HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
Do you feel like the running game is starting to come together?
“I think there’s room for a lot of improvement, but I give our players a lot of credit that there has been improvement. I think it’s just a matter of making sure that we go out there and focus on every play and understand what the defense is showing us. Communication is important. I think it’ll steadily improve if we keep that attitude.”
How tough is it to go against Patriots LB Jamie Collins and the rest of their linebackers?
“Very tough. Really excellent group of linebackers. Jamie Collins is one of the best linebackers that we’ll play, same with (Dont’a) Hightower. Very physical, athletic. Then (Jonathan) Freeny in the middle, he’s a very good player. Their linebackers are good against the run and the pass. They’re in there quite a bit so that’s a big challenge for us.”
Do you have an update on WR Braxton Miller?
“No, I don’t.”
Could you talk about the circumstances surrounding you being hired by Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick?
“I was at Duke and he called me up and offered me a job. I had met him before that. I’m just trying to focus on the game. It’s the two teams playing against each other. It’s just the two teams on the field so I’m just trying to make sure that we’re focused on that.”
Do you think the team has the proper mindset going into Thursday’s game?
“We look at it as, basically, 16 one-game seasons. Look, whatever the record is, the record is. It’s really early in the season. It’s not even October yet. We’ve played well, we’ve also been fortunate in certain instances to win these two games. We’ve beaten what we feel like are two good football teams but we have a lot of improvement to make. This is our first road game. This is a whole different deal. Different team. A team that really is a great, great team at home, an excellent home team. They’ve been that way for a long time. This is a big challenge for us and it really has nothing to do with being 2-0 or anything. It’s just the third game and it’s an important game just like all 16 of them are.”
What do you have to do on offense to have more success converting in the red area?
“I think we have to limit the penalties, limit the turnovers. Both of those have been issues for us. We’ve had holding calls down there, we’ve obviously turned the ball over down there – we have to stop doing that, that’s for sure. Then, we have to do a good job with game planning and executing the game plan and seeing what they’re doing. They’re a very good red area team so it’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
If Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski is healthy and playing, what are some of the challenges he presents?
“I mean, where do you want me to start? He’s a 6-foot-7, 260-pound guy who’s an excellent athlete, has great hands, great catch radius, really excellent blocker, very instinctive player. Very, very tough matchup for any team in this league. He’s an excellent player.”
How much scouting can you do on Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett, or does it not matter because they’re not going to run the same stuff he did in college?
“We spent a lot of time on Jacoby in the draft, we spent a lot of time on Jacoby in preseason. We look at all the rookie quarterbacks and try to monitor them – not necessarily me, but we have people that do that. Is there a lot pro information to go on? No, certainly not, obviously. But there’s a number of things you can look at to try to gauge what he is as a player.”
Given your connections to the organization and you being from that area, do you think you’ll have any moments where you have to keep your emotions in check?
“Look, I grew up there, I love being from there and I really loved my time working there. It was a great experience for me and my career. Learned a ton. But really it’s just about focusing on the game, really just trying to do the best job I can for our team to make sure that as a coaching staff we’re giving our team the best chance to have successful plays. That’s really what it’s about. I spent time there in the offseason. This isn’t a field trip to Massachusetts to see family and friends, you know what I mean? This is going to be a very challenging football game. That’s really what it’s all about.”
You said yesterday that Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichik is the best ever. What’s it like to try to prepare for a game on a short week and on the road against a coach you consider to be the best ever?
“That’s tough. I do, I think he’ll go down as the best coach of all time in this league. He’s been to, I think it’s six Super Bowls as a head coach and won four of them. Unfortunately, I was on the staff that we lost the two. It’s very challenging. He’s been doing this a long time – 40-plus years in the NFL. But again, it’s about our coaching staff and our players and making sure that we do a good job during the game of taking care of the basics: taking care of the football, playing good run defense, being good on third down, being good on special teams, our coverage units, making good decisions with our return units. It’s really about the players going out there and executing well and our coaching staff doing a good job of understanding how the game is being played.”
What do you think this game means to NT Vince Wilfork, going back for the first time?
“Look, that’s obviously a better question for him and I don’t want to speak for him, but I know he really had a great career there, was part of some great teams, championship teams. I’m sure it’s going to be a special night for him to go back there and play against a lot of his old teammates and play for the team that drafted him in the first round and the team that he won a lot of championships with, like I said. I’m sure it’s very unique. Going to be a fun night for him.”
What have you seen from Patriots CB Malcolm Butler since he made the famous play in the Super Bowl?
“Malcolm Butler is one of the best corners in our league. He’s physical, he’s got really good ball skills, he plays the ball well, instinctive player, he’s a strong football player and he’s very well coached. He’s one of the better corners in our league.”
