Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher and quarterback Vince Young spoke to the Houston media during a conference call Wednesday afternoon.
Head coach Jeff Fisher
(on QB Vince Young's progress and potential) "Well, the progress I think is obvious over the last couple weeks. What you didn't see was his progress through the spring and summer in training camp. We game him the opportunity to start the fourth and final preseason at Green Bay. I thought he did a real nice job the first half, then he got to play in the Jet game in the opener, unfortunately he got to play the entire fourth quarter against San Diego because that game got out of reach. That's when we really started to see the improvement there. He was able to take some things off the call sheet that he hadn't necessarily practiced and executed very well. So from that point on we just saw steady improvement and decided the week before the Dallas game that it was time to go with him. He's been improving each and every day. He has a ways to go, but he's got a tremendous sense of pride and a great work ethic, loves to practice and has a great set of legs on him that gets him out of trouble often times."
(on how he keeps Young from regressing like many young players do) "Well, the key…let's go back. We decided to start him against Dallas. Dallas' defense with the way they have been playing. Then knowing that he was going to be going to Indy and at Washington and those are two difficult places to play. We nearly beat Indy and then of course we find a way to beat Washington with him under center. There's going to be difficult times through the process. What you just have to do is remind him to be patient and try to keep things fun for him on the practice field, fun yet focused. Remind him to be patient and work hard."
(on what made the Titans pick Young as the first QB selected) "Well, we saw…really, as you can imagine, we spent a great deal of time in the evaluation process, and what we like was just the leadership qualities and just over all the athletic ability, the ability to make throws on the run. We knew that the pocket throws would improve as we worked to improve his footwork. He has the natural ability to slide in the pocket and feel the rush and keep his eyes downfield. There were a lot of factors. We just felt that his ability to move around and get out of trouble and make plays. Then of course it was the intrigue about doing some things that are slightly different in the National Football League."
(on whether he worries about Young being excited facing the team from his hometown) "No I don't; I really don't. He took advantage of the bye-week, got some rest and he's looking forward to the preparation week. He understands that you have to remain consistent through each week. I think he's learned that over the last couple weeks. One thing he does very well is stay focused. He's not very easily distracted. He's learned quickly how to establish the boundaries and set time aside for himself. So I don't anticipate that. The bottom line is he wants to win games regardless of how he's playing against."
(on whether in Tennessee fans wanted the Titans to draft Vanderbilt QB Jay Cutler) "Oh, of course there was. (QB) Jay (Cutler) has a tremendous here in town and Vanderbilt and has great charisma, but I think there was an equal amount of people here in town that saw the National Championship game and thought, 'Wow, to have an opportunity to have him playing here in Nashville would be tremendous. It was a win, win situation anyway we went with any of the three quarterbacks, with Matt (Leinart) and his relationship with Coach Chow, Jay with the fact that he was a local guy here, and then of course Vince with what he did at the University of Texas."
(on whether offensive coordinator Norm Chow pushed for Leinart any) "No, you know we made the collective decision. We evaluated all of them, and Norm really showed the same opinion that we all did, and that was that all three of these quarterbacks were going to have superior careers in the league."
(on WR David Givens' injury status) "Well, we hope to get him back on the practice field. We just have to wait and see how things go. You know, he had an injury to his thumb and it was pinned. We have removed the pin, and it's just a matter of how he can handle things on the practice field this week."
(on whether there is an advantage to coming off a bye week) "I think different clubs take different approaches to bye week. Obviously we're a club that needs to improve in a lot of areas. We worked those areas last week. We worked; improvement was very important. We did give them some time. We have to emphases not to allow the things that happen typically after bye week. And that's where the timing shifts a little bit; the penalties will peak a little bit the week after an off week. The important thing is that you stay focused. You get right back to the little things that you were working before you took the time off. I can't speak for Jacksonville. I saw the game; obviously I've seen it several times. I thought the Texans played a near perfect game. When you don't turn the football over and you win time of possession and you do the things that they did, you get a chance to win the ballgame. Jacksonville, for whatever reason, (QB) Byron (Leftwich) was a little bit off, obviously had some difficulty with some pressure. I thought it was a very well played game by the Texans."
(on whether he see similarities between his team and the Texans) "Well, I don't necessarily compare us to anyone else. We're trying to take advantage of our strengths and improve our weaknesses. I look at the Texans; I see a much improved team. (QB) David (Carr)'s completion percentage is league-leading. They have a league-leading receiver, and I think I'm very impressed with what they have done with the offensive line, moving people around; acquiring (C Mike) Flanagan has made a big difference for them upfront. The defense is I guess the best way to sum up is, unpredictable. And that's a difficult type of defense to attack because you don't know what they're going to be doing, and they do it well. They played, specifically, last week at home, with a great deal of energy. When you play hard, good things happen."
