HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
“Chicago’s a very tough opponent. These first games are really hard. You don’t really know what to expect and it’s going to be a very physical, tough football game. John Fox is a great head coach. He’s been in Super Bowls and he’s coached a long time in this league. We’re practicing hard. We need to clean up some things in practice and finish off strong here this week, but looking forward to the challenge.”
Can you give us an update on how DE J.J. Watt and T Derek Newton look in practice?
“Those guys both practiced again today. Both those guys look like their conditioning levels are decent. We’ll keep ramping it up towards Sunday tomorrow and Friday.”
What do you want to see from QB Brock Osweiler in his first regular season start?
“I want to see him manage the offense the way he’s been doing it all during OTAs and training camp and in the preseason. I just want him to do a good job of making good decisions for the football team.”
How have the young wide receivers progressed?
“All of the guys that are rookies for us, whoever is active on Sunday, these guys have really come in – and I think a lot of it is based on themselves, obviously the college programs that they came from. Our coaching staff has done a good job to this point of getting them prepared. I think they will be prepared to play, and then you know, look, first NFL regular season game, things are going to happen in the game that will be so brand new to them. That’s what they’re going to have to deal with. The speed of the game, the physicality of the game. But to this point they’ve all prepared very hard and they’ll be ready to go.”
How do you feel going into this season after ending with the 30-0 loss to the Chiefs last season?
“We’ve moved on from that. We obviously talked about that back in the spring, how we never want that to happen again. But now it’s a new road. We have to get to that point. We understand that 9-7 is not the bar. We feel like we’ve made some really good strides here in the past two years with our football team. We’ve overcome some adversity. We have a mentally tough team. We’ve got a bunch of great guys in that locker room but we know that the 9-7 bar is too low. We understand that. I think everybody in this league understands that. We’re very well aware of the fact that we need to go out there and play more consistent, play better than we have in the past. But that is in the past. This is a new team and I really like the way this team is practicing. We’ll go from there.”
Is there a different expectation for the season this year compared to the past two years?
“I think the expectations in Houston are always going to be high. I think that’s what the fan base demands and rightfully so. I think that the fan base deserves a winner here, a big-time winner. That’s one of our motivations. We know when we play at home, we know how much it means to our crowd, we know how much it means on Monday morning when people go to work talking about the Texans games and how it’s so important for our fans that we win. We’re well aware of that. When we’re working in here in the building, we’re really just trying to do our job and make sure that we understand the game plan and we’re ready to go out there on Sunday and really just execute the call, understand the situation and really play and coach to the best of our ability.”
After putting in so much time, do you get excited to see how your work will pay off?
“Very excited. Every year I’m excited. I told the team this the other night. I just I really enjoy coaching. I can’t wait to get to work here every morning. It doesn’t matter if it’s the beginning of a new year or the beginning of a new week. Whatever it is, I just love everything that goes into football. Getting a team ready, working with the coaching staff. Obviously one of my favorite things to do is work with the players, plan practice, try to put a game plan together. Sundays is hopefully when it all pays off. We’re all excited for the start of the season.”
Can you talk about WR DeAndre Hopkins and his skill when it comes to the one-handed catch?
“There’s no question that that’s a skillset that very few guys have. His ability to go up and catch the football, whether it’s one hand or two hands. He’s got tremendous hands. He does a really good job of focusing on the ball, catching the ball first, putting the ball away. He’s got a very unique skillset. He’s fun to coach. He’s gotten better and better every year that we’ve been here. Obviously we always look forward to seeing him play on Sunday.”
Does having DE J.J. Watt back help the team spirit and what do you want to see from him on Sunday?
“You want your whole team at full strength. Obviously when J.J.’s out there, you have a guy that’s a three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year and he is a guy that’s so important to our team. I think everybody in here knows that. But it’s really important just for everybody to go out there on Sunday and just do their job. So, as far as like what we expect of everybody on Sunday, is just to go out there and execute the call and understand the situation. Every play has basically almost like a history of its own. Focus on the next play. Don’t worry about the previous play. Everybody just go out there, do their jobs. That’s J.J., that’s (Vince) Wilfork, that’s Cush (Brian Cushing), Brock Osweiler, (DeAndre) Hopkins, J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph), all those guys. Just do your job on every play and I think we’ll have a very competitive team.”
Can you define a great defense and is DE J.J. Watt the quarterback of the defense?
