HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What do you think of the season OLB Whitney Mercilus is having despite getting extra attention blocking this season?
“He’s had a good year. He had a good game last week. Had three TFLs, had a few quarterback hits. We love coaching Whitney. He’s a very hardworking guy, great teammate, does whatever is asked of him. Just a guy that does his job and doesn’t make excuses, just does his job. We really enjoy coaching Whitney.”
The Texans and Packers are two teams who still regularly use a fullback on offense. What value do you see in that position and what do you like about FB Jay Prosch specifically?
“We definitely see value in the position, obviously. A fullback on your roster has to be a contributor on special teams because you’re probably only going to use that type of personnel on offense maybe 10 to 15 times maybe in a game. Jay has done a nice job for us on special teams. The fullback brings a certain toughness to your team. Jay is a very tough individual, tough football player. Jay has had a good year for us. He’s earned a game ball in one game for his lead blocking. A very unselfish player. Another guy that doesn’t make excuses, just goes out there and tries to do his job to the best of his ability. Very tough, tough kid. The value of it is that there’s a lot that goes into it. I would say that I always use it this way – and I guess I’ll leave it to you to figure out – it calms the game down when the fullback is in the game. That’s how I see it.”
Can you talk about this stretch of quarterbacks you’ve faced and will face with Raiders QB Derek Carr, Chargers QB Philip Rivers, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Colts QB Andrew Luck all coming in a row? Also, what makes Packers QB Aaron Rodgers special?
“It’s a very tough stretch. These guys are excellent quarterbacks. They’ve been doing it for a long time. They’re accurate. They’re all unique. Aaron Rodgers is one of the most unique quarterbacks, in my opinion, to ever play the game. He brings an athleticism to the position that’s very difficult to defend. He can maneuver in the pocket like no other quarterback that I’ve seen as far as his ability to – when something breaks down, he doesn’t just fly out of there. He may just move to the right or to the left or backwards or forwards and make more time for him on the play. He can run. He’s a great scrambler. He can make every pass imaginable. He can do it with both feet off the ground or with both feet in the ground. Guy is a great player. It’s a big challenge for our team. Our team is excited about the challenge, but they know that it’s a big challenge.”
Can you talk about emphasizing the pass rush this weekend against the Packers?
“I think the big thing is – like you can emphasize it – you know, you have to emphasize a pass rush every week. In the end, you have to be able to rush the passer every single week. I think sometimes though, depending on who you’re playing, you have to really emphasize the integrity of the rush and the discipline of the rush. That’s what’s important against guys like (Aaron) Rodgers. If you just go in there with no plan and just fly around and not stick to the plan, whatever that plan is. For us, we have a multiple plan always and every week a different plan. But it’s got to be very disciplined if that makes sense. Every week you have to rush the passer, you have to try to effect the passer in this league. That’s a big part of any defense in this league. But every week is a little bit different based on the skill set of that quarterback.”
How cool do you think the NFL’s ‘My Cause, My Cleats Campaign’ is?
“I think it’s great. I think that the players are really excited about it. To be able to wear shoes that they love but also contribute to their favorite charities. I think our players – and I think obviously it’s led by Mr. (Robert C.) McNair – our players really contribute to the community as much as, if not more than, any organization in this league. Our guys do so many different things around the community. It’s nice to be able to, with the shoes, highlight the causes that are important to these guys. You’ve got causes ranging from domestic violence to special needs children. I think you guys have known me long enough to know that a lot of those causes are near and dear to me. Breast cancer and cancer as a whole. I think it’s great for our players to be able to do that.”
What do you think about the story that DE J.J. Watt gave $10,000 to help the Grant Milton GoFundMe page?
“I just heard about that. I didn’t know anything about that. Obviously, that doesn’t surprise me at all. J.J. is somebody that cares very much about the community and individual kids. J.J. loves high school football. I don’t know if you read the article that came out a couple weeks ago, just talking about his high school football coach and playing high school football. I’m sure he feels horrible about what happened to that young man. I think it doesn’t surprise me at all. I think for every one story that you hear about J.J. doing that or Brian Cushing or any other player, there’s probably 10 other stories that you’ve never heard about and I think that’s what makes it pretty neat.”
