I want to thank everyone for coming. It's hard to believe it's been a week already for me from my press conference. I was starting to miss you guys a little bit. As I talked last week, my first priority was going to be the coaching staff. I thought maybe I'd just give you a little background on my thought process so you can kind of make some sense of all this, what coaches go through.
When I first heard I was going to have an opportunity to interview, when you're going for an interview, a big part of the interview is your coaching chart of coaches you think you may be able to get. You have to be realistic. Obviously, you put the best coaches in the league on there, but they know what your restrictions are. But we had quite a long discussion about different coaches I thought would be a great fit for me and for this organization and why and why I thought maybe we could get them here. So that was about two weeks before I actually got the job. So after the interview, that's a process that I started immediately, following up on, following leads on, getting background checks. You're doing a lot of homework just in case you're that guy because you know how quickly you have to move.
So after last week happened and it became official that I was the head coach, then I knew that I was going to get started immediately. As you all know, I met with our existing staff the next morning. We made three changes and let three coaches go. My focus then was to concentrate on the coordinator positions on both sides of the ball. We targeted some coaches in the pro rankings and in the college level, but unfortunately there's restrictions and rules you have to follow. In the pro level, you have to, if someone's under contract, you have to send a letter and ask permission to talk to the person. That takes usually a 24-hour period, and even though you may be offering a promotion, it still could be turned down. So you don't know exactly who you're going to be able talk to and who you're not going to be able to talk to. On the college level, it's a little easier. Out of courtesy, you reach the athletic director or you call the head coach, let him know you may be interested in someone on their staff and see how they feel about it. So those are kind of the parameters. Obviously, if someone is not under employment, that's the easiest case because you can just talk to those guys.
With our timetable being February, a lot of coaching staffs are full, and that's what I talked about last week. It is what it is, and we knew that going in. So that's kind of what's gone on behind the scenes. Since then, then it was a lot of talking, bringing guys in, some guys in, a lot of interviewing on the phone to find out … I don't want to waste a lot of people's time and just say, 'Hey, I can bring in …' 'Look at Munchak, he brought in all these coaches.' So I was trying to limit the guys that I brought in to guys that I really thought were a great fit for us. Obviously, we sent out some letters to different people, and some you hear about and some you won't. There was no priority to that. There was no pecking order. It was just, here's the pool of guys we have interest in, and let's kind of see what happens. Let's see from that group who's the best person for this team to help us win. So that's kind of the process in the past week that I followed with the help of our staff here in the building to move forward to get the right people. So just to kind of give you a little background on that of what goes into some of this, and I've been learning as I go, too. It's frustrating at times, but I think I'm very happy with some of the things we've done already.
We're here today, obviously, to talk about our defensive coordinator position that we just filled. I met Jerry (Gray) probably 20 years ago, I'm guessing. It's hard to believe it's been that long ago, I think in '92 in Houston. We were both kind of finishing up our careers. He was coming off All-Pro as a defensive back. Four years later, I guess it was, in '97 I guess it was, roughly, we hooked up here in Nashville. I was coaching the offensive line in my first year as a coach, and Jerry came in as a quality control position on defense. As some of you may know, that's kind of an entry-level position for coaches. I did the same thing two years earlier. I came in entry-level quality control on the offensive side. What that job is is a lot of grunt work, a lot of running around. You wear a bunch of hats. You do a lot of things behind the scenes that no one knows what you're doing half the time, but you're a huge part of the success of that offense or defense. I got a chance to observe Jerry's work ethic and his enthusiasm for what he was doing. A lot of guys would say, 'Well, heck, this guy was an All-Pro. Look at him now, running around doing the things he was doing.' It meant a lot to him. I knew good things were going to come.
Two years later, he's the defensive back coach for us. We went on to the Super Bowl. I got to watch him coach. I saw what a great teacher he was. I saw how the players responded to him. I saw his passion for the game during those two years. Obviously, we had a lot of success. We went on to the Super Bowl. We had one of the best defenses in football those couple years. He coached up some guys to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro.
