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Coach Munchak's Monday Press Conference

Posted Nov 27, 2012

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on if the team is frustrated)

Yeah, frustrated, they should be, we are. I think they came in and had their workout like they normally do, quiet, got that done. Had a nice team meeting, kind of talking about some things to think about as they’re watching the tape. They’re just finishing up now. That’s how things went. I think when they see the tape, like we usually say, especially after you lose, there are so many plays that could have gone a different way, and the game would have been totally different. We just didn’t make enough of those, like we said after the game. We have to fix that.

(on if a team’s inconsistency is a big challenge)

It’s the most frustrating part of coaching, I would think. You have guys playing well. That’s the problem in football, you can have a handful of guys playing very well still, but you’re not getting the results you want. We get seven sacks yesterday, we’ve been talking about sacks, but it’s with a loss. We didn’t knock any balls loose. The negative thing is we had seven sacks, but we didn’t get a turnover on the sacks. It’s frustrating because you’re not sure what you’re going to get. We start the game exactly like I hoped we would, we get a turnover. Things looked like we hoped they would look. We got three instead of seven, but they’re still points, things like that. We just didn’t take advantage of situations throughout the game, and maybe the game plays out a lot differently if we do. It’s very frustrating, not only for the coaches, for the players. Obviously, they want to win. They wanted to build off the Miami game. We all wanted to come back and get the two-in-a-row and have this game be bigger and that type of thing. We didn’t, and now we have to deal with how we get back on that track.

(on the key to keeping players focused)

We made it hard for ourselves, but until I think they tell you that you’re officially out, you have to assume that anything is possible. Other teams are struggling like we are. No doubt we made it very hard on ourselves to be real excited at this point. We just have to find a way to beat a very good football team this weekend at home. We have our hands full. We’ll worry about this week first, like we always say, because that’s all you can control. Hopefully, a big win in this game will change our options with the last four.

(on getting two feet inbounds on a catch)

That’s something you work on all the time, receiver drills. Heck, kids work on it in the backyard, getting two feet down, making the great catch. It’s something they’ve done forever. I still think Damian (Williams) was in on that, we just didn’t get credit for it. I think he did all he could to get that down there. I think on the sideline with Nate (Washington), you would think with the space in there, he could have gotten it done. Again, you don’t know the velocity. There are a lot of things that you assume could be easier said than done, but you hope when you’re talking about making plays, you have to find a way to make that play. That’s all on that kind of thing, you have to make that catch and get your feet done. Obviously, he must have thought he had it done or whatever, and we didn’t. That is hard to take when you could have kept the drive going.

(on if he watched the play by Damian Williams again)

I know those things are close and all that good stuff. I just felt good about it. I thought that he did a great job getting it down. Anyway, we didn’t get the call, and that’s the end of it.

(on if players are too lackadaisical about making plays)

It’s hard for me to say that, to know what they were thinking. I think we went down there with good intentions. I think we went down there with good attitudes. I think we felt good about ourselves, there’s no reason not to be, that we’re heading in the right direction. We had just played in Florida two weeks earlier. The weather was great there, it was cool. There was no reason for us not to go down there and play well. Give the opponent credit, like I said, That team went to Houston, scored (37) points on them. We held them to the points, but offensively, again, when you do what we did, it’s frustrating because we should have had a lot of points on the board and we didn’t. You can’t trot your kicker out five times and win many games, and we did that. Guys were making plays. We made plays as far as getting the turnover right away and things like that. Getting sacks, getting pressure on the quarterback on the defensive side, but ultimately, we didn’t get points on that stuff.

(on the drop by Nate Washington)

Again, same thing there. That’s called making a tough catch. There’s no doubt his hand got in there, but I think you just catch it the first time, and you’re OK. Again, that seemed like how the ball bounced, other than the first one for us, and we lose on a tipped pass. Anytime the ball gets tipped, something bad usually happens. Having said all that with the game and the game not going the way we wanted it, ‘they were a 1-9 team and we should have won by a lot of points,’ and all those things. The bottom line is we had the ball down two points with plenty of time, with two timeouts and two minutes. We had the ball at our 38. We should have won the game.