(on what the biggest changes he sees in the Texans) "Well, it's the run game, it's the offensive line play, it's a commitment to protection. (QB) David (Carr) has been sacked, what 11 times. You look across them over the last six weeks; there are very few third and 11, third and ten-pluses. Their third downs are manageable, and they're moving the chains. He's got a place to go with the football. (Head Coach) Gary (Kubiak) has done a great job with David. I'm just very impressed with how he's playing now."
(on whether the games vs. Houston mean more to Titans owner Bud Adams) "No he's just looking for improvement. He's excited to see Vince improve, and he's just looking for improvement. No, he doesn't send me the schedule with these two games circled if that's what you're getting at. I circle them myself."
(on rookies DE Mario Williams and LB DeMeco Ryans) "Well, we really liked both of them coming out. Steady improvement, for a rookie linebacker to step in is tough, but he's getting the job done. They are very active. They communicate well. I'm impressed with the safety play. I've always liked (FS Jason) Simmons. I know he's still in there right now, but he's a fine football player. They show up and they show up in bunches and I think that's a sign of good things to come for them."
(on what effect a Texans blitz like vs. Washington would have on Young) "Well, certainly you have to be aware of it and you have to become protection conscious, but one of the things that Vince can do is if he can hit a crease with his legs, he can go a long way. From a blitz standpoint you have to be very disciplined and gap conscious. So something'll give. If you're going to live, traditionally, with the blitz, then there's going to be a time that you doe with the blitz. And that's just a fact of life of defensive football."
(on whether he thinks his offense will evolve as Young get more experience) "Well, we have kind of settled into a group of offensive linemen now. Jacob Bell moved back to left guard, Dave Stewart at right tackle, and our run game has improved the last couple weeks. Vince is settling down, and settling down significantly from the standpoint of managing the huddle and managing the line of scrimmage and checking on the line of scrimmage, being able to understand and relate to the adjustments that we're making throughout the game. So yes, he's become a little more familiar with the receivers and he can make tough throws. I was impressed with several throws in the Redskins game where he went right through the progression and got deep into the progression and still made some big plays, one for a touchdown."
(on RB LenDale White) "Well, he's going to be a fine back. You know, he struggled a little through camp with some things, but has come on. I thought he played his best ball at Indy in relief of (RB) Travis (Henry). Unfortunately, prior to the Redskins game he was knocked down pretty hard with a virus; didn't practice so we deactivated him. He's healthy; he really getting in good shape. I think you'll see more and more from him as the year goes on."
(on Vince Young's leadership with veterans in the locker room) "Well, it's not an issue. He works well with all of them. He respects his teammates, and there's mutual respect there. They are looking to him to pull things off. They are expecting him because of his ability and his history as a winner to get us back to where we need to get to. So yeah, there are no issues there. If you didn't know anything about him and you stepped onto the practice field or were in a meeting room, you wouldn't know he was a first year player."
**QB Vince Young
(on the bye week) **"The break was real good. We got some relax time, a little rest time a little bit."
(on if this game is more special to him)"Really to me all of them are special. It's just a game against a team in the way that what we're trying to get to. It's my hometown team, much love to Houston, but for a while I'm just ready to get back out there and continue where we left off."
(on feeling like he's got something to prove) "In some ways, but not much. I just want to show that I'm making a lot of progress this week for my coaches and teammates and try to go out there and get another victory. That's all that matters to me right now."
(on being surprised after watching the Jacksonville game film) "I really haven't watched that game yet really. I haven't sat down to watch that game, I've been watching the other games for right now."
(on being where he was expected to be at this point) "Well I knew I was going to be to the point all right. But I didn't think I was going to be playing this fast and making the progress that I'm making right now."
(on a difference on the last couple of weeks) "Just getting better and better each week. Every time I really step up there on that field I learn a whole lot. And also working hard each week in practice and during the games and just being real comfortable knowing what's going on when I step up on the field, so doing a lot of extra work off the field and having me get better and better."
(on plays in the last quarter against San Diego) "It's basically getting that mental work. Like I said, I didn't know I was going to be this forward in the offense right now. I'm pretty excited about this whole situation, so I'm just getting better each week and that last quarter of that game I got a lot of looks and I got a lot of different defenses and I was going against some great guys so that was a great time for coach to put me in that situation like that. I learned a lot from that situation."
(on biggest adjustment to the NFL)"Biggest adjustment is stepping into the huddle with a bunch of grown men and they looking down at the rookie telling them plays. And you saying all the right plays and saying everything for them guys to get out there and make the plays."