“I do think you look at a few things when you look at, over the years, what a great defense is. Obviously, I think the scoring stat. How they’re able to keep opponents off the scoreboard. I don’t really look at yardage that much, but I do look at things within the yardage stat like rushing. How are they able to stop the run? I think all great defenses have had the ability to stop the run. That’s important. I think one of the things we look at as a staff is team defense. How many guys are around the ball? Sometimes it’s not possible if the ball’s thrown long down one sideline you’re not going to get 11 guys to that ball. We understand that. Overall, on the plays that we grade where we feel like there’s 11 guys around the ball, that’s a big thing as far as a coaching stat when we look at really good defense, and I think our defense has practiced well and they’re prepared to play. As far as being the quarterback of the defense, I think really in the end it’s the up-the-middle, it’s the MIKE linebacker, it’s the safeties that are really the signal callers and then obviously J.J.’s a very, very important part of our defense. I think the key is playing good team defense, keeping people off the scoreboard, stopping the run and being able to do that week in and week out.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
What have you seen from QB Brock Osweiler this preseason and what would you like to see from him in this first game, ideally?
“It’s all about execution. Our communication from coach to player, really at a lot of positions here, has improved as the preseason has gone on. Now the games start to count. We’re looking for execution at all the positions, and it starts at the quarterback position, getting us into the right plays, if there’s certain plays that were with him, and if it’s not, making sure that the line or the protection is headed in the right direction.”
The young receivers seemed like nothing was too big for them in the preseason. Now that’s it’s the regular season, what do you tell them?
“One play at a time. It’s the next play, you take the first play, you execute your job and then let’s move on to the next play, good or bad. Certainly we put a lot of pressure on those guys in practice. That’s really how our environment is structured so that by game time there’s a little bit of familiarity as far as the opponent.”
What’s jumped out about WR Will Fuller V and WR Braxton Miller?
“Just their ability to learn and also, there’s no day off for them. They’re in here, they’re getting treatment with their bodies, they’re out there at practice every day. So, naturally when you’re out there at practice every day you’re going to improve, and that’s what we’ve seen from them.”
What are a couple things that stand out that QB Brock Osweiler has done to improve from where he was when he got here?
“He’s taken the coaching as far as some issues that we’ve addressed, whether it’s getting rid of the ball quicker, making sure we get to certain plays versus certain looks. He’s been able to really digest it all, too. There’s not a limit as far as the information. He wants to be coached every day. He has a good, ‘Coach me, Coach’ attitude, meaning he comes in with questions that he may have on a particular situation that happened the day before but he wants to learn the next day, too, regarding the new install that’s going in.”
Having all these new weapons, how excited are you to work with everybody now that the games count and you can start to orchestrate a real game plan?
“No question. This is what we do in the offseason, is we get ready for the season. Now that it’s here, it’s a one-game season each week. Certainly each game counts, and that’s where our focus is, with Chicago and trying to make sure that everybody has a chance and an opportunity to make a play and to help the team.”
With all the injuries you had at the running back position last year, what’s the ceiling for your running game this year with the influx of youth?
“We’ve added a couple parts there. We’ve drafted one and taken Lamar (Miller). It’s them catching up to the system and then it’s also seeing how this goes as far as the amount of information with them. We’d like to use them both in the running game, obviously, and in the passing game. They’re certainly a big part of the protection. That’s what we talk to the backs about every week. That’s one of their goals. Really, each man has their own role that they fit with the team, and the running backs really within the passing and running game. They’re involved in everything.”
With so much more speed and athleticism, does that open it up for you to be able to call a lot more things than you’ve been able to in the past?
“I think that the versatility of each player on offense is a big part of scheming and organizing the game plan. You never want to just use one person more than another, but you want to kind of keep the field balanced so now the defense really has to question whether it’s run, pass, left side, right side, open sight, tight end side, and so forth.”
What do you think of WR DeAndre Hopkins’ ability to make one-handed catches?
“I wish I knew the answer to how he’s doing that because certainly we would teach everybody. It’s a very unique trait that he has. This game is about one-on-one matchups and he takes prides every day in practice, and then certainly in the games, of winning his one-on-one battle. He can do it with two hands, one hand. As long as the ball comes down in his hands, I’m happy.”
OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
How excited are you to get the regular season started?
“I’m very excited. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been practicing. In camp, everybody was hitting the same people. I’m ready to get on with the Bears.”
Is this the best you’ve felt physically going into a season since you’ve been a Texan?
