TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT Nov. 28, 2016
I'll open up with the injury report. Taylor Lewan made it through the game very well. Very pleased with how he played and appreciate his effort. Jason McCourty, like I said last night, has a bruised knee and he basically had it cleated. So he should be ready when we come back next Monday. Jurrell (Casey)—sprained foot—again, probably would not have played this week if we had a game but anticipate him being ready for Denver when we come back. We made a roster move this morning. We waived Perrish Cox and we're going to bring up Kalan Reed to the active roster from our practice squad. **
(on if he challenged Perrish Cox to play better last week)*
Yeah, I mean, I challenge all of them to play better every week. But I felt like, just immediately starting somebody else, that's a tough position to lack confidence. I thought that would be a drastic move to immediately just put somebody else in there to replace him. You're not building confidence then. I wanted him to have another chance to start, see if he could play better than he's been playing and really did not play better—not to the standards that we expect. It's about the consistency, and we've got some younger guys we're going to put in there, like we did yesterday, with LeShaun (Sims). We're still talking about who's going to start, but there will be a rotation over there. We just need some better play at the corner position.
(on if Perrish Cox was released due to an accumulation of mistakes or a specific incident)
No, it's been consistency through the games. It wasn't one particular thing. It just hasn't been consistent. I think players need to realize that. That's what we want from them. That's what we expect from them. I think they expect that from themselves, but we were not getting it and we're going to go in a different direction. I think it's best for both parties—fresh start for him. He'll go somewhere, and that's probably best for him.
(on if a player's lack of confidence is most evident through a lack of decisiveness or second-guessing himself)
Pretty much what you just said. Some of the technique work, some of the things we're doing coaching-wise, what we want done, how we coach it—you know, you've got to do it how we would like it, and sometimes that wasn't always the case and sometimes that's just lack of confidence in trusting the system. You've got to trust what we're telling you, and that's what we want.
(on if he has seen enough from LeShaun Sims and Kalan Reed to give him confidence)
I haven't seen anything from Kalan (Reed) in a live NFL game playing as a corner. I saw 36 snaps of LeShaun (Sims). I thought he did some good things yesterday. I thought it was good experience for him. I thought Valentino (Blake) did some good things yesterday. Brice McCain, again, in the slot did a very good job of covering yesterday. So we've got some options out there. How we rotate it, we're still talking about that. We've got some time.
(on if he would like the young cornerbacks to have more practice time this week in preparation for Denver's receivers)
I mean, that obviously would be a benefit, but that's not the case. We're not going to do that. These guys have been going for 17-straight weeks and they needed some time off, coaches included. They'll get that time. I was concerned about the bye, when we first looked at the schedule, being so late. I think it did have a little bit of an effect on us, again, based on how long we've been going without a break, but I like where it is now with four games to go in this stretch. I think it's a good time for us. We need the break. We need it mentally and physically for this four-game stretch coming up.
(on how releasing Perrish Cox makes the team better)*
Well, I think he's shown over the last few weeks he hasn't played consistently. We've got some guys that do have experience, starting experience, including (Valentino) Blake and Brice McCain have started out there as corners in the NFL. LeShaun (Sims) got a number of snaps. Again, we'll base the rotation and who starts when we make that decision sometime in the next two weeks.
(on what message this roster move sends to the team)
There's no message sent. There's no hidden messages. This is the way the NFL is. If you don't perform at the level that we ask, then we're going to find somebody that does. But there's never a hidden message through you guys. That will never be the case.
(on his message to LeShaun Sims and Kalan Reed about this opportunity)
It's theirs to take advantage of it. Just like any young player, you hope they see the direction we're going. They know what we command, and they're going to get some opportunities that maybe they weren't expecting. I think it's good for them. **
(on what the cornerback rotation says about the roster)
I don't see it that way. You're saying what guys can't do. I'm saying what guys can do. When you have the ability to have guys that can play—multiple guys play—I think that's a positive.
(on if the good Steelers teams he was a part of used rotations at key positions)
Some. On some, yes. **
(on using Kendall Wright on kickoff return against the Bears)
We were in a situation where we were expecting an onside kick. We like where we had Marc (Mariani) placed for the onside kick. That's the way the design of it is.
