TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE - January 13, 2018
MM: Ok, I'll give you an update on our injuries. Jonnu [Smith] and Jack [Conklin], both with knees. I'll know the extent of that more when we get back to Nashville. Marcus [Mariota] with that sprained quad and [Karl] Klug returned from a concussion.
Q: When did Marcus do his quad?
MM: In the first quarter.
Q: How much did it hamper him and factor into things, do you think?
MM: It had an impact, obviously. Had to get out of some of scheme that we had with him. With our zone scheme.
Q: Was it something that he did running?
Q: Did you get an explanation of the reversed encroachment?
MM: No, at that point, I got tired of the explanations I was getting. So no, I did not.
Q: How much of a momentum change or how big was the sequence of that?
MM: There was more than that one. There was many things that changed that. But obviously they went down and scored a touchdown. And so, I would say it was pretty big.
Q: Young team, what do you think these guys take out of this experience?
MM: A really good experience. They get a little taste of what it is to be in big games against really good football teams. And you know, I have said it before, I have said it all week—you can't make mistakes against a really good football team. They are waiting on you to do it and we accommodated them with a lot of mistakes offensively and then we couldn't get off the field defensively. But it was a good experience, we had a lot of young guys playing in a really big game and it will go a long way for them.
Q: Did you get an explanation from the refs on the [Eric] Decker OPI call?
MM: That one, I won't even talk about. That one goes down in history.
Q: If you take the calls out of it, do you think measure up to them?
MM: Not if you don't play better than we did. I'll never blame officiating for costing us. You know, we got to play better. There is no question about it.
Q: Late in the first half you ran, were you thinking convert and then spike?
MM: Yeah, we were going to clock it. Yeah, we were going to clock it.
Q: The pass rush on both sides seem to be a big story, they got you eight times and you couldn't get Brady off of his spot…
MM: No, they did a great job with their line games. We struggled to pick them up. And again, Marcus was hampered there, so it was tough for him to get away like he had earlier in these last couple games. That's their passing game, quick passing game. Get the ball out of his hands. We were close a couple times. You know, we couldn't get off the field. I don't know what his completion percentage was, but I am assuming it was pretty high.
Q: You guys did a pretty decent job early taking [Rob] Gronkowski away, but it seemed like they burned you a lot with dumping down to the backs and things like that.
MM: That's their offense. They operated their offense like they have all year.
Q: You guys started off OK offensively, scored that first touchdown, then it just kind of leveled off. What do you attribute that to?
MM: First and 15 [yards], every time we turned around. Kind of hard to get in a rhythm when you are trying to get 15 yards for a first down. That had a huge impact on us, obviously, moving the football.
Q: Was Corey Davis' play encouraging?
MM: Wow, yeah, it was great to see him do that. That was great for him, to have that experience and to have that production in a game like this.
Q: How much will that help him going into the off-season and into next season?
MM: Can't hurt.
Q: What does this tell you about how you measure up against the defending Super Bowl champs and number one seed?
MM: Pretty much what I said, that they don't make a lot of mistakes. That's why they have been successful all of these years. You can't go in there and beat yourself. I'd like to see if we play a real, a complete game where we measure up, but it's hard for me to do that, since we didn't.
Q: Tough performance from Derrick Henry, after setting a franchise record a week ago. What does he need to do better or differently to have some success?
MM: Let me look at the film before I start making comments about that.
Q: Mike, what do you tell the team in the locker room after a game like that?
MM: I'm going to keep that amongst us. I am just very proud of them. Very proud, there were a lot of good things we did this year. Probably won't hear about it, but they did. They did a lot of good things and I hate for it to come to an end. I did say that. It was a good story being written and I'm sorry that it had to end like it did.
Q: Mike, is frustrating an apt word to use when facing the Patriots? If so, why?
MM: No, you know again, a very disciplined football team. It's not frustrating, it's just, this is the way you got to play. You know going in, if you don't, then your success rate is not real high. So, we knew that going in. You know, we've got to be better.
Q: What did the Patriots start to do to change the momentum in the second quarter after they had fallen behind 7-0?
MM: Well, the execution of their passing game was a quick game. They were doing a good job getting it down to the backs, slot receivers and just high percentage throws. I mean, you saw some of the plays that Brady made. Pretty tough to defend when he makes some throws like that.
Q: Aside from tonight, how much did injuries slow Marcus down this year?
MM: Again, normal wear and tear of a season. And when there are injuries with your quarterback, you got to be smart with them. You need them every week and Marcus played through a lot of bangs and bumps. I appreciate his… I mean, he's a tough quarterback, he is very tough. But you know, obviously, it did affect us.
