 42, I guess, first-and-10, I thought the 35-yard line for sure, we’ll give it a shot, that’s 52 (yards). Which is something I felt, with the wind kind of to his advantage, that should be a pretty high percentage hit for him, I hope. But again, we missed one already early in the day. But 59, there are too many chances. Then I think we just give them the game, like Pittsburgh kind of did. They gave us great field position. They would have had the ball at almost midfield, the 45-yard line. I feel what we did gave us a lot more chances to win. We ended up not winning. But I felt by kicking, which we did, we had three timeouts to get the ball back, which we obviously could have. They converted on a third-and-five. If they don’t, I think we win the game in the last 40 seconds of the game. We would have gotten great field position, so I thought we had a chance at that. Obviously we felt we had the turnover, and worst case, we have overtime. I thought that gave us three chances, and if he misses the kick, I felt like, could we have stopped him? Sure. But we put ourselves in a bad spot.

(on if he was trying to call a timeout on the fourth-and-one play at the end of the fourth quarter)

We were trying to call a timeout on that. We didn’t need one at the time, but we ended up having a substitution problem on the fourth-and-one. With the crowd noise and hoping the defensive guys would make it. We had to go all the way down, I was running down to try to get the official’s attention, but they had snapped the ball before we could get the timeout called.

(on if there was another play when the Titans only had 10 players on the field on defense)

We had two plays with 10—the play right before it.

(on if players should recognize when there are only 10 players on the field)

You would hope so. Usually you have those problems on offense a lot with different personnel packages running in and out and you have receivers and tight ends, so that comes up. The quarterback is usually the guy to go, ‘We’re short here, we’re short there,’ or they have to call a timeout because they realize they can’t get the play off. Defense has the same thing. You have so many packages. We have a bunch of different packages where three-down formations, four-down formations, where Akeem (Ayers) is more versatile. He’s playing defensive end, he’s playing linebacker. A lot of teams do the same thing. You have to be on top of that when you’re making substitutions. To compound that, they were doing some no-huddle there, so they were doing some hurry-up to make it harder, which teams do now more so than they have done in the past to make it harder to substitute. So you can’t run guys out there because they can hurry up and snap it. We kind of got caught in between on the play before the goalline, the fourth-and-one. We thought we had the substitution right, ended up not having it. So yes, you wish that if we recognized that as a defense, we would called time out or brought attention to it. Guys are coming both ways, so a lot of times you’re not sure what you have. Once they got out there, all the action was happening further away from our bench. Anyway, we didn’t get a chance to get the time out to give us a chance to fix that.

(on Zach Brown’s increased snaps against the Colts)

Like we talked about, back when we drafted Zach (Brown), about Zach playing more linebacker and nickel, so Akeem (Ayers) could be more of a rush end and help as a defensive end. Last week we used him more in those roles to where he can get the sack at defensive end, yesterday. He beat the tackle on the corner, and that’s the stuff we think he can do and add to the rotation there. So in that case, we felt that Zach was ready to take over the Nickel Will linebacker spot off the ball. He’s been doing some of that the last two, three weeks. But this week we thought we’d officially get Akeem with his hand down and rushing more than we had been able to do the last few weeks. It worked good. Like I said, he had some nice pressure. He was chasing the quarterback quite a few times. He had the one sack. (Andrew) Luck did a great job grabbing the ball because I thought he had that thing out. He batted a ball, he forced a fumble. Him not playing as many plays, I think, increased his energy and his productivity. In the past, he was playing almost the whole game.

(on when Matt Hasselbeck came to the sideline to talk with him and Dowell Loggains early in the game)

A lot of times, he’ll come over and he’ll have ideas. Matt (Hasselbeck) is full of ideas, and good ideas usually. He’s seen everything. A lot of times he’ll see something that he’ll suggest to us to make sure we’re aware of the situation or something he’s seen or maybe something that is going on in the huddle, some concern that he thinks the O-line is having or the receivers that maybe we need to address. He’s very helpful along those lines and usually in a game like yesterday, those type of things, ideas or something he saw or something he wants to make sure we’re on the same page with. A lot times, we’re just talking about philosophy, what we’re thinking here, what the thinking is on this drive and so on. That’s where he is a great help.

(on if any of the offensive players are disgruntled about not getting the ball)

I think receivers and guys always are. I think guys want the ball. I don’t know if they’re disgruntled. I think guys want to help, that they want to catch as many balls as they can, just like (Chris Johnson) wants 20 carries a game. I think they’re all wired a certain way, they’re competitive, they’re always open. Guys are going to wish they caught more balls, that’s a common thing. You want guys to play that way, be competitive. I don’t know if we have anything disgruntled or upset. Like I said from the beginning, I hope they’re upset that we’re not winning. The bottom line is the wins. Obviously they want to contribute. When you don’t win, they figure they can contribute more. Believe me, as a staff we’ll continue to try to find ways to make more plays so we can win. I think we’re on the same boat and I think we’re on the same page. They’ve handled the ups and downs pretty well so far.

(on if he expects that Michael Roos, Tommie Campbell and Will Witherspoon will be practicing on Wednesday)

I expect (Michael) Roos back. He’ll be practicing this week. Tommie (Campbell) almost had a shot last week, so we’re thinking if his ankle is OK, he should be good this week. (Patrick) Bailey, not sure, he’s more questionable. We’ll see how his ribs are. He’s still sore, but we’ll see how he his Wednesday or Thursday. (Will) Witherspoon should be OK this week. We’ll see how (Colin) McCarthy is. We assume he’ll just have to battle through this thing. Nothing happened yesterday that would make us think he couldn’t play this week. (David) Stewart, we’ll see how he does.

(on if it was a tough decision to move Javon Ringer to IR)

That was a hard decision. You think about all the options of guys when they do get injured. Especially (Javon) Ringer, again, we were talking earlier about how long is a guy out? It was hard to see, really, how is Ringer going to come back, and how has he come back from injuries in the past. You kind of try to weigh a lot of things. We were starting to run out of bodies for special teams. The Buffalo game, we lost a lot of people there that got hurt. (Tracy) Wilson has done a good job. He definitely did a nice job, he works hard in practice. He just gave us the flexibility to move up a guy that would help us get through the game, and he did that. Again, the concern that Ringer really is probably not going to get back until well after the bye with that knee. It’s not an easy position to come back from. When you have a knee, and you’re coming back to play running back. Again, we feel we had (Jamie) Harper. You weigh all those things and make the decision. We had to do what was best for our game yesterday and going forward.

(on if he expects that David Stewart’s injury will keep him out of the lineup for a period of time)

I don’t think so, a little hyperextension on the knee on that same play Leroy (Harris) got it. We had both guys go down on the same play. Byron Stingily officially got his first play of his career under his belt. Just one play though, because (David) Stewart came back. I asked, ‘Are you going to be alright?’ He goes, ‘I’m not coming out.’ He put a sleeve on and played. We assume he’ll be fine for Sunday. He may have to cut back a little bit during the week, but I think he’ll be OK on Sunday.

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