Coach Mularkey's Monday Press Conference Transcript

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TITANS INTERIM HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - November 9, 2015

(on not allowing a sack for the first time in 13 games and what he can attribute that to)

It was a lot of that, the personnel changes obviously had a big factor with the offensive line. Marcus (Mariota) coming back, Marcus, everybody knows that he has a quick release and that has a lot to do with what happened yesterday and some of the games earlier in the year. Plus, he also realizes, and we've told him, don't take them. Don't take sacks, get rid of the ball….hopefully throw it out of bounds farther (laughter). But he's been told, we'll take a second-and-10 if we have to. Then scheme-wise, we quickened up some things and philosophically changed a couple things. I got the chance to go in with the passing group when the last year and a half I've been more with the run group, so changed a couple things there. There was a group of things that made a difference for us yesterday.


(on Byron Bell at right tackle)*

He's an experienced player. He's played left tackle, started at left tackle, he's started at right, he's started at guard, and he's just experienced there understanding things that are going to happen to him. Again, Marcus (Mariota) helped him by getting rid of the ball, but he's big, we wanted to run the ball like we did. He's good in the run game, a roadgrader as we called him. But he performed well for us.

(on having to adapt to a number of changes in a short amount of time)

They really did a good job. I think the more they play, obviously, communication and especially the more you work together, guards and tackles and some of those double teams and area…the zone scheme. I think the more they're together, the better it's going to be, but I thought for playing together for three days and then playing in a game in a pretty tough environment with noise, for the most part, they handled it very well. 

(on why Joe Looney got the start at left guard)

He's just had experience. He's been around the league. He has a number of starts under his belt and that had a lot to do with it. Some of the third down things, we're tapping the center for cadence, the snap count, and he's good with that. There were things that he brought to the table more than anybody else, and that's why we made that change.

(on how Joe Looney performed)

They all graded good, they did. Again, a lot went into the scheme, running the football helped yesterday. I think just the total way we wanted to attack them helped those guys out.

(on if the changes on the offensive line were fairly obvious or if they required a lot of discussion)

We knew we had to make some changes. We had to do something different, especially when we had seven sacks the week before, to see if there was another lineup that would give us an advantage. We felt like that was the best one and as the week progressed it proved to be.

(on Marcus Mariota's bobbled 61-yard pass to Delanie Walker)

The play is designed to go to Delanie (Walker). If you talk about a primary receiver, it was Delanie. We actually have thrown a pass like that to our right under pressure and literally, it dropped in Delanie's lap. I know (Marcus Mariota) stated that he tried to get it out of bounds and that's what we want, but I have seen him drop them in with some touch.

(on some breaks in favor of the Titans, including bobbled pass 61-yard pass to Delanie Walker)

We haven't had a lot of those. I've seen a lot of them against us, but I haven't seen a lot of plays go our way. Certainly, the sideline was never in a doom and gloom at any point, but that certainly was a boost to the sideline.

(on if the 61-yard touchdown pass got Marcus Mariota into a rhythm)

I guess you could say that, he settled down a little bit. We got off to a slow start, obviously, three-and-outs early in the game, but maybe that settled him down, I don't know, putting a touchdown up.

(on Jeremiah Poutasi will play more left guard than tackle and what makes him better suited there)

We're going to continue to work Jeremiah (Poutasi) there at left guard, yes. His body type…we're not going to just pull him from tackle, he's got to be able to play multiple positions if he's going to play here and play here a long time hopefully. But it may be better, we've tried him…again, any position on the (offensive) line is tough as a rookie in the NFL, and when you get up against some of the guys that he has faced, it's been a difficult task. Right now, we're going to try him at guard and see how it works. He's had literally three days of work at it, and not a lot because we're trying to get (Joe) Looney some snaps.

(on his emotions during Delanie Walker's 61-yard touchdown)

Yeah, it was I think for everybody and everybody watching it…I know even the Saints fans in the stands and if you looked at the body languages of the coaches of the Saints that were standing right there. We just needed something. We needed a spark, especially offensively, because we started so slowly. Whatever way it was, we were thrilled that it happened.

