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QB Malik Willis


How did it feel throwing that first touchdown?

I was cool. I mean, everybody did their job. I finally stood in there for once. The O-line did a great job. Chig (Okonkwo) got open for me. Everybody else ran good routes and it just worked out so good.

Did you feel a lot more comfortable in the scheme? It seemed that way for most of us.

Well, I felt a little bit more comfortable. But it's not about feeling comfortable. It's about making it a big point to stay in the pocket when I can. And not just because I'm athletic or I can get out when I want to, just to get out sometimes. And it is understanding when not to. And that's the biggest thing. That's why I'm a little disappointed in myself for, I think I got out a little bit too much. But it's a growing process. It's my second preseason game. I'm not going to be too hard on myself in that regard. So, I'm just excited and blessed that I get opportunity next week. 

Do you feel like you've made progress in that regard Malik in terms you know, getting the ball out quickly and passing it from the pocket or over is about the same as in Week One?

I think thinking about it is a little bit better than Week One. I got a few checkdowns that I got and I stayed in there and just got it out quickly, but not by much. I think this is something I just need to focus on and continue to just find that in between from when I need to play, make a play, don't just climb in the pocket and help my O-line out. 

And the big run where you did get free, were you surprised to get around the corner as it as you did?

I don't know if I was surprised and I kind of was just in the moment. I've kind like – there we go. But it's not even about that part. It's like those are going to happen naturally so it's about not trying to make them happen. When I have a clean pocket – and that's the whole issue, and I wouldn't say the issue is a whole balance thing, we're trying to find the balance. When I have a clean pocket, when people are open downfield, I need to make that throw. I need to stay in there and do whatever I need to do in order to just not ask so much of protection and also save my body more than anything. And those times when I did, I do need to make a play when nobody's open, when there's pressure in the pocket and it's right now and just being able to react. It's just finding the balance between those two.

What was it like playing here (Nissan Stadium) for the first time?

It was cool. We played here in 2018 when I was at Auburn still, played in the Music City Bowl, we played Purdue. I got in a couple of series, but it was cool to play like an actual game here, so I was excited, definitely blessed.

Maybe what is next, you got one more preseason game, what would you like to do the kind of better camp with momentum?

At this point, I just wake up every day and thank God that I get to do what I do. I'm just super excited to go to work tomorrow. Go workout and watch the film, correct it. I'll probably watch it tonight, but I get to watch it with Coach (Vrabel) tomorrow morning. We can talk about the good, the bad, and it's just focusing on how we can fix it. It's over with now. It's in the books. 

When you watch the film tonight, how critical are you of yourself typically?

I'm probably a little bit more critical than my coaches, but they always balance me out. So I'm not overly critical because at the end of the day, nobody's perfect. Everybody's going to make mistakes. And especially being young, they try to help me see the glass half full.

You had the incompletion to Dez (Fitzpatrick) when you were deep in your own territory, is it the kind of thing that you would like to do with your legs, get out of harm's way, still get the ball downfield, pick it up?

When I am on the move that is what I'm trying to do, but sometimes the receivers or the running backs may not know what I might be doing. They might think I'm running, they might think I am – and it's such a split decision where nobody's turning around looking at me and people already started blocking and I've got to go. But it's just getting to know each other. That's what the preseason is for and I feel like those plays are helpful. But like I said, I do want to focus on continuing to play from the pocket and just helping everybody else out.

The side arm throws. Is there an instant in your mind and you say, 'I need to drop down here' or is it more it just kind of happens naturally, you think?

It just happens naturally. It's about getting the ball from point A to point B without anybody in between messing with it. 

And with the ball coming out more quickly than last week, is that something that you entered this game saying, 'Hey, I got to get rid of it quicker,' because last week it was almost four seconds or something like that?

No, it was just me trying to, 'No, no. yes.' And just going through these progressions, not the whole like, 'He might get open,' or, 'What coverage is this? It's cover two. So, he might get open right here and then I can take it and just go ahead and check it down.' That's what it's about. Just go ahead and get the ball out. And it's about just the repetition and keep doing it. And like I said, it's me sitting in the pocket. That's what it all comes back down to. Like on the first drive or second drive, I had Hoop (Austin Hooper) coming across after he chipped shallow, and I've just got to hit that. And even the one I missed to Kyle (Philips), I should have put it a little bit higher. I was trying to bring it back down and not sail. I didn't like that sail because there's corners and he's trying to push out underneath. I knew I could make a good throw, but I didn't make a good throw on that play. Just coming back down to my left, shallow, coming from the back side. 

That first play to play action, quick pass there, very similar to the one in Baltimore, did Coach (Mike) Vrabel says anything about throwing it somewhere else?

No, he was just like, 'Don't worry about being perfect,' because that's what I was doing. 'Don't worry about being perfect, just go out there and let it rip and have fun. You've been blessed with a lot of ability, so just go have fun and continue to learn. Asl Ryan (Tannehill) and Logan (Woodside) these questions and ask the coaches these questions and just stay listening.'

How much fun was it tonight?

It's always fun when we get to play football, really. It's always fun.

Derrick Henry come over like late in the first quarter when you guys were getting ready to go back out on the field. He looked like he was pumping you up or something. What was he telling you there?

Yeah, he's trying to turn us up. We had a couple penalties, we had a couple operational issues. We had a couple of things that just weren't going our way, a couple of three-and-outs and he was just trying to get us to give us some energy. And that's what it's about. When you have a little lulls in the game, it's about just being consistent. And that's what happened with help from playing from the pocket, just being consistent, just completion, completion, completion, first-down completion, first-down completion. You're stacking those completions, stacking those first downs, and that's how you gain momentum more or less than just hitting a big play.

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