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Chris Palmer Press Conference Transcript

Posted Feb 18, 2011

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(opening comments)

I want to thank everyone for coming in.  I’m hoping this is my last press conference for a while because I’m running out of jackets.  Us line guys don’t have this many outfits, so I’m going to have to take care of that problem, I guess. 

At Jerry’s press conference a couple days ago, I talked a little about the process of how we target coaches and what the mindset is.  Sometimes people think you should chase this guy or that guy, and they know a name.  That’s about all they know.  A lot of times it’s about perception.  People think someone would be a great fit, but the reality is that they’re not because they don’t know all the things that go behind the scenes and the criteria that we have for our situation here as an offense.  Obviously, it’s my job as coach to sit there and figure out what our needs are and be patient because we all want it done immediately, just like I do.  You want the staff done as fast as you can, and that’s something that I have to be patient with before I pull the trigger on making decisions. 

For the offensive coordinator position, like the defensive coordinator position, I knew how important the decision was going to be, so I sat down and thought about exactly what we needed here as an offense and thought about some of that criteria.  As I mentioned the other day, as some of you may know, we put in some requests for some people that we thought would be someone worth talking to.  Some of those requests got denied, and when you put a request in, you put it for somebody you think you can talk to.  It wasn’t someone we thought was just to show people, ‘Hey, we’re doing this, we’re doing that.’  It was people that we had a good feel for that would be worth talking to that maybe fit in.  We probably put two or three of those out.  You guys heard about a couple that didn’t quite go the way we thought.  Then the next thing you do is you talk on the phone.  You make a lot of contacts.  It’s a group effort.  It’s not just myself, it’s people that I respect, our coaching staff, and we get an idea of some people that would be a great fit, make the phone calls, follow up, see if the person is still … You may think, ‘Oh man, this guy’s really good in this area,’ and then all of a sudden, you go, ‘Ah, it’s not going to be a good fit for this reason or that reason.’ So you kind of eliminate some people that way to avoid 20 trips to Baptist Sports Park. 

So we ended up bringing about three guys in and went through the interview process, and it was a very easy decision for me.  When Chris and I finished our interview, I knew I had my guy.  I was real excited about that.  I knew it was a tough decision, it was going to be, but he had exactly what I was looking for.  Again, I love his demeanor and his approach to the game.  He’s confident, he’s calm, and he’s very consistent.  I think the players will feed off that.  He dots the I’s and crosses the T’s, and I think that’s exactly what we need here.  He has the experience — as we mentioned, 20 years in the league.  He’s been a head coach.  He’s been a coordinator.  He’s been a quarterback coach, receiver coach, he understands the game inside and out.  He knows how all the parts work.  Again, the quarterback situation, he’s developed quarterbacks.  Young quarterbacks, veteran quarterbacks, he’s done a great job, and we know that’s a concern, possibly, of ours going forward. 

Thirdly, he has the versatility, his mindset as far as what kind of offense we can run.  The question of not knowing maybe who your quarterback is going to be, a guy that can adjust.  He’s been a part of different systems, and he’ll do a great job of fitting the system with our talent that we have here in the building, like Jerry talked about quite a bit on the defensive side of the ball. Those are the things I was looking for, and those are the things he brought to the table.  So he made a very difficult decision – when you decide who’s going to run your offense – into a very easy one for me when we made the decision a few days ago. 

We met – we were talking about it recently – probably 20-some years ago back in Houston, when I was still playing and Chris came in as a wide receiver coach.  He’s the kind of guy, when you meet him, as you’re all going to find out, he’ll remember your name 20 years from now.  You’ll bump in to him, ‘Yeah, you were at the press conference that day I got the job being with the Titans.’  And so we had that kind of relationship, where we never worked together during that time.  I respected his work and what he accomplished during that time.  I’d run into him at the Combine or after a game when he was with Jacksonville or Houston and say hello real quickly.  We just kind of kept that type of relationship, the professional kind of relationship.   So he was always there in the back of my mind and those kind of things.  Even one time, we’re kind of laughing about it now, but I think it was in ’99, when he got the job with Cleveland and I was a young coach, and my contract happened to be up.  He called me about being his line coach, and I turned him down.  I wanted to stay in Nashville.  But the fact that he called me out of nowhere, a young guy, and he was willing, a new head coach willing to give an opportunity to a guy who was only two years on the job himself.  So I’m excited today to reverse the script and have the opportunity to offer him the offensive coordinator job, and I am thrilled, obviously, that he’s accepted it.  So with no further ado, let me bring up the next offensive coordinator for the Tennessee Titans, Chris Palmer.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHRIS PALMER

