HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on if he’s glad that there is one more game left to correct some mistakes)
You don’t want to end on the note we had yesterday. Playing this game at home, like I told the players today, that’s what you can concentrate on now. You watch the tape, you see what obviously we could have done much better than we did yesterday in certain areas. You can’t fix everything in seven days, I think you have to look at it that way. There are things obviously that we’re not happy with the way they’re going on all sides of the ball. I think it’s just a matter of us having a good week this week, concentrate on what we need to get done and coming out on Sunday having a big day and winning the football game and winning the game at home and go from there, knowing that we have much to improve upon. There’s nothing like starting with a win when we finish the season.
(on watching the tape from the Packers game and making corrections)
We already watched it. We came in earlier. We just moved everything up a tad. We watch all the games, win or lose, whatever time of year it is because I think there is so much you can learn from it. A lot of times, you assume something happened and maybe it didn’t. I think the best thing is for the whole team is to be watching the tape and in their groups and seeing exactly what happened and what we could have done differently. It wasn’t sometimes as bad as you think. If we had done this and done that, those plays are there to be made, or why you made the mistake, what could we fix so it doesn’t happen again. Those type of things, I think, are all necessary before you can kind of put something behind you. It’s hard as a player. For me, it was always hard if I didn’t see the game, to kind of learn or to move forward. Sometimes guys get the wrong perspective. Sometimes, they think they’re doing better than they are, and some guys think it’s worse than it really was, so I think they need to see that. We watched earlier today and went through it pretty thoroughly. When something goes that much wrong for you, you hope that you can find some good in that to help us this Sunday.
(on the underthrown balls by
The first one, I think, earlier in the game, the fourth play, I think that was one that he held back on too long. He probably should have just thrown it. There was no one bothering that throw. He had a clear shot at the one to
(on how concerning Jake Locker’s shaky play is)
I don’t know if it’s being shaky, I think the team is shaky. The support around him isn’t great. I know we went into this game in kind of a tough spot with the health of our team, especially on offense.
(on if he’s frustrated things aren’t going more smoothly in his second year as head coach)
I think it’s frustrating, it is exactly what it is. We feel we’re better than a 5-10 team, but you are what your record says you are, so we’re 5-10. I could sit here, like I already did, and let off a lot of reasons why there are a lot of players missing that we were counting on to make this year better than that. I mentioned (Colin) McCarthy on defense, he’s missing again. It’s just stuff that I wish we could have overcome it better than we have to this point. I thought we’d still play better. You’re going to have injuries, it’s just unfortunately we had a few too many in the same position, especially up front, that have hurt us. We knew the transition of a new quarterback is definitely going to add to that, but when you’re adding a new quarterback and then you’re adding all these injuries, it’s hard to get anything in sync. It makes it harder, obviously not impossible. If you’re adding a quarterback and you already have your other 10 pieces of the puzzle like some other teams maybe have, and you don’t have all the injuries besides having a new quarterback, it’s a lot easier to transition. On top of that, we lost our quarterback for six weeks. He hasn’t had 15 games in a row to grow from, he’s had four and then out for six and then back in. It’s been a very bumpy ride, I think, because of all of the factors. Again, having said all that, the bottom line is wins. We only have five and that’s not good enough.
(on if he’s seeing enough progress from Jake Locker)
We want to win. I just answered that question, it’s hard evaluate someone because you don’t know how much all these other circumstances factor in. It’s hard to say how much having a whole new offensive line in front of you factored in to him not making certain throws. It’s hard to tell. You’d like to be able to evaluate someone when we’re hopefully at more full strength. It’s hard to say. Obviously, we would have wished yesterday that we played much better statistically offensively, and we didn’t. He’s got to play better and the whole offense has to play better. Again, it starts with the quarterback, and he understands that. Again, like I said, it comes with it. We’re not happy with five wins. I don’t know if we’d say anywhere that we’re overly happy with what’s going on when you’re 5-10.
