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Coach Mularkey's Monday Press Conference Transcript

Posted Nov 16, 2015

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

TITANS INTERIM HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT - November 16, 2015

(on his options at wide receiver given Justin Hunter’s injury)

We’re in the process of that right now. We’re talking about it and actually, Justin (Hunter) is having surgery as we speak. He will go on (Injured/Reserve) today. We’re looking at some options even from within from our practice squad with Tre McBride and elsewhere.

(on if Kendall Wright will be ready to play this week)

We’re hopeful. He ran today already. We’re going to have a walk-through tonight, I don’t know how much running will be involved, but I’m kind of anxious just to see how he responds to running today, and then expand that tomorrow. Tomorrow is going to be a little more of a Thursday-type tempo where we need to see some speed by, not just him, but our secondary, see the health of our secondary and really time up the passing game. It can’t be a walk-through the whole week.

(on Justin Hunter’s performance before he was injured)

He was getting better, he obviously had the touchdown against New Orleans. He made some plays yesterday that I thought I hadn’t seen him do, coming back to the ball like he did and on the curl outs. He’s been blocking better these two weeks which has really been demanded of that group. We need guys to block and when he got hurt, that’s what he was doing. He had a real good block and he got hurt on the block. But I thought he was trying to get better and better.

(on if he needs the receiving core to step up)

Yeah, we do. With the injuries, obviously, with Kendall (Wright) and Harry (Douglas) missing some time, and now losing Justin (Hunter), already we made a decision to be heavier at tight end than at wide receiver. When you limit your numbers, those numbers have got to be productive. We were last week, not this week as much as against the Saints. I think it’s a good room. I think they demand production themselves, let alone me or anybody else being on them about it.

(on if Tre McBride will be a kick returner if he is called up from the practice squad)

We would talk about that, yes. I think his whole role would be – we feel like he could help us special teams-wise, not just as a returner, but in other phases as well.

(on if the receivers weren’t getting open enough yesterday or if they weren’t being utilized enough)

A little bit of both. We were trying to establish the run there a little bit, which is really kind of our mentality. But that’s a good defense, that’s a good secondary, and we did some things that I thought schematically were going to be better, but they weren’t. They’re just so sound, it’s not like it was complicated and we didn’t know what they were doing, we knew. They were good in coverage on some of those things.

(on how tough it is for players to get their bodies ready to play again on a short week)

You are on Monday, and sometimes it’s really until Tuesday that you start to feel a Sunday game, so again, we did some things last week to lighten it up a little bit, even in some of the periods like with the two-minute drill, it was cut back. We were thinking ahead a little bit last week with the number of reps. Again, I emphasized it after practice every day how important it was, not just for this game against Carolina, knowing how physical of a game it was going to be, but also knowing that we play the next Thursday, that they take care of their bodies. None of us know how each one of them has to take care of their body. What is that? Only they know. They had opportunities to do that, and then this week, we have to be smart about how we go about this week. It was a physical game, I anticipated that, so the schedule has been kind of formatted to handle that with a light walk-through tonight and then a later morning for them tomorrow morning so they can get some rest in the morning, come in a little bit later. We’re not going to practice until the afternoon tomorrow which is the first time for these guys, but again, it will be a lighter load and then Wednesday will be a Saturday-type tempo.

(on how much he discusses the AFC South picture with the team given all that is left to play for)

It’s mentioned, but it’s not the primary focus, it’s the next opponent. There’s really nothing we can do about what’s happening elsewhere with any of the other teams, who they’re playing and when they’re playing. It’s a matter of us taking care of our business with our opponent coming up, which is the Jaguars this week.