“Oh yeah, I feel pretty good. Everything is coming along well. I’m just looking forward to playing.”
How much did you enjoy being able to participate in preseason this year?
“I enjoyed it. I needed it. Getting in shape, for one, and getting back into the feel of playing against competition. Now it’s on to Chicago.”
Do you have any goals you are hoping to accomplish this season?
“Yeah, just do my job and try to help my team win.”
How much are you looking forward to being healthy and getting after the quarterback?
“I’m looking forward to it a lot. I’ve been waiting a long time. I’ve been training all offseason for it. I’m just looking forward to it.”
Do you feel like you’ve improved as a run stopper?
“Yeah. I could say that.”
Where do you feel like you’ve improved in your pass rushing?
“Probably recognizing sets. I’m getting a little bit better than I have been, so I can get the guys to do what I want them to do.”
How is your counter move coming along?
“It’s coming along. We’ve been working on it all week long. Everything is coming along. We just have to keep working and getting better.”
Do you like where the defense is as a whole right now?
“Oh yeah, I like it. We’re doing well. Everybody is coming out here and working. Everybody is preparing well and trying to get better.”
How great is it for you to start the season healthy?
“I feel good. I’m looking forward to it. I’ve been waiting a long time. It’s coming up Sunday.”
Is it special for you to not have any injuries or anything in your way?
“It’s a good feeling. Other guys have been on me to keep staying in the training room and keep taking care of my body. I’ve been doing well with it and everything is coming together.”
Which teammates have been helping you the most?
“I don’t know, everybody is about the same. (Brian) Cushing and all the guys will say stuff to me. J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph) probably.”
How have you worked on getting off blocks?
“Just practicing. We do the same stuff every day. Repetition and getting it done. Everybody comes out there working their hands and eventually getting faster.”
Have you ever done any martial arts training?
“No. I’ve done MMA before but that’s about it.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien said this team should have high expectations. Do you agree with him?
“The goal here is to win a championship. We preach that all the time. That’s our goal, to win the championship. We just have to come out, play every game, take it one step at a time each week and week-by-week. Just go out there and compete, be competitive, and see who can come out on top.”
How good can this defense be?
“We can be pretty good. We can be as good as we want to be if everybody comes together and works, like we’ve been doing. We’ve got a long way to go, but it’s about to come now. Sunday we will see where we’re at. We’ll go out there and compete.”
How important is it to have DE J.J. Watt back?
“It’s great. We’ve been missing him for a while. To have that piece back is big. We need him upfront and everybody knows it. It’s going to be a big season for him, I hope.”
Do you think this will be your breakout season?
How excited are you about the defensive unit as a whole?
“We’ve got a lot of good guys here. A lot of guys that have been in the system for a while. It’s like it’s coming to us second-hand. A lot of guys know our system. We just come out here and put the pieces together. We’re not really learning the defense. We’re just getting better with it and headed in the right direction.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
What is your level of excitement to get out there and play in a real game?
“I couldn’t be more excited that this week is finally here. Week one, opening weekend of the NFL season is, it’s special. There’s a ton of excitement. There’s a lot of energy. You can feel it around the city. There’s a lot of work that went in to getting to this point. OTAs and then the summer workouts, training camp. There’s so many hours that aren’t seen by anybody else, so just to get to this point. The game are what’s fun. That’s why you put in all that work so I know I personally couldn’t be more excited about Week 1 and I know the rest of the guys are as well.”
How would you label where the offense is right now?
“I’ll tell you more after Sunday. I’m very confident in our offense and what we’re capable of doing. I’m confident because of how the offense has performed throughout training camp, in preseason games. Constantly coming in every single day, getting a little bit better. Everybody works extremely hard in the meeting rooms. There’s great communication. There’s great football conversations going on. I’m very confident in this offense and what we’re capable of.”
How special is it start in this first game as the quarterback?
“Very special. Sunday running out of the tunnel, I know my emotions will be very high. I’m very excited to go out there and play the first regular season home game, see the city of Houston come out and be loud and I know what kind of environment it’s going to be and I’m very excited to be a part of it. Like I said, I know the rest of my teammates are as well. We’ll be ready to go. I can promise you that.”
What do you think about the Bears defense?
“They’re talented. Obviously I know (Head) Coach (John) Fox is going to have them ready to go. Coach Fox is a tremendous football coach. He’s going to make sure he has a disciplined defense that plays hard, that’s tough, that’s physical. That’s something that you can see on tape with those guys throughout the preseason.”