(on the first interception thrown by Jake Locker)

I think he threw it too soon. There was a little pressure at his feet or at his legs; I think he was concerned for that. He let the ball go sooner than he wanted to or probably should have, it got tipped. It was a fire zone, meaning they were rushing, but they were dropping the linebacker. The linebacker got in the lane and tipped it. The ball would have probably just gone incomplete if it doesn’t get tipped and we have a third down. Unfortunately, he tipped it and gave the DB a chance to make a play on the ball, which he did. That’s a tough way to have it happen. Again, we still had a chance if we get the three-and-out, we still may get the ball back. We still had another shot there even though that bad play happened. If you want to be in the playoffs, those are the drives you have to finish.

(on Jake Locker’s overall play)

He was actually pretty accurate. I know there some balls that we don’t know if they were catches or not, but the ball was on the money. Damian (Williams) caught another great ball on the sidelines that dropped in there real nice. I thought he got out of pressure, he moved around the pocket, he ran out of there. That screen he threw to (Chris Johnson), that was a dead play. He bought time with his legs, and he threw it to CJ. CJ took off for about 30 yards on a pass. There were a lot of things that way that we could have been knocked out of that game maybe in the second or third quarter if he didn’t make some of the plays he made with his legs. He had a nice, solid football game. You just wish he was part of finishing that drive. In his career, five starts, he’s just getting himself started. You would have liked to have seen him have a chance to finish that drive and have us win a game that way. Like I said to the players, if we would have done that, then that’s how you have to win football games in this league. That’s how you become a good football team. Things might not go your way at all for 57 minutes the way you hoped it would, but for the last three it does. Our defense did that. I was hoping we’d score 10 points in the last five minutes of the game and win the game. I think we all believed that on the sidelines when we did score. Unfortunately, we didn’t finish it, so we have to deal with the consequences of being 4-7.

(on the throw to Damian Williams)

I thought he put it where it had to be, and it was there. Again, like I said, he tried to get his feet in. Damian (Williams), I think, just does a great job on the sidelines. He has since he’s been here. We thought we had it, but we didn’t get it. The problem is, again, that ended up being a three-point drive. It was still on second down, and we still had a chance to do something. We didn’t make a play there. That was the hard part to take, is that we had to go a long way, we had bad field position throughout the ball. Other than getting the turnover, I think we were starting inside our 16 or 15 almost every time we had the ball. We had to go a long way, which made it harder, I think. That goes unnoticed sometimes, but we had to go a long way. We just couldn’t put it together. We’d get halted at the 25-yard line, we didn’t get in the red zone a few times. We went with the 42-yard (field goal), 45-yarder. Things just didn’t go the way we hoped.

(on if Michael Griffin has to make an effort to avoid penalized hits)

Yeah, he does. To me, he has to lead with his hands. If there’s any doubt and you’re there, you just bring your hands. That way you can pull off. It’s hard, he had a sack on the one after it. I don’t know how the quarterback held the ball. He hit him about as hard as you can hit a guy at full speed. He didn’t get the ball out that time. He did the same thing the play before but the ball got out, so the quarterback was in a position where it looked like he led with the face or he left his ground. When it’s been called on you a couple times, you just have to try to adjust. It’s easier said than done, but you have to come with the hands, so it looks like you’re pulling off, or at least you’re not hitting helmet-to-helmet in any way, or it doesn’t look bad. You still get the hit on the quarterback. Having said that, then you do that, then all of the sudden, he had the ball and you could have sacked him, but you held back. That’s the hard part of playing defense. You’re going to get some of those because of that, but you just have to play smart.

(on if he’s worried about a possible suspension for Michael Griffin)

I hope not. I don’t how they look at all that. I’m sure they look at the type of ones he had, I guess. I don’t see anything malicious in any way in anything he’s done. I hope that’s how they look at it, that it wasn’t an intentional act of any kind. It was just an unfortunate one, and one he’ll do his best to be smarter with. We all do. We can’t get 15-yard penalties like that. We just have to cut that out.

