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Coach Munchak's Sept. 16 Press Conference

Posted Sep 16, 2013

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on whether this game will serve as a learning opportunity or painful reminder of a tough loss)

Well, I think it’ll be both. For the players today, I think it is frustrating to watch when you put yourself in a situation like we felt we did in the fourth quarter to win the football game. Having said everything else that happened, good and bad, we got to a point where on the road in a tough place to play against a good football team, we had the advantage with whatever time was left, but we didn’t finish. We didn’t win the game obviously. You like what you accomplish to get there, and you build off that. We just got to figure out a way because we’re going to be in games like this. When you’re a good football team — and I believe we’re a good football team — we’re going to have more games like that throughout the year. Houston’s had two of them already that they could have easily lost including our game. I think we have to find ways to step up and make plays. Everyone in this room from the coaches to the players had a chance to influence how it ended. All we needed was one batted ball, one run, one catch and throw, maybe a better call, and none of us came through with a play.

(on being concerned with all the three-and-outs on offense)

You’re always concerned. You always want more. They had a lot of three-and-outs also. I mean, the problem is that one phase during the game from the middle of the second quarter through most of the third that we kind of got backed up and we hurt ourselves with penalties and a lot of things were going the wrong way for us as a team. We have to find ways to eliminate that. You have to study that and figure out how to stay on the field. The bottom line is we weathered it and went 99 yards finally and made some plays. The defense hung in there with what was going on with the offense where we didn’t fall behind by more than six points. So, one drive kept you in the game. It was don’t panic, don’t do something stupid. The game was still in hand. We weren’t down by three scores like last year when we were there. We were down four then six and we’re still in a situation where you could easily win it. We just about thought we did when we made a couple plays to finally get ourselves out of the hole without having a penalty and we finished the drive. Yes, we’ll go back and figure out what we can do. A lot of times the plays were called good. We had the screen call from the five-yard line that goes for 20. That comes back for a penalty. We had the handoff for 15 or 18, but we lost it on a penalty. We had the play where we should’ve got the snap off and throw to Kenny Britt which was a huge play out of that area. We had some good plays called, but we hurt ourselves three times with three penalties. Those are the things I’m more concerned cleaning up. Give them credit. That was a very good defense we played against. They’re going to be in the top-five like they were last year. They did a great job shutting down San Diego a week earlier in the running game and in the passing game once they gave up a few plays early. So, that’s a good football team we played against. We knew they were going to make some plays on us. We knew it wasn’t going to be easy, and it wasn’t at parts. That’s credit to them. I think the credit to us is we found a way to get out of a hole and make it an interesting game there at the end.

(on whether Jake Locker needs to make more big plays)

Well, the quarterback position has to. In the four-minute, it was more of we needed to run the ball. We need to hit the right hole in that four-minute and make the play. In the two-minute, it’s obviously more on the quarterback. Again, that second down or third down, we needed to convert one of those plays and win the football game. That’s how we see it. Those are the plays he has to make—him, the receivers, the offensive line have to make. We didn’t in a couple of those spots yesterday where we could have. We didn’t make enough of those plays. Like I said, it goes on and on. The quarterback who starts is the marquee spot, so he is the guy that has the ball in his hands the most. He’s the guy you assume is going to make more of the big plays. In this game, we needed one of those plays.

(on not converting the fourth quarter third-and-one pass to Kenny Britt)

The thing was we had the perfect play called for it, perfect protection. Out of nowhere they brought a cover zero blitz meaning no one was in the middle of the field. We had it protected. We were on the sidelines thinking this has a chance to be a monster play, and we didn’t make it.

(on offensive and defensive inconsistencies)

For me, other than the ebb and flow of the game, no. The defense is going to make some plays here and there. I think there’s some runs we can get more yards off of, just being more consistent as a group with the route running, Jake’s (Locker) decision-making, just the usual stuff. I mean, there’s nothing glaring other than the penalties. Again, we haven’t turned the ball over in two games on the road. Last year, we turned the ball over nine times against this football team. We’re going to have a chance to win every game we play in if we don’t turn the ball over. Ball security is a huge thing in this league. You turn it over most games, that’s a reason you lose. We found that out last year in a big way. We’re doing some things really well and some things pretty good and some things that we’re still working on. The penalties on offense I think have hurt us the last couple weeks with keeping drives going. Not converting the fourth-and-one yesterday is something that can’t happen. To me, that was the second drive of the game. We’re driving and we’re at the 40 in kind of no man’s land where you can’t kick a field goal and if you punt it’s 20 yards, maybe good field position. So, it’s definitely worth a shot to keep the drive going. We don’t convert. That hurt during the game. Those are the things that aren’t acceptable.

