TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - October 2, 2017**
Wanted to start off by saying it was heartbreaking to see this morning the situation in Las Vegas. On behalf of this organization, our hearts and prayers go out to the families of the victims. It's a very sad situation. I'll give you an injury update, I know you guys are all wondering about Marcus (Mariota). He did have an MRI and there is a strain in the hamstring. We will, right now, take it day-to-day. He's a pretty fast healer. We'll see where he's at and give you more information on Wednesday when you guys are here.
(on if the team will sign a third quarterback to the active roster)
We're talking about that right now, we are.
(on if they are planning for the week as if quarterback Matt Cassel is the starter)
Matt (Cassel) will get a number of reps, I can't tell you (how many). I would think Wednesday that would be the case until we see more about Marcus (Mariota). Yeah, that would be the thought process of having Matt (Cassel) take as many reps as possible.
(on if he was encouraged by quarterback Marcus Mariota's MRI result)
Yeah, I mean it wasn't surprising. I'll say this about all these guys with a variety of injuries, but the hamstring (injury), each guy is different. You treat it like DeMarco (Murray), one week had the same, very similar little bit of a strain in it and the next we kind of watched him throughout the week of practice then he came back and played well. Again, we're going to take it day-by-day with Marcus (Mariota), make sure we're smart with it.
(on if Marcus Mariota tried to continue to play after he injured his hamstring)
He actually went back in the game after that and threw the interception, as we started the two-minute drill. Couldn't step into the throw very well. Came out at halftime warming up like he was going to get ready to play. Just wanted to be, we've got a lot of football still to play and wanted to be smart with him yesterday.
(on if Marcus Mariota's hamstring injury is more similar to that of running back DeMarco Murray's than wide receiver Corey Davis)
Yes, it is. It's more day-to-day right now as we speak than those two.
(on how much you have to trust what the player says when they are recovering from a hamstring injury)
They've got to be up front and honest with this, and these guys are that. They understand all of that, they're not going to subject themselves to further injury when they know that there is so much football left to play.
(on if in terms of recovering from injury, he pushes Marcus Mariota more because he is the quarterback)
No, I don't think so. We're not going to put him out there if he has any chance of doing further damage. We would not do that, and he would let us know that's how he felt, regardless of who the player is.
(on what the challenge of game-planning is when they don't know who is the starting quarterback)
It will be a challenge. We'll have plans for both. Obviously, if we can practice him we will. There are some things we don't have to practice, we've done a lot of work with it. It would really be more in the run game than anything in the pass game, that's not going to change.
(on if he will have to reevaluate how Marcus Mariota is used in the run game in the future due to his hamstring injury)
To be smart, we'll see. I think a lot of that will come from what he can do in practice, and gauge it off of that. Like I said, we don't have to practice it all, but by Friday I would think we'd know how much to use him if we wanted to do it or not, do what we've been doing.
(on if he will know if Marcus Mariota will play against the Dolphins by Friday)
That may be a Sunday before the game, if we had to. That's every week, when we have players (injured), especially at that position.
(on the team's response to Marcus Mariota's injury)
It is a good locker room, it's a great locker room. They're all behind Marcus (Mariota), they're behind Matt (Cassel) when he had to go into the game yesterday. They will rally around Matt (Cassel), Matt (Cassel) has a great relationships with these guys. I don't see anything negative within the locker room having somebody having to step in and preform as a backup.
(on how much a difference a week's worth of preparation will make for quarterback Matt Cassel)
I'd say a good bit. Like I said last night, I was a backup for six years before I became a starter. There is a difference when you get to have a chance to do all the reps and you start the game and you get into the flow if the game, it is different. I have never been a quarterback in the NFL, but I would think it would be a lot different when you get a whole week's worth of work and then start the game, you're in the flow.
(on how Corey Davis is progressing)
He's doing better, I don't think this is still the week that he's going to be back. I may be wrong, but I would not see him or think to see him or (Johnathan) Cyprien for this game.
(on if the team has any other injuries)
(Quinton) Spain this morning came in has got a little bit of a turf toe. Obviously, it wasn't bad enough to come in after the game, but he's limping around a little bit. He may be out on Wednesday, we'll see how he's doing.
(on his thoughts on yesterday's game after watching the tape this morning)
Pretty much what I said afterwards. We didn't play well in any phase, and the film confirmed that.
(on players seeing problems again on film today)
There was enough on there, I mean, a lot that we had to fix. Things we hadn't been doing, we did. What I was disappointed in was that we didn't fix it during the game when it wasn't going right. That's the coaching part to me, that we've got to do a better job of seeing it not being executed the way we need it executed and fix it, and we didn't do that.
