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Coach Mularkey's Monday Press Conference Transcript

Posted Oct 9, 2017

Titans head coach Mike Mularkey reviews Sunday's Week 5 game at Miami with reporters at Saint Thomas Sports Park.

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE MULARKEY PRESS CONFERENCE TRANSCRIPT  - October 9, 2017

(opening statement)

Marcus (Mariota), he's come along very well. He has a couple of good days of rehab, even last night, getting back from the game, he came in here and did some things that were a plus, and same thing today. I'd say (Johnathan) Cyprien is again, I'd rule him out probably this week. Corey (Davis) is getting close. Is it this week? I'm not sure yet, it's positive with Corey. We'll see where he's at at the end of the week. And (Taylor) Lewan, he's day-to-day.

(on if the results of tackle Taylor Lewan's MRI came back positive)

Yes, it's not very serious, but there's enough there to make it day-to-day.

(on if quarterback Marcus Mariota is day-to-day)

Yes.

(on why safety Johnathan Cyprien's injury is taking as long to recover from as it is)

It was more severe than the rest of them.

(on if Johnathan Cyprien and Corey Davis' injuries are similar)

No, I think it was more severe with Johnathan (Cyrpein).

(on if Johnathan Cyprien's injury was more severe than initially expected)

Yeah, prior to getting the MRI, yeah when I first reported on it I didn't know the extent with the MRI.

(on the team's protection issues in this game)

Some was we got beat up front, whether it was one-on-one. Should've thrown hot on the one we took a hit, or Matt (Cassel) took a hit, that's a hot throw. Matt (Cassel) should've thrown it away on the first one. Don't take an unnecessary hit by (Ndamukong) Suh over there on our sideline. It was a sack for minus one, but to me it was more about the hit, just throw the ball, you're out of the pocket, throw it away, throw it into the stands, give it to a kid, do something, but don't take the hit. From one area or another, it was one specific thing. They didn't blitz us anymore because it was Matt (Cassel) over Marcus (Mariota), they were blitzing to stop the run, initially. We knew that was going to be the case, that's what they did to us last year. It wasn't like more than normal, what we got.

(on if there was a whistle on the fumble that was run back for a touchdown)

I'll still stand by my players. To describe the play, it's hard to describe because there's not a bean bag thrown, there's no signal of incomplete, there's actually nothing. I'll stand by my players every day of the week, every minute of the day. When they're telling me something, they're telling me the truth. They said there was a whistle. You can watch the reaction of everybody, but what really gets you is the two defenders that are coming on the field from their sideline making it 13 defenders on the play. There's 13 Miami Dolphins on the field when that play is taking place. Their guys thought it was a dead play too. That's illegal as well, I'm very shocked that they didn't see that in the review that they had 13 players on the field.

(on if a play where 13 players are on the field is challengeable)

If I would have known, yes. If I'd had known.

(on if Matt Cassel's fumble should've been ruled a forward pass)

The ball went 13 yards forward, I'd be tough for me to call that a fumble if it goes that far.

(on the problem with officiating is a result of officials relying on replay if they don't know what the correct call is)

There was just a lot of that play, I just wish it all would've been talked about before or at least seen in the replay, to see that many guys on the field, that would've solved all the problems. I would've liked to have a chance, I talked to the official on our sideline about the whistle being blown, and that was never put into the conversation of the replay, which it should be.

(on if the disparity between Marcus Mariota's and Matt Cassel's mobility is what's leading to more sacks)

Obviously, you know, like similar to the two quarterbacks we faced prior to this, their ability to get out and escape, that's a plus. There's no question about that. We had many opportunities to sack those two, we had them in our hands and they got away. Another reason for the number of sacks we have defensively. But that's what Marcus (Mariota) gives you, by getting out of the pocket. I'm not sure what Marcus, I'd almost assume he would've thrown the ball away, that first one, and not taken a hit.

(on if he would coach tight end Jonnu Smith any differently on the play that brought back the touchdown)

He had a 12-yard route. His job was to try to occupy the corner if the corner was not occupied, if he dropped off under Delanie (Walker), then we were going to throw to Jonnu (Smith) underneath. No, he's just running a route just like you see every Sunday by most tight ends. You see that all the time.

(on if the officials thought there was too much contact on the offensive pass interference call against Jonnu Smith)

Yeah, that's what they thought. That's a lot of plays, you can do that in a lot of games.

(on where he draws the line between being critical of officiating and 'calling it like he sees it’)

I've got to be careful because I'll get in trouble if I do that. I get in trouble for holding people accountable. To me, you're talking about two teams that have big factors in the game, as well as officials. They're just as much of a factor in the game. When they're game-changing plays, someone has to be held accountable, but you get in trouble if you go in too much detail about it. I do have a problem with that, I do, I have a problem with that.

