TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - September 25, 2017**
We'll start off with injuries. Just from the game yesterday, Derrick Henry had a contusion to the thigh. I think he'll be all right for this game. Johnathan Cyprien and Corey Davis, I'll let you know more on them on Wednesday. I'm not going to rule them out yet, but I'll give you more information Wednesday about those two. Other than that, we're pretty healthy for a football team.
(on what his biggest takeaway was after watching yesterday's game film)
The effort. The effort was outstanding in all three phases of our team, from really start to finish. We knew what kind of game we were getting ourselves into and I think our guys showed, first of all, what kind of shape they're in to be able to play at the level that they played at. That was the most impressive thing I took away from it.
(on the impact of quarterback Marcus Mariota's hard count during yesterday's game)
I think we got them to jump five times. Not only do you get obviously the penalties, but you also get them to a point, how aggressive do they want to come off the ball based on the cadence. That was a big factor in us – again, putting us in a position to make some of the calls we made offensively.
(on how much the ineffectiveness on offense in the first half helped set up the success of the offense in the second half)
A little bit, a little bit. We didn't put anything new in, we stuck with the plan. We went back in at halftime and talked about some things we hadn't gotten to, or needed to get back to. But, nothing was really – that we saw that we didn't already have in – that we didn't feel like we could attack these guys with.
Part of it. We get the ball to him on some gimmicks, all we were doing was faking a reverse. If you can get somebody there just to get their attention on him, anybody – especially the cover guy and I think the cover linebacker – if you get nosy and you poke it, put your eyes on the backfield and they have an eye violation, than somebody can pop open like Jonnu (Smith). Jonnu ran a really good route. It looked – how it unfolded, it looked just like that in Friday's practice.
(on why the offensive line was so effective against Seattle's defensive line)
They played well, they communicated well. That's a very good front now, that's a really good front. They do a lot of things, they do a lot of movement. They hit us a couple times in the run game because of the movement. But, we were just in very good sync with the way the protection scheme worked out. The backs did a good job. Any time rushers know that they've got the possibility of getting cracked in the ribs on the side, that slows it down a little bit. I thought our guys, just the way they worked together was a big factor.
(on if he saw effective blocking being executed overall and specifically on running back DeMarco Murray's 75-yard touchdown)
Yeah, I thought our receivers blocked well. Some of the runs we had Marcus (Mariota) on were crack blocks by Eric Decker. I thought they blocked extremely well, you have to do that in our offense. That's not a choice, that's a must in our offense that our guys outside block and they do a great job of blocking. Especially when these defenses that have the eighth guy in there, we're trying to get the ball to the corner if we can.
(on the defense's pressure on Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson)
They were coming after him. We had six, or really seven legit shots of getting him down. We didn't, but he was running. Our guys never let up. Like I told you before the game, we didn't want to get frustrated by not being able to get him and he was our guy to get. That was evident yesterday. But that was what I'm talking about, the effort, nonstop, continue to try and get him.
(on if yesterday's sack statistics don't tell the complete story in terms of the defense's quarterback attacking)
I'd say that, yeah. You can count them as missed tackles, missed sacks, whatever you want. But, when you're forcing him out of the pocket and making him do things – receivers got to stay open, try to stay open. That was a plus for us yesterday, moving him out and making him make some throws. Obviously, he's done that his whole career, but not enough to beat us.
(on if he's seen enough of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson to draw comparisons between Watson and Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson)
I have not, not a lot. I've seen some plays just like the regular folks that have seen him, some of the runs he's made. He has the ability to extend plays just like Russell (Wilson).
(on Seattle cornerback Richard Sherman's late hit on Marcus Mariota and if Sherman should have had harsher consequences due to previously receiving another unnecessary roughness penalty)
Unnecessary, totally unnecessary. The outcome of what happened was – to have two penalties nullify each other, basically you've got a clean shot on our quarterback and there was no penalty. There was no negative ramifications for their team with that hit he put on our quarterback, which we may bring that up to the competition committee about a rule change. He can't do that and then have no ramifications against your team.
(on if it was a positive thing to see the way the Titans defended Marcus Mariota after Richard Sherman's hit)
It didn't surprise me and it wasn't just players, it was a bench area. This is a very close locker room now, this is a close team. Coaching, trainers, this is a close team. When you do something like that, there's going to be retaliation, I'm going to tell you that as I stand there, every time.
(on if this is a closer team than he's ever coached in Tennessee)
Since I've been here.
(on why he thinks the team is so close)
Because they work together, they work hard. They spend a lot of time together in here. I think a lot of the things we do leading up to this time, starting in April, of what we do with our team, of some of the things we do to make it fun around here. There's a whole lot that goes into it but in the long run, they care about each other. They're all competitors and they've all got each other's backs. When something like that takes place – that's why I tried to explain to the officials yesterday. There's no way we're not going to do what we did. There's no way.
