Tennessee Titans head coach Jeff Fisher and rookie running back Chris Johnson spoke to the Houston media on Wednesday via conference call.
Titans head coach Jeff Fisher
(on if there was a point in the season at which he realized his team had something special going) "Well, it's hard to say. I think as coaches, we all feel really optimistic about the team that we're putting on the field at the beginning of the season because you've seen good things in the preseason, and if you're healthy, you come out of training camp feeling pretty good. But I was just very impressed with the entire offseason. I thought we carried things over, which is hard to do from one year to the next. I just saw the commitment and the enthusiasm throughout the offseason. Fortunately for us, it's just carried over. We've stayed healthy and we've made plays when we needed to."
(on if there was one game that was a key to the season) "Not necessarily. Well, looking back, they all presented their own unique set of challenges, and I think that's the thing that's been fun this year is the players will consume themselves on a week-to-week basis with their opponent in focusing, practicing and preparing. I think that's a lot of the reason for our success. I think the Baltimore (game), we're behind; their defense is very, very good, and we had to pick it up and throw it with four minutes left to go to find a way to win it. (QB) Kerry (Collins) made the throw to (TE) Alge (Crumpler) to win that game at the end. I think that was, heading into the bye, to be able to go into the bye 5-0 and winning in a comeback fashion, I think that was probably a key time for this team."
(on why this team is better than teams he's had in the past that were good but lacking something) "It's hard to say. It has a great personality. It understands the importance of having fun and coming to work and working hard. They trust each other, and I think they think they can win. It took us a while to get there, but this team doesn't look at the scoreboard. It's consumed with its opponents more so. It focuses attention on just execution and playing football and having fun."
(on if he expected RB Chris Johnson to be this good right away) "That's why we drafted him. We expected him to contribute, yes, we did, in all of the areas that he has thus far."
(on comparing RBs Chris Johnson and Steve Slaton) "I try not to compare players at the same position or on different teams or different eras. All I can say is they're both having great rookie seasons and they both have 1,000 yards and (it) looks like they're going to continue to rack up yards and looks like they'll continue to be the players that both clubs drafted them to be."
(on if there is a reason why he has had so much success over the Texans over the years) "No, I don't know that there's a specific reason. It's a game that is just another game on our schedule. We've had some great ballgames. It's one that you better stay in your seat. We've proven that."
(on what he likes specifically about RB Steve Slaton) "He's got change of direction and vision. They're doing a really good job up front with the run game, with the scheme, with the blocking scheme. They do a very good job on the backside to allow him to cut back. When you've got receivers and tight ends like they have, it's difficult to focus in on one phase of their offense."
(on what QB Kerry Collins has meant to the team) "Well, he brings experience and leadership. He's just a very mature player that I think everybody expects to do the right things, and he does it most of the time. I think he prepares well. He's no different on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday than he is on Sunday. He's even-keeled. He goes out and enjoys practice and stays focused and carries that same approach to the game."
(on if the offense rallied around QB Kerry Collins immediately or if it took a game or two to prove himself) "No, there was no issue there whatsoever. They were fine."
(on QB Vince Young's status right now and what his plans are for next season if they re-sign QB Kerry Collins) "Well, I'm not going to go into the offseason decisions, but his status right now is he's a two. He's doing well. He's focused. He's prepared to play. He's a good teammate. He's having fun and he's very supportive."
(on if QB Vince Young is 100 percent healthy) "Yeah, he had a little issue with his thumb that we reported last week; did not practice, but should practice this week."
(on how important it was for QB Vince Young to get some playing time against Detroit) "Well, I think it was a good experience for him to get back in the huddle with his teammates. He was productive and he had fun."
(on if losing the starting job helped QB Vince Young to mature) "I've said all along, since the opener, that this would turn into and should be a positive experience for him."
(on the Texans' offense and how they match up with guys like WR Andre Johnson) "Well, it's not just Andre Johnson, it's everybody. That's the difficulty. There's a reason they're third in the NFL in total offense and third in passing and sixth in first downs. You know, they are very, very productive. They're well-coached and they've got weapons."
(on if the Texans look like a different team than they were at the beginning of the year) "Yeah, they're clearly a different team. I think that's obvious. The last three or four weeks, their effort on Monday night and then, of course, the way they've played the last couple of weeks has been very, very impressive."
