Coach Munchak's Wednesday Practice Report

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HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

(on whether this is the one game remaining on the schedule the Titans have to win)

Well you start with that one because it's the first one, but we know, playing all the division games are going to be tough.  We already lost two out of the three of those the first time around.  So we know we've got our work cut out for us.  We're happy we put ourselves in position the last two weeks and won two games that (made) these games mean a lot more.  This one, obviously, means the most right now.  We know how good of a team they are, how hot they are right now, how well they're playing.  The good news is they're playing here at our place, so we can take advantage of our crowd and hopefully that'll help our defense slow that offense down.

(on the enthusiasm he sees from the team compared to a few weeks ago )

I think they're excited.  I think the fact that they've known, for us, like I said last week, we were kind of in the … The games we've had the last two weeks have been like playoff games for us.  We knew that if we lost either one, we were pretty much in trouble as far as playoffs unless we just got a lot of help.  We felt that the teams we played were in the same boat, so we felt like they were mini-playoff games anyway, games that we had to win—the one in Buffalo—they needed it and we needed it; the Tampa game.  Now this one gives us a chance to start positioning ourselves and have a chance at the end to be in the playoffs.

(on the effects on the Saints of not playing outdoors recently)

They practice outside, so I never saw it as a big deal.  I thought people made more out of that.  I think that's something people look for some stat to throw out.  The bottom line to me is they're 3-3 on the road.  Usually, when you go in before a season starts, you sit there and go, 'Well, if we can go 8-0 at home and we split on the road, go 4-4, then we have 12 wins,' and you're pretty happy about that.  I think they're kind of doing exactly … They're undefeated at home, and they're 3-3 (on the road).  So they're kind of going on the plan, but I don't think it matters where they play.  There's no doubt playing indoors for offense is a little better situation because the elements are perfect conditions, but they're a great team no matter where they play.  We know that.  The advantage we have is they're playing at our place, with our crowd and our enthusiasm.  We're hoping that's the advantage we pick up in this game.

(on the importance of the running game to keep the ball away from the Saints)

You do, but we can't just keep the ball.  We've got to score points.  I think against Detroit they had the ball 20 minutes and they scored 30-something points.  So they can score quickly from anywhere.  We know that.  But definitely, offensively, we need to stay on the field and do things, but we just can't blow opportunities because you only get so many times with the ball when you play a team like this.  You have to be productive when you have the ball.  Yeah, we want to stay on the field, but we also have got to score touchdowns to put pressure on them.

(on whether 30 points will be necessary to win the game)

Well, you would assume you would.  You'd assume you'd have to score probably more points than we have in a while to beat a team that's playing as well as they are.  But again, I don't think you thing about those things.  I think you just think that, 'You know what? We go out and play our best, and that will happen.'  The old 'we know we have to score one more point than they do somehow.'  Maybe we keep them down, maybe it's a physical, defensive struggle or that kind of thing.  Who knows?  But the bottom line is we're assuming we're going to have to score more than 17 points to beat this team.

(on if he thinks the New Orleans secondary has been their Achilles' heel this year)

I don't know.  They're hard because they make plays.  They're not making as many turnovers as they have in the past when they've had leads so they've been able to take more risks.  Gregg (Williams) is going to be a little more gambling, put himself maybe in some tough spots if he blitzes so you've got some of those guys in tough spots.  He does a good job of seeing how the game's going and making decisions on how aggressive he wants to be.  So if you get yourself behind by two touchdowns, then he's going to be a lot more aggressive coming after you and trying to make plays on defense, and he'll take risks, the fact that maybe the back end isn't as secure as it needs to be.  That's just part of it.  He's been very successful doing it since he's been in New Orleans.  That's why it's important for us to stay in this game.

(on Matt Hasselbeck taking confidence from last year's performance in the Seattle-New Orleans playoff game)

You hope.  I think that's just a small thing.  I mean, the fact that, I think quarterbacks … That was Gregg (Williams) that he went against.  We're totally different teams.  It's a totally different situation.  But I think that when you have a veteran quarterback, there's no doubt they get comfort in the fact that they've gone against that type of scheme or that type of blitzing package.  I think that's what it is more than anything.  It's like when you play Pittsburgh.  If you've kind of been through it a few times, you kind of feel more comfortable because you understand what it's going to be all about on game day.  So ultimately, it's going to be different in a lot of ways, but I think he probably feels better knowing that he has an idea what's coming.

