Titans-Steelers Postgame Quotes



(on if he planned to play quarterback Marcus Mariota that little)

We want to make sure that we can protect our quarterback, and that's important. That's imperative that we do that as a staff and as an offensive group.

(on if he wanted to play quarterback Marcus Mariota longer than that)

No. I think I wanted to see how the game was going and at that point I thought it was in the team's best interest, and everybody's best interest, that we get him out of the game at that point in time.

(on where he thinks the team got into trouble protecting the quarterback)

We knew coming in that that was a strength of their football team. There's keys to the game, which there are every week, being able to block the front. Give them credit in what they did and we have to, you know, make sure I do a better job of making sure they are ready to go and find ways to protect the pressure, the front, and all of those types of things.

(on if there's one issue in particular he can identify as going wrong with protection)

Well, I think late there they were blitzing us up pretty good. They were trying to get going with Logan (Woodside) in the two-minute drive. They made a decision to blitz and we didn't pick them up quick enough and really get the ball out of our hand.

(on if there are any concerns if this is quarterback Marcus Mariota's last preseason game before going into the season)

No. I've seen a lot of good stuff. I've seen a lot of good stuff in practice, I saw a lot of good stuff when we practiced against the Patriots. And again, I just made a decision that I felt like was in the best interest of the team at that point in time.

(on if hearing about other teams' player injuries during preseason games deters him from playing his star players)

We talk to the team, and in light of what Andrew (Luck) did last night, that to play this game you have to be all in and you have to be willing to live with the good and the bad that comes with this game, and part of this game -a big part- is injuries. We try to do what's best for the team and if that's 12 snaps or six snaps or 18 snaps, we're just trying to move on to the next week and get ready for Chicago.

(on if he considered playing running back Derrick Henry today)

We handle all of those things on a case-by-case basis. I felt like he was coming back, had a good week of practice, got some work in pads, and we'll continue to get him some work as we move forward. I mean, did I consider it? I considered pretty much everything that I possibly can.

(on what he thought when he learned the news about Colts quarterback Andrew Luck last night)

Really just kind of focused on trying to improve this team right now. Again, I just made reference, it could have been any player that decided to retire because of those reasons and sometimes in this league, a lot of times in this league, the grind kind of gets to you, whether that's in your 15th year, your eighth year, or your second year. I think just making sure that everybody is all in, coaching wise and player wise, ready to go.

(on if the weather dictated anything in the game)

Weather plays a lot of factors. With the game plan and what we try to do, I wouldn't say it had a big deal to do with that. I felt like we needed to take advantage of playing in the rain. We used that to our advantage last year in a game that had some heavy rain that we took care of the football and the other team didn't and we were able to win. That was my message, to use this night with the rain as an opportunity to handle the football and see if we can draw on it later in the season.

(on if he thought running back Jeremy McNichols had a decent night)

He's continuing to progress. Sometimes when there's light here, we block it well, we expect those guys to take advantage of it. Count the guys, Pittsburgh was nice enough to have 10 guys on the field on that one. We'll take it any way we can get it.

(on if running back Jeremy McNichols is doing some things on special teams)

He is, he's active and involved with special teams. That's what we're asking everyone to do, to be involved in special teams and be dialed in. Kevin Byard is our personal protector, and Logan (Ryan) and Malcolm (Butler) are heavily involved in the punt return phase. We're going to need everybody.

(on the decision making by cornerback Adoree' Jackson on punt returns)

I think we wanted to see Adoree' tonight. We'd seen HUMPH (Adam Humphries) earlier in the preseason, and I thought going back to Philadelphia early on, when Adoree' caught the ball at the five yard line and he felt confident to be able to put his foot in the ground and gain 10 or 11 yards and get us up to the 16. I think punters have gotten so good in this league that it's not a give-me that if the ball is caught on the five yard line that it's going to be entered in as a touchback. With all of our players we want to make sure they are making good decisions, but most importantly they have to play this game aggressive, but also not reckless. We'll continue to give him some work back there, I feel like he's had good work in practice and I'll imagine you'll see both him and Humph going forward.

(on if cornerback Adoree' Jackson was aggressive on the one he let bounce)

We have to be able to try to get back up, those are hidden yards, we call those hidden yardage. We want to be able to get up. Sometimes we play it on the first bounce. Maybe the weather had a factor in that. If you can't get to the football, we're going to play it on the first bounce. If we don't get the bounce we want, we're going to have to do a better job of catching the football. You kind of make a decision to go get, if you don't make the decision then you try to play it on the first hop that sometimes you get and then you can kind of stick with the return. We'll keep coaching it up.

