HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on expectations for
I think now that he knows he’s the guy for the next seven weeks that gives him a feeling that he understands what’s ahead. I think he can be more comfortable in the role. I think he has a better feel for what we’re doing on offense now. I think having those two games really probably helped him at least get a better feel for the offense I guess. I expect him to play better. I expect him to be more comfortable and that hopefully allows him to be more consistent. Again, a big part of that is going to be the guys around him that we play better than the first two games he played. We all need to play better. We didn’t play better as an offense either one of those games. I think that’ll be a lot different this weekend, so that’ll allow him to be more comfortable.
(on whether Fitzpatrick is taking more ownership of the team)
I think he has especially with the short week. I think he’s more comfortable in the role and knowing it’s all on him now and we’re at that point in the season now where, as we all know, we play this team twice in three weeks. It’s not early in the season where you can say, ‘Hey, you got a whole season to get going.’ We’re down to a situation where we have to win. I think he realizes that, too. He knows how important it is. He wants to be part of a winner also. I think he’s highly motivated to play his best as are the rest of the team.
(on whether the team is one loss away from being eliminated from playoff contention)
Well, I don’t think we think we’re out if we lose one game. We’re probably a game behind in wild card races. It’s way too early to think about that at this point. We know how important it is, yes. In our mind it is a must-win. We must beat a division opponent. We’re going to play this team at their place in two weeks. We have to win this one, and we know that. We know what we’re facing but it’s not the end of the season if we don’t. We just make it awfully hard for ourselves knowing we’re putting ourselves in a position where you have to win six games or whatever it may be to get back in it depending on what happens with other teams—you got to start counting on other teams losing. We still control what happens here if we can go out and win a game like this in a division we have to win.
(on whether players are sore and if he is worried about the energy level Thursday night)
I think guys have done well. I think this is great weather to come out in the evening, getting out here at night knowing we have the night game coming up. I thought they did well. Again, this game I was never worried about that. This is Thursday night football. They know they’ve got a break at the end, they know how good the game is. I think the adrenaline will kick in on Thursday, so I think most teams play pretty well. I don’t think there’s any excuse for us not to play well. Yes, there’s some soreness; yes, it’s a little later in the season—I think last year we played in the sixth week of the season. That’s something that’ll disappear real quickly once we start playing Thursday night.
(on whether he needs to light a fire under the team)
I just think the fire is there. I think we know what we want to do. There hasn’t been any problem there. I think last week—we can’t do what we did. It wasn’t because we weren’t excited about the game, it wasn’t because we came in not ready to play—all those things are not true. We turned the ball over four times, and that creates problems. We didn’t recover from those bad plays, and as bad as we were playing with the ball, we gave ourselves a chance to get back and win the game in the fourth quarter. We understand how important every Sunday is; we didn’t take any Sunday lightly. The result is not what we wanted, but it wasn’t because we took the game lightly. It wasn’t because we didn’t practice hard, it wasn’t because we don’t care—it’s none of those things. The fact is we didn’t execute Sunday, and we were sloppy with the ball.
(on multiple players saying the team did look past the Jaguars)
Well, I don’t know about that. I really don’t agree with all that.
(on whether he agrees with players who said the team overlooked the Jaguars)
I don’t know who they are. I don’t think it’s a lack of fire. I disagree. I think it’s frustration after a game when you don’t win a game you feel you should win—along with other games, not just this week. There’s other games where we didn’t finish in the fourth quarter when we thought we should have. That’s frustrating.
(on running right a lot against the Jaguars)
We always go into a game a certain way. Sometimes it’s hash marks, sometimes if it’s plays that go both ways, it’s hash marks. If it’s a play we put in one way, it’s matchups. There’s a lot of things that go into which plays were called and which way to run it. Like I said (the first run) was a six, seven-yard run. It could have been bigger, but we fumbled the ball. All those things are factored in when we play this week. Plays will be both ways, the hash may depend on it. The play may be one way because of certain guys, one guard pulls better than the other, all those things are factored in depending on who the opponent is.
(on coming up short on crucial third downs)
I think it’s a combination of that. I think there’s some that the receiver doesn’t get enough depth. (Sometimes) he gets right on the stick and the ball might not be well thrown, so it forces him back to the ball. I think that has happened sometimes. It’s not necessarily the receiver—sometimes it’s the throw. One time this past game it was the back leaking out of the backfield that didn’t realize he’s coming out as a last option and wasn’t deep enough. On the one that Shonn (Greene) caught, that’s harder to tell because he was kind of coming out of a lot of traffic. So, it’s been a combination of the accuracy of the throw, the depths of the receivers at times, and, again, we can’t have that. We were almost 60 percent on third down, and we missed three puppies we should have had—those are the things that are killing us.
(on the team’s rivalry with the Colts)
They have been because just for so long they’ve owned this division. When Peyton (Manning) was there, they ran it for so many years. They’re the ones we’re always chasing and Houston the last year. They are back in a position for the first time in the last three years. It’s always been a good rivalry. They’re only four hours away, a team we beat in the playoffs way back when. It’s a team, again, we’re going to play twice in three weeks which is a rare thing. This will be a big game for us.
Yeah. He’s the guy we’re going to go with on Thursday. We didn’t expect him to have to return kicks; we brought him to do some receiver, give us some more depth there if need be. We didn’t expect to need him the following week, but he’s our best option.
(on whether it will be hard for him to step into this new role so quickly)
Yes it is. It definitely is. It will definitely be a challenge.
(on whether it is difficult to game plan on a short week)
Well, I think just because we know each other that helps. I think that’s why the league tries to do that with playing division opponents when they can on these Thursday night games. I think that helps, but it’s hard. Like I said, we’re worried about players looking ahead, but I think it’s hard on coaches because you’re working on two teams in the same week. A player doesn’t have to do that, so that’s why I don’t see the players having a problem. I don’t see them really looking ahead, but this game for us is harder for the coaches because they’re working last Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, and Saturday on this opponent—looking at film. Both teams have to do that, so it just makes it harder. The fact that we have the home game obviously helps because we don’t have to travel tomorrow. We didn’t have to travel last year which is at least a plus for us.