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Coach Munchak's Nov. 25 Press Conference

Posted Nov 25, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on how he slept last night)

Slept better than we had in a few weeks here. Obviously, finishing the game off yesterday, what we’ve been talking about for quite a few weeks now, not being able to do. It was good to watch the team really do a great job in that fourth quarter making plays to win.

(on Justin Hunter’s playing time moving forward)

I think he’s going to, like he’s doing, play more and more. We’ve been doing a lot more three wide receivers, so he starts in that set. It’s still going to be Nate (Washington) and Kendall (Wright). We look at him as a starter. The three main guys in our minds that way, all three of them will play a lot. He made some great catches on third down yesterday. His confidence is growing and growing. He’s getting open, he’s understanding how to get in a position to make those plays he’s making. He had the big third-and-seven which was a monster play there in the fourth quarter for us. (He had) that touchdown in the second half. Those kinds of plays, that’s the kind of stuff he can do. That’s the kind of stuff we’re hoping he’ll be able to do to help us this year. That was a big play to get us back in the game after having a really inconsistent first half. He did a great job of making a couple guys miss, and we scored in four plays. All of a sudden we had a lead at the end of the third quarter.

(on Justin Hunter’s progression)

We didn’t know for sure, but I think he’s had good coaching. I think Shawn Jefferson’s done a great job with him. He’s constantly in his ear, constantly talking to him, constantly showing him how to be a pro. I think having another young player like Kendall (Wright) there, he’s seen how Kendall attacks the game in the second year. Then Nate (Washington) is one of our team captains. I think he’s done a great job in that room. The way they work in practice, he works hard in practice, he does scout team reps. Him and Kendall don’t want to come off the field in practice. They’re competing, and that rubs off on you I think. Like each week, he’s getting more and more aware of what we’re asking him to do. He’s getting open, he has always been a willing blocker, so that part’s been good. He likes to get down there and he’ll block and he’ll cut block and he’ll do all those things. It’s just the more he plays, the better he’ll hopefully continue to get.

(on Ryan Fitzpatrick’s growth this season)

Well, for him, we felt it was a combination of everything. It was hard to judge him on two games when he got thrown in when we were 3-1. The (Jake Locker) injury happened, and he was kind of taking over what we had going forward. We didn’t make a lot of changes for him, we tweaked some things for him back then. I think now is a lot different. The offense, we changed it, knowing he is going to be the guy the rest of the year. I think Coach (Dowell) Loggains did a great job of changing things the way he likes it, what he’s good at. Those two games he did play in, they had a chance to learn each other a little bit and seeing what Ryan (Fitzpatrick) responds well to and when he’s talking to him during the game and under stress and what plays he’s good at. As a play caller, he’ll start figuring out what Fitz is really seeing during the game, the better their communication has gotten over that time. That’s helped him dramatically. I think when he went in against Jacksonville, he was much more comfortable already just because we already had those two weeks behind us of working together as being a quarterback during that time. We kind of got through the tough spots against two good teams Seattle and Kansas City, two defenses, but we weren’t obviously in-synch those two games. We didn’t play well as an offense, and that wasn’t just the players. It was us, too, as coaches doing maybe the right things and him getting comfortable with the receivers and vice versa. Those guys I think really understand what he’s looking at, what he wants from them, how he wants them to run certain routes. I think they’re all growing together. In really the last three games that they’ve been together, you can see the difference. The receivers are growing up, the receivers are getting better. Delanie’s (Walker) obviously caught a lot of balls, too. The group is really getting a good feel for each other.

(on whether last night’s delayed flight changes the team’s plans this week)

Today it did. We were late. Normally we would come in and watch the game and kind of go through the game and be out of here by one o’clock, two o’clock with the players. Because we were delayed and got in late, it made no sense to try and do something early in the morning like we normally do. We’ll just catch up tomorrow with the film watching. We’ll just watch the game tomorrow like we did for the Thursday night game, add a little to our day tomorrow, and then we’ll move forward.

(on what time the team got in today)

Probably around two o’clock.

(on building confidence after the win)

Well, hopefully it’s going to help us a lot. We’re playing a team this weekend that we’re very familiar with — we just played them a week ago. We know how close that game was. Really, the last three times we’ve played this team since (Andrew) Luck’s been there, it’s been down to the last drive or two. We anticipate probably the same type of game. Knowing that we’re still involved in this thing … the thing in this league is we’ll be in December now. You always say you want to be relevant in December and be in the chase. We still are doing that, so that adds just a little more to the game. It’s a game we have to win just like last week we had to win. Each week it’s going to be the same story. We’ll talk about where we’re at, what we accomplished yesterday when we meet on Wednesday, and then we’ll kind of put that aside and lock into how we’re going to win on Sunday, how we’re going to go into Indianapolis and win a football game. If we do, we’ll understand our situation gets better the more we can continue to win. It’s going to get harder as we go. Anytime you win it’s a great thing in this league, and you see how hard it is for teams to win when you have a bunch of us, six of us or seven of us with the same record in the AFC. Teams are going through the same thing, teams are playing each other. There’s a lot of things that can happen over the next five weeks, but we know if we keep winning, then we’re going to stay in the middle of it. That’s what you can do.

