HOUSTON TEXANS vs. KANSAS CITY CHIEFS (10/8/17)
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN (Transcribed by Chloe Delclos)
Can you talk about DE J.J. Watt’s injury?
“Just coming off the field and just hearing a little bit about it. I don’t have a ton of information on it, but I feel terrible for the guy. But, with that being said, just knowing him and knowing the type of guy that he is, he’s an amazing human being. He’s an amazing human being and he will work extremely hard to be back, to be back to play for this football team. I know that.”
You talk about next man up, but what does it do to you to lose DE J.J. Watt and OLB Whitney Mercilus on that opening drive?
“I think you can answer that question. I think that’s tough. I think that, but at the end of the day, that’s not an excuse. We have to do better in all three phases. Look, I thought we competed until the end and the next guys are going to have to step up and play. We have to do a good job coaching and scheming, but that’s the National Football League – guys get hurt and the next guy in the team meeting room at that position needs to step up.”
What did you think of Chiefs QB Alex Smith mobility and his performance tonight?
“Yeah, he’s really good at extending plays. He got outside the pocket. I thought that was one of the keys to the game – we had to try to keep him in the pocket, obviously we didn’t accomplish that. I’m not sure what he rushed for, but he ran for a lot of yards. He’s a great player. He’s playing at a high level right now. Give the Chiefs a lot of credit – they did a much better job than we did tonight.”
What did you think about the job that QB Deshaun Watson did?
“Look, I think he’s – I think every game is a learning experience for him and I think he’s a, I really think he’s an excellent young quarterback and I thought he kept competing right to the end. He’s a great kid. He’s a lot of fun to coach. He’s obviously got a great future.”
With Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill, was there some thought about not kicking to him at all?
“Yeah, there’s no doubt about it. I mean, sometimes we definitely had that plan, not sometimes, I mean all the time. You know, sometimes it doesn’t work out that way, but he’s a great player and he’s probably the best punt returner in the league. He’s just really good at it.”
Is there a lot of concern about OLB Whitney Mercilus’ injury?
“I would say there’s concern. There’s concern, yes.”
I know you have to watch the film, the game against the Patriots and this game as well, there have been a lot of third-and-longs converted that you guys have been allowing. What’s been the constant on those plays?
“Yeah, I don’t know. I have to watch the tape like you said. But, extending plays with mobile quarterbacks tonight, a mobile quarterback tonight was one of the issues. I know a few times that he was able to extend the play, hit the guy for a 16-yard gain or a 20-yard gain. We have to look at that because we play a lot of mobile quarterbacks. We’ll play one coming up this week. So, it’s a long season. We’ve got a long way to go here. I just told the team that ‘Let’s get in here tomorrow, let’s watch the tape and let’s learn from it, let’s coach better, let’s play better, let’s move on to Cleveland.’”
The touchdown that Chiefs WR Tyreek Hill had on the punt return, you guys were 4th-and-5 at your own 30-yard line down 12 points. Did you give any consideration to going for it in that situation?
“Yeah, I did, but with my fourth-and-5 call that I had there with what they were in personnel-wise, I didn’t think that was the best thing for the team. So, I decided to punt there. Just the decision that I made.”
The way that Head Coach Bill O’Brien stuck with you, even after the fumble, what does that mean to you?
“I mean, that’s what you look for in a coach, I guess. If you go out there and you make a mistake, a coach might leave you on the bench. But we always preach ‘one play, next play’ you know. You have to go onto the next play. And my teammates, when I came off the field, just telling me just move on. So, I got my opportunity to go back in and that was my thing – just let it go and just try to make up for it and I had a good run out there.”
What is it like playing with QB Deshaun Watson?
“I mean, when you’ve got him at quarterback, it’s always possible to go down there and make a spark. I mean he’s able to create a lot of plays with his legs and also break a lot of tackles and get the ball down the field, and he showed it at the end of the game. Like I said, we played a good team. The Chiefs are a really good team, but he still fought to the end. He made a lot of good plays at the end of the game.”
What did that 25-yard run do for your confidence?
