Titans Interim Head Coach Mike Mularkey
The last five minutes of the first half and first five minutes of the second half seemed to be when you lost it.
"It did. I thought really the first five minutes of the second, was really the one that broke us, but I think they responded well. Obviously we still made it a game at the end. That one didn't help matters, you can have sacks and you can have interceptions, but when we are fumbling for touchdowns they are catastrophic and obviously that one was as most of them are."
Could have Zach Mettenberger come back in or was it just Alex Tanney?
"Zach could have come back in. Yes."
What did you tell the guys in the locker room?
"I told them to keep their head up high. I am very proud of them, they have a lot to be proud of and have done a lot of good things that the record may not reflect it. I just thought today was a good description of how they have been all year. They played all the way to the last whistle and played the last play to see if we had a chance to win the game and they have a lot to be proud of regardless of what the record was."
You have shown in the past that you can be emotional given the right moment, what was the feeling like for you walking off that field?
"Extreme disappointment. I really felt good about coming in here and getting a win and still felt that way all the way even when Delanie (Walker) caught that ball still felt like we had a chance, but just disappointment that we couldn't finish on a strong note. That is probably the best – it was the first thing that I thought of for those guys."
There were some things that you wanted to accomplish as interim head coach, things that you got done you would have a really good case to be the permanent. On that checklist, did you feel like you accomplished quite a few of those things?
"I tried to do everything that I talked about early with those guys. I think as far as our goals and what we wanted to be once we turned that page in the middle of the season I feel like we got a lot of that accomplished. Yes I do."
A little disappointment in the lack of success against two quarterbacks that haven't played very much until today.
"They are NFL quarterbacks. They are well coached and they had a good plan to bring in (Ryan) Lindley on the two-minute. They had their plays and they executed them well and I knew they were going to try to run the ball. I thought we did alright against the run, but it was the kind of the plan we knew, get the ball out of their hands quick, knew they were going to take a shot, knew they were going to take it first play of the game. It was going to be one of those games. They had a good plan for who was playing for them."
Should you be named the head coach of this team tomorrow?
"Obviously I would like to have the opportunity to sit down and talk about it. There is a good nucleus here, there are a lot of young players, a lot of good. I think we are very close here and I would like the opportunity to talk about it."
Do you think you will?
"I would hope I do. I'll find out. Again like I said, we have a plan for tomorrow, coming in the coaches. I talk to Amy (Adams Strunk) every Monday, after every game so it will be no different. I will call her and give her an update on the game and see what goes from there."
What can you say about the goals you have accomplished to maybe be the head coach in that regard?
"There are some things that I think you saw it out there today. The effort, the physical play, the want to, the desire, these guys at any point with a head coaching change could have easily gone in a different direction and not one of them did and a lot of that has to do with the locker room as well. There are some things there that I don't think are things you are going to see in plain view that I think are better. But I certainly feel, obviously I am disappointed with the record, but I feel good about what I tried to do in a difficult situation."
In your mind or maybe on paper have you outlined the plan for where you would like to take this organization if they give you the opportunity?
"Maybe more in my mind than on paper. That is one thing I have told you guys numerous times, there is not a lot of time during the week and the last thing I am doing is putting a plan together. So more in my mind, can easily talk about it."
Have you talked with Amy Adams Strunk at all this week about the situation?
Is your contract up?
"I will keep that personal."
Do you have an injury update?
"J.R. Tavai, sprained ankle and could not return and (Daimion) Stafford had a broken forearm."
Delanie Walker reached a couple of pretty special milestones, how would you put into words the season he had?
"Wow. One of the better seasons for a tight end in NFL history. I don't know how many he ended up with, how many catches he ended up with, but I know he is in the tops of yards not just for the Titans but for the NFL. To come in here again and to play the way he plays, every play, every game. There is not a lot of guys like Delanie Walker. I don't think he is done yet."
How do you think Alex Tanney played when he came in?
"I was pleased. He completed the first seven passes. Hit some tight throws in there, stood in there, hit a play to DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham). I thought he played pretty well. For the circumstances, I was pretty pleased with him."
Seemed pretty planned on getting Delanie Walker the ball as much as possible, you ran statue of liberty where not many tight ends can.
"He's not your normal guy, that play was run on us for a touchdown earlier. We had the play in the same week and they ran it on us, I can't remember who it was, we've had it in for a number of weeks. This week looked like, again trying to find ways to score and we just thought – Delanie has returned kickoffs in his career, that is the kind of player he is. If you get him on an edge he is dangerous. We just tried to get him the ball in his hands as much as we could."
