HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on his message to players this week)
I think just get excited about the opportunity to be back at home. There’s no better place to get it right. We’ve played two games and we haven’t played anywhere near where we think we’re capable of playing. We needed to come back and have a great day of work. These guys have done a good job with that. I thought today was a lot of energy. They’re excited about the game plan. They’re excited about the opportunity, the challenge we’re going to have on Sunday. That’s what the league is all about. We have 14 more opportunities. We have to start playing better football this weekend.
(on how important it is not to let the team get discouraged after two games)
They got that message. We’ve talked about that since the game ended. We had a nice talk in the locker room after the game on Sunday as a group, then obviously Monday and today. So I think that part is behind us, I think they understand it. They’ve been through this unfortunately, if not at this level, in college or even a high school level where you come out of a season with high expectations and it doesn’t quite go your way. We knew these were good football teams we lost to, but obviously we all feel we should have played much better than we have. That’s a good thing that we all realize it I think. Then we came out here with good attitudes and working hard, that’s what you’d expect a team to do. We just need to go out and have some success this weekend.
(on his message to the team after the game on Sunday)
Just exactly what we’ve been saying. I have nothing different than I said in the press conference, as far as believing in what we’re doing and getting back to work. A lot of times when you play a game, you don’t realize—just like most fans don’t—you look at the final score. You have to kind of look at the whole picture of a lot of the good things that did happen that game. A lot of it I pointed out at halftime, especially on the defensive side of the ball, a lot of things they had accomplished in the first half even though the score was 17-3. When they see that, then they see where they could have made plays, that the game isn’t as one-sided as the score looks like it was. I think you have to see that. Even when you win games, it’s the same things. You can see how easily you could have lost a football game. I think they see that, and see that they are doing some good things—obviously not consistently enough. When you play good teams, like we’ve always said, you can’t get away with not making a play when it’s there. Like I said, we knocked the ball out, the quarterback fumbled the ball twice in the pocket on sacks, we didn’t recover either one. The second play of the game we could have had a pick. There’s a lot of things as you go through the game, but the bottom line is we didn’t win, and we didn’t play good enough to win. They have to be accountable for how we’ve been playing, how we’ve be coaching, and we have to clean it up on Sunday.
(on how surprised he is by the team’s play)
I don’t know. You obviously, as a coach, you want to play your best and look your best at all times so that you know you’re heading in the right direction and doing good things. Sometimes this is the challenge of the league, this is the challenge of life, the adversity you face. I was hoping they would face it probably later on in the season. But maybe this helps us going forward. Maybe we end up when it’s all said and done in 14 weeks looking back on this and saying we learned a lot and we overcame a lot. We’ll be happy when we finish. Some good will come out of it. It already has. We’re going to take as much good as you can out of not winning football games and put it toward this weekend. We just can’t press too hard this Sunday to make up for what we didn’t do the last two games. We just have to play better, do our job, just do what you need to do.
(on how important is it for
Him and everyone. I think that falls for definitely your quarterback—your running back, your quarterback, your receivers. You’re not going to get it all back in one play. If you make a mistake, you have run the next one knowing that you’re not going to make up for it. Maybe over a period of a series or so, you can make up for it and make some plays. You can’t look at it that way. You just have to move on. That’s one thing that we bragged on him and he’s done well. He’s made mistakes in games since he’s been here, but he’s found a way not to make the same mistake or not let it bother him, come back and make a good play and making better decisions on when to run with the ball and get out of the pocket and buy time. In that game, there was pressure early. He got out of a lot of situations that could have been ugly if another quarterback was in there after he throws the pick on the second play. He made a lot of good decisions even though they don’t show up on the stat sheet as far as getting out of trouble when we were backed up. He ran a few times and made plays when there was nothing there. He’s doing a lot of good things. Like you said, he just can’t compound a bad play with a bad play. He really hasn’t done that. A lot of quarterbacks throw interceptions. He’s thrown one each game. Obviously, we don’t want him to throw any. I think he’ll learn from his mistakes.
(on when it is necessary to start firing up the guys)
I’m not saying we don’t do those things. My job is to stay calm. I shouldn’t be the guy yelling and screaming and being out of control. I think they need to see a guy that is calm and understands what we’re doing and has confidence that we’re not panicking. I think when you start screaming, yelling and hollering, you don’t have an answer. You don’t know what to say, so you start screaming, yelling and knocking things over. I give them a message, I give them what I think they should focus on, so they have something to think about rather than saying, ‘Hey, That was my reaction. Why shouldn’t that be theirs?’ They need what they need to hear, whether it be during the game, at halftime, after the game, on Monday, whenever it is—they get the message. My message is delivered the way I feel is the best way to do it.
(on what the team is good at)
I think you’ll find that out on Sunday. We think we’re good at a lot of things. Unfortunately, I can’t sit here and brag on it until we do that on the field. We’re working on things that we’ve been working on. If I explain it, it’s like I’m making up excuses for what we haven’t accomplished yet. We haven’t accomplished things yet, so I guess time will tell what we’re good at. I think you’ll start seeing that on Sunday.
(on if playing against Kyle Vanden Bosch will be a fun challenge for the offensive linemen)
It should be. Him, the inside guys, (Ndamukong) Suh, they’ve got some men in there that are awfully good. That’s the strength of their defense, is what they accomplish up front. That’s what they rely on. It’s going to be a challenge for all five of them. Heck, they drafted (Nick) Fairley last year in the first round. He’s not starting because the guys ahead of him are so good and they’re so deep at the tackle spot. They’ve got a great rotation, they’ve got good players, they’re coached well. That’s going to be a huge challenge. I think that’s exactly what we need right now. As an offensive line, we need to be challenged by a bunch of guys that can embarrass you if you’re not ready to play football.
