HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on if this team has come together quicker than he expected)
Like I said during camp, I think things were going so smoothly in training camp and we felt good right from the beginning I think because our approach was going to be to take it slow and not try to overwhelm the players with all of these changes and we stuck to that. I think that helped us in camp have success early. In the first week of camp the players had success and that carried over to the preseason games so I think we just kind of took it like that. Even though people were saying, 'well, it's only preseason,' we felt that is was a bigger accomplishment than most people thought because we thought it would be a lot messier and not necessarily on the same page as we had been early even though it was going against a vanilla offense or defense in a preseason game and we just hoped that would translate into the season. You never know what you are going to get when the season starts, so, so far so good, we know there are a lot of things we have to improve upon in a lot of areas and that's this league. Every team has their problem and so we will keep working on them but the good thing is we are winning games while we are working on them so I guess that's the most important thing is that once we got by the first one we found ways to play well enough to win.
(on how much Matt Hasselbeck changes the play at the line and how that is different than in years past)
In the run game yes, I think most of our quarterbacks in the past had had the opportunity, you will double call runs more often, so he will have the opportunity to get us in and out of plays there. Sometimes maybe it's a run, check to a pass so that he will have more freedom there if he sees certain coverage. You try to make the quarterback comfortable or you don't do those things, we don't want him to be up there thinking too much and he has been through a lot of that so it's easier for him than maybe it would be for a younger quarterback, maybe for Jake (Locker) right off the bat in his first three or four games playing. For Matt (Hasselbeck) that's a little easier because he has done it. In the pass game, you don't have a lot of run-pass checks, sometimes you will have adjustment though. As you see on TV, a lot of teams when a quarterback and the receiver kind of eyeball each other and see certain things that they will have signals for adjustments, so obviously he is good at that.
(on if he is surprised that Matt Hasselbeck is playing so well)
I'm not really surprised, we brought him here thinking that he was going to be a difference maker, that was our thinking behind it from the beginning and hoping that he would be. Watching the film I watched last year of him play I thought 'man, this guy is playing well,' and he won some big games and he is doing the things for us that we hoped he would. You never know how fast things are going to come together when you bring all different guys together that have never worked together and new coaches, but having a guy like him has made the process a lot easier for us.
(on if there is an area of the team that deserves more credit than it's getting)
You look at the defensive side of the ball and at Jerry (Gray) and his group are doing a lot of good stuff. It's week in and week out different guys making plays, it seems like on third-and-one or fourth-and-one, we almost thrive to get in that position because we have found a way to come up big in those positions since preseason games. There was another case yesterday on the third-and-one, and Sen'Derrick (Marks) gets a good push, they have nowhere to go, then it's fourth-and-one and (Michael) Griffin makes the great play on the flip play. There it is, momentum changing for us right before halftime. I think it's things like that and we are taking turns rising to the occasion and they realize that big plays make a difference and that, 'you know what, it may not always go our way throughout the game, but if we continue to make plays we will find ways to win. I think it's just a group effort. I don't think there is any one area that is necessarily playing better than the other, I think we all look at certain games they will stand out more than others but usually that balances out. Part of the areas that we know as a team that we are not where we want it to be is running the ball. We cleaned it up a little bit yesterday, we got glimpses of what we think we are capable of, but we are still not consistent to where we are happy with where we are at.
(on Jordan Babineaux now being a starter while Chris Hope recovers from a broken arm)
I think that he has shown that and I think the confidence that he has in himself and his teammates have in him shows when he is out there and that's what you want. If you are not starting, you want to have that confidence that if you do go in that the team is happy you are in there and they know that they can win with you no matter what the position is. He has had two starts, we won both games and yesterday he has a big play and we end up winning that game. Like I have said from the beginning, we felt comfortable with him just because Jerry (Gray) has worked with him before and a lot of the people in this organization knew him and he is stepping up and doing exactly what you hope a guy would do who gets the opportunity.
(on how long Chris Hope may be out with the broken arm)
He is going to have his surgery this week I guess, we have had other guys in that situation so we are guessing four to six weeks. Every guy heals differently, but I'm sure it will be somewhere in that time frame.