Was the change with Zach Mettenberger just trying to change things up, or did you feel that Alex Tanney deserved a chance and Mettenberger didn't?
"Mett had a cut on his hand and he had made some throws with the cut, but then there were some throws that he didn't make. There was a third down throw, an early throw out to Delanie (Walker) that we could have had a big play and he kind of just threw it off to the side almost into the dirt and I thought that's enough, let's see what Alex can do and knowing that Met can still come back in there and be the backup. I was just watching the throws that were happening."
David Cobb got his most extensive work, what did you see of him?
"Again, from basically as the same vantage as you guys did, I thought he ran the ball hard and hit some holes and wasn't waiting on some blocks. I thought he ran the ball well, but again I can tell you better after I watch it on tape tomorrow."
Getting the number one pick, how bittersweet is that?
"I haven't even thought about that, really haven't even thought about it."
Quarterback Alex Tanney
What did it mean to you to get the opportunity to show what you can do?"This is really my fourth year in the league now, and you never know when your opportunity is going to come so you try and prepare everyday like you're going to play. I think I've been doing that. I was very fortunate to be able to show that today."What did you think about the chance at the end?"I need to get the ball out of my hands. I think on the third down play where I took the sack, you've just got to get the ball out. You can't take that there."How soon did you know you were going in? Was it a spur of the moment thing?"Yeah, we didn't know for sure. Mett (Zach Mettenberger) was just cramping up a little bit in his arm. They just said stay ready, so when we came out of the half I was just throwing, just waiting to see what happened."Did you like the way you started? Did it take you a while to get loosened up or were you loose pretty early?"Yeah, I like to throw a lot on the sidelines. If you guys have been to practice, you know I'm constantly throwing, so I was loose. I felt like we kind of got in a groove there the first drive or two, so I felt good.You know a lot of these guys from the Colts from being here, so what was it like out there playing against them?"Yeah, you know I've been around the scout team here for 10 or 11 weeks, so yeah, it was fun. It just felt like I was back out at practice battling against those guys."A lot of fans might have been saying, "Stop it, Alex. The No. 1 pick is on the line here." Was that anywhere in your mind?"No, I don't know those circumstances. I'm just going out to play football."What was it like throwing it up to Dorial Green-Beckham on that fade like that?"Yeah, I had confidence in him. Jalil (Brown) was over there. It was one-on-one. He's made some great plays this year and I've seen those on film, so I had trust in him. I threw it up, and he came down with it."
Tackle/Guard Byron Bell
What was Coach Mularkey's message to this team?
"I mean, pretty much there is no quitting with the guys and he appreciates our fight. We came through adversity. We lost our leader this season, Marcus (Mariota), and we lost our head coach. We still came in to work, guys came in on Wednesdays, came out there, practiced hard. We didn't let the record affect us and we still played football, and I feel like that's what you have to do in this league. You've got to be a pro's pro and you can't put your head down, can't get too high, can't get too low, you've got to be at even-keel and I feel like we did that. But when we come out on Sunday, we have to find a way to get a W."
Defensive Tackle Jurrell Casey
What happened out there today?
"Came out in the first half kind of flat, turned it up in the second half and just couldn't finish it off the way we wanted. I think the guys came out and they battled. We've just got to get ready to clean up the mistakes that we had and get ready for next season."
Are you disappointed you couldn't force those quarterbacks into a few more mistakes today?
"Oh definitely, we tried to help our offense out as much as possible. If we could have come up with a couple more plays, I think it would have helped us out a whole lot. We've got to do a better job of getting more turnovers. You've got to outplay the defense, their defense. That's what this game has got to come down to sometimes, and they outplayed us today."
What kind of frustration level do you feel after this?
"Very frustrated, very frustrated, very frustrated."
What's it like knowing you don't know what's going to happen this offseason?
"It's very frustrating. At the end of the day, we are trying to build around here and trying to build up a team. When you don't know what's going to happen in the offseason, it gets a little shaky and a little rough. You've just got to weigh it out and hope they make the right decisions around here and we can continue to start winning."
How important to you is it to keep this defensive scheme like it is?
"I would rather keep it the same at this time. You never want to keep flopping back-and-forth. I would rather get in a rhythm of staying in the defense that you're in. I'd rather stay here and not have to switch back."
Running Back David Cobb
What'd you do with the ball – did you get to keep it?
"I've got it right here in my bag. I'll probably take it home and be in a fight over it with my mom."
What's the feeling like as you guys leave here?
