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Coach Munchak's Saturday Press Conference

Posted Aug 18, 2012

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on his impression of the offense’s performance last night)

I just think offensively, we still haven’t been consistent in both games. We were hoping this game that we’d go in there and have some nice long drives, eat up some clock, and really haven’t been able to do that as an offense yet these first two games. We got better in areas. Obviously, running the football was much better yesterday from start to finish. Still things to improve upon there, but it was nice to see us control the line of scrimmage the way we did. We’re still a little sloppy in areas like we were the first week. Like last week, the game yesterday third-and-one, not converting from the beginning. Kind of made it hard on offense. You know, you were hoping to set a tone there. You have two good runs, and can’t get the third down and have to go off the field, so that was frustrating. We had too many three-and-outs on offense. We had five, I think, in the first half. So that’s the part that we have to get better in. I think the quarterbacks get caught up in that too. So we have to find a way to convert, get first downs. Obviously, the third-and-one was the run play we got stopped on, but I think overall we’re just not moving the ball as effectively as we need to as an offense right now.

(on his impression of Jake Locker’s performance last night)

Well, he made the one bad decision in the game, which we all know was when he threw the interception and should have ran. If he had the ball back, I’m sure he would’ve ran, like he did the next time when he was in the same situation on the touchdown drive, which he ran for 20 yards or so. I think he thought that he could’ve made a play, going across the field, but we always know that’s very dangerous. You get away with it every so often, maybe in practice, but in games bad things can happen and it did. Our defense would’ve pitched a shutout other than that play. So, that’s things that you can’t have happen, and he made a mistake and moved on. Next series, he got in the same situation and made a different decision, which was a better one. He had 13 throws, I guess 12 maybe, a couple of which were screens. He got hit on two or three times when he was trying to throw the ball off of some pressure early in the game, but like I said, we didn’t make plays on offense and that was the whole group early in the game. We made some nice runs; CJ (Chris Johnson) did what you hoped he would. He was the topic of discussion last week. He had two, or whatever it was, 14-yard touchdown runs, nice runs, that a great back can make. It was good to see him get going. Obviously, all of the backs ran pretty well. I thought up-front offensively we played physical throughout the night that way. You know, running the ball off. All of the guys, who played, played well. They played hard. The fullbacks, the tight ends. When you run for 200 or something yards, you know guys are doing some good things out there. So that was good to see. We’ve improved in areas from one week to the next. You definitely saw this team improve and that was the phase of the offense that we improved on. Defensively, no doubt, those guys played with a lot of energy. They get off the field, they had a third-and-one stop; they had turnovers, sacks, pressures. They controlled the line of scrimmage. They controlled the game on that side of the ball.

(on his thoughts about some of Jake Locker’s throws and plays last night)

Yeah, that ball could’ve been lower and given (Jared Cook) a chance to make a play on it. The one in the end zone, I think one of the guys ran incorrectly, so it got in an ugly spot. Yeah, there were three or four plays that he was sloppy on. I mean, just like the rest of them. Again, I wish we had more opportunities for him. Just like last week, we talked about CJ (Chris Johnson) having more opportunities. It just turned into a running game the way the game went on both sides. I mean they didn’t throw for any yards, so we ended up throwing the ball and they ended up throwing the ball quite a bit.

(on how much of Jake Locker’s inconsistency will affect whether he will be named the starting quarterback)

Well yeah, you have to take into account everything. That’s why I mentioned that what we’ve seen in practice, or what we see in meetings or what we see in the scrimmages or in this case, the preseason games, it’s hard to judge. That’s the hard part about this process, like we’ve said from the beginning. When you’re looking at play on 20 snaps, it’s hard. You have to really be able to project, so you have to go on everything, not just what you see or people’s play on 20 snaps in a preseason game. We’ve got to give him/them a play on more plays so you can see more. That’s what makes it hard in that phase of it, but like I said, as an offense in general, we’ve been inconsistent. The whole thing hasn’t been where we want it to be yet. The flashes last week, or yesterday as I should say, there were some really good things, some good plays, some good blocking, some good runs, but we obviously have to keep improving.

