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Coach Munchak's Wednesday Practice Report

Posted Nov 16, 2011

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on his reaction when he heard about the Matt Schaub injury)

I felt bad for him, you don’t want to see anyone get hurt or hear about that. At first it was maybe a week or two when the extent of injury wasn’t known. That’s a tough blow. That’s a great quarterback, they are doing some good stuff, so I’m sure that’s very disappointing for them.

(on how Matt Schaub’s injury changes the complexion of the AFC South race)

Well I guess that’s yet to be determined. We have a lot of work ahead of us, we don’t play them for six or seven weeks so it’s not really going to matter to us a whole lot until we get to that game. If we don’t win the games we have to win then that won’t mean as much as it needs to. As far as how they are going to do, I don’t know. They have some great weapons, even without their quarterback. Their defense is playing very well, they are the top two or three in the league. They still have a great running game. They still have a lot of things going in their favor, so I’m sure that they will be fine.

(on if the injury to Matt Schaub is the break the Titans needed)

Well I don’t know. Like I said, that’s not something that helps us beat Atlanta this weekend and it won’t help us beat Tampa next weekend and on and on and on. It doesn’t really affect us at all unless they lose two or three games over the next three or four weeks, then maybe all of the sudden it means something. For now it just means that a good football player got hurt and is not playing and we will see what it means when the season ends.

(on if having the best quarterback play in the division is an advantage)

Well I think that we thought Matt (Hasselbeck) was playing well in general so we are happy about that. All that matters to us is that we play well Sunday or it’s wont to matter who is playing for what team if we don’t win football games.

(on the challenge of slowing down Matt Ryan and the Atlanta offense)

It’s going to be a huge challenge, unfortunately in this league you can’t really enjoy it very long when you do play well. Our defense no doubt played well against an offense that was playing really well at that time. This week is a veteran group that everyone gave a great chance to win the NFC and they are a little disappointed at how they are playing at 5-4 so this game means a lot to them. I know it was a tough loss for them last weekend at home against a division opponent so there is going to be a lot going on in this game. We need to win, they need to win, and defense is obviously going to be a big part of that.

(on playing consistent football)

You hear it every year that the teams that can do that at this time of the year, November, December, the last six to seven weeks, are the teams that make the run and this is the time of year that you have to be able to do that. You can’t go win one, lose one. If you do that we all know you get to 8-8 and that’s not good enough. We all know that we need to put a string of games together which means that we need to play our best football these next two or three weeks to get a little winning streak going. This is a tough one to have to do it against, we need to win and I know they are in the same position that they know they need to win so something will give on Sunday. It’s a great opportunity to be in that situation and we have to play consistent and play better than last week in order to win this one.

(on finally being able to get Chris Johnson lots of carries in the second half)

I think every game we have been going in talking about this, about the fact that we want to get to where we get 20, I know I have said this before about him getting 20-25 carries so we can really see where the running game is at. Like is said, it’s hard to judge when he is getting less than 15 carries exactly how good we can be. The fact that we got the lead in this game and the defense did a good job of getting us the ball back and that gave us opportunities to run the ball 17 or 18 times in the second half and be able to establish what we did and be able to rush for 170 yards. We should be able to do that every week, we have to earn the right though. We have to move the chains and get first downs and give us those opportunities. When you do, and you have a good back and I think we have an offense where we can do things like that.

(on how far indoor stadiums have come since the Astrodome)

It’s a lot different. A lot of us could have probably played a lot longer of we didn’t have to play in the Astrodome. It’s good for the players that this turf is so much better on the body and more forgiving than the old-school stuff used to be.

(on if Chris Johnson is even more of a threat on an artificial surface)

I think so, I think there is no doubt that everyone feels quicker on it. In general, I think the D-line unfortunately does to and for an offensive lineman that’s not a good thing. The game does appear to be quicker and it is and so you hope that would help (Chris Johnson) and he would probably feel the same way. Whatever gives you a little confidence is a good thing, so I think the skill position guys on both sides of the ball prefer not practicing on it, but they like it on Sundays.

(on the problems that Tony Gonzalez poses)

This is year 14 or 15 so he can’t run obviously like he used to, but now he is the smart receiver. He knows how to find the holes in the defense. He is a guy that you are looking for on third-and-five or third-and-six to move the chains. They did a great job of that on their first dive last week against the Saints. They kept the ball for eight or nine minutes by making plays like that, so he is just a smart football player. He is obviously one of the best to play tight end and he is still making some great catches for them. Like I said, when you have a smart player that knows how to get open, even though maybe he can’t run like he used to, that’s a big asset.