(on whether the defense got worn down in the fourth quarter)

I think it was hard, no doubt. That’s another one that went against us—the Texans won the toss on both ends of it, and they scored both times. They scored to open the game, and they scored to finish the game. That did add to it, those two plays. This is a game of inches. They made some plays where guys weren’t wide open. They were barely open and the ball got in the right spot and the guy made some great catches. There were a couple plays where you give credit to them. We had guys right there, but we just didn’t make the plays that could’ve broken some of that stuff up. I think it’s a combination. Were they on the field a lot those last 20 minutes? Yes. The defense had to go pretty much those last two drives. That’s hard, no doubt, but that’s not why we didn’t win.

(on why Kenny Britt hasn’t been a huge part of the offense these last two weeks)

Well, we already talked about last week. Last week we didn’t throw the ball very much, so it was what it was last week. This week, again, if we converted on a couple things, and he gets a chance to get a run after the catch, he would’ve had a big game. He’s going to be part of it. It’s week two. We’ve played two good defenses. Let’s wait and see how things progress as we go forward with the receivers. Either he’s catching the balls or Kendall (Wright) or Nate (Washington). Last year it was CJ (Chris Johnson) not getting enough carries. Somewhere one of these guys isn’t going to get enough touches. We’ve got some players that we need to stay on the field for 80 plays and maybe then we’ll get the ball moved around a little better.

(on whether Kenny Britt was sidelined longer after picking up a holding penalty)

I think that’s more of two weeks in a row he’s had a holding call. I think it was more of get him out and refocus him. We can’t have that in the game. We do this with other players also when something comes up more than one time. It was more of making sure we’re on the same page with that so he’s smart with his hands. He had a good block going, but at some point you have to let go. You have to understand they’re going to call it if there’s some body language. These guys are good actors in this league. They’ll take the flop on you, so you have to be smart with how you use your hands. He wasn’t and it cost us a 10-yard penalty on a 10-yard gain. It was a 10-yard run by CJ (Chris Johnson) that got wiped out. We can’t have that.

(on whether Kenny Britt can play an impactful role in this offense)

I think he can. We think he can. He needs the season to develop and continue to get the opportunities. That’s where we are as an offense. The only way to get certain guys playing is having them play. You need to get NFL plays. You can only get so far with practice to get yourself organized, get yourself ready to play. These guys need to be out there playing with on the job training. I think that’s where he’ll develop and get to where we think he can be.

(on how he reacted when Kendall Wright was penalized for celebrating after his touchdown reception)

Well, Kendall (Wright) came over and apologized. I didn’t see exactly what they did. It wasn’t on our tape. It’s obviously on the TV copy. It’s something that’s unacceptable. You can’t do it. It’s a penalty. It cost us 20 yards of field position. They got the ball at the 40 instead of the 20 because of that. I know there’s a lot of excitement when you score, and there should be. Guys should appreciate it because that was a great drive and a great catch and a great throw. But, again, they have to realize the consequences of any kind of act. A group celebration is not allowed. They know that. That goes to the penalties on offense. We can’t do those things. Luckily, it didn’t hurt us, but it hurt the field position battle.

(on Rob Turner’s performance through the first two games)

I thought last week, this week he actually played pretty good throughout the game minus the penalties. He had two penalties, which hurt us. The one, he had a good block going and sustaining it he kind of got caught in a bad spot, and they threw it (a flag). You can’t have two penalties. That part was discouraging, but I think the rest of it, in the game, on the road, handling the sound two games in a row, dealing with a young quarterback, a new right guard, a new left guard (was good). There’s a lot going on out there. I think he’s managed all that well, and he’s been solid for two games as the line’s been coming together. It’s been hard because (David) Stewart hasn’t been practicing for the last two weeks, so he’s not getting enough reps. There’s a lot of things we’re still working our way through to be as good as we want to be. We’re not there yet.

(on possibly replacing Rob Turner with Brian Schwenke)

We don’t see it, not right now. I think he’s working in practice to get better definitely in case an opportunity comes up. Right now, that’s not something that’s on our radar. He needs to keep getting better because obviously if there’s an injury, he’s definitely in that discussion of playing.

