HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
How much improvement have you seen from your tight ends this season?
“As it relates to the question, in the passing game they’ve worked very hard to become better route runners, they stay after practice, they catch extra footballs off the jugs. They do a lot of different things. They work hard in the meetings. I think John Perry does an excellent job. John was a receiver when he was a player. He coached receivers where he’s coached before, so I think he brings a lot to the passing game for them as far as leverage and things like that. I think those guys have really taken to the coaching and done a good job.”
The offensive line has been dealing with injuries all season. What’s Offensive Line Coach Mike Devlin done to help that unit continually improve throughout the season?
“He played so he knows the ins and outs of playing the position. He was a guard, he was a center. His dad was a coach. I think he’s been around it his whole life and he brings a great perspective to that room. He’s a tough coach but he’s not a coach that’s in your face all the time. He’s demanding but he’s real. He’s a real guy, and I think they respect that. He’s a good teacher. Then you got to give credit to the players. You think about all the guys that have stepped up and done a nice job for us. Duane Brown, number one, coming off the injury he came off of last year to be able to play the way he’s playing. Devlin and I were just talking about him before practice. I think he’s playing really well. Xavier (Su’a-Filo) has been playing through some injuries and I thought he played, when he got in there against Indy, played well. Greg Mancz, what else can you say about Greg Mancz? Undrafted out of Toledo. Nick (Martin) was supposed to be our starter. Nick gets banged up, here comes Greg Mancz. He’s done a nice job. Jeff Allen is a tough guy, he’s done a nice job. Derek Newton goes down with a bad injury and Chris Clark jumps in. Then you have guys like Oday Aboushi, Kendall Lamm that have really done their job when they’ve gone in there. Josh Walker is a guy we like for the future, maybe even like him on Sunday. I think all those guys have done a nice job.”
What would you like to see from QB Brock Osweiler over the last three games?
“Just consistent performance. Making sure that he’s managing the offense at the line of scrimmage correctly, getting us into the right play when the play call calls for it. Doing a nice job with the huddle, huddle command. Throwing the ball accurately. Taking what the defense gives him. Don’t force it. Take care of the ball, 100 percent ball security. I think that’s what every coach is looking for from their quarterback in December football.”
How has QB Brock Osweiler done when it comes to changing things at the line of scrimmage and making play calls when he sees fit?
“He does a nice job. He’s very prepared. He works very hard to understand the game plan week in and week out. He’s done a good job. It’s not easy to come in to a system where you really haven’t done as much of that before. I think he’s improved every week and he’s done a good job with that.”
What can you take from how well you ran the ball against Jacksonville in the first matchup in Week 10?
“You look at it, you definitely look at it. I think that we’re always, especially this year, we’re always going to try to run the football. That’s kind of what our identity is on offense. I’m not saying that we can do it the same way we did it. Some of those runs that we had against Jacksonville in the first game were our bread and butter runs. Some of them were stuffed. We got to do a better job on those runs. This is a very athletic front. They have linebackers that can fly. (Paul) Posluszny is a tackling machine. (Telvin) Smith, the guy’s athletic, he’s fast. Myles Jack. The defensive line, they rotate 7, 8, 9 guys in the defensive line. A guy I had at Penn State is there now, Jordan Hill, who was a great player for us at Penn State. It’s a tough front to deal with. We’re going to have to do a good job.”
Do you wish you could have players on the field at 5 a.m. to do drills over and over again until they get it right? Jaguars WR Allen Robinson said you did that at Penn State.
“No. Come on, Allen. Allen Robinson is a great kid. He’s an excellent pro. He did an unbelievable job for us at Penn State. But I wouldn’t believe everything he says.”
With TE C.J. Fiedorowicz in concussion protocol and the fact you had to move WR Jaelen Strong and WR Braxton Miller on IR, where do you see your passing game going without those guys?
“C.J. is a big part of what we’ve been doing, obviously. He’s had a good year. He’s a guy that does both things well. He blocks well and obviously he’s had a good year in the passing game. I’d put him in the day-to-day category. He’s played a lot snaps for us this year. He’s pretty banged up but I know he’s going to do everything he can to try to play on Sunday. I know that. As far as the passing game goes, I think it’s a unit that steps up week in and week out. I know it hasn’t been the numbers that maybe everybody looks at but I think there’s been some consistency in some of the certain routes that we run and things like that. I think our guys understand the game plan. They understand how we want to attack Jacksonville. We had a good day today, so we’ll see how it goes. That’s the nature of the league though. This time of the year, injuries happen. The next guy has to step up.”
What are your thoughts on getting QB Tom Savage back to practice this week?
“Tom looked good today. Took some reps today. Obviously, he takes most of the reps on the look team. Took some reps with the offense today. He looked good. Looked like he was ready to go.”
