DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
What do you think about what the defense has done the first half of the year?
“Well, we’ve been inconsistent, particularly in the running game. It’s kind of been up and down. We’ve got to work to improve that for the second half of the year, but we are fortunate and feel good about being 5-3 at this point and will work really hard to get better going forward.”
What have you thought about how the defense has adapted without DE J.J. Watt?
“Well, like we’ve said before, it’s always tough to replace that kind of production. You have to depend on everybody to step up their game and try to make plays. We’ve got guys, Whitney Mercilus, B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney), they’ve been stepping up, and some of the young linemen have been beginning to learn more and come on and do more. So, that’s been encouraging that we’ve been able to hang in there without J.J.”
ILB Benardrick McKinney has elite numbers so far. What do you think about what he’s doing?
“Well, he’s done really well in the system. He’s picked up the system. I think he understands the fits better and what it takes and how he needs to play blocks and where he needs to fit, and as a result of it, he’s putting himself in position to make plays, and he’s making a lot of plays.”
How about DE Jadeveon Clowney and his emergence this year? How key has that been with the loss of DE J.J. Watt?
“Yes, we did need that to happen. As I’ve mentioned before, I think the biggest thing with Jadeveon is he’s been healthy. He had an offseason this year where he was able to practice and work in the system. He’s going on the field and he’s played and he’s produced and has an impact. That does help with losing J.J.”
Where do you think DE Jadeveon Clowney has grown the most this year?
“Well, he’s stayed healthy. That’s the biggest thing. Clowney has tremendous ability and potential. We didn’t get a chance to see that his first two years because of the injuries, but now that he’s been able to stay relatively healthy, it shows up on the field in how much he enjoys playing the game and what he tries to get done during the course of the game. So, as a result, I think that people notice him and he’s making an impact.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
Can you talk about how the offense looks right now at the midway point?
“We’re doing our self-scout now. There’s a lot of things to improve on. The biggest thing right now is turning the ball over. We’re turning the ball over at least one time each game this season, so that’s going to be a stress when the guys come back. They understand that and maybe we can help them with some things too.”
What kind of progress have you seen from the offense?
“The running game. We’ve had some games where we’ve been able to start running the ball for four quarters and then we’ve had some games where it’s kind of picked up later in the game. We got to be more consistent there. We definitely got to improve in the passing game. Be more consistent. It seems like just from a break down standpoint whether it’s a protection, a decision, a throw, a drop ball, we just got to be more consistent in that area.”
How does it feel to be 5-3 considering all of the problems you guys have had?
“We’ve got quite a few division games coming up. We’re halfway through the season and that’s all it is right now for us. Jacksonville is a big one after this bye week. I think right now we’ve got some guys that are banged up, so this is coming at the right time. When we’ve got these division games, we got to make them count.”
Is QB Brock Osweiler trying to force throws in certain situations?
“Any position when the ball is in your hands, you want to make a play. There’s a fine line between making a play, maybe making a decision that may be best for your team whether it’s throwing the football away, moving onto another read in the route. That’s the things that we got to make sure he’s on the same page. In the two-minute drill, hey we’ve got some points here now is not the time to maybe make a decision that could keep us from scoring points.”
Your emphasis has always been to not turn the ball over. What does it mean to still be 5-3 even though you haven’t had success with that this season?
“We try to play a team football game offensively. Run the football, control the clock, get first downs and just put points on the board. When you turn the ball over, you obviously give another opportunity for the opponent. You put the defense in a bad situation. That’s not the way we want to play. When we get the ball, let’s control it and put some points on the board and if we can take those turnovers that we had in the first half and learn from those in the second half of the season then it’ll improve our record. I know that.”
Can you talk about why the team is so different on the road than they are at home?
“The last away game we showed some improvement. We’re sitting there in the third quarter in a position we want to be. Certainly could be better. We were able to run the ball for four quarters in that game. That’s what we have to do. We can’t start the game very similar to how we did versus Detroit. We have to be able to run the ball for four quarters because that helps the play action, helps Brock (Osweiler) with the comfort level and having everything at our disposal. Boots, screens, run actions and just straight drop back pass. That’ll help the whole offensive unit as we go forward. We’re back on the road here first game coming off the bye week, so it’ll be another test. We spoke with the unit and that’s something we’re looking to overcome.”
