HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on if he has chosen who will start at quarterback against Arizona)
Today we are working against ourselves. Tomorrow we will start Arizona, so tonight we will figure out playing time and what our plans are. Tomorrow we will start installing for game week against Arizona. We will make our decision tonight.
(on if he will make a decision on quarterback for just Thursday or for the season)
We will talk about that tomorrow.
(on if he has to make up his mind on who will start as quarterback at this point)
I think reps always help, just continuing to get reps and working. I know the quarterback [position] is what is on everyone's mind, but there are a lot of other positions that are in the same [situation] and we try to get different guys together. Reps can always help. You have ideas on what you think is best, but ultimately you want to let things play out as long as you can and make the best decision for the team.
(on what his gut decision on the quarterback position will be)
I never said it would be a gut decision. I said it's always part of it. I think when you are projecting players on what you think is going to happen from what you see, you have to have a feel for what you are doing and why you are doing it. So that is something I will explain to you all and I will explain to them.
(on when he must name a starting quarterback)
The latest is obviously game week, the first week. We have done that before, but I don't necessarily think we will do that.
(on the positions with the most depth that are the hardest to cut)
The defensive line. We want to keep it to nine or 10. The DBs, the corners, the safeties. We will keep eight or nine there. The receivers, depending on what is going on with Kenny Britt. Is it six and not just five? So, there are questions there. The whole line is the eight or nine question. At quarterback, you can carry two if you want to. Last year, we carried three. There are a lot of spots that you can consider, but all those kind of spots. Linebackers and special teams. Is it seven or is it six? That's kind of what you are looking at, because you start putting your thoughts together on the board.
(on how the quarterbacks did today)
From what I could see, they did well. We put them through a lot of situations. A lot of fourth down periods with some last play of the game [situations]. Trying to convert third downs, offense and defense will continue at that. So we had a good third down period. We did move the ball at the end. We did move the ball with no huddle. So, we did a lot of team reps. I saw some good throws, some pressure. It was a little bit of a mixed bag for everybody.
(on how stressful the quarterback competition has been)
Just like anything that part goes with the game. It is good that people are so interested in what's going on and our team. Last year it was the running back. this year it's the quarterback, next year it will be something different. You will always have some issue that is going to be front and center. It's nice when the quarterback position, this is such a big position, is something to talk about.
(on if this is a drain on the team)
I don't think it is. Like we said from the beginning the positive thing is that these guys are great teammates and great players and guys that they all like being around and playing with. So I don't think it has been draining because it hasn't been a negative campaign in anyway nor has it taken away from the team or what we are trying to accomplish. The fact they have worked with all the receivers, tight ends, the line, that has been very helpful. Some of them feel like they haven't worked with certain people so that has played out good. So no I don't think it has been at all. I think people want to move forward and we are reaching that point with that position and a couple others.
(on would it be tough to explain to Locker why he's not the starter)
I think it will be hard for both guys. The bottom line, they both are competitive and they both can play. We feel we can win with both guys. It is just the matter of which one is best. Either way someone is going to be disappointed. At some point they either one will be disappointed and hopefully they can move on knowing that in this league they can play at any time. Jake found that out last year, he was called into duty the last month of the season quite a bit. So you just don't know how it will play out so you still get ready to play even though it's not what you want but both will be very good in their way and help each other quite a bit just like they do on the sideline during the preseason games. They want to win and do well. They root for each other when they are not in there, so I think that will continue.
(on if he think Locker's performance was affected by thoughts of make it or break it)
I don't know. We talked about the game and watched it. There are a lot of things that you can turn a lot of ways in games. He made mistakes early but came back and made better decisions later on when he had the same decision to make. Like when he took off and ran, after we converted on a third and eight and had a first down and we had a penalty on holding and now we are third and 18, there was no one open and he got enough yards for us to make the field goal. He made good decisions after he made a couple of bad ones. I think you can find the positive in a lot of things and you want to see how guys handle struggling. Like today he had a couple bad practices and how he bounced back. I think that is another part of the equation. You have to look at the quarterback spot for both of those guys and other positions. In this league you are going to have some days and games that will not start the way they want them to. You hope you have less of those than a lot of those but you have to learn how to deal with that too.
(on Darius Reynaud pushing to be a returner on special teams)
I think he is pushing obviously and there is good competition there, I think that is a good thing. He has made some good plays when he had the ball in his hands so he is pushing a lot of areas.
(on more optimism about the run game now)
That is why you don't weigh in too much of anything. You want to have success anytime you step on the field, but you don't want to read too much into the success you have because there are a lot of factors that go into a preseason game that isn't challenged like the regular season. So you still want to have success and you want to see guys doing good things which we saw in this game. So you take the positive for what it was. It was a positive night. We saw some good things and again you hope that it translates over to the beginning of the season that we continue that on. Doesn't mean it's going to but it's a good sign when you go into a game and win. It's about winning. You want to win every rep you play and there is a game where we won a lot of our reps and we had less negative plays and we got something going, which you hope that once guys get that feeling there is hope for the season.
