HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on if the kicking game has exceeded expectations this season)
Well I think they both have done very well. Directional kicking, kicking through the end zone, Rob (Bironas) has done a good job with the kickoffs and obviously with the field goals and the length of the field goals. It gives us a lot of confidence to kick the ball aand to kick 50 yarders. A lot of times the concern is where we would give the other team the ball if he misses it, so I think he has had a really, really good year. Brett (Kern) is the same way with the punting. He has had some great punts, some great directional punts, and the coverage has been good. I think special teams overall has had a really good year.
(on Rob Bironas's accuracy and his only long-range miss being from 66 yards)
That's his fault too because he told me that day that he could make that one so I gave him a shot at it before halftime. He is huge weapon. Every game I am always talking to him and he is always honest other than that one game when he told me he could hit from 65. He is very honest with what he can make, during the game I am talking to him quite a bit and Alan (Lowry) is talking to him. He is very helpful even on kickoffs with which way he likes to kick with the wind and then with me where to go for it and to not go for it. Where he can hit it from is very helpful. I think his honesty is more than anything that if he does think he can kick it from certain spots. There have been games where you will be in a spot and he will say no and you do something different. It's a great weapon to have, you hope you don't have to kick too many field goals but obviously it's great to have one that you can count on.
(on the line between playing tight and playing controlled but loose)
Well that's where a guy like Matt (Hasselbeck) comes in handy on the offensive side of the ball is that you have someone that has been there and that has played in big games. This is really no different than last week in that we know what we have to do and we have to win. We did that last week and we played pretty loose and we didn't play uptight and I think that showed by having no penalties in the game for the first time. Hopefully we can carry that forward in this game. I think the guys realize the game but I think they handled themselves well last week and hopefully that will carry through to this one.
(on how J.J. Watt has been so impactful this year)
He just plays with such a high motor. I was real impressed with him in college watching him on tape and getting to meet him. You meet that guy and you watch him play and you want him on you team. It was one of those where they draft a guy and you know that you are going to have to play him twice a year when I saw the Texans got him during the draft. I really liked him. I liked how hard he plays, the energy level. He is a (Kyle) Vanden Bosch kind of guy, a bigger version that plays every snap as hard as he can play it. He can play multiple positions. They can use him where they are using him, they can use him as a stand-up guy. There is just a lot of versatility and he is a smart kid. He is everything you want and he is showing it by the contribution he is making in the short time this year.
(on who is responsible for Arian Foster coming out of the backfield as a receiver)
The linebackers are the guys that have to keep an eye on him and I guess that ties to their scheme in that you get so caught up in their run game and the boots and that's what happens sometimes. We are not the only team that has dropped some coverage on them, but we got hurt big time twice on big plays where we dropped some coverage and lost track of them for the one that was 75 or 80 yards. We know that we can't give up plays like that. It shows you how good he runs in the open field. I think that he had the same type of play against Tampa Bay a couple weeks later that he did against us. He has really been a great player for them and we have to shut him down in a big way not only in the run game but also catching the ball.
(on if he is still learning to be a head coach)
I feel that I'm learning as I go. I think I feel more comfortable knowing what I'm supposed to do most games but every game is different it seems like. Sometimes it gets started in the first quarter and there are a lot of decisions and sometimes it lasts until the fourth quarter. I think the more you do it that calmer you feel about it and the decisions that come up and the more I think ahead to what may happen. I get more used to our players and what we can and can't do really as far as in key situations. All of that has been helpful for me and the more I do it the better I will get at it. Like I said, I grade myself and keep track of what I'm doing right and things that I may miss during a game that I have to look for next game. Getting to know the officials, you have to play a little game there knowing what they are calling that game, to handle it when you are talking to them, what they are looking for. They are very helpful during games and that's an interesting side too because I have never really had to deal with officials before or during a game so it's been interesting in that respect too.
(on if he seeks advice from members of the staff that have been head coaches before)
I feel good with all of the rules, I feel that I'm on top of all of those things. It's more of a situation where you are wondering, 'alright, if I do this here, is this the right way to do this and how much time you will I have left.' Jim Skipper is real good with all of those situations so he is a guy that I will talk to on the staff every so often. Mac (Dave McGinnis) is definitely more for in the heat of the battle what's happening as far as did he catch it or did he not catch it. He is on all of the lines with me. He is the guy trying to get the copy so I can make a quick decision when they do show him stuff. I have a good group of guys I can go to if I need to but a lot of times it's just something that happens quick and it's just a real quick decision. Sometimes it's something that I'm thinking ahead like a four-minute drill or a two-minute drill and I will talk to Chris (Palmer) and see what his thinking is on the two-minute plan.
(on a 17-week season almost being over)
It's hard to believe. At one point in the season you can't wait for it to end and the next part you are hoping that you have more. I think that's where we are at right now. When you get into the last game of the season you can see the difference between this year and last year at this time when we were getting ready for Indianapolis knowing that the season had been over for a while. In this one we really have something to play for and we have a great shot at getting ready for next week's game. I think there is a lot of excitement with that and how we are preparing and how they are working, so hopefully it will show on Sunday.*
(on if he needs to deliver a message on Saturday night or if the importance of the game requires no extra motivation)
So much has been said all year that week's like this you try to do most of your talking during the week and let it tail off as you get to the end of the weekend. We all know what's at stake for us and what we can control and we have to win and get to 9-7. They know what's at stake, they know what they have to do, now it's just a matter of going out and doing it.
(on the guys that are potentially playing their last game under contract)
It's one of those things to me that may come up during the week in your mind with talking to someone or on Thursday night when guys go out to dinner or get together you start to think of all the 'what if' stuff and that's fine. Once you get to Sunday all of that stuff is gone and once we get the pregame meal and you get on the bus to go to the game that stuff is gone. If you love playing the game then that stuff will take care of itself on Monday. On Sunday when it starts I think that's the last thing on any guys mind who is a free agent if it's a coach or a player or anybody. You can pick up that problem a couple of days later, but I don't think it should ever factor into how things go on a Sunday.
(on having a successful first drive of the game)
Well I think the big thing about the first drive was, like you said, we got two or three first downs and we punted and backed them up inside the five and that led to the short field and the touchdown like you said. It was efficient that way but it's huge. In this kind of game we need to come out and do something positive because you can help yourself that it's in the back of your mind that they beat you 41-7 last time and we know how explosive they can be and believe me, they are not buying into who is playing and who is not playing and a rookie quarterback and all of that stuff doesn't mean a whole lot to us. We have lost to a lot of young quarterbacks over the years. I think we all know what we are capable of doing and we know that it's going to be a tough game so we need to come out and set the tone early on our side of the ball, either the offense, defense, or special teams.