HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER, JAN. 12, 2009
(On the status of Chris Johnson)
There was some question and concern as to whether he made an attempt to come back in the ball game and we made every attempt to get him back in the ball game. We're going to send him out for an MRI today. He has components of a high-ankle sprain and he'll remain in the boot. I can't say whether or not he'll be back for the Pro Bowl or not. Had we won the ball game he probably would've been listed as doubtful for this week.
(On the changes needed for next year)
We'll start that process. I think we're still a little numb right now. But we'll start the evaluation process, and really we do this every year, we evaluate every aspect of the organization from game planning to the treatment of injuries. We'll do a very thorough study of everything that we did, and that includes our football, with one goal in mind and that is to improve. We stressed improvement over the last few years and I think the record reflects that we have improved. Now we need to find some way to take that next step. Today's not an easy day. As I told the players, there's only one team that gets to wrap up the year on the final meeting after a win and that'll happen a couple weeks from now. This one's going to hurt for a while and it needs to, but in time this too shall pass and we'll commit ourselves to having the best offseason program we can and to improve in every area we can.
(On if bringing back Kerry Collins is a priority)
There's a lot of priorities from a personnel standpoint. I don't typically go into too much detail this quickly after the season but certainly getting Kerry back is very important to us.
(On what emotions he's gone through personally)
First off, I'll start by saying the energy and electricity and the environment itself at home in the stadium with the commitment to the fans. It was an incredible experience. I've experienced it before but it's been years now and that's what brings you to work every day. That's what motivates the players. Certainly there's a great deal of disappointment. As coaches, we go back and say what could we have done differently. Did we take the right approach and did we make a mistake? I met immediately after the game with both the coordinators and I praised both the coordinators for the job they did, in particular last week in the game plans. I would not change a thing whatsoever in those game plans. They did an excellent job. We put ourselves in a position to win the ball game, we just came up short because we were lacking in a few plays.
(On if resigning Kerry Collins is the top offseason priority)
Again, I'm going to go into details some point in the near future regarding the decisions that we're going to make as far as the roster is concerned. Kerry is important to us. Kerry played very, very well for us and in particular Saturday afternoon I thought he played his best game for us against a very, very difficult defense.
(On what he needs to see from Vince Young this offseason)
We expect 100 percent commitment from Vince and will accept nothing less than that.
(On if he agrees with Kerry Collins assessment that he still has a couple years left)
I think his play clearly indicates that. There's no doubt. Kerry has one or two options in my opinion. He starts, and hopefully that's for us, or he's on his tractor at his farm.
(On how he'll wind down after the loss)
I guess to give you an example, I did not do any kind of planning whatsoever. We felt good about our chances and good about our opportunities. There's a lot that needs to get done and because of the workload and the nature of what we do and the evaluation process, that's a natural transition. You just consume yourself in that process and you move on. The difficult thing associated with today is saying goodbye to a group of players like that, knowing that not all those faces are going to be in this room. That's the nature of our business. We'll keep most of them. We'd like to keep all of them. This was a unique group. This has been a unique group since the 0-5 start [in 2006]. The personality of this team and their chemistry is special and it's important that we maintain that because that itself gives you a chance to improve.
(On if he wants Kerry Collins to be the starter next year)
My point being to Kerry is that Kerry has no interest in backing up. He wants to start and rightfully so. He's been adamant about that and I think he's earned the right to say that. Again, we've got a lot of time and we'll work things out.
(On if it will be difficult to sign Albert Haynesworth this close to the start of free agency)
Albert's going to be a priority of ours. He's certainly expressed interest in staying and we have every interest in trying to get something worked out. That will be a priority of ours but we're less than 48 hours from the game so we have some work to do.
(On the personal foul penalties)
Well, I'll disagree with two of the three. The David Stewart foul, I thought the play was still going on. I didn't think that should have been called. I had some difficulty with the personal foul on the contact with the quarterback. I'm always going to have issues, as I do every week, as far as the penalties are concerned. I disagree with some of the calls but that's just the nature of it.
(On the missed delay of game call)
I don't know, I'm sure things will be discussed. The [Competition] Committee discusses all kinds of different issues as they relate to the playing field, to replay, so I'm sure it will be discussed. As to whether there's a change I would not anticipate a change there. As I said, there was a mistake. The play should have been shut down. It was not. Did it cost us the game? I don't know. It was a huge play in the ball game. Todd [Heap] made a great catch. Nick [Harper] normally makes that interception and the ball was thrown a little differently and Nick mistimed the ball. But nevertheless the play should not have been allowed to be run.