Does the secondary need to play better this weekend than they have the last two games?
“They’re throwing for 262 yards a game. I think we have to challenge people. I think every week is different. I don’t want to analyze this week, that week or any other week. I just think that we have to do a good job of mixing it up. We have to do a good job of basically not showing our hand and try to play hard, try to play clean, try to play the way the game is being officiated early on. We’ve got a good official this game, Gene Steratore, it’ll be a good official. I have a lot of respect for Gene. But it’s going to be a tough game. Everybody’s got to play well.”
S Andre Hal missed practice today. What’s going on with him?
“I think he’s just dealing with something illness-wise. I think he’s going to be fine though.”
Are you guys using the hurry up offense as much this year as in year’s past and can you go into some of the reasons behind it?
“We have used it some this year. That’s a great question. Probably haven’t used it as much as I would like to. Probably need to use it more. On the road, no huddle offense is not easy because the crowd noise and the communication that has to take place. But when we have used it, we have different types of no huddle. When we have used it, it’s worked out well. It’s been pretty productive for us. We’re always going to go into a game with some type of no huddle, whether it’s two-minute or whatever the no huddle mode might be for each game. But it’s probably a good idea to try to use it some more.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
What has been the difficulty of being more efficient in the red zone?
“It’s probably not getting third-and-goal from up around the 10. Try to get third-and-manageable throughout the course of the field and it’s the same thing in the red area.”
Is there anything you can do to try and get better in the red zone?
“Looking back at quite a few possessions, whether it’s a negative play in the running game or in the passing game or a penalty, those are the plays, just like throughout the course of the field, that’s the way we talk to our group. You have a drive for 10 plays and then it takes one bad play on that eleventh play that pretty much makes you, either puts you in a situation where you got to kick a field goal instead of score touchdowns.”
How do you view QB Brock Osweiler at this point regarding where he is in the offense?
“I think for Brock, it’s turning the page on a new opponent. You can’t sit back and look at how you did in Week 1, Week 2, Week 5 and last week. We got to turn the page. We got a very good opponent. It’s a defense that puts a lot of different looks for you. So for him, it’s moving on to the next game and today was a good practice for him.”
Can a quarterback become more accurate during the course of a season?
“Well I just think if it’s a decision that you’re making down the field where you also have an option to maybe get it down to a closer receiver, maybe those are the decisions that you need to make to kind of just get those extra positive yards to keep you out of third-and-long or a negative play.”
When you go back to the most recent game and see 35 to 40 drop backs, are you seeing 32 to 34 plays that are executed well and called well at the line that are brought down by a handful of mistakes?
“Yeah I mean I think when you go through every game at every position on every team there’s always plays that you want to take back and that’s how we look at it. Then for us it’s a matter of just keeping really in manageable situations and not trying to - you know, you can’t win the game on one play and certainly one decision doesn’t lose a game or win a game either. We’re just trying to be consistent throughout the 60 minutes.”
Other than production, what have you seen from WR DeAndre Hopkins that is different this year than last year?
“Well I mean to me, he’s become a better leader on offense. We’re counting on him for a lot of things with the youth in that room. Being able to communicate with the quarterback on what he sees. Being able to communicate with the coaches on the sideline. DeAndre has always been a positive influence on the offense.”
Did you expect more production from WR DeAndre Hopkins this season?
“I mean I think with every play, we’re trying to win our individual matchup. If the ball’s thrown to him and he’s got a chance to catch it and it’s the right decision, single coverage, we feel good about those chances.”
Are team’s double-covering WR DeAndre Hopkins more?
“Yeah I mean just throughout the course of the year, if you have a productive receiver, there’s different coverages that you can see.”
DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Can you talk about this stretch of quarterbacks you’ve faced and will face with Raiders QB Derek Carr, Chargers QB Philip Rivers, Packers QB Aaron Rodgers and Colts QB Andrew Luck all coming in a row?
