TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY MEDIA AVAILABILITY - Dec. 29, 2016
(on the Houston defense and Jadeveon Clowney's development)
I think their defense is very good, I mean very, very good. They have very good personnel up front. Really, the whole defense, they all complement each other. I think the secondary knows that we've got to hold up up front, that offenses have to hold up, and when they do throw the ball, they've got some guys back there that can cover. (Jadeveon) Clowney is playing at probably the best I've seen him play since he's been in the league. He's very disruptive. The scheme really plays to his strengths. He's all over the place. He matches up—everybody will have a chance to block Clowney on Sunday. We have to block him. It will be a challenge. You can't always find help at wherever he's going to be because of the way they scheme.
(on how giving up first downs on third-and-long situations affects both teams)*
It's a momentum changer. Last week is a good example of it. We got off the field on our third-and-long. We had a penalty with unsportsmanlike conduct. Yeah, it's deflating, there's no question about it. Just as it is when we convert third-and-longs, we know that's good. It's a good drive mover. It does take a little air out of you (on defense).
(on if third-and-long situations will be a point of emphasis in the offseason)
I'm sure that will be one of the areas we'll look at it, but that's what you do all your self-scout for in the offseason. You look at every play and every player on every play. You figure out is it the player, the scheme, the call, the opponent's better than you are—all those things will play a factor when the season's over with.
(on how Marcus Mariota is doing following his surgery and if they have spoken)
He's doing good. No, I've called. I didn't call him last night. I think he was under the weather. I tried to call him this morning. We've texted back and forth a number of times.
(on the tone of his conversations with Marcus Mariota)
Upbeat. Talking about have a good practice today, thinking about you guys, wish I was there. Again, everybody's thinking about him and wishing him luck. He'll head back here tonight.
(on where Marcus Mariota will watch the game on Sunday)
We haven't gotten that far exactly of where he's going to be on Sunday. He'll be with us in spirit, I know that for a fact.
(on the difference for the franchise between finishing 9-7 and 8-8)
Well, I think anybody wants to have a winning record. I mean, that's part of the process. I still think we've done a lot of things good and we've accomplished a lot of things. I think a 9-7 (record) is accomplishing something else that a lot of people probably didn't expect. I just don't want everything positive that has come from this season, again, to be taken away because of this past game. There's a lot of good to be looked upon. Hopefully, we can continue that this week, and getting to 9-7 would be part of that.
(on if this game provides a chance for the defense to disrupt Houston's quarterback situation)*
Like I said, every game's been different that we've been in. Last week, we thought we had a good feel for trying to get to the quarterback, disrupt him, and he had one of his best games of his career. So we have to play our game, be where we're supposed to be, stop the run No. 1, and then when it comes time, when they're throwing it, we've got to make some plays. Whoever is going to be the quarterback, whatever they're playing—I know they're starting (Tom) Savage, but they both may play—we've got to get to them.
(on if it is important for the defense to end the season on a good note)
I think everybody wants to end on a good note. I mean, everybody in our organization wants to end on a good note. That's the intent. We're going to play to win and we'd like to have a positive game going into this offseason.
(on when the abrupt end to the season will hit him)
I think it's next week. I think it's when the building is empty. That's when you know.
(on the feeling of knowing the season is over)
(on how much better he felt about a season that ended with a win when he was a player)
You know, it will carry on. I mean, we can build off of it. It's a good feeling. We've had a lot of good feelings in that locker room after games this year. Again, that's something we want to last. Playing and/or coaching, we want to win. We want to have a good feeling going into the offseason.
(on if it is unusual to end the season with a win)
Yeah, really, I mean if you look at it that way, there's only one team that ought to be happy going into their offseason, yeah.
Titans players take the field for Thursday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)