HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
“I’m going to start off just talking about Duane Brown and the national anthem. We’ve been clear as an organization that our expectation for the Houston Texans is that we stand for the national anthem. This team has a long history of supporting our veterans, active military and our first responders. This support has been evident since the inception of the franchise. I understand that there is a lot going on in this country right now and that we all have strong opinions about it. Duane Brown expressed himself during the anthem, which is his right. It is his right of free speech. It’s his right to do what he did during the anthem last night. I support his individual right to do that.
As far as the game goes, too many mistakes. Can’t go on the road against a top team and make that many mistakes. Turnovers, penalties, poor special teams play, couldn’t stop the run when we had to. They rushed for 180 yards. Couldn’t run the ball when we had to. Drops in the passing game. So just an overall poor performance. Just looking to get better this week and start working on Tennessee. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.”
Did you talk to T Duane Brown about his actions and are you concerned other players may join him?
“I have spoken to Duane about it. Again, I would tell you that I’m not concerned at all about what our players are going to do as it relates to that. Again, I think it’s their right to express their opinion. I support that right. As an organization, we encourage them to stand for the national anthem because of all the things I just said that Mr. (Robert C.) McNair and the Texans stand for. With that, I will tell you that I think very highly of all of our players. I know that they’re very thoughtful guys and they’ll do what they believe is right.”
Does the fact the team had a slow start last season help prepare you to bounce back from last night’s game?
“I think for the guys that were here. Look, this is a game that just really got away from us. We were down 10 to nothing at halftime. Quickly, we fumbled the kickoff and it was another score. Again, we can’t do those things. I think we have a resilient bunch of guys. They know that it’s only the third game of the season and they’re going to work very, very hard to correct the mistakes and they’re going to work very hard on Tennessee.”
You were talking about how horrible it is to lose. What is it that you love about the game that keeps you coming back to something that can make you feel so horrible?
“That’s a great question. I love the players, the coaches, working with these guys. I’ve always said that it’s never as bad as it seems and it’s never as good as it seems. I’ve also always said that, really, your ability – whether I was the head coach at Penn State or the head coach here of the Houston Texans – the mark of a man, the mark of a person is their ability to deal with adversity and how you rise up from it and become better from it. This team has a bunch of great guys in that locker room. This league is not easy. This league is not easy. We have a game plan, they have a game plan, they have good players, we have good players. Their plan was better than ours. Give them a lot of credit. They did a good job. We’ll deal with it, we’ll correct it and we’ll move quickly to Tennessee.”
Was anything more important than field position? Your average drive started at the 16 and theirs was the 40.
“That’s definitely a big stat in the game and a lot of that has to do with, you know, obviously, the turnovers and giving them a short field. It’s very difficult to win games when you’re turning the ball over like we did. It’s almost impossible. So, your point about field position is excellent. I think in the Kansas City game we were ahead in that margin, and in this game we were way behind. That’s not something that can continue if we want to win.”
With ILB Brian Cushing out, can you talk about the role ILB Benardrick McKinney is playing and his great game against the Patriots?
“I thought that McKinney played a good game. He had a bunch of tackles. I’m not sure exactly what his tackle stat was. He had a bunch of tackles. I thought Max (Bullough) played tough. But McKinney, he’s gotten better and better in this league and he’s a really good player for us.”
Can you give an update on OT Duane Brown?
“I think he’s closer. I think he’s closer. I don’t think he will play against Tennessee, but I know that there’s a shot for the next game.”
What did they do to prevent WR Will Fuller V from getting down field and making big plays?
“They did a good job. They played basically a defense where they were over the top quite a bit, not all the time, not all the time, but quite a bit over the top of (Will) Fuller and over the top of Hop (DeAndre Hopkins). It was difficult. What they did a really good job of was defending the running game. We need to run the ball better. They were giving us a look where we felt like we had a fair fight. We just didn’t get it done in the running game. They did a better job than us in that regard, obviously, and that was a big difference in the game.”
How would you assess the performance of the offensive line?
