TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Dec. 26, 2016
I'll start with some news on the injury with Marcus (Mariota). He is scheduled Wednesday to have surgery in Charlotte with Dr. Bob Anderson. I guess they'll place a plate where the fracture is on the fibula. Other than that, I don't know all the ins and outs of the surgery. I do know this, it's about a four-to-five month recovery period. Karl Klug will also be there Wednesday having surgery on his Achilles at the same time. Just to kind of give you guys an update, LeShaun (Sims) is in the concussion program. Sean Spence, again, his ankle was sore after the game. We'll see how he goes. And then Mehdi (Abdesmad) did have a high-ankle sprain that was reported after the game. He probably is out for sure practice Wednesday, and we'll see where it goes from there.
(on if he expects Marcus Mariota to return by spring practice)
Again, I'm playing it out. The four-to-five months would put us in that, I think he'd still be OK for OTAs. I'm thinking that because they start end of May, middle of May and go through June. At least he'll be a part of some of the OTAs, I would think, but again, everybody's different. Every player's recovery and pain tolerance—again, I can't speak for Marcus (Mariota), but we'll see how it goes with him.
(on his concern that the injury will impact Marcus Mariota's mobility)
From what I'm told, he shouldn't—again, if the surgery goes well. I know Bob Anderson very well. I've had both of my feet operated on by him. I trust him. I think he's one of the best in the world, so I feel very good about where he's going to have the surgery.
(on Marcus Mariota's attitude since the injury)
He's upbeat here today. I mean, he understands the circumstances. He's disappointed. He was really disappointed he couldn't finish the game. I mean, the guy is such a competitor. That was the biggest (thing). It wasn't about the injury. It was about not being able to finish the game with his teammates. I felt like he was upbeat today when he came in.
(on his analysis of Marcus Mariota's second season)
Yeah, I think he did a lot of good things. I think he put us in position to have a chance to compete for the playoffs—to have a chance to compete, I should say, for the division if we'd have won that game. That's what you want. You want to have an opportunity to compete and be relative here in December. To give you a complete (breakdown), exactly, that's what the offseason is all about. That's what the cutups are about. That's what breaking down every play, every player on every play—I'll give you a better idea in the spring when we spend the hours we're going to spend looking at everybody, including Marcus (Mariota).
(on the severity of the break in Marcus Mariota's fibula)
Again, I don't know. I do not know. This is the information I was given. The recovery time, what I've been told, is four-to-five months.
(on the importance of finishing the season with a winning record)
I think it's very important. This game was going to be a big game regardless. When we're sitting here where we are, in many respects, for not being able to win the games we need to win in our division, this is another game in our division we need to win. We haven't beaten these guys since I've been here. The record, it's the last game of the year for our team, it sends us off into the offseason. We'd like to go in with a good feel about ourselves. We've had a relatively successful season. That's not successful unless you're in the race and winning the Super Bowl. There's only one team that's successful, but there's a lot of things that are important in this football game for this football team. The team knows that already.
(on the team's motivation for the upcoming game against the Texans)
I think if you're any kind of competitor, any kind of competitor, and to lose that game like we lost it and be sitting in this position, really it's out of respect. I mean, I think we'll respond like I know this locker room will. If you're a competitor, you're going to come back.
(on if the Jaguars game will serve as a lesson in the future)
Very tough lesson. Very tough lesson learned. Very tough for everybody, everybody in here.
(on if he is encouraged or frustrated by having four wins over playoff teams but not reaching the postseason)
Yes, both. We know what we're capable of doing, but we've got to win the games we have to win. Again, is that part of the learning process? Yeah, that's part of it, but it's a tough lesson to learn. You have to wait a year to build off of it, but I think we will take something from that and build off of it.
(on his comment after the game that the loss to Jacksonville was an experience the team needed)
If I did, I wish I wouldn't have said that. I don't know if anybody needed that. It is what it is. It's an unfortunate time of when it happened. Again, I know I said this, I gave credit to them to come out and play at the level that they played. When we don't play well and they played as well as they do, it's not going to be a pretty game.
