Tennessee Titans Interim Head Coach Mike MularkeyConference Call with New Orleans MediaWednesday, November 4, 2015
How have you handled the weird and unexpected week with the team and what was your message to them in the wake of the change?
"It's kind of been a whirlwind to be honest with you since yesterday morning when all this took place. Everybody's handled it extremely well. The staff has. The players have. They have really come in with a positive attitude. We had a team meeting at 7:15 this morning to give them the direction we need to go, where we are at this time in the season. We are in a hole, but it's a hole that's a game and a half back hole. It's not as deep as you think it is. I just told them what it's going to take for all of us, players, phases of the team and what we have to do to get rolling and we went out and had a good practice. It was a really, really good practice."
You mentioned some changes you might make on offense. I know you're limited in what you can do in the middle of the week when this happens, but does the fact that it gives the Saints or other teams something to think about with a wrinkle they haven't seen before, could that be helpful?
"I don't think it hurts. I've faced the Saints a number of times when I was with Atlanta, so we kind of have an idea with my philosophy. Whether that's an advantage or not, I don't know. There will be some things different that you haven't seen on tape coming."
How much of a relationship with Marcus Mariota did you have before the coaching change before all this happened and what steps have you taken to account for what will obviously be a more extensive relationship moving forward?
"It has, but fortunately he lives in the same condominium (complex) I live in, so I see Marcus a lot. It was more of a 'this is where we're at and this is what I'm going to ask of you' and more schematic and leader-type talk than anything."
Are you confident he will be okay to play healthwise this weekend?
"We're working on it. He took a portion of the reps today, not the reps he normally takes. We're getting him back into it. We're not going to stress him too much being out the last three weeks, so he did well and we'll know more when we watch the film on him."
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is a loud environment and Marcus hasn't had a lot of experiences in domes as a visitor. Does that factor into the preparation?
"There wasn't a dome in Tampa, but it was loud being opening day and having the two rookie quarterbacks start. That was a loud environment. Every team practices with crowd noise where you can't hear the guy next to you. It's practice. We have to prepare for it. It's talked about. It's been talked about. It's an advantage for the home team if you let it be. We're certainly preparing for it.
What do you see out of the Saints defense and particularly they seem to have played better during the win streak than at the beginning of the season?
"They play hard. There's no question. You talk about a bunch of guys that rally to the football. They do that. Schematically it's not a real complicated defense. That makes me more nervous than teams that are all over the place because they have guys that are lined up and know what they are supposed to do. So it will be a good challenge for us. It really will. They're playing well up front and outside they're going to pressure our receivers. It's a good unit and the way they're playing with effort, that makes it even tougher."
Do you have any sense having gone through a practice and what you want to change on offense might be implementable this week and what might have to wait for a week or two to come?
"I saw bits and pieces today. It's hard to say after one day of work, especially when your emphasis is not specific to one thing in one day. Give me a few days, I'll be able to answer that better."
Tennessee Titans Quarterback Marcus Mariota
Conference Call with New Orleans Media
Wednesday, November 4, 2015
I know Max Unger went to Oregon and is from Hawaii also, but you guys never crossed paths?
"We have not, but obviously I know of him. He's been a huge part of the Hawaiian community as well as Eugene. He's done great things. It's been fun to watch him for sure."
What's it been like having a coaching change at this point in the season?
"It was tough to be honest. Coach Whisenhunt was really someone that believed in me and really thought that I could play at this level. It's part of this business. We're in a business dependent on wins and losses and unfortunately we didn't win a lot of games. It's one of those things that happens. We just have to focus on what's coming up and try to get ready for the game on Sunday."
Before he became interim coach, how would you describe your relationship with Mike Mularkey and how has he communicated with you since the coaching change?
"Our relationship has been great. Even though it's kind of been through short situations, short conversations. He was somebody that if I had any questions about the offense or the tight end package, he was one of those guys I could lean on and ask. He's been great so far. We're excited to play for him and he's one of those guys that really sets the tone. We're thankful to have him."
Going back to the season opener where everything seemed to fall into place. Has that made the season more frustrating because you could see how things worked when things were going well?
"Yes, you know, one of those things is that's the standard for us and unfortunately we haven't lived up to that standard. We know we can operate at that level. We just have to find a way to get back there. We're going to do our best to prepare every single week. Hopefully we find ourselves back at that point."
In coming from a very successful college football program where losses were rarities to be in the middle of a six-game losing streak, is that the first time in your life as a football player and does the lack of success wear on you?
"No, not necessarily. Obviously it's frustrating, but again, it wasn't an indication everything was going to be easy. We have to work hard. We have to earn what's given to us. Unfortunately we haven't been able to finish some of these games, but we should have the utmost confidence because we've kept these games close. We're been in them. We just have to go ahead and finish."
Are you confident you will be able to play healthwise this week?
"I hope so. Again, were' taking it one day at a time, a similar process we have been taking the last couple weeks. But for the most part I feel good, but we'll see as the week goes on."
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome is known as one of the louder indoor stadiums and I know you've been on the road in college and the pros, but maybe not a true road environment in a dome. Does that factor into the preparation this week at all
"Of course. We have to do our best to communicate. It's going to be tough in that environment. If we're able to over-communicate in practice, hopefully it will work out for us again."
When you think of Oregon, you think of an extremely fast-paced setup. Your pace is probably near the bottom of the league in seconds per snap. Is that something that's just a product of growing into the offense or could you see that picked up as time goes on?
"We'll see. It also depends on what our gameplan is, what is expected of us as an offense. It could change with the coaches ask of me and develop a gameplan and then we'll see what happens."
You see other coaching changes, such as in Miami where that first win under an interim coach can kind of rally excitement or enthusiasm about a season for a positive thing with a change in head coach. Could that kind of inject some urgency into this game or a positive aspect if you're able to win it?
"Of course. Even though it's happened, it's in the past. We need to continue to have a positive mentality. Everything that's happened is in the past. We can't control it now. Today in practice guys were flying around intensity wise. Again, we have to continue to carry this positive mentality and hopefully it will lead us to some victories."