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Coach Mularkey's Sunday Conference Call Transcript


(on the team's injuries)

Really, probably waiting on some medical, DeMarco (Murray) is going to probably be day-to-day this week, so we'll see, to the extent of what he can play? Limited role, we don't know that yet. I've got to see him actually run and do something. Would've helped having an extra day, but it is what it is. He's really the only one that has anything significant to talk about.

(on how guard Quinton Spain played yesterday)

(Quinton) Spain played one of his better games that he's played since he's been here. So it was good to see, it was really good to see.

(on if it was nice to get the statement from Titans owner Amy Adams Strunk)

It was nice. What I really want is just about our franchise, our organization, our team to be talked about. That's the gist of it. That's not how you want to open up a press conference, you want to talk about beating a really good football team in their backyard. That's what I really want it to be about is what's happening good for our franchise.

(on if the statement put his mind at ease despite NFL Network reports)

I've already addressed it. I've addressed it with the staff. I'm not going to talk about it anymore, I'm already on to New England. It's been addressed. I'm full speed ahead, getting ready for New England, so is our staff. About to have a team meeting here in about 30 minutes, and they will be too.

(on his thoughts on playing the Patriots)

It'll be a good challenge, obviously. Number one seed, home-field advantage throughout. I'd like to see if we can play our best football, see where we're at with these guys. It'll be a good challenge going up there. I like our football team, I like their mindset. When you get into the playoffs, anything can happen.

(on if quarterback Marcus Mariota getting healthier has let him do more of the things that he's accustomed to doing)

Well I think you saw that yesterday. The difference from yesterday and a number of the games during the year where he didn't have the ability to do some of the things we did, especially escaping the pocket and making some first downs. I think we had three third downs that he converted himself by running it. It shows you what we can do when he's healthy.

(on the confidence of the football team after two wins in 'pressure-packed' situations)

I think they know now that we can win in a playoff situation. Jacksonville, to me, was as close to a playoff atmosphere that possibly can be. That's two games that we've had to win and our guys have found ways to win them. I think we still have work to do, there's no question about that, in all three phases. I think it gives us some confidence, I hope it does, it should, that we can win, and win anywhere against anybody, anytime.

(on what led to the slow start against Kansas City)

They got up on us early and they were doing a lot of things offensively. I know their top 15, that's one of those game plans that you've got to kind of weather that and get through that. That's their best they're going to give you. We didn't do a very good job of stopping some big plays. Once we settle down, we just need to settle down defensively, which I thought we did. I thought we played much better. We were out of sync, and whether that was because it was a true playoff game or not, we were not playing like we have been these last few weeks, really these last couple of months, defensively.

(on the status of the wide receivers and what's not happening that he needs to see take off)

I think they've made some plays when we've needed some plays made. That play by (Eric) Decker was, obviously, a big-time play for us. We saw something on tape from prior film, they played that coverage. You've got to be very disciplined, very patient, and run a great route. Obviously, a great throw by Marcus (Mariota) to squeeze it in a tight window. We just need to be more consistent with winning outside one-on-one matchups as much as we can, especially the deeper we go in the playoffs. There's not a lot of room for error for anybody, that's for every position.

(on what he thought of the play that took Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce out of the game)

I looked at it, it's a great hit by (Johnathan) Cyprien, legal hit. I thought the ball was out. It should have been ruled a fumble that we had a chance to recover, after watching it.

(on how their route precision has been this season and receivers being in the same area)

Yeah, that's going to happen in games. Yesterday, obviously, like I just said, it's not just receivers, everybody's got to be a little more precise in everything they do. Some of the younger ones, Corey (Davis) in particular, (are) learning on the run. He's got depths, where he's supposed to be, speed, it's a tough lesson learned. If anybody out of that receiver group, Corey's got to be a little more precise.

(on if the receivers were too close together on Marcus Mariota's interception)

Corey (Davis) is supposed to take the corner out of there. He didn't do that and that's why the interception occurred.

(on what immediately comes to mind on facing a team like the Patriots)

Very disciplined. Don't make a lot of mistakes. You look at their offense, I think they're number two in least turnovers. Well coached, they have been all these years, because of the championships, that's proof to show for it. Very disciplined, not a lot of mistakes. We're talking about pretty complex schemes, both offensively and defensively. Multitudes of things that we have to work on. Not a lot of guys out of place.

(on how cornerback Logan Ryan, a former Patriot, can help the team prepare this week)

He can give us some insight definitely on personnel, and what the thought process is when they go into game-planning opponents.

