Reinfeldt, Webster Press Conference Transcript

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OWNER K.S. "BUD" ADAMS, JR. (VIA CONFERENCE CALL)

(opening statement)

Hello everyone.  This is Bud Adams talking. We're announcing today that I have promoted Mike Reinfeldt to chief operating officer and Ruston Webster to general manager.  Mike will oversee our entire organization in Nashville and the day-to-day operations.  He will report directly to me.  He will work with Don (MacLachlan), Ruston, Mike Munchak and Jenneen (Kaufman) to make sure everyone is moving in the right direction.  Ruston will take over the role of general manager and the football side of things.  That will be the main thing there.  As you all remember, Mike and Ruston were both finalists for the general manager spot.  That was five years ago, and now we have Ruston taking over that role for Mike.  We have done, what I think, a nice job of stabilizing our football operation over the last year, and this will solidify our operation even further.  I like where things are headed, and this stability will allow our team to continue growing together.  I know these moves will make our organization a better one.  After saying all that, I'm going to now turn this all over to our main man here, you know, Mike Reinfeldt, and let him take over and go from this point on.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(opening statements)

Let me just start out.  I'm very excited about this move.  I think, as most of you realize, I've been in the league a number of years, but I've spent a number of years on the business side.  So for me, it kind of gives me a chance to encompass both sides of the organization, both the football and the non-football.  I'm excited.  With the new CBA in place the next nine, 10 years, it is a wonderful time to be in the NFL.  I think we've got a lot of good things going on.  But with an owner that lives eight or nine hundred miles away, it gives us a chance to kind of come together, be a cohesive group, and grow together.  So I'm excited.  I think it's a natural move.  I've known Ruston for a number of years.  I've worked with him here and in Seattle, and he's been ready to be a GM for a long, long time.  So I think it's kind of the natural order of things.  I think over the years we've kind of always had a chief operating officer or a president.  You remember when Steve Underwood left, we didn't replace the spot.  I think it was the fact that there was a lockout going on, the CBA was up, and I think once the season got over and things settled down, it gave us a chance to look at things again, and I think this is kind of the natural order of where things should be.  I'm excited going forward.  Ruston, you want to say a couple words?

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(opening statements)

I just want to thank Mr. Adams and Mike for giving me this opportunity.  This is a great place.  I've enjoyed being in the organization and living in Nashville.  For me, it's a very comfortable place to be, and I'm excited about my new role and working with the people here: Mike, Lake (Dawson), our scouting staff, Blake Beddingfield, everybody involved with that.  I think since I've come here, the transition has been very smooth for me, and a lot of it is due to all the people that are here.  I'm extremely excited.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(on what the process was to get to this point and if Mr. Adams initiated the discussions)

There were a number of discussions over the course of the last month.  I think the discussions went both ways, and at the end of the day, it just seemed like the right thing to do and kind of an easy match.

(on what it means to have the COO and head coach roles filled by former players)

I think it's a good thing.  I think it shows that former players are important to us.  We take them for what they can do, and Coach Munchak has done a great job.  He's earned the right to be a head coach, and I think that's a great message to our players. I think they hear that loud and clear.

(on how hard it will be to step away from the talent evaluation role)

Some days it will be hard, and some days it will be easy, quite honestly.  There's good and bad.  The GM, you're really on the firing line.  It's a great job, but it's a hard job, too.  I think now it's a little more of an overview and a big picture, and I think I'm ready for that, too.

(on how much he will fall back on his experience in administration)

The good thing is I've been on both sides, and I think I can help on both sides to be there, to kind of be a sounding board.  Even with the football side of it, a lot of things they'll go through, I've been through before.  So I can be there.  It's their job to do and their decisions to make, but I'll tell you what, it's nice to have someone that's been through it before that you can kind of run things by, to be that sounding board.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on how much pressure comes with the job of general manager)

This league is full of pressure.  That's pretty obvious.  This time of year, guys are being let go, and new people are being hired.  But I enjoy my job.  I love my job.  What I like to do is study players and personnel, and that will be a big part of who I am as a GM. You kind of have to stick with what you know, and that's what I'll do.  But I like what I do, and hopefully that will take a little pressure off.

