RB FRED TAYLOR, NOV. 12, 2008
(On getting a win in their last game)
It's always good to win. Now if we're back on track, we'll see, but it's always good to get a win in there.
(On people referring to this game as a "last stand" for the Jaguars)
The last stand? Wow that's deep. I mean it's a game. We understand what our record is and we have very minimal room for error. Last stand, I don't know. All that stuff has to sort itself out but we still have an opportunity to try and make this thing right. It just so happens that they're the team that's on the schedule.
(On if the Titans 9-0 record adds any incentive to win)
No, the incentive for me, I can't speak for my teammates, but the incentive for me is that they're the Titans. I've been playing that team since I got in the NFL, my entire career. It's one of those games where you get excited because it's a division opponent as well as a rival.
(On if he's more surprised at their 4-5 record or the Titans 9-0 record)
Well, you know what I'm more surprised that we're 4-5. They're a team that their strengths have been their defense and their running game for years. It just reminds me of the Titans of old. I knew it wasn't going to take Coach Fisher long to rebuild a team [after losing] Jevon Kearse, my friend Samari Rolle and all those guys back in the day when they had those crazy defenses that were so good. Now they've got the younger guys, they've groomed them and now they're back to where they were back in the day. I'm not surprised by it at all.
(On how he compares the 2008 Titans to the 1999 Titans)
The '99 team was special in that they believed no matter what. Their record didn't always reflect it but they believed, they came out smash-mouth, physical. You really can't make the comparison just yet, the '99 team went to the Super Bowl. This team is 9-0 and the early favorite right now but it doesn't mean anything once you get in the playoffs. It's a whole new season and the '99 team proved that it's a new season when they handled business.
(On if it would be a little revenge to hand the Titans their first loss after the Titans beat the Jaguars for their first loss in 1999)
I can't do anything the rest of my career to get revenge from that. We were 30 minutes away from all of our goals and our dreams. You think about it from time to time and you're like, "Dang, just 30 minutes," because we had the lead at halftime, 14-10. I don't know what type of revenge that I can compare or bring forth.
(On if the Titans are beatable)
Every team is beatable. I don't want to get into the record part of it but every team is beatable. I'll say that.
(On if he thinks they can run on the Titans)
Well, I don't know what their stats are or the categories that they're in. I know they have a wonderful defense over there. What we're trying to do is get back to the basics. Our mindset is always to try and establish the run as well as stop the run. It would benefit us if we could go in there and run the ball well like we know how. It's a challenge, it's a test and we'll see what happens on Sunday.
(On how the team dealt with losing to the Bengals and having Mike Peterson being sent home for a few days)
I think the toughest part of that week was losing to the Bengals. We didn't overlook them. They came out and they beat our butts. The effort is always there but we fell short so that makes it tough in that we lost to them. The Mike Peterson situation, the media took it and ran with it. All of us who were here, who were in the team meeting room when it happened, we all kind of looked at it as something very small that kind of just blew up. We don't understand it even now. But we just wanted to come out and prove that when a team is 0-8 you're supposed to beat them like you should and that's what happened last week.
(On the notion that Jacksonville is not as much a team in turmoil as many perceive it to be)
From the outside things are always a little bit more magnified. Now that you're here you don't really understand how it's going. I mean we're a team who, when you look at the five losses, you're a play or two away from winning those games. Even the wins, other than the Detroit win, we're a play or two away from losing those games. That's the beauty of NFL football, one or two plays can separate a champion from a total loser. From the outside looking in, we don't worry about what the outside is thinking. We come here and try and work and handle our business.
(On preparing to face a team for the second time around)
It's tough. It's always tough. The comment I just made plays into that even more, especially with divisional games because you feel like you know each other so well. It really comes down to execution and minimizing those turnovers and field position. We know the style of ball that Coach Fisher likes to play. I'm sure he's a great chess player, by the way. He always calculates his moves. But you have to minimize your mistakes when you're playing a team twice a year. I really think that effort plays a big part and that's what it all boils down to.
(On if he ever thinks after an opponent's big play in a division game that they had an idea of what was coming)
Yeah, that always goes through your mind. Of course talent plays a big part in it but sometimes it comes down to a simple thing. Knowing your assignment number one so you can react a lot quicker and don't have to do a lot of thinking or hesitation. Sometimes, with that being said, you beat your guy to the punch and only have to use half your talent. It factors in but that's where film study comes in and having confidence and knowing that, we beat this team before and can do it again or if this team beat us, than this is what we have to do right this time. It's all a big mind game sometimes.