“You know after the fumble I came to the sideline and my teammates just told me to forget it and move on. You’ve got to keep playing. You know, the play’s over with and you just got to keep playing. I knew when I got back in the game I was going to try to make up for it and you know, I just ran hard.”
You guys battled until the very end. How significant is it knowing that you guys continue to fight, no matter what the odds are, with QB Deshaun Watson?
“Definitely. You know, we fought. There’s a lot of guys in this room that don’t quit and we showed that tonight. Nobody gave up, everybody fought to the end and you got to respect that. You know we played a good team tonight, and we’d like to come in here and get a win, but it is definitely a momentum booster for us. You know, to fight to the end like that, you see what type of players you have in the locker room.”
What went through your head when you saw DE J.J. Watt go out so early in the game with that injury?
“I mean, I don’t know. The next person got to step in and compete. Stuff like that happens. It’s the NFL, people get hurt. But you’ve just got to move forward and next guy in and you’ve just got to compete.”
What are your thoughts on the game?
“We played a good team. A team like that, you can’t make any mistakes because they’re a good team. They’re undefeated for a reason. So, you have to give your hats off to the Chiefs.”
Was it tough when DE J.J. Watt went down with an injury?
“Of course, of course. I still felt like guys rallied, even after that. We were still fighting till the last second of the game. Even though J.J. (Watt) and Whit (Whitney Mercilus) went out, we still have guys that can make plays out there on that D-line. So, next man up.”
How do you think QB Deshaun Watson is improving week-to-week?
“I’m impressed with the things that he can do with his feet and with his arm as well. Everybody knows he can run, but still he looks downfield to make plays. The throws that he made toward the end of the game were some special throws.”
What’s it like knowing that you have a quarterback like QB Deshaun Watson who can do that if you’re down?
“That’s a good feeling. We have to go out in practice and improve on some things that we didn’t capitalize on, but that’s just him being Deshaun (Watson).”
Can you feel the chemistry improving with QB Deshaun Watson as you guys get more reps?
“Of course, of course. Not just myself, but with Will (Fuller V), the tight ends. He’s still young in the NFL, but the way he carries himself isn’t like a young quarterback.”
What do you like best about the way that QB Deshaun Watson is playing right now?
“His composure. We were down however much we were down and he was sitting on the sideline rallying guys up, telling us we need to go out here and work on something or let’s try to score every time we touch the ball.”
How important was that last drive, knowing the game was out of reach, but you guys still fought to the end to get a score there in the last play of the game?
“That’s the way we’re coached. We’re going to fight until its 0:00 on the board.”
How tough is it to lose DE J.J. Watt again?
“Anytime you lose any player, man. I understand all the hard work that goes into the offseason, training camp and everything you do throughout the week to prepare yourself for the game. So, anytime you lose any player, obviously a player of J.J.’s (Watt) stature is always tough, but you got to continue to move on, because the game doesn’t stop for anyone. So, we’ll adjust as a team and move forward and get better.”
As a veteran on defense, is there anything you can do to keep the team positive moving forward?
“Be more vocal, I think. I think I do a good job of talking to everyone on the team, offense, defense, special teams. I think, I can be more vocal in times, just kind of help guys pick guy’s heads up or hurt guys in certain situations. I think we have a good team of handling things like that, but me definitely being one of the older guys, about the oldest guy on this roster, other than Shane Lechler. I definitely can be more vocal in helping a lot of guys out.”
Have you seen an offense more diversified than the one you saw out there tonight?
“Probably their 2016 team, last year’s team, but obviously I’ve been in this league a long time. Andy Reid creates so many different mismatches, move guys all over the place, show you the same different looks from different personnel, we knew that coming into this game. So, there’s definitely no excuse for that. You got to go out and still play whatever the offense shows you, because if the defense is drawn up the right way, you can stop anything. So there’s no reason to say that. They did a good job (Kansas City Chiefs), hats off to those guys, and hopefully we see them down the road.”
What do you learn from a game that unfolded in an unusual fashion such as this one did?
“Just keep fighting. Keep the energy. Keep the leadership up with the guys. The game is never over until the fourth quarter and the clock hits zero, zero. Being able to adjust during the game if you see something different in what the other team is doing.”