"Yeah, it's a little frustrating. When you're so close in so many games and you know you're just only a couple plays away. You see older guys like Griff (Michael Griffin) and (Brian) Orakpo and they're coming to practice every single day and they work hard every single day. For a young guy, you learn from them. It just makes me want to work and keep working."
How'd you think Alex Tanney did?
"Tanney, he's the man. He come in and even in practice, he was throwing dimes, just dropping them in the basket. When he came in, we didn't hesitate. We thought he would do a great job, and he did a great job. We just ran out of time."
Colts Head Coach Chuck Pagano
"Alright, good to see everybody. Obviously a great, great team win. Phenomenal job by these coaches and players. Give Tennessee credit, they played a whale of a game. We just had a few more points than they had. Just an unbelievable job. We fell short of our ultimate goal and that goal will never, never change. We only have one goal and we all know what that goal is, but like I told the players and the coaches, I've never been more proud of a group of men than this group. Call me crazy or call me whatever you want to call me, but to be sitting at 3-5 at the halfway point, make a change and go beat an undefeated Denver team with our starting quarterback, I think everybody saw a glimpse of what could be the vision we all had and where this team could go and then you lose Andrew (Luck) and then you end up – at that point I've seen a lot of teams unravel. I think we've all seen a bunch of teams unravel but again it's a testament to the character and the resiliency and the grit of this group, the coaches. What a phenomenal job. I could go on and on about all the players but to sit there and go 5-3 with Matt Hasselbeck at quarterback and then to pull off, I don't know if this has ever happened before in the history of the National Football League, to where you bring in two guys off the street, Josh Freeman and Ryan Lindley, and you got basically three days to prepare these guys and we won a football game with them. It was a team win: offense, defense and special teams. But both guys contributed. Josh, I mean what a story. You could probably write for days and days and days if you want to write something good about him and his journey and where he's been. He comes to us from, I don't know where he's – somebody said he's playing for the Coney Island Thrashers and serving soft-serve ice cream at halftime and then going back out and winning football games. We're calling him the Thrasher now. That's his new nickname. What a job he did. And Ryan coming in and throwing a touchdown pass in two-minute drill, and brilliant by our coaches. Brilliant by Chud (Rob Chudzinski), Coach Clyde (Christensen) and the rest of those guys. Couldn't teach everybody the whole playbook, but Ryan was going to be our two-minute guy. That's why you saw him come in and run the two-minute drill and what a job he did and the rest of the players. But again, really, really proud of this football team and hanging in there. These guys will never ever quit. They will fight to the bitter end. We got great, great men in that locker room. Great men. I can't say enough great things about them and the coaching staff and the job that they did."
With the season over and your future unsure, what are your emotions right now since the game ended?
"I'm just really happy for these coaches and players. Mostly these players, all the blood, sweat and tears that goes into this deal and you don't reach your ultimate goal, but you find a way to pick yourself up time and time again off the carpet and keep fighting and keep plugging away and finding ways to win football games and find a way to finish on a great note, season, on a winning note and get to [.500]. You're talking about a group that has won over 40 games and 20 division games and set a record for 16 straight division games. Say what you want to say about whatever, it's tough to win football games. I'm just excited to get out in the parking lot. We said if they would stay in for New Years, that I would throw them the biggest party they've ever seen in the parking lot after the win and they got the win so I've got work to do."
With the season over and you and your staff in a vulnerable position, do you know anything about your future?
When do you expect to know more?
"Mr. Irsay and I will get together tomorrow at some time and have a discussion and go from there. That's what I know right now."
How much does your relationship with Ryan Grigson impact your future with this organization?
"The relationship with Ryan, my relationship with Jim, my relationship with everybody in that building is we've got one goal, we all know what that goal is and everybody is straining and doing what they have to do to try and win football games and obtaining that goal. It's hard, it's a difficult task to win football games in the National Football League but everybody is trying to accomplish the same thing."
Looking back on the year, is there anything you think you could have done differently to get different results?
"It's a great question, I think once you have some time to really sit back and look at everything and digest everything. I have zero regrets. I take no days for granted. I never have and I certainly now I never do. I'm grateful. I'm grateful for today. I'm grateful for this football team. I'm grateful for this opportunity that was given to me by Mr. Irsay. There was a time obviously that I didn't know if I was even going to be around but he stood by me and he had my back through that whole thing and for that I'm forever in debt to Mr. Irsay and his family. I'm sure at some point we'll look back on everything and begin. Reflecting right now, I just look at the injuries and when you lose, you're going to have injuries but when you have it at the quarterback position and you lose your star quarterback and you have a guy come in and again go I think 5-3 and then have two guys come in off the street and in three days win a football game for you, it's just a phenomenal, phenomenal job done. Right now, I have no regrets."
