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Coach Munchak's Nov. 27 Practice Report

Posted Nov 27, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on what is offsetting the team’s third down success)

I guess in other games, turnovers. Those plays not coming at the right time, the timing of when we’re making plays. I think third downs especially on offense, that’s when you’re really designing things to get open. We’ve done a great job there with that. I think we’re using our guys smart. I think the guys are getting a good feel, especially last week with Justin Hunter converting the three third downs, getting a yard more than we needed each time besides the big touchdown play. I think that part has gotten a lot better but just the timing of…in the red zone, the green zone when we’re down there, we need those plays then. It’s kind of like the timing isn’t falling in the right spots to where we can convert all the time. That’s probably, on both sides of the ball, the area of the field where we need to get better on third down so that we can turn it into seven points instead of three. We’re doing a lot of good things, but unfortunately it’s not always leading to as many points as it should.

(on whether he got an explanation regarding Michael Griffin’s one-game suspension)

He hasn’t gotten the written final reply of exactly what they felt. I think it was a matter of the number of times that automatically triggers you to the suspension; it’s not necessarily the act. It’s more of the series of acts over a period of time. I think everyone is not real sure on the ruling of how they’re handling this. It’s so new. Player safety and some of these rules have changed and just been implemented the last couple years. For me, I think it was disappointing. You would think if someone got suspended it would be a very bad hit, no-brainer that he did something he shouldn’t have done. I think on that play he was trying to do a lot of things they were asking him to do. He was pulling off, he was going lower, he didn’t use his head. Actually, he slid into the block instead of finishing the block, (did) all the things he normally would have done when a quarterback throws the ball in that spot. This kind of ball shouldn’t be thrown. Something bad usually does happen with that. He did everything I thought from watching in slow motion. During the game, you can’t really see that. The kid didn’t have his chin strap buckled, so when he hit the ground, his helmet came off more because he wasn’t strapped up like he should be. His helmet came off. I know the officials are going to call that, they’re told to. We understand that part, but to lose him for a game is kind of harsh. It’s kind of harsh, and I was hoping they would pull off that stance. I knew they would fine him, he knew that, but now you’re missing one of your players for a big game over something that…the intent, the body language all looked like he was trying to do it the right way. You’re going to have contact. Even though you’re trying to do it right, there are going to be some hits that are physical. It was unfortunate that they saw it differently than we did.

(on whether he presented evidence that Mychal Rivera’s chin strap was off on that play)

Yup. They had all that when they talked about it, and they had pictures of it.

(on moving forward this week without Michael Griffin)

It was hard because we didn’t know until yesterday in the afternoon officially. We had obviously hoped for the best. George Wilson when (Michael) Griffin was hurt before had to step in. We had to roll the guys different like we did the Rams game I think it was. We’re going to have to make some changes like that, move some guys around for this game. That’s what we’re working on right now, the best way to do that, and see what if this happens or that happens, so you’re covering a lot of situations. The good thing is it’s only a week which is good. It’s not like an injury when you’re out for a while. It’s a one week thing, but it’s tough for the defense. Griff’s handling it very well, very professionally, and I think the players will, too. I think we’re disappointed. This is how the league is, and you have to adjust. We will adjust. That position is hard. Free safety is a tough position to play these days when the ball is going to that spot.

(on covering Coby Fleener)

He made some plays last time on us for different things we were trying to do that game. We lost him a couple of times in play-action. A couple of those big plays on run-action stuff we kind of got sucked in because they were running the ball well on us. That kind of led to us dropping coverage a couple times. We have to fix that, but I think the plan we have going forward will be good. I think you’ll see hopefully a different outcome this week.

(on whether he thought about bringing Corey Lynch back)

We talked to him. That’s the hard part about this—the timing. The timing wasn’t great, and we just let him go because we brought a corner in because of Tommie Campbell going on injured reserve. We let (Corey Lynch) go over the weekend then this happens with Griff (Michael Griffin). We talked to him but it was already while he was in Indy. Just the timing didn’t work out the way we hoped. For a player, he has got to look at what’s best for him, too. He may think, ‘Well, they’ll keep me for one week, are they keeping me for four.’ He may have had a better situation there. I don’t know all that, but we were interested in him because of what he can do for special teams and he’s a smart player who knows what we’re doing. It’s unfortunate that he’s at the team we’re playing this weekend.

(on whether the Colts intentionally picked up Corey Lynch this week)

I’m sure it’s just because they needed someone. That’s just all part of it. I never know if it hurts you, helps you when that happens as far as what players know, don’t know. It happens all the time. We’ll be all fine.

(on giving up on the run game too early in the second half against the Colts)

We’ll always look back and say there’s probably a couple spots we could have ran the ball. I think there was a third-and-two or one that I think we threw it rather than running it. I know that when Dowell (Loggains) and I during the game talked about that that there probably would have been a chance since we didn’t convert it…I think that’s one that Kendall (Wright) or someone dropped. That was disappointing. We had the holding call on the center, on Chris Spencer. That hurt us, and that kept us from running the football, too. It was just a combination of things like that. Like you said, not having the ball for a long period of time there hurt us, but we have to be able to run the football. They did what we did. The second half they ran the ball like we ran the first half and they took over on us. The fumble killed us as we all know in that one spot there. That one turnover in the game cost us seven points and a lot of time in possession, in plays. That’s something that really hurt us in the game also. We’re looking at it, and we realize we let another game slip away. We have to get this one.

