HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
“We got off to a decent start yesterday. I thought all three phases contributed to the win. I think there’s a lot to improve upon. The guys had a good meeting this afternoon. Still in the meetings trying to get some things corrected and move ahead to a very good Kansas City team.”
What’s the outlook for ILB Brian Cushing in terms of when you think you’ll get him back and what do you think of ILB Max Bullough filling in for him in the meantime?
“I think Brian will be back, I would say, sooner rather than later. He’s a guy that’s obviously played a long time, he knows exactly what’s wrong and he’ll work very hard to get back as quickly as he can. I thought Max did a nice job in the game. I thought as the game went on, Max played better and better. I think Akeem Dent can come in there and help us, too. I think we have some depth there – Brian Peters. The next guy has to step up. It’s going to be a group of guys that’ll step up and play for us.”
After going the first five games without one last year, OLB Whitney Mercilus has been on a rampage as far as sacks. How do you explain it?
“First of all, you give the player, Whitney, a ton of credit. The guy has really improved and added to his pass rush moves. I think you have to look at the scheme. I think the scheme is tough to deal with. There’s so many really good defensive schemes in this league, and when you look at our scheme - if I was having to call plays against our scheme, it’s very difficult. We change from down to down, we change from third down to third down. It’s kind of a spin-the-dial-type mentality. I think the No. 1 thing you have to look at is Whitney himself and how Whitney has improved and the way that he plays the game, the way he’s improved his own flexibility, his own explosion, his conditioning level. You have to give Whitney a lot of credit.”
Can you tell us anything more detailed about ILB Brian Cushing’s injury?
“Yeah, it’s a knee. It’s a sprained MCL. I think he’ll be fine. But he won’t be in there for a bit.”
Is there any chance that T Duane Brown will return this week?
What did you see when you were able to break down QB Brock Osweiler’s game on tape? Is your success on third down yesterday a sign that you’re getting all the new pieces involved the way you want to?
“I think, first thing with Brock is – kind of just thinking about this this morning watching the tape – we were pleased with how he played. He had the one interception where basically he was trying to get the ball to (DeAndre) Hopkins. He obviously knows that he can’t do that in that situation, but I thought that overall he played a good football game. Brock’s really a first-year starter, full-time starter. I’m not saying he’s a rookie. He’s been playing a long time. He played quite a bit last year on a Super Bowl Champion team. But really this is his first time as a full-time starter, and I think to go out there for your first time against a tough football team, an NFC North team, and manage the game the way he did. With the example that you just used of third down, I thought he moved in the pocket well, he was able to keep drives alive by making the proper read, putting it where somebody could make a catch, and then these guys went out and made plays for him. I think we had a couple that we ran for a first down, too. Think we have to work on his quarterback sneak a little bit. We have to get him a little lower on that. But overall, I thought that third down was a good example of him and what he needs to do for our team.”
What did you think of what TE Stephen Anderson did for you?
“I think these rookies, any time they’re playing in their first regular season game, it’s not easy. There’s some hyperventilation that goes on in the beginning of these games, so I don’t think it’s the easiest thing in the world. But I thought that Stephen came up with some third-down catches that were important, a couple catches within the drive that were important. I think that he’ll get better and better. He’s a very bright guy. He understands what we need him to do, but there’s really no substitute for experience, just getting out there and doing it. I think the more he plays, the better he’ll get.”
How about C Greg Mancz’s play yesterday?
“Mancz did a solid job. I think he had one or two poor plays. I think overall he graded out pretty well. He’s a bright guy, he’s a tough guy. We need him. We need him. We need him to go in there and play well. He’s a good example of kind of that lunch pail mentality, he just shows up to work every day. Give the kid a lot of credit – he’s come back from a shoulder injury and a knee injury. To be able to go out there and play the way he did, give him a lot of credit.”
What is your evaluation of the running game against the Bears as it seemed to start stronger than it finished?
“Well, I would disagree with that a little bit in the fact that I did think it was more up and down. I know what you mean by the finish but the finish of the game where we were up two scores I think is what you’re referring to. We were trying to be in a situation where we wanted to basically make them have to use their timeouts, so we pound it, pound it. (Ryan) Griffin came up with a big third down catch. They used their last timeout. We couldn’t sustain the drive, but we were able to go on defense two scores down and stop them. I thought that as far as finishing the game running wise, it wasn’t going to be a home run. It was just more about pounding it and taking time off the clock. Lamar (Miller) did a good job. The offensive line did a good job. It’s got to be better though. It’s not where it needs to be. But anytime you run for over a hundred yards in a game I think that’s a pretty good start. There’s a lot of things that we need to clean up.”
What would you like to do better, other than the turnovers against the Chiefs, moving forward?
