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Coach Munchak's Monday Press Conference

Posted Oct 10, 2011

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if there are a few things to focus on fixing before the next game)

Well the obvious, we just have to play better. I think just overall being more consistent in everything we do. We are finishing watching the tape today and we get an extra day tomorrow and next week so we will definitely work on things in areas that we need to work on.

(on if the loss to Pittsburgh may be a good teaching moment) excerpts

If you learn from it and you get better from it and as coaches that’s what you are usually looking at. As coaches you are trying to look at what we could have done better, how we could have prepared differently so that we had a different outcome than yesterday. I think we all would have stood here and told you, and I probably did myself last Thursday and Friday, I felt good about how we worked and our plan for this game and we went up there and yesterday didn’t play very well. So you watch that, you learn from that and hear the players perspective on that, maybe what we could have done as coaches to maybe make it easier or put it in different situations or sometimes it was just them playing better than we did on certain plays or them making the play and us not making the play. As I have been saying and most coaches probably have for a long time that’s usually what it comes down to in these games. This one got away from us a little earlier than we thought it would in this case and we tried to get back in. In the third quarter there we had a little glimmer of some plays going our way, then we gave it right back after the onside kick and that made it hard to go from there.

(on if there was more miscommunication between Matt Hasselbeck and the receivers this week)

I think the fact that we threw it 49 times because of the game, and some of the routes we call are option routes which means they are going to make a decision and they have an option off of what coverage they are seeing. When you do some of those, you are going to have some times where Matt (Hasselbeck) is seeing it one way and maybe the receiver is seeing it another, so that’s one thing that happens. When you are throwing it 50 times, there is more chance of those kinds of things happening. In the heat of the battle, there were some of them and there were a lot of things that we didn’t do as well as we would like and so that popped up every so often.

(on how good he feels about this team heading into the bye week)

I think you got teased, you are 3-1, but I don’t think you are ever satisfied with where you are at. You can look back and say well at least we are this…but I think you always want more, if you are a player or a coach, you always want it to be better than it really is. We are 3-2. We would like to be standing here talking about the 4-1 Titans and we could be standing here saying, ‘man we could be undefeated if we scored two more points against Jacksonville,’ but that’s not how this league is and every team in the league can do that every year. There is always, ‘this game and that game.’ So we are where we are, we have to see what we can do going forward, we know the positives, and we have to take the positives of what we are doing well and really take a hard look at the things we have to work on to get better to get ready for the Houston game, which is our next home game. We know that we have a three-game run at home and we have to look at it that way, that’s the positive way we have to look at it. We have to get that energy and play well and we know we have a great opportunity ahead of us, but if we don’t play better and more consistent, when you play good teams you lose.

(on if miscommunication happens more with Damian Williams and Jared Cook)

No, I don’t think so. Again, when you lost your top guy like we did, there is no excuses for making mistakes anytime, but when you have younger players that have not played much at all in the NFL and you are playing against a pretty good defense at their place, there is going to be some situations where they are going to take some things away or fool you in coverage, that’s just going to be part of the game and that happens. It’s a work in progress in a lot of areas, not just in that area, there are a lot of areas that we have to continue to work on offense and defense as far as communication and being on the same page and that’s just part of it. The road kind of magnifies it because it’s a harder place to play. You can’t hear as well, it’s a different atmosphere, and yesterday we had opportunities to make plays early on that opening drive. We needed to punch that in and we didn’t.

(on if it’s to the point where there is really something wrong with the running game)

Well I think we have been saying that it needs to be better, it definitely needs to get better. We are working on it, the only way you can work on it in practice. Unfortunately, we have had two or three games where we have gotten away from the run game, especially yesterday and in the opener we didn’t get as many carries as we would like because of the score. It’s got to get a lot better than it is and I think we all agree on that. We started thinking it was going to be a good day with the first couple runs. Really the first series, the first two or three runs really were blocked pretty well and from there we just never really got it going after that. We had a couple small runs but really that was it and if you only give your guy 12 or 13 carries, there is not a whole lot of opportunity there but it still wasn’t as good in certain spots. Even that second and third drive where we had a zero run or a minus run we have to avoid those things.

(on not looking for the “home run” but just getting 5-6 yard runs out of Chris Johnson)

Yeah, you just need positive…you want to have third-and-short. We have to get away from having too many third-and-longs, we have to have third-and-two, third-and-three because on that first down you are getting five or six yards. Too many of the games we have played this year we have made it hard, we have overcome it because Matt

(Hasselbeck) has made some great decisions in the throwing game so that kind of camouflage some of the lack of success of running the ball on early downs. We have seen the other side of that when it’s going well as a team here, running the ball well here in past years. This year for some reason we all thought we would be out of this by now, we would have put together two or three games by now and we have not. That’s definitely an area that we all know has to get much better than it is.

