NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans (8-6) lost back-to-back games Sunday when they fell to the San Francisco 49ers (4-10) 25-23 for the first time since Weeks 4 and 5 of this season. Coach Mike Mularkey spoke to the media Monday at St. Thomas Sports Park to discuss what he saw on film and what his team needs to do to improve moving forward.
Here is what Mularkey had to say:
- COMMUNICATION ISSUES
- San Francisco quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo shredded Tennessee’s secondary Sunday with a career-high 381 yards passing for a rating of 106.8. The struggles in pass defense were, in part, due to communication issues caused by the loss of No. 1 corner Logan Ryan. The offseason free-agent acquisition was forced to leave the game in the second quarter with an ankle injury.
- “I’d say, you talk about a veteran back there that has really done a good job of communicating back there,” said Mularkey of Ryan. “But yeah, (communication) may have something to do with it. We did have some issues yesterday with it…it’s coverages that we’ve run all year, it wasn’t like it’s something that we just installed. Actually, the last big play that they had, we were in the same coverage the play before and there were no breakdowns and then we run it the very next play and there’s a breakdown, so that’s the frustrating part of it. It was at the wrong time. It just felt like we get a chance to get the lead back or something positive happened and then they come right back and it was either the first play or the second play they hit a big one to get them right back down into our territory. That was the frustrating part because we haven’t done that all year. I can’t say that – since the Houston game, we’ve been really good about giving up explosive plays and yesterday they hurt us.”
- LeShaun Sims and Brice McCain filled in for the injured Ryan. In the final 1:07, Garoppolo led the game-winning drive to set up a Robbie Gould kick from 45-yards as time expired after the Titans had retaken the lead on a 50-yarder from Ryan Succop.
- NO HUDDLE, NO PROBLEM
- Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota excelled in the no-huddle offense against San Francisco despite his team’s losing effort. The third-year pro did everything in his power to put the Titans ahead and lead a scoring drive that left the 49ers down one point with 1:07 remaining in the game.
- “I’m just into my first game watching against the Rams,” Mularkey responded when asked if there might be more hurry-up in the final two contests. “We’ll know more once we get an idea how we want to attack their scheme. That’s every week, we talk about it every week. It’s in our discussions, we practice it, we run it. We had run it this year, but it has not been effective when we’ve ran it so we got out of it and got back into play calling. It just depends on who we’re playing and the defensive scheme and if we feel like it’s a good way to attack, it’ll be in.”
- Mariota completed five-of-six passes for 79 yards with a touchdown pass to tight end Delanie Walker to end the first half and hit on all six of his attempts for 53 yards in the no-huddle on the possession that culminated in an eight-yard touchdown pass to Rishard Matthews.
- With two weeks remaining in the NFL regular season, Tennessee has placed themselves in a precarious position by losing both games on their West Coast trip. They will host the Los Angeles Rams (10-4) Sunday and close out with the Jacksonville Jaguars (10-4). The Titans have won nine of their last 10 contests at Nissan Stadium.
- “(The players) know where we are at,” Mularkey said of his team’s mindset. “They know we have a great opportunity sitting right in front of us that is very reachable if we come in here the way we’ve come in here, with the mindset of getting a good week’s work of preparation.”
- Tennessee occupies the fifth seed in the AFC Playoff picture after the consecutive losses but benefit from the fact that both opponents they fell to are in the NFC. Because of conference record-tiebreakers, the Titans are still positioned ahead of both the Buffalo Bills (8-6) and the Baltimore Ravens (8-6). Los Angeles dominated the Seattle Seahawks (8-6) 42-7 but still has not clinched a postseason berth. Jacksonville will make its first playoff appearance since 2007 Sunday with their 45-7 victory against the Houston Texans (4-10).
- TURNOVER DROUGHT
- Safety Kevin Byard was tops at his position in the Pro Bowl fan vote because of his six interceptions this season, but his defense has not produced at the same rate in the turnover category thus far. Sunday saw two near-interceptions of Garoppolo vanish; the first was an interception by linebacker Erik Walden that was ruled a completed pass and the second was a dropped pick in the end zone by rookie corner Adoree’ Jackson.
- “It’s the difference in winning and losing every week,” said Mularkey on the importance of turnovers. “I mean, that’s a big emphasis. We talk about it, it’s on the board every week. It is a huge emphasis and we need to start doing it. You can talk all you want about it, you can put it all over the message board. We need to start doing that. We need to start making those plays.”
- The Titans are 26th in the NFL with a turnover differential of -7 this season. They have 10 interceptions and six fumble recoveries for a total of 16 takeaways, trying them with Houston for 23rd in the League.
INJURY REPORT: Ryan’s ankle injury is considered day-to-day and will be reevaluated on Wednesday, according to Mularkey.
Linebacker Derrick Morgan (knee) was inactive against the 49ers but is expected back this week against the Rams. Defensive lineman Karl Klug (groin) is expected to miss this Sunday’s game but will also be reconsidered during the week.