“I just want to say to start off here, and I got to know this man at a couple special Olympic events, and I just want to say on behalf of the Houston Texans, we know that the city of Houston lost one of its sports broadcasting legends last night with Bob Allen losing his fight to cancer. I just want to express our condolences to his family and friends and to everybody here that was friends with him. I know he was here forever. I got a chance to meet him a few times at special Olympics events. Great man. Very sorry to hear that news.”
What do you think about Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak as a coach and what he did with the Denver Broncos last year?
“I think he’s a great coach. Anytime you win a Super Bowl as a head coach - it’s hard enough to win one game in this league. You go out there and you win a Super Bowl, I think that says a lot about you as a coach. I think he’s an excellent coach. Excellent offensive coach. Obviously has a great understanding of defense. Great understanding of his team. It’s a big challenge for us.”
Is there a unifying theme between the Titans game and the Colts game when you were able to score two back-to-back touchdowns on drives?
“It’s first down. I think if you look back at those drives, you’re exactly right and we’re trying to find the consistency there. We feel like we find it in practice every week, but obviously the games are different than practice. The common theme though with those drives that you’re talking about was those drives started with a positive play. Even if it’s just a 4-yard gain at 2nd-and-6 relative to a 2-yard loss, now it’s 2nd-and-12. The chances of you having a successful drive when you have a 2nd-and-12 as your second play of the drive are minimal. I think we have to really pay attention to first down and getting off to a good start on the drive. Once we get off to a good start, everybody is into a rhythm. The play caller, the quarterback, the line, everybody. I think that’s a big part of it.”
With previous quarterbacks like T.J. Yates and Case Keenum, you simplified the offense because you didn’t have much time to work with them. Has there been any success if things are simplified with QB Brock Osweiler or is there no correlation?
“I think that’s a good question. When we talk about simplifying the offense, like when we had Case in here, we brought him in and maybe we weren’t as expansive as we would have been with somebody that had been with us for a whole year. But as I remember, we were playing Baltimore and we had to do enough because Baltimore was really good on defense. I think the deal is, and the same thing with T.J., I think the deal is, in this league with the multiplicity on defense, you just never really know what you’re going to get on a week-to-week basis, on a play-to-play basis. You try to narrow it down with your study during the week and you try to make the best decision possible. Because of that, your quarterback, your offensive players have to understand, ‘hey look it could be this play or it could be that play’ and as long as you can make the language of that pretty simple so they’re not speeches, then I think after that the players have it down. I think that’s what we’ve tried to do over the years is just try to eliminate some of the unnecessary verbiage in the play call, but in essence still call the play out on the field. Let the players play it. Sometimes that takes a while. Sometimes it looks good. Other times it doesn’t look good and that’s what we have to fix. We have to get this thing more consistent.”
How is CB Kareem Jackson and will he play on Monday and is G Jeff Allen still in the protocol?
“Jeff Allen, I’m not sure about that. I expect both of those guys to be ready Monday night though.”
How do you think QB Brock Osweiler has managed himself in-game in the past six weeks?
“I think he does a really good job with that. I think the guy has got a good demeanor. I think he’s calm. I think he’s focused. I’m sure there are some times when it’s eating him up inside when we’re not moving the ball and he wants to do well for his team, but I don’t think he ever shows that. I think he’s got a really good demeanor on the sideline. He understands what we’re coaching him, what he’s seeing. There’s a case in point of that in the Indianapolis game. If you’re a guy that’s losing your poise, you’re going to have a hard time coming back in that game. A guy that keeps his poise hangs in there with the ups and downs. That’s a guy that has a chance to bring his team back and that’s what happened.”
When Broncos Head Coach Gary Kubiak was the offensive coordinator with the Baltimore Ravens, the Texans beat them. What is the key to stopping his offense or does it start with the run?
“You’re talking about two different teams there. He was the coordinator in Baltimore. Totally different scenario. But I will say this. In Denver, I think they do an excellent job of running the ball. I think they have a really good scheme. They coach it really well. They’ve got a good offensive line, good backs. C.J. Anderson is a very good back. Very tough to tackle. Good tight ends. Guys that can block the edge. I think stopping the run, which is something that we talk about every week with every team, we need to do a better job of it. I think stopping the run with Denver is a big key.”
When you’re preparing for a guy like OLB Von Miller, how do you balance giving your quarterback and line help and not letting that extra help impede on what you want to do offensively?
“You don’t even think about letting it - because Von Miller is going to impede on you offensively if you don’t help. If that makes sense. You have guys like Von Miller, obviously J.J. Watt. There’s other guys throughout the league. You just do your best to not let them ruin the game.”
QB Brock Osweiler obviously isn’t a 10-year starter, but during training camp it seemed like he was always on track. His performance during the season has been up and down. Are you and Brock not where you want to be when it comes to the quarterback situation or is he doing everything he needs to do when it comes to preparing and game planning?
