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Hot Topics From Titans HC Mike Vrabel's Monday Presser

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NASHVILLE – The Titans beat the Saints 23-21 on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.

On Monday, Titans head coach Mike Vrabel talked with reporters at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

Here's a look at the hot topics from the presser, as the Titans will now turn their attention to the Houston Texans, who visit Nissan Stadium on Sunday.

-Vrabel was asked about his biggest influences in dealing with adversity.

He talked about his upbringing, and his parents.

"Growing up, I think there are things that don't always go well," Vrabel said. "My parents, my dad having been a coach, losing games, having players injured, being around that stuff as I was growing up. My own self dealing with injuries or adversity. Having mentors and people who are influential in your life as you grow up. Talking about not trying to focus on things that are happening in the past or maybe things you can't control in the future. Then we always just try and get back to center, good game, bad game. Then when the adversity hits you have a base, a place to be grounded and a focus that the players can all come together. Coaches can figure out what the situation is and try to lead everybody in the right direction."

-The Titans were guilty of several drops on Sunday, but Vrabel didn't want to pin one on receiver A.J. Brown.

"I think the quarterback could have helped him out," Vrabel said. "I thought it was behind him, the one you are probably referencing. We always have to try to help the quarterback out, the quarterback has to help the receiver out, the line has to make sure we have a pocket to throw from. We have to catch them all and we have to focus. A.J. (Brown) had some company, I don't think he was alone. We did have some drops that need to be corrected. If they are, we score touchdowns. We get first downs. So, that is something that we will always keep working on is the concentration, the focus, the contested catches on third downs and obviously down in the redzone."

-Vrabel did not give an update on linebacker Bud Dupree, who left Sunday's game with an abdominal injury and did not return.

"We are still continuing to evaluate him," Vrabel said.

-Vrabel said getting to know Vanderbilt baseball coach Tim Corbin has been rewarding.

Corbin has coached Vanderbilt to two national championships while establishing one of the best college baseball programs in the country.

"Getting to know Tim and obviously his staff, they have done a fantastic job," Vrabel said. "He spoke the other day. They have had a lot of success, but it wasn't always like that when you build a championship program like they have. Having a son that plays baseball you realize it is a sport of failure. That is probably been the hardest part for me to watch him and understand that when pitch you are going to give up home runs and when you hit you are going to strikeout. Tim (Corbin)'s approach with players, with great players, referenced David Price giving up a home run and thinking that everything was – his career was over, and he was done and then battling back and having the career he has had. Just using those type of examples. You can't just do it in the negative, when things are bad. You have to make sure you are doing it when things are well too so that you always find that balance."

-Linebacker Monty Rice tied for a team-high 10 tackles on Sunday against the Saints, and he's steadily improved during his rookie season.

"He first started to make an impact on special teams," Vrabel said of Rice. "We referenced early on in the season how well he was doing especially on the punt return. If you guys watch punt return, which probably not a whole lot of people do, but when the punt team is out there that is the base of one-on-one football. We will maybe double a gunner once or twice or teams will double our gunner, but for the most part it is one-on-one. You drop back, you protect somebody from rushing, you have to shed and this guy is holding you up, tackle you, grab you, whatever he is trying to do legally and to keep somebody away from the returner. He was doing that. He was finishing. He was finishing guys out of bounds and running his guy and taking care of the returner, so I think he started to build some confidence there. Then he made some tackles on kickoff and really started to build some confidence there. Got an opportunity to play linebacker. Yesterday was another step. It was another game he played a lot of football for us, and the Colts game a few weeks ago. He is continuing to improve and hopefully we can start to really see some more progress and string a couple weeks together."

-Sunday wasn't the best day for defensive back Chris Jackson, who was victimized on several plays.

Vrabel said he expects Jackson to bounce back.

"I think everybody has days like that," Vrabel said. "They ran some good routes on him. Just staying patient. There are a lot of things in man coverage and staying square, playing to your leverage. I am confident that Chris (Jackson) will get back to that and make some of those plays he made a few weeks ago."

-The Titans continue to deal with injuries, and they continue to have players step up.

Vrabel recalled a recent conversation he had with broadcaster Cris Collinsworth.

The Titans have played 82 different players this season.

"I do know the record. It is 84," Vrabel said. "I told the Sunday Night crew, we were in L.A. I think Cris Collinsworth said, 'You guys are at 77 and the record is 84.' I said, 'You might want to take the over. Just a hunch.'"

-The Titans made some big plays on special teams on Sunday.

Kicker Randy Bullock was a perfect 3-of-3 on field goals, and 2-of-2 on extra points. His accuracy was even more evident on a day when the Saints missed two PATs. Titans punter Brett Kern had a 40.2-yard net on a windy day, and he put a punt down the 13 while keeping the ball away from the Saints returner. The Titans did a nice job on coverage teams. And, one of biggest plays of the game came at the start of the second half, when linebacker Dylan Cole forced a fumble that was recovered by fullback Tory Carter.

"I don't know what phases we won offensively or defensive, that could be debated. I know that we won the special teams phase," Vrabel said. "(Deonte) Harris was outstanding coming into this game. We got some good returns. The opening kickoff, we got them covered up, it didn't look great, but we got out to the 31-yard line. There wasn't any penetration. I thought Brett (Kern) punted to the ball very good to a good returner. I thought our kickoff team, that is the type of kickoff team that you envision and that I want to see. I want to see guys that are big and fast and are running down there, running through double teams, avoiding blocks, chasing a return to the sidelines. Dylan (Cole) got double teamed, got knocked down, got back up and made a nice play, a great play."

-Vrabel commended receiver A.J. Brown for his bravery in revealing his battle with depression.

In an Instagram video post Friday, Brown opened up about his struggles with depression in recent years.

"I appreciate A.J.'s courage, and willingness to share that message," Vrabel said. "I am glad that we have been able to provide a safe space for most everybody that's been willing to reach out, to talk to somebody here, to somebody outside of here. And it's our job, it's part of our job, to make sure that they can deal with the stresses of life, the stresses of professional football, the strain it sometimes puts on the family.

"I appreciate his courage, and hopefully his message can help somebody else feel comfortable to seek help, to get things off their chest, to be able to talk through things, and I think that is a great example."

Brown, in his third season with the Titans, was a Pro Bowler in 2020 after a second straight 1,000-yard season. He leads the team with 41 catches for 567 yards and three touchdowns this season.

He's one of the team's most popular players with fans.

Vrabel said he wants players to know they have a safe place to discuss their feelings with the team's staff.

"These are real things that we all deal with," Vrabel said. "And it's great when people can, especially significant professional football players and athletes, are willing to address it and willing to make statements about it."

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