HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER, MONDAY, JAN. 7, 2008**
We had our wrap-up meeting this morning. I don't know how many this is for me, maybe 12 or 13, and they're all different. Each team is different and each meeting is different. This one was unique in that there was, on one hand, I think a sense of accomplishment, yet on the other hand, there was a sense of disappointment from the ballgame. But when we concluded the meeting, I still believe there was a great sense of enthusiasm looking toward the future. The players understand how difficult it is to get in (to the playoffs) on one hand, and how difficult it is to win once you get in. On the other hand, they understand precisely what you have to do now to get in. Even though the expectations for this season were met and surpassed, as far as our expectations were concerned, we maybe did not do that because we expected to win more regular season games and win playoff games. We finished up on a positive note, and officially our offseason starts today. That starts with the players resting and getting recharged and restored for a very productive offseason. Teams improve the most throughout the offseason. That's what we're looking forward to.
We've got a lot of decisions to make, which I'm not ready to talk about today. We are assessing our injury situation. I don't have any information for you today. We're still in the process of completing the checkout physicals. We're going to move forward.
As far as the season's concerned, I'm especially proud of this team. Those that were here early in the offseason were able to overcome some needless distractions throughout the offseason. Those that joined the team throughout the offseason, training camp and through the season, all kind of fell nicely under one umbrella with one goal in mind. That was to win football games and working through distractions. The playoff experience is a process. You look back over history, there are teams like Green Bay for example, it took them four years to get to the Super Bowl. (It took) Philly five years. It's a process. This is the next step in the process. We've established expectation-level and our long-term goals for next year, if you will, are to get in and to win ballgames.
(on how far he feels the Titans are away from getting further in the playoffs)
We've got a lot of improving to do. We've got to upgrade the roster and we've got to improve the players that are currently on the roster. A lot can happen over the course of the offseason.
(on if it will be a priority for the Titans to upgrade their offense)
I'll go back to last year. Last year our biggest concern was our defense, and our defense against the run. I think our performance yesterday, as well as for the most part consistently throughout the season, (the defense) ended up being ranked fifth (in the league), we showed that we can address an issue and get it turned around. Our biggest issue or concern headed into this offseason is scoring touchdowns. Score more points.
(on how they will go about improving on scoring)
It's a matter of everybody that's currently on the roster improving. It's a matter of hoping to possibly obtain those types of players who can possibly score touchdowns and continuing to work on it.
(on if the Titans will use their franchise tag on DT Albert Haynesworth)
These are decisions that I'm really not ready to discuss. There are going to be a lot of internal discussions that are going to take place regarding the 15 or so unrestricted free agents we have and the eight restricted free agents we have. We have every intention of keeping this team together. Fortunately we expect to be able to do so. I've had some preliminary discussions that I'm not prepared to discuss in detail.
(on the play of Haynesworth this season)
He's certainly an impact player for us. He had a lot to do with the (6-2) start. As I've said numerous times, his unavailability was probably contributed to that difficult stretch we experienced.
(on the possibility of G Benji Olson retiring this offseason)
He hasn't officially let us know. I know he's been pondering [retirement] since the season started. He's just been a staple up front for years and years and years. When healthy this year, he played very well. He was just unable to answer the bell this week. I'm sure he'll search his heart here over the near future and come to a decision.
(on the improvement of QB Vince Young over the course of the season)
It's a process, and he improved, certainly, from this year to last year. There is still room for improvement. That's not a criticism, that's a positive. He quarterbacked this team and got us into the playoffs. He can still improve, provided we improve the players around him.
(on if Ryan Fowler will remain the team's middle linebacker next season over backup Stephen Tulloch)
Yeah, Ryan won the starting job and played at a high level all year. Stephen was in the position to back up and did a nice job for us. I'm not ready to say I'm going to open back up the competition. Typically, players have not lost their jobs because of injuries.
(on if Tulloch was wrong to celebrate after almost stopping LaDainian Tomlinson's touchdown reach)
I didn't talk to him. [Tulloch] thought he did his job and knocked [Tomlinson] backwards. Little did he know, [Tomlinson] was not down by contact. Progress is progress. It's a subjective thing. Obviously [the officials] felt that his progress wasn't stopped. He reestablished it and broke the plane with the ball.
