TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Dec. 19, 2016
We'll start off with injuries. I know you guys are curious about some of these guys. (Phillip) Supernaw and (Da'Norris) Searcy are in the concussion protocol right now. Once they get through a practice and get tested, we'll know more about them. Jason McCourty—chest contusion, shoulder sprain. He'll be probably out, I know, the early part of this week in practice. We'll just watch how it goes with that injury. Sean Spence should be back this week, and then Karl Klug probably had the most serious injury with the Achilles. He did tear that and he'll have surgery on that, so he will be out and we'll put him on IR, which is a big loss for our team.
(on what the team will miss in Karl Klug's absence)
Relentless play, a guy that's where he's supposed to be on all downs—just a tough, physical, dependable player, team-first, a guy we really like.
(on if Karl Klug was close to not being able to play against Kansas City)**
No, and I watched him Friday. He had a really good Friday practice. He was full-go. I don't know if he would have let me not let him play. I mean, he wanted to play. It's disappointing. It happened, but I don't think we put him back there too early. I saw him Friday do a lot of things.
(on LeShaun Sims' progression in recent weeks)
Well, I think the more he's playing, the more confident he's getting in his game if you watch him. This is not too big for him right now. I think you've seen him make really big plays in the red zone the last two weeks against really—especially with Denver—a really good receiver to make that play that he made, but I think he's just feeling more confident in his play. One thing he's doing that doesn't get talked a lot about is his run support. He is a physical player. He's not afraid to stick his nose in there, and that's nice to have a corner that will also do that in support.
(on LeShaun Sims' awareness as a rookie to go to the ground following his end zone interception)
Smart player. He understood the situation, the circumstances of where we were. (He) also saw a number of Chiefs coming at him and thought that was the best decision to go down. No, that was good decision on his part. That was a big play.
(on the contributions from the rookie class)
I mean, you're talking about some big games with these guys. Yesterday, at one point, we had five rookies on defense playing against the Chiefs, four of them in a number of snaps together. Obviously, (Jack) Conklin and Tajae (Sharpe) and Derrick (Henry) on offense—I mean, you're talking about seven guys, eight guys that played extensively yesterday in a very big game in a tough environment.
(on the primary target on the two-point conversion play)
Harry (Douglas) is the initial, but the other receivers are also part of the option to throw it. It wasn't very well executed in our standards. It could have been executed much better at the point.
(on if he wanted Marcus Mariota to get the ball to Harry Douglas directly out of the snap)
Yeah, I would have liked to have seen what would have happened if he'd have put it on Harry (Douglas). I think the throw was there. It's not as clean as you'd like. We thought we could a cleaner lane. Again, that's part of the execution of the play, but even with that being said, I still would have liked to have seen what would have happened if he'd have thrown it.
(on if he intends to be as aggressive as he was calling the two-point conversation in all situations)
No, those are pretty well thought out. I can tell you time had a big factor in it in whether we'd get the ball back, which I thought there was plenty of time. There's a number of things that go into it. It's the momentum of the game, how are we playing, how are they playing. I've also been in games that I've never seen the ball again after we've tied it. The game's been over without having a chance to win it. It's well thought out, talking through on the headsets, talked through it with players on the sideline that I have a lot of respect for. It's the mindset we want to win the game then and there.
(on having faith in the defense to get a stop if the two-point conversion failed)
It's hard when you're sitting there and in my position, in this business, the belief and the trust in the players and the coaches in how much that plays into it. This is a different business than most that you have to have that, especially in very critical situations. You have to have a trust and a belief.
(on if you risk not seeing the ball again on offense if a two-point conversion fails)**
Yeah, you are.
(on if Ryan Succop's range in the cold weather was around 48 yards)
We had talked earlier when the game started where we needed to be to be comfortable and confident was the 30-yard line. Again, I've seen him bang some long ones out here, longer than 53. We really didn't have a choice. That's where we were going—the 35—and, like I said yesterday and I'll say it again, I think that whole sideline believed he was going to make that kick.
