HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Can you talk about how your schedule is changing this week since you’re giving the team off for Thanksgiving?
“Just a little bit longer day today. Giving them off tomorrow. Happy Thanksgiving by the way. We’ll give them off tomorrow and then we’ll have a longer Friday. We’ll have a longer Friday and then Saturday will be a little bit longer than a normal Saturday. We’ll do the best we can to get caught up to another team that’s coming off of a bye that we’re playing. I think the most important thing is to make sure that we’re rested and we have a lot of energy on the field on Sunday.”
What will the coaches be doing on Thanksgiving?
“We’ll be working. We’re going to work for a while and then we’ll head home and spend some time with our families, but that’s the thing. We love Thanksgiving. Nothing better than Thanksgiving and football as far as what you’re talking about watching it on TV and being with your families, but at the same time we have a very important game so as a coaching staff we’re going to work and then we’ll head out of here at some point tomorrow afternoon.”
What is it about Chargers QB Philip Rivers that has impressed you over the years?
“Where do I start? I’ve been around this guy as an opponent from college all the way through to where he is now. Seeing him at N.C. State. Coached on staffs against him there. I was on a coaching staff that coached against him in the AFC Championship game in ’07 when he had a torn ACL. Played with that. The guy is tough. The guy is a leader. Very competitive. Had him in the Pro Bowl for a week. Was around him for a while there. Just got a ton of respect for the guy. It’s a big challenge for us. He’s one of the best in the league and he’s thrown, I think, upwards of 299 touchdown passes. We understand the challenge. We’re going to have to show up and play a very good football game on Sunday.”
Can you talk about the bond that happens between a quarterback and a head coach off the field, specifically in regards to you and QB Brock Osweiler?
“We talk all the time. I spend a lot of time with a lot of players on this team. Obviously Brock I‘ve spent a lot of time with. Very easy guy to talk to. A guy that works very hard so you have instant respect for the work that he puts in, the preparation, the questions that you can anticipate from him about a game plan. We have a good relationship. We communicate every day and that’s football. That’s coaching quarterbacks and that’s the way it needs to be.”
You’re facing a team coming off of a bye week for the second week in a row. Does it make it a lot more difficult facing a team that has had two weeks to prepare for you?
“I mean, no question. I think that they’re a little bit ahead of you in preparation when you start the week. They’ve already been preparing for you for three or four days or whatever it is. We have a lot of catching up to do and that’s the way we approach it. I mean, at the end of the day by Sunday, we’re hopefully equal to them in preparation, but whether it was us coming off of a bye getting ready to play somebody or somebody else, that’s just the nature of the business. That’s the way the schedule is. I’m not complaining about that. It’s just it’s definitely something that we have to put in extra time to try to catch up to their preparation time for us.”
How has your run game evolved and become such a strength for you as we head toward the stretch of the season?
“I give a lot of credit to the players. I think that all the players have really contributed to it. That includes obviously the offensive line has really done a good job and the tight ends and Jay Prosch. The receivers have come in there and blocked the down safeties and done a good job with that. I think our coaching staff - I think Mike Devlin who really works hard at the running game with George (Godsey) and I. He does an excellent job. He’s one of the best line coaches in the business. The key to it is we have to keep it going. You have to be able to run the ball during this time of the year and it’s going to be very difficult to do that as these games kick in here with playoff implications on the line with every game really. We have to continue to try to establish the run.”
The offensive line played well against the Raiders. Do you think that contributed to QB Brock Osweiler playing well?
“Well I think anytime that the quarterback has time, obviously he’s got a better chance of being more accurate relative to when somebody is bearing down on him or somebody is coming free or whatever it is. Now with that being said, I think that our guys throughout the whole year have consistently blocked pretty well. I think there’s been times when all of us could do a better job in each one of our roles, but I think that the whole way these guys have overcome a lot of different injuries and things like that. And I think like I said about (Mike) Devlin, he’s done an excellent job of keeping these guys ready to go on a week-to-week basis.”
Was there a noticeable difference with QB Brock Osweiler in this game?
“I think it’s taking time obviously. The passing game is behind the running game quite obviously. I’m stating the obvious. I thought against Oakland that we took a step forward in the passing game and the routes were being run very well, the protection was good for the most part. He was able to deliver the ball on time with accuracy, so I think it all works together. Now, this is a whole different opponent now. Now you’re talking about (Joey) Bosa and (Melvin) Ingram coming off the edge. Last week it was (Khalil) Mack and (Bruce) Irvin, so it’s a big challenge and we’re going to have to be ready for that challenge on Sunday.”
