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Coach Munchak's Season-Ending Press Conference

Posted Dec 31, 2012

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(opening statement)

The last day is always difficult with the players and having the last meeting, you never know how long some of those things are going to go, meeting with some of the players afterwards because unfortunately, once they get out these doors, their offseason starts. It’s hard to get a lot of time with them. I kind of got held up a little bit today. I apologize for making you hang around the building a little bit longer than you planned on it. Let me just say before we start, I talked to Mr. Adams today. He informed me that he was making a change in the front office. He was letting Mike Reinfeldt go, and that I would continue to be the head coach going forward, and that myself, Ruston (Webster), and Mr. Adams would get together sometime later in this week possibly, when was good for all of us, to talk about the plan going forward and what our thinking was to get back to being in the playoffs and having a better season this year, that we would do that at that time. That’s how we left it.

(on if he’s glad to know right away that he will be back next year)

I think it’s always best to know either way for an organization to move on, start making changes and doing some things you think are necessary. Really now, it’s just about evaluating. I know we knew the end was coming, we were out of the playoffs for a couple weeks or so. Obviously, you start evaluating. Now that the season has ended, we have to start looking to see what we can do. This is the time of year where all of the emphasis is on the coaching side for changes. Obviously, personnel and things like that don’t happen for a little while longer. You’re looking to see what we can do better. Is there a way to improve our staff? Is there a better alternative than what we have? Just like they do for me. They decide if I’m the best coach right now for the team. I think it’s the same thing for us, to see if there are spots where we need to make changes. If we think that or I think that, we’ll do that. If not, we’ll move forward. I think that’s kind of what you’re going through now. We’ll just move on to the next season.

(on if he keeps Mr. Adams in the loop about any potential staff changes)

I probably would if I was going to make any moves. He’s always in the loop on anything we do. When we decided to do something with Chris (Palmer) or last year when I let some coaches go, I can make the decision and then I call Mr. Adams and let him know what the thinking is, why I’m doing it, make sure he’s OK with it, understands it, and then move on. If for some reason I was going to make a change in the coaching staff and we hadn’t met yet, then obviously I would call him and get him in the loop before I made any move like that, let an employee go. The timetable will just be again, worse case I will have already talked to him over the phone and let him know what’s going on. I think it’s more letting some time pass in the offseason, this thing today, and go from there.

(on if he anticipates making coaching moves after the Titans gave up the amount of points that they did)

Last year we were eighth best, eighth-least points given up. This year, we obviously were on the other side of the spectrum. I think you will see a lot of teams, if you start looking at just stats like that, and say, ‘Well, last year they were last.’ Like I said, last year the Giants had the worst running game in football, and they won the Super Bowl. Should they have fired the line coach? You have to look inside the numbers to decide what to do, and is there a better alternative than what you have at whatever the position is? It’s easy to just look at a stat and say, ‘They need to change that.’ You need to fix it, obviously, so it doesn’t happen again next year. You’re not going to be in the playoffs if you give up too many points, obviously. There are a lot of ways to fix something other than just a coaching change. Personnel has a lot to do with it, situations have a lot to do with it. You have to look at all those factors and then decide, ‘Do I make a change just to make a change, so it looks like I attacked that problem because I added a new coach?’ Or do we do it because the coach actually gives us a better chance to become better. You have to look at all of those factors when you make any change on your team, especially when it has to do with coaching or personnel. If you’re going to make a change on a player, it’s the same thing. You just can’t have a knee-jerk reaction because you want to fix it, so it’s like, ‘Look at us, we made all these changes.’ The bottom line is going to be no matter how many changes I make, is how many games we win next year.

(on if he thinks Jerry Gray did a good job this season)

I think he handled a season that started off on the wrong foot. I think he did a good job to weather the storm and get these guys playing better. Individually, I think a lot of guys improved. As a team early, I think a lot of it was…Again, I’m not going to sit here and have an excuse meeting here. That’s for us to work on in the offseason as far as to fix stuff on our own. When you start off the way we did with the teams we played, losing (Colin) McCarthy, a lot of things were going on. The offense affects the defense, the defense affects the offense. There are a lot of factors to weigh in there on truly what is the coaching blame, the coaching end of this thing that could be fixed versus what was going on and what can’t necessarily be fixed. What part is personnel, what part is coaching, there’s a fine line I think you have to take a good look at and go from there. We had more sacks this year, we had more interceptions this year, we scored more touchdowns off those. I didn’t go through all the stats yet to figure out how I can sell what we’re going to do. I think it’s more of looking at the tape and deciding what’s best for the players we have. Do we have the right personnel? Do we need to make some changes? Will that make us better coaches because we have better players? That seems to happen a lot. I think you have to weigh all those factors in before you make a decision on what we’re going to do.

