Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney
WR Will Fuller V
WR DeAndre Hopkins
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
DE J.J. Watt did not practice. How is he doing?
“We just gave him a day off. He’s played a lot of football, so yeah, he’ll be out there tomorrow. He’ll be ready to go.”
You said he’ll be out there tomorrow?
Do you think WR Will Fuller V will play Sunday?
“Yeah, I would see him being ready to go on Sunday.”
I know a lot of your players do a lot of charitable things, but what did you think of QB Deshaun Watson helping out the stadium cafeteria workers?
“Yeah, you’re right about our players. Our players do a lot of great things in the community. A lot of the people who work so hard for us behind the scenes, especially the people in the cafeteria – I mean, they’re here at 4:30 in the morning. Some of those people, in (Hurricane) Harvey, they lost everything. A number of our players donated money to help them and then he gave his game check, which is incredible. That’s the type of guy he is. He’s a first-class guy.”
How much do you value QB Deshaun Watson making plays with his arm and running to throw?
“Yeah, he does, and that’s such a positive thing for a quarterback because that adds another dimension that the defense has to deal with. I mean, defensively, I would assume – just from obviously seeing who we have to go against, obviously this week with Marcus (Mariota) and in the past, Cam Newton, some of the guys that we’ve had to go against. It’s very difficult to defend a guy that throws first and is a very good runner, that has a good arm, has a good understanding of coverage. Look, Deshaun’s a rookie. He’s going to keep learning and he hasn’t even come close to reaching his full potential, but he is a guy that really, really thinks about throwing the football way before he thinks about taking off.”
How much does Titans CB Adoree’ Jackson’s speed add to the Titans?
“He’s a very challenging guy to deal with. He’s very challenging. He’s one of the better punt returners I’ve seen in a while, and kickoff returner. Every time he touches it, he’s got a chance to take it the whole way back for a touchdown. So, we’ve got to be aware of that. We have to do a great job in that area because he’s a dangerous guy. He’s quick, he’s elusive. I mean, the other day he jumped over a guy. He’s got great athletic ability. He’s a dangerous guy.”
Does getting offensive players back allow you to open up your play-calling more?
“I felt like we opened it up against New England. I really did. We didn’t have (Will) Fuller (V), obviously, but we’re adding to what we do every week. But obviously having a full complement of players helps you do that, guys that have been in the system. As we move along here, we move forward, I think you’ll see us do more and more. Maybe that’s the wrong way to say that, but just add more to the package of what we’re doing. But it’s good to have everybody back, or getting close to having everybody back.”
Does it help QB Deshaun Watson to have more players back in terms of the playbook?
“Yeah, definitely. The chemistry of being able to work with Will (Fuller V) now, who’s been out since early in training camp, is a big thing. Obviously Hop (Deandre Hopkins) was out, like I said a couple days ago, during training camp. Deshaun’s worked with Hop quite a bit, but having Will back in there, Deshaun’s now worked with Bruce (Ellington) for a while, Braxton (Miller) for a while. Just even relative to the offensive line, how he communicates things to them. I mean, all of those things – (Ryan) Griffin, (Stephen) Anderson, the backs, all of those things. The more and more you work with each other, the better it gets.”
What is it like working with a young quarterback?
“He’s great to work with. I don’t know any other way to say it. He’s a great guy. It’s a great quarterback room. I mean, Tom (Savage) has done an unbelievable job of helping him. I think Sean Ryan and Pat O’Hara, they do a great job with the guy. But, he himself is fun to work with. He’s a smart guy, he’s got great questions, he’s got great suggestions. He’s a very smart football player. He learns very quickly. He’s going to make his share of mistakes. A lot of people do, but rookie quarterbacks, it’s not easy. Now you go from that defense that you saw last week – Cincinnati, New England – now you’re adding another defensive scheme, strategy, way to defend you, with Tennessee. It’s going to be different. They’re a different defense. So, he’ll learn and hopefully we can do a good job of taking care of the ball, playing well around him, then he’ll keep getting better and better.”
How has it changed for rookie quarterbacks over the years? For some of the advantages like changes to the rules, defensive pass interference and stuff like that, things may get more complex and there’s less practice time. How is it being a rookie quarterback in 2017 versus 2007 or 1997?
“I think you just said a few of the things that make it a lot different. I can remember talking to veteran quarterbacks that came into the league in the early 2000s where they saw basically three or four coverages – Cover 2, Cover 1, Cover 4 and Cover 3. And now, fast forward to where we are now, we’re getting ready for 17 different coverages against Tennessee, different situations, just a lot of things that they do. And then, obviously, the rules of the game have changed. The rules relative to the passing game in the last 15 to 20 years have changed a lot. It’s a passing league in some ways. I still think you have to run the football and you have to be able to defend the run, but at the end of the day, if you don’t have passing game, you’re going to have a hard time winning close games. And so, the rules I think definitely tend to support the offense over the defense relative to only being able to hit a guy five yards or less from the line of scrimmage, things like that. So, I think that the coaching has gotten a lot better and more sophisticated in college, so a lot of these guys are able to play a little bit earlier, but I think relative to the rules and the things that you talked about, I think that’s exactly right.”
