Coach Fisher's Monday press conference

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HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER**

(opening remarks)

Yesterday afternoon we had three or four players leave the game that did not return. None of them appear to be too serious and I'll have more detailed injury information for you later on in the week. As far as the game is concerned, we saw on tape exactly what we saw yesterday. We saw three units that I thought did a very good job adjusting to the weather conditions, all three phases. I was very, very pleased. Difficult set of circumstances. We should have had a false start on the last play of the game because we had two players nearly blown over before the snap. The wind was that significant. Kerry [Collins] did a great job managing the game. I think he was 7-10 in the second half. Most of his passes took place in the third quarter. We had one pass attempt in the fourth quarter. We just handed the ball off, that's kind of how the game went. As I said yesterday, our game plan was significantly reduced on offense. There were things that neither offense were able to even attempt to try because of the conditions. As you would expect in your second game, still a lot of room for improvement. For example, we had some difficulty with communication on defense. Now whether that was because they couldn't hear because the wind was whistling inside their helmets, that could have been part of the reason but we had some communication breakdowns. I'm still not pleased with our coverage units yet, we need to cover better on [special] teams. Other than that we just had the little things that you try to continue to improve upon as you continue to try and build wins. If you keep improving you should win more games and that's pretty much where we are.

(On how much Kerry Collins will benefit from knowing he's the starting quarterback)

He's preparing every week. He's prepares, really since we turned it over to Vince [Young] a couple years ago, to prepare himself to go in to play if need be. The difference is he's getting more reps on the practice field now. He and Mike [Heimerdinger] worked very well together as far as what he was comfortable with. He offered some good ideas so the communication is very good. I think he'll benefit from it. We've got some players around him who can make some plays that yesterday got in the right place at the right time and, because of his experience, he was able to get the ball off on time and go to the right places. We had two or three opportunities for some big plays. One play in particular, the ball was pushed completely outside over Justin's [McCareins] head and then Justin [Gage] had a chance for a tough catch down the seam. For the most part he went to the right places on the right time as well.

(On the wide receivers getting more involved on offense)

We felt like when they're loading the line of scrimmage against us to stop the run, you need to do some things outside to take advantage of it and we did so. We got a lot of different looks, as we anticipated, out of their defense and I thought Kerry [Collins] handled it well.

(On Rob Bironas getting more distance on his kickoffs)

He had not kicked off all preseason, he worked out last week, the leg injury is completely behind him, the leg was strong and he drove it. Now the wind swirled a little bit at times. Most of the times it appeared to be coming off of our bench so you had a couple of those kicks that were going towards the south end zone that the wind pushed to the right. Craig [Hentrich] did a great job on our field goal. We had a low snap and he got it down. Rob stayed with it knowing that he had to take the ball to the right upright and he did and it just got inside the left upright. Those are the kind of little things that you talk about. The defense understanding what we wanted to accomplish when we left the defense in there to rush the punt when they were backed out and get the block. Then making the adjustments during the course of the game as far as punt protection and shortening the distance which Kenny [Ken Amato] had to snap to Craig and one step and get the ball out of there. The first time we did it he knocks the ball out on the two yard-line. Those are the things that are pleasing to the coaching staff, that the players responded well and made the adjustments that needed to be made.

(On the delay after Keith Bulluck's punt block recovery in the Bengals' end zone)

Yeah, what I was told was that a beer bottle had been thrown from the crowd onto the field so they had to contact the stadium officials, stadium authorities and then the league office. That was the reason for the delay.

(On if it was important to get Chris Johnson 100 yards rushing)

I had no idea where he was. We were rotating the backs and we're going to continue to do that to try and keep them fresh.

(On if he looks forward to seeing Kerry Collins in a game without weather conditions)

Well, yeah we expect him to be successful. I expect, had there not been wind yesterday, we expect him to handle the entire game plan and put points on the board and move the ball. We all have confidence in Kerry [Collins] and he'll be fine.

(On the possible rule change dealing with the inadvertent whistle in the Denver-San Diego game)

Ed Hochuli, the referee at the time, came out and said he made a mistake. I believe I was told that he announced it at the stadium that he made a mistake. I think in his mind he was thinking incomplete or fumble, but blew the whistle and sometimes that happens. I'm sure the [Competition] Committee will revisit this during the offseason and look at it. A couple years ago when we added down by contact into the replay envelope, we had discussed this but it's going to require a great deal of discussion. It's happened at times. It happened in a game at Indianapolis years ago. I know Tony [Dungy] knew he couldn't get the ball back but it did change the spot. We had a pass that was ruled incomplete that he did review and it was a fumble. It backed us up five yards and we ended up third-and-nine instead of third-and-five. When the whistle blows and the pass is ruled incomplete, there's just no way currently that you can award possession.