(on whether he is considering allowing Jake Locker to start against the Cardinals on Thursday)

About the night game, we haven’t even met as a staff yet. We will this afternoon here when we are done. That’s the stuff we’ll talk about, to decide that position and some others as we go into the third preseason game. Exactly what the best thing to do for us is and for the players.

(on whether he needs more time to make the decision of who will be the starting quarterback)

I think you’ll always want to see more. I don’t think there will ever be a time where we say we know. I guess, well, you flip it and you say, ‘well you had 12 plays or 13 passes, and he was nine for 13,’ does that mean our decision is easier? I don’t think it would be. It would be nicer and certainly make it easier for perception wise of what people saw. Yeah, we want to see more reps of a lot of people. We just have to figure out the best way to do that. All 32 teams are in the same situation with players. You have to work within this system and figure out what the best way is to get the best guys out on the field. There are things that we will be discussing as we talk more about the game as a staff and what we think is best for the team going into this week, this Thursday night, just like some of the adjustments we made for the game that we just played in. So we’ll do that, and we’ll put guys in positions that we think we need to. As we figure that out, we’ll be obviously letting everyone know.

(on whether he will name a starting quarterback before Thursday’s game)

We haven’t talked about it yet.

(on if he has seen enough to name a starter right now)

We have two more weeks to see plenty. When we feel we are at that point, we will make our announcement when the time is right.

(on how important game performance is in the quarterback competition)

Definitely. This is definitely a factor. My point is that it is not the [only] factor. You have to look into [it with] all positions. For the defensive line, we put out Pannel Egboh last week. We put out Robert Johnson yesterday. We let these guys see how they handle playing a lot or playing early in games. It is definitely a factor and something that is going to make you rethink a position for certain guys if they don’t respond the way you hoped. We still have two preseason games to go and we still have a lot of [decisions], for a lot of positions, that we need to be able to make in a short period of time.

(on the rushing game against Tampa)

I think 225 yards is pretty good. You’d rather be successful on everything no doubt, so now you have something to improve upon. On the third-and-one and the fourth-and-one late in the game, we got stopped on downs in their territory. You don’t want to get stopped on that. It’s just like on the goal line you don’t want to be stopped. They made two plays on us. We have to clean that up. There are things that we can’t have happen, especially when the game starts. [In the] first series, you don’t want to be stopped on a third-and-one just like I am sure they didn’t want to be stopped when we stopped them and returned the favor. That is the part that you have to fix. A lot of good stuff, but still plays that aren’t good enough. The protection is real good. We have been sacked twice in two weeks with a lot of guys playing, but there are still spots in the protection that need to be better. [For instance,] when the quarterback gets hit when he is throwing it every so often. So there is still a lot to improve upon but I think we are seeing a lot of good things also. That’s what you want to see, improvement from week to week.

(on what was different in terms of rushing the passer)

I think the first play was from Derrick Morgan. He hit the quarterback on the first play of the game. I think when you can do that, they are thinking about it especially when the quarterback is not going to play a lot and he is getting hit right away. I think that is something they were aware of. I thought the energy at the line of scrimmage was good. Jurrell Casey had some good hits. The pressure on the quarterback. Keyunta Dawson had a nice sack. He won pretty cleanly. Sen’Derrick Marks knocked the ball out of the quarterback’s hand on a sack for a turnover. So, we saw a lot of different people. It wasn’t one person. They were seven or eight-man protecting quite a bit. They were chipping both edges. They were trying to protect the quarterback and they were still having trouble doing that. I think that’s a lot [of the reason] why they ran the ball in the fourth quarter instead of passing it, because we were creating problems up front. We were winning one-on-ones. We were putting pressure on the quarterback, so instead of throwing the ball a lot in the fourth quarter when they were behind, they were handing it off. I think that is credit to the fact the guys up front were doing a nice job.

