TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Dec. 12, 2016
I'll give you a little update on the injuries. With Jurrell Casey, he was close enough to playing to work him out, but not there to play him, obviously. We'll take it again day-by-day. Obviously, these couple days will help in the process of healing. Then we had Sean Spence with an ankle sprain — not high, so hopefully not too serious but probably out for Wednesday's practice as I stand here. Then Karl Klug has got a little bit of a strain of an Achilles tendon. He'll probably miss Wednesday, as well.
(on the satisfaction of having a good defensive showing without Jurrell Casey)
I thought that was very important. It was great effort. I mean, it was evident the way they were playing. It was just a swarming defense. Where I see a lot of that, where you really see effort, is when the screen game goes on where guys turn and run and make plays from behind. I mean, it was just an all-out effort by these guys yesterday. It was really impressive.
(on how Valentino Blake and LeShaun Sims performed)**
I think they played pretty well — made some plays, made some big plays. Obviously, LeShaun's (Sims) — big play down in the red zone, in the end zone against, I think, one of the best receivers in the league. It was a huge play. (Valentino) Blake stripping the ball out there on that one route — I thought they played well.
(on why Jason McCourty took fewer snaps than Valentino Blake and LeShaun Sims)
Just rotation. No specific reason or another. Just rotation of the corners.
(on why the secondary played better this week)
Well, I think some of the coverages helped. We had some different coverages in there that we have not played. That helped, I think, some of their techniques, but they did play their techniques pretty well, and that's important in this game that you do that. You've got to trust what we're coaching and what we need, and they do.
(on this game building confidence for the secondary)
It's important. I think there's no doubt that it's going to help. It can't do anything else, especially against receivers like that. We've got more coming that are just as dangerous. That certainly helped.
(on his opinion on Harry Douglas' cut block on Chris Harris, Jr.)
It was legal.
(on if he thought Harry Douglas' cut block was excessive)
No. No, I've been with Harry (Douglas) for six years. Harry cuts just about every game. No, I have no problem with it.
(on if that is the cut blocking technique the coaches teach the receivers)
Yeah, we tell them to cut through the thigh. If you aim at the thigh, you're going to hit the knee. If you aim at the knee, you're going to probably miss and whiff and go down by the ankles. We want to aim at the thigh to get to the knees, just like they do when they saw tackle. It's the same thing, very similar, except in saw tackles, a lot of times, you don't even get to see the saw tackle happen.
(on the explanation he received from the officials when he tried to challenge Delanie Walker's catch in the first quarter)**
That they had blown the whistle and play was over, basically. That was it. I didn't hear the whistle and I didn't see him signaling anything until Delanie (Walker) was in the end zone, so that's what was confusing for me that I didn't understand. It was just the whistle being blown. And then I thought there was another mark, maybe. I challenged it with the spot. Obviously, when they blew the whistle, the play was dead.
(on if having good communication and cohesion is difficult with the rotation in the secondary)
You know what, I don't think it's that difficult because of our guys. We do a lot of walk-throughs and Dick LeBeau throws a lot at them in a short amount of time. We get numerous reps in these walk-throughs and there's a lot of communication going on, whether you're involved on the play or you're standing in the back. So there's just constant communication. Really, since day one, these guys have been great with communicating where they need to be and who they're on and if there's any checks—been really good.
(on the rotation plan in the secondary)
It wasn't like who was in for them or the personnel for them. It was just a feel for our coaches rotating. We do that in practice. That's exactly how we did it in practice with those guys. You go with the DB coaches.
(on how Kendall Wright handled the news that he would not play)
I think he understood the situation. He made a mistake and suffered the consequences for it. I told him, 'Once the day's over with and you've had to sit out, clean slate moving forward with it.' He understood that.
(on if Kendall Wright's tardiness to meetings was an isolated incident)
That's all in house. That will be kept in the house.
(on if Kendall Wright's injury at the beginning of the season impacted him)
Yeah, obviously that started him out slow. As much time as he missed, I think that had a lot to do with the consistency in his play. He had a big game for us against Jacksonville. He's made plays when we've needed him to make plays, but he hasn't been the focal point in any of the games. He's playing his role, which has been the slot receiver.
(on if Tre McBride's downed punt will impact his role moving forward)**
No, it was a great play—I mean, a great play by him. Actually, he made two on special teams. Again, he has a role when he is up. That was his role to fill in on a couple of those spots, but it was nice to see the sequence of things that happened there. We're talking about making a play, which we've been talking about all year long. Our offense to make a play with the throw from Marcus (Mariota) to Rishard (Matthews) to get the chains (moving), basically the field position, the punt, to down it and then the next series of defense, to get the turnover—those are the plays we've been talking about. It's good to see them happen. Hopefully, we build a little confidence off of them.