(on if Chris Johnson is hitting the whole less aggressively than in years past)

I think Chris (Johnson) is running that way he runs, that’s his style. He is not going to change the way he does things. He needs to play better, we need to block better and we all know that. When he is having 50 yards a game, we all know that’s not going to cut it. He is a great player and he needs to play great. Right now that’s not happening.

(on if he will be 100 percent healthy by the Texans game due to suffering from hamstring tightness against Pittsburgh)

Yeah, I think he would be playing this week no problem if we were playing a game this Sunday.

(on if he would consider a change in personnel to try to help the running game)

No, not yet. You weigh all options all the time, but right now I’d say we move forward. We are still doing a lot of good things. When you lose you tend to dwell on a lot of the negative, which you do as coaches anyway. You are always trying to dwell on how you can improve and do things better, but there are certain elements within it that we are still doing well, we just need to get more consistent at a lot of things we are doing.

(on if the team may have not been ready to play mentally)

We talked enough about that during the week to avoid that, if you talk your way into that, you hope the practice and that’s something that is hard to figure why things happen like that. I thought that and as coaches it seemed like we had a very good week. It seemed like we were on top of it. I sat in meeting rooms when they were putting the game plans in and I thought they felt they had good knowledge of it. We didn’t have a crazy about of errors or anything during the week that would have made us worry. It’s hard to figure out why things happen and you give credit to the other team. We went into their place, they got hammered their first game, they didn’t play very well a week ago, and they rose up and played like they usually play at home. They are 2-0 at home, they seem to rise up like we have when we play at home, and we went in there and we didn’t play well. I think we were ready to play. I would never say we weren’t. I think we were ready, we put the work in, we were ready to go, and you have to give credit to the team that made us look like we weren’t ready to play.

(on he is frustrated that the defense missed some tackles yesterday)

I think that’s, the thing, well why does that happen? There were definitely some alignment errors and some communication errors that happened for the defense on the road. They don’t hear as well, they don’t get the right communication in, so some of that happened but ultimately it comes down for someone making up for a guy not making a play on the back end, making a tackle. Instead of it being an 80-yard run or whatever it was, it’s a ten-yard run, and those are the things…we didn’t cover for each other, and they made plays. They converted third downs. We stopped them on the second series and they got the fake on us on the fake punt and made a play and things like that. Give them credit, they made plays when they had to and we didn’t.

(on if Cortland Finnegan was responsible for the receiver on the fake punt play)

No, Cortland (Finnegan) didn’t have him. It’s hard to go into it because it’s talking about our philosophy and how we do things on special teams. It wasn’t Cortland’s it was another defender that blew the assignment.

(on Ahmard Hall not playing much and if he may be more of a factor moving forward)

Yeah, just again it was two-back and we got out of the two-back early. He was in there. That first drive was probably the most he was in. A lot of that series he was in and not a whole lot more after that…If he is playing more, then that means we are running the ball better because we will stay with the two-back a little bit more. Most teams that run the two-back, it’s mixed in throughout the game and then its four-minute or more towards the end of the game if you are using a lot of your two-back stuff. Ourselves, the Ravens, Pittsburgh, teams that run the fullback, that’s kind of the average usually. He usually won’t get a lot of playing time, over 15 plays, unless it’s a situation where you are pounding the ball in the second half.

(on the division being still a wide open race)

I think our first goal is to win the division, so you are always going to keep focus on your division and what it’s going to take to win it. Winning every Sunday takes care of that but you are also going to keep an eye on what’s going on in the division and we know the Texans are our next division game that we play. Other than that, that’s probably it. You don’t really concentrate on them other than you want to kind of see where you’re positioning yourself. Everyone in our division still controls their own destiny and we are in a position to play and have a big game coming up here in two weeks against them.

(on what his practice plans are for the bye week)

Well you are very limited in what you can do with the CBA. Players are in today, players will be in tomorrow. We will work tomorrow and they will get the next Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. Then they come back on Monday and they will have Tuesday off and we will start work on Wednesday.

