Head Coach Bill O'Brien
Offensive Coordinator George Godsey
T Duane Brown
OLB Whitney Mercilus
QB Brock Osweiler
DE J.J. Watt
Conference Call with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid
Conference Call with Chiefs QB Alex Smith
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What have you seen from Chiefs CB Marcus Peters?
“Really good player, very instinctive, really good ball skills, does a really good job of, obviously, preparing. We had him in here for a pre-draft visit. I remember talking to him. I remember that, even at that time coming out of Washington, he was a really smart player. We have a lot of respect for him.”
Do you have any past relationship with Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid?
“No, just meeting him at the Owner’s Meetings and things like that. Just saying hello to him obviously. I just think they are a really well coached team. I have a lot of respect for him. When you watch the way that they coach their team and the way that their team plays, it’s a really good football team. Also, Bob Sutton on the defensive side of the ball does a really good job. It’s going to be a week of really intense preparation.”
Is it even more important to start fast against the Chiefs after a couple slow starts last year when you faced them?
“I really don’t think it’s really in your best interest to get behind in any of these games. It’s hard to dig yourself out of a hole. Both teams did it last week. They were down 24 to 3 against San Diego, came back and won. We were down against Chicago, came back and won. I think both teams are good football teams that are resilient. But to me, if you get down in these NFL games, it’s very difficult to come back, especially against these good football teams.”
After losing to the Chiefs twice last season, has it become a personal thing for you to avoid losing to them three times in a year?
“I don’t ever think about it in personal ways. This is a tough league. I think this is a league that really is set up to be basically a league of parody. Every team is equal. I can remember back when I was in New England and one year we had an unbelievable record at the end of the year. We were playing a 1-12 team and I believe that was an overtime game. There’s a million examples of that. I think it’s about just putting your players in the best position possible, then when the game is being played, doing a really good job of figuring out how this game is being played and how can you coach your players to help them win the game on Sunday.”
Is there anything specific you are looking for from QB Brock Osweiler that you didn’t see last week?
“Really, we’re just preparing. We’re not really looking for anything specific. Other than basically our game plan if that makes sense. Just keep doing a good job of preparing and he does that. He’s a guy that’s very meticulous in his preparation. That’s going to be a big part of this week.”
With all the talk about quarterback play, do you still view the running back position as important?
“Absolutely. Just look at the Kansas City Chiefs and what they did with their running backs last week, I mean, (Spencer) Ware had a big game. (Charcandrick) West had a big game. They ran the ball. They caught the ball well. I know Jamal Charles wasn’t in there, but that guy is a really good player too. Obviously with Lamar Miller and Jonathan Grimes on special teams, Tyler Ervin on special teams, Alfred Blue and what he’s done for us in the past. I believe that running backs are very important to your roster.”
What did you see in G Jeff Allen that made you all want to sign him this offseason?
“There’s a lot. He’s a very intelligent guy, that’s something that I really like. He’s very bright and he’s tough. He’s a tough, tough football player. He understands how important communication is and obviously bringing that toughness to the practice field and to the game field every week. He’s a good, solid, tough football player.”
QB Brock Osweiler mentioned needing to play better in the red zone. Is that a focus this week?
“Well we need to do a better job there, no doubt about it. I think Chicago might have been 2-for-2 down there. We were not as good down there. Kansas City is a good red area team. Will we do extra? We’ll do what we normally do on a week-to-week basis, but we are definitely going to focus on trying to improve in the red area.”
How important is CB Kevin Johnson in a game where the Chiefs have a lot of weapons?
“All those guys are going to be important. I would say that J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph, Kareem (Jackson), A.J. (Bouye) and obviously Kevin (Johnson) will be very important in all different phases of the game, whether it’s on defense, first and second down, third down and on special teams. I’m sure you guys have noticed this but Kevin’s done an excellent job for us on special teams as a gunner and as a kickoff cover guy. He made a nice tackle on kickoff coverage. He’s been a very good gunner. When Larry Izzo was in New York, he had him rated very highly coming out in the draft as one of the better gunners in the draft that year. He’s helping us out a lot on special teams in addition to his role on defense.”
Can you talk about ILB Max Bullough?
“He’s a guy that’s really my type of player. Just a tough, tough guy and very, very smart. If you ask (Mike) Vrabel about Max, I think the first thing he’ll tell you is how bright he is in the room. Knowledge of the game plan, knowledge of football. He comes from a football family and was coached very well in college at Michigan State. Those guys seem to show up and play really well, all those Michigan State guys. Look, this is his opportunity. He’s got an opportunity to play a little bit more and I know he’s really looking forward to it.”
