Mike Munchak talked to the league office, then spilled details of conversations that are typically kept private.
I’m happy to learn what the NFL told him, and what he said it told him was that three plays that were called against the Titans in Sunday's 22-14 loss in Indianapolis were called incorrectly.
Let’s review them:
1) Titans’ ball, 1st-and-10 from the TEN 30 with 1:13 remaining in the first quarter: Ryan Fitzpatrick's pass over the short middle for Delanie Walker is ruled incomplete. Munchak challenges the call, feeling the Titans had a 10- or 11-yard gain.
Munchak says: "They said it was a catch."
My review: I thought it was a catch as I saw it live and looked at the replays in the Lucas Oil Stadium press box. Looking at it now on NFL Game Review, there was a bit of a bobble, but he still gained control of it before he was taken down by Erik Walden, tackled over the body of LaRon Landry. The play ended Walker’s day because of the resulting concussion.
2) Colts’ ball, 3rd-and-17 from the IND 46 with :07 remaining in the second quarter: Andrew Luck completes a 20 yard pass to T.Y. Hilton up the right side. The clock is stopped with a second left because of a penalty flag. Titans linebacker Moise Fokou is called for an unnecessary roughness penalty for a hit on fullback Stanley Havili on the other side of the field.
Munchak says: “(Fokou) saw Luck was staring over there initially, looking off where he was going to throw it. He saw that, he broke to make a play on his guy so he wouldn’t be able to make a play if he threw it to him and get out of bounds quickly for a second play and hit him. The problem with the play was he hit him in the back, he hit him from behind. He was in the five-yard area when he hit him, so that part was OK. You can’t hit a player in the back. I talked to them in New York today, and they said it should have been a five-yard penalty for illegal contact. It was unnecessary to hit him probably as hard as he hit him in that area in that time in the game -- not a good decision.”
My review: The ball is coming out of Luck’s hand right as Fokou is hitting Havili. I could see it called either way. Either way, I agree with Munchak on this -- it’s a situation where I’m not sure why Fokou feels it was necessary to level Havili as he did rather than getting hands on him and controlling him. Havili is at the line of scrimmage, facing the quarterback and is not a risk for gaining 17 yards on what should have been the last play from scrimmage. Fokou would have been able to prevent a completion or at least keep him in bounds based on where he was.
3) Titans’ ball, 1st-and-10 from midfield with 13:10 remaining in the third quarter: Shonn Greene carries up the middle for an 8-yard gain, then jaws with his tackler, LaRon Landry and makes hand gestures in the safety’s face, drawing a 15-yard unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Green and Landry used to be teammates on the Jets.
Munchak says: “It doesn’t matter the day after. Shonn Greene got up, two guys that know each other on a big hit after an 8-yard gain get up and jaw back and forth. They threw a penalty. (Greene) clapped I think, and they threw a flag. They told me that there was no reason to do that, no reason to throw a flag.”
My review: We don’t know what was said, but Greene put himself in a situation where the judgment of the crew was put in play. If he followed Munchak’s mantras of “know what to do and do it” and “be a pro” then it wouldn’t have been an issue at all. It’s frustrating, I’m sure, to be told the crew over-officiated the play. But there is an easy way to not give the officials any reason to do so. Head back to the huddle.
Overall, learning from the league that three calls that went against him should have been two calls that went for him and one call that resulted in a smaller penalty has to be brutal for Munchak and the struggling Titans.
Officiating seems to be getting increasingly inconsistent, and the Titans, like all teams, deserve a better work product from the guys wearing stripes on Sunday.
Munchak is honest in news sessions, and there is no reason to doubt he was told what he says he was told. I reached out to the NFL to see if it would confirm the conversation about the three calls.
The response: "By league policy, those conversations between our officiating department and teams are confidential."