Can you talk about the AFC South teams and why you think the division is tougher than people think?
“Look, I think what I’m saying is – it’s like I said, and I mean this in all respect, it’s your job, you guys’ job to evaluate how you see each division and each team. What I’m trying to tell you from a coaching perspective is every week it is extremely difficult to win a game based on, number one, the players on the other side of the field. These are the top football players in the world that you’re going against week in and week out. Then you add to that the great coaches that you’re going against, the coaching staffs. So, to me, it’s a monumental task every week just to win a game. I’m not going to get into the divisions and the teams and all that. I just think it’s really a challenging league. That’s what makes it fun. That’s why you get up early and you can’t want to get to work because the challenge of, ‘Wow, now we’re going against Jacksonville. This is what they do.’ I don’t care what their record is. They are extremely difficult to go against. They have a lot of good players, a very sound scheme in all three phases and it’s going to be a tough game.”
What is the key to being 13-3 in the AFC South since you’ve been the Texans coach?
“I don’t know. I think that’s up for you guys to decide. I think that our guys understand how important the division is. I think we’ve got good players that play hard. We’ve had a lot of tough games in this division. None of them have been easy. Every game seems like it comes down to the fourth quarter. I think it’s a credit to our players. But again, 13-3 doesn’t mean anything unless you go out there on Sunday and win.”
Do you think you’ve developed an identity and do you think that identity is running the football and playing great defense?
“Look, I think that the identity of your team is really something that’s known more in the second half of the season then it is in the first half of the season. You’ve got to get to November with a record that keeps you in the hunt. I heard, I think it was Coach () Harbaugh the other day on T.V. talking about playing meaningful games in December. That’s what it’s all about. However you get to that point, it’s very important in this league to be playing meaningful games in December. That’s what’s important. We’re playing meaningful games in December and I think on offense we’ve got to try to establish the line of scrimmage, establish the run then everything kind of works off of that. Whatever we need to do to win the game, that’s what we’re going to do but I think we need to run the ball.”
You mentioned G Xavier Su’a-Filo being banged up. Is that why G Oday Aboushi started vs. the Colts?
“It had a lot to do with it, yeah. It had a lot to do with it. Xavier played against Indy and obviously he’s probably going to play a lot on Sunday. So yeah, it had a lot to do with it. I thought Oday earned the right to play. He had been practicing well. When Xavier went in there, I talked to him during stretch today, he had a couple blocks that were hellacious blocks. He did a nice job when he went in there. I think he’ll be ready to go on Sunday.”
OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR GEORGE GODSEY
Can you talk about why you have utilized the tight ends more this season?
“We’re doing a good job really in the running game and we’re doing a good job with the play-actions. They’re really right there at the point of attack in a lot of those runs, so they’re able to create some separation with play-action. They’re also doing a good job on third down winning their one-on-one matchups.”
Do you think QB Brock Osweiler is comfortable throwing to the tight ends in the middle of the field?
“They’ve worked hard with him after practice too. All three of them. They’ve done a good job with that. We use them all too. They have a variety of different route trees, so each one of them, whether it’s versus a safety or a linebacker, there’s a lot to prepare for.”
What would you like to see out of QB Brock Osweiler in the last three games?
“Lead our team to victories. That’s one and you do that by not turning the ball over. Be effective on third down. Manage the game on normal downs whether it’s play actions, taking shots when we need them. Effective play.”
Is QB Brock Osweiler as confident behind the scenes with you despite the inconsistent play as he is with the media?
“Yeah I mean I think with the quarterback position, you got to come and you’re ready for everything. There’s certainly some different things that we’re seeing on game day and then we got to react and be as positive as we can as far as making plays when they’re there and then when it’s not there, making sure we can go ahead and play the next down.”
Can you talk about the development of the run game and how it seems to have become the core of the offense?
“Well similar to the tight ends, you know, there’s a lot of backs there that are productive. Lamar (Miller) obviously has had a lot of carries. Alfred (Blue) has come on. Akeem (Hunt) his role. Johnathan Grimes in his role on third down and getting in there for time with Lamar and Alfred when they need a blow or something. But the line, it all starts with them. We’ve had some moving parts there. A lot of different bodies really blocking at the point of attack. Front side, back side, tight end side, split end side, receivers doing their job. It’s a full team effort. We talked about that at the beginning of the year and that’s part of the success.”
You’ve lost WR Jaelen Strong and WR Braxton Miller for the year and TE C.J. Fiedorowicz didn’t practice. How much do you think that injuries have kept the offense, specifically the quarterback, from performing as well as you would like?