(on Dowell Loggains’ performance as offensive coordinator over the last five games)

It’s the same thing. I think it’s hard to evaluate what we did. Just take the game yesterday, Jake (Locker) was 9-for-15 for 150 maybe, so if the two balls that should have been caught, one for 84 yards, one for 20 yards, he’s 11-for-15 for 250. Is that Jake’s fault that they dropped the ball, or is that the coordinator’s fault? What most people look at is the stats. I look at the stats, and decide, OK, he threw 10 picks, well does that means he’s struggling, he’s not a good quarterback? Well why did he throw the 10 picks? Look within the numbers a little bit. I think what people do is rush to judgment a lot of times. I think it’s the same way with the coordinator. You look at what he did, what the alternative is, who’s out there. You mention there are names out there. Is their name meaning that the guy is going to come in here and be a great coach for us? You have to look at what is a fit, not just a name. What someone has done in the past doesn’t mean that they are going to do that again. There are a lot of factors I think when you’re making those kind of decisions.

(on if there is any urgency to make changes because of the pool of candidates available)

Definitely. I don’t know that a lot of coaches are going to be hired that fast, as far as head coaches. There is usually a process there of interviewing that will probably take at least 10 days or whatever. There may be a couple guys that know who they want. You still have to go through the process. It’s more reaching out like I did before I even got the job. You start talking to coaches, assuming you’re going to get it. You’re doing your homework on guys you may think are a good fit for your staff. If I think I have a couple of spots we need replaced, then yes, I’m going to start immediately on guys that I think can come in and help us get better. That’s my job to do that as far as how I evaluate the offense and defense, if it’s a coordinator, if it’s a position coach. I’m aware of who is out there, you keep track of those things, whose contracts are up, for coaches that even are still not fired. You’re looking at both ends of the stick of what’s out there, like we did last year, when we hired some defensive back coaches. We let some guys go, we made some changes. We jumped on some guys. We got Brett Maxie, he was at Dallas. Things like that, you’re going to continually look at what’s out there, what makes you better, is a good fit for what we have. There are a lot of factors other than the obvious. Again, I’m not interested in the press conference in February over these name guys I’ve hired. It ultimately is going to come down what we do in September, October, November, December. That’s what we’re going to make the decision off of. I have to make good decisions because obviously, I’ll be running out of time myself, as far as being head coach if I make bad decisions with my coaching.

(on if there is a possibility that Jerry Gray will be defensive coordinator next season)

All I’m saying is that Jerry Gray is our defensive coordinator, and that’s all I’m saying.

(on if there is any change in his freedom as head coach without Mike Reinfeldt)

Not that I’m aware of.

(on if Tom Moore is someone he’d like to keep on in some capacity)

I think that’s going to be an important fit on this staff is having a good coordinator and quarterback coach that are best for Jake (Locker). Obviously, our goal going forward on the offensive side of the ball is our quarterback and surrounding him with the best coaches, surrounding him with the best players for us to be successful and play better than we did this year. I’m going to look at any combination we think may work where we’re trying to put that together. I know Tom (Moore) left today. It was great having him here. I think the players enjoyed that. Tom wants to be an offensive coordinator. He feels excited, he feels he’s got a lot of energy. He feels great about it. I think he’ll be great at what he does, it’s just a matter of what we feel is best here going forward. I think you try to piece together your staff the best way you can.

(on speaking to Mr. Adams about his decision to let Mike Reinfeldt go)

I didn’t talk to Mr. Adams about any of that.

