HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - Tuesday, January 9, 2018 **
DeMarco (Murray) didn't practice today with the knee. Again, he's day-to-day, holding out hope for him. (Quinton) Spain, we held him back with his back. Hopefully get some work from him tomorrow. Logan Ryan, more precautionary than anything with his ankle. So, he didn't re-injure it, it's just precautionary.
(on if any of those three players practiced)
No. Everybody else, full participation.
(on the vibe surrounding the team this week)
It's pretty good. It's really pretty good – I mean, it started Sunday. We brought them in Sunday evening after the Jacksonville game, that was kind of the plan knowing we were going to play Saturday. Came in, got some work done on New England and got a workout in. It's been good. That was good and today was good.
(on what he's learned throughout his career from competing against Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick)
You're going to play a team that's very, very disciplined. Don't make a lot of mistakes, all three phases are like that. They don't make mistakes.
(on how Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski differs from Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce)
Just another one that you've got to be aware where he's at. He's tough to cover. Everybody tries to stop these guys, it's a chore to try to do that. He's a little more involved in the run game. This is a guy that can block the point like a point of attack tight end, and then beat you down the middle just as easy. He's a dual-threat to me, tougher guy to cover.
(on what it would take for cornerback Adoree' Jackson to have a big return)
I think you've got to have opportunities, the right opportunities. Again, based on the punt, based on whether we do a good job, I thought we did a poor job in that game with our gunners. We really didn't hold up anybody. He had a lot more pressure on him than he did earlier. It takes everybody to get that return game going.
(on if New England will try to get the Titans to return kicks)
I don't know what their plan is going to be. I know we're ready for it. I know that this is a good special teams unit that we have coming that we're going to face this week, there's no question about that.
(on if Patriots quarterback Tom Brady will give the defense a chance to pressure him Saturday)
Well, I think you know him. He's not going to hold it very long. You can't get frustrated by how quick he gets rid of the ball, we've got to do a good job of – it's a quick passing game. But, we've got to bring it still. That's their philosophy and it's not going to change.
(on if he took anything away from the Patriots loss against Miami)
Miami is a good game. There's some good ones to study, really, in all the three phases.
(on the keys from studying the Miami game)
Just some similarities to us. That's the biggest keys.
(on how you instill resiliency in a team)
It's about building trust. It's just about building trust amongst each other, and I think that starts in the offseason when we spent a lot of time together. There's really no – obviously with no games, there's not a whole lot to look forward to. There's a lot of hours we put in getting ready for the season before that break in July, and we spent a lot of time together. We do a lot of the competitive things that this team likes. We do a lot of things off the field together as a team, as you guys have seen. Fort Campbell and some of the other things. It's just about building a relationship that guys trust each other, and know that they have each others backs. That comes into play in fourth quarters.
(on if the come-from-behind victories engineered by quarterback Marcus Mariota instill a belief that the team always has a chance to get the job done)
It has to. It certainly doesn't hurt to know we can. That's why I think there's no flinch, there's no wavering, I can tell you. I told you after the game in that locker room there wasn't one guy that didn't believe we couldn't come back and still win that game.
(on how he has seen Marcus Mariota's recent performances motivate the team as a whole)
Oh, it's been good because you know he's been healthier. He's helped us, third downs have been critical. That's one of the big areas – will help more in that second half this last game. It's good that he's healthy, he's a threat when he is.
(on if Marcus Mariota is currently the healthiest he has been all season)
I'd say so.
(on what it does for the team to see a play like Marcus Mariota throwing up a block)
Just tells you where he's at. He's going to do anything it takes, whether it's blocking, catching passes, whatever it takes to help us win.
(on if he thinks the offense found a new confidence in the second half of the game at Kansas City)
Well, once you put a good drive together like a 15-play drive to start that third quarter, that was pretty important to gain a little confidence, there's no question about that. I liked what we did, I think we had three drives in a row for touchdowns. But, that 15-play drive in Kansas City was a good confidence builder.