(on how much the blame for the team's lack of energy falls on the coaching staff)
Again, I'm responsible for anything that goes on with our football team. I'll never deny that. It helps that I have an extra day to sit back and look back at the game and not have to come in here the day after in less than 24 hours and give you my two cents' worth. Some of that, I think, too, we had some success against some very good football teams. Maybe it's a lack of learning how to deal with success that we went through. Maybe you start to feel like you can do more and maybe not be locked in and focused as much as you need to be.
(on if he is frustrated that a team branded on resiliency and toughness loses that in the biggest moment ofthe season)
That's frustrating because, again, I'm responsible for that. It starts with (me). Again, here I am saying what a lot of coaches say, but it does start up here. It was frustrating for me. Based on this room this morning, everybody's frustrated and disappointed knowing what we let go out of our reach. Again, lesson learned. Tough lesson learned.
(on if he watched the Bengals-Texans game)
I watched it, I did. I know a lot of people watched it. A lot of people told me how mad they were. Again, that's something I talked about four or five weeks ago. Those are things that are totally out of our control. It shouldn't have come down to a guy having to make a field goal.
(on if Matt Cassel will start against the Texans)
(on if Alex Tanney will be promoted to the active roster)
(on if Alex Tanney will receive playing time against the Texans)
We'll talk about that. We're still talking about all of our personnel right now.
(on how much of the game plan will change with Matt Cassel at quarterback)
There will be a few wrinkles here and there that we'll have to adjust to, but there won't be a wholesale change. This offense, it really plays to the strengths of the personnel that are in it. There will be some changes but not drastic.
(on if there is frustration in struggling within a weak division)
I'd say it's frustrating. We've got one more still that we've got to play. I think these games are different games. I think they're more rivalry games. Can I tell you why there hasn't been success? No, I can't other than we have to learn to win these games. We have to learn how to win these games.
(on if he will look at younger players who have not played much in the season finale)
We're in the process of talking about that, as well. The No. 1 thing is winning the game, OK? That's No.1. Before we do anything else, it's winning this game.
(on why Blake Bortles was able to have success against the defense)
Well, I thought he played one of the better games I've seen on tape this year. I mean, it wasn't even close. I thought they made some catches, circus-type catches, that I don't care how you defend them, they made the catches. I thought they did a good job of adjusting because they were running the ball on us early, so now you have to not protect your corners. You have to try to stop the run, and then when you do that, you put more exposure on your secondary. I thought they did a good job with the scheme. Again, you can only protect so many areas at one time.
(on if the defensive players should have faced the media today in open locker room)
No, I mean, I didn't ask them to do that (not be in the locker room). Obviously, that's on their own. So whatever their decision was, that's their decision.
(on his conversations with Marcus Mariota since the injury)
That's personal, but I did. I've had a couple chances to talk to him.
(on the respect he and the team have for Marcus Mariota)
Total respect. Love the player, love the man, love everything he stands for, everything he does. (I am) very disappointed that he got injured. He had a lot of good things ahead of him. He still does, but I'm sorry to see it end his season this way. I really am very sorry.
(on if the game plan against Jacksonville was significantly different than the first meeting)
No, again, like I've said it many a time, every game is different. It's irrelevant what you did one time. It's never going to be the same a second time. It's just not that way. No, it came down to who executed better than the other team. I think what happened to them here on Thursday night played an extra motivation into why they came out and played at the level that they did. I would be shocked if that wasn't a talk during the week.
(on why the offense began in shotgun formation against a strong Jacksonville secondary)
Just another way to attack them, which we've had success. It's probably one of our most successful packages we've had scoring all year. We just went with the percentages of what we do best and came out that way, and it didn't work out that way. When you trust and believe in something and you've been very successful—I mean, you just did that twice against Kansas City to win the game—you should feel pretty good about it.
(on if they began with a pass-heavy offense because they predicted Jacksonville would be expecting the run)
There's a lot of things that go into the thinking behind it, a lot of things. A lot of it is based on your success in that package.
TitansOnline.com looks back at Marcus Mariota's second NFL season in 2016. (AP Photos)