(on if the schedule will be a factor in deciding the starting quarterback)
I think it's something that has factored in. I think there are a lot of factors in that decision. Is that something you consider? Sure. You look at how it's going to start, and you look at matchups a lot. But that's not by any means going to be a deciding factor. That's going to be something you're going to think about, and decide if that is a factor or not, how strong it is of one. But that's just one of many things we're kicking around—the different what if's you consider.
(on what Colin McCarthy does particularly well that allows him to come down with interceptions in games and practices)
He's one of those guys that just has a feel for the game. You say that he's got natural, good instincts. It's something you can't coach. I think that's what he has. He just finds a way to get himself in the right spot without people realizing he's in that spot, especially quarterbacks. He reaches for balls they don't think he can get. He has a knack for putting his helmet right on the ball. A lot of guys just can't—they can make a tackle 100 times and not do that. He's got a knack for doing it pretty well. It's just one of those things that makes him a little different than the others.
(on what advantage Tommie Campbell and Robert Johnson's height gives him in the secondary)
I think it's good for matchups. You're seeing what happened in two of our games, where Tommie (Campbell) was involved in one of them for a jump ball. You would hope that that would help you in a lot of those situations, especially in the red zone where you have guys that can matchup with the bigger receivers. It seems like the receivers are getting bigger and bigger every year. That's always a help, but to me, the bottom line is it still comes down to making plays. Some guys have a knack for knocking that ball out, like we just talked about (Colin) McCarthy. Some corners are going to do a great job with their hands. They have quick hands and knock that ball out better than others, even though they are taller. Physically, they match up better, the fact that they can get there and press receivers at times and do some things that maybe the smaller guy can't do. So I think it just gives them a little more matchup issues at times, it may be beneficial. Having more physical players is always helpful to have guys like that on your roster that can match up with receivers every week.
(on if Ryan Mouton's ability to play in the slot gives him an edge)
Yeah, it does. He's a nifty guy. I think he plays pretty well. Again, shows up on special teams also. Coty Sensabaugh is coming on quick. We feel he can do certain things too. You've got a nice mix of guys that have some of that versatility. We talked earlier about cuts and making decisions on how many you keep. That's some of the problems that we have. We have some guys that have stayed healthy, which has been good, at certain spots. There are going to be some tough decisions to be made. It comes to how much can we play them? Just like we're talking about quarterback, we have a lot of spots there we're trying to figure out—who gets what reps in this next game or so to make decisions that we have to make.
(on if Thursday's decision for starting quarterback could have bigger implications)
I think we just plot our next step going forward in a lot of the spots, making sure we're all on the same page. Just like we did last week as far as officially starting Jake (Locker) for last week's game and just kind of talking through, 'OK, we're going to start him. OK, how much do we want to play him? Who else do we want to play?' That kind of stuff, looking at your combinations. We do the same stuff on defense. 'Well, OK, we started (Derrick) Morgan last week.' We start thinking about nickel. We kind of go through it so we have a plan so we can figure out a practice schedule and how we're going to do things. This game being more of a game-plan type of game, we'll spend an extra day on Arizona. So we'll do all those things this afternoon after we're done with practice.
(on if the quarterback decision is the biggest he has had to make since becoming head coach)
I don't know. Obviously, those fourth-and-ones are tough decisions. Sometimes, taking the ball and kicking it is a tough decision. I think it's just one of those decisions that comes with the job. I don't feel like I am the guy that is making [the decision] all by myself. I feel like I am a big part of it and I have to feel good about it for the team. When we draft a guy, it's a big decision. When we drafted Jake Locker or Kendall Wright this year, those were big decisions that we made in the last two years of the draft. This is just one of many that, hopefully, we will get right.
(on if he expects Zach Brown to start Thursday)
I think we will continue to work with him. I don't know right now if we will start him or not. I think he started in some packages. I think he started a little bit in the nickel package last week or got in soon. He was in there in the first quarter. Those are the things we will sit down and figure out, like does he need more reps or let's work with him here, or we are ok with Will Witherspoon and he has had plenty of reps, so let's put Zach Brown in there. Those are those kind of situations we go through tonight as far as open spots and getting guys in soon, or maybe even start a guy like we did with Robert Johnson last week. Even before Jordan Babineaux had his shoulder going out, we wanted to see how that rotation went. I think you are seeing us do that a lot throughout the team and probably even more on Thursday night.
(on Zach Brown's growth at linebacker )
I think Zach Brown is getting better every game. He's one of those guys that has to keep playing like he has been. He had six or seven tackles last week. He is tackling on the line of scrimmage well. Does he need improvement? Yeah he does, but I think so far things haven't been too complicated for the young guys like they were last year. I think he has been doing well. We are happy with how he has been playing.