HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on how Jake Locker is approaching his first regular season start)
I think it will be fun as we go into the week and just sitting in the meeting with him and watching him listen to the game plan and have some thoughts and listen to what he thinks about what we're doing, and then tomorrow watching practice, I think I'll enjoy all that, asking him what he's seeing, what he's thinking. That way, I'll have a good feel for kind of how I think things are going to go and the plays he likes and kind of see how things are going to go during the week.
(on if he views the game as setting a tone beyond one game)
I think it's always—you've got to remember it's one game. There's no doubt we still have 15 tough games left after this one but the first one is always — for every team comes across as — bigger, especially when it's your first home one. Last year, even though our second game was our (first) home game that year, that's the one you really circle as the big one because that's the first time you're playing in front of the fans, playing at home and take advantage of what all that brings on game days. So, yeah, if you go play well, obviously, it could set a big tone. If you go out there and win a game like this and play well, then I think there's no doubt it could set the table for the rest, but on the other side of that, last year we didn't play so well but we came back the next week and made up for it. So, you can't put everything into one game. Obviously, all of our effort will be into this game and everything we're doing to prepare to go win this game, we're going to do what we can to do that, but ultimately, it's one game. It's obviously a big one, and you want to win every game but you can't put too much on it in case we don't play well, like we did last year.
(on if there is extra emphasis on avoiding an opening game with a loss)
We don't even talk about that. That's last year, this is this year. Things are so different than they were with our team, like we mentioned, our familiarity with each other, with the schemes, with each other as teammates and players, it's just so different having a full offseason. So, I think last year was a lot different, and we'll probably never experience something quite like that again, as far as what it was like trying to get ready for that game last year versus this year. We feel good about where we're at. There's no reason we should not be on the same page in all the things we'll be doing on Sunday, and nothing should hold us back. We'll go out there and play our best and expect to win when we play.
(on if it is possible to simulate the Patriots' no-huddle, fast-paced offensive looks in practice and give players the mindset to go against it)
You're never going to quite get in that pace out here. You're going to get used to what they like they do. Obviously, you can't see those things on tape. You do your best to get ready for it, and you have to see how well you adjust on Sunday. The main reason — thing — is (so) there's no surprises and you're expecting a quick-tempo game. It's no different when you play. We've played Indy all these years, with the same concept and again a mixture of both. Sometimes they're going to hurry. Sometimes they're going to take their time, so they're going to mix it in so you've got to be ready. It's not all hurry-up, but obviously if they're having success and having their way, then you're going to get a lot more hurry-up and if they feel they have (exposed) confusion or if they feel like they found something that they're exploiting, there's no doubt that they're going to speed up and keep attacking what they think is working, so, that's why they've been successful. They're good at it, and I know that we're just expecting a little bit of everything and there may be some things — I'm sure there will be some surprises — along the way too but I think the coaches will have them prepared. I think it's going to be exciting. I think having it at home is helpful with our crowd noise hopefully, especially when our defense is on the field, to kind of give them some trouble with all the things they want to do.
(on if he wishes the heat and humidity will stay through the game)
We're used to it, so, yeah, but I think, again, that's not something I ever talk about in front of the team, as far as it being an advantage or disadvantage. I just think you have to get ready and go play football and not worry about those things. Whatever it is, both sides have to deal with it. I think this weather just makes us in better shape as a football team, and hopefully, with our first game of playing 60 or 70 snaps, hopefully playing in hot weather will help us be in better shape in the fourth quarter and hopefully, if it's a tight game and we're trying to find a way to win.
(on what the Giants did well against the Patriots in Super Bowl XLVI)
Well, they controlled the game. It never got out of hand. They kept the scoring low, they kept control of the football, they did all the things that you put up on a board on Wednesday and say, 'Here's the things we need to do against this team as an offense,' and they did that. They got held to field goals, but they did drive the ball quite a bit and they did keep their offense off the field, and their defense, obviously, played physical and played good, got off blocks, didn't allow big runs after the catch. When they did catch the ball, they tackled them. This team, they are probably No. 1 in the league or in the tops, of getting yards after catch and making yards, so they're going to make plays, and we've got to put them on the ground, and that's the key. I think the Giants did all of those things and put themselves in position to win on the last drive.
