TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Oct. 28, 2016
Well, let's start with a little bit of the injury (update). DeMarco (Murray), when I met with Todd (Toriscelli), he was getting an MRI, so I haven't gotten a result for him, but I don't think it's too serious. Quinton Spain is progressing—possibility of playing this week if he continues to get better like he has. Aaron Wallace on defense has a shoulder sprain. He's getting an MRI. Perrish Cox should be back this week from the concussion protocol. Rashad (Johnson) we anticipate having back with the extended period of time. And (Kevin) Dodd, as well, we expect to have back for the game. Really the only one that's going to be a concern or probably out will be Spain.
(on if DeMarco Murray's injury is ongoing or occurred during the game)
No, it happened last night.
(on what stood out from the game after watching the tape)
Offensively, really both sides—I'll say this, all three phases, very few mental errors—the fewest on offense we've had all year. Not a lot of mistakes, penalties—(Taylor) Lewan's was big because we were down there on the four-yard line again. But the physical part of it, I thought we were physical from early start of the game to the finish, which is hard to do after coming off a Sunday game. I thought they played very physical. We just did a lot of smart things. We didn't put ourselves in bad positions.
(on what he said to Taylor Lewan after his personal foul penalty)
Well, I mean, I had already told him that they had warned me that another incident—it was really when he had the penalty, it was a minor infraction. It usually doesn't get called. But because of prior things going on, they called it. I told him that hurt our offense. We had a chance to get another seven right there which would put the game, to me, away. He's just got to be smarter than that. That's what I said. I mean, I love his aggression, I love how physical he is, but he's got to be smarter, especially when he knows the next thing he does over the line, just even as minor as it was, they're going to call him for a penalty. It cost us.
(on what the win proves to the rest of the league)
Well, I think it shows this team's going in the right direction. We're doing some good things. Last night's probably the first time I can honestly say we had all three phases really play well, well enough to win. The results showed it. I think if you watched it, I think they see we have a chance to be pretty good when we play well in all three phases.
(on if he thinks about what the team's record could be if they had closed out other games)
You can't go back. I mean, we all feel like we've been in every game. We've had chances to win all the games we've been in. The losses have come down to the final minutes of the fourth quarter. We've had chances. Again, like I've said earlier, it's things we've done that have prevented us from getting over the hump to win those games. Yeah, our record could be better, but then you could say that about a lot of teams in this league.
(on if he has considered increasing Kendall Wright's role in the X or Z position)
I think the way we're handling it with Kendall (Wright) now is good. He's a very, very good slot receiver, very good third-down receiver. He is getting snaps on first and second down, as you saw last night. I like the rotation we have out there. I think all the receivers are getting an opportunity to get a chance to play and make a difference in the game. I think we're playing better out there as a group, much more consistent than we were earlier.
(on if Rishard Matthews has earned more snaps due to his play)
Yeah, he's made a lot of plays. I mean, you talk about the last probably four or five games, he's made plays when we've needed plays to be made.
(on if Kevin Dodd was inactive due to his foot)
Yes, it was the foot. We thought short week, give him another week to get it right. Again, it's about a pain tolerance. If we can get him back, we probably won't practice him on Monday, as well. But if we can get him back Wednesday, he should be full-go for the rest of the year.
(on if it is satisfying to beat Jacksonville after coaching there for one season)
You know, I don't have any revenge factors. I don't. I want to win every game, I do. We all do. That was an important game for us—a division game on national television, a game to get us back to even. You know, we're talking about playing quarters. We won the quarter. It was a very important game. No, there's no revenge.
(on how different players stepped up in place of injured starters)
I thought they played well. (Brian) Schwenke, especially in the protection schemes, I thought he did very well. They've got some good players up front over there. That's a good defense. Going into that game, they were the ninth-ranked defense. A lot of that is because of their front seven. I thought our secondary, with the exception of the last five minutes of the game where we were playing in different coverage, I thought they played well.
