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Mike Mularkey and Marcus Mariota Conference Call Transcripts 12/17

Tennessee Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey and quarterback Marcus Mariota addressed the New England media during their conference calls on Wednesday, December 16, 2015.



(on his thoughts on the Patriots and what he has seen from them so far on film)

They are a really good football team and they're really well-coached in all phases, so it will be a good challenge.

(on what he took away from the loss to the Jets last week)

Well, we learned that to start the game, we didn't play well enough in really all three phases. Against anybody in the NFL, if you don't do that, you're not giving yourself a chance, but when you play a good football team like the Jets, it can get ugly. It did early in the first half, but I liked the way our guys responded in the second half. They came out and it was a different mindset, just a different half totally from the first half. That was good to see that we have that ability to respond to a poor half.

(on what has impressed him about the way Marcus Mariota has gone through a difficult rookie season)

Well, he's gone through a lot. You talk about a head coaching change right dab in the middle of it. We've had numerous injuries that we've had to deal with, he's been injured himself. He had to overcome some things early on from injuries. We've been in a couple games that we should have won by a play here or there, and we've won a couple games the same way. He's really experienced a lot of the emotional ups and downs and never have I seen him waver. He's got the no-flinch mentality. He's always got the look that we have a chance. I've been around quarterbacks long enough, it's a good look.

(on what kind of challenge the coaching change posed for him)

Well, it was difficult. First of all, it was on a Tuesday. It was with a very good friend of mine. Ken (Whisenhunt) and I have worked together, he hired me here, and it was very difficult for it to go down like it did. But I also understood that pages were being turned and the team needed to know exactly what direction we were going to go. You're talking about that happening on Tuesday, and Wednesday morning, the team is looking at you, standing there and wanting to know, where is this thing going to head? It was important for me that they understood my philosophy as quickly as I could get it across to them that this is what I expect, this is where I've done this, we've had success, and as a position coach I coach it this way, as a coordinator, this is my belief. It's not different as a head coach. The assistants here are supportive of it and our guys have responded very well. We've lost a couple of close games that we were certainly in and should have won. We had to do something quickly to get over the change, and I think our guys responded really well.

(on what he's seen from the Patriots' running game without LeGarrette Blount)

Well, one thing about the Patriots is they can have an injury in one place or another and you think that that's going to affect that phase. I have yet to see that happen with that team. It's well-coached, and with the way the players respond to having to fill in. Whatever way they think they need to attack us, it's going to be the mode. It's not going to be because they have one guy down here, that's not going to be the way they've done things. What they think is they're going to attack our weakness with whatever they do best, so we know in the run game, we can be tested no matter who is in there right now.

(on if he has worked with Dick LeBeau before)

No, I worked with Dick (LeBeau) in Pittsburgh.

(on what stands out to him about Dick LeBeau and the career he has had)

Oh boy, it's an honor to watch him coach and the way he interacts with players. It's just respect, he is unbelievable to be around and I'm blessed that I get this opportunity to do it again because of this situation. I lean on Dick (LeBeau) a lot because he's been in the league so long. He's been a head coach and we faced each other many a time, so he's a good person to lean on when I have questions or I need something to support what I'm doing. But he's still very young at heart, very smart, very passionate about the game, and he and Ray Horton work very well together. The communication is outstanding. I'm in all the meetings with them and I watch them and I'm on the headphones. I watch how they work and the players feed off of these two very well.

(on if he sees any similarities between Bill Belichick and Dick LeBeau from a football mind standpoint)

I think they look outside the box a lot. They're always trying to find any advantage they can to get one up on you, however way that is. They are always trying to find ways to win.



(on if Tom Brady is the NFL quarterback that players his age looked up to)

I would say so. The amount of success that he's had, I'm sure, myself included, there are a lot of young guys that would definitely like to emulate what he's been able to do. I would hope that later on in my future I can do some of the things that he's been able to do.

(on how Andy Gallik has emerged as a starting center in the NFL)

He's come in for one of our injured centers and he's done a great job of handling everything. For us, he's learning as he goes and he's getting better each and every day and we're thankful to have him.

(on what his rookie season has been like)

Up and down. There have been some good games, there have been some not so good games, but it's part of the process. I'm learning each and every single week and I'm doing my best to become the best player I can be.