Do you think the defense has played well early on because you have so many returners who are familiar with the system?
“I definitely think the fact that these guys have played together for a while is important. Some of these guys have played together for going on three years now, some of them two years. There’s some rookies that are playing – D.J. Reader gets in there a little bit and things like that – but overall I think that these guys having played together for a while helps because it’s like a whole different language out there on defense and the more you understand how a guy is communicating and the more you rep that and you’re in difficult situations with those guys to the right of you, to the left of you, in front of you, behind you, I think that means you have guys that really trust each other. I think that’s where they’re at right now. Again, this is another challenge. A great offensive staff that’s going to have a really good game plan for us and our players need to really do a good job of being ready to go on Thursday night because it’s a new challenge for us.”
What are your thought on RB Jonathan Grimes? It seems like whatever you ask of him, he comes through for you.
“Yeah, that’s right. He’s probably one of the unsung heroes of our team. He does his job quietly, he does it well, he’s a solid player offensively, very smart player, understands his role offensively and he’s one of our leaders on special teams. He does some really nice things for us on our coverage units, he helps out on our return units. So yeah, he’s an important part of our team.”
Did you spend the night here last night?
“No. And I was kidding about that. I mean, holy smokes. My wife would kill me if I – well, maybe not. She’d probably want me to sleep in the office more.”
So you are fresh as a daisy?
“Yeah, I’m ready to go.”
How has NT Vince Wilfork played this year and what’s the difference in him in the first two games of this year compared to last year?
“He’s played well. He’s played well. He played well against Kansas City, played well against Chicago. I don’t know. I think every year is different. I think, again, that’s probably a good question for him. I know that this year he was ready to go as far as conditioning. He came back and he really did a really nice job on the conditioning test. That’s not easy. Last year was his first time in Houston in that heat. I’m sure he was ready to go for that this year. I think that showed our team that there you have a guy that’s a 12-, 13-year veteran that understands the importance of that. For that reason alone, I think it’s helped him play pretty well here in the beginning.”
OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What are your thoughts on going to New England for a big Thursday Night Football game?
“We need to go out and get a win. We’re working hard. The guys are coming together, like I said a couple days ago. One game at a time, it’s a 16 game season. We need to win this one.”
How are you feeling?
“I feel pretty good.”
CB Kevin Johnson said he saw you guys wreaking havoc on the line last game.
“It’s great when all the guys out there are wreaking havoc and making plays. It’s a good thing for the team and for the defense.”
How special is it for you to be on national TV Thursday night and go against the Patriots at their place?
“It’s great. Just going out there, competing and being competitive against those guys and try to come out of there with a win. We’re looking forward to this game and it’s going to be a challenge.”
How does it affect your mindset that they’ll probably have a rookie at quarterback making his first start?
“It always starts with the running game. We always pride ourselves on stopping the run and trying to make a team beat us in the air. We’re going to try to go out there and do what we’ve been doing – try to stop the run and be physical up front.”
How much does it change your mindset now that you’re playing defensive end?
“I think my mindset was the same: be physical with whoever I’m going up against and go out there and compete.”
How cool is it to play in one of these national TV games after watching them growing up?
“It’s great, man, it’s great. I just told my mom there’s no better job in the world than being an NFL player. Sixteen-game season, go out there, compete and do what you love and get paid for it. It’s a great thing and an opportunity for us to go out there and compete and get a win.”
What did your mom say?
“Go out there and have fun. She loves it. She loves to watch. She just hates the injuries that come with the game. Anyone that gets hurt, she’s like, ‘Oh my god.’”
What happened that made you tell your mom that?
“I just told her I’m having fun. I was like, ‘It feels so good to be feeling good.’ We were sitting talking about it and she was like, ‘Just try to stay healthy. I hate seeing you up under the piles like that.’ I was like, ‘Mom, that’s part of the game. Don’t even worry about it. Everything’s going to be all right.”
How nice is it to be healthy and do what you want to do on the field?
“It’s a great feeling. The defense counts on me and the guys around me depend on me. I’m just going out there and just being competitive and try to be all over the field, run to the ball and make plays. Everybody around us is doing the same thing so that’s what makes our defense special.”
Has NT Vince Wilfork told you how special it is for him to go back home?
“He hasn’t talked about it. It’s very special, man. He’s a great piece to our defense. He brings a leadership role, and we needed that. For a guy who’s won Super Bowl rings to come in and be a leader, it’s special. I sit right beside him so you know I’m always picking his brain on everything. It’s great to have him on the team and be a part of it.”
What’s challenging about the turnaround of a Thursday night game on the road?
“Probably the quick turnaround, like you said, getting ready for the game. We have a short week to prepare for this team. And then we don’t know who’s going to play the quarterback position so we just have to prepare for all the situations that we can prepare for and just go out there and try to execute our game plan and try to get to the ball and play physical defense.”