(on whether his philosophy is similar to Reinfeldt's)

I think our philosophies are pretty close.  Last year, going through the draft and that quick period of free agency we had, I think we were all very much on the same page.  I think all of us want a certain kind of player here.  We want good, talented players that are also hard workers and tough guys and the type of men that the people in Nashville can be proud of.  I think that's what Mike's always tried to do.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(on who will ultimately have the final personnel decision)

Well, ultimately that's always a tough question because it's the owner ultimately at any of the 32 clubs.  But I think we're set up, we're kind of a GM-driven team, and the GM gets input from people.  His job is to get consensus, but at the end of the day, those decisions are within the scope of what he's expected to do.

(on if the team has needed a tie-breaker role the last couple years and if that will be his role now)

Again, I think it's a matter of getting a consensus and working together.  I think there's enough different opportunities, enough alternatives, if you do it right I think the answer becomes readily available on what is the best choice.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on the first thing he needs to immerse himself in that he has not previously done)

I really feel like a lot of things that we're going to do and my job is going to entail, I've already been doing. I told Vin Marino today he and I have to get together and have a nice, long talk about our salary cap and some things along those lines.  Otherwise, we're going to meet with the coaches. We're going to start making, not decisions, but start the process of making decisions on our roster and just go forward that way.

(on whether this promotion takes him out of the running for jobs at other teams)

Oh yeah, I'm here.  I'm here, I love it here, and I'm here for the long haul.

(on how this move makes the team better, as Mr. Adams said)

I think one thing: it keeps us all here together.  I think we've got a good group that works well together.  There's not a lot of strife in here, whether it's between Mike and Coach Munchak, myself and Coach Munchak, Blake (Beddingfield) and I, nothing along those lines. I mean, everybody is working well together, and that's really not always the case in every NFL organization, as you guys know.  So I think the strength of our group really makes the team better.

(on whether Lake Dawson's promotion takes him out of the running for other jobs at other teams)

Well, Lake is destined to be a GM here at some point.  We're planning on him being around a while, so …

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(on if these promotions impact the status of Executive VP of Administration and Facilities Don MacLachlan)

His status stays the same.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on how much salary-cap flexibility the Titans have and how active they plan to be in free agency)

Vin (Marino) and Mike specifically have done a good job of managing that cap.  I mean, they're both experts at that, and we've been able to keep ourselves out of tight situations.  So we'll be in pretty good shape that way.  Will we ever be a team that goes crazy in free agency? No, we won't. We'll be smart about what we do, and then we'll hopefully draft wisely.  In my mind, that's the best way to do it.

(on if he shares the philosophy of sitting back and waiting at the start of free agency)

I think you just have to take every situation individually.  There's been points in time in my past when we've jumped out, like one year we signed Patrick Kerney.  He went to the Pro Bowl, had 14 sacks, and we had to jump out and do that quick.  But for the most part, I would lean toward Mike's philosophy that way.  That goes back for me to my days at Tampa Bay with Rich McKay.  That was exactly what he believed.  It worked there, and I believe that's really the way to do it.

(on what prevents the Titans from "going crazy" in free agency)

Well it's not about going crazy.  Really, I feel like a lot of times in this league it's about winning the offseason and who looks best in the offseason, and that's not what it's about.  It's about winning on Sunday.  So everything we do, it's not that you don't want to spend money in free agency, it's that you want to make the best decisions to help you win on Sunday.  I think that's what we do from a standpoint of how you manage the cap and the players you bring in.  Last year, I would say we were very active in free agency, and we had a very short window to do it, signing Matt (Hasselbeck) especially.  So yeah, there's nothing that prevents us from doing that.  It's more philosophy and then just trying to build the team the right way.

(on what his first priority is as general manager)

Well, my first priority was to call and talk to all of our scouts, which I've done that, and then tomorrow to meet with our coaches and start talking about the roster.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(on if he will work on contracts moving forward)

No, I don't actually probably think so.  In a pinch I could help out.  I did some last year because we were in a shortage with a short timeframe.  But I think Vin's done a great job with that, and I think that's in good hands.

