TITANS HEAD COACH KEN WHISENHUNT PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - October 5, 2015
(on the health of the team coming back from the bye week)
I think we're in pretty good shape. Things can change between now and Wednesday, but I expect to have everybody at practice in some capacity on Wednesday. One of the benefits of having the bye week early, I guess. So we're excited to see that.
(on if he has a message to the team at this point)*
While I recognize that we have three games at home, it's not a conscious thing. We try to take it one at a time. I think just big picture, what you try to tell the team is that we've got 13 weeks. We've got 13 weeks to improve upon what we've done. We've shown some good things in the first three weeks. We've also had some tough losses that we felt like could have gone the other way. So it's really more about finishing those 13 strong and getting better as we go.
(on making the team aware of the opportunities the standings are presenting)
It's still early. I'm sure that you're aware of where it is. But it's still early. There are a lot of games left to play. After playing Indy and feeling like it was a game that we should have won, we certainly feel like we can compete. If we take care of our business, that will work itself out. We feel like we're a team where if we can eliminate a few of our mistakes and a few of our things that we really haven't done well, that we're really close to being a good football team.
(on if having an early bye week gives the team a chance to reset)
I don't really know how you look at an early bye like that. We're used to getting them a little bit later, but that's what it is. But I think one point that you brought up is a good one and that is what I said to the team last week before we went on the bye is, when we started training camp, when we started the first part of the season, you could certainly say we thought we were going to be a good team, but we really didn't know. We didn't know what kind of team, even going back to the start of OTA's, what kind of team we were going to be, even who was going to play certain positions. But after three weeks, the one thing that we feel more certain of is that we can be a good team. If we eliminate penalties, if we stop the turnovers, if we don't give up the deep ball on defense, if we can eliminate those three things, and a couple of those are big things, we're sitting here a lot different right now than we are at 1-2. I think focusing on what we have to do to clean those things up, and if we do, we have a chance over the next 13 weeks to show we're a good football team.
(on how much getting Jason McCourty back from injury will help the team and if his absence was good for the depth of the cornerback position)
We didn't really have much choice with our other guys playing in there. But our guys battled, there were some good things. Obviously, the deep balls were one of the things that, regardless of who's in there, we've got to stop. Especially those third-and-20's were a difficult pill to swallow, but it always helps to get a good football player back. It makes us deeper at the positon. You feel like with Coty (Sensabaugh) and Blidi (Wreh-Wilson) getting a chance to get a lot of play time, it helps them. Certianly Perrish (Cox), we feel good about him, so getting J-Mac (Jason McCourty) in there, it makes the group stronger and that's a good thing.
(on if three games gives him a sense of the identity the team is looking to find)
I still think we're finding out what that identity is. It changes a bit week-to-week, we saw that in the first three games. We've played pretty good defense. We've been able to do some things offensively moving the football. The one thing we've got to clean up is our self-inflicted mistakes. Two turnovers last game against Indianapolis that led to touchdowns, that's hard. The way we started in Cleveland, it was difficult. But you also have to build off the fact that in both cases, we were down and we came back and fought back. Even in the Indy game, we have to learn how to finish. You go back and the thing that really sticks with you is, you could think of 10 plays in that game that if you just make one of them, could have made a difference in the game. So those are all the things that while you know you could correct them, it's tough. You've got to get past them.
(on his assessment of Marcus Mariota when looking back at the first three games)
Well I mean Marcus (Mariota) has played well. There's things that young players, mistakes that all of our guys are making. There are mistakes that everybody makes. But the way he's been playing, the poise he has shown, plays that he's made, it's been very good. He's done a nice job. Just the two-minute drive at the end of the game against Indianapolis, that's one of the things that quarterbacks are judged by. The fact that he took us down the field and we scored a touchdown, unfortunately we didn't convert the two-pointer, but you still can't lose sight of all of these tests that he's faced. He's met those tests, and by and large he's done very well.
(on how Marcus Mariota's mindset has helped the Titans in the first three weeks)
I really believe that Marcus (Mariota) felt like he could do it. He's been successful his whole life and this was the next step for him. But look, it's not just by chance. Marcus works very hard. He's very detailed, and he's a good player. So it's good for our team. When we started this whole process of evaluating quarterbacks and knowing that was something that was important for us, we certainly feel good about the decision to take Marcus and even the little sample that he's shown.