What are your thoughts on OLB Whitney Mercilus being named AFC Defensive Player of the Week?
“It’s great. Whitney deserves that. Like I said the other day, he’s one of our better players and he works very hard to go out there and play well for our team. I’m not sure how much he cares about individual awards, I will let you ask him about that. I think he really cares about winning, but that’s a good honor for him.”
Do you lean on G Jeff Allen since he was with the Chiefs just last season?
“I mean, he was a guard so he’s not going to like tell us what they X is doing on this route, you know what I mean? But yeah, personnel and things like that. ‘Hey, what’d you think about this guy? What’d you think about that guy?’ and I can tell you straight out that he has a ton of respect for all of their players. He really does. He enjoyed his time there and he has a great deal of respect for Coach (Andy) Reid.”
What do you expect from DE J.J. Watt this week?
“Going into that game last week, he hadn’t played football in a while. I think part of it is he really, as the game went on last week, as you probably saw, he got better and better. He got more into what was going on in the game and got more up to the speed of the game. I think you’ll see him really come out and play well on Sunday.”
How long did it take you to get over the playoff loss to the Chiefs last season?
“With any loss, the losses are a lot harder. Basically whenever you lose a game, losing is just a terrible feeling. As a coach, you really put a lot into it. The players put a lot into it. Your coaching staff puts a lot into it. When you don’t win, that’s really what it’s all about. But you know, look, we move on. One thing about our team is we’ve got a resilient team. These guys just went out here today and had a really good practice. We need another good one tomorrow then another good one on Friday. Our guys will be ready to go on Sunday versus a very tough opponent.”
Do you feel confident that QB Brock Osweiler works to correct and understand his mistakes?
“He can really understand what went wrong on a play right away. He’s able to dissect the play right away. He’s got a really good ability to come over to the sideline and say ‘hey, probably should have done this on that play and this on that play.’ Look, I’ll tell you for the first time going out there, there really weren’t a ton of mistakes. There was a turnover and maybe a couple other things that he could have done better, but for his first outing, it was pretty good and now he’s got to string another good outing together.”
What is it about OLB Jadeveon Clowney that allows him to play defensive line?
“He’s not as wide, he doesn’t maybe have the body type that some other guys that play inside do but he has tremendous explosion and he’s got a real knack for finding the football. He really understands blocking schemes, I believe. He really likes to play all different spots. He’s into the game plan every week. I don’t know what we’ll do with him this week, we’ll do a few different things with him this week. But he’s the type of player that you can move around and ask him to do different things because he understands football.”
What changed for the Chiefs in the second half against the Chargers last week that allowed them to come back and win?
“Well, I think that’s probably a better question for them, but just from watching the tape, once they were down 24 to 3, they were able to – with a defensive stop or turnover, whatever it is – they were able to get a touchdown to make it 24 to 10. From there, they were at home. As you guys know that have been there, that’s a very difficult place to play for a road team. That crowd was obviously roaring once they got back into it. I think they fed off their crowd and Alex Smith did a great job. Their defense played really well and they were able to turn the tide.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
What advantage is there to spreading the ball around to multiple receivers?
“The defense has to cover the whole field. When you have eight targets there - backs, receivers, all the tight ends are getting involved – it really creates a wide open field, so to say, as far as the defense to prepare for. Then you have Lamar Miller, handing the ball off to him. It’s a good compliment of skill players and they did a good job of understanding the game plan. So credit to them.”
Can RB Lamar Miller line up in different spots all over the field?
“Yeah, he caught a couple balls. Had another few balls as far as targets go for him. We try to do as much as the player can handle. He’s been able to handle a lot since he’s been here. He’s done a great job of preparing. He comes in ready to learn. There’s something new for him every day, so I think so.”
Can you talk about how the offensive line played in the game and why you struggled running in the second half?
“Just first on the injuries, that’s a part of the game. We tell the lineman, ‘Hey, you’re a lineman. You’re not necessarily just a specific position.’ So our group together, with Mike Devlin, they do a good job of really filing in the blanks if there is an injury. Give Chicago some credit in the second half. They made some adjustments. We were trying to do some other things also, as far as taking advantage of that. We ended up with a decent number of yards. We’d like to be more consistent for four quarters this time.”
