HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER, JAN. 5, 2009**
(On if the team was on the practice field today)
Yeah, we just concluded a brief session in the bubble.
(On if Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch participated)
You know, we said that we expect them to practice this week and I haven't moved off of that course. I fully expect both of them to be on the practice field. They're doing well.
(On what the coaching staff took away from the Oct. 5 game at Baltimore)
It was the type of game we expected. They had been playing well. In that particular game they were very much about ball control and real physical defense and they forced some issues with us. We made some mistakes, we didn't play particularly well and had some people that didn't play in the game or finish the game but we found a way to win the ball game. That was the most important thing.
(On how much Joe Flacco has improved since that game)
He's improved quite a bit. His numbers reflect that. Down the stretch he's played some meaningful games against some very talented defenses and did not make many mistakes. They've done a great job with him. Cam [Cameron] and the staff have done a great job with him. [They've] put him in position to be successful and everything that he does centers around their running game, which I think is one of the best in the league.
(On what stood out in watching the Baltimore-Miami Wild Card game)
Well, clearly the difference in the ball game was the turnovers. Miami never really got started. The Baltimore defense needs to take credit for it. They forced the issue, they kept constant pressure on Chad [Pennington] and they took advantage of him. I know they were a little frustrated because they couldn't turn the turnovers and the sudden change into immediate points but they did a great job with the scheme and the game plan on the road. It was kind of what we expected to see out of the Ravens team.
(On any similarities between Rex Ryan's defense and the Titans defense from a scheme standpoint)
No, it's a completely different scheme.
(On the Ravens running backs)
Well, it's a good changeup. Willis [McGahee], despite being nicked off and on, he's running the ball very well. He's got real good vision and obviously the ability to make the long plays as you saw Sunday. And then their quote fullback is more than just a fullback. He's a special runner. He's an inside grinder and they constantly put themselves in third-and-short situations, which is good. With a young quarterback you don't need six or eight or 10 third-and-seven plus opportunities to convert in a ball game. You have a better chance of converting those third-and-shorts and they do that with their running game.
(On if they will do anything to game plan around Ed Reed)
You have to be selective. You have to be on time and selective because he'll see things, see formations and understand routes and completely vacate the post and go jump a route and make the play. That's why he's so good. That's why he's made so many plays.
(On if there's any extra emotion this week because of the history between these two teams)
No, our approach to this is, we need to do the same things we did that got us here and that's prepare hard, respect your opponent, with the exception of trying to do things just a little bit better. There's been some great matchups, it's a great rivalry but those things that took place in the past really aren't going to have any impact on what's going to happen. Really, there were some great games and I guess I'm very fortunate to be able to stand up here and answer questions about those games because some of them were years ago. As I said, we just have a few players that were involved specifically in the 2000 game. I think they have more players than we do and they happen to be our former players that were involved in that game.
(On how it felt the day after losing in 2000)
Clearly, a playoff loss is a playoff loss and that was a disappointing loss. I said at the time I thought the 2000 team was a better team than the 1999 team and they made the plays, we didn't and we moved on. Again, no impact, no bearing, no effect on this coming Saturday's game.
(On comparing the 2008 Titans to the 2000 Titans)
There's some similarities but there's still some differences. Both these teams are pretty much built the same way as those teams were back in 2000. Play good defense, run the football and they play exceptional special teams and they're very physical teams. That's the kind of matchup you expect to see in this round of the playoffs.
(On reading into Ed Reed's statements yesterday about the Ravens being a team no one wants to play)
I think they have high expectations for themselves as we do and deservedly so. They fought hard, they regrouped, they went from 5-11 to 11-5 and made the playoffs and won a playoff game. They should be proud of what they accomplished.
(On if the message to the team this week is to take care of the ball)
That's our message every week, to take care of the ball. It's no different. The approach is no different: protect the football, run it, do the right things, execute and do your best to try and win the game. Just because you're playing a team that has basically the same takeaway/giveaway ratio that you do doesn't mean you change everything. We try to protect the football at all costs.
(On if there's a different feel to this matchup without Brian Billick)
No, it's a different team. It's a different team that still does the same things. They're built the same way, they're very good at a lot of the things that Coach Billick was associated with when he was there.
(On the status of Kevin Mawae)
He'll be day-to-day. I don't know whether he'll be on the field as soon as these two [Albert Haynesworth and Kyle Vanden Bosch] but Kevin will be day-to-day.
(On if it matters which arm is hurt for Mawae to be out)
Regardless of whether it's left or right, he's still facing the same challenge to come back on the practice field.
(On Leroy Harris stepping in)
Leroy is equipped to play and play well if Kevin can't play.
(On the roster move made to put Kevin Vickerson back on the active roster)
We released Amon Gordon just before practice today which was a difficult roster move. The league rules are different once you get in the playoffs and it was a difficult move for us. He understands. We are very grateful for what he gave to us not only as a practice squad player but also as an active roster player in having played in Week 17. When you release a player at this point in the playoffs you have to wait until after the Super Bowl to clear waivers so we will not have the ability to bring him back. It was a difficult decision but he understands rules and we had to make the decision.
(On if the injured players on the defensive line affected the decision to cut Gordon)
No, that didn't have anything to do with it.
(On if they will use the open practice squad spot to sign someone)
We're good right now. We're practicing well and have been practicing well with the numbers that we've had.
(On if they'll do specific things to game plan around Ed Reed)
You have some ideas as to where he is. To me, the challenge dealing with Reed is simply the quarterback's challenge to know where he is and to understand that, as you saw on Sunday, you may get the sense that they're all-out blitzing to one side and you've got a home run and you throw it and he's over the top. It's the quarterback's issue and Kerry [Collins] is experienced and he understands that, when in doubt, don't put it up down the field late because Ed's probably going to make a play.
(On Rex Ryan saying the Ravens get no respect)
He needs to read the paper or watch TV. I think they've gotten plenty of respect. Obviously, they're getting plenty of respect from us. If that's the way you want to handle and motivate then so be it. People aren't going to go out after kickoff and play hard because they felt like they were disrespected. You play hard to try to win the game.
(On what they have to do to run the ball better than the first time against Baltimore)
Well, basically just have more opportunities. Convert third downs so you get more opportunities, more plays. We ran 54 plays the first time we played them. We had some difficulty with the run so as you all saw, with six minutes left to go, we picked it up and threw it and that was the difference in the ball game for us.
(On if the game-winning drive against Baltimore this year was a springboard for the Titans)
It was a good win for us against a good team that basically mirrored us. They ran the football, they made some plays with the play-action pass and then played good defense. It was a good win for us on the road in a tough place to play. Again, I think both teams are better now than they were back when we played them the first time.
(On characterizing the rivalry)
I think maybe you need to talk to the Eddie Georges and the Frank Wychecks and the Steve McNairs and the Trent Dilfers and the Jamal Lewis' and the Jonathan Ogdens about it because that's when we were playing them twice a year and battling through the playoffs. These are two completely different teams. Obviously, both teams have a lot to lose. This is sudden death and both teams are hoping to go out and play as best as they possibly can to win and move on. I wouldn't associate those kind of connotations and make those associations or those assumptions. I think both teams have respect for one another. I can't speak for them but I that's exactly how we are. It's tough to go out and win your first playoff game on the road and they did so they're deserving of the respect and we're looking forward to the opportunity.