Jim Wyatt, SENIOR WRITER/EDITOR
NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans coach Mike Vrabel held a press conference on Monday at Saint Thomas Sports Park, one day after the team’s 26-23 overtime win over the Eagles.
This Sunday, the Titans face the Bills in Buffalo.
Here’s a look at some of the hot topics:
Props to Mariota
Vrabel told Titans quarterback Marcus Mariota prior to Sunday’s game: “I can’t wait to watch you play today.”
Mariota then went out and completed 30-of-43 passes for 344 yards and two touchdowns in the game, and he ran for 46 more yards, including a two-yard touchdown run. Mariota threw a 10-yard touchdown pass to receiver Corey Davis to win it in overtime.
Vrabel said he’s used to be an “overbearing dad” when his kid played sports growing up. After his wife gave him a book, he realized he needed to calm down. So he made a conscious effort to provide support.
“I thought he had a great week of practice,” Vrabel said of Mariota. “I (had) the best seat in the house for a guy who had 400 yards of total offense. … I was ready to watch him play, and take the practice week he had and translate it into the game.”
Vrabel said Titans offensive coordinator Matt LaFleur had his best game since he’s been with the team.
Davis caught nine passes for 161 yards in the contest, including a 51-yard catch.
Time and again Mariota kept finding him, and time and again Davis kept coming down with the football. His game-winning catch capped off a 16-play, 75-yard drive that ended it with just five seconds left on the clock.
Now, he has to settle in and do it consistently.
“I think that confidence plays a large part in performance,” Vrabel said. “But I think you have to be careful, because you don’t want to just feel like you can just roll it out there, and just because you did it one week or you did it for two years that you are just going to automatically do it the next week or the next season.
“That is something that we guard, is that we are trying to build our reputation as a team and a player on what we are doing and what we will do as opposed to what we have done.”
In addition to Davis, Vrabel complimented receivers Taywan Taylor and Tajae Sharpe for their route running in the contest. He said the young receivers should continue to improve.
Right tackle Jack Conklin was in the starting lineup on Sunday for the first time this season.
Conklin played all 71 snaps against the Eagles. He missed the first three contests while working his way back from last year’s knee injury.
Vrabel was pleased with what he saw.
“It was good to have him back,” Vrabel said of Conklin. “There’s a mental hurdle that you have to go through as a player (coming off an ACL), and that was Jack’s first game back against a really good defensive line and good players. So it was great for him to be back into it mentally after a great week of practice.
“And then he went out and performed, and he played well and he’ll get better.”
Vrabel has made a habit out of giving out game balls after games.
He’s going to be busy this week.
“The whole team is going to get a game ball,” Vrabel said. “I just think this was kind of a crazy win and everybody kind of did something to help us win.
“They gave me a budget, that I didn’t know that I had, but we have enough money to give everybody a game ball.”
Vrabel singled out the performance of linebacker Jayon Brown, and called him “one of the players of the game on defense” with his productivity, and coverage.
Kern Punts, and Tackles
Titans punter Brett Kern played a big role in the contest.
Not only did Kern average 50.8 yards on five punts, including a 38.4-yard net, he also put two balls down inside the 20, including one at the three-yard line.
On top of that, Kern made a tackle on Eagles return man DeAndre Carter to keep him from scoring late. Carter went 42 yards on the return, and if not for Kern, he would have scored the go-ahead touchdown with just over a minute left.
“I think it saved a touchdown,” Vrabel said of the tackle. “I think the tackle saved a touchdown. We need to get him a bigger facemask if we are going to keep covering (punts) like that.
“But (Kern) is certainly a weapon, to be able to punt the ball on the three… We’d like for him not to have to tackle, but it was great to see him get down there and really save the day for us. And we forced them to kick a field goal right there.”
With back-to-back wins over the Jaguars and Eagles, the Titans now have wins over two of the NFL’s top teams.
Next up is a trip to Buffalo to face the 1-3 Bills.
Vrabel was asked about avoiding overconfidence.
“I’m sure we’ll find some ways to figure that out,” Vrabel said. “I have some experience in my past with things like that, so we’ll try to point out the good, fix the bad and move on … to Buffalo.
“If you don’t play well in this league, I don’t care where you play, I don’t care who you play, you lose – that’s the NFL.”
Vrabel said he’s proud of his team for executing in pressure-packed situations this season. The Titans have won three straight games by three points.
“We’d love to have some blowouts,” Vrabel said. “I just don’t see any in there. … But when you can execute in the most critical situations, you have a chance.”
Titans linebacker Wesley Woodyard (shoulder) and safety Kenny Vaccaro (elbow) were both injured in Sunday’s game.
Vrabel said Woodyard is being evaluated, “and I think he’ll be OK.”
“I can’t tell you 100 percent that he is not going to miss any time,” Vrabel said of Woodyard, “but we are hopeful.”
Vrabel said Vaccaro is going to have to miss a few weeks.
Vrabel said Titans quarterback Blaine Gabbert remains in the concussion protocol.
At the safety position, Vrabel said the Titans are considering some options in-house, and it means rookie Dane Cruikshank and veteran Brynden Trawick will need to be ready to go, along with Kendrick Lewis, who played 47 of 78 defensive snaps on Sunday.
The Titans also have safety Damon Webb on the practice squad.
Vrabel said Lewis was inconsistent while filling in. Vrabel said Lewis made some mistakes, but also made some plays.