When Gregg Williams left, as you guys know, to be head coach in Buffalo, he took Jerry with him. He knew what he had. He became defensive coordinator. We played them probably three or four times during that time period. As a coach, as a line coach getting ready to play their defense, I watched a lot of their film. It was very impressive. I wasn't surprised, by any means, of what kind of coach he was, how hard his guys played on tape, how disciplined they played, how smart they played, how he did such a good job attacking, I thought, our protections and our run game and made things difficult for us. Like I said, no surprise because that's what I saw when he was here. For me, that's kind of how I look at coaches a lot. When you mention coaching, a lot of these guys I played against or played with, so I can see how they are on Sundays or during the week and how their players really play. Not what you hear about, maybe. I can see. Watching the tape doesn't lie. So I had a first-hand view of how his guys played for him when he was the coordinator there in Buffalo.
So obviously I was very excited when I had this opportunity, and I was going to say, 'Well, who should be my defensive coordinator?' and I didn't have to think very long who was one of the guys I definitely want to consider in Jerry because I knew him as a player, as a coach and as a coordinator. I got to witness all three of those over a 20-year span. I was really excited when I got the job because I knew this was someone I wanted to contact. I wasn't even sure where Jerry was. It wasn't like we kept in touch every year or something. When I saw him, obviously we'd see each other at the combines, and we'd see each other over the years and keep in touch. We had that kind of relationship, business-type relationship, good friends in that way. I'm just really excited today that this process has ended where I can announce Jerry officially as the Titans' new defensive coordinator.
First of all, I would like to thank again Mike for thinking of me in that way. What you do is, I think, as a player, you go out and play your best. As a coach, you go out and coach your best. But one thing I've learned is really you've got to coach to your players' strength. You've got to be able to coach to what those guys can do and what they can't do. When you're in a room and you're evaluating talent, there's a strength and weakness in every player. Nobody has it all – probably the closest guy I've ever seen is Jevon Kearse, but everybody is not blessed like that. What I've learned is if you put a guy in a position to win, he'll love you. If you put him in a position to lose, you're going to lose him a whole lot faster. That's how I coach. It's the same way I played, same way I coach. I don't coach guys the same way I played because everybody is different.
To me, I think you make sure the guys go out there and do what they're supposed to do. You are the boss of those guys. You hold them accountable. You know when the guy is giving you effort. You know when the guy is busting his tail like he's supposed to, and you know when the guy is really doing his job. Sometimes the guys start taking ownership of the defense or the defensive backs. That's what we had here when I was here, and then when we went to Buffalo, doing the same thing, and the other places I've been. You have to get the guys to understand that they are part of the defense. It's just not your defense and they're playing a part in it. They take ownership, and when they take ownership, the defense works very well because they know they take pride in it. They want to take it home. They want to tell their wives, their kids about it, and that's what we're hoping to get back here.
I don't know a lot of guys on this defense, but I've watched them play. Trust me. They've got some guys that can go get the football. They've got some good secondary guys. They've got some linebackers that can hit. But the big thing is that we've got to make those close plays they missed last year. I've watched about five or six games, and they missed a lot of close plays. I don't know what that is because I wasn't in the meeting room with them. But I can just see on film that the effort's there. They go out and they do their job. Now, if you make those plays, you go 13-3 like we did here in 1999 and 2000. If you miss those, you don't. That's the biggest difference, I think, in winning and losing in the NFL. It's that fine of a line.
(on how different the league is from the last time he was here and if they could do the same things in such a passing league)
I don't think the league has changed. I think what happens is that, it just depends what your philosophy is. Like, I look at Pittsburgh. They were there when we first came here. They were the dominant team. The Jacksonville Jaguars were a dominant team when we first came here, and we were trying to reach those guys. I think, mentally, we kind of had our guys understand that we should be setting the standard of this league. That's what we tried to do in our rooms, and you could see that. We eventually got to that, and we became the standard of the NFL, and it doesn't matter what your style is. Like, we had man-to-man corners at the time. I had Samari (Rolle) and Denard Walker. Those guys weren't the most physical guys, but they could cover you all day. So that's kind of what we adopted our system to. I went to Buffalo, I had physical corners. I had Nate Clements and Antoine Winfield, so I adopted the system to Cover 2. Those guys could hit, hey, I'm going to do what you do best. That's what we did. Then, I got lucky enough to get a guy who they said couldn't play in DeAngelo Hall. He left Oakland, came to us midseason, and he almost went to the Pro Bowl. My deal is, what can you do best? The guy hated to play up. So play off then. What's easier than that? You know, play a defense that played off. Like Mike said, a lot of things go in behind the scenes. Sometimes you just watch what the result end is. To me, being a teacher, it's your job to figure out what the guy can do best, and if you can do that, the guy will play for you. I got a call from about, oh, 10 players—'Jerry, man, that's a great deal. Take the job. It's fantastic.' These are guys that I coached a long time ago like Samari, Takeo Spikes and all those guys. They called because they know they wanted me back into the league and not just being a position coach. Those guys had success, too, because to me, any time a player has success, they're going to love you as a coach. If they don't, they're going to hate you as a coach. That's the bottom line.