(on how much room the Titans have under the 2012 salary cap)

It's probably in excess of $30 million.  We're in pretty good shape.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on if the team will look at any options regarding Chris Johnson's contract)

I think for us, people have asked me this, but in my mind Chris Johnson is here for the long haul.  We didn't sign him off of one year, because of one year.  He's an important part of our team.  That's the way I see it moving forward.

(on any sense of immediacy because a third of the roster is not under contract in 2012)

You know, there's always that sense in this league.  I think the one thing is, we've got a couple of extra weeks until free agency starts, which is different from the past.  Free agency starts, I believe, the 13th of March, and so we have a little bit more time.  That takes a little bit of pressure off.

(on how much larger the free-agency pool will be this year because of the high number of one-year contracts last year)

Yeah, I think it will be close to that.  It will just be interesting to see how it goes again, what the flow is.  Are there a rash of signings early with the new deal, or do people stand back and kind of play it safe?  It'll be interesting.

(on if the team has had contact with Cortland Finnegan's agent since the season ended)

Well, like I said, we're working through all that now.  We haven't even gotten to that point yet.  I'm just trying to get my feet wet right now.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(on whether any players other than Craig Stevens are close to being re-signed)

There's nothing imminent at this point in time.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on what he thinks about the team's pending free agents)

What do I think? Yeah, I think once we get with our coaches tomorrow, then the process will start, and we'll see where it goes from there.

(on who the starting quarterback will be in 2012)

Like Munch said, they'll fight it out, and we'll see who comes out on top there.  But you know what?  Our quarterback situation is something I'm very pleased with, very happy with.  Having Matt (Hasselbeck) here was a great thing, has been a great thing, and Jake (Locker) as well.  That room—Chris Palmer was talking to me today about how good the room was between our three quarterbacks and how well they worked together.  Thank goodness, I feel good about that position.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(on if part of the reason to make these moves was to keep the individuals from going elsewhere)

I think it's kind of a natural progression, a natural order. If you get a group that works together well, and I think if you looked at this year with Coach Munchak and all the new coaches, putting all these players together, to go 9-7, we've got a group that really works well together.  I think what happens in this league, when you have success, the first thing you do is you start losing your good people.  This helps us keep our good people together, so there is value in it.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on what lessons he will take from Chris Johnson's contract situation last year)

It's hard for me to say right now how I would approach that situation.  That was a tough situation because we had had no offseason.  There had been no time to negotiate in the offseason.  We could have no contact with our players.  Then all of a sudden we've got a couple weeks to get going.  Hopefully we don't ever have to deal with that again.  In the future, when that comes up, we'll have time in the offseason to work on those things and get those things done.

CHIEF OPERATING OFFICER MIKE REINFELDT

(on if it's unusual to step away from the personnel side as the team is starting to develop)

I don't see myself as stepping away.  I think I'm a huge part of it, and I think I'm going to an area where I can really be a big benefit.  With some of the things I've done in the past, I think it's kind of a natural order, especially with Mr. Adams.  I have a great relationship with him, and the ability to communicate with him from all aspects of the organization I think is very critical.

(on when he realized Webster was ready to be a general manager and what characteristics Webster possesses)

I think he's a very hard worker, I think he has a great eye for talent, I think he does all the little detail things that you have to do in this business, I think he's very good with people, he's a good listener, he's good with the coaches, he's good with the scouts.  All of the things that make a good GM, he's very capable of doing those things.  I saw him work in Seattle, and I saw him work here.  Honestly, they probably should have hired him instead of me.

GENERAL MANAGER RUSTON WEBSTER

(on the areas of the team that need the most improvement)

We have to continue to get better on every level of the defensive side, all the way, front to back.  Then just keep improving.  Our coaches did an awesome job of getting guys coached up this year and having players play to their best.  So I feel great about the direction we're going, but we need to continue to give them players.  And then we'll have to work on our run game and try to make it better.  That may entail some things up front on the offensive line.  Those are really kind of the main issues, and none of those I wouldn't think would be a secret to anybody in this room that's seen us play.  We just need to continue to put some impact players on both sides of the ball.

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