Coach Fisher's Monday Press Conference

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HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER**

(opening statement about Cortland Finnegan winning the Titans Community Relations Man of the Year Award)

Before I go onto the game and Thursday, I just want to take a moment to comment on Cort's accomplishments.  Much like Steve Underwood did in recognizing our Community Relations Department, I want to recognize the finalists: Rob Bironas, Ahmard Hall, Mike Roos, Stephen Tulloch and Vince Young.  These were finalists in this voting process, but there are many, many players beyond the finalists that also have done such a great job in the community.  Again, I would like to thank Bob (Hyde) and Tresa (Halbrooks) for that.  It's very, very important to them; from the hospital visits on Tuesday to the Caravan to the flood relief, you name it.  We've had most, if not all the players, involved in some sort of fashion, but for Cort to now be held up with the previous award winners is certainly an honor.  I am very proud of him for that.

(on the team's mood around the facility today)

They're disappointed in the loss, but they're excited about the next challenge.  It's a very short turnaround.  It's important that we put it in perspective, and we did.  We discussed it and we've moved on.  They have a walkthrough in about 15 minutes and we've been meeting on the Colts for the last two or three hours.  It's a short turnaround, a lot of players have not gone through this and it's about to be a mental exercise over the next 24 hours to convince themselves that today is Thursday and tomorrow is somewhere between Thursday and Friday.  We've got a game just a couple days away.

(on how many lineup changes they can make in such a short week)

We're looking at everything.  The bottom line is that we made some mistakes and we had some opportunities.  I think the most important thing for this team right now is not to dwell on the mistakes.  Bo Scaife doesn't need to dwell on the drop.  He didn't drop it on purpose, but he needs to come back and make the next catch.  That was the points that were made this morning.  We had a lot of opportunities.  We certainly weren't equipped to defend the run 53 times considering the status of the defense and the number of plays that we've played over the last month—I don't think anybody is against that offense.  Nevertheless, I was asked several times, 'Did your team quit?'  This team didn't quit, they didn't give up any points in the second half.  They got a fourth-down stop, they blocked a field goal and they played hard.  We just didn't make the plays.  We'll put it behind us and we'll take into consideration what everybody else is doing, you just get focused and do the best that you can the next couple of days.

(on the chances that Kenny Britt plays against Indianapolis)

You know, he was better last week and we'll see how he is today.  We're not going to have a full-speed practice, for obvious reasons, we're going to have a walkthrough so I'll have a better idea tomorrow.

(on the amount of dropped passes by the Titans' players against the Jaguars)

They're catching the football (in practice), they're doing the extra things and it wasn't an easy day to catch the football with the weather the way it was, but that's still no excuse.  You have to make those plays.  If you've got guys that can't overcome that, then you have to play other players.

(on why the Titans missed so many tackles against the Jaguars)

We didn't tackle as well—there are DB's across the league that are going to miss Maurice (Jones-Drew).  When they're handing it off 45-50 times, he's going to have his share of carries and he's going to be in one-on-one in the secondary.  You don't always win that.  That's the most carries he's had, particularly against us, particularly because of the way we play.  Our issues are team-related issues.  Right now the number one concern of mine is time of possession.  We're last in the league in time of possession and that's uncharacteristic for us to be last in the league.  The team is contributing to that, it's not just offense and our inability to convert third downs, or if it's defense it is inability to get off the field on third downs, it's the turnovers.  We've turned the ball over in the last five weeks much more than we did in the first and we're not getting our turnovers.  We have to get the football back, we have to protect it and we have to improve in both areas on third down and all of that starts with the run game.

(on how he can tell that the Titans haven't quit on the season)

No, these guys are trying to get the ball carriers down, tight ends down, we had a couple guys go low—Cort (Courtland Finnegan) went low on the tight end and the guy jumped over him and they're hustling to the ball.  We have to get rested up and create situations where our defense isn't playing as much.  We probably have played two or three more games than most defenses in the league as far as plays are concerned.

(on the short week)

It does, but ironically our training room was relatively empty today, which is a good thing considering our defense played as many snaps.  Our defensive line pretty much limped into the game with getting JJ (Jason Jones) back, David (Ball) back and Jason (Babin) back, but still they weren't 100 percent.  What's encouraging is that they got through it okay and we'll rest them up and have them ready.