(on how difficult it is to evaluate changes that have to be made with all of the injuries on the offensive line)
I think we kind of found ourselves after the first couple of weeks. Some of that’s the opponent we’re playing against. We played against some pretty good football teams this year. The schedule is much more difficult than last year’s was. We started off with a tough run where we really couldn’t get in sync with what we wanted to do, I thought. Then we found ourselves a little bit with some teams that everyone would say, well they’re the kind of teams we should be able to beat. But we needed that maybe earlier, and the season is totally different. That’s the hard part or the discouraging part with guys getting hurt. If you’re not going to have success, you want to know that you gave it your best shot, that you had your best people, you went for it, and you weren’t successful. It’s hard when you have to start adjusting, ‘This game we’re going to have to slide this way, we’re going to have to do this, we’re going to have to do that. OK, we can’t put him in that situation. Don’t call it that way, you can only call this one way. You can’t call it left because of that situation, you have to call it right.’ There are a lot of things that go on behind the scenes that you have to do it, but it just adds more to the mental gymnastics of the game. All of a sudden your quarterback has a lot more passing through his mind than he should have to. Again, it’s just unfortunate that’s how this year went. Does that mean he can’t make a certain throw? No, he should be able to do it and still have better success. Unfortunately, they have added to some reason for us not playing better.
(on if he chalks the injuries up to bad luck)
I think you have to look at everything. We evaluate our injuries every year. A year ago, we had very few. This year, we had, obviously, a lot more. You look at the injury itself, and that’s something we’ll do as an organization, with the trainers, the doctors, and see if guys got hurt in certain ways or certain times of the year or what injuries. Do we have a lot of hamstrings? I remember one year back 10 years ago, there were a lot of guys with hamstrings, so we did a lot more stretching for hamstrings on certain days of the week or during camp, you found a pattern of something going on. Sometimes, you just have older guys, they break down, that could be part of it. It’s just a matter of who got hurt when and why and how it happened. You watch a guy in practice all the time, guys fall on their legs, and you go, ‘Man, that guy must have gotten hurt.’ He pops right back up. Then all of a sudden, another time something happens and it looks like nothing, and he tore his knee apart. There is a lot of luck involved in it, but we’ll look at all of those things and we always do. If there is something that we can do differently that avoids an injury or two, we’re going to do whatever we can possibly do, if we feel there is some kind of way to avoid it. Every team tries to do that, I’m sure. For whatever reason this year, I’ve coached the offensive line for 15 years, and I’ve never been through what Bruce (Matthews) has been through with trying to figure out who is playing week to week, and like I said before, then all the adjustments that come with that to try to do something that guys can do well.
(on if he thinks the recent improvements on defense were undone by Sunday’s game)
First, I think obviously, you continue to evaluate, no matter what. I think one win doesn’t make everything go away. When you lose three games in a row and then you go beat the Jets, it’s not ‘OK, all of a sudden, we’ll forget all those things we’re not doing well.’ We’re going to evaluate ourselves after wins and losses, and I think that being said, when the season ends, and you have to do the evaluation of the situations we were put in to make a good decision. I mean, our defense, the time of possession, how much was the offense part of not helping this thing or not having points or not staying on the field. There’s a lot of things that create problems on the defensive side, and it’s not all their fault if there’s short fields like yesterday in the first half with the turnovers, they had two short fields and held them to field goals, which kept us at least in the game at halftime 20-nothing. It could have been 28-nothing or 35-nothing, so I think there’s things you have to evaluate. No, I don’t think, just because one game doesn’t go your way, you can’t cancel all the good stuff you’ve done the last four weeks. I mean you still did those things. They are still good things, they are still positive things. I think you look at it, ‘OK, what did happen in this game? What was the problem for what happened? If it’s that Jerry (Gray) made a call, if it’s a matchup that’s not good for us. I mean, you watch teams play all the time, and people wonder how can San Francisco play this team and beat the Patriots, but they can’t beat the Rams. Well, it’s just matchups. Sometimes teams match up differently. That’s a big part of the game, too, when you see, last night, I don’t know the score, San Francisco came out and played Seattle, and it went the other way. That’s the whole point. Some teams have good matchups against certain teams, and that’s part of the equation for a defense too. You have to look at who you’re playing against, who the quarterback is, that we played yesterday, the receivers and decide what’s our problem. Maybe some teams, if we’re playing someone else, that wouldn’t happen, so I think when we evaluate what we’re doing, we have to look at everything in each of your evaluations before you make rash judgments on, ‘Wow, they lost 55-7, I guess everyone needs to go.’ I mean, you have to look at what are the alternatives and why that may have happened or how do you fix that. You can’t get rid of everybody, so you have to have an answer.