What do you think about TE C.J. Fiedorowicz getting back on the field less than two days after Monday Night Football?
“C.J. will play in the game. He’s a tough guy. He played at Iowa. I mean Kirk Ferentz doesn’t take anybody that’s not tough. That’s one of the reasons why we drafted him. Very tough kid and I knew he’s be out there at practice today and he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
Can you talk about the challenges without OLB John Simon?
“Our team has really taken the mantra of ‘next man up’ and that’s what it’s going to have to be with John because he’ll be out for a bit here. He’s a very tough individual. Does a lot of different things for us including special teams, so somebody is going to have to step up. Different people are going to have to step up in his role and play well for us.”
What are your thoughts on Chargers FB Derek Watt?
“I just saw J.J. (Watt) earlier in the cafeteria and we were talking about his brother T.J. who’s having a heck of a year at Wisconsin and then you know obviously Derek. Derek has done a nice job as a lead blocker, but he’s also done a nice job on special teams. He’s covered kicks, got a few tackles on the punt team and on the kickoff team. He’s been a solid role player for them. I’m happy for that kid. He’s a good kid.”
What do you think of Chargers DE Joey Bosa and what he has been able to do this year?
“Bosa is an excellent player. He has four sacks, but he’s got multiple quarterback pressures. He’s got length. He’s got a good motor. Obviously, Mike Vrabel is very familiar with him. This is a guy that we have to be aware of on every play. We have to know where he is on every play and we’ve got to be aware of where he’s aligned.”
Is it impossible not to look ahead because everything is so close at this point?
“No. It’s not impossible. No. It’s actually something that is a must. It’s a must that we focus strictly on San Diego. If you start looking ahead to whatever is the next game or the game after that, you know, they’re all important. When you only have, whatever it is, six games, five games left. Every single one is important. The division obviously is very, very important, but AFC games are important. Any game is important. I think these guys came into the building today with great focus, energy and they’re very focused on the Chargers.”
Can looking ahead be a motivation each week?
“No. Seriously, I’m being serious. I think it’s 16 one-game seasons and you really have to focus. If you start looking ahead and what’s going on with this team and that that team, you know, the team that you’re playing on Sunday is going to beat you. This is a very, very tough league. It’s very difficult to win one game in this league. It’s a league that’s set up to be an 8-8 league with free agency and the draft rules and all the different things that go into the parody of the league. So every game is very important that you’re focused on that opponent.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
What has changed with your play-calling this season when you don’t have DE J.J. Watt?
“The big plays that J.J. brings to the table, sometimes you try to manufacture those kind of plays and you’re not able to always do that. But basically our system is the system. We try to operate the system and what that depends on is what we can do, what we know how to do and then what our opponent is going to try to do. Then we try to take away some of the strengths of the opponent, so that we can have a better game overall. If we have J.J., we would still do the same thing as far as game-planning goes. But the thing that he did provide for us is he provided some of those real big plays, which are game-changers and momentum changers. So we don’t always get that. But of late, we’ve been able to get a couple of turnovers and so I think that helps us because it helps in the field position battle and it helps in the momentum battle.”
How do you stay ranked so high in defense without some of those big plays you were referring to?
“Because the guys play good. They play good together. Like I told them this morning, I said, ‘This is a team sport. Individuals all have different ability levels, but one guy can’t do it by himself. It takes the whole group. When we play together as a group and do what we’re supposed to do, then we’re halfway decent.’ I think that you keep pounding that into their heads and keep pounding that into their heads and then eventually some of it will breakthrough. Then when it does breakthrough, they’re pretty decent.”
Do you have another outside linebacker to replace OLB John Simon while he deals with an injury?
“Not at the moment, but we’re working on it to see what we can come up with for Sunday.”
Is it more of a challenge when you lose players to injury like that?
“It’s always a challenge when you lose players because, the way the system is set up, your first-line players generally make a little bit more money than your backups. As a result, your backups are not as good as your first-line players, so if you lose a first-line player, then the backup has to step up and play. So sometimes there’s a little drop off, but we sell them that it’s still a team game and if everybody does their job to the best of their ability, then we’ll be able to function.”
