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TITANS: Last Week It Came Together for Jake

Posted Sep 25, 2013

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

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MUNCHAK

On the Jets rush defense…

Obviously, they’re playing well. I think we played them last year, they’ve obviously changed the personnel somewhat. They’re more familiar with their system. They have a big group of guys that play small and they’ve got great size in the middle. The linebackers are big guys. It’s a big group. The front seven have pretty good size. As a group, pretty stout. Been around the league, got a nice mixture of young guys with veterans that are playing well right now. Three games in, they’ve kept the scores down low, not allowing a lot of points and have been the strength of the defense. With [Muhammad] Wilkerson in there, those guys are really getting better and better every time they play.

On Geno Smith

The same thing. You see the development that you want to see. He’s only going into his fourth start. Last week they had a huge game numbers-wise. Threw some balls up there. I think he passed for about 300. They’ve run the ball well, passed it well. When you’re doing that it helps your quarterback. We have a young quarterback so we understand how that goes. Jake [Locker]'s only played in a dozen games himself, so he’s pretty much a rookie himself. He’s doing a nice job. He’s hung in there each game.

They’ve had a chance to be 3-0 right now with a young quarterback. They have to be happy with how he’s progressing. Obviously, he’s a good athlete, he can run. There’s a lot of things he can do and so I think it’s just a matter of him getting comfortable with the first year in the system and first year of getting to know his players and his receivers. With [Stephen] Hill and [Santonio] Holmes he’s got guys who can go make plays for him. It’s got to be exciting for him.

On Locker’s development…

He’s come along well. This is his first year really to be the starter for the whole offseason, going through training camp, having all that behind him from last year. Last year he got injured in the opening game, ended up playing about 10 games but played with a separated shoulder, so we felt, to me, this is really his first year being the guy. I think he’s making good decisions. He’s a guy that, first couple of games, we ran the ball a lot more than we threw it because of the types of teams we’ve played. He’s been making good decisions with the ball, when to run. He can run, himself. He’s pretty active that way also.

I felt last week it came together for him where he moved in the pocket well. He threw on the run quite a few times, he actually ran a few times. So I thought all of that was good. He passed for about the same thing, about 300 yards, himself. Like you mentioned, he took us on the two-minute drive at the end with no timeouts. We went the length of the field. All that’s real good stuff for a young quarterback. I think each game he’s gotten better. The biggest thing is we haven’t turned the ball over and I think he’s making good decisions. He’ll just take a sack or he’ll throw it away. We’re not hurting the defense or the team by doing silly things. This week will be another challenge against a great defense.

On if the amount Smith is throwing is surprising or normal in today’s NFL…

Yeah, I think it’s a mixture of both, but obviously because they have to trust him that he can do it. I know they’ve had a few interceptions but the bottom line is when you have receivers that can go get the ball and make plays for you, you’re more confident to do those types of things. And when you have a defense that’s playing as well as they are, again, that allows you to take more chances on offense when you feel that your defense, if there is a turnover, at least it’s 40 yards down the field or 50 yards down the field, the defense will take the ball back for you. That factors into the situation. If your defense isn’t very good, then maybe it’s different and you try to protect field position, whereas I think with the way they’re playing on defense and the way they always play on defense, the Jets are always a good defense, they’re more willing to do those things.

On what he has noticed from Demario Davis as a cover linebacker…

He’s done a good job. That’s the thing, in general, they’re not allowing anything underneath. They’re covering well. They’re getting off the field. They’re No. 1 in about every category on defense early in the season. He matches up well. They keep those guys out there. They’re playing the run well. They’re not allowing the short passes, which usually offenses are looking forward when they play against a stingy defense. So right now, they’ve played against some good quarterbacks and they’ve done a nice job.

On Justin Hunter’s catch against San Diego…

Yeah, he’s a guy we feel can do things like that also, that you can throw it up there and he can go and do something like that. He hasn’t had any opportunities this year yet. He’s really getting comfortable with the offense in the last couple weeks, two, three weeks in practice. It's gone well with him and Jake, I think they're getting along well that way, getting a feel for each other, so I think you’ll see him playing more and more every week.

That’s why we drafted him early in the second, because he’s athletic. He’s a tough matchup and he’s got a lot to learn. He’s a lot stronger, he’s nice and tall and lean and can run. So he’s a guy that you've got to be concerned about because he can win the jumpball and he can add some elements like that to our offense that we haven’t had before.

On Shonn Greene...

Yes, it’s been disappointing that he got hurt in the opener because we just got him in free agency and wanted to have another running back, a veteran running back. He was the guy that I thought would be the perfect fit for us. He came in here and had a great offseason and a great preseason and he was exactly what we thought he’d be. We envisioned him getting that 10, 15 carries and touches and with the type of offense we were going to have. Unfortunately he is going to miss another week, but he’ll be fine after that. So he’ll be a big part of the rest of our season the next 12 weeks.

