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Coach Mularkey's Monday Press Conference Transcript

Posted Nov 27, 2017

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


(opening statement)

I’ll do a little injury update. Rishard Matthews, he’s going to be day-to-day this week with the hamstring again. (Da’Norris) Searcy, who did not finish the game yesterday, will be day-to-day as well with the ankle. So, we’ll see. But other than that, just some bumps and bruises like everybody else across the league for this time of year.

(on what it means to be back in first place in the AFC South after the Jacksonville loss late yesterday afternoon)

I saw the tail end of it. Look, we’ve got a lot of football to go. We’ve got to just win one of these at a time. Again, I’ll say this and I’ve said it to our team a number of times, can’t be concerned with what anybody else in this league does. If we win, everything will take care of itself. Can’t worry about what anybody else is doing and that’s a fact.

(on the players putting the Week 4 loss at Houston behind them but the complexity of needing to revisit the contest for preparation)

I think you just revisit the game and obviously we’ll look at it on tape. Not going to dwell on it. Nothing from that game is going to make a difference in this one, unless we don’t play well like we did then and turn the ball over as many times as we did. But yeah, I’ve been involved in some games, not many, like that and I’ve responded very well the second time around. I’d think our guys will have a good week. I think that game is far enough back that I think it’s out of their system. I think our guys know it’s a division game we have to win.

(on if the Houston offense has changed as a result of Texans quarterback Deshaun Watson being placed on IR)

I have not had a chance to look. I’ve just started the defensive study so I can’t answer that question fairly.

(on if anything stood out from yesterday’s game at Indianapolis after watching the film)

Yeah, they were intent on stopping the run and stopping Delanie (Walker) on third down. That was pretty clear after you watch it. Again, I think they’ve been playing well for the last few weeks and it showed up again. That defense has been playing better.

(on how much easier it was for the Colts defense to focus on covering tight end Delanie Walker with wide receiver Rishard Matthews not playing too)

I think that was their plan going in because they had no idea if Rishard (Matthews) was going to play or not. We didn’t either up until an hour and a half before the game, so I don’t know if they could have made any adjustments prior to the game. I don’t think that was a big factor. Delanie (Walker) has been a go-to guy for us for years. He’s just a guy they’ve got to take away so that was no big secret they were going to try to do that.

(on if he attributes running back DeMarco Murray’s injury as a factor in running backs Derrick Henry and DeMarco Murray having a similar number of carries but Henry producing more yardage)

No, I think he is. I think he’s 100 percent. Some of those plays we needed on third down where he made some big plays – especially the last one to continue that drive and allow us to get the game over. I think Derrick (Henry) has made some plays, made some runs. He does some runs that are designed for him that we put him in there for and he’s been productive. DeMarco (Murray), again the way we started the game yesterday in that first half, I’m not sure anybody in this room could have made a yard the way we blocked up front. We still scored on the two drives that we had it and that was without a running game. You’ve got to look at the whole picture and see who’s had opportunities, who’s got the plays blocked well, who’s made some runs that weren’t there or were there. We’re happy we have – again, I’m going to say it, we’re very fortunate to have the two guys that we have. They’re both effective in a lot of ways.

(on if both DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry being ‘downhill runners’ as far as needing room to get going when the offensive line doesn’t block as well as desired limits what the run game can do)

No, I think – that’s another thing. If you’re not getting the push, sometimes you’ve got to push. That back has got to push, that back has got to make yards. He’s got to push the pile and our guys are no different. They’ve got to see some of the cuts. All the way around, everybody involved with the run game has got to get better and we do too. See if we can produce better runs for our guys.

(on how many of quarterback Marcus Mariota’s interceptions this season have been poor decisions compared to poorly thrown passes)

I haven’t gone back and look at all those. That’s something I’ll do when I’ve got time to. Yesterday, I can’t think of any that he shouldn’t have not thrown. He’s pretty good (at) decision making. I’ll say this, he was very good yesterday at decision making. I thought he did a lot of taking what we say, taking what the defensive gives you. I thought he did that yesterday, I thought he made some really good decisions yesterday. I thought he made one poor throw to Harry (Douglas) that was an interception. The other one, he had – Taylor Lewan was in his face with pressure. Tough to get that throw off. I saw what he saw, Taywan (Taylor) won easily off the line of scrimmage. He didn’t know he was going to fall down, obviously. But, can’t have a guy in your face and think you can step into any throw.

