(on the Titans’ new look, both offensively and defensively)
Definitely, I see a different team. I think they’ll see a different team with us. Obviously, with us having seven new starters on defense and five on offense it’ll probably look different. We have a new system and things. That’s really what I see different. With Mike (Munchak) coaching, he’s taken that team to his identity. He’s a Hall of Fame guy, a tough guy, and they’ve put a huge emphasis on upgrading that offensive line. When you look at (Andy) Levitre coming over from the Bills at left guard, and they draft (Chance) Warmack in the first round as right guard, and you’ve got the two bookend former Pro Bowl tackles. That’s a heck of an offensive line he’s got there. He uses those tight ends in multiple groupings. (Craig) Stevens is a good blocker. He’s got that big kid from SMU (
(on the Titans’ corners)
They’re pressuring way more than they did last year. That was pretty obvious. I think they’re like 36-37 percent pressure where they’re closer to 50 percent pressure but not quite to it. They’re definitely, from a schematic standpoint, way more man coverage than they were in the past.
(on the team’s defensive success)
Well, (I’m doing) what I always do. It might shock you guys, but it doesn’t shock us. That’s where we’re going to be. I don’t know, it’s what we do.
(on staying consistent on defense with the addition of seven new starters)
For some reason in my career, it doesn’t seem to be a problem. I just think you look back through history, and I think that’s where it’s always at. For some reason it works. You just get lucky. The other thing would be you’ve got a lot of good football players. Our system is very flexible. It’s not just that we’re going to run this defense and put a square peg in a round hole. We adjust our system to our personnel. We’re doing a decent job. We’re not where we want to be or where we’re going to be, but we’re working hard to get there.
(on their success with pressuring opposing quarterbacks)
Well, we’ve got all these busts for draft picks that are actually rushing the passer. Just kidding. It’s funny how someone’s always like, ‘Well, he’s not a good player.’ Oh really? We’re able to get after it. I think it’s a combination of you can’t get a sack without good coverage. I think we’re able to cover; we’ve got decent coverage, and obviously the guys up front can win one-on-one battles. I think that’s kind of the key.
(on the challenges Muhammad Wilkerson poses for opposing teams’ offense linemen)
Well, he’s big, strong, fast, and athletic. That’s a good starting point. He’s got the longest wingspan in the league, so his arms are unbelievable. You’ll see it. It’s unreal. It’s a very unusual arm length, and it’s not just the arm length, it’s the arm span. That’s kind of unusual, and you’ll notice it right when he walks on the field. He plays with great motor and is just really coming into his own. J.J. Watt is the number one guy, and I think this young man is number two in this league. I think he made the second most tackles in the league last year next to J.J. Watt, so he’s coming into his own. We use him differently. We’ll use him as a tackle, an inside guy primarily. But, if he doesn’t go to the Pro Bowl, there’s something wrong; there’s something wrong with the voting or something. He’s clearly a guy that’s our main guy.
(on whether Geno Smith is ahead of where he thought he would be)
No, not really. I think he’s playing the position right now doing a good job. Obviously, as a young quarterback, you’ve got to make sure that the protection holds up. That’s the key. The ability to run the football helps also. He had three interceptions in the fourth quarter of the New England game, so that was obviously a low point. He’s made mistakes in every game so far, but hopefully he gets a little better each week. You’re going to live with a few mistakes, but he’s working awful hard to improve on it.
Well, I think he’s throwing the ball with more accuracy than he’s done. Clearly, he’s always been great at running when he tucks that ball in and runs. I think he’s averaged about seven yards a carry throughout his career. He’s a dual-threat that way because he can run with it, but he’s become more accurate as a passer. The thing that I’m also very impressed with this team is they haven’t turned the ball over yet. That’s impressive. I mean, three games without a turnover, so clearly they’re doing a great job protecting the football.
(on challenges for Geno Smith as a rookie quarterback)
I think number one, how tight the coverage is on this level. I think that’s kind of a shock to any rookie quarterback. They’re used to seeing a guy get open in college with two yards separation. There’s no such thing as that in this league. The windows are much tighter in this league. And then, obviously, how multiple the coverages are and how multiple the pressures are on this level is much different than college.
(on Matt Simms as the backup quarterback)
Absolutely, right now Matt (Simms) is the number two guy. He’s done very well. People there know he’s got a huge arm. But, he’s really taken off with a great job of coaching here, and he’s really taken to it. We have David Lee as our quarterbacks coach. He’s the guy that the Manning’s will go see in the summer. We’re very fortunate to have him; he’s a great fundamental teacher of the game. Then Marty Mornhinweg as our offensive coordinator has done a great job with him. In fact, Simms might have led the NFL in preseason quarterback rating, I know he was at some point, so he had a tremendous preseason for us. Guys really like him, and he really earned his spot on the team.
(on penalties plaguing the Jets and Titans early on)
I think with Mike’s (Munchak) team, they’re a very disciplined team, and so are we. Last year we were fourth in the league in least amount of penalties, and this year we aren’t even close. We’re 32nd and we’re closer to 33. It’s an embarrassing stat to us, but I think it also shows how resilient our team is. When you look at it, we turn the ball over a great deal this year, yet we’re not yielding; we’re not yielding points, we’re not yielding to that. We have the 20 penalties to overcome last week, yet we still won. I think when you look at our team it’ll be fixed no question, and I’m sure Mike will as well. There will probably be very few penalties this week.
(on strategies he implements to deter players from committing penalties)
I got a lot of type of those things. One of those things is in practice we have officials at every practice. If there’s a foul committed, then that player will stand up, watch his teammates, watch anybody around our building, our organization, reach out to our fans; we’ll highlight him on the board and all that stuff. If it’s something that we’re not proud of and we want to get it fixed, it’s just another way of showing how you’re hurting your teammates.
I thought he was a great player. I still think that way. This is a guy that—I don’t know when he’s going to the Pro Bowl—but he’s that kind of player. He’s really just a physical guy; I really liked him when we watched him. When we made the (Darrelle) Revis move, we really liked Dee (Milliner) as well. He’s going to be a great player for us. Both those guys from Alabama are doing a heck of a job representing their school.
Oh shoot, you can’t breathe because when you maybe look at the other rushing attempts he had, (last year against us) he made 28 yards on 20 carries, but then he hit that home run one. Obviously, that’s something we have to be very mindful of. It’ll be our number one priority with him. So, that’s it. You can’t give that guy space. If he has it, we all know what he can do. He has more 80-yard touchdown runs than any back in the history of the game. He’s extremely explosive. He’s going to get our attention, there’s no question about that.
(on talk that he’s mellowed over the years)
I think you become more experienced. You certainly won’t hear that from inside these walls, that’s for sure. And by the way, I still have whiplash from that 94-yard run (Chris) Johnson had last year on us. My neck’s still bothering me.