(on if Chris Hope will be a starter when he returns healthy)
Like I have said, and more people say the same thing I guess, you don't usually lose your job because you got hurt, you have heard that before I would imagine. We are along those lines and you weigh the situation when the time comes and see what's going on and we will determine that and when Chris (Hope) is healthy.
(on if this injury is similar to Jason McCourty's injury last year)
I think it is, they haven't told me but I think it's similar and that's why they are arranging it in that time frame. I guess it's something where you can practice sooner than you can play I guess because the way they can cast it or whatever they can do for it so he will be a little more active and be able to do things at some point, but again it all depends on how he heals. Everyone is a little bit different, so you hope for the best and you kind of just see.
(on how the injury occurred)
I didn't get a chance to talk to him about it, I thought it was making a tackle but on the film I couldn't see.
(on how much it will help to have Ahmard Hall back)
I wasn't a one man problem, I think it was a group effort as to why we haven't been as efficient as we would like to be and why we have to keep working on it. A lot of teams have that same problem in that week in and week out it changes and it's a different opponent. We are happy Ahmard (Hall) is back and hopefully that will help us and we will find out…I think you get an exemption for a week, so we would have a week to make a decision on what we are going to do there roster wise.
(on any other injuries from the game)
(Craig) Stevens has the rib, going to be very sore all week and he may be limited because of that but we are assuming that he will be OK for Sunday. Leroy Harris, same thing, he will probably be a little limited during the week but there is nothing severe there with the ankle or knee there, he kind of got caught in a pile and fell on the back of his legs when he was pass blocking so we are assuming he will be OK for Sunday from what we can see.
(on if Craig Stevens has a broken rib)
No, he had his MRI today, I hadn't heard, I think it's more cartilage stretching and that's painful. You don't want to laugh a lot, which he doesn't anyways so I think we will be OK there. That's when it gets really painful, so I think he has to be careful who he hangs out with.
(on the success of getting off the field on third down)
I think Jerry (Gray) and the staff have done a great job, (Tracy Rocker) of getting those guys to know what kind of play to anticipate. A lot of teams are very predictable in certain situations, you are going to do what you do well and the thing is can you stop it. Occasionally you are going to get run or play-action, but on the goal line and on the field we have done a nice job of attacking the line of scrimmage and realized how important that play is to get off the field, especially after the first weekend when we couldn't do it as well. You start developing that confidence in something that you can stop this. Even though they got eight yards, we can still make a stop here, let's not give them the first down. It's a confidence thing, I think you start believing that you can do that and guys just rise up and have made plays and it's been different guys each time. You would rather it would be a third and 10 every time, but if get stuck in third-and-one or the situations we have, at least we were seeing that that's what good defense do.
(on if Damian Williams is not as precise in his route running as he needs to be)
He just needs to play more, I think the more he plays and the more comfortable he gets, that's why I'm real happy for him to get that touchdown on a great play down there before the half which was a big drive for us to get to 21 points and give us a nice lead and some good confidence going in and he made a great grab on the first-and-goal. I think for young guys in any position, the more he plays the better he is going to feel and the quicker he can make adjustments, all of that just goes with him playing more and getting more comfortable. We think a lot of him, we think he is going to be a very good football player and his time is now. This is his time and he stepped up and made a nice play and (Lavelle) Hawkins was the same way. He made some nice catches and they will continue to get better the more they play.
(on how much of a transition period Ahmard Hall will need)
I haven't been through this before with a guy leaving, so I would imagine we will just see how he does and how he feels in the next couple of days in practice. He always looks like he is in great shape and I know he is very willing and anxious to be here and he has been a big part of our success in the run game and he brings that attitude to the game that you love to have, so it's just a matter of getting him in meetings and on the practice field and see that everything is OK…He was here bright and early, they worked out so they had to be in by 10:00 or 11:00 so he was in for that and I just saw him right before I came in here.