(opening comments)

Thanks, Mike.  It seems like it was just yesterday we were in Houston.  You’ve aged a lot better than I have.  We’ll open it up for questions.

(on the key to developing a young quarterback)

Every guy is different. (Tim) Couch had ... He got hurt.  Everybody forgets Cleveland wound up in the playoffs in their fourth year, and Houston has not gotten to the playoffs in whatever year it is for them.  (David) Carr was a guy that has a great deal of talent, and you know, you’ve got to have people around him.  It still is a team sport, and you have to have 11 guys that fit in and do those things.  You look for characteristics of players.  One of the problems with a young quarterback is you don’t know if the game is going to be too big for him.  You don’t know when they get that money how they’re going to react, and that’s not just the quarterback, that’s any player.  But you try to do your work on a guy.  You try to find out what it’s all about.  You really want a football guy.  You know, Mark Brunell is a guy that, he doesn’t play the game for money, he plays it for enjoyment.  I think all great players are like that.  Mike (Munchak) and Bruce (Matthews), those guys enjoyed the game and they wound up being Hall of Famers, and I think those are the type of guys you want to have with you.  Eli Manning is a football junkie.  I mean, I’m coming down and his wife is from Nashville.  I got a call from him, and I said, ‘Where’s a good place to live.’  He says, ‘Let me find out from Abbey,’ and he’s talking about his drops and how he wants to make sure that he stays in rhythm and things like that.  So you’re looking for a guy that football is very, very important to him.

(on what he has seen from the Titans from a personnel standpoint)

Just the instant film watching, we’re in the process of doing that right now.  Coach (Munchak) showed me the Indianapolis game, and I came away from our conversation knowing that … I didn’t know this, but Tennessee started off 5-2.  I looked at the last game, and I thought there were, you know … Obviously the running back is special.  I think he’s a guy that, just sitting and watching film with Mike and finding out what he likes, does he like a guy in front of him?  Curtis Martin didn’t like a fullback in front of him; he liked to have him offset.  You’ve got to learn about the players.  What’s Kenny (Britt)’s best route?  I’m anxious to talk to those guys and see what their forte is and how good they are at doing certain things.  I was impressed with the tight ends.  The (Jared) Cook guy, I want to get my hands around him right away and find out what he’s all about because I think he’s a special talent.  And the thing that I liked was the offensive line.  We didn’t have a great offensive line – we didn’t have great individuals – in New York as far as offensive linemen were concerned, but they played great together.  When Mike showed me around, one of the things that jumped out to me, they have a little TV screen there in the locker room that’s the ‘pride of the offensive linemen,’ and you watch the offensive line work together, there’s a chemistry that you can see on film that’s intriguing to me.  So I think there’s a lot of pieces here, and we just have to, as (Bill) Parcells used to tell me, find out what they can do and give them a chance to do it.  That will be the case with the quarterback spot also. 

(on why the job was appealing to him)

Mike.  We were talking about something in the office, and I knew he was going to be a good coach.  That was why it was easy for me to offer him a job because, in coaching, you get around players and you know what kind of people they are and what they’re going to be all about.  So you want to give back to the guy that you respect.  I went home and told my wife, ‘Hey, this is going to be enjoyable.  This is going to be a good situation.’  Then the challenge, you know, the challenge of trying to do it again. Hey, I went to New York, and they told me put my mailbox in sand because (Tom) Coughlin is getting fired at the end of the year, and we wind up winning the Super Bowl.  Sometimes you have friends in coaching – and I consider Tom a friend – that you take and say, ‘OK, let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work,’ and we wound up winning the Super Bowl.  But if you can recall, in 2007, that was a one-year deal. 