“Offensively, obviously, we want to be farther ahead than we are right now, but as far as Brock is concerned, the guy does everything. He’s prepared. He’s in here early. Stays late. I’m not really sure there’s much more he can do off the field. Can everybody play better? Can everybody coach better? No question. I think that when we’ve played well, it’s looked pretty good, but it just hasn’t been enough. It’s been good enough to be 4-2. Not that that’s an unbelievable record. I get it. First place in your division. Got a long way to go here. Not a bad start. Little bit better than 1-4 and 2-5. We’re on the right track, but it has to become more consistent. Not just one player though. It’s the coaching. It’s the 11 guys on offense. We had a film session yesterday where we watched every single play of the Indianapolis game. We went through every position, every player. ‘Hey look, this was really good. Hey but this play right here is not as good and this is why and this is what we got to do to improve. Hey this is a bad play call right here. My fault. We got to call a better play here.’ We’re all in it together. If we’re all pulling the same rope I think eventually you’ll see it become more consistent. It has to be. In order for us to be where we want to go. We know that. We know that we have to play better offensively and coach better offensively.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
How do you keep playing well in the secondary with all of the injuries and what do you do as a coach to make up for the loss of personnel?
“We have guys on the team who have been in the system who have been practicing. They know the system and what you hope is that if they have to go in or when they go in that they are able to execute at a high level. When you can get that, it’s not as much of a drop off. I think one of the things that we’ve had this year in the secondary is we had a lot of competition because of who we’ve had there and as a result of the competition, that makes everybody better. So all those guys have gotten better. When we lose a guy, then the next guy is able to step in and perform some.”
How was CB Kevin Johnson playing, and what is it like to lose him?
“He was playing really good. He had come on. Had the injury in the offseason. Had come back from that and began to knock the rust off. You could see that his transition was getting back to where it was before. He was coming up and making tackles and able to cover guys. We felt good about what he brought to the table for us and we like Kevin. Now losing him, as we’ve talked about before, when you lose a good player that sometimes depending on the ability level of the guy that goes in, sometimes it drops off a little bit. The whole unit has to step up and pick up its game so that the unit can still operate efficiently.”
You’ve used CB A.J. Bouye at safety and corner and his responsibilities seem to keep increasing. Can you talk about the level of responsibility he has on his plate?
“He’s stepped up since I’ve been here and he’s improved every year. He’s gotten to the point where we depend on him quite a bit. We can put him out there and he can compete against most of them. We feel like we can let him compete against most of them. He’s been able to make plays and help the defense. I think he’s been a big addition. He’s been part of that competition thing that has helped us. Then when you get Kareem (Jackson) who gets nicked up, then A.J. plays a little bit more. That’s been able to be beneficial to us. I think that he has accepted the role and the responsibility of doing whatever it takes to help the team win.”
For being in the league as long as he has, ILB Brian Cushing still has passion and intensity for the game. How does that translate into the meetings and what do you see as a coach from him?
“Brian is one of the leaders on the team. The linebacker position has some innate leadership things that happen. Brian has been a leader, signal caller and he takes his job serious. He takes playing serious. What he brings to the table as far as his intensity and what playing the game well means for him and to us, that just still burns in him. I think it will burn in him as long as he can play the game.”
How has ILB Brian Cushing helped some of the younger players on defense?
“He’ll pull some of the young guys aside and talk to them about a play or about a read. What he sees, what they should be looking for and I think that’s one of the big ways that he helps them.”
You’ve been going against Head Coach Gary Kubiak’s offenses for a long time. What is it like to try to stop Denver’s running game?
“They’re not complicated with their running game. They do what they do, but because they do what they do, they’ve seen every kind of front, every kind of adjustment that you can make to it and they’ve got a good group of guys playing the positions. They’ve got an offensive line that is an aggressive offensive line. They have a particular scheme that they employ. They’re very good with their schemes. Their backs are well-built and well put together and they run hard. It’s just difficult to defend it. You have to put a little bit of extra time in. Talk to your guys about it. Watch it on tape. Then hopefully when you get to the game, you can execute and try to slow them down.”
You’re one of the worst teams in the league against the run game. How much of that comes from DE J.J. Watt not being here?
“I’m not going to say that. We played a whole hell of a lot better because of what’s happened on the field. I think if Watt were here that he would make some plays because that’s what he does. We collectively have to do a better job of beating blocks one-on-one and staying at the line of scrimmage, not getting knocked back and then fitting gap responsibilities, which we didn’t do last week.”
Should you be better against the run based on who you have out there?
“I think we should. As a coordinator, I want to be better and that’s what I’m telling them, that we should be better.”
ILB BRIAN CUSHING
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel said the running game is very tough.
“Yeah, it is. I’m pretty familiar with it, obviously, with the scheme and playing for Kub (Gary Kubiak). I understand that really it’s a zone running game with a one cut kind of back. (C.J.) Anderson is obviously a very good running back, too. You combine those two things and they have a good running game for sure.”
Is it dangerous to look at the offense as being familiar even though it will be different?
“Familiar, but at the same time, we didn’t cut in practice and can’t emulate a lot of things that they are doing obviously in the game. They are doing a really good job with it from the line to selling the play action to running the ball and everything. They are really doing a good job overall. Their balanced and their running the ball really well.”
This whole locker room seems to be circling around QB Brock Osweiler with him going back to play where he used to play. What do you think it will be like for him on Monday night?
“I think it will probably be a little bit emotional. He played there, had a good career there, but at the same time he is here now and we support him. I know that he’s focused on winning the game and playing well. There are certain things go into it with but at the end of the day you’re playing a game and obviously he is on this team now.”
Do you get the sense that he knows how to react to all of this?
