TENNESSEE TITANS CONFERENCE CALLS TO BALTIMORE MEDIA
Head Coach Jeff Fisher
On if he considers the Titans' 4-0 start a surprise:"Well, I mean I think everybody, you know, you expect to get off to a good start. And, we've just been fortunate that we've been protecting the football and have found ways to win. But we're not surprised. We're kind of all about that 'one week at a time' thing, you know, where you come in and you prepare and you respect your opponent and you put a game plan together and go out and do the best you can to execute."
On if this is a part of the plan to rebuild the team:"This is a really fun team. It's a really good group of guys. They've been committed for several years now and have had a great offseason program and a real productive training camp. We're not there yet, I mean I'd still say, like anybody, you're looking to upgrade. But, I'm happy right now with their attitude and their work ethic, and they police themselves and they have fun and work hard, and they expect to win. Like I said, they respect their opponents and they know the games are going to be hard. They just trust each other to find a way to win the game."
On what QB Kerry Collins has meant to the team:"Kerry came in under unusual circumstances a couple of years ago. He came in early in the week before the fourth preseason game, particularly because we wanted some veteran leadership and we were hoping to get a veteran in here to kind of mentor, if you will, Vince [Young] his rookie year. And, Kerry did well enough for us in the week and a half that we elected to start him, and he was just improving weekly. Of course, we shifted gears and decided to go with Vince, and he's accepted his role, he really enjoys it here. Now he's settled here in Nashville and he looks forward to coming out, and prior to us making the move several weeks ago he has just been a really, really great support system for Vince. He challenges the defense, when he's working against the defense, and had a good offseason. [He] got in great shape and things kind of happened the way they did. We turned it over to him, and he's been very efficient for us."
On if Collins stays the starting quarterback if the team keeps winning:"Yes. I made that statement several weeks ago."
On the renewing of the rivalry between the Titans and the Ravens:"Yeah, there are memories, and there are just a few people that will go ahead and share those left on the roster. We have so many guys that are unfamiliar with the Ravens, and that's the challenge with us. It was a challenge for us last week because we hadn't seen the Vikings in years. I think in the NFL, you're ability to familiarize yourself with your opponent each week really has to do with the success level that you have. As far as the rivalries and all that kind of stuff, these are two good, well-built teams, similar in nature in that they like to run the football and play good defense. And, it's just going to be a great ballgame."
On if it will be different not seeing former Ravens head coach Brian Billick on the sideline:"You know, I really haven't given it any thought. Brian had a great deal of success there and the organization decided to go a different direction, and I'm very, very impressed right now with the job that John [Harbaugh] has done."
On if memories of playing against ILB Ray Lewis are good or bad:"Ray's a great defensive player, and he's still playing really at a really high level. As coaches, if you've been around long enough, you have to respect that, and I've always had a respect for Ray. I've spoken with Ray numerous times off the field, offseason, and I'm just really, really glad to see he's still playing the high level and that he's the leader of that defense."
On what impresses him most from watching the Ravens' tape:"They're just very well-coached. Their offense, Cam [Cameron] has done a great job with the offense. He's committed to run the football, and they do a great job of protecting the quarterback. The young quarterback is playing very well. I think they've worked hard. You can tell they've worked hard and they're disciplined. Their defense is, really it's always a problem. They do a great job. They pressure the passer and they take things away. They're good at tackling; they're very physical. This is a well-coached football team."
On if he considers the Titans' defense to be grouped with the elite defenses:"We're just kind of taking in one week at a time. You know, we've got a young secondary that's gelling. Our linebackers are healthy. We've got a rotation on our defensive front. Our defense is patient, they respect challenges and they take on challenges. I don't know if I'd put them in the class of the Ravens' defense, but we're just kind of a one-week-at-a-time defense, enjoying what we do and having fun playing."
On their defense's success in pressuring the quarterback:"I think if you look closely at our game, our pressure, our success has come in passing situations. We've been able to get up, you know, 10, 14 points at the end of the third, fourth quarter and create a situation where the opponent had to throw. You should get pressure. But, our pressure is not coming necessarily against a balanced attack, and that's the one thing that the Ravens do a great job of. They don't allow you to pressure the passer. They're going to get the ball out, or they're going to play-action, take their shots. But, they're not going to put themselves in a situation, or at least they haven't, where they've had to throw to catch up."
On what's impressed him about Ravens QB Joe Flacco:"There's the poise, number one. He's very poised. He was poised in the opener – we watched that very closely because we played Cincinnati the next week. He has those instincts in the pocket which you can't teach, where you can move around in the pocket and feel the rush, but still keep your eyes downfield. That says a lot. He's going to be a very good quarterback."
On the importance of DT Albert Haynesworth:"When he's on the field, which has been a lot lately, he's been disruptive. He's, I think, much better at rushing the passer, can create some matchups. He's been versatile for us. We've been able to line him up sometimes at end or tackle. On early downs he's playing the run well. He's a force in there, and he's getting better each week. You know he had a hamstring [injury] at camp, or a hamstring last year, but had some issues. [He] missed some time at camp, but he's coming on and he's a good player. We're just glad to have him in there."
