*Colts Conference Call Transcript *
QUARTERBACK PEYTON MANNING
(on how big of an opportunity it is for the teams on Sunday night)
Obviously, it's a big game for both teams. I tell you, in the times that we always play the Titans, I couldn't tell you what our records were any of the past years and I couldn't tell you what theirs were. Basically, what I'm saying by that is, in this game it's two good teams that know each other very well. It's always been a ton of close ball games. That's where it is at this point too. I kind of throw records out the window when it comes to playing these division games. You watch the film and you see their defense making plays. I see a couple plays going against them. One play here or there that goes the other way that may result in a win or loss column, but I still see a very good football team.
(on if he is shocked the Titans are 0-4)
Like I said, when you watch the film you're watching individual plays, you're watching cut-ups, you're watching situations and I'm seeing a lot of the same things I've seen over the years. I'm seeing guys flying around, guys getting to the football. You know, you're seeing some plays that are very close. It might be a tipped ball going the other team's way as opposed to going the Titans' way. That's kind of what football comes down to sometimes. But as far as our preparation we know we're getting ready for a tough test, especially playing in Nashville.
(on if he feels like the Colts have run issues and need to improve)
We're constantly trying to improve. There's certainly a lot of areas that we could improve on. I can't really give you one particularly category, but as an offense it's your job to score points. It's your job to be productive in all phases of your offense; the run game, the passing game, certainly in the red zone. We certainly set goals for trying to be one of the top teams in turnovers, turnover ratio and penalties. Those are things that it's your job as an offense that you have to do to keep from hurting your team. It's very early in the season and there's still a lot improvement that we can make.
(on if he feels Joseph Addai and Donald Brown are the same or if they are different backs)
Well, we certainly call the same plays when both of them are in there. Obviously, Joe is healthy this year and is really doing a good job for us. Brown has picked things up quickly for a young player. We don't have a package for him because he's a young player. We call the same plays when he's in there, and credit to him he has really committed himself to the cerebral part of the game and picked things up very quickly. It's given us a nice one-two punch.
(on how happy he is to not have to face Albert Haynesworth)
Well, like I said, he was certainly a great player and now Eli (Manning) can have to deal with him twice a year now that he's in the NFC East. He was certainly a great player and I certainly think that they have excellent players on the defensive line even without him.
(on if he has given Eli Manning any tips when facing Albert Haynesworth)
He's already faced him once and I got that one out of the way. Certainly, the Giants know what a good player he is.
(on if too much blame goes with being a quarterback when things go bad)
Like I said, I haven't studied their offense. I haven't really had any common film of their offense quite yet so I haven't seen it. Certainly, our defense knows what kind of challenge they have in facing Kerry (Collins) because of the smart decisions he makes and the arm he still has. He can still make all of the throws. Our defense is smart enough to figure out they're playing a veteran quarterback and an offense that is very capable of making some plays.
(on his impressions of Kerry Collins)
I've always gotten along real well with Kerry. He's always been very nice to me. He was real nice to me when I came into the league as a young player, and the times I've seen him at a quarterback functions or a golf tournament. He and I and Patrick Ramsey actually played golf together this summer and had an enjoyable time, (Craig) Hentrich played also. I'm really happy that he's gotten to play there these past few years and he's really played well for them.
(on the order of finish during the golf outing)
I'm trying to think, I only played nine holes. I played nine holes with them. I'm losing my memory. I get hit in the head too much. I want to say it was me and Ramsey vs. Hentrich and Collins. I want to say that Ramsey and I kind of doubled down on number nine and got even for the front nine. You might have to check with Kerry to confirm that.
(on if bringing in a couple new coaches has been healthy for the franchise)
Well, change obviously is all in what you make of it. Just because you change something doesn't mean it's going to be better. You still have to go out and execute it and apply it. But it certainly has been a learning process for our defensive players and our special teams learning a new system. Offensively, obviously, our operation day-to-day is still the same. I have a new quarterbacks coach and obviously Jim Caldwell is the head coach now. Certainly there had been change throughout the building and it's something the players have tried to adjust to. It still comes down to the basic fundamentals of football, and so far in some of the games that we've won, we've tried to do those things. We can still do a lot of them a lot better. Players are adjusting as the season progresses.
(on tying Fran Tarkenton's record for passing touchdowns and what that means to him)
Well, it's very humbling. I just received yesterday in the mail a FedEx very nice letter from Fran Tarkenton. Boy, that meant as much to me as anything, just the fact that he would take time to share a few thoughts with me. He just said he was congratulating me on tying his touchdowns and how he took a lot of pride in throwing that many touchdowns. That was very generous of him and thoughtful of him to do that. I've always had a real appreciation for the history of the game. My dad and Fran Tarkenton know each other well and my dad's told me a lot of stories about Fran Tarkenton and just what kind of player he was. How tough he was and called his own plays, truly kind of one of the ultimate field generals out there. I'm not very comfortable kind of having my name mentioned next to his as far as a statistical record, but it is a very humbling experience for me.