Some of the Raiders running backs ended up with some big plays in the passing game. What happened on some of those plays, like the one when Raiders FB Jamize Olawale scored a touchdown?
“We got beat. That’s all I can say. You saw the game. They made plays. We didn’t make the plays, so we lost the game. The only thing that we can do now is we cannot cry over spilled milk. What we have to do is we have to move forward and try to play a better game versus the Chargers.”
What have you done differently as a coach to help stop the run better the last three games?
“Like I told you before, I think that some of the young players are understanding their roles in the system and understanding their ability and how it fits in the system and particularly how it fits against their opponent. As a result of it, I think that we’re controlling our gap better. We’re being more consistent and understanding that, if I control my gap, I don’t have to jump out of my gap to try to make a tackle because that other gap is filled by somebody else. That’s where that team unity comes in.”
Is it important to use motivational tactics with the players or do you only talk to them about schematic stuff and doing their assignment?
“Well, I think it’s a combination. I mean, sometimes you have to try to give them a little raw-raw speech. Other times, you have to yell at them. But basically, you have to present them a good plan that you think will work. Then they have to buy into that plan and execute it on game day.”
What’s the toughest part about preparing for Chargers QB Philip Rivers?
“The fact that he’s a really good quarterback. That’s it. He’s tall. He stands in the pocket. He delivers the ball. He’s got good weapons to deliver it to. That guy named (Antonio) Gates has been around for a long time and he’s still getting it done. They’ve got some big, tall receivers. They’ve got some speed. They have a running back that has some speed. An offensive line that’s been opening some holes and the runner has enough ability that if he can get outside, he can eat up the ground. So we’ve got a big challenge for us. But I think that we’re excited about the challenge because of where we are. Last year, we were trying to dig out of a hole. But now, we’ve got a step ahead of some people and if we can take advantage of that then I think it’ll be good for us down the road.”
Did OLB Jadeveon CLowney play his best game of the season against the Raiders and what specifically did he do to make plays?
“He’s just a disruptive player. He just used his instincts and his ability to make plays. When the tight end comes out to block you, if he takes too wide of a blocking pattern, you can come underneath. So you come underneath and you make a tackle in the backfield. It’s the same thing if the tackle stays in there too tight, you flash him and then go around him and make a tackle in the backfield. So he’s just using his natural ability that he has, his length and his size to make plays. It was a good game by him.”
When OLB John Simon went out of the game with an injury, what did you do? Did you play DE Jadeveon Clowney in his spot or did ILB Akeem Dent get those reps at outside linebacker?
“Akeem got in and played a little bit later in the game. Clowney was outside a couple of times as well. So we try to mix things up a little bit depending on what they’re doing and what we have to face.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
QB Brock Osweiler hit nine different receivers in the game against the Raiders. What’s so great about the way he is able to distribute the ball?
“Well, I mean the defensive has to cover all 53 yards across the field now, vertically, horizontally. You have backs involved. You have tight ends involved. You have every receiver involved. So, that’s kind of the distribution that we are hoping for.”
Did you and QB Brock Osweiler talk during the game about the laser because more and more pictures are coming out showing it right in his face? What do you do about something like that when you are calling plays?
“It’s really out of my control, honestly, because we can’t stop the game and handle it. Just try to move on.”
QB Brock Osweiler played pretty well. He said the laser bothered him, but he wasn’t using it as an excuse. Have you ever seen anything like that?
“To me, it’s unprecedented. I don’t have an answer for you. It’s obviously out of our control to stop it. It probably should be something that somebody should get stopped.”
Could you talk about QB Brock Osweiler’s overall performance, especially his accuracy?
“Yeah, it was a good mix of run and pass. I thought we were balanced. When we decided to play action, we hit the open receiver. Drop-back pass on third down, we were pretty efficient. There’s some good progress, some good steps, some good efficient - whether it’s in the running game, making sure we are making the right calls and obviously protection.”
With WR Braxton Miller more involved, do you expect him to take another step forward?
“Yeah, I mean the thing about those guys – the younger players – they have been out there through spring and then they had a setback, each one of them, from an injury standpoint and then they have been able to overcome that. That’s really where Braxton (Miller) is and he’s back on the upward trend.”
After a performance like that, do you have more confidence in calling plays for WR Braxton Miller?