(on why they haven't been able to fix their struggles on third down)

Our primary difficulty on third down defensively is the third-and-shorts.  Third-and-one or twos, fourth-and-one, quarterback sneaks, those kinds of things are hard to stop.  Obviously we need to create third and more manageable situations for us defensively, which are seven plus.  But again, a lot of that has to do with the fact that the defense is on the field a lot, the offense is not and so it all works together.  We start with the offense, we have to get back to the things that we're capable of doing and that's run the football and hit the right creases, catching the football and staying on the field.

(on the offensive line struggles)

I think our offensive line played pretty well yesterday, they played pretty well.  They protected the passer, there were some opportunities but I mean, we handed the ball off 13 times to CJ (Chris Johnson) so that's hard to judge them based on that fact, but I thought they played pretty well.

(on Chris Johnson's lack of an impact in recent games)

It's the case, I'm not blaming CJ, I'm not blaming everybody other than we're not getting the carries.  If we convert a third down and get a turnover we'll get more carries.  As is the case when you look at your run game and it isn't as efficient and effective as you'd want it to be, there is a break down here or there.  There is penetration that forces him to cutback and then the next play because he cut back the first time he didn't press the hole and it has an opportunity for a big game.  It's just reps, it's reps, it's carries that's the issue.

(on the increasingly small margin of error for the Titans playoff hopes)

I think the key here is that we don't go in with the mindset that we can't make a single mistake or else—that type of mindset.  You just have to go in relaxed and play and have fun and play hard, but you spend the time preparing and doing the little things.  You can't go into a game where if, and we don't want it to happen, but if for example there is a drop in the first series next week you take that, 'oh here we go again' approach.  That's not it.  We're just going to go play.

(on why there were so many missed tackles and dropped passes against Jacksonville)

I didn't total it up, we had four or five drops and I didn't total missed tackles.

(on the offensive struggles)

You start with your basics.  You pull them together, you get them all on the same page—as we do at the start of every week and emphasis what we need to do to win the ballgame.  Every opponent is a different challenge.  This Thursday Night challenge is different than what we went through yesterday.

(on if they have to score a lot of points to beat Peyton Manning and the Colts)

Yeah, we're going to have to score points.  Yeah, there is no doubt.  I mean field goals do not win this game and we haven't been scoring points.  That is something that we have to get back to.

(on offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger's role with the team moving forward)

I am hopeful that he will, yes.  I am hopeful that he will.  He is here today, the treatment is such that he had a heavy dosage last week and they backed down this week.  He's here today, he plans to work through things and helping to install.  He won't spend the entire time that the staff will spend here, obviously, on a short week.  But we are hopeful that he'll be able to call the game.

(on if having Mike Heimerdinger in the press box went smoothly last week)

It went as good as one could ever imagine considering the circumstances.

(on if he's ever seen Peyton Manning and the Colts struggle like they are right now)

The concern is that eventually that stops.  That's the concern.  With tipped balls and things like that he's got somebody in his face, he doesn't see the underneath drop defender and the guy picks the ball off.  Those are things that happen to all quarterbacks.  They've had injuries on offense, they've had injuries on defense, they're shuffling running backs trying to keep a healthy running back in there at all times, it's hard on them.  It's hard.

(on if all the distractions surrounding the team have had a negative impact)

No.  I discussed that last week, no.  It didn't affect Cort's (Cortland Finnegan) play; it didn't effect Cort's preparation last week, it didn't affect anything.

(on if he thinks the Titans need to win out to make the playoffs)

I don't think that 8-8 gets you in there, but again we're not going to talk about 9-7 or 8-8, we're going to talk about Thursday night.  That's the only way you get the next one.

(on if they've added things into the playbook for Randy Moss)

Yeah, you saw we had some opportunities.  We moved him around.  He had an opportunity to make a tough catch, it was a tough throw.  He had an opportunity to make a big play and it just didn't happen.

(on how he'll handle Randy Moss in the game plan when Kenny Britt is back)

I'll make that decision once I know Kenny is back.

(on if there is enough room on the roster for both Kenny Britt and Randy Moss)

Yes.