WR DeANDRE HOPKINS
What are your thoughts on playing a primetime game and all the attention that goes with it?
“It’s just another football game to us and this team. We’ve been in big games before so we’re not really overly hyped about being the only team on TV.”
How about the opportunity to make a touchdown catch? This would be the first time you’ve started a season with a touchdown catch in the first three games.
“I really don’t look at the stats or records, however many times I’ve caught a touchdown. I just go out there and do what I can do to help my team win.”
How big would it be to start 3-0?
“That would be big. Statistically, teams that start off 3-0 usually have a good season. Just to get off to a fast start would be good for this team.”
You’ve had some experience with dealing with some quarterback change during a season, and the Patriots are going through that now. What are some of the difficulties of dealing with a different quarterback from week to week?
“It’s very difficult. It’s a lot of different things that go into it, timing. A young quarterback learning the offense. I think this is his first start, I’m not really sure, but I’m pretty sure. It’s difficult.”
What have you seen from Patriots CB Malcolm Butler since he made the famous play in the Super Bowl?
“He’s played a lot of good football since two years ago. The guy’s made more plays than just that one play in the Super Bowl, that’s just the one that sticks out to a lot people. He’s a very smart football player, very talented. Just have to go out there and compete with him.”
Are you noticing that defenses are playing you guys fairly equal or are you noticing a lot of double teams still?
“I just go out there and focus on what I have to do. I don’t really worry about what the defense is trying to scheme to do against me. It really doesn’t matter. I just go out there and try to make plays.”
How impressed are you by what WR Will Fuller V has been able to do in the first two games?
“He has a lot to improve on, that’s for sure.”
What do you see when you look at the Patriots defense?
“Very athletic defense. A lot of smart guys over there, a lot of smart young guys and a lot of veterans. They have a nice mix of guys. Very talented defense. That’s about all you can say about them.”
QB Brock Osweiler says that some of the red zone issues you guys have had are on him. Do you think you guys are close to turning that around?
“It’s 11 guys on the offense so it’s more than just Brock making those mistakes. He can’t put the blame on himself because it’s more than just him on the football field.”
How are you guys handling the short week, both mentally and physically?
“There’s a lot of young guys out here on this team that haven’t had the quick turnaround like this. Luckily we have a lot vets in here to tell guys how to take care of their body and things to do off the field to come out and be ready Thursday.”
Do you like the challenge of seeing how you match up against the Patriots on the road?
“It’s another football game to us. They’re a good football team and we know we’re a good football team, so we’re looking forward to the matchup.”
You talked about vets who have been there before. Is that you?
“Yeah, I would say so. I’ve got a lot of football under my belt so I’m just helping these guys, telling them what they can do to come out and be ready on Thursday.”
How special is it for you to play on Thursday night on national TV?
“It’s just another football game to us. We don’t want to look at it as a Thursday Night Football game and the only game on. Let’s go out there and do what we do.”
DE J.J. WATT
What do you think this game means to NT Vince Wilfork going back to New England for the first time since playing for the Patriots?
“I think it probably means a lot. He had a lot of great years there. Obviously a ton of success up there. I’m sure that there’s still a bond up there between him and the fans. He’s a fan favorite. He’s a guy that did a lot for that organization and the organization obviously has a special place in his heart. I know that Vince is a very competitive guy and I know that he’s looking forward to going up there and I’m sure it’s a very special game.”
How much has working next to NT Vince Wilfork helped you these last two seasons?
“I think we talk a lot. We talk about all different things and the experiences have definitely helped. Having a guy in there that’s played nose guard for so long in this league and knows what he’s doing, it always helps the defensive ends out.”
What are the challenges of not knowing who the quarterback will be on Thursday?
“You just go out there and you prepare as well as you can for their team and for the schemes and for everything you’re going to see. Whoever it is, we have to go out there and play our game and make sure we do what we do. We look forward to the challenge and whoever they put out there, we have to go out there and try to stop.”
Do you prepare any differently not knowing who the quarterback will be?
“I mean I’m not going to tell you how we prepare. That’s for Thursday night.”
Do you think about past games against the Patriots and have you put losses behind you?
“I think it’s a game against a very good football team. Obviously, they have a great pedigree, a ton of success recently, but we’re playing - we’re the 2016 Texans and we’re going to play against the 2016 Patriots. That’s the mentality that we have is just go up there and play the game that’s in front of us and that’s all we can do.”
What do you think the possibilities are for the pass rush with the team you have now?
“I think we just have to continue to get better every day. We got guys flying all over the place in every level of the defense from the front to the linebackers to the DBs and you never know where the play is going to come from. It could be a linebacker. It could be a DB. It could be a guy up front getting a sack. It’s a lot of fun when you play like that and I think it makes it difficult for other teams and that’s the goal. When everybody’s flying around and everybody’s coming from every which way, you try and confuse them as much as you can.”
