Coach Mularkey's Monday Press Conference Transcript



(on an injury update on Derrick Morgan)

Derrick (Morgan) probably will not practice Wednesday. We'll monitor him the next few days. He's questionable for the game right now. We don't think it's a significant (hamstring) pull but we'll see how it goes. You don't MRI those right away, just let them kind of work themselves out for a couple days before you look at them.

(on an injury update on Kendall Wright)

Again, we're hoping. Right now I'm going to say out for practice Wednesday. I really need to see him run at full speed before that, so I'm going to hold him out until then. Hopefully, he's better in a couple days.

(on how Derrick Morgan was playing before the injury)

I thought he was really disruptive. I thought there was a lot of pressure. He was really doing a good job with the bull rush. A lot of things where the ball was trying to cut back, he was there. He made a lot of plays. So he was really playing at a high level before the injury. It was really just a freak thing, because the rush was the same rush he'd been rushing all day, and I don't know how it pulled, but it did.

(on how Kevin Dodd has progressed, especially in the event he has to fill in for Derrick Morgan)

Well, he had 13 snaps yesterday. I thought he did some good things. I think every snap is so beneficial to him based on all the time he missed in the OTAs and the early part of camp. He did some good things. I don't think it's going to be a bad thing that he gets a chance to work in practice like he's going to, and he will have a significant role in this game if Derrick (Morgan) can't go.

(on his thoughts on the game after watching the tape)

Well, I felt yesterday defensively we played really well. I thought we accomplished our goal of trying to stop Adrian Peterson. I thought we did that. I'm not sure of the exact stats, but to hold him to 1.6 yards per carry—that's phenomenal by our guys. The thing about it was we had a lot of hats on him. He really had nowhere to run, if you watched it. I thought our coverage was tight. They made a lot of plays. I give them credit, they made a lot of plays. They made a lot of contested catches for big plays and third-down conversions. Special teams—I was very happy with special teams, with the exception of the kickoff return. You can't come out of the locker room with a high like we had. We felt good about ourselves, we really did. I had a good halftime session with some adjustments. The very first play after one play, they're in scoring position. They're already going to score points. So that's a downer for your team. With the exception of that play, our special teams played well. Offensively, again, that's why I don't want to rush into judgement immediately after a game because I need some time to, again, digest and look over the film more than one time to see where we did well and we didn't. We did a lot of good things on offense, we did. The thing we did that was catastrophic for our whole team were the two turnovers. Other than that, we did a lot of good things in that game.

(on the failed trick play he called on third-and-one)

No, it wasn't a fake fumble. It was a play action for sure. That's got potential because I've been running that play for a long time. I haven't run it in probably five or six years. That has a big play potential, and it's really based on one front. You may not see that front an entire year. I haven't seen the front in two years. So when you get the front that you get and you have the potential for a big play, that's what we were looking for. We were looking for a big chunk, and that play has scored touchdowns from a long distance out.

(on if the offense needs to establish the smashmouth approach before running exotic plays)

You know, that's the perception but we were looking for a big chunk against a front that is vulnerable for that play.

(on why the trick play didn't work)

Linebacker sniffed it out pretty well. And again, we had a hat on him with (Jalston) Fowler. Again, I said that this morning with our coaching staff. If you had Derrick Henry out on that corner and we had blocked everybody that we can, you're always going to have one defender that's left. Would you put Derrick Henry on a corner out on the perimeter? Absolutely. That's what he had. He had the corner on the perimeter. You've got to get a yard. We had everybody blocked except one guy, and that's the case in most cases. Those guys are responsible for that extra defender.

(on if he felt Derrick Henry had an opportunity to beat the cornerback on the play)

You would like to think that, yeah.

(on if Derrick Henry has the chance to break a tackle if the pass isn't thrown as high)

Possibly, yeah.

(on if there was play action that happened on the trick play)


(on why Marcus Mariota seemed to duck on the play)

That was the action. It was a sneak action, quarterback sneak action. Again, like I said, I've run the play numerous times since the early 90's.

(on if he can remember a game in which the trick play worked)

Seattle. Go back to Seattle when I was in Buffalo. We ran it on fourth-and-one for a touchdown. I think it was a 50-yard touchdown.

(on if Harry Douglas should have blocked on the interception)

No, his role was called a collapse. It's to go through the gap, go inside. He doesn't have to block anybody. All he has to do is release inside the end man on the line of scrimmage, just run down to the near hash. As he runs down, the end will collapse down with him. There is no blocking on that play.

(on what mistakes Harry Douglas made on that play)

First of all, his split was too wide. That started it. And then the angle—obviously, he didn't really have an angle once that split was too wide. But it does not have Harry (Douglas) blocking defensive ends. We did it earlier in the game. If you watch, there's a lot of bootlegs and nakeds that we use that same technique that we got on the perimeter.

