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Gary Estwick Interview – Titans Beat Reporter

JetNation.com had the opportunity to interview Tennessee Titans beat reporter Gary Estwick.  Gary covers the Titans for The Tennessean.

The Titans record is well documented and they seem to be a very well balanced team.  Many people said that their weakness was Kerry Collins.  After the past few weeks, he seems to have disproved that notion.  Do the Titans have a weakness?  If so, what is it?

The Titans are the undefeated team that everyone expects to lose the next week. Everybody. And yet, they keep finding ways to win. First, it was the running game and the defense. Now it’s Collins’ arm. What makes this a tough team to beat is its ability to adjust on gamedays. What works in the first half usually doesn’t work in the third and fourth quarters.

Chris Johnson is putting up some pretty big numbers running the ball in his first season.  Against teams other than the Chiefs and Bengals he is only averaging 3.6 yards a carry.  What can you tell us about Chris Johnson?  We know he is explosive, can a good run defense hold him in check?

Johnson’s impact has been minimized in several games. Baltimore for example. Chicago is another one. He didn’t do much against Jacksonville – all road games. Problem is, at least in the last two games, Collins took advantage of the extra attention given to Johnson and LenDale White (eight or night defenders in the box) with 1-on-1 throws to receivers. All of a sudden, receivers are making many of the catches they dropped in September.

The Jets defense is much improved this season against the run and they are good at getting to the Quarterback (34 sacks).  They have been exposed a bit when facing up tempo offenses and multiple receiver sets.  Will the Titans try to expose this against the Jets?

I think so. The Titans used Johnson in the passing game a lot against Green Bay, and the Jets can expect similar looks. The challenge with Johnson is that he doesn’t stop coming. He knows 2, 4, 1, 2-yard gains can transform into a 50-yard run with one carry. And the RBs aren’t afraid of pass protection, something the Titans will need if they want to keep Collins clean. That should be a great matchup on Sunday.

We mentioned the number of sacks that the Jets have this year, but Kerry Collins has been seemingly untouchable.  Is this a case of getting rid of the ball quick or is the Titans line giving him lots of time to get comfortable in the pocket?

He gets that much time. In recent games, we’ve even seen receivers have time to set up defensive backs with double moves. Jacksonville fell victim last week to a Justin Gage move on the Titans’ first play from scrimmage.

Jeff Fischer seems like one of the good guys in sports.  How is handling the success the team has had this year?  Also, how excited are the Titans fans over the prospect of an undefeated season?

Fisher has done a pretty good job of tempering the undefeated season talk. Much to the media’s chagrin. I am, though, interested in seeing how this team handles being undefeated – if they still are – in about a month, when they’re much closer to it. If that happens, it could be too close to ignore.

Vince Young has seen this team make a pretty big rise since he has been out of the lineup.  How is he dealing with that?  What does the franchise think about Vince Young in the long term?

Reading body language, he’s handling it better now than when he first returned to from his knee injury. Long term? We won’t know until after the season. Collins has interest in a new contract, one that would lock him up in Nashville. But nobody knows how Young will grow from this situation. Will he become a better, smarter, wiser player? If so, isn’t it in the Titans’ best interest to at least take a look at him in the offseason. We’ll see.

Are the Titans taking this game seriously?  Do they see the Jets as a strong opponent or are they viewed as another stepping stone on the march towards greatness?

There’s been a lot of talk in recent days about the Titans needing to lose at least one game in the regular season. Most guys in the locker room don’t agree. I hear the one-game-at-a-time cliche at least 38 times a week. At that rate, you start to believe it. If the Jets are a stepping stone, the Titans are staring at their feet, making sure not to trip this Sunday, and ignoring the Lombardi Trophy at the summit.

You can share your thoughts on these questions and the upcoming Jets – Titans matchup in our forums.  JetNation would like to thank Gary for his time and be sure to check out his column at The Tennessean.

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