HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on still being alive for the playoffs in week 17)
I think we are excited, we needed to play well. It was out last home game and like a playoff game for us. There is a point in the season where if you lose you are definitely out and we finally reached that point yesterday (Saturday). We responded well and played a good solid football game. I think that it creates some energy that we are in this thing and all we care about is that we have to win. We have to go 9-7 this weekend down in Houston and we can't control anything else but that. We talked about it last week that we knew we had to win both of these games and we are halfway there. I think it adds a lot of excitement when you are still in the conversation going into the last week of the season. We can all wish that it was easier and we controlled our own destiny but it's not, and it is what it is. We have a chance to go 9-7, so let's go do that and see what happens.
(on potentially playing the Texans two weeks in a row if the Titans make the playoffs)
We have to throw everything we have. We know what happened last time we played them. We didn't play very well and they beat us pretty soundly at home. That was our worst home loss to a division team also. We have to do everything it takes to win. Our situation, like other teams that are shooting for this last spot, we can't save anything for six days from now or a week later. We hope that we have that problem, that we have to reorganize for that one. We will take that gladly. We are going to do everything it takes to win it and have a great week. We can't worry about what their situation is and what they may do or what they may not do, that is their decision and their deal. Ours is that we have to go down there and win a big football game.
(on the schedule this week)
They were off yesterday for Christmas and they came back today like a normal Monday so we are in normal week mode. It worked out great where we were able to win the game, put that aside and enjoy Christmas with their families and have the rest of the day and all day yesterday off and back today. They will be off tomorrow and we will start a normal Wednesday. This will be a normal week for us and it's exciting and it should be. We still have a great shot we feel and we still have a chance at a very good football season no matter how it shakes out and we would like to finish with a nice big win in the division.
(on if he told the players about the 2006 season when the Titans needed a bunch of help and the only game that kept them out of the playoffs was their own)
Well I think that guys like to hear that people have been through similar circumstances and have come out of the other end in a positive way. It still comes down to how you handle the situation. We talked last week about Green Bay and how they needed to win their last two games last year plus they needed help. They didn't control their own destiny and they went on to win about 20 games in a row or so. I think that they see that and I think a lot of people forgot that, the situation that they were in last year with two games left and it worked out for them. That's a nice story here and like you said, the Titans five or six years ago had an opportunity with a lot of what ifs and most people probably sat there and thought the chance of that happening were slim to none, and if we had won against New England than it would have happened if you look at it that way. As it turned out, a lot of things happened that week that meant we could have been in the playoffs if we had won our football game. It's a good example of just win your football game and don't worry about everything else because you have no control over all of that other stuff. I think you talk about those things to realize how it could happen but I think guys are smart enough to know how important this game is for a lot of reasons. It's out last regular season game of the year and guys want to play well. You always want to win your last game no matter what it is. If it's for the playoffs or even if it wasn't, you want to win that last football game and it means a lot. It won't take much to motivate them going to Houston against a team that we didn't play very well against last time. There are a lot of things out there and we just have to go win and not worry about anything else as far as what the Texans are doing or what other teams are doing. Ut matters what we are doing and can we go win this football game.
(on the health of the team)
Well in the game Jason Jones had an ankle and it's hard to tell Monday where some of those are, but we have an ankle there and (Lavelle) Hawkins had an ankle also. I didn't see Jason today but he was walking around pretty good. It's just a matter of seeing how those guys are. Overall, I think we are decently healthy and (Gerald) McRath has a chance to get back and help us out maybe this week so we will see how he is as we get into Wednesday and Thursday. A lot of those guys are going to be questionable until we see how they respond. I'm sure CJ's (Chris Johnson) ankle is a little sore after playing so much on it the other day. We will probably take it easy on him for a couple of days and hope that most of these guys are ready by Friday.
(on reflecting back on the first game against Houston this year)
Like I said, I think what happened was the defense played very well in the first quarter and got us three stops and the offense couldn't take advantage of great field positions. I always believe that if you make a play there when the defense got off the field at least two or three times in a row with maybe a field goal, I think it was 3-0 going into the second quarter and we had three shots at really good field position where I think we had a turnover, we had a penalty, and they were things that we hurt ourselves with where we could have advanced and got points on the board. I think if we did that in that game then it would have been a whole different outcome. We didn't and then on the defensive side all of the sudden we blew some coverage and we gave up some big plays on defense and we just kind of all contributed to it and didn't play very well. We are a lot better than that right now in terms of handling it when things don't go well. If our offense is struggling then our defense would have done a better job of hanging in there and finding ways to win playing 60 minutes. That's what I remember about the Houston game and that and the Pittsburgh game were real similar in that fashion. Those are games that we let get away when we had an opportunity early to play better and then they just outplayed us after that.
(on what Jared Cook is doing differently to become more involved in the offense)
I don't know that it's all him, I think it goes to who you are playing against and how they are playing you, how they are covering you, what the matchups are, and then it comes down to how he is playing. Is he getting open? Is he running his routes right? Is he reading coverage right? There are a lot of factors that go into it and believe me, we are trying to get guys the ball. Just like when Kenny (Britt) was the guy the question was, 'why isn't Kenny getting more balls?' You can't get the ball to everybody. You try to do what's right and sometimes coverage dictates. We know what a good player he is. I think since the first day Chris Palmer came in here and in the first press conference he had I think he is the first guy he talked about. I think there has been an emphasis to try to get him the ball. When the smoke clears, I think he may have a chance to be our number one receiving tight end of all time for a season. Things are trending the way where it's either feast of famine with him more so than anything. It just a multiple of factors where some games for whatever reason the ball, and it doesn't mean that we are not trying to get him the ball, there could be things about what Cookie (Jared Cook) is doing and what he is not doing, the quarterback getting a read wrong, how they are covering, it's all of those things going into the equation.
(on if he is surprised to be alive in Week 17 given the circumstances at the beginning of the season)
I think we would be happy, but I think our thinking from the beginning was playoffs and we thought that anyway. I have said before, because of the talent that I knew we had in this room, I didn't know at the time how the rookie class would be. No one could have predicted the way they helped us this year but I think that we felt because we were 5-3 at one point last year with a lot of the same people that there was no reason to think that we couldn't be competitive right away and that was before we got (Matt) Hasselbeck and Jake Locker. I felt that once we did those things I would think 9-7 or 10-6. Without looking down the schedule and saying this one and that one, I think when the smoke cleared, you would think that would be enough to be a Wild Card team, but not winning the division I don't know. I think we have been thinking that is a good season, then you look at it and you always want more. If we sit here now and say 9-7, well would sit here and say, 'well we should have won that Indy game. We should have beat Indy, we should have beat the Saints, the Cincinnati game, we had that with a 10 point lead.' All of the sudden you realize that…but every team could do that. Most teams could do that every year. We are what we are, we earned what we are going to get, and we are hoping that it's 9-7 and we will build off of this. Hopefully this is a playoff opportunity for us but we will see.
(on how Chris Johnson's ankle held up during the game)
I think he felt OK. I didn't ask him but we thought there was nothing of obvious concern and we didn't feel that there was anything that he couldn't do in the game. It didn't affect play calling or how much he played, so I think that meant he was doing pretty well with his injury. Was he 100 percent? I don't know, I think that nobody on the field was 100 percent on Saturday on Week 16. I would imagine that he worked through it pretty good and I think overall he wasn't limited.