(on how much he went back and forth on the decision to leave Texas)
I think the biggest thing is that, if apples and apples were the same — you know, position coach (to) position coach – you look at the University of Texas, it's probably ran like a small pro team. They've got great alumni, great fans, and you want to see those guys win. When you go 5-7 at Texas, yeah, that doesn't sit well with an ex-Texas player. So my job was to try to help those guys win. But then when Mike called, to me, you know, defensive coordinators position, there's 32 of us in this league, and I got a lot of heart in this room also. I've been here for four years. I understand. The time at Texas and the time here were exactly the same. The position was different. Give me a chance to make calls on Sunday compared to listen to the calls being made on Saturday. That was really the biggest difference. Understanding that it's not a dictatorship, but I think I'm at my best on Sundays. I try to bust my butt during the week, but on Sundays I try to be my best.
(on getting players to make the close plays because their thoughts are simplified)
I think if a player is out there thinking, you're not going to play fast. You can't. There's too many negative thoughts that will come to a guy's mind, and we know that. To me, what I try to do is always give them chances to do … Don't think about 10 different things. There may be two or three different thoughts that you may have to go through. Eliminate the other eight and go play those other two. When you can really do that well, you can really be a good football player. If you're trying to think about 10 different things at one time, you're going to screw up eight of them. And guess what, those eight probably were the ones that should have been made. You can't do that. I don't care how smart you are as a football player. You can't think on the football field. You know, when they say 'smart guys,' you know what that means? He's only thinking about one or two things, and now he's really playing really well. That's a smart football player, not a guy that's analyzing and trying to go through every little thing and you've only got 45 seconds before the ball is snapped.
(on whether discipline is part of the ownership he talked about)
Of course. I was kind of brought up the old-fashioned way. I was around Fritz Shurmer as a player, got around Gregg Williams as a coach, and he's a real discipline guy – trust me – and the guys love him, though. Anytime you're hard on players and they still like you, you must be doing something right. Then I got a chance to get around Jeff (Fisher), Jeff was a good coach. I was around John Robinson, around Jack Pardee – big discipline guy. I was around Gregg when he became a head coach, and then I was fortunate enough to get around Dick LeBeau for a year when I was in Buffalo. Dick, he's a guy that's real soft-spoken. He doesn't raise his voice ever, but he gets his guys to play hard all the time. You would think you've got to be a hollerer and screamer, but he's totally opposite of that. What he does is he teaches them discipline: this is what your job is, this is what you do, this is what you take pride in. But he also gives them ownership. How can Troy (Polamalu) be all over the football field making plays being Defensive Player of the Year, and you're just a strong safety. Well, you know what? The defense is centered around Troy, and it's around the other guys, and it's around those big linebackers they've got, and it's around Casey Hampton. And when those guys do their job all the time, they look like they look all the time. That's why every other year those guys are going to the Super Bowl. Hopefully we can do that same thing here. If you're not disciplined, it's hard to win. You can't win because you're going to make a mistake, and the next thing you know, you're going to screw it up. One thing I can bring in, Pete Carroll, just learning this year. He talked to our guys about not making stuff up. If you don't make stuff up that you have never done during the week, you'll be good. If you make something up on Sunday, you're probably going to fail at that because you're going to have it one time.
