INTERIM HEAD COACH ROMEO CRENNEL
Why did you play S Michael Thomas and CB Lonnie Johnson Jr. more yesterday? Also, do you see those two playing more the rest of the season?
"Yes, I can see them continuing to play. As you get injuries and nicks and get banged up a little bit during the season, you have to make some adjustments and we didn't have (Benardrick) McKinney yesterday. So, we had to make some adjustments for that. That allowed other guys opportunities to play a little bit more."
Can you talk about S Michael Thomas' performance yesterday?
"Well, he plays good. Michael has a great attitude. He's a pro. He does whatever job that he has, and he does it with gusto. That's why everybody likes him. That's why we like him because he's very dependable. So, I can see him getting more playing time as we go through the rest of the season."
Now that the team has their first win, what is your message this week to the players?
"Win one game. That's the focus. Win one game and they can focus on the game that we have to play and not worry about anything else. Let's just focus on Tennessee and what we can get done there."
What has allowed OLB Whitney Mercilus to play better in the past two weeks?
"Well, he's been in position earlier on in the season, but he's been able to take advantage of some of the things that are happening on the field now. The coverage sometimes makes the quarterback hold the ball, and when that occurs the rushers have more of an opportunity to get to the quarterback. If they're going to push the protection toward J.J. (Watt), which many times they do, that leaves Whitney one-on-one, and he took advantage of it yesterday."
How did you see the running game open up the passing game down the field against Jacksonville?
"You know what, any time that you can establish the running game, that impacts the linebackers and the underneath coverage. So, our ability to run the ball some allowed us to open up some of those lanes. The guys underneath in that mid-level, they were having to come up. They were kind of settling because they were maybe looking for shorter passes, and then Deshaun (Watson) was able to find the deep route and get the ball down the field."
How do you think ILB Tyrell Adams played yesterday? Also, do you see ILB Benardrick McKinney's returning from injury this week?
"Well, we'll have to wait to see what the medical people say today because they will evaluate him again today. They will let us know what the prospects are. Hopefully, he'll be able to come back. The guys who stepped in yesterday, T.A. (Tyrell Adams), he stepped in and made some plays. So, that's the name of this business, the next guy up. We tell them that all the time that they have to be ready when their number is called and yesterday the guys whose numbers were called, they performed well."
Was it a priority heading into the game to go to WR Brandin Cooks more?
"No. It was not a priority. My big priority for that game was trying to establish the running game to get some running yards because I know that the running yards open up the passing game. So, as it turned out, we were able to get some yards rushing, and then it did open up the passing game. We were able to get the ball to several different receivers, but we had one who had a big day, which we knew that he was capable of and it showed up."
What was the difference in your run defense yesterday after the first drive?
"After the start of the game, I think we just settled down. We talked all week about how we needed to play the objective of win your gap before trying to get off a block and help out. After that first drive, because there were a few holes in the defense in that drive, they settled down and began to understand that if I take care of my gap, then my partner will take care of his gap and we'll do a lot better. As it turned out, we did do that and did better."
Will you do be doing the Soulja Boy and Macarena dances after every win?
"I'm sure that they will ask me to do that, but I don't think that I will be throwing that out."
How were you able to force two turnovers in Sunday's win?
"Sometimes the ball bounces your way. The ball bounced our way yesterday. Since I guess the second week or the third week, we had really put an emphasis on it. We talked about it in training camp and all that, but we started saying, 'let's do it in practice.' Even if you can't touch them in practice, go ahead and make the move to punch the ball out or make the move to intercept the ball. So, with that emphasis on it, guys were trying to do it in practice and it just paid off on Sunday. Sometimes the ball does bounce your way and it bounced our way because Whitney (Mercilus) was able to recover that one fumble and then when he got hit from behind the ball came out, but then we were still there on it and able to get that ball. Our ability to talk about it and then our ability to come up with plays showed up."
What are some ways to get RB Duke Johnson more involved?
"Well, Duke is a very good, all-around player. He can play on third-down. He can play on first and second. He's got great feet. I like what he brings to the table. Sometimes when you put the game plan together you think about how you want to try to do things, and so sometimes the bigger back kind of fits in more. So, the bigger back got more opportunities this game. Next week it could be different, but we know what Duke brings to the table. We like what Duke brings to the table and just like in the receiving area, one guy wasn't getting as many balls coming his way until last week. Next week Duke might be the guy who shows up more in the running game and in the receiving game as well. It's hard to say. I mean, we try to get everybody involved as we can, but sometimes if a guy gets going and he's doing well, you try to feed that guy a little bit. I think that – I know all players want the ball, offensively, skill positions, they all want the ball. We can't get it to everybody all the time, so the game plan sometimes impacts that. What happens on the field sometimes impacts that. We like all our skill guys and we will try to get them touches during the game if we can."
How difficult is to prepare the team to go and play the Titans despite their struggles with the Coronavirus?
"I think that everybody has to have some confidence in the league and that the league is going to try to stay on top of it to make sure that they have had negative tests for consecutive days before they put them on the field. We have to rely on that. I think that there may be some apprehension by some guys, but I think for the most part guys will go play and feel decent about playing."
What is the key to limiting Titans RB Derrick Henry?
"We have to try to not let him get started because he is a big, physical, downhill back. If we can get to the line of scrimmage and maybe even get into the backfield on him before he can get his stride going and get his body lean going, then hopefully we can contain him. If you let him get started and get that long stride going, he's hard to tackle. If he can get to the second level, generally he gains several yards after that. If we can keep him on the first level, then that will improve our chances."
After watching the tape, what are some things you think the team did well and what are some things you would like to improve?
"Well, the thing that I was somewhat pleased about is the things that I had been talking to the guys about all week. Basically, about the running game on both sides of the ball. It showed up yesterday. Our offensive line, they were able to get movement at the point to create some seams for the runners. Sometimes you look at it and a guy will run in behind that line and it's only a two or three-yard gain. But if the line can get movement, next time he runs into that line and then all of a sudden he bounces outside and then runs up the sideline – well, his ability to go in behind the line to start with allows him to bounce it out because they get sucked in to try to stop him initially. I was pleased with the way the offensive line came off the ball, which allowed us to be able to run and then allowed the protection – I thought they did a nice job on the protection. Defensively, we've been giving up a lot of yards in the rushing game and we were able to slow the guys down and I think they had 75 yards rushing yesterday, which was our best result of the year so far. Going forward I'm going to try to continue to preach to them about that because I know that's one of the fundamentals of the game and if we can do that, we'll give ourselves a chance."
What are your thoughts on how K Ka'imi Fairbairn has done this season?
"Well, I think he's a very good kicker. I know he works very hard at it. He works very hard at his job and his skill and it shows up on the gameday. I thought that longer field goal that he made was key for us at a key time in the game. He put it through the uprights and so I think that will continue to build his confidence and build confidence of the team in him. Going down the road, we should be good with what we've got there.
What have you seen from DT P.J. Hall since he has been here and what potential do you see in him?
"I think P.J. has good explosion. He's got some quickness. He's got a quick step and has some explosion. His center of gravity, I think, helps him at the line of scrimmage. He's been showing up, making plays at the line, getting into the backfield at times, impacting plays. I think he's been a good addition even though he's a different type of guy that we've had in the past, but because of his skillset, I think he helps our defense."