(on whether his philosophy is conservative or to push the envelope)

Give the players the best chance to do things.  I don’t think giving C.J. (Chris Johnson) the ball – you can say that’s conservative, but I think that can be explosive also.  Again, you’ve got to find out what the players are going to do.  I’m coming out of the Hartford situation where we led the league in 20-yard plays with rotating quarterbacks in and the development of having a veteran quarterback and then having a young guy we developed that signed with the Giants.  You know, we’re going to be what we have.  We’re going to identify what we are.  We’d like to run the football, we’d like to play action, and we’d like to stretch the field.

(on if he has a run-pass ratio in mind)

We’d like to have a minimum of 65 plays – 35 of them runs and 30 passes.  We’d like to have time of possession where we’re up in the 32 range.  That’s what our goals are.  We’re going to try not to turn the football over, protect the ball, all of the things that you preach to an offense.  You know, can’t hurt yourself with negative plays.  But that doesn’t mean we’re not going to take chances based on the players we have.  So that’ll unfold as the season goes on.

(on if he makes changes to the current playbook or brings in an entirely new playbook to the offense)

We’re going to get our staff together – and Mike’s been kind enough with all of his head coaching duties to be in there and explain things to us – we’re going to try to keep as much of the playbook as we can because whether you call it a diagonal slant or whether you call it a 57 or whatever, it’s still a diagonal slant.  We’ll try to improve it.  We’ll have some different guys in the room.  We’re not going to try to make the players learn a whole brand new playbook.  We’re going to try to keep as much as we can.  Here’s a chance for us to, maybe some things that Mike didn’t like, he’s going to say, ‘Hey, I would like to do it this way,’ so we make those changes.  The coaches that were here last year, they talked about, ‘Hey, I’d like to clean up this, or I’d like to clean up that and make it a little bit easier for the players.’  So it’s going to be everybody on the offensive side of the ball trying to put a playbook together that will be comfortable for everyone involved. But we’re not going to try to make the players learn that many things new.

(on how this situation compares to his previous stints in places like Cleveland and Houston)

I will tell you this: I will never take another expansion job, OK?  I will promise you that, OK?  The glass is half full for me.  We’ve got some receivers, we’ve got an offensive line that’s good, we’ve got a running back that’s good.  Now we just have to continue to massage the situation and get it better.  Whoever is there we’ll coach, and we’ll try to identify what they do best and then give them a chance to do that.

(on veteran quarterbacks he has in mind)

You’re going to have to ask the head coach that.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on veteran quarterbacks he has in mind)

That’s something that we’re obviously working on now, that may or may not be available when the time comes, and we have to be ready for that.  Obviously, the draft stuff will start next week.  We’re heading to the Combine, and we’ll start that process like we always do.  We’ll start targeting guys in the draft that we think may fit with what we need.  You can’t always control that, as you guys know, how the draft goes, and then wait to see what is going to happen with the window for free agency.

(on if they entertain the idea of bringing Kerry Collins back the longer the lockout lasts)

Well I think they’re all things you must, yeah, obviously, you’re going to consider, yes.  I mean, you’re going to consider all your options by how much time you have and what the situation is.  We’re going to have to be able to adjust.  Maybe there won’t be any kind of lockout.  You just don’t know.  So we have to be ready for the best situation, or like you said, the worst situation where things don’t get settled until much later.  We’ll kind of have to be smart with that as coaches, and that’s why some of the things we’re doing is for that reason, to make sure we are set when things do happen.