“Yeah, I think so. He did some good things. He did some things we would like to take back. He’s learning, which is good. There were very few mental errors. Before the snap, he knew where to line up, so there was some progress. It’s really his second year as a receiver overall in his life.”
Wide Receivers Coach Sean Ryan mentioned during the bye week wanting WR Braxton Miller to play faster. Is he able to do that?
“He went from a 0-yard schemed-up pass form around the sideline to then catching the touchdown. To be able to put that behind him, it shows us that there’s some growth and I would say yes.”
Is there one thing that stood out about QB Brock Osweiler in the last game that you thought, “OK, that’s that way I want it?”
“Well, it’s Brock (Osweiler) and it’s the whole unit that we were able to respond and to answer a couple when the Raiders came back. That’s really what we are wanting. We want to compete for 60 minutes and get victories. You have to have that mindset as an offensive player.”
We asked Head Coach Bill O’Brien about this. You spend a lot of time with QB Brock Osweiler. Talk a little bit about your relationship. You guys spend so much time together, you have to like each other and it’s more than just football. Is that true?
“We’re here most of the time as coaches. So certainly, this is really what’s on our mind for all 18-19 hours, or whatever it is. You have to bother some people sometimes with phone calls and texts and meeting and extra time. Fortunately, Brock (Osweiler) has been willing with all of that. There’s obviously a communication from me to him and then from him to the unit out there on the field that has to be smooth. Otherwise, there’s some hang ups. We have been fortunately to avoid a lot of that.”
You said that you did not have any history with QB Brock Osweiler before you signed him. Does it take a little while to get on the same page?
“It’s making sure we see things through the same eyes – however I see it or however he sees it – that we are seeing it through the same set of eyes so that the unit sees it that way through his set of eyes. The ball is in his hands every snap, so ultimately, it’s through his set that we are going to play the game.”
QB Brock Osweiler is a really nice guy. Is he a really nice guy with you, too, or does he get grumpy?
“I think we are all grumpy if something doesn’t go the way we want it to. It’s just the nature of the sport.”
In the Oakland game, there were a number of short-yardage situations where I think not having RB Alfred Blue in the lineup hurt you. Did not having him effect play calling when you have these short-yardage situations?
“Throughout the game, there were some injuries that set us back a play or a guy coming in and out of the huddle that we needed to get a break for. We have been fairly decent on short-yardage throughout the year. Certainly in that game, it did not go the way we wanted it to.”
RB Alfred Blue was not at practice today, but you get RB Jonathan Grimes back. Can you discuss the state of the running game right now?
“Really, the running game goes really as the offensive line goes. It’s up to the backs to make that second level player miss. Our guys have been doing a good job whether it’s been an arm tackle or avoiding a tackle, getting that extra yardage past the line of scrimmage. We are getting some good chunks at four or five yards and then it’s the big ones that really the running back creates along with the perimeter blocking. It’s everybody doing their job. It’s good to see Jonathan (Grimes) back out there and I know he will help us.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
We’ve asked you this a lot this year, but how nice is it to play at home? You all have had such good success this year.
“It’s great to play in front of our fans. We have some of the best fans in the NFL, in the league. Anytime we get the chance to play in front of our fans, it’s a joy.”
Looking back at the game last week, the passing game seemed to click. What worked from your estimation and can you build on it going forward?
“We can build on a lot. We can build on a lot. We know that and that’s the scary thing with this offense. We know we haven’t reached our potential yet.”
What are some things that stand out about the Chargers defense?
“They are very athletic. Those guys are NFL athletes. They have a lot of injuries, but it’s next man up. I know they are going to come out here and give us all they got.”
WR Braxton Miller had probably the best game of his career this past weekend. How do you think he’s coming along?
“He’s coming along well. It’s Braxton Miller. It’s a guy that played quarterback. It’s a guy that has transitioned to a receiver. There’s been a lot on his plate, but he has picked up it very well.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien said there were a lot of good things that you can build on this week. Do you feel the same way?
“Yeah, of course. Of course. We know we left some things out there on the field that we can improve on, but that’s why we come back and work on it in practice.”
Is the road record a little bit concerning?
“We are where we want to be and all our goals are still in front of us.”
How great is it to be in first place this time of the year?
“That’s good. That shows how hard we’ve been working and how much work we have been putting in. This is a new team, a lot of new guys, but we believe in each other and where we are right now and what we’ve been through as a team. We know we have a lot to improve on still.”
