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Coach Munchak's Monday Press Conference

Posted Nov 19, 2012

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on the team’s mentality after the bye week)

We had a good workout, good day. Came in, again had special teams meetings, had some team meetings. Coach (Steve) Watterson had them this morning for lifting and running. They’ve been in since 10 o’clock. Got a lot of good meeting time, watched a lot of cutups, just a lot of stuff really about ourselves, evaluating ourselves with things like run, pass, protections, routes. Just doing a lot of busy work that way, get a feel for what we’re doing well, what we need to work on. Just talked about what’s ahead the next six games, just a lot of those types of things. Then came out in pads and had a pretty good workout, just covered a lot of situations. Had a long individual period, about 30 minutes where we could work on a lot of technique stuff, a lot of stuff we wanted to work on with tackling, things like that and different drills. Then came out and covered all the different scenarios, the red zone, the run game, converting on third down, getting off the field, protecting versus blitz, two-minute, a little bit of everything. Just kind of a real quick pace, eight reps in every period we did, and had a good workout.

(on if it’s hard to dial the team back in with the time off)

I think that’s why I wanted to do it this way. I didn’t want to wait until game preparation, getting ready for Jacksonville. I thought it was better today to come back Monday, have this type of day, have kind of a full day here for them, just finishing up around 4:30 and watching the tape and then getting out of here. Getting back in the routine of having Tuesday off and starting to get ready for Jacksonville on Wednesday. I thought that worked well, good tempo, a lot of reps, competing against each other which really picks things up when you’re going ones-on-ones a lot. It was good work, and a good way to get back into it. For coaches and players, when you’re in such a grind for 10 weeks and all of a sudden, you take some time off, it is different. It does take a little bit to get back into it. I figured this was better to get into it, break a good sweat, get some good work, get back into it mentally, and then get back on their Tuesday routine, where some guys come in for treatment, some guys start watching tape tomorrow, whatever that may be. Then we’ll get to work on Wednesday.

(on how familiar he is with Chad Henne)

For us, we just started studying them last week and this week. On that side of the ball, it’s a quarterback that has been around, that obviously had a good game yesterday, made a lot of good throws. They were in position to beat the No. 1 team in the league in Houston. They had a great opportunity to win that game, and he made good decisions throughout the day to do that. That’s the thing about this league, people get so caught up in records. There you have 1-8 versus 8-1, and the 1-8 team should have won probably, had many chances to win that game. We understand what that’s all about, and it’s going to be a great game for us and a tough game for us to win in Jacksonville.

(on how dangerous the game is with Jacksonville having someone to rally around)

Players play. I know a lot is going on around them, they’re disappointed in the season. We all are. We are too. We’re not happy with 4-6, just like they’re not happy with their record. Like how we said, players don’t quit on stuff. They want to play, they want to win, they want to stay in the league. When you play a division team, like Houston found out, like we found out last year when we lost to the Colts at Indy, records don’t matter. We have three games in a row versus our division, and we have to get a couple division wins.

(on if he feels better about how the conference standings are shaping up after this week)

The only thing for me was us winning last week and getting to four wins, and realizing there are a lot of teams with four wins or less. That’s encouraging knowing that if you start winning, put a winning streak together, that you have six weeks left. We have to win a lot of football games, but if we do, then we’re right in the middle of this thing. But we have to win. What happens around us, you need the right teams to lose, obviously, along the trail. But ultimately, we have to find a way to win two games in a row, three games in a row, and so on. We haven’t won a division game yet, and we have three here in a row, so we have to start winning them.

(on Justin Blackmon)

I think it’s just like any young receiver. I think the more he plays, the better he’s going to get. We see that here with our guys. He made a bunch of plays yesterday. I didn’t watch that game thoroughly yet. I was watching one side and special teams. We knew when he got drafted, he was going to be a real good one. He’s one of those guys that gets drafted and you wish it’s not in your division because we know what a good player he is and is going to be. That’s just what you expected out of him. Like you said, this is a team that could have easily won yesterday, and I’m sure they feel the same way about playing us, that this thing is going to be down to the wire.

(on if the extra time to study the opponent helps)

I don’t know if it’s an advantage at all. Maybe in some situations it could be. That’s why for us, we spent more time self-scouting. We didn’t spend as much time with Jacksonville, just like we didn’t with Buffalo when we had the off-week after beating Pittsburgh. It seemed to work better that way, to worry about what we need to improve as an offense and defense and special teams. Then get back on a normal routine, so we’re not overdoing it. Coaches tend to overthink things. You start watching too much tape. This time of year, there are so many games. There are 10 games you can go watch, and you can go drive yourself crazy with, ‘Hey, did you see this in Week 2?’ It’s a lot of things to look at, so if you get overwhelmed watching too much and worrying about too many things, I don’t know. Sometimes I think it’s a disadvantage to have too much time.

