TITANS INTERIM HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS - CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - December 28, 2015 * *
(on the injury update)
Marcus (Mariota) did a little bit of drop-backs today, not full speed, just kind of the beginning stages to see if he can come back this week. Right now, we'll see how he is tomorrow, but again, he did some things today that we hoped he would do and we'll see how he feels from it tomorrow. Kendall (Wright), again, a knee injury, nothing significant. We will hopefully have him back Wednesday for practice, at least limited. Taylor Lewan is in the concussion protocol. He's at the point where he can practice (Wednesday) and then get rechecked after the practice. **
(on weighing the risk against the benefits in deciding whether or not Marcus Mariota will play Sunday)*
If he's not completely healthy, (unless) we feel like he's close to 100 percent, then it's less likely he's going to play. His health is the number one for us. He's got such a great future ahead of him, he's got plenty of games, lots of games to go. We won't expose him at all if there is anything there. **
(on if Marcus Mariota is close to 100 percent)
I don't think that, no, not based on what we did today with him. It was limited with the drop-backs. It wasn't like a full speed, it was limited, kind of just to ease into it. But he'll have more tomorrow and we'll see Wednesday.
(on if Taylor Lewan is past the first level in the concussion protocol)
Yes, he will have to clear again after the practice.
(on if Marcus Mariota is lobbying to play and if he takes that into consideration)
No, I will not take that. I'm going to take our trainer's and our doctor's and my own visual when I watch him. But again, any bit of doubt, he will not play.
(on why he doesn't just rule Marcus Mariota out)
Well, he's our starter. This is a game we'd like to win to finish the season off with. It's another game. There is nothing like game experience, especially at that position. There are more positives than negatives about it. **
(on Zach Mettenberger's performance yesterday)
I saw some good things from him that I think he's improved on, trying to just take what the defense was giving him. I also saw some things, I know he had some throws that I'm sure he would like to take back. I thought he was a little bit rushed on some things, maybe from prior experience against these guys with the rush, with his footwork and just getting rid of the ball quicker than he really needed to. Really, for the most part in that game, they protected him pretty well. They really did. I thought our offensive line handled their front, the one-on-ones when there were one-on-ones, the line games they were running, and then our tight ends and our backs did a great job chipping the edges. (Zach Mettenberger) had more time than I think he really was expecting, and I think hopefully he's going to see that our guys held the front pretty good, and he can hold it a little longer.
(on Antonio Andrews being taken out of packages yesterday and if he will be worked back in next week)
We'll talk about that as we start planning here tonight, actually this afternoon, tonight and tomorrow. We'll talk about that. **
(on how much it hurt to lose Kendall Wright early in the game yesterday and if it caused Zach Mettenberger to try to throw downfield too much)
Well it did, there were a number of things in there where we were trying to get Kendall (Wright) the ball that got scratched off for a number of reasons. We probably didn't practice it with Tre (McBride) as the primary receiver. There were some specials we had in there trying to hit these guys with Kendall and obviously, we didn't get to run those. We had to pull back a little bit and that hurt us, but I'm not sure that forced Zach (Mettenberger) to have to throw it or (changed) his mindset to think he needed to get the ball deeper or not. If he just went with his progression, that's all we wanted him to do, and for the most part, he did that. **
(on why there was not much of an effort to get Dorial Green-Beckham the ball after Kendall Wright left the game)
Some of that was the coverage. They were playing a coverage that you can roll the corner and the safety over the top on them. Some of that was Dorial (Green-Beckham) with some of the mistakes he made. He had a number of mistakes on splits and depths and things that he's had, again, (things) that a young receiver is going to have, Tre McBride included. But some of that was self-inflicted that we need to get better at.