“I do. I do. I think he’s probably envisioned this and knew this day was coming. He’s done a great job this week so far in practice. You know he’s going to have a big game.”
Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel says you are one of the leaders of this defense now. How do you take the intensity that you have and transfer it to some of the younger guys?
“The intensity is really just on the field. A lot of it. That’s really where it stays. Off the field, I just try to teach and talk to these guys as much as I possibly can. Whether it’s coming into the league or little stuff that I see, really just a variety of different things. I just try to communicate with all of them and share my experiences and anything that I can help them learn.”
Why do you think that’s important for some of the younger players?
“I had older players guiding me. When you come into the league, it’s a very challenging, different kind of work place. You try to learn as best you possibly can, try to adapt as quickly as you possibly can. Any kind of older leadership that can help, obviously, is tremendous.”
Do you remember the time in your career when you made that switch from being a player that listened to a player that leads?
“It was probably around my third or fourth year. It kind of just happens. It’s not like your just appointed, but I think after a certain amount of years playing and proving yourself, it kind of just naturally happens.”
Several of the guys have said that they turn to you after their injuries to get through the process. Why is that important?
“It is. Same exact thing, though. I have experienced it. I have gone through it. There is a lot of knowledge that I can help shed to these guys and let them know that they can get through it and they will get through it. Obviously, it is unfortunate that myself and other guys had to go through those situations, but it just makes you stronger as a person and player.”
On the road you have fell behind and couldn’t come back. Last week you fell behind and could come back. Is that helpful knowing going into this week?
“I think so. I hope so, but at the same time I hope we are not behind. Hopefully, we get out to a hot start and just take off from there.”
Anything about those two games that you can look at.
“We just fell behind, it’s a mistake falling behind to two good football teams and this will be a third one that we are playing this weekend. Obviously, to not fall behind like that and hopefully get off to a good start and take the lead early.”
Do you think the defense has been doing enough distributive things to force turnovers?
“I think so and we will continue to do it. Continue to try to get after it. We aren’t going to quit as far as that’s concerned. Continue to try to get after the ball as much as possible really in all aspects.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
What do you expect this game to be like emotionally for you as you go back to the place you started your career and the tough decision you made to change teams? Can you take us through what you’re feeling like this week?
“I’m treating this week like a normal week. I’m treating it no different. I’m preparing the same way, I have the same routine in the morning, in the afternoon. I’m doing the body work that I do in the evenings and doing that at the same time. I’m studying the defense just like I would any other defense. That’s how I’m going to prepare. You’re right, I’m extremely familiar with that organization, with the city of Denver, but at the end of the day, like coach says, we play 16 one-game seasons throughout the course of the year. So, I’m treating this like it’s just another one-game season. I’m treating it no different and I’m preparing the same exact way.”
Why is it important to not get wrapped up in the emotions?
“You know, I think emotions can take you out of a game. I was taught very, very early in my career that you need to have laser focus on your job and doing your job at a high level. So, I feel like if I let outside noise and things that really aren’t relevant to the game plan and emotions that aren’t relevant to the game creep in, really, at the end of the day all it’s going to do is take me out of my game. That’s why I’m trying to keep it as normal of a week as possible.”
What’s your reaction to some of the things you see your former teammates saying about you?
“It seems like they miss me.”
Who told you early in your career that you should be focused?
“I’ve heard multiple coaches say focus on your job, focus on the details of your job. The first one I really remember was Adam Gase. He was the quarterbacks coach in Denver in 2012 when I was drafted there. Then, Coach (John) Fox also in that same year, the head coach when I was drafted to Denver, he always used to say, ‘Have laser focus on your job.’ So, those were two things that have stuck with me throughout my career. I try to have the same exact routine throughout the week. I try to be the same person, I try to be the same teammate every single day. Once again, I was told you never want to ride a wave. You always want to stay right here in the middle, be the same guy every day the way you approach the job, the way you handle your job. Like I said, at the end of the day it’s all about removing outside distractions and focusing on the task at hand.”
Is it easier said than done to treat it like a normal week?
“You know, not really. This week’s really felt normal to me. Obviously, I know what’s taking place. I’m going back to Denver, and the whole free agency talk and all that stuff. I’m not blind to that. But at the end of the day, this football game isn’t going to determine our season in any regard. Once again, it’s 16 one-game seasons, like how Coach (Bill) O’Brien always says. At the end of the day, like I said, I’m preparing extremely hard. I know we have a great challenge ahead of us going into Mile High Stadium. Those fans are loud, they support the home team, they’re making noise all game, and they’re going to make it very difficult on us to communicate. I know how talented the defense is. I’m not blind to that. They’re the Super Bowl champions for a reason. I know the challenge ahead of us going into Mile High, going against that great defense, trying to move the ball and score points. Really, at the end of the day, my focus right now is having great practices. I feel like great practice usually leads to great play. So, I feel like the better the practice can be, the sharper the practice can be and all my focus on that practice, it’ll be a good start for the challenge ahead of us.”
How much did you grow during your time in Denver and how much did that prepare you for the opportunity you have here?
“I was learning every single day, and I still am learning every single day. I was extremely fortunate to be able to spend four years with Peyton Manning. I think everybody in this room and out there in the National Football League would say he’s second to none, and what he was able to accomplish as a player, as a teammate, as a leader in the community, is truly unbelievable. So, I made sure I took advantage of that. At the end of the day, as an athlete, you’re never staying the same. You’re either getting better or you’re getting worse, so every single day, including to this day, I’m always trying to get better.”
