Q&A with Jim Fassel

"We can win four games. You can make fun of me for saying that, I don't care. Do whatever you want..." Do you have any regrets about going for two? "No, I really don't."

Do you think you are unfairly taking so much of the heat/responsibility?

I really can only say this: Honestly, I really don't worry about things I cannot control. And I cannot control what is written. And I don't sit around and try to evaluate it, look at it and all of that. I don't try to. Things that are out of my control, like the injury list I started with, just give me who you have ready to play and we are going to go play. I am going to get them ready the best I can. Other things that I cannot control, like in a game or right here, right now, I don't worry about that. I will go into evaluations, but these aren't the times to evaluate them.

Are you shocked at what has happened in these last two weeks?

Shocked? No. I'll be honest with you. In this league, right now, just look at the league, that's the way it is. There are things that happen and they just happen. All I can focus on is get rid on the last, what we can do differently, and go on to the next one. I'd be probably really concerned about us if we weren't even competitive, and that's not the case. As long as this team will keep fighting, and I told them today, I expect to them to fighting, playing and preparing, the same things I told you before and that is the way I am going to approach it. We have four games left. We can win four games. You can make fun of me for saying that, I don't care. Do whatever you want. My approach is going to coach this team hard, tough, the same I way I coached them to get them ready to play. We are going to go out, try to make a few things happen differently in a game and see if can't get something to fall out way for right now.

With all of the injuries, if this team equipped to win these last four games?

Well, the first premise is that they will play hard. I know, maybe a week or two ago some guys made fun of me, but I take pride in that. And no matter what, the biggest thing with the team is I don't want them to lose hope. Once you lose hope, they quit playing hard. If they look around and don't think they have hope to win the game, then we have real troubles, I don't care how well we execute in the game, it makes it very difficult. I try to get my thought process...if they are getting paid and they put on a uniform, I expect a winning performance.

Does it make your job harder because they have to be down?

Sure they do. I talked to them today and said we all have a bitter taste in our mouth right now. After I talked to them about the game, I said when you report back on Wednesday, I want your head up, chest out and ready to go back to work. I don't want the last one to affect us like this way. I told them 100 times, all I care about is guys that will fight. Everything else will take care of itself. As long as they will go out and fight and compete we will just keep working to get better. And that is what I hope I can control.

Does management understand your predicament?

Yes. I am not going to go into personal conversations or anything else, but they are an astute football team. Yes, they do.

Are you unhappy with the way your defense played in the last couple of sequences?

I am. The decisions I make during the game are reflective sometimes and you can say well that means you don't have confidence in this or that and that's not the case. There are a lot of factors involved in that. I know what Johnnie is dealing with. I know the problems, I know what we are trying to get done and I know the problems he is dealing with. And so, I look at that and I was disappointed in the way we played. I didn't think we very aggressive with our coverages. We were so far off. We can't play that way. Truly, all we had to do was get the guy tackled inbounds a couple of times. About four times they went out of bounds. Get them tackled inbounds once or for sure twice and for sure that game is over and that game is over and they were not close. We have to be able to do that. But I know what Johnnie is dealing with.

Re: The Titans two-point conversion.

A number of things. You have a guy going in the A gap, a guy going wide, the linebacker is just standing their watching him. We were screaming from the sidelines that it was going to be a run, a quarterback draw. And they audibled to it. If you have enough guys in the box to pack it in, they are going to throw outside. If they have enough guys in the box, you run it. We have been doing it for years. It is just a head count. You have a quarterback draw and depending upon how it is lined up, you do it or you don't do it. But we had a guy way too far inside and a guy way too far outside and the linebacker just stands there and doesn't attack the play at all.

Do you think that the results of these final four games will determine whether you will be back next year?

Again, I don't worry about that stuff. I don't even think about it. I am not thinking about what is going to happen if we win four or if we lose four. I don't sit around thinking about that. I am busy enough doing other things. I really don't, I don't worry about it.

Do you feel as though you are on the hot seat?

No, I coach this football team. I guess by taking the job you are always on the hot seat, from the day that I took it. Nothing in my mind has changed.

Some of the players said that the reason they wanted to win these last four games was for you?

Who said that...Kerry. That's very nice. I want to win a lot of football games for them, too.