“Carr and Rodgers are kind of the same, you have to keep them in the pocket. Rodgers doesn’t take his eyes from down field. He makes a lot of plays moving out of the pocket. Rivers sits back there. He’s not moving. Rodgers and Carr can run and make plays with their legs, so we have to be prepared for everything when we go up there and play against them.”
How cool will it be to play at Lambeau Field this weekend?
“I’m looking forward to it. I’ve never been there. We’re trying to get another win on the schedule. We’re looking to go 7-5. That’s what were headed to right now and trying to get to. We’re trying to put in as much work as we can to get ready for (Aaron) Rodgers and his high-powered offense and that defense. We have a lot of work to do.”
How does the mobility of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers change the way you rush him?
“It’s got to be (disciplined). You can’t rush past the quarterback, got to rush up in the pocket and try to push the pocket. Keep him in the pocket. He’ll make a lot of plays moving out of the back of the pocket with his legs. We have a lot of work to do.”
Have you learned a lot from OLB Whitney Mercilus?
“We talked when I first got here. He said don’t get frustrated with it, trust the process. That’s what I’m doing. Having a good time and learning. I’ve learned a few things from him. We work off each other.”
What have you seen from OLB Whitney Mercilus this year?
“He’s always been working since I came in. He was one of the hardest workers I’ve seen when I came here. He’s just been getting better and better each year since I’ve been here. I’ve seen a lot of improvement in his game.”
What does it mean to you for everyone to notice how well you’re playing?
“I’m just trying to get better. I appreciate that but I got a lot more. There’s a lot of areas in my game that I can improve in especially in the passing game. I’m just going to keep continuing to get better. I’m young, I’m having fun. I’m going to get a lot better than I am now.”
Is it nice to be having fun playing football after all the injuries you dealt with?
“It’s very nice. It would be better to win. It hasn’t been nice the last two weeks. It would be better to win. But if we win, that would be even nicer. We need to get these wins, try to pile this wins up and get ready.”
Do you pay any attention to the rest of the AFC South and the playoff picture?
“We’re in first right now. So we just have to keep people behind us, keep trying to get better and try to keep winning games to stay in first place.”
What about dealing with the cold weather in Green Bay?
“Better put some warm clothes on and get ready to play a game. That doesn’t matter. You have to play regardless. Just go out there and try to get it done, get the job done.”
Have you played in extremely cold weather often?
“Last time I played in a cold game was probably high school, college maybe. It’s cool, I’ll warm up.”
Do you relish in the opportunity to face Packers QB Aaron Rodgers?
“I watched this guy growing up for a couple years when I was in college and coming out of high school. I was like ‘Man, that’s a good quarterback.’ So now, I get to chase him around a little bit and get after him. I’m looking forward to the challenge. It’s going to be a challenge. It’s not going to be easy. They’re getting better and better each week. There’s going to be a lot that we have to do as a defense to contain him and get after him.”
Is Packers QB Aaron Rodgers a unique player to face?
“He’s good. He can make every pass on the field. That’s what makes him special. He doesn’t miss guys when they’re open so we need to cover them up and get after him up front.”
WR DeANDRE HOPKINS
What do you think of your cleats?
“They’re dope. Adidas did their thing. They did their thing.”
What’s the story behind them or the message behind them?
“I think a lot of people know the story behind domestic violence and what I have to do to give to it.”
There was a pretty good turnout of guys on the team that took part in this.
“Yeah. A lot of guys in here, they have a lot of things they care about. You know, not just football but personal issues that they’ve dealt with in life. So when the NFL gave us this chance to do this, everybody jumped on it.”
What are your thoughts on going to Lambeau Field and playing at that historic venue?
“I don’t really care where I play. As long as there’s some grass and a football, that’s all that matters.”
The intensity ratchets up when you get to December. Where are you guys right now as an offense trying to match that and excel when the games really matter?
“Trying to get back on track to what we do best and what we know is going to work for this team. Guys just refocusing. The loss last week definitely woke our eyes up and let us know that every team that plays us is going to give us their best and we have to come out and do the same.”
What challenges do the Packers defense present?
