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Postgame Quotes: Titans vs. Panthers




(opening statement)

It was a good win, I just told the team that it was a good win for a lot of reasons. Offense responded from last week which I didn't expect anything else from them, and really the defense started off the game that way, they gave us two turnovers in their territory, obviously a third one that basically won the game. That was critical. I was really pleased with our special teams, we're better in that phase right now and we'll keep getting better. A lot of good things to learn off of it, we complimenting each other, the three phases, I thought very well.

(on if the team was responding to last week or if his influence impacted the team's performance today)

I like to think that was us responding. How's that for an answer? Yeah, a combination.

(on if he saw improvement from quarterback Marcus Mariota from last week)

Obviously we didn't have any sacks, we did not have a penalty, a delay of game or even close, we were much crisper. We just executed better. We picked it up today. We picked it up in practice, we picked it up in the game last week, we picked it up today. It's amazing what happens when you do the right things and you execute. You've got a chance.

(on attempting to convert on fourth down)

It's a tough defense. It's a tough one to get down there, and they had a lot of plays. We had a lot of plays to get to that point in that series. I didn't want to kick a field goal. After the effort and the drive we had, I wanted to go for it. I thought our guys had momentum. I trust our guys to make it happen.

(on how much the team needed a win to get momentum)

Again, like last week, this is a great tape to teach off of. I don't know it's so much need as we want to win. It's a great way of teaching off these game tapes.

(on if quarterback Matt Cassel's injury is behind him)

I think so. Matt did some really good things, he made some plays. I wish he didn't look like Bronco Lebowski and run over everybody. That was probably one thing we'll have a discussion about. But I love his competitiveness and I think he did some good things for his first action in awhile.

(on if any rookies stood out)

You saw some things for Jonnu (Smith) and his athletic ability. He did a lot of good things in the game. Again, there's plenty for him to get better at because of all the things we're asking him to do, but he is really playing well for us. He made some good plays. Adoree' (Jackson), I know we had penalties on the play, but we haven't had a punt return for a touchdown with penalties since I've been here. That was good to see. I saw that we had the ability to be explosive in that area.

(on if cornerback Adoree' Jackson will be the starting punt returner)

We're still evaluating, but he's certainly a leading candidate.

(on what he liked about cornerback Adoree' Jackson's defensive plays today)

I liked open space, making a big tackle. This game's not too fast for him, it's not too big for him, he can play any number of positions.

(on wide receiver Rishard Matthews' absence today)

He was not here for personal reasons.

(on running back Derrick Henry's performance today)

Derrick (Henry) ran the ball effectively. Some of those guys run blocks, and I think he did a good job of stiff-arming them, which is one of the things he does well. But he's tough to bring down, if you're trying to tackle him high, it's a tough job. He did better in protection than he did last week, and that's as important as anything, protection of the quarterback, and he did that.

(on if safety Kevin Bayard impressed him)

Kevin (Byard) just keeps showing up around the football, he's got a great future. Just watch him, he just gets better and better. He's becoming a leader. You can see it in his body language, the way he's communicating back there, he's becoming a leader back there.

(on if the first two plays were safety Kevin Bayard's call and if he tried to talk him out of it)

No, we didn't. We liked the calls because we had a chance to get Delanie (Walker) on a specific route and if we didn't, we actually made a change when I got to the locker room. I pulled the tape of Taywan (Taylor) to make that play, and I've seen him run that route and win one-on-one a number of times, and I just thought, hey, there's a good chance, first play of the game, run what you've done already and done in practice and let's do it again and make a play. It was nice to see him stand in there and make a catch, make a contested catch and get a big play and first down.

(on why running back DeMarco Murray didn't play)

I made an executive decision. I thought one more weekend would be better for him. I just haven't seen an 80-yard burst from him. I'll see one next week, but I'm just maybe being too cautious.

(on how much running back DeMarco Murray protested sitting out)

He trusts me to make the right decision, that's really the case.

(on what he saw from quarterback Marcus Mariota today that he didn't see last week)

He makes good decisions. That touchdown throw, the touch on that pass to let Delanie (Walker) get underneath it was what he does well. Delanie wasn't even looking for the ball and he put enough air on it- initially everybody thought there was no way he was going to catch that and then he just dropped it right in his lap. He's just getting comfortable, he's getting back to where he wants to be. It's good to see him in the red zone, being effective.