(on being considered an underdog by the experts for Saturday's game and if he feels that is accurate)
You know what? I don't know who 'they' (the experts) are, and what they think, and how they go – and I never will, and that won't matter. Didn't matter last week.
(on if he uses the narrative of the Titans not stacking up to the Patriots as fuel to motivate the team)
I shouldn't have to. At this level, that shouldn't be a motivating factor.
(on if the underdog mentality has helped the team perform in recent weeks)
I think if you're a competitor, I think you take things personal. I think this team does that quite often without having to promote it.
(on how much it would change the feel of a game to perform as well in the first half of a game the way the offense did in the second half of the Kansas City game)
It'd be hopefully a different game. We're certainly trying to do that, I promise you that's the intent. We'll keep trying.
*(on how much it helps going to New England that the entire roster now has playoff experience) *It should help them. I think we've got two playoff game experiences, because that Jacksonville game against a playoff team was just as important as this past game. So, I think those two games will help us as we, again, go down the road here.
(on if there is an 'aura' surrounding the Patriots that you don't find in other teams)
No, I don't think so. They're the champs and these are the types of teams you've got to beat if you want to be the champs. You've got to beat these teams at their place.
(on if older players have to remind younger players who grew up idolizing Patriots like Tom Brady that they are just another opponent)
I doubt that, I do. Once the ball is snapped, like I said, once it's kicked off and then after your first play, everything is go man, go. There isn't a whole lot of difference.
(on the interior offensive line's performance in the second half of the Wild Card game at Kansas City)
They played really well. They played very well, yeah. Just moving the line of scrimmage was about as well as we've done all year. We had some double teams, again I'm talking both sides. Line of scrimmage moved – defensively we moved them back, and offensively we moved their guys, especially the double teams.
(on how much of a key the offensive line is in running the ball effectively)
Everybody is a key. Everybody is a key, that's across the board. Need our wideouts blocking just as well as our interior line to make our run game go.
(on cornerback Adoree' Jackson's development this season and the challenge of him facing the defending Super Bowl champions)
Adoree' (Jackson) has not been – I don't think he's thought this game has been too big for him from the very beginning. He's gotten better, he's gained a lot of confidence. Obviously he's played a lot of plays, played the second-most plays in the NFL. I don't think this is going to intimidate him, I really don't. I haven't seen anything that has yet.
(on the status of running back DeMarco Murray)
He's still day-to-day. He's definitely better, there's no question about it. He's anxious, he's very anxious to get out and play.
(on what will be important for running back Derrick Henry if he does in fact start Saturday)
Well, he's got really the tale of two games. He saw that running sideline-to-sideline is a little difficult in the NFL. Again, there's times he's bounced, I mean, he bounced a play at the end of the game to basically secure the game. I don't want to take that away from him, he's a great runner. But, I think he saw that if he hits some of those little creases, they make yards for us and put us in better second-down or third-down situations.
(on if cornerback Logan Ryan can help preparation with his knowledge of the Patriots organization)
Oh, we had a cup of coffee this morning and talked about some things. Yeah, we did. Yeah, he's been very helpful.
(on if Derrick Henry discovering creases to run through is an example of the stark contrast of his improvement between Week 17 and the Wild Card game)
I think it was good for him, I really do. A lot of carries again and obviously very productive with the yardage. But, I think that will definitely carry over.
(on telling the team not to make too much of this moment and to be loose)
I do. I want them to enjoy this, this is a great experience. That's what I just said to them out there, I said, 'Isn't this cool? Where we're at right now? This is what you guys have worked for.' There's no reason to get uptight, we just won two games against teams that are in the playoffs. We're very capable of winning games and we are again this weekend.
*(on if it gets more challenging to be loose the further the team gets into the playoffs) *No, I don't think so. Not this team, not the veterans. The veterans will not let them do that. It's going to stay loose.
(on if the team gets a second wind once the playoffs begin)
It's amazing how much better you feel this time. Even coaches get a little more energy this time of year.
(on if Executive Vice President/General Manager Jon Robinson has given him some insight to the Patriots organization)
They all do, yeah. Josh Kline was there as well, so yeah.
Titans players take the field for Tuesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)