When the Broncos and Titans met on Dec. 8, 2013, Denver came away with a 51-28 win. (Photos by AP)
What challenges do you see from the Broncos defense?
Quarterback Marcus Mariota: “It’s going to be a great challenge. They’ve got great players across the board. For us, we’re just going to do our best to go out there and execute. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
“They’ve got dynamic players all across the front as well as the back end. There’s no glaring weaknesses. They’ve got guys that can really change the outcome of the game. Those are the things we have to be prepared for. They’re a disciplined defense. They’re a disciplined team. They go out and fly around and make plays. We’ve just got to do our best to protect the football and execute the plays that are called.”
Why have other teams had success at running the ball against the Broncos?
Head Coach Mike Mularkey: “Their pass rush is so relentless. You just see some plays here and there like Jacksonville hit a couple up inside. I think it’s been the persistence of offenses to continue to run it. Even though it’s a pretty stout defensive line, I think teams have just continued to try and run the ball to take the pressure off the quarterback and the pass rush.”
Mariota: “Teams obviously scheme week in and week out to attack what they think is a weakness. But for us, we’re going to do our best to do what we do and not change anything. Focus on what we can do to get ready for Sunday.”
How do you balance Mariota’s ability to run with keeping him healthy?
Mularkey:** “We try to be smart about what we do with him in the run game. I think our coaching staff does a good job at making sure we have hats on people at least. Whether we block them or not is another story, but we have at least even numbers when it comes to what we do with him unlike some other quarterbacks in the league. We’re not going to put him out there and expose him to any unnecessary hits. The one thing he’s done well too is he’s not taking anything, not trying to be a tough guy. He’s going to get what he can get and he gets down. That’s difficult to do if you’re a defense trying to scheme a guy that can run like he can run.
Mariota: “I’m going to do everything in my power to help us win. The coaches are going to develop the game plans. We’re going to do our best to execute them. If it’s one of those that asks me to run around a little more, I’ll do it. For us, we want to win games. I’m going to do everything in my power to do that.”
How has Mariota grown from year one to year two?
Mularkey: [He has] a lot of confidence. Year two for anybody is definitely a difference when you come in here to start the second year. [He's] more comfortable and more confident in what we’re doing. We did some things differently to try and make it more user-friendly in this offense, take a little pressure off him. Starting from play-calling to what we’re doing protection-wise, not putting a lot on his plate.”
Does the Titans style of running the ball catch other teams off guard?
Mularkey: “We said way back that this is what our identity was going to be. This coaching staff … we all go back at some point together. It’s what we believe in, it’s what this team believes in. It may go against what the world is in the NFL with the passing game, but we’re going to continue to stick with it. I think it’s helped us in a lot of ways. It’s helped our quarterback develop. It’s helped our passing game. I don’t think we’re catching anybody off guard by any means. I think they’re prepared for the way we run the ball.”
Mariota: “I think for us it allows us to be balanced. We do a good job of mixing in whether it’s the runs with the play actions as well as downfield throwing. The coaches do a great job week in and week out preparing our game plans. I think it’s really allowed us to be balanced and allows us to kind of do what we want as an offense.”