Fisher: “For the second week in a row, we don’t have any significant injuries to speak of, which is good. We may have a few instances where a couple players don’t practice as a result of normal bumps and bruises, but we do have the ‘Monday Night’ doctor with us all week this week, so I would assume we see them back on the practice field early.
As far as the game is concerned, what we’ve done the last two weeks is play different types of opponents. We’ve gone out and, for the most part, executed the plan very well. The first week it translated into a win, then of course yesterday we were a play away, here or there, from putting two pretty good efforts together. Looking back at yesterday’s game, there are a number of plays we left on the field, some in the first half, some in the second half. Obviously we had opportunities at the end. Any time you get the ball back with 1:37 left and a timeout and need a field goal, I like those odds. I like that chance. It didn’t happen. The mark of a good team, an improved team, is when they can bounce back after a tough loss. That’s kind of where we are. The players were very curious to watch the tape to see what happened. In a lot of instances, defensively, there was a false step here or a false step there. But I thought up front on defense we did a nice job with our pass-rush and our pressure when given the opportunity. I thought the secondary tackled fairly well. Offensively, we were playing a team that was visibly different than last week. They had great speed and they shut some things down. But again, we had our chances, so we’ve moved on.”
Were the consecutive incomplete passes to Brandon Jones on the last offensive drive caused by fatigue?
Fisher: “Not necessarily, no, I think he was a little surprised to turn around and see the ball there on time. They elected to pressure Vince [Young] throughout that last two-minute drive and I think Brandon just was surprised to see it. It’s one of those plays – it’s not the one that cost us the game. We had a lot of different opportunities throughout the game. Of course, as I mentioned yesterday afternoon, there were a few things that happened that went their way – the field goal and having an opportunity to kick another field goal right before the half.”
Why is there still a positive vibe within the team despite the loss?
Fisher: “You have to put winning and losing in perspective. You can’t just accept the fact that we played well and we didn’t win. We talked about moral victories. The one thing I am pleased with is that they are committed to improving. That’s what we’ve done the last couple of weeks. Inside the building, in the classroom the last two weeks, these plans have been completely different. Week 1, defensively, we’ve got to load up and play a physical game and stop the run. Yesterday was all about being patient. I thought the defensive staff did a great job of preparing the guys. I thought [defensive coordinator] Jim [Schwartz] did a really good job calling the game. That was a very, very difficult game to call against the Colts.”
Were you impressed with how the team adapted to playing with two different game plans this early in the season?
Fisher: “Yeah, I am, but now we have to move on. Now we’ve got a whole new challenge ahead of us with one of the top offenses from the NFC last year (the New Orleans Saints), a team that has started slow. We all recognize and all remember that game down there last year, their first game since [Hurricane] Katrina and the impact that had, not only on their team but the city of New Orleans, the state and the National Football League. We would expect to see something similar to that game because they’ve been on the road for two weeks and this is their home opener, and of course it’s Monday night.”
How did the cornerbacks do defending the run?
Fisher: “Both corners recognize things well, they support well and they’re short tacklers, so that’s helped us. That’s helped us in our run defense. You have to account for them. Keep in mind, the system was different in the past with more of a man-to-man oriented type team, so we were asking them to support. Because of some scheme changes in our defense and the type of players we have now, they’re supporting well.”
How did the Titans’ defense do against the Colts’ high-powered offense?
Fisher: “There were some things we saw yesterday that were obvious that we tried to take advantage of. After three or four opportunities and looks at it, you’ve got to get a sense, so we did. We tried to take advantage of some things. Keep in mind, Peyton [Manning] is so good and so quick to get rid of the football. With the play-action pass, that’s when he’s really able to buy himself time. But in the drop-back, he’s got to get rid of it. So that’s where we had most of our success – in the drop-back phase of their game.”
Did you feel that the clock operator was accurate at the end of the first half?
Fisher: “It could have gone either way. I timed it this morning. The ball was snapped with four seconds and the play took four seconds. So it could have gone either way.”
When did the Titans develop their toughness and do any particular players contribute to the toughness?
Fisher: “I think it probably happened last year with our effort there in a 14-13 loss [to Indianapolis]. The defensive guys, and the staff in particular, have a really good feel for what they’re trying to do. We talk about a blueprint – it’s not always possible to have the kind of success you have on defense. Yesterday afternoon you look at it and [Manning] throws a touchdown pass to the tight end [Dallas Clark] and they run a trap. These are all plays that we practiced against. That’s what makes [the Colts] so difficult. We gave up six passes of 20 yards or more in the first half, yet we only allowed two touchdowns. That’s the key to playing the Colts – to get at them on the field and on fourth down. Not kicking the extra point, but on fourth down. That was our hope, and fortunately it worked out for us.”
What will the level of control be over personnel with your new contract extension?
Fisher: “The contract extension has nothing to do with personnel. I will address it just for the moment. I have been asked numerous times throughout the offseason and throughout training camp regarding the status of it. My response each time was that I’m confident we’ll get it done. We were able to wrap things up last week. Never at any time was I of the opinion that we would not get it done. What is most important to me is the team, the players and winning games. With that being said, I’m very appreciative of [Titans owner] Mr. [Bud] Adams and [Titans Sr. EVP and general counsel] Steve Underwood, that were able to work it out. As far as the specifics of terms, those will always remain confidential in this organization and I hope that they would do so in this case.”
Does the roster turnover help a coach’s message stay fresh?
Fisher: “It’s turnover. It’s a number of things. I think it’s the support in the organization, the communication, the trust and the fact that everybody’s on the same page moving in the same direction. A lot also has to do with the fact that there is turnover on the roster.”