(on if he is a proponent of the full-time officials)

They're going to have that.

(on how Marcus Mariota still stayed involved in the game)

He's great on the sideline, great. He had an earpiece in, he knew what was going in play wise. He's great for Matt (Cassel). He was very positive.

(on the officials ruling it a first down when Dolphins running back Jay Ajayi was short on third-and-seven)

I've got a bunch of guys upstairs that are responsible for challenging plays, and when they don't say, 'hey coach, you need to challenge that,' if I don't get something from any of them. And from my vantage point, was it like an official's? No, but it looked like from where I was that he had gotten it. Plus the way that things were going for us yesterday, I can't say we'd have gotten a positive outcome from challenging it.

(on why no one upstairs told him to challenge the play)

They didn't think it was challengeable. They didn't think it was worth challenging.

(on if the team's 11 penalties was a result of the officials or undisciplined play)

We've got to clean up. We've been very good this year with penalties, we're one of the top teams. Yesterday was not good for us. We had nine penalties on offense, five of them in the first quarter. Five penalties and two turnovers in the first quarter is going to get you beat most days. We had too many penalties. Again, I'll go back, our special teams kind of eliminated them. We've got to just keep talking about it. We showed them the penalties this morning from the five games, how much it's made a difference in the field position game. It's pretty impractical when it comes from a special teams unit. That's us, we've got to be better.

(on if he saw something that was drastically different for the defense between the Houston game and the Miami game)

We had much better communication, that's the first thing that stands out, just watching the tape. Watching them from the sideline, much better communication. Really guys being where they're supposed to be, really playing the role. Be where you're supposed to be and do what you're supposed to do when you get there. That was kind of their mentality for the whole week and it showed up yesterday.

(on who he credits for the improved communication between the defense)

Really the linebacking group and the safeties.

(on the change in schedule for a Monday-night game)

Today's a typical Monday for us. Tomorrow will be the player's day off. Wednesday will be an extra day for us, it will be a later start to the day, bring them in late morning so they can get some more rest. Thursday will be a Wednesday, Friday will be a Thursday. The only thing really different for us this week will be our Friday practice will be Saturday, it will be at night and it will be about the same time that the game starts Monday night. So we'll have an under-the-lights practice starting at 7:30.

(on the reason that wide receiver Taywan Taylor has been less involved on offense)

Not purposefully, just some things he needs to clean up too. He's a young guy that's learning the ropes, some of that has to do with him, some of it we could help get more too him. Obviously, yesterday we started the game yesterday with him. We had some other things in there for him, we just didn't get to them with the way the game was unfolding.

(on how he’ll prepare to stop the run blitz knowing that teams are preparing to implement that play against the offense)

Got to block them better, which in the run game, we were prepared for the way we had some alignments and formations and things like that. We were in position to block them, we just didn’t do a good job blocking them.

(on how frustrating it is knowing a game plan was prepared correctly but wasn’t executed efficiently)

It’s frustrating. It’s very frustrating especially when Saturday morning, you’ve even made some more adjustments to make sure you can pick up their secondary support, which is pretty good. We didn’t. 

(on the reasoning behind his decision to receive the ball first)

I’d like to hopefully get a fast start and put some points on the board early. Put them more on their heels than us.

(on what players were doing well on the Titans’ touchdown drive at Miami than they didn’t do on other drives)

I thought the key was, it was nine plays, we had one third down of the nine plays. We made first downs on first and second down and we obviously converted the third down. We did some things to try to make that not happen with the penalties down there in the red zone. We were trying our best to screw it up, but it was just making more yards, guys making plays.

(on if there was a specific reason running back DeMarco Murray had a significantly higher amount of playing time than running back Derrick Henry)

No. We talked about it after that (we) probably need to do a better job of getting Derrick (Henry) some more balls. 

(on if the offensive line has performed below his expectations through five weeks)

I’d say yesterday, I’d say yes to that. I can’t say I would say that to the first four based on who we played. I’d say yesterday, yeah. I would. 

(on what it says about tight end Phillip Supernaw that he was able to score a touchdown after being penalized two consecutive plays before)

Two mistakes. Well, I’ll say this. I give our offensive staff credit to stick with the play that was going to him and trust him to make up for it. I give a lot of credit to him, that was a big catch. Very big catch. It was designed just exactly the way it unfolded. Maybe it was better to be further out than we were, maybe that’s what he was thinking when he jumped, I don’t know. No, I’m just (kidding). No, I give him a lot of credit. That’s a lot of pressure on you. You know the play call, you know you’re the number one guy on it and you just had a couple false starts. I give him credit. 