(on if he's hoping Nate Washington will be back this week)

Yeah  I think he's looking good.  He's walking without much of a limp today.  We're assuming that he'll be practicing by Friday and playing on Sunday.  This is real important to him.  You saw that last week when he kept coming back in the game.  Luckily he didn't hurt himself worse by doing that.  We assume he'll definitely suit up, and the question is how many plays can he play.  Maybe he can't play—he's been playing 95 percent of the reps—we may have to adjust that.  But I think he'll be able to contribute and play.

(on Jason McCourty)

He ran today, same thing.  So far he looks like he's progressing pretty well.  Same thing, hopefully he'll be able to do some more things tomorrow and then he'd have to pass the test on Friday, and we're assuming that those things will happen.

(on if based on film Drew Brees is the best quarterback the Titans will play this season)

You know, I hate to say someone's the best, but he's obviously one of the best in the league.  He's just a competitor.  The guy makes plays.  He runs around the pocket well, he buys time, he does all the things you want him to do.  He's special, no doubt about it.  Very accurate with the ball.  He's obviously … As he goes, that team goes.  They're fun to watch.  I mean, you watch them, you say, 'Wow! They're doing some really good stuff,' and they run the ball well.  It's not like (strictly) a passing attack.  They're one of the top 10 in rushing the football.  Even in the games they were behind, I mean, they're still handing the ball off.  They don't abandon the run.  They do a good job of sticking with it and being balanced, and I think it pays off for them.

(on the similarities between Gregg Williams' and Jerry Gray's defenses)

I think the philosophy is similar.  Personalities, obviously those guys are different.  Gregg probably blitzes a little bit more, tries to come up with some different types of attacks in certain games.  But we've played Gregg now … I've played Gregg when he was at Buffalo, when he was at Washington, when he was at Jacksonville, so we've faced him quite a bit as far as what he likes to do.  We're familiar with each other; he's familiar with what we do here.  You know, he's coached with Chris Palmer, he's coached with Jerry, he's coached with half our staff I think.  There's a lot of familiarity, but that only goes so far until game day.  Then it just depends how the game's going and when you call the right defense versus the right offensive play.  It'll be fun.  It's fun going against guys you know.

(on how much he and Gregg Williams talk)

During the season?  I talked to him a lot when this whole thing went on.  Like during the offseason, I talked to him quite a bit, off and on, and then obviously when we see each other at the combine and things like that.  But during the season, no, I necessarily haven't talked to him.

(on how much knowing Gregg Williams helps provide insight into what their defense will do)

Believe me, he just wants to win.  He wants to come in here and win.  That would mean a lot to him, coming in here and doing that, which it should any team.  But when the game starts, you're not really thinking about Gregg Williams anymore, you're thinking about just beating the Saints.  That just adds to it maybe after the game, or so that we can tease him after we beat them.

(on if he felt like Williams was a competitor for the Titans head-coaching job)

Nah, you know.  I assumed he'd interview for the job at that time, yeah.  Never really would look at him that way though (as a competition for a job).  But no, I think he'll be a head coach again at some point if he wants to be.  He's having success with what he's doing, and I think that's one of those things where, if you're enjoying what you do, keep doing what you're doing.  I think that's kind of what he's doing now.

(on the possibility of taking advantage of blitzes from Gregg Williams' defense)

You can, but I think you have to watch it.  He's not going to play every game the same.  He's like most good coaches are.  He's going to kind of see … He'll have a plan coming in and then see how it's going.  I mean, he has to be careful.  He doesn't want to give up a big play early, possibly, or maybe he's trying to make a big play.  There's no telling.  We've played him in games where he didn't blitz us much at all, and then we've played him other times and he blitzed us quite a bit.  So I think you just don't know.  You play Pittsburgh, you know you're getting blitzed every week, no matter who they play.  You play other teams, like Gregg, I think there are games where he's not quite doing that because he doesn't need to.  He's just going to do whatever is best to win the football game. If he thinks blitzing is going to get him that, then that's what he's doing.  He's just not going to do it just to be hard-headed.  I think he's smart in how he does things.  I think he does a good job of designing what he's going to do.  There's a method to his madness, but I think he's going to do ultimately whatever it takes to win the game.

(on the likelihood of Marc Mariani getting more reps at wide receiver due to Nate Washington's injury)

He would, like last week.  He'll definitely be suited up, so he'd play.  You'd have to think about (Donnie) Avery depending on how Nate is, so there's other options that you'd consider.  But like (what) happened last week, once Nate kind of … It was kind of at the end of the game, but I think Marc got about 10 more plays than normal, roughly, or somewhere around there.  There's no doubt.  We'll have to be smart with that rotation.  Even if Nate's feeling good, we have to be careful because you don't want to lose him in the first half because he's doing too much.

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