(on if running back David Fluellen played as expected)

He's playing well too. He's really playing well. We always thought about a special teams play, and his strength, he can run a football. He's got to a better job on protection. But I trust him, I trust him.

(on cornerback Logan Ryan getting his head right after his disappointing performance against the Jets last week)

I think that's why he's as good as he is, he's hard on himself, he doesn't need anybody else to be there to correct him. He's his own worst critic and he took that pretty personal last week and it was good to see him make a play immediately.



(on if he feels like the way they played today against the Panthers is the way it will be for the season)

Absolutely. I think that was the blueprint for how we can be successful this year. All three phases played really well. We just got to kind of follow that course and continue forward.

(on what he thought about the play calls from the fundraisers)

I thought they were great calls. It was great input and I'm glad that they worked out. The support obviously was incredible. Just for them to donate that says a lot about who they are. I thought they were pretty good playcallers as well.

(on if he minds running)

Oh no. Not at all. For me, it's fun to get out there, even in the preseason. You just kind of test the waters and just be an athlete and go out there and make plays.

(on if it means a lot for the new players to step up with so many guys out)

Yes. It's huge. Not only for this team, but I think for those guys individually. When it's a tough year, it's a long season, at some point in time several of these young guys are going to have to come up and make plays. The way that they were able to do that today and execute, it just shows that we have a lot of confidence in them and they can go out there and they can continue to do that.

(on how helpful it is to have chemistry with the other players)

Yeah, it's important. You don't really know how the season will play out in terms of your team health-wise. To be able to have a good group of young guys that are really dedicated in learning and just absorbing as much as they can, it's huge for us. It shows out on the field and they're able to make plays and do all the things we need them to do. When it comes down to it, it's big for all of us. It's a huge benefit to be able to have that depth. We're going to need that from them this year.

(on how crucial it is to convert in short yardage)

Yeah, obviously we would like to avoid those situations. We were able to convert some of them today. But at the same time we don't want to put ourselves in those situations or put us in those bad positions. A couple of them were penalties, a couple of them were negative plays, but we were able to fight through that and make plays when we needed it and we were able to convert those.

(on the fourth down calls)

Yeah, I love it. To be able to have coach show that he has confidence in you to get that first down. It feels good as a player. I know those guys up front love it. Hopefully we'll continue that throughout the year.

(on if he thinks the coaches will put more running plays in for quarterback Matt Cassel)

Yeah, why not? He was pretty nimble and pretty physical as well. We were giving him a bad time, telling him that's probably the first big hit he's taken in a few years. He's a great guy, we're lucky to have him. For him to make plays like that in the preseason was huge for us.

(on what he saw leading up to this game against the Panthers that produced the results)

Yeah, like you said, I think it's during practice. The intensity, the focus, the mentality in practice was where we wanted it to be and I think it carried over in the game. It really all starts up with those guys up front. If they're playing physical, they're playing how we expect them to play, this offense can be really good.  Week in and week out if we can continue that and just build upon what we did today.

(on how practicing against the team you will play in a game affects the performance)

I think it helps with preparation. You're familiar with the scheme. You understand certain looks. To be able to go against them in practice—especially the intensity that we were able to do it at—I think was beneficial for both teams. Today was just a result of three really good days of work. We appreciate them coming down and taking the time to get in work with us.

(on rookie tight end Jonnu Smith)

Yeah. He's a very good athlete. When he has the ball in his hand and he's running around I think he's very dynamic. He made a huge catch on third down—took a big hit but was able to hold onto it. Again, that's another young guy. Part of that group that we're going to need those types of plays from them throughout the year. To see it in the preseason is huge for us. Hopefully we can continue to build off of that.

(on if he felt like he was being tested with the auction plays)

I don't know. I loved the play calls. We may have to input week in and week out. It's obviously an awesome fundraiser, it's awesome to be able to do that and to raise the money. I thought coach (Mike) Mularkey and Jon (Robinson) were very creative with that. But again, at the same time they picked some pretty good plays and it's a lot of fun to be a part of that.