(On if he would support a buzzer system for the play clock running out)
At this point, it's a little early for that. The backjudge's responsibility on every play is to watch the play clock. That's where it starts, that's his job. Then he moves onto his other assignments once the ball is snapped. It hasn't been a big issue, it clearly was an issue in this ball game, but it's not an epidemic. It just happened.
(On why the play clock running out is not reviewable)
We never included penalties in the replay envelope. We just don't. The replay system is working. You just have to draw the line some place and I would never involve penalties. I should say, there's one instance where there's potential to evaluate a penalty and that's more than 11 men on the field. But beyond that, it's just not going to happen. We can't expand replay that large. We would have too many potential problems.
(On if he has a plan in place if Jim Schwartz takes a head coaching job)
Yes, I have a number of options. Part of my job is to kind of stay ahead, if you will, and we've done that. I don't know the status [of Schwartz's interview]. It has been reported that Jim has gone in for a second interview. I can verify that he is in Detroit now and I'll be in touch with him.
(On the Giants and Panthers also losing after a bye and any parallels between them)
We've been discussing that. It goes back to what would you do differently and we wouldn't do anything different. We were in shape, we played a physical ball game, we put more yards up against this defense than they've given up in two-and-a-half years. We held the second or third rushing offense to 50 yards on 30 carries. We played well enough to win and didn't win. I'm having a hard time connecting that to the week off or to the seed. It's just the way the game goes.
(On what he connects the team's troubles to)
If I had an answer for you, I'd tell you. Hang on to the football, kick a field goal, score points, those kind of things.
(On if it seems weird to him about teams with No. 1 seed troubles in the playoffs)
It's hard to say. Had we made a play here or there, it wouldn't be an issue. We didn't get beat by 28 points. We beat ourselves.
(On the performance of Leroy Harris)
Leroy played well and will continue to play well for us. I didn't have any problems with Leroy, I didn't watch Leroy, I had no concerns about Leroy going into this ball game.
(On if he anticipates any changes to the coaching staff)
At this point, there's always the possibility that there's going to be coaching changes but stability and continuity is important to us and I think the staff did a really great job for us.
(On if he thought of giving Quinton Ganther more snaps)
No, I mean we had Q ready. Q was ready to play, he played a few snaps, he played some third-down stuff for us because he understood the protections. Not that LenDale [White] doesn't, that was kind of to give LenDale his break. It's hard to say what would have happened in the ball game had Chris [Johnson] not got hurt. He went out with seven minutes left to go in the second quarter and he had 100 total yards of offense. He was playing well.
(On any players getting medical procedures done)
The only injuries I'll discuss are CJ's because I think it's pertinent to the Pro Bowl, it's pertinent to the game. Kevin Mawae is going to have surgery on his elbow to repair a partially-torn tricep tendon. Our hope with Kevin, had we been successful and continued to win, was to be able to keep Kevin up and keep him on the active roster and I committed to Kevin, if it would at all be possible, to keep him up so that he would have an opportunity to play at least one play in the Super Bowl.
(On if Chris Johnson's performance hammered home the need for more dynamic players on the roster)
Yeah, I think CJ's play this year speaks for itself. He's a dynamic player and he's a very durable player with big-play potential and he can change the game. Our offense didn't shut down when he went out. We leaned heavily on Kerry [Collins] and Kerry made plays and Justin [Gage] made some great plays. The guys made plays so it didn't shut down. We still had enough offense, I thought, in the second half to win the game.
(On what he said to Alge Crumpler after the game)
Alge is a very classy competitor and committed and the ultimate team player. He's as good a team player that you could have on your team. He's been competing for a long time and sometimes things don't go the way that you hoped that they do. He'll deal with it and he'll put it behind him. It's going to be difficult. It's not the fumble, it's the loss and it's not the fumble that led to the loss itself, it's the loss that you have to come to terms with.
(On how high a priority it is to acquire a playmaking wide receiver)
We're going to try to upgrade our roster at all the positions. I thought Justin [Gage] made plays, Brandon [Jones] came in and made plays, I thought Justin McCareins when healthy made some plays. But it will be a priority for us. I think Kerry's play illustrated that you don't necessarily need what is referred to as a big-time weapon outside. [If] you get the ball off on time, people get to the right spots, you make plays. But certainly we're looking to upgrade that position as well as others.