But unfortunately I know this one meant a lot to him also. Great kid, as probably you guys know that. He’s a great runner and he’s the kind of runner that falls forward when there’s nothing there and then it is second-and-6. I think that’s something special and he converts the short-yardage stuff. I saw him as a complete back that can come in there and work with C.J. [Chris Johnson] and then be a big help for us.

But unfortunately he got hurt in the opener and so that kind hurt us a little bit on offense and that’ll hurt us in this game. This is a game where he obviously would’ve been highly motivated to run well, but again with this type of defense, he’s the kind of back that’s a little harder to stop and, like I said, can get the tough yards. So we’ll hope Jackie Battle can do that for us this weekend.

On how much you can use a featured running back before you have to dial back…

I think it’s good knowing that you get to know the running back better. I think when you game-plan you get a feel for it when you have a back who’s the same back. That’s the advantages of you get a good feel for what they run well. You know one week it’s hard to make a lot of decisions on what exactly the best runs are. I think the more you get an opportunity to get a back like C.J., obviously we know very well, we think he’s real good at, he’s a guy that’s been able to stay healthy, so we can plan accordingly.

I think when you have backs that they’ve had injuries in the last couple years, trying to stay healthy and having one particular back run week in and week out. But there are advantages to guys who are fresh. You have guys that aren’t beat up and aren’t getting worn out and that’ve responded. They ran the ball very well last week and that was a big part of why they won.

On how the offensive line has improved since last season…

We’re better, but we have a lot of work ahead of us. Chance Warmack, we drafted him high, who’s been at right guard. For a rookie, I think he’s really doing well. He’s going against different types of players every week. He’ll get better as it goes on, but he’s going to be a really good fit for us. He’s a tough guy, plays hard, game’s important to him, all the things you want. So this will be another huge challenge for him. [Andy] Levitre, he played in that division for a couple years at Buffalo, four years at Buffalo. He’s been a great addition at left guard, and Rob Turner at center. So I think we feel we have a good group we can do a lot of things with. I think they’ll be playing a lot better by midseason. I think we’re doing some good stuff. [David] Stewart’s the one that’s been hurt a little at right tackle. He’s been playing, but not practicing much.

I’m happy with where they’re at. I’m happy with what they’re doing. They match up with most teams. This will obviously be a very physical game with the kind of players the Jets have. We’ll see how we fare here, but we’re much improved from last year and I think we’ll be a lot better as the season goes on.

TITANS RB CHRIS JOHNSON

On the Jets stopping big-name running backs this season and why he thinks he can be successful…

They always look tough, it’s a tough defense to play against. Even last year, a very tough defense. They've got a lot of young guys who are very big, very athletic and like to get to the ball. It’s going to be a situation where I've got my work cut out for me. I going to have to pay attention to the small details and just stay on my course and just try to maximize each carry.

On if Shonn Greene has given him insight on the Jets defense…

No. I’ve been playing against the Jets defense a couple of years now. It’s not a thing really where I need him to tell me anything. He hasn’t really said anything, but I already know what type of game it’s going to be playing against their defense.

On the difference between the Jets defense last year and this year…

The main difference I see is that they’re younger. They got a lot of different new faces. Anytime going up against a Rex Ryan defense, you’re going to kind of see some of the same things. You’re going to see disciplined guys getting to the ball and making tackles.

On if he sees similarities between the Titans and the Jets…

I wouldn’t say similarities, but the only thing I could say is we’re probably two teams in the beginning of the year that no one really thought we had a chance. At the end of the day it’s still early. In that situation, I know from the Titans' perspective we’re just going to continue to try and work hard and continue to try to keep piling on wins.

On if he had a big run against the Jets last season…

Yes.

On his big run against the Jets…

We were kind of close to our end zone, 94-yard run. We had a zone play and our line guys got up at that man and gave me a chance to hit the hole. Once I hit the hole, it was just a footrace to the end zone.

On if he wants to repeat his 94-yard run…

I hope I repeat that every week. That run, that’s something that you’re praying for every week.

On if he looks to get a long run on every play…

I wouldn’t say that’s my goal, but I like to maximize every carry that I get. I don’t go out there and try to look for the big run, I let it come to me. That’s something that I don’t try to get caught up in.

On the additions to the offensive line…

I think they did a great job in the offseason going and getting some guys to put up there on the line. I just feel like we’re getting better and better every week and if we continue to get better and better, I think we’ll have a good chance of making the playoffs.

On the development of Jake Locker…

He’s just a guy who’s getting better and better every week. He’s poised. He’s kind of that leader that we need. It’s just the situation that if we can keep the pocket clean for Jake, he’s that guy that can make those throws.

On if he has talked to Shonn Greene about the Jets culture…

Me and Shonn, we’re good. Not really, since he’s been here. We’ve been focused on the team and those things. He hasn’t really talked about the Jets much.

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