(on what this week will look like with another preseason game in four days)

We'll be in there at 12 o'clock tomorrow trying to improve and get better, and we'll fly out on Wednesday.

(on how much he thought about going for it on the first field goal)

Even on the second one, we've got a kicker that's coming off of PUP. We're running out of opportunities before the regular season. Probably would of had to go for it down there on the second one. The way it's come out with Ryan (Succop), where he's at now in the third preseason game, we just needed to get him kicking. There was a plan, we would of liked to had him kicking a few more times and some extra points, but that obviously didn't happen. I needed to make a decision to give him some work in a game, and again, being able to snap and hold in a game with wet footballs, those were all part of the process.

(on if he can pull anything positive from tonight)

I thought the second half effort, I thought that those guys that went in there- again, it wasn't perfect. We started out well on defense. Third down was, when we could get them in third down, I thought that was something. We just need to be able to coach consistently throughout the roster. I have to do a much better job of making sure what the twos and threes hear is the same thing that everybody else is hearing and there's not the drop-off. We have expectations and we have to do a better job of making sure those groups understand those.

(on if that's a concern for him right now)

No, not a concern. I'm not much of a worrier or concerned person, but there's going to be some good efforts. I saw the tackling improved in the second half, the tackling to end the first half I didn't think was very good. It was good to see Amani (Hooker) come up with an interception. It's never as bad as you think and it's never as good as you think. There's going to be guys that have good efforts and I think Jack (Conklin) continues to progress and I'm really excited where he's at and we'll keep moving forward.


(on how frustrating it was to have his night end short)

Yeah, not the way we wanted to come out and play. A lot to learn from but at the same time just got to continue to build. Can't hang our heads. We've just got to learn from it and move on.

(on planning to play longer and what was said to him when he was out of the game)

They just said that they're going to go with Ryan (Tannenhill). I was prepared to play and whatever the coaches wanted to do, I followed.

(on tonight possibly being the last time seeing the offense during the preseason and his assessment)

We need better consistency but at the same time, you know, obviously, it's a process. It's one of those deals we can learn from. Not the way we wanted to finish the preseason, if it is the last series or two but at the same time, there is a lot of good things over the training camp and the month leading up to the regular season. We've just got to build off of it and get ready for week one.

(on if the media is making too big a deal about this time of year)

Well, I think that's your guys' job. (laughs) Quite frankly for us, we are focused on just trying to get better every day. No matter what, it's a constant improvement. Mistakes are going to happen, we understand that. Let's not continue to make the same mistakes. Let's just learn from them and grow. I think that's what we've done in a month.

(on his reaction to Andrew Luck's decision)

I think I'm just like everyone else, surprised. With my interactions with Andrew (Luck) and you know, over the last few years, he's such a great guy off the field. Obviously, he's a great player. I just… the interactions, just how nice he was to me as a young guy. I wish him nothing but the best. That's got to be a hard decision but he seems at peace with it. For us guys that are playing, it's what we want. You want guys to be able to go out on their own terms. I wish him the best.

(on his own frustrations with injuries over the years)

Well, everyone's journey is a little different. Last year actually, he took the opportunity after the game, the last regular season game, to come up to me and talk to me after the game. For me as a young player that meant a lot. He kind of told me to keep fighting through it, that it is a journey but not to worry about the ups and the downs, just learn from it. Get healthy as quickly as possible. For a guy who just got in, who just beat us to get into the playoffs, for him to take time and to say that to me, meant the world. For me, I'm happy for him. It seems like he's in a good place. Again, I have nothing but good things to say about him and I wish him all the best.

(on the change in A.J. Brown from one week to the next)

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. For us quarterbacks, it's good to see him in the right spots. For a young guy transitioning from college, it's never easy to pick up the offense. He's done a good job of being where we want him to be. He's made some plays. I think he's got something to build on.

(on the progress he feels the offense has made from the start of camp to today)

I think obviously tonight was not the way that we wanted to go out but at the same time I think we've done a lot of good things. Coach (Mike) Vrabel and who else can talk about it can say that it's a process. For us, we're not going to hang our head or anything like that. We're just going to improve and learn from our mistakes.


(on what he thought the issues on the offensive line were tonight)

I'm not quite sure because I haven't seen the tape yet. We have just got to get consistent, everyone doing their job at the same time and get in the ebb and flow in our running game, our passing game, and our protection. The good thing is this is a preseason game so you can get it fixed.