Do you have any regrets about going for two?

No, I really don't. If I had your guys' perspective then I would say, 'Yeah, I should have kicked it.' Fortunately or unfortunately I am not a hindsight person. I am a decision maker and no matter how it turns how it can look like a great move or it can look like a bad move. Just so you understand the thought process, I will tell you the whole mechanics of it.

Normally I will tell the offense before they take the field that they are in a two-point mode so they know and so they don't run off the field. I didn't say anything to them. They asked me before and Charles Way is giving me the charts and says go for two and I understand that. Sean asked me what I thought because it says go for two and I said that I wasn't making that decision right now because there is too much time left in the game. We went the 3rd quarter with the wind at our backs. We got down there and turned it around and the wind was coming at us pretty strong. It was constant and pretty strong. I did not make that decision until we got down in there. I had to think about it as we were going down, calling plays and driving.

We got down there and what crossed my mind was that all of their scores up to that point, or attempts to score, were with the wind at their back. They ended up getting four touchdowns, missing a field goal, and getting a field goal all with the wind at their back. They did very little with the wind in their face. We were fortunate enough to do things with the wind in our face. I thought about that. I knew what Johnnie was dealing with, we have given up more points, by far, than any other quarter, and they have moved the ball and scored on us. I have to look at it and say 7 and 3 and 3 is 13. I can do that and if they get three possessions they have to score on all of them. They have a great opportunity to kick two long field goals.

On the other hand, being realistic and you can use it against me and say, 'That doesn't show very much confidence in your defense.' You can use that against me because I am trying to be a realist. With the field position, I am not thinking about moving to our defense. I am thinking about kicking the ball off after we score points, them getting it on a short field, and not having to go very far to get a field goal off the bat, or a touchdown. Then if we don't do much and we have to punt the ball they could be getting the ball at the 50-yard line. We could be playing the game the entire half on my field. I have had that happen coaching in this stadium when you are going into the wind. I thought that it was a realistic expectation that they could score two touchdowns. If they score two touchdowns and I go for one, then they win by one. I don't know where I am going to be. I cannot predict the future. I just said that based upon the information right now swirling in my head, if I go for it and don't make it then one field goal will win it for us. Assuming now they have to go two touchdowns and make the two-point conversion, that is a little bit more of a tall order which they accomplished. If I go for it and make it then at least they have to go for two and if they want to win and they will not do that in regulation play. Then a field goal, even if they go for two earlier on, we still get the ball and all we need is one field goal out of us. That is the thought process.

Re: Two-point conversion card.

I would keep it in. I'd keep it in. Contrary to what a lot of you probably think I do keep that in my pocket until the 4th quarter. George Young, when he hired me here, wrote me a couple notes at different times and one time I made that decision and he said that was good. Don't look at the chart until the 4th quarter and then pull it out and it will help you with the numbers. One of the things, just to straighten it out so you have the story straight, is that there were more than one question as to why I took the wind to begin the game. You would have to be on the field and watch the kickers and know the punting, and I am not talking about anything else offensively and defensively, I am talking about how that can change the field position. Somebody said that if I did it then, why didn't I do it at the start of the overtime period. The wind had subsided considerably. It was still blow-hard but it was dying down at different times for whatever reason. I felt that we could move the ball because the wind was a little lighter and we had success moving the ball into the wind. Kerry was throwing it right and we had a groove on. I wasn't throwing it into the flats which would have made it blow it. We were going to go right over the middle, throw straight into the teeth of the wind, and go for it. When I saw Kerry throw that one into Amani Toomer down there, into the toughest corner when it was coming really hard, I knew that the wind had died enough where that was the thing to do.

Re: Decision making.

Each game is different. Honestly, without the wind and without the other factors there and all of that stuff, I might have made a different decision. I take a lot of things into consideration-where you are with the team, the momentum, the this, the that, how we are playing, what we are doing. I take a lot of things into consideration. But I will tell you one thing. You can write anything you want about me, but it will not affect me or what I do. I do not care. You don't know me well enough if you think it will. I don't care how loud the fans ore booing on a 4th and 1, if I think we need to punt it I am going to punt it. That's just the way I am and the way I will be.

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