How do you feel about where you are as a quarterback right now after the preseason?
“I’m very confident in where this entire offense is. If you look back at the preseason, San Francisco, New Orleans, Arizona, we constantly got better. I think that goes to say with practice as well. If you look at where we were the first week of training camp until the last week of training camp, to me it looks like two different offenses in a positive way. I’m very confident in what we’re capable of, but obviously I know we have a tall task with the Bears coming to town and like I said, Coach Fox is going to have those boys ready to roll.”
Even though you’re on the other side of the ball, how thrilled are you to have DE J.J. Watt back?
“Very thrilled. To get J.J. back, that’s tremendous for this football team. Anytime that you can get a player of his caliber back on the field, it’s only going to do good things for your football team. It’s a great thing to have him back out there.”
What’s your overall feel about the offensive line?
“I’m very confident in those offensive lineman. No matter who’s playing. I think everybody has the mentality of you know next man up. Everyone feels as though they’re capable of playing at a high level and they play with confidence and I love that about that group. I’m excited to go out there, get Week 1 started, play football with those guys. I know that the offensive line will be ready to roll as will I.”
Do you think your ability to make decisions with the football has progressed?
“I think it’s gotten better day to day. It’s one of those things as you become more familiar with an offensive scheme and also the defense that you’re going against, you’re going to know where the ball should go quicker and quicker with every single rep that you get. I think my decision making has sped up as the preseason went along and I think it’s only going to get better as time keeps moving.”
Can you give us some insight on how you go about preparing and digesting a game plan before a regular season game?
“I really don’t want to bore everybody here, but I can promise you from Monday to Sunday, every single hour is accounted for. I know you could say that about a lot of guys in that locker room and definitely with this coaching staff as well. I’m not the only one doing that, but that was one thing I was able to see and learn from Peyton (Manning) with my time with him. There was never a stone that was left unturned if you will. He was always going to be prepared. He was always going to try to see every single blitz that they have in their book, possible un-scouted looks, know our scheme and like I said, just leave no stone unturned. That’s really what I took from him and have added to my game. I can promise you there’s no wasted time throughout the week.”
What’s the hardest part of learning a complex offense?
“I don’t think you can really just pinpoint just one thing. There’s a lot that goes into it. There’s formations, there’s three different pages of cadences, there’s shifts, there’s motions, there’s adjustments within the line, there’s progressions, there’s run game rules, so there’s a lot that goes into an offense and it’s very hard to just pinpoint one thing.”
Is there anything from last year’s game against the Bears that has been useful to you in preparation for Sunday’s game?
“Absolutely. At the end of the day, it’s still the same coaching staff in Chicago for the most part. Obviously, it’s the same head coach and defensive coordinator, so you’re going to get a lot of the same looks I think that you would get the previous year. I’ve certainly dissected last year’s film a couple times. Trying to see what Coach Fox was trying to do to me personally and then obviously the scheme that we were running. I’ve gone back through all my notes and everything like that. I’m sure we’ll see some similar things, but one thing about Week 1 in the NFL is you can count on some un-scouted looks that you haven’t prepared for.”
How do you weigh the nerves you have felt in the past with the nerves you will feel on Sunday?
“There’s no nerves. That goes back to what I said about leaving no stone unturned. I believe if you prepare the correct way, what do you have to be nervous about? You’ve already played the game all week long. Now you just need to go connect the dots on Sunday.”
How does it feel knowing that you’re a starter this year opposed to being thrown in as a starter last year?
“I feel the same exact way. I’ve said all along, whether I’ve been a backup in high school, college, the National Football League, a starter, I’ve prepared every single week the same exact way as though I was going to play. Whether I knew I was going to play or not going to play. That approach will never change.”
DE J.J. WATT
How good does it feel to be back out there?
“It feels very good to be back out there. As a football player, you love being out there with your teammates, you love competing, you love this time of the year. I may have this every year; you get to miss training camp and get fresh legs for the first week. It’s not the worst thing in the world.”
How much do you feel you will be able to do based on how you feel right now?
“Anything and everything I’m asked. I feel great. I feel no limitations whatsoever. My body actually feels better than it did for the second half of last season, obviously, with everything we were dealing with. I’m in a pretty good spot.”
Was there ever a doubt in your mind that you would be back?