(on if he was concerned with the breakdown in pass protection)

Once again, I am going to have to look at the tape to know for sure. Like I said, we have got time to fix it. That's the route I am taking, especially with all the young guys. You don't want to get too discouraged.

(on what happened on the safety)

It was twist and we got picked, I got picked from the right side, and that was what happened on the play.


(on Pittsburgh's pressure in the backfield)

You know as a whole, we'll just have to look at it on the film, obviously I don't know. On the one that I got beat, I just did a really bad set. It's fixable.

(on if he looks at protection as something that can be ironed out)

Yeah, obviously I haven't seen the film so I don't know where the issue lies, but that's not something we want. We've done (it well) in practice, so we'll just translate it to the game.


(on if he is disappointed in the performance in what is regarded as a dress rehearsal game)

Definitely, I mean you want to come out strong, you want to come out fast and have a good game three. It's regarded as the showcase game of the preseason. We didn't do that today. We've got to come better than this and play better.


(on how the team came out and performed tonight)

It wasn't clean enough, we didn't come out and move the ball effectively. Obviously, it was sloppy, wasn't clean enough, not how we expected to come out and play, so definitely a lot to learn from this tape and stuff to work on as we get ready next week.

(on if he can pinpoint anything to attribute to the sloppy play)

I will have to go back and look at the tape. It looked like guys were ready to play. In the huddle guys were focused and ready to go. We could never get some momentum. We could never put a drive together and really get it going.

(on if too much can be made out of preseason games when things don't go well)

At the end of the day, this is a very intense practice for us. We are still working on some things specifically we want to work into the game plan. You know, I think certain situations in the game, if it was a real game, would be handled a little bit differently. You go into these games with a specific list of things you want to work on as a team, as an offense. You try to work those situations, sometimes it's not the same thing you do in a regular season game. That's just what we do at this time of year to get ready to go for a 16-game-plus season.


(on if he was surprised about the announcement of Andrew Luck retiring)

He is a great player. Obviously, we wanted to beat him. Great dude. Great career. He had a great year last year. He's an elite player and a great person, everybody knows, they've seen the video. I hope nothing but the best for him. He came into the league a year before me, played the Colts multiple times, and he always came up and talked to me. He's going to go down as having never lost to the Titans.

(on if he has any concerns for the Titans' defense after tonight)

We missed too many tackles. We have to play faster. There are a lot of things we need to clean up. We haven't seen the tape yet, so we'll see what happens, seeing how we lost, and gave up more points than we scored. I don't think it is cause for concern. We've been working our ass off this whole training camp, and not worried about this game. At the same time though, it is a game and you want to put good stuff on tape.


(on the performance of the defense tonight)

We're building, you know, it's not perfect. Tonight wasn't perfect, for sure. Pittsburgh did a great job hitting our quarterbacks, and we wanted to hit theirs a little more. At the end of the day, I think we are building and building towards our first game of the season with Cleveland. That's the goal, we're taking our steps there. Obviously, there is stuff to learn from tonight, but I think we are trending in the right direction.

(on the progress of the Titans defense)

Guys are still competing to make the team, that's what training camp is. It's about guys competing to earn their spots, and that will be decided after this game is reviewed, and after that you put the best 53 towards Cleveland. So, we are still in that process. We can't skip that it is important right now for a lot of guys to earn their spots, as it is for me, as well.


(on if he was surprised about the announcement of Andrew Luck retiring)

It's tough going through years and years of injury, having to wake up making sure your body is right. The pressures of being a franchise quarterback, trying to stay in tip-top shape. It's tough, and the grind kind of gets to you a little bit. Congrats on his great career. It's one of those things where he felt he needed to take care of himself, and I respect that. Me personally, I hadn't beat him. Think I played him four times and I was anticipating this season, this whole offseason I was thinking about we are going to try to beat Andrew Luck. He's going to be able to retire and say he was undefeated against the Titans. It's not something that we want, but at the end of the day, we still have to beat the Colts. It's not like without Andrew Luck we can chalk up a win or anything like that. They still have a great team and a great franchise.

(on if the retirement of Andrew Luck changes the balance of power in the AFC South)

I would not say it shifts the balance of power. They won the division last year, so they are the defending champions. They have a great defense. They still have a great roster and a great team, so the division still goes through Indianapolis, that's for sure. When they come here in Week Two, we are going to have to beat them. That's one thing we have talked about this whole offseason. Winning the division, we have to go through Indianapolis, Houston and Jacksonville as well.

