TITANS INTERIM HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - November 4, 2015
(on getting in front of the team for the first time this morning)
Actually, I got in front of them twice. We met this morning at 7:15 and talked about the direction we wanted to go, and that was what we mentioned yesterday. I said we're in a little bit of a hole here, it's about a game and a half deep, but it's not as big as you think. I told them the philosophy and what we needed to do as players, as units, as a team to get ourselves out of it. Then we had a team meeting at 10:00 which was really about changes in schedules and changes in some of the things that we're doing, and then we started talking about the Saints and we focused totally on that.
(on what the last 24 hours have been like)*
It's been a whirlwind. It's making sure I'm in the right place, making sure I'm saying the right things to the right people, get the message out as quickly as I can of what we want to do to everybody, coaches included, and even our support staff. They were in that meeting this morning at 7:15. It was important that everybody kind of knew what we wanted to do from this point forward and everybody was in there and very receptive. But it's been quite a couple of days, I've got to admit.
(on the energy level in his first practice as interim head coach)
It was good. We changed the schedule around a little bit to start off with nine-on-seven, which is a physical drill. Not Oklahoma by any means, but it's a team-run drill. The schedule is a little different now, we're stressing them pretty heavy and then we pull back, almost like a game simulation. We stress them, then pull them back. I'll ask them and get their opinions. It's the first time they've done it. I'm going to see how the coaches liked it and the players. But I thought it was very competitive, very good. Pads were popping and lots of energy, but that really has never been an issue at all.
(on if his practice approach was similar to what he did in his other stints as a head coach)
Yeah, something similar to that. I did that in Atlanta, we did that in Jacksonville. We finished up with a competitive third down period, which we did in Pittsburgh. A lot of Pittsburgh coaches recognize, it's third down, I give you the down and distance and best of three, loser runs. That's why you saw the offense running. We lost it on offense, but the juices were flowing and it was kind of fun to watch the competitiveness.
(on how good it feels to have another opportunity as a head coach)
It feels good. I feel like I'm supposed to be here, but not certainly under these circumstances. I don't think anybody really likes these circumstances, but not many guys, I don't know many that have had the opportunity that I've had, so I'm going to try to do the best I can like I said yesterday in the press conference.
(on if he has talked to Ken Whisenhunt since yesterday)
No, I have not. We talked extensively yesterday and I have not talked to him since.
(on what the response has been from the players since the coaching change)
So far, so good. I sat in the defensive install this morning, I'm going to make myself more available to different positions and kind of roam the rooms. Still, my focus is on the offense, obviously. We've got to improve on offense. But also, I'm in charge of a lot of areas, and the defense needs to know they have my support, and I did that.
(on if he senses a rallying or pulling together of the players and coaches)
Well, it felt that way today. It felt that way when we came out here and for two hours and 10 minutes there was a lot of positive energy. I'm sure there are guys that are still kind of shell-shocked, but you would not have been able to tell that in meetings. I'm constantly evaluating guys walking around in the building, their body language, and there is no sense of that at all.
(on what his message to the team was when he spoke to them this morning)
I began with my relationship with Ken (Whisenhunt) and how far back we go, 20 plus years as players, and how we've worked with each other and for each other and how difficult of a decision and the circumstances, that was a big topic in the morning, and how much respect I have for him. Then I got into, OK, where are we? This is where we are, this is where we stand. No team has taken advantage of this division. Not just us, it's really nobody has taken advantage of this division, and how can we do that still, midway through the season. Then again, just talked about what's expected from them when they come out here, and on Sundays what we expect.
(on if he's approaching this week as if Marcus Mariota is fully ready to go)
We're approaching it that way, but we're also being smart about it with the number of reps he's getting. We didn't go right in there and throw a full practice at him. He did a majority of it, but nothing like he's been doing when he was healthy before the injury.
(on if he liked Marcus Mariota's movement today)
I did. Again, I'll have a better feel of what it's like after games. But I get a lot more out of watching the film and how they're moving and all of those things once I've watched it a second time.
(on how long it took for him to take in the news yesterday and start to prepare for New Orleans)
I can tell you it was not right away. We all had a good relationship with Coach (Ken) Whisenhunt, with the team and the coaches, there were a lot of guys that had worked with Coach Whiz. But once I sat down and started doing my to-do's and figured out what I needed to address, I got going and I haven't stopped.
(on how he will manage what each position group wants on offense)
The offense is kind of built around how the defense is going to defend us. There is no force feeding it one way or another. We're going to try to scheme it to some of our more explosive players if we can, but the defense may dictate some of that, but other guys are going to have to win when they're not the primary.
(on if the offense will stay at the same brand of progression or if there will be more matchup to it)
It's similar to what it was. Again, this week we're going to have a lot of 1-on-1 matchups, I can say that. We're probably going to have that until we're consistently successful against some of the coverages we're facing. But really the scheme of it has not changed.
(on if there will be times he will alter the plan according to specific downs and players)
Yeah, based on how they're going to defend us, yeah I would say that. I think that's anybody that's planning would do that.
(on if everyone on the staff and roster will get a clean slate)
Well, you know it's really interesting. At the end of the practice, I asked the first and second-year players to come over with me after we broke and I didn't realize there were so many first and second-year players that were going to come over with me. That was the message, this is a clean slate. The majority of them came here when I got here. I've had a role to do, I've had a job to do, and I've been doing that. Now I have a different role, and it's a clean slate for them. Some of them need to grow up fast for us to be successful, some of them need to watch the veterans and watch how they do things if they want to be successful. Some of them need to work harder out here and they need to do better in games when they get the opportunity. Until we get that, our success rate is probably not going to be where it needs to be. But it's been addressed. I know there are guys that want more opportunities, and they'll get them when they earn them.
(on run game opportunities and if he plans on rotating guys through or if he is looking for someone to get into a rhythm and feed them more)
I think Antonio (Andrews) is the work horse as we speak right now. As you've seen, Dexter (McCluster) has had his carries as a changeup for us. Bishop (Sankey), again, I know he hasn't had carries in the last couple of weeks, but we're trying. Based on the run scheme that we've had in these last couple of weeks, it hasn't called upon his ability. But if we were going to force it, it would be to Antonio right now.
(on if Bishop Sankey will be done as a returner as Ken Whisenhunt had planned)
It's hard to say that. Dexter (McCluster) is going to be that guy. I would anticipate Antonio (Andrews) being the back up right now, but Bishop (Sankey) has some opportunities. What he's proven, maybe it's not the time, or maybe it's another time in a preseason game or whatever if we need him. I just need to see, I think we all need to see him be more protective of the ball and making smarter decisions with it.
(on if there is a perspective change as he spends more time with the team as a whole)
No, I think it's important that they all know that I'm with every one of them. I'm not the tight ends coach, I'm not going to sit here and be with every offensive drill, although I need to be in most cases. But I'm going to roam and learn as much of the defense as I can so when I'm on the headphones with them I know what's going on, I don't have to ask. I just need to get up to speed. It's the second day, I'm not going to know it, but I'm going to try.
(on if players are treating him differently now)
Well, there's a lot more 'Coach' from the coaches. We had our offensive install, I sat with the tight ends and they were in shock that I sat with them. They were like, 'You're supposed to be sitting up there.' I'm like, 'No, you can't get rid of me that easily.' I think I'm the same person I was yesterday, they have to just realize I have a bigger part, a bigger role.