Q: What was going on with the offensive line giving up as many sacks as you did?
MM: Well I'd say, not good enough in execution. You know, did a lot of line stunts a lot of games, things we've worked and they've worked, and they've handled. We didn't do a good job tonight.
Q: Mike, excited about the future of where this team is?
MM: Yeah, I am. Yeah, I do. I like where we are. I liked the prep, for us, going into this game. Disappointed that we didn't play better because I thought we were ready to play. And they were, they were prepared to play. Disappointed for them, that we couldn't make a better game.
TITANS QUARTERBACK MARCUS MARIOTA
POSTGAME PRESS CONFERENCE
January 13, 2018
Q: Coach Mularkey said you had a quad injury in the first quarter.
MM: Everybody played with something.
Q: Do you remember the play that you hurt it on?
MM: I'm not sure.
Q: What are you feeling like right now?
MM: Embarrassed. You don't play to come and lose in the Divisional Playoff . You play to go win the whole thing and we just didn't execute and didn't make plays, they did and they're moving on.
Q: What can you take from this moving forward into the offseason?
MM: Hopefully people use this as motivation. Yeah, it's nice to be in the playoffs, but again, you don't play to just get in especially coming into the Divisional Playoff and losing the way that we did.
Q: What does this performance tell you about where the team is and what you need to work on to improve?
MM: I think we have a lot of areas to improve. I think throughout this entire season we didn't play a complete game of football. One phase plays well and the other one doesn't and again tonight we just didn't make enough plays.
Q: How much does a game like this help Corey Davis? How well did he play tonight and how much did it help him?
MM: He played well. He made a bunch of big plays. That first play was an unbelievable catch. That's what we expect out of him and he has that ability to make those plays game in and game out.
Q: How did they manage to turn up pressure in the second half and how hard was it to get away from some of that?
MM: They did a good job. They had a guy spying me throughout the game trying to keep me within the pocket and you've got to give a lot of credit to them. They covered well and I just wasn't able to get the ball out.
Q: You lost to a good team. How much does it show you of how this team needs to improve moving forward to get to that level?
MM: Obviously this is the blueprint. New England has been in the playoffs consistently. They've won a bunch of championships and we can learn a lot from this and I think we will. Q: On that 95-yard drive to take a 7-0 lead, was that in anyway a confidence builder at some point knowing you can go down the field and score?
MM: Yeah. It felt like the momentum was on our side and again, you've got to give a lot of credit to them. They're a team that's been here before and under situations they didn't blink an eye. They just stuck to their game plan and it worked out for them.
Q: Did your game plan change once you tweaked the quad?
MM: I wouldn't say that.
*Q: Is it frustrating for you to get that early lead and then watch the Patriots come back and you guys never getting your momentum back after? *
MM: Yeah. I would say it's frustrating. It's a tough way to lose. Again, you've got to give credit to them. They've consistently been that type of team throughout and I'm sure they'll make a run at it.
Q: Coach was saying that this loss went way beyond multiple questionable calls by refs, but still what kind of role did that play in losing some momentum?
MM: You've got to play with it no matter what. You can't allow those things to change the outcome of the game and you've got to focus on your job and let them do theirs.
Q: Why weren't you able to put together a full game this season?
MM: That's a great question and we've got a lot of time to reflect on that. At a first glance I'm not sure, but again, hopefully we can correct that and just get every phase playing at the best that it can.
Q: What changes do you think are needed to be better next season?
MM: On offense, I think it starts on third down. We can't get in a rhythm when you're not converting third downs. Especially in the red zone, if you're not efficient down there it's tough to win these games. I think for us that's probably where I'd start and look at how we can improve those areas and from there see what else we can do.
Q: How soon do you start preparing for 2018?
MM: I'll take a breath. It's been a long year just with rehab and recovery and all that stuff. So, I'll just kind of take some time. Knowing me I won't be away from it too long.
Q: I'm sure this will go through your mind later, but this will be a different team next year. A lot of these guys you played with today you played with for the last time.
MM: Yeah. That's the tough part. That's the nature of this business and I think that's probably what hurts the most. I think this team was one of the closest teams I've ever been a part of and it's not going to be the same. That's how it happens. I think we have a great core group of guys that understand what it takes to get to these games to hopefully get to the Super Bowl. I think with that being said, yeah, it's tough. It's going to be disappointing once things happen that way.
Q: You touched on it, but how do you think you guys measure up overall against this team that's a standard setter?
