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Anthony Firkser Interview: Titans TE talks last night’s touchdown and Arthur Smith

NFL: Preseason-Tennessee Titans at Philadelphia Eagles Bill Streicher-USA TODAY Sports

I caught up with Titans TE Anthony Firkser this morning fresh off of a 27-10 win over the Eagles last night in which he contributed with a gorgeous 23 yard touchdown grab.

We discussed the play that lead to that touchdown, Arthur Smith’s coaching style as the team’s new offensive coordinator, Marcus Mariota and a whole lot more. I also gave Firkser some trash talk material for him to take back to the locker room with him... Enjoy.

JM: Congratulations on the touchdown catch last night. It was a beauty.

AF: Thank you. I really appreciate that.

JM: Tell me a little about the play call and throw from Ryan [Tannehill].

AF: We got the play call and I knew what I had. I read the defense and I was just waiting for Ryan to go through his reads. I was able to split the safety and Ryan made a perfect throw over the linebacker. He just floated that thing right in there. All I had to do was make the catch. I was excited. It was fun to celebrate with my teammates again. It got our team going. It was a great team win last night.

JM: You guys definitely kept rolling after that. A couple of weeks ago, Mike Vrabel said that they’re trying to make you a more proficient blocker. Has that been a point of emphasis for you this training camp?

AF: Yeah, it definitely has. It’s something that I’ve been trying to work on. I’ve been getting more reps and opportunities as a blocker. It’s been fun. I have to take advantage of those in practice and in the game as well. I’ve been learning from the older guys. We have some pretty good blockers in our position room. [Tight end] Coach Todd [Downing] has been a lot of help as well. I’m just doing my best to grow in that phase of the game as well.

JM: I interviewed you this time last year and we spoke about Matt LaFleur’s coaching style. You told me that he was laid back in meetings but also very detail oriented when it came to the spacing of the routes. How does Arthur Smith compare?

AF: Arthur’s been great. I’m excited to play in this offense. We’ve all enjoyed watching him work. We’re excited to play for him. He brings a lot of energy to the meeting room. He makes sure everyone knows what they’re doing. It’s all somewhat similar but he definitely has his own unique style. A lot of the guys have been latching onto it. We’re learning quickly. It’s been a good experience.

JM: In which ways is he different from LaFleur?

AF: Coaching style wise?

JM: Yeah.

AF: I would say that Arthur tries to put things in simpler terms. I’ve noticed that with certain things. He just makes it easier for us to understand. That allows us to play faster out there. There’s less to worry about. There isn’t too much going through your mind. We can just focus on doing our job. I would say that works for the entire scheme of the play.

JM: There’s less verbiage perhaps?

AF: Yeah, he’s maybe a little lighter on the verbiage.

JM: You obviously spent a fair amount of time with him last season as he was your position coach. I get the impression that all of the tight ends are very excited to see him earn this opportunity.

AF: Yeah, the tight end group is super excited about it. I would say the rest of the guys are as well. We’re all excited for him. He’s put in so much hard work, time and effort into this. He gives his all to this team. It’s exciting to see that pay off for him. He’s gonna grow as a coordinator and play caller. He’s gonna do great things for the Titans.

JM: For my last question about this offense, how different does it look from a year ago?

AF: We’re just trying to grow as an offense. We’re focused on learning and improving from last year. We’re looking at the different areas we can work on. We need to keep growing as a unit. We’re building that trust and experience together. That’s what this time is for.

JM: You’re entering Year 2 with the Titans and you’re no longer a fringe roster player in my opinion. Your role is pretty defined and secure at this point. How have things changed for you from a year ago?

AF: I would say that they haven’t changed at all. I feel like I have to keep the same mindset I had a year ago. I have to bring it every day. I need to continue to prove myself out there. I need to show value to the team. It really hasn’t changed. I need to keep doing whatever I can to get better every day. That goes for the offense, special teams or whatever role they envision for me.

JM: What’s your main focus or goal for this coming season?

AF: I’m just focused on my job and my role whatever that may be. Whatever I can do to help the team win football games, that’s exactly what I’m gonna do.

JM: It’s a big year for Marcus Mariota. He’s bulked up in hopes of staying healthy. What’s the main difference you’ve noticed in him this off season?

AF: I haven’t noticed much of a difference at all to be honest. Yeah, he’s a little bigger for sure. He always come to work every day with a great attitude and that aspect hasn’t changed at all. His mindset is always exactly where it needs to be. He’s always focused and very involved in the meetings. He’s doing what he can to get better and help this offense. He’s grinding the same way he always has since I’ve known him.

JM: You were a great basketball player as well. If you had to pick a starting 5 using just Titans players, who would you choose and why?

AF: A starting 5? (laughs)

JM: Yup, a starting 5. I want specific positions and all.

AF: Positions as well? Alright, let’s do this. Tajae [Sharpe] is pretty good. I’d put him at shooting guard. I’ll take Taylor Lewan inside at center. I need his physical, athletic presence in the post. I’d put MyCole Pruitt at power forward. He’s a solid, big body. What do I still need?

JM: It sounds like you need a point guard and a small forward.

AF: I’m gonna run the point. I played point guard in high school. I haven’t actually seen it, but Jonnu Smith swears he can shoot. I’ll take him at small forward.

JM: You’re putting a lot of trust in him considering you haven't actually seen it happen.

AF: I haven't seen it but I’m gonna trust his word (laughs).

JM: I have one final question for you. Do you remember your first NFL catch?

AF: Yeah, it was a flat. I was with the New York Jets, right?

JM: That’s correct. It was against the Titans.

AF: Oh yeah, that’s right.

JM: You lined up as a fullback...

AF: And I came out of the backfield and went into the flat.

JM: Yup, you caught a quick flat route. Do you remember who was in coverage? You beat him around the corner for a first down.

AF: No, I can’t remember.

JM: It was Jayon Brown.

AF: Oh really? get outta here (laughs).

JM: And now I’ve left you with a piece of trash talk for your next encounter with him.

AF: Yeah, that’s pretty funny (laughs). I definitely plan on bringing that up to him. I remember the play but I couldn't remember which team it was up against. I actually think I have a picture of that play. I didn’t realize it was Jayon. That’s hilarious.

JM: I’d like to end on that note (laughs). Thanks for your time today, Anthony. What can Titans fans expect from you and the rest of the offense this season?

AF: We’re doing everything we can to improve every day. We’re looking forward to having a great season.