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Coach Munchak's Oct. 21 Press Conference

Posted Oct 21, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

Following are Coach Mike Munchak’s comments from his weekly press conference that pertain to the Oct. 20 game against San Francisco and the team’s bye week for Oct. 27. Click here for Munchak’s comments on the passing of Titans Owner and Founder K.S. “Bud” Adams, Jr. The video below contains those comments in addition to the following.

(on Jake Locker’s heath)

He’s doing well. He’s sore but I think … watching the tape with him I think he’s very happy he played. Also, I think he got through. He ran around quite a bit and did some good things with his arm. You knew that wearing the brace he wasn’t going to look perfect because a brace does limit you, not because your knee is sore it’s because the brace limits you. He was very accurate early, made some nice throws early. He wants the pick back. That was one of the bad balls he threw, but I thought overall (he was) very competitive. I never thought once to take him out of that game. I never once thought it was a bad idea. He’s special that way, and I think that’s why we keep saying when the smoke clears the guy is going to be a winner. We’ve got some work ahead of us this year, but it was a good start for him.

(on plans for Locker during the bye week)

He’ll just work his knee, keep going through the rehab, keep getting his leg stronger just like he’d normally do if we were playing. He’ll probably get a couple days away from here, which he can do. But he’ll be here. The good thing now is all the ‘Is Jake playing?’ ‘How’s he feeling?’ it’s all behind him now. Now we just, as a team, get ready to beat our next opponent.

(on early passes to Darius Reynaud and Jackie Battle)

As far as Darius, he was in there early because he’s a mismatch problem because they’re going to double (cover) Kendall (Wright) and cover Delanie (Walker). That gives us another guy who can get open in a short area for a quick three or four-yard pass. That’s what that was for there – to take advantage of something we thought was there, which was and he dropped the ball.  I think we’re trying to use the guys the best we can. Jackie caught a screen.  He was in there and we called the play. It’s not like Jackie can’t run a screen. Jackie ran a screen against Pittsburgh and got a first down. So he’s very capable of getting a first down. It’s not always going to be, ‘Is he better than him?’ You always want your best guys … CJ (Chris Johnson) took a screen to the house in the third quarter. So, of course, you want him in there as much as possible, especially when you get a chance to call a screen.

(on the release of Darius Reynaud)

I had a good talk with Darius today and I’ve been talking to him throughout the process. That’s a position that’s high-profile. When you’re a specialist you’re here to do one thing mainly and you have to do it well. If you don’t, everyone knows it and you can’t kind of … have someone else take your spot. It’s one of those things where you either pass or fail. Early I thought some things happened to him that were some gray area stuff, that he wasn’t necessarily making great decisions but he kind of balanced it out so we felt it was worth going forward. He reached a point where I think confidence became an issue and when you see that … it’s a problem. That’s the first fumble he’s had since he’s been here. That led to things that started happening that were out of character for him. He had a great run back last week and a great run back this week. But he has to make a lot of judgment calls when that ball is in the air. Every time it rolls different, spins different. It’s a tough job but he knows the stakes if he drops one. So we had a good talk today and we did what we thought was best for the team.

(on who handles the returns going forward)

We have some time to look at what our options will be. Damian [Williams] is a guy we feel comfortable handling the ball. So that’s the easy first choice at the punt return.

(on the decision to IR Marc Mariani after training camp)

I think at the time it was the best decision. Reynaud made a lot of great plays last year on returns and didn’t show us any reason to think he wouldn’t make similar plays this year. Heck, he made the first tackle on the kickoff team in (Sunday’s) game. He’s done other things and there were spots we thought he could possibly help us on offense.

So I don’t think we would have done it any differently. If Marc was healthy then it’s a different story. But Marc wasn’t healthy. Marc isn’t healthy. So we’d never know how it would have played out going to the other way but we did at the time what we thought was best. That’s all the information we had … and I thought we handled it the best way we could when it wasn’t working out.

(on Marc Mariani’s status)

He’s just not quite right yet. When it’s all said and done I think this is the best thing for Marc also.

(on how long until Mariani is healthy)

Marc’s on injured reserve so he’s a non-factor until next year. He can’t help us until next season.

(on who will return kickoffs)

[Damian Williams] could do both. The way it is with kickoffs you could just have the guy catch it in the end zone and take it at the 20. Yeah, he could do both. And we think we have some other ideas there also that we’ll play with. There’s also looking to see if there’s someone else out there we think could help us. If not, we’ll move forward with who we have in house.

(on why he finally cut Reynaud)

I think it’s more you start seeing a lack of confidence. I didn’t see that earlier. We could go through all the stuff – he made good decisions here, good decisions there. We just thought the timing was right to do it now.

