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Postgame Quotes: Titans vs. Browns

Posted Sep 20, 2015

Get postgame reaction from head coach Ken Whisenhunt and Titans players following their Week 2 loss at Cleveland.

Opening statement:
“Obviously, things didn’t go our way today. That wasn’t a great start for us. We knew it was going to be tough for us coming in for the second home opener in a row. We had too many self-inflicted wounds and penalties that put us in bad situations. At least we settled down and fought a little better in the second half so that we have something we can build off of.”
On the difficulty overcoming the pass pressure and multiple penalties:
“It’s difficult because it put us in third-and-long. The noise element makes it tough. When you have second-and-25 and third-and-longs, that’s what really hurt us. The third downs were a little better in the second half and we were more effective. When you start with a penalty and those kinds of things it doesn’t help. ”
On the issues with the offensive line:
“When you get multiple looks like that team gives you the noise plays a big part of it because you have to communicate that. We didn’t do a good job with that because third-and-longs make it difficult. They did a nice job in the running game but third-and-longs are tough in this league, especially in that environment. Give them credit. The fans were loud and made it difficult for us. That’s home field advantage.”
On QB Marcus Mariota’s performance:
“I was incredibly impressed with how he handled himself. The man’s a fighter. He showed a lot of poise and character in that second half. His ankle was bothering him a little bit and he still made a lot of plays. I’m glad that we have him on our football team. What Marcus has shown is that he gets better every time he gets exposed to a new situation. We’re young in a lot of spots on our offense and that showed up today. This is the first time some of the guys experienced that. We’ll work to get better, and the second half is an indicator of that because we did get better.”
On when Mariota’s ankle injury occurred:
“Early. The one play that got reviewed when he tried to cut back and his shoe came off. He fought through it, and I’m tremendously impressed with his toughness.”
On T/G Jamon Meredith’s performance:
“I think Jamon did a good job. He’s a veteran guy, and one the things we talked about during camp was his ability to play a number of spots. It was good to have him plug in there. He did that in the second half, and we had a little bit of success so that helped.”
On the Titans’ comeback in the second half:
“I think it’s a good thing that we were able to do that. We adjusted to what we had. Some of the things we can do with Marcus, we were limited with in the second half because of his ankle. We had to count on the run game, and I believe if we had gotten the ball back we would have gone down and tied up and it could be a different game. I feel like we did a good job of coming out in the second half and battling. We just have to cut out the mistakes.”

On how his ankle feels:
“I’ll be ready to play next week.”
On if Cleveland’s defensive gameplan confused him:
“Not at all. For the most part we knew where the pressures were coming from. They did a really good job of executing their gameplan. They did a good job.”
On adjusting to the defense:
“It’s tough. It’s a tough week. Week in and week out you have to prepare and they did a good job of executing their gameplan.”
On ball security:
“I just have to do a better job of having two hands on the football, not throwing the ball away, and getting the ball out of my hand quick so I don’t have to take unnecessary sacks.”
On the sack when his shoe came off:
“I just got kind of tangled up.”
On if this game is a wake-up call:
“We understand that this is a tough league and you can get beat anytime. We understood that going in. Like I said, they did a good job of executing their gameplan. I could have made a lot more accurate throws and could have been better with the football. I’ll learn that and getter better and be ready for next week.”
On getting a rhythm in the second half:
“The offensive line did a good job. We would get into imaginable 2nd and 3rd downs. We just kind of had a rhythm. They did a good job of just executing their gameplan in the first half.”
On if he feels he could have tied the game:
“For sure. You have to have confidence in your abilities and we had confidence in what we were doing. It’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes. There are things that we can improve on and get ready for next week.”
On why he felt he held the ball so long:
“They did a good job covering downfield. Like I said, they have a good secondary. Those guys make plays. I could have got the ball out of my hand quicker when our guys are open. I just have to learn from it.”
On the mistakes made on the field:
“Those things are on me. I have to pay attention to the play-clock, and know how many we got in the huddle. Those are things that I have to do better and will do better at. In terms of operating the system, I have to get better at that and I will.”
On staying in the pocket:
“For me, I just play naturally. I just play instinctively and let the game come to me and just go from there.”
