Transcripts: 1-3-2022 Press Conferences 

HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY

What do you expect to see from the Titans? What do you want to see from your team in the last game?

"I want to see more consistency from us. We did not play very well yesterday for 60 minutes in either phase. We didn't. We had our moments, but we didn't finish well at the end of the game. Offensively, defensively and special teams, we had things that we can't allow happen that will end up getting you in a situation that we were in yesterday and losing the ballgame. But as far as them, it's the last game of the year for us. We want to go out with a win. Obviously, they're playing for homefield advantage. I think regardless of that, it doesn't really matter. We're going to play the game just like we would whether they were playing for homefield or not."

Can you give an update on any of the players that were injured yesterday?

"No, we came in a little late today. I don't really have an update on those guys as of yet. We'll know a little bit more this afternoon. I do know that Jonathan (Owens) had a wrist that they're going to look at, and I think he was getting an MRI on it. Other than that, I think we were okay as far as guys being able to go this week."

Is there anything you can do to help TE Pharaoh Brown with the amount of penalties he has had?

"Keep coaching him up. We're doing that with not only just him but with everyone. He has been, as we like to call it, a repeat offender. Repeat offenders obviously will end up getting you in trouble in critical situations. We're just going to keep coaching him up on that. He's doing a good job (for) us of asking what he needs to do, but the one thing he has to get better at is eliminating those penalties, and it has been a problem."

How much did TE Antony Auclair's absence affect the run game yesterday?

"Again, that was another reason why we had No. 74 (Max Scharping) up in those situations just to get that blocker in there. Antony's been good with us all year doing that. It affected us. Obviously, when you have a tight end in there instead of having an offensive lineman in there, it's a little bit different. It's kind of run, run, run. But yeah, we missed him yesterday."

What have you seen from the players today going into the last game of the season?

"They just want to go out and end this thing the right way. We had a little momentum going here the last two or three ballgames. Obviously, they understand what has to be done in order to go out the right way. We didn't do that yesterday. As we watch the video today and see the things that we need to do, what you see is that we've been the enemy in those situations, and we were the enemy yesterday in some situations where we could've prevented some things from happening that we weren't able to do."

What do you think of the rookies and younger players that have contributed this season?

"Because of the injuries and more so the COVID, those guys have gotten to play and they've gotten to play well. I know that draft class that we've got, all of those guys have been contributors. I feel like they're getting better and they're getting better. The young guys that have stepped up and played for us that hadn't played much like Jonathan (Owens) and some of those other guys are doing a good job. We feel good about the future with those guys with the way they have played up to this point."

How would you describe the difference in game planning for an opponent that you are playing a second time this season?

"We've looked at them, they have not changed from the last time that we played them. They're still doing the same things offensively and defensively. It's a very physical football team. Obviously, they like running the ball. When they're running the ball and their quarterback is distributing, that's a very good football team. But we know them and they know us, and from looking at the video from what we've seen, they have not changed very much. We'll just have to hopefully do things better. Obviously, the last game we played them they turned it over four times. Obviously, they haven't done that lately. We've just got to be much, much better at doing what we need to do and be a little bit better offensively than we were the last time we played them."

How much have you viewed these final weeks as an opportunity to prove yourself as a head coach?

"Not at all, I've coached the same way. We've just coached better at some things. We're finding out a little bit more about our team as we move on. We're getting better at our guys understanding this system. We've got some guys, it's the first year they've been in this system. It hasn't been like we wanted to be, we haven't had the consistency. But as far as that goes, we're just continuing to coach and continuing to get better and move on from there, and I feel like we're heading in the right direction."

Have you had a chance to look at potential upcoming draft picks, or are you too focused on this season?

"I'm too focused on the season. We're trying to win the last game. We're trying to get to five (wins), and that's been the focus and that'll be the only focus until this game is over. Then after this game is over, Nick (Caserio) and his staff will get together and we'll go with our offseason plan from there."

How much does this last game influence what the offseason discussions will be?

