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Coach Mularkey's Monday Press Conference Transcript

Posted Oct 24, 2016

Titans head coach Mike Mularkey addresses reporters during his Monday afternoon press conference at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT Oct. 24, 2016  

(opening statement)

Alright, I'll start with just the injury report. I'll just go down this list. Delanie's (Walker) got basically a bruised chest off the hit yesterday. Tajae Sharpe's got a little bit of a knee sprain. He finished the game last night, but he came in this morning and got treatment. Quinton Spain—not as serious as we had thought it might be. It's more of a bruise. I mean, it's still a pretty significant knee injury. He's going to be out three-to-four weeks. Perrish Cox is in the concussion protocol and we'll go, again, daily as that plays out. Rashad Johnson, he's got basically a neck strain, so he's got a little bit of a stick neck coming in here this morning. And then I'll just talk about Kevin Dodd here for a second. He's got foot pain. There's really no re-injury of the foot, more pain tolerance than anything. But we thought we ought to list him when he came in complaining about his foot prior to the game.  

(on which foot Kevin Dodd is causing pain)

The same foot. We did an X-ray. We looked at it again. It looks very good. The X-ray looks, actually, the doctor said better than most. It's more really a matter of pain tolerance than anything.  

(on if Kevin Dodd's foot pain is common following his offseason surgery)

I think it's something we kind of expected throughout the year. A lot of guys are hurting right now. It's just a matter of how painful that is on him.   

(on if Kevin Dodd will have to undergo another surgery on his foot)

No, we're going to watch him. Again, we've got to just be smart with him. This is a short week. Obviously, we're not going to do anything today. We've got a walk through tonight. We'll look at it. We'll just see if this is good to give him a rest.  

(on Tajae Sharpe's injury)

Just knee. Actually, it was a knee sprain.  

(on if Quinton Spain's recovery will involve time off)

Yes. From what I understand, no surgery is required. It's more of stay off of it. It was a hyper-extension and got a good bruise on the bone. Like I said, it was pretty significant but not season-ending.  

(on if Brian Schwenke will be Quinton Spain's replacement)

We're going to talk about that, we are. I mean, he played pretty well last night for the most part. He stepped in there and did a lot of good things for us, but we have some options at that position. We'll talk about that at our staff meeting this afternoon.  

(on if Dennis Kelly is also an option to fill in for Quinton Spain)

There's a number. You know, we have Sebastian Tretola, we have Karim (Barton) on the practice squad, we've got (Brian) Schwenke, who's played the most out of any of them—at least, game-time play. There's a lot of options we have right now. We're going to talk through it very in-depth when we get together this afternoon.  

(on how Brian Schwenke played in Quinton Spain's place)

I thought he did alright. I mean, I did. We had pressure on the sack-fumble. I thought Ben (Jones) could have hung a little longer based on the protection, based on (Brian) Schwenke being in there for us. We could have helped him more just stop that penetration that came in there. But overall, for as much as he had to play, for the amount of time he played, I thought he did well.  

(on if Quinton Spain injured the same knee he hurt in college)

That's a good question. I do not know that. I'll have that answer for you next time we get together.  

(on the lack of productive running back involvement in the passing game)

Well, I know the one to Derrick (Henry), everybody had their backs turned to him based on the coverage. I'm not sure what that would have done. Obviously, that would have put us closer in the red zone, if not in the end zone. Those were big plays. Those guys are dangerous when the ball's in their hands and we're trying to get it to them. One thing, and I stressed this to the team, that's a very good tackling team, very good. In the open space, they tackle well. So you've got to get what you can, but you watched them. We had a tough time making guys miss. Even in the run game, there's always going to be one extra defender, always, unless the quarterback's running. But when it's the back running, there's always going to be an extra, and that's the back's guy. If you noticed, we got him out to that guy and they tackle very well.  

(on his evaluation of Marcus Mariota's incomplete passes)

Some of those were on Marcus (Mariota), and I talked to Marcus this morning about that. Again, some of them were on our routes by our wide receivers not being where they're supposed to be. The combination of the two—we did a lot of good things with our receivers. We made some big plays. When they were where they're supposed to be, we made some big plays. Especially on the third down-and-longs, those guys made great plays. Rishard (Matthews) made a great play on the third-and-19. But some of those throws you see, also, are right where they're supposed to be. I told that to Marcus this morning keep throwing those throws exactly where they are so these guys understand they've got to be where they're going to be at the end of it and the ball's going to be there. That's part of the trust factor. But it was a combination of both, no question. But, again, on the other side of things, Marcus made some really good throws.  

(on if there is a mechanical issue with Marcus Mariota's intermediate throws to the right)

No, he's throwing more off his back foot a little bit to the right than he was.  

