Coach Mularkey's Sunday Press Conference Transcript

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TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Aug. 28, 2016

(on if he feels rested)

I can't say that I am. No, not really, but I kind of expected that. At least it was a better flight home than it could have been. I mean it helped to win for that flight.

(on if the team has built some of the confidence and identity he wants in the preseason)

I think we've done some good things to start off the process. I do. I think there's been some things to reconfirm what we've been preaching since day one. I like that we're responding to some of—the penalty, like I said yesterday. Guys are working on it. I mean it's such a simple thing as even the sideline, where since the very first day of OTAs, we painted a line and we asked the players to stay behind the line and the coaches to stay behind the line because it's an emphasis this year. It's how well disciplined they've been on the sideline to where you saw the Raiders get a 15-yard penalty, which was a huge penalty, because the coaches were on the field. I mean they're trying to do everything the right way, and good, positive results are coming from it.

(on if players struggled to stay on the sidelines after Sean Spence's hit)

That one was a little bit of a challenge. I mean they were excited, and I was too. But if you go back to the first preseason game when Cam Newton—I can't even remember who they were playing—they had an interception return for 95 yards and Cam was on the field and it got nullified because of that penalty. We could easily have been penalized for that, as well, for all the players on the field.

(on if Dick Lebeau's scheme and Perrish Cox returning to the lineup fix problems in the secondary against teams that scheme against the Titans)

I think they were scheming yesterday. That was a game that both teams schemed against each other. Perrish (Cox) should certainly help. And again, I think when we settle down and take away the big play, I think that will have a big part in stopping some of these drives. To me, it's not when the drive is. It's when the big plays are occurring that helps these drives score points.

(on if he is concerned by the frequency of big plays allowed on defense)

Yeah, I mean we have to obviously be concerned about that. We've got to make some plays. And again, I watched a lot of tape on these guys. Those fade throws are some of the best throws that they make, some of the best throws Derek Carr (makes), and he made them over No. 1 corners, (No.) 2 corners or (No.) 4 corners. That's a tough pass to defend, the way they throw it, and they're good at it.

(on his thoughts on the offensive line)

I thought they played well. Again, that's a good front. They had a lot of one-on-one matchups, especially in the pass-protection scheme—really one-on-one across the board for the majority of the game. I thought they held up very well. I was really pleased with Jack Conklin. I thought he held his own and did a lot of good things in both phases—running the football and in pass pro. But I was really pleased with those guys.

(on if Quinton Spain is a starter now)

I think we're going to go into the Minnesota game and I would say that right now. We're not going to have a lot of opportunities this next game based on how we're going to play it to really give anybody a fair shot. We were going to try to get (Sebastian) Tretola into it in the second quarter, but when that long drive took off, it was hard to make that substitution. And then we weren't going to change things in the second half.

(on how an Oakland receiver got open in the end zone for a possible touchdown before halftime)

Well, a couple things. You can drop coverage or a little miscommunication, but we should have had a backer that was more doubling that receiver than he was.

(on how Quinton Spain responded to the pressure of needing to step up his play)

I thought he handled the challenge pretty well. I do. I thought the five of them played pretty well yesterday for that front they were facing.

(on Quinton Spain's strengths and weaknesses at this point)

As many games as he's played, probably inexperience still. Playing next to Ben (Jones) will help, having a veteran there. I just think time and the plays and the protections we're doing, they're different even from last year. Getting a chance to do them live against good competition for four quarters over and over (will help).

(on if Quinton Spain needs to improve more as a run blocker or pass protector)

There's not a big difference. I think he'll tell you both. I think he needs time. He needs time to see things.

(on if he is comfortable with Quinton Spain at both left tackle and left guard)

Well, we did not keep our ones in in the second half. We were going to go completely with our twos, and I felt like if they stay with the ones, we better have somebody out there that can compete against their ones. If they had gone with their twos, I probably would have taken (Quinton) Spain out after the very first play (of the second half). But we knew we were going against their ones with our twos and I just wanted to make sure we were going to be able to hold up.

(on Kevin Dodd and Aaron Wallace's rookie debuts)

I thought they did well. There were some good things. There really were some good things on their part. Again, I've been talking about the conditioning part. You could see that, as well—a little heavy legged with (Kevin) Dodd, and that's only natural. I saw some things with Aaron Wallace on the outside with his rush. I saw some things with Dodd. He's a big body. I liked how relentless he was and he was trying to do everything the right way. I think both of them special teams wise—again, everything they did yesterday for the first time, first NFL game, they can get better at—but special teams wise, I think that's where, to me, we can have some improvement on both of their parts. Again, for the first time, I was pretty pleased.