(on if suspended CB Pacman Jones will return to the team)
That falls along the lines of our discussions, as far as how we're going to handle free agency. I'm not prepared to comment on it. We've got a lot of internal discussions that will be taking place regarding his status.
(on when Jones will be allowed back with the team according to league rules)
In the commissioner's letter, it stipulates that once our season is over, he would be permitted to come back into the facility. He has not been to the facility.
(on the last time Jones was at the team's practice facility)
I couldn't tell you off hand. I haven't seen him. I've been busy with this team. Again, I'm not prepared to answer questions. We have a number of things that we have to discuss. Once the internal discussions are over, we'll have more information for you.
(on if league rules would allow Jones to enter the practice facility tomorrow if he wanted to)
I'm not clear on that. My understanding is that when the season's over, he can return to the facility.
(on the offseason calendar)
The first week where the players are able to come back and start the 14-week program is March 17. I believe that's Easter week, so we'll officially start the program on the 24 th of March. That doesn't mean to say that there will not be a number of players in the building. I would expect a repeat, precisely, of last year, where a lot of players took off and then took off. They just can't stay away. They came in and got a good, early start on the conditioning program.
(on the improvement of the secondary this season)
Considering Nick (Harper) is really the seasoned veteran, there were a bunch of pups running around. They played hard. I'm very proud of how they played. Griff (rookie Michael Griffin) came on week after week after week, and has shown, especially yesterday in a number of instances, that he's capable of becoming a very good player. Calvin (Lowry) stepped in at times and had the starting job. Then he covered for Chris (Hope) while Chris was out and was effective for us. We've got a group of guys in there that just like to play. Cortland (Finnegan) was terrific all year. It was unfortunate that we had the communication issue yesterday. But certainly his play throughout the year will overshadow that one play in particular. It's a young group. We addressed some needs and we had some depth. We got a lot of production out of them.
(on the specifics of defensive communication issues yesterday)
We only had two completions over 20 yards against man defense. There were some zone breakdowns with the other four.
(on if the team expects to have S Chris Hope at training camp)
Yes. Chris will be fine.
(on the health of WR David Givens, who spent the season on the physically unable to perform list)
He's still got some work to do. He's still struggling with the rehab. At this point, I think he'd have a 50-50 chance of being ready for OTAs.
(on if RB LenDale White will be the team's workhorse running back for years to come)
We have to prove it each year. That's part of playing running back in the National Football League. You have to go out and do it each year. Last year he got a taste of the length of the season. This year he knows the type of toll the season will take on you. When you go through those experiences as a younger player, you can adjust your offseason program and adjust your training to better prepare yourself. He played on a very sore knee the last four or six weeks. We talked yesterday – he stayed in San Diego and went back (home) to Denver. He'll be back later in the week. But he's very, very committed to the offseason and to trying to do everything he possibly can to remain that back and be even more productive.
(on if the Titans need running backs with different talents than Chris Brown and Chris Henry)
We're going to look at different things. We need people to score touchdowns. We like game-breaking-type players. Chris Henry's certainly going to improve from year one to year two. Chris (Brown) was very productive for us. I'm disappointed in the ball security the last couple weeks, but Chris (Brown) has gotten us out of a lot of jams and done a nice job carrying the ball for us.
(on the team's salary cap situation this season and next)
Being fiscally responsible, that's complicated and sophisticated. We've got guys who aren't even restricted right now that we feel like are deserving of some attention. So we have to be smart about where we put our money. And we will do so. But we are also in a position to do some things that get the right players out there. Now I think the moves we made last year were good. We improved. We improved the record and got to the playoffs. Justin Gage and Ryan Fowler, we plugged them in nicely. They were very productive for us.
(on if WR Mike Williams showed him enough to keep him around next season)
We won't take a chance on him next summer – I'll take a chance on him when the offseason program starts. I need to see an awful lot out of Mike. He knows that; we had that discussion. He's going to be given an opportunity, but it is in Mike's hands.
(on the areas in which he's like to see Vince Young improve)
It's just the overall play of the quarterback. It takes quarterbacks time. It's hard to say it's this or it's that. He made a lot of great throws this year and his completion percentage was up. He pulled the ball down yesterday and ran with it. It's just a process that you go through, to where you recognize things. The more comfortable he is in our offense, the easier it is for us to make adjustments on the fly. You see something on defense and then you come in and go back to an old concept that he understands. Then you go ahead and take advantage of it.
