HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on the team’s message going into the second half of the season)
I think they’re very focused. That’s something I think as we go through the week we’ll talk more about. Today was getting back in the routine. They all know what’s ahead; they all know how important these games will be for us starting this week then the Jacksonville game, finally getting into the division. So, it’s important for us to come back. We haven’t won a football game in a while. We’re hungry for it, great work today in pads. The attitude is great, so I’m excited to see how we’re going to play Sunday.
(on addressing what it will take to make the postseason)
We will (talk about it). There was a lot to do today, so there’s only so much you can get in talking to them. We had a lot of things go on in the last week, so we had a lot of discussions that way and got into the game. As we go through the week, those are things we’ll talk about. We want them to understand exactly where we are. We’re locked into this game on Sunday, but I think these guys understand what needs to be done in the big picture also. We’ll take it in small doses. We got this game, we got Jacksonville, then we got the short week. We got those three games in a row where we know we have to make our move, and it’s now.
(on playing against Jeff Fisher for the first time)
That’s something, again, when the game starts, there won’t be a whole lot of that thought. It’s something you probably talk a little more about in the offseason, bragging rights, which we assume we’re going to have. We know what kind of team he has, and I think he knows what team we have. Again, a lot of these players weren’t here with Coach Fisher because there’s such turnover in this league year-to-year. But, again, they played Monday night like I’d expect them to play, the Rams did. They ran the ball for 200 yards, their defense played great with seven sacks. That’s the kind of defense we expect to see, so it’ll be a great challenge going to their place in a game they need to win and we need to win.
(on whether it will be strange seeing Jeff Fisher on the Rams’ sideline Sunday)
I think if the game was here, it would have been a lot different—really strange for him also. But, it’ll be different. When you have good friends on both sides, it changes the game a little bit that way. Those are things you’d (talk about) maybe after. This week is all about we need to get ready to win a football game, and so do they. All of that’s kind of a side show at the game. It’s going to be a great challenge for both sides.
(on how often he communicates with Jeff Fisher)
During the season not that much. I think during the season it’s hard to talk to a lot of people—I hardly talk to my family. During the offseason (we talk) quite a bit because you see those other head coaches at all the different places, the combine, the owners’ meetings, the Senior Bowl, there’s a lot of places. Jeff (Fisher) still has a lot of interests and family here in town, in Nashville, so he makes trips here also. We talk quite a bit about the season, talk about different ways of doing things. Obviously, I’ve been around him a long, long time, so it’s good to get caught up. This game will be a fun one.
(on whether this game is any different because of the coach’s familiarity with one another)
I think we’ll stick with what we do; I think both (teams) will. That’s how you win, by doing what you’re good at. We’re kind of in a similar situation as far as needing a win, no doubt about that. That’s how it is most games. Most games you have a good idea of what’s going to happen, you know how teams play. We just seem to know each other a little better. He has a good feel for us offensively and defensively, and we feel we’re the same with him. It comes down to players. I mean, the players are going to make the plays on Sunday, and whoever makes the most plays will win. It’s going to be a great atmosphere to play in, and we’re really looking forward to just getting back to playing a game.
(on needing the run game to click on Sunday)
It needs to be more effective. I’m not worried about yards and all those things; I’m more worried about it being an efficient group that when we need to run we can, that we can extend drives, move chains that way. The other things will happen, the yardage will come. We just need opportunities. We’re really in a rut there trying to find a way to get more plays in a game, and that’s hurt us on offense. To be successful in this game, we’re going to have to keep the ball. They made it hard on Seattle. That just goes to show you…Seattle had about 150 yards of offense and won. They made enough plays to win, and that’s what it comes down to, to making plays. This is going to be a great challenge for us.
(on whether he is satisfied with the team’s ability to pick up yards after the catch)
It’s something we want to get better at—we need to. I think CJ’s (
He came out and had another good practice. (We) saw some great catches today by him. He’s been doing that, and he’ll be in the rotation like he has been. He’s not going to be getting reps like he was a few weeks back, but he’ll be getting some. If we feel we have a mismatch going or he’s getting open and making plays, then just like we would a running back or tight end, when someone gets going, you play more. That’s kind of where we’re at. We need to find guys that are productive on offense, not just at running back—at receiver, tight end, we need to get some productivity out of a lot of people, the quarterback spot, the o-line. So, we’ve got a lot of work. I think the guys that step up are the guys that are going to play.
I think Justin’s (Hunter) going to get more time. We’ll see him play more and more, and I think every game’s going to be different. I think it’s going to depend on where the matchups are, who’s getting open, who’s getting off press because they’re going to be getting pressed again this week. This is a physical group that way, so we need guys that can separate and make plays. Sometimes you go into the game and think it’s one way and all of a sudden it changes because someone steps up and makes plays. We have a good group we feel, and we need someone to step up and make some plays.
(on the Rams’ defensive performance against the Seahawks)
They’re in the top-five in sacks and had about seven. I think Seattle had 45 plays, and they got sacked seven times and still won. So, figure that out. They rush well and they’re at home, so they’ve got the noise factor. They get the advantage on the tackles. Those guys have great speed, so that’s going to be a challenge. That’s part of the thing you have to be smart going in there with a plan to avoid that from hurting our game and keeping them off Jake (Locker). There’s going to be a lot of challenges that way, and they have to be feeling pretty good. I think the last two weeks their defense has played much, much better.
He looks good. I think he’s ready to go. I’m glad all of that’s behind us. I’m glad we’re not having that discussion all these two weeks about can he play, how’s his knee, how’s his hip. That’s gone. We feel good about him, and his leg’s stronger. No limitations. We need to go win.
(on Jake Locker’s biggest improvements this year)
He’s comfortable with the system. I think he has a really good understanding of what we’re trying to do, and he’s making better decisions. That comes with, I think, understanding the system better and understanding his receivers and being in more of a progression offense than one where you have to read as much coverage that we play—you have to be on the same page as your receivers. I think (this) system is much, much better for him. I’m just excited to see him play nine weeks in a row, 10 with last week, to where he can get that rhythm going that we felt we were getting in on offense. That kind of got stripped from us, and now we’ve got to get in it fast because we have to win some games. If he can do that this week and get some help from his buddies, we can get ourselves going here. That’s what we need. He’s going to be a big part of it, and he’s going to need to play well for that to happen.
(on whether Cortland Finnegan and Jared Cook will be trying to prove a point against their old team)
I think they will have that. I think when you play against your past team, for whatever reason, there’s always something that drives them a little more. Cortland’s (Finnegan) always been edgy, so he’s going to play, he’s always going to be that way. I think that’s what has made him such a good player. I’m sure that Jared (Cook) is the same way. I mean, he’s going to want to make plays against us, against our defense. He’s a talented player; he still catches balls like he did here. That’ll be interesting. That’s the dynamic that’s kind of interesting for guys to play against guys they used to practice against, the guys that were here with those two guys. It adds to the game, no doubt. They would be highly motivated I would think, maybe a little more than they would be most Sundays.
He looks good out here. There’s no reason he can’t do whatever. If he had to carry it 20 times, he should be able to do that now. We’ll just have to, again, hope that we can get in a situation where we run the ball 35 times so that he can get touches. That’s what we need him to do to help him get in shape because he hasn’t had any (carries) since preseason really. He looks good, and that’s exactly how we hoped he would. He’s running hard in practice. We had a good day today, so I’m looking forward to him getting some opportunities.