On if this is as good as Haynesworth has played, or if he's played better in the past:"He had a stretch last year where he was very, very disruptive. I'm hoping – and I'm seeing the same things – I'm hoping he's getting back to that."
On his longevity as head coach of the Titans:"I'm very fortunate. It starts at the top, and I've got a very supportive owner. Mr. Adams understands the league and he understands that there are going to be down times, that your team could be affected by injuries, that there are salary cap issues that you have to go through, and he's been very patient. He knows that I'm committed to one thing, and I have just been very fortunate to have his support throughout."
On how important it is to him to be able to run the football, and also to stop the run:"Those are fundamental principles that we installed in our philosophy years and years ago. Sometimes it was hard for us to accomplish that, but I think you have to do that to win ball games. It's become a priority of ours, that we built our team around that. If you could place playmakers on the perimeter then you're better off because of that. But, I also think it's important to look at your team and see where you are late in the offseason and through camp and determine what your strengths are and then go ahead and try to make the most of them. And then, you push through, you try to develop your weaknesses. But, the fundamental principles, I think, of winning in the National Football League over years and over time, have been running the football and stopping the run."
On if he takes pride in the Titans' running game:"Oh yeah. Ask an offensive lineman what he'd rather do. And, when you get good offensive linemen in there, and you get five of them that would much rather run it than throw it 60 times a game, and you're able to do it successfully, it just kind of snowballs for you. But, we've been fortunate to plug people in and I'm very, very happy with the play and the production of our offensive line, and the stability that we now have at the tackles position. You know, we've got some depth and they like to run it. They love to lay out opponents, respect their opponents, as I said, and they know this week in particular is going to be a huge challenge for us. But, I'm going to wage a guess that they'll be up for it."
On his expectations for returning to form after the purge:"You know, you never really… Even with you have to make those tough decisions, you expect to be able to do some things all along the way. I was a little, I guess in retrospect, a little disappointed in the '04 and the '05 seasons, but we battled through it. We took advantage of a lot of draft choices and developed some young players. I saw it turning, despite the 0-5 start a couple of years ago, I saw it turning. Probably more important than the improvement of the talent level was the personality of this team. They, for some reason, really liked each other and kind of developed that sense of commitment to one another, and we dug out of that 0-5 start, were a quarter away from making the playoffs. And then, we got things put together last year and were improved. We made it to the playoffs, fortunately, and obviously the goal never changes every year. This year, certainly, we have higher goals than we've had in years past, but it's still very early."
On how the team with the 0-5 start came together:"Those are trade secrets."
On playing against Ravens CB Samari Rolle, WR Derrick Mason and FB Lorenzo Neal, all former Titans:"I'm proud of them. I'm just really happy that they've extended their careers and have been as productive for as long as they have. We've had a number of players who have come through the program and moved on who are still playing, and you always welcome them back. Rarely do you get that opportunity. This offseason we got the opportunity to bring one back, that being Jevon [Kearse]. I'm very happy to have him back, as he is."
On if the 2000 playoff game against the Ravens will come to mind this week:"No, it won't. When I'm asked about it, and asked to discuss about it, yeah it comes up, but no, I don't dwell on it. It was, in my opinion, it was the two best teams in the National Football League who happened to play way too early in the playoffs."
On if he can compare this team to others he's coached that have done well:"No. You know, every team's different. This start certainly is different, but we're just kind of a lunch pail group that comes to work, looks forward to coming to work, likes to practice and hopes things work out on Sundays. That's obviously going to be our same approach this week."
On defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz:"Jimmy's done a great job. Jimmy had an opportunity to work for Gregg [Williams], and Gregg's defenses also stopped the run, and that's an emphasis here. Jim does it a little bit differently, but it's very, very important to him. I have been very fortunate to have coordinators that understand the game, and that don't battle during the offseason or at training camps and the just work to develop a team concept. And, Jim understands that. He's worked very well with Mike [Heimerdinger] when we're working together, and during the ballgame he understands the flow, as Mike does, and what it takes to win. Jim's just very, very bright and the players have a great deal of respect for him, and when he speaks they listen and they trust that he's going to put them in the best possible position to make plays and win games."
On the addition of Earnest Byner as the running backs coach:"Earnest has come in, and what better situation can you come into, when you come into a new program, is that you get a first-round pick. So there's pressure there, but thus far it's worked out for him. He's got a good group of guys who work hard and like to play. He's a very solid motivator and good teacher."
On if RB Chris Johnson has surprised him:"No, there's been no surprises. You don't draft someone in the first round with question marks. We had high expectations for him, we were very excited he was there. He's off to a real solid start as a rookie, and I expect him to improve as the year goes on."
On QB Vince Young:"Vince had a good week last week, from a rehab standpoint. On the field, he got a really good workout yesterday. We're going to evaluate him today. As far as his status for Sunday, I can't comment on that right now."
