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Head Coach Mike Munchak at NFL Scouting Combine

Posted Feb 21, 2013


(on taking a guard early in the draft)

Being a guard, I think what’s changed, the defense is changing. Defensive ends changing. Back when I played in the 80s, ends were bigger guys. I think it created a matchup problem for left tackles. It’s hard to find guys that can match up with 255-pound guys that can rush. All of a sudden, supply and demand, so tackle is more valuable, especially at left tackle.

When you have someone special, I think that gets thrown out the window. You kind of have to decide where you want to pick a guy like that.

(on Alabama guard Chance Warmack and North Carolina guard Jonathan Cooper)

I haven’t met either one of them yet, hopefully will spend some time with them in the next couple of days.

Warmack, being in the SEC, we’ve seen a lot of him play. He’s one of those guys, that no doubt, is getting a lot of attention. He’s a guy that is special at what he does. He knows how to win, so it’s a lot of things he brings to the party. If you need a guard, that’s a guy you’re going to think about taking anywhere in the draft.

(on Texas A&M tackle Luke Joeckel)

He’s very good at what he does. I wasn’t sure if he’d come out or not. Spoke with him yesterday, first chance to meet him. He’s a very good football player, a guy that’s going to be able to come into the NFL and play immediately. You watch him on tape and on TV, he’s a special guy. He’s played against a lot of good defensive ends in college, so you can see he’s up for the challenge. With Jake Matthews being at right tackle, I think those guys help each other similar to how Bruce (Matthews) and I did all those years of watching each other and competing. They’re both very competitive. I think it’s helped both of their developments. I think Luke is going to be a very special player.

(on building the roster)

We need some help inside. We’re going to take a good look in free agency, which we will here in the next month and the draft. It’s a huge year for offensive linemen. I always think it’s a good year for offensive linemen. I think there’s more name guys that people know from top to bottom. You can develop a lot of offensive linemen from the fifth, sixth and seven rounds, so you have to do your homework there. There’s a lot of good ways to build your roster. You don’t only have to do first and second round picks at that position to get it done, but sometimes it’s a good idea to have that type of guy. You want some guys you can draft and say, ‘He’s going to be our guard or our center for the next 10 years to come.’ I think that’s what you look at in a draft like this. All the options are on the table, as far as how we’re going to fix on the inside.

(on the process of free agency and draft)

We obviously need to improve. When you’re 6-10, we have to tweak the roster like you do every year. There’s always going to be changes, but our changes this year are a little more toward improving different spots, creating competition as you always want to do. We’ve got some work ahead of us. We’ve got to get some of our own free agents signed that we need to get signed, and the process begins. This is part of it, but the draft is not until late April so we’ll have, when free agency starts, a chance to get those veteran-type guys that fit our roster. Again, in free agency, you’re not going to just go to the top guys. There’s some guys that fit needs we have. There are positions where we need some veteran leadership, possibly, where it makes sense for our young guys. The offseason is where we have to make decisions as a staff with Ruston Webster and our scouting department to make a difference next season.

The hard part is you do a lot of homework and then some of these guys sign with their teams in the last 48 hours or get franchised, which will happen before that. I think there’s people that we’re going to find we’re interested in that can help us and it’s a matter of who’s available. The hard part is you can want them real bad, but five other teams want them also so we’ll see what happens.

(on Oregon OL Kyle Long)

It’s really attractive when it’s worked for them. He’s a special story. There’s a lot to that story. We have a chance to meet him tomorrow. I’m excited about doing that, watching him on tape and at the Senior Bowl. Obviously he’s done very well for himself. He’s adapted to the position very quickly, which means again, he’s a special athlete. I’m sure he’s going to get a lot of attention in the next couple of days because there’s a lot of teams like us that are trying to figure out where he’s at in his progression and development as an offensive lineman. He’s going to get worked out quite often in the next six or eight weeks, definitely someone that catches your eye.

(on hiring Gregg Williams)

There’s a lot of things that had to be right when you make a decision like that. Like you mentioned, as far as us knowing him and working with him, knowing what kind of coach he is and what kind of person he is. With Jerry here, our defensive coordinator has worked with him also. The first step was that. Did it make sense that way? Would it work business wise? I’ve worked with him, I’ve worked against him. I think he’s a great mind, as far as defense. I think he’s good with how you do personnel, and I thought he would be able to work very well on our staff, as far as improving our defensive staff. I felt that he deserved a second chance. I think the league felt that. I felt he had taken responsibility for what happened and the things he was involved in and I don’t see anything like that ever coming close to happening again.

(on relationship between Gregg Williams and Jerry Gray)

I think that’s why Jerry was so excited when we talked about him.  I think some coaches or coordinators are stubborn. They want to do it their own way, they don’t want help, they don’t want to be told there’s better ways to do things. I think Jerry is open to becoming a better coach. I think that’s refreshing to have coaches like that, that always want to learn and find ways to get better. If there’s better ways to do things, then to have a resource in the building that he’s comfortable with, that we felt would work well. It’s a great fit. They’re getting along well, they’re communicating well as a whole staff. Gregg has been a big part of him and Jerry working together. Jerry is going to be a better coordinator because of it, and you’ll see, we’ll be a much better defense because of it.