(on what the Texans are doing now that they weren't doing back in September) "Well, I think they've got the tragedy of the hurricane put behind them. One can only imagine how unsettling that was. Obviously, they are focused on their football and are having fun. You know, it's clearly evident that they practice very well. They're well-coached and their penalties are down and they execute and they just don't make mistakes."
(on if coming to Houston is just another road game or if it's special to him) "This is just a game for us. It's the next one on our schedule. That's what we talked about this morning, and we're going to take a business-like approach just like we always do when we go on the road."
(on where QB Chris Simms stands with the team) "He's currently our third quarterback and he's inactive on Sunday."
(on people picking the Titans to place last in the division before the season started) "Well, we don't do this to prove people wrong. We all have – every coach in this league has the same goals as they start the season, regardless of what the perception is outside the building. So it's really insignificant. What we do is we try to win ballgames and try to establish short-term and long-term goals, regardless of what the external expectations are."
(on how much DT Albert Haynesworth makes their defense better) "You know, I think our defense compliments itself very well. I think the secondary is given credit for the defensive line sacks and the defensive line is given credit for the secondary play. Albert is just one of our defensive players that's playing very well right now. He's disruptive. He's a force. I think he's still got some room to get better. I've been saying it all year – I think he's going to get stronger as the year goes on."
Titans RB Chris Johnson
(on what he expected of himself this year and if it has worked out better than he thought it would) "Yeah, it's working out better than I thought it would, but I wouldn't say I came here expecting to do any worse because I always have high expectations for myself. So, I always expect myself, whatever I'm doing, to do great at it."
(on what he knows RB Steve Slaton) "I don't know much about him, but at the combine and stuff, we spoke and stuff like that. So I don't know him personally, but I know of him and I've spoken to him a couple of times."
(on if he compares himself to RB Steve Slaton and sees how he does on Sundays) "Of course, when you look at the whole running back group that came out this year, personally myself, I would say that it would be the best running back class that has come out in the NFL. I would say that. But of course, when you look at the T.V., they are going to talk about all the rookie running backs who did good that day, and you pay close attention to it or whatever like that."
(on how important his 40-yard dash time was at the combine to him getting drafted in the first round) "I would say it was kind of important. Teams knew I'm fast but just didn't know how fast I would be. I wasn't a guy that just came in and relied on the combine to get me drafted. I had film and all that stuff to go along with it. I just feel like the 40 and stuff was just icing on the cake."
(on what the key has been to his success this season) "Just staying hungry the whole season. No matter what I do the game before, I just put it in the past and come out the next game and just try to get better each week."
(on how he ended up at East Carolina) "I would say coming out of high school, I probably didn't have the best grades. The first game of my senior year, I had broke my leg. So you can credit it to that."
(on if he missed his whole senior year) "No, I came back for the last four games."
(on if any of the Florida schools were looking at him before he broke his leg) "No, not really. Not really."
(on if it was disappointing to him to not be looked at coming out of college) "I was upset. I know if I could go back and do it again, a lot of kids, they go to little summer camps and Nike camps and stuff like that. I never went to any of those. I guess that's pretty much how you get your name out there or whatever. So I never really did anything like that. I was disappointed, but I had to move on."
(on East Carolina working out for him) "Yeah, it worked out for the best for me. Pretty good."
(on how he and RB LenDale White complement each other's running style) "I feel we're two different backs. I feel like no matter if it was just me or both of us, like I still go in there, I feel like I complement myself. I can run inside, outside. I make people miss, so I feel like just the things I'm doing myself really helps complement me."
(on what head coach Jeff Fisher is like to play for) "He's a good coach. He knows what to do. He's been in the league a long time. He knows how to keep us fresh and just have us ready for the game each week."
(on what has been the toughest thing to adjust to this year) "Um, I would say just adjusting to this like it's a job instead of just like college, where like it's just a football game. But here, it's more, it's your job."
(on if the Texans' defense looks a lot different from when they faced them earlier in the year) "Today is actually my first day watching film on them, so by the end of the week I should know much more about them. But they are playing better now and they are a good defense."
(on if he watched the Texans' Monday night game) "I watched some of it, but I really didn't watch the whole game."