What part of your game are you really trying to work on at this point now that you have a few starts under your belt?
“Just everything. Just being a better professional quarterback. So, the operation, leadership on and off the field, fundamentals, technique, accuracy and everything that comes with trying to be the best quarterback I can be for this team.”
What were they doing to you that was so disruptive to you offensively and what changed after the break?
“Nothing at all. They just played better than us. It’s simple as that. We had the opportunities we didn’t take advantage of and they got us off the field and their offense stayed on the field.”
When you see a couple guys get injured like DE J.J. Watt and OLB Whitney Mercilus in the game, do you feel like an added pressure like hey everyone has to rally around me when something like that happens?
“No, next man step up. Praying for those guys and everything is going to be alright with them. But at the same time, it’s the National Football League and you to have a next man up mentality and keep moving forward.”
How tough was it to see DE J.J. Watt come up to you after getting injured, can you talk about what you guys shared?
“Just keep fighting. That’s pretty much it. Just keep fighting and praying for each other.”
HEAD COACH ANDY REID (Transcribed by Stephanie Weaver and Nicholas Williams)
“As far as the injuries go, (Steven) Terrell on the opening kickoff there, has a concussion. (Travis) Kelce had a concussion. He was cleared by the UNC in the tent, and then when he came in at halftime he complained about memory, so we got him out. He remembered everything in the tent and then didn’t have it once we got inside so we chose to hold him out. (Ramik) Wilson had a leg spasm. He came out, and we just got to see on that one. He came back in and then went back out again. It started bothering him. (Chris) Conley, it looks like he has a ruptured Achilles, I guess. That was the on-field observation there but they’re pretty accurate with those. (Justin) Houston had a calf spasm. (WR) Tyreek (Hill) came out for a little bit with an ankle but came back in so he finished up the game. All in all, Bill’s got a good football here. He had some injuries on his side too that I know were pretty devastating there, but I know they’ll rebound. He’s a heck of a football coach, and I think Houston is very lucky to have him. Cam Erving stepping up I thought was big. I thought Reggie (Ragland) on the other side of the ball, I thought him stepping in. He had some good snaps for, Ragland, and did a nice job there. Charcandrick (West) had the couple of touchdowns. I thought he did a nice job with that. Tyreek with the punt return was big. We needed every point we could get. Twenty-seven, (Kareem) Hunt, just continues to stay strong in the fourth quarter. He has got ball carrying endurance. I don’t know how else to explain it other than that. For a big guy, he can skedaddle late in the games and did a nice job. We needed him there. Alex (Smith), he had another good night, playing really good football, and continues to do all the things we see him do every day. I’m glad everybody else is getting to see him do it and appreciating it. And then our defense was up and down just a little bit, but it was bit plays. For the most part, we held strong in there and the big plays happened. It frustrated some of the guys. They’re trying, they’re busting their tail and then all of the sudden these things happen. It’s not necessarily anybody’s fault other than they were going up and making plays on the ball. The guys kept it together and we ended up finishing it with a nice win. Our fans, they travel well. We were sure glad to have them here. Needed them. We look forward to the opportunity to play the Pittsburgh Steelers here coming up in a week. We know Arrowhead (Stadium) will be rocking for them.”
Does TE Travis Kelce have a concussion?
“He’s in the protocol right now, I should say. He was cleared by the U.N.C. in the tent, and they came in at half time and just said he couldn’t quite remember. He remembered on the field but he couldn’t quite remember things when he came off, so we just held him out from there. So, they put him in protocol.”
This sounds a little like Alex Smith last season. Do you have any frustrations with the protocol?
“No, next guy up. Next guy comes up and he plays. Whatever is best for the kid. I’m glad they found it. In years past maybe he plays, who knows.”
They’re not finding the concussion yet, at least initially. Do you have any frustrations with that?
“No, you’re in a game. You’re kind of dealt with what you’ve got there. I’m just glad he’s OK. He was good after the game. He was in a good place. That’s the most important thing now.”
How do you keep winning despite the injuries?