(on if they are narrowing down candidates for wide receivers coach and running backs coach and how much input Chris Palmer will have on those jobs)

Yeah, we have been.  Chris will obviously have a big part of that.  That’s why you try to get those coordinators first. It’s their group.  I want guys that they feel very comfortable with in those rooms.  There’s a lot of decisions to be made on some nights when you’re very tired, and you want guys you can rely on.  I want them to feel good about the guys we bring in here.  Yes, he’s been a big part of that, has been.  We have been talking to some people in those areas, and we’re hoping a lot of that will come, like I mentioned, about trying to get things done by next week sometime.  I think we’re moving at a pretty good pace now.  We’re not going to hurry and make a mistake and be impatient, but I think we have some good thoughts in mind.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHRIS PALMER

(on if he thought his career in the NFL was over when he accepted a head coaching position in the UFL)

That is hard to say.  I knew there were going to be some opportunities, but it had to be a special opportunity.  Let’s say I have had other opportunities since that job.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on his plans and role in helping install the run game as he did in previous seasons)

I haven’t decided what my role is going to be.  As Chris mentioned, I’ll definitely be a part of the transition part, especially with the new coordinators, so we’re all on the same page of why we did what we did and things I thought we could probably improve upon from last year and help them with that part, help Bruce (Matthews) in that area and understanding what we did.  You don’t want to go backwards.  You want to say this is why we did what we did, here is what we learned in the past and here is where we are at and let them fine tune what we are doing.  I will be a part of that and any help I’m needed throughout.  Obviously, I’m always going to be a coach.  The hardest part probably of becoming a head coach is giving up my room, giving up the offensive line.  I’m not going to be a meddling guy.  I cut a deal with Bruce that I wouldn’t do that to him, but I’m going to be there to help them any way or help Chris in any way just like other head coaches do.  That is obviously the side of the ball that I’m comfortable with.  Just talking to Jerry (Gray) the other day and we were sitting there talking about how you can beat protections and the problems that we have as an offensive line.  There are things like that when I sit on their side of the room that I can be helpful hopefully there too without being a pest.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHRIS PALMER

(on how he describes himself as a teacher of the game)

I think coaching is teaching.  As a teacher you are graded by how many kids pass the exam.  As a coach you are graded on how many wins your team gets.  I think players win and coaches lose.  By that I mean we have to look at ourselves first and say ‘Why aren’t we winning?  Am I not teaching it properly?’  I consider myself a teacher.

(on if he prefers the process of taking a young quarterback and developing him or having a veteran quarterback)

I think making a player better.  I got great satisfaction out of the (Lorenzo) Booker kid that was out of football all of 2009.  He came to Hartford and regenerated his career and then played the last five games with Minnesota and had 18 returns for maybe a 24-yard average.  As a coach, you feel pretty good about that and you feel real good about a Ryan Perrilloux who had second-round ability but couldn’t get into a camp and he comes to Hartford, gets himself squared away, and if you are a parent you know there are always a couple bumps in the road.  If you can help a young person straighten his life out and get better and he winds up signing with the Giants.  I get great satisfaction from that.  Whether you are a veteran or whether you are a rookie, I think when you make a player better if you are truly a coach, you feel pretty good about yourself.

(on the potential to use Chris Johnson in even more aspects of the offense)

One of the things that is great to me is having Mike and say, ‘what is Chris all about?’  Some guys like a fullback right in front of them and be able to go up and clean up the hole, some guys don’t.  I can ask Mike that and he will have an opinion on it and now we are not wasting plays, we are not wasting reps in training camp running some plays that may take a week for our coaching staff to figure it out.  From that standpoint I think it is a tremendous help.  Again we are going to try to make him better than he was last year that is what coaching is all about.

(on the importance of developing the quarterback position and whether he thinks he is going to have a strong responsibility toward the future of the franchise)

I think that anytime you join an organization you take an accepted responsibility to not only the organization but the other guys you are working with.  I have never shied away from a challenge, not saying that this is a challenge.  I’m saying I still have the competitive juices and I want to make this right.

