Coach Mularkey's Monday Press Conference Transcript

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TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - November 6, 2017**

(opening statement)

With Quinton Spain, we're going to see how he is as the days go by, but he's probably the one guy that's possibly not playing this next game. Other than that, Delanie (Walker) will be limited this week and so will DeMarco (Murray) with his knee, he'll be limited. So he'll be day-to-day, we'll see how it goes Wednesday, and we'll check him out again on Thursday, see if he can go Thursday.

(on if running back DeMarco Murray was injured by twisting his knee)

Yeah, just got caught up on a screen play, just got caught up, rolled up from behind.

(on if DeMarco Murray's shoulder is still bothering him)

You know what, that wasn't an issue this morning. I know I saw the same thing you saw, it looked like he hurt it, but that's not even on the injury report today.

(on if DeMarco Murray is past his hamstring injury)

Yeah, I think so.

(on how he thought wide receiver Corey Davis did yesterday)

Good. He played a lot of plays, a lot more than I thought he was going to be able to. I thought his conditioning was really good. I didn't see him gassed at all for the number of plays that he played.

(on the team's 'star players' playing through injury)

We have a lot of tough guys on this team, we do, a lot of those guys you mentioned. There's some guys that are playing with some dinged up body parts that are playing through it, practicing through it, playing through it. I think that's the identity of this team, but it's really the makeup of this team, the guys that we have on this roster, that's who they are. We have tough players.

(on if it has been frustrating for DeMarco Murray to deal with injuries throughout the season)

Yeah, but if you watch, he's right back in the game. He doesn't let anything hold him back. If he can play and be effective, he's going to play and that's the way we feel about him. If he's effective we'll allow him to continue to play.

(on if injuries are the only thing that are hampering DeMarco Murray this season)

I'm not aware of anything else. He's into this season just like he was last year when I got here.

(on if he thinks DeMarco Murray was effective this past game, and how he judges that)

I judge it on not really well blocked plays. The big thing going into this game that we felt like they were, I think both team's whole intent was going to stop each other's run games. The way they do it, and the way they've been doing it is by getting off blocks and sustaining blocks was a big key for us, and we didn't do a good job of that in the run game. 

(on how he thought guard/center Brian Schwenke did stepping in for the injured Quinton Spain)

Did OK. I thought he did well in the protection. The one sack, his name tagged to it, was pressure on (Taylor) Lewan from (Terrell) Suggs early that made Marcus (Mariota) step up into the sack. Other than that, he did well.

(on if the offensive line is building off of it's success from a year ago)

I think that they're just trying to stay consistent and execute the game plan. They're a tight-knit bunch that being successful and being a consistent group's important to them. That's all I see, I see them working hard every day.

(on if he envisions increasing designed runs for Marcus Mariota)

I do. There were a number of others that the read gave the ball. We feel good about Marcus (Mariota) right now, especially when he made the play that he did over there by our bench.

(on the benefit of other teams now looking for cornerback Adoree' Jackson on the field on offense)

He's an explosive player. We're curious to see what would've happened - he bobbled the hand-off, he had to basically double clutch it, and we would've liked to see if he had another step or two with the ball in his hands sooner what he could've done with it. Does he break the last safety's tackle? We don't know, but it's another personnel grouping teams have to be aware of. Doesn't mean he's getting the ball just because he's in the game. We had a play for him.

(on if teams now have to respect Adoree' Jackson on offense)

I think they know based on what he does with his return ability, I think they know what he's capable of doing with the ball in his hands.

(on if Adoree' Jackson bobbled the ball on his offensive run because he was anxious)

I don't know. We ball handled that play a dozen times and didn't have that happen.

(on calling a timeout on defense because there was an uncovered receiver, and safety Kevin Byard picking that up)

That was a smart play by Kevin (Byard) to call a timeout. We had a couple of instances, especially towards the end of the game, where the communication was breaking down. For Kevin to see that, knew that we weren't in the right position, we had timeouts to burn, I thought it was a smart play on his behalf. 

(on if he thought the touchdown celebration lasted too long)

On the one touchdown where I had to use a timeout on the extra point? Yeah. I've got to address that. There's a process of how they go about starting the clock this year, there's a new rule change, a lot of that has to due with the review of the play of the score. All of that's irrelevant, when the score is over with we've got to get lined up for the extra point because you can start to feel like you have time. You don't have a lot of time, that clock starts as, they say 'yes it was a touchdown.' That could've been costly for us, to lose that timeout.

(on if he's ever been around a safety that has had a two-game stretch like Kevin Byard has had)

I have not, not like this, not in a two-game span. I don't think there are many people that have, that's pretty remarkable.