(on how much does the offense’s performance the last three weeks have to do with the good defenses they played)

We’d like to say it’s a lot. But I think it’s us as much as anything and not executing. They’re good defenses, so yes it’s going to be harder. But like [Sunday] I felt we could have run the ball very well on them. I thought the run lanes were big and we only ended up having 10 carries because we didn’t have the ball like we should have had it because of penalties, because of drops that are hurting us. Then the defense couldn’t get off the field like they have the last six weeks so it created a compound problem where all of a sudden we’re down 24 and so we had to get away from something I felt could have been very good for us. Unlike games like Kansas City or the Jets where I thought we didn’t run the ball well, here’s a game where – the way I thought the holes looked and how clean they looked – this was a chance to run the ball very well. We didn’t. So we have to regroup. We have to have a winning week this week where we regroup physically and mentally. Then we come back and have the Rams and Jacksonville and we have to win some football games. We’ll see. We have a lot of work ahead of us. We’re not playing good enough right now. We proved that yesterday. We feel we still have the pieces in place to do all of that and we have to go out and do it.

(on making corrections)

It’s a day-by-day deal. A lot of teams face the same problems. The penalties are going to be called. You have to be smarter with your hands. It’s maybe not necessarily something you agree with but you can’t put yourself in a position where the official has a reason to throw one. I thought we were sloppy a couple times with that. There’s not a whole lot you can do. In practice, you keep working. If it’s jumping offsides, that’s more of a mental thing, concentration. If it’s your hands you have to make sure your technique is sound and on and on. If you’re losing your cool, I mean we can’t have that. … There’s no magic formula here. We’ve just got to play better. It seems like when you’re not playing well or losing then things like that happen more. Then the penalties don’t go your way or those types of things. We’ve been dwelling on them just like you do turnovers and things like that. Penalties are the same aggravation. You can’t always control how they’re going to call those things but you have to put yourself in better position to avoid them.

(the team’s schedule for the bye week)

The team is off after today, yes.

(on balancing time away versus fixing things)

The problem is the league mandates that they have to have off Thursday, Friday, Saturday, Sunday. We just played a game and we have a choice to try to bring them in on Wednesday and try to get a workout in because a Tuesday workout after a game … it’s highly unlikely that you get anything done on a Tuesday. I tried that two years ago and it was a waste of time, I felt. That’s the thing you have to look at. What’s best for this team? Is it rest, mental and physical rest? Even in Wednesday’s practice last week we had 12-15 guys that didn’t practice. So you’re not going to get the work.

It’s not like off weeks used to be where you put the pads on and get after it. You can’t even put the pads on. So you’re limited in what you can do. It’s more of what’s best for the team, and I thought after seven games, three tough ones and physical games … I made this decision back when we were 3-1 so it had nothing to do with what our record was it was more the state of our team physically. We have a lot of guys hurt. We have a lot of guys that can’t practice. We don’t have any linebackers left. To go out there and try to force something that we’re not going to get a lot out of didn’t make a lot of sense.

We’ll come back next Monday and that will be an extra day to work on all the things that we’re concerned about as far as offense and defense working against each other. That won’t be a day against the Rams it will be a day against our stuff and what we’re struggling at. [It will be] offense versus defense so it’s very competitive. I felt we could get a lot more out of that than we could trying to practice Tuesday or Wednesday this week.

(on the run lanes this week)

I’m saying that I didn’t think CJ (Chris Johnson) would have eight carries. To me, a good run lane is when you have eight yards and no one really tackles you until the eight yards. I thought he had about three or four of those runs that were good. When I say that, I thought we were blocking them well. I think if we kept going, the blocking would have stayed. But, again, the problem was we couldn’t waste the time (when it was) 24-0 in the third quarter to hand the ball off very often. I just thought the blocking was much more consistent, much better than it had been the last few weeks. Unfortunately, CJ only got eight carries. We had 10 carries the whole game, so maybe it’s hard judge, to say for 10 plays it looked pretty good. I thought we’d have a good day. We have nothing to show for it because he averaged five yards a carry, but he only had nine carries. (He didn’t) have a whole lot of yards, only 35 yards. We’re not bragging about it; we’re just saying the pieces we saw were better as far as where we’re heading. That’s all we can go by in a game like that.

(on Brian Schwenke’s performance)

I thought overall, for the first time playing in a long time, he was solid. He was average. Physically he stood out. As far as the pocket being firm, there were stunts he was slow to which created some pressure a couple times, and Jake (Locker) got out of the way. I thought the screen we had for the touchdown, he had a really nice block that got the thing going. He can run really well, and that’s where I think you’ll see him really start to stand out on the second level and in screens. Things were happening fast. He had some plays where he didn’t block as well as you’d hope, but overall, it was a good start for him. I mentioned the run game, they got some great push where it was easier to make decisions than it was in the last few weeks.

(on why Shonn Greene only had one carry)

Just the fact that we never got in a game where we were on the field. The goal was to play him more, definitely, but it’s hard to get reps. Between the two of them (him and Chris Johnson), they had 10 carries. Like I’ve been saying, we’re just not getting enough plays. You can’t drop a third-and-three, you can’t have a holding on first-and-10 after you get a couple first downs. Then, we throw the pick on the fourth series. That’s a hard way to get plays. I think we had 22 snaps, 20 plays, before the two-minute drive in the first half.

(on Michael Griffin’s MRI)

I mean, he’s sore. He’s moving around good, but it’s just a matter of how long it takes before he can play football.

