HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER
On if he sees playing the Ravens a second time this season to be an advantage or disadvantage:"Clearly there's going to be some familiarity, but I wouldn't say it's an advantage for either team. I think both teams are different than they were back in early October. I think both teams have improved. I've seen pretty good improvement in the Ravens in all areas. So, I don't think there's an advantage or disadvantage just because we played earlier in the season."
On how DE Kyle Vanden Bosch and DT Albert Haynesworth are doing at this point of the week:"We're probably about an hour-and-a-half away from practice, and we're hoping that they'll be able to do some things on the practice field today."
On if he finds it ironic or even eerie that the playoffs are a similar scenario to 2000 when the Ravens played the Titans:"I think it's something that's fun to talk about, and I think it makes for a good story. But, it certainly doesn't have any impact on this weekend."
On the Ravens coming away from the first game of the season against the Titans feeling they were shortchanged by the referees and what his team feels they took away from that game:"We found a way to win the ball game at the end. It was a tough ball game and a tough place to play, and we were without a couple of receivers and a couple of defensive lineman, and we didn't play particularly well ourselves. We just felt lucky to get away with the win. That's how games are during the regular season. Sometimes you don't play well and you still win; sometimes you play very well and you don't. But, again, I think as coaches we look at not necessarily the outcome but what took place between the opening kickoff and the end of the game and what the schematic approaches were and what to anticipate next time around."
On if he feels the Ravens' defense is playing better or any differently than they did the first time the two teams played:"I think Samari [Rolle] coming back has really helped them because, as we all know, Samari is a very good player. The longer they play together the more familiar they are. They're not making mistakes --not that they made mistakes earlier in the year – but they're doing a great job with pressure and they're stopping the run and creating third-down and long situations and getting off the field. The team is well-built and equipped because the other side of the ball can hang on to it and run it. And, they're patient, and that's clearly the reason they've won a number of games here down the stretch."
On if he thinks Saturday's game will be a similar low-scoring game as the first meeting of these two teams in October:"I think you have to assume that, but stranger things have happened. We're doing the same thing the Ravens are doing right now: We're game-planning, we're trying to get our players prepared to play the best game of the year thus far. I think if you look at the numbers and the matchups, one could assume it might be a low-scoring game. But, like I said, anything can happen once you get to the playoffs."
On what he's seen from QB Joe Flacco since the time the Titans and Ravens played in October and how he is playing now:"I think it's just experience. Each week with a young quarterback is valuable experience. So, he's got a lot more experience now than he did when we saw him. But we were very impressed prior to the game [in October] with his decision-making, with his poise, with his ability. Joe is special because Joe can keep his eyes downfield, feel the rush and escape. That's something you just can't teach, and he's instinctive there. If he is flushed or pressured, he'll move around in the pocket, but he's always got his eyes downfield and he knows where his check downs are and he's making good decisions with the ball."
On if he ever thought rookie RB Chris Johnson would be contributing so quickly to the Titans' running game and how he has used Johnson and LenDale White together this season:"They're both unselfish; they complement each other. They like to practice, they like to prepare and accept challenges. They know this is going to be probably their biggest challenge of the year. But, C.J., in particular, he's a very smart young man with great acceleration. If you can give him the football in the right place at the right time, he can go the distance. I think the fact and the way we split the carries, we did that with the intention of keeping them both fresh down the stretch. So, they're both fresh, they're healthy and they're looking forward to their week in practice. And hopefully, they can carry over some of the things from the practice field over to the game."
On what types of things he did during the bye week to keep his team fresh as well as prepare for this week's game:"You have to look at each individual player, and that's what we did. That was the reason for the decisions we made going into Week 17. Of course, the overall goal and philosophy of the team and objective of the bye week was to practice and practice hard and practice full speed, and we did so. We didn't necessarily work on an opponent. We worked on things that we felt we needed to improve upon. We put pads on and we got physical. We played 'ones' against 'ones' and we were very competitive, and I thought it was beneficial for us."
On how much an advantage he feels playing at home is for his team:"I think there's a slight advantage, but it's hard to say. There are really good road teams in the playoffs. We feel like we're a good road team. Your goal is to win as many games as you can to secure home-field advantage. We did. It doesn't guarantee anything. It gives you an opportunity to play in front of your fans, which some people [say] gives you a slight advantage or a slight edge. But, that remains to be seen. We experienced that before back in 2000. We're a healthy football team right now, and we're taking the same approach we've taken week after week after week. I think when you get to the playoffs you do the things that got you there. And, that includes respect your opponent and do the best you can to prepare yourself for a physical ball game."
On what he has seen in Ravens WR Derrick Mason both when he was coaching him and this year when he has played through tough injuries:"It doesn't surprise me that Derrick plays hurt. He's a tough guy. He's just a great competitor. I guess the best way to describe it [is that] Derrick will shake your hand before the game and he'll do everything possible to beat you during the game, and then he'll shake your hand after and wish you good luck. He's a great competitor. I think he's a great example to most of the younger receivers."
On if he finds it incredible that so many players who faced each other in the Ravens-Titans matchup in 2000 are still playing for these two teams:"When you say so many, I think I've got two or three. You've got four – three of them were mine."
On it being funny that Titans players from 2000 ended up in Baltimore:"It's not funny. I didn't think it was funny at all. You'd have to ask them. If you guys want to find out about 2000, ask your guys. They were on the other side. They'll tell you how it felt in the locker room."