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR LARRY IZZO
How do you think K Nick Novak has kicked the ball so far?
“He’s had a solid year. He’s a veteran kicker that’s made some big kicks in his career. He’s done a nice job so far doing what we’ve asked him to do on kickoffs. Moving forward, there’s always going to be some bumps in the road – the missed PAT - but he’s the kind of guy that has the mentality that he was able to come back and make the kick when it counted, so glad to have him.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien addressed what happened on the sidelines during the Lions game yesterday. What’s your perspective on that and what takes place on the sidelines?
“Honestly, it was something that I was really focused on what was going on out on the field, so I didn’t really hear much of what was going on. Obviously, things happen on the sideline. You learn to not take them personally and thank goodness for that, because if people took what I say personally then I don’t know where we would be. Just chalk it up to it’s an intense game and two intense people during a game. Things like that happen, but we have moved on. It’s really not a big deal.”
Heat of the battle type of stuff? Just let it roll off your back like water off a duck’s back?
“Yeah, really though I was kind of tunnel vision on what was going on out on the field, so obviously the results of something’s earlier in the game were not what we expect and below my standards and Coach’s standards. He has every right to be upset about that. We will do our best not to let that happen again. It’s a loud stadium. You’re looking on the field trying to see what’s going on out there. Really, my wife was the one that kind of pointed it out to me like, ‘What was that all about?’ I was like what are you talking about. Moving on, I think I’ve addressed it too much.”
How has P Shane Lechler played this year?
“It’s great working with Shane every day. He had a good game on Sunday. He’s a guy that really is a pleasure to work with. He’s got father time behind him here, because it’s impressive what he’s able to do at this age. We just have to manage him throughout the year, so he can stay fresh on gameday. That’s what we will plan on doing. He’s done a nice job with the directional punting which is something that for him wasn’t something that he’s always done. He’s doing his best at trying to provide that for us.”
What have you seen from CB Robert Nelson on special teams?
“Robert (Nelson) has done a nice job. He had a nice training camp, and we really liked him. Got caught up in the numbers a little bit, but he did a nice job on the practice squad. When the time came where he got the opportunity to play, he’s shown up and he’s been productive. He’s a good football player. It’s a pleasure to work with him. It’s good to see a kid that works hard and maybe doesn’t immediately see the benefits of it and then continues to work hard and eventually gets the opportunity and makes the most of it. Happy for him.”
What about the return game, specifically WR Will Fuller V and RB Tyler Ervin?
“Will, as much as we can try to get him involved, we want to do that. Early in the year, he was more involved then he had the big return against Tennessee. Then he got nicked up a little bit with the hamstring so his availability to us was minimized. Moving forward, I’d love to see him with the ball in his hands. Not to take anything away from Tyler because Tyler has done a nice job, but we’d like to improve obviously our kick return production. But as far as decision making and protecting the ball, other than the New England game, he’s done a steady job and he’s a tough kid. He works hard, he takes a lot of pride in it and he’s also helping us on coverage units as well. Those two rookies we’re going to depend on going forward here, as well as Braxton (Miller). Braxton has a lot of ability as well. We just have to clean some things up with him. It’s a long season. I expect him to start showing some improvements so we can take advantage of what he has to offer.”
SECONDARY COACH JOHN BUTLER
CB A.J. Bouye has talked a lot about having a short memory when he makes a bad play and how much you’ve helped him with that.
“That’s huge in anything in sports. The more confidence you have, the more you’re able to deal with any failure you have. He’s played a lot for us over the last three years. It’s not like he’s just all of a sudden become a player. He had success for us in year one. He had some huge success for us – some huge interceptions in some big games in year one and two. I think now it’s just that he’s had more of it, both in practice and in the games. That’s able to build. It’s just such a huge thing when you’re confident in your techniques, you’re confident in the calls, you’re confident in your ability and his performance has shown that.”
