GREEN BAY, Wisc. – The Titans kick off the preseason here tonight against the Packers.
So, what would the Titans like to see?
Head coach Mike Vrabel, offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur, defensive coordinator Dean Pees and quarterback Marcus Mariota all answer the question:
Head Coach Mike Vrabel
"What am I looking forward to? I mean I think just watching our team play, watching our team go out and hopefully play physical, play with great fundamentals, and finish every play that they're out there. That's what training camp is for, and this is just an extension of training camp. … The clean operation. Guys moving, guys getting out there, getting in the huddle, getting lined up, substitution, not looking for 12 on the field, not looking for 10, making sure that special teams groups are ready to go, that everybody's into the game, that everybody's focused, that the coaches are staying in the game one step ahead, trying to be one step ahead of the game. Then just taking a look at these guys' effort, their fundamentals, obviously their execution. Who can go out there and make some plays in a real football game? Who can tackle the guy with the ball? Who can catch? Who can break tackles? Who can make plays in the open field? All of the things that we really haven't even gotten to see much of in training camp just because of the live nature.”
Defensive Coordinator Dean Pees
"I just want to see us play. We’re not trying to trick anybody. We just want to see guys play the run, guys up front rush the passer, guys in the back end cover. That’s what we have to find out. The preseason, this game isn’t about scheme or us trying to dial up this or dial up that, trying to trick anybody. This is an evaluation process, and that’s the way Mike put it to us. I think he is absolutely right – this is an evaluation process. Do we want to win? Sure. You want to win every time you take the field. But the bottom line is we need to evaluate guys in terms of: Who can cover? Who can do the things in coverage that we ask them to do? Who can rush the passer? Who can stop the run? Who can tackle? Who can get off blocks? It is all those fundamental things. … Everyone has a different philosophy. At Baltimore, we kind of went out sometimes and threw everything in the kitchen sink at them, and kind of like, “OK, you have to work on all this stuff now.” Another mentality might be just play vanilla, and see how guys can play. It is the head coach’s prerogative on how he wants us to play. It was that way with Bill (Belichick), that’s the way it was with John (Harbaugh) and that’s the way it is going to be with Mike.”
Offensive Coordinator Matt LaFleur
"Just carrying over from practice to the game. We always talk about taking the individual drill to the team drills. Take the team drills to the game field. Just that carryover. We’ve worked hard, and Marcus has worked extremely hard on his fundamentals, his footwork, on keeping a base. And you just want to see that translate into the game on Thursday against the Packers. … And you just want to see continued improvement. I feel like we’ve made a lot of progress, because quite frankly, the defense was really taking it to us throughout OTAs and it is kind of a tug-of-war. We’ve each had our moments but we are making more plays downfield now and I think our guys have a lot more confidence. They definitely are playing faster, and they know the expectation. They know what to do, and they are really taking to the coaching, so it fun to watch these guys grow, and we are improving on a daily basis. … (How much guys play), you’re going to have to ask coach Vrabes on that one, but I think you are always tempted to play your guys, but at the same time you have to keep the big picture in mind, and ultimately you want to come out of the preseason healthy, and that is at the forefront of our minds all the time.”
QB Marcus Mariota
"Being efficient as an offense, if we can go out there and the operation is clean, we're able to move the ball. Obviously, scoring points would be great. But, just getting in and out of the huddle. Little things like that - getting back into the tempo of a game. Just making sure everything is clean and crisp. … Getting in and out of the huddle, clean and crisp operations, getting plays in and out, getting personnel in and out. All of the little things that seem kind of natural in a game situation is going to be on us to make sure we clean that up throughout this preseason so when the season rolls around, it's second nature.”
The Tennessee Titans travel to Green Bay to face the Packers Thursday night in the preseason opener for both clubs. (Photos: Donn Jones)