Coach Munchak's Sunday Press Conference

HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(opening remarks)

I will just say briefly that I think that we were all really excited and looking forward to playing a game last night.  It couldn't have come soon enough for all of us, for the players and coaches and the whole organization and probably the fans too, to just go play football.  I think when you watch the game from the sideline last night for me and now watching the tape, which was fun to watch, was seeing that excitement, was that energy level, was the tempo of the game.  I thought the guys really came out wanting to play, even though they knew they weren't going to play long periods of time.  When they did play, they played hard.  We showed it with the first drive.  The offense controlled the ball for the first 10 minutes of the first quarter.  We didn't get the points that we wanted, but I think we set the tempo of how we were going to play.  We were hustling to the ball, helping the ball carrier up, and doing a lot of the little things that is fun to watch in the beginning.  The defense all night long played hard.  They rallied well to the ball.  We had four or five guys hitting the ball carrier.  That is probably one of the biggest fears when you haven't tackled in so long since January and December for some of these guys.  We really did a pretty good job of tackling last night.  So I think those were the things going in that were fun to watch, with the offense coming out of the huddle with plenty of time at the line of scrimmage to make decisions.  I think as a coach that is the first thing that is nice to see that they want to play, they are playing hard, they are playing like it is really important and then to have the results of winning the game at the end and having a chance to play a lot of people and evaluate a lot of people, is just a huge bonus for us.  I'm just happy with the step we took.  We have been in camp for two weeks and it is nice to finally play someone else and have some success knowing that we have something to build on going forward.  It is nice to have something positive happen and just build on it for all the work we have ahead in the next three or four weeks.

(on Javon Ringer's fumble and whether that is a concern going forward)

No, I don't think you worry about those kinds of things.  Like I said, the running backs haven't been hit either.  These guys get thudded in practice, but it is different.  Just like for the quarterback, he doesn't have the red jersey on on Saturday.  He has to get a feel for OK I have to feel the pressure and get the ball out.  The ball was recovered luckily and it was all about the hustle with Jake Scott recovering the fumble down there which could have been a problem.  The other fumble was the play where … Ringer had nothing to do about that.  The ball hit the fullback and bounced back, so it was just a muff of a play that obviously cost us points.  Again the hustle to get that ball, so the offense retained it.  Those are the things that you want to avoid, those are the things that obviously took points off the board.  The defense kind of set the tone from there with the third-and-one and making a great play there and they actually lost a couple of yards.  Then the big two turnovers were huge and the good thing is the offense took the ball and capitalized with 14 points.  That is how you win games in this league is getting the ball back and when you do get it back, score.  That was one of the good things we did last night.

(on the number of penalties being way down compared to last year)

I didn't want to stress what we had done in the past.  Our numbers for penalties last year were way too high.  With this team here, I wasn't trying to stress last year we did this.  I kind of want to stay away from the comparison thing.  Yes, the first preseason game you look at those kinds of things.  The defense didn't have any penalties.  They played the whole game with zero penalties, which I don't know when the last time we did that was.  On offense we had a couple holding penalties that hurt us.  Those are tough penalties to get because they were both in the red zone.  Both times I think we got hurt from scoring points because of that.  Those things we have to be smart with our hands and what we are doing.  There weren't a lot of flags on the field, which was nice and I think that helped with the tempo.  Unfortunately, the first play of the game we were quick off the ball and it was probably a 10-yard run by (Javon) Ringer right from the beginning but Jake (Scott) was quick and that was that energy level just wanting to get off the ball.  He beat the snap count by just a tad.  I was curious about those things because you have new quarterbacks, new snap counts, and so the line is getting used to new people.  You are trying to avoid those and luckily we only had the one.  For the first game, that was a pretty good job.