How is football this time of year a little bit different? Some of the guys were talking about November and December football is different in the NFL.
“It is. Guys are a little bit more on edge, to say the least. Guys know that every game at this point is more important. We know that every game is important, but you know it’s do or die time now.”
Are you going to do anything special for Thanksgiving tomorrow?
“I’m probably going to go to Vince Wilfork’s house. I’ve heard he’s a great chef, so I’m going to go test it out.”
Have you had NT Vince Wilfork’s cooking before?
“I have, I have. Him and his wife do a great job of cooking, so I’ve had it one time. That was when he first got here, so I really don’t remember what it tasted like.”
Will you cheat on a day like Thanksgiving?
“Of course, of course. It’s a day of thanks.”
DE J.J. Watt has been in the building the last couple of days. Have you had a chance to talk to him?
“Yeah, I have. I talked to him today actually for the first time, and it’s J.J. He’s back and ready to get to work.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
You guys did a lot of good things in the passing game. What did you like about what you did against the Raiders and how can you build on it moving forward?
“I just think it was a great team effort as far as the passing game goes. The receivers, the tight ends, the backs, they all did great as far as winning against man-to-man coverage and zone. I think they all did a tremendous job of finding the soft spots, finding the holes and the offensive line gave me time. I just really think it boils down to us consistently improving in practice. Our chemistry is growing with every single day we spend together and obviously my knowledge of the offense is getting better and better each week.”
When you can connect with that many targets, how does that help you and how does that change what you will do going forward?
“Well I think the more you can spread the ball out. I think we had completions to eight different targets in the Oakland game and I think what it does is, it doesn’t allow a defense to key in on one specific guy. I’m a firm believer, you know, rather than forcing the ball into maybe one or two specific people, I’m going to throw to whoever is open. I think our locker room knows that and I think everybody does a great job of winning their one-on-one matchups and getting open for me.”
Chargers QB Philip Rivers was very complimentary of you on the conference call. What is your relationship with him and what do you think about the guidance he has given you?
“I have the upmost respect for Philip Rivers. What he’s accomplished in this league is truly incredible. I love watching him play. I think that the fire that he brings to the field, his competitive spirit is second to none. First and foremost, I love watching him play football, but then secondly, you know, he’s just a tremendous person. From the time, even before I was drafted, I was very fortunate to get to spend some time with him out in Los Angeles and get to do some throwing sessions and really pick his brain watching some film. He’s been just a tremendous leader and somebody that I can look up to and I thank him that.”
Is there one thing from Chargers QB Philip Rivers that stands out that helped you?
“You know I wouldn’t say there’s one thing, but like I said, I love watching him play because of the demeanor that he brings to the field. There’s nobody that plays with more fire or competitive spirit than that guy and I think that’s something that is truly special. The passion that he brings to the game really makes it fun to watch him play.”
You’ve had success against the Chargers in the past. Do you think that will have an effect on this game even though you were with a different team at the time?
“I think the one thing it allows me to do is, you know, I know their personnel a little bit. I know what Coach (John) Pagano wants to do schematically. Obviously I’m expecting some game plan adjustments that maybe I haven’t seen before, but certainly I feel like San Diego is more of a common opponent in my eyes.”
Can you share your thoughts on WR Braxton Miller’s development this season?
“I’m very proud of Braxton. Braxton is somebody who consistently all year long has gotten better and he’s gotten better because of how he approaches practice. He’s not someone who takes practice for granted. He comes out every single day. He works extremely hard whether that’s, you know, taking first team reps with the offense, whether it’s taking scout team reps, special teams. I mean in practice, he never comes off the field and it’s impressive because he never complains about it. You can tell the guy is gassed, but he just keeps working and working and working and what you saw Monday night is a product of that.”
What do you think about TE C.J. Fiedorowicz coming back to practice after being banged up in Monday’s game?
“C.J. is a stud. I can’t say enough great things about C.J. He’s somebody that you certainly want on your team. His toughness, his leadership, his football IQ. He’s one of those guys, like I talked about before, he’s winning his one-on-one matchups and he’s finding the holes in zones. He’s somebody I have a lot of trust in. Like I said, I can’t say enough great things about him, but once again his success is a product of his work ethic and who he is.”
Is the road record a little bit concerning at this point?