MM: For me personally, I think we can play with any team in the league, but you can't hurt yourself. At times, today we had some bad penalties and didn't convert third downs again and when you're playing a good team like New England it's tough to get in a hole and fight your way out, so with that being said, I have all the confidence in the world in my teammates and their abilities. I think they've played well all year and we can play with anybody.
Q: Do you consider this a successful season despite what happened tonight?
MM: You're probably going to have to ask me that later. I'm not ready for that.
Q: Leading into the game there was news coming out of your homeland about that bomb threat. Did you have to deal with anything with your family or anything?
MM: Not really. Obviously, it was a scare, but everyone is good back home. It kind of came and went.
Q: Did you hear about that throughout the day?
MM: Yeah. Just getting text messages – all my family – my brother, my mom and my dad are here in town, so they're obviously getting phone calls and what not. Once we found out that it was okay, I moved back onto my focus of the game.
Q: How much do you marvel of what Tom Brady can do at his age?
MM: Yeah. He's special for sure. He made a bunch of plays and he's done it at a high level for quite some time.
I think being a young guy you can learn a lot from him just to see what he continues to do. How he takes care of his body and all those different things. You can learn a lot from that guy and obviously for me I'd like to be at that level and hopefully compete and play at that level.
Q: How would you grade your year three and your development?
MM: You'll probably have to ask me that later. At a first glance, it was OK. We won some games and I didn't play at the level that I wanted to throughout the year, but that happens and I've got to learn from it and grow from it and I will.
Q: What did you like about this season? What can you build off of?
MM: I think obviously getting into the playoffs was huge. We won a bunch of games that were close whether it was taking a last-minute drive to score and whatnot I think when you're able to get into those tough situations and guys continue to make plays and we're able to win like that, that just kind of creates that foundation that hopefully you can build off of for years to come.
(On Tom Brady)
"We didn't play well enough to give our offense a chance. We were giving up too much especially on early downs. Looking at the stats, they had over 20 first downs and I know it wasn't all on third down. He definitely outplayed us today."
(On his play against Rob Gronkowski)
"He's tough because he's a physical receiver, especially at the top of his routes. You try to be physical with him, but you turn around and the ball is already in his chest because [Tom] Brady is throwing missiles. Definitely a great challenge and I feel like every time he caught the ball it was contested."
(On how frustrating it was to keep giving up long drives)
"It's tough. On one of those drives, we got a quick three-and-out but got a penalty to give them a first down and they drove all the way down and scored. That was a big drive for the game, I feel like it was a momentum shift. It's frustrating, but at the same time you have to keep fighting and playing. At the end of the day, they outplayed us today."
DT Jurell Casey
(On Tom Brady)
"We tried to put as much pressure as we could on him. He's a great quarterback. He made some plays that you wouldn't have expected him to make and he did it. He was able to nickel and dime us all the way down the field and get in situations to put points on the board and we couldn't stop him."
(On how he thinks the defense did this year)
"We did a great job defensively. It sucks we didn't finish the way we wanted to finish, but I think we had a heck of a season. We have a lot we can still improve on. We know we can be a top 3 defense if we continue to improve and clean up the mistakes."
(On the finality of this game)
"It's very tough, especially when you are this close. We are going to use this for motivation going into next year."
(On the defense getting better for next year)
"It can be a lot better, you just got to think about the young guys and the free agents to come into a brand new defense, and executing it as well as we did now. There is no telling how well we can do next year. At the end of the day we are going to have to put the work in to be good next year."
(On the outlook for next season)
"The only thing you can think about is what you can control. That's the only thing that can keep your mind at ease. Just continue trying to be the person you as far as putting in the work, and just pray that everything will happen as it should."
(On the Patriots offense)
"You know what a lot of credit to them, they did a good job. I can tell you that we didn't execute on the places that we should. We could have done a lot better in the red zone."
WR Corey Davis
(On his first career touchdown)
"Marcus threw a great ball. It's a play we practice over and over and it was about time we hit it."
(On knowing there is no game next week)
"It's really tough. We don't take anything for granted. These veterans paved the way and I'm extremely grateful to them. We got a taste of what it's like and we have to work this offseason to make it even further."
(On what happened after the fast start)
"Self-inflicted mistakes. You can't afford to do that against a team like that."
CB Adoree' Jackson
(On the kickoff return game)
"We just went out there and we were playing ball. There was nothing different and nothing new. It was kind of rough but we were just out there trying to make plays."