(on if he would have attempted a field goal had the offense not gotten to the 35-yard line)
No, it would have probably been then you're in a Hail Mary type of situation.
(on what yard line he needed to reach to call for a field goal)
Probably the 36 (yard line). Yeah, that's every game. It's that much difference in winning and losing is a yard.
(on Delanie Walker's 15-yard catch that set up the field goal)
I give Delanie (Walker) a lot of credit. If Delanie turns and goes the other way, he gets tackled on the 40. Delanie just made a great play on the throw by Marcus (Mariota) and got us where we needed to be. That's what big-time playmakers do.
(on Marcus Mariota's game-winning drive)
I like how he's handled it pretty much every time we've been in that situation, including out here on the practice fields, which we practice that. We've been doing that, really, since the OTAs a number of times, and he's been very good. Our offense has been very good in that situation.
(on if he reconsidered the field goal when Ryan Succop's first attempt was short but nullified by a Chiefs' timeout)
No. You had to be there in the moment with that sideline and our belief that he was going to make that kick. Whatever it was—you can call it divine intervention or whatever it was—it was a belief that he was going to make it.
(on if the Chiefs' timeout gave Ryan Succop an opportunity to determine how hard to kick)
I'm sure he's thinking that, but he felt like he kicked the first one as well as he could. It's funny how things work out. I mean, I don't know why it went probably four or five yards longer than it did, but it did.
(on if he spoke with Andy Reid after the game about his timeout call before the field goal)**
Not really, no. There wasn't a whole lot of conversation at the end of the game. I understand how Andy (Reid) feels. That's every week. I've felt that way many a time myself where we had a chance to win and didn't. That's part of it.
(on why games have been going in the Titans' favor recently)
I think we're learning how to win some of these games. I mean, we've lost some of these games earlier in the year where we couldn't defensively stop a team, where we thought if we get a stop here, we felt confident that were were going to take it down and score with our two-minute offense and we didn't. Again, I'm using that as one example because our defense played outstanding yesterday. But I think we're learning a lot about ourselves, what we're capable of doing, what we can and cannot do. That's going to be a weekly thing for this team until we get where we want to go.
(on what it means to the team to be in control of its playoff destiny)
I like it. I mean, I think these guys have earned it. They have. They have worked very hard for this. They've stuck together when (we had) a slow start to the season—again, resilient. It didn't slow them down, didn't change their hearts or theirs minds or their work ethic. Just like a game—slow start in a game—it didn't change anything, and this is not the only game. They've earned it. They've earned the right to be here right now. We'll see where it goes from here.
(on if certain wins or situations, such as the Detroit game, has helped change the team's mindset)
Well, I think that certainly helped. There were a number of games that we were down, we got down early, and we came back to take the leads in some of these games. I mean, if I go back and look at every game, I could tell you certain things that we've grown from. I think yesterday was another that we did. When that kick went through, that was big for this team to know we can do something like that in a tough environment.
(on if Andy Reid's timeout call before the field goal changes his own opinion on icing the kicker)
I have my thoughts on that, I do. Obviously, I'm not going to tell you, but yeah.
(on if the timeout had an effect on the field goal)
No, it did not. It did not have an effect. Did that answer your question?
(on if the defensive improvement throughout the game was attributed to better execution of the game plan or alterations in the plan)
No, I think we had to execute better. Again, the first play they ran for the touchdown, I'm surprised they didn't run that two or three more times to see if they could split it because that's a tough play to defend. They tried a couple shots over our heads. We had good coverage. One we gave up with Brice (McCain) that got them down there to get in position to score again. We did some things better in the second half, especially even stopping the run.
(on the importance of Derrick Henry in the game)
I think both backs ran very well yesterday. They did a lot of good things for us. Derrick (Henry) has run well every opportunity he's had. DeMarco (Murray), as the game went on, he became much more physical. He was getting more into the groove as the game went on. Again, that catch to get us down there was a huge play on fourth down—a huge play for us.
