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Team Notebook


Wednesday - 10/3/2001

In todayís game, with the pressures of winning and losing and getting into the playoffs and what each game means, I know you all do, I know our players do, sometimes you lose sight of why you play the game. Beautiful day in Denver yesterday, very enthusiastic crowd. Two great teams flailing away at one another and thatís what I am constantly trying to put in front of this team, is to keep in mind why you are playing this game. If you are playing it just for the money, if itís just a business, then you are not going to be very good and you are not going to have too much fun. And yesterday was fun, obviously. It also showed the nature of the League, I think. I donít know how, even if you say this is an easy game, thatís not an easy game, this team should just walk all over that team. I just donít see it in the NFL. There is just too many things going on, too many teams that you look at that in that conventional way. Whether you look at the Browns in Jacksonville, whether you look at the Colts in New England. Going into those games, you look at them in a certain way and you come out of it. You just have to realize that is the nature of the League. To try to explain it any other way, and that is what this team has to understand, and I think it does. We are just taking each game, and as quickly as we moved off of last weekís loss, we have to move on quickly now with Denver and move solely into our thought process with Tennessee and understanding what Tennessee represents coming in here. With two weeks off and coming into a situation where you know that you are going to get the very best that Tennessee has to offer, our players understand that.

Game balls: Kyle Richardson, probably the best day of punting Iíve seen him have since Iíve been here. Key situations, punting off of the end line and booming that thing the way he did. Again, changing the field position battle with us was just absolutely huge.

Offensively, Travis Taylor, a nice early break out game for Travis. Terry Allen, a good, strong, physical run game. Obviously had a lot to do with our ability to get the ball to Travis Taylor.

Corey Harris: Corey is going to kill coaches because he has had two of the best games I have ever seen him have with virtually no training camp. There is going to be a real lobby, for everybody to say, ďHey letís just blow off training camp and go right to the regular seasonĒ. Corey, particularly with all the circumstances weíve talked about, Corey was just outstanding. Corey is not here today. Again, weíve allowed him, because of his circumstances, to get home on Sundayís and Mondayís.

Q: Have you ever seen your team play better defense than they did yesterday considering the quick touchdown Denver got and the way the field position was the first half?
A: When you add in the circumstances of where we were, who we were playing, what we were coming off, and that opening 20 seconds, that is probably a fair assessment. Again, I only have so much to do so I watch. And I watch for reactions and the reaction is what it should have been. There was a stiffening, a resolve, and we just kept chipping away at it in that first half and didnít let it get away from us. Then the offense took confidence from our defense and just one built on the other.

Q: They tried to build the new Mile High to be noisier than the old one. Was it?
A: That is a beautiful facility, and it is plenty loud. I donít know that it is as loud as the old one. The old one, you felt like they were on top of you. I watched that old one go up given my travels in and out of the inner-mountain area, both collegiately and as a player and as a coach. My last recollection of Mile High, it was plenty loud donít get me wrong, but it wasnít quite what it was. I donít know whether it is the configuration, the actual build of it or whatever.

Q: Talk about balance on offense.
A: We opened up against Chicago, and we had 30 runs and 30 passes. Yesterday we had 30 passes and 35 runs, something in that area. If you choose to focus on only one game, you are missing the big picture. I think too many people are focusing on what happened in Cincinnati and what we were forced into doing. Two of the three games you are seeing what we hope is our balance. That is what we hope to get done.

Q: Thatís the second time in five months that your defensive line has done well against their offensive line. Does your defensive line get enough credit for how athletic they are? Not just stopping the run, but getting off their blocks.
A: From their offensive line, I find it interesting their receiving corps wasnít too impressed with our defensive line, which probably has their offensive line a little bit upset. Their offensive line has a great deal of respect and understanding that our guys played well. Iíve always said that people who just think that you can put wide bodies in the middle, and that is the answer to a good defense, are not fully appreciating how athletic Goose and Sam Adams are.

Q: The improvement in the running gameÖwas this the next step or did it get a lot better than you thought it would be?
A: For us and the balance we have, 100 yards rushing, 200-plus passing, give-or-take hopefully on the positive end, that is a formula youíd like to have. That gives you a time of possession, if you are throwing the ball fairly well, with the explosion, that is a nice combination to have. Weíll always take more if we can. The offensive line played very physical, particularly as the game wore on. You are in Denver, you are in the altitude, you are constantly watching for that, and we seem to handle that well. Weíve given up two sacks in 121 throws. Thatís pretty good. I think that kind of gets lost in the shuffle a little bit when you talk about the offensive line and how theyíre doing it. Thatís encouraging.

Q: Did you make changes on the right side of the line because of the altitude?
A: A lot of it had to do with their abilities, who was playing well, inexperience in some instances. There is something to be said for a guy, you get him in there, you get him playing and you bring him out, and on the run you tell him this is whatís happening, this is what you did the last time. Weíre still scratching around at the right combination. They all did some very good things. They all did some things they need to get better on.

Q: Your thoughts on Jason Brookins. Will his role increase?
A: The more Jason continues to play and can stay focused, the more he will play. That is the challenge for Jason. He did some good things. He did a couple things that we canít have happen. Thatís going to be his challenge.

Q: Talk about kickoff coverage.
A: Itís got to be better. You canít give up 100-plus yards or so or in that area, back and forth, kickoff and kickoff return. We are addressing that vigorously.