“That’s one route that you could take. Early in the year, we talk about injuries being a part of the game especially at this level and not having the rosters maybe you have in college with seven or eight tight ends and 10 receivers, so whoever is out there is out there and it’s up to us to make it work and credit to everybody stepping up honestly whether it’s at the line position, receiver position, tight end position. They know it’s their job to be ready when their number is called.”
How will you limit the turnovers going forward?
“There’s a short yardage situation where we took a shot at and there was nothing there for him (Brock Osweiler). There’s certainly some things from a coaching standpoint. Putting him in that position as opposed to trying to go ahead and get that first down. Run the football. Certainly there’s a bunch of different avenues that we can take from our end calling plays and then there’s some things that working together from a player’s standpoint too.”
T DUANE BROWN
Can you talk a bit about where you are and how important it is to play meaningful football in December?
“Yeah, we’re here. It’s been a long season and we’ve put ourselves in a position to be right where we want to be, but you got to follow through with it. No bigger game than this week against Jacksonville. It's going to be a tough battle. They always play us tough. Back at home, which is a good thing. We’re excited about the challenge.”
After a big win last week, how will you approach the game against the Jaguars who have a bad record and are on a losing streak?
“We keep it all in perspective no matter what their record is. We know that they’re going to play us very tough. They’ve got a lot of talent on that team especially on the defensive side of the ball. We’re not overlooking them by any means and we’re not resting on our accomplishment from last week. So we’re all pretty focused on them and the challenges that they have.”
You’ve had a front row seat to what RB Lamar Miller has done this year. What do you think about what he has accomplished in his first year with the team?
“It’s been great. I’m happy to be a part of it. Having 1,000 yards. Runs so hard and I’m glad he’s on our team, looking forward to racking up some more yards here in the next few weeks.”
Running the football and establishing the line of scrimmage is what Head Coach Bill O’Brien talks about a lot. What’s good about that identity late in the season?
“It’s great having a good running game. It’s great going late into the season. Being able to do it week in and week out, that’s a great accomplishment by the guys up front. Tight ends, receivers, running backs, everybody’s involved in that. As an offensive lineman, there’s nothing greater than being able to run the ball no matter the challenge you have, whatever front they have. We’re just trying to keep that going.”
We talked on Sunday about the fact that the team has rotated in so many guys this season. What has allowed you guys to do that up front and have success running the football?
“I think it’s the determination and emphasis on details that the guys up front have. No matter, backup, starters. Everyone is ready to go whenever plugged in, whatever position. Coaching staff has done a great job of getting us prepared for different looks we may see, adjustments you might have and like I said just a total team effort. Running backs are doing a great job of finding holes and running hard. I think it’s been easy. These guys, they fight their tails off and it’s a mentality that we have in our room. Just gutting it out, being a tough, resilient group when it comes to the run game and not being denied.”
You’ve been with this team for a while and you’ve been through a lot. What does it mean to be so close to getting another AFC South title and going to the playoffs?
“It means a lot especially looking at the things we’ve been through this year. It’s been a long season, had a lot of adversity, lost some close games that we think we should have won and to still be in this position means a lot. Still being undefeated in our division and knowing what lies ahead, if we handle our business. It’s a great feeling. I think no matter what’s happened this year, guys are very optimistic and very excited to be right here at this point.”
How does it feel to be playing at home?
“Going from Mexico to the snow in Green Bay, Indy last week, it’s been a lot of road games. So to be back home this week means a lot to have our fans behind us. It means everything. We’re looking forward to it.”
Does all of this mean more to you because of how last season ended with your injury and where you are now?
“I mean this year has been great for me. I don’t think about it too much, but just knowing what it took for me to get to this point. For us to be in this position right now and me to be able to contribute and be a part of it means everything. I don’t think about it a whole lot. I just take a business-like approach and taking on the task at hand, but it is special to me.”
What do you remember about how you ran the ball against Jacksonville the last time you played them?
“I thought we ran it pretty well. I remember that. Especially at the end of the game, you know, having some runs there just to close the game out. It’s never easy to run on their front. They’ve got some big guys out there, linebacker core is extremely fast. The secondary gets involved, but guys found a way to get a lot of yards. We’re going to have to do it again this week.”
RB LAMAR MILLER
When you came to Houston, did you know you were going to be able to carry such a large workload?
“Yes of course. I always have confidence in myself. I’ve been playing running back my whole life, so of course I feel like I can carry the load. That’s part of the reason why I came here. Just so I can get that workload and just help this team win.”
Did that factor into your decision to come to Houston?
“Yes. Just so I can accomplish over 1,000 yards multiple times in my career. That’s pretty much it.”
So you knew if you got the carries, you’d put up big numbers?
Can you talk about the offensive line and what they’ve done this season?
