HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
A report yesterday said that if you lose this playoff game, then you and the Texans could have a mutual parting. What do you think about that?
“I mean, I don’t think about that. I just think about this team and concentrating on the Oakland game and how far we’ve come. I don’t know - again, I don’t address those things. I just talk about where we’re at right now. I mean, I don’t even know if that’s even worthy of an answer.”
Where are you today with the quarterback situation compared to yesterday?
“We gave the players a day off today so I haven’t even seen the quarterbacks today so I’ll have more on that for you tomorrow.”
When it comes to choosing a starter for this week, is it mostly based on QB Tom Savage’s health and if he can pass the protocol?
“I think there’s a lot of different factors. Obviously, health is part of it, no question about it, but there’s a lot of different factors. We moved the ball well, Brock did a nice job when he was in there. There’s a lot of different factors that go into it.”
DE Jadeveon Clowney told us last week about how much he wanted to play in the playoff game last year and how disappointed he was. Now he’s getting to play in his first playoff game so what do you want to see from him?
“To do what he’s been doing all year. He’s played well all year for us. He’s been disruptive in the running game, he’s been disruptive in the passing game. He’s played very hard for us, he’s done a lot of different things for us along the front. So to do what he’s done all year would be really good.”
Does it make your preparations more difficult with the Raiders quarterback situation being in question?
Can you talk about some of the challenges the Raiders present?
“Offensively, they have a very big offensive line. They line up and they run the football. They have different types of schemes that they run, a big back in (Latavius) Murray. Receivers are very, very good. Very good. You’ve got (Michael) Crabtree and Amari Cooper obviously. They’ve got athletic tight ends. It’s a big challenge for us defensively. They do a lot of different things offensively and they’re a very physical team on offense and on defense. Defensively, a lot of man coverage, a lot of match coverage, pressure, a lot of very fast and athletic guys on defense, so that’s something that’s going to be very difficult to obviously simulate in practice. Special teams, good returners, lot of speed, so very athletic special teams units. It’s going to be a big challenge for us, we’re going to have to have a great week of practice and be ready to go on Saturday afternoon.”
Can you talk about Raiders QB Connor Cook? Did you meet him during the NFL Combine?
“Good player, tall, good arm strength, smart, won a lot of games in college so he’s a winner. I think we interviewed him at the Combine, very bright kid, so obviously just from watching him the other day there, he can run a pro offense. I think he’s very capable of doing that. Obviously I know Matt McGloin, and he’s very capable of doing that too. Like I said, it’s going to be a very, very challenging game.”
Why do you think that QB Brock Osweiler and QB Tom Savage had success this season when you’ve run the no-huddle offense?
“You know, I don’t know. I think it gets us into a better tempo. I think we’re all big believers in no-huddle. I think anytime you have a positive play on the first play of the drive, that’s usually a sign that the drive is going to be a good drive, it gets you into a no-huddle mode. So I think the first play of the drive is important, the drive-starter so to speak. I’m not sure the exact answer to that, I just know that we’ve been pretty good at that this year.”
Do you look at the first play of a drive then decide if you are going to run no-huddle or not?
“Sometimes. Sometimes it’s more pre-determined. But it’s hard if you throw a pass on the first play of the drive and it’s incomplete, you’re not into really a no-huddle mode because you’re obviously – the ball didn’t move – so it’s a little bit different when you don’t have success on the first play of the drive but it doesn’t always depend on going no-huddle.”
What are other challenges of running no-huddle offense? Is it more difficult on the road?
“Definitely challenges on the road as far as communication and things like that. It’s a lot more challenging on the road. Easier at home because the crowd behaves for you when you’re on offense. That’s one of the big challenges. The other challenge is just making sure that – you know, little things – everybody is set, everybody is getting the proper communication, the right signal, the right route, the right run or whatever it is. Everybody being on the same page.”
Do you have to develop that chemistry while running a no-huddle offense during the season?
“No question. I think you start working on that during OTAs, into training camp. It takes a lot of work. Look, we’ve worked hard at it. It’s been pretty productive for us. We’ll see. We’re up there playing it right now. Trying to get ahead on these guys a little bit or at least get caught up on them for tomorrow’s work so we’ll see how it is tomorrow.”
You invested heavily in the offense this season but it hasn’t been clicking. Has it lived up to your expectations and how do you fix that on a short week?
“No, obviously no it hasn’t. We haven’t coached good enough. We haven’t performed good enough on offense. Looking in the mirror on that. We’re going to work very hard to figure out what’s the best way to move the ball against Oakland. But no – look, what’s happened has happened. This is a new week and a new season. I know our guys will come in ready to go tomorrow and we’ll have a good game plan for them.”