(On if he's disappointed that Lavelle Hawkins did not make a breakthrough)
No, I'm not disappointed at Hawk. Hawk's going to be a good player. I'll give you an example, I had a real good conversation with a number of players as they were departing today, Brandon Jones in particular. I thought Brandon Jones improved significantly this year and I reminded Brandon about Derrick Mason's road and how it took Derrick three or four years. Despite the fact that you may not care for Derrick's antics on the field, Derrick is a real good player and it took Derrick time. You just keep working. You work to get better and then all the sudden it happens for you.
(On if he heard any of Derrick Mason's comments to the referees)
I don't know what he was saying. He was talking about the weather or something like that (laughter). Derrick did come by to see me in the locker room after ball game, as he always does. He's one of my favorites. He's a true competitor.
(On if Vince Young learned enough this year as a backup)
I think I can make a case that Vince probably learned more in the position that he was this year than if he had played all year. I think he had a valuable experience watching Kerry [Collins] do what he did week after week after week, putting things behind him, whether it was a negative play in the game or it was a game in which statistically it wasn't as good as Kerry would have liked. To watch Kerry put things behind him and move on and stay focused, I thought it was a tremendous experience for Vince.
(On if Vince Young is definitely on the roster next year)
Yeah, why would he not be on our roster? As I said after Week One, Vince will still eventually be under center for us.
(On if he envisions carrying three quarterbacks next year)
Yeah, I really liked what I saw out of Chris [Simms]. We met moments ago and Chris was very thankful for his opportunity and I thanked him for his commitment because he's a different player than he was when he got here. He has worked extremely hard and put himself in the position to where he can play in this league. That was a result of his commitment that he made back in the training room with the staff because he really turned things around.
(On if the same quarterbacks are back next year and if they'll be satisfied with the same structure)
We'll deal with that scenario when we come to it.
(On if the team underachieved this year)
No, I would never say that. I complement the Ravens on winning the game. I wouldn't change a thing in the game and with the plan or anything. I thought this team did everything it possibly could. We didn't lose it, we just didn't win it. But no, I would never refer to them as underachievers. They're disappointed, everybody should be disappointed, the fans should be disappointed but I thought they played hard and played well.
(On if he watched football Sunday)
I didn't watch it. I can't tell you what happened in those games yesterday.
(On his thoughts for the kicking game next year)
I think Craig [Hentrich] is going to have to make a decision and we'll give him some time. He's had a great career. The little subtle injury things are starting to catch up with him and so we'll take some time on that decision. I have every interest in getting Rob [Bironas] back. I think Rob is in the upper echelon as far as kickers are concerned. We set out to improve our kickoff return phase from last year where I think we were 31 st or 32 nd and we end up first in the league in kickoff returning. I think we have a dynamic returner that obviously, we would very much like to be a part of our future as well.
(On approaching free agency heading into the last capped season)
Yeah, it's a completely different complexion this year. It's going to require a lot more time together with Mike [Reinfeldt] and Steve [Underwood] and Mr. Adams and the staff as far as our decisions are concerned.
(On how that impacts trying to sign Albert Haynesworth)
Yeah, I'm not going to go into any of those hypotheticals but it's going to be a different complexion as I said.
(On the potential of Tony Dungy not coming back next year as Colts head coach)
I'm hearing the same reports that you're hearing. If Tony does decide to go a different direction, I'll be the first to congratulate him and wish him well. I have the utmost respect for Tony and what he's done. The unique part about that organization is that organizational structure is intact and I don't think you'll see any difference in the philosophy or the success of the Colts organization. They have tremendous ownership and leadership with Bill Polian and great coaches and as long as No. 18 is under center, they're going to be good.
(On if he's okay having the money required to keep Kerry Collins and Vince Young invested in just two quarterbacks)
We are. We're fortunate right now. Mike [Reinfeldt] and his staff have done a great job and we're fortunate Mr. Adams is committed and he sees the improvement and he's committed to continuing to allowing us to do the things that we need to do to continue to improve. We don't have any financial issues as compared to some of the other clubs right now.
(On Mr. Adams' reaction to the loss)
Mr. Adams is clearly disappointed but proud of the way they played. He had some questions regarding some things that happened in the game, the same questions we had. He was proud of the way this team played and especially excited for the atmosphere and the environment at the stadium.
(On what he told Vince Young heading into the offseason)
Yeah, this is about Vince Young and this is about spending the time here. About committing himself to the offseason program and just doing the best he possibly can to make himself a better football player and taking advantage of the experience he gained this year despite the fact that he didn't play.