HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
“Just on yesterday’s game, starting with the defense, I just thought the defense played an excellent football game. Lot of guys stepped up. Proud of the effort, missing five starters and now they’re ranked the No. 1 defense in the NFL. The key is they have to keep it going, but I thought that they did an excellent job yesterday against, what I think is, an explosive offense, so that’s good. Good job by them. As it relates to the quarterback position, I’ve let the team know this afternoon that Tom Savage will be the starting quarterback this week against Cincinnati. As I said yesterday, we don’t make decisions based on anything other than what’s best for the team. We make decisions on what we think is the best way to help the team, what helps the team win. I think that yesterday and this week, I feel like Tom Savage gives us the best chance to win. I’m going to give him a week to prepare as the starter, see what he can do for us on Saturday night against the Bengals. I want to talk about Brock (Osweiler) a little bit. I have a ton of respect for Brock Osweiler. Guy prepares, works very hard, he’s a true professional, always wants what’s best for team, very good teammate yesterday in the second half there when he was out of the game. He did a nice job between series helping Tom with what he saw. It’s a hard thing to do as a coach, it’s what they pay me to do is to make decisions like this in the best interest of the team. That’s what I’m trying to do. I think that it’ll help our team. But again, we’ve asked a lot of Brock. He’s done everything we’ve asked of him. It’s just the nature of the business. With that, I’ll open it up to questions.”
What had you seen from QB Tom Savage in practices that carried over to the game?
“I think he’s a very consistent practice performer. He takes his reps on the scout team very seriously. He executes very well on the scout team. He gives our defense a really good look, it’s helped our defense prepare for their games this year to be where they’re ranked. He’s worked very hard to know our offense. He’s a good practice player. Now he has to continue to be a good player on Sundays or Saturday night.”
Does QB Tom Savage know the offense the way you want him to know it?
“He knows the offense. He’s very knowledgeable about the offense. I would say that about all three guys though. I think all three guys know the offense. I don’t think it’s a matter of knowledge of the offense. I think it’s just, like I said, who gives us the best chance to play well and beat Cincinnati. I think it’s Tom this week.”
Will the quarterback situation be a week-by-week decision?
“We’re just here to talk about Cincinnati and that’s what we’re doing for this week against the Bengals.”
Do the comments from Founder, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Robert C. McNair and the reaction of the home crowd help make this decision any easier?
“No. Look, the way the crowd reacts and things like that, I love our fans. I think we have a passionate fan base, but again it’s all about football. It’s a football decision. When you make decisions as the head coach, you’re thinking about 63 guys. 53 guys in the room and 10 guys on the practice squad. You can’t make it about one individual player. It’s not about one individual player. It’s about the team and what’s best for the team. That’s what you try to sort through. You really can’t get advice from any people on it. You just have to go with what you think is the best thing to do for the team. That’s what I try to do.”
What would you like to see from QB Tom Savage against the Bengals?
“I want to see a continued performance from what he did against Jacksonville. Complete the pass. Get us into the right play. Don’t turn it over. Move the ball down the field. The quarterback is judged basically in two ways in this league. The quarterback position is judged on wins and how many times you get your team into the end zone. Those are the two ways that the quarterback is judged. Does your team win? And how many times did your offense score touchdowns? So we just want Tom to go out there and do the best he can to help us win and to help our team get into the end zone.”
Why was it important for you to make this decision today?
“I just think it’s important for Tom (Savage) to have the week as the starter to experience the whole thing and make sure he understands what the game plan is and some of the different things he’s going to have to deal with during the week, whether it’s media or whatever else he may have to deal with. It’s a short week so he knows he’s got to put a lot of extra prep time into this thing. I know he will.”
How did QB Brock Osweiler handling you telling him the news?
“Like a professional. He’s a professional football player. Certainly, as a competitor – he didn’t say much – I’m sure he didn’t agree with the decision but he’s a pro. That’s what he is. He’s a pro football player and he understands that he’s got to continue to compete. He needs to be ready to play. He needs to be ready to play because, just like Tom (Savage), now he’s in a similar situation that Tom was in. He’s one play away. Got to be ready to go.”
Is QB Brock Osweiler the backup quarterback this week?
How much does it help QB Tom Savage that he’s been here for several years with you and understands your system?
“I think that’s something that’s probably a better question for Tom but I think obviously he knows. He’s been around us for a while. He knows the system. He prepares every week like he’s the starter. He really does. He goes through the call sheet with us. He hasn’t up to this point had a lot of reps in practice. He’s dealt with some injuries in the years that he’s been here. It’s given him some time to really learn our offense, so now it’s a matter of learning the game plan and how our offense applies to the game plan and what he can do to help us beat Cincinnati.”