Is this the most you’ve had on offense since you’ve been with the Texans?
“The guys are really learning the system. We try to take it day-by-day. Today, it’s a new game plan. It’s the first time that some of these guys are really getting into the normal week as far as preparing for the regular season. That’s a part of it along with their first action. We’re going to try to build each week on what they can do. That’s really where we are at. We’re really week-to-week. Today, it’s day-to-day from normal down to third down tomorrow.”
What did you think of how QB Brock Osweiler played vs. the Bears?
“We thought he played well. Our goal for the quarterback is to execute the game plan. Each week the game plan differs based on the opponent. Brock really took it right – he basically took it in stride day-by-day. When it came to the end of the week, he felt refreshed as far as understanding what we were as coaches preparing him for. It showed in the game. He was efficient. That’s what we are expecting this week.”
Do you feel like RB Lamar Miller is still learning about playing running back in the NFL?
“He graded well for us in the first game. Moving forward, we need to do a good job and he needs to do a good job of taking care of his body this week coming back from the amount of carries that he had. We felt like he played excellent. As far as just taking it this week, I think there will be some more for him on his plate but also being able to recover from Week 1 to Week 2 with the amount of carries.”
With the new personnel you have this year, can you learn anything from the two games vs. the Chiefs last season?
“I mean, it’s a new season. They’ve got new players. They’ve got players that are injured, we’ve got players that are injured. We’ve got new players. It’s a player’s game and there is new personnel out there. That’s the way we look at it.”
Is durability a concern with your running backs and do you think about spreading out carries to avoid over-working RB Lamar Miller?
“It’s a collision sport so when somebody is making contact with a person that amount of times, it’s always a concern. For us, it’s finishing our blocks, that’s one thing, then also being able to compliment him with the other parts on the offense. But he’s a professional. He knows what he needs to do week-to-week. That’s really what we’re expecting.”
When do you start to get cautious with RB Lamar Miller’s workload when sometimes he is the best option?
“That’s really in the course of the game and seeing how the game is being played. Certainly, we have some parts there, all of them – as far as being active for the game – they’re useful back there too. If it was a play, we can play quite a few backs. Can they fill in for some of the spots with him? Certainly if needed.”
Was RB Lamar Miller ever close to breaking a big run vs. the Bears?
“Yeah, I think so. To break a long run, it’s not necessarily just him or just the line. You add the tight ends, you add the receivers in that and finishing their blocks. There are certain things some plays that we’re getting corrected in our room. So that’s how we view it.”
What amount of carries would you like to limit RB Lamar Miller to?
“Really, we talk throughout the course of the game as far as coach to player and position coach with position. Whether it’s running back or receiver on a number of plays, so we use that as a guide. He was feeling good. It was working for us. It was setting up some play actions that we had. He was doing a good job of protecting when he was asked to. He felt fresh. It’s a 16 game season so I think from that standpoint, that’s something from a coach’s standpoint, that we will look at.”
T DUANE BROWN
Do you have a feel for when you’ll be back?
“No target date yet. I should be on the practice field soon. Just won’t be this week.”
You’re feeling a lot better though?
“Yeah, it’s coming along great. Every day it’s feeling pretty good. But at the same time, just trying not to rush it. Once I’m out there I want to be out there consistently, so I think it’s just continuing to take our time with it.”
Do you think you’ll need a couple weeks of practice before you can play in a game?
“We’ll have to play it by ear. Obviously football shape is a lot different from some of the stuff that I’ve been doing. But I won’t know until I’m out there. Once I’m out there and I’m able to get back into the swing of things we’ll be able to gauge it from there, but as of now it’s hard to tell.”
When do you think you might start practicing?
“We’ll see. I don’t have a date yet for that but I think it’ll be soon.”
How do you feel about the Colin Kaepernick and the others who have kneeled for the anthem?
“I understand what’s going on. I’ve backed him in their stance in what they’re aiming to do. The conversations that they’ve made happen is well-needed. For me, I have similar issues but I just went about it a different way. But I understand what they’re doing.”
Considering how much awareness and money has been raised, do you think it has helped?
“I think it’s been good. The great thing about this country is you have the right to do what you want you want to do. Obviously you’re going to have people that agree with it, you’re going to have people that disagree with it. The thing that it was sought out to do was bring about a discussion, and I think they’ve done that.”
OLB WHITNEY MERCILUS
What does it mean to win an individual award like AFC Defensive Player of the Week?