(on the cornerback position from an injury standpoint)

It’s a little bit like a role reversal now. Blidi (Wreh-Wilson) is with the tightness, now Perrish (Cox) has kind of moved ahead of Blidi. Again, we’ve got to do some things, like I mentioned earlier, we’ve got to do some things practice-wise and the tempo has got to be almost game speed so we can figure out who is healthy. Not only in the secondary, but also with Kendall (Wright) and with the timing of the passing game. Right now, Blidi is limited. Perrish should practice more than Blidi, and then obviously JMac (Jason McCourty), we’re going to put him on (Injured/Reserve) with Justin (Hunter) as well.

(on if Jason McCourty is having another surgery)
He is. 

(on how much of a loss Jason McCourty’s injury is for the secondary)

He’s a good player, that’s a loss. Not only that, but just his presence on the field, his presence in the locker room, just in the meetings. I’m going to try to keep him involved with all that because I think it is important that he’s around these guys. They have a lot of respect for him as the coaching staff does. It’s a loss for sure.

(on if they will fill Jason McCourty’s spot with another cornerback)

Right now, numbers are OK. Obviously, we have a couple spots open that we’re talking about that we need to fill. Whether that’s a corner or not, even if we can get one on the practice squad that can start to learn the system, that may be a better option right now. We have the numbers as long as we’ve got Perrish (Cox) and Blidi (Wreh-Wilson), one of them can line up on Sundays.

(on B.W. Webb getting more snaps than Cody Riggs)

He’s made some plays for us. Really, it’s nothing on Cody Riggs, either. He’s played well too. They both, for a position that we’ve needed somebody to step up, I think they’ve really done well, especially yesterday when the pressure to cover their guys better than they did the first half, when we started pressuring, the coverage had to get tighter. I thought that happened. That’s why he was holding the ball as much as he was.

(on if the interception was due to Dorial Green-Beckham not finishing his route or not being in the right mentality)

A lot of that is he is a young player. I think it’s a really good lesson for him and unfortunately, a tough lesson for our team. But I think it’s a good lesson because that was a throw, a timed-throw, a spot throw that if you’re running the thing and you’re coming out of it that would have dropped right in his lap. I’ve seen Marcus (Mariota) throw it to Delanie (Walker), not last week against the Saints, but earlier in the season when he threw it to him towards our bench because he expects the guy to be there. If you’re there, it will be there. I’ve seen that throw on other teams, same route, same pressure, even on the quarterback, and if the receiver is where he is supposed to be, that thing is going to drop in there. He’s got to understand, that’s the way Marcus is, why he’s so accurate and so efficient, is because he doesn’t wait for guys to get open. He knows where they’re going to be and he’s going to throw it there. They need to be there and that’s no different for DGB (Dorial Green-Beckham). It’s just a young player really learning a tough lesson.

(on how he will get Dorial Green-Beckham to fix issues like that going forward)

It was already addressed as soon as he came over to the bench in a real positive fashion. How he responded to it, again, was a young player’s response. It’s been addressed, he understands it, he’s going to see it on tape at some point that he needs to finish the route.

(on if there is a chance David Cobb will play on Thursday)

There is a chance, yes. Again, we’ll have three days here to make that decision. But really, last week, Bishop Sankey had a really good week of practice. Dexter (McCluster) came in with an ankle (injury) on Monday, so he didn’t run at practice, he was limited on Wednesday. Some of the things that were specifically designed for Dexter, Bishop was better suited in case Dexter could not play that role. So that was the reasoning behind that. Again, we’ll see how Dexter’s doing, but Bishop had a good week of practice, so it was an easier decision to make.

(on if he has been impressed with Bishop Sankey since taking over as interim head coach)

Yeah, he knows Antonio (Andrews) has stepped up. Dexter (McCluster) obviously has been in his role here since we’ve been here, but he knows he has limited reps he’s got to take advantage of. He had one draw in the game that I thought he made a nice run. But he certainly hasn’t gone into a closet, he is working harder and harder. He’s taken it very professionally and I like the way he’s handled it.

(on if Thursday’s game means extra having coached in Jacksonville)

No, I like winning all of them, to be honest with you. I just want these guys to win. That’s what is important to me. Obviously, we talked about two different feelings on two different weekends, and I know which one I certainly like better. It has nothing to do with who we’re playing, it’s a matter of winning.

