HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on why the run game couldn’t get going early)
I think the first play on the sack getting us to second and 17, he got one carry there and he got a no-gainer. Looking at it, you wish there was something when these things happen you say ‘yeah we will get this and go fix it,’ but there wasn’t. When you have limited reps like we have talked about, for him coming into camp, but also for us in the game, a guy makes a mistake here and it’s a guy there and all of the sudden you can’t afford for different guys to take turns on opportunities to have good runs. A couple of them were his vision as far as making the decision on where the hole was, and some were on the fact that they weren’t blocked well. On offense when you only play 47 snaps or whatever we played, there is very little room for error and usually the reason you are having 47 snaps is there is a lot going on in the game. And with them having success of moving the ball and controlling the clock we had to really do something early in that game and we didn’t so that made it hard to get the run game going.
I didn’t think that was going to be a big problem with him coming in, and again we didn’t really find that out because there wasn’t a lot of really long drives yesterday. We had the one drive where we went down 80 yards and scored, but we didn’t have a lot of drives where we really put that to the test and my concern the whole time when Chris (Johnson) wasn’t here was, like I said, is not getting the feel for the running game. It is something that you have to get reps at to get a comfort zone with that. Having said that, if we had gotten more opportunities in the game, I think that would have come out in the game where he would have had an opportunity to have some big runs. He had a nine-yard run there in the third quarter, he had an eight-yard run after having a couple runs for no gains, so things were starting to slowly come if we had giving them a chance…we were behind by two scores so we had to change our philosophy a little bit in that game so that meant less opportunities for him to break out of that. If he has one run then all of the sudden he has a five or six-yard average. The point is we didn’t get a chance to give him more opportunities because of the limited plays we had on offense.
(on how the Jaguars were able to run so effectively on the opening drive of the game)
I just think it was they made plays. They came out at home and we punted the ball right back to them at three-and-out, they had some momentum and they went ahead and made some plays. Even when we had him stopped early for a two-yard run, (Maurice) Jones-Drew does a great job and he is falling forward for a five-yard gain. If we have him stopped for a three or four yard gain, then it’s second and two, so I think they pushed the pile good early or he did. He is a good runner, he is low to the ground, and he is hard to get a good hit in early and I think they were getting a lot of situations where they were second-and-two. They had seven third-and-ones on one game. We stopped them on one down by the goal line but also they fumbled once, but that’s a high number. We knew that going in that that’s kind of their deal, and if we don’t score points on offense that’s what they are able to do to teams. As you mentioned, after we got past that first drive I think we did a much better drive, I think we did a much better drive throughout the game stopping the run.
(on if he a has a goal date or game to able to let Chris Johnson loose and not worry about his lack of preparation)
Not really, I was hoping that just in this game alone he would get 15 to 18 carries, that’s what I was thinking about going back to how he did his rookie year when he was sharing reps. I thought that would have been a chance to be very productive. We didn’t get that done this week, we got him nine carries. Going into the Raven game, there is no reason he shouldn’t be back to where he needs to be this weekend. More about his endurance comes in later, how much more can he do than that. That’s more the question I was wondering about, if that came up where we were on the field for 75 plays on offense, how he would handle that, so that’s the question we didn’t necessarily know, but I thought the more he played the better he would be, just like the rest of us would be. The answer is I’m hoping this week. There is no reason that he shouldn’t be ready to help up win this weekend.
(on how many carries would be ideal for Chris Johnson)
About 20, I think that one year we over did it where we ran him hard the last couple of years, and we have to be careful of that to keep him fresh throughout the year. If you have something going on he is going to carry the ball and I think most teams do the same thing. You are going to want a guy that can make a play at any time to touch it as much as you can, but you just don’t want to have a lot of useless carries. In that 18 to 20 to 25 touches including maybe some passes. Yesterday I think he caught about five or six balls on top of running it nine times, so he got about 15 touches with the ball.
(on if Chris Johnson’s holdout might have cost the Titans a win)
I don’t know about all of that, you can point to a lot of things just in that game alone that we could have won that game if… we can go through a whole list and watch the game of all the things that could have happened that maybe we win that thing. But sure, you want all your players in house from the beginning and we said that when camp started, there is no doubt that that’s a plus, but it’s not the reason we lost the game.
(on if Jacksonville won the physical battle up front)
No, I think it’s something that has to be…16-14, I don’t see that as a game where you would say that. I know when you look at time of possession and things and you start trying to figure things out, if you turn the film on and watch it, I was telling Jerry Gray today that there are plays on there that are as well played as far as the defense with hits and tackling and being physical as you will see. Then there are other times we didn’t quite get the fit we want and we didn’t attack the line of scrimmage like we would and they made a play and that’s how it is a lot of times in the NFL, they just got 47 opportunities to do it. It’s our job as a defense to get off the field just like on offense our job is to stay on there. That’s our job, we have to earn more than three plays. One affects the other, but the bottom line is no matter what else is going on in the game, that’s your job and when you give someone 47 cracks at you, and they run the ball and average three and a half per carry, that means in the second half they weren’t being as effective, but they were moving the chains.
I think as a player he is in that situation and whichever one he chooses he has to be successful at. So to me you get the pick if you think you can get it, or you knock it loose and go that route. One or the other has to happen and unfortunately neither did.
(on if Jerry Gray teaches about that)
I think that’s something like a lot of positions, you watch the tape and you say well here, what about this, what are you thinking here and ultimately that athlete makes the decision on what he is seeing at that time and on that play you are referring to, I didn’t talk to (Michael Griffin) myself, but I’m sure he will in the meeting and see what his thinking was. I’m sure when he watches it he will think, ‘well, since I didn’t get the pick maybe I should have done the other.’ It’s easy to sit here on those things and say…but what if he got the pick, we would all be sitting here and saying that turned the game around. He didn’t so now you are thinking the what-if’s. Sometimes a guy’s got to make a tough decision and you are hoping that one or the other would have worked out in that situation.
See titansonline.com later in the week for remainder of press conference transcript.