(on if it is hard to win a game without any sacks or turnovers defensively)

No, I don't think so. If you can hold an offense to nine points, I think you should win the game. I mean I really believe that. You know, we held them three times in the red zone. We fumbled the second fumble and we stopped them there, which was basically on our sideline. I thought that was a great stop. I thought we hit the quarterback. We had hits on him. They did some things protection wise to protect him a little bit. We would love turnovers. That's what wins games, obviously, and that's what won the game yesterday.

(on if some of Shaun Hill's passes in tight coverage could have been intercepted)

You know what, the one thing about him, he's a timing quarterback. He's going to let it go when guys are right out of the breaks or not even out of the breaks yet, so it's tough to defend something for anybody when a quarterback has that ability. It's not all about velocity. It's about timing. Those were a lot of those throws. A lot of them, I thought he was under duress and he made some good throws, and they made some very good catches. I mean really give them credit.

(on if the secondary is consistently in tight coverage but doesn't make big plays)

Yeah, I know the one you're talking about with Jason (McCourty) down on the go route. Those are plays we've got to make. We've got to make them. You're right, it's been going on for a couple years. We've got to make them.

(on how Marcus Mariota can improve his ball security)

Well, early in the game, one of the things I was really impressed with was he threw the ball away a couple times—bad situations, defense won with the call, threw the ball away, we moved on to the next down and we lived another day and got point. In that one instance, and I think, again, this will be a learning experience for Marcus (Mariota) that when he didn't do it, he took that chance, that play was a game changer. But early leading up to that, he hadn't done that. If there's somebody on this team that I know will learn and probably not do that again, it is him.

(on what happened on the fumbled handoff between Marcus Mariota and DeMarco Murray)

He was going to pull it and just too much by DeMarco (Murray) on the ball. But it was going to pull it.

(on if Marcus Mariota was reading Vikings defensive end Danielle Hunter on that play)


(on what happens if Marcus Mariota does keep the ball on that play)

We have three guys on one of theirs. If we get around the edge, we have three.

(on if that's a play they have practiced a lot)

Yeah, we've done it I mean hundreds of times. I'm not sure why it happened. We've done it enough. We've practiced it enough. It just happened.

(on what the Vikings did defensively to keep Delanie Walker out of the game plan)

Coverage a little bit. We tried to get a screen to him early. They made a good play, a really good play. We had a shot of making a big play on the screen. Probably ought to get Delanie (Walker) involved sooner. We tried, but some of the coverage dictated not to go to him.

(on how he uses this loss as a learning experience with the team)

I think if you really watch the tape and you were on that sideline, it was just like we thought. It was a very physical game on both sides. They knew how we wanted to play, and we knew that was going to be the case with them. It was a very physical game, a very high-effort game. I mean you talk about two teams flying around all the way through the 60th play. So nothing changed from what we did in the preseason to yesterday. Teams know our style of play, and that's the way it's going to be on Sundays. If you don't turn the ball over twice, we're probably having a different conversation with the way we approached that game and played in that game.

(on his thoughts on players raising their firsts during the National Anthem)

I think I said it a couple weeks back when you guys asked me. Look, they have every right to do what they feel they believe is right. I have a lot of respect for those guys. They're our leaders on our team. I have a lot of respect for them and I know they're passionate about the cause. So I'm supportive of them.

(on the challenge of finishing games when facing adversity)

It's important. I mean that's what good football teams do, and I think we're a good football team. I felt it after the game. I felt it during the game. I said it after the game to the team that as detrimental those turnovers were for scores, this team on that sideline still believed we were going to win the game all the way to the end. That's what you want from your team. There's a chance, and we still thought we had a chance. So we've got to do it obviously to confirm that we can do it, but I believe these guys feel they can win at any time, especially with Marcus (Mariota) as their quarterback.

(on the ratio of running plays between DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry)

Number wise, I wasn't really trying to get this guy this many. It was really how we were going to try to attack the Vikings defense.

(on his comfort with the running backs catching passes to get them in space)

Especially those guys. This is not the west coast offense. I believe in that philosophy being with Coach (Bill) Walsh with my short time with the 49ers. He just said, 'Get the ball in players hands.' It doesn't always have to be in the air. Get it in your playmakers' hands and let them get the yards. We've got a couple backs that can catch and do some really dang good things—make people miss—if you get the ball in their hands.

(on Derrick Henry's long reception on the screen pass)

On the one where he cut all the way back across the field? Well first of all, he had a bust on the play. He was in the right place, he was just supposed to go there a lot faster. So he made up for making a mistake with a huge play, I mean a huge play. It just kind of gives you an example of what he's capable of doing in open space.