(on if one season as a head coach is a fair representation of his potential with the team)

It’s very hard to create a culture, you’re coming in there and everything is new. I was in a situation where a new owner came in, hired a new general manager, and they wanted to go in a different direction. But I just wish we had more time. I was very proud, I know we won two games, but I felt like, and I think our team felt that we had a chance to win every time we stepped on the field. That’s what’s important, is that they think they have a chance. We were in all the games, we just did not overcome some of the things. We made some mistakes but we were very competitive. But yeah, I would have liked to have had some more time with (former Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager) Gene (Smith) and build a better roster.

(on if it was an awkward setup when he coached in Jacksonville coming in at a different time than the general manager)

That’s the way it unfolded, unfortunately. (Former Jacksonville Jaguars General Manager) Gene (Smith) had been there for a number of years and it’s not far off from what happened in Buffalo. Tom Donahoe had been there for a number of years until I got there. It was just the timing of some of the things that went down. Typically, if the guy that hires you is let go, then you’re not far after.

(on if he stays in touch with former Jacksonville Jaguars general manager Gene Smith)

Yes. Gene (Smith) is somewhere, I know he lives in Tennessee. I know that, but I do stay in touch with him periodically.

(on what the last few weeks have been like)

Kind of a whirlwind, yeah. Especially with this game coming up here, I had to put a schedule together and get these guys ready to play a tough game against an undefeated team after a good win. It’s part of the job, it’s been emotional up and down, but that’s part of this and there’s nothing like it in the NFL. That’s why it’s the game it is. It’s the emotional highs and lows that make this thing a great game.

(on if having a short week adds to the whirlwind that has been the past two weeks)

Yeah, and Thanksgiving next week, I have to figure out all of that. But it’s part of it, and our guys, knowing this locker room, they will adjust immediately. We’ve got to get over it and get ready to play another game on Thursday night against a team that just won a close game.

(on if he will wear all blue for the Color Rush game on Thursday)

I don’t know.

(on his take on the Color Rush game)

I think they look pretty good. I know I’ve been instructed to make sure our guys don’t wear anything but that color blue, so it’s obviously pretty important. They don’t want to have any other colors but that color.

(on if he has graded the tape from Carolina)

Us coaches have graded it, some came in yesterday, some did it this morning, but we will not present it to the players. We’re right on to Jacksonville. It will be talked briefly about from me up here at the team meeting, but real brief and we’re moving on.

(on not getting a lot of yards in the run game yesterday)

The number one thing is it was a good front. It’s a very good front and we knew it was going to be a little bit of feast or famine. We knew that we were going to have a one or a two or a minus one, but we also knew that we were going to have a big one. That’s kind of the way you have to go into it, and we did. Marcus (Mariota) did a good job of getting us into some better runs based on what they did and Dexter (McCluster)’s run. But we knew it was going to be a little bit of that, it was more of that in the second half, not just because of their front, but we have to do a better job of staying on blocks. I knew that, I said that to you guys in the press conference, these guys are hard to block, and these linebackers are as good as we’re going to probably face. So it was going to be a grind, but you’ve got to be able to run the football and keep trying. You get back, get in the gun, and start winging it around, and then you’re going to get your quarterback hit.

(on the reshuffling of the offensive line resulting in only one sack allowed over the past two weeks)

Obviously, the more they’re playing together, the easier it’s getting. The communication, you especially recognize in practice, is getting very good by all of these guys. We’re disappointed with the sack we had yesterday. Antonio (Andrews) cut a linebacker we don’t cut on certain protections, and that shouldn’t have been a sack. Those, again, are things that we have got to fix. That was part of the second half mistakes we made that they didn’t, and it cost us the game. But that should not have been a sack.

