Munchak Addresses Reporters at NFL Scouting Combine



(on if Colin McCarthy is ready to take over the middle linebacker spot)

We think he is. We thought he came on in a big way last year. When he came in we thought he would be more of a special teamer for sure and maybe help us with some depth at the inside positions at the will and the mike linebacker.  But we had some injuries and he came in and played. You saw he made plays. He found a way to knock the ball loose, create some fumbles, some interceptions, took control and didn't act like a rookie out there. He has some learning to do – he's a young man – but we're excited about his progression, the way he finished the season and the energy he brings to the defense. So everything is a plus with him. He is the kind of player you love to have on your football team. We're excited about what he's going to be able to do in the future.

Coming in I didn't know if he would be able to stay on the field as much as he did, but he did. He did a nice job and he runs the nickel defense very well, and we used him in that way. Coach (Jerry) Gray, our defensive coordinator, felt very comfortable with him. Like I said, you never know how a young man, a young rookie is going to respond, but his first start was in Carolina and he came in and did a great job for us on the road getting us in position. I think it was probably one of the best defensive games we played all year against a very explosive offense. He handled it very well, so we feel very comfortable having him in there on all three downs.

(on if the Titans would have enough good secondary players if they lose Cortland Finnegan in free agency)

Yeah, I think we feel comfortable with the young guys. You're never going to know how those guys are going to develop, unfortunately, until they get this kind of opportunity if we don't get Cortland signed. Obviously we'll have other ways to look in the draft. But we feel comfortable with those guys, especially the way (Chris) Hawkins came in and played last year as an undrafted free agent. He came in during the New Orleans game and the games at the end of the regular season and played well as a corner and when he came in at nickel. That was very encouraging. But yeah, if we lose a guy, someone like Cortland Finnegan, that's a tough loss for any team, but we do have some young guys that can step up and obviously we can always take a look in free agency and the draft if we're not comfortable.

(on looking back at the team's run game in 2011)

In general I think it's never as bad as you think it is in certain areas. I know everyone wants to talk about our run game because we're so used to being in the top 10 every year. I think when you watch it you realize a lot of things weren't as bad as we thought. Some things were done very well, but there could have been a penalty on a play, there could have been the one missed read when the hole was there, the blocking was great. So I think we as a staff having an offseason and an opportunity to bring everyone back together when we get together in May and June will have a chance to actually install things at a slower pace and be able to show film now. We actually have film now.  Last year we didn't have that type of teaching film to show the players. Now they can see the things that they're doing right and here's what happens, and when you have these kinds of errors, here's the result. I think our approach to the OTAs in May and June when we're able to spend time with the players will help us make a big difference in a lot of those areas.

(on possibly moving Eugene Amano from center back to guard)

That's always an option. That's the nice thing about having Eugene is he's played both positions. He felt most comfortable at center. That's why we made the change a couple years ago. But yeah, that is something because of his versatility, because of Leroy's (Harris) versatility we have guys that can play both. So again, we're going to be looking at combinations if there's a better way to fix it and that will be one of the things that goes into the mix over the next few months.

(on Jake Scott's status with the team)

Jake is obviously a free agent so we can't necessarily control him being back, but I think we'll wait and see what happens there. Ruston (Webster) is in the process now of getting our guys signed and that's easier said than done in a lot of cases, but I think there's an opportunity for Jake to be back.

(on making changes on the offensive line)

You're looking at all your options in the offseason. I could be standing here thinking we're not necessarily going to do something, then all of a sudden in free agency we feel there's a lineman out there that could really make a difference. A lot of times you just want to shake the room up, you want to make a change that's good for the team. Sometimes that helps, so we'll look at that. We are open to things depending on how the draft falls. We could go into the draft not thinking about taking an offensive lineman then all of a sudden it's your pick and there's an offensive lineman in the second or third round that you weren't necessarily thinking of taking and all of a sudden maybe it's the right thing to do for your team at that time. We're not going into the draft or free agency thinking we must go get this guy because we have this huge hole. I don't feel we have any holes there, it's just a matter of we have to play better.

(on if defensive end is the biggest need on this team)

It's definitely a need. Derrick Morgan is really the only guy playing a lot who is under contract. (William) Hayes' contract is up, (Dave) Ball's contract is up, so that's definitely an area we're going to have to look at from both ends -- in free agency and the draft. And when the smoke clears, we'll have some good defensive ends. It's a matter of where they're going to come from.

(on if he prefers to get a veteran or a rookie)

I think you want a mix. I think you need some leadership in the defensive line room. Just like you don't want to be all older guys, you want to have some youth. I think we already some young guys and we need to add some experience also.