Q: Youíve scored 17 points, 10 points and 20 points. Yesterday Phil Simms was raving about how this offense is coming into shape.
A: I think Phil has the background to, and Phil is one of those unique guys who comes in and looks at the film, and he looks at all the film. I think he can see over the film what it is we are trying to do. He obviously has that kind of expertise. I appreciate the observation, and that is substantial to me because of who it is coming from, but I think he sees obviously what it is we are hoping to do. He sees signs of that. What you saw yesterday, plus a little, is hopefully the combination of what we think can win for us.

Q: A year ago, Jacksonville came in here and really need a win. You classified them as desperate. Would you classify Tennessee that way?
A: I would think so, and Iím sure that is the emotion they are fostering. This is a team that hasnít lost three in a row since í98. This is a team that is 26-6 over the last two years. Iím sure their mindset, I know Jeff Fisher well enough, the resolve that he has, the class in that organization, they certainly donít think of themselves as out of it. But Iím sure they are tapping into the emotion and understand as any of us would, what an 0-3 start would mean.

Q: Is it easier to put the Bronco victory aside, knowing that you have one of your big rivalries this week?
A: Yeah. Obviously there is a lot that goes on between these two teams, and there will be some jabbering back and forth. There is respect between these two teams. Watching Eddie George and Ray Lewis go at it with each other last year in a prize fight mode, and then to have Eddie George come into the locker room in a class move and congratulate Ray, and come seek me out in my office to congratulate me. That is why you play this game. That is what you got to expect. It is going to be back and forth with one another in the game. Iím sure there will be things said during the week that will try to inflame it. There is a real healthy respect for these teams, and it has gotten real competitive.

Q: Was Ray rushing the passer more than normal or was he just taking what the lanes were giving him?
A: About 60-70 percent of what they do is waggles and boots and move outside, so a lot of that is just reacting to the flow of what happens. Your man is engaged in a protection mode. You come up for a run, he breaks contain, you run it down. A lot of that was based on what Denver was doing.

Q: Injury update?
A: Right now we are tired and we are beat up, but we are not hurt. Leon Searcy is staying on track. He will not be ready this weekend. Todd Heap, that high ankle sprain. Weíre optimistic heíll be upgraded Iím sure, but weíll have to see. Outside of that, weíll limp through Wednesday a little bit and weíll get better by Thursday. Hopefully weíll be pretty fresh by Friday.

Q: Did you sleep pretty well last night?
A: Yeah, I did. Of course when you get in at 3:30 in the morning, it was brief. That is the sad part about it. The loses linger and linger and linger. The wins-about halfway through the tunnel in Denver, I was thinking a little about Tennessee. Wins tend to be short-lived emotionally.

Q: You had a short out to John Jones. He slipped trying to cut back. What did you say to him on the sideline?
A: That insightful coaching that you do. ĎSon, you ainít Shannon Sharpe, just run. Thatís not you, John.í John is big, physical. He should have caught the ball, just got all that he could up field, make it a second and five, and hopefully he wonít make that mistake again.

Q: Was the kickoff return unit and coverage unit the most disturbing aspect for you?
A: Itís one we need to be better at. That is one we will spend a great deal of focus on. I imagine theyíll be pretty good and then thereíll be the next brush fire. There will be something else. Then it will be, why didnít you focus on that. Itís only one crises at a time.

Q: Did we get a little glimpse yesterday of why Travis Taylor was the 10th pick overall?
A: You saw it early last year, the Jacksonville game. Then, as a typical rookie, he kind of tailed off. Hopefully heís past that. He certainly has the ability, as that 10th pick, to give you that major presence. Q (Qadry Ismail) is solid, we know that. Heís consistent and probably under-appreciated around the league. To have a strong presence on the other side would be huge for us. Particularly with a Shannon and a Todd Heap coming back. His continual progression could be real key for us.

Q: How were your guys able to turn it around after the first few plays yesterday?
A: This is where it really comes down to your veteran leadership, they way the guys believe in one another, the chemistry. This year is going to be about personality and chemistry, character and chemistry. It is not going to be about Xís and Oís. Talent is pretty equitable from team-to-team. It really is. Who plays well together. Who sticks together. Who weathers the storms, and everybody is going to have storms. Everybody is having bits and pieces of injuries, losing important people, hitting a tough spot. How they do is going to be the key of who is standing alone at the end.

Q: What do you like about Denver?
A: Balance across the board. Offensive and defensive balance. Good special teams depth. Offensive balance of run/pass ratio. Utilizing their talents. Mike Shanahan does a masterful job. Theyíve got good depth. This is a team that will be there at the end, in one form or fashion.

Q: Do you expect that the Titans will be the first team you play that doesnít come out of their offensive profile?
A: Only in the sense that having known them the way we do, and they do different things, but they know us. They obviously have a plan as to what works, what doesnít work. I donít know that they will give up on the run as early as some teams do that arenít used to playing us. They are going to continue. They know a lot of their success is based on Eddie George. I think they will stay into that profile. That profile is multiple. We understand what they are about, but they do a number of different things.

Q: Obviously you respect Shanahan. Is it fun to beat the guys you respect?
A: The chess match of it is very fun. I donít know that there are any coaches in the League that I donít respect. There are those that, given their level of success, you appreciate it just a little bit more. Those guys represent some pretty good coaching and pretty good records. It is always fun to be successful in that way.

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