You were in Denver when Peyton Manning had to go back and face his former team in Indianapolis. What did you learn from that?
“I learned a ton from that. You know, flashing back in my head and thinking back to the two times Peyton had to go back to Indianapolis and play back there, he didn’t change anything about that week. I remember the first time we went back there and it was a Sunday night game, I believe, or a Sunday afternoon game, and I remember being in our Saturday night quarterback meeting, and when I got to that meeting I was kind of anxious to see how he was going to be, what kind of energy he would have. I’ll never forget it. He stepped into the meeting and the way he conducted himself, he was the same Peyton Manning that he was the week before, the week before that and the week before that. I think that was a huge lesson for myself and that was one of the many lessons I was so fortunate to be able to learn from him. He treated that football game just like any other football game. I’m sure there was emotion involved with that but he certainly did a phenomenal job of removing that and focusing on his job.”
Is there any truth to the idea that this offense can sometimes work a little better when it’s simplified a little bit?
“I wouldn’t say that. At the end of the day, this offense is this offense. There’s not really a simplified version, there’s not a more complex version. Coach (Bill) O’Brien’s offense is Coach O’Brien’s offense. So, at the end of the day, I think some of the troubles you’ve seen us go through – last game for three and a half quarters, Minnesota, New England, some of those other games early – it really just boils down to everybody just needs to do their job a little bit better. I know that sounds maybe cliché or too simple, but, really, that’s what it is, it’s just everybody, starting with myself, just doing their job a little bit better, executing a little bit better, having a little bit better focus. There’s nobody who needs to do that more than myself moving forward, and I know that and I recognize that. I’m not concerned, you know, are we running a simplified version? No. At the end of the day, this is Coach O’Brien’s offense, this is the 2016 Houston Texans offense. We all just need to do a little bit better, and like I said, it starts with me and it really starts in practice. It was great to see the practice we had today. We had a phenomenal day out there.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien said there’s nothing more you can do off the field in terms of preparation because you work so hard already. What’s translating in a positive manner on Sundays and what’s not really translating from that to the games?
“That’s actually kind of the riddle we’re trying to figure out right now, because it seems like we have really good practices throughout the week. Going into the Saturday night meetings everyone is really honed in on their job and what they need to do to be successful on Sunday, and then for whatever reason, some plays we’re doing that to be successful and then other plays we just do some things where you look at the tape and you just kind of shake your head. So, really, we’re looking for answers to figure out a way to be more consistent. But I think at the end of the day and what we really saw in practice today – like I said, we had a phenomenal day out there – I think if all 11 of us, regardless of who it is, but all 11 who are on the field at that time, if we all just focus a little bit harder and just focus on our job and trust our teammates around us, I think we’ll get this thing going in the right direction. At the end of the day, it’s the National Football League – defenses are complex, you’re getting a lot of different looks, you’re getting un-scouted looks come Sunday. But we also have a lot of really talented guys on our side of the ball, on this team in general. So, we know we need to do our jobs better and we’re striving and we’re trying to find every way to do that.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien talked to us about how productive the film session was looking back at every play against Indianapolis. What stood out about the comeback and how do you carry it over?
“You know, when you think about when we kind of started to move the ball, we started to get some first downs, we started to score some points, it really was because what I just said: guys were just doing their jobs a little bit better. We have the talent. We have all the talent in the world and we have the work ethic, we have great chemistry. You guys see it in the locker room. We’re super tight in that locker room, everybody works hard, guys study hard. When we really got the ball moving the other night late in the fourth quarter, it was just guys making plays. You think about C.J.’s (Fiedorowicz) touchdown, the offensive line did a tremendous job in protection, all the receivers hit their landmarks where they were supposed to be on that play, C.J. made a great move, he made a great catch and he scored. You look at Lamar’s (Miller) score, once again, line, great protection, all the receivers got to their landmarks where they’re supposed to be on the field, and I dump the ball down to Lamar and Lamar just made a tremendous play. We know how special of a player he is and he really showed us on that play. The great thing when you go back and you look at it, nobody on that field quit. Guys were throwing their bodies at defenders making blocks for Lamar as he went in the end zone. So, like I said, I think it just boils down to we just need to focus a little bit harder and we just need to keep working in practice like we did today and things will get rolling. At the end of the day, there’s a lot that goes into this offense, and it’s going to take time for us to really click. That’s no excuse for some of the issues we’ve had out there on the field, but I can promise you we’re working every single day to get this stuff cleaned up, and like I said, we had a really good day at practice today taking a step forward.”
Have you had any humorous communication with any of the Denver players or staff this week?
“Not this week. I know those guys are extremely focused on their game plan just like we’re focused on our game plan, but absolutely throughout the course of the season. Any time you spend four years in that close of an environment with guys, you’re going to have great relationships. At the end of the day, I have nothing but love and respect and appreciation for that entire organization, for the city of Denver. It was great to myself, my family, and so of course I stay in contact with those guys. I talk to Trevor (Siemian), I talk to Demaryius (Thomas) and Emmanuel (Sanders), and at the ring ceremony, Von (Miller) and Emmanuel FaceTimed me. I obviously still stay in contact with those guys and I wish them nothing but the best moving forward. They were always great teammates to me, and like I said, I hold the four years that I had in Denver, that I had with the Denver Broncos, very close to my heart. It was a very special time, and like I said, I wish those guys nothing but the best moving forward.”