(on why he sent the field goal unit out in the final minute of the game and changed his mind following a Colts penalty)

Well, we knew we needed two scores. We had to get the ball back, obviously, on a onside kick. We for sure could get one of the scores, a field goal there. But once we had time to make a decision, we said let's take a couple shots still at the end zone. Again, there's a lot of communication going on, decision making going on. I thought, at the time, let's get the three. We still had a timeout on the clock which would have been good for a touchdown. But since we had time to talk about it, we all talked and said let's take some shots. And we had a shot. If we could have got it up a little earlier on that last one, we had a chance with Rishard (Matthews), so we decided let's go for the score here and then come back for the field goal still with a timeout.  

(on why Colts receivers had success in double-team coverage)

Well, to me, I thought that was probably the best game I saw (Andrew Luck) play on tape. Obviously, I had to see it in person. When you max protect like that, you've got longer to cover. He makes everybody look good. I mean, he puts the ball where they have a chance to catch it, I mean, all the time. He did nothing different yesterday. He was on target, he threw it where we couldn't get to it. And I'll say this, too, after watching the tape, there was more pressure on him than you think. I mean there were tight pockets. He made some really, really unbelievable throws out of the pockets, but there was more pressure. The sacks weren't there, but the pressure was.  

(on if Marcus Mariota is sometimes too cautious)

I think that might be some of the case. Yes, I do, and I've talked to him about it. He doesn't want to let anybody down, so he doesn't want to make mistakes for his teammates, for this team, for this organization. I wouldn't say overly, but I do say sometimes he is. If it's gray to him, he doesn't want to take the risk.  

(on if Marcus Mariota's hesitancy to take risks is a good strategy)

I want him to be aggressive but smart. Again, (with) some of the things that we've had some turnovers, but yeah, we want him (to be aggressive) and we have confidence in what he does. We definitely have the confidence in him.   

(on if Marcus Mariota was second-guessing himself when he pump-faked and then attempted a pass to Andre Johnson)

We had the off coverage. That should have been a pitch-and-catch, to be honest with you. I think a little bit of a misread on the depth of the route, and that's why you saw him pull it back.  

(on if the shotgun snaps have improved)

They're better. They need to be 100 percent all the time the same, just like a long snap or a short snap on an extra point. They've got to be the same every time—perfect.  

(on his thoughts on the hit to Delanie Walker which drew a penalty)

Not necessary. I think the defender said that he thought that ball was directed toward Delanie (Walker). Obviously, it was going over Delanie, but the guy's not looking. The guy doesn't have the ball. The ball wasn't to him. You can say what you want. I thought it was unnecessary.  

(on if Rishard Matthews ran the correct route on the deep pass attempt)

He did. I thought it was overthrown.  

(on if the team will look at the Colts game or move on quickly to Jacksonville)

The coaches looked. We're going to look at it briefly, address things we need to address—real brief—but we're going to jump right into Jacksonville. We don't have a lot of time, as do they.  

(on if Brice McCain filled in for Perrish Cox)

He went in some, yeah. Again, that's another position we're going to talk about when we get to the staff meeting today.  

(on if Valentino Blake and Brice McCain are the options at cornerback)

Yeah.  

(on why Brice McCain replaced Valentino Blake after Blake initially went in for Perrish Cox)

That's something Coach (Dick) LeBeau just said give them both a shot in the game, give them time. Kind of like what we're doing with our safety rotations.  

(on if players came to facility after the game to prepare for the short week)

The guys came in last night trying to get recovery with the hot tubs and things like that. I'm sure some of them started watching the tape last night, but nothing was scheduled last night for them after the game.  

(on if the coaches met last night to prepare for Jacksonville)

Nothing last night. We worked through the weekend. Some of the coaches came in last night. I watched it at home, watched the game. I personally, those games are draining, wanted to get somewhat of some rest last night before I got going this morning. We had a good head start. We stayed here Friday and Saturday to game plan these guys. We'll have a walk through tonight. Players will be in here at 2:30 and then we'll get together at 3:30 as an offense and defense and we'll be under the lights for a walk through about seven o'clock tonight.  

(on what happened on the Colts' touchdown to Jack Doyle)

We're in a zone coverage down there, we did. Really, it's a double move. Everybody runs a route. The route that they ran the double move off of, we call it an under route, he gave the impression—very patient—gave the under look. We jumped it. He went over the top of Avery (Williamson). So it was well-designed, well-executed by them.  

(on if he wants to see improvement in linebacker coverage on tight ends and running backs)

Yeah, we've struggled this year. I would like to see that. We did yesterday, really the whole game. The whole game we struggled covering those guys. We shouldn't.  

(on if there is a specific problem with linebacker coverage)

No, again, some of it, I will say the deep crosser early in the second half, you've got seven guys blocking. You've got to cover a guy running across the field man-to-man. We've got to get pressure if we can, but we've got to do a better job of staying on them longer.  