“It just means I put in the hard work and it translated to the field. That’s all. I have to do that every Sunday.”
Is it special to at least get noticed for what you’re doing?
“It’s cool to be noticed and everything. Honestly, when I stepped in the building I had no idea. It’s cool. I have some bragging right, no doubt, but I have to be able to do that every week.
What do you think about you having the most sacks in the NFL over the last 17 games, especially with elite guys like DE J.J. Watt and Broncos OLB Von Miller?
“That’s awesome. Again, I had no idea that I was doing that. That’s cool. That’s a pretty cool statistic. But honestly, statistics don’t mean anything at the end of the day, per se, because I have to do that every week, all 16 games. That’s cool. I’m glad I’m doing that and hopefully I can keep that up and make more plays for my team to win.”
Do you still look at a game like that and think you need to get better?
“Yeah, of course you want to keep getting better and better. It’s great to have a great game. I can always do better. Also, I blew one or two assignments in that game, too, so I can be a little more consistent.”
How tough is it to disrupt the timing of a West Coast offense when they’re getting the ball out so quick?
“The West Coast offense, it’s just about getting the ball out of the hands of the quarterback and into the hands of playmakers. We have to be very disciplined with a type of offense like that, make sure we’re doing our job – that’s the biggest key – and execute perfectly. That’s it at the end of the day.”
Does it feel like you’re playing at a different level this last year and a half?
“Yeah, throughout my career, definitely. Definitely. I see the progress that I’ve made and how I’ve excelled, especially coming into this year just being able to understand the game, play a lot faster and not think a whole lot.”
Does it stick in the back of your mind what has happened the last two times you’ve played them?
“Last year was last year. Like you said, new teams. New teams, new people, new offense, new defense – sort of the same. We want to make sure we get this one and definitely go 2-0. We just have to prepare this week, do the best that we can with our preparation and go out there and execute perfectly.”
You had 3.0 sacks against Chiefs QB Alex Smith in the playoff game but he’s known for getting the ball out quick. What makes him so good in the West Coast system?
“He’s a guy who can make plays on the field with his feet. When you have a quarterback like that it’s dangerous because you have to be very, very cognizant of that, especially with the lot of pieces that he has around him. He might hold the ball, you have to be disciplined to make sure, you have to get that guy down. He’s a quick guy. Pretty much, at the end of the day, you have to be able to do your job.”
How exciting is it to line up next to OLB John Simon and OLB Jadeveon Clowney with all that speed out there?
“It’s awesome, man. When you have guys like that out there we can do just about anything. The coaches are going to put us in the best positions to go out there and make plays. It’s awesome to have that type of talent up front and you don’t know who’s going to make a play. We’re all racing to get tackles for losses, quarterback sacks, things like that.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
You’re a little bit familiar with the Chiefs from your time in Denver. What do you know about them?
“Like you said, fairly familiar. I’ve only played one half against the Kansas City Chiefs but I’ve been a part of many meetings, game planning against them, I’ve been a part of many games, watching from the sideline. I feel like I know their personnel fairly well. But when you watch the Kansas City Chiefs on tape you see a team that’s physical. It starts up front. It starts with their linebackers. Derrick Johnson, he’s a stud. He’s a terrific football player. He’s just one of on that defense. There’s a lot of great football players on that defense. I think ‘physical’ is the first thing you say, and then you see a unit that plays as just that – a unit. It’s 11 guys flying to the football every single play. The front seven is causing chaos in the pocket, the back end, the safeties, the corners, they’re making big plays, they’re causing turnovers. I see a hell of a defense and I know we have a great challenge on Sunday.”
After the game you said the offense could improve in the red area. After watching the film, what do you take away from that?
“I still stand by that. We need to improve as an offensive unit in the red area. Any time you get down in the red area you need touchdowns. Field goals are obviously great. Any time you can get points it’s good. Points are hard to come by in the National Football League. But if you’re consistently kicking field goals rather than scoring touchdowns, there’s going to come a point where that comes back to bite you. After watching the tape, reviewing the tape, I just feel like there were some missed opportunities, whether that was me making a wrong read or maybe we had a guy in the wrong spot, whatever it was, we just weren’t on the same page, we weren’t executing. I think we can be a lot better, and we will be a lot better.”
Is there anything you did different this week to focus on that?
