TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Nov. 7, 2016
I'll start out with a little injury update with Derrick (Henry). He had an MRI and it shows a strain of the calf. That's kind of an injury that a lot of it's pain tolerance. It could be a day up to it a couple weeks. We'll monitor that as we go. Quinton Spain we're hoping to get back here, ease him into practice on Wednesday. Game status, not sure, but he's coming along very good. We expect Rashad Johnson to be back this week, as well, for the game.
(on if he has spoken with the league about penalties from the game)
I have. I did—just very frustrated with some things, especially the second-half drive where they came back. I turned in 11 of their 15 plays that I thought could have been officiated better, 11 plays out of 15.
(on if he talked to the league about the penalty on third-and-one at the goal line)
Where the receiver fell down? Yes. He stumbled, he did stumble. Yeah, that and the tight end slinging (Sean) Spence down to the ground. Really, they were the only two players in the middle of the field. Everybody else was outside the numbers. I'm not sure how that was missed, but that was a big play. That was a very big play, as all of them are. That was a big play. But, again, I'm not using that as an excuse for the loss yesterday by any means.
(on if he is discouraged by the slow starts in the losses or encouraged by the team's ability to fight back)
I'm encouraged by it. I think it says a lot about our football team. Again, I've been on a lot of different teams, playing and coaching, that especially when you turn the ball over and for a score, I've seen a lot of teams not come back from that. It is very devastating when that happens, and this team has not done that. I said that to them this morning. I'm very encouraged by it. We don't want to be falling behind, but we also have the ability to come back and take a lead. Nobody flinched, nobody panicked, nobody quit, and that's the heart of this football team.
(on if it is bad luck that five of the Titans' turnovers have been returned for touchdowns)
No, I've thought of it myself at times that the ball has bounced a lot of times right to them. You don't want to have turnovers. You never want to have a turnover, the biggest No. 1 dictator of wins and losses in the NFL every week. But it has, the ball has not bounced—especially these fumbles—they've bounced to those guys and they've taken advantage of it. They've gone untouched, basically, running into the end zone. It hasn't been like they've made great plays. It's been free runs.
(on what the coaches say to Marcus Mariota to help him improve ball security)
We work with him daily on it. We talk about it. We talked about it Saturday night about our ball security and making good decisions with the football. Running with it is something we've got—again, it's just stressing it, and I guess we have to take some bad experiences to maybe emphasize it like we've had. But he knows more than anybody what he's got to do when he turns up, and he's got to do a good job of getting that thing high and tight and put it away.
(on how Marcus Mariota played, apart from his turnovers)
I would say one of his better games yesterday, with the exception of the turnovers. What he did, some of those throws he made were extremely good, starting from the first play of the game where we had a tight throw to the sideline on an out route with him moving out of the pocket, which Delanie (Walker) dropped. The touchdown to Delanie was just threaded through a needle. Really, with our no-huddle segment we were in, numerous times he put us in the right position, made a lot of throws, go to the right guy. I think, over the last five weeks, he's played very well, I really do. I am very encouraged by it.
(on if Marcus Mariota's turnovers are a result of him trying to make a play)
Well, he's very potent when he runs the football. You saw that on the draw. You don't want to start taking back some things because of his issues with the turnovers. He's got to understand he's got to do a better job with the ball in his hands. We're not going to cut back on the runs with him. We can help him. I'm going to say this on the first turnover, the corner made a very good play. Delanie (Walker) was open, looked open, and he made a good play falling off the in cut. Like I said yesterday, Kendall's (Wright) got to come down on that route. He's got to come downhill. He's got to stay friendly to the football. That ball should not be intercepted if it's run right.
(on Marcus Mariota's fumbles being an ongoing issue from last season)
Yes, he's well aware of it. He had 10 last year. We, obviously, went into the offseason stressing it. We're not going to change our belief in the way we're trying to teach him how to put it away. We're not going to become less aggressive with him running the football. We feel good about him. He is such a threat. But he knows. Again, I tell him, Jason Michael tells him, Terry Robiskie tells him. He's got to do a better job, period.
(on staying patient as a coach when trying to develop a player)
Look, he's 23. He just turned 23. I think he's started 21 games now. He's doing OK in a lot of areas. That's one area that he needs to do better in. I mean, if there's one area—obviously, it's a critical area and it's been an issue for us in these losses—but he does a lot of really good things, and I'm glad he's our quarterback. There's no question about it. At the end of the day, I'm glad he's our guy behind center.
(on if the coaches want Marcus Mariota to run the football to limit his pass attempts)
Yeah, I mean we want to be able to do that. But the one thing I liked about yesterday, we struggled early running the ball and we got into a mode with the no-huddle—which, again, is primarily throwing the football when we got into it—and I think we showed that we're capable of putting points on the board without having to run the football. That was a statement by our offense to say there is different ways that we can be effective scoring. We had the ball for only 23 minutes with 35 points on the board. Can't give them 17 points, but we can do it in many ways of moving the football.
(on if he talked to the Titans scouts about what they saw from Marcus Mariota's fumbles in college)
I did not talk to them. No, I did not do that.
(on if Tajae Sharpe took a step forward against the Chargers)
Yes, he did. He made some plays for us. He did make some plays for us, I will say that. He still has room to work. Some of those routes were not deep enough. We need to get the right depths, we need to line up in the right play—those are things we still are working on—but he made some plays for us yesterday, without question. That route on the two-minute drill was a big-time play because he was in the right spot, and that's important, especially on those deeper throws, timing throws.
