NASHVILLE, Tenn. – Titans President/CEO Tommy Smith was a guest on Nashville's 104.5 The Zone Friday morning, reaffirming his desire and commitment to turn the Titans into a consistent winner.
Here are some excerpts from the interview with the Wakeup Zone's Mark Howard and Frank Wycheck:
TITANS PRESIDENT/CEO TOMMY SMITH
(on assuring Titans fans that there is hope for the rest of the season)
It's been difficult this year here, and I'm very disappointed in our current record, but I'm optimistic, and I'm very intrigued to see how Zach (Mettenberger's) going to lead the team from here on out. I think the past two weeks we've been able to work on some things that were much needed. We've been beating ourselves more than we've been beaten, and I think we're re-gearing. I'm highly confident in the rest of the year here. I feel strongly that we can finish very well.
(on how often he communicates with Ruston Webster and Ken Whisenhunt weekly)
I talk to Ruston (Webster) every day, maybe a couple of times a day. I talk to Ken (Whisenhunt), I meet with him two or three times a week. We're in frequent communication. Sometimes I talk to them jointly. I'll meet with them, join them. Likewise, with Don (MacLachlan). In the organization I'm constantly in contact or in communication with the various people, executives of our company, and some of the line people, too.
(on if the organization overrated the talent on the roster)
The roster's what it is. We didn't get here overnight with this thing, and I think we did come in with high optimism. Our preseason had gone pretty well. We came off well against the Chiefs, and we had very, very high hopes. The roster, yes, we know there are areas that need improvement, but my gosh, a lot of our losses are contributed to silly penalties. It's highly frustrating, the things that have gone on this year. The roster, yeah, we have a lot of work to do, but at the same time, I'm very pleased with our draft class. I think some of those young men are showing up, and I hope that you notice it likewise. I'm pleased with the various aspects of the defensive line and so forth. I guess the biggest disappointment to me has been the offensive line. That's where I think the game is won or lost, and it just hasn't gelled to my satisfaction yet. I still have high hopes for it. I'm sorry that we lost Michael Roos. He's a fine man and a good player, but we've got Taylor Lewan in there now, and I'm anxious to see what he can do. It just hasn't gelled. It's high time that it does.
(on how much input he had in the quarterback change)
I don't inject myself in terms of personnel about who's going to start and that sort of thing. I think that's a mistake. Ken (Whisenhunt) and Ruston (Webster) are hired, and like you said, I don't micromanage. They came to me, we talked about it, I supported it, but no, I did not inject myself to say we need to start Zach (Mettenberger). I think it was actually, if you will, a joint decision on all parties' part.
(on making changes at general manager or coach after the season if there are not improvements)
I can't see that at all, no. No one wants to win more than Ken (Whisenhunt) and Ruston (Webster) and I, and we have good rapport amongst each other, and we understand where we're going. We know where this program is. We're very realistic about every aspect of it. You mentioned the roster, we work and discuss the roster and each and every player almost daily. We understand where the pluses and minuses are and where our weaknesses and strengths, if you would, are. I think, again, he's going to get the job done. Ken is a very competitive, very intelligent coach. He's a perfectionist, and I expect that he's going to lead us to many victories, and I certainly have no intentions to make any change.
(on how he feels about the free agent signings)
The free agent signings, even if you go back over the past several years, we were lucky with Delanie (Walker), and he's really showed up. I think (Wesley) Woodyard's playing well and so forth. We're going to have to keep working at it, guys. There's no question about it. Once again, we're bringing new men in to fit into this system. They've got to perform. I assure you we'll be active in free agency again next year.
(on if he is frustrated that the team lacks an identity)*
Absolutely. We need to be more physical. It will come together. Frustrating is not the word that I can express to say where I am on the performance and the nature of the team. I'm patient. I'm committed. I really believe that we're going to get there. It's just not happening right now. I want it now, and we all know internally where the problems are, what we need to do, and we're going to keep at it until we get it right, and we're going to get it right sooner than later.
(on if he thinks the past identity of the team's toughness needs to be carried into the future)
Absolutely, categorically. The one thing I expect out of the offensive line, and the defensive line for that matter, is to play smash mouth. I want a very aggressive, physical team, that when you know you're coming to play them, you know you're going to be in a fight. Yes, I want that, and I want the commitment across the board, not only to the player next to you but to the team as a whole. That's what I'm striving to achieve here. When I say I'm disappointed, not just about the penalties, I really, really want a physical play out of this team.
Oh my God, yes. Since Bud (Adams) died, it's been very common for me to wake up at three o'clock in the morning. I keep a pad by my bed, and I make notes about things. If I can get back to sleep by about four or so, that's great. I'll be talking to myself at times about this, absolutely. It weighs on me heavily. I'm just like a fan. I'm like the guy sitting next you in the stadium. You think you're upset, you ought to see how upset I am. Something goes wrong, we're not achieving the goals that we've set, it weighs on me heavily.