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TITANS: Jets Are Doing What We Need to Do

Posted Dec 13, 2012

Transcripts of conference calls from Tennessee's Mike Munchak and Chris Johnson with Jets reporters on Wednesday:

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

On hearing Rex Ryan say they weren’t going to use the Wildcat…

I thought you were kidding with me. I thought you were telling me I was a little unprepared for something. I think it’s obviously something we would prepare for anyways. I’ve seen teams do that. Anytime you show anything different that you’re going to do, you want your players to be prepared for it. Most teams now have a general way of, just like teams do with unbalanced lines or Wildcat or things like that, defenses have a way to adjust if they want to do so. We still have to prepare for that, for those things.

Obviously, they haven’t been using it that much in practice, or in games I should say. It hasn’t shown up like maybe as much as people thought when they got [Tim] Tebow, how much it would show up in games. We assumed even if they did some that it wouldn’t be a big part of the plan.

On how Bilal Powell has changed the dimension of the running game…

I just think they’re getting more opportunities. I think they got to the point like we were where their record was not what they were happy with. I think they needed to establish a new identity and they made the running game a huge part of it. I think you can see them in the last couple of weeks really taking over the line of scrimmage and he’s a big part of it. I think the whole group has kind of rallied around that. I think that’s where they are right now. I think that’s how they think they’re going to finish the season and win the three games they need to win to get that wild-card spot.

On Jake Locker…

For a young quarterback, same thing, just inconsistent right now, just like we are as a team. It’s not just him, it’s the guys around him that are also inconsistent in what we’re doing. He’s had parts of games where we thought he would play just like we thought he would. In the Miami game, he came back and had a great game. He put up big numbers and played very well, made good decisions. I mentioned in Miami he played well. I think it’s him experiencing all the different situations that happen in an NFL game, the four quarters.

Same thing last week. He came out in the first half and played probably as well as he had. He made some great decisions and ran when he was supposed to, all the things you’d hope he’d do. In the second half he made a bad decision with the ball and had a pick on the 1, down by the goal line, a bad decision there.

We’re still real excited about where he’s at and what we feel he’s going to be able to do for this football team. He’s thrown some great throws last week to Kenny [Britt], just some great balls to Kenny. He and Kenny are starting to get a great relationship there. I think the fact that he missed six weeks in the middle has been difficult. I would like to see him finish strong in these last three.

On if the Jets will be conservative with Mark Sanchez

I would think that’s working for them, the fact that they can control the ball and play good defense. I’ve been part of that here with the Titans for a lot of years. It’s worked. It’s a good formula. Their defense has been playing good, especially lately, and allowing them to play that type of offense. I think they’re doing what most teams do. You do what’s working at that point in the season, and right now that’s probably the strength of their team, the physical play, their running backs, like you mentioned, running the ball well, play action, and not putting too much on the quarterback.

That’s the same thing that we do here. We’d like to have Jake have a strong running game so we don’t have to put the whole game on his shoulders, especially when you’re playing against a team like the Jets defense. It makes things difficult or confusing if we’re asking him to drop back and throw a whole lot. I think they’ve had some issues turning the ball over on offense. That’s hurt them a lot. I know, like we are, they’re disappointed that’s their record’s not much better than it is. I know they believe it should be with the players they have. I think the turnovers have really hurt them to do that. I think now you’re scrambling. You have three games left and we were hoping that we’d be in the same situation they’re in.

I thought a few weeks ago we’d both be fighting for this wild-card spot. They got the job done the last two weeks and we didn’t. I think they’re actually doing exactly what this team needs to do, to find ways to win these last three, and that’s what they seem to be doing.

On firing a coach during the season…

It’s not done a whole lot. It’s usually a coordinator or a head coach. Obviously, there's been some changes that way and there's different reasons teams do it. Sometimes the head coach goes because you’re going to make the change at the end of the year anyway and you want to see if someone on your staff can fill that role. That happens sometimes in the league. It hasn’t happened this year.

For us, with Coach [Chris] Palmer, we’re not going to make a change because of pressure or because we’re not winning. It’s more we thought the change was going to hopefully help us move forward better than we were at the time. It wasn’t necessarily something that was forced, it’s just something we felt we needed at that time. It’s not something you want do because of the disruption. You have to weigh all that and make sure it’s worth it. You don’t see that as being a big problem because you don’t want to just do that and you don’t want it to be a sign that "Hey, we’ll start looking forward to next year." When we did it, it was a few weeks ago. We were still obviously in the wild-card hunt and we knew we had a lot of work ahead of us.

It happens sometimes, but I think it’s something that obviously most teams don’t want to have to go through, especially their head coach. All these things in my short two years with this coaching staff, hiring and firing someone that you want, you don’t just keep your staff in place. It doesn’t have anything to do with that.

On Kenny Britt…

Last week was probably the best he’s played overall from start to finish. I think his confidence has been the hardest to probably come back from with that type of injury. Also, not just the ACL but the fact that he had the other knee worked on during training camp, he’s had some ankles during the early part of the year, so he’s still overcoming a lot of that. I think it was more of a confidence thing and then dealing with the weekly soreness. Every week he has a different type of soreness with the knee, swollen, not swollen, pain in the back, couldn’t run as well.

To his credit, he practiced every day. He’s played in every game since the first couple of weeks. He missed a game early with a hamstring, I think. He’s been working at it hard in practice. He’s got a great attitude. We all know he can be a special player. He just hasn’t proven it consistently yet. It’s been spotty throughout his career with us. Last week we saw something more of what he really can be with the 150-yard receiving game. He made some good catches and he moved as good as he’s moved.