(on his expectations of Derrick Morgan)

Well I’m looking forward to seeing how he does the second half of the season. Coming off the ACL last year, having a little setback in training camp, he missed the first game or so of the season and since then he has been able to be part of all of the practices and playing the games. We started him the last two or three weeks so I think he is progressing like you hope he would, now it’s just a matter of starting to make plays. He will have an opportunity to make plays the next six or seven weeks because we feel that he is a guy that can really dominate at his position. He has a chance like the rest of those guys, we came out last week a little bit with some of the plays we made but I feel the D-line can really control some games coming down the stretch which will be a big part of why we win or lose.

(on what the Falcons offensive line has done to improve pass protection)

I think just being smart. I think the game that killed them was the Bears game. I think they had seven sacks in the opener. It seems like in their openers, we followed them after they played Pittsburgh one year and they had a bunch of sacks. I think it was just an opening game problem, holding the ball a little bit. The Bears did a good job of covering so they had nowhere to go with the ball so give credit to the Bears’ defense in that game, they kind of set the tone. I think (Matt) Ryan is just doing a good job of getting the ball out of his hands. That was their worst loss of the season in that game and he realized that you can’t take those kinds of losses. I think they are just overall doing a better job of getting the ball out of his hand quicker, making quicker decisions, and he has a lot of playmakers to choose from so they are just doing a much better job there.

(on the Falcons mindset after losing the way they did last week)

Well I think it’s huge for them. They realize where they are at. They lost to the Saints who are in first place in their division so that’s a tough loss. That’s like a double loss for them and we know what that feels like because that happened to us with Houston, the game wasn’t as close as that one but a loss is a loss. They know they have to win. They lose that one, a game the probably felt they could have won and maybe should have won. We are coming off of a win but it’s still no different. This game for both of us is still very important if either one of us wants to be in the playoffs.

(on the statistic that the Titans are 13-1 in their last 14 games against the NFC)

It is hard to explain, I don’t think that it’s anything on our part. I think we prepare for teams the same. Obviously, we don’t know them as well but we don’t study them any harder than we do any other AFC team. Our preparation doesn’t change so I’m assuming it’s on the other teams end. I’m assuming they don’t get to know us very well. I’m guessing that they don’t feel as comfortable with what we do or don’t do and don’t know what type of team we are until the game starts at some point. This is extending over three or four years so I think is more about maybe the NFC team not getting to know about who we are.

(on if it’s an advantage this season that people maybe don’t know what to expect from the Mike Munchak Titans)

Well I think now there is enough film that they should know what we are doing. The game last week was obviously our first NFC game. There are not going to be any surprises this week, they know what we are doing and we know what they are doing. You have nine games to watch now so everyone has a good feel for what everyone is doing so it will be a great game.

(on would he say that the running game is fixed, or just fixed for a game)

I feel that it has been better than advertised. You watch in practice, you watch in some of the games, even though the numbers were not there, I felt that we were still doing things a lot better over the past four or five weeks even though it wouldn’t appear if you saw the stat line on what we accomplished in some of those games. I just thought the opportunities got better, I guess the blocking got better and the reason it got better is you have more opportunities to block the same play. It’s hard to explain it all out but I think it has been getting better but this was the first chance we had to prove that it’s not as bad as people think. We have to build on it. This is a great defense, I guess they are third in the league at stopping the run so it will be a great challenge for us and it’s a great opportunity for us to come in and show maybe where we really are because you need to do it more than one week. If you have a run game then you should be able to do it every week, so we have a lot of work ahead of us.

(on if practice will be inside this week)

No, I was planning on just coming in at least one day but the weather kind of forced it to be today rather than tomorrow so assuming the weather is good then we will probably go outside the next couple of days.

(on if an offensive line that is good in pass protection usually translates into a strong run-blocking line)

I think it doesn’t, I think we have always prided ourselves here on being both. I think over the years the numbers have shown that we do both pretty well but there are a lot of factors that go into that. In the passing game it’s definitely the quarterback getting rid of the ball on time and the running back blocking and so on and the guys getting open so there are a lot of factors. I think the reason why it’s been hard this year on all of us is because as lineman, the five guys that have been on this team for a while have never really had that much struggle trying to run the ball week in and week out. We were having success, so that’s probably the troubling part. The protection I think has been no different. I think we have been a pretty good protecting team for a while now and this year we have done that very well for Matt (Hasselbeck) but the running game the numbers obviously weren’t there. Our goal is to continue what we started last week and the bottom line is to win and we know that, but running the ball makes it a lot more fun.

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