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Tennessee Titans Postgame Quotes 8/25

Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Vrabel and quarterback Ryan Tannehill comment on their preseason game against the New England Patriots on Friday, August 25, 2023.

TITANS HEAD COACH MIKE VRABEL

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 25, 2023

How did you like what Malik (Willis) did? Bouncing back from kind of a rough start and the way he finished?

Love the way that he competed, loved it. Got to eliminate the mistakes. I think that the one there to Josh (Whyle), I thought that the protection kind of dictated that throw, that miss. And then the other one, you just have to make a better decision. But love what he was able to do after that. Just competed and finished and kept his eyes downfield. Just got to take care of the football.

How do you think the defense competed overall, with the starters early and the backups late?

I thought it was okay. It was good. The one drive there, I think that has to be better. We allowed them into the red zone, and we didn't force them to kick a field goal. During the regular season, when they get in the red zone, you're going to have to try to force them to make kicks.

What went into the decision for (Andre) Dillard to play as long as he did?

Head coach's decision.

Colton Dowell, what did you see from him tonight and just his progress to this point?

He didn't play last week, but it was cool to see him be able to run through a couple of catches and have a good day. I think just the consistency, the volume and a lot of the details for these young receivers is the thing that I keep seeing. But I thought it was a good game for him. It was an important game for him. Had a good week of practice. So, we'll take a look at the film. I would say continue on that path and clean up some of the little details. But it was good to see him show up down the field tonight.

You were able to get (Michael) Badgley a good volume of chances. What do you take from what he did?

Well, you've got to make them. But I thought he bounced back. We'll take a look at it and work through his performance and see what that looked like. And then, go from there just like we will everybody else. Disappointed, and I know he would have liked to have that one back. It's unfortunate.

I know you guys prioritize kind of knocking the football loose from quarterbacks. I think you got two or three of those tonight. Good sign as you get ready for the regular season?

Yeah. If we're going to keep turning the football over, we better create more than what we're giving away.

Were you hoping to get more than three out of Ryan (Tannehill) or is it just the way that unfolded with the three, then stop?

Just three.

Malik's (Willis) ability to kind of come back from those mistakes, those errors, and compete, like you said, is that a sign of the development you were really hoping to see?

I think. You're going to throw some interceptions in this league. And to go back out there and again, I don't know if Malik's (Willis) going to tell you this, but we had called the play and maybe he didn't hit him earlier. And you come over, as a coach, sometimes you say, 'Hey, that was open.' You maybe chase it, and you have to know if it's not there, it's not there. We try to do that in practice. I hope we can learn from this. We tried to do it in practice with the ball to Nick Westbrook(-Ikhine). We tried to do it from the game and come back in the scrimmage. We had two guys drop underneath Nick and try to run the same play. He (Malik Willis) kind of threw it into coverage—now, it wasn't intercepted, but we told him, 'Hey, just because we're trying to come back and correct it and make sure we can move on—if it's not there, it's not there.' So, that was another case of that. And we'll have to make sure that just because we say it was open one time and we call it again, doesn't guarantee that it's going to be open the next time. But I felt there was a competitiveness. And guys were working hard for him, especially there in the second half. We have to start faster. That's obvious.

How do you feel Kearis Jackson did to kind of help himself to replace Kyle Philips while he's out?

I wouldn't say, replacing Kyle (Philips) or anything like that. I thought he had a good showing. I thought the play extension and the ball coming in there in the end zone and being able to go up and catch it and high point and catch it in front of your eyes. I'm probably nitpicking—probably could have returned the one that he fair caught on the 10. But that's why I wanted to try to give him another opportunity there late in the game. Got north and south and we started on the 40 yard line, 16-yard return.

Guys like (Michael) Dwumfour and (Kyle) Peko coming in late to camp, making an impact in the preseason game. They're showing up well enough to make some tough decisions regarding defensive linemen?

Yeah, that's the whole idea. Try to create as many decisions and competition at each spot. Michael (Dwumfour) keeps showing up. Kyle (Peko) finds a way to get to the game. Banged up. He's a veteran. He knows how important these games and these evaluations are. Michael gets in there and shows up and is productive and has great play speed.

Caleb Murphy getting another sack. Obviously, the consistency in games, you've kind of seen that with him. Anything that surprised you with his growth throughout camp to this point?

No. I think, again, it's a full group. There's a bunch of guys there that are competing for spots. We've got a couple of guys that we know are going to be here. And so that group behind there has been competitive and Caleb's (Murphy) continued to work and develop.

(Denico) Autry seemed like he had a lot bottled up to let out. What do you think of what he was able to do out there and what it bodes for coming up?

I wouldn't have phrased it the way you phrased it, but I thought that—Denico (Autry) is an old soul. He is a no-nonsense type guy. He has an earn-everything mentality from the time that probably he got to college and then was undrafted. He's fought for everything. Try to tell our young players, 'This is a great example. You guys should try to emulate him.' We also try to take care of him a little bit and get him what he needs. But he shows up. He'll fight and compete. Love that he's here.