“They’re a good defense. They got a lot of vets, a lot of young guys on their defense, a lot of guys that are versatile that can play different positions, not just one-dimensional guys that are just going to go out there. It’s a hard defense to prepare for, but that’s why it’s the NFL. We have a lot of time to prepare for those guys and they’re going to do the same for us, so hopefully we can go up there and get the win.”
Every game is big from start to finish but now that we’re hitting December, does the sense of urgency go up even more?
“Yeah, of course. You know, we have a lead but guys aren’t riding on that because we have to take care of business every day, not just on Sunday but tomorrow and the next day after that. So, the game isn’t won on Sunday, it’s won before Sunday. Every guy knows that in this locker room and definitely detail and attention to detail is much higher. Definitely the San Diego game woke our eyes up to that.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien talked about how unpredictable the Packers defense is. How does that change what you have to do at the line of scrimmage, recognizing what they’re trying to do with you and how that affects the routes run running?
“Just being on page with my quarterback before the play and studying those guys, kind of seeing what they do, seeing what I can get a jump on before the play starts. But teams, they’re not going to play you the same as they play someone else so it’s very hard to go out there and get a judgement on what you think they’re going to do. Just have to go out there and make plays.”
What do you think of Packers QB Aaron Rodgers?
“He’s one of the best at his position. You know, there’s really not that much else to say about that guy.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
What cause are you supporting with your cleats this week and how cool is it that you get to do this?
“Well, first I think we need to give some credit to Nike. This is an incredible design that they came up with. You can see the golden arches there. It’s pretty cool. You know, I chose the Ronald McDonald House for my cause. It’s something that I really have a soft spot for in my heart. Going back to college, I used to do children’s hospital visits, in Denver I used to go every single Monday, after meetings would end, Monday evening. It’s really something that puts life in perspective for you. We’re so fortunate – I say we, the players in the locker room, the coaches – we’re so fortunate to be able to play this game for a living, and we’re truly blessed for that. And then when you step into a children’s hospital and you see what kids as young as a couple months, couple days, couple years – I remember a specific girl, she was 17 years old, she was a senior in high school and all she wanted to do was go to prom, but instead she was battling for her life. So, the Ronald McDonald House, like I said, it’s just something that’s very close to my heart. There’s just so many courageous people battling real life diseases and things of that nature. I just have so much respect and appreciation for those parents and those kids who are going through that hard time.”
Can you talk a little bit about what you’ve seen from this Packers defense?
“I see a very talented defense. You see some veteran guys up front, you see Clay Matthews, you see Julius Peppers. You see guys like that who consistently have made plays in this league for a number of years, who play with very high motors, they’re physical, they’re big, they’re athletic, they’ll cover the entire field. Then you see a secondary that’s extremely athletic. I think you see guys that do a great job of disguising coverages, they can cover a lot of ground, they’re not afraid to go up and challenge wide receivers. Really, when I watch the Packers on defense, I see a very talented group that plays extremely hard, that isn’t afraid to throw out multiple coverages throughout a game. There’s multiple coverages just in a single series. They disguise things well, they play a lot of different coverages, they have a good blitz package. I expect a great challenge.”
It seems like you tend to use longer snap counts but not a ton of shorter counts. Is that by design? Is that something you might want to change as you get further along in your career?
“Great question. It’s something that we spend a lot of time each week in our game plan meetings talking about what kind of cadences we want to use, and I think some of those longer cadences that you see, it’s when we have two plays or maybe even three plays called in the huddle and we’re really trying to see the final look that the defense is going to give us so that I can get the team into the proper play. But you’re certainly right, I think there is a time and a place for quick-count cadences, and we do mix those in there as well. Cadence is something that changes week-to-week. Shoot, when you look at our playbook, we have three full pages of different cadences. So, there’s a lot that we can do at the line of scrimmage, but you’re exactly right, we want to change up our cadences, and that’s something that I’m sure we could also do a better job at.”
Packers QB Aaron Rodgers said on the conference call that in 2008 he struggled as a first-time starter and went 6-10, and he said in 2016 sometimes the media or the fans are a little less forgiving of struggles. What do you think of those comments and how do you think that might apply to some of the things that are happening with you this season?
