Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher and linebacker Keith Bulluck spoke to the Houston media via conference call on Wednesday.
Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher
(on how he can explain his dominance of the Texans – 9-2 overall and won five in a row) "I wouldn't refer to it as actually dominance. The last four games have been decided by three, six, six, and two. One would assume that in the last couple of years, the gap has closed. With that being said, we would probably expect another game that's probably going to be decided at the end."
(on if it worries him that the games all seem to come down to the wire) "It just shows how competitive our division is and how much they've improved. I'm sitting here watching the last four games since we've played them in Houston and I've seen nothing but improvement. Their defense has improved despite the loss of (CB Dunta) Robinson. The offense has certainly improved now that (WR) Andre (Johnson) is back and (RB) Ron (Dayne) didn't play in our game and he's running like he's capable of running. We see improvement and from our standpoint, the only chance that we have to come away with a win is to improve ourselves."
(on the condition of DT Albert Haynesworth) "We're going to evaluate him today on the practice field. I think he may have a chance to participate in a limited basis on the practice field. That's all I can say at this point."
(on if the losing streak is more then just DT Albert Haynesworth being out) "Yes, the statistics reflect a lot of different things, areas where we need to improve upon. Our third down efficiency on both sides of the ball has not been good. We allowed 14-of-18 conversions last week at Cincinnati. You can't win that way. We're not running the ball. We haven't had balance, particularly because we've fallen behind. We're throwing the ball much better then we did the first eight weeks, but we're throwing it in a losing effort. We have to get back to balance."
(on his impressions of LB DeMeco Ryans) "I think he's one of the top three or four players in the league at his position. He's very aggressive. He's consistent. He anticipates well. He's a very, very sure tackler. He's certainly the centerpiece of their defense."
(on if QB Vince Young is excited about this game) "This game is important to (QB) Vince (Young). All games are important. This one is especially important just because we have not won in three weeks and I'd say he probably carried the same level of excitement in for this game then he would, regardless of who we played."
(on the way QB Vince Young has played in the last three weeks) "He's improving. He's improving every week. Sometimes it doesn't reflect in the statistics, but he's improving. He's doing everything he possibly can from the standpoint of taking advantage of the extra time. Monday's, he's been throwing on his day off and studying film and doing those things and it's paying off for him. It's a steady curve and it's an upward curve right now. I'm pleased with the way he's playing and the approach that he takes. He does not like losing, that's well understood, and he's doing everything he possibly to try to get us back in the win column. As far as the specifics of what he's doing, he's throwing the ball with accuracy. He was part of the longest completion we've had here in four years to (WR) Justin Gage. It was a great throw. He's been put in position the last three weeks where he's had to throw to catch up and he's managed that part of the offense very well."
(on what QB Vince Young needs to improve on the most) "No, I can't pinpoint anything. I think that the team itself needs to improve. I think if the team itself improves, then I think he's improve along with it."
(on DE Mario Williams and his performance compared to last year) "Everybody's going to improve, generally make the biggest improvement in year two, and you're seeing that out of him. He's moving around. He's playing very aggressive. They've done a real nice job with him from a pass rush standpoint because he's countering well. It's obvious that he has spent a lot of time studying opposing offensive linemen. He's trying to take advantage of their weaknesses. I think he's running to the ball well and he's a much better player then he was last year. It looks as if because of his height, weight, speed, and all those qualities, he has still room to improve. He's going to be a very, very good football player for a lot of years."
(on how much has missing DT Albert Haynesworth been a factor in the three losses) "It's hard to quantify that. I know that when he's in there, he himself is disruptive and somewhat dominant most of the time this year. I think more importantly, he makes the guys around him better only because of his presence, by drawing double teams and drawing the center of attention in passing situations, and creating one-on-ones for the rest of the guys. When you can get the pocket collapsed, good things happen. We just haven't been able to do that."
(on how the Texans offense is different with WR Andre Johnson) "Anytime you lose a great player like (WR) Andre (Johnson), you're going to lose production. The production is starting, you're starting to see it. I thought Cleveland did a nice job. They were concerned from the defensive scheme with him. They did a nice job. What happens is, in his absence, the Texans offense has had some other players emerge. The tight ends and the other receivers have been very productive. If people are going to take him away, you have now have problems with the other guys because they've got experience in making plays. He's one of the few players in the league that can, when he gets the ball in his hands, he can go the distance."
(on QB Matt Schaub's performance this season) "His numbers reflect that he's been very steady. He's patient and he's managing the offense very well. He's not turning the ball over and he's making plays. I think he's been fairly effective on third down and he can make all the throws. He's definitely one of the big reasons that the offense has improved."
(on if RB LenDale White had a breakout game at Houston in Week 7) "He had been playing well up to that point. (RB) Chris (Brown) had gone down with the ankle injury and I think he played a little more in that game then he had in the past because we had been alternating he and Chris Brown. (RB) Chris Henry came off and actually played in his first game and made some plays for us, but (RB) LenDale (White) stayed on the field. When he stays on the field and we're calling runs, if you call enough of them, he's going to be productive."
Tennessee Titans LB Keith Bulluck
(on if there's one thing he can point to that's gone wrong in the last three games) "I'd be lying to you if I said one thing. No, I can't pinpoint one thing; it's several things that we haven't been doing well. But I'm kind of excited myself to get back out to practice today and try and get this thing back on the right foot."