(on how he will address the team about having success and starting 3-1)
I guess 3-1, when you start out 0-1 that is the best you can do. If you go into the quarter deal and look at our first four games I think this one we looked at as two games. We have the Browns and Pittsburgh on the road before we get our bye so we knew if we could win this one, which we did, it makes the next one bigger. I think going up there and playing two teams that used to be in our division, that we used to play twice a year and have a lot of history with, and Pittsburgh probably more so because we have played Pittsburgh every year it seems like, the last three years and twice in the one year, so we are more familiar with them than we have been with Cleveland. I think just what we did, we realize we are going to go up to play in the same type of atmosphere and same type of weather against a team that obviously has more history as far as winning championships, so I think the challenge speaks for itself. This is one of those weeks where there is not a whole lot that needs to be said because most people know what Pittsburgh has done, no matter how young they are in this room when you get going. I think it will make it exciting, I think the fact that we positioned ourselves back into things as far as the goal we had is to win the division and we are back on track for that. There is a lot of excitement for this game.
(on if he is surprised by their record after the first quarter of the season)
Well we were surprised by what happened that first game I think. I think we were more surprised by how we played the first week than how we have been playing the last three. This is more where myself and the coaches expected us to play. We are playing much better, we know we can improve but we are doing things much better as a team and making plays. In the first game we just didn't do that, we felt that this is more of what we hoped we would be, what you have seen in the last three weeks. We know it's a work in progress and we have had injuries and we have had to move forward and every team has the same problems so don't dwell on the stuff of the past, learn from it. Guys have to step up as we go forward and they have, so it makes it exciting. When you win in this league, there is no doubt there is nothing better and it's a good feeling for everyone and now this game becomes even bigger for you because you want to go out there and prove that you can do it again against a very good football team that needs to win also.
(on going back to his home state for the first time as a head coach)
It will be, I didn't really think about it that way, it's more about all the tickets I have to get. Whenever I travel up to the east, it doesn't matter if I'm coaching or playing, my role doesn't matter. People love football up in that part of the country and I'm about five hours from there. When I used to play, there were a couple of buses going to the game to watch, they enjoyed the road trips, so I think we will have a few more fans there rooting for the Titans than we normally would. I'm excited, I'm excited because I will get to see family and I love playing back there. I love the weather, I liked Cleveland. I enjoy that type of, 50 degrees, cloudy, breezy, playing on the grass. That's kind of the way it's supposed to be and I think Pittsburgh is the same thing.
(on catching the Steelers at the right time due to their injuries)
I don't know that there is such a thing with them, I thought we had them at the right time last year and they beat us at our place so there is another history lesson for us. Their quarterback didn't play, I think we played against their third-team quarterback, we knocked the second guy out I think. I didn't watch the game yet, but we played against the third and we lost so I don't think we will ever look it at that way with them. To me they are a team that no matter who is…they draft very well there. They do a great job in the organization, from the time I played there it seems like you are playing a 3-4 defense, the names have changed but when you turn on the tape it hasn't. Obviously, they want their best players playing, but as far as we are concerned, it's going to be tough no matter who is healthy and who is not.
(on Ben Roethlisberger's health)
I don't know the extent of what happened with him at all. Guys are walking off in boots these days, we have guys that have them on all the time so I don't know. I'm sure we will hear by the end of the week, but we all know what he has accomplished and what a great player he has been in this league and how he has played with injuries, so we are assuming he will be healthy and ready to go.
(on if he plans on getting Donnie Avery more snaps this week)
We'll try to, the goal will be to get him more plays. Again, we had a day yesterday where we had 50 plays I think of offense because of the big plays. When you have this happening it's good and bad. It's nice to go 80 in one play, we will take that, but the problem is the defense goes right back out there and defense scored for us so the defense goes back out there. We ended up having a lot of big plays, but not a lot of offensive plays so we were productive with the plays we had. I think at halftime we had 22 plays and 21 points. We will take that, but that means the defense is going to play a lot longer that day. That's kind of what happened in Jacksonville but we didn't get the points.
(on if Gerald McRath may return this week and how Will Witherspoon did filling in that role)
He did well, he is playing good. Will (Witherspoon) is doing really well and that's the nice thing about him is his versatility, when he has been asked to move a few times now he has done very well. He is playing good, been making plays, had another big hit on third down I think in this game, an interception last week, so he is doing a lot of good things well for us. (Gerald) McRath, again the same thing, after not seeing him since Saturday we will see how he is come Wednesday as far as practice time what he can do.