What’s your advice to the team regarding forcing more turnovers in the second half of the season?
“We obviously will study that this week ourselves as a staff, why aren’t we creating more takeaways. But a lot of times, those things just come. Our first year we led the league in takeaways and we’re not doing anything different than we did for the first year, maybe we can tweak a couple things here and there. But at the end of the day, if we’re playing hard and we’re playing tight coverage, which we are, and we’re rushing the passer, which we are, and we’re running to the ball, which we are. Those types of plays will come and we obviously know those types of plays help the team because you turn the ball over and give our offense the football in good field position and do those types of things. We’re obviously looking at that, but at the end of the day, a lot of times that just comes with how you’re playing the game and taking advantage of the breaks that come your way.”
How is S Corey Moore doing this year as he’s playing a lot more?
“Corey is a good, young player for us that has good size, good speed, good secondary skills. Obviously has played a lot for Larry (Izzo) on special teams. We feel Corey has a good future. He just has to keep working, embracing his role, preparing every week. I think his role will grow with time.”
Injuries happen in the league but how tough was it to lose CB Kevin Johnson with how well he was playing to start the season?
“The good thing is we have a lot of good players. One guy goes down, the next guy steps up. Whether it’s Kareem (Jackson) going down and Kevin stepping up or it’s Kevin going down and whoever else steps up for him. I think that our guys have embraced the mentality of we know that a lot of times when we’re out there, there’s five DB’s out there or six DB’s out there and it’s how they play together. Everybody playing together, not necessarily about one guy or us not having one guy. But making sure that everybody is playing well together. Whether it’s A.J. (Bouye) stepping up or Jo (Johnathan Joseph) continuing to give us great leadership or Kevin when he’s in there, everybody embracing their opportunities and taking advantage of it.”
How is S Lonnie Ballentine doing and what do you like about his upside?
“We compared Lonnie a lot to Corey (Moore). Both good, young players that we feel like have big upsides but have to put the time in and the seasoning in. They can kind of look to a guy like A.J. Bouye as an example of if you work hard and you practice hard and you develop and you do all the things you’re supposed to do, this organization is going to give you opportunities. As long as you take advantage of your opportunities, good things will happen.”
OFFENSIVE LINE COACH MIKE DEVLIN
How did the offensive line do this past week?
“It was tough sledding early on. I was real proud at the end of the game of pulling together. I think that’s really a reflection of the whole offense. It’s the receivers blocking on the secondary support and the backs obviously hitting the hole like they did and us covering them up. There are going to be games like that where it’s kind of tough sledding. Just proud of how they pulled together and came together at the end.”
How much of an impact has T Duane Brown made since his return?
“It’s huge to have a player of his caliber come back in the fold. His leadership, obviously his ability to block most defensive ends one-one-one in the run and the pass is obviously critical to our success.”
Has it been hard to develop chemistry on the offensive line this year with all the injuries?
“It’s the second year going through this to be quite honest with you. When you have different moving parts - and these guys, it’s a credit to them that their ability to know the game plan at multiple positions and to be ready. They know that the different scenarios that may come up in a game. Credit to them for being ready when that’s occurred.”
What about C Greg Mancz, what have you seen from him?
“Mancz has been a smart, smart guy. He’s been a real pro in his approach and his understanding of the help system and where he needs to be and fit to have success. Real pleased with his progress through the first half of this deal. Kind of a lucky find for the organization.”
Have you had a chance to communicate with T Derek Newton and how is he doing?
“I have. It’s tough sledding for him right now. But everyone is showing him a lot of support. It wasn’t a good thing obviously, both of them at the same time. But I think now the part is the healing part and the process of it. I think we have really good rehab places and everything set up for him. Just have to give him that support because a lot of times with an injury like that, it’s more about the mental then the physical at this point.”
How about the impact T Chris Clark has played?
“Yeah, we got him right before the last Dallas preseason game last year. Since then, he has been real pivotal to our success, because he can play multiple roles. He’s a true pro, a great veteran that’s really a team guy. The ability to go right and left and, ‘Hey, by the way, you have to play this this week.’ He’s approach, just real proud of how he’s attacked it.”