“No, not whatsoever. At the end of the day, we are still in first place in our division. Certainly, we know there’s a lot of area to improve, but that’s why we are back at it today. That’s why we practiced hard today. That’s why we studied the film hard today. I’m not concerned about that. I think the wins will come on the road and we will be just fine.”
What is it that RB Lamar Miller does that helps you?
“Lamar (Miller) helps us in a million different ways. He helps us in the run game. One thing that I don’t think he gets enough credit for is his pass protection. When you turn on the film and see what Lamar Miller is doing in the pass game, I have a real nice Christmas present coming for him, because he saves my butt a lot out there on Sundays and Mondays. I can’t say enough great things about Lamar. He’s a tremendous teammate. He’s a great guy to have in the locker room. Another guy that works very hard at practice. It really shows on Sundays.”
Do you feel like you can put a finger on why you do so well at home compared to the road?
“I think every game is just different. Whether it’s at home, whether it’s on the road, every opponent is different. Our game plans change. What we are trying to accomplish offensively and how we attack teams is different. I don’t really think playing on the road, there’s necessarily something we need to put our finger on. I just think we need to continue to improve each week and like I said, eventually the road wins will come.”
Obviously, you spend countless hours with Head Coach Bill O’Brien and it’s very important for you two to be on the same page. Can you talk about the relationship that has evolved?
“I have tremendous respect for Coach (Bill) O’Brien. From the time I signed to now, that respect hasn’t changed. That respect is there because I know how much he loves this game and I know how hard he works at it to be successful. That’s really where that respect comes from. I love coming to work every day with Coach O’Brien because, just like I talked about with Philip Rivers, Coach O’Brien is that guy that comes in with a ton of passion and fire every single day, which really makes it fun to play for. You don’t want to come into a building that is dry or maybe it’s a little calm. He will light that fire and bring that energy to the room. That’s something I really appreciate. The thing about Coach O’Brien, this system is very difficult and, as you guys see week-in and week-out, it’s a work in progress and it’s something that I’m still trying to master. The thing about Coach is he has never given up on me or anything like that. He just keeps coaching me and as a player that’s something I really appreciate. I want to be coached and being with Coach O’Brien, I get coached every single day and that’s something I really appreciate.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH CHARGERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCOY
What have you seen from the Texans defense this year? They have been good against the pass.
“It’s a very talented group. (Jadeveon) Clowney the way he is playing right now. You look at that game or the entire year really the way they play. And, Vince (Wilfork) inside, year in and year out, does his job, is a great football player, it’s been that way for a long time. The way their back end has played against the pass. And, very well coached. Having played against Romeo (Crennel) a number of times in the past, you know that when you go in they are going to be well prepared, they are going to do all the little things right, so you have to make sure you pay attention to every little detail.”
What is about Texans Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel’s scheme that makes him so tough and play well despite losing DE J.J. Watt and some of the other players they have lost?
“I think that’s what the good coaches do in this business. You take advantage of your personnel. There’s little adjustments you make from week to week. The foundation has been laid a long time ago in his system and then you go into the game planning process of doing certain things. You educate your players and players go out and play. It’s not shocking at all the way they are playing without those players either.”
What have you seen from DE Jadeveon Clowney this year coming into his own? Is that just a case of being healthy?
“I think he’s a very talented player. Everyone has always known that since he’s come out. Unfortunately, injuries are part of the business. But you see the way he has played this year, he can change a game in a hurry. He’s a player that you have to make sure you know where he is every play, because he is a special player that can change a game in a hurry.”
What have you seen from QB Brock Osweiler in his first year in Houston?
“I know he had an outstanding game the other night the way he played against Oakland. Having coached Brock (Osweiler), I know the attention to detail, the way he prepares. He’s going to look at every little detail, he’s going to be the biggest critic of himself, but a talented player. The more you play with your teammates, the more you play in your system – I don’t care who you are – the more comfortable you are going to feel the better you are going to play as time goes on, and that showed on Monday night.”
Have you been able to see him grow as a quarterback since you had him Denver until now?
“Yeah, we drafted him, so you see that development. You see that even his rookie year. As time goes on, the more, like I mentioned about his system there in Houston with Billy (O’Brien) and everybody on the staff there. The more you are in a system, the more reps you take, the more snaps you give to your teammates, the more comfortable you are going to be and the better you are going to play.”