(on if changes are being made at the return position)*
No, that was anticipation of onside kick. **
(on how the bye week will benefit DeMarco Murray)
I would think it'd be very good. We're talking about who's practicing next Monday when we come back. We'll make a decision then even whether he does that or give him still two more days even extra to see if we can get him healthy.
(on if he was encouraged by how Derrick Henry played)
Yeah, the one thing about him, he's made an impression every time he's run the football. There's no question. From day one through the preseason, all these games, he's made an impression of his ability to run it, run it when there's nothing there—he's moving the pile—but he did good in his limited opportunities he had yesterday.
(on if he is thinking ahead to next season in giving young players more opportunities)
No, we're thinking about Denver right now. Again, we put Chicago to rest this morning. We have a lot of young guys playing for us, really everywhere, and a lot of them have contributed. Kevin Byard's done a great job for us. The more they can play—again, we're still right in the thick of things—the more they can play, though, it's going to benefit us somewhere down the road with them playing in important football games.
(on if they have designed Derrick Henry's role to be a four-minute back in winning situations or he has not been included in game planning)
No, that's kind of been what we've had in mind. There's been some that we haven't been able to get to that segment like we would like to. Obviously, you'd like to be in that every game, but we haven't had that ability. Again, I'm thinking back recently, we've had to come back from games instead of keep of lead.
(on if they have considered using Derrick Henry in critical short-yardage situations)
We've discussed it. Yeah, we have.
(on what schematic changes can be made to bring success on short-yardage plays)
Block better, run better. We've been pretty successful with them. We've had two failures in the last two games, so it feels like it's been an entire season, but that's really not been the case. We've been pretty successful with our scheme. We'll continue. We believe in what we're doing. We believe in the guys up front. Again, we can't stand here and say we're this power running team and we're a yard away from a touchdown and not put it in. That's something we want done, and we have to do that.
(on if opposing defenses have changed their attack to stop the run)
They have. Obviously, there's more up there. We're getting more single high coverage, which again, is an advantage throwing the football. You still, obviously, have to execute with the coverages, but it does help Marcus (Mariota) in his game. I'll say this—again, I don't know the exact stats—but I know the games we've run the ball more than we've thrown it, we've won. I know we've scored more points when we've run the ball more than we've thrown it. I think we've thrown more explosive plays because of our run game. No matter how many guys are up there, we're able to get more guys deep because of our run game. **
(on if the receiver group is making more plays)*
They are. They're making more plays, big plays. I mean, that was an unbelievable throw and catch to Rishard (Matthews) yesterday for the touchdown on third-and-10. They're making critical plays for us. Delanie (Walker) continues to do it every week. Nothing has changed, but our outside guys are making some plays that are important. I think that's what's helping Delanie. **
(on why Kevin Dodd was inactive again)
He's healthy. Again, his sense of urgency in practice needs to pick up. He knows that's what we're expecting. We need to see him both when we're doing our defensive side of the ball and when we show the scout team. I need more from him, and he knows that. **
(on why Kevin Dodd did not respond to this message last week after being inactive)
You'll have to ask him that. **
(on if Al Woods responded in a different way when he was inactive)
Yeah, I mean, that's how we practice. We're fast—even without pads, we still demand a good speed so games are simulated as close to possible, so games are easier. You don't want to make them harder, so practice is a little harder than Sunday's. We need looks when we have the scout team out there, and that's how we practice. **
(on if Austin Johnson is performing well due to being active several weeks in a row)
Yeah, and some of that, too, with Austin (Johnson)—we expected more of a run game from Chicago. Concentrating on that, we wanted a bigger body in there than (Angelo) Blackson, but he did some good things. Again, another young guy playing a lot of reps. The more he's getting, obviously, the better it is for all of us.
(on if Taylor Lewan draws more attention from referees than other linemen)
I would agree with that. Yeah, I'd say that.
(on if Taylor Lewan's facemask penalties would have been called against other linemen)
One probably would have been called. I mean, it was pretty blatant. He was leading on a screen. It was out in open space, pretty evident. **
(on how hard it is for a player to shed a reputation for penalties with officials)
Obviously, the less you do, the more it will go away. He's a physical player. With some of the things he's done, I'm sure they're being warned ahead of time. I think the less he does, the less penalties, the less they're going to warn the officials. I think it will go away eventually if he quits.