Obviously it's a two-way street regarding your future. You're a free agent and there are other jobs around. Is this where you want to be next year though?
"You know I've said it before and I'll say it again, I love this job. I love Indianapolis. I love this community. I love the fans. I think back to 2012, they didn't even know me and the way they embraced me and my family and helped me through that journey, that's Hoosier hospitality at its finest. This is a great place and me and my wife are very grateful and we've had a great four years here and we're going to have a great time this afternoon and tonight and then when tomorrow comes we'll deal with tomorrow. But we're going to enjoy this win right now."
You told us awhile back that you'd fight your ass off to keep this job. Is that still your mindset?
"We're fighters, right? That's all I know to do is fight."
Did the players do anything for you in the locker room?
"You know, we never really – remember the sign? What you see, say and hear here, stays here. So we had – it was a great moment. A big standing-o for the Thrasher, excited for him and Ryan. It was awesome, so you'll have to find out. I've got to stand true to my deal."
Are you serious about the party in the parking lot afterwards?
"Yeah but you guys aren't invited (laughs). We'll get together in the parking lot. Wives and kids and families. Like I told you, this thing is about relationships and these relationships are for life and no team is ever going to be the same and every team has been different and every roster has been different. We've had guys come through here and every one of these guys, the new guys, the guys that got here four or five days ago, they walk in here and they buy into the culture, they buy into our philosophy, they buy into the environment, they fit right in. This is another opportunity, when I say throwing a party, we're not throwing them a party. We're going to just celebrate each other and the journey. Because these journeys are hard and they're all different and they're all very, very special. Again, we didn't reach our ultimate goal but I've never been more proud of a group of men, players and coaches, in 31 years of coaching than this group. So I get to spend a few minutes with them.
Was this the year? Did you have a gut feeling that you could win it all this year?
"I have that every year. Every year since we started. That was our mission four years ago and that's our mission today. Every day we walk into the office, that's what we're straining to try to do is accomplish that."
Quarterback Josh Freeman
What was the challenge like out there today with the very short week to prepare?
"It was a great experience. Definitely a whirlwind all around, but ultimately it came out and a lot of guys did a lot of things right today and we were able to come away with a win."
Was the plan to play both quarterbacks going into the game?
"Yeah, that was the plan going in, trying to, I guess, limit the workload for each of us. We had different sections of the game that we were responsible for. We were responsible for the entire thing, but specifically going into it, he was our two-minute specialist for the game. We had talked about getting him mixed in in other situations as well."
Now that this game has passed, were you trying to put yourself on tape for the Colts and for other teams?
"My goal was to go out and play well enough to win. Go out and play, execute, try to play turnover free. We had the one interception that cost us points, but I don't really differentiate the two. Going out and playing well enough to win, playing within our system, what we have to do is going to be the best all around, the best for the team, best for me and can't really say during the game I was thinking about anything other than what my job was that particular play."
Will you allow yourself to think about that now?
"Eventually, but today is about the team coming together and getting a big win despite the odds."
Was there any talk when you came in this week about keeping you for next year?
"We didn't have time to really talk about anything else. Everything was get prepared to go out and play this week, get prepared for practice, verbalizing the plays, just the standard procedure of the quarterback in the Colts' offense."
What were you thinking when you walked off the field?
"It felt good getting a win. Any time you end the game in victory formation taking a knee, it's a great feeling."
Safety Mike Adams
What can you take from a season like this, you guys don't make the playoffs like you expected to?
"We expected to make the playoffs one. When you look at the season, I would say we fought. We fought hard due to all the injuries and all the stuff we've been through. I missed three games. We've got (Matt) Hasselback in there. We went through four different quarterbacks. D-Butler (Darius Butler) missed. Our secondary was banged up, and through all of that we didn't complain one time we just kept playing. Obviously we fell short from where we wanted to be. Obviously we wanted to be in the playoffs, but it is what it is. We played hard I thought."
Do you want to see Chuck Pagano back here next year?
"No question. Hell yeah we want him back. No question. Given the circumstances you know, and we fought and the way we came out he should be back. Again that's not my decision, but I'm definitely behind him."
What has Coach Pagano done for you as a player?