(on if Jake Locker exceeded his expectations)

I think the exciting thing about him is that we hadn't seen him in a game yet.  Those plays last night, he had a guy open and he threw the ball high.  He could have had a nice completion on maybe his first throw, but then he comes back.  Even when he fumbled the snap, he picks it up and throws a touchdown pass.  He does a great job on his first completion on a third down, they bring a blitz to one side and a guy has a free shot at him, he ducks him and puts the ball to protect first, ducks him and then still completes the ball for a first down.  He did some things we were hoping he would be able to do under pressure.  Next week it will be another challenge when he goes against somebody else as teams start to game plan as we get into the second and third preseason games.  He will get a taste of some of the competition and other things.  We will be adding more concepts for him, for the whole offense, not just him.  I think you are happy with not only him, but I thought our rookies, we have been talking about these guys for the past couple 10 days.  They all contributed last night.  That is pretty rare to be standing here and be able to say that.  Your first-round pick went in a played well at quarterback, the second-round pick started at SAM linebacker and made some plays and showed himself to be very physical at the line of scrimmage.  Your defensive tackles, (Zach) Clayton gets a sack in the game, (Karl) Klug starts and made three or four good plays.  On that third-and-one he made a huge play on that.  Jurrell Casey makes a great play on the counter and pulls the ball from the running back and takes off running with it.  That class did a lot of good things last night.  (Byron) Stingily played at tackle and finished up at left tackle.  We had a lot of good things from that young group.

(on seeing the rookies play in practice translate to the game field)

That is what we talked about with these guys in the meeting here, is that as coaches we all stress that is don't change it up, use your techniques we have taught you.  Do the things that you know.  Just because we are playing at night and it is against someone else, don't change what you do.  Bring it to the game.  A lot of those guys did a nice job.  It's hard when you don't know how much you are going to play and when you are in and who you are playing with because we had a lot of different combinations going.  It is just a positive.  You win that game last night and it is just a positive thing going forward.  A win in preseason doesn't mean what we are going to do in the regular season, but it was nice to see these guys play well and play hard and the young guys step up and play pretty good.

(on Karl Klug being a little smaller in terms of defensive tackles)

He is great with his hands.  He plays three-technique and he is crafty with his hands.  There is no wasted motion with him.  You will be watching a play and think he is blocked, he is scrapping and the next thing you know he works down the line of scrimmage.  The first play of the game, the first run, he is being double teamed, the ball bounces to the outside and he is the guy that makes the tackle.  That third-and-one, two guys blocked him, he finds a way to split them.  He has a way of getting skinny.  He is one of those guys that is slippery; you can't get a great shot at him.  So far that is what we have seen in camp.  On tape you saw that a little bit in college.  We liked the way he worked and his motor.  Seeing him here the same thing, we weren't sure how quickly and how well he would do when he played against better players and he is showing that so far so good.

(on injuries in the game)

It was not too bad.  Dave Stewart got the hamstring there.  He didn't finish the last couple of plays with the first group.  That will be a day-to-day thing to see how he is doing.  Today we will find out more on these guys when they come in for treatment.  They are off today.  They will be in tomorrow.  (Javon) Ringer left with a hip, he got hit in the hip.  We think he is going to be OK.  I think that was about it; a lot of small things but nothing that should take someone out of playing next week other than those two and seeing how they do when we see them tomorrow.

(on what impressed him about the secondary)

I think in the first half we did exactly what we hoped; the offense was controlling the ball. In the second half, the defense seemed to be out there quite a bit, and they did a great job stopping the fourth-down. Twice, on fourth down, they stopped them down in the red zone. They were just playing hard. They were swarming to it, they were making plays, and they were putting pressure on the quarterback. We ended up, I think, having four sacks on the night. Jerry (Gray) was changing up some blitzing and some four-man rushes, and running some line stunts. We were getting their quarterbacks out of the pocket and forcing them to make decisions. Sometimes they made some bad ones; it helped us keep them off the board, and from making it a closer game at the end than it had to be.

(on what he saw from Matt Hasselbeck that convinced him he only needed to play one series )

I think from the beginning we thought he was going to play about 10 snaps. You know, 10-12, depending on if it was going to be two series to get that. We hoped it wouldn't take three series for that to happen. Like we said, our thinking was to get Jake (Locker) in there with the first-team line a little bit; knowing the first group was going to play about 20 snaps, which they did, so that didn't change. The good thing is that we started off with a 10 play drive and he made some great throws. I think he was 5 for 6, something like that. Other than the play with the missed hand-off, that obviously cost us points, and we have to avoid those things. He converted two or three times on third down, and that's what we want. So, we're happy with what we saw for a guy who has been in camp for nine days and learning a new offense. He ran it like he had been here for a long time. He got us in and out of the huddle like he's been doing. We had good tempo on that stuff, and we've been stressing that. He did exactly what he's been doing at practice, so it will be interesting as we go further, when he starts playing more together the next couple of weeks, to see how we do.