(on the key to improving consistency and maintaining good performance)

Keep preparing like we are. These guys know in this building, we've played seven games and we've had chances to win in all of them. For some reason or not, we haven't, or some reason or not, we have. What we've done good has helped us get over the top in some of these. These have all been close games. We've got to just find a way—especially like this week, that last drive, we felt like if we could hold them to a field goal, we were going to win the game. That whole sideline felt that way. We have to find a way to stop them on the last drive defensively.  

(on what happened on the failed extra point attempt on the first drive)

Well, it starts with the snap. I thought it was a little bit of a high snap. Still should have gotten it off. He dropped it. I put it on both of them, but that's what they're paid to do. They take it personally, as well. I've been a holder. It's a lot harder than you think. You just think it's you go out there, snap, hold, kick. There's a lot that goes into it, so when it happens like that, it's catastrophic. But that's such a momentum changer when you just took the first drive down of the game and that's the end result. That takes a little bit of steam out of your team.  

(on if it is disheartening to have ongoing struggles on special teams)

Well, it's disheartening when you are lined up and you are prepared for it and you call it out that it's coming this way, and then you don't make the play. That is a lot of why in four out of the seven, we're on this end is because we need somebody to make a play at some point in the game, whatever point it is. Make a play.  

(on if other teams are willing to test them on special teams no matter how they are lined up)

Well, they're challenging you, yeah. They definitely are because they're going to give you the ball there, basically, on your 40-yard line. It's right to you. You've got to make a play. Actually, it would have been, if (Phillip) Supernaw would have stayed where he was located, he started to drift with the action of the kicker and then kicked it just a little bit behind him but enough behind him that he couldn't make a play.  

(on if he would consider having a 4-4 record at the halfway point of the season as successful)

No, I'd say it wouldn't be. Obviously, you'd like to have a better record than that, but I kind of go back to where we were 1-3. There was a bunch of teams at 1-3. Right now, there's a bunch of teams at 3-4 and 4-3. I'll say it again, somebody is going to come out of this thing at some point. I don't know why it can't be us. But there's a lot of teams in this position right now. You talk about parity. There's never been more parity in the league than this year.  

(on if the Colts did something to eliminate Kendall Wright from the game plan)

No, it was based on the coverages and everything else—third down was different guys were getting it. We could have been higher than 70 percent if we'd have hit a couple of those throws that were gimme throws on third down. I mean, I think we're doing well on third down.  

(on if coming off of a loss is a good time to have a Thursday night game)

I think it's good for us this week to get us over this as quickly as can knowing we've got to lock in and get ready and prepared and totally focused on Jacksonville Thursday night. I think this is good for us that we're doing this. It's tough on the players recovery wise, very tough. I mean, it's Thursday today in their minds for a game week, so you've got to think about that. It's tough on them, but that's the same for both sides. It's not like an advantage.  

(on the importance of winning a division game against Jacksonville)

Yeah, it's important. It's important to see if we can get us to 4-4. We've got to win a division game right now, but I think it's coming at the right time for us. I do.  

(on if anyone besides Quinton Spain will likely be out on Thursday)

I'd say probably Perrish (Cox) is a guy that we've got to be conscience of. If it was Sunday, I'd think maybe, but since it's Thursday night, I think that may be the only other one.  

(on the touchdown play to Taylor Lewan)

It went well. We ran the play the play before. They didn't give us the look we wanted. We sent him back in. He had to come out because he had reported eligible. We stuck him back in there. We went to what we hoped they'd go to and it was well-executed. That's how we had it in practice, exactly like that. Exactly what you saw was exactly how we practiced it. Very well executed.   

(on the last time Taylor Lewan caught a pass)

Well, there hasn't been many times he's caught it in practice, to be honest with you. Not good. And really, the conversation came down to what is the risk-reward. The risk is he drops it. The reward is he scores a touchdown, so let's call this play. I told him in the training room about 10 minutes before we went out, "Make sure you catch the ball before you start going. Please watch the ball hit your hands." And then I said, "The only guys that can tackle you will be coming from behind, so you won't see them. Just put both hands around it like a breadbasket and get it in." He was schooled up right up to that first drive.  

(on what Dick LeBeau is like after a loss)

He's a very positive coach. He looks for everything good about the defense, the players, the scheme and the play. If you look at it, third-and-13, we call a play. We had a free runner, a free guy. Nobody can block him that doesn't go in there and hit (Andrew) Luck. The worst thing is they get a field goal and we don't make a play. Again, that's another play we should have made. He's frustrated. He wants the stop and we all do, but we did some things. We should have stopped them if we execute the plays and execute the scheme like they're drawn up, just like that (Taylor) Lewan play. This was schemed out to get to Luck and we did and we didn't do it. We let him get out and he hits it for a bigger gain. That should have been over there. 

(on if Derrick Henry's limited snaps is due to DeMarco Murray's success)

A little bit of that, yeah. Again, we have things in the game plan for Derrick (Henry). We can't call them all. I think DeMarco (Murray) is running very well right now.