You have played pretty well against the run and the Texans are a top-five team against the run as well. How big is that matchup going to be on Sunday?
“Every time wants to run the football. It’s your job to go out there and do everything you can to stop it. Billy (O’Brien) has always had a good running game. They are committed to running the football and they do a good job with the backs that they play with. Multiple players that have played for him have been successful. We have to continue to play the way that we have also.”
Do you see Clowney being a little bit more disruptive on running plays than he is on passing plays?
“I think every play you look at, you have to know where he is. Every time you walk out of the huddle, where is number 90 lined up? He’s very productive and destructive in all areas of the game.”
What about QB Brock Osweiler? What have you seen from him this year?
“Like we just talked about, Brock (Osweiler) is a player that is in a new system, and the more time he plays in this system and with his teammates, the better he is going to be. He was the same way when we had him in Denver. As you get there as a young player and you start to learn the system, you start learning about your teammates, learning about the adjustments, the more snaps you play in a system, the more comfortable you are. It’s not just one player. It’s everybody in a system that’s playing together. The more you play together, the more comfortable you are and the more confidence you have in each other.”
Most of the weapons QB Brock Osweiler has this year are pretty young. Are you seeing that maybe he is having a little bit of trouble getting them on the same page with them?
“That would be a question you would have to ask them that. Every little rule in their playbook, I don’t have all of that. That’s a question you could ask him.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH CHARGERS QB PHILIP RIVERS
What comes to mind when you watch Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney on tape?
“Shoot, he’s playing well. He’s playing really well. Obviously he was all over the field in that game Monday night. He really stood out just watching the TV copy. Obviously, we’ve watched a lot of other games on him as well. He’s certainly a guy you have to know where he is.”
What do you think of Texans QB Brock Osweiler and how he’s been playing?
“I got to know Brock when he was coming out. He and I both played for Noel Mazzone. I was N.C. State, obviously Noel coached him at Arizona State. When Noel was at UCLA, I went to UCLA, Brock worked out there some before the draft. We have the same agent, so I met with Brock and we did some things on the field, watched some tape and stuff, so I got to know him a little bit that way. Then, obviously, saw him twice a year during his time in Denver and then last year when he obviously played quite a bit there the second half of the season. Shoot, I’ve always thought the objective as a quarterback is to help your team win football games and give your team a chance to win. Obviously, as we all know, there’s so many things involved in a team winning – it’s the ultimate team sport – but Houston’s done that more than not and they’ve found themselves on top of the division here 11 weeks in, 10, 11 weeks in. That’s kind of the way I look at it. I haven’t obviously watched him week in and week out, but he’s still a young player. I mean, he’s still a young player that hasn’t played a ton of football games yet, so he’s only going to continue to get better.”
How about FB Derek Watt and the contributions he’s making as a rookie? It seems like he’s been a pretty good player for you so far.
“Yeah, he has been. He’s kind of a true fullback that was haven’t really had in a handful of years. We’ve used our tight ends kind of in that role. He obviously plays on special teams as well, he catches the ball well and he’s good as a fullback. He’s been a good addition for us.”
How big of a challenge is the Texans pass defense?
“Yeah, it’s a good group. Obviously, those two corners are veteran corners that have been together for a long time now, and really just a solid secondary all the way around. There’s a lot of guys in the game, a lot of DBs play, especially third-down situations, there’s a lot of DBs on the field and they make it tough on you. There’s not a lot of easy completions out there. They do a lot of good things and it’s really a heck of a challenge at their place. Obviously, they haven’t lost at home this year. We were there last I guess in 2010 I think it was. It’ll be a heck of an atmosphere on Thanksgiving weekend and we’ll be there ready to roll.”
What is it about Texans Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel and his schemes that makes it tough to get things done against them?
“Well I think, I mean, gosh, obviously he’s a coach that’s been in this league a long time and been around a lot of good defenses from his time in New England, his time in Kansas City. Obviously, we saw him when he was there a few times a year, going against that defense. It’s always just been a group that’s been very sound. They really don’t do a whole lot when you look at them in base downs, but then you get in third down, and that’s when they mix up quite a bit. They make it tough on you from a pass protection standpoint with all their line stunts and things they do. Obviously, they’re an even better defense when they have (J.J.) Watt, but they’re still a pretty dang good group.”