(on if opposing teams' offenses will try to attack the way the Bears did in the fourth quarter)*
I think it really depends on the scheme of the team we're playing. It's really what they believe they do well. We don't change everything we're doing because we see success (from other teams). Now we may try to find something that we already do. We come in here on Tuesday's and you think it's the same defense, it's a 3-4 defense, you should be able to run the same plays. It's a completely new week every single Tuesday. I mean it is a new game plan. There's things that every team does different that we have to prepare for. So it is a copycat league to a point, but I think they're going to play to their strengths first off. **
(on how having two weeks changes preparation)
Well, we'll have more time. Obviously, we're going to take some time. I think the coaches have earned it. We've got some tired coaches. Again, 17 weeks in a row is a pretty grueling schedule, so they're going to get some time off, but we have iPads now that have a lot of information. We're not going to start looking this weekend. When we come back in, we'll already have a plan from this week. So everybody's going to work from home, get a good idea, but you've got to be conscious of sometimes when you have too much time, you put too much in. You overload the players, so we've got to just make sure we're consistent with what we're doing, with what we've been doing with play count and defensive calls.
(on his message to the team going into the bye week)
Be smart with your time off. We've been very good as a team this entire year. We haven't had any issues where we've had to deal with players off the field. We want to continue that. We want to make sure that they continue to train like they've been training up to this point. Again, I'm knocking on wood, but we've been very healthy. We anticipate going into Denver very healthy, and the only way we can do that is if they take care of themselves this week. **
(on if the players' confidence level has risen with winning)
I would say it has. Yeah, I'd say that. **
(on if the Bears' fourth-quarter comeback was a result of playing softer coverage on defense)
I'd say that's part of it. I would say part of it. They didn't throw the ball real well or real effectively the first half. I think his rating was less than 50 percent or 59 or something like that. It wasn't real good, and then all of a sudden, they knew they had to throw. We had to cover them better, but the timing of the throws, when I watched it—they had some plays that they were keeping extra guys in, like everybody does. Those shots down the field, they had seven in blocking. The one thing he did well for a young, inexperienced quarterback was he got the ball out in very good timing. Tough to get to him.
(on if he will rethink using softer coverage when holding a lead in the future)
Well, I'll say this, the coverage had to get tighter, especially in one corner. It was not tight enough. But also some of the things that we could do better was the timing of our blitzes. The depths we were coming from—again, some of that's from younger players—but some of the blitzes should have never gotten the ball off. We had some free runners. Again, that's all part of learning this game and getting the experience doing it. We could have created more havoc with the timing of our blitzes, as well.
(on the importance of the offensive line playing multiple games this season without allowing a sack)
I'd say pretty critical, I mean compared to being the worst team in the league last year. Our guys don't get a lot of credit for what they've done. I think they like it that way, but they played very well up front yesterday. We felt like that was one of the better fronts that we've had to deal with, especially their edge rushers and (Akiem) Hicks inside. He is a very good player. I thought we handled it pretty well for our line.
(on if it was helpful that the team's next two opponents played each other Sunday night)
Yeah, I'm not sure how big of an advantage it is. I'm just starting to watch. I watched parts of it last night, but digging down deep in, I'm watching it right now. It helps that they play each other. I mean, it helps to see how they attack each other, how they defend each other.
(on Wesley Woodyard's play against the Bears)
He played very well, not just the interception, but he knocked it down late in that last drive. He played well in coverage. He played very well. Probably one of his best games, like you said.
(on the importance of winning consecutive games in December)
Well, I think it's important. Again, we're going to concentrate on the Broncos and not any streaks or anything like that. I think for the next thing we have to do, we've got to get over the .500. We haven't been over .500 with the exception of when we've won the first game—again, I'm talking about my time here where we were 1-0—we need to take that next step.
(on if there is a reason the team alternates wins and losses or each game is unique)
I think they're all different. It hasn't been who in particular why we haven't gotten over the hump. I think a lot of where we are at 6-6 is because of us. I mean, that's more than anything else.
(on if players will come in over the bye week for treatment or training)
There will be a number of guys here, definitely.
(on if he wants players to get away for a few days)
I would like them, at least for a few days, to get away. Yeah, I think they mentally and physically need a break.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Chicago Bears in Week 12 action at Soldier Field. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)