(on David Bass’ performance)

Yeah, he’s playing well on special teams too. Not a lot of people recognize what some of these guys do special teams-wise, but David (Bass) is one of the better special teams players we have. Our linebacker core is playing well. Avery (Williamson) yesterday played the best game against a very difficult team to defend. Especially in the run game, Avery had his best game. That was good, it was really good for us.

(on if Daimion Stafford has improved)

I think he’s improved. The more playing time, the more experience, the better he’s getting.

(on if Daimion Stafford will see more time as he continues to improve)

It’s hard, the guys that we have playing there, we have some solid veterans that are playing well. He just needs whatever that role is, however many plays that is, he needs to take advantage of it, and he has. I know we’ll have confidence if he has to play more, based on what he’s done.

(on the passion Avery Williamson showed when he reacted to Cam Newton’s celebration)

I know Avery (Williamson) was frustrated by it, but I know a lot of people were frustrated by it. That’s a little rubbing it in your face type of deal. There’s a little code of ethics in the NFL and not a good move. I’m proud of him, I’m proud of what he did, he stood up for our team.

(on if he has been impressed by players like Avery Williamson and Brian Orakpo showing passion during games)

They’ve been that way since I’ve been here. They’re very passionate about the game. They want to win so badly and they’ve been so close, they know how close they’ve been. After winning last week and being in the game (this week) up until the fourth quarter, it’s just part of why they’re here. They live and die for this, and there are some guys that aren’t like that. I can tell you that’s not every guy, but there’s enough and they’re playing for us right now. That gives us a chance to win every week with that kind of passion. But we have to be careful because it can cost you a football game, and they’ve been told that.

(on if the game plan is smaller on a short week)

It is, but it’s also, since it’s a common opponent and we’ve played them a couple of times, I think I’m sure for them, they’ll say the same thing that it’s good that it’s not somebody new out of the division. It’s probably a good thing that this is taking place on Thursday night.

(on where Blake Bortles is in the evolution of a quarterback in the NFL)

He makes a lot of plays on his feet, out of the pocket. That’s how they beat Buffalo on a big play in the fourth quarter. He’s very accurate on his feet out of the pocket. He’s got a gun for an arm, he’s big. He’s like some of the guys in the league, (Ben) Roethlisberger, even Cam Newton, you’ve got to wrap up on him, and you’ve got to bring him down. But obviously, he’s improved since he’s been there.

(on if Brian Orakpo’s play is what he hoped to see from him)

Yes, I think that’s three weeks in a row now he’s had a sack. He’s one of those guys, when opponents say he’s a game-wrecker, he’s one of them. I think maybe he didn’t get the credit early on, but people knew about him and were trying to do things differently to take him out of the game. I think our defense has done a good job of scheming to try to get him some 1-on-1 matchups and move him around. Teams have struggled with that. But he has been like that, he has been coming like that since day one, since he’s been here.

(on if Brian Orakpo’s heath background was a risk the team considered when signing him)

Yeah, that’s always the case when guys have prior injuries and more than one in the same place, you have to be concerned about it. But that’s the risk you take and the reward is obviously what you’re getting right now.

(on Kurt Coleman’s slide into Marcus Mariota and if he talked to NFL Vice President of Officiating Dean Blandino about the call)

I did not talk to (NFL Vice President of Officiating) Dean (Blandino) about that. I talked to (official) Walt (Anderson) yesterday. His explanation was, and I didn’t see it at the time, but that Marcus (Mariota) was bobbling the ball as he’s going to tuck it. I saw it on film this morning, that’s why I always don’t want to prejudge some things before I watch the tape. But I’ll say what I said afterwards, that kind of hit, regardless of what he was doing with the ball, if you’re going to err on the side of trying to prevent injuries and trying to prevent head injuries, you would err on the side of throwing a flag. That’s my feeling on it still, even after watching the tape.

(on Al Woods’ injury update)

Al (Woods) has a high-ankle sprain. Al will be out for a couple of weeks at least.