NASHVILLE – Titans coach Mike Vrabel held a press conference on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team’s 24-10 win over the Atlanta Falcons.
Next up for the Titans is a game against the Buffalo Bills on Sunday at Nissan Stadium.
Here’s a look at some of the hot topics:
Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota completed 18-of-27 passes for 227 yards and three touchdowns on Sunday, good enough for a passer rating of 129.7.
“I do notice there’s not as many, ‘Fire the quarterback’ questions this week,” Vrabel said, “so I appreciate that.”
On the season, Mariota has now thrown seven touchdowns and no interceptions. His passer rating of 106.2 is currently 11th in the NFL. Mariota is the only quarterback who has started every game this season and has yet to turn the ball over.
The key now, Vrabel said, is for Mariota and the offense to have a good week of practice “and understand that one week doesn’t guarantee anything for the next week.”
The Return of Taylor Lewan
Titans tackle Taylor Lewan was back at Saint Thomas Sports Park on Monday following his four-game NFL suspension.
The Titans get a roster exemption for part of the week, but at some point the team will have to make a roster move to officially add Lewan back to the 53-man roster.
“He demanded a hug, and it was a quick one,” Vrabel said of being reunited with Lewan. “We are back in business and he is back and ready to work and help the team and we have to get him ready to play. … We have to make sure that he is ready to go. I know he is in condition, but getting him ready for game condition and fundamentals and all those things, that’s where our focus is right now, to get him ready.”
Vrabel complimented Dennis Kelly, who started the first four games at left tackle. Kelly will now return to the right tackle spot, where he’ll continue to compete.
“Dennis stepped in there and did a heck of a job,” Vrabel said. “He was put into a tough spot, having to switch over (to left tackle). That is something that we appreciate, everything that Dennis does for us.”
With the Titans leading the Falcons 24-10 in the fourth quarter on Sunday, the team faced a fourth-and-one from the Atlanta 10-yard line.
Vrabel elected to go for a first down rather than kicking a field goal and extending the lead. But Derrick Henry was stopped for a two-yard loss.
No damage was done – neither team scored again, and the Titans were never really threatened in a two-touchdown win.
Vrabel was asked again about the decision on Monday.
“Given the opportunity, I think probably the proper decision – not knowing if you’re going to get it – is to go up three scores,” Vrabel said. “That’s how it goes. (You) make a decision that is decisive. I always think we’re going to get it when we go for it.
“If I get the chance to do it again, like everybody else, just be better and go up three scores. I just wanted to put the game away.”
Titans rookie receiver A.J. Brown had three catches for 94 yards and two touchdowns on Sunday.
In the season’s first four games, Brown has a team-high 223 yards and the two scores on 10 catches.
Vrabel said the team’s second-round pick has made great strides.
“He caught a lot of passes in the SEC,” Vrabel said of the Ole Miss product. “He has really good body control for a big guy, when the ball is in the air, being able to not mistime his jump on the ball in the air. I like the way he catches it – he uses his hands. And it was good to see him not run out of gas yesterday.”
Praise for Cornerbacks
Vrabel offered praise for the team’s defense, and secondary.
He said cornerback Adoree’ Jackson played with an edge, and “he was more aggressive and it was good to see.”
Cornerback Malcolm Butler also had another solid game, Vrabel noted.
Butler has been physical as a tackler and in coverage this season. He was credited with six tackles, including a tackle for a loss, against the Falcons. Vrabel liked everything but Butler’s 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct.
“I thought he fought, and I thought he competed,” Vrabel said of Butler. “I thought he did a great job – four catches for (52) yards for Julio (Jones) is pretty much the recipe for success vs. the Falcons, at least yesterday.”
What’s Next at Right Guard?
Rookie Nate Davis played in 40 snaps on Sunday, while Jamil Douglas, the starter, played 24 snaps.
Vrabel said Davis played well, but he didn’t rule out the possibility of the rotation continuing either.
“We are really pleased with where Nate has come,” Vrabel said. “Both of those guys played well, and I would say that we are going to continue to try and get Nate in there and get him going. We are going to try and get him as many reps as we can and keep moving forward.
“(Nate) was very composed. … I thought he got to the second level, I thought he finished, I thought he got on guys even if it wasn’t always the right guy – sometimes it’s not. But there were times he was matched up with (Falcons DL Grady) Jarrett and he stepped out there and punched him and I thought he recovered well.”
“All Pro Performance”
Titans punter Brett Kern punted five times for a 45-yard average, with a 44.6-yard net. He placed all five of his punts inside the 20.
Kern booted a 50-yard punt to pin Atlanta on the five-yard line in the third quarter. He pinned the Falcons on their two-yard line with a 33-yard punt in the fourth quarter.
“We got an amazing performance, an All-Pro performance from Brett,” Vrabel said. “(He’s) a weapon. He continues to be a weapon. … I just can’t say enough about his consistency.”
Up Next: Buffalo
The Buffalo Bills visit Nissan Stadium on Sunday.
The Bills are 3-1 on the season and coming off a 16-10 loss to the Patriots on Monday.
The Bills do have some questions at the start of the week at the quarterback position. Josh Allen was knocked out of Sunday’s game with a concussion and replaced by Matt Barkley.
“This is a well-coached, physical football team,” Vrabel said of the Bills. “They have a very good defense. (John) Brown and (Cole) Beasley are productive receivers. Frank Gore never ceases to amaze anyone with his ability, his production, his durability.
“It is going to be a heck of a challenge. This is a well-coached, physical football team that isn’t afraid to slug it out with you.”