On if he is fortunate for the penalties causing to get the ball back:
“It’s just the way the ball bounces sometimes. The fumbles, I take full responsibility and need to keep two hands on the football. The interception, I was just trying to make a play on third down. It happens and we were fortunate enough to get those back.”
On adjustments made toward the second half:
“It was really just about the next guy stepping in. It’s really just whoever is next has to step up and play. They did a good job locking in and understanding the game plan.”
On what changed in the second half:
“Nothing really. We stuck to our gameplan. We did a good job, and got a good push up front. A lot of things just fell short. Cleveland did a good job of executing their gameplan.”
On how limited he was because of his ankle:
“It’s tough to say. I don’t think about things like that. If you play tentative or you play scared, it’s going to get you hurt. I just did my best to execute.”

On his performance:
“(Head) Coach (Ken Whisenhunt) came to me and said, ‘Be ready to get the ball early.’  We hoped to spark something and get the run game going early.  With the opportunities that I had, the linemen blocked really well.  They gave me some creases and I’m a little guy – I can sneak through them.”
On his 44-yard run in the first quarter:
“That is something we worked on all week, the outside zone.  They showed a little bit with that and I just read my key.  The outside guy blocked his man out and I hit it as fast as I could.  The receiver threw a nice block, and it was pretty much off to the races after that.”
On the miscommunication and penalties early in the game:
“It was more of a communication thing.  We have a lot of different personnel so we all have to key in and know when we need to be in the ballgame.  We talked about that last night – eliminate missed assignments, penalties and needing to pay attention to detail.”
On the Titan’s overall performance:
“We put ourselves in a hole at the beginning.  That’s what the NFL is all about.  You have to handle adversity.  The only positive thing we can take from this game is that we didn’t quit.  We fought the whole way – up until the very end.  We have work to do, obviously.  We didn’t start fast, we were very sloppy in the first quarter but I thought we held our own.”
On QB Johnny Manziel making a big play late in the fourth quarter:
“You see it game after game with what he does.  Like I said, he hadn’t done that the whole game, and that’s what is so frustrating.  He didn’t do it – he couldn’t do it the whole game.  Then, the play he needed it, he was able to buy more time so he could throw the ball down the field.  They made a play and scored.  That is the unfortunate thing.  We had him corralled in that pocket throughout the whole game.  Take away two big plays – man, I wish we could have those back.”
On his injury:
“From my knowledge, it’s a Grade 2 sprain. I don’t know how it happened. My back was turned and somebody must have fallen on my leg. I’m just happy that I can walk. It’s not too painful, but I have a brace on it right now.”
On how the team will respond to this loss:
“This is the NFL.  This is football.  You are going to win some games and you’re going to lose some games.  It’s all about how you respond to it.”
On the pressure from the Browns defense:
“It’s the situation.  If you put yourself in a situation where you get down by two touchdowns, you are going to have to throw the ball.  They are going to bring the kitchen sink at you.  They brought a lot of pressure.  There is a lot of football left.  This is only Week 2.”
On the second-half performance:
“We came out fighting as a team and had a chance to get back in the game.”
On the toughness of QB Marcus Mariota:
“I definitely expect that out of him.  He’s a really tough guy and a great competitor.  He wanted to be out there and I think that shows a lot about him.  We just have to get in there and protect the young guy.  He knows where he’s going with the ball, what he’s going to do with it.  We just have to protect him better.”

Opening statement:
“On an injury front couple of bumps and bruises. Mingo’s (LB Barkevious Mingo) knee is a little bit sore, we’ll see how that is. Des (DL Desmond Bryant) was a game time decision with the shoulder, we’ll see how he came out of it. Overall we played well enough to win, got off to a great start. They battled back, I gave them credit. There was the rollercoaster of an NFL game. There was that long lull in the third quarter when we couldn’t get much going and gave up some plays. Overall when we needed to make plays defensively we did. Seven sacks, I think we ended up with three turnovers. Offensively, I was pleased with the way we ran the ball. I think we ended up around four yards a carry and we made some big runs when we had to. You just can’t say enough about the recovery of Travis Benjamin, has come back from the knee fully. I just told him he might not be allowed in Nashville ever again. He’s the Titan killer as I called him on the sideline a couple times. It’s great to see a guy battle back and have the production that he’s had. He’s done everything that we asked and had a phenomenal offseason and the results have showed. From a quarterback standpoint, some inconsistency but clearly made some big plays. Disappointing thing again was the football getting away from us a couple of time. We were fortunate not to turn the ball over at all even though there were a couple times it was on the ground. We did get it back but that’s something we certainly will need to address and get cleaned up.