“It’s got to be better, but I thought at times it wasn’t too bad. There were times where maybe we can run the ball a little bit better. There were some decent blocking going on there, but not enough. It has to be more consistent. I thought it was more consistent against Kansas City than it was against New England and we will work hard. With an extra day of preparation, we’ll work very hard to improve that.”
When you look over the three games regarding running the football, do you see similar things that have prevented you from running the way you want to or has it been three different scenarios?
“There is some carry over, but I think guys are getting better. I thought Xavier Su’a-Filo played a good game last night. He’s one guy that has really improved and getting better. There are definitely things that are coming up in each game that we need to improve upon. Like I said, we will work really hard to get those better this week.”
Do you have an update on WR Braxton Miller? He said he was hopeful it wasn’t long term.
“I don’t think it’s long term. I really don’t. He’s in there right now getting treatment, so we will see how it is this week.”
What is your level of concern with RB Lamar Miller’s 400 carry pace and will you use him differently moving forward?
“We’ve gotten him to the edge quite a bit. I don’t know how many catches he had last night. We checked it down to him. We ran the ball to the edge. We’re pretty balanced as far as where we run the ball, inside and out. If you look at the stats as far as where we’re running the football on a self-scout situation, we’re pretty balanced inside and outside. As far as his carries, we have to do what’s best for the team. We have to do what’s best for Lamar. We don’t want to overwork Lamar. I think that’s something that we need to look at, but when we get into the game, dependent on how the game is going he may need to help us more than we thought going into the game and that’s just the way it goes. We’ll keep track of that as the year goes on. We’re very aware of that.”
As the head coach, what do you do to help players forget about this game and focus on the next one, or is it just business for them?
“I think part of being a pro is your ability to understand that it really is 16 one-game seasons. That’s a big part of what we talk about with our guys is ‘look that was not good last night, but there’s a lot of football left.’ The next season is Tennessee and I think that our guys really understand that. They’ll come in ready to go on Monday. They’ll come in with a good attitude. They’ll be ready to work. They’ll be looking forward to playing Tennessee and the challenge of playing Tennessee. That’s part of being a pro football player. At times you’re going to experience nights like that where they get the better of you. Now, how do you respond to it?”
Do you think QB Brock Osweiler took a step back last night or was it the Patriots?
“No, I do not think he took a step back. I think he obviously has to limit the turnovers but I think overall, I thought that he hung in there pretty well. I think it’s the rhythm of the offense, everybody doing their job, the protection, the running game, the route running, catching the football. In games like last night, if you have a couple drops on some key plays during the game, when you’re playing a team like the Patriots, those are key plays if you don’t make those plays. I know Brock’s going to work really hard to improve but I do not think he took a step back.”
With the kickoff returners, is it a teachable moment with where and how you hold the ball? What was the thinking behind having CB Charles James take a kickoff return?
“We had a plan in place there based on a couple of different things and that’s where Charles ended up being. I’m not going to get into the specifics of that but that’s something that we game-planned for and it didn’t really work obviously. (Tyler) Ervin is the primary returner and Ervin’s young. He’s a rookie and he’s had some decent returns for us. He’ll learn from it. He’ll get better from it and we’ll really work with him to improve on it.”
WR Jaelen Strong dropped a pass and had a penalty last night. What’s happened to him after his good offseason?
“I think it’s a couple different factors. Some of the things that we’re doing offensively - obviously we’re using Lamar (Miller) a lot. (Will) Fuller and (DeAndre) Hopkins have gotten a majority of the targets. Jaelen has to do some things better to continue to have the ball thrown to him. He can’t commit personal foul penalties. That really, at that stage of the game, was kind of not the time when we needed something like that, that’s for sure. He works very hard. I don’t think it’s a matter of what’s happened to him. It’s just ‘Hey, keep grinding, keep working and keep perfecting your route running and eventually the ball’s going to come to you.’”
How much can you learn from a game like yesterday or do you just try to move on?
“No, you have to study the tape. You have to look at what they did against you. You have to think about the things that you did, the game plan that you had and you have to think about how you’re going to correct your mistakes, the players’ mistakes and learn from it and then move on. You can’t just bury the tape and then move on to Tennessee. You have to look at it, watch it and get ready for Tennessee.”