“I think the most important thing over the course of an NFL season is just – no offence – is just blocking out the outside noise. You know, I think the most important thing for a football team and for an individual is obviously to believe in yourself and your abilities but then believe and trust your teammates that they’re going to do their jobs, trust in your teammates, trust in your coaches. And when you have that belief amongst each other, you’re able to do special things. So, if the National Football League was easy, everybody would do it. It’s a constant challenge, it’s a constant learning process, but it’s something I love. I love that challenge. Every single week isn’t going to be perfect, but that’s what makes those really good weeks special, that’s what makes those wins special, because we know how hard it is to be successful. Just that process of coming in, working to get better, practicing to get better, studying film to get better, that’s the best part about this sport.”
With five games to go and all of them mattering for the playoff race, how much do you like to be the guy with that responsibility on your shoulders?
“I love it. I wouldn’t have it any other way. Since a very young age, I’ve always wanted to be the guy to have the ball in his hand every single play, and especially when our back is against the wall. Not a lot of people believe in us right now, but I can promise you there’s nobody who believes in this team more than myself, there’s nobody who believes in this coaching staff more than myself. I really think this two-game losing streak that we’re on, it’s going to set us up for a great story in the long run. I don’t think there’s ever been a successful NFL season that didn’t have adversity somewhere in that season. So, I really could not be more excited for the challenge this week, going to Lambeau Field, a very difficult place to play on the road. We’re playing a very well coached team, we’re playing a good football team, and really the challenge started yesterday. The challenge started with film prep and then it started today with having a great practice, and we did have a great practice. I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity at hand to truly write a great ending to this story.”
Now that you’re 11 games in as the Texans starter, has it been what you expected it to be? Has it been a little more difficult?
“You know, I guess going into the season I didn’t truly know what to expect. This is my first go-around as showing up in April as the starting quarterback, going through OTAs as the starting quarterback, going through training camp as the starting quarterback, playing this many games consecutively – that’s something I’ve never done before so this is the first time I’ve ever felt that, physically. So, to be honest with you, I didn’t know what to expect. The one thing I did know is that it wasn’t going to be easy. There’s nothing easy about an NFL season, and that’s why the successful teams, it’s so special to them because unless you’ve been here every single hour since April, you can’t truly appreciate how difficult an NFL season is. Like I said, I couldn’t be more excited about the opportunity at hand. We still control our own destiny. I believe in this football team, I believe in this coaching staff and I can’t be more excited to get up to Green Bay and kick this game off.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH PACKERS HEAD COACH MIKE McCARTHY
What did the win against the Eagles mean to you and what do you want to accomplish the rest of this season?
“Well, I think the obvious point is we needed to win, especially where we were. It just really is more about how we won. I think that’s the most important thing in this game. You’re always trying to establish a play style, and the fact of the matter we went out and played very well in all three phases. We needed that because we’ve been up and down, fighting through the injuries and some of the other challenges that we’ve had. The fact of the matter, we were able to go out and play offense, defense and special teams at a high level and win on the road. It was a big chunk of confidence we were able to come away with.”
Based on what your team did in all three phases against the Eagles, how good can your team be over the rest of the season?
“Well, we just need to improve on our last game. That’s the way we look at it. We spend quite a bit of time on the self-scout. We’re really into the improving the fundamentals and techniques of what we’re trying to do each and every week, and even more so during these times of having as many different players line up in different spots. I mean, everybody goes through it. It’s important for us to improve after last week, especially with the Houston Texans coming to town. This is an uncommon opponent. We haven’t played these guys in four years, so there’s a lot of players that our team hasn’t competed against. They do a great job. Their coaching staff does a great job challenging you schematically. We are full-bore ahead here getting ready for these guys.”
The Texans and Packers are two teams that use their fullback regularly. What do you think the position adds to the offense?