“I think those guys have been consistent since day one. I have a lot of confidence in all of the guys just doing their assignment and getting the job done. Those guys have been doing a great job for me and the other running backs. We just try to be decisive and just keep the chains moving and get positive yards.”
What’s it like running behind FB Jay Prosch?
“It’s good. Sometimes I tell him when I’m running the ball that I’m following him. I think he does a good job of just getting his helmet on the next guy’s helmet and just getting movement.”
What do you think about being a part of this run-first offense?
“It’s good. A lot of teams know that we run the ball and for us to be able to keep getting positive yards and keeping the chain moving, that’s telling us that the offensive line is doing a great job.”
Why do you think the running game has improved as the season goes on despite the injuries on the offensive line?
“Like I said before, I have a lot of confidence in those guys. They have a great coach. All week in practice, they take the coaching and they do a great job of just doing their assignment and whatever the coach has been telling them in meetings. We just, as running backs, just try to be decisive.”
Do you notice the brotherhood between the offensive linemen?
“Yes, I think they go to dinner every week. They have a great bond. They have their connections. I’m pretty sure all of them get along pretty good. That’s always good when your teammates get along.”
Do you have any Christmas presents planned for the offensive line?
“Yeah, I’m going to do a little something. It’s a secret right now. I’m going to do something though. I’ll tell y’all later.”
What do you remember about how you ran the ball in Jacksonville earlier in the season?
“I got hurt that game but I remember I had one long run. But other than that, I think that game was all right.”
What about as a group? You guys had 181 rushing yards.
“Yeah, I think everybody else did a great job. Akeem (Hunt), he had a good game that game. He was just being decisive, making plays in the open field and just keeping the running game going.”
How exciting is it to be playing for something and be headed toward the playoffs at this time of the year?
“It’s good. I feel like we – and everybody in this locker room feels like we control our own destiny, so every Sunday we just have to put it on the line, just play for each other and this organization and we should be good.”
Does it feel kind of old-school to be a run-first team in this pass-first era of football?
“Yes. You know, that’s our mentality, smash-mouth football. We have the offensive line to do it and we have the running backs that can do it as well. We just try to go out there and do our assignment and just keep the chains moving any way that’s possible.”
What about having guys like RB Alfred Blue, RB Jonathan Grimes and RB Tyler Ervin back there to spell you when you need a break? Other teams don’t have that kind of depth.
“It’s good. All the running backs, when they get the opportunity, I think they do a great job of just keeping the run game going. Like Alfred Blue, he did a great job this past week getting them tough yardage. Even Akeem (Hunt), when he got in the game, he made big runs for us. (Jonathan Grimes), he’s been doing a great job throughout this whole season, coming in on third downs and making big runs for us in critical downs. I think everybody’s been doing a great job.”
What were some keys to averaging 5.5 yards per carry the first time you guys played the Jaguars and how important is it do that again this weekend?
“Everybody just has to be on the same page, just be consistent. Like I said, the offensive line, we go off those guys. When they do their assignment, they make our job easier. We just run the ball.”
So many guys have shuffled up front along that offensive line and yet you’re able to go out and dominate the line of scrummage. What do you think of the job that some of the depth guys on the offensive line have done?
“I mean, I think they just take the coaching. I think all those guys have been doing a great job of just taking advantage of their opportunity for the most part. Like I said before, all those guys, they get along pretty good so they help each other out. That’s a good thing.”
Do you consider them to be the leaders of the offense?
“Yes. You know, like I said, as a running back, we go as far as our offensive line takes us. They do all the dirty work, we’re just back there running the ball.”
Are you going to take care of those guys at the end of the season?
“Yes, of course. Of course.”
QB BROCK OSWEILER
You were in a playoff race last year. How much does that help you right now with what you guys are facing?
“Yeah, you know, I think it helps a lot. I was very fortunate in my time in Denver to be a part of playoff teams, be a part of teams that were fighting for playoff positions in the month of December. Then, obviously, last year I was fortunate to be able to contribute actually on the field. Just like I always talk about in here, there’s nothing that replaces game reps. Well, there’s nothing that replaces experience of being able to experience the playoffs. So, just being around that team, I think it helps me out big-picture-wise of what to expect this month, how to prepare and how to go about things.”
What is the key to winning in the division?
“Well, I think not only the key to winning in our division but the key to trying to win football games every single week, it’s how you go about your Wednesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday. I’m a firm believer that to a certain extent you play like you practice. I think when it comes to our division games, to answer your question, not that we put more emphasis on them, but obviously there is a sense of extra importance to those division games. So, when we step into the building on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday, like I just touched on, there’s a great focus. There’s a great energy because ultimately, to get into the playoffs, one way to do that is to win your division. So, Coach (O’Brien) has done a great job of explaining that to us. So I guess to answer your question, there’s a little extra sense of focus and we understand how important it is to take care of business in your division.”