(on how he would describe the current status of the team)

I think we're at a good place. At this point in time our main focus is just getting better every day. Today was just a result of, I think, a really good week of practice. And if we can continue that, I think our offense can be very dynamic. At the same time we can't get complacent. We can't just let today's success determine how we practice and determine what goes on for the next couple of weeks as we get ready for the season. So I think with that being said, we can take what we learned today to get better and get ourselves into an even better position.

(on if he had a good feeling about today based on practice)

Yeah. What I love about this team is, day-in and day-out the intensity, the focus in practice. The focus in preparation is always there. So today was just a result, I think, of really two and a half weeks of really good camp. Obviously, we weren't able to showcase how hard we've worked the week before in New York. But to put it altogether here, at home, was huge. Again, it's something that we can build off of.

(on how the mindset changes after the defense forces a turnover)

It's a huge swing of momentum. It's a big play for us as a team. Really, you just want to capitalize on it. You want to go out there, capitalize, score some points and hope you get a jump on the other team.

(on he feels playing without rookie wide receiver Corey Davis and wide receiver Eric Decker)

I don't know. I think it says a lot about the depth we have. I think it says a lot about the guys that are in there now. Our main concern is—whoever's out there—just being the best that we can be together. Whoever steps up at receiver, we're more than willing to give him a chance and to give him the opportunity to make plays. For those young guys that have been able to step up and make plays, it's a huge opportunity for them. And I think we'll make the most of it.


(on his assessment of the Titans' defense against the Panthers)

As a whole defensive unit, I think we came out here and accomplished what we wanted to accomplish.  We were able to get turnovers, and we were able to give the ball back to our offense.  And we gave the ball back to our offense with some pretty good field position, so they were able to punch those in.  Just to get those turnovers and those points was huge for our team.  Anytime you can score on defense, or off a turnover is big, and can change the momentum of a game.

(on getting fired up for a preseason game with so many variables)

Even though it is preseason, we play with the mindset that anytime they are keeping score, you want to win.  This is the game we play and it is about 'what have you done for me lately,' so you may be a starter, but you want to go out and show anytime, that you are capable of going out there and getting the job done.


(on his performance against the Panthers, despite not practicing this week)

It's only preseason, but I'm getting a lot of reps on special teams and defense, so it's just about taking advantage and putting the best film you possibly can out there.  I didn't get to practice this week, especially when we had the joint practices, and those reps would have helped a lot.  So I made sure I was kind of locked in at practice, getting mental reps, watching extra film and going over notes.  Just making sure that mentally, I was as prepared as possible because I wasn't able to get the physical work in.


(on the recent defensive play of Titans' OLB Aaron Wallace)

I know what A-Wall (Aaron Wallace) is about.  It's nothing new. He's always been very consistent, works hard, closes his mouth shut and just comes to work each and every day to get better.  And that's a credit to him, because he has an injury he is dealing with and able to get back healthy, and come out here the past two weeks and making plays all over the field. 

(on the Titans getting a preseason win over the Panthers)

It just helps confidence-wise.  To know that we can compete with the high-level teams, go out there and make plays and do the best we can, and like I said, compete in the league.  There's a lot of great teams out here and we want to be one of them.


(on how the Titans defense preformed overall against the Panthers)

I think we did pretty well.  We came out the way we wanted to, starting fast and getting a couple of turnovers.  Our young guys came out and performed pretty well.  They came in and held the Panthers off and got the win.  As long as they keep on doing that and building on their own, we can be looking to a bright future, hopefully.


(on the preseason victory over the Panthers today)

I feel like myself and the team have gotten better every week since we've been here.  I feel like we've been working hard at practice and I was just happy to see us get the win today.

(on the pressure of trying to make the team with two preseason games left)

I feel like you've got to go out there and play your hardest.  You can't be worried about stuff that's none of your control. So you just have to go out there and play hard and put good stuff on tape, and Lord willing, everything will work out.


