Following are excerpts from Mike Munchak's Nov. 15 press conference. The video below has the entire session.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on injuries sustained during the game)
Yeah just to make sure. Again, he was up high, had a chance to catch a ball. He didn’t quite get it, came down hard and hit the ground. Just making sure he’s OK, but we assume he’s fine.
(on not being able to win close games)
Well, I thought we did when we won the San Diego game, the Pittsburgh game was kind of close there most of the day. San Diego I thought was a nice one for us as a team (because) we hadn’t beaten (them) in so many years, but we just can’t seem to…we’re doing a lot of good things in a lot of areas. The offense really the last few weeks is doing a lot of things better and then the defense won’t quite get finished on certain drives. We don’t turn the ball over on offense this week, but we get a special teams play. We’re putting ourselves in position like we’ve said all year long. We’re right there to win games and then we’re putting all the pressure on ourselves to make a great finish and not make mistakes. We’re just not able to finish a game out that way by making that play that gets us back in. (We) lose by three, lose by two. I think five of our losses are seven points or less. It’s frustrating; there’s a lot of good going on which puts us in that position like in this game when we jumped up on them with the lead. We need to find a way to make a play in that second or third quarter to stay up on them bigger. Instead we go a 17-play drought where the offense is on the sidelines a long period of time and the game changes.
(on the Colts’ halftime adjustments)
If I start with our defense, I think the thing is coming out of the locker room they didn’t do anything differently. They had been having success with drives, but they just weren’t able to finish drives. We did a nice job (on defense)—first series we were three-and-out, but even after that the second drive they had was 14 or 15 plays, but we held them to a field goal. They came back again at the two-minute and went about another 12, 13 plays but only got a field goal because we got the sack. We were able to make plays on those drives, and if we don’t have a penalty on J-Mac (
(on mounting frustration and whether players will start pointing fingers at one another)
I think frustration should be. I mean, we’re all frustrated, so I think that’s a common thing when you are a good football team and your expectations are better than what our record is. You want that, you want frustration; you want guys to realize we have to work harder to find a way to make more plays. The only way to do that is by preparing. We got to continue to prepare details. That’s not a magical formula to all of a sudden make more plays on a Sunday. I’m not worried about players. These guys are professionals. They want to win, they want to do well, they have a lot of pride. I don’t believe in that stuff. I don’t think that stuff happens.
(on needing to win the next six games)
It’s not necessarily we have to work harder, it’s smarter. It’s about the details that come up within the game. You can’t practice it all during a week. You can’t cover everything that could possibly happen, so guys just got to get a feel. When it comes to the games, we just got to find a way to make less mistakes and more plays. That’s everyone—that’s where the focus has to be. That’s the only way you get better at anything. We’ve been doing that, I think we’re getting better at it, and again, this Sunday will be another opportunity. They understand what the challenge is going to be. We’ve made it hard on ourselves, and now we’re the only ones that probably believe we can do it. You hear about teams every year that do something, and it’s kind of our turn to show we can do it. We’re going to be away for a while. We play three games on the road, so we’ll see what happens.
(on whether Devon Wylie was thrust into a difficult position)
I think it’s a tough spot for any young player. If we put another guy in there, it’s no different than it was for Damian (Williams) a week earlier. Damian hadn’t caught in a game since a preseason game two years ago. There’s not a lot of options where you’re going to sit there and feel really good about what may or may not have happened on Thursday night. So, we put Damian in the same spot a week earlier. He got hurt doing it and fumbled the ball. He made some good decisions on the kicks which was good, the punts that went into the end zone, not fielding them, getting away from them. You can’t turn the ball over.
(on whether he regrets putting
No because to me at the time, and even now, he wasn’t healthy enough to be an answer. It doesn’t matter.
(on whether Mariani will be part of the team’s future)
Definitely, he always has been. I’m not sure of his contract situation officially—that’s stuff we’ll talk about when the season’s over. He’s definitely a guy we want to be part of this organization. When you go through periods we’re going through with inconsistency at the position, you realize his value even more or someone like him who has been consistent when he’s had the opportunities.
(on whether Mariani would be healthy enough to come back if he wasn’t already on IR)
Again, he’s on IR. I really don’t want to talk about where he’s at physically. It doesn’t make a whole lot of sense really because we haven’t really sat down. I think we did the right thing for him and for us, and no matter how this went for us. Good or bad, it still was the right decision then. We wouldn’t change the decision, so I think I’d leave it at that.
We don’t know yet. We have the long week, and guys have come a long way in the past with injuries. He’s going to be a week-to-week kind of deal. He’s gotten a lot better than he was in the last couple days. I think his soreness is a lot better than it was a couple days after—he’s still not even a week out from the injury, so we’ll have to wait and see.
(on the onside kick last night)
It worked against San Francisco—they fumbled the ball. The ball came clean when we kicked that kick against San Francisco, and we just didn’t recover it. But, it worked then.