Just some thoughts on how you think the run game and pass blocking game have done so far?
“I think every week - Run-wise, I think we are getting better and better and better. Pass protection-wise, our goal going forward is to be even cleaner. That’s always the goal of any offensive line. I think they are working their butts off on it, and we have success when the games are balanced and we can work within the system. When we have games like some of those other ones early and it gets one-sided, that’s tough sledding for any o-line. As far as that goes. When we play games like last week or the other week, it’s kind of a balanced game, the system works for us.”
RUNNING BACKS COACH CHARLES LONDON
What do you think of the intensity that Head Coach Bill O’Brien has on the sidelines?
“I’ve been around him for a lot of years, so I’m kind of used to it. It’s not really a big deal to me.”
Can you talk about RB Tyler Ervin’s progress?
“Tyler’s doing a great job. He’s got a specific role on this team. He’s doing a great job of that as far as being a return guy, of course. Doing a great job there, doing a great job on special teams, and we’ll continue to get him involved in the offense.”
RB Alfred Blue has a higher yards per carry average than he’s ever had. Is he running better than he did last year?
“I think he’s had a lot more opportunities the last two weeks. He didn’t have as many early on in the year but he’s had a lot of opportunities the last two weeks. When his number has been called, he’s done a great job for us. He’s been a little bit more patient this year and he understands what’s demanded of the position. He’s done a good job.”
What do you see RB Lamar Miller’s and RB Alfred Blue’s roles being?
“Well, you know, I see Lamar as a three-down back. He does a lot of things for us on first, second and third down. Blue’s primarily played first and second down for us – in a few weeks we’ve asked him to do some things on third down. They both have unique skillsets and we try to put them in position where they can succeed the best they can.”
ASSISTANT SECONDARY COACH ANTHONY MIDGET
Can you talk about CB A.J. Bouye and how he’s been playing?
“Undrafted free agent looking to prove himself. He’s been working on his game here and it’s just good as a coach to see him continue to develop each year. He’s coming in. He’s playing well each week and preparing off the field and watching tape and really putting time and investing in it and it’s showing off in his performance.”
What’s the biggest development CB A.J. Bouye has made?
“We always saw him as a great player but you had guys like Johnathan Joseph, Kareem Jackson, Kevin Johnson. Now he’s in their mix. He’s getting opportunities to play more and he’s taking advantage of those opportunities.”
How big of a loss was it to lose CB Kevin Johnson?
“It’s big from a standpoint that Kevin worked hard to get back and it’s disappointing to see that for him. He’s out, he’s hurt. It’s other opportunities for guys to step up and continue to play. Just got to move forward.”
TIGHT ENDS COACH JOHN PERRY
What are your thoughts on what the tight end group has been able to do so far?
“I think the room that we’re in in the tight end room is a good group of guys. They work very hard every single day and come with a great attitude. I think you’re seeing that every week in practice and you’re seeing that every week in the games. That’s their mentality and if they continue, they’ll keep getting better.”
How satisfying is it to see the increase in targets for the tight ends this season?
“Like I said, we have a great room, so I’m really happy for those guys because I’ve watched what they do on a daily basis and I see how hard they work. The great thing about our group is they come every day and they have mirrors. They know what they need to work on. They’ve all made a commitment since the day I got here three years ago to work on the things that they need to work on. That’s a credit to them because they’re not afraid to have someone like myself or anybody else point out that this is something you need to work on. They have pride, and you see that pride every single day. I’m very fortunate that I have the opportunity to work with the guys I have to work with.”
Where have you seen TE C.J. Fiedorowicz make strides to become an all-around tight end?
“Well, he came here – we laugh all the time – he blocked every single day at Iowa. So, how much could I make him better at those things is all relative. Again, he’s someone who’s looked at the things, and I thing the one thing he’s improved on in the pass game was something he made a commitment to in the spring, was understanding coverages, understanding how I need to release here versus this technique that’s on my head. Those are things, again, I think it’s very important to understand that if you’re going to get better at anything, you have to have mirrors. He knows this is something I’m good at, this is something I need to work on. When your pride comes through, that’s what you’re seeing, is a guy who’s committed to being the best that he can be at whatever we ask him to do.”