How exciting is the prospect of potentially being 3-0?
“I mean you want to start the season strong. That’s something we didn’t do last season. So far this season, we’ve done a good job, but we know we have a very tough task at hand here this week. Very good football team on the road. Very well-coached team and a lot of great players over there. We really look forward to the challenge and we know that we want to continue a fast start that we’ve had here so far.”
How are you feeling with the short week and do you think you will ever feel 100% this season?
“I feel good right now. I mean it’s obviously a short week, so I ‘m doing everything that I can to make sure that I’m ready for Thursday night. Last game definitely knocked some of that extra rust off from the first week and felt a lot better on Sunday. So hopefully on Thursday I knock some more off and feel better. It’s just a continuous process of making sure that I’m very, very smart with my body because of everything it’s been through. Obviously I hope to be at 100% at some point. I mean I can’t say for sure. I want to go out there and play the best that I can play.”
How do you feel that the team is preparing and getting their bodies and minds in the right place on such short rest?
“Our guys are doing a great job. I think everybody’s taking some of the advice that we’ve been given on how to handle it. I think everybody’s doing a good job of taking care of their bodies, getting extra sleep, getting extra treatments, cold tubs, everything. I think our guys are doing a great job in taking it very seriously because we know that we have a great challenge ahead and we look forward to it and everybody wants to be at our best. I think our guys honestly have handled it really well.”
This isn’t a division game, but do you feel like you know this team more than others?
“I don’t know. I mean we’ve played them a few times I guess, but like you said every year is different. We’re a different team than last year. They’re a different team than last year. We just have to prepare for the team that we’re facing on Thursday night and that’s what we’re going to do and I think we’ve done a good job so far in the last, whatever it is, 36 hours that we’ve had since the game. We’re going to continue to do it right up until game time. I think our guys have a really good mindset and everybody’s preparing really well. The coaches have done a great job getting us ready and we’re going to continue to do it right up until game time when we kickoff.”
What did you do with your letterman jacket?
“I got no idea. Those are some bad memories.”
Do you know if you still have your letterman jacket somewhere?
“I don’t think so. I hope not. I don’t want to bring that back up at all. Those were some bad days.”
When you played for the first time after back surgery did you feel like you had to get hit a certain way to get rid of any worries that you had?
“I don’t know. I really don’t know. It was a, you know it’s been a crazy process, but I know that coming out of Sunday’s game I felt a lot better than I did coming out of the previous Sunday’s game and I think and I hope that it’s going to continue that way throughout the whole year. That it’s just a continuous process of getting myself back and even better. The goal is to be better than before. I don’t want to just be as good as I was before. I want to be better. It’s a process of making sure that I do everything I can to get there and this Sunday was definitely a good step in the right direction and hopefully Thursday night is another one.”
After sacking QB Alex Smith in the Chiefs game and doing some of the things you did defensively, was it a relief to feel like the old you?
“Yeah. It started to feel good again. You come off the field and everybody says ‘Oh, you’re back.’ I say partially. I’m still working on some things and I think it maybe some things that only I see, but definitely some things that I want to continue to improve upon. But I have to admit, it did feel good on Sunday to have some glimpses of my old self back. I just want to continue that and go out there and continue to be myself and do whatever I can to contribute to help this team win however I can.”
How hard is it to prepare for a quarterback that doesn’t have much NFL film?
“You do whatever you can. You watch the film that you have. You watch the film the coaches have for you. You prepare for everything that you know about them and about their team and their guys and then you just go out there and play. At the end of the day, you have to play your game too. It’s not just one team preparing for another. Both teams have to prepare for somebody. We go out there and we execute our assignments. We do our roles in the way that we’re supposed to do it. They have to deal with us just like we have to deal with them. That’s what’s so fun about this game.”
How do you deal with Thursday night football?
“It all depends on how the game goes. You win, you get that extra couple days off to get your body back, to get your rest back and to get going again. I think coming off of a win, you’re excited because you have a good momentum. You want to keep that momentum going. If you’re coming off of a loss, it’s a quick turnaround to get your chance to get the momentum back on your side. It’s very difficult. No doubt about it. For every player. Thursday nights are very tough for us because it is a short turnaround. It’s a very violent game and bodies take a beating, so you want to make sure you do everything you can to get your body back. It’s just something you have to do. Every teams got to do one a year. We’re doing ours early. Hopefully that helps us.”
Do you think that the Texans defense is one of the hardest to prepare for?