(on if the team being closely knit makes it easier for them to quickly band together as a group)
(on the conversation before the game)
Again, I've played this more when I was in Atlanta as a coordinator, but I know this team's mentality and how they play. It's a physical team, very confident team. Basically how the game played out, I had already told the team that's how it will end if we continue to play at the level we need to play at. But, we've got to do it over and over throughout the whole game. The game will end that way if we play that way.
(on if being able to wear opponents down in the second half is due to good conditioning)
I think it has a lot to do with it. We're not a big – we don't do a lot of conditioning. A lot of guys do it on their own if they need it and that's what I tell them. I don't know your body, you know your body better than I do. We condition in practice on the plays. Watch our plays, everybody's finishing at the ball just like they do in a real game. Their conditioning their minds to go to the ball because good things happen when you go to the football, but they're also getting in a game-type condition that games should be easier than they are in practices. I think it's made a difference in these last couple games.
(on if patience is a hallmark of the Tennessee Titans especially after being willing to stay patient to attack Russell Wilson)
Yeah, again, the pit of the big word of the week was, 'Don't get frustrated.' It would have been real easy to, you've got him and you don't all of a sudden. Makes guys in the back end have to cover longer. I've been a part of where it gets very frustrating when you can't stop somebody, especially when they go into a two-minute mode at the end of the game when all he's going to do is drop back and have the ability to scramble around and make plays. He's won a lot of games doing that, he's won a lot of games doing that. Our guys stuck with the plan and accomplished what we wanted to do.
(on if it's difficult in a fast-paced sport to practice patience)
Not if you're prepared for it, you talked about it, you know what's coming. Our guys watch a lot of tape, they realize that there's going to be some plays made. That fourth down play that he made was absolutely Russell Wilson-like. We knew that was going to be a game all the way to the last whistle. Didn't know they were going to put 12 guys out there, that was a benefit for us that we didn't have to punt it. But, all the way to that last play we knew it was going to be a game.
(on if quarterback Marcus Mariota made adjustments after starting the game with four three-and-outs)
He did, he got the receivers to run really better routes. Just like I've said before, if you're not where you're supposed to be and you don't run it the right depth, you can put all the blame on the quarterback. He's going to throw where you're supposed to be. We need to be more detailed. Those first 12 plays that we ran yesterday, when I watched the tape this morning I put a little asterisk, was it the Seahawks or the Titans that failed at executing the play? And eight of the 12 was us. Those are things we still need to clean up, especially when you're going to play a defense like that and like the one we have coming up here this week.
(on if Marcus Mariota talked with the receivers at that time)
Yeah and we showed the receiver. Coaches coached them and we showed them.
(on the penalty that brought back Adoree' Jackson's touchdown)
I think it was a block in the back. I do, it was, I can see why they would call it. It was unnecessary, that guy would not have made the play. So really, not a good decision on (David) Fluellen's part to block him.
(on if running back David Fluellen wearing red gloves is a good idea)
I don't think it matters if you throw the red gloves up like, 'I didn't do it.' That's guilty for sure.
(on what has been the key to making explosive plays)
Yesterday, I'll say this, a lot of guys down the field making a second effort. The run by DeMarco (Murray), really blocked well at the point with Dennis Kelly and then Nudie, Jalston Fowler, blocking the point and then blocking the point all the way down the field. Blocking the same guy, where the play started to where the play ended. Good things happen when you hustle. It's easy to come in here and put that up in front of the team and show, even the play, the third-down-and-10 play on defense, where we had a breakdown in coverage, they threw it out in the flat. There's nobody out there, you see us swarming, but the guy that makes the tackle is Jayon (Brown), who's a spy, who runs 25 yards to the ball, makes the play, ends up on fourth-and-one. That's all effort. Simply put, great effort game.
(on outside linebacker Kevin Dodd's performance)
He did some good things. There's some things I'd like to see more of, and he knows what I'm talking about. I thought he did some good things. I thought he got better the more he played.
(on what response he's gotten from the decision to stay in the locker room)
I've been in here, so none.
(on what he would say to the ranging reaction from fans)
Yesterday I made a statement at the end of my press conference, we made a statement as an organization, and then I made a statement at the end of it, and I'll stick with what I said at the end of it.
(on if the entire team knew about the decision to stay inside the locker room for the national anthem)
That's what I was told, yes.
(on how the decision was made to stay in the locker room for the national anthem)
Again, I'm not going to go any further with it. I made a statement at the end of the press conference yesterday, and that statement's going to stay.
