HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER, SEPT. 22, 2008**
(On the team's success in the red zone)
Well, yeah we're 8-8 [overall], 7-1 [touchdowns to field goals]. It's all well and good but we need to get down there more. If I had anything to say along those lines [it would be] we should be in there, after three games, maybe 12-14 times. But the good thing is we're getting points. We're protecting the football for the most part. The other side of the ball is the defense yesterday was exceptional in the red zone. But we're getting down too often, our punter is getting down in the red zone too often. So I'd like to see the offensive opportunities go up and the defensive opportunities go down.
(On if the team is veteran enough to handle the 3-0 hype)
All you really have to do is put a couple series of Minnesota on tape and that's all. That takes care of itself. Their offense is very explosive obviously with the running back and now the quarterback change. They got the ball down the field and their defense is very, very talented so just put the tape on. We're playing an unfamiliar opponent and that creates all sorts of challenges for us.
(On if he can attribute anything to the team's early-season success)
I think there's some carryover from last year and that's hard to accomplish. There's some carryover defensively from last year, with the exception of the playoff game, the last few games we were keeping the scoring down and getting off the field and were very productive on third down. That's been the case [this year]. We're getting off the field, we're keeping the points down, we're still running the football and we're healthy. We haven't had anything catastrophic happen to us on special teams. So there's some carryover and that's hard to accomplish, as you know, but I think it's the offseason program. It's the commitment to what we were doing in training camp and their conditioning level and their level of focus. There's times in the game where you can lose focus and they have not done that thus far.
(On if the AFC is as wide open as it seems)
It's still so early. What we're trying to do is just build wins, just trying to win the next one. Six or seven weeks from now we can start talking along those lines but it's just early. Our division, for whatever reason, particularly injuries, as far as Jacksonville and Indy are concerned, has got off to a slow start. Houston's a talented team and we saw that yesterday and they had, as I said, a difficult time last weekend. So we just have to make the best of our opportunities.
(On how unusual it is to have only one fourth-quarter pass in the last two weeks)
It's not unusual. It's just the way we are. We're running the football and winning games.
(On players saying the team hasn't had its best week yet)
They see it. I mean we had opportunities yesterday, we had a lot of opportunities to make plays. To recognize the formation in which the tight end screen came early in the game and we didn't stay behind. There's a lot of things that happened. Little subtle things [like] depths of routes and finishing. CJ [Chris Johnson] had an opportunity at the end of the game on a screen pass to go a long ways. So there's a lot of little things that we need to continue to work on. I will compliment our offensive line. We had 62 snaps yesterday and they pressured us over 50 percent with all kinds of stuff, junk, twists, dogs, zone dogs, and we protected our quarterback, we sorted it out and we ran the ball effectively. We knew we had to do that to have a chance. I thought the offensive line was exceptional yesterday.
(On the particular screen pass to Chris Johnson at the end of the game)
The screen pass is one of those things that's not specific because you can't predict what the defense is going to do, you can't predict their pass-rush, whether you got a stunt or a game. You just have to work your way out. It's a timing thing and we got pressure and Kerry [Collins] had to get rid of it. We didn't have a chance to set it up. But had we had a chance to set it up, regardless of the outcome of the play, the fact that the play was called is going to help in the long run.
(On why the Texans had some big plays)
They're a good football team offensively, they're talented, they're well-coached, they have a new system on offense and they have good players. They coach them, too. They're going to win a lot of games and make a lot of plays. They did so at the end of the year, they found ways to make big plays at the end of the season.
(On Eric King improving on his open-field tackling)
The tackles in the preseason were a lot different than these yesterday. They were one-on-one, kind of short passes to the wide receiver, in space. Whereas compared to these [tackles yesterday], these were check-downs to backs or tight ends where he can come up and use an angle. The tackles that he missed in the preseason were not of concern to us because they were difficult to make. I don't think any of our other corners were put those positions that Eric [King] was put in. We've got confidence in Eric to play the corner spot, to play the nickel spot. He's a good football player, he makes the same kind of plays for us on special teams.
(On Nick Harper's status)
Nick's a little sore today. We'll have to wait and see, he'll probably be day-to-day but it's not as bad as we thought. He's just got a little thigh bruise going.