(on who makes the decision regarding onside kicks)
Nate’s (Kaczor) the coordinator, so it’s what he thinks is best, and Steve Hoffman, after studying the league and seeing what’s working, what’s not working. I think there’s been 39 kicks, and I think three of them have been recovered so far this year. Usually it’s a five percent success rate.
Sure. The players always have a say in what they can or can’t do well. Just like we do on offense and defense—you’re always going to get input from the players.
(on the onside kick that almost worked against San Francisco)
The first one we kicked against San Francisco, he fumbled the ball, the kid from San Francisco did, and we had a clean shot at it and just didn’t get it.
(on the onside kick not working last night)
Like I said, we put a lot of work into why we do what we do in all phases of the game. It’s not just a, ‘Well, let’s try this.’ It’s something that there’s a lot of study done. Like I said, there’s a lot of film available on everything, so you can see every kick from years on what’s working and most currently. Again, a lot of thought and preparation goes into what’s the best way for a play that’s not successful often. We want to be part of the five percent where it works or six percent or whatever it ends up being on a yearly basis. We felt that, again, that gave us the best chance to get the ball or we wouldn’t be doing it. We’ve kicked three and one of them we should’ve recovered, so that’s pretty good right there. The last two we didn’t get — they handled the ball better than we hoped. We didn’t get it. You just can’t leave games in that situation assuming you’re going to get the ball back because, like I said, it doesn’t happen very often. We’re still going to work hard to try to achieve that and try to find a way. If it’s not working, hopefully we don’t have to do any more. If we do, we’ll try something else if we feel what we’re doing is not working.
(on the flat onside kick)
The reason it’s flat is because when it’s on a tee it comes out faster. That means the guys recovering the kick are too far behind to recover. They can’t be as effective as far as hitting the guy before he catches it or as the ball is arriving your teammates are arriving. The flatness, if you watch a lot of them last year and this year, you see a lot of guys doing it. The Kansas City-Denver game was one where they’re arriving at the same time, so it’s hard for the guy to play the ball. He kicked it exactly where he wanted it to kick. The guy made a nice play on it. You never know how the ball’s going to spin, if it moves at all. Again, like I said, the San Francisco game looked very similar to the one last night, but the guy muffed it because we had guys right next to him. You kick those deep ones, the ones that bounce on the back line, teams have done a great job of blocking that up, so the guy just has to catch the ball. No one can hit him because you’re blocking him. There’s a lot of strategy to it. Everyone works at different ways to do it, and we’ll continue to work out ways because obviously we want to have success at it. We’ll keep tweaking where we think necessary. The biggest thing is don’t get in a situation where you need the ball back all the time.
Akeem (Ayers) last night had a couple hits on the quarterback. He almost had a pick on the second play or the first throw of the game, but no. As a defense I think in general, as a group we haven’t gotten the ball back the way we’d like to — especially last night. We needed someone to make a play last night and get the ball for us, but we didn’t have any turnovers last night. It’s not just those two. We need plays by all of them.
(on Coby Fleener having a big game for the Colts)
More so, yes. The tight end last night obviously made some catches. We lost him a couple times in coverage playing the run and he snuck out and had a big play on us. We haven’t been as good at that. The Ram game we allowed that because of their speed. Indy found out about that a week later about getting beat behind and how that could change a game and were smart there. Yesterday (the tight end) didn’t really kill us; it was more of the run game I felt. When we needed to stop the run we didn’t.
He played well last night. If it wasn’t for the drops, I don’t know if any one of them would have hit the ground yesterday. He made good decisions, he was checking in and out of plays, he was changing the protections. He did a nice job getting the ball to the people in the crossing routes when they were playing man or they were playing zone. I thought we did a good job no matter how they were playing that we weren’t trying to press. I thought when they were playing off the guys did a good job of getting open. He ran a couple times. I thought the protection was good. You know, (Robert) Mathis didn’t have a sack or didn’t really pressure as much other than the time he took a late shot when he was unblocked. I thought the guys did a really good job with that because he’s a very good football player. There’s a lot of good things; I think we were 55 or 58 percent on third down. Again, the guys are making plays and moving the chains on offense. We just had a couple drives where we had to get touchdowns instead of field goals.
(on whether he will talk to the league about
We turn it in and talk to them about it. They didn’t see it from the sideline — he would have been thrown out of the game if they saw the head-butt. They didn’t see it live when it happened during the game. They saw the helmet part, but they’ll see it on tape and I’m sure there will be consequences for that during that little span there where they had three personal fouls.
We’re hoping that Moise (Fokou) will have a great chance this week at playing. The ankle with Brian (Schwenke) we assume will be fine, but he hasn’t been on the field yet. We’re hoping he’ll have a good weekend in rehab and then Monday he’ll get a chance to get on the field. All intentions are he’d have a shot this week.
Yes. For right now, yes. We’re comfortable if he had to play that he’d go in and do a solid job for us.