(on some of the tactics teams have used to try to stop him)
I don't know. I think teams for the most part try to play their defense. I've never thought it's necessarily our offense. It just comes down to the execution week-in-week-out. It's usually who executes their offense or defense better each week is usually the teams that wins. That's not always the case. That's still what it comes down to. The Titans have just about all of their starters back on defense and they're very sound in what they do. They have a lot of good players over there.
(on his execution being one of his strengths)
It helps that we've had a core number of guys in this offense for some years now: Reggie Wayne, Dallas Clark, of course, Jeff Saturday, Ryan Diem, Ryan Lilja. I think that has helped some our new players as they've come along in the transition that we've helped: Pierre Garcon and Austin Collie and Donald Brown get caught up in this offense in a hurry. Obviously, they aren't going to know it as well as our veteran players do, but we really use the time in our offseason workouts and our minicamps and training camps to catch these guys up to speed. We do have a very young team and we count on rookies to contribute for us and contribute early for us. So, it's been a credit to those guys for getting these guys caught up.
(on his protection and how OT Charlie Johnson has been)
Charlie has done a heck of a job. Charlie's a fighter and he's going to give it all he has every single Sunday. Certainly as a quarterback you certainly appreciate that. All of those guys are a bunch of fighters. They like to do the grunt work and they're all grinders, as I call them. As a quarterback you appreciate that and certainly we'll have a challenge this week against the Titans defensive line. I really appreciate the efforts and the hard work those guys are putting in to help and protect the quarterback.
(on what Tony Ugoh needs to do to earn his offensive tackle position back)
That's really probably a question for Coach (Jim) Caldwell as he's evaluated him from day-to-day. But certainly everybody knows you play 16 games and you're going to need a number of guys throughout the team, throughout the depth chart to contribute. We know Tony will be a part of our offense this year.
(on if Austin Collie and Pierre Garcon has been the key to the fast start this season)
That certainly helped and those guys are still young players. They're still learning. We certainly have had some injuries that we've dealt with. Losing Anthony Gonzalez was very disappointing. We still hope to get him back soon and know he can really contribute for us this year. Of course, defensively we've had some guys missing. Coach Caldwell talks about next man up and some of the guys have stepped up. Other guys have kind of tried to raise their level of play. We've had some close games and obviously, that's what you'd expect. As you get into the season you expect a lot of close games and hopefully we can try to keep having those plays go our way that decide the game.
(on if the Colts' offense has a weakness)
Oh, I don't know. Like I said, there's always things you can improve on. That's really all I can tell you. That's the only way I know how to answer that question. We certainly feel like we can improve in a number of areas each week and really each day. That's what we talk about, try to get better each day and that's something that we try to do. I think it's something that it's your job as an athlete.
(on if he is surprised about Vince Young's situation and how can Vince learn from watching Kerry Collins)
Like I said, I've got to believe that Kerry's a great guy to get to learn from day-in-day-out. Like I said, I'm not there but anyone that's played as long as Kerry has is a guy that knows how to prepare each day and a guy that is a professional. Like I said, I don't like speaking for other situations I'm not involved in, but I would certainly think that Kerry would be a great guy to learn from each day. It's a marathon out there and not a sprint. That's kind of what I've learned about the position.
(on how good Texans WR Andre Johnson is)
Shoot, he's an excellent player. I've always known that and we've always had our hands full when we've played against him. I know our defense has always had tremendous respect for him. He and Reggie Wayne are friends going to the same college. He's one of the top receivers in the league. He's awesome.
(on if he keeps an eye on what goes on at the University of Tennessee and his impressions of Lane Kiffin)
Obviously, I don't think anybody's real happy that we're 2-3, but they're fighting hard every week. It's been a change just like what we've kind of gone through here with the Colts with the coaching change. That's just kind of the way things are sometimes. Coach (Phil) Fulmer and I still talk. We're still very, very close. He's a guy that was my coach and a guy that I played for, but I've gotten to know Coach Kiffin and his staff and they seem to be working real hard. Like I said, SEC is tough. It's like the NFL, it's a grind every single weekend. I'm pulling hard for them.
(on if he thinks Coach Fulmer has the itch to coach again soon)
Oh, I don't know. Like I said, that's probably more a question for him. I certainly hope he does. Like I said, he and I talk and he came to Indianapolis for a couple days for training camp and had a good visit with him. I certainly hope he has a chance to.