How big would it be if you could average close to 5.5 yards per carry like you did in Jacksonville earlier this season?
“It would be huge. To win football games in December and then obviously in the playoffs, I think there’s a couple core ingredients to doing that, and one of those is running the football effectively. So, if we can run the ball and get over five yards a carry, that’s huge. Now the thing that you need to do off of running the football is, one, protect the ball, running backs, myself in the pass game, wide receivers, but then as you drive down the field with the run game, you need to be able to capitalize and score touchdowns in the red area. If we can average over five yards a carry, I’ll take that any day.”
What are some specific things you learned in that playoff race last year that should help you right now?
“Like I said, I think it’s about how to go about the day-to-day process. The most important thing this time of year is not looking too far ahead. It’s very easy to get into the playoff scenarios, the division scenarios. You know, what is it going to take to make the playoffs? What seed would we be? Who would we be playing? I think the most important thing is just focus on your next opponent because if you look past an opponent, you’re not going to end up with the results that you want. So, I think it’s all about taking a day-by-day process, and there’s no one more important to us right now than preparing for the Jacksonville Jaguars?”
What is it about the tight ends that’s allowed them to be so consistent and so reliable in the passing game?
“Yeah, you know, I have a lot of trust in our tight ends. I have a lot of trust in everybody offensively, I should say that first. But what our tight ends have done for us this season, Stephen (Anderson), Griff (Ryan Griffin), C.J. (Fiedorowicz), you know, just like you said, they’re very reliable. I know where they’re going to be on every single play. They get to the correct depth, they get to the correct landmarks, they win their one-on-one matchups, and I’ve just been very fortunate to be able to develop great chemistry with those guys throughout practice. We do a lot of extra reps post-practice, and those tight ends are always the guys first in line wanting to get those extra reps. I think you’re really seeing that pay off, but then also, all three of those guys, they study the game and they work hard. When I walk into the quarterback room in the morning to start our QB meeting, I walk by the tight end room and I always hear those guys in there. I think it’s just a credit to their hard work, the talent they have and the dedication they have to this game.”
What are some keys to doing a better job in the red zone?
“It’s something that we’re definitely going to emphasize more in practice. Like I just touched on, I believe to a certain extent you play like you practice. We’re going to start working the red area a little bit more in practice because we know we need to be better at the red area. So, that was something that we started today. Usually you kind of hold off on red area until Fridays, but I believe extra reps will be really good for us right now, and especially myself. Really, it just comes down to making, I think, quicker decisions. Things happen faster in the red area. There’s less field to work with, the windows are smaller, so once again, landmarks, depth, my timing. There’s so many things that go into it and I think that’s just something that we need to work more in practice, which we’re going to do.”
How would you describe the identity of this team as you hit this stretch drive? Guys are using words like ‘tough’ and ‘gritty.’
“You just took it from me. I was going to say ‘tough.’ This is a very tough football team. It starts with our defense, it starts with our offensive line. I think those two groups really set the tone for this football team. Our defense, all positions have been playing great football, physical football, making plays, forcing turnovers, and then our offensive line has really been leading the way in their pass protection, in their run game, opening up huge holes for the running backs. I think everything really stems and feeds off of that, so I think we are a very tough, physical, confident football team.”
WR Jaelen Strong and WR Braxton Miller have gone on IR. How frustrating is it or is it frustrating is it at all to not have those guys healthy all year so you guys can develop as a unit together?
“Well, it’s frustrating for kind of selfish reasons. It’s what you just said, you want to be able to develop chemistry with your young receivers, and there’s nothing that replaces building chemistry like reps – in practice, routes versus air, seven-on-seven, team reps. When those guys are injured and they can’t be out there at practice, we’re not able to get those reps. But, fortunately there’s a group of guys that are out there, they’re out there every single day, they’re working hard. There is a ‘next man up’ mentality and I think guys are really proving to take that on and really take pride in it. Some of those guys, Keith Mumphery, maybe you didn’t see much of him early in the year but I think he’s doing a phenomenal job for this football team, not just in the passing game but in the running game. He blocked extremely hard on Sunday and he works very hard in practice. Wendall Williams, he’s one of those guys – shoot, out there today at practice, every time I looked a different direction he had the ball in his hand, and he’s working extremely hard on scout team, whether that be with the first team offense, special teams, and just a guy really, really making the most of his opportunity. That’s really cool to see those guys step up and make the most of it.”
What is your expectation for yourself over the last three games?