(On when the game got away)
"When the defense couldn't get off the field on third down. Those two drives that they went 90 yards plus? That didn't help us at all. They were just out there making plays, more plays than we did. On those third downs we couldn't get off the field and that is what hurt us. I am eager. There were plays out there I wish I could have had. Now it is about the off-season."* *
RB Derrick Henry
(On the offense)
"We got off to a great start; I thought we shot ourselves in the foot on offense. Not executing and not playing well."
(On the getting to be like the Patriots franchise)
"I feel like we still have some work to do. They have been doing this for a long time and had a lot of success. We'll try to build off this momentum. We know what it takes to get here, so we'll take this off season to work hard and get back here."
DL Karl Klug
(On the Patriots and Tom Brady)
"They definitely executed tonight, pretty much in every phase, they made a lot more plays than we did. Everyone knows that he [Tom Brady] is good, everyone knows what he is capable of. Unfortunately we weren't able to hold him. It was frustrating."
(On the frustration)
"You just have to have a short memory for every drive. When you get off the field, and things didn't go so well, you have to have a short memory and move on to the next one. They were rolling."
(On the team)
"We set our goal at the beginning of the season to get deep into the playoffs. We obviously didn't get where we wanted to be, but you have to find the positives too I guess. Winning the Wild Card, that's something to be proud of, but that's not where you want to end right now."
(On the game)
"They [the Patriots] just came out and ran their offense. They are a well-oiled machine. They didn't make mistakes, we did. They made plays, we didn't."
(On Tom Brady)
"He is their offense. As he goes, the team goes. You have to give him all the credit in the world. He is a great competitor and a great player and I have a lot of respect for him."
(On the season)
"It's bittersweet. When you come off of the high of last week you have all of these hopes and aspirations. Then you come out here and you lose like we did, it is a slap in the face. We did accomplish a lot. We hadn't been this far in the playoffs since 2003. I think we are taking steps in the right direction as a franchise. I didn't think we played to our full potential [tonight]. They made more plays than us, in all phases of the game."
LB Brian Orakpo
(On what the Patriots did against them)
"They schemed us as far as what we like to do. They did some things to our disadvantage, especially in the second half."
(On how disappointing it was they didn't pressure Tom Brady)
"It was disappointing. They did a lot of things schematically to do that. They did a tremendous job just moving the ball. Like I said, they are a great team. We had a hell of a season but we just ran into a good team. They are a sound team and they don't make many mistakes."
(On if they can build off this year)
"Definitely. This team has come so far. We used to be the armpit of the NFL. We've come a long way and have accomplished a lot of goals. A lot of teams that can't even win a playoff game and we did that last week. I'm just so proud of this team and there is definitely something to build on moving forward."
CB Logan Ryan
(On the game)
"You know, they were well-rested. They came out there and did what they do. We endured it a little bit in the first quarter, but we couldn't really get them off track. Defensively, we'll take the blame, but we're not going to hang our heads. We left it all out there and there's nothing to be ashamed of."
(On the defense)
"It's a new identity here. It's a defense that wasn't afraid to put the team on their back at times and win games on defense at times. It's something new here, but it's something to continue to build on."
(On playing against his old team)
"It's a business. I'm not the first player to play against his former team, but it was fun. I was comfortable out there. I was talking a lot of trash and they were talking a lot of trash to me. It was a battle out there. [Tom] Brady got me a couple of times, but I got him some. That's the game within the game. He's the GOAT and I firmly believe that. He loves the big stage and he came out and performed well."
(On the loss of Jack Conklin)
"It didn't hurt the offensive line because we always know the next man up gets in. Dennis [Kelly] did a great job filling in for Jack."
(On the game and the season)
"We didn't do what we came here to do which was to out play them. You have got to give credit to New England. They are a great team. They just played well. They controlled the tempo. It was a great season. A lot of people didn't count on us but we checked off a lot of boxes and we made it this far. So all we can do is get better. It should be great going forward."
(On the loss)
"When you're playing a team like that, you can't have penalties, you can't have mistakes. If you don't capitalize on our defense stopping them, and we go out there three and out, obviously you get a game like we had today."
(On the energy level after the first scoring drive)
"We came out, had the energy, moved the ball down the field, and made some plays. I really don't know what stopped us. I thought we were moving smoothly down the field, and basically doing what we wanted to do."
(On the season)
"I'm just proud of all the guys in this locker room. The way they handled everything and we got this far. Nobody thought we would get this far, and we did. I'm just glad I got to play with these guys and we'll be back."
The Tennessee Titans take on the New England Patriots in an AFC Divisional Playoff game on Saturday, Jan. 13, 2018 at Gillette Stadium. (Photos: Donn Jones, AP)