(on the trust in DeMarco Murray to throw to him on fourth-and-five in the fourth quarter)
Well, he's done that in earlier games. I think even in Detroit we had that same type of route. He's part of that read. We ran the play a couple of third downs earlier and just trusted the play because we got some options on it and they're all good options with the people we have running those routes. That's a hard throw—a back-shoulder throw to a back along the sideline—a hard catch, but again, we're on the phone. We're saying, 'What's the next first down? When we get this first'—I mean, we just believe we were going to get the first. I mean, that's kind of where we're at right now.
(on if they knew they had a favorable matchup on the fourth-down play to DeMarco Murray)
(on if Derrick Henry is benefiting from having fresh legs late in the season)**
I think they're both benefiting off of each other, I really do. In the last few weeks, he's gotten, obviously, more carries. We've done some things with personnel groups, but I think both of them are benefiting with the rotation that we have.
(on what this win means for the fans)
That was big because, at least for the time I've been here, we haven't had a lot of those games where we've won at the end like that. I think our fans know that they're going to get a team that comes out to compete every game. We've had a chance to win every game, and that's all you want is a team that wants to come out and compete and give yourself a chance to win. That's what they're seeing and they're seeing the results in our favor more as of late.
(on Marcus Mariota's decreased numbers in the last two games)
I don't think it's been a struggle. It's been a different way to attack. I look at it as a positive that we can score and find ways to win without having to throw two touchdown passes every game. I find it more that our offensive staff has found ways to attack different defenses, very good defenses, and found ways to win.
(on if he has seen Marcus Mariota slip in any way in the last two games)
(on if he will warn the team about the possible effects Jacksonville's coaching change could have on the team and how they play)
Yeah, I was going to tell them before there was a change that this team's playing at a high-level effort. I know offensively, this defense that we're about to face is one of the top-10 defenses. I think they're eight right now. They're playing good. I mean, most of the games that they have lost—I know seven or eight games have been one score games. We will not let our guard down. We will not have a letdown for any reason. They all know when a coaching change comes up, things are going to change. Players change, coaches change, things change, and so they're going to play, they're going to give every ounce of effort that they have when they line up on Sunday, and we know that.
(on if playing on Saturday makes this week challenging)
It's challenging because today is Monday and Tuesday. We've lost some time here. We're right in the middle of game planning right now as I'm speaking to you. Yeah, it's a challenge. We've got to get right back into the next game. The players will be in here tomorrow on a short week, and we'll adjust some things to make up for it.
(on if the they will add another defensive lineman to replace Karl Klug)
We're talking about that right now. We've got a day, really, to look at that. We brought up Mehdi (Abdesmad) last week, so we actually added an additional defensive lineman last week. We've got some options we're looking at.
(on concern about the team's tendency to fall behind early in road games)
There's things that when the season is over with—because there's a lot of things we've done that we've got to get better at. That's one of them, for whatever reason that is, but there are things that we are looking at as we go that we need to improve on if we can as we're going. This game coming up, our last one for the regular season (on the road), yeah, we can't get behind like that.
(on if he can attribute the early deficits on the road to anything specific)
No, again, that's why you spend some of that time studying yourself. We do an in-depth study of everything when the season is over with.
(on if he has concern about Phillip Supernaw's second concussion this season)
You know, I don't think so. To me, today he's better than he was the last time he had a concussion. He's much better today than that time. I don't know if that's any difference. Each of them is it's own injury.
(on if the warm weather in Jacksonville is a concern coming off a cold game)
No, I'm not worried about that. You know, it's really interesting. Our equipment guys did a fabulous job yesterday for our team. A lot of guys didn't wear a lot, but I know for us on the sideline, I was nice and toasty. That's a credit to those guys.
(on if he saw Ben Jones' and Jack Conklin's feet after they took their pregame barefoot walk in Kansas City)
No, I saw them go out and come in real quick. I did see that.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 15 action at Arrowhead Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)