On Manziel’s last touchdown pass of the game:
“Certainly wasn’t the way the play was designed. I think Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) had the best line of the day on the headset after he rolled out of it, ended up throwing backwards across the field, scored the touchdown. He just says real calmly while everybody was cheering, he said ‘coaching is overrated’ (laughter). They did a nice job, brought pressure. We didn’t pick it up. Johnny did a nice job getting out of it and finding (WR) Travis (Benjamin) and making a play.”
On what the plan was for that play
“The protection was firmed up we should have been able to pick that look up. I’ll have to look at the tape. I don’t know whether we miscommunicated but they ended up with one outside that we should have been able to slide to. It was going to be a much more conservative pass on the other side of the field. When he rolled away we really didn’t have any receivers on that side of the field because we protected it up but he was able to buy some time and find Travis coming across.”
On if Benjamin adjusted his route:
“Yeah, I think he saw the scramble and just flattened it out. He knew he had gotten above the defender and it was just a matter of just out running him with the football.”
On what he saw in practice to give him confidence in Manziel starting:
“As I said, he was prepared. He had gone through a lot of the reps with the ones, sitting in on meetings and then meeting with the quarterbacks on Saturday, getting a good sense of where they are from a mindset standpoint. Having him talk about what plays he likes from the game plan and why, just being interactive. I think – this is any position- I think when players are interactive with the plan, ‘we like this.’, ‘we don’t like this.’ As coaches we can go ahead and, I always say ‘hey, we’re not the ones out there playing. They’re the ones out there trying to execute these plays so let’s make sure they’re confident in what we’re doing.’ He was very interactive with the plan and again, there’s some inconsistency there but he made enough plays for us to win.”
On if Manziel will keep the starting job:
“(QB) Josh (McCown) is in the concussion protocol still. So until that situation is resolved, then he will be the starter.”
On if Manziel will start after McCown is cleared:
“We’ll cross that bridge when we get to it. I’m not going to speak on that one.”
On the TD on the second play of the game:
“It was something we had schemed up that we knew we wanted to take a shot, if they came out in a certain personnel grouping that we felt that we could get Travis behind the defense.”
On if it was a part of the plan for Manziel to be conservative with his throws:
“It wasn’t to be that conservative, we got a little bit conservative in the third quarter and they did a good job- it would have been hard to justify up 21 to come out and be throwing the ball. We wanted to make sure at the very least that the clock was moving. They did a good job knowing that. Bad things can happen when you throw the football and especially with the lead we did not want to- we weren’t sitting on it but at the same time we were picking our best runs and wanted to make sure that we worked the clock and that the possessions weren’t fast. Like I said, I give them credit for defending what we did and we found I thought a critical part was that last drive where we were able to punch that ball out and hit some big runs. Then we got the first down, we were able to end up driving down and taking the shot.”
On the key to putting pressure on Titans QB Marcus Mariota
“I think it was a good mix. I think Jimmy O (defensive coordinator Jim O’Neil) did a really good job mixing pressure with straight rush. We got to him a lot with just straight four man rush. Not just the sacks, I think there was also a cumulative effect with that we hit him a bunch too. We did a good job of there were a lot of pass plays, I look back, he’s picking himself up off the ground. Anytime you can do that to a quarterback, not just get the production with the sacks but affect him, you like to think that that has a cumulative effect over the course of a game.”
On the game plan at fourth and inches:
“We debated, do we want to go up three scores. Anytime its inches we have confidence in our guys that we can make it. We felt we were up two scores and that we felt we could get that. I give credit to them for stopping us, we didn’t execute the play, the sneak well enough. It’s easy to say I regret it now that it didn’t work out, we just felt we had momentum. The way we were playing defense we had them shut out to that point. It was a decision we made and we rolled with it.”
