HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
“Just want to start off with a little recap of the game. Look, obviously, the first preseason game, not a perfect game. A lot of things that we need to improve upon. But, one of the things we try to do when we go out here in these games is we want to have some general goals. Some of those include turnovers and takeaways, the penalty battle and the field position battle. All three of those areas, we won yesterday. We won the turnover battle, we won the field position battle and we won the penalty battle. That’s a very positive thing that our players were really focused on. I thought that was good. Now, obviously there’s some things we need to improve upon. Offensively, defensively, special teams, there’s always work to be done. That’s kind of what training camp is all about, preseason games are all about. You’re playing a lot of guys, lot of different combinations of guys. You’re not game planning for these games, so you’re really finding out what you need to improve upon. I thought that was something that came out of last night’s game also. With that being said, I think on the injury front we’re pretty much status quo right now. I would expect that (Jadeveon) Clowney and Nick Martin would be back at practice sometime this week. Other than that, it’s about the same. With that, I’ll open it to questions.”
After you looked at the game tape, what is your evaluation of QB Brock Osweiler and what he accomplished?
“Like he said after the game – and I think I said it – we kept it pretty close to the vest. We ran the ball quite a bit. We threw some quick game. He had one fade ball to DeAndre (Hopkins) that was close. The DB (defensive back) made a really good play on it. That’s an area that I’m talking about in the beginning here that we really need to work on because that’s a very big threat for us, our opportunity to throw the ball versus press coverage to DeAndre. So, we’re going to continue to work on that. I thought he made a nice throw to C.J. (Fiedorowicz). C.J. was able to get a good gain out of that. We’re just going to keep working and getting better every week.”
It looked like your young receivers grasped the opportunity and were making plays. What were your thoughts on that?
“Yeah, there’s some really good things happening with those guys. To play in their first pro game, it’s obviously not the easiest thing in the world to get adjusted fast. I thought they did a pretty good job of adjusting to the speed of the game. I thought Will (Fuller V) ran some really good routes in the game. I thought Braxton (Miller) made a great catch on that one flag route that he ran. Then, obviously, there’s a number of things we need to improve on. Stephen Anderson had a nice touchdown catch. All these guys have things to improve upon, but it was good to get them going in their first game last night.”
With the quarterback injuries you’ve suffered over the last few seasons and three starters missing on the offensive line, were you a little bit more cautious with QB Brock Osweiler?
“I don’t know if that was the main reason, but I think, overall, we really wanted to come out of this game with a clean operation. Did we have a good operation on the sideline? Was our substitution operation correct? Was the play call communicated correctly? Did he communicate the play call to the huddle correctly? Were we able to get to the line of scrimmage and get aligned? We only had one false start. We don’t ever want to have a false start, but we only had that one false start, which was good. There were some things that we got accomplished that weren’t necessarily in the spectacular category, I get that, but preseason is trying to make sure that everybody’s on the same page and set incremental goals for each game.”
Considering the status of the offensive line, how do you evaluate what you saw in the first game?
“Yeah, I’ll just start with those guys that started the game. I thought that Chris Clark played a solid game. I thought Xavier (Su’a-Filo) for the most part played a solid game. I think you have to give Greg Mancz a lot of credit. Here’s a guy that has been really working hard to rehab to get back in there and played a lot of football last night and look, there’s a lot of things he needs to improve upon but I thought for not having played in a long time, he went in there and held his own. We’ve been really happy with Jeff Allen. We like what he brings to our offensive line. And Kendall Lamm, look, he was blocking some really good players. He had his moments. He got beat for a sack, had the false start but here’s a guy that was undrafted out of Appalachian State last year that I think is getting better and better every time he steps on the field. It’s not easy to block (San Francisco OLB) Ahmad Brooks for that many plays during a game and I thought he battled and held in there.”
How do you evaluate some of these guys if they’re going against the other teams backups?