(on if he’s ever had a situation like that before where a player gets penalized twice and still gets the next play to him)

I can’t remember the last time I’ve done that, but I think that’s a credit to our staff to trust him to make the play.

(on what the mindset is facing the Colts who have had success over the Titans in recent seasons)

I think it’s a big game for – obviously a division game, it’s a Monday night game. It’s in front of the national TV audience. We’ve got to get back to basics on offense like we did with our defense this past week. Hopefully we can get three phases that play well against Indy. Again, even throughout all the – how many in a row? Again, this will be a good football game.

(on if the team is looking to reestablish the identity it created last season)

I think I probably (would) say (we) lost some of that in Houston. Gained back some of it yesterday, especially defensively. Our special teams – again, the penalties always overshadow a lot of things. It’s all you really remember, but our guys are covering – protecting and covering about as well as they can on punt. To get a 20-yard, 23-yard line return in kickoff, that’s all you’re getting these days. Everybody’s either kicking it, touchbacks. But when we’re covering, we are covered as well as anybody in the National Football League.

(on why cornerback Brice McCain didn’t get more playing time at Miami)

Just playing the rotation we wanted to play. Just was not as much involved with him or Tye Smith.

(on if Brice McCain’s lesser playing time yesterday was a result of his performance at Houston)

No, nothing. Just wanted to play the rotation we had against who they had. 

(on if he’ll game plan for Colts quarterback Jacoby Brissett as well as Andrew Luck)

I think you’ve got to plan for both. Again, we’re in the midst of – we just got done at 1:45, so we’re just getting into game planning right now. So, that will come up here this afternoon.

(on the Colts being a different team than he’s faced previously in terms of their offensive philosophy)

Yeah, I know the coordinator pretty well, Rob Chudzinski. What he does well to me is he plays to his players’ strengths. I think again, Jacoby (Brissett) being kind of new to the system, new to the team, I think he’s balanced it a little bit more with the run game, and they’ve got a run game. But, I think he’s done a good job of just playing to who he’s playing with right now.

(on how much thought he would give to not starting quarterback Matt Cassel in Week 6 if quarterback Marcus Mariota is still unable to play)

Right now that’s not in any consideration. It’d be Matt (Cassel), and everybody around Matt has to play better for Matt.

(on if the team has made a new policy as to how to handle the national anthem with wide receiver Rishard Matthews opting to remain in the locker room)

No, we haven’t had a discussion about it. That’s his choice, and you see everybody else’s choice, and I support all of it.

(on if he submitted the controversial fumble ruling on Matt Cassel from yesterday’s game to the league for further review)

We have submitted everything, yes.

(on if he has a practice expectation for Marcus Mariota this week)

No, I’m going to see. He’s done more each day, especially the last couple days in regard to treadmill work. Again, we’re not going to do anything that’s going to put him in a setback. First things first, not going to set him back. I’m not going to put a timeline on which practice we’re looking at. Every day – might be Wednesday, might be Friday.

(on if playing Monday Night Football this week is an advantage due to the extra day of rest it provides)
That helps. That helps immensely, no question.

(on if the last two weeks have put a damper on the team’s confidence and how to keep the confidence level up)
When I come into this team meeting, I get a vibe of our team. I have a very good vibe for them, especially this last one where we’re doing an overview of the Colts, getting ready to play them. They’re in a good place. They know we’ve got to get better in certain areas and play better. Can’t play any less, defensively we’ve got to play just the same standards we played yesterday. They’re in a good place, they’ll be ready to work this week for this game.

(on if it’s possible Marcus Mariota will be a game-time decision again)

Obviously earlier the better, but yeah. I’d say could go all the way up to the game.

(on reestablishing physicality to get the offense in position to run the ball even when the box is stacked)
Really looking at it, looking at that game yesterday, where we really put ourselves in a hole is on second down. We had a number of second-and-two’s and second-and-three’s, and short seconds that ended up being third-and-longs for one reason or another. The run that we had, couple of runs we had where we went back instead of taking what they gave us, whether it was a sack, numerous false start penalties, most of them on second down, those were more of a factor. Again, I’m going to say this. It was more of us stopping us on second down, putting us into tough situations on third down that we’ve got to clean up.

(on CBS broadcasting a high school photo of him during yesterday’s game)
I heard that. Yeah, my wife said it wasn’t very complimentary at all. No, I didn’t know that and actually I was going to ask Robbie (Bohren) where that photo came from.

(on the performance of the specialists yesterday)

They’re playing really well, really well. That punt out of the – backed up, that’s tough. You don’t get into your full rhythm and I think he (Brett Kern) punted it 70-something yards to get it out of there, was huge. He’s doing really well. That was a tough team yesterday in regards to punt because they have a very good scheme of rushing us, and our guys blocked it up and covered well.