On if that is what he wanted to see out of RB Isaiah Crowell in regards to breaking tackles:
“That was the big challenge all week. Running hard, breaking tackles. It is not just him. That whole room – I thought Duke did a nice job as well and hit some runs where it wasn’t blocked for much and the next thing you know the sticks were moving or it was a real positive gain. I thought both backs did a real good job.
On the play of the defense:
“There is definitely some things to get cleaned up, but overall anytime you hold an offense down for that long you are going to be successful. When you get to the quarterback seven times and you get some takeaways. You are going to win a heck of a lot more games than when you don’t. That group took the challenge. I think the whole team did. You heard it from talking to guys in the week Whitner especially – embarrassed or whatever it was that we didn’t go out there with our best effort and we let the circumstances the way the Jets game went, get to us a little bit. I thought the sideline did a great job. The energy was up even though the third quarter went the way it did with us not generating much offense. Overall I felt it was a great team win. We got a contribution from special teams. The (offense) did some good things to get us the lead and obviously close the game for us. Defensive they were solid throughout.”
On if Manziel looking to run less was a result of game planning by the Titans or the coaching staff emphasizing it:
“I think he has a good sense of when to get out of the pocket if it opens up. I thought they did a good job of running some interior line games where you could tell they game planned for it, whereas New York did not. Just my sense from the sideline there weren’t kind of as many gaping scramble lanes. I thought they did a good job of keeping him the pocket.”
On the performance of WR Travis Benjamin:
“To me, you can’t be happier for a guy for what he has gone through. Coming back and last year not being 100 percent and that really weighed on him. When you see a guy buy in and prepare the way he prepared. Anybody that spent time around him – you all know he is a great player and an even better person. Those are the kind of guys you root for. It was awesome to watch him have the production that he did.”
On how important it was to get the win today:
“To me, all wins are important. It was great. I told the guys afterwards there is no better view than to stand there in the locker and look at the look on their faces. Winning in front of our crowd. There is no better feeling just to see them celebrate afterwards. It is special. Winning is hard in the NFL. For us to be able to do it in front of our home fans on our opener it makes it that much more special.”
On LB Barkevious Mingo’s knee injury:
“I am not sure if it was the same knee or not. I don’t think it was anything serious. I think it is something we will have to monitor.”
On ‘what channel he had the remote’ set on during the game:
“We control the volume. I thought our fans did a great job. They stayed in the game, too. We didn’t give them much to cheer about in third quarter and in the fourth when they came back and got it to within a score. They were there for us in the end. That is what I tell our guys. We want them to be loud and use it as an advantage that we have to do that. I thought at the end of the game they were outstanding.”
On Manziel’s second touchdown throw:
“It was a heck of a play. He felt pressure coming from his blind spot. It was vintage Manziel. We want him to play within structure and make a read, but when a play breaks down that is what he brings. The ability to escape. He did an outstanding job. I thought he had the chance to just run there. One of the signs of maturity there too was that he kept his eyes down field. He used that as an opportunity – ‘I am not just going to get ‘X’ number of yards and slide. I am going to keep my eyes down the field and make a play.’ We saw the result.”​

On his second touchdown throw:
“Yeah, it was a third-and-[6] situation so we figured they would bring some pressure. It ended up being the case, one short there. When it just comes down to it, we just had to make a play. I think it was a great job by (WR) Travis (Benjamin). Not only that play but all day staying alive and making plays. He took the middle of the field, and the safety kind of bit down to stop the run and I threw it over the top. I threw it high enough so Travis could run under it. To seal the game, like that was awesome.”
On if his second touchdown throw felt like vintage Manziel to him as Coach Mike Pettine said:
“Yeah, it felt awesome. I knew when (Titans LB Brian) Orakpo said, ‘Oh [shoot],’ we were going to have a good play.”
On his emotions after his first win as a starter:
“Yeah, to get to 1-1 is awesome for us. I, personally, first win at home, season opener, it was a pretty awesome script for me. As far as a team, offensively I think we got started early, then got into a little bit of a lull, but we continued to fight and continue to stay on this block. At the end, to be able to run a couple minutes off before we even get into that third situation was huge.”