"I think the most important thing right now for us is to go out and play the game the right way. Play like we played against the Chargers, where we played complementary. We didn't do that yesterday in any phase, and we just want to end the season playing complementary football, and we know when we do that we have a chance to win. Obviously, we're playing a team that's looking for homefield advantage, but that's the most important thing for us right now just for that. I think, too, winning is winning, and winning is good for the psyche. I think also not when you lose, it's how you lose that's very important. It's you not being the enemy, and yesterday we were the enemy and we don't want to be the enemy this coming week against the Titans."

DL ROSS BLACKLOCK

How would you assess your second season? Where do you think you made the biggest jump?

"Assessing the second season, I think it's been a pretty good jump for me from last year. Always room for improvement. Personally, I think there is always another level to go. Personally, one thing I want to do next year is just be more of a leader and a captain in my room as far as being an older guy in my room. I don't know how our room is going to look next year or anything like that, but just kind of being that spark in our room. That's my personal goal, but just keeping making that step up and keep trying to improve."

How would you compare the mood of the building now to last season under similar circumstances?

"Honestly, I can say a year ago we were kind in the same situation. The mood obviously was different. Guys were kind of ready for it to be over with and just going through the motions. This year, we're still fighting. We're still trying to find ways to win, trying to find ways to play together and get better as a team. Each game counts. It doesn't matter what the record says or anything. You can have an impact on this team, an impact on somebody else's team, ruin the playoffs or whatever the case may be. At the end of the day, we are just here to get a win. We just have to keep putting our best foot forward, and better things and better days are coming."

Why is being more of a leader a goal of yours? What do you think would be the impact on the team if that were to happen?

"Every team I've been on, I've always been a leader in some form or fashion. It's not necessarily running everything, but as far as a person in my room helping guys out, I was always that older guy helping guys out, leading them the best way possible. I know I'm still a young player, but I can always lead by example for guys coming in, rookies that are in different positions trying to figure out their routines and try to see guys whose routines are good and stuff like that. That's just always been me. I'm not a big 'rah-rah', loud guy, but I try to lead by example the best way that I can, so that's all I'm trying to do and just keep being my best self for this team."

Do you think you've made the jump on the field that you wanted to make in year two?

"I feel like I made a tremendous jump as far as confidence in play and seeking and discovering more abilities and stuff that I have. But like I said, there's always plays that I could have made, there's always things I could get better at. Next year, I'm just focusing on all the things I could have done better last year in terms of stuff that I didn't learn my rookie year, stuff that I learned from my rookie year. Just try to keep getting better."

Were there things that developed this season that you weren't expecting? What are some of your expectations for this team next year?

"I would honestly just say probably COVID, nobody can really control it. COVID hit us pretty hard, but we found ways to work with it and deal with it with the obstacles and stuff. I'd probably say that was a big thing for everybody in the NFL. And expectations for next year, I'm sure we just want to have a better year than this year, obviously. Put us in a position to compete better. We're not making any promises or expectations or anything, but at the end goal, we want to win. We want to win the Super Bowl and we're going to try our best to get there one day, and next year is just another opportunity, another chance to be able to do that."

What have you found out about yourself in the last two years that has surprised you as you made your transition to the NFL?

"I would say that always just trust the process, you never know what could happen when it does. I've seen a lot of guys get their opportunity this year and guys that never thought they would've played, so that was a good thing. I love seeing that for people, but I would just honestly say trust the process. You never know what's going to happen, who's going to be hurt or who's going to be down or what's going on with the other team. I know we didn't have the best year possible this year, but we had some good things happen. We're still rebuilding, we're still trying to learn how to play with each other, so I think next year will be a good year for us."

DB ERIC MURRAY

What did you see from the 49ers in the second half that allowed them to get a big push at the end?

"I think they played to their strengths. They got a lot of YAC yardage. That's the MO of them. They got the run going a little bit and then they hit a play over top. I would say bread and butter. You let them do that, that's what they do best."

What are you thinking about going into the final week of the season?

"Just that we got a team in here that's fighting for a lot of stuff when they come in here. They want to be the number one seat and get the bye. Just being able to go out there and play the best game that we can and really give them a challenge to kind of stop their hopes."

How would you describe the level of buy in from yourself and other players? What is the process of building trust between players and coaches has been like this year?