“No, there was never a doubt. I have to give a whole lot of credit to Dr. (Mark) Prasarn, who did the surgery, and Dr. (Walter) Lowe, who helped consult us, and then a huge deal of credit to (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer) Geoff Kaplan and (Rehabilitation Coordinator/Assistant Athletic Trainer) Roland Ramirez. I have spent probably hours and hours each day with Geoff Kaplan and Roland Ramirez here. Those guys were awesome in helping me and also awesome in being willing to have an aggressive approach. I think that after a surgery, the rehab can go one of many ways. These guys were willing to accept my aggressive style and we did it in a smart fashion. But, we did it in a way that we knew that this really wasn’t going to be an issue.”
Are you worried about teams being extra physical with you now?
“No, I love physical football. Like you said, I grew up watching the Green Bay Packers, the Chicago Bears, the Minnesota Vikings, the Detroit Lions – a division known for its hitting, known for some great collisions. Obviously, the Chicago Bears with all their history, their tradition, the ‘85 Bears – everybody knows the history there. It’s an incredible team. You look forward to that matchup, the monsters of the midway. It’s going to be a lot of fun. We look forward to opening up with them and we have a lot of respect for them.”
What have you thought about how the defense has played this preseason?
“I think it’s great. I think our guys did a great job in the preseason. I think being out there these last couple of days and being able to get that chemistry – I mean, we have playmakers all over the place. That’s what makes it fun. You never know where the next play is going to come from and that’s great.”
Was this offseason your most difficult because of all the things you had to deal with physically?
“Yeah, obviously, going through two surgeries, I think it’s definitely - you could say it was the most difficult offseason I’ve had. It definitely gives you a new outlook, kind of a fresh approach. You see things from a different light when you’re going through stuff like that and you go through the ups and downs. I’m really looking forward to coming out and having a new mountain to climb. It’s been a lot of fun. There have been some days where it has sucked, where it absolutely sucked, but I really enjoyed the adversity that we faced and I enjoyed having to overcome those things and challenges that I really haven’t had before. I hope to never have an offseason like this again. But, I definitely learned and grew from it.”
Did you have a low point?
“Yes, absolutely. When I was in Philadelphia after the first surgery, there were some days there where I really, really questioned whether or not I would ever be able to play again. Just some of the stuff we were dealing with from a rehab standpoint, just the way the recovery was going early on, but that was way back in January, February. There was a very low point there. It was tough. I was in a hotel room in Philadelphia for I think 10 days straight not being able to really walk or do anything. There was definitely a tough point there. With this back surgery, this one was - after going through the other one, this was almost like, alright, screw it, let’s just get it over with, let’s do it, let’s get through it. This one has almost been a fun challenge to overcome.”
How did this affect your thought process of playing long-term in the NFL?
“I think it actually gave me some optimism. When I made those comments, I’m dealing with all these different things, the broken hand, the back, everything. At that point, you are kind of like ‘I don’t know if I can do this forever.’ Now that I’m all fixed up and I feel good and I’m healthy. Obviously, anything can happen. I’m not going to ever stand here and say I know when I am going to be done playing. It’s year-by-year, it’s day-by-day. I feel great and I love the game. As long as I love the game and as long as I love coming out to practice and playing with my teammates, I’m going to continue to do it.”
How will that play out as you jump back into it and how hard will it be to remind yourself that you are committed to that?
“I think it’s one of those things that I’ve learned in the offseason how to handle myself and during the week how to handle myself. I don’t think you are going to see any difference in games. You wouldn’t notice anything different on gameday and how I approach it. I am going to try and play every single play. I am going to play as hard as I possibly can. Where the change is going to come is in the offseason workouts, in the practice week and how I structure it and how I handle it. I’ve gotten smarter. I’ve learned more about how to deal with my body and I’ve learned that I can’t just keep pounding, pounding, pounding and grinding through everything. I need to be smarter about what I do. I have a good plan in place now. I feel really good. Obviously, I have fresh legs right now. I’m going to carry this through the season.”
Can you take us back to the time where you turned the corner and you knew you would be okay and that you would be able to do what you’ve done before?
“It was that Super Bowl week in San Francisco. We had been going through this phase where literally getting out of bed and walking and just making my way down the hallway was a task. It would take me a long time to get out of bed to move. Roland Ramirez and I had been working on something for a little while and we had been trying this method out. It really wasn’t showing a lot of results. One morning, I woke up and all of a sudden - one thing I hadn’t been able to do since the surgery was lift my right leg straight up into the air. And I woke up in bed and - I do the test every morning just to see if I could - and that morning I did it. I called him right away, I sent him a video and I was like ‘look.’ So then I got up and tried some other stuff. I actually did up-downs in the room right there and sent him a video of it. I was like, ‘dude, it worked. Everything that we did worked.’ From that point forward, as soon as you get that little bit of light, it’s full steam ahead. That’s what was awesome.”
