TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Nov. 14, 2016
Well, really nothing to report injury-wise. We should have a full roster for practice on Wednesday, so that's good news for us, very good news. For this time of the year, very good.
(on the depth at offensive line)
It's good, it's very good. I think, obviously, we addressed it in free agency and the draft. That's one of the tougher positions in the NFL, I think, is O-line having depth. I mean, I think it's a tough position, especially when you're really specific with what we want to do. I think it's even tougher. We're pleased with the guys, even guys we traded for, Dennis Kelly. That's another. He played extremely well for us, thrown right in at the start of the game and played well. Those are the guys that are kind of built for what we want to do offensively.
(on rewarding the team with its first victory Monday of the season)*
Good. I think they've earned it. I really do think they've earned it. I think it's good for them. I think it's good for the coaches. We have more time working on Indy, who has had a bye, so I know they've had days in advance of working on us. The nice thing about it is our guys will come in. Last Tuesday, we had 47 players in here on their day off getting a workout in, doing something in the training room, doing something to recover, to get better, watch film. I mean, they don't have to come in here. They came in here. So I'm assuming—I've seen a lot of faces in here today, even though it's been given off.
(on why rewarding the team with a victory Monday now)
I think they earned it in the game. I think it's this time in the year. You know, we're 10 games without a bye. I know we can say the Thursday night game was somewhat of a bye. Not really. I think they've worked hard up to this point. I think we're a mature enough football team that they can take another day. It's not going to hurt our track we're on. Like I said, I trust these guys will come in here and get a good workout in. They'll watch the film on their own, and then we'll come back in here Wednesday morning and we'll still cover this game. I think it's important. There's a lot of things we have to address in this game, good and bad, and we will do that up until 8:45 in the morning. That will be the special teams and both offense and defense. We'll get a chance to watch the tape, and then we'll kick it right into the Colts at 8:45 and Packers will be over with.
(on if anything jumped out watching tape of the game this morning)
No, there was a lot of guys flying around. There was a lot of energy. Just watching even plays conclude, how many guys were around the football, how many guys were there to help their teammates up. There was a lot of good energy on that field starting from the opening kickoff when we tried the onside. It continued throughout. The support for each other on the field, on the sideline, you can see that on the tape. There's just a lot of positive energy going on. You feel it but you don't really see it until you can watch tape on it.
(on if the defense was able to pressure Aaron Rodgers due to the Packers' spread offense)
Well, I think when you do spread out and you don't keep guys in to protect, obviously, it does make that pocket a little more vulnerable. We let him out a couple times, which again, we said we couldn't and we did. Those are things, again, with (Andrew) Luck coming up, we've got to do a better job of containing these guys in the pocket. But yeah, I was pleased. We put more pressure on him—you know, we had the five sacks, but I thought there was pressure all day. That's hard when you throw the ball 55 times to bring a rush that many times and be as relentless as our guys were. I thought Coach (Dick) LeBeau did a really good job of mixing up what we were doing. We threw a lot at our defense to make it complicated on their offense. We had some mistakes because of it, but we felt like, in the long run, it was effective with everything we did, all the different looks, the disguises, the three-man rushes, the blitzes. We felt like it was effective at the end. I think that's why they scored nine points in the second half.
(on Kevin Byard)
He's growing in to be a really effective player for us, special teams and defensively. The one thing he's been, he's been very consistent with his tackling. Yesterday, a lot of open field tackles was good to see from him. Smart player. I mean, when you put a rookie as a personal protector in punt situations, you're asking a lot of a young player to make some important decisions that can change the outcome of a game if you don't get him in the right protection. We trust him that much. He's really taken advantage of every chance he gets that he steps on the field.
(on if the increased offensive productive is a product of maturation of players and their comfort with the system)
I think that has a lot to do with it. Obviously, the more we're getting chances to play together—again, as much as our roster has turned over, we've got a lot of new faces on offense, a lot of things we're doing on offense we hadn't done the last couple years. I think that's part of it. I think we're playing smarter. I think guys are making more plays. Especially outside, we're where we're supposed to be. I think the trust level is rising steadily. I think just some of the things—the third downs have been very good for us. Again, that's something we practice a lot, but I give a lot of credit to the offensive staff, too, of designing things that are getting guys as open as they are.