(on how much accountability plays into ownership of the defense and how that has been lacking with the Titans)
Well, I don't know, I'm just learning that from what you're saying. But to me, I think all the guys have to take ownership. You've got to be accountable. You've got to be disciplined enough to where, if it's (Michael) Griff(in) in the room and one of the guys screw up, Griff, your job is to let the guy know he can't screw up. It doesn't always have to come from the coach because, to me, a lot of times when the guys are away from here, they're generally hanging out with each other. If they're hanging out with each other, then what if a fight breaks out? Somebody has to be disciplined enough to pull a guy away. If you can't be disciplined enough to do that, how are you going to do it here? I mean, those guys are probably away from here 16 hours a day. What you're doing there on the streets is really how our football team is going to be. We need a lot of disciplined guys out there. We don't need guys in jail and things like that. When you don't have that, then it shows up over here on Sunday. Again, a lot of times, you guys don't see them every day like we do. We'll see if a guy is sleeping in a meeting. We'll know if a guy is being held accountable or what's going on in the locker room, and if they take ownership in the locker room, we'll be a whole lot better. I've seen it happen firsthand. I was here when the team, we were 8-8, 8-8. Guys were kind of like, 'Oh, we don't want to tell our peers.' But all of a sudden, I've got ownership – like Blaine Bishop and Marcus Robertson and those guys – those guys would tell Samari Rolle and Denard (Walker) and all those guys what to do in our room, and I didn't have to say it. When they told them, it's a whole lot more pressure when your peers do it than I do it because I'm more like a parent. But when your buddy tells you, 'Hey, you're not doing this right. You're going to do it right.' That's really how you win football games. It's really simple, but it's really hard because that guy who's doing the talking has to be transparent. He can't be the fake guy and they see through him. You're going to get in trouble that way also.
(on if he sees a player on the defense that he will challenge to take a leadership role)
I haven't watched all of the film. Really I can't just judge that from the film. But what I'm going to do is I'm going to get all the guys' numbers, and I'm going to talk to them. Hopefully I can get them to come over, and we can kind of sit down and talk about, 'Hey, tell me about what you like.' If what he likes doesn't reflect on the film, then I've got a chance to change that. But if he tells me what he likes, 'Hey coach, I like to play hard. I like to be all over the football field,' and then I see that, that guy gets him a check. But the other guys that are saying, 'I like to play hard. I want to go to the Pro Bowl,' and you're not doing Pro Bowl stuff, then we've got to change that attitude. We've got to do something that gets you playing at a … If you want to be Pro Bowl, we've got to change it to get you Pro Bowl level, especially if you've got the talent to do it.
(on how much Gregg Williams influenced his philosophy)
Well, a lot. Like I said, Gregg was an attacking guy. I knew what we had when we were here. Then when we went to Buffalo, we pretty much did the same thing, but it was just out of a different coverage. Then I watched him when we played the New Orleans Saints two times last year when I was in Seattle, and he pretty much … It was a little different flavor, but he still got after you. I think that defense finished in the top five. Gregg is going to do a good job to get his guys to play like he needs them to play. With me being around him, like I said, I've been fortunate to be around … I think Pittsburgh finished number one, so I've been around Dick (LeBeau) also. Hopefully that good stuff can rub off on me.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on if the defensive coaching staff is finalized)
We are still evaluating. We have Jerry here officially this week and going through the staff. It is a work in progress and we will be making those decisions now the next few days. Hopefully, like I said, the goal is now that we have Jerry here, is to get this things moving along pretty good and I think we are on target to have this thing hopefully settled up by the time of the Combine.
(on Chris Palmer being named the offensive coordinator)
We needed experience as much as anything. Chris has been in our league 20 years as a coach. I first met him when he came through Houston back in the 80's; I guess two or three years in Houston. I kind of know him from that time when he coached receivers. As I mentioned earlier, what we are looking for in coaches and you look at our offensive staff, our quarterback coach is Dowell Loggains who is a couple of years in, our line coach Bruce Matthews has been around the league forever but this will be his third year coaching, John Zernhelt with four or five years and we haven't filled a couple of positions. We need some veteran leadership I felt, and also the quarterback situation. We don't know what that is going to be. He has been around a lot of great quarterbacks and has done a great job helping develop a lot of guys in this league. He has a great demeanor for it. With the uncertainty of us knowing who is going to be leading the offense was a big concern of mine. I wanted someone that could develop a young quarterback if it happens to be a draft pick or whatever we may do in the future. I thought he would be a great fit for that. We did the same thing and I looked at a lot of people, talked to a lot of people and interviewed quite a few people and people were always kind of missing something, they didn't have quite everything we had. The things that were most important were the things I thought Chris brought to the party. The fact that he has been a head coach is helpful to me, he has been through it and understands the demands of a head coach and he can help me in that way. The quarterback thing was a huge thing for me. He is very disciplined in what he does. Obviously, it is going to be a lot different than it was the past so many years as far as philosophy and the way things are done. He was just a part of the Giants a couple of years ago with Eli (Manning) and won the Super Bowl. He knows what it takes to win a championship. He has been with (Tom) Coughlin and a lot of good coaches, (Bill) Parcells and comes off that group. Those guys have been together a long time and they are pretty good at what they do. I knew about him obviously over the years and after spending time with him yesterday and the last couple of days, really felt good about him. It is exactly what I think we need.
