Head Coach Bill O’Brien
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
“Just to start off, yesterday obviously wasn’t good. I’m not here to sugarcoat anything. We’ve got to move on quickly, though. We’re moving on to Cincinnati. I have not met with the players yet, have not met with the medical staff, have not met with Rick Smith. (I’ve) been just totally focused on Cincinnati, the coaching staff and those types of things. So, with that being said, I’ll try to answer everybody’s questions as good as I can, as honestly as I can, but there’s a lot of moving parts right now. So, that’s kind of where it’s at.”
After watching the tape, could you evaluate both quarterbacks?
“Yeah, sure. Look, I’m not going to get into this detailed evaluation, but any time you go back and watch a game like that, it’s never as bad as you think it is. It wasn’t very good, don’t get me wrong, but there were some moments for both guys when they did some good things. A lot of it had to do with the people around them, things like that. Sometimes they weren’t protected very well. Sometimes I obviously have to do a better job. There was some good and there was obviously some bad, but a lot to build on. That’s what we’re here for. It’s a long season. It’s a long season. It’s a 16-game season and it’s a progress league. It’s about who can improve the fastest. So, we have a lot of improvement to do, obviously, and that’s what we’re looking forward to doing.”
You have had some bad losses that you have bounced back from, can you draw things from that?
“We’ve had a lot of good wins, too. We’ve had a lot of good wins. We won the AFC South two years in a row. (We’ve) got a lot of good wins. We’ve won more than we’ve lost. We’ve been able to deal with adversity. We’ve been able to deal with injuries. We’ve had three-straight winning records here. We’ve got good guys in the locker room. We’ve got mentally tough guys. We have a really good coaching staff. We have good players, we’ve got good role players, good leaders. So, we’ll deal with the adversity. There’s 16 teams that are 0-1, 16 that are 1-0. There’s a long way to go. No NFL season was determined in the first week of the season. I can tell you that.”
In terms of the offensive line, would max protection have helped?
“Those are all the things – that’s kind of what I’m saying we’re talking about right now. We’re looking at – kind of waiting on the final medical report because I know we’re going to have to deal with – I mean, I think all you guys know there were five concussions, so I would probably say that most of those guys are probably going to be out for the game, relative to it being a short week. We’re looking at all those different things schematically, roster-wise, all the different things that go into that, but yes, that’s one of the things that we’ve got to do a better job of protecting the quarterback, both from a coaching standpoint and from a playing standpoint. No doubt about it. “
How do you make your decision on which quarterback will start?
“You guys have to give me some time here. Look, I haven’t even met with the players yet. I haven’t seen the quarterbacks yet. I saw Deshaun (Watson) in the hallway but I have not talked to either one of them. We’re going to do what’s best for the team. We always try to do what’s best for the team, and try to go from there.”
What do you look at when you make that decision?
“I look at how the play on gameday. I look at what happened leading up to gameday, how they practiced during the week, but mostly how they play in the game when the lights are on.”
How do you look at your tight end situation with three guys out with concussions?
“It’s the National Football League. You have to figure out a way. We’re going to figure out a way. Certainly not going to go into detail about what that might be because we really don’t even know yet. But, I would say that all three of those guys could potentially be out for the game. I don’t know yet, but relative to the game being on Thursday night, that’s usually the case just based on the protocol and all the tests that they have to pass to be able to get back on the field. So, I think that our thing as an offensive staff is to get that medical report when it’s basically finalized and then decide exactly what we need to do.”
The Bengals have the same quick turnaround as you guys, how difficult is it in Week Two to have three days to prepare for a game that counts just as much as any of the other 15?
“You get the schedule in April, so you have an idea, but the one thing you can’t plan for is all the things we’re talking about right now – the injuries. People say, ‘We game planned for them back in May,’ but how do you do that when you really can’t forecast what your situation’s going to be for the second week of the season? So, we have a lot of things to catch up on relative to who our 46-man roster will be, who can play for us on offense. Most of the injuries are on offense. There were some bumps and bruises on defense. So, we have a lot of work to do, but that’s the NFL. That’s what we’re paid to do and we need to go out and do it and do a better job of it.”
Will you actually get out on the field and practice this week?
“We’ll meet today. We’ll meet this afternoon and we’ll watch a lot of tape, cover some things that we think could carry over to the Thursday game. We’ll get out on the field for a walkthrough tonight. We’ll let them go after that and then we’ll continue to work on a game plan as a staff. Then tomorrow will be kind of like a Wednesday and we’ll get out on the field and we’ll run around, we’ll break a sweat. I think it’s important to do that. Then Wednesday we’ll have a walkthrough and then we’ll travel up there.”
How did C Greg Mancz play and can you envision him starting?
“Absolutely, I can envision Mancz starting. Mancz hung in there, played tough. Again, I think a lot of that will have to do with the medical report, if you know what I’m saying. We’re going to have to see where that’s at. Mancz started 16 games for us last year at center, so I certainly already have the visual evidence of him starting for us.”
Regardless of who you have at quarterback, what do you have to do to protect them better?
“We have to do a lot of things. If I was to get into the details of that with you, that probably wouldn’t be very smart on my part, but there’s a lot of different things that we can do from a scheme point. There’s a lot of different things that the players need to do from a playing standpoint. Everybody in that room in there needs to improve. We’ve been able to do that in the past. Look, it wasn’t a good day. No excuses. All of us have to do better, and that’s what today is all about.”
How would you assess the defense’s performance?