When you watch Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney on tape, is that someone you have to focus on more in the run game or do you worry about him in the passing game as well?
“Well, I mean, he obviously had some tackles for losses and really disrupted some things in the game here two days ago. Also in the pass game, shoot, I think he’s a heck of a rusher, but there’s a lot of times when he’s helping create some things for other guys as well. So, you see him penetrating and taking out the center or the guard and somebody wrapping around him that’s coming scot free. He’s certainly, whether it’s him that’s making the play may not be always the case, but he’s certainly a part of a lot of their pressures.”
How do you prepare for someone like that? Do you use more double-teams and triple-teams or chips?
“Well, I mean, yeah. He’s a guy – again, every week we’ve gone against a lot of good pass rushers every week. You’re asking me a lot about him – which is rightfully so – but I tell you what, (No.) 59 (Whitney Mercilus) on the other side can rush the passer, obviously we have to see (No.) 51 (John Simon), I need to see what the practice report was on him, I know he went out of the game. He can rush the passer, (No.) 55 (Benardrick McKinney) can rush, (No.) 94 (Antonio Smith) can rush. So, there’s not just one guy, but certainly any time you have edge guys and guys that can wreck the game, you want to make sure you account for them. We’re in a division with the best pass rushers in the league, with Oakland and Kansas City and Denver, there’s six guys and then some that those guys bring off the edge. Of those three teams combined, there’s none better in the league as far as a division goes. So, we know what it takes to handle, or at least the challenge it is, and know the difficulties in what we need to do to help offset that.”
How much did your offense change after WR Keenan Allen and WR Danny Woodhead went down and how have some other guys stepped up to keep the offense rolling?
“Yeah, it was certainly a challenge. I mean, I think any time – gosh, and it hasn’t been an excuse for us and we know teams deal with injuries all throughout the league, but it seems like every week we lost a key guy, and you’re talking about two guys that yardage-wise were probably going to be our biggest contributors as far as offensive yardage. So, it was tough losing those guys. Melvin’s (Gordon) had to step up and play more of an every-down role. He’s done a nice job handling that. He’s a guy that had zero touchdowns his rookie year and now he’s in double digits. From a receiving corps standpoint, a young guy like Tyrell Williams – obviously Travis Benjamin, Dontrelle Inman – but a guy like Tyrell Williams who was going to have a role, no doubt, and he was an undrafted free agent last year and we saw his upside and we knew he was going to, at least we expected and thought this guy is going to turn into a really good player for us. But when Keenan (Allen) went down it was like, ‘Hey, you have to turn into a player for us right now,’ and he’s obviously done that, he’s leading our team in receiving yards. It’s been a little bit more by committee all the way around. Obviously, (Antonio) Gates and Hunter Henry have played a big part of that as well. We just kept rolling. The key thing that’s helped us offensively is, for the most part, we’ve had our five guys up front, our same five linemen up front, and that’s given us a chance. We just made some critical errors in some games. We had a 17-point lead against Kansas City and lost the opener, we had a 13-point lead with five minutes to play against the Saints and lost, we had plenty of opportunities to beat the Dolphins and threw four interceptions in the fourth quarter. So, we’ve really done some things to kill ourselves because if you’re scoring 29 points a game and our defense is creating the turnovers they’ve created – they’ve contributed to that scoring total – you shouldn’t be 4-6, but we are, and so now it’s just a matter of what we’re going to do about it here the last six weeks.”
With Thanksgiving coming up, anything you have to have on the table?
“Well, yeah. You know, it may sound simple but just a good green bean casserole. That’s the one thing I’m going back for seconds for. I like all the traditional things that come with it. Being from Alabama, some of the similar things probably served down there in Texas, but green bean casserole is a must and that’s definitely two trips.”
Can you speak on RB Melvin Gordon and how much of an impact he’s had this year?
“Yeah, he’s been great. Obviously – and he would be the first to tell you – he had a frustrating rookie season. He did some good things, he had some injuries, he had a few turnovers, and obviously didn’t get into the end zone, but he came back, had a great offseason, was rehabbing from a knee surgery and really has had a heck of a year. We’re going to need him to run the ball well and be the player he’s been these last six weeks and help be a big part of our offense. He certainly – I wasn’t down on him after last year, but now even more excited after seeing – you saw the potential, now you’re seeing it come to and know that he really continues to grow as a player in this league.”