(on how many coaches he interviewed for the offensive coordinator position)
I did a lot of talking on the phone, quite a bit. I don't want to get into how many people visited or didn't visit.
(on how many coaches visited)
A few, a couple; we brought some guys in. Like I said, I weeded out quite a few just on the phone or some we couldn't talk to. Again it was more a process and I didn't have an order or top five. I just had a group of guys that I thought had interesting things that they brought to the party and I wanted to talk to them and see where it went. Chris was one of those people obviously. I definitely wanted to bring him in for those reasons and after sitting down with him like I said for a while and had him in the building, I really felt good about the direction we were heading. He felt great and we watched a lot of tape and he saw what we have. I'm really excited about it. He is excited as heck and he should be and I'm excited for him. I think it is exactly what we need here. I think when he gets here and the players get to work with him and I think they will see the same thing.
(on Chris Palmer retiring from the NFL a few seasons ago)
I don't know. He never brought that word up to me about retiring. I think he had come off New York and winning the Super Bowl and I think he had the opportunity to be a head coach in the other league. I think it was a great opportunity that he must have felt he wanted to do for last season. The same thing as when I talked about Jerry, when I start thinking about offensive guys and what we needed here. That is how I look at, what we need here right now. It is not what we need three years from now or four years from now. It is what I think the Titans need right now on the offensive side of the ball to pull this team together for what we have in place and he fit everything I thought we needed. He was on the list immediately in my mind and we started talking a while back and it was just there. I talked to a lot of people about him and I mentioned some of the coaches he coached with. As things worked its way out, different guys we couldn't talk to or I didn't like something about this guy or this guy didn't have any experience here or maybe I didn't feel as comfortable with some guys' experience with quarterbacks and I really wanted to have someone who was strong in that area because that has been a problem here a little bit and it may come down to really developing a young quarterback, and I felt he has been around a lot of great quarterbacks in this league. When he has been there with them, they have played very well. That is something I'm looking forward to having him a part of it. For someone that has to put together the offense in a situation where we may have limited time together, it is another reason to have an experienced guy that has been through it. He has been through all the systems. He knows what it takes to run the ball and pass the ball, and he has done it all and been a part of that. I think he will come in very methodically and put it together for us. The more I talked to him, the more excited I got as far as him working with the guys on our staff. Like I mentioned, we still haven't filled a couple of positions on offense, but I think we have a great situation.
(on if coaching experience and personal connection with the franchise is a prerequisite for coaching hires)
That is probably hard to believe, but that is not something I even think about when I'm looking at people. It just happens that it has been falling that way so far. I think that is a good thing. There must be a reason it is happening that way, but that is not a prerequisite when I talk to someone. I'm open to people that fit. Depending on what position we are looking for there is a list of people and everyone has an idea and everyone calls you. You get more phone calls than you can imagine for opportunities. There are a lot of great coaches like I said, but unfortunately all those coaches don't fit here or don't fit what we need or don't fit the needs for our staff right now that others may say, 'he will be a good coach.' Well maybe he would be somewhere else, but he doesn't really fit what we need right now. So that is my job is to make sure I can fit this correctly and for the needs I think we are going to have going into the season and going into this offseason the way that it is and I have the right people in place that they can handle the job that is coming. It just happens to work out that we have had some guys that most of you have heard of or have been around and I think that is a good thing.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JERRY GRAY
(on coaching against an offense coordinated by Chris Palmer)
Very challenging. To me I think he is going to keep you off base. If you look at his guys, Mark Brunell played his best in Jacksonville. I know Chris was a quarterback coach there and ultimately became offensive coordinator. If you take a look, he has great track records. To me you have the running game with Fred Taylor and I'm telling you Fred Taylor was incredible and their offensive line was really good, so they challenge you. It wasn't just they were going to throw the ball every time and it wasn't the run-n-shoot that people think in their minds. They ran the ball; Fred Taylor was a Pro Bowl running back for four or five or six years. To me when you can do that and then you take a look at what he did and I caught back up with Chris when he went to the Giants and I was in Washington. I was there for four years and they did exactly the same thing. Their offense is incredible, they got guys in place, they are going to make you play the whole field and if you put eight in the box, they are going to hit you with the wideouts. You put seven in the box they are going to run the ball down your throat. If you take a look at their running backs and their wide receivers, they are all productive. That is a sign of a good coach to me is that it doesn't matter where I go, it doesn't matter what my scheme is, it doesn't who is running the ball or throwing it, these guys are going to be productive and that is what you do. You are trying to look at what guys track records or going to show up and then when you put them together, that is generally what happens when he gets here. I think Chris is going to do a great job.