TE C.J. Fiedorowicz said he did yoga, he ate right, he exercised a bunch. He did a lot of things to improve.
“Yeah, I think, again, you’re looking at something – when we evaluated things in the past, his flexibility, his athleticism. He’s a tremendous athlete for a guy his size, but his flexibility and those things, he committed himself to that. Again, I’m very lucky and very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with him, and the other guys as well. You watch Ryan Griffin, who’s been traditionally a pass-catching, receiving-type tight end for us, he’s committed to making blocks and has done a tremendous job. Again, he’s a guy that knew. When someone points something out to him, he’s not afraid to work on that. You see him before practice hitting the sled, doing those little things. It’s all about the details, and these guys are detail-oriented players. Like I said, I’m very fortunate to have the opportunity to work with them.”
Are you surprised how good TE C.J. Fiedorowicz’s hands have gotten?
“No. C.J., like I said, has made the plays when they’ve presented themselves. I mean, he had 21 targets last year and 17 catches. That’s an amazing statistic. He’s caught the ball when it’s come his way, and he’s going to continue to do that and hopefully just keeps working hard.”
What have you seen from TE Stephen Anderson so far?
“He’s a tremendous athlete who has certainly given us a lift in the pass game. His ability to take on safeties and linebackers in one-on-one coverage is certainly going to help us. He’s got to stay healthy, but when he’s been in there we’ve been pleased with his progress.”
WIDE RECEIVERS COACH SEAN RYAN
Are you doing anything with WR Will Fuller V to help him with the balls he drops?
“The biggest thing with drops in my opinion – I’ve always talked about how there’s always a reason for drops. I don’t think you can just say, ‘Hey, catch the ball.’ There’s more to it than that. It’s either about your eyes, your eye focus or it’s hand placement and where you catch the ball. It’s stuff you learn early on day one as a receiver. But it needs to be addressed and talked about all the time. And it needs to be practiced. That’s how you try to address the situation.”
Do you see WR Will Fuller V getting frustrated after his fast start and now slowing down a bit?
“No, I don’t think frustrated. I think these seasons are long and the process of becoming an NFL receiver has a lot to it. I think if you understand that and you just keep progressing and getting better every day, I think it keeps you away from being frustrated. I try to preach that to him and he’s a coachable guy so I think in that way he’s doing alright.”
How much do you appreciate WR DeAndre Hopkins’ ability to stay healthy?
“Yeah, he’s a tough guy and he’s there every practice, not just every game but every practice. That’s impressive about that guy. He is a tough, durable player.”
What have you seen defense do from week-to-week to try and stop WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“We see a lot of split safeties, that type of thing. A lot of man technique underneath by the corners with a safety over the top, which is what we plan for and that’s why you’ll see us move him around some. That’s how we combat that to try to put him in a position where it’s not always happening to him. But that’s usually the deal. That’s the way it is with most great ones across the league, that’s what teams will do to get after him.”
Do you have to teach more since the wide receivers are such a young group?
“Yeah, but that’s what they pay me for. I kind of enjoy it to be honest with you. You get in there and you get these young guys. There are some bumps on the road, but you just try to keep progressing with them and keep teaching them. That’s the challenge of it and that’s the fun of it. If I didn’t appreciate that, I think I’d be doing the wrong deal. I kind of like it.”
Can you give us an update on WR Braxton Miller and what you expect from him over the second half of the season?
“My big thing for Braxton going into the second half, and I was really preaching it to him last week, we need him to play fast. Just play fast. Even if you’re not sure, cut it loose, let’s go, that’s what we saw on tape from him. He’s an athletic guy. He’s got great change of direction and all those skills. So we just need to see it. We need him to process things a little bit quicker, which is coming with experience and practice and all that, and play fast.”
Do you think you need to do more teaching with WR Braxton Miller since he hasn’t played the positon for very long?