“Again, our personnel department’s brought in some good guys. I didn’t mention Harrison (Butker) comes up again with a big day with field goals. You want to score touchdowns down there but the field goals come out with points. It’s the next man up and we expect them to do the job. We’re lucky enough we have enough depth to be able to do that. That will be the case at wide receiver.”
What does it say about your team that you don’t allow turnovers?
“Turnovers are tough. Those get you in the long run. It’s a good thing. Alex has always been good with that in that area and our ball carriers are hanging onto the ball. Receivers are hanging on to it. It’s important.”
Was QB Deshaun Watson the player you thought he would be?
“Heck of a player. Sky’s the limit for him. Heck of a player. Elusive. Big arm. Sees things. Loves to play. He’s got all that stuff. Again, Houston is lucky to have him.”
Was QB Deshaun Watson the player you thought he would be?
“Heck of a player. Sky’s the limit for him. Heck of a player. Elusive. Big arm. Sees things. Loves to play. He’s got all that stuff. Again, Houston is very lucky to have him.”
What is it RB Charcandrick West that impresses you?
“You saw the big block he had there. That was huge. He takes a lot of pride in the role that he plays. He’s been the starter, did that well. Now he’s asked to kind of be the relief pitcher and he’s doing that well. He’s got a great feel for the pass game, and he knows protections well. That was a tough one that he had to cross formation to get that and be able to see that and somebody has to run a route, that’s not an easy thing to do. Smart kid.”
Is the receiving skill part of it that caught your eye with RB Charcandrick West?
“I think with all our backs, one of the things we like to have is guys who can catch. We feel like we can teach them the blocking part of it, as long as they’re willing. He’s picked up on that pretty quick.”
What do you know about how it was set up and then what WR Tyreek HIll did?
“Dave (Taub) kept saying we were close, really all week how close we’ve been. Just we were an inch away from getting one. He was saying it again today. He does a great job with it, and we’re lucky to have him. He’s the best in the business. Tyreek (Hill), right when you think people have angles on him, he changes. He’s got speed, quickness and vision. That’s a great combination to have at that position.
Did you say anything to WR Tyreek Hill after he scored?
“I said nice job.”
When they cut it down to six, what role did he play in driving the team down the field?
“We ended up going right back down and scoring. I thought he did a heck of a job with it. We answered most of the bells there that were thrown at us when things were getting a little tight. It’s a tribute to him and the offensive line, it doesn’t work without those guys. Same way on the defense, it doesn’t work without the d-line.”
Can you describe QB Alex Smith’s ability to throw on the run and out of the pocket?
“I wouldn’t say it’s abandoned, I think it’s more trusting the guys he’s got out there. All of these kids he kind of raised. He knows about every move they’ve got. They like playing with him, and they know every move he’s going to make. It’s kind of a good marriage right there. It’s a good situation he’s in with these receivers. Chris (Conley) being one of those guys; he was having a pretty good day today.”
It seems like QB Alex Smith is continuing to play well under pressure, is that true?
“They did a little drop eight, and on that he extended the play and made some plays. His eyes were down the field seeing things, he knows where everyone is at and where they’re going. When I say playing together, that’s kind of the thing there. Just trusting these kids. It’s kind of fun to watch.”
What can you attribute to QB Alex Smith’s big wins even though his play is similar?
“Alex (Smith) is playing similar to how he’s played before. The results are a bit different. It seems like he’s more in tune, and the receivers are more in tune with their games with one another. Matt Nagy has done a phenomenal job as a coordinator and putting things together that are Alex’s best stuff.”
Has anyone given you any indication why you’ve had to deal with so many lower leg injuries the last few years?
“I don’t know. It’s kind of throughout the league. You are kind of seeing it at the college level, which is unique. I don’t remember this being that. At one point a few years ago, you could kind of look at the shoes, but shoe companies have done a good job a putting these things together. I don’t know exactly why. It does seem there are a few of these.”
RB KAREEM HUNT (Transcribed by Cole Thompson)
How do you feel about the rest of the team surrounding you even though you couldn’t really get off like you normally did?
“Yeah, I mean that’s why they call football a team sport. Those guys have got my back. When we’re down on a pass game, I know I got their back. Pretty much I liked the way everyone came out and played tonight.”