(on what he has seen from the various players that have returned on special teams)

Again, I'm trying to get Kalan (Reed) the majority of the returns against Miami. Again, Kevin Byard is going to get some. He'll probably start with the punt returns. We're trying to get a couple of those guys rolling and, again, evaluate them compared to these other returners.

(on how Antonio Andrews did on kickoff returns)
He had a chance to get outside on one if we had blocked the edge a little better. We had a chance to bend that thing back around. The short kick—that was Derrick Henry. He should have caught that kickoff. That was not Antonio (Andrews). That could have been catastrophic, but that's Derrick Henry's ball whenever it's a pop fly like that.

(on if Antonio Andrews has the speed he wants as a returner)

No, I wouldn't say that. It's not a Devin Hester-like speed by any means. But vision and anybody that runs fast forward has got a chance to at least make yards.

(on what Blidi Wreh-Wilson did not show to be cut from the roster today)

Well, Jon (Robinson) and I have spent a lot of time going through this roster. We've made some additions, especially in the secondary with the draft and even with our free agency signings. We just felt like, for this cut right now to where we are with the 75 and with some of the new faces we have, this was the best decision to make to give some of the other guys some opportunities in this last game.

(on if he will consider sitting Marcus Mariota in the last preseason game)

The initial thought is maybe a series, one at most.

(on if the young secondary players are showing enough "wow" plays to offset their mistakes)

Yeah, I mean you look at Kalan (Reed) getting that pass interference and then coming right back and staying tight with coverage and batting a ball down and then to come back with that interception. Those are all nice things to see from a young corner, but I thought he responded well after having a pass interference call on him.

(on the defense allowing too many explosive plays by opposing running backs)

Yeah, we're leaving too many free runners. There's no question about that. Again, I think I've said it three weeks in a row. If you have one guy out of place on defense, explosive plays happen. It just so happens to be that same scenario—different plays, it just happens to be running backs that are hitting us.

(on if Sean Spence has been at fault on a few of those plays)

Yes, he's part of it, but again, those are things that you play these preseason games for that you've got to get cleaned up.

(on if Bishop Sankey and David Cobb saw limited action against Oakland so that Antonio Andrews would have more reps)

Yeah, we were going to go into the third quarter with Derrick (Henry). Again, it really was a matter of reps. (David) Cobb was going to finish up the game, but that was kind of the way we were going to leave it, and then let these guys have an opportunity this last game.

(on David Cobb's play on special teams

Well, he struggled on the last punt. We almost got one blocked. Again, that's the same thing we had with (Jalston) Fowler last week—same up and under move, same position, almost got blocked, should have gotten blocked. There are some things—again, this is the first time for him on some of the things he was doing—he needs to clean it up and get better at it.

(on what he did not see from Deiontrez Mount to be cut)

Again, you're talking about another position where our depth is better than it was last year and we've added some younger players. We've added with the draft. We've got some healthy ones back. We've got some that can play both with Nate Palmer. We have more depth there right now, and that was a position, based on this cut, we felt like that was the best move for us.

(on if cutting higher draft picks from recent years is a sign that they have upgraded the roster with recent personnel decisions)

That's the natural process. Again, we're trying to find the best 90 when we started training camp. Now we're trying to do thebest 75. Right now we feel like that's where we're at with this roster.

(on an updated on Delanie Walker)

He's fine. Yeah, he's doing good.

(on why he left the game)

He just had congestion in his chest. They went back and did kind of the thing you do if you have asthma—just cleared him right up. We just felt like at that point, be smart with him.

(on if that has happened before with him)

No.

(on if he will practice this week)

Yes, he should practice tomorrow.

(on why they did not cut the roster all the way down to 75 today)

Decisions to be made. We still have time. We have until Tuesday, so we still have time. We're still discussing these last couple spots.

(on what Derrick Henry showed on the drive he had 10 touches)

Yeah, that was an important drive. They had just scored again and we needed to respond to it. We ran the ball pretty good with DeMarco (Murray), but we wanted to see if we could establish the run a little bit. It was good just to see some of those runs that the whole pile moved. We blocked it well up front, but if there wasn't something there, he made yards. It was really good to see.