“I really don’t like to look into the past, but I do think that you have to - because it’s the beginning of the season and that game only happened a few - you know, that was the last game of our season last year. You have to look at that game. You have to think about what do you need to do to get your guys to play better and to coach better in that game? First of all, you got to take care of the ball. You can’t turn the ball over that much. Secondly, I think what you have to do is understand also that you have a different team this year. So you have to try to think about how Andy Reid and Bob Sutton, in my opinion great football coaches, how are they going to look at our team now relative to what we were last year? We’re a different team. We have different players at just about, you know many positions, especially on offense. You have to take a peek at what happened last year. You have to study it. You have to make sure you fix it. We’ve spent a lot of time in the offseason trying to fix those things and now you have to say ‘okay, what happened against San Diego for them? What happened against the Bears? How do they view us? How is that game going to play?’ and try and do the best you can because it’s still an early season game. These games are hard early in the season because you’re not really sure about the identity of either team yet. So we’ll work hard to put together a good game plan.”
Are you expecting DE J.J. Watt to start looking like his old self once he gets more time on the field?
“Yeah, he feels great. He feels great. It’s really a testament to him to be able to come back from that type of surgery in July and play in an NFL football game. I mean I don’t know how many guys could do that. First of all, I give a lot of credit to him. He knows that he needs to go out there and play better. I’m sure he’ll be the first one to tell you that. As the game went on, I thought he played better and better. He was getting more used to the speed of the game. He hadn’t played in a long time. No training camp. I think you’ll see the more he plays, he’ll be back to what you’re looking for.”
This is more of a big picture question, but we’ve seen teams like Denver and New England win in Week 1 with new quarterbacks and guys who are considered ‘game managers.’ Do you think it’s key to have the right team, the right defense and the right system in those situations as long as the quarterbacks are staying within the game plan and not turning the ball over?
“I don’t think there’s any question about that. I think that the quarterback position, first of all, is very, very important. I think the quarterback of your team has to be an excellent player and has to be a guy that is a hard worker, smart. When the lights go on, this guy’s at his best. That type of player. I also think that when you look at the teams around the league that win, a lot of them have really good quarterbacks. Kansas City. And they have really good coaching staffs and they have really good players at other positions and I think those are the teams that win. I think that when you look at our football team, the way that we played the game yesterday, there has to be improvement. We know that it wasn’t the best game. Our guys played with great effort, but we have to clean some things up. But that’s how you have to play the game. Take care of the football, convert on third downs, stop people on third down, sack the quarterback, stop the run, get some turnovers, take care of the ball yourself. To me, that’s how you win in this league.”
What is it about Chiefs TE Travis Kelce that makes him such a tough matchup?
“Very tough matchup. He’s got really good size combined with really good athletic ability. So his size and strength – his playing strength – plus the fact that he’s very athletic. He’s a very difficult matchup. You’re never going to have a guy on him in man-to-man coverage for instance that is as big as him. You have to figure out ways to cover this guy and mix it up on him. He’s one of the best tight ends in the league and a guy that we have a lot of respect for.”
The Chiefs really utilize their running backs in the passing game. Will you do anything different to defend that?
“Obviously when you look at the matchups on both sides of the ball – and you’re talking about defense – you’re going to have to do something to take away some of the best things that they do. It’s hard to take away all that they do. Like you just said, you just reeled off the stats and you’re right. Their running backs are very good in the passing game. They have good speed, good hands, smart. You’re going to have to figure out – again, we’re just putting Chicago to bed right now, we’re moving on to Kansas City this afternoon and tonight – but we’re going to have to have a good game plan and make sure that we understand who is in the game for them, where are they deployed, how are we covering them, how are we stopping the run? This is a very good team in Kansas City, a very good team. It’s going to be a long week of practicing and game planning.”
Did you make an effort to throw to WR Will Fuller V after his drop as a way to keep his confidence level high?
“No. We’re going to go to Will. We’re going to go to (DeAndre) Hopkins. Obviously, you strive for perfection. You want 100 percent catch rate when you throw the ball to those guys. Will, first and foremost, feels worse about that catch then he feels good about the other catches he made, if that makes sense. He knows that he had a chance for a touchdown there. We’re not concerned about their confidence at all. They’re confident players and we’re going to keep throwing those guys the ball. Braxton (Miller) too. I think eight different guys caught footballs yesterday in our game, which was good. I think we need to continue to do that.”
Do you allow veterans on the team to talk to the younger players about this matchup with the Chiefs coming up?
“Absolutely. We have a really good core group of veterans. You look at our team with J.J. (Watt), Vince (Wilfork), Brian Cushing, who is out but has already told me that he is going to be around all week to do some of those things that you’re talking about, Johnathan Joseph, Brock Osweiler, who has been around some good teams and played some good opponents, Duane Brown, who is out right now, (DeAndre) Hopkins, Shane Lechler. Those guys definitely do a good job of trying to spread the message of how well we need to practice, how much extra time we need to put in preparing for this game. I think those guys do a really good job of that.”