On the Ravens' defense:"They're good. I mean, yeah, they're real good. They understand defense. They play hard and they finish and they tackle. There are a lot of similarities back to the team in 2000."
QB Kerry Collins
On Ravens QB Joe Flacco:"I watched the game a little bit last night – I think I saw the second half of the game – and I thought he made some great throws. It seems like he's got good poise for a rookie. It seems like he's showing good poise and is back there just reading things out and throwing the ball well. Obviously, he's got a strong arm, and he's got a pretty good head about him. So, I was pretty impressed."
On if Flacco reminds him of himself:"I think a little bit in the same mold, you know. We're not going to run around a whole lot. Both pocket passers and a taller guy who seems to have a strong arm, so yeah, I think we're probably cut out of a similar mold."
On any advice for Flacco:"I would say just keep doing what he's doing. It looks like he's doing a good job. We saw him play when we were getting ready for the Bengals, and it looked like he did well there. Just keep learning week to week and just keep trying to make good reads and good throws."
On if his last start against the Ravens' defense in the 2000 Super Bowl seems that long ago:"It does. Obviously, we're going on eight years now, so a lot of time has gone by, and certainly a lot of football has gone by since then. I certainly still have vivid memories of the game, most of which were not so good, but my hat's off to them. They were a good team, and a great defense, and it was a good job on their part."
On what he remembers about how that defense game-planned against him when he was with the NY Giants:"Their team speed was just tremendous. They were all over the field, and obviously a well-coached bunch – smart players, very sound in what they did, and obviously very talented. But, that was by far the best defense I've ever played against. Like I said, my hat's off to them."
On what he sees out of this Ravens defense:"I mean, I think they bring the same attitude. They're aggressive, obviously. They've got good leaders over there. Ray [Lewis] is still playing at a very high level and they're active. They show you a lot of different things, a lot of different looks. You've got to be on your toes and ready for everything they throw at you."
On the Titans' 4-0 start:"I think, first of all, I think we've played smart football. We haven't turned it over a whole lot. I think that's helped us out in a lot of games. I think we've been able to capitalize on some opportunities, especially in the red zone. Our red-zone offense this year is much better than it was last year. I think, obviously, we're built to run the ball and do things off of that in the passing game. So, we've been able to run that. I think our offensive line is playing real well. I think our skill guys are certainly capable of making plays. And, our defense is playing great, and really brought home the last couple of games for us, and really played great in all four of our wins."
On if he, when he became starting quarterback, encountered the same expectations given to QB Vince Young:"I'm not sure. I have high expectations for myself. Being my first time here, starting, my focus was just on running the offense and getting ready to play each week. I've gotten pretty good at shutting out the outside world and expectations and talk and all that stuff, so really I just wanted to focus in on what I was doing and try and prepare as well as I can."
On how he has done in the last three games:"I think I've played OK. I think my best game is still yet to come. I certainly think I've made good decisions for the most part. There's more plays, I think, out there to be made. Looking back on the games, I think there's some opportunities that I missed, but I think that's part of it. But, I think my preparation has been good. I think I've gone out and been comfortable and confident with what we're doing, and for the most part have executed things pretty well."
On if Young practiced today:"We haven't practiced yet."
On if Young is expected to practice today:"I don't know."
On if he's talked to Young recently:"I mean, he's around. I can't say that we've talked a lot this morning. We've been pretty busy with meetings and walk-through and stuff like that. I think he's in it, his head's in it. He's ready to go. If he's able to practice this week, I expect him to come back and have a good week."
On the play of RBs Chris Johnson and LenDale White:"Obviously, they're both very different types of running backs. LenDale is a kind of a grind-it-out, bigger guy who gets tough yardage between the tackles. Chris has the kind of speed that can get to the outside and break off bigger plays. It's nice. It's kind of similar to what we had in New York with Ron Dayne and Tiki [Barber]. They're good in that they complement each other. They're change-up backs. Certainly, both will be a big part of what we do each week."
On if the offense changes with their different running styles:"No. It doesn't change. Chris is a little bit better out of the backfield. I think he give us more out of backfield as far as the passing game and stuff like that. As far as our run game, it's all pretty much the same with both guys."
On if he was surprised to see Ravens DT Haloti Ngata playing pass defense:"Yeah, they'll drop guys out, and they'll act like they're rushing and drop out. It seems like they do it with a lot of guys, so that's one thing you have to be ready for. Certainly, that's the challenge with this defense. They give you a lot of looks. They give you some different things that you don't see every week, so you've got to be able to see everything and try to figure out where everyone is at."
On which Raven he looks for in pass coverage:"I think they're all good. Obviously, [Terrell] Suggs is a great player. They've got the ability to rush the passer from every spot. It's kind of one of those things where they give you so many looks and they give you different challenges from a protections standpoint, so we've got to be ready for anything because they'll throw a lot at you."