(on tone set by turnover)

Very much so. I think the tone was set by both turnovers and credit the Titans. They came out took the ball away twice early on, put themselves in scoring position and capitalized. You're not going to win football games when you spot your opponent 14 points. And again, kudos to them because they made the plays. But having said that, when we settled in, started making things happen (inaudible). Probably, to me, you guys probably didn't notice it but I thought one of the really good plays in this game was a four-yard run by Jonathan Stewart. It was physical football. We had great surge, great push up inside and Jonathan ran hard inside and we picked up four yards and then we went from there and scored the touchdown. That, to me, is what we've got to get back to. We've got to get back to playing physical football, but again, take nothing away from the Titans. They played a very solid football game.  

(on being disappointed in starting offense)

Very much so. As I said, you can't turn the ball over, you can't make mistakes like that. Devin (Funchess) makes a great catch, turns to get up field, he's got to make sure he's got that ball high and tight. He held it a little bit low and that's why he lost it. By the time he's got it, great, he's got to put a little bit more air under it and carry over the top of the DB. They made a great play on that, they tipped it, they intercepted it and again that's something we've got to make a better throw on that. We could've probably threw the ball underneath but we're trying to make something happen down field. 

(on miscommunication between cornerback Daryl Worley and cornerback Mike Adams on Titans' Delanie Walker's touchdown)

Well, there's some things, obviously, that happened on that play. We'll go back and take a look at it. Probably the biggest thing, it was the route combination. We were playing for something else, obviously, which led to the touchdown.

(on linebacker David Mayo's performance)

I thought David (Mayo) did a nice job. I thought he was physical to play. There are some things that happened out there that David obviously will get better at. I think the biggest thing, more so than anything else, was he was physical and that's what we're trying to get across. We've got to be a physical football team if we're going to give ourselves opportunities to win games.

(on second team defense struggling)

I wouldn't say that. I think the biggest problem, more so than anything else, was the field position to begin with initially. Again, it wasn't one continuous thing, it was a couple of big, pop plays. You've got to limit that. It is a matter of four or five big plays a game that dictates who wins or losses. When it's one big play that really amounts to something big, I don't think you can get a little bent out of shape over it. 

(on big plays by running back Christian McCaffrey and why he was drafted)

Well, that's what we're looking for. Again, as I said, what's going to get lost in this, the physical nature of what we can do. I bring up that four-yard run by Jonathan (Stewart) but on that particular play, the surge, the physicality, those are the types of things we have to be really good at.

(on what he saw in running back Christian McCaffrey's play)

Just the explosiveness. You always hold your breath when he's got the football, especially when he's got space. That's one of the things we have to do. We've got to make sure we're putting him in a position to have that kind of success. It's true for any of our players. We've got to make sure we're giving them a chance, giving them an opportunity to succeed as coaches.

(on the running back Jonathan Stewart run as a better example today than in training camp of his complimentary style to running back Christian McCaffrey)

Absolutely.  If we can be physical in nature up front and kind of dictate the defenses that we're playing and then you switch it up with Christian (McCaffrey), yeah, I think that's what you look for.  What's going to happen now is you're going to start to see things popping up to handle him and  now the other guys will get opportunities.  It should open up some other things for us.

(on defensive end Julius Peppers being active today and what went through his mind when he was chasing down Titans QB Matt Cassel)

Get him.  Julius (Peppers) is just a tremendous athlete.  He does a tremendous job of keeping himself in shape.  Just really appreciate what he does for us, you know.  He's the senior guy out there and he just plays hard and that is great.  Again, part of what we want to try and do is mix him up with Charles (Johnson) and do some different things with both those guys in there at the same time, as well.  We get a nice little mix of it. Because of the things that we didn't do on the offensive side, we put the defense out there for 22 plays in the first quarter, so we got a real good look at the combination of guys we had out there today.

(on fullback Alex Armah having a lot to learn and what the touchdown did for his confidence going forward)

Oh, I think for Alex (Armah), it's tremendous.  It's one of those things that as a young guy you're not necessarily making a position change because he did it in college but learning to do it in the NFL and then having success, it does build your confidence.  He's solid.  He works hard.  He studies.  He's a smart young man.  I think it's going to be a really good boost for him.

(on the plan this week with quarterback Cam Newton)

We're going to increase his throws.  Again, he had a real good week this week, really pleased with it.  We're going to increase the throws and make a decision as to what's going to happen Thursday night with Jacksonville.  Again, he's on target.  We're happy with it.  His workouts really have been good.

