NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans interim coach Mike Mularkey addressed reporters today to discuss the team's 24-21 loss to the Raiders, and to also look ahead to this Sunday's game against the Jaguars.
Here's a look at seven topics from the presser (not counting Mularkey's comments about his conversation with the NFL about the last-minute penalty, which can be found in another post):
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota set the franchise record for passing yards as a rookie on Sunday.
Mariota now has 2,244 passing yards with 16 touchdowns and eight interceptions on the season, with a passer rating of 92.8.
Mularkey said Mariota is "on track for what we expected of him" during his rookie season.
"He has seen a lot of different defenses, different looks, different blitzes, different people coming after him,'' Mularkey said of Mariota. "He has seen a lot and I think he has progressed very well."
The Titans are 2-7 in Mariota's nine starts. Mariota said on Sunday he plans to do whatever he can do to improve, and help the team get more wins.
"His approach is very professional, it always is,'' Mularkey said. "He doesn't flinch very much about a lot of things. I don't see him doing anything but trying to come in and do something better."
The Titans just faced the Jaguars on November 19, when the team lost 19-13 at Jacksonville.
Now, the Jaguars visit Nissan Stadium.
Mularkey said he's looking forward to seeing how Mariota handles facing a team for the second time. The Titans face the Texans and Colts for the second time in the final two weeks of the season.
The Jaguars lost 31-25 to the Chargers on Sunday to drop to 4-7.
"It is kind of nice that you are playing that same opponent two weeks later because there's enough familiarity,'' Mularkey said. "Plus, they are not real complicated as far as scheme-wise (on defense), of course they have their blitz packages. I think it's good the game is this close for everybody, not just Marcus. It will be good to see how he reacts to playing the same team two times in three weeks."
Spain review, and what's ahead
Rookie Quinton Spain started his first NFL game on Sunday, and Mularkey said he held up well.
"I was pretty pleased,'' Mularkey said. "He could be better with his hands, but I thought he played about as physical as you can play for your first start. He did some good things."
Mularkey indicated Spain will remain the starter this week. Jeremiah Poutasi was inactive on Sunday for the first time this season, and right now there's no plan to get him into the lineup any time soon. Mularkey said Jamon Meredith was active instead of Poutasi because he's played every position on the offensive line in NFL games.
"It is important to keep a line together and work together, and that one was fine yesterday,'' Mularkey said. "We are going to continue with it. … We are not down on Jeremiah. We are just trying another rotation to see if we can shore of a line that can get our running game going, No.1, and keep this quarterback upright for the remaining five games."
The Titans aired it out on Sunday, as Mariota threw a number of deep balls downfield.
But the longest completion was to tight end Delanie Walker for 36 yards, and a big chunk of those yards came after catch. Deep balls to Dorial Green-Beckham and Kendall Wright fell incomplete, however.
"We had chances, Marcus is giving these guys chances,'' Mularkey said. "But we're not making the plays. … It's the go routes outside that it just feels like we're getting hit on them, and we're not hitting them. We have to make a play on those plays, because (Marcus) is giving us a chance to make them."
Mularkey said the receivers need to have the mentality of, "it's your ball. Go get it."
"The point here this morning (in meetings) is we are not asking them to do anything more than their job,'' Mularkey said. "We are not looking for Odell Beckham catches, we are just looking for catches. The great catches don't have to be great if we can make some of the catches we're seeing on the other sidelines."
On Marcus Mariota two interceptions
Mularkey said Green-Beckham did the right thing on Mariota's second INT, which ended the contest. Wright should've continued his route to avoid having the ball picked off, but a collision kept him from getting there.
"Kendall can't stop on the contact, he has to avoid the contact,'' Mularkey said. "Whether he is running full speed or avoids it, whether we know he is going to be there or not, that's where he should have been."
Mariota was at fault on the first interception.
Wanting to win
On Sunday in the locker room, Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard said players are upset because they haven't been able to reward Mularkey with more wins.
On Monday, Mularkey said he wants to win just as badly for the players. The Titans are 1-3 in the four games since Mularkey replaced Ken Whisenhunt.
"This has been my third time at this job, and I can say I don't know if I've ever wanted to win more for a team than I have this one, for the way they fight every game, for the way they prepare every week,'' Mularkey said. "I want them to win badly, because then we are rewarded for that. That's why we do this business, that's why we coach. Because when they are successful, that's our reward."
Linebacker Derrick Morgan missed Sunday's game with a shoulder injury, but he could return on Sunday against the Jaguars, Mularkey said.
Running back Dexter McCluster (knee) is expected to begin running this week, and is getting closer to a return. The same goes for defensive lineman Al Woods (ankle), who has missed the last two games. Mularkey complimented defensive lineman Sammie Hill for his play in place of Woods while playing with a sore knee