(on where this game ranks among Marcus Mariota's best performances)
Probably up there. Again, probably back-to-back games, important games that he knows we needed him to play at his best level, and he did. He started off with 10 completions. He had a couple throwaways. An example down before we scored to Kendall (Wright), we threw it away on first down. They had a better defense than we had an offensive play called. He threw it away, went to second down, we ran him down in the tight red and then we hit Kendall on the next play on third down. Just for him, getting rid of the ball, not trying to do something more than he has to, we still scored a touchdown in a three-play series. Those are things he did well yesterday again.
(on why Marcus Mariota has been more consistent outside the hashes)
Guys being in the right place—right depths, right timing. A lot of those throws, like the first third down we had with Tajae (Sharpe) out there, that is basically a drop, let her go, Tajae be here in this spot and if you are, there is a hole there to hit. Those are routes that we're doing better. We're doing better outside, we are. We're playing better, playing much more disciplined, and it's showing up on Sunday's.
(on the motivation to beat Indianapolis)
I think as we move forward, we're into the 11th game of the year, they're all going to be important from this point on. I don't know about trying to overcome the 10-game (losing streak). I mean, that's not going to be my method of motivation this week. This is a game we have to win. We have to learn how to win these games. We had to do that yesterday, we have to do that in Indy, we have to do that Week 11, we have to do that because we're in the chase for a playoff spot. Those are things we have to learn how to do. I think we're learning. This is a process we're going through right now. We're learning a lot about ourselves. These are the kind of games we've got to learn how to win.
(on how much a game plan changes between the first and second time facing a divisional opponent)
I'd say pretty extensively. Whether we played them two weeks ago, I'm sitting down like this is the first time. The way I look at film, I'm going to start just like it's the first time we've played the Colts. I think our staff does the same thing.
(on how DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry came out of the game)
Yeah, made it through good. DeMarco (Murray) feels better this week than he did this time last week, which is a good sign that he's in the healing process. Really, Derrick (Henry), no issues whatsoever.
(on if the first touchdown play could have been executed any better)
Well, it wasn't blocked correctly, and sometimes that's the case. But because of the misdirection, we had (Anthony) Fasano going back. We call it a ghost when the receiver fakes a reverse, so we had two bodies going the opposite direction of the run. It pulled their two interior linebackers totally out of the play. And really, Taylor Lewan, he's got one of those inside backers on the block. He's just playing football, he ended up getting on the safety, who was really unblocked on the play. When his guy just disappeared, he made an adjustment and blocked the safety. We had hats on all them and DeMarco (Murray) did the rest. Those are things you've got to do. I mean, you've got to do those types of things. You've got to have plays that go your way and guys just play. They're not robots out there chasing a guy that's not going to make a play. Really good by Lewan.
(on Taylor Lewan's short performance in the game)
Well, one play, one mental error. No, I would have liked to see how he would have graded out, but that wasn't the case and that's been addressed. It was a good play on his part.
(on Taylor Lewan's willingness to fight for his quarterback)
There's a point that you can protect your quarterback. I do like that because I can tell you there's been a time here where I've seen Marcus (Mariota) get hit and nobody go over and help him up. Now, I see multiple players coming over to defend him—Rishard Matthews getting in there. But there's a limit of where you draw the line that he needs to get out of there, get out of the picture, get out, especially with Taylor (Lewan).
(on how an aggressive player can learn to control himself during a game)
It can't be talked about any more. I mean, I addressed it before that series because I saw some finger pointing going on the series before, so I already knew that there was some conversations going on. I had said it before that series to not go beyond the line. He didn't know who he was pushing away. It doesn't matter. He shouldn't have been in that vicinity.
(on if Taylor Lewan's ejection can turn into a good lesson)
It might be. I'm hopeful that's the lesson learned. I'm hoping that's what it's going to take for him to understand how that affected our team.
(on Taylor Lewan seeming surprised he was ejected)
I'm hoping that when he watched, he saw that we can play without him and be effective.
(on if he was surprised the officials did not penalize either team for the scrum following Aaron Rodgers' rushing touchdown)
Yeah, I mean there could have been a number of flags thrown for a number of reasons for both teams. That's probably what they saw. It wasn't any one person. It was multitudes of people on both teams doing illegal things, so I'm sure the NFL will review that and reach out and touch someone.