(on if this team has established the identity that he wants it to have)
Ultimately we just want to win, whatever it takes to win. Like you see hanging on the wall there, 'doing it the right way', 'being a pro', 'know what to do and do it,' that's kind of everything we do here. I want our identity to just be tied into that, we know what to do and we go do it on Sundays. You watch the tape and its consistency, we work hard, we are playing together, we believe in each other and that should show in how we act and those kinds of things. When you do that and you have success, I think guys really start buying into that. We are 25 precent in so we know we have a long way to go and if we keep doing what we have been doing, get better every week, which we have been in certain areas improving every week, that's what you want to see. I think from the first game on you have seen improvement in this team, in our individual play and as different groups playing better as we win and making plays. That's encouraging to see and I think it encourages the players and they realize that we put them in good conditions to be successful.
(on if he will remind his players to act classy on the sideline and reflecting on the terrible towel stomping incident of 2008)
I don't think I have to, I hope I don't have to. That's not something I'm concerned about with this group and even going back to that, I don't think any of that was meant in any negative way. Things are always taken out of context and I think that was just something that was more of a spur of the moment kind of thinks and something that got more negative play than it should have. Between this organization and Pittsburgh, we are very respectful of what they have accomplished in a big way and the championships they have won, that's why we know how hard this is going to be let alone going into Pittsburgh and having to beat them.
(on if Nate Washington's commitment to detail and meetings this season is helping his on-field production)
You answered the question right there. You look at something and you wonder if you want to change, and he made a decision he wanted to change the way he used to do things because he wants a different result. It seems like he has done that because he is getting a different result. He has probably caught as many balls, I don't know the stats but he is way ahead of where he has ever been. He is playing very well so I'm assuming that's the way he dedicated himself to the season and that's a good thing to hear.
(on if losing to the Steelers' third-string quarterback at home last year was a good lesson for the Titans)
I think that's a good lesson like when we talked about other teams. It doesn't matter, just like we found out the opening game, we found out we were playing against a young quarterback that was getting one of his first starts and we lost. We don't get caught up, I don't think we did then, I don't think that's why we lost by any means, I don't think that's why we didn't play as well, it just shows you it does not matter who lines up against you, you can lose, they can beat you. The media or the public perception is, 'man so and so is not playing, that means we win,' it doesn't work that way. There are some awfully good football players that a lot of people have never heard of that can step in and do a great job. That lesson is learned every week in the NFL when someone that people don't really know that well steps up and has a great game. People just assume that they can't do that and that's when you make those mistakes. No matter who lines up in those Pittsburgh uniforms, it's going to be very hard, physical, tough game and tough to win on the road.
(on who gets the credit for the lack of hits Matt Hasselbeck has taken)
It always goes to all of them, it's the same thing for offensive linemen. You get too much credit when you only have four sacks in four games, and you get too much blame when it's the other way. If you watch each play when there is a sack, yes, the quarterback is a huge part of it and the timing with the receivers and that they run the right routes so that the quarterback can get the ball out of his hands. Matt (Hasselbeck) does a great job of making quick decisions so that is definitely going to help in the sacks, but again the line has to do their job to make that happen so there is a lot of moving parts. The running back has pick-up in all the protections, so does he get his block, and then the tight end. It goes on and on. It starts with the line and the quarterback and far as getting us in the right position and being the right people. That's a credit to them because we passed a lot, we have kept them from getting hit a lot, and the credit goes to that whole group.
(on how Matt Hasselbeck's ability to hit receivers in stride has helps the passing game)
That's huge, the fact that he is so accurate with the ball and putting it in great spots. Look at the one (Jared) Cook caught, and they are great catches and these guys are reaching for balls as they are running with them. The (Craig) Stevens catch a week ago for the long completion, he has done a nice job with it and it makes a big difference. There are going to be some balls that aren't accurate, and he needs them to make plays for him. **