“Certainly that plays into it but at the end of the day he’s a rookie so I don’t think more than any other rookie needs in terms of teaching them coverage and things like that. The thing about Braxton, like all the young guys in the room, they really want to get better. When you have that, that’s all you can ask for. They want to spend the extra time. They want to improve. That’s the battle and those guys have it. I’m encouraged by that.”
What do you think when you see WR DeAndre Hopkins make one-handed catches like the one he had vs. Detroit?
“I think that’s awesome. I don’t have a better answer than that. It’s good stuff, you know what I mean? He’s that type of guy. That’s what you look for from those great players. Step up and make the plays that are above the X’s and O’s. That’s what we count on from guys like that. I think he knows that and he accepts that. I think he relishes that role to be honest with you. It doesn’t surprise me when he makes great plays like that, but I do appreciate it for sure. But that’s what we need from him.”
Have you seen WR Jaelen Strong make a step up this year?
“Yeah, I think Jaelen is a really bright football player. He gets it. He gets the game. I’ve been impressed with him as a player, being able to move him around and do different things with him. He just kind of understands what’s happening on the football field, so I think in that way he’s certainly grown as a player that I’ve seen, since I’ve been here. So it’s been good.”
LINEBACKERS COACH MIKE VRABEL
How do you feel about the defense heading into the bye week?
“I think the bye week is going to give us a chance to kind of hit the reset button and kind of get healthy for one. We’ve got some guys that played a bunch of snaps for us and for the most part have done a good job. We have to take care of those guys, get those guys healthy. Find out what we need to improve on, which is what we’re doing right now. And then take a good hard look at what we’re doing and who we’re doing it with.”
What’s the biggest difference in ILB Benardrick McKinney from last year to this year?
“Well I think he’s, obviously, a year older in this system and in pro football. He’s healthy. I think that if you look back and remember last year he kind of struggled through some injuries early on. I think he had a knee and I think he suffered a concussion, was in the protocol for a couple of weeks. That set him back a little bit. Then when he came back, he started to really get comfortable playing in there. We played well down the stretch defensively, and then he had a good offseason. He’s practiced. He’s been healthy. He’s practicing. He’s seeing every rep and he’s taking the coaching. He’s done a really good job for us.”
How important is it having ILB Brian Cushing, even though he isn’t the Brian Cushing of old?
“Yeah, and I wouldn’t say - everybody compares the Brian Cushing of old or this guy of the old. Brian has gotten back healthy and does everything to make sure that he is out there. It’s important to him. He loves football. He’s a great leader for us. He’s tough. Played a physical ball game the other day, which we appreciate, which we need to see. He did that. You saw him controlling the middle of the field whether that be with some receivers inside or in the run game. It’s important for us to have him out there, and I know it’s important for him to be out there.”
You go way back with OLB John Simon. What have you seen from him in the first half of the season?
“I see a tough, physical football player who - the game and his teammates are important to him. He loves it. He’s played through a bunch of stuff early on. This bye week is going to be critical for him to get his body right and relax. He goes pretty hard at it. He’s in there working out all the time and lifting, so I just try to tell him he has to take a couple of days off, a mandatory couple days off. He studies hard. He tries to do it the way we coach him to do it. For the most part, it’s been pretty good.”
OLB Whitney Mercilus seems to be very instinctive this year. Where have you seen the biggest area of growth? He’s coming off a lot of success from last year.
“Yeah, you just try to build on that. I think you never want to rely on what you did last year or the week prior. We always talk about your reputation as a player or as a team is really built today and tomorrow, not what you did last week or last year. I think he’s taken that to heart and understood that in the run game he can be a physical presence and he’s added moves to his pass rush and trying to set things up. ‘I did this last time, so let’s see how that counter is and see how it works.’ Just try to explain to him like a pitcher. You don’t just throw fast balls every single pitch. You have to change it up.”
How proud are you of what you have seen from DE Jadeveon Clowney?