(On if admitting a referee's mistake really matters to a team that took the loss)

Well, I can understand Coach [Norv] Turner's feelings considering the fact that he's lost two games on the last play of the game. It's frustrating but we've had our share of issues also. I guess they had a couple of shots to win the game but didn't. I can understand that but that's part of it. The inadvertent whistles are a hard thing to overcome.

(On the disadvantage the Houston Texans are facing after Hurricane Ike)

Well, it would be only fitting for me to comment on just the people in Houston, the people in south Texas and what they're going through and the hardship and hope that their lives obviously get back to some sort of normalcy. That's the number one concern. Now you've got the players and their families that are dealing with power losses and high water levels and everything else. The league got on this as early as Tuesday. I thought they made a good decision to take the pressure off the organization so they could be home with their families and deal with the tragedy. With that being said, I've heard that they'll be reporting back to work tomorrow. So they got fresh legs and they got a unique bye week, so to speak, but at least they've been given time to handle the distractions, if you will, at home. Hopefully things will be in a situation where they'll be able to deal with ball. As far as their mindset, players and coaches are resilient. Once you know the families are okay, you go back to work and you prepare and you get ready to play a ball game.

(On if Kerry Collins will benefit from having beat Houston in his one start last year)

Yeah. What he'll do, and we typically do during the preparation phase, we'll look at the last few games and if it's a division opponent we'll look at games that we played against them last year. So he's got the opportunity to look at that game which he moved the ball well. We just didn't score touchdowns but he moved the ball well and he had plenty of time left and a timeout to put us in position to kick a field goal. So I think he'll benefit from it.

(On if Kerry Collins will start Sunday)

Yeah, I would expect him to start Sunday. I don't know as to what Vince's [Young] condition is but as long as we're winning, Kerry's [Collins] our quarterback right now.

(On Alge Crumpler not catching as many balls as expected before the season)

We had a whole handful of things for Alge [Crumpler] and for the tight ends that we just couldn't use. You just have to be so careful with what you're doing with the football so we didn't get to it. I think Kerry [Collins] got him twice, one was a big play, he broke a tackle and picked up some key yards for us going in. Then the wind knocked the ball down that would have been a completion on a cross early in the ball game. Alge [Crumpler] blocked very well and was into the game. His numbers will pick up.

(On how impressed he was running the ball for 177 yards with the wind limiting the passing game)

I was impressed with the offensive effort.

(On the team's young defensive backs fitting into the defensive scheme)

You know, we got the play out of Cort[land Finnegan] that was a heads up play. DBs [defensive backs] know that when there's a sudden change, especially on your side of the field, that they're going to take a shot and Cort carried him right through the break and made the play. [Michael] Griff[in] was in position on a ball that sailed a little bit but I have to point out Chris Hope's effort. Chris Hope had 10 tackles, played 60 plays, had a pass break-up, a tackle for loss and really covered up for a lot of the stuff that was going on because of our inability to hear and communicate. You take that for granted sometimes but when the wind is going like that it's hard for them to communicate with one another.

(On what he would like to see improved in the special teams' coverage)

We gave up some more returns. We gave up some creases and so we have to go down and make those tackles and limit the length of the returns.

(On Stephen Tulloch's missed tackle on Chris Perry's touchdown run)

I think Stephen's situation was unique in that it was a big hole. He read the play, he scraped in position but we're a man short and I think [that] caught him by surprise. Their only touchdown came against a defense in which we had only 10 players on the field.

(On why there were only 10 players on the field)

It was a miscommunication. We talked about that this morning, Jimmy [defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz] is going to take that one. He repped everything and sent a defensive package out against an offensive personnel grouping that we hadn't worked. We didn't get it communicated on the sideline.

(On if it was a defensive linemen that was missing)

Yes. That's a coaching thing not a player thing, we'll take that.

(On if Kerry Collins is the starter until he starts to struggle)

Yeah. We're going to get Vince [Young] back and get his knee back and work with him getting back involved with the offense, but Kerry [Collins] is going to go ahead and play for us until either he struggles or whatever else happens. You saw by the way he played and in light of everything it just makes sense to go with that.

(On how he got to that decision)

I don't have to go into specifics as to how I came to that decision. It's just the way we're going.

(On if he's relayed that decision to Vince Young)

No, I haven't talked to Vince [Young]. He came in this morning, rehabbed and things. He's got to get back. He's eventually going to be under center for us. When that happens, I don't know but right know Kerry [Collins] is our quarterback.

(On Kerry Collins' Super Bowl experience carrying weight with the players)

That was his 150 th start yesterday. You could tell that experience suited him well yesterday and we hope that that will continue.

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