Opposing View: Panthers at Titans

Titans head coach Mike Mularkey

On the challenges taking over as head coach during middle of season: "Boy, just different, I don't want to say philosophy, but I was trying to change to what I'm comfortable with whether I was coaching a position, or a coordinator or a head coach with my beliefs on what it takes to win. I had to get it in their brain fast and they had to believe in it fast and I thought they did. I was very upfront with them. I think they know that I'm going to shoot them straight and they really rallied around the situation. It was a difficult situation for everybody, really for me because (Ken Whisenhunt) is a very close friend of mine. He is the one that brought me here. We have known each other for 25 years. It wasn't just me. It was a lot of people here that had to overcome that and move on as quickly as we could."

On how important it is to improve protection for QB Marcus Mariota moving forward:"Well, I think you could tell it was pretty important starting last week after we had the sacks that we had against Houston. It was imperative that we did something different. I think we did a number of things to try to help the protection. We moved a couple linemen into different spots, did some things scheme wise, and did some things philosophically different now that I am more involved with the offense. I was in charge of the run game and really not a whole lot involved with the passing game. Now I've got some time to be able to go over there and help with our guys and some of it is philosophical on how to attack people. And the other thing was our receivers. They had to step up their game and they did, especially the young guys. That was important. There was a mix of things that made that. And Marcus as well. He was responsible. Don't let them get to you. We will take a second-and-10 if we have to, so there was a whole bunch of things that went into the protection for him."

On Byron Bell at right tackle:"Well, I know he has played there. We were trying early on, we drafted a tackle, Jeremiah Poutasi. We wanted to give him a chance and he actually played well early. As of late, he has had some struggles and we knew we had to do something or even the team would look at us like we can't keep doing the same thing and think we are going to get better results, so we made some moves. We took a newly signed Joe Looney, who has got a lot of playing experience. We moved him to guard and then moved Byron back out to a natural position for him. We had to do something."

On challenge of preparing for Cam Newton:"He's playing with a lot of confidence and guys are playing that same way for him. He does so much and I think Mike Shula does an amazing job with not just that offense, but scheming things for him. A lot of coaches are sometimes leery of running their quarterback. I'm not one of them. I think they can protect themselves better when they're running it compared to standing like a statue in the pocket and Mike does a great job of scheming that offense. There is a lot of deception, which I am a big fan of, except when I'm watching your guys' offense. There is a lot of moving parts and if you're not where you're supposed to be, you're vulnerable to get hit with a big play, run or pass. Cam does a good job with all of that. What he does sometimes when he doesn't even have the ball is impressive. You have got to be aware of where is the football."

On Dick LeBeau's presence and what he has meant as defensive coordinator:"He is very intense in a calming fashion. I know that doesn't sound right, but he can get these guys to play at a level that they didn't even know they were capable of playing. I think it is a good combination of he and Ray Horton who have known each other. Dick drafted Ray. He has coached with him. It is just a good combination of personalities for this defense who I think has played well throughout the whole year. Dick has been good. Those guys have been really good for the situation we're in to allow me to really focus on trying to get this, not just the offense, but this team back on track, knowing that they're fine on that side of the ball."

On how important it was to cap week with a win after coming in as interim coach:"Well, it supported the message. I can say that. It certainly did. It typically has when we talked about the way we want to play and what we need to do. And then we practice that way and then we do it as a team, not just one phase. Our defense has been playing the way we want our team to play all year. I think our team responded by doing that and I think they understand now what we want done and if they do it, they believe they have a chance. Regardless of who's playing, who we are playing, that we have a chance every week if we play that way. It supported what we believe in."

Titans linebacker Brian Orakpo

On what he sees in the Panthers' offense:"I see a very tough, physical team. They're 8-0 for a reason. They're very disciplined from what we've watched on film. These guys get after it in the running game especially. That's a big thing, I think these guys are really knocking guys off in the running game and (staying) two-dimensional the whole game. Keeping them balanced basically."

On how he thinks Cam Newton has improved:"His reads and his accuracy on the ball. He's making some very precise throws and he's just evolving as an elite quarterback. Throughout his younger days when I've seen him, when he first came into the league, he was on the rise but he was using a lot of his athletic ability, but now he doesn't have to rely on that so much. Now he's just kind of like a pocket quarterback and just making his reads, making his progressions and then breaking the pocket when he needs to make a play when everything falls through. So, he's definitely stepped his game up to a whole other level from when I've seen him years ago." **On Dick LeBeau: *"He's made a huge boost for our D. The stats don't lie. We've improved greatly from last year to this year in all phases of our defense and Dick LeBeau had a lot to do with it. From his knowledge, to his experience running it, it's top notch. So, I'm very happy he's with us and he makes us better each and every week that we go out there and prepare ourselves against an opponent."

On Marcus Mariota:"He is phenomenal. Marcus is a humble, work hard type of guy. I love working with him. Obviously he is very disappointed about missing the last two weeks with the injury but you see what he is capable of with what he did last week against New Orleans. The guy is just going to get better. He is the future of the franchise and just the way he is able to make his throws, the way he's able to scramble when need be, the guy has it all and I'm very excited for his future."

On coaching change last week:"You rarely see teams go through what we went through. Miami went through it obviously and then we were up next dealing with a coaching change in the middle of the season, going on the road that following Sunday. It was very emotional for all of us, we lost a great man in (Ken) Whisenhunt and (Mike) Mularkey did a tremendous job stepping in and leading the charge. We worked extremely hard to prepare for New Orleans considering all the adversity we went through and it showed, it really showed. After the game in the locker room we just let it out and had almost too much fun, but that's how it's supposed to be with everything we went through. We definitely had a good time after that game in the visiting locker room to let our emotions out just a little bit."

View photos from the Panthers' week of practice leading up to their game versus the Titans.

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