(on if he wants to implement a fast-tempo offense)

I do because I think it starts with practice. I think it helps the defense and it helped us as a team that those guys know they have to get ready fast. You get more plays off; I think it's been the practice mentality, which has made our practices sharper. We're finishing, at times, two minutes here, four minutes there, and all of a sudden we are done 15 minutes early for a practice. It gives them a lot more time at the line of scrimmage. We'll double-call plays at times. It gives the quarterback much more time to make a decision on getting us in the right play. We're not always in a hurry at the line of scrimmage. I think those things are important if you're not going to do the no-huddle, like some teams still do no-huddle, we think it will allow us to get more plays off. It's an advantage for the offense if the defense is substituting; they have to get things done faster. All of those little things factor in. It just kind of gets you in that mode of playing hard, quick, and fast, and we like that.

(on whether he will scale back the amount of practices with the players in pads)

No, we'll do the same thing. Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday of this week, we'll be back like it's training camp. Training camp mode for us, and we'll be wearing shoulder pads and doing some things. We need to continue to get better at certain things. Obviously we are going to continue to add some things to the offense and defense, working on some things that maybe we didn't do last night that we need more work on versus each other. Just having that competition, we need to go against each other, offense versus defense in drills, and get better in a lot of situations; maybe blitz situations, it could be four-down rushes, three-downs, all the things we know we are going to see at some point. Hopefully, even in this preseason, where teams will challenge us more with blitz packages and things on offense and defense. We'll just continue to work. These guys know there's three good workdays coming, and on Thursday we will start looking at the (St. Louis) Rams.

(on preseason performances affecting the plan to start Matt Hasselbeck at the quarterback position)

I think we're just taking it a week at a time, but we are assuming that it's going to be that way, that Matt will be the starter when the season starts. They both played well in a limited role last night. We'll move on to the next week and see how things go, but we are happy with the way it went. It couldn't have gone any better for us at that position, I think, for the time those guys were in. They have stuff to learn now from what they saw. They got blitzed a little bit last night and had to make some adjustments, which was good. What happened last night is what we expected to happen, and we will just continue going forward like we thought we would.

(on what Jake (Locker) would have to do to change his mind on the quarterback situation)

I don't know if there is anything necessarily that he'll be able to do. It would have to be something where we thought there was some reason that Matt (Hasselbeck) wasn't going to be ready to play. I think it's hard in preseason, at certain positions, when you're not playing a guy 60 snaps, to say you want to make a change; if someone went 9 for 10 and someone else went 3-10, that we should make a change. It's kind of hard to evaluate that, we just felt coming in that the way it's set up now is the way it's going to play out in the beginning of the season.

(on if the team's success in the running game eases concerns regarding Chris Johnson's absence from camp)

No. We know we need him here. Obviously, we are all optimistically hoping that it will be worked out long before we go to Jacksonville. We all know how important he is to this team, just like Kenny Britt not playing. We know we need Kenny Britt if we are going to go win this division. We know he's a guy that we need to be a part of it, same with Chris (Johnson). We want two guys that we know are going to contribute a ton to this offense to be here. Anything that happens, good or bad, in these games, doesn't affect how we feel about those players.

(on if Chris Johnson could come in a couple of days before the Jacksonville game and be ready to start)

Well, sure. I mean, we'll see that when the time comes if that would happen. I mean, yeah, could a guy come in and play? I've seen quarterbacks do it. We did it with Kerry Collins. Kerry Collins, I think, came in the day before the last preseason game and started the opener; he had never been in our huddle before that. Chris Johnson, at least knows what we're doing. He'd come in here and know exactly what we are doing pretty quickly. The only concern I ever had was, it's still hard when you're a running back, when you have not run plays, to get your reads right and to make quick decisions. I mean, I don't care how good you are. At any position, you need practice to be at the top of your game. For us, we wish he'd be here tomorrow so we could start. We'll see how it all turns out, but obviously he's special and he's capable of contributing in some way, right from the beginning, if he's here. **