(on Titans defensive play tonight)

One of the biggest things was a lot of missed tackles. Guys diving off of a diving board, and not really running their feet, giving up big plays. Something that we really don't want to do. Anytime you give up big plays, missing tackles, not getting after the quarterback, well that is a recipe for losing and giving up points. It is something we ae definitely going to have to fix in this short week. We go to Chicago on Thursday, so we're going to have to get some things fixed quick, and in a hurry.


(opening statement)

It was a good night for us. Good on a lot of fronts, to get Ben (Roethlisberger) in the stadium along with some others and see that group work together. Although it wasn't a complete body of work, we were able to get him some situational ball and to watch him execute and do some things there. Good night in that regard. I like the energy that the guys played with. Really, it was our first time really being on the road. We didn't necessarily get some of those road things that you prepare for, but it's just good to watch them function in a foreign environment, be prepared to deal with some of the things that come with playing outside of Heinz Field. A few bumps and bruises along the way. Sean Davis has got an ankle that's being evaluated. I think Bud (Dupree) has got a thumb. I don't know how significant that is. We just pulled him when it happened. Some of the other things we'll check along the way. Obviously, if somebody's dealing with something, they've probably got a tough chance to participate this upcoming week being in that we're working on a short week. Such is life in the NFL. I'm excited about watching this group deal with the short week and attack it in the ways the professionals do. Good work tonight, but we have a challenge awaiting us on the other side like you often do in the course of these journeys. We look forward to continuing this developmental process and learning something through it.

(on the status of Steelers running back Benny Snell Jr. and Steelers wide receiver Diontae Johnson)

We worked them here at the stadium. They missed some time during the week. They're both young guys. They need in-home preparation in order to be given a legitimate chance to play. We'll play those guys next week. Didn't feel like it was appropriate to play them tonight given the time they missed in prep for the game.

(on seeing Steelers defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt disrupt the Titans' offense tonight)

Yeah, we're expecting big things from him. He's expecting big things from him. He's had good preseason both in stadiums and out. That was not unlike what we've been looking at from him.

(on the offensive starting personnel remaining the same and not varying during the series in which they played)

We wanted to have the potential to utilize pace. Not necessarily to utilize pace, but we wanted to have the threat or potential to utilize pace, so you can't change people when you are doing that.

(on if he was content with Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's performance tonight)

I was.

(on the performance of Steelers quarterback Joshua Dobbs)

(Joshua) Dobbs has got to take better care of the ball, particularly in situations we've got the ball in the red zone, and that's points on the board. You have got to be a little bit more prudent there. But, we don't paint with the broad brush on gameday. We play on game day, we evaluate the day after. I look forward to getting in there and dissecting the tape, and doing what is appropriate from there.

(on importance of seeing Steelers wide receiver James Washington being consistent)

We talk about all second year players taking significant steps, he's done that. He's kind of representative of the group. Jaylen Samuels has taken a similar step. We expect big things from those guys that have been a lap around the track, and understand the culture and the environment. That experience should show, and it is.

(on Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph's performance)

We will evaluate it tomorrow. Like I mentioned earlier, we play tonight and we will comb through it in great detail tomorrow.


(on the Steelers offense)

We can do two tight ends, we can do five wides, but we didn't get too exotic, we kept it pretty basic. Kind of wanted to get into a flow and a feel and communicate on the road. I thought we did a pretty good job.

(on how he felt on the field tonight)

It was good to get out there to get some live looks and feels, and things like that. So, I think that's good enough. We don't usually play in the fourth (preseason game), so we'll be ready to go.

(on the offense clicking on the third series of the game)

Yeah, I missed a couple throws the first couple series and that's on me. I've got to make throws, but we got it going on the third series, and they went to a zero on the last play and just happened to call a good play, and JuJu (Smith-Schuster) got his eyes around and I threw it early, and trusted he was going to be in the right spot, and the line picked it up because they brought one more than we could block, but they kept them away.

(on if the touchdown pass to wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster was called in the huddle )

Yeah, we called a play and the guys picked up the extra blitzer.

(on how he feels going into the season)

Well, I think health is always a top priority and I think we are relatively healthy, on the offensive line especially. So, we'll get as prepared as we can for New England.


(on the play of the Steelers defense)

When everybody's playing sound football, I mean it's hard to make plays against a sound defense.

(on shifting defensive formations and looks versus the Titans)

Yeah, I mean we are doing a lot. We're doing a lot just getting prepared for a lot of different looks that we might possibly see during this season. Whether they were doing it or not, we still did some things that we wanted to work on as opposed to letting them dictate what we did. I think it worked out well for us tonight.

(on whether or not making big plays in a preseason game can build confidence)

Yeah, most definitely. It's just execution of what we've been working on. Just going out there and executing; I feel like that builds confidence all the time.


