TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY MEDIA AVAILABILITY - Dec. 14, 2016
(on practice participation)
Did not practice today—Sean Spence and Karl Klug. I'll have to just look at them and see how they're going for tomorrow, just give them another day. Limited was Jurrell (Casey) but much better this week than he was last week, so encouraged by him. We're going to ease him back into it. We're not going to rush him in.
(on if Jurrell Casey's injury is about pain tolerance or could be worsened by playing too soon)
Again, this whole team is a bunch of different people, players on it, that it's just how they are. I mean, everybody's different. He felt better today. He did some things in individual, which is what the intent was to ease him back into it. It was a good start. It was much better than it was last week.
(on if coaches have to be more careful with injured players that have determined mindsets to play)
Yeah, you do. You've got to be smart about it, and these guys want to play. I think it was tough for Jurrell (Casey) watching from the sideline the other day that game and you know (Karl) Klug wants to go. I mean, he'd go, but you've got to be smart. Again, we have time. It's Wednesday. It's late in the season. We'll be smart with them.
(on how much of the decrease in turnovers is a result of how Marcus Mariota is playing)*
I think everybody is responsible, not just Marcus (Mariota). Everybody has been responsible for taking care of the football, taking care of our football. It starts with the quarterback, obviously, and he has done a better job. You can see him in the pocket, some things he's improved on from early in the season, and even out of the pocket when he's carrying it, but everybody has been very good with it. They're all responsible.
(on what the Chiefs have done to record as many takeaways as they have)
Well, they're an aggressive defense, not that ours isn't. They've just been able to get more balls. They've got the interceptions they've had. They've been able to score four times with interceptions. They've had a fumble recovery for (a touchdown). They've been more opportunistic. It's not that they're playing any harder or any different than our guys. It's just that they've had things go their way, the ball bounce their way, more than us.
(on what he does different in preparation for a cold weather game)
Put more clothes on. No, I mean, I don't know. It is what it is. It's cold for everybody. I've been in cold games playing and coaching. It's cold on both sides.
(on the psychological impact of playing in cold weather)
I think it is psychological. I think it's a mindset. I mean, you're going to be as cold as you want to be or as hot as you want to be. It really can't play a factor into the game. I don't think it will be a big deal, I don't.
(on how to limit Tyreek Hill's punt return opportunities)
Well, a lot of that depends on the offense. If we're efficient and drive the football and don't punt, that would be one good way to keep it out of his hands. There's been some teams—Atlanta, I think, punted once. New Orleans maybe punted once. I mean, that's the best way to keep it out is be efficient on offense.
(on if the cold weather impacts decision making in the kicking game)
Sure it does. Yeah, it makes you manage the game much more, yes.
(on if the Chiefs move Tyreek Hill around as a receiver on offense)
Yeah, they move him. He's their get the ball in his hands (player). That's the nature of their offense. They have multitudes of personnel groupings, formations, shifts, motions—very similar to our offense—and they do a good job of scheming him.
(on the challenge of Travis Kelce)*
Big, big challenge. He's having a Pro Bowl year. He's very good. I said it this morning to the team, he's very patient. He doesn't rush a lot of things. He sets up a lot of his routes, he's got a big body and he makes a lot of contested catches.
(on if Alex Smith is more than a game manager at quarterback)
I said that, also. He has won a lot of football games. I mean, he doesn't get a lot of credit for his play, but he puts these guys in position to win games. I know the staff trusts him. He's won a lot of games. The offense they're in is the West Coast offense of what they're doing with the quick passing game. That's been going on for a long time, and he runs it very well.
(on how the loss of Derrick Johnson will affect their run defense)
I'm sure it will have an effect, I think—more of his leadership. He's all over the place. He's a great player, but I know they have a lot of respect for how he does things. With the magnitude of the game and where they're sitting and we're sitting, somebody will step up in there and play to the level that they have to play to keep that front pretty stout.
(on if anything triggered the coaches' confidence that LeShaun Sims would play well in a big game)
Well, that's why you come out here and you have training camp, you have OTAs. He gets plenty of opportunities out here and he's shown that he can make some plays out here, and hopefully, it transfers over to the field. Again, he's lacking experience. He doesn't say a whole lot. He comes to work and he does exactly what we're asking him to do. It showed up on Sunday, for sure. He played very well.
(on if he addresses the team's opportunity differently this week)
No, again, it's the next game for us. It's an important game. I'm not making it any bigger for these guys. I don't have to say something to these guys. I mean, they all know where we're at with it. I don't try to compound the magnitude of it. This is a game we have to win, just like the first game of the year we had to win that game. I mean, they're all important games.
(on if this is part of the process of learning how to win as a team)
Yes, learning how to win in December in important games. Yeah, that's part of this process. Everything every week has been a part of this process of learning something new.
(on if Mehdi Abdesmad was moved to the active roster to add depth)
Yeah, I mean, we're concerned about that. We've got two D-linemen today that didn't practice. Anytime you have that, you've got to make sure you're handling it the right way with bringing up a young guy and getting him work starting today.
(on what he has seen from Mehdi Abdesmad on the practice field)
He's hard to block. He goes 100 miles per hour every play, which is what we want.
(on if the Chiefs take advantage of other team's mistakes)
They do. That's the one thing, if you look at their statistics, they don't look very impressive. They're in the 20's in a lot of areas. That gives you a false sense. They're very disciplined. They don't make a lot of mistakes. I talk about complementary football; they play complementary football. All three phases score for them. You can tell it's a well-coached football team and very complementary how they play off of each other.
(on the Titans' struggles on third-down defense)*
Obviously, execution. They've made some plays—not specifically knowing the play—but yeah, it is frustrating because that is your objective to get them in third-and-long. It's the hardest to convert. A lot of it is execution, but also, you have more time to get to the quarterback and teams are blocking us up more with protections. We've got to do a better job with that.
(on why the Chiefs have had success winning close games)
I think they're second in the league in regards to games (decided by) eight or fewer points. That says a lot about them. It's not far off from the team we played a couple years ago—I mean, same personnel, same coaches. They've been together for a while. They've learned how to win in a number of ways. I think, again, it's going to be a close game. We're both learning how to win them. We've got to learn how to finish better than we've been.
(on if Arrowhead Stadium is the loudest in the NFL)
It's up there. It's definitely up there. Seattle—Kansas City is right up there with them.
(on if it is important to take the crowd out of the game quickly)
Well, you'd hope so, but we opened up there two years ago, and that was a pretty loud crowd, too. It's going to be a great environment for our guys. I think it's going to be a fun environment. I think it's going to be a good learning lesson for this team to go into a place in December that's like a playoff atmosphere. I think they'll be ready.
(on how familiarity with Arrowhead Stadium is helpful)
Well, basically the roster has turned half over, so it's not a whole lot of familiarity for this whole team or the staff. A lot of us have been there a number of times. I played there on Monday night lots of times when I was in Pittsburgh. It's a great environment.
Titans players take the field for Wednesday's practice at Saint Thomas Sports Park. (Photos: Gary Glenn)