“Ultimately my job as a quarterback is to put this football team in a position to win the game, and then obviously, ultimately win the football game. I think week to week that’s going to change, and we’ve seen that. There’s times when my job is maybe get us into the correct run play and then make the correct MIKE point after that so we hit our targets right. Maybe it is hit a few more chunk plays downfield, maybe it is protect the football a little bit better. Overall, to answer your question, I think it’s going to change week to week, but ultimately I would like to see myself really protect the football down the stretch and just put this football team in a position come the fourth quarter to win all these football games.”
WR WENDELL WILLIAMS
We have talked about this before. How have you approached this opportunity as a practice squad player trying to prove that you do deserve this chance on the active roster?
“I just stay humble. I come to work every day ready to work hard, ready to show people that I do deserve a chance and I want to stay here. I want to earn my keep. Coming here, OB (Bill O’Brien) preaches all the time just work hard and be a good teammate. Everything else will work itself out.”
How does it feel to be a part of an active roster that is playing for a playoff spot in December?
“It’s great. It’s a great opportunity for all of us, actually. Just living it day to day. As long as I come to work, go hard, it should be alright.”
What do you feel like you bring to the table?
“To be honest, I think everyone has their own niche. I just have to find mine. We will figure that out when the time comes.”
You can run a little bit?
“I try, I try.”
What has kept you going?
“To be honest, I’m 26 and this is the biggest dream I’ve ever had in my life. For me to be in a setting like this, makes me want to stay here. I love being around the guys. I love the locker room. I love the work ethic of this team and I want to stay.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH JAGUARS HEAD COACH GUS BRADLEY
What has made the Texans running game so effective even when they’re shuffling through different backs and along the offensive line?
“Well, I just think it starts off with the commitment. They’re very, very committed to their run game, and that’s pretty evident on film. I know we’ve had long discussions about just how well they did against us in the run game when we played the last time. I know for us for a while there in the beginning of our season, we were struggling with the run game and just felt like we needed to make a stronger commitment, and that’s where it starts. You definitely see how committed they are.”
Can you talk about the advantages and disadvantages of playing a team a second time?
“Well, I’ve been a part of it where we play them one week and two weeks later play the same team. Look at last year, our Tennessee game, we played them at home and it was a low-scoring game and then we played them a couple weeks later and it was a score where both teams were in the 40s. So, you know, I think you get that chance to play them, you understand the personnel, you know what they’re all about, but you somewhat have different game plans going into it. You might change your philosophy a little bit of how you want to attack them, and I think each team does that. At the same time, whatever’s been successful for you, you want to really keep that in mind and be convicted on it. So, it’s challenging. It’s challenging in many ways, but just like everything that happens in the NFL where you have to be able to adjust to it. There’s guys that were injured the first time you played them and now they’re healthy, so that in itself will change the game.”
Can you talk about the development of Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey and his matchup with Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins this weekend?
“Yeah. You know what, Jalen’s been doing a very good job for us. He’s been a guy that we’ll put and we’ll just keep him on the left side. He’s also been a guy that we’ll switch based on our feelings with the receiving corps. So, he’s had to adjust all during the year to what we feel like going into that game, what we want to do. I give him a lot of credit. It’s tough in this league to play on the left side, the right side, and at times in the slot. He’s seemed to take on that challenge and do a pretty good job of it.”
Texans DE Jadeveon Clowney made the play of the game last week and possibly the play of the season for the Texans. Do you see him getting better and better as the season goes on?
“I do. I think he’s at, what, 12 or 13 tackles for loss. He’s making impactful plays. I know the first time we played Houston it was very evident that he was starting to get on a roll, and that has continued. I believe he’s playing with a great deal of confidence right now. It’s kind of like our Marqise Lee where he had some injuries and then he starts to gain confidence through that and his true athleticism shows up and his playmaking ability. He’s just playing very well right now.”
Did you see this kind of season coming from Jaguars WR Marqise Lee?
“You know what, we always felt like he had the talent and the drive, competitive spirit. It was just keeping him healthy, and it seemed like just when he’d start to get going a little bit in practice, something would pop up. But I think he has a really good plan now and I think during practice and OTAs, how we go about it, I think he’s really gained confidence. What he needs to do is take care of his body and it’s paid off for him.”
Since Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien has been here, the team has had success against the AFC South. Why do you think that it is?
“I think it starts off, they’re a very good defensive team. And when you have a very good defensive unit that puts you in the mix right away. I think offensively, he really knows who they are. He can adjust, if he wants to throw the ball or if he wants to run the ball. He has his strong convictions, but he’ll go into a game knowing what he wants to do and he’ll stick to it. I think he has a great – it’s hard when you’re involved so heavily in the offense to have a great feel for your team but he has a great feel for his team. I think that he has all three units feeding off each other and it’s paid off well for him.”
When you look at Texans QB Brock Osweiler on film, do you see any improvement since the last time you faced him in Week 10?