How tough was your role playing a soccer coach in Bad Moms?
“It was good. It was good. Those girls are funny. Mila (Kunis) and Christina (Applegate) and all those girls, Kristen (Bell). It was a blast. We had a good time doing it. I prefer NFL player over soccer coach any day.”
How tough was it playing a wimp?
“It was a fun change of pace. I got my ass kicked by a bunch of soccer moms and it was a pretty fun change of pace. It was a good time. I had a good time doing it.”
Did you hear from your teammates at all about it?
“A couple of guys liked it. Nobody really knew I was in it. I didn’t really talk to a bunch of guys because it was during the offseason so guys were like, ‘My wife took me to see a movie this weekend and I saw you on it and I was surprised.’ They actually liked it. I was surprised, I thought I would get more negative reviews. The guys actually said I did alright, so I guess I’m okay.”
What was the exact surgery you had done in Philadelphia?
“I had five muscles replaced. Both of my lower abs had to be reattached, my right abductor had to be reattached and two of my left abductors had to be reattached. I don’t know the technical terms. It was something like that. A few of them were fully off the bone. A few of them were partial torn. That was pretty serious stuff. Dr. (William) Meyers up there did a good job of getting my surgery back together.”
How thrilled are you to see what this offense is doing with QB Brock Osweiler taking over?
“I think he’s doing a good job. Obviously, having been through eight quarterbacks in two years here, you are look for stability, you are looking for a guy to come in and own the position and do a great job. I think he has done that so far. We’ve managed to pull off 9-7 two years in a row with eight quarterbacks. I’m hoping with one we can do a hell of a better job. We are really looking forward to having him here and leading that offense and doing a great job, especially with guys like ‘Hop’ (DeAndre Hopkins) out there, when we get Duane (Brown) back, and you have (Derek) Newton and you have all those guys and Lamar (Miller) playing running back. Our offense is exciting and we are looking forward to going out there and putting it all together as a full team.”
Are you a fan of the rapper Drake? He wore your jersey at a concert this weekend.
“We were just talking about that yesterday. I thought that was pretty cool. I didn’t make it out to the concert, but he said he wore it. I thought that was pretty cool. Obviously, a guy that is international renowned, everybody loves his music. A lot of guys here went. It was really cool. I appreciate it very much. I appreciate the respect and obviously the respect goes both way. I have a lot of respect for what he does and everything. He provides some of my gameday music so I appreciate that.”
Do you have a favorite Drake song right now?
“Right now, it’s Back to Back. It’s a little bit of an older one, but I like Back to Back. Hopefully, he comes out with a Back to Back to Back. I would like that.”
What do you feel like this team can realistically do this year if it all works?
“I feel like for us, I’m not going to stand up here and put a record on it or say where we are going to go. You look at last year and you look at the way that we finished up last year as opposed to the way we started, I think this team needs to build off of the way we finished last year and take that another step further. We have no excuses. There’s no reason for us to start slow. There’s no reason for us to have a hiccup. We should be out here playing our game, doing our job every single day. As long as each guy does his job and we all play together as a team, there’s no reason we can’t go out there and continue what we were at the end of last season and even improve on it.”
Do you expect to be under any playing limits this weekend? And if it was like the movie Revenant, who would win between you and a bear?
“I would probably give the upper hand to the bear. He has claws and teeth. You never know though. I like my odds against anything. That’s part of what makes an athlete an athlete. We have some of the biggest egos in the world. In the back of my head, I’m saying of course me. As far as the first question, I’m sure that they are going to try to put some limitations on me and we are going to have that conversation here as the week goes on. The way that I felt in the last two practices, I don’t feel it’s necessary. My body feels great. My conditioning level feels great. Like I said, my body feels a lot better than it did the whole second half of last year. I’m a guy that likes to play every play. I’m a guy that likes to go out there and do whatever I can to help the team win. If they let me do that, great. If they put a play count on me, I’ll fight it as hard as I can.”
What did you think about the University of Houston’s win over Oklahoma this weekend?