(on Dowell Loggains)

You know, I thought he managed people well, just watching all the little things behind the scenes, not just on Sunday, did we win or lose, which eventually, obviously, that’s what you’ll be judged for. I think he handled the game-plan stuff well. He has a lot of good ideas. I’m not going to sit here and talk about how handcuffed he was because that’s all obvious. It’s not his system, it’s not exactly how we do things. Having an offseason, you can make things dramatically different as far as procedures on how plays are called, how formations are done, just a lot of things that clean up a lot of clutter that keeps you from playing fast. I think we have a lot of things in our offense that doesn’t allow the quarterback to play as fast as we’d like, too much thinking going on. You can fix some of that in a four-or-five-week span, but when receivers are used to doing things a certain way for so long, it’s hard to say all of a sudden, this route is 10, not 12, this is this, this is that, read this coverage, do that. It’s hard to transition to what you’re going to be. I’m excited for what I saw in what we did. I think he handles the game well within the game, as far as how the plays come out, his thinking, his rationale. All that for a guy who never actually called plays in a game, just gave him a chance to call five games. The first game he called was against Houston, and we lost two offensive linemen in 10 plays. All of a sudden, his right tackle (David) Stewart breaks his leg, and the left guard is out, (Steve) Hutchinson is out, after his first two series as an offensive coordinator. You remember that was the game that we dropped eight balls against Houston. There’s a lot of stuff to look at internally and see what’s the best fit, and it’s about Jake (Locker). I think a lot of things were good. Did we score enough points? No. Do we want to score more points? Definitely. Is that all his fault? He’s a part of it just like everybody else is. There’s nothing that showed me he couldn’t do it, but again, I think you just take that going forward because a lot of things he did I thought were real good. There are things again, learning on the job, there’s stuff he’ll get better at the more he does it.

(on if Chris Palmer was the wrong choice as offensive coordinator)

Was Chris (Palmer) a mistake? No. Like I said, when we brought Chris in, we didn’t have a quarterback. Rusty Smith was the only quarterback on the roster. I wouldn’t necessarily say his system was bad. His system has been successful where he’s been at times, New York, similar system, partially what we did in the Run ‘N Shoot a little bit. From the time I got this job, everything has been kind of backward. We hired coaches without having quarterbacks, which is a pretty important position to know what you’re doing. We didn’t have that luxury of having that. We didn’t have an NFL free agency. It happened when camp happened. We didn’t have an offseason with the players to teach your system. I know that the coaches that came with me went through the same thing. All I’m saying is that it just made it a little harder. When we tried to grow the system this year, it seemed like it just added some more confusion with the quarterbacks and the receivers. I’m not blaming Chris. I think Chris is a very good football coach. You see coaches getting fired every day. A bunch of coaches that got fired today are very good football coaches, but for some reason, the fit didn’t work. The results didn’t come the way they hoped. That happens in all positions, not just the head coach. Sometimes, you reach a point where it looked that good, last year we got some numbers, we were heading in the right direction we thought. I think this year we got a little more exposed, and some of our weaknesses showed up more than they did a year ago, and we couldn’t overcome them.

(on how aggressive the Titans need to be in free agency)

I think it’s important. I think every team is trying to accomplish that. That’s the problem, everyone is trying to find these guys. A lot of the teams, if they have one of those guys, won’t let them go, unless they’re just asking for way too much money. I think that’s definitely a part. I mentioned free agency, I feel like we really haven’t been a part of free agency the last two year. I thought last year, again, with the (Peyton) Manning thing going on, I thought it limited us in some times. You talk about coaches getting eaten up, well players get eaten up in the first couple weeks also in free agency. I think this is a year that we can improve the roster in a lot of ways. We have to make good decisions. I think we drafted well, we have two draft classes that I think prove that out. We have the 10th pick, we should get some good football players. We’ll probably get a compensatory pick or two this year because we’re losing guys. We’re going to have a chance to add some players. We have some money to spend. We have to do a good job of getting the right guy in here with what we have here, the young talent we feel we have with the veterans in the back of our mind, knowing you want to bring the right kind of guy in here. I think we’ll do that because we have been doing that. That’s what is exciting. That’s when I try to sell the future of the Titans, that’s what it’s about. I can sit here and tell you a lot of teams that were 6-10 and did something special the next year, or they were 4-12 and did something special the next year. But to do that, you have to make some good decisions in the offseason. That’s going to be the challenge and that’s the exciting part. That’s what Ruston (Webster) and I and his group upstairs and my coaching staff have to do a great job adding to our talent that we have.

(on if he was nervous talking to Mr. Adams)

I think Mr. Adams has a good feel for when I got hired, what the challenge was going to be ahead. He wants to win, like we all do. He wants a championship here, like we all do. Everyone understands that. I think he understands things that made it a little harder this year. The bottom line to me, is we just have to win. I think he felt that to make that move right now, I guess, wasn’t the right move to make. Hopefully, I’ll prove him right.

