Behind Enemy Lines: Jeff Fisher

Behind Enemy Lines: Jeff Fisher--The Titans coach talks about the Redskins and his former defensive coordinator Gregg Williams.

Q: Can you talk about your rush defense and your concerns about facing Clinton Portis and the Redskins' running game?
A: "Obviously, we have not played as well against the run as we would have liked. I think last week was different in how we took a different approach against the Colts but certainly we have concerns. Any time you're in a situation where you're not as effective as you would have liked and you're facing two [running] backs and a well coached offensive group that knows how to run it, it's certainly going to be a concern. Certainly it's a priority for us this week."

Q: You were able to ease Steve McNair into the quarterback's job; would you have liked to ease Vince Young?
A: "Both decisions were our own choice. We felt the way we handled Steve was best for Steve. All quarterbacks are different. I've said over the last couple weeks that the big difference when you're comparing Steve to Vince is the offensive coordinator and the offense. We felt like our offense was more conducive to play a young player and Vince has, from day one, come in here and has a good understanding of what we're doing. He's not there yet obviously. He's got a ways to go and is going through that learning process. But the difference really happens to be the systems. Had Steve been introduced into the system, I'm quite confident Steve would have played much sooner as well."

Q: Why is the system more suited for young players?
A: "I'm not going to go into specifics. Coach Chow, wherever he's been, has been able to take a young group of players and put them in - what appears from a defense or an outside perspective –a sophisticated offense where they have been able to play virtually mistake free. Certainly, this level is different and there's a lot more pressure on the players to execute but from an understanding standpoint it doesn't take long to grasp concepts. Vince has done a nice job with that."

Q: Would you have preferred to keep McNair for another year and let Vince sit and learn?
A: "It makes no sense to go back and look at the way things unfolded. What we've done is move forward and we made decisions that we felt were in the best interest of the team. That specifically involves playing Vince. Vince is going to improve weekly. He's has all the intangibles. We all know it's not easy; the quarterback play this week is not easy. Even the best have had difficult weeks. We are going to continue to develop him and we know that he's going to be able to do the things we drafted him to do."

Q: Did you expect Young to start so soon?
A: "We saw it coming. We saw it coming in the OTA's, the offseason program and throughout camp. Yes, we did. If you have a situation where you have a solid veteran quarterback that's going to give you a chance to win then of course it makes sense to just bring along a quarterback of Vince's stature. Look what you guys are doing with Jason (Campbell). It makes sense when you have a guy but we just didn't have that luxury and Vince's development was way ahead of the curve."

Q: Are you surprised by the Redskins struggles on defense, seeing as how you know Gregg Williams so well?
A: "There is going to be times in games when plays are made. What you have to look at is the big picture. What we have to look at is the scheme, the soundness of the scheme, the aggression buy which they play with, the emotion. That's what Gregg puts on the field week after week after week. It's literally impossible to shut somebody down week after week after week. There's going to be plays. If somebody's saying they are light against the run, that's incorrect. Give people credit in this League, they are going to make plays. A run here or there is not going to cripple you or not going to be the reason that contributes to a loss. I think they're well coached, the safeties are excellent and they've done a great job as an organization putting talent on the field. There's depth at every position and players play with a great deal of emotion and intensity."

Q: How have you seen Gregg's defense evolve over the years?
A: "I think the mark of a good coach is his ability to adjust. There have been coordinators over the years that have refused to change and their concepts, design and schemes became obsolete. Gregg has always been a guy that can adjust, not only from one season to the next but from week to week."

Q: Is Shawn Springs' absence making that big a difference on their defense?
A: "Shawn's a fine player and if the philosophy, from the defensive perspective, is to match up your corner and take advantage of their shut-down skills and match them up week after week on their best receiver, then yes it can have an impact on what you're doing. Shawn's a great player but I also see great potential in Carlos Rogers. I really liked him last year in the draft. So there are more than adequate back-ups there. The Redskins understand the League. It's obvious by the way they've built this roster that they understand you can't take the approach like ‘What are we going to do if we get hurt in a position?' rather you take an approach of ‘What are we going to do when we get hurt?'. They have people in position to step in and play. The defense is as good as the 11 guys playing together. There's always going to be injuries and your ability to overcome an injury and have someone step in and replace them without much discrepancy in play and production is a mark of a good defense. That's what we see."

Q: Was it hard for you to release Joe Salave'a a couple years ago?
A: "Joe was dealing with some injury situations so we had a tough decision to make. There was no doubt in our minds that Joe was going to continue to play. That's the way the game goes sometimes. Good players are going to be released and resurface on teams and have great careers. That's what Joe's doing. Joe's a great person and we miss Joe. He was very emotional, inspirational and hard working defensive football player. I'm happy to see him having success there with Gregg."

Q: Is it hard to keep morale up when you're 0-5?
A: "This team has a unique personality and I saw it coming together during the offseason. It was difficult for us the last two years for obvious reasons but I saw the personality changing with some key unrestricted free agents and it really grew close. Our decision to go away to camp was a good one. Then they've stayed close. Of course there are going to be frustrations vented after ball games but if you don't hate losing and care about winning then those things don't come out. So those things aren't a concern. This team looks forward to coming to work. They work hard and practice hard, they're enthusiastic. They understand the situation they're in. Not that they are going to talk about it or be honest about it but they know we've got a young team and we're rebuilding, playing a young quarterback but all they care about is winning. Despite the fact that their record does not reflect a win, they act like a winning group. That's all I can ask of them."


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