How challenging has it been to coach this offense which is struggling to score touchdowns?
“Look, coaching in the NFL is challenging. It’s just a very challenging thing. Some years are better than others. This year, starting with me, could have done a better job. But again, that’s water under the bridge. This is a new season. This is the playoffs. I know our guys will be ready to go. They’ll be very attentive in meetings and they’ll come out ready to go on Saturday.”
It seemed like QB Brock Osweiler did a good job of getting the ball to WR DeAndre Hopkins yesterday. What worked between those two?
“He did a good job. Brock did a good job of reading the coverage and getting him the ball. Some of those, like you said, were catch-and-run type plays. Hopkins did a nice job in the open field. Once you get him the ball, he’s a very explosive player. It was good on both ends. Good catches, good routes. Good reads, good throws. So I thought both guys executed well.”
How is RB Lamar Miller feeling and how much will it help to have him for the playoffs?
“I think he’s feeling better. I think it’ll be great. It’ll be good to have him back. He’s been a very productive player for us this year. So we’re looking forward to getting him back.”
Why do you not run a more up-tempo offense in the red zone?
“Look, I think that tempo is important in the red area. Sometimes we did go tempo yesterday and it didn’t work, you know, it didn’t work. Other times we huddled. Look, the red zone has been an issue for us all year and we need to keep working on it. We need to keep working on it and have a good plan for Oakland, but there’s definitely good points to what you’re saying about going tempo in the red area and we look to do that sometimes and sometimes we don’t. It’s just kind of the nature of the game plan.”
What are some of the things that you were able to take away from last year’s playoff game that will be useful this year?
“One thing that you learn is, on a short week, the schedule. I thought it was important to give them today off and bring them in at noon tomorrow. Start at noon with our meetings, so we’ll go a little bit later tomorrow, but that was one thing. Probably Wednesday would be the big practice day. Those are things - we did it similarly last year but maybe not quite the same and then like from the game. Every year is different. It’s a different opponent. A different scheme that they run. We’re a different team. Not sure how much you can compare the games themselves, but I think the preparation you can look at and see what you can do better.”
You said earlier this year that you don’t want 9-7 to be the bar going forward. Is there a sense of frustration that it’s the third straight year of going 9-7?
“Yeah. We want to be better than 9-7. I mean, there’s no doubt about it. I think it’s a league, based on the rules and the way that the draft is set up and free agency - it’s like what I always say - it’s an 8-and-8 league. We’ve been a little bit better than that, but we’re not aiming for 9-7, but we’re AFC South Champions. We’ve got a home playoff game. Great opportunity for our fans and for our players especially to go out and play well and try to win a playoff game. It’s going to be very difficult to do that, but I’m glad for the opportunity.”
How different is your team and the Raiders compared to last time you faced each other? Do you do much differently in terms of game preparation?
“I don’t know how much different. We’re just kind of diving in on these guys right now. There’s some things that are different. Not to get into all the details, maybe schematically, maybe different players that they’re using in different spots. We’re different in the fact that we had, before yesterday, we had Tom Savage the previous two games. Then Brock (Osweiler) went in there yesterday, did a nice job for us when he was in there. Maybe that’s a little bit of a difference. I think in the end, both teams are going to do what they do. Oakland’s a team that’s big up front on both sides of the ball, athletic receivers, athletic linebackers, athletic core special teams players, so its going to be a big challenge for us all the way around.”
Does the quarterback who practices have to start especially on a short week?
“I think it’s important to get the reps in practice, yeah no question.”
What about your defense finishing No.1 in the NFL for the first time in franchise history? Talk about the key to the defense helping you get to where you’ve gotten.
“Yeah, it’s been the key. To be able to play that type of defense, especially over the last 10 or 11 weeks of the season, it’s been key to helping us win when we’ve struggled offensively. The defense has really come up big for us. That’s the strength of our team is our defense playing at that level. It’s helped us quite a bit to have a winning record and to be in the playoffs.”
If QB Tom Savage is still in concussion protocol, can he clear and still be able to get practice reps before the game on Saturday on a short week?
“I don’t know, that’s a good question. That’s why I’m going to be able to tell you some more tomorrow. I haven’t even really seen those guys today, I haven’t even met with the doctors or trainers yet today. I’ll be able to tell you tomorrow.”
How important will it be to match the Raiders’ physicality? It seems like your players enjoy it.
“I mean, that’s what you have to do when you play these guys. There’s no doubt that the first time we played them, that was a really good football game. They made more plays than we did. They did a couple things better than we did. But overall, it was a very physical game. That’s what you’re going to expect from a Coach (Jack) Del Rio type team. That’s what they have, that’s what it’s going to be on Saturday.”