“He’s out there. He’s out there practicing. He’s out there getting better. He’s being disruptive. He plays hard. He chases the plays down. You just look at what people had said about him coming in, ‘The guy doesn’t play hard. The guy does that.’ We never felt that way from what we saw in our meeting with him. He has been disruptive for us, been able to make some tackles for loss, get a lot of holding calls. Those are big plays. With Whitney (Mercilus) and him, if they cause penalties, that’s a big play. That’s 10 yards of lost yardage. You saw that the other day. I think it was 1st-and-10, and he got a holding call, 2nd-and-20, 2nd-and-25, and then next thing you know, two plays later we’re off and our offense has the ball at the 50-yard line. That doesn’t go on any stat. You have to cause a holding penalty. Nobody, other than your coach maybe, is going to tell you that was a good job. Those are big stats for us and he’s caused some of those.”
DEFENSIVE LINE COACH ANTHONY WEAVER
What has impressed you most about what DE Jadeveon Clowney has done this season?
“I think it’s his intelligence. His football intelligence. He does things on the football field that you just can’t teach. Sometimes you see guys that have his talent, that have his speed but they don’t find the ball like he does. It’s easy on my part because it’s get him on the field, point him in the right direction and let him go. I think it’s his football IQ, his football instincts which trumps everything.”
Can you give an example of a situation on the field when you saw DE Jadeveon Clowney’s football intelligence come through?
“There’s so many. There’s so many. Sometimes you tell guys like, ‘Alright, your job is to protect the C gap.’ Now you tell Jadeveon that knowing that he may come out of the C gap, but he’s going to do it and he’s going to make a play. I can’t cite one specific example because it happens so much. When you have those players, you got to let them do that. J.J. (Watt) is very much the same way. That’s why you wish he was out there too. When you have two of them, it’s a lot of fun to watch.”
Obviously you cannot make up for the loss of DE J.J. Watt, but has it been impressive that DE Jadeveon Clowney has been able to fill some of that void?
“I think Jadeveon is just starting to do what we’ve always expected him to do. You don’t replace a J.J. Watt. He’s a once in a generational type player. The defense as a whole has stepped up and I told my guys if everybody just gets one percent better on our defense. So you’re talking 22, 25 guys and we get 25 percent better as a defense, we’ll be okay. I think you’ve seen that through these six games. We miss J.J.”
Has DE Jadeveon Clowney added more moves to his skillset this season?
“I think it’s just confidence. Having been in this league, when you’re hurt and you can’t do everything you’ve done, maybe you don’t have the success you’ve been used to having, you can lose some of that. I think he’s starting to get that back game-by-game, play-by-play. Every time he goes out there and has success, his confidence gets higher. If I’m the rest of the league, that scares me. A confident Jadeveon Clowney with his God-given ability could be frightening to the rest of the league.”
Do you feel that we’ve seen DE Jadeveon Clowney’s full potential?
“I think we’re just scratching the surface. The sky is the limit for him.”
NT D.J. Reader was kind of thrust into his role this season. Can you talk about him?
“I typically don’t like rookies. They’re hard to win with. I love D.J. Reader. He’s a guy that comes to work with the same mindset every day, happy, loves ball, just puts his hard-hat on and gets better. I think you’ve seen the results of that on the football field. He’s earning the right to get more snaps and that’s a credit to him.”
What kinds of things can you teach a guy like NT Vince Wilfork?
“Vince has seen it all. At that point, it’s not so much teaching as much as it is just getting him to recognize things that you know a younger player wouldn’t see out there. You can put a little bit more on his plate than you would a D.J. Reader or Joel Heath or even a Christian Covington and I think you got to take advantage of that as best you can.”
What have you seen from NT Vince Wilfork personally this year?
“I think he’s just continuing to try and go out there and be a leader. As an aging player, you know you may not be able to do some of the things you once had, but you can help off the field tremendously. I think that’s where his biggest influence has been.”
You touched on DE Jadeveon Clowney’s confidence and it seems like he even carries himself a different way now. Is it exciting for you to see that?
“I love it. That’s the things that makes you proud as a coach. It was the week before we played Denver. I forget what game it was, but we had just won the game. It was the Indy game. We were in the locker room. Everybody is excited, jumping around. He comes up to me, he’s like, ‘Coach we got to get on this Denver film. We got to start watching this Denver film.’ Right after the game. Now if that doesn’t show growth and maturity, I don’t know what does.”