Your first five NFL games and the team’s 5-0. How does that feel?
“It’s a great feeling. I love winning and the biggest thing is to get a win.”
You’ve had major injuries in each game so far, but you keep winning. What is it about this team that sort of absorbs those blows and keep going?
“Honestly, it’s kind of just a next man up mentality and we got depth and people just stepping in to play and fill the job.”
How do you feel about tonight’s performance as a whole?
“It was a good team win. Everybody contributed in some way. Definitely, the guys did a great job of fighting up front and Alex (Smith) did a great job of finding an open man. You know, everybody just contributed to this win.”
After halftime, the Texans came back in the second half, what we your thoughts on the second half?
“You know, just don’t try and do too much. Just keep doing what I do and just come out and play and just keep feeling the game out.”
A lot of the players on the team have gone through tough injuries. You have suffered through a tough injury. So, what advice would you have for those guys?
“Well, you know, you have to be patient. Getting injured – man, this game, that’s what it comes with and it sucks, it really does suck. But, it is one of those things where you have to put your faith in the man above, keep working, don’t get distracted and get back as soon as you can.”
How great was having a performance like this in front of your home crowd?
“It was great. I’m always delighted to come back to the great state of Texas and having a good game helps out even more.”
Is this the best team you have been on while you have been here?
“This could be one of the best teams I have been on, and it is still early, it’s still early. But, we do have that confidence, we have been through a lot. So, we’re learning from our mistakes. We didn’t have that good of a game today defensively especially giving up a bunch of yards at the end. But, I tell you what, being 5-0, we can go back to the film room, correct what we need to correct (and) come out next week against the Pittsburgh Steelers.”
What part of this defense is getting stronger and how do you guys do that?
“The pass rushers just keep working hard, trying to just finish. Personally, I have to do better at finishing though.”
How were you able to contain Texans QB Deshaun Watson and the passing game?
“We just executed the game plan and what the coach told us to do. We just went out there and did that.”
What were some of the things that Texans WR Will Fuller V and WR DeAndre Hopkins threw at you guys that maybe posed a bit of a problem?
“Nothing really. We were on top of everything, a couple of bang bang plays. You just have to live with it.”
Texans QB Deshaun Watson led his team back to within six points. At that time in the game, did you know it was time to respond?
“Oh, for sure. Once they made it that one-score game, I knew the onus was back on us. If we could go answer, it’s tough to keep doing that in that situation. You can make plays here and there, and obviously they did that, but I think if you keep answering them, then it kind of becomes demoralizing. You keep that score out in front. We kept making it a two score game, that was important for us.”
Did you get a chance to watch WR Tyreek Hill’s return for the last touchdown of the game?
“I looked up as he was turning the corner, so I watched about the second half of it. That was about it.”
I know you were busy preparing for drives, but did you get a chance to see Texans QB Deshaun Watson play at all, and if so what were some of your takeaways from it?
“You watch him. And you know it’s so hard to tell. You have no idea what they are doing, what he’s being coached to do, so it’s difficult. I obviously watched him play. He made a bunch of big plays there at the end, not only with his legs, but with his arm. Good, young quarterback. Like I said, it’d be tough for me to kind of beyond that.”
You converted a lot of third-and-longs tonight. How much does that reflect on having more trust in your guys, going downfield more in those situations, or what’s happening there?
“A lot of different things. I felt like no question, it starts with the plan. I thought we had a lot of good stuff, a lot of favorable match-ups we felt really good about all over the field. Felt like everybody had a hand in it on a lot of those third downs. Certainly anytime you talk about third downs though, you can’t start without the guys up front. Those are tough situations with the crowd noise. That front is as good as it gets in the NFL. They throw a ton at you to sort out, so really those guys up front giving us time to make those plays downfield.”
What about in terms of mindset? In some situations, you might be less inclined to go downfield, certainly what you see affects that, but are you looking for that more?
“The reads don’t change. You go about your read out there, try to make a good decision and throw an accurate football. I really do feel like it started with the guys up front. It was clean. Felt like I had a lot of time. It was clean back there, and you’re able to look downfield and really, I think, stretch defenses and make some of those throws. I felt like it was clean for a lot of the day there.”