(on if he thinks the hit by Michael Griffin was flag-worthy)

I wish it wouldn’t. That to me, you can run in slow motion 100 times. The official sees it from behind, so I don’t even know how he saw it, to what degree he hit helmet-to-helmet because the guy that called it is facing behind. He doesn’t have a great look at seeing the actual contact. It wasn’t violent, it didn’t seem to be. He saw it the way he saw it. They’re going to err on the side of protecting that quarterback. Everyone knows that. We show them videos of that. Our quarterback didn’t get hit that way. You have to be smart, there’s no way around it. Is it hard? Yes, it’s very hard. You have to learn how to use those hands, and that will hopefully eliminate those kinds of penalties.

(on if coaches will caution Darius Reynaud about bringing deep kickoffs out of the end zone)

If we’re not having success, which again, we have done a pretty good job up until then but with his speed, we had a couple we returned back in the Detroit game, and felt like he was a special guy, and they were blocking well, so we wanted to stick with it. Yeah, yesterday, as he struggled or we struggled getting past there, we probably should have started making him keep it in on the last couple, but we kept thinking we needed a play, something to ignite us, and there’s nothing like a special teams play to do that. If you’re talking about three to four yards, it’s worth the risk sometimes, just don’t be stupid in a certain area. We have to be smart with that. If you’re not getting anything out of that, then you have to adjust your thinking there.

(on if he’s considering making a change at returner)

Just to change the mindset of him pulling out of there if we’re not getting something. That was a kind of game where we thought maybe, kind of like (Lavelle) Hawkins did in San Diego. All of a sudden, he brought it back to the other side of the field on his. In the San Diego game, we kind of really needed that boost, and we scored two plays later. I think you always hope for those things on special teams, and we feel that we have a guy on the team that can do that, so it’s worth a five-yard risk, I think. Again, you have to be smart. If it’s not doing well, you have to look at other things to do.

(on if he likes the way Zach Brown has created pressure when the team rushes extra men)

Yeah, I do. I think that’s something that he’ll get a lot better at. He’s such a big man, he’s a tough matchup for a back. He probably could have had another sack or two there. He just missed some close things. I thought Coach (Jerry) Gray did a nice job with the pressure package with bringing him in and (Colin) McCarthy. I thought it worked well when (Akeem) Ayers got in there. That was fun to watch. We knocked them out of field-goal range. We might not have gotten the turnovers, but we knocked them out of field-goal range at least two or three times before the half and a couple of other times, I thought, in the (second half) when they could have gone up by multiple scores, (the defense) kept us alive, so that was a good thing. I think that’s the kind of things he should do for us. He’s a big man that can run, made 10 tackles and a couple of sacks, and he can play a lot better so it was fun to watch. We lost, but there’s still a lot of good things. You have to take those things and appreciate some of the good stuff that happened too.

(on if he had been told before the game that the team would have seven sacks would he have expected to win)

Or won time of possession, only turned it over one time? No, you would think that we would (have won). I thought that as the game was going on, especially in the second quarter that we would, offensively, something was going to turn our way. We were going to make a couple of big plays and put pressure on them to make plays because if you have seven sacks and you’re in the game that we were in, I think (we) could have had a dozen of them. The way things were going, if we could have forced their hand, especially in the fourth quarter, if they had to pass it, unlike we did. That part was encouraging to see, and again, the effort and all that stuff, like we always say is good all the time. That has nothing to do with us winning and losing. It’s just making plays. There hasn’t been enough of those.