“You know, red area is one of those areas that we don’t really get to in practice until Thursday and Friday. But I can promise you that when we do get to those red area situations, the offensive huddle, the offensive coaches will be very focused on being better this week.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien has talked about how it takes a team a while to form its identity. To have the Chiefs and Patriots within five days of each other, how good of an early test is that to see where you stand?
“I love it. It’s all about playing great competition. Those are the games that you really get excited about when you see them on the schedule. We’re still going to take it one game at a time. Obviously we know the Patriots will come very fast after Sunday, but right now we have a great challenge in the Kansas City Chiefs. They’ve been a heck of a football team for a couple years now. Obviously, offensively I know our challenge going against their defense, I know they have a great offense, they have a great quarterback in Alex Smith, they have plenty of playmakers, they have a great head coach. We have a great challenge on Sunday and that’s really where our focus is.”
What did you learn about your wide receivers the other day?
“The skill guys in the game on Sunday reminded me of the same skill guys I see every single day in practice. All those guys, they were the same receivers, same running backs, same tight ends I see in the huddle every single day. No one’s eyes were big and wide, the moment wasn’t too big for anybody. Those guys just kind of quietly went about their business and played a great football game. I would say the skill position, as well as the offensive line, I think the entire offense knows we did some good things but we can be better. We’re striving to be better. I think that starts in practice. We had a great start to the week today and we expect to be even better tomorrow when we hit the practice field.”
It seemed like you targeted WR Will Fuller V a lot in the red area, especially in the second half. Was that because WR DeAndre Hopkins was double-teamed or was there a special look you saw from him?
“You know, every play is different. Some plays you’re trying to target a certain receiver – maybe it was Will – but a lot of times it’s predicated off the coverage and what the defense is giving us. A lot of time, because of what DeAndre was able to accomplish last season, he is going draw a double team. So, what that does is it singles up those other guys and allows them to make plays. I wouldn’t say I’m specifically trying to target anybody. I kind of play the game. I take what the defense gives me, and if they’re going to double Hop, I’m going to take the one-on-one.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien has talked to us repeatedly about the complexity of this offense and some of the responsibility and also freedom that comes from you at the line of scrimmage and in the huddle, etc. How do you like being responsible for so much?
“I love it. I love everything about it. It’s a quarterback’s dream to be able to play in an offense like this. You just said it, there’s certainly a lot on our shoulders as quarterbacks in this system. There’s a lot that we have to know just to be able to step on that football field and operate efficiently. But it’s one of those deals where once you get the operation down and you’re studying and you’re understanding the offense, it’s fun. It’s like backyard football. There was a thing today that happened in practice in the two-minute drill, you see all the defense lining up over here, you give the line a call, they all slide, you signal something to the receiver and you get a big play. Not all offenses allow you to have that freedom to make those calls, to change the routes. It really is, it’s like backyard football. Just a few more people show up in the stands here than they did in the backyards of Montana.”
Do you get the feeling from the guys that were here last year that this game means a little bit more?
“We haven’t really talked about that. This is the 2016 Houston Texans. I think, really, that’s the focus right now. No one’s talking about last year’s game, no one’s focused on that, no one’s dwelling on that. We’re all certainly aware of what happened and we’re going to learn from that, but these are two completely different football teams for the most part, a completely different situation. I think you need to learn from last year’s games, but no one’s dwelling on those. Everyone’s looking through the front windshield and we’re moving forward.”
Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid said he’s impressed with all the speed you guys have on offense now, so you know he’s going to have his guys ready.
“Yeah, absolutely. The old saying is the film doesn’t lie. Andy is able to see what we did offensively and defensively and vice-versa. I think the biggest thing early in the year is you always know there’s going to be unscouted looks that come. So now Andy showed one thing against the Chargers last week, he’s been able to break down our tape, see our strengths, see our weaknesses. I think the biggest thing is waiting to see what unscouted look’s going to come from him and then how quick can we adjust to that on the sideline and keep progressing throughout the game.”
The coaches always talk about young players taking big steps from game one to game two. Do you expect that?
“I expect us, as an offense and as a football team, to take a step forward every single week. Not just Week 1 to Week 2, but every single week during the season. I guess I kind of look at it as you can’t really stay the same – you can either get worse or you can get better. Well, we’re going to get better. Each week we’re going to take a step forward. I expect us, in all phases of the game, to be better this week against the Kansas City Chiefs.”
You were part of eight game plans against the Chiefs. How valuable is that, even in a different offense with different personnel?