(on what allowed the offense to have success going no-huddle in the middle of the game, not just in a two-minute scenario)
Really, the coverage. They have struggled against the passing game more than they have against the run. Going into that game, we knew that, but we also thought Marcus (Mariota) was really pretty on-task with it yesterday. We felt like, at the time, they were on their heels when we came out. That was a great drive by our offense and him with no timeouts to get the score, come back and see if they can stop it another time.
(on if the offense will run the no-huddle offense more due to its success against the Chargers)
We always have it, and it's always there for a number of reasons. If we are not moving it effectively—maybe it's a change of tempo to get us into a groove—there's a variety of reasons. It's another way to attack a defense. Like I said, we've been in our no-huddle earlier and been effective and not effective and gotten out of it because of that. We know we have that weapon. They do too.
(on if Antonio Andrews will play in Derrick Henry's place if he is out this week)
Well, I think yesterday you saw Antonio (Andrews) play the role of Derrick (Henry) when we went to the two backs. Again, a little bit of the package was eliminated when Derrick was not able to play. We'll make that decision. Again, he may practice Wednesday. He may be out for two weeks. It's really going to depend on how he progresses and the pain.
(on what has made Rishard Matthews consistent in the last month)
Making plays, really making some plays for us and being in the right place. The trust factor is going up with our quarterback. He definitely is making some throws and trusting that he is going to come down. He didn't make the catch on an earlier one, a few snaps earlier, and he didn't even hesitate, came right back to him on a contested throw and made a great play. Both of them made a great play for that touchdown.
(on what the Chargers did to have success in the run game with Melvin Gordon)
They ran the ball very effectively for a lot of reasons. They did a good job up front of blocking our guys. I'd say we were sloppy in our techniques up front. We call them technique errors. I call them errors, not being in the right place. And our tackling could be better. The mix of everything is not a good combination when you've got a running back like that. It really hurt us on that last drive.
(on if he is frustrated by the defense's inability to create turnovers)
Boy, we talk about it a lot. I know they're trying. We talk about it constantly. It's on our boards, it's emphasized in practices, it's emphasized in here, it's emphasized in headsets because I'm on the defensive calls, I hear it. I know we're trying to do it. Again, I don't know any other way. Some teams have to make some mistakes, as well. Now you're playing against Philip Rivers who doesn't make a lot of mistakes.
(on Kevin Byard's performance against the Chargers)
Yeah, I thought he played very well. I mean, the last play, he had a chance to make the stop on third-and-seven, but other than that, he did a lot of good things for us.
(on where Kevin Byard's improvement is showing)
He's very instinctive. He plays hard. I think he's always around the football. He broke up some of the quick screens to the receivers yesterday—very instinctive on knowing and being aware that it was coming and then blowing it up.
(on the Chargers having success in the run game on draw plays)
Right, there's no question about that. That's, again, some of the sloppy techniques. You've got to know down-and-distance. You've got to know it's first-and-15, first-and-18, whatever the case when they ran a couple of those draws. There is a difference in the rush when it's first down and second down. It bit us because now you're in different lanes, there's free gaps open. Again, you give that back some open space, he's a hard guy to tackle. It is different, and we were not good with that yesterday.
(on why the Chargers had early success with quick slant routes)
Well, a lot of it was play action. If you watched him, he gave a flash fake to the back and they had somebody pulling. If you fall for it, as we did, it sucks up the underneath coverage which makes a wide open window to throw that slant in there. We fell for it a couple times because we were overly aggressive trying to stop the run.
(on if a linebacker in downfield coverage is a result of getting caught)
A little bit getting caught. One was a good scheme. They took the back from the opposite side of where (Kevin) Dodd was and they scouted him. We free-released him across the formation, across the quarterback. He's got to be aware of that happening. He is if he's aligned there pre-snap, but, again, it's a little difficult when you're in a three-point of watching that from the backside. He's got to be aware of that. Again, that's a young player learning on the run here, but that was one of the cases that we got caught, yes.
(on Delanie Walker's health after the game)
Very good. Very pleased with him. He's a tough competitor and came through, and we'll probably monitor him like we have been the last few weeks just to make sure he's ready to go for Green Bay.
(on the challenges of facing Aaron Rodgers and the Green Bay offense)
Pretty challenging, yeah. They have some weapons there that he's played with for a long time. They want to throw the football. They're averaging 40 passes a game. That's how they want to attack you, and they've got the people to do it.
(on spending time at the military base on Saturday before the Chargers game)
It was great. It was a Marine training facility. We had the chance to work out on their field and have a lot of the Marine families out to watch us. A number of the players and coaches went back in the afternoon to watch them put many of the young Marines through an obstacle course that you've seen on TV, but they got to see it up close and personal with the drill sergeants giving them a little bit of their own. It was pretty interesting, but when they came back, they said it would have been a great team function to see how these guys are trained for what they do and why they're as good as they are.
(on if there were Titans fans among the military personnel and families)
Yeah, it was a good turnout. We had a lot of fans there. It was really good to see. We had a lot of fans at the game, which was great to see.
(on if he still thinks traveling to San Diego a day early was the right decision)
I liked going out there early. I thought there was a lot more positives about it. I would do that again.
The Tennessee Titans take on the San Diego Chargers in Week 9 action at Qualcomm Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)