(on if the team is moving toward one that looks forward to high-scoring games)
I think you've got to outscore them every week, right? We've got to score one more than they score, whether it's 10-9 or 14-13, obviously, we don't go in thinking we have to — we just look at it simply that way: we have to score more than they do. If it gets into one of those games, if both offenses are doing that well, then we may score more than we anticipate, but I think it's just a matter of going out, staying on the field. As an offense, you want to stay on the field because, again, that gains confidence. That helps you, especially with a young quarterback. If you can avoid putting Jake in a lot of long-down situations, I think we'll be more successful. Again, when we're successful on offense, then obviously our defense is successful because they're not on the field. Like we just talked about with the Giants, there's things the Giants have been able to do when they've played them that's helped them win those football games.
(on if the Patriots will give Jake Locker more looks to try and confuse him than they would against Matt Hasselbeck)
I don't know. We'll see. You would assume some of those things, I think, with a young quarterback. Matt (Hasselbeck) could be as confused as he could, depending on what they do, so I don't know. That will be a decision they're going to have to make, as far as how they play them, and we'll just be ready to keep things simple for him so there's not a lot of decisions to be made. Again, if everything's going well, if we're running the ball well, if you're doing all the little things to create third-and-threes, third-and-fours, then it's a lot easier for us to convert, no matter what they're doing.
(on the Titans' loss to the Patriots the last time the teams met)
We haven't even talked about it. I haven't really thought much about it at all. I think it's one of those games where when it's over, it's over. That one was, and like I said the other day, it was one loss and after that game, we went 8-2, so obviously, we starting playing much better. It was one of those days where things didn't go our way, and unfortunately that does happen in the league, not to that extent, but it's not something we've talked about. It has nothing to do with what's going on right now. That was three years ago or whatever it was. These guys, most of them don't even know about it until you bring it up to them. I don't think that has anything to do with what's going to happen on Sunday.
(on if fullback Quinn Johnson could be active Sunday without playing on special teams)
He'll be on. If we were going to do that and not use him, we wouldn't suit him up, if that's what you're asking.
(on if Quinn Johnson will be in the offense for at least a couple of plays)
Yeah, if we thought we were never going to use two-back in that game plan or if he wasn't helping us on special teams, then there'd be no reason to (have him dress out) — kind of what they're doing. I don't think they have a fullback on their roster right now. We would do what we've done in past years when we've had injuries and suit an extra tight end. Again, if Quinn (Johnson) is suited up, he's going to play. If he's not suited up for some reason, which we don't anticipate, then yeah, we've got someone else to play. We've got a tight end, like we've done in the preseason, we've got a tight end at the fullback position, not necessarily in the (I-formation) or in the backfield, but right now, we anticipate him playing.
(on the yards that the Patriots allowed in 2011 that didn't always mean points for opponents)
Well, it's hard. I think they improved in the second half of the season. I think teams did move the ball on them for yards, like you said. I think they were kind of like how we were: almost eighth or ninth in points allowed, so they gave up yards, but they didn't give up points, and when your offense is scoring the way theirs does, you can win a lot of football games. I think they also did well in turnovers. They were third in the league in the amount of turnover (ratio) they got, so, they were very opportunistic that way, and I think the second half of the season the defense really, they were a young defense. They were a lot like we are. They designed the defense with a lot of young guys, especially the linebackers. They just drafted a defensive end from Syracuse (Chandler Jones) that's going to be playing a lot. There's a lot of similarities in that way. They're a physical group, a down-hill group, a competitive group and smart, so I think they just got better as the season went on, and we're expecting, the preseason is hard to evaluate what you're seeing. They've looked solid in the preseason when they've been in there, and I'm sure it's going to be tough to do a lot of things come Sunday.
(on if tight end Taylor Thompson will observe Patriots tight ends Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez)
I hope he does that some other time when he's watching the Monday night game or something, and he's more worried about what we're doing and looking at our pictures (of the offense) because, obviously, he's got a chance to play in the game on Sunday. They are guys you look at when you're crossing over with film and you watch other offenses perform at other positions. Everyone does that know, maybe watch what other guys do and maybe watching those guys, especially, I think there will be time later to do those things. They've already been doing that in training camp: watching some film to see guys that play the same position. Yeah, if you're going to watch a position, you're going to watch the guy that's the best at his spot.