TITANS INTERIM HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - December 10, 2015
(on the progress of the offensive line, particularly Taylor Lewan)
Yeah, I think they're improving every week. I really do. They're running the ball better, protections are better. Again, the longer we can get them to play together, the five of them, it can only happen to see progress with these guys. I'm really proud of them. They've been shuffled around and critiqued. We've been on them about a lot of things and they've been plugging away. Taylor (Lewan) has been really solid. Taylor is playing very well right now, not getting a lot of accolades for it, but he's playing really good football for us.
(on if getting Dexter McCluster back on Sunday would allow the team to be more versatile and expand things in the run game and the pass game)*
Well, he's a threat as a returner as well. We've lost that with the punt return, his ability to make plays there as well, so it helps that. We scheme a lot with Dexter (McCluster) with personnel groupings and try to take advantage of his quickness and some of the things he does. Again, based on Kendall (Wright)'s injury, Dexter may have to pick up some more slack, so we'll see how that goes as the week progresses.
(on if he will limit Dexter McCluster's role on special teams if he is helping in the receiving game)
I'm thinking that right now. Again, he's just coming off an injury. He's had two good days. I don't want to just overload him with a lot of things either in this game. We're conscious of the injury, the injury that he had. We're conscious of other guys that may not be in there, but we've got to use Dexter (McCluster) as much as we can without overloading him.
(on if David Cobb has gotten better and better as the weeks go on)
Yeah, I agree with you. Again, you like to see progress in training camp. Guys are getting a lot of carries in preseason games and getting a feel for the speed of the game. He's only had a few games under his belt. Last week was good for him. I think it will only help him progress, getting those carries that he got last week. We're probably thinking the same rotation this week.
(on the environment at the Meadowlands and harsh New York sports fans)
It's a fun environment. We've talked to the players about it, especially with where they're at. They've had two wins in a row, they won a close one against a cross-town rival. So our team's probably going to get the best of New York this weekend, and some of the younger guys are going to get a taste of it. But I like the environment. I think our team likes it. There is no way you can simulate what they're about to see, but it's just a fun place to play.
(on the music played before practice not even comparing to the noise at MetLife Stadium)
No, it doesn't quite give you the impression of what really is going to happen.
(on what he tells players about the environment at MetLife Stadium)
Just telling them what it's like. I think once the game, once the first snap, it's just white noise. You've got to deal with the noise every time you're on the road. It'll be loud and they'll handle it alright.
(on what about Marcus Mariota allows him to have success in hostile environments)
I haven't seen anything that really stoked him to be off his game. He's very even-keeled, very focused, very locked in to what we want. I really haven't seen that happen, maybe it's coming, but I haven't seen it yet to date.
(on what caused Taylor Lewan to calm down)
I think there was some pressure taken off of him when the captain was taken back. Basically, I think he felt like, 'Hey, I don't have to be that guy that everybody's looking up to. I don't have to be the guy, the motivator, I can just be myself a little bit.' I kind of feel like that's how he's responded and how he's played. He's a good football player and that's what we wanted from him. We needed a good left tackle just to line up, come out to practice, show up on the field and play left tackle. You don't have to do anything more than that, and that's what was explained to him when I first talked to him that week that this all took place. I think it relieved him a little bit that he felt like, 'I don't have to be that guy that has to carry this team.' Obviously, it's improved his play from that time.
(on what he told Taylor Lewan when he took his captaincy away)
I knew it would be, when you're in that position, it's going to be tough. How are your teammates going to look at you? How are you going to be perceived by everybody? I knew it was going to hit his pride a little bit. But the way I presented it to him was, 'That's what I need from you and that's what this team needs from you.' He's performed better because of it.
(on if Ryan Fitzpatrick is an underrated runner)
Yeah. I should have said that yesterday, not only 'why is he not getting sacked?' but 'what's he doing differently now?' He's running the ball. He's getting out of the pocket. He's making plays on his feet more than I remember him doing. But he is a threat. He is a threat getting out of the pocket, at least the film I've watched on him is.
(on if winning back-to-back games is the next step in his progress since taking over as head coach)
That's important. I mean, since I've been here, we haven't had back-to-back wins, and I think that's important for this team. Again, for a lot of reasons, that alone, but on the road again, we're still in the thick of things. This is a team that's got a good chance to make the playoffs. It will be a good test for us. I think there are a lot of reasons why we want to win this. But to get one of those streaks again over with so we can keep moving on.
(on how Ryan Fitzpatrick does not slide)
No he doesn't. He's not a slider, he really isn't. But you have to be careful, you have no idea what's going to be called these days with the officials. Still, you have to be conscious of it, you have to be careful how you hit him. Really, the head is exposed more than ever. I think he's trying to get more yards, but he's also a tough guy. If you saw the one score that he had earlier in the year, helmet came off and he ran over a guy for a touchdown. He's very tough and physical as a runner, so he's not afraid to try to run you over.
(on if he tells Marcus Mariota to slide)
Slide, do not take hits. Yes, absolutely.
(on how much fun he is having as a head coach)
I'm trying to have fun, I am. There's a lot that goes with the job. This is a tough job and I've told the players, because I've been in their seat, it's a tough job as a player, it's a tough job as a coach. If you can't find a way to have fun with it – you want your guys, you want your players, you want your coaches to come in the door and want to come to work. When they get out of bed, they can't wait to come to work. I feel like we have that kind of thing going right now, because it can be a grind. It can be a grind this time of the year, and you've got to do some things to lighten it up. You've got to make it fun because it can wear on you. I've been in some places and it's not fun. You don't have a chance to win then.