(on the reason that Kevin Byard is finding success)

I think that he's doing his job, he's where he's supposed to be, that's the number one thing. I think that he's very just instinctive of understanding, especially when he's got a high-low, they're trying to high-low him with the route, of setting him up a little bit and giving the impression that you can't make this throw. His anticipation of that has been very good, obviously. He's around the ball, there's a lot of guys that are there and don't make those plays. He's making those plays, that's the best thing about it. 

(on Kevin Byard almost having a third interception yesterday)

Could've had another. Adoree' (Jackson) had a chance. Either way, we're just glad the ball was broken up like it was. But yeah, he had another chance yesterday.

(on how he would critique the defense's celebration after Kevin Byard's second interception)

I saw that this morning. I'm not going to take that away from them, I have told them I just don't want any penalties for anything excessive. That's where they're going to go, they're going to draw line of how long it goes. I thought it was pretty impressive, to be honest with them.

(on if letting players celebrate is part of letting them have fun and feel comfortable)

Yeah, I think it is. I want them to have fun. This is a tough business and making plays like that, celebrating with your teammates, to me that's important, really important.

(on the defense being in sync with their celebration)

Very well done. It's obvious that they've practiced a lot.

(on Kevin Byard saying that the celebration was inspired by the Temptations and if he's surprised that the players know who the Temptations are)

I am, I am really surprised. You'd be surprised at how many people they don't know that I do.

(on if the next team bonding activity will be at TPAC)

I don't know if we'll go that far, no.

(on if he wants there to be more aggressive play calling when the team has the lead)

I was on the phones, it was pretty aggressive. We had a shot play there where we step on our quarterback and he gets a loss of 13 yards. That was a take a shot down the play, down the field. Third-and-four we take a shot down the field. We were aggressive. I heard every play call.

(on the team passing the ball more than they ran the ball)

I don't know the numbers right off the bat here, but I know we had 50 snaps offensively and I'm pretty sure we ran the ball more on first and second down than we threw it, and that's typically what we've done when we've won games. I don't count the third down and I don't count the two-minute where obviously, passing situations.

(on if something needs to be done to better clarify what is or is not a late hit on a quarterback)

Yeah, I do. I think that needs to be clarified better. I think that's something we're going to talk about in the offseason. There's been a couple of injuries this year with quarterbacks that the defenders absolutely knew the ball was gone and still took a shot. I think that needs to be addressed.

(on if DL Karl Klug looks to be back at full health since suffering an Achilles injury last season)

He did yesterday. Obviously, he was very effective. Made a big tackle on a run that if it had gotten by him, it would have been a big, explosive run. That's probably the best game he's played. We're going to kind of talk about that in the team meeting tomorrow, about what it took him to overcome that injury and get back to where he's at already, play at the level he did yesterday. That's a huge credit to him.

(on if he'll remind the team to be extra vigilant when it comes to in-game fights given the ejections around the league yesterday)

Yeah, I'll say something about that. That was excessive yesterday after watching a number of games that went on. It's a violent game, it is. Your tempers are going to flare. You're going to be protective of your teammates. I think you've just got to be very smart about how you do it, so I'll address that with the team (Wednesday).

(on if he's expecting to play Bengals WR A.J. Green on Sunday after Green was ejected yesterday)

I haven't heard anything otherwise.

(on LB Wesley Woodyard's performance yesterday)

Lots of tackles and one really big one on fourth-and-one. That was obviously a big play, but the way he hit the hole, it was just well-executed. He's a physical player, he made a lot of tackles again yesterday. Played a lot of snaps, he's playing a lot of snaps for us. Nobody really recognizes what he does. He plays on our punt team, he plays special teams. He sits in that chair in every special teams meeting we have, he's in this room. He's not on all of them but he's in here. He's our special teams captain, he does a lot for this football team.

*(on if he saw different preparation from Wesley Woodyard this offseason that hinted at the type of season he would produce) *No. He works hard all the time, nothing different. He takes care of his body. You guys have heard me talk about pre-practice, post-practice, he's one of those guys. He can play as long as he wants to play.

(on mentioning that he'll talk to the team tomorrow and if he actually means on Wednesday)

I mean Wednesday.

(on the performance of OLB Kevin Dodd yesterday)

He did alright. I know he's not in the stats but he had some good rushes for us, he got 12 snaps. I'm glad we had him when (Derrick) Morgan took a shot early in the game. He came back from that, but it was nice that we had a guy that could come and fill in if he had to with (Kevin) Dodd. I thought he did some good things.

(on the success of the 'roll right and throw back left' play)

Well, it's got a couple options on it. It's an either or. When we haven't had that, we've executed the play, the other play. When we've had the coverage we were looking for, it's been pretty right on. I think we've hit on every one of them. But, it takes a lot into it. You're talking about rolling right and having to protect Marcus (Mariota) for a longer time than you have to, and actually pulling a lineman out to block the backside so he doesn't get caught from the backside. It's got to be really well-executed.