NT VINCE WILFORK
What do you see from the Broncos on offense and what do you all need to be prepared for?
“Everything. They’ve got their running game going pretty good. They’re backs run hard. Good skill positions and a good offensive line. Once again, we’re going on the road to face a good opponent, a team that won the Super Bowl. They’re Super Bowl defending champs. It’s going to be a lot to handle going into an environment like that. But at the same time, it’s football. We know we have our hands full and it all starts with the ground game. We’re going to try to stop the run. With the backs they have, they’ve been running the ball pretty well. We have one extra day this week. Hopefully we can try to get everything we possibly can and get it down and be successful come Monday night.”
What’s it like playing in Denver with the altitude?
“That’s something I really don’t pay attention to. You have so many things to prepare for. You can’t worry about mother nature. The Denver team itself is enough, so you have to kind of block it out and go out and play. Whatever happens after that, happens. You can’t control that. Control what you can control and that’s playing football. Let everything else work itself out.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien told us you all studied the film of the Colts game. What did you take away from that?
“Just the grit from this team. Things weren’t perfect in that game and it never will be. To win a game in the division like that at home, it was tough. It showed a lot of character from this team. To be down the way we were, then the offense got the ball back with six minutes and put up two scores and went into overtime. The defense held them and gave it back to the offense. We went out and kicked a field goal to win the ball game. I don’t think you can draw it up any better than that when you talk about complimentary football. We executed that very, very well. Hopefully that’s something for us to look back and say ‘You know what, this was the starting point of something good for us.’ I think a lot of guys never gave up and showed a lot of heart. We knew we had heart on this team. We just have to continue to put it together on a consistent basis. I think that’s the problems we’ve had over the past couple weeks, being consistent. Hopefully we can get it together this week, especially seeing how we finished this past week. I think it’s something we should be proud of and something we should be able to build on. That’s one of our goals.”
How do you work on being more consistent as a football team?
“Continue to do things the right way and believing. I think consistency comes with a lot of confidence. I think with what we showed, this team should have a lot of confidence. We should have a lot of confidence going into this game because we showed each other, this organization and this coaching staff, that we are a tough football team. We can make the plays when we need to make plays. But it’s doing it play after play. Doing it for four quarters and sometimes even more than that like we did last week. So I think it comes with the confidence level and I think we should have a lot of confidence right now with the way we played last week.”
What’s challenging about losing key players on defense every week to injury?
“I mean, that’s around the league. You hear and you see guys go down every week at this level. So you just have to continue to do what you have to do to be at your best for your team. When someone goes down, the next man has to step up. That’s why you have backups and you have depth. The coaches play a big role in that. Being able to coach guys the same way and teach them the same thing that was going on. I think when you lose guys, it’s tough. But at the same time, it’s the next man up. That’s the motto you have to have because you’re going to lose guys. It sucks to lose anybody but that’s the nature of the game. You will lose them. It’s how you comeback after you lose them and how you can plug the next guy in and have him up to par and ready to play. I think our coaches do a really good job of making sure that all of us are ready to play at any given time. We understand that anybody can come in and plug in for somebody so you have to be attentive in meetings and practice. You have to get the reps, even if you’re only getting two reps a week. You have to make those two reps count because you never know when the team is going to depend on you. I think we’ve done a great job with that. We have to continue to do that.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH BRONCOS HEAD COACH GARY KUBIAK
Do you have some thoughts about seeing QB Brock Osweiler in another uniform and in your stadium for the first time?
“Well, obviously I have a ton of respect for Brock. We had a lot of fun together last year, won some big games, won a championship. I have a lot of respect for him and what he’s done in his career and watching him do it right now. It will be good to see him. Obviously there’s a few guys here who have been there and a few guys there who have been here. That’s kind of part of football.”
You obviously have a lot of history with this team that dates back to when you were a child. Is there anything extra when you play against a team that you have so much history with?
“You know, I don’t know. I was asked that a while ago. Obviously I have great respect for the organization, for Mr. (Robert C.) McNair and his family for the opportunity he gave me as a person and a coach. I battled with a lot of people there, and a lot of people that are still there. That’s part of this league. I’m just happy to be back on the field this week and looking forward – we know we have to play well. They’re a really good football team, a first-place football team. Looking forward to that.”
You knew Bob Allen for a long time. What did you think when you heard of his passing?
“Yeah, I found out very early this morning. Obviously it’s tough. We lost a great person. He’s a legend there in town, in my opinion. I’ve known him since I was a kid. Had a chance to visit with him a few weeks ago. We’ll all miss him and we’re all better because we knew him. All my thoughts and prayers are with his family.”
Texans DE Antonio Smith said he’s happy that you’re doing OK but he also said he maybe preferred you take one more week off to relax and rest up.
“Shoot, I thought ‘Country’ was taking some time off and he went back to work. Ya’ll tell Antonio I said hello. He’s doing a great job. It’s good to be back to work.”
All the players were talking about how they were praying for you when they heard you had to go to the hospital. How much did that scare you compared to the first time?