“I think his decision-making. What’s he at, one interception in the last two games? That part of it, his decision-making. Sometimes it just takes time with the personnel. I know with timing of the receivers and tight ends and getting on the same page and seeing things the same way, it can take time. I’ve just seen his decision-making and I think what they’re asking him to do, he’s doing a good job.”
Is there any extra motivation when you have an opportunity to knock a team ahead of you out of the playoff race despite the fact you’re team has been eliminated?
“Well, anytime it’s an AFC South opponent, I think every team in our division is looking at that saying, ‘We all want to own the AFC South.’ When you have three opponents like we do the next three games, it’s a great opportunity. Now, the first one is Houston. That’s what all our concern is. We know we’re going into a big-time environment. We know they are a playoff contending team. These games are very important and we’ve got to match that. We’re excited to come in and play in that environment and these games with an AFC South opponent, like we said, and we need these wins. We need these games for us to go in the direction and to get some momentum going into the offseason.”
Where is Jaguars QB Blake Bortles in his development and what is your evaluation of him?
“First of all, there’s so many qualities that he has that we see in this building: his leadership, his toughness, his competiveness, his work ethic. So all those things, I think he’s greatly improved. I know there’s some things that pop up, like the consistency, that may show up from game to game but he’s a guy that really, really wants to be good. Just like last week, his decision-making improved. He had chances to still play with no fear and to try to put the ball in tight windows and he did that. Then he also made good decisions. I think it’s still a process, that part of it for him. We all think the world of him and think the world of him on the football field and just know what’s coming in his future. He’s just got to battle through some of these inconsistencies now. But we really think the future is bright for him.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH JAGUARS WR ALLEN ROBINSON
When you watch the film of the Texans secondary, what stands out to you?
“They are confident. I think they are a confident group back there. They have some experience and also some youth between (A.J.) Bouye and Johnathan Joseph and Kareem Jackson. They have a lot of guys back there that have played a lot of football.”
You were with Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien at Penn State and then he came to the Texans. Now he has a chance to win his second division championship in a row. Are you surprised at what he has been able to do in the NFL?
“I’m not surprised at all. He’s one of those guys who you can tell just how much he loves the game. I think for us, me being a young 17 or 18 years old and playing for him, I got the opportunity to see that. I had the opportunity to learn a lot of from him. I think just his knowledge of the game, I think it shows how much it spreads across to anyone who ever played for him.”
What’s your best Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien memory?
“Best Bill O’Brien memory? I would say we had a pregame meeting before our last game of the season in 2013 and it was pretty intense. You guys can ask him the content of it, but it was a pretty interesting meeting for us.”
What was it like when Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien first came to Penn State?
“He’s an intense guy. He’s challenging. My first experience with him was we had one of the workouts, he had just come back from coaching in the Super Bowl and we were going through our morning workout drills around 5 a.m. and he made us start over about five times.”
Could you talk about what the season has been like for the Jaguars?
“I think it definitely took us by shock. I think offensively it’s not something that we thought at all. Unfortunately, it is the position that we are in, but at the end of the day, we are still trying to build some light up and trying to get some momentum heading into next season.”
You lost the last five games by six points, so you guys are still in those games. What keeps you going at this point?
“I just think everyone has love for the game. At the end of the day we are NFL players, we are pros. We get paid to play the game. At the end of the day, if you don’t love the game no matter the situation, regardless you try and give it your all, then it’s not for you. I think we have a tremendous group in this locker room.”
Any messages we can relay to Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien from you?
“None at all.”
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH JACKSONVILLE MEDIA (Transcribed by Jaguars PR)
(On Lamar Miller and the key to the successful running game against the Jaguars previously) “I think the running game this year has been something that has been productive for us. I think every game is different. No matter, however, we ran the ball in the last game, you can pretty much book it that it is going to have to be something different in this game. They are going to practice what we did against them in the last game. Some of it wasn’t great the last game. I said to our media here I don’t really care what [the Jaguars] record is. I think they have a lot of good players. I know that coaching staff really well. I think it is going to be a very difficult game.”
(On having a sense for what the Jaguars offense will run with Nathaniel Hackett having called multiple games now) “I don’t know. That is an interesting question. Nathaniel does a good job of game planning. I think every week is a little bit different. The Denver game was a little bit different than the Minnesota game, [which was] different than our game. I think for us we better be prepared and expect the unexpected. Maybe some things that we haven’t seen on film. I think that is going to be important. Then they are some things that they do that we have to be ready for that we know they are going to do. It is the same thing for them when they look at us. Like I said, I think it is going to be a difficult game. It is going to be a game where the team that makes the fewest amount of mistakes is going to be the team that wins.”