On how the chemistry between him and Benjamin has manifested:
“Travis is a, guy even going into last year, coming in not really knowing much about him and I get on the field with him last year and you can’t throw it far enough. Getting a year and a half with him, you can throw it as a far as you want and you are never really going to out throw him. That is what I have learned from Trav. What an incredible day for him. Offense and special teams, that was a heck of performance.”
On if he heard Orakpo say, ‘Oh [shoot]’:
On if his second touchdown throw to Benjamin was a little bit sweeter because Orakpo was one of the guys who got on his case in Washington last season:
“No, I wouldn’t say it is anything – me against Orakpo. I just knew whenever he went inside a little bit too much I was able to spin out of it. He knew he was probably supposed to contain a little bit there. That whole play in general was a little bit vintage. It worked out.”
On Benjamin’s route on his second touchdown catch:
“Yeah, Trav was running a go on the far side and saw me break contain and just put his hand and screamed across the field. That is one of those balls where you just throw it high enough and far enough and Trav will run under it.”
On his original reads on the second touchdown throw:
“It was third-and-5 so my first look was the run right there and try to get five yards and get down and keep the clock running and keep our four-minute offense right there. Saw the safety out in the middle of the field stop and run towards me to try cut me off. When I saw that sucked him, then Travis had a great angle on the corner.”
On if his performance feels more like ‘Johnny Football’:
“This was a good win. This is a good day. We need to enjoy this for tonight, watch it and put it to bed tomorrow and move onto the next one. There are a lot of games in an NFL season. Before we know, we will be on to the next one trying to beat the Raiders.”
On if it the win is satisfying because it could possibly quiet his critics, specifically ESPN analyst Meril Hoge:
“It is satisfaction seeing the rest of the guys in the locker room, being able to be in there, all those guys dancing, getting the first win of the season and getting a win that we really needed. Merril Hoge will always be Merril Hoge. For me, it is sweet get the first win, sweet to see how the locker room was after the game.”
On how the win is for him personally:
“It’s sweet. I’ve come a long way from that point on January 17. To be sitting here today and just having the ultimate turnaround from what it was the first two starts I had last year, personally, it feels awesome. I think I’m getting better. Still missed some things that I’m going to be hard on myself about tomorrow on film, but all around, I’m proud of the guys, proud of the effort that we had today. The defense, can’t speak enough about them and what they do.”
On if he is worried about the amount of fumbles:
“I had two hands on the ball I felt like – I don’t know what’s going on but it can’t happen. Luckily able to get both of those back, but that could have been a huge turning point. That’s one of the things that I’m still really hard on myself. I think I did a better job of last week, having two hands on it, but still not the result we want.”
On how important it is to keep the momentum going:
“Anytime we can get this together, even going back to last year when we were winning some games, what a feeling that is here in the city Cleveland. Especially going into a home game next week coming off a win, this place will be electric. To keep that momentum going, keep trying to string these wins together, that’s what we’re going to keep trying to do.”
On if he wants to start next week:
“I want to do whatever I’m supposed to do for this team. Whether (QB) Josh (McCown) comes back and we make a move or whatever the case, is I’m going to do whatever – whatever I’m told to do whatever I’m asked to do. I think that’s my job here. Obviously, want to be out there playing, but if that’s not the case I’ll take it in stride and prepare like I’d be the guy.”
On how the coaching staff plays to his strengths:
“Yeah, I think Flip (offensive coordinator John DeFilippo) did a great job today, getting in communication with personnel, switching up the personnel, getting it exactly detailed the way we want and calling some good plays. I think we got into a little bit of a lull there running the ball first and second down and putting our self in some third and long. Those are just tough situations to try and make plays when they drop a little bit and bum rush. For the most part, I think the way our offensive system is, the way our scheme is, I think it fits well.
On if he will take a look at Merril Hoge’s orange and brown tie:
“Of course.”
On if only personally rushing for 2 yards can be seen as a positive:
“Yeah, it’s awesome. Crowell went for 75 so anytime we can get that close to if not over 100 yards. I think (RB) Duke (Johnson Jr.) did a great job when his number was called today. The way our offensive line worked today, really pushing them around, was awesome to see. When it’s not on the quarterback having to run the ball, only having to run when it’s a third down or trying to make something happen, we can have the running backs take most of those blows and really push the ball down the field. That’s all you can ask for.”
