Coach Fisher: Titans play aggressive, not dirty

Titans coach Jeff Fisher says his team doesn’t play dirty, they

just play hard.

Maybe. But they push the envelope enough to rack up lots of

flags.

Tennessee leads the NFL in penalties and with nine personal

fouls – all on defense. That doesn’t even count defensive

coordinator Chuck Cecil’s $40,000 obscene gesture.

The New York Giants were flagged for five personal fouls

responding to the aggressive Titans, whom TV announcers described

as ”chippy.”

Tennessee sacked Kyle Orton six times, and the Denver

quarterback called them ”cheap” after a 26-20 win by the Broncos.

He singled out Titans cornerback Cortland Finnegan. Broncos coach

Josh McDaniels agreed after watching the film, saying there’s a way

to play tough and physical without being excessive and ”playing

dirty after the snap.”

”I think there’s a lot of teams in this league that play like

that, that are tough and physical but also within the rules. …

You could put any tape on that you want to of Tennessee, and

there’s going to be 10 penalties. You either coach it or allow it

to happen,” McDaniels said.

Fisher has been defending his Titans the past few days. He

called the accusations that his Titans play dirty ”incorrect”

Wednesday.

”You don’t hear comments out of teams that are familiar with us

along those lines … from the Texans or anybody else in the

division,” Fisher said. ”It’s just kind of one of those things

that happened and we’re done with it. We’re going to play hard and

if someone doesn’t like the way we play, then so be it.”

The Titans’ nine personal fouls are three more than the closest

team, St. Louis (6), according to STATS LLC. Tennessee also is tied

for the league-lead with 37 penalties and alone atop the NFL with

344 yards in penalties.

Tennessee also is tied for the league lead with 16 sacks and

have the stingiest defense inside the Titans 20.

As proof that the Titans teach their players to push NFL rules,

critics note Fisher played for and coached with Buddy Ryan, as well

as Cecil’s history as a hard-hitting safety who was fined

repeatedly.

Fisher said he isn’t concerned with what people say, and Cecil

laughed Wednesday at the thought.

”Wow. I think that would be a stretch that the reason that my

team’s getting called dirty is because of the hits that I made when

I was playing however long ago. I think it’s kind of silly,” Cecil

said.

There are those who agree with Fisher.

Pittsburgh receiver Hines Ward and Dallas coach Wade Phillips

say the Titans just play hard.

”They’re not any dirtier than any other team,” Ward said.

”They play all the way to the whistle, and stuff like that. If

they do play beyond the whistle, they get fined for it and we go

accordingly. But I can’t recall them going out of their way to hurt

somebody or stuff like that.”

Fisher was defensive backs coach in Philadelphia between 1986-88

when Phillips was the Eagles’ defensive coordinator. Phillips

doesn’t see the Titans as cheap.

”I disagree with whatever Denver said from watching the film. I

coached with Jeff Fisher, and I know how he coaches and what kind

of guy he is. I know what he is telling his players. I see a really

hard working team that gets after you on defense, but that is what

defense is all about. I don’t see any of that,” Phillips said.

How the Titans run to the ball jumps out on film to Dallas tight

end Jason Witten. He doesn’t know how someone could see that as

being cheap.

”They just play hard, and so you have to match that

intensity,” Witten said.

The Tennessean newspaper has tracked the fines racked up by the

Titans, a number that had reached $47,500 before playing Denver.

The Titans finished that game with a season-high 111 yards in

penalties, which included 49 yards on a pass interference call and

15 yards for tackle Sen’Derrick Marks taking down Orton. Replays

showed Marks hitting Orton around the thighs.

Both Fisher and Cecil said officials are erring on the side of

safety in protecting quarterbacks.

”We’re not doing anything intentionally illegal anyway so

there’s nothing for us to worry about getting called for,” Cecil

said. ”We’re going to play hard. That’s what we do.”

Titans end Dave Ball, who has a team-high 4 1/2 sacks, said

Orton was complaining to officials throughout the game.

”We’re not trying to hurt anybody … by doing cheap stuff.

We’re trying to hurt them by doing legal stuff, by hitting them

with our shoulder pads,” Ball said.

If opponents worry about the Titans, safety Chris Hope said so

be it. That won’t change how the Titans play, though they do want

to eliminate the offsides calls and neutral zone infractions from

trying to get the jump off the snap of the ball.

”While the play is going on, we’re going to play 100 mph and

full speed,” Hope said.

Notes: Marks (right knee) did not practice along with starting

LG Leroy Harris (ankle), WR Justin Gage (left hamstring) or DT Tony

Brown (right knee). But DE Jacob Ford (right ankle) did practice

for the first time since getting hurt Sept. 19.

AP Sports Writers Pat Graham in Englewood, Colo., Jaime Aron in

Irving, Texas, and Alan Robinson in Pittsburgh contributed to this

report.