(on whether he is an emotional guy)

Just depends on what the situation is. I’m not going to overreact to something good or bad. I think I’m going to kind of take it in as far as when something happens. In football, I’d say no, depending on the situation at the end of the game, but during the game I think when something doesn’t go your way, you try not to be as emotional there. I think when it’s all said and done, that’s a good time to be emotional.

(on whether he was emotional yesterday)

I think just because we’ve been through so much here these last five or six weeks. We felt winning would be more natural if we had won a lot of the games we felt we should have won that we haven’t. I know how hard everyone has worked just to finish a game off, to do it on the west coast where we’ve had trouble winning. We talked at halftime where we were. We had 30 minutes left, and we needed to find a way to win this football game. I think just emotions of the players, listening to them in the locker room, how much this meant to them. They understood the situation; there was no misunderstanding of where we were at. When they did score with six minutes left in the game which I felt has been that way all year. I felt very confident we were going to win that football game, and finally I watched it unfold. Guys made big plays. There was three third downs, we had to convert third-and-seven, third-and-eight, third-and-six throughout that drive. We weren’t settling for a field goal. If we had to, but I think the mindset was we were going to take our chances to score. We did, and guys made plays when they had to. I think just watching all that come together and taking six minutes of the clock and leaving 10 seconds, it just kind of fell the way we hoped it would. I think all of us were very emotional, very happy and proud. I think it was more about being proud with what these guys accomplished in a tough situation.

(on playing the Colts twice in three weeks)

You’d probably rather spread it out, but since they did beat us, it is nice playing them right away. It is fresh in our minds, it is a big game. It is a bigger game. We know what to expect, and so do they. I don’t know. I’d prefer to spread it out if I had a choice, maybe play them a little later towards the end there, the last three weeks. This is a great time since they beat us last time. This is a game we feel confident with. We have to find a way to finish this game with them, and I think it’s going to be a fun game.

(on whether the team talks about winning the division)

Last week it was win six games and you’re going to be in the playoffs—that’s kind of what our mentality was. It didn’t matter which one it was going to be. We can control six and get the wild card, but we can’t control what Indianapolis does. We only get to play them one more time. Us losing to them the first time, we lost control of that somewhat as far as what they do. We have to hope they lose now to get us in that position. We know if we win five games we’re in the playoffs. The worst case is the wild card, so that’s what we’re kind of hanging our head on. If they happen to slip up and lose a couple more games, then that would be great if we could win our division. We’re just looking at it as we can control the wild card spot now, and that’s winning five games. It’s still a lot of great teams we have to play, so it’s a lot of work ahead of us.

(on guys riding each other after committing penalties)

They heard it during the game, they heard it on the sidelines, they heard it at halftime. They know that we have to be smarter with it. We only had one (penalty) on defense the whole game and one on special teams. Eight of them were on offense, and we’re very lucky. The good thing is we didn’t turn the ball over. We won the football game because we didn’t turn the football over, and that’s where it usually starts. We made a lot of penalties which hurt us, but the good thing is we didn’t give the football up. That’s probably why we were in the football game.

(on Michael Griffin’s penalty)

That’s hard. It’s hard to see on the film copy. I think it looked a lot worse because he was going low and his (Mychal Rivera’s) helmet came off from him actually going to the ground on his own doing. It didn’t look good. I think he hit him with his shoulder for sure. That’s hard. The intent wasn’t there to harm by any means the way he went in with his shoulder, but obviously we got a penalty on it.

(on Ryan Fitzpatrick having success in empty backfield sets)

We’ve done that I think the last couple games. I think we started it in the Indianapolis game and did it a couple times early. The negative is, as you saw, that he (Ryan Fitzpatrick) sometimes had to run. They were bringing six guys, so you lose protection if you don’t get the ball out at a pretty quick pace. There were three or four of those where they brought more than we could block, so he ran around and improvised a little bit. He also made some nice plays where he was able to get the ball out quickly. That’s the advantage. He’s comfortable in that role. He enjoys being in that package and some quarterbacks don’t. He’s OK with that. He understands he can change the protection. If he doesn’t, he needs to deal with that or the ball needs to get out or he needs to throw it away or do something with it so we don’t have a bad play happen. We made some good plays on it, and last week was the same. We made some nice throws and catches off that also, so I’m sure it’s something you’ll continue to see.

