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Head Coach Mike Vrabel


How key were the four sacks today, especially Arden Key's strip sack in the first half?

There you go. Just trying to play complementary football, which looked like we did in the first half, was really cool. Great job getting the football out. I thought we had pressure and again, give Bryce (Young) some credit. He scrambled around. He was able to convert and help them. We couldn't contain him all the time. But we were able to get to him sometimes as well. Huge play out there at the end to win it on defense when they went to the screen there on the check.

On the touchdown drive Will Levis completed passes to five different receivers. How much do you like to see him spread the ball around?

Just like him to throw to the guy that's open. That's the most important thing.

Jaelyn Duncan in his first start at left tackle, how do you feel he did overall?

I have to be able to take a look at the tape. I don't have the best view of the left tackle. But I felt like at least it was a start. And again, probably had some good plays in there. Grade his effort and see if he was finishing and competing. Again, it's a great place to start, it was a great opportunity. Had some good edge rushers and good interior players, so a good place to start for Jaelyn (Duncan).

It clearly wasn't perfect, but how good was it to win again?

Great. You put a lot into it. I'm happy for the players, happy for the coaches, our fans, the organization and everybody included. You put a lot into it every week, and these games are tough. They're tight. They're close. And a few plays make the difference. I would have liked to end it on offense there in a four-minute drive. But it was great to see the defense come out and end it themselves.

How are you guys going to be able to build on this?

Just stop beating ourselves. Start there. Penalties on offense, ME's (mental errors), third-down penalties or quarterback scrambles. Start there.

In that stretch where you had the 71-yard punt by Ryan Stonehouse, Arden Key's strip-sack and Derrick Henry's touchdown, is that the best example of how you guys can play complementary football?

That's another great example. The other great example is right after that. They're trying to get some yards there, and try to kick a field goal, and we stop them, force them to punt. We don't have any timeouts, they took our last timeout there with the injury, and offensively, we could turn that into three points. Executed a down-down clock in 11 seconds. Great execution there by our guys and great kick by Nick (Folk). So that's probably two great examples. We just need more of them.

Why did that timeout come off with the incomplete pass? What does the rules say there?

It's just an injury timeout underneath two minutes. If they would have kept the penalty, the injury time out wouldn't have occurred because of a penalty. They didn't feel like it was—whether defenseless or forcible contact to the head or neck, they picked the flag up. So once that came out, and there was an injury time out under two minutes, you have to talk to Ron (Torbert), I think they're across the hall.

What did you think of the Tyjae Spears play? Did the defender keep his head up?

Again, I saw one quick replay. I didn't think that he launched or—those are bang-bang plays. I didn't see a player that launched in a linear position. I'm sure they saw the same thing. I didn't see the replay other than quickly on the film.

So you don't have a huge debate with the way it was officiated?

What am I going to debate? They pick flags up; they throw flags. Whatever it is, we've got to overcome it. We overcame it on third down. We've had probably six third down conversions by penalty the last two weeks. So, there's not much to debate.

What motivation does this give going into next Sunday's game?

Motivation? I hope we're motivated every week. It's professional football.

How'd you like the way you closed out the first half, getting in position for a field goal?

It was just fun to watch. All those stuff that we talk about, cover, show and watch. That'll be us on the Friday tape this week, with the situational football. Well executed, and it was great. They changed their look, they called timeout, changed their look, went back into a different play, different defense, had the sideline covered. And Will (Levis) and the offense changed our play at the line of scrimmage, allowed for us to get inside, and got Nick (Folk) down there to get lined up for the field goal.

What was the explanation that they gave you on the challenge with it looking like the ball was on the ground as he was going down?

Didn't have a clear view. I just thought, on fourth down, that it was probably worth the challenge. I saw what I saw. They just said they didn't have a good look at it to overturn it.

You went for it on fourth-and-one on your own 30 early. Were you trying to create a spark? How'd you like how the team responded to that?

