Titans Press Pass: Fisher Sunday Report

Titans Press Pass: Fisher Sunday Report

Jeff Fisher spoke with the press about the game against the Redskins on Sunday afternoon.

What did you think about the three strange calls during the game?

Fisher: "There are benefits of pre-season, not only for us but for officials. It is their first time back and there are going to be some mistakes, and there were. I spoke to [referee] Tony [Corrente], and I think he understood where I was coming from. There are going to be penalties that are missed, and that was the case with LenDale [White]. [Line judge] Ron [Blum] said ‘I missed it. I didn't see it.' He may have been spotting the ball or something, but he did miss it, and it would have been a fifteen-yard penalty with significant field-position change. What happened on the illegal touch was we had a new official. I believe it was his first game in the National Football League, and it was his opinion that our gunner had gone out of bounds and then came back in and was the first to touch the ball. The reality was our gunner was Eric King. He reported that # 23 went out of bounds and was the first to touch the ball. Donnie [Nickey] was our personal protector and he was no where the boundary and Donnie was in fact the one to touch the ball and down it. He just got the numbers incorrect and there was nothing that they could do. I was ok with that because when Tony explained to me ‘Look, there is nothing I could do, he got the numbers incorrect,' I was fine. I am always okay with ‘coach, we might have missed that one.' So I'm always okay with that one. On the catch fumble, the bang-bang play is usually going to be ruled incomplete. I kind of felt that there was some action by the receiver that related to the game. I thought he started to turn and Donnie knocked the ball loose, and they ruled it incomplete. Had I gone through with the challenge, the only thing that would have happened is they would have ruled it complete and given them the ball right there. So I didn't benefit from challenging the play, because they would not have awarded us possession of the ball. There is a difference between incomplete pass and down by contact. Down by contact, the new rule that went in last year, which is now in effect permanently, states that if I can challenge down by contact, and if replay will show proof of recovery, then we can get the ball. Last year we did not get that against Baltimore because they could not prove recovery in the down by contact. So those are the three issues and they are good exercises for everybody in the pre-season."

Were you discouraged by the running game against the Redskins?

Fisher: "I was not discouraged early in the game by any means. The numbers didn't reflect much production, but when you look at the tape in a regular season game, we are doing different things other than what we did early against the defense. We were getting mostly an eight-man front, and sometimes that is difficult to run against, so you change your ground game attack or approach. In the second half we did not get as much eight-man fronts, therefore Chris [Henry] was a little more effective. He hit some more creases. He was also running against their backups and their younger players, so you expect more production out of him. We are objective as far as that's concerned. How does that relate to competition at the spot? This coming week we will switch them. We assume that LenDale is probably going to get the start and hopefully he will get eight or ten carries early, and then we may go with Chris Henry, and then Chris Brown. We haven't decided yet. We will continue to rotate them. That is also the case at middle linebacker position, and hopefully also the case at the corner back spot provided that we heal up."

What did you think about RB Chris Henry's performance?

Fisher: "We saw the same things that we saw in college. The reason that we drafted him was the explosiveness, the quickness through the hole and the contact. That is what we liked and that is what we saw. He was on course, he read things right and he did well. He was playing an awful lot. He was doing a lot of special teams and he got tired like every young player does when he is playing on offense and defense or on special teams. There were some definite signs of life as far as Chris Henry is concerned, as far as his special teams production and performance."

Did you send a message with Vince Young's one-game suspension?

Fisher: "He was disciplined no differently than anyone else on the roster would have been disciplined. It was not about sending a message, it was about enforcing the rules."

Will Vince Young will play more in the next few games to make up for lost time?

Fisher: "No, we are going to stick with the same approach had he played yesterday. He had a number of starts for us last year and has really improved. The important thing for me is that he needed to play, but he is fine, believe me. We don't need to discuss it any more. He will be here in the morning and will be moving on."

Are you concerned about timing amongst the young receivers?

Fisher: "No, that did not factor into my decision. I would imagine that there were probably 55,000 people [the fans in attendance] that were disappointed as well."

Are you concerned about the snap from the shotgun formation?

Fisher: "We had some protection issues early that we anticipated from their defense. We have had some difficulty with the shotgun snap with Leroy [Harris] on the practice field. There is no better way to work through that than to put him in game situation and do it. We are going to continue to work at that."

Are going to continue to let John Vaughn kick early in games?

Fisher: "I think our approach is going to be the same. We will probably alternate every two kicks like we did."

Do coaches talk ahead of time about what kinds of things they will be doing during the preseason?