(on if retirement is a possibility for Dave Ball)

I don't know. I haven't had a chance to talk to him yet. I know he's going to take some time away with the concussions that he's had the last couple of years.  I think his intentions are he's planning on playing, but I haven't talked to him about that.**

(on if Kenny Britt is healthy, how he rates his group of receivers)

If Britt is healthy, we are very happy with what we have. Nate Washington played so well for us last year and stepped up with a 1,000-yard season, stepped up as a leader in the room and with our offense. Damian (Williams) also stepped up , made plays and became more consistent as the year went on. We signed (Lavelle) Hawkins who we feel has a role there for us, especially in the slot and doing some things with his versatility. He did some good things with run after the catch. Kenny Britt, if we have him there, we felt he was one of the best players on our team last year, a guy who can make plays, a guy that the defense has to prepare a lot different for when you have him on the field. We found that out after the third week. So yeah, I think if we have him back healthy, we'll be very excited about our group.

(on how far away he thinks this team is from returning to the playoffs)

I think the Giants are the perfect example. I think that's why everyone loves the NFL. From year to year, even during the season when people are writing teams off. The Giants are this year's example, a year ago it was Green Bay. We were 7-7, so were the Giants at the same time. They won both of theirs (last two games), they won in the playoffs and we all know what happened. I think it encourages your fan base. It encourages the guys on your team so when you're standing up there as a head coach saying, 'Hey, if we take care of this game and this game, this is what we can do.' You realize that you can do that. We're going to have to add a couple pieces. You mentioned getting Kenny Britt healthy – that's a huge part of it – and us making some good decisions -- Ruston (Webster), myself, and the coaching staff with free agency coming up and the draft and all of a sudden we're very competitive. We were 9-7 last year like you said, and as most teams can do, we can look back and know there were two or three games we should have won and all we needed was one of them to get in the playoffs. And as we found out, once you're in the playoffs anything is possible. That should be encouraging to guys as we're getting started with the offseason to realize how close we are to doing something special.

(on what he and Chris Johnson will talk about regarding improvement for next season)

I just think he needs to know what's expected of him, what's going to be demanded of him. I think as an offense it's not just Chris. I think he already knows these things, but I think you start from scratch. I think you don't assume that anybody knows anything. That's what the nice thing is about the start of the offseason of May and June is you can start from scratch, you can take your time. You can start with your outside zone and your inside zone, talk about concepts and kind of start the learning process all over. He'll be part of that. I think he's excited to get last year behind him as we all are as far as the running game goes. We know it's not going to be worse, believe me. We feel like we're going to be able to make a drastic improvement from where we ended up, but we have to go out on the field and do that when the real games start.

(on when offseason workouts begin)

Well, we can't have them back until April 16th. That's when we can start an off-season workout, that's what the CBA says.  We have quite a few guys coming in on their own working out, but as far as our involvement with the players I'm sure when it all starts April 16 we'll have them all the time.

(on the success of last year's draft class)

I think it's a credit to the scouts and the staff for the work they did. Ruston and Mike Reinfeldt found certain guys that fit our system that were special kind of guys. We get a lot of the blame when it goes the other way, but I think it's just a matter of getting a little lucky with certain guys that were available. We didn't think Akeem Ayers would be there in the second round.  I don't think we thought Jurrell Casey would be there in the third round. A lot of times guys fall to you in ways that we were excited when we got them. We thought those guys would go much higher, so I think we were very lucky that way. Jake (Locker) had a chance and showed flashes of what he's capable of doing. It's just a credit to the organization realizing that if you do your homework, all these things are important -- coming to the combine has its value, watching all that tape, having these visits – it all adds up and now hopefully we can add NFL free agency to it over the next month and we can make some good decisions there with kind of building our team and knowing what pieces of the puzzle are missing, not only on the field but obviously in the locker room as far as leadership.  Not just team leadership, but individually in different rooms that we find the right guys that can make a difference and maybe help bring out talent that we have in some of those rooms besides the coaches. A lot of that goes into it. When you think about all those things when you're trying to make the right decision about bringing a player in, I think we did a good job last year in the draft of doing that.

(on if he can expect the same kind of production out of his next rookie class)

You hope we set the bar that way where we can keep going with that. That is hard to have that many, especially at one point we had four rookies start on defense, especially towards the end of the season. And again, our first-round pick will be a different position this year and he'll probably have a chance to contribute in a big way – hopefully right away also. Yeah, that should be the bar. You want to draft guys that can come in and help you right away, especially those top couple picks that can come in and make an impact on your team.