Does OLB Jadeveon Clowney finally being healthy give you the opportunity to move him around the field at different positions?
“That’s a good way to look at it, yes. Because of the fact that he was out there a lot in training camp and didn’t miss much time, we were able to do more with him. We were able to move him around. Very good observation because if you’re not out there, once you do get back, you’re really just a one spot guy. But when you’re out there and you’re getting all the reps, ‘Hey J.D., we’re going to stick you here today. Tomorrow we’re going to put you there.’ And on top of the fact that he’s a very bright player, he really understands the game. Because he understands the game, you’re able to move him around. Plus the fact he’s healthy and he’s out there, that helps too.”
Does the fact QB Brock Osweiler has prepared for a game against the Chiefs in the past help him to prepare this week?
“Look, he’ll be familiar with some of their personnel that he played against from last year. The difference is it’s a different team. He’s on a different team now and how is that team going to play this team that he’s on now, the Houston Texans. That’ll be a big difference. But as far as being familiar with some of their personnel, like (Tamba) Hali and Marcus Peters and some of those guys, that will be something that he’ll be able to help us, ‘Hey, this is how we saw those guys’ and things like that.”
CB A.J. BOUYE
How tough was it to come so close to a scoop-and-score?
“Yeah, I was kind of upset, man. I wanted to get in the end zone. I just had my eyes on the end zone already and I just said see it all the way through. But I’m just hoping for another one.”
How motivating are your recent struggles against Kansas City?
“It’s very motivating just to see what happened last year. But we’re ready. We’re going to game plan hard. We’re just going to stay in it, stay positive, just get ready for it and take it a day at a time.”
How tough is it to disrupt the timing of their offense?
“We’re going to game plan for it. We’re expecting things. We’re just going to watch the film from last year to watch what they did last game and see what they hurt us last game and last year. We’re just going to be ready for it.”
What is it about Chiefs QB Alex Smith and the way he manages their offense?
“He’s a game manager. In my opinion, he’s a good quarterback. He’s crafty, he can extend plays. It’s just going to be tough. We’re looking forward to it.”
Do you still have a bad taste in your mouth from last year?
“Definitely, yeah. We definitely do. I’ve been looking forward to this game. It was one of the things that motivated me while training in the offseason. Just get stronger, just work on my technique, and I know it motivated a lot of my teammates, so we’re just ready for this week, ready to attack it hard.”
It looked like the defense flipped a switch from the first half to the second half. What was the difference?
“Coach just talked to us about starting fast and that was what we were looking for going in. We didn’t start fast but we overcame adversity, and that’s one thing that good teams do. We stayed in it together like a family and even if one person got beat or whatever, we all stayed together because we know how good we are, and just keep going. It helped out a lot.”
What things weren’t clicking in the first half?
“We were just trying to do too much. Especially in my thing, I was just doing too much. I should’ve just started out doing my job instead of trying to do too much. But like I said, we just slowed everything down, just got back to it.”
How do you prevent something like the three-play drive that happened at the end of the first half?
“It starts with film study, just correcting what we did in that game and just transferring it to practice and stuff like that, then getting ready to do it next game and making sure that we’re not making the same mistakes.”
ILB MAX BULLOUGH
Did you get a lot of feedback from family after the game last night vs. the Bears?
“Everybody is just excited for me. Obviously, it was just as much for me as it was for the Texans to get a win in our opener. Anytime you can go out there and play well, your family is excited.”
How much has coming from a football family developed you into the person you are?
“I don’t know. I’ve played football my whole life. It’s just what I’ve always done. You’re right, a lot of my family has played it but it’s just about coming to work every day and doing my job. It’s been like that since day one that I got here. All I can say is that I’ve played football my whole life and that’s who I am.”
Can you talk about all the things you’ve done to prepare yourself for this opportunity?
“All I can say is that I’ve had great coaches and great teammates from the beginning and I’ve learned from them. I’ve learned a lot. You come into the NFL and, at least for me, I didn’t know anything. You always think you do, but you really don’t. Whatever that is, in terms of football or taking care of yourself. I’ve also had guys ahead of me and older than me on offense and defense, it doesn’t matter, as great examples to look at. It’s really helped me a lot.”
What have you learned from ILB Brian Cushing?
“Oddly enough in this situation, taking care of your body and trying to stay on the field. Whatever is going on now is unrelated to that. But taking care of your body, it’s all year. You have to take care of yourself all year and make sure you can be on the field.”
How confident are you to step up in this new role?
“I’m fully confident.”
What do you think about the running backs the Chiefs have?
