HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Tuesday, January 2, 2018**
(on the team's injuries)
Just to give you a heads up, DeMarco (Murray) did not practice. I'm not going to rule him out, I'd never do that with him. Brice McCain was limited, we went through basically a pretty good walk through pace, but he was limited. Two concussion protocol guys: Jonnu Smith and Kalan (Reed), pretty much did everything. They have to go through the full practice tomorrow and then (take) the test afterwards. We anticipate a full practice tomorrow from those guys.
(on what cornerback Brice McCain's injury is)
(on his message to the team as they head into the playoffs)
Stay loose, stay focused, don't try to do anything more than you have to. Obviously, spend more time than you have. I know they have spent a lot. Had a lot of things these last couple of weeks to be distracted (by), with holidays and family and all of that, that's all over with. Now it's got to be just totally locked in to this football game.
(on how much veteran players having playoff experience helps)
I think it helps. Just the intensity and everything goes up when you get to this point.
(on if he has taken a moment this week to appreciate being in the playoffs since it's his first time as a head coach)
I am shaking in my boots right now from this. No, I'm not. They read a lot off of what I do. This is a great experience for everybody, it's a great experience. It's just another way we've got to win, all these games have been that way. I don't see it in any other way. Obviously, you lose you go home, you win, you continue. I'm going to be as locked in as I've been each one of these games.
(on if they watch film from last year's game against the Chiefs)
You definitely, you always use prior games that you've played these guys. A lot of it is sometimes it's to confirm things you've already studied. Are they doing the same things? Obviously, the personnel, they're very similar to what they were last year. Yeah, there's definitely some value of watching the previous games.
(on what running back Derrick Henry did well and what he needs to improve on)
I think he'd like to have some of those carries back where he lost some yardage by going sideline to sideline. (If you are the defense) that's what you want backs to do, you want them to be running that way. For his size, I think he hits some of those holes a little firmer. That's a young back, the experience will help him do that, but I know he'd like to have some of those negative plays that we've had (back).
(on if trying to get Derrick Henry to go downhill faster is an ongoing thing)
You talk about it, and then the next thing you know he bounces outside, stiff-arms a guy and goes all the way down the field. He's been running a long time, you've got to be very careful. There's things he's learning as he goes. That was a good, with all the carries, the 25 carries, I think that was a great experience for him.
(on how Derrick Henry fared in the passing game)
I thought he did well. I've said this, he's grown a bunch from his rookie year. That's a complicated position, especially in today's NFL. In third-down situations, they come from all directions, and he has improved immensely.
(on the idea of having a clean slate, but the stuff that hasn't gone well not being gone)
Those are things totally out of control now. You move on, you move on to the next play, you move on to the next game, you move on to the next session and that's the playoffs. You've got to do that in this business. You can't keep continually talking about what happened yesterday, or last week, or the last three. It's negative energy, it doesn't do anybody any good.
(on if they look to fix and go forward at the same time)
That's every game I've ever coached in, played in, there's always things that you've got to improve on. That's the history of this game. That's the fun part of this game, you get a chance to do that every week.
(on if Chiefs running back Kareem Hunt and wide receiver Tyreek Hill are one of the fastest duos they'll play all year)
Yeah, talk about explosive players that have a chance to go the distance every time they touch the ball. We saw it firsthand last year when they did that, when (Tyreek) Hill did that.
(on what his conversation about using his legs with quarterback Marcus Mariota is like)
We're at that point right now when every man needs to do whatever he can, whatever it takes, to make this thing go. It was good to see what he did the other night. Obviously, it helped us win the football game. I think it helped him gain a little confidence too that he can do more.
(on what makes Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce tough to defend)
Very smart route runner, very patient, understands where people are going to be. Just very smart in how he attacks you.
(on if the team's success at stopping the big plays will come in handy against the Chiefs)
That will play into this game. They feed off of that, not just offensively. They're trying to hit the home run in special teams too. They're looking for big plays, it's helped them get to this point again. I don't see that being any different this week.
(on if more risk leads to more reward in the playoffs in terms of Marcus Mariota running more)
I don't know if it's risk, it's a way to attack. I don't see it as a risk. I think we've done a really good job of the way we've schemed some things with him. Again, I've seen him get hurt more standing in the pocket. We can't go into the game going, 'He can't throw it,' worrying about him getting hit.
(on the characteristics of the Chiefs defense)
It's the same one for five years with Bob Sutton. It's not complicated. It's got really good players within the system, I mean really good players. They have a lot of confidence in their play. This is a team, we always talk about complimenting each other. Their offense doesn't turn the ball over very much, they haven't in recent years, and their defense does get turnovers, and they have and they continue to do that. That's complimentary football.
(on how much having faced Todd Gurley II a few weeks ago helps them prepare for Kareem Hunt)
It'll help, it certainly helps. We've got to do a better job, obviously, of stopping him then we did (Todd) Gurley.
(on if they talk about their success the last time they played at Kansas City)
Well I think we know that we can win there. We did. That's a great place to play football. It feels like a playoff atmosphere every time we play there. The crowd, it's always a sellout, it's loud, it's one of the loudest stadiums, it'll be louder. We dealt with the crowd, we had to deal with it earlier, we dealt with the cold, we dealt with a lot of things and came out on top. We have a lot of guys on this team that were there and know we can do that.
(on if the read option is something they can dictate this season after having success with it against the Chiefs last year)
We'll see if that's part of the game plan.
(on if the team embraces the underdog role)
No, I think our guys know we're not really heavily favored by the gurus, the experts. I think that personally it's a good incentive to show that we're very capable of going in there and winning.
(on if he reminds the team about them not being favored by experts)
I may say it a time or two.
(on scoring touchdowns in the red zone instead of settling for field goals)
We've been hot and cold. We stayed hot all last year, we've been up and down this year. We've been fortunate to still be able to get points, enough to win, but we can't do that throughout these and think we're going to have a chance to win if we don't improve.
(on if he feels like they're getting any closer to where they want to be)
Yeah, we're not changing whole week-to-week, we're doing a lot of the same things. It's execution, defensively they've beaten us, they've had a better call than we have. We're not going to change something we're really good at, we've just got to go back and improve on it.
(on if there is something that they can do up front to get more push in the running game)
Eliminate the number of bodies that are up there. There's a lot, there's a bunch of guys up there, a bunch of big guys. I anticipate that again this week. We've just got to stick with it.
(on if they can throw over the top to back it up to get more push in the run game)
We always do. You've seen us.
(on safety Kevin Byard having confidence and not being afraid to say what he feels)
He backs it up, that's the best part about it. He's not a big talker, trash talker. He's not cocky at all. He's a good football player, has a lot of confidence. We all have a lot of confidence in Kevin (Byard). He deserves it. He shows if you do what you're asked to do and you're in the right place, good things happen and it continues to happen for him.
(on if Kevin Byard is the type of player than can win a playoff game)
(on if the team is looser and more upbeat because of what they've achieved)
I'd say so. These guys like each other, they enjoy being around each other, I've said that. It's a special locker room. They understand what they've earned. They know we've got a lot of work to do, but they're not going to be uptight and tense. I've told them that over and over, don't do that, that doesn't do you any good. One thing is, we set the standards high, but we're going to have fun doing it.
Titans players take the field for Tuesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)