“I don’t know how much it scares you. You just go through something, you try to figure out what the heck is going on. The good news for me is all my tests all came back fine, and I’m working with the right people here and talking to people in Houston and people here in Denver. I know I love what I do. I love being on that field with these players, just walking off the field, talking to you guys. I mean, that’s my routine. I’m just glad to be doing it again today.”
What do you think about the Texans defense and how they’ve responded without DE J.J. Watt?
“This will be the best group we play at this point. They’re creating a lot of negative plays. A lot of guys are pitching in. That’s what’s impressive I think when you look at it. There’s a lot of guys pitching in and obviously Whitney (Mercilus) is playing great. (Jadeveon) Clowney is playing great. Cush (Brian Cushing) is back. A lot of great things going on. They do a great job of coaching up their guys. They play extremely hard, so it’s a very impressive group to go against.”
How happy are you not to have to go against DE J.J. Watt?
“Well I hope he’s doing OK. Tell him I said hello. I know it’s a tough deal to go through, but I’m sure he’s going to be back and be better than ever. Obviously what he’s done in this league, it speaks for itself. Make sure you tell him I said hello and take care of himself.”
DE Antonio Smith said he said prayers and knew you were going to be OK. Can you talk about that?
“He’s led a few prayers. I’ll tell you what, he’s something else. I’ll tell you guys a great story since I got all of you listening. So we’re at the Super Bowl and pregame in the locker room obviously we always take a knee and say a prayer. Our Chaplain Luther Elliss leads us all the time. We were pretty antsy. We all hit a knee and grabbed hands and I said ‘OK Luther, go ahead.’ There was total silence and I said ‘Luther, go ahead.’ There was total silence. Then the whole team heard him and Antonio praying in the shower, so he held us up for about five minutes. Remind him of that story.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH BRONCOS OLB VON MILLER
How excited are you to play against your old teammate Texans QB Brock Osweiler?
“It’s been cool. Me and Brock went through the same type of period together. We both went through contract negotiations and all that stuff together. I don’t really have any hard feelings towards Brock. I want to see him do good this year. I want to see him be the quarterback that the Houston Texans want him to be. But I just don’t want to see him do it on Monday.”
What do you attribute some of your success as a pass rusher to?
“For one, I have a great supporting cast around me. I got great coaching. I got great guys that always give me feedback on my rushes and what I’m doing right and what I’m doing wrong. It starts with those guys. Every time I come in on Monday or Tuesday when we come in, they already have the cut up for me of what I did wrong, what I did right, what worked and what I should try next time. They’re on top of that stuff for me and they do a really good job of keeping me informed on the type of rushes I use.”
What are some of the crazy things opponents have tried to do to you to stop you?
“I don’t know if it’s crazy or not. It’s just new, creative stuff. They might motion a wide receiver in. There might already be a tight end lined up in an ideal position. There might be a running back to come out and chip after that. After all that stuff, I still have to tackle him. It’s just little creative stuff like that. You just have to rush through. You might not be able to get the sack on 3rd-and-long. You might have to get it on first down. I just attack every play with a relentless effort and tenacious pursuit. Whenever my opportunity presents itself, I try to take advantage of it.”
What were some of the fun things you did over the offseason?
“I think everything was interesting. I got to kick it with a lot of NFL guys. I was out in LA and a lot of NFL guys are out in LA, so I got to kick it with a lot of NFL guys that I wouldn’t normally get to kick it with. I got to do a whole bunch of stuff all summer. I like to group it in as the summer as a whole. I don’t like to split it up and say ‘you know, I went to the White House and that was probably the dopest thing’ or anything like that. I just try to group it all together. Everything was dope and interesting.”
What do you think about your Texas A&M Aggies facing Alabama this weekend?
“For one, we have to run the ball. We’ve been pretty good running the ball the last couple of weeks. We’re going to have to have a big game out of Trevor (Knight), same thing he’s been doing for us the last couple of games. We have to run the ball, we have to play solid defense. I feel like if were able to do that, we should have a shot at the end.”
What do you think about what Texas A&M DE Myles Garrett is doing?
“I think the world of Myles Garrett. He’s probably the best slam dunk pick out of this year’s draft. You know he’s going to be a legend. You know he’s going to be cold. He’s a slam dunk. He’s already developed. He’s already ready to go.”
What do you think about how the Broncos and their fans view Texans QB Brock Osweiler?
“Besides what B-Marsh (Brandon Marshall) said, everything else – we love Brock. Like I said before, I love Brock. We were going through the same process together. We talked during that period. I get where he’s coming from. I 100 percent get why he made the decision that he made. It was the best decision for him. I have nothing but 100 percent respect for that. It’s just a little added sauce on it when you’re playing somebody that you played with before. That’s all it really is. It’s just a little sauce on the top.”
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH DENVER MEDIA (Transcribed by Broncos PR)
On speculation that there he was not a part of the decision to sign QB Brock Osweiler
“There’s no truth to that. Anytime that you make decisions as it relates to personnel, it’s everybody being on the same page. Everybody is 100 percent behind him. This day and age with Twitter, there are so many things flying around out there, it’s amazing to me. It’s like people are so bored that they don’t have anything else to do, it’s ridiculous. That’s not true.”
On any disappointment in the play of QB Brock Osweiler
“I think that offensively we all need to do a better job. When play well, it’s been good. We need to be more consistent. I haven’t been disappointed in any individual player, no, but I’ve been disappointed in our lack of consistency. That’s what we’re all striving to do, is be more consistent.”