(on if yesterday's game sent the message that everything doesn't have to be perfect to get a win)

Well, the message last week was that we want to be a physically tough football team, one, and two we can't keep beating ourselves. Yesterday, that clearly could have had in impact on the outcome of that game. We're still doing that. We do not want to take the ball out of the end zone when we bobble the kickoff. That was clearly…and we still did. We still got stuck down there in the hole. We don't want to do those things. We don't want to have holding calls on a play that…if we don't get a holding call on Phillip Supernaw, that ball is going to scooting right down the hash. It's probably going to run over the official that's standing right there, there was a big crease right there. But we get a holding call that puts us back. We have two unsportsmanlike conducts by our defense, and that's not…I love the emotions of those guys and wanting to win so badly, but those are things that will get you beat every Sunday. As we've seen here, there's been a play here or a player here that has done that, but we've got to fix that. So still the message is not going to change.

(on the increased number of catches by wide receivers in the second half was a conscious effort)

I think just the progression of the throws, where they were going. Plus, the tight ends were…some of those shorter, bumped-down throws…I told the staff I thought that was the best game the tight ends have played all year now that they've got Arthur Smith coaching them. But they did, they played well. It wasn't just about Marcus (Mariota) getting it to them as much as what they did, they caught it. You look at all the things that they did, I'm talking about everybody…Harry Douglas and (Dorial Green-Beckham) and everybody. The impact of the play after the catch. It doesn't always have to be in the air to make the yards. I thought they did a great job of getting us big plays.

(on if a victory Monday has helped change the mood in the building)

I thought that was really big for the whole organization, that win. I think we all obviously needed something positive. I think the players really deserved it. I went through, Saturday night in our meeting, I went through the Sunday schedule of the buses and the pregame meal and I said, 'Your Monday schedule is on your iPad but I would prefer that I not see you on Monday.' It was really interesting because all the veterans got excited and all the rookies were wondering what I am talking about. So I really was hoping that would be the case because it's good for them, gives them some time off, lets their bodies heal, and lets their mind get away from it for a little bit. But they're going to come in here anyhow. That's just the team we have. They're going to come in, they're going to study film, they're going to take care of their bodies, and they're going to get a lift in. But I just thought it was good, and then the coaches get extra time to get ready for Carolina, so it was good for everybody.

(on if his approach as a head coach is different here than it was in Buffalo or Jacksonville)

There are some things different, yeah. I won't say exactly what, but I've learned some things, both good and bad, from places I've been before. I'm just trying to make some subtle changes here that the players recognize. I think, at least last week, some of the things we did were positive and hopefully will continue to be.

(on if it was critical to continue running the ball after falling behind early)

I think it was critical. If I learned anything, I always kind of felt that you can get into a panic mode as a play caller and go, 'Hey, this is going to be a shoot-out, we need to get into a two-minute mode.' But that's not always the case. If you look at Cleveland last year, when we were up on Cleveland, we were up 28-3 at one point. They never diverted from their game. They just kept running the football and they stuck with their game plan. That's what we did, that's what we have to do. It's a long game, there are a lot of plays, just chip away and get back into it. That's what our guys did. We found a way to win it, but you've got to stick with the plan. You can't get into panic mode.

(on if Coty Sensabaugh blocked New Orleans' late field goal attempt)

I'm pretty sure it was (Brian) Orakpo. He came through the line pretty clean.

(on getting emotional after the victory and if he is usually like that)

No, I'm not usually like that, but I haven't been in a lot of games like that. I've been a head coach twice before and both of my first games as a head coach, we lost. The first one was on the last pay of the game, and the second one in overtime. So I've been in some games like that, and to be on the positive side of it with the situation our team, our organization was in just magnified the emotion. I was just really proud for our guys. I've told our guys, the reason all the coaches are in this room is because they are rewarded when they do good, and to watch them react the way they did is something I do this for. It was great to watch, great to be a part of.

(on what he wants the players to take away from that game)

I think there are a couple of things. We complemented each other very well, each phase. It was the first time that I can remember in a while that all three phases played well. They played with great effort, played like we talked about with the physical nature we want to have here with the whole team. We still did things, we could have lost if we continued to do some of the things we did. We've got to clean those things up. We're going to talk a little bit about it Wednesday morning, but as soon as we can get by that, I'm going to talk to the players about what we want to do. They've now shown they can win if we do things specific ways, if they practice the way they practice, if they rally together like they did yesterday. They found a way to win, and that needs to come with us as we move forward. 

(on Dorial Green Beckham's emergence on Sunday)

We pulled back at the end of the week. We put a load on DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham) because we wanted to get him involved, but we also recognized we probably overloaded him because of the number of mistakes he was making in practice. So we went back, even as of Friday, pulled back some things, and put him in position to be more successful, which is our job as coaches. It turned out to be good. He still has some things he's got to get better at, obviously, but he certainly made a big step forward in our opinion.