"From a defensive standpoint, it's been really interesting because for a lot of us this is a defense that we haven't really experienced for a lot of the times. Just buying into everybody doing their job and doing the same job every time, every play. As the course of the season went on, you saw people play faster and you saw people play better. You begin to just plug and play once the culture is in place. I think that is really important for this franchise going forward."

For the guys that get to play in this system again next year, what do you think that can unlock for them in terms of familiarity with the defense?

"Just more comradery with the teammates. I think then it allows for when new players to come in to buy in even faster, so you have a quicker and better product out there on the field rather than going through this process that we all went through. Now we can rely our experiences to the new guys and get that much better."

How would you compare the feeling in the building this year compared to last year?

"I think that's a question for somebody else because I was sick the last two weeks. I don't even know. I couldn't even tell you."

What do you like most about the defensive system? What is the most challenging part about it?

"I think it takes a lot of the thinking out for the players and allows us to play faster. It puts it more into the defensive coordinator's hands. I think what can improve is our communication as a whole. If our communication improves as a whole, then things couldn't be so stringent or strict, I guess. But that's a part of defensive I guess too, so you have to have a good balance of in between."

What was your experience with COVID when you were out?

"I'll tell you about both times. The first time I had it, I had chills and stuff like that. It lasted for a really long time. I didn't feel regular for a really long time even after I recovered, I was still having days where I didn't feel as well. This was like months later, but this time, it kind of felt like a regular cold. I think just because I went through the experience before and I got vaccinated and I got the booster. I really was only sick for two days and then the rest of the days I was out I was recovering. Whereas last year the recovery period started way later in the process."

In the game, did you feel you were fully back?

"No, definitely my wind was an issue. I came out of the game a few times. My wind was an issue, that's just a part of it. I feel more close to normal this year than I definitely did last year. I couldn't imagine doing what I did this week last year."

OL LANE TAYLOR

What's your approach to this final game as a team?

"I think as a team, we just want to finish strong. We've had a lot of ups and downs throughout the year, but I think overall the team is in good spirits and we just want to finish the year strong."

With TE Antony Auclair out on the Reserve/COVID-19 List, how do you think that impacted the run game?

"I feel like we ran the ball pretty effectively, won the down a few times and did good things. Just didn't cash in when we needed to."

When do you think things started to improve for the offensive line and what would you attribute it to?

"I think really I attribute to everyone staying the course. I felt like we had a lot of combinations, injuries and people shuffling around, and everyone kind of staying focused and just kept plucking away each week. I think the more time you have together, the better you're going to perform together."

How do you feel about your own performance this season?

"I felt pretty good about it. I finally got in there, got three games, unfortunately got COVID for a couple of them, so I was working back in there this week. Just look to finish strong next week."

What was your experience with COVID-19?

"Nothing crazy, just had some congestion and a cough. I never had a fever. Honestly, I wouldn't have tested, but I woke up with the sweats, so I kind of figured there was something going on. So, I went and tested and I was positive."

How much do you think the NFL's adjustments to COVID-19 protocols have helped players?

"I just think you have to be responsible with it. Obviously, you don't want to infect your team and stuff, so just knowing that you have symptoms. I came in, I tested, waited to go into the building, just trying to do the right thing so I don't get other people sick."

What are your thoughts on QB Davis Mills these last several weeks?

"I think it's been impressive the way he's developed throughout the year. He was clearly a rookie this training camp, doing a lot of rookie things. But over the course of the year, you can tell he's just grown and grown and grown, and really taken over the huddle and done great things. I look for him to keep improving over the years."

What would you say has been QB Davis Mills' biggest improvement?

"I think the understanding of the offense and confidence. I think as an offensive lineman you can really feed off your quarterback. If he's confident then you're going to be confident, but if he's in there, he's stumbling with the play call or he clearly gets something wrong, you're not as confident going out there. So, his confidence really reflects on everyone else."

What are the things that separate this team from taking the next step to compete like some of the past teams you've been on?

"I just think it takes a little more execution. If you really dive into the tape, it's usually maybe one block here or a catch here, or a throw here. Those things kind of add up throughout the game that (are) missed opportunities, so I think just executing (it) and we'll be alright."

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