"Oh a lot. He brought me here. He gave me my opportunity. I was on the street. I was able to resurrect my career, if that's a good word to say, coming off a Super Bowl loss with Denver and then coming here. He (has) a lot of intangibles that a lot of people don't know about. How's your family, how's this, how you doing? It's not just football. It's more than football to him. A lot of people really don't understand that. They just see the X's and O's part, but that I do respect about him."
When you say he brought you here, how big of a role did he play in that?
"A huge role. He talked to me. We talked on the phone, and then ended up talking to (Ryan) Grigson and we got it done. It was a ride. It was a long road for me, and I'm glad I came here. I don't regret this season at all. It's just kind of sad that we're going out like this. We expected to play next week."
Cornerback Darius Butler
How would you characterize this season? How do you think you'll summarize this year when you have a few minutes or so?
"It was a tough year. Every year in the NFL is different. We had a lot of ups and downs, but the guys in this locker room, we fought. A lot of other teams would've shut it down, but the guys in this locker room fought and that's a tribute to the character and the resilience of this locker room and our head coach."
Got to be disappointing because this is not what you were expecting to miss the play offs did you when this whole thing began?
"It's not at all. We come in with the same goal every year and that's to get to the Super Bowl. Obviously, we're not going to achieve that this year, but every year is different. You learn from it, we made it through and we ended up .500 and that's tough for us, but we'll learn from it and hopefully, grow from it."
What's the feeling about the coach because Jerrell Freeman said this one was for Chuck Pagano?
"Yeah, we love Chuck. Every guy in here would run through a wall for him. We know what he's been through and how he's fought for us and how he's fought for himself and that's why we put it all on the line for the guys in this locker room and definitely for Chuck."
If he's not here next year, what's it going to be like?
"Everybody in this league is on a one-year contract. That's how it is for everybody. Anybody in this locker room cannot be here next year so we'll fight, we'll be alright, Chuck will be alright, everybody will be alright."
Tackle Anthony Castonzo
Put your finger on this season, how it went south, what happened?
"Yeah, obviously you don't really know what's going to happen until it happens. I guess we let some games get away from us that we should've won. Two games here and there is the difference between playoffs and not in the playoffs. We just didn't make as many plays as we needed to."
Was this one of the most challenging seasons for you guys adversity wise at least maybe for you personally?
"It definitely wasn't the most challenging adversity wise, that was rookie year for sure. I think this would be second, definitely, it was just things went wrong, it wasn't just a smooth sailing. The character of the team, everybody kind of banded together, there was no finger pointing or anything like that. We fought until the last minute of the game."
When you look back on this season, obviously you guys didn't make the playoffs, how do you look past that disappointment?
"You basically have to evaluate yourself and kind of look at the makeup of the team. I think we can feel good about the makeup of the team and confident about the guys that we have in terms of guys that are going out there and fighting and I think it just becomes one of those things where you kind of got to look back at yourself and kind of just say what could I've done better and make sure next year when you come out, you're ready to do those things better."
Inside Linebacker Jerrell Freeman
Good feeling today? In a week, month from now, how do you think you'll look back on this season?
"A season of highs and lows, but we came out and got the win. We didn't have a losing season, but 8-8 will definitely not go unlooked at the onset of the season, but we came out, fought. This is a gritty team. I love playing with these guys."
You heard the buzz about your coach? What's the feeling like in this locker room?
"The feeling is great, a great man first of all, great coach, he's been through a lot, I mean x's and o's he's one of the best. We just love playing for the guy. He's a great man and a great coach."
What did he tell you in locker room after the game?
"What did he tell us? Just that he loves us. We love him, too. He's a great guy, great father figure, great guy to look up to. He's just somebody we always fight for and we'll do anything for."
Imagine a better way to finish for you and this team to get this victory?
"Yeah, it was a great finish, man. Some good, it ended up being on us again, we got the stop we needed."
Outside Linebacker Robert Mathis
What's the feeling come off the field after this one? I saw you gave your coach a big hug as you left.
"I told him I love him. I appreciate everything he's done. I don't know what the future is going to hold, so rather give somebody flowers while they're living than, you know what I'm saying, the opposite. Just got to let him know how I felt about it."
Good way to finish?
"Good way. Didn't get the job done. From what I understand we didn't qualify, so we've got work to do."
What happened this year?
"Got to win the games you're supposed to win, and we didn't get that done. A lot of lessons to be learned from this season."
Were you pleased with your numbers from an individual standpoint this year after the rehab?
"I just felt stronger as the season progressed. They kind of told me that it was going to happen like that. I've got to work hard, and just help the team to get back on the field. I feel fortunate to be able to get back on the field."