On if he lost some of his confidence last year and if it is back now:
“I think it’s, I don’t want to – I just want to say it’s one game. There’s no reason to be too high about it or too low about it. I think there were somethings I could have done better. You have to come into this game at this position and be confident in your scheme, be confident in your preparation for the week and be confident in your ability. There was a lot of work to try and get here, a lot of hard work. Just continuing and trying to stay positive and not really trying to lose any of that swagger you had coming in. I think that’s the thing. Don’t get too down, but at the same time, it’s awesome to get out of this game with a win, boost your confidence a little bit.”
On WR Travis Benjamin:
“He’s shifty. Right off the line, you’d better be ready for him. I think sometimes throughout this game, they even shifted a safety toward him a little bit so teams are going into the weeks definitely preparing for Trav now. Just know on every ball snap you better get off the line quick or he’s going to run right by you. It’s been awesome to see him come out and have a day like it was today. Come out, first second play of the game, have that kind of bond, just throw it as far as you want and have him run under it. Come back at the end of the game do the same thing, it’s special, and he’s obviously a special player so I’m very happy he’s on our side.”


On his second touchdown catch:
“It was one of those downs where we needed to stay on the field. Once I saw (QB) Johnny (Manziel) rolling left, I knew I just had to get in his vision. He just saw me and launched the ball and I ran up under it.”
On if he and Manziel made eye contact:
“His eyes are always downfield. When Johnny is scrambling, he’s always looking to throw first. Once I put my hand up, I saw him call it and I just ran up under it.”
On his relationship with Manziel:
“We all have a great relationship. My main goal is trying to help him to help the offense because we need him. It doesn’t matter if it’s him or (QB) Josh (McCown). That connection as a receiving group is what makes us close with those guys.”
On managing to be open so often:
“Being fast. It just comes to a point where, if a defensive back is five to six yards close to me and I have the deep ball, I just tell Johnny or Josh to put it in the air and I’ll go get it for them.”
On Head Coach Mike Pettine telling him he could never go to Nashville:
“I looked at him and said I won’t ever go back again. Even if we had to play again, it would be a tough time for me (laughter).”
On how this year is compared to last year after his injury in 2013:
“It’s a bit comforting and different. Last year going in, I was kind of hesitant in my steps. This year going in as a punt returner, I want to be the best in the game. I sat down and talked to (special teams coordinator) Coach (Chris) Tabor about it and he believed in me. We came to it this year and we’re having a great year so far.”
On the punt return touchdown:
“It was designed. We had a field return and Tennessee is always trying to spread the field. I saw a crease and once I hit it, I was untouched until the end zone.”
On the first touchdown pass:
“Based on coverage. We knew that we would get a certain coverage. Before Johnny and I even came on the play in that series, I told him if you get this coverage just launch the ball and I’d go get it.”
On Manziel:
“He’s a great guy. He ignores the noise outside, which everyone doesn’t notice. He’s just got to keep playing. Winning this week, we’ve got Oakland on the schedule next week. We’ve just got to come out and do the same thing.”
On if he envisioned starting the season with four touchdowns in two games:
“I always envision greatness, knowing that every time I’m on the field I’m coming out and putting my best foot forward.”
On if people doubted he would make the team:
“I don’t look at the media. I don’t look at the outside looking in. I know that as a personal goal, I was going to compete and play hard, and I made the 53.”
On if he feels any pressure:
“I don’t put pressure on myself. We as an offensive unit know that it takes 11 guys to run a play. As we come out there, we know the goals we set for ourselves as an offense. Once we went up, we know the defense is going to get the stop.”
On being utilized more as a receiver than past years:
“I think it’s a good thing for me, knowing that the previous coaches thought I was just a return guy and this coaching staff came in and Flip (John Deflippo) came in and he used me in the offense, and that’s great thing for me and the Browns.”
On if he really didn’t know he was close to breaking a Browns record for most all-purpose yards:
“I didn’t know that. I probably would have went to Flip (John DeFilippo) and had him dial up another play (laughter).”
On if his confidence and swagger is coming back after the injury with four touchdowns on the board:
“I wouldn’t say it’s swagger. I’m always confident. I know that just believing in God and just going out there and playing at my highest ability possible, good things are going to happen.”