“It’s extremely valuable. In fact, like you said, it’s eight game plans so it takes a while to get through it all, but before kickoff and before this game plan is complete, I’ll have already gone through all of my old notes and see if there’s something I can pull from those game plans to help us out in this game plan. Because there was a time, 2012, 13 and 14, the offense’s were very similar between what was taking place in Denver and what we’re doing here now. I’ll dissect all that and I’ll definitely use it as a tool. It’s very valuable.”
Seven of those eight game plans were for winning games, too.
“That’s what I’m saying. I think that’s why I keep all those notebooks because you never know what you might find in one of those old games that might help you win a current game. That’s something I’ll take a close look at. I’ll go through and review all those notes, I’ll go back and watch all that tape and just see if we can find one thing to maybe help us get over the hump this week.”
DE J.J. WATT
Are you motivated as you head into the game against the Chiefs on Sunday?
“I’m actually motivated for every game. We started off 1 and 0 and we’re looking forward to building on that momentum and obviously in front of a home crowd two games in a row to start out the season, that’s really big for us. We’re looking forward to a great game. Obviously they’re a very good football team as they showed with their comeback last week. It was a very impressive game.”
How did you feel physically in the Chiefs playoff game last season?
“I felt like a broken down car trying to keep rolling. At some point there it kind of shut down the whole thing. Try to do whatever I could to play.”
How do you feel about people saying Chiefs OL Eric Fisher didn’t play in the past because he didn’t want to play against you?
“I don’t have a lot of feelings. I just go out there and I do my job and I try and get to the quarterback and whoever is in front of me, it’s my job to beat him.”
How do you feel about playing the Chiefs and the Patriots within five days of each other?
“It’s honestly the old adage of you take it one game at a time. We aren’t looking anywhere past Kansas City Chiefs. They’re a good enough team for us to worry about without having to worry about another team. So it’s just working on this Sunday, a very good opponent. We’re looking forward to the game.”
Were you sore after your first game back?
“Yeah, I mean regular sore. It wasn’t my back. The first game. It feels good to be playing football. After one week practice and playing a game, it’s definitely a good soreness to feel. I think as the game went on I started to knock the rust off and I feel, even in practice, you can just feel it day by day it starts to come back and a little bit more like myself each day.”
How much did you hurt after last year’s playoff game against the Chiefs and is it on your mind going into Sunday’s game?
“I think we learned from the film obviously. You’re always going to watch film of an opponent you just played recently. They’re going to do different things. They’re going to try different things. Nobody is going to play the same way they played you. Obviously when that was our last loss of last season, it’s a tough one. It’s definitely a little bit on your mind, but I think it’s a new year, new season. We’re really excited about this one. We’re looking forward to an opportunity to try and go out there and start 2 and 0.”
What do you think about the work OLB Whitney Mercilus is doing on the field after being chosen as Defensive Player of the Week?
“He’s incredible. He had a great game. Obviously very deserving. Two sacks, forced fumble, the way he’s playing, the way he works. He’s a great player and he’s doing a great job and I think he’s going to have a huge year. He just needs to keep doing what he’s doing. He’s really come along in his progression as a player.”
How eager are you to play after practicing for two weeks?
“I think for me it’s more just I’m eager to get out to practice every day because I know that every rep I take is so important, especially right now. Even in practice today, I mean just each rep I take I feel stronger, I feel better. You get your eyes back. You get everything back. It’s not necessarily me looking forward to Sunday yet. It’s me looking forward to Thursday’s practice now.”
How do you feel about the flag controversy and players kneeling during the national anthem?
“I think everybody can do what they choose to do. Everybody can form their own opinion on how they want to do it.”
Why did the whole team wave the American flag with the first responders during last Sunday’s Liberty White Out game?
“That’s just what we chose to do. Everybody’s different. Everybody has their own opinions and that’s what we chose to do.”
If the playoff game against the Chiefs last season was still up in the air with four minutes to go, would you have still shut down?
“It was a combination of the trainers and myself. I’m sure I would have given it a shot. I don’t know, it’s a hypothetical. It’s hard to say. I mean I would have given it a shot, but at that point all five of the muscles were pretty much off there, so I don’t think it would have been much effective.”
Is it correct that you didn’t not play because of the score?
“We kind of came to an agreement that they wouldn’t let me. They wouldn’t let me go back in. They politely said it. It’s just the way it went.”