(on if he can pinpoint why the offense struggled in the ‘red zone’)

Well, like I said, a lot of those field goals, we didn’t get into it. I think we got down there twice where we actually got into the 20-yard line area. Damian (Williams) not making the catch in the end zone kind of hurt that drive, but no, I think we just sputtered out, it seemed like, when we got to about the 30-yard line this week. It seemed like we were down there three different times, inside the 30, and couldn’t convert the last first down.  One time was Nate (Washington) going out of bounds on that third-and-three. The other one was Kendall (Wright) going out of bounds on third-and-3 that we don’t convert—plays that we should be making that we didn’t make, and it ended up costing us four points each time, so it’s those things like that that frustrate you and you can’t have happen, and we have to make those plays.

(on if this is a down year for Rob Bironas)

You have to go back and look and see what the distances were that he missed on. Yesterday, he made four kicks and he kicked it through the end zone. He did a lot of good things, but you want five-for-five, obviously, when you’re kicking between that 40 to 49 because he’s that good. When you’re that good, expectations are high, no different than when we all wished that (Chris Johnson) is going to rush for big yards because of his talent level. We think the same with Rob (Bironas). We think that it’s not automatic, but he should be able to line up and kick all five of those yesterday. He knows it. That’s how we should feel about him. Him missing any, unless they’re 50 yarders, that’s a little different, you look at them. I think when the season is over you look at that, and you see what caused those things. We have to be more consistent there too. He did a good job kicking off. He kept them pinned back which was good. We punted well yesterday again. We’re doing things that are there, but not the win.

(on if a rookie long snapper could figure in to the field goal misses)

I don’t think so. I think the snaps have been fine. I think Beau (Brinkley) has done a good job in that phase on both ends. He’s been covering well. He’s done a good job. Is there a snap every so often off? Yeah, but not to where it could factor into a missed kick or a missed punt or not kicking right. I think it’s just, in general, that consistency thing we’re talking about. He wants it too. He’s still a damn good kicker, and we’re glad we have him. We need to make them all.

(on if Jake Locker’s development will benefit from leading a game-winning drive)

I think you’d like it. That’s what I said, I mean it’s five games in, so there’s a lot of things he has to experience yet, but you’d like it to be (while) winning for sure, and a game like that would have been a great win for us, for him and our team. We needed to win as a team. Like we told them all week, I thought it would be a game that would be, unfortunately, like that: close, making plays at the end of the game to win it. I wish it wasn’t, and when we finally did it, I thought ‘OK,’ just like you asked. I thought, ‘Hey, we’re going to accomplish a lot of goals here. We’re going to win the game, we’re going to win on the last drive, we’re going to score 10 points in the last four minutes, and it’s going to be great for the quarterback and all these great things,’ but we didn’t. So, Houston would be a great win, too, so I guess we’ll have to settle for that right now.

(on if Jordan Babineaux reclaimed his starting spot and if it is tough for a player to come in and out of the lineup)

Yeah, at that position, at DB, it’s not maybe as hard maybe as say, offensive line where you are used to playing every snap and you put a different guy in there and it affects the rotation. I think the fact that you play in those packages, so many different guys, and he’s used to going out on packages anyway that when you decide to make a change throughout the game, in the third quarter, where you want to roll different guys and try it a different way because things weren’t working the way Jerry (Gray) wanted, it’s something where the player can come back. He already has done that and is one of our better players that has done that, so as far as coming back, getting him out, he knows how it is. I mean, we’re looking to get a spark or need somebody to make a play or get off the field. We’re looking for all those things, and it’s not all on him by any means. It’s just a matter of trying to find a way—people get frustrated during games, we’re not getting the right fit, we’re not getting the right look that we want, so you make some changes as a staff to figure out a way to make that better. We do it at receiver and rotate receivers throughout the game. He’s fine. He’s obviously still a big part of our team. He helps a lot on special teams and on the defensive side, and we’ll just have to see what the plan is for Houston.

