HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
Again, it’s an ongoing question, and it’s something that we’re going to have to let play out the next couple weeks with more opportunities to see how we do. Everyone is obviously responsible on offense, from the play-caller to the quarterback who may be getting us in and out of a play, running a play into a bad look to blocking. It’s a team effort when it’s not going well. If it was one thing, we’d make an adjustment to that one thing. We’re just going to have to plow ahead this weekend. Hopefully we’ll get a lot more opportunities than eight to hand the ball off. We’ll see what happens.
(on how Chris Johnson has graded out the past two weeks)
I don’t think anyone on offense is happy with it. I would just say as a blanket statement. I don’t think you go after one person and say how they did. Like you said, he’s getting a lot of balls caught; he’s been catching a lot of balls. I don’t think he’s dropped anything his way that way. His opportunity has been limited running the ball. As a group on offense, we have not played well enough to win, so I think we all share in that. No one is looking at who is more responsible. The bottom line is that no one is playing good enough to win in those two football games. We all have to improve in order for that to change.
Not necessarily a third-down back, but just a back—our second back. He can play any down. I would think that if he gets through the rest of the week doing fine, he goes back to the role he’s been in.
(on if Chris Johnson isn’t hitting the hole hard enough)
Again, I’m not going to get into critiquing a few runs. Can he run some plays better? Yeah, I’m sure there are some he could hit harder. If it was blocked better, maybe he would have. There are a lot of elements to that question, so again, we’re just going to have to let this thing go. We have to do better this week and not get so concerned about who to blame for us not running the ball well. Again, everyone is at fault, so I think we just have to leave it at all. Let’s just play out, and at some point if we feel we can narrow in to really where the problem is and change is needed, then at some point we’ll make changes if necessary. We can’t go two weeks and give a guy eight carries and start deciding who he should replace or who is at more fault. I think you work through it. You see what you’re doing well, what you’re not, give the guys more opportunity. An offensive lineman, you run a play one time, you never run it again. It’s hard to get in a flow to blame a guard or a tackle or a center on that one play. We need more plays to really determine if really we are as bad as we think we are.
(on if Chris Johnson has the same skill set that he had two or three years ago)
Yeah, I don’t see anything that would say he’s different. Any player that’s a running back obviously is going to be, from getting hit as many times as he has, he’s not going to be the same back that came in here five years ago. Just like any position I would guess, you take that many hits at running back and he hasn’t missed a game because of injury, hasn’t come out of a game other than one I think since he’s been here—again, the ankle in the one playoff game. Is he going to be affected by his body? Sure. I don’t think that’s an excuse for why we’re not running the ball well right now.
(on if the offensive struggles are even more frustrating for him with his Hall of Fame background)
We’ve been through this. As a player, I’ve been through this. As a coach, I’ve been through this before, as a line coach. Again, it’s two weeks. You get graded at 16. I know this is the way life in the NFL is. You get grilled weekly for a 16-week season, but that’s how it goes. We expect that, and that’s fine. We just have to see how this thing plays out. Again, we just can’t get in panic mode over two weeks. We’re 0-2, that’s the biggest problem is 0-2. That happens to be one phase that also isn’t good. That’s something we obviously want to improve upon. Hopefully they go hand in hand. Hopefully running the ball well means we win, plus getting 200 yards and we lose, isn’t going to make us feel much better other than these questions will go away. It’s not going to help us win, and that’s the bottom line. We have a lot to work on as a team. We’re doing that, and we’re looking forward to having our best game hopefully this weekend.
(on if he remembers any backs he played with struggling early in a season and bouncing back)
We had games where we didn’t run the ball. We had a game in Chicago where we had zero yards, when we were 10-0. I think we rushed for two yards that day. It’s happened. We still won the football game against the Bears the year we started out 10-0. Chris (Johnson) still had a really good year running the football. We ran the ball well. We were in the top-10 rushing, but we had some games like that. So yeah, it happens. I haven’t had many games where we ran the ball eight times in my career. This is kind of a rarity to have a game where your top running back has less than 20 carries in two weeks. Again, we’re about winning football games. That phase obviously will help us. We just have to find a way to win the game.
(on how hard it will be to get the run game going against Detroit’s defense)
We just have to stay on the field on offense. Again, we’re not going out there saying we’re going to hand the ball off 40 times and prove we can run it. That doesn’t mean we’re going to win the football game. We have to be able to throw it, we have to be able to do everything. We need to just stay on the field as an offense and then let’s see where we’re really at with all phases of the game. We had 40 plays last week. It’s hard to get too judgmental on what happened and didn’t happen and where our weaknesses are because we didn’t get a chance to do enough work. I think they’re a very good defense. If we throw the ball well, then obviously I think the run game will open up. If we run the ball well, probably the throwing game opens up. We have to be smart on how we handle going into this game. They’re a very good defense, they’re very physical. You better play well, or they’re going to embarrass you. I think we know all this, and we’ve seen that on tape. I think we’re excited to play this football game. There’s nothing better in this league than getting to the next week when you’ve had two games that you’re not happy with. We’ll see how it pans out on Sunday.