“U of H is playing incredible ball. They have done a great job. Coach (Tom) Herman has done a great job with that team. Those guys are exciting to watch. I mean, they’ve got the whole city fired up. Everybody is on the Coog’s bandwagon. I think that it’s really exciting for the city of Houston right now. I mean, you got a lot of young talent in this town, from the Astros with (Carlos) Correa and (Jose) Altuve and all those guys, to U of H, to our team and what we got going on here, (James) Harden and the Rockets, the Dynamo, the Dash. We’ve got a whole bunch of stuff going on and it’s really an exciting time to be in Houston. It’s our job now to get the party rolling. It’s a football city. It’s our job to take the role as that lead team in this city and we want that role. That’s what we love. That’s when we thrive. Texas is a football state. We want to be the premiere team. That’s our goal.”
You mentioned the 1985 Chicago Bears. What was the first defense that really resonated with you as a kid and how do you define a great defense?
“I grew up watching the Green Bay Packers, so obviously Reggie White and that defense that he had was a great one to me when they played in the Super Bowl. As far as the ’85 Bears go, I did watch the documentary. I thought it was incredible. The thing that was incredible to me was the chemistry of the defense, the way those guys loved each other and the way they played out there and flew around. And then the ability to make people almost know that they had no chance before they even stepped on the field. That defense, every time that they took the field, they had no doubt in their mind that they were going to win. That’s what makes a great athlete. That’s what makes a great team. When you step on that field and you already know you’re going to have success and the other team already knows that they are going struggle simply because of your resume and simply because of everything that you’ve done to that point. That’s what makes it fun. That’s what you have to do to be a great defense. I think that’s why there really hasn’t been one like them since. Everybody is trying to be like that and we are no different. We are going to go out there and try to be that dominating defense.”
The 1985 Chicago Bears defense forced 54 turnovers one year. How incredible is that?
“It’s unbelievable. Yeah, we’d like to do that. That’d be great. We’d like a hot start like that on Sunday. That’d be great.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH CHICAGO BEARS HEAD COACH JOHN FOX
You coached Texans T Chris Clark in Denver? What are some of your thoughts on him?
“I think at the start of the season he was kind of our swing tackle, third tackle, a guy that we liked his skillset, he’s very athletic. Then we had an injury and Chris plugged in fine and did really an outstanding job in the season that I’m remembering.”
You also coached Texans QB Brock Osweiler in Denver and then coached against him in his first start last season. What have you seen from him and his development as a quarterback?
“First of all, Brock’s very smart, has a very high football IQ as far as understanding football, in particular as it revolves around the quarterback position. He got to spend a couple years with a pretty good guy in Peyton Manning and watch him work daily, the preparation part of it. He understands at a high level how to prepare. I think, skillset-wise, a lot was made coming out of his height. He is tall, but he’s athletic. Sometimes real tall guys are not as athletic, but Brock’s a very good athlete and has a good head on his shoulders. It doesn’t surprise me that Houston invested in him and that he’s done a very, very fine job from what I’ve seen on tape.”
What are some differences between Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains as your offensive coordinator?
“I think everybody’s different. That’s like when people ask you to compare players. There’s some likenesses but nobody’s completely the same. Dowell was with us all last season, with Adam, as our quarterbacks coach and had a good relationship with Jay (Cutler) and the quarterback room. Much the same when I went to Denver, I retained Adam. He coached the quarterbacks and Mike McCoy was the coordinator, then Mike got the head job in San Diego and was able to elevate Adam much like I did here with Dowell. Both are very, very bright young coaches that have very bright futures in our league.”
Do you look at this Texans defense and think it has the potential to be special?
“Yeah, no doubt. Their front seven causes a lot of havoc and they have good ball hawks in the secondary. They’ve leaned on that pretty hard over the last year to win their division championship. When you kind of showcase it around No. 99, who has his type of skillset as well as his type of mindset, that would help any defense. Romeo (Crennel) does a great job, has been in the league a long time. They play excellent defense and I think they’re obviously tough to deal with, especially up front.”
How do you define greatness on defense? It’s easier to see on offense.
“I think, ultimately, some of the important things we look at, obviously, is points allowed. At the end of the day, that’s how you win or lose games. Points scored and points allowed are a huge part of the stats. I’m not a big stats guy. To do that, obviously you have to get them off the field. A lot of times that revolves around third downs and what you can cause to happen there, and then your turnover ratio. At the end of the day, your offense is paid to keep the ball and your defense is paid to take it away, whether that’s on downs or that’s with turnovers. When you start breaking a lot of these stats that we keep in our league, those are pretty high up there – points a scored, points allowed and turnover margin.”