(on how long he wants to continue coaching)

When I retired, I retired on a Thursday and my wife said you can be home for the weekend, but have a job on Monday.  I think she would like for me to coach somewhere around until I’m 80 or something like that.  I don’t want to interfere with her life.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on hiring coaches that stress teaching the game and how that reflects the hiring of Chris Palmer)

I think that is what I talked about in my brief remarks is that being around him … I think the biggest sell for me besides knowing him and knowing what he has done in the past with teams was when I brought him in and we sat and watched tape for about two or three hours by ourselves and we just put on a Titans game and watched and just went back or forth and the questions he had and the insight he had like I mentioned with the line play, the routes, the running backs, the quarterbacks reads, it was fun.  To have an interview was one thing and you get tired of answering questions and go back or forth, but when you start talking ball, you really get to find out the passion that a guy has for the game and how excited his voice gets all of a sudden like I think mine does, when you go from answering questions to talking about football finally.  I think that is what finally helped put the final nail in for me was that.  We sat and watched two or three games, then I brought some of the other staff in so they could answer some of his questions and what we were doing.  It was really a very productive two or three hours and it took a long time to watch just one game because of the ideas we both had and some of the ideas that came out from what he had done before, how he taught it.  He was asking me questions about offensive guards when they were pulling and what technique I used, stuff he liked and why he did it, the back’s reads.  Like I mentioned to you, behind the scenes you really see the knowledge people have, you assume you know things, but until you actually sit down and pick a guy’s brain and hear what he says about all the positions, you find out real quickly how much a football guy he is and how special he can be for this team in a lot of ways.  He will do a great job coaching the coaches too.

OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR CHRIS PALMER

(on the experience level of the coaching staff and bringing the entire staff together)

Well I have been very impressed with Dowell (Loggains).  I think he is a bright, young coach that has a very bright future ahead of him.  It is like anything, you are putting together a group and Mike is putting a group together and I could not be more excited about it.  I think they are football people.  They enjoy the game.  They like teaching it.  We talk about technique and we run this and we run that or what do you feel is the best deal.  No one is yelling and screaming at each other.  No one is saying this is the only way to do it.  It still comes in 32 different flavors.  I think it is going to be fun and I think the product on the field is going to reflect that.  We will be fine.  We will be fine.

(on the important lessons he has learned about coaching young quarterbacks over his 20 years coaching)

Well you have to think like a quarterback, you know what I mean.  One of the things that I do is I will stand behind the quarterback during the practice.  I will go through his read and what I instructed him to do or what Dowell has instructed him to do and I will say right there on the field, ‘I think you should have gone to the left or I think you should have gone to your right.’  A lot of guys will come back in and do it on tape.  I think sometimes the quarterbacks have resentment about that because they are sitting there with the clicker and say I should throw it there and how about making that decision on the field.  That is how you build a relationship with the quarterback.  One of the toughest things I have ever done in coaching was when I went to New York and worked with Eli (Manning).  We spent 14 ½ to 15 hours where he explained 524 passes.  That is probably the worst thing I have ever done to a quarterback because … why did you throw it there, why did you throw it there? I was wrong to throw it there, but why did you throw it there?  I was trying to understand what he was thinking and what he saw.  At the end of the 15 hours, I felt sorry for him having gone through that.  It broke down the relationship where I had a better understanding of him.  Let’s take a wide receiver, we had a receiver in Houston, Tony Jones, a fast kid out of Texas.  He only caught 36 balls but six of them were for touchdowns.  We identified what he could do, he could run by people.  He was a world-class sprinter, was in the Olympic Trials.  I think that is what coaching is all about.  If we can identify what a guy does and give him a chance to do it, I think we will be successful.

(on what he hopes his offense is known for)

That we won the Super Bowl.  That we won the Super Bowl as a team and we played good enough to get there and get the ring.

(on getting Kenny Britt and Randy Moss on the field at the same time)

I will let the head coach answer that one.

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on the possibility of bringing Randy Moss back)

We haven’t really gotten into a lot of the personnel stuff yet.  I have obviously been trying to get the staff intact and we have been talking somewhat but those are things we will get more into as we get to the next phase here.

(on possible position openings on the staff including wide receiver and running back coaches)

I think those are the two obvious ones right now that we have not filled officially, but like I said we have been working towards that.  Just like we have on the other side of the ball, those are things that probably over the next few days or so hopefully we be filled.

(on the possibility of coaches from the 2010 staff not being with the team)

I don’t know.  There are still discussions like yesterday making the adjustment with Dave McGinnis.  There are a lot of things we are thinking about.  It is all about trying to piece this together and what is best for everybody.  That is for the coaches in the building; that is for the players.  We are looking at all scenarios and as we fill pieces of the puzzle like we have this week with the coordinators, D-line, linebackers, we are moving along to some of the other areas that are not settled yet.