(on his expectations for Vince Young's offseason)
Oh, he'll be here. He likes being here. He'll be here and throw with the receivers. He needs to get away just like the rest of them. But he'll be here and he'll be ready to go. I wouldn't be surprised if he's here early.
(on how much Young's quadriceps injury affected him this season)
I think it was there. He felt it – it was a reminder. I think it wasn't as much a hampering issue, it was in the anticipation of potentially reinjuring it. I think that in itself, it's something that is difficult to deal with. It's there, and you manage it. You run around and make your plays. But the potential to reinjure like he did in Tampa was there, I think, all year.
(on if the quad injury was the reason Young did not run more this season)
No. The reason he didn't pull the ball down and run in the pocket is because he has a much better feel of where to go with the football. He understands progression. The ball's out and he's making decisions. Last year, there were times early when he wasn't quite sure, and he just took off. He's throwing the football. The completion percentage is a good example and one of the reasons for him not running the football.
(on if Young will do anything different to prepare during this offseason)
As far as specifically, it's all going to be related to quarterback play. It's going to relate to the meetings and to studying our division and our uncommon opponents next year. It's a process. We go back with him and look at every game, and look at cutups. We look at the good, look at the things that he was good at and if there was something he struggled with. We eliminate it, cut and paste, and then put a plan together, from a playbook standpoint, and implement it during the offseason.
(on if quarterbacks need longer than other players to develop)
It's the hardest position to play. It's obviously the most scrutinized position. I think if you look at some of the quarterbacks over a period of time, it has taken a few years, three, four or five years. Again, it's a complicated picture because it has to do with the people you had around you, as well. But he improved. This game's important to him, winning is important to him. As I said, he doesn't like losing. This one did not sit well with him. He's doing everything he possibly can to improve the record and win playoff games.
(on if he is worried about retaining his coaching staff)
We have not been contacted by anybody at this point. When and if we do, we'll deal with it.
(on if Mike Williams will have an opportunity with the team at any other position besides wide receiver)
No, he's a receiver. He's not a tight end or an H-back.
(on if the team needs more personnel at the tight end position)
Not having Bo (Scaife) was an issue this last week. As a quarterback develops, so does the relationship with the tight end. We've seen that before. That's something that I think will help the receiver position.
(on how he sees the rest of the playoffs unfolding)
There is no given in the playoffs, but certainly [the Patriots] are going to be the team to beat, with home field advantage. I have a great deal of respect for what the Chargers were able to do, but the Colts at home are a completely different animal. That's going to be quite a game as well. You have two really good teams in the one and two seeds in the NFC, and there will be some good games to watch.
(on the Titans' opening play yesterday where the offense shifted to the left side of the field)
The thought process is pretty simple – [San Diego's] defense is so aggressive and was wired and ready to go. We just wanted to show them something a little different to get their minds on football and on alignments and adjustments, and things like that, rather than coming after us physically.
(on what that play might have turned into if the pass had not been dropped)
There were a number of options on that play – that was just one of them. After looking at it, I felt like we accomplished what we needed to accomplish. Fortunately, Ahmard (Hall) made a big play on the screen (on third down) and kept the drive alive, and we were able to settle down.
(on Albert Haynesworth's unsportsmanlike conduct penalty in the neutral zone)
You know, I was upset at the call because I was told that he threw the quarterback down. He didn't throw the quarterback down, that's why I was upset. You're not allowed to hit the quarterback when you enter into the neutral zone. They just can't let that happen, so I can understand that. I would have wanted that call if that happened to our quarterback as well. But I was noticeably upset because I was told one thing and saw another.
(on if the hit on Chargers TE Antonio Gates that left him injured should have been a penalty)
When you're a quarterback and you're sliding, you just have to tag him. (With other players) as long as you don't spear him with the helmet or your elbow, it's a legal play.
(on his opinion about LaDainian Tomlinson's touchdown and when he crossed the plane)
Not the first effort. Progress was stopped and the play was over as far as I was concerned, but he did get the ball across the plane. But the play shouldn't have been allowed to have been snapped. There were two or three players moving.
(on the progress of rookie DB Michael Griffin this season)
In retrospect, I think that the move to corner helped. He has a much better understanding of the defense. He just improved every week. Yesterday, he was very much involved in the run-front. We chose to make that decision. He got a good taste of what it's like to play around the line of scrimmage, and he was very active for us.