It was so built up, that first game, for myself and the whole team. It was built up ever since the offseason began and we knew we were playing on Monday night against Oakland in the opener. It's good to get it under my belt, and for our team, to get the first one and get a win. And now, short turnaround, quick week, get the focus on Tennessee.
On if he thought he would've thrown the ball more against Oakland
Going in the plan was to be a little more balanced, but you never know what's going to happen until you get into the game and feel the flow. It was just one of the games, down there on the field, where we were in such control of the game that we felt the only way they could get back in it was to give them a cheap turnover. We were backed up in the third quarter, so we ran the ball a couple of times on third down and punted it. Mike (Scifres) was punting great. It was just the situation we were in. Obviously we got the field position changed, got back to midfield and were able to throw it and get two more in the endzone in the fourth quarter. It was a good win, and when we did throw it we were efficient. Certainly I would expect that would probably be the fewest pass attempts of the year. Who knows though, you never know. If we throw it 11 times a game and win I'll be happy.
On quarterback characteristics that Titans offensive coordinator Norm Chow covets
I think one is a leader, a guy that can lead. I think that's ultimately, to me, our first responsibility is to be able to lead, take control of the huddle, do all of those things, be prepared in all of those things. I think the playing part is second. Coach Chow did a great job with me. I only had him one year, but it was a special year for me in getting me ready to play. Fundamentally in a bunch of ways I probably wasn't very good, but he was able to give me a chance to play early in my career. I learned a lot from him and have a ton of respect for him.
On his style and throwing motion
If you look from my first game in college, for instance, to now, it's night and day, the throwing motion. It's not something necessarily that I've tried to change, it's just something that… continually and how it's continued to develop. Still though it probably doesn't look conventional to this day, but it never has been a problem. One thing I focused a lot on this offseason was the fundamentals and technique, whether it be from my drops and moving around in the pocket and all of those things, I really worked hard on (them). I still look out there in the game and there's a couple of plays in the game where I look back and I see myself going back to some old habits. For the most part I feel good about where I am fundamentally, but it's certainly something I'm trying to keep sharp as I get into the season. You put so much focus on game planning and things like that that sometimes you let those things go, and sometimes those are the most important.
On if he had to win over the locker room
One thing I put a lot of time into the past two years was the locker room and was getting to know the guys and was being a teammate, hoping that this situation would come to and it has. I kind of set the foundation, but certainly this offseason was big in that respect of getting those guys trust and respect and starting to earn that and letting them know the type of guy they were going to have in the huddle with them.
On if RB LaDainian Tomlinson would be his top pick in a fantasy draft
No question. I'm glad he's standing behind me every snap. He's unbelievable. What he does that doesn't get on SportsCenter are the three, four-yard runs that give us a first down or keep us in positive yardage that don't go on SportsCenter but sometimes those are the best runs. He knows when to bust one, when to try to bust one and when to get the three yards north and south and keep a drive going. When you throw in a guy like Michael Turner to complement him, and we even change it up and give it to Lorenzo Neal every now and then, it's a heck of a group that I've got back there.
On his approach to the playbook
You tweak things here and there and you certainly don't go into every game with your whole playbook. Obviously it's all fair game and if you get into a situation during a game and you need to make an adjustment, it may not be something you practiced that week but if it needs to be put in it can be put in in the middle of a game. It changes every week from team to team, but certainly it's mainly pulling from those installations through camp. For the most part in this league, you've got to be able to change things up. Teams are so good and they prepare so hard on things. What it comes down to is executing because… as the year progresses, they've seen everything you've ran and there's not but so much you can do new and vise versa on defense. You've got to line up and block them and tackle them and do all of those things on both sides of the ball, it boils right back down to the basics of football when it really comes to it.
On how much of the playbook is installed each week
It's hard to say a percentage-wise because you pull a lot of different things from different personnel groups, from different protections that fit the scheme of the week. You're pulling from the whole playbook, but you don't have every play up you can possibly run. You don't run but between 50-65 plays a game, so obviously you don't need everything. It's hard to put a percentage on it. Again and again and it's happened since I've been here the past few years… that I've seen that in third quarter that they're doing this to us in this formation, we've got to dial this one. We go back and dial one that we haven't dialed since the third day of training camp, but it presents itself and you've got to go out and execute it.
On the thickness of the weekly playbook
The one that you have in training camp, because of all of the installations, is obviously a lot thicker than what you go into in a game. Again, it depends on the opponent. It depends on what they do, how much they do and what personnels, what protections you want to use. You can't just go into a game and say we're going to call this protection or call this run just because you've got it in. You've got to do what fits the team and what fits you, most importantly. Just because it looks like a good run against the Titans or against whoever you're playing, it may not be a good run because of the guys we have or whatever. There's a lot that goes into game planning and playbooks and what you take with you on a week-to-week basis. Our offensive staff does a heck of a job of giving us the best chance.
On if Chow's collegiate coaching style is similar to the NFL style
When I would watch those guys at USC when he was there, to me it had continued to evolve from where it was when I was a freshman at N.C. State. I saw a lot of similarities but it seemed like they had a lot more going on that we didn't have in my first year at N.C. State, whether it was stuff he didn't put in because he had a freshman quarterback and we were learning the system, or if he continued to adapt and add more things to what he likes to do. I'm not sure on that regard, but I think the game in general is a little bit of an adjustment. Just from what I know about him at least, from N.C. State, he goes off what coverages teams play and he runs plays that work against those coverages and he dials them and you execute them. He doesn't get too enamored with different things. He keeps it plain vanilla, as far as what plays he can run it's amazing the things he comes up with.
On if he's looking forward to the challenge of a team putting eight players in the box against him
I am, but at the same time Oakland had eight guys in the box or more and we still ran the football. You very seldom get looks against good running teams, which we like to think we are, that you are going to have just seven in there and two are playing cover two or cover four the whole game. You just don't get that much anymore. Theoretically, you could have one more than you can block in the box all night long, and you can't throw every play. There's going to be a point in time where we're going to have to throw it more and we're going to have to do a lot of different stuff, and I'll be ready when that time comes. The one thing I do understand is I've got a heck of a team around me offensively, defensively and our kicking game is outstanding. My role is going to change from week-to-week. Last week it was hand it off a lot to L.T. (Tomlinson), and when we threw it be efficient. We were able to convert on some big third downs. This week, who knows what it's going to be. You don't really ever know until you get there. You prepare for it, and then you've got to react on gameday.