(on the design of the touchdown pass to WR Eric Decker)

No, actually Jonnu (Smith) was one, Eric (Decker) was two. Eric, if you look at it, they both got bounced around in there. If you look at the play there's 22 defenders on one side of a hole, and almost outside the numbers. That's how many guys we had out there. So, you're talking about having to avoid a number of people to get back and then Marcus (Mariota) to find him. It was pretty well-executed.

(on if he wants a player to touch the ball during an onside kick like in the fourth quarter yesterday)

Absolutely, positively, no. Before I walked in here, I just asked Daren Bates if he'd ever heard of Leon Lett. That's the kind of play we're talking about, we do not want anybody around the ball. He said the whistle had blown, the whistle had not blown. I don't care, it was a bad reason.

(on when the whistle was actually blown)

There's still moving bodies all around it, more their guys. If you watch them, they try to drag one of our guys on to the ball. Just get away, the game is over. 

(on if he'd like to see the referee blow the whistle quicker in that situation)

Sure I would.

(on if he feels like he's preparing 'for the same team' in Cincinnati as he was for Baltimore)

Yeah, different front. They're good, they're good too. They're sixth ranked in the league in defense right now. Again, this division is very similar. The four games in a row here all are going to be physical games like I knew yesterday's would be. But yeah, they're very similar. All four of them.

(on if he's ever seen a punter affect field position the way P Brett Kern has this season)

No, I have not. Not consistently game after game after game.

(on winning despite not clicking on all three cylinders and if that gives him hope for the potential of the Titans once all three phases work at once)

We have, but not for full games. The good news is we know what we're capable of doing. Again, we still have things we've got to clean up, we've got to get better at. There's no question, our guys know that. That's why we're here, that's what we're doing here before we practice all week. Hopefully that starts to be the way we do things.

*(on why he thinks Marcus Mariota is so successful running the play action pass and if he can envision more of that) *I think our run game certainly helps our play action game. It affects bodies, it affects how big holes get like that first touchdown to Rishard (Matthews). That was a short-yardage play. Right before the game, we made a decision to bring that down into a first-and-10 call, because we said, 'Hey, they're going to pack up against our three tight end set.' If we can get those safeties down in there we don't have to wait until third-and-one, we can hit them on first-and-10. You see the effect of the run game, how it draws up defenders. Once I saw, before the ball was snapped, I saw (Eric) Weddle coming down on the backside and that's what you want. We wanted him out of there so we could get in behind him. There's bigger holes for Marcus (Mariota). 

(on if it's encouraging that even if the run game isn't producing yardage that it still contributes in other aspects of the offense)

Yeah. First play of the game, the play action was a big play for us to start the game to get us down to kick a field goal on that first drive. So yeah, the run game, we will need to get it cranked up better than it's been going, but it certainly has had an effect on Marcus' (Mariota) accuracy and percentage of completions. He was perfect yesterday.

(on if he thinks the AFC South is easier to win now that Texans QB Deshaun Watson and Colts QB Andrew Luck are out for the season with injures)

I wouldn't say that, not necessarily. Not this year. There's just a lot of things going on this year, we're only halfway through. We've got a lot of football to go.

(on if he liked what he saw when the team ran hurry up offense)

I did. Like to get a score off of it, I would like to see that. That probably would have put us into it again, but yeah. I like what we did with it.

(on being 5-3 and tied for first place midway through the season)

We need to clean up some things. I'd like to put a complete game together. I think our special teams has been playing probably one of its better games – really the last two games. Defensively, other than the last two drives, really the last drive where we had a chance to get off the field, we've been playing very good. Offensively, we've been sporadic. Really, for sure the last couple games, that when we've had to have something happen positive, we did. We made it happen, whether it's get us in position to win an overtime game or put a drive together to win the game yesterday. But, I like where we're at mentally. Our guys are in to what we're doing. We had a great week of work, I mean a great week, coming off the bye. It was really impressive how those guys came back from that time off and I think it showed up yesterday because of it.

(on why the run blocking hasn't been where he'd like it to be)

I think it has a lot to do with who we're playing, that has a lot to do with it. I think the intent, if you want to stop this offense, is to stop the run. So, you're doing a lot of things to do that and we know that just like yesterday. I can promise you they were saying the same thing I was saying about stopping the run game, making them air it up. We've got to do a better job, I told those guys on Saturday night, of sustaining blocks. That's everybody, that's our line, that's our tight ends, that's our fullbacks got to play better. That's our receivers getting involved – that's how big runs come, is when receivers block like they should here.

(on if knowing Week 11 is a short week changes how he'll prepare for Week 10 against Cincinnati)

Nope, just worrying about the Bengals. That's it, I won't change anything.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Baltimore Ravens in Week 9 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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