(on if he sent any plays to the league office for review)
No, I didn't. I did not. I typically don't. Last week was the first time I did. I sent in 36 plays last week, but I did not this week.
(on if Jeff Triplette was effective communicating to him on the field)
I didn't have any issues yesterday. I did towards the end. I thought it was a long game. I thought there was some fouls at the end of the game that should have been called but weren't because of the time of the game and they want to go home.
(on if he received feedback from the NFL regarding the plays he submitted last week)
I got feedback on all of them. I won't go into what was right or wrong. But yeah, we got a response.
(on how Austin Johnson played)
Yeah, Austin (Johnson) did some good things, some things he could do better, as any rookie getting his chance to play. I thought he did some good things. That's a good experience playing against (Aaron) Rodgers and a guy that's going to throw it 50-something times in a game.
(on why Al Woods was inactive for the game)
Yeah, it was more of what we expected. We expected really a heavy dose of four wide receivers, five wide receivers, throwing the ball. I told them 40 times going into the game. I didn't anticipate it being 55, but I also didn't anticipate how the game was going to flow like it did. It was really more of the situation of personnel of who we were going against than anything.
(on Dennis Kelly's strengths)
Obviously, the size, the arm length. Dennis (Kelly) can play both sides. He can play in the interior. He's a very smart player. He played well. He played against Julius Peppers 50 of the snaps he was in there. I thought he did well. He had a couple of mental errors which is not uncommon for a guy that doesn't play a whole lot, but he's also our jumbo tight end. When the touchdown to (Anthony) Fasano, he has to now go to tight end, (Quinton) Spain had to come in for the play. I thought Russ (Grimm) did a great job on the sideline when (Taylor) Lewan went out to keep our offense still running without missing a beat. We didn't take anything out when Lewan went out because we had a lot of plays with the jumbo tight end that we could have lost with Lewan going out. Russ did a great job getting everybody up to speed so we didn't lose that package.
(on who will start at left guard moving forward)
I think we're going to throw (Quinton) Spain in and let him have a full practice Wednesday and see how he does. He did well enough that we felt like he could go in if we had to have him this game. We kept him up with (Sebastian) Tretola being down, but we'll put him back in there and see how he does. But we have a lot of confidence in (Brian) Schwenke. Brian's done an unbelievable job for us. Really didn't miss a beat with him in there. It's been really good knowing that we have that ability.
(on learning how to handle success)
I think we just keep working like we're working. I think nothing's going to change. We're not going to do anything drastic. I mean, we're going to work like we do. They come to work every day. The plans are pretty consistent, straight-forward. I think we do a good job of meetings and how we install and how we practice things. I think it carries over from really our practice field to the games in these last six games.
(on the goal against Andrew Luck if the Colts use max protection)
Well, obviously, we've got to cover better than we did this last time. That will not keep us from coming after him. I mean, they still have to block you. They can keep in as many people as they want, but they have to block you, and that's beating some of the blocks, as well. So we've got to do that, as well, and we've got to do a good job of staying in our rush lanes, which we did for the most part, but we've got to win some one-on-ones up front.
(on the mindset of the veteran players that have been through several losing seasons)
I think it's been good really for everybody. I know they've been here the longest, especially Jason (McCourty). It's been good for me to watch them. It was really fun yesterday. I just like how everybody kind of rallies around each other. This team has got a lot of heart and they care about each other. It's very evident on the sideline. It's very evident here how much this team cares about each other. You can see the body language. Guys are having fun doing what we're doing, and hopefully we can continue.
(on the importance of team chemistry in the NFL)
I'd say it's pretty important. I mean, from all my experiences, I think it's very important that you stand there with the guy on your right and your left and they know you have their back no matter what the situation is. That's pretty important. I think these guys understand that. This team does.
(on what a win over the Colts would mean for the direction of the team)
I think we're trying to keep going in a positive direction in a lot of different ways, and that would be it. This is an important game. This last one was. This is an important game, and the team knows that, but it would be a very good win for this organization.
(on if he was able to see the reunion of the soldier and son during the game and the Salute to Service activities in pregame)
I did. That was very moving. There was a lot of very moving things. That flyover with our Titan Up flag—if that doesn't get you and then the reunion doesn't get you—that was tough. Everything about that pregame was pretty moving.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Green Bay Packers in Week 10 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)