(on if the quality control coaches need to be hired before the Combine)

No.  That is something again that we have targeted people there also that we are interested in and that we think could fill those roles, but there is no immediate hurry like I said.  If we target a guy and we know we want, we will go get them before if that is the case.

(on the possible use of the franchise tag)

That is something we will decide real soon.

(on his thoughts regarding the CBA mediation process)

We can’t comment on it.

(on his ideal offensive scheme and philosophy)

Chris touched on that.  I know what we want to accomplish.  Obviously, we want to win using the talent we have.  You don’t have all the answers right now in February to who our quarterback is going to be and some of the personnel we are going to have, it is hard to dictate that.  I think you are going to see one that is hopefully going use the people we have in a way to be very productive.  If it is Chris Johnson like we talked about or Jared Cook or (Kenny) Britt or whoever it is that we have those kind of people, we should be able to do some big things and that will be up to us and the staff to figure out what those things are over the next few months.  People will find out when we are playing ball in September, in October, that is when you sit back and see the wins and what we are doing.  I think all that stuff will reveal itself.  If you start promising a lot of things, it is more or less just wait and see.  All that is going to matter when it is all said and done is winning.  We know that.  If we have to run the ball 50 times to get us a win like it did the one time with Eddie George, we will do that if it means winning the game, but obviously we know that is probably not going to happen.

(on how important demeanor is with a coach)

I think it is important.  I think the harmony of the staff is really important.  Like I mentioned before, I think the players feed off that.  I think it is hard to be productive if you have guys that are set in doing things one way only and they are not going to give in … this is how I do it and that is how it is and it is a big fight and there is no give and take.  I think those are all things that are very important to me when I talk to different coaches.  I have been around different coaches that are obviously a lot of different style than me and they can be productive but it doesn’t necessarily mean that we may not fit together on a staff right now.  I think you need different types of personalities.  You don’t all want to be the same but I don’t think it is important that you all be different either.  I think it is finding the way that makes it work.  People always want to compare myself and Wash (Jim Washburn) and how we did things.  I’m more quiet and reserved and when you go to practice you know Wash is coaching.  The thing you have to remember is Wash is standing 40 yards away from his players.  I’m right in the huddle with mine and I don’t have to scream at my guys.  I think a lot of times you are going to see defensive coaches more vocal, more loud and in your face to some degree.  Does that mean you are going to win games because of it?  No.  Does that mean you are going to lose games? No.  I think you have to be yourself.  I think that is why I have been successful as a coach, what you see is what you get.  I want that with all the coaches I bring in the door.  I don’t want agendas of what you are trying to achieve or what you want and looking past to a next job.  I want guys that are going to enjoy coming to work, enjoy working with the guys they are working with and that are competitive.  You could see that when I mentioned Chris turned the film on, you see guys in the room come to life.  I see Bruce Matthews get competitive.  We all know how competitive he is.  You don’t see it until you turn the film on and start talking about how I should block this guy or block that guy or how the receiver should run a route.  That is the excitement for a coach.  When you talk to guys like I have, and I’m interviewing that is what comes out in the interview one way or the other.  I think either I like it or I don’t.  That is sort of the part it plays.

(on his focus next week at the Combine)

For me it is going to be nice just to talk about football players and start locking on to the future of this team and the draft picks we are going to have and get more into talking with the scouts about our needs and the kind of players that can fill those needs in the draft, sitting in those meetings and for me being a part of not just the offensive line world and the offensive side of the ball.  Now I’m going to sit there and stay there.  I have never stayed in Indianapolis past Saturday.  The linemen are done on Saturday afternoon and I’m gone.  I’m looking forward to my extended stay and having the coaching staff there doing something other than sitting back here watching tape.  I think it will be nice.  I think just that, just kind of experiencing the whole thing and being a part of the defensive side and sitting in some of those meetings with the defensive linemen and the DB’s and kind of getting more educated on that side of the ball.

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