(on if he sees common threads in the offense's performance that may indicate why that side of the ball has been starting slow)
Yesterday J.J. Watt made a great play on the first play of the game, or that's a first down with Delanie Walker and you're off and going. I think we're in the middle of the pack somewhere when it comes to scoring points in the first quarter. We have had a slow start, I'd go to third down mainly of why we've had the slow starts. Really, you go back to Oakland, we were three-for-three on third down. We scored on the first drive. But, it's been third downs that have stalled us from doing something early on in the game.
*(on if there was a specific breakdown that allowed Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson's pitch play to Texans running back Lamar Miller be so successful) *Avery (Williamson) has got the back, it was man coverage. Avery (Williamson) – I've always said any hesitation in this game, in the NFL, is not good. He had enough hesitation that he (Lamar Miller) hit the corner before Avery (Williamson) could get there.
(on if he still feels the effort was good after watching the game film)
I'd still say that, yeah I do.
(on if it's worse that the team played with high effort and still lost)
No. It was a lot of execution, it was more that. It was not the effort and I'm going all the way. The one phase I look at, kind of pretty much tells you the attitude of our team, was our field goal block which was out there way too many times. But, the way they came after it all the way through the last one, they were still coming 100 miles an hour trying to block it even though the score was out of hand. That is how they played. But, you can't execute that way no matter how much effort you give.
(on if losing a game by a high margin of points is cause for reconsideration of the team)
No, I think this league is a week-to-week league. You're going to have – hopefully not another one like that, but if you look around the league there's a lot of – we feel like we've been in some of those games on the other end. The teams that we've played have responded and come back and won the next week. But, you don't want to have those kinds of games and unfortunately (it) took place against our division opponent on the road. That's not good for us.
*(on if it's harder or easier to flush a game like Week 4 at Houston on Monday morning) *I think we're already on to Miami. I think we are. I think trying to get the taste out of our mouth may be a little harder because of the whole scenario of who it was. But, we've got to move on. We've got to move on and get ready for the next one. There's a lot of football still left, like I said there's seven two-win teams and six three-win teams, and we're right in the middle of them in this first quarter of the season.
(on if he is revisiting last year's matchup against Miami as it was a springboard for building winning momentum)
You've got to look at it because I think when we played them last year, they were 1-3, struggling in all three phases. We went down there and played well, and from our game on they won nine of the next 10 games. So, you know what they're very capable of doing. You can't fall for the record or where they're at ranking-wise. All that stuff is irrelevant. We know what they're capable of doing in all the phases. We saw it live and watched what happened, they went to the playoffs because of it.
(on if it's a disadvantage for the defense when a rookie quarterback like Deshaun Watson is going through his progressions and his first read is consistently open)
I'd say yeah, but with his ability to extend plays he can get off the first read and find another read, whatever it is. Whatever it is down the line in the progression, which he did well yesterday.
(on if Deshaun Watson still went to the first read a lot)
In some cases, not always the case. Again, even like the first really big play that hit us down there we were out of position. I think that was the second read, he was trying to go right. Coverage was taken away and I think his eyes took Kevin Byard out of the play and he hit the seam down there. I think that was again, another play that was big for him but we were out of position to defend it.
(on if he'll reevaluate how the corners rotate for Week 5)
We'll talk about that. That's what we're doing right now, getting ready to game plan when I get done with this we'll get into it. Actually, the defense is already on it.
(on the positives and negatives of the team with a quarter of the season done)
Well, we've done some good things. We have, we've done a lot of good things. Doesn't feel that way right now because of the loss yesterday and the way we lost. But I don't want to get away from – I don't want one game to define who we are as a team. I think that's hard to do whether we win or lose. That game can't define us, who we are. There's too much good going on and we know what we're capable of. It's not like we've had struggles for the first quarter, we had struggles yesterday. Hopefully we can move on from that and continue to play our style at a high level.
(on what the positive story of the team that he alluded to in yesterday's postgame press conference is)
I just wanted – these guys take a lot of pride in how we stand for the national anthem and how our staff stands and how everybody does for the national anthem. We've done that since the first game I was the head coach. I think it shows our respect for that flag, our anthem for sure, our country for sure, our military. Guys take a lot of pride in it. No swaying back and forth, they're at attention paying respect for this flag and this country. I just – when they don't do it one time for other reasons, it's just disappointing that something positive that this team does, and it doesn't have anything to do with football, just (that) it's mentioned.
(on if the national spotlight this week on the NFL and the national anthem played into the team's performance yesterday)
No, I don't think so. I really don't. Not for me, I don't think for these guys. No.
Check out the best Titans photos from Week 4 of the 2017 season at Houston. (Donn Jones Photography, AP)