(on if Nate Washington is getting enough targets on offense)

I think he did yesterday. I think he had about eight or nine at him yesterday. He had a chance to make two more catches. He could have had eight balls. I think when you add more weapons, you’re going to have a few less targets at you. There’s no doubt about that. With Kendall (Wright) being added and Kenny (Britt) being healthy, it changes it a little bit. But still, he’s a guy that we count on in a big way. He’s made big plays for us this year. Last year, he had his best year as an NFL player. We have high expectations for him, and I know he does of himself. Like I told him a couple of weeks ago, I think the biggest thing he did was being unselfish in the Buffalo game when he didn’t get a ball until the fourth quarter, and he caught the two biggest balls of the game that gave us that win. That, to me, is what you have to do as a team. We may not need you for 56 minutes or you may not get looked at, but all of a sudden we need you, and you make plays for us. That’s really what this thing is all about. He did it that day, and he’s a big part of it. All of those guys are frustrated. They want the ball, they should, and every one of our receivers, (Chris Johnson) wants it as many times as he can. That’s what we need to have.

(on if he wants to get Kendall Wright down the field more for receptions)

There are opportunities at times when he has a chance to go with a go, or he doesn’t. Sometimes he’s not open. Sometimes he’s not the first read. We’re trying to get all of these guys plays and opportunities to get downfield. I’d have to look and see how many balls he’s caught, some of the slants. He caught some good balls against Pittsburgh where he was down there 20 yards or so. I don’t know that there are a lot of balls in the league, I think a lot of balls are 10-yard throws that turn into 40-yard plays. There aren’t a lot of 60, 70-yard bombs you see these days. It is more of a guy like him that catches the 10-yard route and takes it to the house or takes it down the sidelines and makes a big play out of it, like they did to us. They caught a 20-yard ball and took it down, the same thing they did against Houston last week. They made big plays out of 20-yard throws. I think we’re trying to use him, and he’ll just continue to get better as he goes forward.

(on injuries following Sunday’s game)

I didn’t speak with Brad (Brown) yet. I’m going to see him after the meeting here. After the game there was nothing pressing other than guys sore. I’ll know more tonight.

(on Colin McCarthy’s performance in the game)

The other guys seemed to make tackles, (Zach Brown) had a bunch. Again, you hope he’s a big impact every game when he’s your middle backer. It was a game where Zach Brown had a chance to step up.

(on the challenge of facing the Texans on Sunday)

It’s probably a good thing if you win the game. Again, like you said, this team, we’ve played them already. We know what they’re all about. They’re doing exactly what we just talked about we need to do. They’re winning games. They’re finding ways to win a game no matter what the situation is, the two overtime games. They’re not playing as good as they thought. They’ve had guys injured, but the guys are coming and stepping up, and they’re finding ways to score more points than the other team. They have a big confidence, which they should, in themselves, in the team, in what they’re capable of doing. We got blown out there. We felt the game could have been totally different if we made some plays there in the third quarter. It’s going to be a huge challenge for us. It’s one that obviously not many people think we have much of a shot at because of losing last weekend. Like I said, it’s a division game. None of that is going to matter. We need a huge win at home, and this obviously would fit both of those categories. To do that, we’re going to have to play our best game, and we know that. We were hoping to come into this thing with a two-game win streak, but we don’t. We just have to dig deep and have a good week, and play a team that’s the best in the league.

(on convincing players to hang in there)

I think players want to win, they want to play well. No matter what your record is, they want both of those things. Yes, you want to have the carrot at the end, which is everyone’s goal is in the NFL, to get into the postseason. There is no doubt about that. We’re still alive, yes. We all understand the percentages of all those things and where we’re at. The thing is, what are we going to do about it? All of these guys want to play again next year. The best thing a player can do is go out and play his best every Sunday, that way he stays healthy and shows what he can do. We have a team here that is going to be good for a long time once we get this thing going the way it should. I think a lot of these guys want to be part of that. The way you do that is by building something strong at the end, if it’s winning five in a row, if it’s 4-1. That’s the mentality they have to take. I’ve been through it as a player. There’s no other way to look at it. All that can happen is something bad to you. You can get hurt, you don’t play well. Everything else is negative, so why not prepare like you should, which they will, and go out here and play our best five games and see what happens. Last week it didn’t get done, but that doesn’t mean we can’t do it this week.

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