(on when he projects Jake Locker will start)

That's very hard to do. I think to stand here a year ago and say – our quarterback situation was a mess – and then this year we feel so good about it because of signing Matt (Hasselbeck) and drafting Jake. But then the negative side is you can't play both of them at the same time, so how do you make two guys happy that are that competitive? That is the tough part, and neither one of them wants the job handed to them. They want to come in and compete for it, and we'll try to do the best we can when we start in May, June and into training camp is to put them in those situations where they truly are competing and hopefully it becomes obvious who should be the best guy to lead the team. As a head coach that's what you're hoping, and as a staff you don't want the quarterback question to be going on every day, every week, who's the guy, who's the guy? I'm hoping that it will play out, let them compete and see how things work out.

(on challenges of evaluating offensive linemen coming out of college)

I think what makes it hard here is that so many colleges are in the spread offense, so it's even harder and a lot of the time you don't get a chance to evaluate an offensive lineman with his hand on the ground.  So as simple as that sounds – even center sometimes you say, 'Well this center never snapped to a quarterback underneath the shotgun all the time.' So there's little things like that make it harder because a lot of teams don't run a conventional NFL offense. A lot of offensive linemen haven't been developed in certain ways and been asked to do certain things. So I think for a lineman coming in it's just the speed of the game, it's the pass protection part, how specialized defenses are that you're not just going to block the same guy all day – you're going to have numerous different guys. You have a three-down look, a four-down look, a solid front…you're going to see a lot of things that NFL coordinators do a good job of trying to confuse young offensive linemen. They do a better job in the NFL than college of finding mismatches. If they think they can exploit a certain area of your offensive line, they're going to do that. I think that's probably the hardest part for a college guy to come in and realize every week you're playing against that best player – better players than you've played against in your life. It's week-in and week-out for 16 weeks, so it just takes a special guy that can come in and do that right away and contribute as a starter.

(on where the team is at in terms of draft evaluation)

We had a pre-draft meeting a couple weeks ago, kind of got the initial run-through of where we're at and what's on the board. We're starting to watch tape now and get a chance to meet them in these next couple of days. That's something we'll talk about more as we see them. The nice thing is having free agency first so we can kind of see what we do or don't have, who we lose or who we don't lose so we can concentrate more for the draft at certain particular spots depending on what happens here in the next month.

(on the play of Karl Klug and what he expects of his development)

I'm real excited about Karl. He was another guy we got in the fifth round that we didn't think would be available. Two hundred and seventy pounds, a great pass rusher…he's a natural pass rusher. When you turn the tape on, he's a guy that can beat somebody 1-on-1. A lot of d-linemen just can't do that consistently like he can. He's great with his hands, has great body control…that's what we saw on the draft tape and that's what we're seeing now. It's up to us to keep developing him and getting him to play more. He played a lot inside. We limited him a little more last year to passing downs. He could probably work on his upper-body this year to gain some weight to help him dramatically. But he's a great kid, a great guy to have on your team. He led our team, I think, in sacks last year and he can up that number every year. He's a special guy that really has a chance to make a difference in this league.

(on importance of having defensive linemen that can play inside and out)

I think we have some guys now that can do both – we're asking some of those guys. I think depending on who is available that we get our hands on, we would like to have a guy that could just play the edge and create problems. Everyone would like the same thing -- you'd like to have a guy that the offense is worried about, a guy that when there's two minutes left can take the game over. This guy can knock the ball out of the quarterback's hands and win for you. He can be silent all game, then win the game…a guy that's not going to get down because it's not his day or he didn't make a play, but all of a sudden on play 60 he makes the play to win the game. I think we're looking for those kinds of guys, someone on the edges that can create those kinds of problems for an offense. But yeah, definitely versatility is something you're always looking for. If you can find a true guy that can win inside like Klug is doing, you like a guy outside that can do the same thing like when we brought Jevon Kearse in and drafted him, a guy that you think could go win the game for you, the fans think this guy can win the game for you right now. We're all looking for those things and we're hoping to find a couple guys like that.

Related Content

Fan Zone

Titans + Nissan Stadium App

Titans + Nissan Stadium App

Stay up to date with team and stadium news, concert and event announcements, stream live Titans games and more!

Tennessee Titans Marketplace

Tennessee Titans Marketplace

A one-stop shop for Titans memorabilia, autographed items and more!

Tennessee Titans Email Newsletter

Tennessee Titans Email Newsletter

Get Titans news sent straight to your inbox.