(on if he’s concerned by the number of times opponents have scored a significant amount this season)
I think there’s a lot of things that are concerning. I’ll just start with the record. We’re 5-10. That’s concerning. That’s the most important factor in this thing. That’s us playing as a team, finding ways to win football games. There were teams last year in the Super Bowl that had the worst defense in the league or the worst rushing offense in the league but they still got it done because one phase of the game was picking up for the other. I think when you have things like our situation where that’s not happening—if someone is struggling, the offense isn’t helping the defense, the defense isn’t helping the offense. We’ve had too many games where, if someone’s having a bad day, we’re all having a bad day, and that’s the difference: other teams can overcome that, and we’re not overcoming that right now. There’s a lot of areas that we’re going to have to look at. When you have five wins and 10 losses, there’s a lot of things that are concerning to me as a head coach that we have to look at and figure out how to fix it and what we need to do. Some things will be easy to fix, sometimes it will be schemes, sometimes it will be personnel, sometimes it will be on, and on, and on because this type of record, this type of success isn’t good enough.
(on what he plans to tell owner K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. in their meeting after the season)
I think it’s a meeting that I’d assume we’d have every year. I talked to him last year when the season ended. I assume most head coaches spend time with their owner, if it’s not on a weekly basis, because our situation is different because Mr. Adams is in Houston. I know that Jeff (Fisher) used to get together with Mr. Adams quite often when the seasons ended. I assumed I would, no matter if we had won yesterday or lost yesterday, that I’d have a meeting with him and decide how we’re going forward. I think in our meeting, for me, I’d tell him exactly what my plan is, what my thinking is, and how we’re going to get past 6-10, and onto next year, what the plan is, how we’re going to do it, who we’re going to do it with, what changes we have to make, and here’s my plan, and he gets to make the decision if he likes that plan or if he wants a different plan. I think that’s generally how it would work in any business, and that’s how I’ll do it.
(on if he thinks he will have success as Titans head coach)
Definitely. I feel good about, again, I don’t feel good about our record. I don’t feel good about where we’re at. I feel good about a lot of things, the pieces of the puzzle we do have. I feel good about a lot of things that can get fixed real quickly, as far as in being better. I’ll talk to Mr. Adams about that, and (general manager) Ruston (Webster) and everybody else. Obviously, it’s hard to sit here and say you feel good when you’ve won five games and you’re not happy with where you’re at right now, but like I said, I’ve been part of teams that won three games and won four games and we built something. It’s not going to happen in one year. I know everybody wants a championship every year. That’s just how this business is. Like I said, I had four or five Hall of Fame guys come in here and talk to these guys that had been through something very similar. Kenny Houston, Elvin Bethea, Warren Moon, Kevin Carter came in (and talked about his time) with the Rams when they won six wins, five wins, four wins, Super Bowl win. I mean, that happens in this business, so you can’t lose perspective on the fact that sometimes it takes a little longer than one season or a season-and-a-half. We’ve had one offseason here since I’ve been head coach, so we haven’t had a lot of time with the players. There’s a lot of things that are factors in this whole thing, and we have a short period of time to fix it, but I feel very confident that we will, and sometimes it takes longer than two seasons to do that or, like I said, one-and-a-half years to get where you want to get, so I think you have to make a decision and look at who we have on our roster, who we’re playing against, what we’re doing. You have to figure out where we’re headed and we’ll see. I feel good about how we’re going to get there and it will be up to Mr. Adams to decide if he agrees with me.
(on what he’s learned about himself as a head coach this season)
I don’t know. I guess it’s to stay consistent. You know, it’s not going to always—I wish it was easy, and as a player, I guess, I’m used to it not being easy because I’ve been part of this rebuilding process that we’re unfortunately going through right now as a player, so I think it’s more of a matter of being consistent week-in and week-out, and you know, don’t ever think—oh, I don’t know, just the thing I’ve probably learned the most so far this year is be consistent and expect the unexpected to happen a little bit more this year. More bumps in the road this year because of health, probably more than anything. As far as the players, I think they’ve been great. I think it’s been more of figuring out different ways to—I’ve had to really find ways to sell the message in different ways because of having periods of not winning and not having success. It took more ways of just changing things up, whether it be what I’m saying to them, or how I’m challenging them or how we’re practicing, just coming up with more different ways and be more flexible, which I thought went well. I thought the stuff was received well, just kind of more along those lines. I think it’s more of that, and you realize, like I have to remind myself, that you’re not going to win the championship every year, and that doesn’t excuse what’s going on, but this is just part of the process, and this is one of those things where we have to see if we can overcome it together, and I think we’ll all be stronger, the guys this year, if we can overcome it. Adversity builds character, and we’re going to find out what we’re all about. I think we’re seeing some of that this year.