(on if certain position groups are close to where they need to be)

Again, like I said, you just look on the defensive side. We’ve got some young linebackers that are making plays, that are going to be so much better than they are right now. You see why Zach Brown was exciting to us in the second round because of the way he can run for a guy his size. He’s going to play much better next year than he did this year. Akeem Ayers having five, six sacks year and playing better this year. (Colin) McCarthy is the tough spot. That was the hard part of the defense, and I thought that hurt us the most on that side of the ball, losing him. I think you look at some guys are developing really well. Coty Sensabaugh ended up playing a lot, so we had a lot of young guys contributing. The defensive tackles, (Derrick) Morgan had a great year this year. Everyone was saying, ‘What’s he going to do?’ Well, he had six-and-a-half sacks and hit the quarterback a ton of times, won a lot yesterday again. I just think that it’s exciting to see that your young guys, he’s come off the ACL, it took him a year to get back, and he’s making contributions. You have a lot to build off of. Going into the year, you can look at spots, and say, ‘OK, we need to do this at safety. We need to get another big defensive end.’ You have some spots where you can sit there and say, ‘OK, this is making sense here.’ Like we talked a second ago, if you get the right guy with the right personality, it brings a little oomph to the game that you’re missing at times. All of a sudden, you’re going, ‘Wow, he brings out the best in all your 11 guys.’ That’s what we missed this year when McCarthy got hurt. It’s very underestimated of how important that is to a team and how that’s contagious. The way he plays and making plays. Like you saw yesterday, we started picking balls, we dropped the first two like we didn’t know how to catch a football. That game people said, ‘Wow, you guys are getting blown out.’ We should have been blowing them out from the beginning of the game. We had three opportunities to be up 28-7 in the second quarter. We dropped three in a row. All of a sudden, Zach catches one, and then we’re catching the tough ones and we put the game away. We got the punt returns. I think you can see how quickly a game can change. That’s happened to us three or four times this year. They thought they were in control of the game and we made plays, and all of a sudden, the game is over. That’s what is exciting about it. Offensive side, same way. We know we’re going to build the offensive line, that’s exciting to me, get some young guys. We haven’t done that since we drafted (Michael) Roos and (David) Stewart back in that year when we got them. We’re going to get some young guys to add to the offensive line, which will be exciting to do. The receivers are looking good, the tight ends, we have a lot of pieces in place, it’s just a matter now of fitting in around them and getting guys to contribute. I think it will change quickly. We’ll be much better than 6-10 next year.

(on if Jake Locker was a bad fit in Chris Palmer’s system and is better in the system that Dowell Loggains is running)

Well, I should say, as far as that, I wouldn’t necessarily say Chris (Palmer’s) system is a total Run ’N Shoot, a lot of concepts are based off that because of the option routes and options to read coverage, and when I say you’re not playing fast, when you’re doing too many of those things, then obviously you’re waiting to see what the receiver is doing. You’re hoping he sees it the same way and then you get into some bad habits, and that takes a while to develop. So I think going forward, what we’ll ask him to do, and some of the things Dowell (Loggains) is starting to do is taking the gray out of the deal, and unfortunately it’s hard to measure any of this other than what we see in house because again, there’s times in games we’ll look real good, and then the production wasn’t there. We missed some guys wide open, which scheme-wise, there’s plays to be made. It wasn’t like there weren’t some plays there. It’s either a drop, a bad throw, there’s pressure on the quarterback, or he’s getting hit. The first third-and-3 (Sunday against Jacksonville), the guy is wide open, he’s throwing it to the right guy but he has the right guard pushed back into his lap and the ball sails high. Well, if you watch it, you’ll say, ‘Oh, man, he’s not accurate,’ but he’s getting hit by his own offensive line on a play that he’s going to the right spot on a wide-open guy, so I think those are the things you have to look at, not to cover up and make excuses, because believe me, he’s thrown some balls—the play two weeks ago to the tight end, the guy is wide open and he’s trying to throw the perfect pass to Taylor Thompson, and he’s just got to put the ball out there and let him catch it. That could have been a touchdown, right? Seven-nothing Titans against Green Bay. So there are things that, again, it’s not what people think. People get caught up in numbers way too much, just like politics. You hear the catchphrase, man, and everyone’s using the same catchphrase and no one knows what it means. 

(on how and if the media has overemphasized numbers after some losses by the Titans this season)

I said look inside the numbers to see what’s happening. I wasn’t talking about the final score. I was talking about the stats, the throwing stats for example, if you look at that.

