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Six Hot Topics From Titans Coach Mike Mularkey

Posted Nov 17, 2017

TitansOnline.com Senior Writer and Editor Jim Wyatt offers six hot topics from head coach Mike Mularkey's Friday afternoon press conference.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Mularkey held a press conference on Friday, one day after the team’s 40-17 loss to the Steelers.

A week from Sunday, the Titans travel to Indianapolis to face the Colts.

Here’s a look at six hot topics:

Mariota talk

Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 22 of 33 passes for 306 yards on Thursday night against the Steelers, with four interceptions. 

Mularkey was asked how he’d grade Mariota’s performance. Earlier on Friday, rookie Corey Davis took the blame for two of the interceptions.

“When you turn the ball over four times, whether it is you throwing it or not throwing it, there’s some things he could have done a lot better,” Mularkey said of Mariota. “Yeah, there’s some things he could have done better.”

On the season, Mariota has completed 176 of 281 passes for 2,089 yards, with eight touchdowns vs. 10 interceptions.

Mularkey said several things have factored into the high interception number, from pressures, blitzes, and receivers not being where they are supposed to be on plays.

“We’re asking him to do a lot,” Mularkey said. “I am glad he is our quarterback. … Nobody ever talks about how accurate and some of the throws he does make. All you guys keep asking me are about the ones he doesn’t, and there’s a lot of good throws he makes every Sunday – very, very tight window throws.”

Byard praise

Titans safety Kevin Byard missed his first snaps of the 2017 season on Thursday night when he left the game with a shoulder injury.

Byard later returned, however, and should be find moving forward, Mularkey said.

Byard played 73 of 76 snaps against the Steelers. He played in every snap the first nine games of the season.

“It is pretty impressive for a young player like that, and to play those snaps at a high level,” Mularkey said of Byard’s streak. “For him to come out of the game you know he had to have something bothering him. He’s about as tough as they come, too.”

Protection issues

Mariota was sacked four times on Thursday night, and he’s now been sacked 17 times on the season.

Mariota was sacked just 23 times in 15 games last season.

“Protection's got to be better,” Mularkey said. “Our O-line's got to protect better, our backs got to protect better and our receivers certainly can help.

“To me, that's some of your best protection there, the precision in your routes. It's a group thing, it's not just one particular guy or group, it's everybody. Our O-line definitely needs to be better, especially inside, more firm with our protections.”

Asked if the performance of the offensive line has slipped the past two weeks, Mularkey said: “I don't know. We just finished four straight weeks of top-10 defenses, so that may have something to do with it. They're pretty good with who they're facing, especially last night, pretty good front. Last week too, pretty stout front. And the blitz packages that they present.”

Injuries

Linebacker Brian Orakpo was leg-whipped during the contest, but he also returned and should be OK for the next game.

Guard Quinton Spain didn’t have any issues with the turf toe injury that sidelined him for two games, but Mularkey indicated he’s going to need to play better moving forward.

Recover time

The Titans had a short week to prepare for the Steelers.

Now, the team isn’t scheduled to play again until Sunday, November 26 at Indianapolis.

The stretch is a critical one for players and their bodies, Mularkey said.

“I'm a big recovery guy, I think it's good for our players,” Mularkey said. “That's a grueling week on them, Thursday night games, no matter what anybody says. It's very difficult, especially the week before when your offense runs 91 snaps then they've got to play four days later.

“I think this time off will be good for them. Coaches will have tomorrow off, we'll be back in on Sunday. Give us more time to prepare for Indy and hopefully cut down on some of the nights we have, the late nights we have during the week.”

Blocked field goal

Mularkey offered a quick explanation when asked by kicker Ryan Succop’s 48-yard field goal was blocked.

“I think from snap, to hold, to kick took too long,” he said.

Succop made a 44-yard kick later in the contest.