STEELERS AT TITANSSUNDAY, SEPT. 19KICKOFF - 1 P.M.
TENNESSEE TITANS CONFERENCE CALLS
HEAD COACH JEFF FISHER
RE: Drafting Chris Johnson in the 2008 NFL Draft rather than Rashard Mendenhall or Felix Jones:
We had all three of them on the board, and we just hoped that one of the three would be there. We had one rated higher than the other, but we were just hoping one of them three would be there. We were lucky as was Pittsburgh and was Dallas.
Could you imagine that Chris Johnson would turn out like this?
He's off to a pretty good start. He's got some work to do yet. He's attracting a lot of attention, which we found out last week. It was a challenge but we hung in there, and it's going to be tougher for us this week to be productive in the run game.
RE: Your teams success with Vince Young:
You got to give him the credit. He's just maturing at the position. He's now in his third year with our coordinator. When Steve McNair was in his third year with Mike (Heimerdinger) he was the MVP. We also feel that we have surrounded him with better people. This is the best cast of skill players that we've had around him since being here. He's enjoying the game, enjoying the position and challenging and motivating himself to get better.
Has Vince been taking advantage of all the attention Chris Johnson has been getting?
Yeah, if people do the things they think is necessary or required to protect themselves in the run game then that creates some opportunities for Vince downfield. That was the case in the opener and probably the last six or seven games last year.
How does Dennis Dixon compare to Vince Young style wise?
Dennis is a very talented player that we've been looking at very closely. He's smart, he's making the right decisions; he understands where his problems are. He gets rid of the ball quick and then you add the legs into the equation, and it makes him especially dangerous. He's made good throws escaping to his left, the deep ball last week was a very impressive throw. He's staying alive. Plus they got some wrinkles in there from a defensive standpoint.
Do you expect the Steelers to turn Dennis loose since he has a game under his belt?
I think their game last week was a great opener. It looked like the two teams had a lot of fun playing on the line of scrimmage, and then you mix in the play action, short game and three-step drops and they found a way to win the game. The game dictated the play of the quarterback position. The two defenses, I don't think it was the play selection or a signal caller's choice; it's just what happened on the field.
Though it's not a division game anymore, does it still have that feel?
It's ironic that I have two former Steelers on my team that remember more than my Titans do about the old days. But it's always a challenge. It's such a first-class organization and such a trepid fan base and following. There always very well coached and very physical.
How or why have you been so successful at home against the Steelers?
We had some good teams back when; both played some very close games. We had as much difficulty up there playing as we had success here.
What's the last thing that developed in Vince Young that made him the QB he is now?
I think it's just recognition. That comes from experiences. That comes from lining up and being able to have confidence in your pre-snap read, having confidence in staying on one side of the field or another, being familiar and comfortable with the progression and knowing when to use your legs. This is one thing Dennis does at his age, which I think is impressive. He keeps his eyes downfield and still moves around in the pocket. That's a hard thing to do for a young quarterback. He does that well.
RE: Lawrence Timmons progression:
The entire defense is playing well. Lawrence is on the punt team. And he's one of the first guys down there making a tackle and that says a lot for his character. If you look at the play where he blitzed inside, he ricocheted off the back and regained his balance, and got involved in that pass that was knocked down and was ruled incomplete. That was a very impressive play. He's sideline to sideline and he's blitzing very well. Early in his career you saw the characteristics and traits in him that he would become a better player.
RE: Former Steelers Patrick Bailey and Nate Washington:
It has to be something about the drive from Pittsburgh to Nashville because they forget everything. Bailey did good. I know it wasn't an easy decision for the Steelers to cut a player like Patrick who can play special teams like he can. We had a need. We needed help there. He's helped us as well as Tim Shaw who we picked up from the Bears. Unique things have happened with our core special teams group. We got young all of a sudden and we needed some veteran guys and they panned out very well for us last Sunday.
Did you brief Bailey when he got there?