(on if the communication from offensive coordinator and play caller Jason Michael to quarterbacks coach John McNulty to Marcus Mariota was smooth)

The tempo of the game was going to be important, and again, that has a lot to do with the play calling but also, the players getting in and out of the huddle. Jason (Michael) being the ahead of the play call, based on the situation, really we only had one time we had to call a timeout, we had a formation error. But for the most part, we had no penalties, we weren't screaming from the sideline, 'You've got to hurry up.' I was very pleased with the way everything went.

(on the specific things he liked about Jason Michael's play calling)

Well, a little bit kept them off balance. We did some things with our bigger groups of three tight ends with throwing the ball, getting Marcus (Mariota) out of the pocket, just mixed it up very well and just had a good rhythm with the flow of play calling. A lot of it was running the ball, we stuck to the run.

(on why Dexter McCluster ran the ball instead of Antonio Andrews on the late drive leading up to the field goal attempt)

Personnel grouping, Dexter (McCluster) has run the ball well for us as well. But more of the personnel grouping that we had, trying to see if we could get them into certain personnel groupings defensively. We did not want to go against base defense, we wanted to see if we could get them to substitute, which gives you different fronts to run the ball and or throw it.

(on what was going through his mind as the ball was soaring through the air to Anthony Fasano on the winning touchdown play)

I've seen it, it's about four weeks now we've had the play in, and it looked exactly like it looked in practice. I've seen that ball soaring in the air to (Anthony) Fasano, I just happened to be the head coach of the Jaguars when that ball got to him with the Dolphins. It was the exact same play. I actually brought him in because I pulled that play up and I wanted to put that play in, this was about a month ago. So I've seen it, and it was not a good feeling then, but it was a great feeling yesterday to be on the winning end.

(on how long they have had that play that resulted in the winning touchdown)

We've had it in for a number of games, but we ran it Friday, and I told (offensive coordinator) Jason (Michael), if we get the ball on the five-yard line, that's a touchdown.

(on his message to the team before the game)

I really reinforced what I had said to them Wednesday morning that a lot of us have had some frustrations, and this is a great opponent to take them out on. Let's play to the level we think we're capable of playing and do the things we've talked about, and let's just see what happens. If we do, we'll have a chance to win.

(on the number of carries he wanted to see in the game)

I'd say 25 to 30.

(on Antonio Andrews' performance)

I thought his performance was good, he made some yards, I mean really, not just running it, but some of the runs after catches, he did a good job with that. But there were some times there on some short yardage plays that I thought we should have made it. He's got to understand there's no room for stopping the feet. If there's no hole there, we've talked about it, you've got to make a hole. He's got to do that. We had a couple chances to do that with him, and again, he's a young player. A lot of the guys there yesterday, (Antonio) and B.W. (Webb) and (Joe) Looney, all of these guys were productive for us. They had a big role in this game. But Antonio will learn as we go to hit it a little better, it's being reinforced.

(on how Angelo Blackson and DaQuan Jones performed on defense)

They're playing better and better each week. Probably DaQuan (Jones') best game. I'll say this, really probably both of their best games. I thought our defensive line really played well. They really were disciplined in the run game. We talked about gap control, they did it. They were patient. It can be very frustrating, and you can ask the Saints the same question, but you can't get to the quarterback when the ball is coming out so quick every single time. You get frustrated, and at some point it's not going to be that important to keep rushing because you know you're not going to get there. As soon as you do that, you're going to sit back there and watch it. But at no point did they ever not keep coming. They just kept coming regardless of the score. They were relentless.

(on if B.W. Webb limited the calls Ray Horton and Dick LeBeau could make with Perrish Cox out)

He knows a good portion of it. The practice squad guys, they have to prepare like they're going to play in the game, and they know that. On Friday, I took all their notes. I took all the practice squad guys' notes and I made them make a copy because I wanted to see how well prepared they were for this game, even though they know they're probably not going to play. That's all of them. I was very pleased with the attention to detail that these guys had. Most times, the first time I call for those notes, they're not real good. The second time, it's really good. But I was very impressed with our guys. All the way down the offensive line, they were prepared to play. That's what we needed and that's the kind of group we have. But B.W. (Webb) was ready to play, and that was a big play for us to have that interception.

(on the emotional boost it provides when a guy is called off the practice squad and one day later intercepts Drew Brees in the end zone)

The team rallies around that. They like to see guys get a chance, they do. They like to see guys that work hard in practice actually get rewarded and brought up, and then have some success. (B.W. Webb) was good for us on special teams. He did a lot of things for us yesterday.