(On Justin Gage's status)
He didn't play. I'll have a report for you on Wednesday.
(On the return game)
We're blocking better but we need to hit it and we need some creases but they come. I mean you have to be patient. I think [special teams coach] Alan [Lowry] said we were about 80 percent on the kickoff return from a blocking standpoint, which is the best we've been. You get one guy out of a lane and he flattens out. But [Chris Carr] is making real good decisions for us. Field position was not bad because of his play. He's here and you have to be patient with returns and so I would expect him to be able to make a play for us.
(On if he'd like to see anything more out of Chris Carr as a returner)
We expect more from him but, like I said, they come. They happen. You can go weeks without hitting one and all of a sudden you can catch fire and go a couple weeks where you're making big plays. He did have one earlier, he had a nice return last week in Cincinnati and we just have to keep working at it.
(On the improvement in special teams coverage)
We were better. That was an emphasis and we were better. We still missed a couple tackles and I wasn't happy with the last punt return, nor was I pleased with the penalty but we got better. We got to our landmarks, we broke down and were more effective. You know, André Davis returned three for touchdowns last year, he's an exceptional returner. I thought we handled that well. Jacoby [Jones] is a fine returner and we just let him hit the crease. But I thought overall we improved, in all areas, on special teams.
(On if he thought Justin McCareins' catch down the sideline would have been incomplete if it was challenged)
It looked great to me. I didn't see the TV copy, I haven't looked at that yet. On the coaching tape it's kind of hard to tell.
(On challenges posed by facing Adrian Peterson)
He challenges your whole defense. He challenges your run front, your defensive line, your linebackers and your secondary every single snap. Whether he's got the ball or not, because if he doesn't have the ball there's potential he'll catch a check-down [pass]. He's an exceptional player. This will, without question, be our biggest defensive challenge to date.
(On if/how the Vikings are a similar team to the Titans)
I think there's some similarities. I haven't had a real opportunity to really break them down. They have a very good defensive front, Jared Allen is an exceptional rusher. They have a solid group of linebackers, a physical group in the secondary and they play hard. Then offensively they can run, they can really run it. I guess in a lot of ways, yeah, there's some similarities.
(On how surprising it is to be the only team in the AFC South with a winning record)
Well, it just shows you how quickly things can change. Specifically, as far as injuries are concerned, if you get people hurt things change. I mean they change, look at New England, it just changes. You just have to do your best, as we've tried to do, to develop depth and have people that can plug in when needed and keep playing.
(On if he has any thoughts of switching to the "single wing" offense after seeing Miami beat New England)
No, I didn't get a chance to look at it. It looks like some of the things we're doing right now are okay, so we'll stay with them.
(On how long he plans to keep Vince Young in the coach's box for games)
I haven't had a chance to talk to him specifically about the experience. The coaches thought it was good. He was really into it. He got the calls, he knew what we were doing, he could see Kerry [Collins] make the decisions. I'll talk to him and see. It'd probably be a good idea now to get him down on the sideline and let him take that information that he got yesterday and that experience down on the sideline and see it from the sideline perspective.
(On if Vince Young in the coach's box was a one-time deal)
Yeah, well I haven't decided yet. I haven't had a chance to talk to him but I know it was a positive experience.
(On Kerry Collins running the ball)
It depends if it's there. On the second run, it was third-and-one and a half. He had an opportunity to throw the ball downfield because Alge [Crumpler] had beat the defender. He's got a chance to make a big play down the field, potentially could result in a touchdown, but Kerry [Collins] comes on the edge thinking, 'it's third-and-one and a half, I'm going to get the first down,' and he had a lot more room and kept going. What that allows us to do is it allows us to protect our edges, it forces people to stay home and opens up the run game. I think maybe the perception is Kerry [Collins] can't get to the edge. Well he can. So as a result, your ends have to play honest. It's good that he can still do that.
(On the short-yardage offense)
Well, we've converted but not converted the way we would like to convert. On third-and-one, I'd rather pick up two or three than one and a half and that's kind of the emphasis you need to make sure we continue to work on that. Don't get stuffed. But the good part about what Mike [Heimerdinger] is doing is he's changing things up, we're doing a lot of different things with different players.