(on if he was the person to deliver the news to the players that they would be staying in the locker room for the national anthem)
I made a statement at the end of my press conference last night that the organization made a statement, and I've made my own opinion on it and I'm going to leave it at that.
(on if he expects the players to stay in the locker room for the national anthem in the future)
What part of I'm not going to talk about it, Jason.
(on linebacker Wesley Woodyard's performance so far this season)
He's a man on a mission. He is playing at about as high a level you can play at that position. Is he seeing the field more? Yes, definitely.
(on if Wesley Woodyard is being used more in passing situations)
(on why Wesley Woodyard is being used more in passing situations)
He's just playing well, he's really playing well. He's making a lot of plays. He made two tackles for losses yesterday, and he's made a lot of tackles in each game. His covering is very good.
(on if linebacker Avery Williamson is matching Wesley Woodyard's level of play)
I'd say, Wesley (Woodyard) is playing at a higher level right now.
(on what Wesley Woodyard's mission is)
I don't know. He's playing a lot of snaps, he's being very productive. I don't know if you watch, he's on our punt return team, he took one of their guys trying to go down and cover and he took them into their bench area. Just totally eliminated this guy from the play. He's just doing a lot for us, and he's just playing good football.
(on cornerback Brice McCain playing more snaps than cornerback LeShaun Sims)
I don't think it was anything more than just the rotation, especially with the heat.
About as well as you can kick and punt in a game. The objective, the must, was to eliminate 16 (Tyler Lockett) out of the game plan and Ryan (Succop) kicked seven touchbacks, which there was no way he could return it for a touchdown. (Brett) Kern just punted the best, like Steve Hoffman said, he's been in the business a long time, probably the best game he's seen a punter have in his career.
(on what the plan is when wide receiver Eric Weems returns compared to when Adoree' Jackson returns)
Again just a little bit more of Weems has been backed up punts, making some good decisions, making sure we get the ball, don't put Adoree' (Jackson), a rookie, back there having to make some decisions in some of these games. We trust him. Right now, it's just the rotation of where is the ball going to possibly land in the decision making that goes into it.
(on how we would grade Marcus Mariota's play over three games)
Pretty good. We're asking him to do a lot, a lot, more than we have in the two previous years, and I'd say that we're getting in the right plays. He's making some plays for us. He's a threat in the run game, as you've seen. I've watched the frustration on their sidelines, some of the runs he's had. He's a guy, you can't have enough defenders if he's running it. Very productive.
(on if the low conversion rate in the red zone is a concern yet)
I think it's still too early. We did some things down there yesterday that we've got to do better. They're good and if we're not on top of our game, we're not going to be successful down there.
(on if the offensive holding call against Eric Decker that nullified Marcus Mariota's touchdown was fairly called)
If that's the case, you can call it every play. Every single play. Somebody's hands are going to be outside the framework outside of the body. That's what they called. Why then, I don't know, where it came from, I don't know.
(on the offensive pass interference call against Eric Decker that followed the holding call)
That one, there's a lot of guy in the league that made a living for a long time doing that. Just got caught, call it, I don't know. Again, I don't mind if it's just called consistently, week in and week out. When it's done it's a penalty, it either is or it isn't, just needs to be done consistently.
(on what it says about the team that it continues to play better as the game progresses)
Just the mentality of this room. Just the mentality, how they work together, how they feel about each other. They're resilient as can be, there's no letup in this room. That's just the makeup of who we are.
(on how he feels the team has matured from last season to now)
I think we have. It's been a pretty good schedule here these first three weeks and it's just going to continue on. They're competing, they're not intimidated by anybody, and I think that says a little bit about the maturity.
(on if using linebackers Derrick Morgan, Brian Orakpo and Erik Walden in pass situations played into defensive lineman Karl Klug being inactive)
A little bit, yeah. Karl (Klug) is a tough guy (to list as inactive). Anybody that I have to put down, there's seven guys that I put down that aren't injured, very difficult decision. That was a decision made based on some of the things we were going to do defensively. That will be a week-by-week type of deal.
(on if wide receiver Corey Davis will be prepared to play when he returns from injury)
He's ready. He's spent a lot of time, he's ready. You could tell when he got into the Oakland game, he prepares. There's not a lot of mistakes by him when he gets in there.
(on if this week's game against the Texans will be a benchmark to clear since the Titans haven't won in Houston recently)
I think it's one of those games, again, if you want to win the division, you've got to win on the road and you've got to beat the teams that have won the division, especially this team who's won it the past two years. So yeah, it's important, an important win.
The Tennessee Titans take on the Seattle Seahawks in Week 3 action at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)