(on if he would point to Antwon Blake's performance in Week One or Week Two after his play against Oakland)

Actually, the coverage was pretty tight. Again, I would go back to Week One that I saw some things there. (Antwon) Blake is one of our corners. He's not the starting corner. He was in there for Perrish (Cox). That's one of their better plays. Again, if there's one thing I talked about in the meeting prior to us playing the game and the meeting to when I introduced this offense, that's the first thing I talked about—the fade throw down the sideline on press coverage. That's the best thing that they do, and they still do it. It's a hard pass to defend if it's thrown well and you've got guys that will go up and get it. Obviously, we'd like him to make plays on it, just like we would have liked J-Mac (Jason McCourty) to do that back in the corner. But those are the same throws we're talking about.

(on if Jason McCourty should have had his face to the ball to defend that pass)

I think if he could have turned, opened up and turned, he might have found the ball quicker. I think it was just a matter of finding the ball in flight when it was on him so quick.

(on why that touchdown was ruled a catch)

I'm not sure why that was not called the other way. I mean I saw the same thing everybody else saw. I saw the ball on the ground. What they saw in the review booth, I'm not sure they saw that as being shown in the replay booth. That's kind of what I was told. I just saw it on the big jumbotron. It looked like it was on the ground.

(on what he makes of Marcus Mariota pass to Tajae Sharpe over the middle that should have been intercepted)

Luck. I see it every game. I see it whether I'm watching a game or it's in one of our games. I see it happen to us when we're on defense all the time where you think that should be our play and somehow it's not. Maybe we're going to have a little luck this year compared to last.

(on how impressive Tajae Sharpe's concentration is on a play like that)

Very impressive. He doesn't know if the guy's cutting in front of him or he's about to take his head off. So to sit there andconcentrate on the football coming to you when you probably don't have good vision on it is very impressive on his part.

(on if the offensive linemen running downfield to help move the pile is the attitude he wants)

That's what we want. That's your teammate. He's still being held up. He's still trying to get a first down. He's a guy you sit in the locker room with and you sweat with and bleed with on the field. That's your buddy. Go protect him.

(on what Ben Jones has been able to do for both the running and pass game)

He's the captain up there up front. I mean he's getting us in the protections. He and Marcus (Mariota) are getting us in the right protections. He's making the calls. Again, based on what the defense is doing, he's getting us on the right people. He's got the right mindset. He likes doing it. He's a tough player. He's a physical player, but he's a fun player to be around. He's easy to be drawn to. And then what he did when Marcus got hit—you know, we didn't do that last year when Marcus got hit. Now we're responding. That's kind of the bond that's being formed, I think, with that offensive line. Ben's (Jones) leading that charge.

(on Ben Jones' importance in the success of the run game)

Pretty important. Again, blocking the right people, making sure we've got the right people on their guys. He has a lot to do with that, especially when defenses do different things against us that we're not prepared for, especially for these games we're not game planning. If they go sub defenses, they put an extra DB in there. Making sure we're blocking the right people is much harder than you think when an extra DB goes in there against your base personnel because receivers think that's a safety and linemen think that's a safety and you get mis-IDs all the time. Ben (Jones) has been very good about getting us in that position.

(on the challenges this week with the schedule, travel and roster cuts)

It's a tough week. It's always a tough week. Anytime you're releasing players, it's a very difficult week. It has been for 30 years watching this go on. We have a short week. We have to travel again. It is what it is. There's teams playing right now that have got to play Thursday. It's what we're dealt. The biggest thing is we don't want to have a letdown. We want to still play at a very high level, compete, play smart. We've been playing smart, I think. I think we've been very competitive, and I want that to continue.

(on if it is important to minimize playing time for Marcus Mariota and other veterans)

Yeah, I think so. Again, I think right now, my feelings are a series. That's as I stand here. That may change, but right now, I think one series.

(on if he has a policy for the National Anthem)

No, I don't. I do not have a policy at all.

(on if the players are encouraged to stand for the National Anthem)

We do stand together. I don't know if you've noticed that, but we do stand together at attention because it's important to us to respect this nation and that song. That's my favorite song on Sundays and Saturday nights in the preseason.

(on additional roster cuts)

Since you guys got that list sent out to you with our waivers, we have waived Ropati (Pitoitua), so he is also included. Obviously, we're not finished. We still have a couple to do tomorrow, but Ropati is included.

(on if two roster cuts remain by the 75-person deadline)

Yeah.

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