(on injuries to
We don’t know yet. He’s better today, so we’ll see. I’d assume he’ll want to play. That doesn’t mean — if he’s not better by Friday, then obviously, he would not play, but right now, most of the guys that had something (Sunday) are, Kendall (Wright) should be back, we’re assuming next week. (Colin) McCarthy’s still going to be the same status of seeing how he is as he goes through practice. (Will) Witherspoon, (Jordan) Babineaux, all those guys are, no one’s major, (or an) obvious out. It’s just soreness and seeing how they do the next couple of days.
He did—I was very proud of him. I thought he went in there and had a solid game. He really had very few mistakes. He’s athletic, so I thought he matched up well with the outside linebackers that were rushing. There were a few technique things here and there, but overall, I thought for the first time playing, he really, you know, did a solid job.
(on what happened with
Yeah, he just didn’t feel good running around there the last couple of days, didn’t feel like himself yet, and to play that position, you need to feel like yourself or as close to yourself as you can, I think, and (we) just didn’t want to put him in a situation where he didn’t feel he could play at a high level, especially when he hasn’t had contact. You know, if you’re not feeling great without contact, then we didn’t think going out there would be a good idea. Hopefully, just hold him a week and give him a chance. I know he’d like to finish playing, but we’re going to be smart about that.
(on what happened to
Just during the evening, or I guess early morning hours, got sick, you know, flu symptoms and virus, I guess it is. He was better (Monday) than he was, but he was in no condition to play (Sunday), and we didn’t find that out until, obviously we didn’t know how he’d recover during the night, but then by eight, nine o’clock (Sunday), it was obvious he wasn’t going to be able to play.
(on if Mike Otto stayed in the locker room during the game)
Yeah, I think he stayed in there because he couldn’t keep any food down. I didn’t follow him after that. Once I knew he was out, I knew we were going to keep him inside most of the time. That’s why you have, you know, (Byron) Stingily was ready to go, and Byron did a nice job. Maybe him not having as much time to worry about it was a good thing for him because he went in there, in a hostile place, and really was fine, really didn’t have a lot of problems.
I think we said that in the first half, again, this is a game where because you have a line like that, and we were going in limping, that we wanted to stay in this game so you didn’t get to where they could just come after you every down, and unfortunately we got behind, so we did that once we got into the third quarter when they scored to make it 27-nothing, we knew it was going to get into a, they were just going to stay in nickel defense and bring pressure to us the rest of the game, so we thought it would be smart to go back to someone who was more familiar with our offense, for that type of stuff, knowing that we were going to be getting blitzed every down so we put Kyle (DeVan) back in (at center) and moved Fernando (Velasco) back for that reason because Mitch had a couple of plays in the first half that were just obvious technique things, but nothing that was detrimental. Third quarter, they started bringing pressure, and I think you have to have the communication and things like that, because it was becoming an every play thing, we thought it was best to make the move for the rest of the game. I’m not sure what we’re going to do this Sunday. We’ll have to see who’s healthy and where we’re at.
It’s just sore. He has an ankle, (Jamie) Harper has an ankle, things like that, but he’s a guy that’s never missed a game, so I’m assuming he’ll be fine for Sunday.
(on if the distraction of Christmas will help the team turn the page)
I hope it does. We’ll take it if it will make a difference. I think it falls at a great time for the players, as far as being a Tuesday, being their day off. That way, they can spend time with their families, and even (Monday), that’s why we moved up our work day earlier, to give them less sleep last night so we can get them out of here by early afternoon, instead of being here later. I remember as a player, it’s tough when you have to play on a holiday, it’s great to be around family, and it’s probably something they can all use after yesterday to be around their family, get their minds off this for a while and then come back refreshed on Wednesday and know that we’ve got six, seven days of hard work ahead of us, and we’ve got to make this thing right.