“Well, I think it’s a must. I clearly understand why the position has gone the way it’s gone. A product of that is, you know, college football is part of that, too. You have to be able to run the football in the National Football League and with that, you know, half of your passing game needs to be play action and your action passing game and drop back. I’ve always been a big believer in the fullback position, but as far as the personnel aspect of it, you got to find those fullbacks that can contribute on special teams because that’s where I think some of the fullbacks over the years have come up short. We’re fortunate there. We have two guys that are good special teams players and give us that fullback responsibility that we need.”
Even though you have QB Aaron Rodgers, how important is it for you to run the football more effectively, especially at this time of the year when the weather starts to get bad?
“Just from a number one starting point, the quarterback’s best friend is always a healthy run game. I’ve never been around a successful quarterback that when you’re running the ball very well he’s going to be in a position to play his best games. That’s just a general offensive philosophy of mine and the fact of the matter is we are the Green Bay Packers. We play football in the north and you have to be able to run the football, and just as much, you have to be able to stop the run. When you commit to running the football as a football team, it also helps the defense and their run defense because teams who run the ball every day in practice should be able to stop the run very well and vice versa, too. It’s just an element that we feel strongly about having. Our numbers probably don’t reflect that just because we’re – kind of what we’ve gone through with some of our personnel – but running the football is important.”
When you see Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney on film what jumps out to you?
“Well, he’s unique. His length and quickness is unique and his play-making ability, especially on the back side of things. Obviously, when players – you look at impact players and they’re making plays when, you know, you’re going at them or to their side, but the fact of the matter is even when you try to go away from him he’s very impactful. He’s someone that has got everybody’s attention here and he has very, very good video.”
Can you explain why you think the fullback position has gone away and how college football is affecting that?
“Well, I just don’t think – what I was saying about the fullback position – you just don’t see as many, I would categorize them as traditional two-back offenses in college football, and rightfully so just because the way the field is. It’s a space game and a lot of teams don’t have fullbacks as part of their operation. It’s just like the NFL draft every year. You just look at how the positions, when you walk into the draft room, how many potential players are available at each position. The fullback’s always the lowest on the board.”
Can you talk about QB Aaron Rodgers and how he is playing right now?
“Aaron’s playing very well. I think he clearly had one of his best games this year in Philadelphia. I think not only is he playing very well, I think what he’s managed this year has been, honestly, extraordinary. It’s been a really big challenge for him. I mean, we started the season a certain way of how we wanted to play with Eddie Lacy and coming out the gate. Then we kind of made a shift as far as our philosophy a bit there in Week 3. He adjusted very well to that, and then going through the injuries to Eddie and James Starks, we had to obviously go into more of a spread game there for a couple weeks and this past couple weeks we’ve been able to get back to a little more balance.”
Your team won here four years ago and QB Aaron Rodgers threw six touchdown passes against Wade Phillips’ defense. Have you ever seen him play better than he did in that particular game?
“That’s a great memory. It’s actually my daughter’s 21st birthday. I remember that about it, too. That’s clearly one of his best games. I think it definitely ranks up there. That was a game we needed to win, too, if you remember at that time. That was an important game where we were in our season at that time and he was on the money. I’d hate to have to sit here and try to rank his games but that’s definitely one of the best ones.”
What did you think about QB Brock Osweiler when you watched him on film?
“I think he’s a good, young quarterback. He has all the talents. I always look at the quarterback position as guys that can play both in the pocket and out of the pocket, and he has that ability. He can obviously see the field very well, can make all the throws, has a big-time arm and I’ve been impressed with his athletic ability.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH PACKERS QB AARON RODGERS
What does the victory in Philadelphia mean for you personally and the team overall?
“Well, I think it’s just good to break the streak. We were in a rough patch, four losses in a row. All it means is we didn’t drop three games back in the division. So, still a long way to go for us and a lot of things in front of us that we can accomplish if we turn this thing around, but it’s just one game.”
Have you ever played better than you did here four years ago with those six touchdown passes against Wade Phillips’ defense?
“I like to think I’ve had a couple game that were maybe a little better, but that was definitely a fun night and a good memory. To be able to – you know, at the time, they were 5-0 and we were 2-3 and we were struggling, and to have that type of performance was important for our team getting back on the right track.”