(on how Tajae Sharpe performed)

Tajae (Sharpe) made a lot of plays. Tajae will now tell you after sitting here watching the tape, and even during the game we told him, a lot of his routes—whether it was the first game or not—a lot of his routes were short. Some of those third-and-ones that we came up with were because we were short on the depths. Some of the plays down the field that we were trying to get the ball down to him, he was short on his depths. That's not unusual for a young player. Everything speeds up, especially your first game as an NFL rookie starting against a very good defense. So that's something he knows now. We came in here and watched it as an offense. He sees it, but he was told on the sideline, as well. I think that's something he can get better at. I mean, for as good as he did yesterday, I think there's even better things ahead.

(on how Jack Conklin played)

Jack (Conklin) played well. Yeah, he did. He played very well.

(on how he distributed reps on defense, particularly at safety)

Well, a lot of it was situation football—based on who they were putting on the field with their personnel is what we were doing with our personnel. We stayed big. We kept an extra lineman up. Again, that was the plan to try to stop the run was to go with three safeties. Again, a lot of it was situation of who those safeties were in the game at the same time.

(on how to get the most out of Jurrell Casey)

Actually, we think he ought to play less, a few snaps less. He's a high-motor, hard guy to block when he's at full speed. He played a lot of snaps in a row. I'm not talking a dramatic amount, but we thought after watching him and the way he plays, probably less.

(on the decision to attempt a two-point conversation in the fourth quarter)

That was a gut. That was me. I knew the situation. I was told. We talked about it on the sideline, one or two, and that was a gut feeling based on our offense going down the field on eight plays and scoring a touchdown. Vikings are winded, we've got them right now while they're winded. I liked the two-point play we had called. We're going to have to go for two at the end of the game, but if I'd do it all over again, I'd kick the extra point.

(on if he would now kick the extra point to ensure a one-possession game)

Sure, yes.

(on if Taylor Lewan is scrutinized by officials because he's been highly penalized before)

I don't think so. I mean some of them, the false starts, it's just evident that he's early. The holding call was a legitimate holding call. He's got to fix those things. He's probably the highest penalized guy since I've been the head coach over there on the left side. Maybe less than when he started, but I think he still has to correct those things.

(on his message to Avery Williamson about wearing special cleats)

Well, I said. 'I'm going to shoot you straight like I shoot everybody straight. If you don't wear those shoes, I'll be very disappointed in you because all I want from you guys is to do things the right way.' Him wearing those shoes is doing something the right way.

(on if he anticipates the NFL will fine Avery Williamson for wearing the shoes)

If he gets the fine, I'm going to take care of that.

(on if deep shots down the field need to be mixed in often to have success)

Absolutely, and I'll say this again, the two sacks were down-the-field shots. Again, obviously the protection has to be better and has to hold up longer. Again, if we go back, even to last year, a lot of the sacks that occurred last year were on down-the-field throws. We've got to just do a better job. We're trying to put him in a max protection, which is in most cases for teams. We just haven't held up even in the max protections.

(on if he believes the receivers are capable of coming up with deep plays down the field)

Yeah, we do.

(on his initial thoughts on Matthew Stafford and the Lions)

It will be good. They can put a lot of points on the board, as you saw yesterday. They were up early, down, came back and were winning at the end there. He's a very confident quarterback. He's got a very good skill group, including the backs who are potent out of the backfield catching the ball. It will be a good challenge. It will be a very good challenge.

(on how the team is learning to win games)

I think this team—you know, I've watched them compete, whether it's been in here or on the field. I've watched them work harder than a lot of teams I've been on. I've watched them kind of grow together. I've watched them have fun. I've watched them really come together and care about each other. I think there is a good chemistry in here with this team. I think they've seen what we've done to this point. We're on the right track, OK. We are young. I mean, we started three rookies yesterday on the offense. We're on the right track. We have a lot of new faces on this team. It's the first time together in a real, live game yesterday, and we did some good things and we did some things that hurt us. We did those things. The Vikings did not do those things. We did those things.

(on the chemistry between Marcus Mariota and the new wide receivers)

Pretty good. I mean I felt pretty good about it. We had a good mix. They all have specialties of things that they do, we feel like. We're doing some substitution based on what they do best, and we'll continue to do that.

(on if he considers it worse that the team committed mistakes against itself)


(on the history of this team saying it loses games because of its own mistakes)

The Vikings are a very good defense. They're a very good football team. I mean they were close to going to the Super Bowl last year. It's the same team, with the exception of the quarterback. Those plays that took place yesterday were self-inflicted. Those are things that we're in control of. When they cause something to happen—a sack, fumble, return for a touchdown—then I'll give them credit. But that wasn't the case yesterday. Those were two plays that they had nothing to do with.

The Tennessee Titans kick off the 2016 season in Week 1 against the Minnesota Vikings at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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