(on if he thought the interception thrown to wide receiver Taywan Taylor could have been a completion had Taylor not fallen down)

No, I don’t. I’m just saying the throw was caused by the pressure in his face.

(on if he thinks something is off about Marcus Mariota’s mechanics given his recent interceptions)
Last two weeks? No.

(on if Marcus Mariota could be favoring one leg over the other given his hamstring injury this season)

I don’t think so, no. I think he’s healthy with the (hamstring) and the leg and everything that he had to deal with earlier in the year. I think that hasn’t been a factor.

(on how Marcus Mariota has handled working through throwing interceptions)

Just got to watch how he continues to make throws after interceptions. There’s a lot of guys that can’t overcome those and I’ve yet to see him let that effect his play. He made some plays to help us win the game those last two drives, which were critical. That throw to Corey Davis was big, last guy on the progression. Those throws, throwback throw to DeMarco (Murray) – those are tough throws that he completed after throwing two interceptions.

(on if the lack of preparation time Marcus Mariota had with some of the receivers seems more relevant now)

I don’t think so, no. Obviously you’d like to have more time, but we didn’t have that just because of the injuries. We didn’t have it. It’s hard to gauge that if that’s the reason why or not, I honestly don’t think it’s a trend. It’s just he had one poor throw yesterday.

(on how injured Rishard Matthews’ snaps were divided up)

We had to do some things personnel-wise just in case, we were prepared. Obviously, he didn’t practice on Friday so we already started making some of the adjustments. It’s just a matter of calling out a different personnel grouping to tell Harry (Douglas) where he’s going. It wasn’t just one specific position. Harry (Douglas) moved around, we had a lot of moving parts with that which I thought our guys did well with it.

(on if wide receiver Eric Decker could fill Rishard Matthews’ role entirely)

Eric (Decker) can play – that’s the nice thing about Eric (Decker), he can play all the positions. He knows all three of them, Harry (Douglas) knows all three. That helps, you don’t have to put that burden on a young guy like Taywan (Taylor) or Corey (Davis). These guys can play all three positions.

(on if he saw wide receiver Harry Douglas’ catch that was ruled an incompletion differently)

No, I didn’t. I was asked, ‘Why didn’t you hurry up and run a play?’ Well, I didn’t know it was not complete until they threw the red flag, then I wondered why he threw it. They did a good job on their jumbotron of circling the ball hitting the ground. But, it looked like a catch from our sideline.

(on defensive lineman DaQuan Jones being able to break through in this game)

He played on edge, he was where he was supposed to be. He got some creases on their offensive line and did a good job. Ran some really tight line games that allowed him to get there sooner. Probably his best game he's played here this year.

(on defensive linemen taking advantage of opposing offenses being distracted by defensive tackle Jurrell Casey)

Somewhat, yeah. Yesterday the message to these guys we were going to try and take some pressure off of the secondary by putting pressure on the quarterback. We just felt like our best coverage would be pressuring him, not just our guys on the back end having to hold up. We just thought if we can get to him and make him move, get off of his spot, disrupt his tempo, that will help our back end more than anything.

(on who gets credit for rendering Colts wide receiver T.Y. Hilton ineffective during both meetings between the two teams)

Starts with Coach (Dick) LeBeau, start with him. He’s pretty good about doing things like that. It takes everybody. The front has a lot to do with covering T.Y. Hilton, putting pressure on from all angles, makes him have to hurry up the throw. They live on the big play and yesterday, that was another point of emphasis - we can't let them behind us, we can't let them have big plays. If you're under pressure it's hard to hold the ball.

(on pressure on the quarterback finally resulting in sacks)

It was good, we needed it, we needed that. Felt like we were close, we've been close a lot of times, we just haven't come through and made the plays and our guys made the plays. We had a lot of pressures that weren't sacks yesterday that were important in that game.

(on outside linebacker Derrick Morgan's consistency)

He's tough to block, he's got another guy on the other side that takes some bodies to handle him as well. Plus, I think our packages that we have, that oach LeBeau has installed with Erik Walden being part of it, you've got some pretty good pass rushers coming from all angles. You're trying to find matchups that you think our guys can win on, that's what I think Coach LeBeau has done.