Are you encouraged by the way you guys played in Philadelphia and do you feel like that can be the start of something?
“Well, hopefully. The encouraging thing is that all three phases were on our game. Offensively, we had a limited amount of possessions and we made the most of them – just one punt – defensively, did a good job in the second half, holding them to three points, creating the turnover, and then special teams, Mason (Crosby) made his kicks, Jacob (Schum) had a great punt to the 1-yard line and then we covered really well on the kickoffs. So, that was important. We hadn’t had a game where all three phases were really playing at our best.”
What do you think about the Texans defense, especially the secondary?
“I think it’s a very good defense. I think they play really well together. They come up and challenge you with their coverages and a lot of press coverage, a lot of man schemes, a lot of different types of fronts and pressures that they bring. It’s important you figure out where (No.) 90 (Jadeveon Clowney) is because he’s a difference-maker up front, but I think they’re playing really well as a whole and it’s definitely – the couple chances you might get a game, you got to make the most of them or they’re going to make you pay.”
What have you seen from Texans OLB Whitney Mercilus on the tape?
“I think he’s playing really, really well. Obviously, for whatever reason, he’s not as big a name as Jadeveon. He wasn’t the first pick of the draft or whatever – I think Clowney was the first pick or second pick – but Whitney’s making a ton of plays. I’ve gotten to know him a little bit over the years. I just appreciate his work ethic and his approach. He’s a guy who’s, I think, been a solid player for a number of years. This year, I don’t know if it’s just feeling 100 percent or whatever, but he’s showing up a lot on the tape.”
Can you relate at all to the pressure that Texans QB Brock Osweiler is facing in his first year as a starter?
“I think so. Yeah, I mean, my first year as a starter was 2008, we went 6-10. I felt like I played decent but wins and losses are the most important thing. Luckily for me, in 2008 I feel like there was a little bit more of a grace period than there is in 2016. I mean, there’s definitely pressure on coaches and players at really all the levels now of football to win and win now and be productive. The beauty of our sport that often gets lost in that, you know, overreaction, hyper-alert information age that we live in, is that it’s a team sport. It takes all 11 on offense for a play to run successfully and then obviously you need to stop people to win. I think the key for any quarterback is confidence. You just have to hang onto that confidence and keep trying to inspire your teammates and believe in yourself and trust the process.”
Is that confidence what got you through that year and since then, too?
“Yeah, for sure. Definitely didn’t lose any confidence that year. Obviously, it was frustrating not winning as much as you wanted to win, but I never lost confidence in myself, and at the same time, knew when I came back in 2009 that we needed to put something together and win games and go to the playoffs, and fortunately we went on a nice run in the second half of the season, made the playoffs and ended up starting something pretty special.”
What have you seen from WR Davante Adams’ improvement this year and what kind of ballplayer he is?
“Yeah, I think the key has been his health. Last year he wasn’t healthy and he was dealing with especially an ankle injury that was limiting his ability to use his quick-twitch talent at the line of scrimmage and obviously inhibiting his top-end speed. So, he’s been getting open a lot. He does a good job with his releases, he’s been catching the ball really well, which obviously is very important, and then been doing a really good job after the catch. He’s an elusive player at the line of scrummage but also elusive when he gets the balls in his hands. So, I’m really proud of the way he’s playing. He’s got a great approach, he’s a great teammate and I think he’s still on the ascension.”
This offseason you said if you could pick any wide receiver on any team you would pick Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins. What made you say that and what is it about him that makes him such a special talent?
“Yeah, I believe I was responding to a – I can’t remember if I was on a podcast or Twitter or something – but I remember that I did get asked that and I meant it because I think he played with four quarterbacks and put up pretty incredible numbers. He’s an extremely talented guy. Just watching him on TV a few times and seeing film when we’re playing the defenses that he’s played, he just does a lot of things really, really well. Obviously, his releases, his speed, his route-running fundamentals. His hands are fantastic. I mean, he can use either hand and one-hand them. But I think he does the little things, the nuances with the route, not telegraphing stuff, really, really well. So, thought he was a pretty safe pick there.”