You all keep winning even when having major injuries. Does this team have some of the most diverse ways of winning?
“I feel like that’s the NFL. No team makes it through the year clean. That’s just the way it is. You can try to minimize them, and I think a lot of that is luck. Maybe how you go about your business, practicing and things. But every team deals with injuries as hard as they are. Sometimes I think the biggest thing is the mentality of it. It is the next man up. You’ve got to have faith and confidence that the next guy is going to come in and play. And play to a high level and not skip a beat.”
TE Travis Kelce’s concussion tonight was reminiscent of you last year in Indianapolis. Do you have any concerns about the concussion protocol with guys who keep going on the field when they aren’t right?
“If you ask me if the protocol is perfect, it would be hard for me. I think they’re getting better. I think they continue to look for new ways to make it better. They are doing the best they can. Everybody is erroring on the side of precaution. In the end, a lot of this comes down to the player. That’s such a hard thing, that’s easy to say, but you’re in the middle of a game, you’re competing, you think you can go, you want to be out there with your teammates, you want to help. So sometimes that’s hard, but a lot of these are all symptom-based questions. Is it a perfect science? No, I think they are moving in the right direction.”
It doesn’t look like on the surface that your game has changed at all from previous years with the Chiefs, but the results are a lot bigger. What’s been different about this year where you guys are scoring more points, more yards, more touchdown passes. What’s different about this year?
“I think we’re executing more consistently. I think we’re doing a better job when we’re executing. I think we’ve had flashes in year’s past and I think we’ve had a good stretch week to week. I think we have a confidence about us that even when we do get little spills and things don’t go our way, we still can find a way to go back to being us. We can figure it out. We have the guys to do that. We have the coaches to do that. I think we have the confidence in that. As far as the numbers go, I think that I’m sort of flexing the guys around me. We have a bunch of guys that make plays. We all saw that tonight. Sometimes it just goes that way.”
After OLB Whitney Mercilus and DE J.J. Watt went out, did you notice a drop off of maybe a pass rush or of pressure?
“No, I didn’t. To be honest, you’re not paying any attention to those guys up front. If you ask me about a corner or safety I could tell you. I try not to think about those guys up front. You knew it was going to be a physical game. Almost have a rivalry going with these guys. We’ve played them so much in the last five years. We knew that it was going to be a physical game. They’re a really good football team. We knew they weren’t going to give up, they were going to battle back and they did. I think it was one of those types of games where on both sides it was a physical game.”
What do you like about WR Demarcus Robinson as a receiver and how is your relationship with him on the field?
“I think D-Rob (Robinson) has a ton of ability and a ton of talent. He’s a young guy and he has a ton of energy. You never see him without a smile on his face. He loves to go out there and play. The stage is never really too big with him. He’s young, he’ll continue to grow but he has so many tools that I think he can do a lot. I think it’s just a matter of him being able to handle all those things.”
I know that every drive and every play is important but, in particular, the response you guys had after the WR Will Fuller touchdown, the drive with WR DeAnthony Thomas’ touchdown, big picture, how important was that for you guys to respond and how big do you think it was and what did it show about you guys?
“I thought that was a critical point in the game. It was a six point game at that point I think. Critical for us to answer I thought and our guys, there wasn’t a bunch of ‘raw-raw’ stuff on offense. I think guys knew it. Felt good about what we were going out there to do and I thought we stayed in the moment. You know, we’re locked in and we went out and executed so I thought that was a big answer for sure.”
On the first touchdown pass to RB Charcandrick West, they broke the pocket left and then you had to plant and fire. What was happening on that play? What did you end up seeing and what it really turned out to be?
“Certainly a plan of theirs early. They were dropping eight, especially the first quarter, first half, a lot of drop eight. I thought our guys up front did a great job taking care of the three that were coming. That’s one of those things, you can hang onto the football and run around and make a play, that’s a long time to cover. Even if you are dropping eight into coverage and luckily we were able to make those plays. I thought Charcandrick made two big plays to find a lane on the scramble. It’s something we will work at and get out the rest of the way.”