(on if they can get Randy Moss and Kenny Britt on the field together)

We don't have enough balls to go around but there is enough to put them on the field.

(on if Randy Moss has been frustrated by his lack of production in the offense)

None whatsoever, he's been a great teammate.  Guys really enjoy having him around.

(on if there are times to force the ball to Randy Moss because he's made catches in traffic before)

Yeah, we're getting double coverage and double-coverage progression tells you to go away.  Most times it goes in rotation, it is classic quarter or quarter-half coverage, so you move him around to try and create other opportunities for him.  We had a rookie quarterback trying to get him the ball last week; we had somewhat inclement weather (on Sunday) so it just happens, but he'll get his catches.

(on if this has been his most difficult season  as a head coach)

The last few weeks have been a challenge, but I like to think that is when we do our best work is when we're facing challenges.  I am excited to leave this podium, not to leave you guys, but to go into that bubble to start this walkthrough for the next game.  That's the approach you have to take.

(on if Jared Cook has earned more playing time)

Yeah.

(on if Jared Cook getting more playing time means that Bo Scaife's playing time will decrease)

No, it just means we'll keep rotating them around.  We can put Bo and Jared on the field, just like we put Jared and Craig (Stevens) on the field.

(on what Jared Cook did to earn more playing time)

I think it started with his special teams.  He's running around, playing physical, using his speed, taking advantage of his athletic ability.  I think that in itself has allowed him to become more confident in the offense.

(on having losing streaks of five or more in five of the last seven years)

Well we weren't very good for three of them; we were in a transition period.  Obviously I've spent a lot of time explaining what happened to start last season.  It's not something that we like, but we had games we should have won and we didn't.  We just have to try and win the next one.

(on getting players to keep the faith despite the current losing streak)

They're pros, they have to come in and prepare and work consistently whether you win or lose week after week.  Try to make plays and play at a high level, that's their job, that's their responsibility.

(on how he keeps the faith with struggling players)

They're not making mistakes on purpose and if a guy keeps making mistakes then whose fault is it?  It's mine.

(on if Chris Johnson has voiced any frustrations)

No.

(on what he would tell Chris Johnson if he voices any frustrations)

If he expresses it, he's going to get the same answer that you get.  We've got to keep the football, we have to convert third downs, we have to play better on defense.  CJ just wants to win ballgames.

(on Chris Johnson not talking to the media after the Jacksonville game)

I think guys got in, showered and left.  They lost the ballgame; do you expect him to be happy and stand around and jump up and down after a game like that?  No, I wouldn't either.

(on why Chris Johnson didn't talk to the media after the Jacksonville game)

I don't know how it's set up for him to take the podium but he had 13 carries for 57 yards and averaged 4.1 yards per carry and should have had 28 or 30 carries and didn't.  It didn't have anything to do with him being there or not.

(on how he determines whether or not to replace a player in the lineup or not)

No, I said when I have a guy who is a repeat mistake maker, at some point it falls on my shoulders, not theirs and they understand that.  At some point it becomes my responsibility.  Now was Bo's (Scaife) drop yesterday my responsibility?  I don't think so, I think he was trying to make a play; he just couldn't finish the play.

(on how to keep a team confident during a losing streak)

Again, we've got to win the next game.  We did it last year, we got going, we won a game and all of a sudden you win another.  The challenges are obvious this week.  Three days from now we're playing a Hall of Fame quarterback.

(on why he chose to put Chris Simms as the backup quarterback ahead of Rusty Smith)

Just because he had a second week of practice and I think he was much more comfortable after two weeks.

(on if NFL experience is why they chose Chris Simms over Rusty Smith as the backup quarterback)

He's played a lot more games than Rusty has.

(on if the team is too confident they can bounce out of this losing streak because they did it last year)

Well again, I hate to be redundant, but we have three days to get ready to play the Colts and we need to win the next game, period.  That's it.

(on if the defense is worn out)

Well yeah, that's what I referred to.  People refer to it as effort.  They're playing hard.  Again, I look at it differently.  Is the glass half full or half empty?  These guys are doing some good things considering the way we're built and the size of our defensive line and the number of plays we've played compared to a lot of the other defenses.  It could be two and three more games worth of plays at this point in the year and they're still fighting.

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