“You have to ask them. I don’t know. Obviously that’s the goal. You go out there and you try and make it difficult for their team. That’s the name of the game. I think we have a ton of guys who make plays and a ton of guys coming from all different ways. I think our coaching staff does a great job of getting us ready to play, putting together a good game plan and then we just have to go out there and execute it. I think as long as we do our job, and everybody has been doing their job, we’ll be alright.”
Do you think each guy has done their job in the past two games?
“I think we’ve done a great job of it. Yeah. I think we all obviously, there’s certain plays here and there that one or two of us can, but that’s the beauty of our defense. When everybody is doing their own job, even if somebody kind of messes up, you got other guys making plays because they’re doing the right thing. That’s what defense is all about. Everybody doing their job. Being in the right place at the right time and making a play.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH PATRIOTS CB DEVIN MCCOURTY (Transcribed by Patriots PR)
Q: What have you seen from Brock Osweiler now that he’s leading the Texans offense?
DM: I just think he does a really good job of knowing exactly where they want to go with the ball. He’s an athletic guy, you could see against Chicago, he was able to make some plays with his feet and get outside the pocket when he needed to scramble. He does a good job just getting where it needs to be, and his ability to throw the ball down the field with [Will] Fuller and DeAndre [Hopkins], just being able to get down the field and make plays. [Brock] Osweiler has the arm to get it there. They’ve made a ton of plays throughout the preseason and the first two games of the regular season of getting behind defenses and making plays down the field.
Q: How hard is it to guard against the type of speed that the Texans have?
DM: It’s very hard. You play a team that has one good vertical receiver, you can try to change your coverage up to make sure that you’re covering them, but you play a team with two, and it’s a lot harder. We have to try to do a good job of just making plays on them down the field, challenging all the vertical routes, and I think the biggest thing, especially with [DeAndre] Hopkins, you’ll see at times when guys will end up in decent coverage, but he does a great job of just going up there, plucking the ball out of the air. You look at a player and you think he’s covered, but he just comes down with a tough catch, whether it be one-handed, two-handed, just making a great play.
Q: What is the mindset against a guy like DeAndre Hopkins?
DM: Honestly, just trying to compete. You’re not going to stop every play. He’s going to make some plays, he’s that good of a player, so you just have to go out there and make it tough for him all night. You can’t let him off the hook with a blown coverage or a play where you just had bad technique. You’ve got to just try to be on point all night and just hope that you make some more plays than he makes because he is just a tough cover.
Q: Is DeAndre Hopkins one of the more physical wide receivers you see in the NFL?
DM: I think so, I think especially you see guys get up there and try to stay and front of him and get hands on him, but he uses his long arms to kind of pull through on guys or create some separation at the line of scrimmage and then get vertical with his speed. It’s tough. You see him sometimes with double moves and different things like that, his ability to create separation down the field, and then once he gets a step or two, it’s really tough because if it’s a jump ball, he has that advantage too.
Q: How has your defense changed without Chandler Jones back this year and now having Rob Ninkovich out?
DM: I think mainly, we just have guys that have stepped up. With Chris Long coming in and Shea [McClellin], we have guys that also help with the versatility, and then guys like Jabaal Sheard that was here last year. Just being able to step up and make plays, I think getting Trey Flowers back this year off injury helped. Obviously, losing Chan [Chandler Jones] and Rob [Ninkovich] who were big parts of our defense is tough, but I think guys have done a great job of just stepping up and trying to step into different roles. I think the good thing here is that we know our defense is always changing and we always like guys that can play different positions, guys that are just buying in and locking in to whatever the coaches ask of them.
Q: How much has Lamar Miller changed what the defense is doing?
DM: I don’t know how much he’s changed it; he’s just a very good back. He does a great job of catching the ball out of the backfield and his speed and quickness is always tough. He’s a guy that we’re familiar with from playing him two times a year when he was in Miami. He created a lot of challenges there, whether it be screen passes, running between the tackles, so he’s just a very good back and I think they were able to plug him into their offense which uses the back in many different ways. I think that fits the way he plays perfectly.
Q: What types of things have you seen from Jacoby Brissett in practice?
DM: He’s just a competitor. He goes out there, he’s been working hard since he got here, so he’s a young guy, but he’s just had a great attitude I think just coming in and preparing as much as possible and just trying to help the team.
Q: Does seeing guys like Carson Wentz and Dak Prescott have success as rookie quarterbacks this season give you even more optimism having Jacoby Brissett play this Thursday?
DM: I think for us, especially for myself being here seven years and hearing Bill [Belichick] talk all the time, he always talks about how experience is good, but it doesn’t always matter. It’s all about who prepares and who’s ready to go, and you go from there. He always talks about who everyone wants to talk about experience, but if you get an experienced guy who doesn’t prepare and you get a young rookie who prepares, that guy that prepares is usually going to play well. I think it always comes down to that. No matter what the name is, if they’re playing well, they’re probably doing a great job of preparing too and being ready to play.