Did you feel worse physically or mentally after last year’s playoff game against the Chiefs?
“About the same. I was pretty rough all around. It wasn’t a pleasant day.”
How is it lining up with all the pass rushers on this defense?
“We have a lot of good pass rushers, which is a lot of fun. I mean you see guys flying all around, you never know which was it’s going to come from. Even guys like B Mac (Benardrick McKinney) and guys flying around so you never know where it’s going to come. From Whitney (Mercilus), from (John) Simon, from J.D. (Jadeveon Clowney). There’s guys flying around everywhere and it’s a lot of fun to play on defense with you have that much firepower to have fun with.”
How is ILB Max Bullough doing?
“He’s doing great. Max is a really smart kid. I don’t know why I call him a kid, I think he’s like a year younger than me. He’s a great player. He’s super smart. He’s one of the hardest workers around, does a lot for this team, so he’s going to do a great job filling in for Cush (Brian Cushing).”
Was it frustrating to be out on the field knowing that you couldn’t perform to your full potential?
“Yeah. It’s definitely frustrating for me to go out there and to not be able to, in the beginning of the game, not be the player I wanted to be. I think by the end of the game it started to get back to myself and I’m happy I did it because I learned exactly what I need to get better at. Now I know the exact areas I need to improve upon and I can get ready for this week.”
What is the “rust” that you mentioned earlier?
“That’s for me to know and you to watch the tape and find out.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH CHIEFS HEAD COACH ANDY REID
What jumps out to you about Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and Chiefs CB Marcus Peters and how pivotal will that matchup be on Sunday?
“Both of them are good football players. I’m sure that will be one matchup to watch. I’ve got a lot of respect for both guys. I think that’s what you see, good competition.”
How tough was it to lose Texans G Jeff Allen in free agency this summer and what did you think of him as a football player?
“Unfortunately, it’s part of the game but I think the world of the guy. I think he’s a heck of a football player and a great person and a good dad. He’s the whole package. You guys are lucky to have him. He’s a good one.”
What do you remember about Texans RB Lamar Miller from when you played him in 2014?
“That he’s pretty good. You saw that Sunday. He can scoot. I think he’s a heck of a football player. He can do everything. I mean, he can do it all. It’s just not one thing. He’s multi-dimensional.”
How strange is it to be playing a team for the third time in 19 games on the road?
I’m not sure it’s ever happened.
“I know. I hear you.”
Does familiarity breed contempt or respect?
“I think respect. I mean, that’s a good football team. We understand that. We understand we have to have a good week of practice here.”
Has there been much change with the Texans since the Wild Card game?
“Yeah, they are a different team. Offensively, they’ve got new people there. They looked sharp on Sunday. Defensively – listen, I’m sorry what happened with the linebacker (Brian Cushing) – but they are probably healthier at the other spot.”
How tough is it for QB Alex Smith to prepare for the Texans defense?
Yeah I mean, it’s the guys in front of him that need to prepare, those are the guys in front of Alex. They have to have a good week of practice. Alex has trust in those guys but they have to have a good week of practice. It’s a great challenge for us.”
How much do you still incorporate the West Coast system?
“The West Coast system that Coach (Bill) Walsh ran, it was multi-dimensional where you had your play-action, your movement, your naked game, your drop backs of three, five, seven steps, screen game. You had all those things in there. It was just a matter of what package you pulled from. So that’s been time-tested. That stuff still works and you can still use that.”
What’s it like having QB Alex Smith run that offense for you and what are some of his strengths?
“I think Bill will tell you the same thing, to have a quarterback that’s sharp and athletic, that’s a positive.”
What makes it so difficult to face Texans OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
“He’s good. He’s big, long, plays hard. You’re going to get an honest snap from him every down. He’s a good football player. He’s been that way since he was about 12 years old. He’s been the best. This is no different then what he was doing when he was younger.”
As good as TE Travis Kelce has been the last couple years, has he continued to get better this year?
“He’s a good football player. I think he’ll continue to grow here, even through the next couple years. He’s pretty comfortable with the offense. People give him different looks, and I’m sure Bill (O’Brien) will have something for him, Romeo (Crennel) will have something for him that we’ll have to adjust to. He’s getting better at being able to do those things.”
Do you have any update on RB Jamaal Charles for this game?
“I don’t. He’ll practice today and we’ll just see how he does. He’ll take some on scout team, he’ll take some with the one offense. We’re just now getting him a few reps in there and we’ll see how he does.”