(on Brian Orakpo getting two unsportsmanlike conduct calls on one play)

I really wasn't sure what they were. I called (NFL Vice President of Officiating) Dean Blandino this morning, because I wasn't sure how that could have happened. I guess (Brian) Orakpo just didn't stop. He just didn't stop. He wasn't touching the officials obviously, he would have been ejected, but just verbally would not stop.

(on how close Brian Orakpo was to ejection when he got two unsportsmanlike conduct calls on the same play)

I know if you touch an official, that's an ejection. I don't know how many they can do. That's a first for me. I've never seen a guy get two (unsportsmanlike conduct penalties on one play).

(on the three roughing the passer calls)

I talked to (NFL Vice President of Officiating) Dean (Blandino) about it. It's just such a judgmental call at the time and they're not going to change anything, but I feel satisfied that I got my point across with Dean and there are some other things, I got it clarified. I told him I needed to have some answers when players or coaches come to me asking how we can coach this, and I got clarification on that.

(on whose carries David Cobb will get when he returns)

Well, we have to make that decision. I have not talked to Ruston (Webster) about it as of today, but I think we have until (November) 12 to make that decision. The one thing that (David) Cobb did last week, he took a lot of the carries on the scout team. We need to get him some carries with the offense so he gets a good feel for the offensive line and give him a little more work load. But we'll see how he feels and who he takes carries from, I don't know at this point right now.

(on how promising it was to see Marcus Mariota perform the way he did Sunday after returning from an injury)

Well the good thing was, he was moving around much better than we even anticipated. We kind of limited what we did with him because of that. But to see what he did, some of those plays that he made out of the pocket, not just designed ones, but some that he scrambled, the one to Dexter (McCluster) down there when he was in position to score. There is more we can do now, knowing that we've seen it live. It's a boost for our players, obviously. They know the ball is going to be on them and they know it's going to be only where they can catch it. They've got to just make the plays and they did yesterday for the most part.

(on the two-point conversion play)

We saw them get beat on the same play twice, not on two-point plays, but for touchdowns. We thought, 'Well, let's see if they fixed the problem.' They actually played it differently, but Marcus (Mariota) put it to Delanie (Walker) where only Delanie could catch it. No matter how well you're covered, if you've got a guy that can throw it that accurate and you've got a guy that you trust to catch it, odds are you're good. So we went back to something we saw earlier against them.

(on how bouncy of a springboard one win can be)

I think it gives you some confidence. It's got to give you confidence. I'd be shocked if they don't come in here Wednesday really ready to work. I think it's just giving them some proof that if we play well in all three phases, we have a chance to be pretty good. We really do.

(on if he hopes to have the injured corners back this week)

We're hoping to get hopefully one of them back. But again, being Monday, that will be something we'll talk about as we move on in the week.

(on Marcus Mariota's poise and how he handles himself as a rookie)

He's about as level as I've been around. Nothing really disturbs him. I mean, nothing. There is a competitive fire in him that I know is there. We have a chance, no matter what the score is, no matter what the time is in the game, we have a chance with this guy.

(on if he saw emotion from Marcus Mariota post game)

He smiled. There were a lot of smiling faces in there, but he was one of them.

(on if Derrick Morgan was injured in the game)

Yeah, he got dinged in the shoulder. They tried to tape it up and put a pad on it. The pad probably aggravated it more so he came over and took that off and just played through it. It was an impressive performance by him.

(on if there is any chance of Derrick Morgan missing time)

I don't think so, I think he's going to be OK.

(on other team injuries)

Delanie (Walker), we had him on the list last week with a knee (injury). His knee is fine. Kendall (Wright) is out, probably (Wednesday). He's progressing quicker than we thought. I don't know about the game yet, but he is better. Dexter (McCluster) has a mild ankle sprain. He's probably going to be out (Wednesday). I don't even know when it happened. He came in today and complained about it, so it's really not that serious. (Derrick) Morgan we already talked about, and Blidi (Wreh-Wilson), we're hoping to see a little in practice this week. Jason McCourty, he'll probably be out (Wednesday). We're still getting some second looks at him with the groin, and then Perrish (Cox) is day-to-day. I think it was preventative more than anything yesterday. Just felt like he wasn't stable and didn't want to push it.

(on if he is concerned about the possibility of Jason McCourty needing another surgery)

They're doing second opinions and giving him the best medical advice they can give him.

(on if Brett Kern got hit on a punt)

He did but he's fine. He's not even on the injury report.

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