That was great, to be able to go down there and convert, and turn those into points.

Did Derrick Henry do a better job today being more efficient on his plays, and leaning on that defense over the course of four quarters?

We've just got to block better. Efficient on his plays? I'm not sure what that means.

He said last week that he didn't feel like he was being as efficient as he could. What did you think?

He'll come up here and you'll be able to ask him about his efficiency. I'm going to tell you that we've got to block better and run better. But when there was some space—it was cool in the four-minute there. It was fantastic. Again, we've just got to get him started and not beat ourselves with negative yardage runs, whether they pressure, we have to be ready for it. But we hit him there on a run, had a couple of nice ones. Hit him on the touchdown run where they kind of pressured, moved, spiked, and he went out the back door. And then had the long one there in the start of four-minute. But then again, we stalled and weren't able to finish up. So it's just the consistency, I think probably with that. Again, he wants to impact the game. I know that and we want to let him. Proud of him, the career that he's had thus far. 9,000 yards. Need 10,000.

When the Colts come next Sunday, what's the plan there with that divisional team?

Hopefully win, prepare. I'll know more of the game plan here as we work through. But, knowing it'll be a physical contest in the division. They were able to run the football on us last time, and we stalled in the red zone. Those are things off the top of my head that will need to get fixed in, I would imagine, a closely contested divisional game.

Do you think some doubt had crept into some guys, and is there a little bit of a sense of relief out of kind of knowing we can do this?

I think that you just get frustrated. We just put a lot into it. I don't think there's doubt. We've got to eliminate bad football, eliminate the penalties, the X-plays, cover guys, penalties on third down that extend drives because our good is good enough to win. I know that. I've seen it and I believe in it. It's just the unfortunate mistakes that cost you points and cost you more possessions.

Two-for-two in red zone today. I know you need to get there more, but you got the points when they were at hand.

Again, we hit a long one and then we grinded out one down there close. Great play from the high red for Chig (Okonkwo) to come through and make a great catch and a great throw. Got us into the one, and then we were able to punch it in.

TK McLendon Jr. was someone who started on the defensive line today. For someone like him and some other younger guys on the offensive and defensive side, how is this last stretch proved as an opportunity for them to show what they're made of?

Every time we practice and especially every time we play, those are opportunities to show your team, and your coaches and teammates that you know what to do and you're playing up to the standard that we expect. So, yeah, these are good opportunities for him and for everybody. Like Colton Dowell for example, it's really, really cool to see him impact the game on special teams. I know that he'll continue to work hard to carve out a role on offense when we need it. But that's a fantastic job from a young player, a young receiver that took his job and his role very seriously, and knew the challenge that he had with their special teams guys with (Sam) Franklin (Jr.), be able to go down there, come to a balance, tackle inside the ten on a punt and factor in on a kickoff. So those are all really, really cool, positive things.

Did you say anything special to the defense before the last fourth down, or just let them do their thing?

No, just talking and just making sure that we were good on some of the pick routes and stuff that we thought may come in that down and distance. Quarterback check to a slip screen there, and guys looked like guys were running to the football. I think Hook (Amani Hooker) was able to secure the tackle. It was just a great effort right there.

How'd you manage to take Adam Theilen out of the game, and was that one of the keys coming in?

It was a key. We were able to put some guys around him on third down. That's kind of where he'd had 30-some targets. A third of his targets were on third down. They did a nice job. Whether we challenged him, had a couple yard completions there. But again, we just have to be better. Just being able to—Kristian Fulton, he had a holding penalty early or a DPI, whatever it may be, came back and tried to hit him on a post, we got a sack and (D.J.) Chark (Jr.) came back and ran into him, and Kristain was square, standing right by the official and he let him go. So again, as long as we're learning from things and understanding what we have to do, whatever happens early in the game, it happens and it's over with. And we got to move on and then keep playing and continue to factor.

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