Is there a measurable impact on staffing as a result of your long tenure with the Titans?
Fisher: “I can address that from the perspective of a newly-hired coach. It takes time to get the right staff together. I think the new coaches have to be aware of that. Often times new coaches are very, very excited about their staffs and committed to them. It takes a few years, sometimes it takes longer to get the staff that you want in place. We’re just fortunate that we’ve had the opportunity to do that here. We’ve had ample time and everybody works well together. It’s an unselfish staff. We could have a secondary coach give up 500 yards in a win and they hold their heads down. But the bottom line is winning and losing. This staff understands that, and they’ve worked well together. They have appreciation and a trust level for the players that they coach.”
How has your long-term tenure affected your quality of life
Fisher: “Again, I have never even considered leaving. I enjoy living here and enjoy coaching here. [Leaving] was never even a consideration. I hope to finish my coaching career here.”
How do you avoid getting burned out after coaching the Titans for so long?
Fisher: “I look forward to coming to work every day. I enjoy the players. I enjoy the daily challenges and improvement. I guess the most important thing is that I was hired a long time ago to bring Mr. Adams a championship trophy, and I work towards that every day.”
How patient hass owner Bud Adams been with the team’s struggles in recent years?
Fisher: “Well, Mr. Adams is unique in that he understands this game. His experience in this league and what he did in this league early in his career speaks for itself. I think he understands that there’s going to be some tough times. He understands that you can’t remain competitive if there is a catastrophic injury situation going on with your roster and those kinds of things. He also understands the salary cap. He understands that there are going to be some lean years. He’s excited, as we are right now, for the future of this team.”
Why did you challenge Colts WR Anthony Gonzalez’s catch and did the crowd influence you?
Fisher: “If I listen to the crowd, you know (laughter), I wouldn’t necessarily say I’m not going to win very many of them. No, I was confirming with the coaches upstairs, and also I got the benefit of the home-field advantage of the jumbo-tron. I saw it and I just needed to see one more thing. I got one more shot up there, and I was convinced it was incomplete.”
Were you watching both the replays and the Colts offense during the decision making process of whether or not to challenge the catch?
Fisher: “All I have to do is get the flag down in front of the official, who was standing right in front of me at the time, before the ball snapped.”
What were your concerns with the Titans’ red zone offense?
Fisher: “Well, we need to get better there. It’s hard. If you can run the football, typically what happens over the course of the year is your scoring efficiency increases and improves, because teams become more and more concerned about the run. Yesterday, we ran it in there. LenDale [White] had two good carries and pushed the ball in the end zone. That’s only going to help us down the line. Then of course Vince had a great throw to Roydell [Williams] there. So, that helps. You want to come away with touchdowns whenever you get in there. At the same time, I’m also pleased with our defensive efficiency in the red zone, because the last two weeks, we’ve done a pretty nice job there.”
Was a quarterback sneak an option when going for it on fourth down on the first offensive series?
Fisher: “It is an option, yes. But [the Colts] stem their guys around quite often, jump gaps, things like that. The way we’re built, we need to go pick up a yard. To me, that was a no-brainer as far as going for it, considering who you’re playing. Now if we’re playing the field position game against somebody else, then in all likelihood we’d punt it away, but we’ve got to keep the ball away from [the Colts] offense.”
Do you prefer to have Vince Young slide when he runs to protect himself?
Fisher: “He typically makes good decisions as far as avoiding contact. When he gets into problems is when he has lots of people around him, but if you pay attention to it, he gets up into the air and gets his legs off the ground, which is a good way to protect yourself.”
What did you think about Young removing his helmet twice when coming off the field after plays?
Fisher: “There are a number of things that we have to address. He was ready to play this game, and I thought he played a fine football game. He managed this game, and gave us a chance to win it throughout most of the game. He’s improving. If you keep in mind who was on the other side of the ball and the fact that we lost to them by two points, and Vince is in whatever start this is for him, he’s improving. He’s learning from things that happen, and as a young quarterback, things happen every week. You get three or four years under your belt to really become comfortable, but with him in the shotgun or him under center, he gives us a chance to win.”
Are you worried about Young being too emotional on the sidelines?
Fisher: “No, because he can let things go. He’ll let things go and refocuses really quickly. You know, we all appreciate his competitiveness and the fact that he does not like to lose. Sometimes that will carry over in the locker room and so forth. I’m sure it has carried over into today and probably tomorrow before he puts it behind him. As far as the things that take place on the field, he lets them go. You can look him in the eye and say, ‘Put it behind you,’ and he does.”
Are you worried that Young is thinking too much about trying to make a pass when he should run instead?
Fisher: “No, I think yesterday there was a good balance of that. [The Colts] said, ‘Vince, you need to throw the ball to beat us.’ And he made a lot of nice plays down the field. They also spied him with their safety and pressured him and things like that. And I thought, considering the type of things they were doing defensively, the fact that he got out and made some big runs and made some first downs for us was a pretty impressive effort.”
Is Vince getting too worked up off the field and in post-game press conferences?
Fisher: “Not necessarily. I was in a bad mood too, I just answered your questions with a smile on my face. I’ve got a little more experience than he does, but you know, it’s an emotional game. It takes time to cool down, cool off, and it’s frustrating. It’s not just three hours of effort; it’s a whole week of effort that goes in to playing this game. Then to have a chance to win at the end and not [win], it’s frustrating. Again, I have no problem with his distaste for losing. That’s okay.”