(on how important it is to have a leader in the locker room)
You always want leaders. That develops as you play. That’s something, of course on a team, the coach can’t always lead. I think as coaches we have to help develop leaders in our rooms, leaders on this team. I think we have a lot of good, young leadership. I think the guys that are captains are for that reason—(Steve) Hutchinson, (Matt) Hasselbeck, Jake (Locker) and (Colin) McCarthy. It’s tough for McCarthy because he got hurt in the first game. Not having him has definitely been a deal. (Jason) McCourty has really stepped up, he’s one of our captains. I think a lot of other guys that even aren’t named captains are really doing a good job in the locker room and with the last couple of weeks of really keeping guys together. You don’t have guys panicking. I think that’s been the most encouraging thing for me. Usually after a game when things don’t go well—and obviously things didn’t go well this past Sunday—guys can’t hold back how they’re feeling. I think guys really spoke up in a more positive nature. It’s encouraging to see how they handled adversity, even though it was obvious how frustrated and disappointed everybody was. Hopefully we’ll channel that into good things to come.
(on what is a reasonable number of snaps for
I think limitations are lifted. I think we just see how the game unravels. I think he’ll get an opportunity to obviously play more, and hopefully he’ll have a chance to contribute. Like you mentioned, run the field more, so he’ll get to play more and start making a difference that we think he can make.
He’ll be questionable. He’s out of the boot, which is a good sign, a positive thing. But he still has some work ahead of him.
(on what he saw in Jim Schwartz when he was with the Titans that made him think he would be a good head coach)
When he first came in, he was quality control. His goal right then was to be a head coach someday, and I think you knew it. Very professional, always prepared, very smart, very confident. Then watching him grow from that position to linebacker position and then to coordinator. For me, being on the other side of the ball all those years, I was always confident that he had a great idea, a great plan for the game and that he had things well under control on the defensive side of the ball. I think his players played that way—that they knew he was well-prepared and had a great plan and knew how to adjust his plan. You knew he was a very confident guy and you have to be in this league. Especially to be a head coach, you have to be confident in your ability and what your plan is and stick to it. He’s the perfect example for that. I knew when he got the chance to get interviewed for a job and got noticed, which he did because he did such a good job here as a coordinator, that there was no doubt he’d be a head coach. He’ll be one for a long time. He’s already proven that. He went to Detroit and has done a great job turning around an organization that hasn’t been to the playoffs in 10 years or so, 11 years I think. He turned it around. I think that’s something he ought to be real proud of. Other than this weekend, I hope he has a lot of success.
(on if the Lions play with Jim Schwartz’s personality)
I would guess so. I think they play smart. The guys he’s surrounded himself with, he does a good job with the draft and getting players around he knows can make plays. He knows the bottom line is all about winning on both sides of the ball and having players that can help him win. I think he’s done a good job with acquiring those kind of guys. I know he’s knee deep in all those decisions with the draft and free agency and getting the kind of guys. I think he knows the type of guy he needs that fit his system to win. I think that’s a big part of being a good head coach and he does that. He gets them ready to play. The bottom line is his guys are ready to play on Sunday. They’ve got the talent. So I think he’s done a really good job.
(on if the team’s past success with the NFC and the familiarity with the Lions helps the Titans’ chances)
We always try to hang our hat on that we studied a little harder. I don’t know the personnel because we didn’t know them as well. They don’t know us as well. Most of our players have not played, other than (Kyle) Vanden Bosch. Mike Roos obviously knows Vanden Bosch. So those two know each other pretty well that are competing. The good thing for us is (Steve) Hutchinson played against these guys for the past couple of years. Hutchinson knows exactly what he’s getting himself into in the middle of that thing. So we have some guys that have it. This organization has done well, and that’s a good thing. I hope we can keep that going. They present a great challenge. This is a good football team. Like I said, if we’re not ready to play, it could get ugly real fast.
(on how much he appreciated the work of Steve Sabol and NFL Films)
Well I mentioned in my Hall of Fame speech that my first memory of pro football and the part I enjoyed about the game the most was growing up, watching on a Sunday morning back when that was your only option. There weren’t highlights all week long. It was an hour before NFL Sunday started. I used to watch all the highlights, that hour show in slow motion, the music. I loved it. I watched it with my dad all the time. I thought it was probably the best part of the week, getting to learn about the game and the guys who made the plays and the guys who made the game what it is today. That’s something that always stuck with me. I think it made a huge difference. Really the growth of this sport has a lot to do with that type of video and those types of clips and letting people see behind the scenes and what goes on, having players mic-ed up so you can hear what’s going on on the sidelines and hearing coaches talk. I think that’s some great insight for people to understand that love the game to see really what does go on. I think that fascination is really what has led to this game being as popular as it is today, is things like that—his films and his editing and his ideas.
(on if he ever got to meet Steve Sabol)
I met him briefly when they were doing different interviews down there, but not to where I know him.
(on if he’s looking forward to the potential of the wide receivers with them all being healthy)
Today was kind of fun, just seeing that group of guys all healthy, none of them limited. Seeing Nate (Washington) standing there next to