(on if the run game struggling was the reason for the team's slow offensive start)

We scored the first two drives, so I didn't consider it a slow start. I thought the middle was a slow middle, for sure. We need to finish the drives, we kicked two field goals. Very similar to what we did the first time we played these guys when we scored nine out of 10 possessions. When you don't get the run game going it's hard because you're in a lot of third-and-longs. It's hard to get a rhythm. From a former play-caller, if you're not running the ball and getting four or five yards, at least every other play call, it's hard to get into a rhythm of making calls. That happened in that game, especially in the second quarter.

(on wide receiver Corey Davis struggling with blocking)

He's got to learn to block those screens. He knows this, I never send any hidden messages through the media to the players, we've already had a talk. He's got to do a better job blocking in our run game, not just on the screens but our run game. We had some plays that if he had blocked, we'd have bigger plays. Got to do a better job.

(on if blocking is a new element for Corey Davis or if it's just effort)

I'm just not sure. It's me probably more than anybody that hadn't gotten the message through about our receivers. I think our guys do block. (Eric) Decker blocked unbelievably well yesterday. I just think as a young guy, not getting the process of what goes on here, you have to block here, I don't know where you've been before, but you have to block here.

(on Corey Davis being willing to block)

He is, there are shots of it. It just got to be more consistent, it's got to be about finishing. A lot of guys, young guys especially, they look behind to see if the ball carrier's coming and I just tell him, 'He's coming, I promise you. Just keep blocking, he's coming.' Especially our guys.

(on what it says about the team when they win games even if they're not playing their best)

It says a lot about our team, about our locker room. I've used this word many a time: resilient, a close group, never waiver regardless of the score, what time of the game it is. We think we can win until the final buzzer, that's just the way we are, that's this team. It says a lot about our guys in that locker room.

(on what they can do to take their game to the next level in December)

You've got to play your best football, we're trying to play our best football, for 60 minutes, that's key. I promise you they're trying to do that. That's what we've got to do, especially this time of year. This is when you've got to start kicking it in and playing your best and knowing that if you don't, you still can win.

(on if seeing flashes of the team's best football is encouraging or frustrating)

I think it's encouraging, you know what you're capable of doing, you see it first hand. We've seen it every game, at some point in every game.

(on what he can do to instill consistency in the team)

I think it starts out on our practice field. I think when we have really good weeks of practice we play better more in the game. I can't say we had our best week, but we had spurts that we didn't have good periods that weren't good and that kind of shows up in the games, very similar to that.

(on if guys can get too excited for the opportunity that they have created for themselves and if he has to guard against that)

I don't think so. Maybe some of the younger guys are feeling the pressure, which I'm trying not to put any on them, still trying to make it fun, trying to keep it still fun, still got to win this game, just like we did when we opened up the season. So I'm trying to keep the same message, hasn't changed. If they're putting the pressure on them, it's on themselves. If you're in the business, pretty much everybody does that anyhow. If you're a pro and it's important to you, you put a lot of pressure on yourself, coaches and players.

(on if he thinks that there's another level that this team could play at)

I think we could play 60 minutes, all three phases, better as a whole, a whole game. Putting the gas down, no breaks. I do, I still do, and we'll continue to work until we do. That's the beauty of this game, we get to practice and we keep trying to do that.

(on the trio of rookie receiving options learning that talent is just a portion of the game)

I'm sure they've figured it out by now. Yeah, it's pretty important. To be successful at this level you've got to do the little things right. You've got to do the little things right, and you've got to do them consistently.

(on safety Kevin Byard's fumble recovery being a perfect example of the 'big plays' that he looks for)

Big play. Kevin (Byard) is about 20 yards away when that ball is fumbled by the back, and there's a mad scramble for it. They literally have two opportunities to get it and somehow Kevin Byard, who has a knack for getting the ball, came up with it. It was just effort, a lot of effort, and a lot of effort by a lot of guys yesterday trying to get that, but he is the one that came up with it when it was all said and done.

(on if Kevin Byard's ability to get the ball is natural)

I don't know what it is, he just does it, and I hope he keeps doing it, need that.

(on tight end Delanie Walker's CPR celebration)

I still haven't seen it, no. Tell me about it. 

(on Delanie Walker's CPR celebration reviving the offense)

I don't know if that had anything to do with it, you'll have to ask Delanie (Walker). Whatever it was worked.