(on how pleased he was with the play of the Steelers defense)

I don't like to put too much stock into it, but if this is any indication of how we are going to play, it's a good sign. That means we have to continue to work and keep putting it out there.

(on the play of the Steelers defense versus the Titans)

I thought we got off the field fast. I didn't think we gave up a lot of long drives. You know, we're on the sideline talking more, I think that's a success. We just need to continue to keep doing that. But, you know, keep applying pressure, keep finishing, keep getting more sacks, more picks, more turnovers.

(on the health of the Steelers defense heading into the regular season)

Yeah, health is kind of a big concern. We just got to continue to take care of our bodies. We got guys out when we needed to, but we'll just be ready for Week One.

(on the improvement of defensive end Stephon Tuitt)

You know, there's just a big onus on what he can do. Whether it's rocking with the speed rush or just being more physical, when he's getting those one-on-ones he's winning a lot more. He's just got to continue to do it. It's going to make us all better, and when guys have to go one-on-one with us, we got to win.


(on playing the first few series of the third preseason game)

It felt good. It just felt good to get back out there with that kind of game and whole routine, all of it. It's important. It's nice to get that out of the way.

(on lining up with three wide receivers and running no huddle on third-andone)

Ben (Roethlisberger) did a good job of calling some runs and mixing it in there. It was pretty balanced. The no huddle worked for me. We were tired, but so were they, so it was good.

(on his feelings about the preseason)

It's nice. You get the base in. Training camp, you get that out of the way and it was just nice to have a real week feel to it, which is good. It's good to get one of those in before the real ones start. It will be here before we know it.

(on the play of running back James Conner)

I didn't see the stat line, but he obviously looks good. He's kind of a veteran guy now. It happens fast, and I think he's figured it out.

(on the reality setting in of not having Antonio Brown on the Steelers offense)

I think that's long gone in this locker room. I think we've all moved on, and we're just excited to play football.


(on having everyone available on offense)

It was amazing to have all our ones out there to play, and start fast and just build that chemistry and show the world just a little bit of what we're doing this year.

(on if the game was a good tune up for the regular season)

It's a good tune up, you know, its third preseason. Obviously, you know, next game other guys will play and get the opportunity to see who's going to make the team and who's not, but you know it's just a little bit of a taste to get out there and face a different opponent in a different environment and see how we do. We have (Donte) Moncrief, James (Conner) second year, and we're just building our tradition.

(on how he got open for his touchdown)

It was so crazy. We were no huddle and I got tired. I went out for a couple plays then I went back in, and James Washington, that was his play. I went in and I took his place. I took his touchdown basically, and a couple plays later, he scores his post. I'm supposed to start that series, but I told him like, 'No, bro. You go ahead. You take it,' and he ends up getting the play. That drive, it's been something we've been working on this whole week for when we play the Titans, and we just executed and made big plays.

(on everyone staying healthy in the game)

One thing that Ben (Roethlisberger) did with us is he rotated us. He rotated us when we got tired. We rotated. We made our plays and were unselfish. Everyone just made their plays with the ball. You can go a couple of series without guys getting involved, and there is no difference in their facial expression when they get the ball and they don't get the ball, because we all know that as long as we move the ball and we score, everybody wins.

(on James Conner having three straight good performances in the preseason)

It's very important. That's very consistent of him. That's going to help us win championships and win games to lead us to championships. Guys like him, he needs to execute. He's just doing what he does.


(on how much he still feels the Tennessee Volunteers fanbase)

A ton, a ton. They're up in Pittsburgh with support. When you come back to Tennessee, the Vol fanbase is unreal. They're everywhere too, especially when you come back to Tennessee. I saw a lot of people out there supporting. I love the Vols. They have a big part of my heart, obviously. It's always good to come back.

(on his development as a quarterback since entering the NFL and heading into his third season)

It's been very well. Of course, year three, so you have a lot of reps under your belt in the system, so you get a chance to go out and execute on the field in practice. Got some game experience last year as well, so I've been able to grow and just continue to take one day at a time and improve.

(on his scramble play to avoid the rush then find Steelers wide receiver Trey Griffey down the field)

He almost didn't get his feet in. No, I'm joking. They brought some pressure off both edges and it was cover zero on us, so I was able to get out of the pocket and Trey (Griffey) did a good job of giving me his eyes and running to the open green grass, and I was able to find him. LaTroy Lewis, number 45, tried to hit me since it's his first time he's been able to hit me since college, so he had to get one in, but yeah, it was a great play to move the chains for us.

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