WR Kevin White is going to be playing his first football game in a long time after missing all of last year. What will you be looking for from him?
“It’s tough on any player coming back from a season-ending injury. In his case it didn’t happen playing football, it happened in preparation for football. But either way, if you sit out of something for a year there’s obviously some growing pains back, both in your physical condition as well as your football IQ as far as it relates to your position. He’s a very hard worker, a very sharp young man that’s worked very hard. Actually, I’m very excited to watch him play.”
What are your thoughts on Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“No doubt, he’s a matchup issue for really anybody on the Texans schedule. No different for us this week. He does have great ball-getting ability and body control. His ability to come down with the ball is as good as anybody out there. It’s not so much where you start the race, it’s kind of how you adapt and finish the race. He’s done a great job and has caused havoc here for a bit. We’ll have our hands full with him, no doubt.”
The Texans also added a couple young receivers in WRs Braxton Miller and Will Fuller V. What have you seen from them?
“I think you look at just changes from a year ago, you’re looking at two draft picks at the receiver position you mentioned, you kind of change out the running back. It looks like Bill (O’Brien) and the personnel staff there are looking to increase their team speed, in particular on offense, to go along with that pretty salty defense.”
What have you seen from QB Brian Hoyer in his time there?
“I think like any player new to a scheme, I’m sure much like when he first got there and same here, you’re learning and adapting. He’s done a fine job for us.”
How have you seen Texans DE J.J. Watt change since he entered the league?
“I’ve been around him a couple times at Pro Bowls. No doubt he has all the physical talent. In fact, in that year’s draft there were a lot of impressive players to come out of that draft, and obviously he’s one of them. I think a lot of his length, his size – but probably the biggest separator of most great players is their mindset. His relentless effort is pretty well documented and probably second to none.”
The Texans have two corners in CB Johnathan Joseph and CB Kareem Jackson that have been together for six years now. What is it like to try to attack a cornerback tandem like that?
“They’re very aware players, very smart players. They understand the NFL passing game. They both play with good vision and have good ball skills. That’s just to name a few of the qualities they have.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH CHICAGO BEARS QB JAY CUTLER
Could you share some thoughts on the Texans defense you’re going to face this weekend?
“You’re going against a playoff team, you’re going against a team that puts a lot of pressure, they’re confident in what they do, they show you a lot of different stuff. Obviously the front four is kind of their strength and they rely on J.J. (Watt), (Whitney) Mercilus, and some of those guys to get pressure, and they do a heck of a job of getting one-on-one matchups and letting those guys work.”
Obviously you faced these guys back in 2012. What do you remember from that game?
“I think I exited that game early. So, not much.”
What about facing Texans DE J.J. Watt? That was only his second year in the league.
“I haven’t seen him play much. Like you said, 2012 was the last time I saw those guys and that was his second year. He’s a dominant force. You have to be aware of him, you have to try to get as many hands on him as possible, you have to show him different looks. He finds ways to get hits. Each and every game, he’s causing havoc and getting in the backfield.”
Has QB Brian Hoyer told you anything about the Texans and what to expect?
“Brian’s been helpful.”
What are some differences between Adam Gase and Dowell Loggains as your offensive coordinator?
“Any time you get a new coordinator, their personalities are different, philosophies might be a little different. But we try to stick to what we did last year, what we did well, and try to continue on that path. We didn’t want to completely change everything.”
You get WR Kevin White back this year after he missed all of last season. How excited are you to see him team up with WR Alshon Jeffery for the first time?
“He’s a specimen. Any time you get a first-round pick like that, that he can take it 90 yards in a hurry, you just have to find a way to get him the ball. We have to get him caught up with the offense after missing last year and being injured, but I think he’s had a heck of an offseason and I think he’s excited to get started.”
Do you think about getting rid of the ball quicker than you normally do when you play a defense like the Texans’?
“Yeah, you have to do different stuff. You have to be very stout and you have to play-action on them. There’s still going to be times in a game where you have to drop back and you just have to block them. You can’t completely overhaul everything but there are some exceptions that you’re going to need to do, definitely.”
How much different is your offense this year without RB Matt Forte?
“When you lose a guy like Matt it’s going to be hard to replace. You have to replace him with multiple guys because he did it all. He never left the field. He was a guy that he was a pro every single day. We have some backs that are trying to fill that role.”