(on both himself and Mike Munchak being former quality control coaches)
I got a chance to talk to Herman Edwards who was the same way. Herman said he did quality control. Really what that teaches you is what you are supposed to do from ground up. Unfortunately, playing football for, I played nine years and I know Mike played longer than that, and when you play you don't get a chance you don't get a chance to do that at 22 years old, so we have to do it at 32. Really when you get that job after being an All Pro a lot of times guys don't want that type of job because that job is way beneath you. It is, I'm going to be honest with you. That job is all computers and you are putting in stuff and you are not doing any of the work. You are not coaching anyone, you are not doing any of that. That is your job. If you take pride in it, they will see that because what you put in the computer is what comes out. Any computer guy knows that, so doing that job and then doing a good job at it then you get promotion from within and then you got promotion again and to me I think that is really what you should do. If I had a chance to take a guy, I want to know can he do computers because that is really what this business is a lot when you are doing quality control. If a quality control guy doesn't want to do that job, how can I trust him doing a position coach, how can I trust him being a coordinator. To me when you take pride in anything they give you, that is an easy decision for me. If I asked you to go out there and clean my car, trust me if you can't clean it as good as I will, I don't want you to clean my car anymore. I take pride in my car. That is the same thing when you look around organizations, organizations take pride also. If you are not doing a good enough job, then that is when change happens. You look back and say why would you take a quality control job after you are an All Pro? Well, I took pride in my job.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on the hiring of other position coaches and the coordinator's influence)
I think it is collaborative. I think it is nice having someone else here that can take some of the credit or some of the blame maybe. I think it is good because I want them to see who they are going to be working for and I want the guys that I'm bringing in that they are going to have to work under someone other than myself to know exactly what scheme they are running. If I hire a position coach they don't know exactly who the D coordinator is, they are not quite sure if they are going to get along with the guy or what the fit is going to be or what is going to be asked of them. I think obviously Chris and Jerry will be a huge part of the next 10 days and trying to get this thing finalized. When you get the top positions filled it is always obviously a great feeling to have that part done, but we still have a lot of work ahead of us and we still have some big decisions to make, but it will be both of us and hopefully we will see eye-to-eye on that. Hopefully the next week or 10 days we will get that done.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JERRY GRAY
(on the strengths and areas of need of the defense)
Really I don't want to get into the area of need because really I don't know a lot of the guys, but what I do see is they got some attitude going after the quarterback, we know that. We have some attitude running and hitting that is obvious. So one think that we don't have to teach them to do is to go hunt a guy down with the football. The big thing is do it more consistent, stop the deep ball. To me I think if you stop the run and you stop the deep ball, you have a chance to win every football game. Obviously, if we do that we are going to do a good enough job. The running and hitting should be second nature to these guys because that is what they have been doing since 1997. They have been doing a really good job of that we just have to get it back with more attitude. I think we have to make sure mentally we are prepared to go in the game and win those games and not look at the other teams as more superior and that happens. Again you don't think it happens but if a team consistently beats you over and over and over, that is the mental part. Maybe that is where I come in and I have to go and change that. I got to take a look and see what the division has done. You have a lot of good teams in the AFC. For the last five years I have been in the NFC. I know what teams have done, so I'm just anxious to get in and see what the AFC is doing. I know Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Indy and those guys are really good and they have been good for a long time, but this organization was good for a long time too and we have to get it back.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on contacting players before a potential lockout)
Yes, we are allowed to get together but we are running out of time. You have about two weeks I think and then if something happens, if there is not an agreement then obviously there are going to be restrictions. So obviously, if we have a new staff and that's the deal then we will try to get in touch with as many of the guys and maybe try to have a meeting before we reach that time.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JERRY GRAY
(on two or three words that describe a Jerry Gray defense)
Adjustable, disciplined and probably smart. When you look at certain defenses and when you find guys and what I have seen a lot from being in the league a little bit on the coaching side, sometimes you can come in with a picture and if that picture doesn't fit your players the you fail, but if that picture fits your players, then you are real successful. You can find a guy that can make those adjustments to his players, then I think you can be successful also. To me that is why I don't mind being adjustable. If our guys can play man-to-man, I'm going to find it out. If our guys can only play zone, then I'm going to find it out. It is my job to find out what our guys can do well and then put them in that position. To me if I'm going to be a stubborn, I have to coach man-to-man guys and we don't have any, how smart is that as a coach? Sometimes guys go through that, but I don't want to be that guy. I want to be flexible to see what these guys are going to do. They are not going to run it, I'm going to run it, but you know what if you give me what you can do on a consistent basis, we will be really good.