(on the hardest thing for running back Derrick Henry to master when it comes to blocking)

Stepping up. Taking guys square on. Delivering the blow. Hitting them underneath the chin. First of all, recognizing, understanding where they're coming from before the ball is even snapped it certainly an advantage. I think that has to come with experience as well. Derrick (Henry), to me, that's one area that he's improved since he's been here. 

(on if Derrick Henry missed a block on the sack on Marcus Mariota)

Yeah, that was miscommunication up front that we had. Corrected it, we had to make a different call to get the protection corrected. We did that immediately after the series.

(on how much they challenged Derrick Henry during the week to step up)

Very little. He challenged himself, real good pros do that.

(on what helped the team have more success with third downs in the second half)

I think some of it was, which shouldn't been the case, is short to medium, and we were in them again and we converted them. Some of it had to do with Marcus (Mariota's) ability to either run or move in the pocket and find receivers. Just executed them much better and got open on them. 

(on what a game like this does for Derrick Henry's confidence moving forward)

I would have to think that he saw the tale of two tapes. He hit some holes yesterday that we got five, six yards on them just by him hitting it with that big body and that big frame. I thought our O-line and tight ends did a really good job of blocking for him. A combination of everything. I think he saw what we can do when he runs the ball like that. We're not telling him that he can't bounce it, there's going to be times that that happens. I think he was much more consistent trusting the blocking scheme yesterday.

(on if as a coach he gets used to games coming down to the wire)

I don't know if you get used to it, you'd certainly like it to be different than that. I like that we've come out on top in the majority of them. That's certainly not our plan of attack. Basically, with the philosophy of this run scheme, how we attack people, there is a possibility it's going to be that types of games. I think that's the complimentary football I've been talking about with our defense. We have the ability to win the close ones and it's been proven.

(on the physical toll that close games can take on him)

You know, that's the beauty of the NFL, it's emotional highs and lows that it's tough to match anywhere in the real world. It's part of it. It's very trying on you, it's very exhausting on you mentally and both physically after close games. It always has been.

(on what it means to him to have support from his players)

We're a close team. We are, we're a very close team. The staff is very close with our guys. We spend a lot of time together. They have been unbelievable the way they've responded to some of the situations we've been in. They've trusted the process, which is an important factor, especially when you stick with it and you win because of it. That was nice to be a part of that. I just feel like I'm part of this team. I think they feel about me as much as I feel about them. I feel very close with them. 

(on the mental toughness needed to pull out close games, and how crucial it is for teams to have that at this time of year)

Pretty critical, especially on the road. We're talking these last two games, home and on the road. A Chiefs team I didn't even realize until 10 minutes ago, they hadn't given up more that 20 points in that stadium this year. We did a lot of good things in that game to give us a chance to win. Unfortunately, we had to do it late. We did a lot of good things as a team that I think will carry over as we go forward.

(on outside linebacker Brian Orakpo giving him a celebratory shove on the sidelines)

I saw a video of that. Ben Jones showed me that in the training room this morning. I didn't even realize that that took place, there's so much going on. I'm going to address it with him, because that's a fine.

(on if he's going to let the fine on Brian Orakpo slide)

Oh no, I'm not going to let him slide on that one. He hit me pretty good.

(on if he anticipates Derrick Henry starting this week)

I would anticipate that. He had a pretty good injury, DeMarco (Murray). For him to miss anything, something's got to be hurt. Definitely not going to rule him out, going to go day to day. Hoping he's at full strength, but right now Derrick (Henry) will be in the starting lineup.

(on if the team is comfortable in the underdog role and if that takes pressure off the team)

I think our guys kind of like that role. It's not a flashy team, it's not sexy. It's just a blue collar, come to work, see what happens when you do, compete, everybody compete for 60 minutes. See what the outcome's going to be, don't worry about predictors. That's their job, we have a job to do.

(on if playing at New England adds excitement)

I think if you want to go to where we want to go, these are the kind of games you have to win. I think this is a good test for our football team. These are the kinds of games you have to win.

(on if there was anything specific that cornerback Adoree' Jackson did wrong on the muffed punt)

Fair catch it and give us the possession. That's the one thing we always talk about, and did afterwards. We're getting the ball back, just make a good decision. Err on the side of being safe.

(on if he and the organization are on the same page)


(on what the defense did better in the second half)

Yeah, I thought early, especially the third quarter, we had too many guys trying to do a little bit of their own thing and just not playing the defense like we've been doing for months. Once we settled down and everybody just started doing their job, we started to play like we were capable of doing. It was fun to watch, really fun to watch our guys. Just relentless play, just the effort, the effort alone was amazing. looks back at the all-time series against the New England Patriots. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)

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