What are your thoughts on how RB Spencer Ware has taken to his new role and what he did last week, leading in both rushing and receiving?
“He’s a good football player. He’s a tough kid and put in a good offseason, so now it’s just a matter of doing it week in and week out. He hasn’t had to do that. This will be a new thing for him as the season goes on. We’re lucky we have some backs here that can rotate with him, whether it’s Jamaal and Charcandrick (West) and Knile (Davis), we have kind of a good group there and they all work in for reps. That’s a good thing.”
This past week was DE J.J. Watt’s first week back from surgery and he said he was still knocking off some rust. What did you see from him?
“He looked pretty good to me. There wasn’t a whole lot of rust on him I don’t think. He looked pretty good. He’s a good football player.”
T Eric Fisher seems like he’s come a long way over this past year. What have you seen from him?
“Yeah. Those two actually went to the same school initially. Listen, he’s gotten better every year we’ve had him. He works hard, he wants to keep getting better. That’s the approach he takes. He’s going to give you an honest day’s work every day, and that’s all you can ask for. I think he’s developed into a good offensive lineman.”
How did you first become aware of Bill O’Brien in the coaching profession and what are your impressions of him as a coach?
“He’s a good coach. I know Bill Belichick and I know Bill really liked him and respected him. You know, he’s a Brown guy, so Chris Berman has been telling me about this guy forever. He’s a talented coach, man.”
What differences are you seeing from the Texans you saw on film from this past Sunday and the Texans you beat in the playoffs last year?
“I think they’re healthier. I think they’re flying around and making plays, and their offense is different. Different deal. I pull up my stat sheet off of their defense and their strengths are phenomenal. Romeo’s (Crennel) done a heck of a job there with that group. Like I said, they play fast on both sides of the ball. That new addition at wide receiver, (No.) 15 (Will Fuller V), he can go. He’s a speed demon.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH CHIEFS QB ALEX SMITH
Have you noticed anything different about the Texans from last year?
“It’s funny. It’s been literally only one regular season game for them in between this. Obviously, a lot of the same guys and they’re good. Turn on the tape and turn on the defense, the front jumps out right away. Obviously, I think every guy up there is really, really talented and can bring it. Then on the back end, they’re smart, fast, instinctive guys. You can tell. I think the safeties are very instinctive. Their corners are good players. They’re both really quick and good out of the breaks. Turn on the tape and it definitely jumps out on film.”
Does it feel like a division game with how much you’ve played the Texans recently?
“It’s funny with the history – and I swear we played the year before, but I’m not totally sure on that – but yeah there has been a lot of history. Anytime you get that, it certainly carries with it a little more juice, for sure. Third time in a year, yeah, there is a lot of familiarity there and a lot of history. I’m sure the intensity will be high.”
What have you seen from OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
“I try not to pay attention too much to those individual guys up there. But he’s a heck of a player. Extremely athletic and quick. You can see it, explosive, a very, very explosive guy. Then on the front, they do a lot with their front, move those guys around, get them in one-on-ones and, like I said, all those guys can go.”
What do you like about running Head Coach Andy Reid’s version of the West Coast offense and why do you feel like you’re suited to run it?
“I will say this, the thing I really appreciate about Coach Reid and our whole offensive staff is that this isn’t a version that Andy has been running for the last 20 years. Every year this thing is different. Every year that I’ve been here, it’s different. I think they really try to put an emphasis on the guys that we have and our strengths. They put guys in good situations and really kind of customize to us every year. I feel like this year is no different. They try hard to put guys in good situations and utilize guys’ tools. This isn’t some cookie cutter system that they’ve been running for 20 years, so to speak.”
How impressed were you with the running game despite missing RB Jamal Charles?
“For me, not surprised. We obviously played almost all of last year without Jamal. Those guys do a heck of a job, it starts with those guys up front. Those guys in the backfield really bring a spark, Spencer (Ware), Charcandrick (West) and Knile (Davis) when he’s in there. Those guys have made the most of their opportunities. I really feel like we’ve got a well-rounded group back there.”
Do you think the Texans will be playing to make up for the playoff loss?
“We just played in the playoffs so certainly that’s there. It’s hard to up the ante on any regular season game because they’re all huge. Like I said, I think just the fact that there’s that history there and you know each other a little better because you played against each other recently. We remember it, it’s not that long ago. Every one of these games are huge. They’re all must-win games.”