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH NEW ENGLAND MEDIA
What stands out to you about the Patriots?
“In no specific order here, I would say their defense is an excellent defense. I think that they’re very stout up front and play the run well. I think teams have gotten behind, so teams have had to throw the ball and maybe in the stats that looks like some passing yardage, but when you really watch the film they are playing the pass very well. They’ve got guys who can rush the passer, guys that can cover. Special teams, led by Matt Slater – their coverage units are really good. It’s a big challenge for us. Offensively, look, I think that with Josh (McDaniels) designing those plays and calling those plays, I just think that they’re playing really well. Jimmy (Garoppolo) is playing really well. Receivers are playing well. They are running the ball well. They are running the ball when they have to. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
When you were evaluating QB Brock Osweiler this summer, what stood out to you about how he played in the game in New England?
“We looked at a lot of different games that he played in, whether it was college or the games that he played in the pros. Regular season last year and preseason games. We had some experience, we scrimmaged against them a couple years ago. We had that as an evaluation, too. As it relates to that game last year, I think that was a very, very tough game. Two really good teams playing against each other. He wasn’t perfect in the game, but he really hung in there. He took some shots. He completed some balls. He got Denver into the right play. You could tell that he knew his game plan very well. You could tell that he was tough, that he was going to keep his eyes down field, and try his best to complete the pass while the rush was bearing down on him. Those were some things as it relates to that game that stood out to me.”
How do you prepare your team this week when the Patriots quarterback situation is uncertain?
“It’s definitely tough. It’s definitely challenging. Like I said in the beginning, Jimmy (Garoppolo) in the first two games there has played really, really well. We’re preparing for their offense, if that makes sense. Not really knowing who will be the quarterback, not much we can do about that. We just need to prepare for the plays that we’re seeing on tape or maybe some other things that we think may happen in the game. We’ve got to be ready for that. We’ve had a couple of good days here. It’s not like we’ve taken two days off here. We’ve been working. I know our guys are excited about the challenge.”
What have you seen in the small amount of film you do have from last week on Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett?
“He’s a big guy. I would say that’s one thing that stood out to me in the draft, 235-pound guy. He’s a smart guy, I know he’s very smart. I know that he’s poised. He’s a challenging guy because there is not a lot of pro tape on him. You have to go back and watch some things from N.C. State and things like that. Then go back to your evaluation of him in the draft. We thought he was a really good player when we evaluated him in the draft. I know that they’ll coach him well. They do a great job obviously coaching the quarterback position. I’m sure that he’ll be ready to go.”
Did you have any contact with Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett in the draft process?
“Not a lot of contact with him. I think I met him at the Senior Bowl if I remember correctly. I think we interviewed him at the Senior Bowl. But just mostly watched him on tape.”
We saw you mentioned that you slept at the stadium in Houston this week. Is that something you saw happen often in New England?
“Down here in Texas, they’re still getting used to my sense of humor. I was kidding about that. We’re all working. I know that they’re working hard and we’re working hard. I know that it’s going to be a great environment up there for a Thursday night game. I know our players are excited. It’s a big challenge for us, a big challenge. The Patriots are excellent at home, probably the best home team over the last 15 years in this league. They don’t lose at home. We need to understand the challenge and I know our players do. They’re looking forward to it.”
So you don’t have a cot in your office?
“No, no cot. I don’t have a cot in my office. They took it and ran with it, I was kidding.”
Did you ever sleep at Gillette Stadium when you worked with the Patriots?
“No question when I was quality control coach. I definitely had a couple nights there. (Josh) McDaniels had me breaking down all kinds of film. (Bill) Belichick had me breaking down all kinds of film. I had to get the job done.”
Can you talk about the determination it takes for DE J.J. Watt to be playing so soon after back surgery?
“It’s definitely pretty remarkable, there’s no doubt about it. He had offseason surgery, as everybody knows, on his groin and things like that. Then to come back and in July have back surgery, then come back and be ready to go for our team. This team is very important to J.J. He really has a great relationship with his teammates and he wants to do what’s best for the team all the time. He has that type of attitude. He worked very hard with our trainers to get back in there. He missed training camp because he was coming off the surgery, but then he practiced the week before Chicago. He played pretty decent against Chicago and then I thought he played a really good football game against Kansas City. I know he’s looking forward to the challenge of playing against the Patriots on Thursday.”
Was there any major difference with the Patriots in the first two weeks with Patriots QB Jimmy Garoppolo?