(on Delanie Walker's offensive pass interference calls)
Yeah, he needs to avoid the defenders. I mean, there's a lot of guys running in and out of there, but really the second one, too, he's got to stay higher on the route.
(on if he agreed with the offensive pass interference calls on Delanie Walker)
Yeah, after I watched it again, yes. There wasn't a whole lot of space that he was going to avoid, but especially if it's already happened earlier in the game, it's going to go against us again.
(on if the goal is to get as close to possible to the defenders without interference)
On the first one. Second one, no. The second one, I mean, hopefully with a lot of bodies crossing, somebody's going to run into or at least slow somebody down—hopefully, on their side, not ours.
(on if there were more designed runs for Marcus Mariota against the Broncos than is typical)
No, I'd say about the same. We have a number that we try to get in every week.
(on Von Miller not having a sack or quarterback hit)
I know he got a hat or a piece of Marcus (Mariota) on one of the scrambles, I do know that, but I thought our offensive staff did a really good job of game planning to try to help. He's hard to block. He's hard to block in the run game. I mean, we had a lot of misses on him in the run game — I mean, clear-out whiffs. So I thought in protection scheme—again, we only threw the ball 20 times, but I thought the plan was very good. But from the onset, the plan was to run the ball.
(on the importance of winning games decided by three points or less and why this team has had success in those situations)**
I think it's a mindset. I think it's the experience of doing it, knowing we can do it and we can win those games. It's believing in each other the way these guys do. They care about each other. I've said that numerous times. I think the more you do things, the more confident you get in them. The more we can win—again, like a game like yesterday, I knew it was going to come down to probably one score. When you're going to run the ball that many times, it's not going to be a high-scoring game. It's going to be a close score. We're learning how to win them.
(on winning without Marcus Mariota having his best performance)
I give a lot of credit to our offensive staff that they put a game plan together that didn't rely on us throwing the ball with the guy that's had the hot hand in the last six-to-eight weeks. We knew going in the plan was we need to have the ability to run the football, possess it, keep it out of their hands and not think we have to win it one way. We knew how we had to win the game, and we stuck with the plan.
(on why Kevin Byard was effective in the game)
Well, Dick LeBeau has some of that. His scheme—rarely can you get free runners like you get, but Dick did that yesterday and got him free on some things. His timing is a lot of it, disguise, letting them make all their protection calls and then showing your hand late. He's a good football player—good, instinctive football player, even when it comes to blitzing.
(on if he liked Taylor Lewan distancing himself from the scrums)
I did. I appreciated that. He's come a long way. He has come a long way. I wasn't aware of it until somebody showed me a photo of him sitting down. Yeah, obviously, he's listening.
(on if Anthony Fasano's reception was the same play that ended the game against New Orleans in 2015)
It's very similar. Yes, very similar to that kind of play. They defended it a little better, but not, obviously, well enough.
(on if T.J. Ward should have been called for pass interference when Marcus Mariota was out as a receiver)
I would say that was pretty definite pass interference. Not even close.
(on why DeMarco Murray has had his biggest rushing games at home)**
I'd say coincidence more than anything. You know, we've rushed the ball more in the games I can think of—the Green Bay, the Jacksonville game. I know we had 40 rushes against Jacksonville, so there's more carries. Maybe that's the case, but really no other reason.
(on if DeMarco Murray plays better at home)
No, I don't think so.
(on if DeMarco Murray had more burst coming off of the bye week)
He did. Yeah, I thought both he and Derrick (Henry) ran the ball well. I mean, we talked about this is not a team you can do a lot of bouncing. Even though he did a couple, most of it was going to be inside trying to move the line of scrimmage. Our O-line, I thought, did an outstanding job of moving the line of scrimmage, and then the backs helped by sticking it up in there. I mean, there was just a pile of bodies and it was going in the right direction for us.
(on what made the Broncos' fake punt successful)
A rifle shot from the punter right on target. Really good quarterbacks throw that ball. I, personally, have never seen that before where you run a stop fade on a punt because (Valentino) Blake is there to stop him. So he's going to run not expecting it. It was a well-designed and well-executed play.
(on if he would add the fake punt to his playbook)
I don't know. We'll see. I've seen Brett (Kern) throw. He's accurate. I don't know if it's going to be a dart like that one was. It was very well executed.
(on if Valentino Blake got caught on the fake punt)
You don't expect them to stop. When you've been that guy for hundreds of punts, you don't expect him to stop.