(on if he is changing running back carries or it depends on how the game is going)
Yeah, I think it's just how the flow of the game is going. I think we've done a good job with these guys in the run game which is evident. We're running the ball very efficiently. I think it's more of how the game is going along with Derrick (Henry).
(on the benefit of having 10 days until the next game)
It's good. I mean, we all need a break. I know the coaches could use it. Players certainly can use it. We practice hard. They grind it out when they come in here, and we've been going since July 27th. It's nice to have a break. It certainly is much nicer after a win to get a weekend break. I think it's going to be good for everybody, both mentally and physically.
(on if the rushing attack was what he expected when making offseason changes)
I think we are what we were hoping to be. We're trying to establish the run in the game. It's not always early. In some cases, it's been last in these games, but we are going to establish it at some point with our mindset. When you watch the tape, there's a lot of yards still, to me, that we're leaving out there. Players will see that when they come back in here on Monday that we've got, whether it's one guy here or one guy there or even a back just hitting the hole that was created, we could have more yards than we have.
(on how tuned in he will be to other division games on Sunday)
We'll be watching. We're coming in Sunday, the coaching staff, in order to start preparing for San Diego on Sunday. But TVs will be on and we'll be watching what's going on around the league.
(on how the tight ends are helping in the run game)
Blocking very well. A lot of the things you saw yesterday were behind the tight ends or tight end. That was where the ball was being run, right behind them.
(on if Anthony Fasano was effective)
Very good. When he was in there as the lone tight end in our regular personnel, he blocked the ends. That's what we have to have from that group. They've got to be able to block defensive ends.
(on Marcus Mariota's block on DeMarco Murray's touchdown run)
Yeah, there's that fine line, again, of just enough to get the touchdown. Great effort on his part. I mean, that's what you like to see. It doesn't have to be all the linemen up front or the tight ends or the fullback. You've got a quarterback that will do what it takes to get a back in the end zone.
(on what he thinks when he sees Marcus Mariota making a block)
You do flash bad things, but he's smart enough to know. If you look at it, he stayed low enough. He really wanted to cut him. He's got to cut through the knee to get the guy down. He stayed low enough just to get the guy off his path, so he's smart. I trust him.
(on the importance for a quarterback to have a bounce-back mentality)
Very, and I think he has shown that since he's been here. He's really been impressive how he may have an off game or an off series, but even after interceptions, he'll come back and he has no problem taking a shot down the field. That's him. I'm glad he's on our side that he can do things like that.
(on the effectiveness of the six-player offensive line when Dennis Kelly serves as an extra tackle)
Very. Again, that's not just the run game. We've thrown the ball out of it pretty efficiently, as well. It's been a good change up. Again, it's just another personnel grouping teams have to get prepared for.
(on what he likes most from what he's seen from the team in the first half of the season)
I just like how our guys compete, how important it is to them, how they come in here and work every day. It's all business. I mean, we still have some fun in these team meetings and still try to make it a good environment that they enjoy coming to work, but they work when they're here. When we go on the practice field, I think the one thing it's doing, it's carrying over what we do on the practice field, it's carrying over onto the game field.
(on the team's success in third-and-long situations)
It really helps that a lot of the third downs, I think running the ball helps get you into third-and-makeables—a lot more of them, if you can do that, if you're efficient on first and second down. But I think our offensive staff does a really good of scheming our third downs based on what they've seen on film from the opponents and putting our guys in a good position to make plays. And then the guys are making the plays. That's the biggest thing. I've been here where we haven't made plays on third down and they've been there, we just haven't come down with them. Kendall (Wright) made a big play yesterday on a third-and-long. We haven't made those plays, but I think our coaches are doing a very good job of scheming that up.
(on if he thinks the team's success rate on third-and-long is good)
It's better than the average. I mean, we hit one yesterday backed up. We ran the ball out of the same runs we were running on first and second downs. We ran it just to get off being backed up so we wouldn't have to punt it from our own end zone. We got a first down on third-and-13. We hit DeMarco (Murray) for 16 which is rare, but if you block it right, you've got a chance to make it.