What was the final preseason game like for you, as guys have busted it for you all offseason and now the process starts, the next couple of days, to start saying goodbye to some of these guys?

I think that's part of it. As a player, having been through it and then certainly as a coach, you try to be as respectful as you can, knowing that you're not going to be able to keep everybody. Try to be as honest as you can about why it didn't work or what may happen in the future, or guys that we want to work with on the practice squad. It's part of our game. It's something that, I think, everybody tries to do as respectfully as possible.

What did you think of the first-team O-line tonight?

We all have to start faster, start better.

Do you feel that the offensive line has improved from Chicago to now?

I guess. We're trying to figure out guys that can play swing tackle and guys that can play inside and give us the best aid on game day.

QUARTERBACK MALIK WILLIS

Postgame Press Conference
Friday, August 25, 2023

Do you bounce back from things and learn series to series?

That's what I'm trying to do. We come off the field and talk to Tim (Kelly) and Charles (London). We try to figure out what they're trying to do to us, we try to figure out what we're trying to do the next drive and understand that we can keep working through it, and we can come back.

You got a lot of work in the preseason, all three games. How do you feel like that helped you progress as a quarterback?

I think it was cool to just get back out there with pads on and being in a live game situations, understanding that we just got to keep converting and getting first downs, understanding when we need to take the loss and punt, just to keep figuring things out.

Can you walk us through the touchdown to Kearis (Jackson)?

Initially he wasn't open. I scrambled out to the right and found him in the back of the end zone.

Do you feel like you have done a better job of putting bad plays behind you?

More than anything, you just want to try to be perfect. I was trying to be perfect, and you can't be perfect. It's not a perfect game. And you understand the people on defense get paid too, and it's going to be about who continues to keep going after the mistakes and who fights for the longest and the hardest.

How much do you enjoy that time in the huddle on long drives as you're marching down the field?

It's awesome because you see those guys want to finish it out. You see those guys want to fight. You see the defense getting tired and you just try to do your best to let those guys know "Hey, let's do this. Let's finish this off. Let's get points here."

How much has the offensive line improved during the last three weeks?

Oh, they've grown leaps and bounds. That's just the hard work they've put in, watching the film, correcting it and just staying on the same page and continuing to stay positive and keep working.

Is the pass you threw to (Julius) Chestnut an example of a play where last year you might've took off and run with it but instead you kept your eyes down the field and found him open in the end zone?

I'm not sure I would compare it to last year. We've got a new offense, but I think in that situation, if I had somebody, slightly covered, I might have took off if I saw it was man coverage. But, like Julius (Chestnut) on that? No, he's been making good catches for us. So, I gave him an opportunity.

What would you say has been your biggest area improvement that you're most proud of?

I think the most important thing has been really figuring out those mistakes and trying to correct them, and not taking weeks and months to correct something. Maybe taking a few moments and understand what's trying to get put towards me and how can I fix it.

Do you have to have a short-term memory at your position?

A short-term memory, for sure. Each play really, because you can't worry about the last play and execute the play that you're in right now.

Is that something you've had to work on? Or is that something you've always had?

It's something I've had to work on.

Are you pleased with the preseason overall?

I think there's a lot of stuff to clean up. I think there's a lot of work. I'm proud of the guys and the way they fought throughout the whole preseason. Guys down and other guys stepping up, I think it's been awesome that people got opportunities. It's just been cool.

What kind of things did you do to work on short term memory and putting those mistakes behind you? What does that process look like from draft day to the league today?

Time. That's all. More than anything, just time and understanding what this league is about.

ADDITIONAL PLAYERS

LINEBACKER AZEEZ AL-SHAAIR

You had to feel good about the performance tonight. The preseason is over. What are you feeling?

I think the guys who played today did a good job. Obviously, try to protect the ball more on offense. But, the way we were able to run the ball was really (good). I think it was good and bad, all across the board. But obviously, we did more good than bad, to win the football game. I know, people don't look at the preseason, 'Oh wins and losses.' But, everything counts. So, it was good to see the guys finish the game and play hard like how they did. Now you just have to get ready New Orleans.

What do you see, as far as some of the strengths of this defense? I mean, I realize it's preseason. Overall, what are you thinking about how the defense is playing right now?

I think it's been good. Obviously, it's our first action with a lot of the ones working together in a real game setting. We tried to emulate as much stuff as we can with our practices, with the joint practices. Every opportunity that we've had as a defense to work together, whether it was the joint practices in Minnesota, or now, in this game. I think we responded really well, and I like this direction that we're heading in. Obviously, none of it means anything because all the talk, everything you're going to hear, it means nothing. When you go play on Sundays, everybody is playing in the National Football League. It's the best of the best, so you've got to show up.

But you enjoy what you do. You enjoy it.

For sure, it's what I love to do. As a kid, I dreamed of being where I'm at today. So, if it was a preseason, whether it's the regular season, any opportunity you get to suit up in the National Football League is a blessing.