On what he’s told Osweiler regarding his return to Denver
“We’re really concentrating on our game plan. We have enough to worry about as far as their defense and all of the challenges that they pose on defense. It’s not like we’re going to sit there and have a chat about crowd noise and, ‘hey, this guy in the front row might be yelling at you.’ Who cares, I think it’s more about understanding your game plan and doing the best plan that you can for your team as a coach and as a player to give yourself a chance to win. You look at their defense, that’s what we’re concentrating on the most from an offensive standpoint.”
On his reaction of Osweiler not attending the White House to practice in Houston
“I had no reaction to that.”
On if he expects WR Will Fuller to play on Monday
“It looks like he could possibly play but I’d say that it’s day-to-day.”
On the familiarity in play between the Broncos defense and Osweiler
“I think that it’s totally different. They may be familiar with him as it relates to practice and when he was in Denver and things like that. Now he’s in a different system, different teammates, just a whole different ball game. I understand the question, but I think that it’s a whole different deal. We’re just trying to do the best that we can to prepare for a very, very difficult defense. You look at their defense; it’s one of the best in the league if not the best in the league. The front seven’s excellent. [OLB] Von Miller, excellent player. Secondary, [CB] Chris Harris, [CB Aqib] Talib, [S] T.J. Ward, I mean these guys are all really good players so that’s what we’re focused on.”
On the injured Texans secondary facing the Denver receiving core
“Even if your secondary didn’t have injuries, you’d still have a tough match-up against those guys. [WR] Emmanuel Sanders and [WR] Demaryius Thomas are excellent players. I worked out Emmanuel Sanders when he was coming out of college. I thought he was a really good college receiver and obviously he’s been an excellent pro. Thomas is just big, strong, physical, has good speed. These guys are difficult match ups so it’s a big challenge and our guys are going to show up and play very hard. They understand the challenge.”
On what he’s seen from QB Trevor Siemian
“I think he’s good. I think he’s accurate. I think he’s smart. He’s got the ability to escape, which is really important in this league. A lot of these that have the escape ability, they make a lot of plays outside of the pocket and so I think that he’s got that. He obviously has good command of the offense. He knows when to get them into the right play so I think that he’s a good football player.”
On what opposing defenses have done to have success against the Broncos
“That’s been a little bit up and down. I think the Broncos pride themselves on wanting to run the football. That’s one of their main identities is because of that scheme that they run is an excellent scheme. [Head Coach Gary] Kubiak coaches it really well. Then everything plays off of that, the play action, the bootlegs. When they’ve won their games, they’ve played well offensively. It’s the same thing with us. When we’ve won, we’ve played OK offensively. When we’ve lost, it’s been terrible. I think that we’re all just trying to see who could be the most consistent the fastest.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH DENVER MEDIA (Transcribed by Broncos PR)
On why he did not attend the Broncos’ visit to the White House
“It’s pretty simple. We had an OTA that Monday. As we’ve talked in the past, learning a new offense and a new system, like we went through in 2015 in Denver, it takes a lot of time. It takes a lot of repetitions and you can even multiply that when you are trying to learn a new system, learn new teammates and build chemistry. Bottom line, I wasn’t at the White House because we had an OTA that Monday when the Broncos visited the president and the White House. I felt like it was very important for me to be here with my new teammates and continue to learn this new system.”
On why he did not attend the Broncos’ ring ceremony
“The ring ceremony was the same deal. The ring ceremony was on Sunday night and we had a practice on Monday. If I went to the ring ceremony, I wouldn’t have been able to catch a flight to be back in time for OTAs. The bottom line is the same deal. There are so few OTAs and when you’re trying to learn a new system, learn new teammates and build chemistry with a new team, every single day is extremely important.”
On whether he understood how surprising his decision was to the Denver fan base
“I can completely understand why everybody was extremely surprised and shocked at the time. It was an extremely difficult decision, but at the end of the day, it was a decision made based upon what I thought was best for my family and myself.”
On whether is family influenced his decision to sign with Houston
“I wouldn’t say influence, but I certainly had countless conversations with my parents, my wife, coaches -- going back to high school and college and a lot of coaches that I’ve spent time with and respect, and other people around the National Football League. I’m not lying when I tell you it was the hardest decision of my life. It was the hardest decision because I have nothing but gratitude, love, respect and appreciation for not only the organization, but the fan base and the entire city of Denver. Everybody was nothing but great to me for my four years. Bottom line, it was a very difficult decision that had to be made. I just tried to make the best decision for my family and myself.”
On his relationship with Broncos Executive Vice President Football Operations/General Manager John Elway
“I think we have a great relationship. In fact, I saw John up in Idaho this summer and we were able to visit for a few minutes, catch up and ask how the family is doing. Once again, I have nothing but respect and appreciation for John Elway. At the end of the day, he’s been nothing but great for me. He gave me my first opportunity in the National Football League. He stuck with me for four years and really at the end of the day for John, nothing but love, respect and appreciation.”