(on how much the defense misses DT Albert Haynesworth) "Yes, we definitely miss him because when the play starts, he's one of the first people that the offense has to deal with, and we definitely miss him causing havoc and making the offense change what they have to do in that sense, yes."
(on if he hopes DT Albert Haynesworth will be back this week) "Yes, definitely. We're definitely short-manned without him just because of the way that he was playing the way he was taking control over the line of scrimmage and whatnot, but really, it's up to him when he's healthy. We want him back healthy and what's best for him."
(on if DT Albert Haynesworth was having his best season before he was injured) "Oh yeah, definitely – without a doubt. Everyone knows that. Definitely."
(on if he thinks about his strong performance in the last game against the Texans) "No, we played good for three quarters against them last time, so I don't really think about that. I try and go out and put great performances together every week, and in this league it's not that easy, so you have to kind of prepare yourself during the week to get ready for that. Houston, they've been playing better football since the last time we played them, and they have(WR) Andre (Johnson) back, so I'm sure that the way their game plan goes, a lot more things will go through him."
(on if the Texans look like a different team on film) "They look definitely, they looked efficient the first time we played them we were watching film, they looked definitely just as efficient. (RB) Ron Dayne is running the ball better. Like I say, Andre (Johnson) is back so they're making defenses have to respect him, and the guys that were making plays before are still making plays. So I think that they're staying consistent to what they do."
(on if QB Vince Young is excited for the game) "Yes, he's excited just for the simple fact that he's one of the leaders on this team and he wants to get this thing turned around just as much as everyone else, and it's extra incentive that we are playing Houston, his hometown team, and he didn't get to play last time. So I think he's definitely looking forward to this game, as we all are."
(on who besides WR Andre Johnson looks tough on the Texans) "Like I said, (RB) Ron Dayne is running the ball well. If you allow him to get going and get his shoulders going downhill, he can make some plays. (TE) Owen (Daniels) is still catching a lot of footballs in the pass game, and also (WR André) Davis. So like I said, they have a very nice offense. Everyone contributes, everyone plays well and everyone makes plays that are expected of them."
(on the Titans' success against the Texans over the years) "It's a division game, so division games, they count for two. Also, division games are tight games. When we play the Colts, they're close, when we play Jacksonville, they're close, so most division games are tight. And the Texans aren't the team they were when they first got in the league. They're right there at 5-6, they have five wins and right now they're still in the playoff picture, so definitely I look for it to be a hard-fought game."
(on if he knows why they've been able to pull out close games over the Texans) "No, I don't. You know, it's football. We just happen to be coming out on top, so I don't – maybe, obviously we're doing a few things right throughout the course of the game to allow us to pull it out, but like I said it's football. It's a play here or there."
(on how the defense responds after a game like Cincinnati) "The only way to respond is to come back and play tough. At the end of the day, we're 6-5; we haven't won any games in the second half of the season. And we were sitting in great position, now we're sitting there fighting to hold on to the little bit of leverage that we have, so we have no choice but to respond after giving up 35, 38 points to a team that we feel we definitely could have beat and not playing well against Denver. There's a lot for us to go out there and prove. We have to get back to what we were doing earlier in the year and establish that as our identity once again."
(on if he looks at the playoff picture) "Yes, I do, because I'm a little older, I've been in the game a little longer, so I kind of keep an eye out on teams. And first things first, we have to take care of what we have to take care of. We have to win our games and everything else will take care of itself. But I see Cleveland and Pittsburgh and those type teams kind of right there in the mix, and of course Jacksonville."
(on LB DeMeco Ryans) "He runs around, he makes a lot of plays in the run game. He's all over the field. He has that young energy. He's one of those guys when you watch on film, he's always going to be by the ball. And like you said I haven't seen too much individual film on him, but when we do happen to have a team like the Texans our defense has played against, I definitely tend to watch, especially since (LB) Morlon Greenwood is a college teammate of mine as well. And he and 52 and a lot of those guys, they're out there running around making plays. Their defense is solid, they've moved up. I believe they're a top-20 defense now when they were last time we played them like towards the bottom of the league."
(on if he stays in touch with LB Morlon Greenwood) "Yes, we talk several times a year, definitely. Matter of fact, I've got to get back to him today because he gave me a shout yesterday, I just didn't recognize the number."
(on if he and LB Morlon Greenwood trash talk before their games) "No, we're not like that. We can't play against each other. Probably if we were going against each other we would probably trash talk, but we can't control what other people are going to do. We just hope that we both have good games and come out healthy."
(on how the running game had helped the defense earlier this season) "Get more rest, our team controls the time control, time of possession, and it keeps their defense on the field and keeps us fresh. So it's definitely big when our offense is able to control the ball on the ground and keep their defense on the field for 11-, 12-play drives. But right now that hasn't been happening, and that's why it's a team. So us as a defense, we have to be able to go out there and hold every team in this league is capable of scoring and moving the ball and putting points up, but where earlier in the year we were giving up three points when a team was driving, now we're giving up touchdowns."
(on if he and LB Morlon Greenwood have enough pull to get a new coach at Syracuse) "You know what, we do need a new coach. And I haven't seen Morlon's name on the list, but we've got a couple guys kind of got a little thing going around. But yes, we definitely need a new coach. It's about that time. It's about that time."
(on having a hard time watching Syracuse football these days) "I'm just happy basketball season's here (laughs)."