HEAD COACH MEL TUCKER
(on what changes he has made since taking over as interim head coach)
There were quite a few things that we have done differently just trying to adjust the mindset of the players and change the culture so to speak. First of all, lay a foundation in terms of our culture and our culture is the way we do things. Culture is credit by character and we have tremendous character guys on our team. We wanted to make sure that it was clear that our culture was rooted in two things. The first thing was love, love for each other, love for the organization, love for the game of football and love for our community. I wanted to make sure that they understood that. The second thing that our culture is rooted in is discipline. We talked about discipline being defined as what you are supposed to do and when you are supposed to do it and the way it's supposed to get done. A lot of the changes that we have made on and off the field are related to those things right there.
(on the pressure on Blaine Gabbert)
Blaine (Gabbert) is actually improving as a football player and he is just focusing on what he can control and not worrying about things that he can't control. He has become more comfortable in what we are asking him to do and more comfortable in the pocket. When he does have time, he is delivering the ball on time and in rhythm. He has thrown some really nice balls and completed some really nice passes for us and over the past several weeks has put some impressive drives together. It hasn't been consistent enough, but I have a lot of confidence in Blaine and the direction that he is going. We have to continue to improve around him offensively.
(on the advantage of having a long week to prepare for the Titans)
Well I think that the extra day off hopefully will allow us to get some guys back and get some guys healthier who have been banged up and get those guys ready to go by Saturday. We had a really good day of preparation today, in the meeting room and out on the field. We were able to dedicate more time in practice to technique and fundamentals and increase out individual work time by position by 10 minutes, so we got 20 minutes of good individual teaching and technique and fundamental work towards the front end of practice. I think that is going to help us in our execution. I think we have made the most of our rest and our days off and we know that we are going to have to be ready to go on Saturday because we have a great challenge ahead of us. It's a division game, on the road and these division games are always important. Tennessee is still in the playoff hunt so we know that they will be at their best and ready to play.
(on the Jaguars having the fourth ranked pass defense)
Well the number one thing is that our guys will compete regardless of the circumstances. We have done well defensively this year because we have played together as a team with very unselfish players that understand what we need to do and how we need to do it and understand that it is about technique, fundamentals and execution and all 11 guys playing and being on the same page on a consistent basis. When you look at guys like Ashton Youboty who I had at Ohio State and who has some experience in the league, I think he has about five years in the league, and Kevin Rutland who is a rookie free agent. Those are guys who are competitors, have attention to detail and know that they need step up to the challenge and know that we expect them to play well. We expect guys to play well around them. I commend those guys for being ready to step up for the challenge and give us what they have and I think that is what allows us to continue to make plays and compete in the back end.
(on how the Titans look different now versus the first game of the year)
I know that there are some injuries there but they still do what they do. They want to run the football. They have an excellent runner in Chris Johnson and he has gotten better as the season has gone on. Matt Hasselbeck is a veteran player that knows how to get rid of the ball quickly, on time, and he reads coverages well. It seems like Jared Cook has hit his stride. He is a guy that I recruited out of Atlanta when I was at Ohio State and have track of him. He was a wide receiver at that time and a basketball player. I think he had his best game of the year receiving wise with yardage. He is a kid that has tremendous talent, can play at a high level and that I just can't say enough about him. I know that they are coming off of a tough game with Indy, so I know that they will be rededicated and ready to play at home.
(on how the change of ownership has reenergized the franchise and the fans)
Well I can only go by what I have observed in the last couple of weeks and I will say this, there is a new found energy in our team and what we are doing and what we will do in the future. I know that Shahid Kahn has talked extensively about reengaging with the fans and fan base and doing whatever it takes to put a winner on the field. I think everyone is encouraged by what they have seen and heard so far and I know that our players feel the same way.
(on how Blaine Gabbert has benefited from playing as a rookie and what has been most challenging for him)
Every time out is a learning experience obviously for all of us because you are always learning something new as you go. I think he has persevered through some ups and downs and has managed to improve and to not only to maintain confidence but to gain confidence. He has seen a lot of different looks, a lot of different scenarios, a lot of different situations and so that can only make him better as he progresses in his career.
(on the timing of playing the Titans with everything on the line)
Well Tennessee is always tough and every week in the NFL you face teams that have firepower and Tennessee is no different. This is a good football team, Tennessee. They have good players on both sides of the ball. They do an excellent job on special teams. They have good specialists, good return men, good cover guys. They have speed on defense and excellent skill on offense with an experienced trigger man that can make plays with an offensive line that works well together. The coaching staff is experienced and they do a great job. You can understand why they are still in the playoff hunt because of the way they play and so it's going to be a tremendous challenge for us.
(on putting 11 defensive backs on injured reserve)
I have not been part of team that has had this many injuries and as many players who have been placed on IR at one position, but football is a game of injuries and it's about how you handle that adversity and what is your mindset and you mental disposition towards competing and overcoming obstacles. That's how we approach it, next man up and anyone who is here has passed a certain evaluation and we think that can help us win. That is why they are here. We just do our best as coaches to get these guys in position where they can be at their best and the players are doing their best in preparation and together we feel like we can get some things done.