“I think defensively – they rushed for 150-plus yards on us and that’s – we’ve been very, very good in the past against the run. When we’ve given up that much yardage in the running game, we haven’t won games. And so, all three phases – I did think there were some real bright spots on special teams. I thought there were some good play on special teams, but on offense and defense, we have to do better, we have to coach better, we’ve got to play better. That’s it. That’s what we have to do. We have to do a better job on defense of setting the edge and building the wall. That’s what we’re known for doing. We have to tackle better. I think we missed 10 tackles in the game. We have to coach it better. So, that’s what it’s all about. That’s what football’s about. Football’s about adversity. That’s the game. That’s the game. You’re dealing with it and you have to do a better job. Every week you have to try to improve.”
What did you like most about each quarterback’s play?
“I think Tom (Savage) plays very calmly. I think he knows how to operate our offense. I didn’t see him have, when it came to X’s and O’s, any mental mistakes. There are things that he can do better, things that I can do better to help him. I think Deshaun (Watson) went in there and made some plays. Deshaun’s a playmaker. He can make plays with his feet. He knows what to do. He checked us in and out of plays. He has good instincts out on the field. Like I’ve said all along, and I’ve said that Tom is our starter and that’s the way it’s been. We will see moving forward here. I thought both guys had some moments in the game that they did some good things, but we will see moving forward.”
RB D’Onta Foreman only had one carry yesterday, but I know he was dealing with an injury a bit ago. Did that play any role in that?
“No, he will be in there more.”
In retrospect, do you wish that you had given QB Deshaun Watson a little bit more reps with the starts in training camp and practice? It seemed like the rapport between he and WR DeAndre Hopkins wasn’t there.
“Well, (DeAndre) Hopkins missed a lot of training camp, so whether we had him with the ones or not – I will say that we went back at the end of training camp we tracked all of that. Deshaun (Watson) was in there with the ones quite a bit because of injury. He was in there quite a bit with the ones. Tom (Savage) was obviously in there more with the ones, but Deshaun was in there quite a bit. I would love to give you the exact stats on that, but he was in there a lot. After the first preseason game, ‘Hop’ didn’t play or practice. He had a thumb issue, so this last week was his first week out. Deshaun got some reps with him during the week (and) so did Tom. Tom got more reps with him, obviously. Basically, my answer to your question is we make decisions in the best interest of the team. Sometimes those decisions don’t work. That’s why you have to go back, see what you did wrong, analyze it. figure it out pretty quickly. Again, it’s a progress league. We know what’s going on outside of this building. Look, I would say the same things. It didn’t look very good. We can’t wait and take four days to figure it out. We have to figure it out now. That’s what we’re paid to do. That’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Do you think there will be any resolution with T Duane Brown anytime soon?
“Again, I have no idea. I really don’t. I really wouldn’t be able to answer that question at all. I coach the team. The thing that I am in charge of is what you saw yesterday which wasn’t very good and we are trying to work better at it. I’m in charge of what happens on Sundays, who plays and how we play. Other than that, I don’t really have anything to report to you because I don’t know.”
How much more difficult is the quarterback decision because it’s a short week?
“It’s not a difficult decision. It’s a decision about what’s best for the team. It’s not like you’re up here and you’re just making the decision by yourself. With every decision that you make, you try in the best way that you can to take input and then make the best decision for the team, whether it’s a play call or the right guard or the middle linebacker or the quarterback. You really just are saying, ‘What is the best thing for this football team this year?’ That’s for every decision that we make.”
How do you think C Nick Martin played in his first game?
“I thought he did some good things. He can play better. He’s basically a rookie because he didn’t play last year. I thought he played tough the first time out there. He’s a very good player, a very good, young player. We think he’s going to get better and better. Like I’ve always said about Nick (Martin), I think he has a great future in the league.”
Was there any hesitancy in making a Week 1 halftime switch considering 2015 and you mentioning that was a mistake at the time?
“I don’t remember what I said. You probably have it on record of what I said at the time, but I don’t remember. I’ve made my share of mistakes here. We’ve also, as a staff, we’ve made our share of good decisions. We try to, in eight minutes, try to evaluate the first half. Again, like I said, we try and make the best decision for the football team. That’s what we’re all about. We don’t make knee-jerk decisions. That’s just not what we do. We try to say, ‘OK, what is the best thing for this team right now?’ What we have seen leading up to this game, what is the best decision. That’s with every decision that we make. That’s kind of what it was at halftime.”
Did you know going into the game that it was a possibility that you would make the switch at halftime. Was that something you prepared for?
“I think you’re always prepared, always prepared for the No. 2 quarterback to play because No. 1, something may happen injury-wise. No. 2, something else may happen. The No. 2 quarterback always needs to be ready to play. And the No. 2 quarterback, as a head coach, you always have to be ready to play that guy.”
Is there anything you can take out of preparing for a road game on a Thursday like last year?
“Every year is different. Like you said, we have a whole different situation this year relative to that game, Thursday night game we did last year. Different team. Different guys. Different injury situation. I wouldn’t take too much out of it. I think having a short week in some ways is tough, but in some ways it can be good, especially when you didn’t play very well in your first week. You have a chance, in a short week, to have a quick turnaround and get right back out on the field and start playing again.”
How important is a running game for the offensive line to get over what just happened?
“We have to run the ball better. That’s where, really, I need to do a better job. We have to run it better. We have to be more balanced. What happens sometimes based on score of the game, based on injuries, you get behind. Guys get hurt. Sometimes it’s harder to run the football relative to those types of things, but we definitely have to run the ball better.”
You said you have to do a better job. Are you talking about play calling?
“No, I wouldn’t say play calling. I would say basically use of personnel, design of plays, just some of the things that going into the game that we thought we were going to see and we didn’t end up seeing that. Just doing a better job overall.”