(on Zach Mettenberger's 51 throws yesterday despite the team's desire to stick with the run)
If you ever really look, it's always interesting when you look at it. Boy, you don't want anyone to throw the ball 51 times, but if you go back and you look at all the number of third downs, the third-and-three or more, which you know you're going to throw the ball for the most part. Then you go back and you count all the two-minute plays, which we had 31 snaps, 31 throws of, and that's not counting third downs in that second half. So you're talking almost a balance of first and second down, running the ball and throwing the ball. Those third downs and two-minutes, which we were forced into midway through the third quarter because of the score, we had to throw the ball to try to catch up. That can be skewed a little bit if you don't really understand where did those passes come from and how many were there. **
(on if he liked the way the game was called despite throwing as many times as they did)
Well still, it was 10-0 again, thanks to us, with five minutes and thirty seconds to go in the second quarter. We were still trying, even when we came out in the second half, we were still trying to run the ball. We didn't have the ball a whole lot because of third downs. We were not good on third down, so it's hard to get into a flow and get lots of runs and play actions and all that up when you're not getting a good flow with the offense. We didn't have the ball a very long time. Time of possession was way on their side. So I did like what was being called. We just never got into a rhythm because of, really because of our third downs. **
(on if Zach Mettenberger was better or worse in two-minute plays)
Once we got down, they take the opening drive, they basically score late in the second and then they open up the third with the score, then you're kind of thinking, 'How many more possessions do we have that we can sit here and play our offense?' We still, at 24-0, we were still calling runs, and still trying to run the football, and still trying to hit some play actions, but at some point there, we said, 'This is enough, we have to score quickly.'
(on if Bishop Sankey's performance was enough to get him more snaps next week)
Yeah, he did. He did some good things for us, especially with the ball in his hands there at the end. He'll get more time, hopefully at least that many snaps.
(on Bishop Sankey saying he feels like he lost the trust of the coaching staff)
I don't think he lost that. I think whenever you're not playing, and you're one of the inactives at times like he has been, you can think that. But that's not the case. It's just what we felt was the best at the time, who was producing the most, whoever was productive was going to play. It wasn't because of trust or non-trust, it's just the situation we were in. But we never lacked – yesterday, he was going to get as many reps third down and first and second down. He was in a number of packages yesterday. Some of those packages were for Kendall (Wright) and him to be in there together, and when Kendall when out, so did the package. **
(on how David Cobb performed Sunday)
Better, I mean, obviously, you'd like to establish the run like we had talked about more if the game presented itself differently, but I like that he's hitting the holes with more authority and getting yards after contact. I do like that about him. **
(on if it will be harder to put forth a strong effort going on the road for the season finale)
I don't think so. I think these guys know that they're being evaluated, probably closer than at any time. I told them a couple weeks back, and I may have said it in here, I don't remember, but when a new staff, or whoever is the head coach, or whatever, you always look back at the last three games of the season and it tells a lot about the players. Especially when they're in a situation where they're out of the playoffs, they have not had the best of seasons, how hard are they playing? You typically know if they're making mental mistakes because you know the offense well enough (to know) where they're supposed to be. Not only that, you really know about who's coaching them, that position coach that's coaching that player. Is he getting them to play at a high level, a high effort, high physical play when there is nothing to play for? That's what you're looking for these last three games and that's why these guys know they're being looked at by a lot of people. **
(on if he has spoken with Ruston Webster on whether or not the staff will return next season)
We have not talked about it.
(on why Perrish Cox was taken off the Texans' prime receiver, DeAndre Hopkins, and replaced by Coty Sensabaugh)
Just the defensive scheme I felt was best for our defense. Again, I saw that from Perrish (Cox) and he and I haven't had a chance to talk about it, but that's just the scheme we played and felt it was best for what we needed to do. **
(on if that decision had anything to do with the fact that Coty Sensabaugh and DeAndre Hopkins played together at Clemson)
I would have to say, I don't know if that was part of it. I don't know that.