“To be honest, I haven’t had a big chance to look at them yet. But I’m excited to go in there today and look at them. It’s going to be a big challenge. Anytime you play anyone in the NFL, it’s a challenge. We’re looking forward to this one.”
What have you learned about NFL film study?
“You learn that things can change. You can watch one game and they can do one thing, then the next they are doing something else. Then obviously, they come into your game and they have their little tweaks. It’s just being able to adapt really to what you see on the film this year and last year. As much as anything, it’s being able to play the first few quarters or first few series, then come back on the bench and see what they’re doing to you because that’s what matters.”
How hard is it to see ILB Brian Cushing go down with an injury?
“Yeah, you feel for Cush. Cush is a guy that’s been here since I got here. It’s kind of crazy, one of the three or four linebackers who are still here from even when I got here just three years ago. He’s been here for a while and he’s helped me a lot. I’ve learned a lot from him, so you never want to see a teammate go down regardless of any position. Thoughts are with Cush and I know he’ll be back as soon as he can.”
OLB WHITNEY MERCILUS
What do you think your role is now on this defense?
“Honestly, a guy who just leads by example. Honestly, just goes out there, puts his hard hat on and just goes out there and tries to do the best for his team. Just being able to be a guy to give the defense some juice, or the team.”
How would you describe what you guys were able to do in the second half?
“Pretty much how I would describe it is, that’s exactly who we are. We didn’t start off the way we wanted. The way that we played in the second half, we need to play that for all 60 minutes.”
What does it require for you to be able to do that?
“Pretty much just start it off from the get-go and have perfect execution. We know that there’s going to be some mistakes but we have to keep playing hard, keep fighting and play some complimentary football.”
What was the change that keyed the success in the second half?
“It was the first game of the season. Pregame jitters, things like that. Typically we understood that going into this game that there were going to be some mistakes. We came in the second half, had a talk, went back out there and did exactly what we needed to do.”
How much faith do you have in the coaching staff’s halftime adjustments?
“A ton of faith. We game plan all week. The coaches are up there, always breaking down film all the time, even ahead of opponents that we’re facing in the week. We trust exactly what they’re giving us on paper, on film, our keys to read, things like that. Especially when we come in at halftime to game plan or kind of adjust, it helps us out tremendously. We trust exactly what they give. They know. They’re knowledgeable about the game.”
How much faith do you have in ILB Max Bullough?
“We have a lot of faith in that guy. Definitely. He’s a very, very smart player and it shows in the meeting room. It’s impressive how he understands the game, sees exactly what’s about to happen before it even happens. It’s pretty impressive.”
RB LAMAR MILLER
How’s your body feel today and what kind of things will you do to take care of yourself after the workload you received last night vs. the Bears?
“I’m kind of sore a little bit right now, but I’ve been in the training room since this morning. I just got out of the cold tub and I’m getting a massage later today. I’m just trying to treat my body and get ready for this upcoming week.”
Is it a good soreness?
“Yeah, it’s a good soreness. We got a win, so it’s good.”
Was it a good feeling to see how much the team gave you the ball after not being the feature back when you were with the Miami Dolphins?
“Yeah, it felt good. I think the coaches did a great job of keeping it a balanced offense, whether it was throwing the ball or running the ball. I think the offensive line did a great job early on in the game to get me in a groove. I just tried to get positive yards.”
Were you prepared for that much of a workload in Week 1?
“Yes. When they signed me here, he was telling me that I would be involved in this offense. I tried to do some things different in the offseason, so I would be mentally prepared.”
Did you feel like you were patient behind the offensive line yesterday vs. the Bears?
“Yeah, I try to let the blocks develop. Once I see some type of crease, I just try to hit it and get those tough yards.”
How do you think the offensive line did yesterday?
“I think they did well. We still have a lot of room for improvement, it’s only the first game. But I think they’ve done a great job so far.”
How does it feel to be the No. 1 running back here in Houston?
“It feels good. Just coming here, an organization that’s a winning organization and just getting the opportunity to show my skillset and my ability. It feels good so far. I just have to keep working, come in every day and just try to get better.”
Where is your comfort level right now?
“It’s there. I have a lot of confidence. I always have a lot of confidence in myself. I feel like as a player, I still have a lot of room for improvement. I just have to be more decisive running the ball. I know in the second half, I was trying to be too patient at times. Once I see a crease, I just have to hit the hole and just get those two or three yards.”
Did you face the Kansas City Chiefs at all last year?
“I played them two years ago, I think. I don’t remember the game. I think we lost that game, I’m not really sure.”
Are you happy to come in this season and help your teammates with the Chiefs?
“Yeah, I’m glad to come here and help. This is a new season. I know they played them last year in the playoffs. We just have to come out here and play Houston football.”