On what he sees from Ravens head coach John Harbaugh and what he's brought to the Baltimore organization:"You could see early on just the element of discipline. When a new coach comes into a program and you're able to keep your defense intact and your defensive staff together, that helps as far as continuity is concerned and stability is concerned. And then you put your stamp on the offense and Cam [Cameron] is doing a great job with the offense. He understands the strengths and weaknesses of his team, and he puts game plans together and directs his team accordingly."
On FR/RB Le'Ron M cClain and what makes him so unique when game-planning against him:"There's not a lot [of backs like M cClain]. He's a downhill runner that's going to push the pile and create third-and-ones and twos. That's what makes their offense so effective. Everybody is going to have difficulty at third-and-seven longs, there and plus. But when you've got third-and-ones and twos and you've got a back and a good offensive line that's working that well together, you're going to stay on the field and sustain drives. And he's been such a huge part of that."
On what Titans QB Kerry Collins has meant to his team and what it means to have a veteran quarterback who has battled through the playoffs before:"When you have a veteran quarterback that understands the players around him, he'll take advantage of his teammates – the receivers, the tight ends, the backs. He has a good understanding. He's got a short memory. His experience has served him very, very well. It's certainly helped him this year in a lot of unusual situations that we faced throughout the season. He's poised and calm and doesn't get rattled. And he believes it's OK to throw the ball away and come back and fight again. He's not trying to force things, he's not trying to make plays, and he's made very few mistakes this year."
On if he takes anything away from the Dolphins game where the Ravens' defense found a way to force take-aways with Chad Pennington that helps him with his game-planning this week:"Of course. We've looked at it very close. I'm sure Kerry watched it live. Kerry is familiar with this defense. He understands he's got a huge challenge, and he just has to be decisive and make the right decisions and not throw the ball up where Ed or anybody else can make a play on him."
On if he feels he needs to do anything differently when facing Cam Cameron's offense vs. other offenses:"Yeah. He's unique in that he does a great job of packing his protections and giving an ever-changing look in passing situations. They're very disciplined in the run game. It's unique, but it's not a secret. Your game plan starts with your ability or your hope and your intention that you can protect the quarterback."
On if he sees any similarities in the defenses of Rex Ryan and his father, Buddy Ryan:"The schemes aren't necessarily similar, but the philosophy is. It's a sound philosophy. It's the way you play defense in this league. You stop the run, you get after the passer, you force turnovers and get off the field."
On what he does as a coach to game-plan and what he tells Collins to try to nullify Ed Reed:"There's not a whole lot you need to say to Kerry Collins, other than don't throw it to Ed Reed. Ed is a great player. He takes advantage of situations. He takes advantage of pressure and heat and film study and recognition and jumps routes. There are a lot of other good players on the field, aside from Ed Reed. When you put an offensive game plan together your intention is to try to make plays against the defense, not necessarily avoid plays as far as one particular player is concerned."
On if he feels the Ravens and Titans are close to mirror images with their ball control offenses with multiple running backs and aggressive defensives that play great against the run:"There are a lot of similarities. The philosophies are similar, and the outcome, the numbers, are similar in a lot of areas. It's going to be a real good ball game. We faced the Steelers a couple of weeks ago and we thought the same about Pittsburgh. Their defensive philosophy is sound and they're aggressive. The right teams are in the playoffs right now. This should be a great ball game."
On his impression of LB Ray Lewis and how he is playing at such a high level at this point in his career:"Not only is he enthusiastic and passionate and emotional, he's a very smart, instinctive player. He's always been that way. He understands; he's not fooled. He's very physical, he runs, he hits, and he looks for that big hit. He's still a presence on the field."
On what defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz has meant to his staff and his thoughts on the possibility of Schwartz being a head coach in the NFL:"Jimmy has done a great job. He has grown each year. He understands. He gets it. He gets it from top to bottom. He has a great feel for his group, for the defense, and he has a great respect for the offensive game and the league, and he understands it. He's a good teacher, a good communicator, and he's very, very prepared."
On if he can believe that he has outlasted the tenure of all other coaches in the NFL today and if he is still energized as a coach:"I don't pay much attention to that other than when it's brought up and I'm asked. But yeah, I'm having a blast right now. I am really enjoying this team. I look forward to coming to work and I approach this each week like it's my first week. And each week is a challenge, and the staff approaches it the same way. We constantly try to get better and just enjoy what we're doing and be very thankful to be in the position that we're in."
On if he feels he is too young to be the NFL's senior coach:"Oh yeah, way too young for that."
On how good he feels DT Albert Haynesworth has been and what it would mean if he is not 100 percent or able to play:"When Albert was healthy and playing well, he's very, very disruptive. He can dictate and dominate and affect protections and crowds the pockets. Pass rush is a function of two things – inside push and outside speed. And when Albert is healthy and getting the push and Kyle is bringing on the corner, the pocket collapses very quickly. In addition to that, he's a very good player against the run. So, the two of them are very, very determined to get back to as close to 100 percent as they possibly can be for this game."
On if he thinks Haynesworth would have been a candidate for Defensive Player of the Year or MVP if he had not been injured:"I think had he not gotten hurt, I think he would have gotten a mention. But there are a lot of really good players in the league that could have been candidates. I think Ed [Reed] was definitely a candidate, except he made his run just a little bit too late. People don't realize what he was dealing with the shoulder early in the season. Ray [Lewis] is always a candidate. So, there are a lot of worthy mentions around the league, and obviously, the rusher [James Harrison] at Pittsburgh was deserving of it. When we faced them, we saw how capable he is."
Of if he feels the Ravens' and Titans' defenses are as good as the defenses that met in the playoffs in 2000:"I think there are some similarities, but I think you'll have to wait a couple of weeks to see what happens."