(on if the play-calling was different in terms of rushing the passer)

We pressured more and I think when you have success, the energy level starts increasing as guys were winning at the line of scrimmage. We were making tackles in the backfield in the run game. We knew we would be challenged with their run game. They are similar to Jacksonville with how they like to run the football down hill, the power game, the lead plays. I thought our defense did a nice job holding up to that, so that was a good test for that reason. I thought the linebackers played very well. I thought Akeem Ayers made a bunch of plays, forcing an interception. He is the one that dove and took the ball, and (Chris Hawkins) got the pick. He made some great hits. After that play where we made the interception, (Ayers) gets up and tackles the guy and knocks the guy on his back. Guys are playing. Guys are making plays. I thought Zach Brown was the same way. Colin McCarthy and those guys played some good football. They attacked the line of scrimmage. They got off blocks. We missed some tackles here and there no doubt early when they had a couple runs. I thought Michael Griffin played nice playing some safety and made some nice tackles at the line of scrimmage. He played physical. I saw a lot of things that were very encouraging to see that you want to build off. We know it’s a preseason game but we held them to 75 yards of offense. Obviously, on the defensive side of the ball, we did a lot of good things.

(on if Darius Reynaud is helping himself with his performances in both games)

He’s a great story. He is in the middle of back-to-back games of making a difference in the run game and the return game. He is giving us good field position. He’s been practicing well. He’s just been showing up. What you saw yesterday was exactly what we have been seeing on the practice field. You saw a glimpse of it last Saturday in Seattle. He’s a guy that is taking advantage of the opportunities he’s been given. It will be fun to see how that unfolds the next two weeks.  

(on how Robert Johnson did with his first start)

I think he did pretty solid. He wasn’t challenged a lot, there were not a lot of throws through the game as the game went on. His angles to the ball, covering stuff and making tackles, of course there are things we need to improve on but overall being out there I think he handled himself pretty well.

(on if Jordan Babineaux will be playing on Thursday)

Yes, he is probably going to miss a day of practice or so but his shoulder has just been acting up. It has been gradually getting sore. He went out for pre-game warm-ups and it didn’t feel right. We thought we would just rest it since we knew we weren’t going to play him right off the bat and keep him off special teams for the weekend. So he should be fine for this weekend.

(on how would keeping four running backs hurt depth at other positions)

It just depends on where you get that spot, like you said. You have to look at the defensive backs, linemen, linebackers, and offensive linemen; there is lot of ninth linemen, 10th defensive linemen, so it’s just a matter of who the best guy is and who will help us win on Sunday. He could take someone’s spot. We would have to find out how to use him, he has to be a help besides being a backup. When you get to the real game you want CJ to have the ball. Who will need three backs? Why would you suit up three if you look at all the scenarios if Jamie Harper is going to play on special teams or if Ringer is going to play or Darius? You have to figure out how these guys will contribute on Sunday. You cannot have too many guys not contributing if they are not starting.

(on is there a scenario where Jamie Harper would play the fullback position)

Well he got a couple snaps yesterday; he has done that last year also in some practices for, just like you mention, emergencies like when we had some fullback problems last year when guys were injured. This is a possibility, the more he can do the better he can help us for numbers or injuries. So we are going to put him in that spot ever so often, it gets him on the field more and we can see how he can handle it.

(on using Jamie Harper for third down situations or is Ringer that much more ahead of him)

I don’t think he is that much ahead of him, I think that is the challenge, that is the competing, that is the other problem with preseason games and camp is getting all these guys reps to see what they can and cannot do. It is challenging in a lot of spots when you have good football players. So I would think they are both capable of doing it. I think Jamie understands protection pretty well and he is obviously a big guy and can block; especially if he is willing to move to the fullback role, a lot of running backs would not want to move and play fullback. He is very open to it like he was last year and its just a matter of getting him a lot of reps. Again that is hard to do when you have two other guys competing for the same spot. There are a lot of issues that way. A lot of times you have to make decisions without having seen a lot.

(on the health of Patrick Bailey and Collin Mooney)

Bailey last night tweaked his knee little bit. He is fine though. He won’t miss any time, but he didn’t play a lot in the game. It happened early in the game, kind of a hyperextension but today much better than they thought it would be. We thought it would be sore for a couple of days but he should be fine for tomorrow’s practice. Mooney made it through most of the fourth quarter. We kind of pulled him out a little bit. Other than that he looks like he is doing well too so we don’t see any of those guys missing any practice time.