Fisher: "No, that is strongly discouraged at the league office level. Both clubs will go out with their own philosophy in the game and they will work and they will adjust. To my knowledge, there has never been any discussion with an opponent. For example, ‘Hey, we are going to do this, so why don't you guys do that.' No, that is not the case. I think there is enough respect for your opponent going into a preseason that you can go back and look at their first preseason game last year and we will look to see what their philosophy was. They will look to see what our philosophy is, and you assume they will stick with the philosophy. There is respect. You are not going to see guys line up and rush every punt. You want to see your guys protect and block and cover and hold up because you want to be able to identify new forces that are trying to defeat double press, for example. Everybody is trying to get to the same point at the same time and that is to start the regular season and make roster decisions. I will site us as an example. There are some things in our offense that were in our offense last year that we didn't use in the preseason that related to Vince. There are clubs all around the league that may hold back and do things in the pre-season and then completely change for the opener. That is a philosophical decision between each club."

What did you think about the play of defensive linemen Antwan Odom and Tony Brown in last night's game?

Fisher: "I was pleased with the defensive front. We had five sacks. I think we had seven in the entire preseason last year. So it was good, we had pressure. We had all different kinds of sacks – slot blitz sacks and we had one-on-one sacks and game sacks. It was good to see them working together. As I said last night, we tackled well, which is encouraging. That's always an issue. And that doesn't guarantee we're going to tackle well next week but at least we came through the offseason and through training camp with the right attitude, used technique and we were aggressive."  

How do you think CB Cortland Finnegan looked playing with the first-team defense? 
Fisher: "He was fine. He lost the one down on the line of scrimmage and gave up the big play [a missed coverage on the 39 yd. reception by Santana Moss] but he'll learn from that. That's a technique issue. But he was around making plays and tackles. The secondary as a whole, both groups did a nice job. They were communicating and they were in position, tackling, breaking up balls, knocking balls loose. We gave up a couple plays – Nick [Harper] slid underneath one for the interception and [Redskins QB] Jason [Campbell] made a great throw. Ordinarily speaking, that ball is under-thrown and Nick's going the other way with it. So we gave up a play, and we learn from that. I thought, overall, they did a nice job. Cortland, as far as his punt returns are concerned, I did mention last night that I think he's had six returns. I went back and looked at Green Bay last year and he had three [returns] for 51 [yards]. So he's averaging 17.5 yards a return and he's got a 37 [yard return] and a 41 in six returns. Keep in mind, it's preseason, but still, he has the potential to be a very good returner for us."

Which injured players have the best chance of working their way back onto the field?

Fisher: "I think, with the exception of Andre Woolfolk and David Givens that everybody has the chance to get back this week."

We saw Bo Scaife  in slot formation often last night, is that something we will be seeing more of?

Fisher: "We had a personnel group and we wanted to open up the formation, so we opened it up. That's a lot of what he did last year – move around. You can still open the formation up with your tight ends. You don't necessarily have to use receivers to do it."

How was your pre-game visit with former Titans coach and current Redskins asst. head coach Gregg Williams?

Fisher: "He's not the enemy, so to speak. Obviously he's a peer and a friend. I have a great deal of respect for him. We didn't talk ball. We got caught up on the kids, and that kind of thing. So it was good to spend some time with him."

What is the status of CB Andre Woolfolk's injury and the team's injuries during training camp?

Fisher: "His hamstring's still bothering him. We really didn't have anything to speak of, which was good. Preseason-wise, that's a good sign, when the training room is empty at the end of the game, or you've got guys that did not play [who are] in the training room getting treatment, hoping that they can play the next week. We just had a lot of minor little things – minor little ankle sprains, nothing that should keep anybody off the practice field."

Will the staff try to get DT Rien Long more playing time?

Fisher: "That's what we're hoping to do – to get Rien in the game and get him some plays. I think we had two days where we're going to have double sessions this week. He'll go once a day. We'll watch his reps and hopefully we can increase his reps this coming game against the Patriots."

How much importance is placed upon preseason play versus training camp play, specifically for players like S Vincent Fuller and DT Jesse Mahelona?

Fisher: "Vinnie has been doing a really nice job consistently during training camp, and really, whenever he has a chance, he's out there making plays. Jesse missed a little bit of time with a mild hamstring [injury], so it set him back. It was good to see Jesse initiate a pass-rush move and get pressure and get the sack. You saw the response on the sideline when we were getting sacks, but that's a big thing for the defense. That's certainly something we were not as effective with last year as we would have liked to be." 

Do you think that the Titans defense played better than the Titans offense?

Fisher: "No, not necessarily. We look at it from a different perspective. We gave up 14 points, and we should not have given up 14 points. But the first couple groups stayed in there, got off the field on third down, defensively, and it was good to see. We have to continue with that. The offense did make some plays. We ran the football and did not have a lot of penalties. I think we had one line of scrimmage infraction and it was on defense. We were hard-counting and doing things. There's still a lot to build on, offensively, and I am not happy with the fact that we didn't get the ball in the end zone. We killed ourselves on some drives. Had we not done that, we would have had more shots and perhaps would have gotten in. [There is] a lot to build on, like I said. There are going to be mistakes and you have to correct them. But I wouldn't say that the defense is ahead of the offense right now."

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