We just told him how we do things, and that's similar how they do things in Pittsburgh. So the transition should be easy.
RE: Your defensive line always performing well:
One of the things we have right now as we speak, we're fortunate that we are healthy. So if you can keep an active eight (players), a good wave and a good rotation, keep them fresh. Our philosophy is to play as hard as you can for four, five or six plays. If you need to catch a breath catch it next to us on the sideline. And we'll send your teammate out there and let him play that way. We've been able to stay fresh and it helped us despite the protection challenges we got out of Oakland last week. And our condition and our health allowed us to keep consistent pressure on the passer.
QUARTERBACK VINCE YOUNG
What do you know about Tony Hills and Jonathan Scott?
Terrific guys. Those are my brothers. Did a lot of blocking, took care of my back. Just really good guys that I have a lot of respect for.
Looks like Jonathan might start this week, what do you think that speaks for him?
Well deserved. He has been through a whole lot with his father passing and he has been through a lot going to Buffalo and a lot of other teams and I just hope and pray that he has a home now in Pittsburgh and to get back on finishing up his career like his father wanted him to.
What is the biggest difference to you since the end of last season to now?
Just more comfortable and more mature. Definitely more comfortable with the offense and knowing where my guys are at. Now I can focus more on the defense guys and seeing what they are trying to do to me and get the ball out of my hands faster to our receivers.
When you look at Dennis (Dixon) do you see a lot of you in him?
I see a very talented young man and I have a lot of respect for him. I saw a couple of his games while he was in college and saw a couple while he has been playing in the NFL. It's just like me when they say you should change your position and I am just very proud of him that he continued to stay on the same path and trying to finish up his career as a quarterback.
How close are you with Jonathan Scott?
I haven't talked to him in a little while since the passing of his father. We try to keep in touch every chance we get, through texting, reaching out for a friend. We try to stay in touch as much as we can.
Do you feel like this is the first time going against the Steelers defense or since the past two years you have been going through game prep do you feel like you know them a little bit?
I know how aggressive they are and they are a very sound team. They take care of their responsibility of getting from point A to point B. They take care of their assignments and when you have a defense like that you as an offense have to be very patient and take what they give you until something breaks. But I have a lot of respect for them. This is my first time and I am definitely looking forward to it because you always want to test yourself against the best and that is how much respect I have for those guys.
A number of the Pittsburgh players thought that they may have got better pressure on (Matt) Ryan than what the statistics indicated. Is that what you saw as well?
Yeah, from watching tape they tried some things earlier that I felt like the Atlanta's offense wasn't properly prepared for or ready for. They probably had an understanding of what they thought they were going to do but I don't think they thought they were going to blitz as much. So I feel like they did a great job of putting pressure on him in the first part of the game that I watched. But as offensive and defensive coordinators know, once you get to the sideline you prep yours guys and look at the pictures on the sideline and look at what is going on and learn how to adjust to the defense and better yourself to try to win a ball game.
How tough was it when you were a young quarterback of knowing when to run the ball and when to throw the ball? Was that tough?
No, not at all. You are basically just going off of your instincts. If it's not there or you if you missed it, the only thing you do have is to use your legs or check the ball down. But it was a learning experience for me, and it still occurs sometimes but it still occurs to every quarterback when you aren't paying attention fully. So you have to just make sure you stand up there, focus on what's going on on the football field in order to make throws down field or if it's not there to not force the ball and throw an interception or use your god-given legs to make a play. That's something that is in my offense that I bring to the table.
What is it like to watch Chris Johnson and what he does to those people?
A lot of guys looked over him and passed him from college all the way up to here and we had the shot to get him. It is an honor to play with the guy. He is a terrific running back. He does a whole lot for our offense, draws a lot of attention. But he will tell you the same thing that our offensive line does a great job as well as our receivers and tight ends, making key blocks for him down field in order for him to make those big runs that he makes because he is a tremendous player.
Is he the most dangerous weapon in the NFL right now?