(on how Byron Bell performed when he was moved to left tackle after Taylor Lewan got hurt)
I thought he played pretty well. They knew they had some help, but they didn't have help all the time. They had more help this time than they had the last time we played the Texans, but to move over there and play the left side, I thought he did well. Really, with the switch of both tackles, I thought Jamon (Meredith) played very well. **
(on Jeremiah Poutasi being inactive again and what that says about him as a player to not even qualify for a backup role)
Well, you have to put somebody down with numbers and Jeremiah (Poutasi) has been up the last two weeks. This week, the thinking was, Jamon (Meredith) has played against this front more successfully and against these guys and had better success, so if by chance, he has to be put in the game, which we did not know would have to be for 50 snaps, we would rather have the experience than putting Jeremiah in there. It's nothing negative about Jeremiah, it's just you have to put somebody down and that was the thinking behind it. **
(on Jeremiah Poutasi moving to guard)
Actually, he's coming along very good. He's practicing hard, you can see progress with him every day. **
(on if it is likely that Jeremiah Poutasi will stay at guard)
I would assume that, yes. I think that's his position, probably his primary position. **
(on if the final game of the year is an opportunity for Jeremiah Poutasi and players in similar situations to get game experience)
It could be. Again, that will be discussed as we put the plan together of what we're going to do to try to attack these guys offensively. So we'll see. **
(on if he wishes he'd had more time in the head coaching role and the challenge of coming in halfway through a season)
It was a difficult situation for a lot of people when it all went down. There just wasn't room for change in a lot of areas, just based on where we were, a Tuesday, getting ready to play a game on Sunday. You're not changing personnel, you're not changing scheme. It is what it is. This is the way we have to move forward and for the most part, I think there has been some progress made, but I think overall, a lot of guys and the support of the staff have made this obviously, an easy transition, but time would be nice. **
(on if having a full offseason to prepare in the head coaching role would have allowed him to make more changes)
I think anybody would tell you 'yes' on that. If you had an opportunity to have an offseason from start to finish, it certainly helps. I'm not sure if one year is enough. **
(on if a five-year contract would be enough time)
I'm worried about the Colts right now. **
(on how hard it is to only focus on the next game and not think about the future)
No, I think, again, I know a lot of people think, 'What do you do over there for so many hours?' There is something constantly going on. Maybe it's by Saturday when everything's in place, but no, it's always, you wonder. But we'll know when this is over with next week. **
(on if the moves on the offensive line will affect whether or not Marcus Mariota will play Sunday)
That will play a big factor into it.
(on if he intervened when Taylor Lewan seemed wobbly coming to the sideline but didn't want to give up his helmet and stop playing)
No, I don't. I leave that up to the trainers. They're not going to let him back in. If I need to handle it, they would come to me first, but I really didn't even realize that was taking place. I knew he was concussed when he came off the field so, I figured it was probably game over for him. **
(on if the Colts' uncertainty at quarterback makes game planning more difficult this week)
That will be a little bit of a challenge. We know Charlie (Whitehurst) is not going to play, that's one thing. I'm not sure about (Andrew) Luck. They're probably looking at the same scenario based on a lot of things that happen, even tonight on his situation. I don't know. We've got to kind of just plan probably for the best, the starter, and then adjust to whoever else is going to play, (Stephen) Morris is possible. **
(on if he has ever watched tape on Stephen Morris)
I have not. (on how he would go about preparing for Stephen Morris)
You're going to play the scheme and our scouts will have an in-depth – we advance, they have a write-up and film on every one of these guys for every game. **
(on if it is coincidental that the Titans' third-down defense started to plummet at the same time he took over as head coach)
I've actually gone back there and asked (Titans assistant head coach/defense Dick LeBeau and defensive coordinator Ray Horton) the same question that you have, 'Do I have anything to do with why we're having our struggles on third down?' I basically got the same answer that it is coincidental that it happened at the same time I'd taken over. But it's obvious it was a concern. Why now? **
(on his memories of the first game against the Colts in September and the importance of ending the season with a win)
It's just a whole different feeling going into the offseason with a win in that last game. That was a bad feeling last time we played them because we had a chance down on the goal line on a two-point play where we could have made a difference in the game. That's what I remember about that game. We had our opportunities and failed on a play we'd had success on a number of times. But we talked about this morning how important it is to finish off with a win for everybody in this organization, for each and really, every one of us.
(on how Michael Griffin has done this year)
Griff (Michael Griffin) probably played his best game yesterday. I really thought he played well in all areas. Really, very good support in the run, being where he was supposed to be, a lot of gap control where he was basically playing linebacker depth. He had to make some plays, he did, tackled about as well as he's tackled all year. Griff takes a lot of pride in what he's doing and showed up yesterday. **
(on cornerbacks being in position but not making plays)
I kind of thought it was like, if you get a win, more wins will come. We just need one. We really haven't had any that I can actually pinpoint where we've made a play. You're right, it's going back to last year. I think if we can just make one, they'll come in droves, but we've got to make one to see what happens. Really, it's not one guy here or there, it's really everybody's had a chance. They are really well-covered, well-covered, just got to make the play when it's right there. **
(on the success story of rookie wide receiver Tre McBride coming off the practice squad midseason and scoring his first NFL touchdown yesterday)
Tre (McBride) has taken advantage of a lot of the opportunities that he's had. I'll tell you, he's been really good on our special teams as far as making plays. But it was nice to see him be rewarded. He hasn't had a lot of chances to make catches, but to have two yesterday, one of them being a touchdown at the end of the game, that's big for a young player to finish up the last couple games like that.