(on Matt Hasselbeck giving him the game ball)

I was surprised. I brought the guys in, again, a lot of firsts for me, having to talk the team before the game and after the game. I just brought them up, I had finished what I had to say and was walking back. The players were getting ready to come together, and he (Hasselbeck) made the announcement that he we wanted to hand out the game ball, so I was looking around to see who he was going to give it to. It was nice, I mean, I think the fact that it was the first time we played and won; the fact that they wanted to give me the game ball and acknowledge me, like hey we're on the right track. It's something special, not only to me, but to all of us. This is our first win, even though it's just preseason, for all of us together. You know, 15 or 20 days together and we're on the right track. I think that's what it pretty much signifies, so it was nice.

(on where the Chris Johnson negotiations stand)

I've got my hands full with what I'm doing, coaching, doing the things here with the team and getting us ready to play, so yeah, Mike (Reinfeldt) has been dealing with that exclusively and I'm just waiting to hopefully hear  he is coming to town.

(on if Chris Johnson is studying the playbook)

I don't know that. If I had to guess I would say probably not. I know I wouldn't be if I had a book. People get a little over excited that someone has a playbook and they think that the guy is really going to have the offense down. Guys don't look at it, they put it in the back of their car until the day before they come back in. That's why a lot of teams don't give the books out, because they know the reality is that guys aren't studying it the way you think they would. He doesn't necessarily need book study, he need reps. He needs to be in the huddle, he needs to get to know the players, the quarterbacks are both new and he has never been around them. He needs to have an offensive line in front of him so he can get his reads and those are things he needs. That the book or assignments are not going to be a problem. For him it's just going to be getting reps and getting his legs used to those kinds of cuts and do the things he has to do in the NFL.

(on what kind of camp WR Justin Gage is having and the receiver position in general)

When all guys are younger you try to give them more opportunity to step up, because once the season gets started, those guys kind of loose their opportunity to show what they can do. This is the time when you want the young guys you have drafted, Damian (Williams) last year, (Jared) Cook when we went through his deal of having more reps to see what they can do and how they can contribute, how they respond in game-like situations. (Justin) Gage is doing a nice job. He is consistent, he blocked well last night. You know what he is all about and what he can add to the team. You are trying to get the younger guys in there over these few weeks to kind of see how they can contribute. Can they make a play for us when the ball is not perfectly thrown, can they run after catch, can they block for us, and you are trying to see all of those things in game-like situations.

(on if WR Lavelle Hawkins is one of the guys who will benefit from a clean slate)

I think so. I think Lavelle is just like the other young guys, they just need to show what they can do. That first catch was a great catch on the sideline there. He blocked pretty well last night, made a few other catches, so he had a nice night and the question now is what can you go get next week and the week after, and the next three weeks. That's what you are trying to see from the young guys, do they have that consistency where they can do it every night for us. That's what you are looking for in a lot of the young guys is how they step up and how they fit in and can they do it back-to-back.

(on getting talent out of players)

Well I think you do when they first come in. When Chris Palmer on the offensive side starts to dive into those guys, he gets a perception of what he sees on tape. These guys have only been with their coaches a little over three weeks, so we are starting to figure that out with some of these guys, and how they can fit into Chris (Palmer's) offense. The receivers, the tight ends and that type of thing is as coaches what we are still working on. What is the best fit? How do you put this puzzle together for Jacksonville? What can this receiver bring to the party, what can this guy do, and what can the tight end do. The same thing Jerry (Gray) is dong on defense. Jerry (Gray) is moving guys around on the back end, on the front end and just getting a feel for what is the best mix of how we are going to use our players. A lot of times when all of you are watching practice trying to figure out, 'hey what are they doing, are they moving this guy and that guy,' or 'hey, what's the depth chart,' and it's really more about the coaches are still in the learning level to see the talent level that these guys have and how they respond to playing in the game finally. It's the compiling of more data. Next week it's going to be on the road, a little more stress in the dome, maybe some crowd noise. How do we all respond there is the next thing. As coaches we are still doing that, and as a head coach we are doing that. We are evaluating the roster and trying to see who works best and who you can start trusting, and get ready for Jacksonville.