(on the short week and if quarterback Cam Newton could play on Thursday)

Not necessarily a short week for him because he didn't play.  With him, it's going to just be about how's he feeling, how's he feeling, how's he feeling and that's the biggest thing. Everything is trending up.  Everything's been positive, you know.  It's been really good.


(on the offensive line)

They were great. There were definitely a lot of big holes open for us to hit. It made our job really easy.

(on the running backs clicking on all cylinders)

We have an unbelievable group. I got lucky coming into a group like that, we all feed off of each other's energy. We want each other to succeed. That is pretty special when you have that in a group.

(on his touchdown run)

The hole was there and it was my job to make it happen from there.

(on the feeling of getting into the end zone for the first time)

It felt good, it is definitely a good feeling any time you score. Hopefully we get a lot more.

(on if he has any special plans for the touchdown ball)

I will for sure keep it, but I don't have any plans for it yet.

(on making the most out of his limited touches)

It's preseason, so it is pretty vanilla right now. But it was definitely real good getting out there and getting loose a little bit. It is also kind of a tease, because as soon as you feel like you are in a rhythm you get pulled. But that is what the preseason is for – to kind of get people ready to roll. Whenever they call me I will be ready.

(on the offense's performance as a whole)

We have a lot of really good players and a lot of talent on this offense. For us it is just about executing. It is about making plays and doing the little things right, and then they turn into big things.


(on if today's offensive performance was extra frustrating given joint practices with the Titans)

Yeah, especially since we had such a good practice on Wednesday and then we kind of fluttered a little bit on Thursday. We expected to come out here with the preseason being what it is, we expected to come out here and make the most of our first couple of drives. Obviously we need to do a lot better than we did. 

(on if he reads heavily into preseason performances)

You can't overreact to the preseason, anybody that says it doesn't matter is probably lying to themselves. It does matter. We want to play well, you can never benefit from playing poorly. The sky is not falling in the second preseason game. I think there is a balance there.

(on running back Christian McCaffrey's performance)

On his three or four touches he had some spark plays. He had three runs and his touchdown, and then the screen. Obviously he is dynamic, we have seen it. As we start moving forward and game-planning for teams, obviously he will be a part of that.


(on how much he reads into the preseason)

We take it serious. We take the preseason serious. We take a preseason game serious because sometimes that's how you are going to play during the season. That's how you build great chemistry. When guys play together as a team in the preseason, they play together well during the regular season.

(on getting over negative plays easier in the preseason than the regular season)

When it's over, you just have to forget about it and worry about the next game. But we think about it, but we put it on the backburner because we know for a fact that we have time to correct it. All of the little mishaps during the preseason, during the regular season you can't have those things.


(on how do you move forward this week)

We come in Monday and just get back to work, watch the tape. Probably come in tomorrow and watch the tape and correct the mistakes.

(on how nice is it to call a screen pass and watch running back Christian McCaffrey execute from a quarterback's perspective)

That guy, you have just got to get the ball in his hands and you know he is going to make plays for us. He did a lot of good things today. I am sure there were some good, and obviously you know there's some bad.  Correct those, and I had a couple of miscues and miscommunications. We will get it fixed definitely and come back next week. 

(on running back Christian McCaffrey's runs today)

He made some good plays, the o-line opened some holes for him. The kid is special and we just got to get the ball in his hands and let him do his thing.

(on the holes created for running back Christian McCaffrey)

There were some big ones today. He's got great vision and like I said, you just give it to him and we will see what happens. He makes plays. He's done a great job. I am sure his work load will increase as we get going, he's done a great job.

(on the offensive line's protection)

They were awesome again today, I didn't hit the ground one time. I don't know if I have gone through two preseason games in my life and not been hit, really.  They are doing a great job and I have got to be a little bit better. I tried to force one into Greg (Olsen), and one guy bats it, and unfortunately got an interception.  We did some good things and it's not – obviously didn't show up as much as we liked, but we will build on that stuff and correct the bad.

The Tennessee Titans take on the Carolina Panthers in Week 2 of the preseason on Saturday, Aug. 19, 2017 at Nissan Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones Photography, AP)

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