“There was a lot of similarity, but I know that they did some things to take advantage of Jimmy’s skillset. Jimmy is an excellent runner with the ball. There were some things in there that maybe they weren’t doing as much of previously with Tom (Brady). But what they’re doing with Jimmy because of his skillset, they do a little bit more. But overall, I would say that it was very similar, which is a credit to Jimmy because I know that – just knowing Josh (McDaniels) the way I know Josh, it’s a very demanding offense. Josh is an excellent football coach and really demands a lot of that position. Jimmy was obviously very prepared in both games.”
How different did the offense look when Patriots QB Jacoby Brissett took over and how much is reasonable to expect from a rookie quarterback at this point in the season?
“That’s probably a better question for them, as far as the rookie quarterback knowing the playbook. But I can tell you that, when he went in there, I thought he played well. He got them into the right play. In the passing game, he took care of the ball pretty well. They ran the ball very well. I think that’s a big key. People have asked me over the last couple of days about the quarterback position, but I think that one of the keys is how they’ve been able to run the football. Very physical upfront. They’ve got a good offensive line and really good running backs and good tight ends. I think one of the keys was their ability to run the ball also. I thought Jacoby handled that situation very well.”
It sounds like Patriots WR Julian Edelman is the emergency quarterback here. Do you prepare for him or is that too far down the line for you to prepare for on a short week?
“I think we have to be ready for their roster, you know what I mean? We have to understand the skillsets of the players on their roster. Obviously with Julian, I was there when they drafted him. He was a shotgun, wildcat quarterback at Kent State and really good at it. I can remember doing some of things with him over the couple years that I was with him in practice there. I know that he can do that. It’s that and other guys. There’s other guys. (Danny) Amendola can throw the ball. We’re trying to do the best we can to be prepared for their roster.”
What has Texans Special Teams Coordinator Larry Izzo brought to the team?
“He’s brought a lot. He’s a very bright guy. When I interviewed him for the job, I was really impressed with just his overall knowledge of special teams. He came highly recommended from a number of really top special teams coaches in this league. In the interview, I thought he did an excellent job. He brings a lot of energy to our special teams. The players have really taken to him. He really works hard. He’s a very hard working guy. He can dig out film from all kinds of different places to show our players examples of what he’s looking for. I think he’s brought a lot. Look, I don’t know – last week we struggled against Tyreek Hill. I think we’re better on special teams, but we need to really show up on Thursday night because the Patriots are very good on special teams.”
From the time you spent with him, how was Patriots QB Tom Brady’s ability to work with his backup? Did he help them out along the way or just focus on his own job?
“He’s a great guy. Tom’s a great person. I can remember sitting in there one time one of the years I was there and coaching him. He was counting off all the backup quarterbacks that had been there over the years. There were many of them. That was pretty cool to just hear his memory on every one of their names. That tells you right there that he cares about the guys in the quarterback room with him. Look, those guys ask a lot of questions, I’m sure. Tom definitely gives him his knowledge because he wants the team to win. Tom’s a great teammate and great guy.”
How do you think Patriots QB Tom Brady is handling these four weeks?
“I think he’s probably handling it very well because he’s a really bright guy. But I’m sure he’s chomping at the bit to get back in there. I’m sure. He’s probably one of the most competitive guys I’ve been around. Like I said, he wants to be there for his team. I’m sure it’s something that he just can’t wait to get back. I’m sure.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH NEW ENGLAND MEDIA
What have you seen from the Patriots defense in the first two games?
“I think the first thing that jumps out is, it’s a group that is really flying around. They’re playing fast. Whether it’s the defensive line, if you look at the linebackers, if you look at the secondary. Everyone plays really fast. They’re flying to the ball. Every single guy is trying to get to the ball carrier every single play and I think that’s really the first thing that jumps out. They’re very aggressive, hard hitting, talented defense. If you don’t bring your A-game, they’re going to hit you in the mouth and make your day very difficult.”
The Texans are 2-0. What’s your comfort level like?
“I think every single week I become more and more comfortable. I look all the way back to the spring, you know my first day stepping on the field in this offensive system to the first day of training camp to the end of training camp to Week 1 to Week 2, I’m constantly becoming more comfortable and more aware of what we’re trying to accomplish in this system. I think that’s one of those deals - I think as the season progresses - if you look at our offense, we have a lot of new players to the offense and we also have a lot of young players. I think as a group we will, as the season goes along, we’ll get better and better each week. We’ll all become more comfortable with each other. The chemistry will grow and we should be getting better each and every week.”
What do you think your game against the Patriots last year meant to your career?
“I know just from things Coach (Bill) O’Brien has told me, things that he’s told to the media, as far as him really wanting to bring me to Houston, I know that New England game really played a large part in that. As far as my personal self, I think playing and ultimately winning the game against a great football team like the New England Patriots, it certainly gave me a lot of confidence very early in my career.”
At what point are you at in learning the entire playbook and how comfortable do you feel with it?