(on if allowing a franchise-record points has been overemphasized with regard to the defense and coordinator Jerry Gray)

Well, I said with Jerry a year ago, he was eighth best, so I should have given him a bonus last year and fired him this year because he gave up the most? You’re looking to fix what’s going on, yes. Were all those points the defense’s fault? Do you have a percentage for me? How many pick-sixes there were or how many the offense was responsible for? That’s what I’m asking. Yeah, it’s not an excuse. You can’t give up a lot of points or you’re not going to win a lot of games by giving up a lot of points. I’m not arguing the point. My point is you don’t fire somebody just because their defense gave up a lot of points. You’re going to look to see what’s wrong, and if it’s the coach, you’re going to make a change. If you feel like most of the problems are coming from the coach and you have a better answer as a coach, there’s another coach over here that you feel is going to be better for your team, then you’re going to make a change, and that’s what we’ll do if that’s what we feel is right, but we’re not just going to do it because we gave up X amount of points. That’s not the only reason you do something. That’s all I’m saying.

(on how long the process takes to ‘figure out who’s out there’)

I think it starts now. You want to see who’s better. It’s good for everybody. It’s good for your coaching staff, it’s good for, like you said, there’s more opportunities this time of year when there’s more coaches available. You can’t always get who you want, but yeah, you want to make decisions as quick as you can.

(on if Mr. Adams told him ‘reach the playoffs or else’)

No, not yet.

(on Chris Johnson saying he was unsure what his status for next year would be despite being under contract and if there was a scenario where he won’t be back)

No, I think he says that because apparently, I don’t know, I hear you guys report it a lot that he has an amount in his contract or something, so I’m assuming that’s why he’s saying there’s always a reason he might not be here, but as far as we’re concerned, we haven’t even had conversations about personnel, but I would assume he would be here.

(on Michael Griffin being in a similar contract situation and if he expects Griffin to be back)

Again, I’d assume. We’re not making any personnel changes as I know of right now, and just a matter of, again, you’re not going to let someone go unless you feel you have a chance to get someone better, who’s a better answer. Right now, I’d assume (Michael) Griffin and Chris (Johnson) would be on our team next year.

(on if he has a list of the players who are scheduled for surgeries)

You know, we’re going to meet on that tomorrow, not tomorrow, but Wednesday so we’ll know exactly who’s having what done and where they’re having it done. Some guys, that’s more, they just had their check-outs today to see where everybody is and some guys will need some more tests, so we’ll do that in the next couple of days.

(on if there will be more players around rehabbing early)

Yeah, it’s going to be a decision on, a lot of these guys, some of them are coming back healthy, I mean that are healthier now because their rehab is coming to an end, so we’ll have a lot of people in the building now for rehab-only purposes. Ideally, you want these guys—the thing you don’t want to wind up happening is guys think they can put it off and do without it and be OK, and then all of a sudden, you need a scope in March or April. Those are the injuries that bother you because then they’re missing OTAs and camp and all that stuff, so as a medical staff we have to do a good job of making sure we don’t allow that to happen if we think something needs to be done, encourage the player to get it done, let him get a second opinion, if he doesn’t feel comfortable, and then have the procedure done so we’re as healthy as we can be in the spring when we get started.

(on if there’s a scenario in which Steve Hutchinson may decide to retire)

I don’t know. Anytime I think, if you’re in his shoes, and he’s played longer than me now, but anytime you’ve been playing that long, and his knee was sore this year, and having his first scope, I think, yeah. I’m sure he’s been having that thought in his mind the last so many years, so I haven’t talked to him myself about any of that. I’m sure he’s thought about it, but I think it’s more about him getting healthy now and finding out how he feels going forward. I think that’s, usually when you get past 10, you just kind of go one year at a time, kind of along those ways of health and how you’re feeling so I’m sure he’ll go through that process and we’ll talk to him at some point.

(on if he thinks Jake Locker will return from surgery without missing any OTA’s)

I don’t know the time frame for him. That’s something that we’ll talk with the doctors right after the surgery to see exactly where he’s at. There’s always those predictions where it’s ‘X’ amount of months, three months, four months, five months, so it’s more of wait until the procedure is done and wait until they get in there, just like with (Jared) Cook. I think they realized it was going to be less than they thought for him, as far as rehab. It’s more of waiting to see. We’re hoping, yes, it’s his left, non-throwing shoulder so we’re hoping that is something where he’s able to do most of the work in the spring.

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