(on what the keys will be to not trying to do too much against such a versatile defense)

Just focusing on what our game plan is. Take what they give me, don't force the football, and protect it. Just take it one down at a time, one play at a time, try to build rhythm and eventually we'll build some successful drives and score some points.

(on if he had to reinvent himself coming out of Oregon's system and into an NFL system)

Not at all. I've kept the same mentality throughout this season that I had at Oregon and that's kind of how I'm going to continue my career. I'll just focus on what defenses give me, whether it's run or pass. If there is an opportunity to run the football, I'll do it. It just comes down to what's kind of asked of me during the game and I'll do my best to execute to the best of my abilities.

(on how valuable it is to have Delanie Walker help him develop in his first year as he has been around the league for so long)

It's incredibly helpful. Delanie (Walker) is a leader both on and off the football field, somebody that we can look to for how to handle ourselves, how to be professionals. In terms of just on the football field, he's an incredible asset to our offense. Like you said, someone who has done it for a long time and very valuable to us.

(on how much of a threat Delaine Walker poses on other teams)

Yes, he poses a tough matchup I think for defenses. His ability to not only athletically run, but also as a blocker in our system, he's done a great job at being a versatile weapon. Like you said, he finds ways to get open, and he's got a certain type of knack for positioning his body to body up throws whether he is covered or not. That's extremely helpful to me and to this team.

(on if he's ever recognized a pass he shouldn't have thrown on tape, but still completed it because it was going to Delanie Walker)

There's a few instances, yeah. His ability to catch the football as well as make a couple guys miss and break tackles has helped me out tremendously in some instances.

(on if he recalls playing against Jordan Richards at Stanford)

Yeah, he played safety. He was a great player, a versatile player, somebody that was a force in terms of our run game and did a good job covering our guys.

(on if he's made an effort not to run in some instances so his development would progress faster by staying in the pocket)

Not at all. My mentality is just kind of to play within myself. If there is an opportunity to run, if there is an opportunity to scramble, take it, but always keep your eyes down field looking for one of the playmakers on our offense. I've kind of kept that same mentality throughout my career and I'm not really kind of changing it.

(on what he took away from last week's game that can help him going forward)

The Jets did a good job of mixing up some of their pressures, doing a good job of disguising some things. I can do a better job of helping our pass protection, whether it's moving it in the direction that I think it's coming or checking us out of plays and getting us into better situations. I can definitely learn from that game and I will. I'm glad I'm able to use it as a learning tool.

(on if he feels like the team is making progress even if the record hasn't shown that)

Yeah, I definitely do. It just comes down to the fact of there is a play here or a play there that we weren't able to execute, and it eventually just kind of led us to some these losses. But we'll learn from it. I believe we are a young team and the more that we can use this as a foundation will help us out in the future.

(on if winning the Heisman Trophy inflated the expectations for him coming into the NFL)

I don't know, that's not really a question for me. I didn't really focus on what other people thought of me, I just wanted to go out there and try to make an impact and do my best to make a difference on a team.

(on what he knew about Tennessee before he moved there)

I heard a little here and there about country music. Nashville is kind of the focal point of country music, so for me, that's all I really knew. Coming out here, I've learned that it's much more than that. There's a lot to do, the people are very nice and very respectful. It really reminds me a lot of home in terms of how people are treating each other. It's a fun place to be. I'm very happy to be here and very blessed to be here.

(on if he can walk down the street without being noticed)

I think so. I guess I would say there are a lot of country music stars that live within Nashville, and people tend to be very respectful. I'm not saying that I'm a part of that group, but people generally are very nice and whether or not they stop me, they're very respectful and very kind.

(on what he has improved on the most this year)

Well, probably playing under center. That was very new to me. I feel that I've learned throughout the season of being able to, whether it's play action or just drop back stuff, learning that game. Just learning about all these different defenses. In college, defenses kind of lined up in what you expected them to lineup in. They would try to disguise here and there, but you pretty much knew what was going on. At this level, the complexities of what defensive coordinators are able to do and the way they're able to create matchups is something that I've learned throughout this process. I think of it as a fun challenge and I'll continue to learn and get better.

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