(on how Marcus Mariota has managed his time since entering the league)
Well, I think he's got a good schedule. He's very regimented in that. He spends a lot of time about football and he's very geared towards that. I've said that before about that position. Some of the guys that are the best ones that play that positon, that seems to be a trait that those guys have. They're very competitive, they're very driven, and he's got talent. I think he's shown that. So we certainly are very excited about the future with Marcus (Mariota).
(on if he wants Marcus Mariota obsessed or if he needs time off to clear his head)
I think even though a lot of us say that we're taking time off or we're trying to get away, we never really get away. I don't recognize that quality I guess, because even though it's nice to say we had a bye week and you get away from football, you find yourself thinking about it, preparing for it. I think that's the way a lot of guys are wired. I think that's the competitor in NFL players. You don't get to this level without having that. I think you do have to take some time off as much as you can. Family is big to (Marcus Mariota) and I think he gets a lot of support from that end. I think he's got a very good balance and once again, he handles it very well.
(on Marcus Mariota's performances under pressure and how he will do under pressure against the Bills)
Well he faced pressure, certainly, in Cleveland and handled it in the noise. And we got pressure last week. When you're a rookie quarterback, you're going to see pressure. But he's made some plays, the play to (Anthony) Fasano in Cleveland where he rolled to the right. Certainly some of those plays when he stayed in the pocket and threw the passes down the field. He'll get better as he gets more of it. This will be a unique challenged because Buffalo gives you so many different looks. But he's seen a lot of looks from our defense from what we've seen all through the spring and in camp, so hopefully we can build off of that and get better as we go.
(on what stands out about the Bills)
Well they're a talented football team. They present a lot of different looks on both sides of the ball, and they have talented football players. You have to be disciplined with this team as far as how to handle some of the things they throw at you, communicate well. Obviously, on defense we're going to have to tackle and make sure we try to contain the quarterback.
(on if a decision has been made regarding team captains)
I'll let you know when we get to that.
(on increase in penalties across the league)
I wish I could answer that question. I don't know. (Senior Director of Media Relations) Robbie (Bohren) told me that penalties were up, and it seems that way, but I don't know. There are always points of emphasis that the league goes through every year. I remember last year at this time were talking about pass interference, illegal contact and those penalties. It just seems to kind of even itself out as the season goes on.
(on if he will stress to team on not getting caught up in rough play against Buffalo)
I think we've got to stress ourselves, not having penalties ourselves. We've had enough of those. I think we did a little bit better last game, but still. That's an area that we have enough work to do ourselves that we don't get any more of those.
(on how they prepare to avoid turnovers)
We do drills in practice, we work on it, make sure we talk about it as a point of emphasis. We do a gauntlet drill. We do all kinds of things. That's all you can do. Just drill it, and then obviously make a point of guys that are going to handle the ball that you do that. The one that they scored a touchdown on, that was a freak thing. Delanie (Walker) caught it, was trying to put it away, and the ball popped out and it went up in the air. So those things happen sometimes. It's the ones where we put the ball on the ground. Those are the ones that we have to eliminate. Certainly, any kind of interception or turnover like that.
(on giving up six turnovers in the first three games)
Well, I think if you look at our turnover ratio, we're -2. If you take that out. If you just take that out of the equation. If it just was even or if we were 1, we could be sitting here at 3-0 instead of 1-2. So it is significant, absolutely it is. We have given up three or four touchdowns in the last two games directly related to turnovers. So if we can clean that up, the way our offense has been scoring points and we've been moving the football, and the way our defense has played aside from the third-and-20's, if we can clean those up then we can be a better football team.
(on Zach Brown's tweet suggesting he wanted to move on)
I was made aware of it, but you know, it was an emotional game last week. It was one that we felt we should have won, and we all do things after those games that certainly we may regret or say. I spoke with Zach (Brown) just like I speak with a lot of the players after the game and talk about things we have to do better, but you know, I don't see it as an issue.