What did you like about the decisiveness of QB Tom Savage?
“First of all, I thought he threw the ball very accurately. I thought he made the right reads. It wasn’t perfect. There were some things that he needs to improve on but I thought he made some good throws, made some big throws. A couple on third down. A couple down the field. Some were caught. Some weren’t caught but I thought they were in the right spot. I think he needs to improve as far as – and I told him this this morning – I thought we played too slow. I think he needs to improve the pace of how we play. Part of that is us. Part of that is us getting the call in and then him getting in and out of the huddle quickly. So there’s a lot for him to improve on but I thought he threw the ball well yesterday.”
What are your thoughts on the season ILB Benardrick McKinney is having?
“Benardrick has had a good year. He was one of the guys on defense who got a game ball yesterday. (Jadeveon) Clowney got a game ball. (D.J.) Reader got a game ball. Quintin Demps got a game ball and McKinney did. He just did a nice job yesterday of dissecting plays, getting us into the right alignments. I think he would probably be the first to tell you to give a lot of credit to Brian Cushing. Brian Cushing has really mentored him and really taught him a lot about the pro game in addition to obviously Mike Vrabel. I think RAC (Romeo Crennel) did a good job yesterday. RAC was on the money with his calls. We have a very difficult defense to go against. Like I said, a lot of guys stepped up. It’s really a good job by our defense yesterday.”
After talking to the guys in the locker room, they seem pretty matter-of-fact about the quarterback situation. What has made them equip to deal with the quarterback change?
“I mean to be honest with you, a lot of those guys have been here for the last three years. We’ve had a lot of quarterbacks play for us and the guys in that locker room, we have really good veteran leadership in there. We’ve got guys that played the game a long time. You got Shane Lechler in there, you got Vince (Wilfork) in there, Brian Cushing, Duane Brown. Duane Brown is one of our best leaders. They just want to win, you know, they just want to win. They love their teammates. They want what’s best for their teammates, but at the end of the day we all do no matter who it is. We just try to do the best job we can to help the team win.”
Considering all of the guys that have been out due to injury on defense, what does it say that you’re No. 1 overall in defense?
“Like I always say with that, I think most of the credit goes to the players. A lot of guys have stepped up. I thought Robert Nelson played well yesterday. Brennan Scarlett went in there and he was disruptive, so I think a lot of the credit has to go to the players but I also know, like I’ve told you, that we have a very strong coaching staff as a whole and then obviously defensively they do a great job every week of coming up with a good game plan that suites the skill set of the players that are going to be in the game plan for them. It was a good job by both groups of guys.”
What are your thoughts on the Jaguars new interim Head Coach Doug Marrone?
“First of all, I think that Gus Bradley is a great guy, heck of a coach and, you know, it’s that time of the year. I heard a coach had a great quote the other day – an NFL coach. I forget who it was. Somebody said, ‘You feel like your job’s in jeopardy,’ and he said, ‘when you take the job, you know your job’s in jeopardy.’ So I think that’s the nature of the deal in the NFL. We all know we have to win. Obviously, feel bad for Gus, but at the same time Doug Marrone is a hell of a football coach and I hope they give him a full opportunity at the full-time job because I think he’s a very good football coach, knows a lot about football on both sides of the ball and in special teams and I’m sure he’ll have them ready to play this weekend.”
Can you talk about why you couldn’t get the running game into a rhythm?
“Well I think you have to give Jacksonville credit there. They had eight guys down in there. I thought (Telvin) Smith played a good game for them. (Johnathan) Cyprien, (Paul) Posluszny. Their defensive line. I mean we just couldn’t get a lot going in the running game. I’d give credit to Jacksonville on that. They had a good scheme. They were committed to stopping the run and we were going to have to throw the football to win and that kind of ended up a little bit in some ways what happened.”
When QB Tom Savage went into the game, it seemed like it sparked the team a bit. What characteristics does he have as a leader that allow him to bring a spark to the offense?
“Look, he’s the same guy every day. He’s a very consistent person. He’s been the same guy as far as his personality and how he approaches his day-to-day workload since he arrived here. He’s a hardworking guy. He’s done a lot to work in the weight room to change his body. He’s worked to get in better shape over the years. I mean, he’s always trying to do something to prepare and I think as far as leadership in the huddle, he communicates the play well. He can throw the football. That more than anything can spark a team is when you complete some passes.”