On his comments regarding the Texans giving him a better chance of success
“There were a number of things that went into this decision. It wasn’t like it was a decision that was made overnight. It was a decision that took up weeks post Super Bowl as we were heading into free agency. I don’t know if that was probably the correct thing for me to say. Bottom line, there were so many things that went into it. I have nothing but great feelings towards [Broncos Head] Coach [Gary] Kubiak, the rest of the staff and the system that he runs. I feel like I had great success in it last year. I really enjoyed playing in that system. What [Texans Head] Coach [Bill] O’Brien is doing down here in Houston and at the time, when I was doing my research on the Texans, it seemed like a phenomenal opportunity as a quarterback to play in a system like this. I was able to see [Broncos QB] Peyton [Manning] play in similar systems in 2012, 13 and 14. I don’t think any of us can deny what he was able to accomplish in those systems. As a quarterback, as a competitor and as someone striving to do great things in this league, it just seemed like a great opportunity to play in a system that was similar to that.”
On how being benched at the end of the season played into his decision to sign with Houston
“It didn’t weigh in what so ever. At the end of the day, I really do have nothing but respect for Coach Kubiak and how he runs that team. In fact, as soon as he got sick and I found out that he was sick, I reached out to him right away. We communicated. He continued to wish me nothing but the best when I checked in with him. It’s true when I say it, I really have no poor feelings towards coach, Denver or the organization. When I was replaced in the San Diego game, obviously I was a little bit frustrated to get pulled out of a game. You’re battling, you’re fighting with your teammates and emotions are high. Certainly I think any competition would be frustrated in that moment, but once I got out of the game and I was able to have conversations with Coach Kubiak, John and [Quarterbacks/Passing Game Coordinator] Coach [Greg] Knapp, it certainly made sense what Coach Kubiak was doing for the playoff run. At the end of the day I believe that Coach Kubiak always did what was best for the team and I trusted that and believed in that. The final thing I would say on that topic, in the San Diego game I got replaced by Peyton Manning to make a playoff run with a great football team. I think any coach or any team in the National Football League, if they had Peyton Manning healthy and ready to play, I think we all know who is going to play in the game. That has nothing what so ever to do with my decision. I truly just tried to make the best decision for my family and myself.”
On what the Broncos could have done to keep him
“I really don’t want to get into hypotheticals or anything like that. Bottom line, Denver had the opportunity to extend an offer. In fact, they had a great, very long period of time to extend an offer so at the end of the day, right before free agency opened, there was two offers on the table, there was two things to examine, to explore, to try to do as much research on as possible to see what the best move moving forward would be. Ultimately, obviously I chose the Texans and that’s because that’s what I felt was best for my family and myself.
On his thoughts on QB Trevor Siemian
“I think Trevor has done a phenomenal job, I really do. Trevor’s one of many teammates on that team that I can continue to stay in touch with and keep tabs on. I couldn’t be happier for him. Trevor was a guy last year that I truly enjoyed spending every single day with. He was a great teammate, he was a great friend, he’s still a great friend to this day and just to see him have success, to be playing well, to be winning football games and having fun, I really couldn’t be happier for Trevor.”
On if he feels ‘marked’ by the Denver Defense
“I don’t feel like a marked man. Whether that’s how they feel or not, at the end of the day I have nothing but love and respect for everybody in that organization and especially the players. They were all great teammates for a number of years so if that’s how they feel, I can’t change that, but at the end of the day I’m treating this like a normal game. I understand that we have a great, great challenge going into [Sports Authority Field at] Mile High, playing in that environment, and playing against that good of a football team. That’s really where my focus is. I have not ill-will towards anybody. I wish that entire team nothing but the best and I have nothing but respect for all of those guys.”
On if playing with the Broncos helps his preparation for Monday Night
“I think the more you play against somebody, whether it is practice or a game, you certainly will understand and recognize things in their game more often than not, but at the end of the day it’s going to be a football game that we know going up in to Mile High and playing against that defense, we’re going to have to make big plays, we’re going to have to protect the ball, we’re going to have to play smart, we’re going to have to play the field-position game because we know that we have a great challenge going against that great defense.”
On the reception that he’s expecting from the Denver crowd
“I’m not really sure what kind of reception I’ll receive. To be honest with you, Coach once told me, when you’re on the field or in a stadium, only focus on your job, keep your focus as laser focus, keep a very small focus. Obviously you hope for a great reception. Like I said, at the end of the day I have nothing but love and appreciation for, not only the organization, the players, the coaches, but the entire city of Denver. It was a phenomenal four years that my wife and I will never forget and that we’ll always hold very close to our heart. At the end of the day, I can’t control the fans, all I can do is control how I play, what kind of teammate I am to my new teammates down here and focusing on trying to win a football game.”
On not attending QB Peyton Manning’s retirement news conference
“I’m not really sure that would come across as a bad look. Bottom line, I was on vacation with my family when I received the text that he was going to have that press conference. I think just like you guys, none of us knew when that was going to come and if it was going to come and how that was going to work. Bottom line, I was on vacation with my family and I wasn’t going to leave the one vacation I get with my parents or my brother and my wife to race back last minute. Bottom line, I have nothing but respect for Peyton Manning. What he accomplished in the National Football League is truly unbelievable and he was always a great teammate to me, he’s still a great friend till this day. When I was on vacation I found out that he was going to retire, we were able to share text messages and I left him a voicemail and he knows how grateful I am for everything that he’s done for me and how much appreciation I have for him so by me not being at the press conference, that’s not a story. There’s nothing but love and respect for Peyton Manning, the person that he is and the friend that he’s been to me.”