(on whether Moise Fokou will start at middle linebacker when he returns from injury)

Well, I think if he’s ready to play this week he would move right back into the starting role. I mean, Moise (Fokou) is playing very well. If he’s limited, then we look at it differently. If he played the same way he was playing, then it’s a different story. If he’s not hindered at all and can play at the speed he’s been playing, I would think that he would get right back in and play.

(on injuries suffered during the game)

Ropati (Pitoitua) had hurt his leg I think somewhere in there. He came back in and finished it. He’s someone we have to watch but nothing bad.

(on injury updates for players who were inactive Sunday)

(Derrick) Morgan should be good next game. He was out this game, but I think he’ll be able to play next week. (Patrick) Bailey should be able to play. (Zaviar) Gooden I’m assuming would be able to play also. There’s no reason to think he can’t. I assume they’ll all be at practice Monday.

(on whether Kenny Britt will be with the team after the trade deadline)

As far as I know.

(on Kenny Britt’s personal foul)

He can’t. The point is someone definitely went out of his way to throw him down, shoved his head into the ground and all that, but (Kenny Britt) can’t respond because as we all know, for some reason they (referees) never see the first part; they only see the second guy that gets up who is upset, and that’s what they saw. (Kenny’s) got to be a guy that gets up. If they don’t see the first part, he can’t (retaliate). That cost us 15 yards. He can’t let anything someone does to him no matter what it is frustrate him enough where it hurts the team.

(on whether the coaches excuse Kenny Britt’s behavior)

Well, that’s why he played 18 plays instead of 60.

(on areas the team needs to improve upon)

I think on offense it’s obvious. (We need to) run the ball better. We’ve got to finish drives better, and we’ve got to put plays together. We’re not doing that. The penalties and drops (hurt us). That started in the Pittsburgh game. Penalties have subsided in some games, but they’ve hurt us in key spots. Defensively, I thought we’ve been playing (well), doing a lot of good things on defense. We just got to stay healthy on defense because that affects things when you can’t stay healthy. I think we’ve got something going there on defense. We’ve got some things we need to do better. We didn’t get off blocks well yesterday, and the quarterback made a couple runs on us because we didn’t get off blocks. We allowed them to get us on the edge, and if you get an athlete in space, he’s going to hurt you. (Colin Kaepernick) did (hurt us) on certain plays, and the same thing happened in Seattle (with Russell Wilson). You can’t let those guys get started, and that’s where we failed a little bit yesterday on third down on those plays. Those were things we worked on as a team, and it’s just a matter of guys making plays. We didn’t, and they did. I think that’s the area we need to make sure we fill faster in certain cases. Overall, I think defensively we’re doing some good things, but we’ve just got to continue to get better.

(on making the same mistakes over and over)

I don’t know if it’s a disconnect as far as drops go. We do everything we can at practice to work on them. We had two or three yesterday, and when I say drops, give the defense credit for knocking the ball loose or not letting us make a play. You reach a point where you’re practicing every day; you’re concentrating on them, you’re working with the jugs (machines). You don’t see the drops during practice. Again, Kendall Wright had nine catches yesterday, but he dropped the ball. Same thing happened in Seattle. He’s probably our best receiver right now, but he dropped the ball on first-and-10 on a crossing route. That’s my point. That’s the frustrating part. He has good hands, he can catch almost anything, but we have the drop here on third (down) that hurt us again. Everyone has drops. We’re not the only team dropping the ball, and we’re not the only team with penalties. There’s a lot of teams with very good records that have more penalties than we have and have more drops than we have, but they’re winning football games by making plays to win games. When you don’t win and all these things are magnified and taken out of context, you figure, ‘Well, that cost us the game. Maybe that cost us, maybe this cost us.’ You continue to work on them, you continue to stress them, but we’re not overcoming them because we’re not making the big play and the big catch—the one that’s hard to get, the big run. We don’t have someone breaking a ton of tackles or making a big play. We’re not getting that right now. On defense, we’re not getting the pick six that we got. If we have that turnover, that changes the game. In the return game, instead of hurting us it’s got to help us. When you’re not doing those things, then a drop here, a drop there, a penalty here, a penalty there will kill you. That’s what’s happening right now.

(on the team’s position heading into the bye week)

I think these guys know. We know we played a tough run, played tough teams, and had one of the toughest schedules in seven games, and all that good stuff. That’s a silver lining to look at I guess, but ultimately we have to come back and play a lot better to win or we won’t beat anybody. On Sunday, you have to be ready to play. I think we’re confident in what we do. I think we know we’re a good football team. I think we’re holding together for losing three games. I think we are holding together very well, and I think we have confidence in each other and confidence in what we’re doing more so than I’ve seen since I’ve been here. Now it’s just a matter of us going out there. We’ve got our quarterback back now. We’re getting healthy. I think we’ll have most of our guys back, and let’s find out where we’re at. To me, if your quarterback’s back, there’s no excuse. We should have all our running backs intact, our defensive line should be intact. We should be ready to play, so we’ll find out what we are when we line up in St. Louis.

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