CENTER AARON BREWER

Do you feel like you solved the slow start in the first half?

Absolutely. We came back out in the second half, and we finished strong. We came out with the dub and put our style of play on them.

It is only the preseason game can it give you a shot going into September?

It's just the preseason, but I feel like any time we put on our pads and go out there and play like it doesn't matter if it's the actual season, preseason, practice, like we want to do what we and put it on film every time. Our standard is the standard. We want to be the best, so we've got to play like that every time.

Do you feel good about where you are a month into this thing?

I do feel good. I feel like we're going to continue to get better everywhere.

How good can this offensive line be?

Trying to be the best offensive line in the league. That's the bar right there.

What was the conversation you guys had after that opening three and out?

Tighten up, do better. That's not good enough. That's not what we do. So, we just come out there and fix our issues we had on that first drive and keep stacking them. Got to have a short term memory.    

RUNNING BACK JULIUS CHESTNUT

You had to be tickled about getting the ball tonight. How do you feel?

I felt good. Offensive line do their thing and I just try to follow them. It was a great night, and we came out with a "W", so that's always good.

What does it mean to get in the endzone again?

Everything. It's the way of football. You try to score as much as you can. When Malik (Willis) escaped out of the pocket, I just tried to give him a nice window to throw to. He got it there, and I just tried to finish the job.

On that drive, you guys had kind of a mix-up on the exchange, and you put the ball on the ground. So, it was a near-disaster at the beginning of the drive, then he makes a great play to you on third down, and then you get the touchdown. Is that just part of football? You gotta stick with it and good things can happen?

Absolutely. You can't get too down on anything. You can't get down on certain plays. Things happen, you just have to come back to it.

WIDE RECEIVER COLTON DOWELL

Can you take me through that 30-yard reception Malik (Willis) hit you with?

I ran the cross, the man stayed inside. I got to sit him at the top and it's probably going to be a deeper ball, instead but, Malik's (Willis) got an arm, puts the ball right there where the defender can't grab it. I caught it. I thought I was going to be able to get out of there. But they get paid too, made a good play and tackled me.

Is there something there with a slow start that you guys have kind of identified?

No, just got to come out there.

What did you think about Malik Willis' ability to overcome adversity?

He's a great guy. He's got a good foundation. I mean, he stays even throughout the ups and the downs. So, I have unlimited faith in Malik (Willis) and him keeping his composure and being able to go out there and make that next play.

What is the feeling for you coming out of the field, the first time here?

It was surreal. I came out and I looked in the stands and looked at where I usually sit when I come over here. It is in a lower bowl on top of the N over there on the press box. So it was surreal, man. I've always dreamed about doing that. It was awesome to finally have that dream come to reality.

How nerve wracking are the next three or four days here?

There's definitely nerves there. But whenever you try really hard and put a lot of hard work into something, you just have to accept the results. I'm at peace with the body of work I put out there. So whatever happens, God's got it.

WIDE RECEIVER KEARIS JACKSON

How would you describe your resume and your pitch to make this team?

I think I got that dog in me for one. I just come to work every day just try to give it all I got, whether I'm 80 percent or 90 percent, 100 percent just try to go 110 every time I am out there, just give it all I got. I'm just thankful to be here. Whether they keep me or they cut me, I'm just blessed I was able to experience an opportunity like this and hope I continue to move forward.

With the new turf, I know kind of everything is new to you here, but what did it feel like out there at the stadium as a whole as well as the playing surface?

I felt like I was right at home, honestly. I was looking at the stadium my first time in it was yesterday for the walk-through and I was like, man, this reminds me of the Georgia stadium by the way it's open at the ends. But I mean, I was just excited about the fans who were able to come out and support the whole team and represent the two-tone blue.

LINEBACKERS CALEB MURPHY

How do you feel, after this last preseason game?

It was nice. First home game in the NFL. So, it's nice to see what the environment will look like. Just to be a part of it, with the team. Got a win. You know that's the most important thing. So, coming out there and winning was really exciting.

Everybody goes, 'Oh, this is preseason'. It's not this, or it's not that. But for you, it's about playing football?

Oh yeah, always. That's what it should be to everybody. You know, any player out here. Weave (Rashad Weaver) and them go in, they're going to play football, like Denico (Autry). Denico went out there, got a strip sack. Treated it just like any other game. Just going out there, playing hard.

Three preseason games now and you've been doing really well. How do you feel the defense is stacking up, getting ready for New Orleans?

Yeah, I think it's good. Just trying to build chemistry with new pieces. As well as just learning how to do our jobs. I think right now, I can only speak for myself, but I think it looks real nice.

You enjoy being out there?

I love football. I love football with everything in me. You know, it's been a part of my life since I was seven years old. So, I could never be without it. So, every moment I get out there, it's an opportunity. Opportunity to just prove myself and show my work, so I'm going to continue to do that.

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