(on the message to the team at this point in the season)

I think it’s like it always has been. It’s up to them how we play, how this thing finishes. We have six games left, and there is nothing we can do about the past ones other than learn from it. I think this past few days was more about learning what we need to do better and what we do well. Let’s get on a run. This is when you always hear about teams in November and December when they make their move. It seems to happen every year in the league. This is our opportunity, our chance to be that team. That’s how they have to believe it, that’s how they have to work. They saw what they’re capable of doing when finally all three phases played well in one game. We have to see if we can do that again. I think it’s encouraging that way, but knowing that it’s up to them. It’s not just going to happen. We can’t show up on Sunday and say, ‘Well did you guys see what we did a couple of weeks ago at Miami?’ It starts all over again. It starts with what we did today, it starts with what they’re going to do tomorrow, Wednesday. Get back into the work week, like you guys just mentioned, as far as getting back into the routine of what it takes to win a football game on a Sunday. If we do that, we have as good of a chance as anybody of winning these games we have coming up. As you win one, the next one gets bigger and more exciting. You win this one, and all of a sudden, look at the Houston game. Then it’s the next one, and you move on. It’s up to you, if you want to have that kind of season and that kind of finish, or do you want to have the other kind, which I don’t think any of us want.

(on if the bye week helped Jake Locker)

I think it was good for him. I think all coaches justify when you get the bye, when you don’t. It’s always a good time to have the bye. In Jake (Locker’s) mind, he probably would have rather not have it. He finally got a chance to play, and we’re sitting here saying well it’s probably good that he played and got the soreness out and had a week off. I’ll guarantee he just wanted to play again. He’s a young player. He just wants to get out there and keep playing. But I think in the long run, it does help him with his shoulder and the soreness. He had more parts of his body sorer than the shoulder. I think his shoulder really wasn’t that bad. It was more legs and upper body and playing in an NFL game for the first time in six weeks.

(on if Jake Locker was here rehabbing the whole week)

He was here. I don’t know if he was here the whole time. It wasn’t something that he had to be here every single day for, but he got rehab on and off for the past week.

(on if Colin McCarthy’s injury made progress with the extra week off)

Yeah, I thought last week was good. He was out there today, wasn’t limited at all, so I think the Miami game, he played his best since he came back from being hurt. I think he’s feeling about as good as he’s felt, and it’s something he’s going to have to deal with until next year, I’m sure, but I think, to the level of being able to be more like yourself, I think he feels like he’s getting closer than he has been.

(on if he has a number of wins in mind that would be needed to make the playoffs)

No, I don’t think you — you have to assume you have to win five games, six games. We don’t know. I mean anything is possible these days. Usually you don’t see a lot of 8-8 teams getting in, just going by the history. It happened a couple of years ago with Seattle, so it’s not something that happens very often, and then you’re into numerous tiebreakers and all kinds of issues, so I think what you realize is you can’t get caught up in all of that. You’ve just got to win them and see what happens, see what other teams do as we get into those last weeks. That’s not something, obviously, we’re concerned with ourselves. We have to find a way to win two in a row, which we’ve only done once this year, so we’ve got our work cut out for us.

(on if Steve Hutchinson’s has progressed in the last few weeks)

I think he has been. He’s been playing pretty solid for us. I mean, he’s helped us kind of weather the storm, I think, earlier in the year of not having the success we hoped we’d have in the run game. I think he’s been good and that group, with the injuries, with losing, you know, Leroy (Harris) most recently and even Eugene (Amano) back in the preseason, yeah, it’s been good having him here. He’s been a leader that way. I think having a younger quarterback, when Jake (Locker) has played, (Steve Hutchinson’s) been very helpful, where he can take over the huddle, kind of like we’ve seen Mike Roos do. That helps the quarterback, I think, a lot of getting us in and out of the huddle and making sure we have 11 in there and all the little things you can take off the quarterback’s mind that could be issues if they weren’t doing that for them.

(on if Steve Hutchinson is getting to the second level to make blocks on linebackers)

Yeah, he has been, and I think (offensive line coach) Bruce Matthews has done a good job with all of his linemen. I think he has a real good feel for them on what they’re good at. I think that’s what’s helped our run game also is that we’re putting those guys in situations, in blocking schemes that they do well, and so he’s done a nice job with all that, Hutch has, along with the rest of them, so it’s been, you know, really the last six, seven weeks they’ve been playing very well together.

(on if he stresses to the team the importance of avoiding multiple illegal hits)

I think, not regularly, but they’re aware of it about the safety and trying to do the right thing. It’s all for the right reasons, and it’s just a matter now of learning how to play with regard to that as you’re going full-speed. We just watched a tape today from the league. The league sends out a lot of training tapes of guys. It was an interesting stat: in the three games, in the (conference) championships and the Super Bowl last year, there wasn’t one bad hit that anybody was fined for. It just shows you that in the three biggest games of the year all those guys played hard, physical and they were able to avoid late hits or bad hits, but it’s easier said than done. Someone like Ed Reed has been such a great player in this league, and I didn’t see his hits, or I didn’t see his situation or all that, but obviously, bang-bang plays happen so fast on the back end that I don’t know how those guys get it done. I know it’s a challenge and an adjustment for guys that have been in the league.  

(on if the suspension has set a scary precedent)

Well, I think if you ever get that. Again, I have no idea of what his situation was, or what he was told or not told. I think in general if you’re doing something that gets New York’s attention and you get calls from the league and you’re put on alert, then obviously you have to adjust your game and adjust whatever the problem may be. From there, I don’t know. I don’t know how the whole story broke, or what’s going on with it. I think it’s commonsense if something is happening, you have to do your best to avoid it from happening again.

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