Mike Munchak Blames Chris Johnson’s Mediocre Season on His Holdout, But Says Johnson Will Return

January 6, 2012 – 10:20 am by Eric Schmoldt

Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson did break the 1,000-yard mark this year, but ran for just four yards per carry and scored just four touchdowns all season. Perhaps it’s not shocking, but coach Mike Munchak is pretty blunt is saying that the fact that Johnson didn’t show up to work until September is a pretty big reason for the mediocre season.

The Titans could cut ties with Johnson if they wanted to, but Munchak makes it sound like the Titans will keep him around. He also says his team should be praised for winning nine games despite a coaching change that was made tougher by the lockout.

Mike Munchak joined WGFX in Nashville with Three Hour Lunch to discuss what he learned in his first season, what he would change, how the team’s rushing game can improve, what’s going to happen with the quarterback situation, if they’ll considered cutting ties with Chris Johnson and the job he did despite the lockout.

What did you learn about being a head coach that you maybe didn’t expect in your first year?:

“I guess how many things you do other than football, that there’s life going on that affects a lot of these players. … I just didn’t know to what level. Until you walk in the shoes as head coach, you don’t really know all that goes on and I think the fact that there’s so many things that come up … was probably the most eye-opening for me.”

After looking back at the whole season, if you could take one play back, what would it be?:

“Probably the game would be obviously the way we played at Indianapolis. … No one play stands out to me, some moments in games, but not necessarily any one play. … You can go back and when you get this close, the bad thing about being 9-7 and so close is that you realize how any of three games went differently, we’re in the playoffs.”

How do you plan to improve the running game?:

“It starts with the film study  of us really evaluating what did go wrong when you watch the run plays all grouped together. … Is it a personnel problem? Is it a combination? Do we have to make changes personnel-wise? This is the time of year you figure that out. Is it time to make some changes up front? Is it time to make changes in the scheme? … What’s [Chris Johnson's] role in this? Are we doing too much stuff to where we need to concentrate on what he’s best at? … I think a lot of it is what happened with Chris not showing up until September. I think that’s a huge part of it. … We know he wasn’t in football shape.”

What’s going to happen with the quarterback situation?:

“I think the good thing is, for me, that we have two good ones that I think we can win with. I think Matt proved what he can do for us this year. We drafted a quarterback with the eighth pick and a lot of people were wondering about that, but when they saw him play in the preseason, I think they felt better about him. … It’s a good problem to have that we have two guys that we’re real happy with. … I think it’s not going to be as big a deal as people think. … They’ll both get a lot of reps and we’ll see who’s the best one.”

You guys have the chance to cut ties with Chris Johnson and save some money. Do you think about that at all?:

“Everything’s discussed. … Of course you’re going to look at every possibility to make your team better. … Chris Johnson is going to be the running back next year and we’re going to do some of the things we talked about. There’s a lot of things we can do in this offense now that we have a full offseason and we all kind of know where we’re at and we actually have film to watch.”

On being successful in his first year despite the lockout:

“People don’t realize how bad that really was and how hard that really was and how going 9-7 really was a lot better than people may think it was for what these coaches were having to put up with and how slowly they had to install. … I think that’s probably the best thing we did is we didn’t overload them. … I think we can fix a lot of things this year with the coaches we have and the players.”

Listen to Mike Munchak on WGFX in Nashville here

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