(on whether this loss is less deflating because of the close score)

I think eventually by tomorrow or Wednesday there’s a silver lining in it of losing a game. I think it’s hard now because we all feel we should be 2-0 and that we were that close to making plays, but we didn’t. That part is hard to get through and the next 36 hours for those guys are now evaluating what they can do. After watching the tape, now they see what their part in this was and how we can come back Wednesday with the momentum to go forward. I’ve showed them clips of how hard they played because a lot of times they don’t get a chance to see each other playing. I showed them coach tape of offense, defense, and special teams of how hard they played throughout the game no matter what the situation was, all four quarters. We had some great plays, some great physical hits, and blocks, and things throughout the game. They appreciate seeing how hard their teammates are working and how much we believed we were going to win the football game for four quarters even when it didn’t look so great early. I think we’ll carry all of that into Wednesday. We have our home opener. This is finally our home opener. We’ve been part of two other team’s home openers the last two weeks. This will be ours, our third home opening game of the season. It’s going to be important for us to come out and play well, and I think they’ll be fired up about that and about the opponent and about the opportunity to play three in a row here. You hope that is the positive you get out of it that we went toe-to-toe with a very good football team and came up short. Obviously, that’s not good enough, but we can play anybody.

(on the illegal touching ruling)

Well, the defensive guy touched the ball first, so that’s the call. Once they’ve touched the ball, the defensive guy before the offensive guy, then it could be a live ball for us. The offense can now advance the ball without consequence. As far as us losing the ball, Vern got control of the ball and touched it after they did then he fumbled it. They got it off him, which doesn’t hurt us. Our choice is they get the ball at the five or we go back and get the ball where they touched it. We obviously took the ball where they touched it at the one-yard line on that play. You’ve seen in the past, back in the day, there’s guys that have downed a kick and left it there. You’re supposed to touch it if you can and give it to the official so the receiving team can advance it. In that case, he was batting it obviously to stop it, so Vern (Alterraun Verner) thought he could pick it up and scoot. If he had a 20-yard gain, then we can get rolling with it. But, he didn’t.

(on using this game as a measuring stick)

Like we kept saying, we went there to win, not to play close and be like ‘hey, look how good we are.’ We wanted to win the football game. We didn’t. That’s the goal. After that, yeah, you’re always looking to see how you measure up against good football teams and understanding why you didn’t win and what it’s going to take to win. We know we’re going to play Houston again. It’s a division loss, so it hurts a little more. Obviously, we’re a game behind now in the division. I think when you’re playing teams you know so well, in the end this game’s going to mean a lot. We have a chance to play them again. We’re looking to see what we need to improve upon, if we’re heading in the right direction, if we’re doing the right things. Really it’s the same thing last week after a win. I mean, looking at how we played Pittsburgh, looking at how we matched up there, what our deficiencies are, and the same thing in this kind of game.

(on overcoming mental hurdles to become more consistent)

I think it all comes back to as coaches we’ll say ‘come back to working Wednesday.’ When you start looking at why you have to work hard during the week, look at the details of the game. The finer things of the game are why we didn’t win. The little things we could’ve done each phase whether it be two-minute or four-minute or in the red zone for the defense or in the green zone making plays. That’s why you work on that in practice. You do a self-evaluation over the next day-and-a-half then you come back to work on Wednesday and maybe work a little bit harder on something because you realize the importance of that on game day. That’s how consistency comes by working hard in different areas whether it be the two-minute, the four-minute, whatever the situation, third downs. You work on it Wednesday, Thursday, Friday so come Sunday we’re better at it, we understand the details of it, and understand the right position, the right angles, all those things, protections, being in the right spot, the quarterback, the receivers being on the same page. That’s where the consistency will come, and the only way to get it is practice and in a heated battle. Now we’ve got it down in practice, but can we take it to a game when it’s more stressful, noisy? It’s a lot of stress playing on the road. I mean, watch the game last night with Seattle and San Francisco. You get playing at someone else’s place and for an offensive lineman with the noise level, you can’t hear it really, and you’re playing against a good football player, there’s a lot of stress. It’s a lot easier here on the practice field to get it right. Those are the things that go on against a team that we have to be good at.

(on Darius Reynaud’s decision-making yesterday)

Well, you’re hoping you’re a good decision-maker. He (Darius Reynaud) felt a couple times that the angle was going out of bounds and it looked like on the tape like he was probably right, but there’s no telling. He got us to the seven instead of being at the two a couple of times. If it bounces to him like you said, it’s an easy grab. You got to be smart in that situation. That’s a tough spot. You’ll always be kind of guessing like he should have grabbed it, he should have done this. We felt overall he made good decisions yesterday with fielding the ball and not fielding the ball.  