“Yeah, you definitely have to take into account who’s on the field and the skillset of all the players, but I think that one of the things that you’re looking at is are they doing their job? Are they doing what they’ve been coached to do? And I thought that a number of guys on defense and on special teams, you just mentioned Shakeel (Rashad), (Ryan) Langford, (Gerald) Rivers, (Eric) Lee, the outside backer, D.J. Reader, he did some decent things. I thought (Joel) Heath and Ufomba (Kamalu) up front, they have to work on their pad level but overall there were some good things. There’s a lot of things to improve upon but definitely some positives. But you know it doesn’t matter. When you’re out there, everybody’s a pro football player and if you’re doing your job and making plays, that’s a good thing.”
With ILB Brian Cushing not in the game, what are your thoughts on the inside linebackers who did play?
“Yeah, I definitely thought that those guys played hard. They played very physical. We really enjoy coaching Max (Bullough) and (Brian) Peters and all those guys that got in the game. Obviously Benardrick McKinney. There’s a lot of things to improve upon. We’ve got to tackle better and that’s not just the linebacker position, that’s just overall on defense. We have to really get back to working some space tackling drills this week. We’ve got another team coming in here, the Saints, that have a lot of really good space players, like Brandin Cooks and company, so we’ve got to get back to that. But I thought overall there were some positives and then obviously some things we need to improve upon.”
How do you think K Ka’imi Fairbairn did in his first game?
“He made a fairly long field goal and he kicked an extra point and so I thought he did a pretty decent job. He had a couple directional kickoffs that were okay. The first one of the game I think he probably had a few butterflies and didn’t kick that as well as he wanted to but it ended up being okay. The coverage worked out okay. So there’s some things to improve upon like there always are with young kickers and young players. But I thought for his first outing it was pretty solid.”
Can you discuss the schedule with New Orleans this week and how this week’s schedule differs from last week’s?
“Basically, the players are off today. We got back at around 4 a.m. so we give them the day off today. We’ll come back in, we’ll practice tomorrow, we’ll be in the bubble tomorrow. We’ll be outside on Wednesday, kind of a lighter practice on Wednesday. The Saints arrive here sometime Wednesday night, we’ll get together with their coaching staff—great coaching staff to work with. I’ve already had a bunch of communication with Coach (Sean) Payton. I know a lot of guys on that staff with Joe Vitt and Pete Carmichael and all those guys, so we’re really looking forward to working with those guys. They’re going to come in, we’re going to meet with them, kind of iron some things out for the next day’s practice. We’ll be out there in full pads on Thursday and we’ll have a really good pro football practice. A lot of different areas of the field will be covered, special teams situations will be covered, it’ll be a lot of fun. I know our players will be excited about it, to see a different team and see different schemes and things like that. Then Friday, the day before the game, we’re going to get together and we’re going to practice against them in kind of what we would call a ‘shadow tempo’, maybe like an OTA-type tempo where we work a bunch of different situations: end of game, end of half and different types of situations that come up. Obviously, it’s not a like a live practice because the game is the next day. But we’ll get a lot of work done there and then Saturday play the game. The thing about game one to game two, I think the biggest difference is that maybe some guys will play a little bit more. As we move towards game three, some of our starting players will probably play a little bit more in game two and then play a little bit more in game three and probably not play in game four. That’s kind of the big difference I see.”
What did you think of P Shane Lechler’s performance last night?
“He had a 75-yarder—I mean, that was a great punt where we were backed up—and we just talked about that, we have to play better in that situation at the end of the half. We really have to do a better job at the end of the half this year. We’ve got to try and get points, we weren’t able to move the ball there so we had to punt. We punted and he (Lechler) did a great job, 75 yard punt, 33 seconds to go in the half and they drove it and (Phil) Dawson kicked a field goal. We have to play off of that punt better. But I thought he (Lechler) did a really good job. He was very solid, one almost got blocked so we have to improve our protection there, but his timing was good so he was able to get it off and I thought he had a really good day punting.”
When you first worked out QB Tom Savage, did he seem like a guy you could mold into the offense?
“We had a good first meeting with him. We watched tape with him. His last year at Pitt, he battled really hard, took a lot of hits, he was able to hang in there and deliver the ball, we felt like he could really talk about his offense at Pitt, he was able to articulate it to us what he was doing, what the assignments were and things like that. He’s really worked hard. Last year, when he was injured, he was in every meeting taking a bunch of notes, doing everything that he was able to do under the rules of being on IR to be prepared for this season, so it was good to see him go out there and have a good run yesterday.”