(on will Gerald McRath, Brandon Barden and Dave Ball be back on the practice field this week)

Maybe Barden, he is really coming on pretty good so he would have a chance but the rest of them I would say no.

(on any frustration with the replacement referees)

Actually, I haven’t been. It’s different, no doubt. But they’re great guys. The crew last night was very formative, very into it, and very helpful throughout the game. There are calls we’re going to complain about, definitely. But that will be no matter who the officials are. I don’t know if it’s more or less to be honest with you. But it’s just more of them getting a feel for it. There’s no doubt they’re getting a feel for the game. There’s no way around it. Just like players, we’re talking about these guys haven’t seen a game at this speed either and the rules, and things like that, and seen it all at one time. So there’s a lot happening in a real quick moment for them. How it’s going to play out, I don’t know. I don’t know how it will be when these games are for real. I know they’re trying to do their best, there’s no doubt about that. In a lot of the dialogue I had with them last night, they were on top of all of the situations that came up. They knew what we could do or couldn’t do, because a lot of odd things usually happen in games with guys’ helmets popping off, just different rules with replacing balls. I thought they were pretty sharp last night as far as understanding everything we were doing.

(on if he expected to play Jason McCourty more against Tampa Bay)

I don’t remember him coming out. I don’t remember us bringing him off for an injury reason. His arm was a little sore—bicep. But he made some nice plays in the game early, made some nice tackles on third and one. He was the one that got us in there on the tackle for the stop on our side. Him and (Michael) Griffin, I think, made the tackle to get off the field. He’s not going to miss any time or anything. So there’s nothing that is bad.  He must have played the amount we were going to have him play before we took him out.

(on how long tackle Mike Otto will be sidelined after surgery)

Probably about three weeks. That’s one of those things where it’s three to four weeks, kind of that window.

(on the two offensive linemen the team signed last week)

We don’t know a lot about them. The scouts know more about them than we do. It’s kind of one of those things where they’ve been force fed the offense the last couple of days. We’ll start practicing this week and kind of see where they’re at. Tomorrow will be kind of like a training camp practice, so those guys will get a chance to get some reps and kind of see where they’re at. After that, we start getting ready for Arizona on Monday, kind of like a semi-game week. They’ll get a chance to do some cards there. So it’s a tough time to come in, but we’re going to have to see how quickly they can advance as far as helping us in the game, especially the second half of the game, maybe see where they’re at in that fourth quarter, then maybe some of the Saints game.

(on if Marc Mariani has been able to close the gap between himself and Lavelle Hawkins during training camp)

They do different things. Obviously, the year before (Marc) Mariani was still learning the position as far as our offense. I thought the offseason helped him a lot. I think he’s a guy that the quarterbacks trust. I wouldn’t really compare the two of them. I would just say that they feel like Marc throughout camp has been reliable, just like (Lavelle) Hawkins became last year when he had his 44 catches or whatever he had last year. He stepped up with opportunities and made some plays for us. I think it’s good that we have both those guys that fit a need for us, can play different spots. We’ll see how it goes for them in games. Last night, obviously, neither one of them had many opportunities.

(on if Gerald McRath’s recovery is going slower than expected)

I don’t know how it will be this week, but I would imagine he won’t play this week.

(on if Gerald McRath will need a knee scope)

He may. That’s still one of those things where you’re trying to decide, ‘Can he get through it?’ He’s been sore for the last week or 10 days, and kind of been taking the day off and practicing as you know. The play in the first game, we gave him a couple days off. Same thing before we went to the Atlanta scrimmage. He’s been trying to find something that will help him get over the hump, and we just haven’t been able to do that yet.

(on if Jake Locker’s play against Tampa Bay hurt his chances of being named the regular season starter)

I wouldn’t say he hurt his chances at all. It’s still us making a decision on them. Would you rather it have been a different outcome? Both quarterbacks—I wish they were different last night. Matt (Hasselbeck) didn’t get much of a chance really. He had 15 snaps or something. Like I said, in both games, offensively we haven’t moved the ball the way I think we hoped we would.

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