(on Ryan Fitzpatrick in empty backfield sets)

I think the challenge is what happened last game when he got sacked on the first drive, the 16th  play of the drive, when we had an empty (backfield). They brought six, and he didn’t get the ball out. The center is trying to block two guys at once, and we took a sack there and had to settle for a field goal. That’s probably the biggest challenge—the fact that teams are going to go after that. He did a good job in the Indy game. He moved around the pocket well. I think we went empty about eight times, and I think he took a sack. There were a couple where he had to run out of the pocket, but he made good plays with his legs, made good decisions. He likes it because we have guys like Kendall (Wright), guys like Delanie (Walker), (Justin) Hunter, that will get open quick, so he feels like he can make a quick decision and get the ball out of his hands, frustrate the defense. Ever so often they’re going to fool us, and he’s got to do something with the ball. A lot of times it’s easier said than done, so we would rather him take a sack, get low to the ground rather than forcing the ball. I think that’s what he has done better the last three games. Even though he may have missed a read or we didn’t pass-block well or whatever it may be, he’s trying to move around the pocket or take a sack or slide or throw it away which has been helpful.

(on bringing in Leon Washington to help the team on kick returns)

We’re hoping he’s the answer. We’re excited about his past and what he’s done. He’s well accomplished. I think he brings a lot of confidence to the team now in general. I think when you bring a guy in that has been a Pro Bowler at the position and is as professional as he is…just watching him today, his attitude, how he approaches his job, his confidence, you see why he was good at what he did for so many years. That’s exactly what we needed. The timing was great for us when he became available. We’re hoping he can come in and have a nice strong end to the season for us, help us with field position and things like that. He’s a guy also that can help on offense. He’s a guy that runs good routes. That’s something down the road we can look at but glad we have him. It feels a big need that we had. We had a confidence issue, and I think that really makes a difference on special teams. This guy can take it to the house, he has done it. All of a sudden you have that extra energy, and hopefully it gives us a boost going into the weekend.

(on whether Leon Washington’s experience helps)

He’s been through it. With the Patriots, I know he got injured. He wasn’t playing much, doing much with the ankle, the leg injury, but I think he looked good. He worked out well, he passed the physical. We’re excited. It’s what we needed. It was a big problem with Damian (Williams) getting hurt and us trying to make that thing work. This hopefully will be a very positive thing for us.

(on leveraging Kendall Wright’s unpredictability as a positive)

I agree with exactly what he (Ryan Fitzpatrick) said there. He’s always in the right spot. He may not get there the same way every time, but he’s so competitive. He’s fun to watch. I know if I had the ball in my hand, I’d be looking at him. He’ll get in the right area. It may not be as precise as you want it every time, but usually he creates space so you can deliver the ball. I think that’s hard for defense because they’re not sure covering him what spot he’s going to or how he runs his routes because he does adjust. The good thing is he gets back on track enough to where the quarterback can find him.

(on whether there is any doubt Kendall Wright will play on Sunday)

Oh no, he’ll play. He practiced today. He didn’t do everything, but he practiced. Like in the game when he got hurt, that didn’t look good at all. When he got hurt, Chance (Warmack) had thrown his guy in the back of his legs. I’m surprised he popped up and played, but we’re counting on him.

(on adding new wrinkles against a familiar division opponent)

I think bottom line is every team every week does what they do well. They know they’re going to see certain things, but it will come different ways. We’ll disguise it with formations, motions, how you do things. We’ll have multiple things out of the same packages. We just played them two weeks ago, so they’ll do the same thing. They’re going to end up running the power play. We know what play they’re going to run. It’s just a matter of their window dressing to get to them or have some counters off those plays, things like that that hides it. They can guess that it’s going to be this or this, but they don’t know which is coming. It’s not as hard as you think.

(on the team’s playoff outlook and whether they thought they would be in this position after losing consecutive games to division opponents)

It was that tough one and the one before that. To lose two games by five or six points at home, all that was just a bad, bad combination. We’ll say it’s not over because at that time we had six more games to play, but it just shows you how drastically your situation could change from one week to the next in the NFL. Just like if we don’t win this game, our situation will be drastically different than it is right now in a week from now. We know that. The good thing is we’ re on the good side of it right now. This is a team we haven’t beaten. We haven’t won a division game in a while, so we’ve got a tough opponent ahead of us. I think we feel really good about ourselves going into this game. It’s another round of the playoffs for us. We can’t lose. We have to win this football game.

(on Donald Brown’s success against the Titans)

I wish we knew that answer. Some teams just match up sometimes, a guy just gets confidence. If I’m Indianapolis, the team probably feels confident against us. They beat us three times in a row even when we may have outplayed them. They found a way to make the plays in the end to beat us, so I would think their whole team is pretty confident about their chances on Sunday. He’s one of them. He obviously had that big run a couple years ago on that misdirection deal. We had a tackle in the backfield for a 10-yard loss, and he ran it to the house. Last time we played him, he had some great runs. I don’t think he could run them again as well as he did. I thought he did a great job on two or three of those runs that hurt us during the game. We have to stop him. We have to stop the run game because that’s what took us down last time.

(on Thanksgiving at the Munchak household)

Well, we’re usually working on Thanksgiving in the NFL. The good thing is, like the players, we’ll be done tomorrow early afternoon and get a chance to get away from the office a little bit. We have probably 20 people coming over, so we have a lot of family and friends coming to just enjoy the evening, just enjoy our blessings, enjoy our time together, and relax.

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