(on it being more difficult for him to run like he used to in college) "I wouldn't say that. I just haven't been running the ball as much…but right now I mean I've got receivers and tight ends getting open so I'm getting the ball to them guys. But at the same time I can make them plays."
(on offensive coordinator Norm Chow)"Well, I mean, he's taken, basically, advantage of my skills as well and also, as well vise versa and I'm taken a lot from his history of coaching great quarterbacks. I mean, we sit down a lot and we talk a lot, and I mean we sit down and watch film a lot. So I'm getting more comfortable with him and he's getting more comfortable with me. On the same time we're going to get better and better with our things chemistry-wise."
(on being able to do the same things he used to in college in this level)"I would feel like myself and my coaches knew we could run that plays. We just didn't want to show too much of it in preseason. I mean we've been working on it….in the same time I have a lot of different passes with my legs and also throw the ball on the run. So the coaches they really felt like the things that I could bring to the table….it didn't know what Vince Young was about to do."
(on his interaction with Mario Williams leading up to the draft) "Me and Mario, we're friends. I'm excited about playing we've been talking about it for a long time so I'll keep an eye out on that edge."
(on Texas QB Colt McCoy)"I mean, basically, I just told them guys, 'Man, just I'm proud of them a whole lot.' I told him that I was really proud how they swarmed around their quarterback, even though they know he's young but they all sticking behind him a whole lot and that's bringing his confidence up. I mean he's real smart…but at the same time I told him, 'You got to get your teammates behind him.' And his teammates were behind him and that's why they out there winning ball games and Coach Greg Davis is doing a great job of getting him prepared to play this week."
(on how long it took him to feel comfortable) "It took a little long, the guys when they step on the field they see that I want to play by my confidence and my urge, I want to win ball games. It brings a little bit more edge and more… to the game. I want to continue going out there….and also keeping them guys laughing and joking, 'Oh, oh he's serious.' So we be more comfortable going out there playing a game."
(on having a comfort level with young receivers) "I feel like our receivers are real good and I feel like each week that our chemistry is getting better and better. The timing and working as the games go on. What I see is that we're going to get better and better so we have to continue working as a quarterback, receiving quarterback each week."
(on laughing with veterans as he used to in college) "Always. I mean that's my character, that's me. When I come in the locker room, I'm not saying anything they think something's wrong with me. So that's something I started I have to come in here and I have to come in here and get these guys pumped up. I mean, that's pretty much my character and what coach want me to do. They like that leadership role I have."
(on Bud Adams telling him anything about winning this game) "No I haven't talked to him but I'm pretty sure he wants it."
(on endorsements as competition) "Not really, not really. I want to use my football to get more marketable. Like I said, I want to be like Michael Jordan in football so I want to continue playing good and continue being a good role model and doing good things in the community."
(on LenDale White and him talking about the Rose Bowl) "No, not as much. Sometimes we give each other a hard time."
(on handling blitzes) "Just getting ready to play, that's it. That's one thing that I learned a whole lot in college was always know what type of blitzes and what they're trying to do to you so you can escape sometimes and also find out where your hot man is at so you can throw the ball. So that's the thing that I take real serious and being a quarterback is knowing where the blitzes are coming from."
(on how much more sophisticated the defenses are in the NFL) "I mean it's pretty much the same. It's all the same coaching and just getting to the point faster and from a college level. I mean you've got guys out there just trying to put food on the table. So they're going to make plays and I've got to be that quarterback that keep my teammates in first and second down and we go to third down trying to keep it short, 3 rd and 4, 3 rd and 6 not a third and long."
(on a situation where he's in a bootleg and Mario Williams coming to him) "I got him, using my speed trying to make something happen and then after this play I'm going to slap him on the butt and say, 'Hey good play!'."
(on following the careers of other guys he knew from college)"Well I'm extremely proud of Matt Leinart because me and him talk a lot. I mean a lot of people (are) saying that he doesn't have a strong arm and this and that but if you watch the game he's throwing the ball pretty good. And he has a good strong arm and my boy (Laurence) Maroney in New England, I'm proud of him. (Jerious) Norwood from Atlanta and guys…for a rookie right now, I'm proud of him. And the guy from Green Bay (Greg) Jennings, he's doing a great job as well."
(on anything that's caught him off guard in the NFL) "As far as football, football is all you do. I mean back in college, you go to class for a little while and now it's until three o'clock football. When you get home there's of that too."
(on getting a win against the Texans) "It'd feel good I'd probably jump into the stands and get excited with the fans so I'm looking forward to that this whole weekend against your hometown team."