(on if the CBA change limits what he can do to)

All of the changes in the rules have made it more difficult. The bye week when I played was a long week. You practiced three or four days in pads and got after it pretty good, you didn’t look forward to the bye week. Now it’s different, guys look forward to the bye week. You get a break, get away from it, and I think it all depends when it falls, but that’s a good thing. Sometimes that’s almost a bonus itself. We have been together, these guys have come in since the lockout ended and we have been together non-stop since then. We have really almost played half the season. We have had four preseason, five games, we have played nine games together, we have two or three extra weeks of training camp so there is some plus to kind of getting away from this building and getting together with family or whatever it is that you are going to do to kind of clear your mind and come back ready to go on Monday. We picked up the extra day on Monday, we will get a good work day on Monday, then they get a day off during the week so you give them Tuesday off and then we will start with the Texans. We will be able to get some stuff done. It will be good for the coaches it will be good too because we can kind of go back and look at all situational stuff you guys have asked about, short yardage, the red zone, running game, and we can study more, the coaches can as far as if there is anything that is popping up that maybe during the regular grind you can’t see because you don’t have time to evaluate yourself. The coaches will do a lot of that over the next couple of days besides start looking at the Texans and when they come back Monday, that will give us a chance to kind of work on some of those things or maybe adjust some things because of what we see or don’t see. That’s how you try to take advantage of the off  week for coaches and the players get a chance to get a rest and get away from it a little bit. We will still get a good work day in tomorrow. We have a full day tomorrow and then we have a full day on Monday before we get into a normal game week.

(on if players are allowed to come in if they want to)

Yeah, they can come in the building at any time and watch tape, and there will be guys who have treatment and have to get treatment, that’s mandatory if you have an injury on Thursday, Friday, Saturday and Sunday. They can come in and lift if they want to or do whatever they want, if they want to.

(on how different this bye week CBA rule is different than what he anticipated in the offseason)

I think a lot of times in the past, you kind of see how things were going. You kind of take a look at the season and you may adjust and have a couple practices and I have seen teams do all different philosophies. I have heard where teams give the whole week off and that has worked well for them. It’s hard to find a correlation to what works and what doesn’t. I guess people always like to hear that, ‘hey, they are over there getting after it for three of four days because they lost that game last week.’ It makes people feel better that they are working hard and we will be working hard, there are just limits on what we can do.

(on if there are any other injuries other than Chris Hope)

(Colin) McCarthy got hurt yesterday, got his hamstring so he will probably be a guy that’s on that list also. I think that would be it, everyone else should be healthy for the Texans game.

(on the Barrett Ruud facemask penalty potentially being called both ways and the way it’s supposed to be called)

Well that’s ours, we agree with you. For some reason they said they are going to call it both ways or they are looking for it now, but he grabbed Barrett’s (Ruud) before to kind of shield him away. It wasn’t like it was a violent pull or anything by any means, the head didn’t go any direction so worst case it should have been a five-yard penalty I guess but it turned into more than that.  Those kinds of calls are judgment calls and what they think they see, they are supposed to look at it and at least give the defensive guy some protection. For whatever reason you don’t get a chance to get the official on the other side to get what they were thinking on it was, but that’s what they thought they saw.  They saw it one-sided and instead of how we saw it.

(on what the players may do and where they may go on the off days)

I think to just be smart with what you do and I think since we have started back to work everyone has been making good decisions on what they do. A lot of guys will stay in town, a lot of guys have kids in school and they can’t all go away. Sometimes it’s just nice just to be home for vacation. Everyone has been working and it’s kind of nice to just spend time and not have to go to work and stay in Nashville, so hopefully a lot of them will do that too. There are a lot of nice things to do in Nashville on the weekend other than go to a Titans game. Hopefully our guys go see family, do some things like that, just get rest. If they are injured then they will have to get treatment. I think that’s good. I tease about not being able to practice more, but at some point too much practice is not good either, especially when it’s a week away from playing your football game. I think we will get enough done, we will accomplish what we need to accomplish and be ready to go for the Texans game.

(on the importance of capitalizing on three straight home games after the bye)

Well that’s exactly what we have to hang our hat on now. We hoped that we sat here at 4-1 saying that but, we didn’t. The fact that we have played well both times at home, we won both of our games, we know how much of an advantage it is and that’s something we will be shooting for in the long range plan, the second quarter. We lost our first game of the second quarter and we have to make up for it by winning all three, the next three at home. We will feel a lot better about ourselves when we do that.

(on if head coaches get to enjoy bye weeks)

I read my contract, I don’t think I am. I think I have to keep working and feel bad about the week. I’m going to stay in town, we will work most of the week and just kind of take the weekend off and get started on Monday.

(on if he allows himself to get away and out of the office on a bye week)

Yeah, this will be my first chance as a head coach doing it. Usually, my daughters were at college so I would go down to Georgia for the weekend. They are not in college anymore so I lost that road trip. That used to be fun. This will be the first time so I really haven’t thought much about what I will do. I was kind of playing it by ear to kind of see how things worked out this week and see what needed to be done and see what a head coach does during the off week, whatever responsibilities I may have that I’m not aware of. I think it’s good for all of us to get a couple of days away for sure. You guys need a break too I’m sure.

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