(on whether Kenny Britt has been a disappointment this season)

That’s been a tough deal. It’s been disappointing as we’ve talked about. He’s not playing much because of some drops and penalties early in the season. He didn’t play a lot yesterday, but he gets open. That’s the thing, he’s getting open. He’s working hard in practice, and that’s why we’re giving him opportunities. We only have four receivers up because Damian (Williams) is hurt. I don’t know if he even had eight plays, maybe less than 10. He got wide open twice. On a third-and-20 he could have made a huge play for us then the two-minute he had a chance to keep the drive going. Like I said, in practice it looks like he’s got it down. He’s working hard, so we anticipate when he gets the chances he’ll make the play. Unfortunately, it didn’t happen yesterday.

(on where the disconnect is with Britt)

It’s hard. I don’t think he has the answers. He’s reading the coverage correctly, he’s getting to the right spot. The read brought the ball to him, and he’s just got to close the deal. For whatever reason, Delanie (Walker) dropped two yesterday that were right there, too, earlier in the game that hurt us. (Kenny Britt’s) obviously been doing that all year. It’s just disappointing for him and for us because he’s still…you can see him get open, and he’s a mismatch for some people. If you can’t catch it, that’s a problem.

(on getting Britt over the hump)

Well, that’s what we’ve been trying to do because of our situation. You get to the point where we all want the same thing. We all want him to have success (because) it means we have success. I thought that was great opportunity yesterday for that to happen, and it didn’t.

(on whether Damian Williams will play Sunday)

He could, yes. He should start practicing this week a little bit and get on the field at least to start like (Brian) Schwenke did and came on strong last week. Damian (Williams) should be able to start doing some things tomorrow on the field and Wednesday with us and see how fast he progresses.

(on whether Damian Williams will play Sunday)

He could, yes. He should start practicing this week a little bit and get on the field at least to start like (Brian) Schwenke did and came on strong last week. Damian (Williams) should be able to start doing some things tomorrow on the field and Wednesday with us and see how fast he progresses.

(on Moise Fokou’s performance in his return to the lineup)

He did a pretty good job. The defense held them to field goals, and that’s what we wanted them to do. They only got inside the 20 twice, and I think we held them both times to three points. They made the one big throw on us outside the 20 for about 35 yards, but we made them kick six field goals. They missed a couple. They made three, and that’s what kept us alive. I thought in a lot of areas we did well that way. We tipped four balls; we probably could have caught two of them. The first drive we knew we got our hands on four balls which, again, stopped some drives. That part was good. He played solid. It was good to have him back. He ran around, probably played more than we thought he’d play because they were max protecting, they were two backing it. They wanted to control the passing game for the most part, didn’t take a lot of risks with that they did. When we did go after him (Matt McGloin), he did a great job of getting the ball out of his hands. He got hit by two guys on that touchdown throw to take the lead on us. We had two guys come free and hit him, and as he was letting go of the ball. They made a big play when they had to, but luckily the offense came back and won it.

(on Devon Wylie returning kicks on Sunday)

Well, again, the one ball went on the ground, we recovered it. He did a nice job on the kickoff the one time he brought it out, the other time when Jackie (Battle) had a hard time with that one kick that went between his legs. He (Devon Wylie) did a great job. He almost went up to block for him and did a great job retrieving that. That could have been ugly, too. I thought he made a good decision there. Obviously, the ball leaving his hands we can’t have which it did, he knows that. As we go through this process the next few days we’ll decide what we think is best, see how Damian’s (Williams) doing and make a decision from there.

(on whether Damian Williams will return kicks when he returns)

Yes.

(on whether Mike Martin was a healthy scratch against Oakland)

Yes. It was more knowing they were going to run the ball at us quite a bit, trying to get a bigger end out there with Lavar Edwards and also because (Derrick) Morgan had the groin during the week and we wanted to make sure he’d be able to withstand the whole game. Sometimes you get surprised in the first quarter; someone’s not as healthy as you may have felt, so we were concerned, too, with that as a possibility. We thought we needed another end rather than a tackle.

(on Craig Stevens’ status)

We’re just getting back. He’ll be in the (concussion) program I guess and see how he does the next couple days. Hopefully he’ll be OK by Sunday.

(on injuries sustained during the game)

No other than the guys that played hurt, or came back I should say. Moise (Fokou) did pretty well, and we assume he’ll be OK. (Brian) Schwenke also — same thing. No one seems any worse than they did at the beginning of the game. Little things, but nothing that should keep anyone out of practice or the game.

(on what happened with Kendall Wright’s leg)

We were lucky there because it didn’t look real good. That’s one of the plays where I think Chance (Warmack) hit one of those corners that came up and he launched him three or four yards in the air, and he landed on the back of Kendall’s (Wright) leg. It didn’t look good when it happened, but I think it scared him more than…it was one of those initial ones that was painful then it just kind of subsided real quickly. Four plays later he was back out there. He’s fun to watch. Kendall’s hard to keep down.

(on Jake Locker’s recovery)

We haven’t really heard yet. I think he’s back now. I haven’t seen him yet, but I think he’ll be back in town this week. We’ll get more to where exactly he’s at. We haven’t had a chance to sit down and talk to the doctors and see exactly what their plan is going forward.

 

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