(on addressing the team’s losing streak against the San Diego Chargers)

I know it’s been a long time. I don’t know if it’s been back to when I was playing, but we haven’t beat them in a long time. They’re 1-1, and they probably feel like they should be 2-0. They went to Philadelphia and won a big game yesterday. When you have a good quarterback, you’re always in the game. We’ve got to study them. It’s a different team, different coaches, different roster when we played them last year. We won’t talk much about it. They’ll know of it, but I think it’s more this is us, we’re a different offense, this is two different teams. All they’re going to care about is finding a way to win.

(on Chance Warmack’s performance during his first two weeks)

I think every weekend for him is going to be a learning experience. Bruce (Matthews) and I or whoever’s working with him can only tell him what it’s going to be like in a game-like situation, but it’s going to be something new every game throughout the game for him. For him to start off on the road against Houston and Pittsburgh is tough. Like I just mentioned earlier about taking snaps, he’s doing a silent count which means he’s looking at the ball and this guy’s looking at the ball and we’re at a disadvantage up front right from the get-go. I think he’s played very solid in both games. I thought yesterday he got beat for one sack in the game when he got ran around the edge. Again, he was playing off the ball which makes it hard. No excuse for him, but it makes it hard to even things out in certain situations physically. In the run game I thought he blocked well. When he had his one-on-ones with Watt, he blocked him well. He learned some things. He saw some things moving, adjusting the linebackers in different games they do. There was some good and bad throughout the game, but he’s going to be the guy we think he’s going to be. He’s a guy that’s just going to keep getting better the more he plays. That’s the only way he’s going to get better by playing. He’s got a great attitude. He works hard every day, so when you have that, he’s going to be a good one.

(on Shonn Greene’s knee and losing Sammie Hill to injury during the game)

We’re going to talk to him today about his knee. We’re not really sure where he’s at. Sammie (Hill) got hurt yesterday with the ankle. That hurt us losing him because of his size in the middle and everything. In certain situations that could have helped us, especially along the goal line. Hopefully he got the ankle, so we’ll have to see how that is, too.

(on the possibility of Shonn Greene having his knee scoped)

We don’t know yet. He haven’t finalized anything. We hoped we’d get through this process of giving him a couple days to see how it responded. I think we’re going to talk today about what’s the best way. It’s getting better, but it’s just a matter of getting better—what exactly does that mean? So, we’re kind of waiting to see does that mean a week or two, what’s the alternative? We’re kind of still evaluating what’s the best thing to do with him.

(on additional injuries)

Damian (Williams) should be back this week. We held him this week with the hamstring, but he should be back fine for this coming week. (Zaviar) Gooden has a good chance to be available if he goes through another good week. He had a good week last week. So, he’d be another guy that’d be able to help us on special teams if we needed him.

(on the defensive line’s performance)

I think that it’s going well. Again, we’re talking about more consistency. We just got to show up every game. Teams are doing the same thing. Once you have a little success, they’re going to try and take that away from you the best they can. They’re going to max up, which the (Texans) did early in the game. (Matt Schaub) got back there and got the ball out quick and then we had a hole a little bit. All of a sudden you saw them hitting him, sacking him, frustrating him, and he made mistakes. He made two picks. That pick-six was because he was getting hit. He got hit three, four plays in a row. He got sacked because he was holding the ball a little longer because he was throwing deeper routes. That’s the consequence of it. I think we had people that got after him pretty good and got us in the game because of that. I like what we’re doing. Losing Sammie (Hill) yesterday kind of hurt us with the rotation and what we were trying to do with their run game. Overall, I think we’re heading in the right direction as far as what we’re doing pass rush. (Derrick) Morgan had another sack. He actually had two sacks, one he lost because there was a penalty downfield which hurt him. He wanted that. He ended up with one sack and didn’t really have the other. (Jurrell) Casey won quite a few times up there but just didn’t get the sack in this game. They’re getting better.

(on Alterraun Verner making plays)

He’s got a knack for it, and he’s got such a great attitude. Like we said with all he’s been through this offseason about hearing about the competition and all that, he just rose to the occasion which you love to see in a player. He’s special that way I think. He just has a knack for the ball. He understands the game. He’s smart. He studies. He does his homework, so he knows where he needs to be. He tries which makes up for his lack of size in spots. He makes up for it with his smarts and love of the game. You’ve seen it the last two games that this guy is making plays. He answered the challenge that he had, and you want all your guys to be that way.

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