“I feel like we’re pretty much completely all the way through the playbook. There’s nothing that is in there that we’re not calling at this point in time. I guess the best way to put it is coach wouldn’t be giving me the full gamut of plays if he didn’t feel that I was comfortable with them and if I wasn’t comfortable with them. I feel extremely comfortable. Obviously the more you can rep things in a game situation, the better you’ll become at those and the more comfortable you’ll be, but that’s going to come in time. For the time being, I feel very confident and very comfortable with what we’re trying to do offensively.”
There is nobody else that can speak to the situation that QB Jimmy Garoppolo encountered this year better than you can. How hard is it to be in that situation and remain deferential to the quarterback you’re behind and still show that you can play?
“I think really what it is, is one, obviously it takes a lot of patience. And two, I think it takes a lot of discipline. You’re right, I do know what Jimmy is going through right now. I’ve been in those shoes. I was in those shoes for three and a half years before I really got my opportunity. I say patience because that’s a long time to sit and not play, but the discipline comes in, you know, just because you’re not playing that doesn’t mean that you can’t work hard. You can’t take a single day for granted in the National Football League. Every single day, you need to earn your spot on the roster. Just from the way Jimmy has been playing, I can tell he hasn’t wasted a single day. I’m sure he approached it very similar to the way I did as far as whether I was the backup or I was playing last year. I wanted to show up to the building and get better at something every single day. There was a coach that told me if you’re not getting better, you’re getting replaced, and I heard that very early in my career so I really took that approach that I wanted to soak in as much as I possibly could from being around Peyton (Manning) and then I wanted to make myself a better football player on a daily basis.”
In the so-called quarterback fraternity, are you happy for QB Jimmy Garoppolo?
“Absolutely. Absolutely because I know how difficult it is. It’s so easy, you know a lot of people say ‘oh you know playing backup quarterback that’s the best position in the world.’ Well, what they don’t understand is when we leave the building at five o’clock on a Wednesday or Thursday when practice wraps up, you still need to go home and study and prepare just like you’re the starter and usually you don’t get any reps on Sunday. But you consistently have to approach it as though you are going to be the starter. So to see somebody like Jimmy who has stayed patient, he’s kept his discipline, he’s constantly got better. Absolutely. You’re very happy to see somebody have success like that.”
Was it hard knowing that the guy ahead of you isn’t going to be that psyched about you wanting to be out there too?
“Well, I think that’s almost every quarterback in the National Football League, and really it’s almost every position. We all know that the NFL is the best of the best and there’s great competition across the board. Any time you’re hurt or something like that and another guy gets his opportunity, he’s going to try to make the most of it. I completely understand why things transpired the way they did and I don’t hold any grudges or anything like that. It makes complete sense to me. No hard feelings or anything like that.”
How valuable is the game against the Patriots last year as you prepare for this one on Thursday?
“I think the first thing is you do have to say they’re going to be two completely different football games. At the same token, just getting a little bit of experience in game time against a Bill Belichick team, a Matt Patricia defense, it’s not going to hurt you, I can tell you that much. It’s definitely going to help you. I definitely am looking at it as two different football games but I definitely went back, I looked at last year’s game, I looked at my notes from last year and I can definitely use that as a tool moving forward for Thursday night.”
Do you recall a play in that game that lifted your performance or gave you confidence early?
“There wasn’t one particular play. The one thing I did know going into that game is – obviously I have great respect for the New England Patriots organization for everything that they’ve accomplished in their past and currently are accomplishing. You know how good of a football team they are, so I knew that game wasn’t going to be won or lost in the first quarter or second quarter, it was going to be a 60-minute game, and it ended up being a 60-minute-plus game. There wasn’t one play that I would say gave me confidence. I just tried to stay very level-headed for the entire game because I knew nothing would be decided until late into the fourth quarter.”
How much has WR Will Fuller V’s early performance taken pressure off of WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“Well, I know that certainly one thing that Coach was definitely hoping for, I think, when he drafted Will – when you watch a lot of the Houston Texans tape from 2015, DeAndre’s getting double-teamed a lot, so I know Coach wanted to bring in somebody that can help and maybe remove some of those double teams because people need to respect a receiver on the opposite side of the field. I think the entire receiving corps, all the tight ends, the backs, all the skill guys down here in Houston this year have done a tremendous job and really have had a great start to the season.”
When you look at the Patriots defense in the second half of the game against Miami, do you think you can exploit some of the holes they showed or do you think they’ll have that fixed by Thursday?
“That’s not the defense I’m expecting. I’m expecting the defense that played in the first half of the Dolphins game, the defense that played in Arizona, the defense that showed up in the playoffs last year. I’m expecting a really, really great challenge for us to go into Foxborough, play a great defense like New England has. I know we’re going to get their best game. We’re just working hard to get prepared for them because we know the challenge ahead of us.”