(on what he’s learned from previous combine experience)

Just how to use your time, how to spend my time when you’re here. Once this thing gets going in the next couple of days, there’s a lot of places you can be. There’s certain things I want to find out about different positions. I’ve got a greater feel for the offensive side of the ball, especially offensive linemen, but there were types of questions I learned that I wished I asked other years I was here. You’re here for a week. You only get so much information out of this thing, you realize that, and a lot of it is talking to other coaches. For me, as a head coach, it’s talking to head coaches about OTAs or different things they did during the season. It’s a great resource for a lot of that. Some of the other teams have similar problems or questions, so it’s a chance to get a little camaraderie with head coaches or other coaches in general.

(on if the team will keep a fullback)

I think we’ll have a fullback on the team, yes, but I think last year, Quinn may have played 12 snaps (a game), but I think there’s a place for it with the fullback or tight end playing that position. We’ve had a lot of success in the past years, when we went to the Super Bowl, that was a big part of it. I think we’ll have a fullback on the roster. We’ll continue to have a fullback.

(on if Chris Johnson is better with or without a fullback)

I think there’s certain types of runs he’s much better with because there’s certain defenses he’s better with having no one in front of him. I think we’ve learned over the years what he does well with the fullback and what he doesn’t, so we’ve always done a good job with that, even last year. I think he’s comfortable with both. There’s certain plays he likes where you need a fullback. When you’re playing the Texans and someone downhill, Jacksonville, you want to have some physical guys on your roster. When I was part of the run and shoot years, we didn’t have those physical guys, other than the offensive line. I think, even if it’s 15 plays a game, still brings that physicality to the game.

(on finding a running back to complement Chris)

Chris has been special. He hasn’t missed a game. He hasn’t missed a snap, other than in his first playoff game. That’s the only time he’s come out of a game for injury. He hasn’t missed a practice. Our thinking there is two-fold, kind of like when he first came in the league, not to over-use him. Don’t cut down his touches, catches out of the backfield, more screens. There are other ways to use him to get him in space, along with the run game.

(on the team’s status at wide receiver)

I think we’re always going to look. I don’t know if there’s a big need there. We feel we have players in place if everyone is healthy to have a good group of receivers. As far as making changes within the group, that’s always possible to create some more competition or maybe some more depth or veterans to help with some leadership. You’re always looking for those reasons. We’re not looking like we are maybe for offensive line or DBs, but I think it’s something you’re always aware of because if there is an opportunity to improve that position, we will.

(on re-signing TE Jared Cook)

He’s a big priority. He and Sen’Derrick (Marks) and Rob (Bironas). I mean those are three guys we’ve been talking to. Like I said, we can’t control when they’re ready to talk to us. Most players, when they get this close to free agency want to test the market. That’s what we fought for and struck for. I was part of two strikes to get free agency available for these guys, so a lot of times guys want to wait it out and see. It doesn’t mean they don’t want to be here. It doesn’t mean we don’t want them. It just means they want to see if there is something better than what we have here. Cook is someone, as we all know, we feel very strongly about. We feel a big part of us having success next year is having him in the offense and using him in different ways, like I talked about before with the changes we made on the offensive side of the ball. We feel he’ll have an opportunity to catch more balls and be more efficient with the plays he’s in there.

(on Darius Reynaud)

Well, he’s probably not a natural running back. I think he’s definitely, with that speed, we did a lot of things with him. He definitely has return ability. We were able to see that last year. He’ll get a lot better at that the more he does it. The good thing is he didn’t put the ball on the ground. He did what we asked him to do in the running back game. He’s not a guy you’re going to count on third down to block and do those kinds of things.

(on hiring Sylvester Croom)

When we got (clearance) to talk to Jacksonville (assistants), we brought him in and had talked to three or four running back coaches at the time, and I was with him an hour and knew that this guy would be a great fit for us. I just think he commands, when he sits down, he’s very knowledgeable of the game. He’s been a head coach. I knew he could help me, just in general, having another guy that’s been through that. He’s been a coordinator. He’s coached the running back position. He brings a different perspective and knowledge of the position than most running backs coaches I’ve been around. He understands how it all works: the offensive line, the passing game, the quarterbacks, so I saw him as an asset in a lot of ways, not just teaching the running backs. He’s coached some good ones, and Chris is another good one. We watched tape and he had some good ideas about things he can help him with. I think, from the people I talked to, that he worked with before, they said similar things to what I’m thinking and thought he’d be a great fit for our situation and with CJ, hold him accountable for every snap. I think the way he drills them and teaches them is exciting.

(on if Gregg Williams will call plays)

Jerry Gray will call the plays. We’ll get to that, as far as what role Gregg will have, those things will come later as we go into OTAs. I think we have a great resource. Gregg is going to be involved in all of that. Gregg is going to be involved in what we do on Sundays. How we do it will be determined as we go.

(on if Gregg Williams has a say in personnel decisions)

Sure, definitely. He has a voice just like the rest of the defensive staff does. Again, that’s what they’re doing now. The defensive guys are still back in Nashville looking at our personnel and our scheme and seeing what we need to change, what we were good at and what we weren’t so good at. It helps us determine our needs, the type of players we want, whether it’s a veteran player.

(on asking players about their best play and their worst play)

I want to talk to them about how he handles those things. How he’s going to play in the game when he has some bad plays. When things don’t go your way, how do you respond. I like to hear him verbalize, along with what you see on tape.

(on what he will try to gain from the interview sessions with players)

Fifteen or 20 minutes is not a lot of time to spend with these players, but you do pick up some things, body language, personality, their passion for their game when they talk. See what he really does know.

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