Hopefully, this game against the Jets is going to be a great challenge for him to have a good day and help us win. Again, if he gets through this year healthy, which seems like he hopefully will, and have an offseason without rehabbing, that’s just a miserable life living in the training room all offseason and that’s what he’s done for the last year. I think he’s on the rise and I think the ordeal is behind him. Hopefully he’ll be who we all thought he’d be as we go forward.

TITANS RB CHRIS JOHNSON

On if it’s difficult to play knowing the playoffs are out of reach…

People have their own way of hyping themselves up for games no matter what it is. This situation where if you don’t have hope for playoffs, if you don’t have hope for playoffs as a team, then you have to go into it as far as trying to get momentum for next year, set personal goals, trying to make the Pro Bowl and things like that. There’s still stuff out there to play for.

On the key to turning the season around after their early struggles…

Really, the key for me has been the offensive line has stepped up and opened up some holes for me. And early in the season we were having a lot problems with our offense, not being able to stay on the field and even not being in games. So we have to go more one-dimensional but once we were able to just stick with the run and continue to hand it off, that’s when it really turned around.

On if the Jets will be a good matchup since they've struggled to stop the run this season…

Well, they have struggled some and in a lot of games they have some good games. It’s a situation where early on in games teams have not been able to have a lot of success running the ball is when they continue being able to run the ball the first throughout the fourth quarter and just kind of wear them down or whatever. So this is a situation I feel if we’re in the game and we are just able to continue to hand the ball off, I think it will be a great challenge for me, but I just hope it’s not a situation where we have to end up one-dimensional. And that’s where you see the Jets. They have a lot success when they go up or whatever and things like that when a team’s not able to continually run the ball on them.

On if he’s rooting for Adrian Peterson to break Eric Dickerson’s record…

The whole Adrian Peterson situation, I feel like he’s been blessed, a lot of prayer and things like that. That’s one of the guys in the league that I like to watch in situations like that. I hope for the best for him. I wouldn’t sit here and say don’t nobody like their record to get broken or anything like that. I wouldn’t say that I want him to break my record or whatever like that. But I don’t wish anything bad on him. I wish him the best of luck.

On if he plans to be with Tennessee long-term…

Honestly, I don’t know. There have been talks out there or whatever. And I’m sure those talks haven’t come from nowhere. Everything you hear has some truth into it and still a lot of false into it, though. Honestly, I’m not sure, but while I’m here I’m going to do my best and continue to play hard.

On if he means possible trade talks…

Trade or release talks or however it would go.

On if he would want to be traded to a contending team…

So basically you’re asking me do I not want to be here? [laughter] Basically, you’re saying if they were to trade me, what team would they want to go to or something like that?

On if he would want to be traded to a playoff-type team in the offseason…

So basically that’s what I’m saying. So you’re saying in the offseason do I want to stay here or do I want to be traded? I’m just trying to get to the bottom of what you’re asking me because I don’t want to sit here and be like, “Oh, yes, I want to be traded to so and so" or whatever, and then it comes out where I’m saying I want to be traded.

On what he wants to say about the possibility of being traded…

I really don’t have a comment on that question [laughter]. At the end of the day this is how I feel, to be honest, this is how I feel. I’ve been here, I’ve put in my first five years here and all those type of things and had a great experience, but at the end of the day if they don’t want me here I feel like all situations have a time where they have to come to an end.

You look at guys, a lot of good guys around the league, like Eric Dickerson, he was traded, Marshall Faulk, a lot of top-tier guys, these are Hall of Fame guys who haven’t played their whole career with one team. So if it’s a situation where they feel like this whole thing has come to an end, they need a fresh start or whatever like that, I will wish them the best of luck and move on to the next journey. But if it’s a situation where they want to keep me here, then I’m here and you’re putting up numbers and trying to make us get to the playoffs.

On him wanting to be traded [joking]…

I didn’t say that [laughter].

On Clinton Portis being a running back who was not with his original team his entire career…

Yeah, Clinton Portis, a lot of great guys who it wasn’t a situation where it was bad blood, it was just a situation where I guess the team had come to a point where they might want a fresh start or something like that and feels like it comes to an end between both parties. And if it was a situation where if I was to get traded from here or whatever, it would be a situation where I wouldn’t bash Tennessee, I wouldn’t talk bad about them or nothing because I’m nothing without Tennessee. I ran for 2,000 yards here and continue to be the guy for my first five years in the league, so they have done enough for me in my career, so in that situation I would never down-fault Tennessee.

On if Tennessee has the players to be a playoff contender next year…

I think we have some players here who can get the job done. I don’t want to say we need a whole new team or whatever. But in this situation, you know, you have to tee up to what other teams are doing, not necessarily copy what other teams are doing, but after the season, no matter if a team went to the playoffs or they didn’t go to the playoffs, they’re going to go into the offseason addressing their needs and saying, “OK, as far as in the division, we need this in order to beat this team.” So as far as us going into our division knowing Houston is the top guys in our division, we have to go and get guys in the area where we need it to compete with those guys in order to try to beat Houston.

On if he ever looks at contending teams that need a running back…

[Laughing] No, not really. I’m with Tennessee right now, so I feel like if I was paying attention to that type of thing, guys who were contenders who are in need of a running back or something like that, I wouldn’t really be focused on my job at hand and my job at hand is trying to make Tennessee the best team possible.

On if he has any questions for the media…

No. I’m waiting to see when these stories are going to hit because I’m sure something’s going to come up. This is the New York media. What I do have to say is, I never said I was requesting a trade or anything like that. I was just answering your questions that y’all had for me. Not one time in this whole interview did I say that I was requesting a trade or anything like that. It was a question that was asked to me. The trading deadline is over with anyway.

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