(On Brock Osweiler) “I think Brock has done a nice job this year. He has done everything we have asked him to do. We do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage. He is trying to get better with our offense every single week. Offensive football is about all 11 guys being on the same page and when we all have been on the same page we have looked pretty good. It just hasn’t been consistent enough and we are just working to be consistent.”
(On what teams are doing to take away DeAndre Hopkins) “I think there is a lot of things that teams do. He gets doubled quite a bit. That is going to happen and I think overall we need to continue to do as good of a job as we can to move him around to try to get him open. He has made some big plays for us on third down. He has to be one of the leading receivers in the league on third down. He has made some big, big plays and that includes penalties, where we have gone to him on third down and he has been able to get a defensive pass interference called or a defensive holding called. We will continue to work hard to try to get him open.”
(On Brian Cushing) “The guy is a pro’s pro. He has done everything we have asked him to do. He is definitely one of the leaders of our team, one of the captains of our team. He just broke the tackle record last week. He plays injured. He plays through pain. He has overcome a lot in his career. I told the younger players this morning, he is a guy that you may want to sit down with and ask him his advice on overcoming adversity because he has overcome it time and time again in his career and that is why he has been so productive for us.”
(On having a veteran presence in the locker room) “We have a lot of good veteran players. You just named two of them [Brian Cushing], [Vince Wilfork], Duane Brown, Shane Lechler, Johnathan Joseph, Chris Clark. There are a number of guys in there that are really good pros that have won and know how to win and they have lasted this long in the league for a reason. They understand the day-to-day regimen of pro football. I think it is always good to have those guys in your locker room to lead and set a good example for the younger players.”
ILB BRIAN CUSHING’S CONFERENCE CALL WITH JACKSONVILLE MEDIA (Transcribed by Jaguars PR)
(On having momentum going forward) “Yeah, we felt good. We needed to get back on track. It wasn’t a good feeling, especially losing at the end of the games in the way we were. We were in the fourth quarter and falling apart a little bit. We played a complete game last week on the road against a division rival and we got it done. We feel good where we are right now.”
(On Lamar Miller) “Even in OTAs, you were seeing him run and catch the ball, all of the things that he could bring to our offense, we knew he was going to help us tremendously.”
(On Jadeveon Clowney’s progress this year) “A good amount, no question I think, as far as his third year of his career. He’s growing up, he’s feeling more durable. He understands the length of a full NFL season now. He’s definitely come into his own. He sees maturity, both on and off the field with him.”
(On setting the team’s tackle record last week) “It felt good. Being here my whole career, all eight years, it’s a long time. It’s one of those things, I just so happen to get it done. It’s something that I won’t forget and I’m very proud of it. It’s hopefully something I can tell my kids and hopefully I can keep that record for a long time. Hopefully I can continue to build upon it, like you said, it’s something that I’m very proud of it and I’m glad it got done.”
(On continually learning things about the position) “Definitely. Whether it’s talking to my coaches, watching other teams and other guys play, I’m always trying to learn more and see if there’s anything from a pre-snap clue or certain techniques that guys do; anything that can help me on the field or off the field, I’m always eager to learn and see how it can affect my game in a positive way.”
(On if it’s worth it to pay extra money to get opposing teams’ jerseys) “I don’t do it too much, but I totally understand it. I think it’s a cool thing. To be honest with you, most of my problems is that my jersey is so tight that taking it off in the first place takes two or three of the equipment guys. That’s the main problem alone. For the most part, I think it’s a cool little thing. I’ve switched a lot of guys that I went to USC with and a couple other random guys as well. If someone asks for my jersey, I have no problem switching it with them.”
(On if the money isn’t a deterrent) “It is definitely a good amount of money, but, like I said, I’m not doing it every game, but if somebody were to come up and ask me, I have no problem doing it with him.”
(On if Blake Bortles’ game has matured) “I think so. Just seeing him over the past couple of years and watch him develop. He spreads it all around the field. It’s not like he has one favorite target. He has a better understanding of the offense and on top of that, he can run as well. He’s definitely a dual-threat quarterback that possesses a good challenge for us every time we play him. We have to be aware of him throwing it and running it as well.”
(On talking about having three ‘Pick 6s’ against Bortles) “We’re going to try and do that as much as we can. If we get to turn the ball over or, even better, get some points out of it for our team, all the better for us. That’s been a huge momentum swing when we get into the game that we’re always trying to do.”
(On if Bortles is someone that is careless with the ball) “No, I don’t think so. It just so happens that we’ve been successful against him in getting the ball out. I don’t think it’s particularly careless. I don’t think in any way is he trying to turn the ball over. I think he’s aggressive though, and he makes aggressive throws and moves and sometimes it gets him. That’s the just the attitude that he possesses as a quarterback. I think it benefits him as well.”