(on being the first African American defensive coordinator in the history of the franchise)
You know what, you said that and let me tell you what else is funny, I talked to Coach (Mack) Brown at Texas and he had never had one either and he said you will be the first black defensive coordinator. Really I don't look at it like that. I think when you are a player and you grow up and you do what you are supposed to do, I don't think you ever sit and say, I'm going to be the first black coordinator, I think you say I'm going to do what I can do best. If that is good enough to promote me, it is good enough to promote me. Just because you just said that that is the first time I ever thought of that; I never ever thought of that. I thought of it in terms of 32 and there are 32 defensive coordinators and I happen to be one of them.
HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK
(on Chris Palmer setting the offensive scheme or waiting for the personnel pieces to settle)
I think he knows the personnel and has a good handle on what we are doing. I think he comes in and kind of picks up where we left off and just kind of looks at the language of what we are doing, the protections and things he is familiar with. We have had talks with him since he has been here, the fact that he knows he has to keep it similar what we did as far as language goes. There is stuff in everyone's playbook that you can go empty, you can do all kinds of things as a quarterback and it is easy to implement what you have in. I think initially these next few weeks when he gets in here, it is going to be starting to sit down with the staff and looking at the book from the very beginning. Just talking with him yesterday we were sitting there and he knows the line play very well, he understands protections because he taught with Eli and other places he has been they make the quarterback do all the protections, so that coach better know the protections too. A lot of coordinators you'll talk to have no idea about the protections, they struggle with them. I like the fact that he can call a game knowing what the problems are up front. If we run pass stuff he knows it very well because of the upbringing he had with (Bill) Parcells and some of those coaches. It is really refreshing for me having an offensive line background to have a guy that is that comfortable in everything we are doing and understanding it from top to bottom. To answer your questions really, we will just move ahead and I don't think that is going to be as important to me right away to know. I think it will be easy to open up the passing game and things like that. We are going to be a running football team. We have Chris Johnson. We are going to run the football, we know that. We have to be smart with that and how we use him. We will get into all the things and the talent and the tools we have. I think he was pleasantly surprised watching our tape and seeing all of the people we do have and what we are capable of if we are coordinated, like Jerry mentioned being disciplined and making plays. I think that is what it is going to come down to. I think he is real excited when he started watching and realized wow we have a lot of pieces in the puzzle and are in great position. It may come down to we all know the quarterback and what happens. That will be something we find out down the road, but I'm really excited. I know he was and I was sitting there with some of the guys with us, and it was really a fun meeting and made it an easy decision.
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR JERRY GRAY
(on his exposure to the 3-4 defense)
Well, this year. What's funny is this year we played a little bit of that in Seattle. We played base under. We had one of the guys from the old 49ers come talk to us as a staff. Of course, he was a friend of Pete's, and we did that. The good thing is that, it screws up, again, protections. It screws up your blocking. It shows you there are so many things you can't do, but then when you bring 3-4 and 4-3 in at the same game, now it really messes with you. But the thing you have to do is you have to be disciplined enough to do that on defense. And we were pretty good. You need some pieces of the puzzle to do that now. You've got to have some big guys up front. They may not look good in a suit, but you've got to have some big guys up front in order to play a 3-4. That's the thing. This team is kind of built for 4-3, and we know that there are some things that we've got to make sure we get better at, and that's what we're going to do. We're going to try to fix those pieces and not take away from the aggressive style of what these guys have known, and let's go play football and make those close plays.