(on what improvements need to be made in the second half of the season)
I think making the plays, the plays that are there for us, the things that have gone the other way where we haven't made plays, we need to make those plays. The onside kick a week ago, we need to make that play. We need to make our extra points. We need to do the things we're capable of doing.
(on if self-inflicted wounds are the biggest negative so far)
That's a lot of it, yeah. I mean, I'll go more offensively on that than anything, and we did a better job yesterday of that with eliminating a lot of mental mistakes but by far the fewest we've had all year against a good defense. They do a lot of things with their front and their personnel.
(on the pressure the defense put on Blake Bortles)
Good, very good. Again, Coach (Dick) LeBeau and those guys had a good package against them. A number of times, we had a free rusher, a free blitzer. When you do that, typically, if you're not containing, he can get out of the pocket and make plays down the field. Our guys did a good job of keeping him in the pocket and making some of those throws. He was very uncomfortable with some of the throws he had to make.
(on if Kendall Wright's long touchdown was successful because of how he ran the route, similar to his touchdown against Cleveland)
Pretty much the same thing, yeah. Terry (Robiskie) talks about it all the time. Terry's coached receivers for a long time. He's got plenty of tape to show that it's about running. I mean, just run because the ball's going to land at a certain spot. There's no reason to look back. Just anticipate the spot and get to the spot, and then you can look. If you watched Kendall (Wright), he didn't look until he got really to the goal line, and that ball just dropped in on him. We don't want guys running with their shoulders turned because you can't run as fast with your shoulders turned back to the quarterback. So run is the biggest key.
(on his message to the team when it returns on Monday)
I think, again, it's going to remain the same. We're going to focus on San Diego. We really haven't accomplished anything. You know, we're .500. We've got a lot of football still to play. We still have a lot of things we have to improve on.
(on if he will look at how the team has performed better in the second quarter than the first)
Yeah, we'll look at that.
(on how the team has responded in the second quarter of the season after starting 1-3)
I'm really proud of this football team. I really enjoy being around this team. I think they care about each other, I care about them, it's important to them, they care about having each other's back. I think it's really important to them. It shows up on Sundays, but you see it every day. You see it in here, you see it when they're on the field in practice, and it shows up on game days. We have a chance to win because of these guys, we do.
(on the home crowd last night)
The crowd was great again. Great atmosphere, really great atmosphere. Really nice to have that kind of performance by all three phases on a nationally-televised game that showed everybody what we're capable of doing. But our crowd was great, again. The hope is we can get more back.
(on why Marcus Mariota's accuracy was better last night than against the Colts)
Yeah, I just thought his decision making last night was very quick with really seeing things that he knew were about to take place. He already knew where to go before the defense got to where they're dropping. So the ball was coming out much quicker for him yesterday. Why was he more accurate yesterday? I mean, he's going to sail some more. That's just it. It's not going to be perfect every time. You get to see him in a game like this and that's what you expect, and all of sudden he doesn't have a game like this and all of a sudden, what's wrong with Marcus (Mariota)? The guy is human, but he made some really good decisions yesterday.
(on if they practice forward passes on read-option plays)
Right, all those read-option (plays) where another part of the option rather than reading the run inside is if that ball's thrown, it's always a live ball. We don't know if it's behind or forward, so make sure you get on the ball if we drop it. That's a hard play, especially going to the left to make that throw. I thought Kendall (Wright) made a great catch on it. We got 10 yards out of the play. It was well-executed.
(on if he encourages or allows freedom for Marcus Mariota to make plays like his flip to Derrick Henry)
I allow him to do that. He's been doing it his whole career. He did it at Oregon. He's made really good decisions doing it. I like that. We talked about him being aggressive. That's being aggressive. There's other times, too, if there's more room to run, he can run it. I trust him. We all trust him.