(on if he was glad to see Jurrell Casey trying to break up the sideline scrum)**
Yeah, I liked how our team responded—not going to take it—and I have no problem with that.
(on if Valentino Blake has practiced with the physicality he played with in the game)
Yeah, he does. That is the way he plays. Yeah, he's a hitter. He likes contact.
(on what has been holding Valentino Blake back from getting more reps)
We were trying to keep the same two guys out there and get the defense all together, which we haven't had since I've been here. It wasn't (anything) other than that. He's started games, and we know that. He did well yesterday.
(on if Valentino Blake has shown more the last few weeks to earn him more reps against the Broncos)
(on Aaron Wallace's improvement)
Yeah, I think you see him do things better every week. He's getting a little confidence in what he's doing. That was a huge play. That was a really high-effort play. He almost got the ball out at the same time. Hopefully, that helps him. The only thing that kid lacks is experience because he wants to do it the right way. Everything we're teaching him, he's doing, and he's doing some good things on special teams, as well.
(on how he feels about coaching in this situation)
I'm enjoying this experience with these guys. I'm very proud of them with the way they have worked, going back to April. I mean, the mindset has been all work and we like to have fun doing it. It hasn't changed. I think they understand what they want, but I think they also are seeing that it's coming to light that if we play this style of football, we can be in the mix. And we are right in the mix of it. I'm just proud to be a part of it.
(on his reaction to the Rams firing Jeff Fisher)
I just found out literally five minutes ago, so I haven't really had much time to think about it. I did not know they did that.
(on how Derrick Morgan played)
Very well. He graded out winning—tough to block. He's been that way all year. He's very relentless with his play. I mean, he's very disruptive. He does a lot more things than you really realize without the stats and everything that follow it.
(on the Titans' two takeaways is an indication of more to come)
I certainly hope so. I know we were all wishing for it on the sideline that that was going on that we needed a turnover. Again, it's been a big emphasis in this building and on the practice field all year, but maybe a little more this week because of Denver's ability of winning games with winning the turnover battle. We knew that was going to be one of the differences in the outcome of the game.
(on how much each week helps build the team's confidence)**
I think it's helping. Again, it can't hurt at all what's happening with this team. We've been in close games all year. I mean, really, if you think about it, every one of these games—13 games—we've had a chance to win all the games. Obviously, we haven't, but we've had chances to. So they've all been close. We've won some of them. We've lost some of the close ones. I think the experience has been great for them. I think the fans are all nervous wrecks more than we are on the sideline. Our guys believe we're going to win the game, no matter what the situation is. It's been good to come out on the top end of these last couple games.
(on if knowing the ticket to the playoffs is to win out helps keep players' minds clear)
I think so. Again, I know they know the big picture, but I'm going to keep them on the same picture we've been on that we've got to win this game. We have to win. We have to go to a tough environment in Kansas City, a team that's playing extremely well, and we've got to win this game or everything else is irrelevant.
(on if there is a secret to playing in cold weather)
No, I think we've had some cold practices here. Like I've said, I've been in the league, I've played, coached. I know they're going to be cold, too. I know when it's hot, they're hot, too. So it's not a huge advantage for anybody. Once you get playing and blood's flowing, the temperature is irrelevant, as well.
(on his analysis on the Chiefs)
I'm in my second game right now watching their defense.
(on if having more takeaways than Denver's defense helps moving forward)
Yeah, it does, but again, the emphasis is not turning the ball over and getting them is big every week. It's No. 1 on our keys to victory every week.
(on how much emphasis he will put on watching film of the Denver game compared to the Chiefs)
I think all the players are going to watch it before Wednesday. That's what they wanted to do. They all came in at different times with their own groups and watched it because there's a lot to learn. There's no better teaching tool than game tape.
(on if Marcus Mariota was overthrowing passes to avoid turnovers)**
I think so, I do. I think he's going to err on the side of an incompletion than making a mistake. Yeah, I'd agree with that.
(on if he could see Delanie Walker's potential touchdown catch called out of bounds from the sideline)
They saw it upstairs and were pretty adamant about it to challenge it.
(on if he reviewed that play again today)
Tougher from game film. I guess they were basically watching the same copies that the official would see if he did go in the booth. From the game film, it's tough to see. The thing about it, nobody stops. Nobody thought it was out of bounds. It was a look-live play all the way to the end zone, but from upstairs, they were pretty adamant about challenging it.
(on if LeShaun Sims earned more playing time)
Yeah, I think he'll probably get more and more. Again, the guys that have the hot hand that are playing the best, playing the most consistent will play more.