(on how the game went for him as a first-time head coach)

It went OK. There weren't a lot of stressful situations for me last night, not a lot of hard decisions. I was able to ease into it which was good. The first time doing anything, you are not quite sure how to respond so I just found myself a lot...just the communication for me between talking with the three coordinators. Especially keeping Alan Lowry the special teams coach in the loop. For example, when we got down in the red-zone a couple times, it was third down and I'm telling 'hey, we are going to give you two downs' because it was third down and we were going to go for it so Alan (Lowry) would know that we are not going to run the field-goal team out there on fourth down, we are going to go for it because we are on the 35-yard line kind of thing. The communication between me and the different coordinators was something that I had never been through before, so that was good for me to go through that. Little things, talking to the officials more than I ever have throughout the game and getting a feel for their positioning and who I need to reach for a timeout and those kinds of things and getting feedback from them throughout the game and before the game. That why I mentioned for me that these four weeks are important for me too for my strategy and my philosophy as far as managing a game and having help from the staff. Having guys up in the booth that I can count on, we didn't have an instant replay problem last night and at some point we will. We hope we do. I hope I have a lot of situations where we try to do it on the field in practice with two minute specials and calling timeouts, and four minute, getting through all of that, but it's a lot different when its game like. We have three more games to see how it goes, but I felt good last night, I felt comfortable doing certain things. It was different not coaching players. It was different not looking at the pictures and talking to the linemen and doing all of those things, but now that I am able to be involved in it all I can tell those guys "hey, maybe lets get so and so in the game' 'this guy has had enough reps' and I can have more say on those kinds of things and also be involved on both sides of watching the talent level.

(on if he gives input to Chris Palmer or Jerry Gray during the game)

I am going to let them do their job like I said from the beginning. I talk with Chris (Palmer) a lot more because that affects the field-goal team. I'm in tune with Chris (Palmer) a lot. I'm listening to both, occasionally I will add something important that Jerry (Gray) needs to know if I think it will help him, but for the most part, no, they are doing their thing. That's what they are here for and they don't need any micro-managing over the shoulder in that regard. But I'm going to give them information that I think could be helpful to them. If I'm going to put them in certain situations, I may tell Jerry (Gray) that 'hey we need a short field, we are going to go for this thing here so he understands what we are doing. Those kinds of things I will talk to him about, but overall he called a great game last night, those guys responded to what he did, and I think the defense did exactly what we hoped they would do. Even though it was their first time out there, they did a nice job at the line of scrimmage and tackling and no penalties and just a lot of fun to watch. Chris (Palmer) is the same way. Chris (Palmer) is calling the plays, and calling the game. I need to see how they do those things. I'm kind of sitting back too and seeing the flow of the game and how the coaches are working with each other and the guys up in the box. That's kind of the coaching end of what we work on. How do we make that better the next three weeks for the players. What changes do we need to make? So those are the things we are working on.

(on if the two coordinators will continue to stay on the sidelines)

They are, I think Jerry (Gray) definitely is. I don't think there's any question about that. I think that he likes to huddle up with the guys quite a bit, especially when he gets more into the real deal; when the guys are playing 60 snaps a game. I think Chris (Palmer) is going to stay on the sidelines, yes. I don't see that part changing; the only other change we could have is what assistants are up and what assistants are down; that kind of thing, but for the most part, both coordinators will probably stay down this year.

(on Matt Hasselbeck giving him the game ball)

I was surprised. I brought the guys in, again, a lot of firsts for me, having to talk the team before the game and after the game. I just brought them up, I had finished what I had to say and was walking back. The players were getting ready to come together, and he (Hasselbeck) made the announcement that he we wanted to hand out the game ball, so I was looking around to see who he was going to give it to. It was nice, I mean, I think the fact that it was the first time we played and won; the fact that they wanted to give me the game ball and acknowledge me, like hey we're on the right track. It's something special, not only to me, but to all of us. This is our first win, even though it's just preseason, for all of us together. You know, 15 or 20 days together and we're on the right track. I think that's what it pretty much signifies, so it was nice.

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