(On if it's different these days with rookie running backs having the trust of their teams to play on third down)
I think it depends on the guy. I think it depends on the talent of the actual player, as well as his grasp of knowing concepts and protections. Coming in, you learn how to pick up blitzes in college in some offenses. Then you have to go through training camp. Trust me, as a rookie, the veteran linebackers don't take it easy on you in camp when it comes to the blitz-pickup drills. Even in the blitz-pickup periods. They don't take it easy, they're trying to wear the rookie out. Then they kind of groom you throughout camp and then you're just trial by fire throughout the games. Chris [Johnson], he's a hell of a back. He's very instinctive, a tough guy for being a smaller guy, he sticks his nose in there. I think it really comes down to the will and the heart and determination of the player himself to gain that trust.
(On if Jeff Fisher is underappreciated around the league because of Nashville being a smaller market)
Maybe it's the small market but I have an utmost respect for Coach Fisher. My respect level is so, so high for Coach Fisher and maybe it comes from battling them twice a year for 11 years now as well as the playoff game. I think he doesn't get the respect he deserves maybe because of the small market like you say, but for me he's definitely in the top three coaches in the NFL in my opinion. And he's stuck there. He doesn't have any problems worrying about his job security, he's just stuck there and he's doing contract extensions every other year it seems like.
(On if he's been able to keep up with ex-Florida teammate Jevon Kearse this season)
We have a strange friendship. I ask about him through my other friends, he asks about me. We'll chat every now and then. I'm so amazed by his will and his heart to come back from that major surgery with the break in his ankle and all that different stuff. But the one thing about Jevon, and this is a crazy stat for you all, the first time he's on any team it seems like they go to a championship. Florida Gators, we went to the championship. When he first came to Tennessee, you all went to the Super Bowl. When he first went to Philly, they went to the Super Bowl. Now he's back in Tennessee. That stat doesn't help us out but it certainly works in their favor. So we'll see how it goes.
(On what makes his relationship with Jevon Kearse strange)
Well, I always used to tease him. He was my dormmate back at Florida and I would always go in his room and hit up the young guys for their Ramen noodles. We didn't have a lot of money back then so I would always hit him up for his noodles. Now it's like the big brother younger brother approach, he would always try to take things out of my room. We would fuss at each other from time to time but the love is always there.
(On if Jevon Kearse will always feel like his little brother)
Well, you know what he's a grown man now. If he ever needs advice, I don't hesitate to give it but I only try to give advice through my experiences so I'm not being misleading or saying the wrong things. In a small way I still view him as a smaller brother but at the same time I'll take advice from him. Like I said, we're going to be homies forever.
(On what stands out to him about Cortland Finnegan and if he thinks Finnegan gets on the nerves of receivers)
He's the damn, excuse my language, but he's the Hines Ward of the defense, man. He just tries to rub you the wrong way and try to get you to react a certain way. He's a little feisty guy, a guy who's grown into his own, he's come into his own and he's definitely one of the best cornerbacks in the league. He's been working hard for that and he deserves it.
(On if receivers come back to the huddle cursing Finnegan)
Man, yeah they cuss at him. Backs, we cuss at him. He's a little pest, you know what I'm saying? He gets on your nerves sometimes but that's what a good player does. They get on your nerves and they smile about it and it really pisses you off a little more. He becomes a little testy, a little feisty and that's what ballers do.
(On comparing Finnegan to other cornerbacks in the league)
He's a little guy that's not afraid to put his head in there. He covers well. He's very instinctive when it comes to his ball-play and playing the ball when it's in the air. Like I said, he's a small guy but he's not backing down. He'll try to come up there and make those tackles. He has the essentials. Most DBs, they just want picks, they just want to cover and get picks. They don't care about trying to out-physical you at the line of scrimmage and come up and make those tackles. For a small guy he sticks his nose in there.
(On how difficult it is for a run-based team to lose both starting guards at the beginning of the season)
It's a little tough but why even worry about it considering nobody else in the NFL is worrying about it. Nobody is going to feel sorry for you. You just have to do some things to try and make the most of the personnel that you have out there and that's what we've tried to do. You don't realize how good they are until you actually lose them. I can tell you that.
(On rallying around a new starting quarterback like the Jaguars did with David Garrard last year and like the Titans have with Kerry Collins this year)
Very similar situation in that we all rallied around David. I used to tell David back in the day to just be patient. I always knew he was a good quarterback. As athletes on a team, you're just trying to do whatever you can to try and be successful and win games, number one. No need to have that quarterback thinking, "Well, the guys aren't supporting me, they're kind of looking at me sideways." Why even have him feeling uncomfortable in that sense. You want to always rally around him and support him to let him know you have his back so he can go out there and play with that confidence. It's a very similar situation and they've done well, he's 9-0. Hats off to Kerry.