A lot of negative circumstances out of QB Deshaun Watson’s control have occurred – entering a game at halftime, then playing four days later with essentially no tight ends, going to New England and all of those things. Do you think it’s an asset that he possesses that he doesn’t look at any of that stuff and just goes about whatever he needs to do?
“He definitely doesn’t look at it the way that you phrased the question. He sees everything as a positive. I think that he is a very positive guy. He’s a very competitive guy, but he sees everything as an opportunity. I’ve heard him say to you guys quite a bit (that) he tries to get one percent better every day. I mean, he really does. Today he was working on certain things out there, yesterday was something else. He really takes a lot of pride in what he does and he sees everything as an opportunity. I don’t think he sees anything as a negative when it comes to football.”
After scoring 33 points at New England, is there a part of you that feels like it endorses the conviction that you have in the system, yourself and what you guys are doing offensively?
“We believe in what we’re doing. It hasn’t always been perfect. I think we have strong beliefs in what we do. I think we believe in our players. There’s good chemistry between the coaches and the players. We practice hard. The players know that we work very hard to put together game plans. Some game plans have been better than others, but, overall, I think we’re getting better on offense. We’re getting healthier, we’re getting better and hopefully that continues.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
Do you think Titans RBs DeMarco Murray and Derrick Henry have their own styles?
“Yeah, I think they do. (DeMarco) Murray obviously has got great breakaway speed. I saw him take a big run last week, just kind of circled up the defense and was able to go 75 yards. (Derrick) Henry’s a big back who’s able to bounce out, has a good stiff-arm. Everybody’s going to be at the point of attack. Those guys go anywhere.”
Fundamentally against the run, where do you think you all have gotten better at since the first game?
“I think that we – obviously, the head coach (Bill O’Brien) talks about it all the time, it’s an improvement league. We have to continue to improve from training camp through the first part of the week and going back early in the season, it was just, there were five big, big play runs. I mean, there were a couple 20-yarders in there, 17-yarder, whatever it may be, and so, you can play 30 pretty good and then you get a couple that go out the gate and those are the ones that kill you. So, we’re conscious of that, trying to limit the big-play runs, making sure that everybody understands that they’re involved in the run game and then just being more physical, being a little bit better fundamentally, playing with your hands, all those things.
You obviously know how talented OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney is, but are you still impressed when he gets the ball and is able to move like he does for being such a big guy?
“Well, I don’t think the ball weighs that much. I don’t think it slows him down a whole lot, but any time we can get the ball in JD’s (Jadeveon Clowney) hands on defense, that means we’ve turned it over and hopefully good things will happen, which we got a big turnover against Cincinnati and then, obviously, scoring the touchdown last week.”
What did you take away from last week and what do you learn from it?
“You just have so many chances to win games. It’s such a fine line that every week you’re going to be put in those situations and you have to make good calls, you have to execute the calls and really, if the ball’s on the ground, we have to get it and if it’s in our hands, we have to just make plays and make good calls down the stretch and be composed and understand that a lot of these games are going to come down to situational football.”
What do you think about what ILB Zach Cunningham and ILB Dylan Cole have done?
“Young players, young linebackers in this league, it’s difficult. It takes a special player to get out there and understand everything that’s going on with the checks. Every week is a different offense. You play the Patriots one week and you play the Titans the next. They’re throwing a bunch of runs at you and they’re trying to pound you and the Patriots are spreading you out and trying to get matchups. So, every week for a young linebacker, and most guys, it’s a challenge to turn the page and move on and get prepared for the next opponent.”
Titans Head Coach Mike Mularkey said having a mobile quarterback like QB Marcus Mariota helps him prepare for a guy like QB Deshaun Watson. Conversely, does having Deshaun here help your defense against the Titans?
“Yeah, I think it does. When we practiced against him in training camp, there was clearly a different type of defense that we try to play, whether it be with one quarterback in the practice as opposed to another one. And our guys understand that they’ve got to be conscious that he can take off and run, that there are some quarterback run plays that are involved. So, we’ve seen a lot of that in training camp and I think our guys understood the difference between when Tom (Savage) was back there playing quarterback and when Deshaun (Watson) was.”
Defensively, what’s the key against a quarterback that’s mobile but looks to throw?
“Sure, scramble to throw, scramble to run, design plays. Yeah, you have to stay in coverage, I mean, if you’re in man coverage, clearly you’re going to stay in coverage until the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage. The rushers have to be very aware and conscious of where he’s at in the pocket, not letting him attack the defense in the pocket and just doing a good job of making sure that everybody’s coordinated with their assignments and staying in coverage until the quarterback crosses the line of scrimmage.”
In Patriots Coach Bill Belichick’s coaches show after your game he said there was an adjustment made because they were listening to something your DBs said. Did you hear about that?
“Sure, yeah. Watched it, saw it, and I understand all that. They won the game. They won the game, and I could sit here and tell you we drew up plays to strip-sack Tom (Brady) three times, but we lost the game. Those guys are good coaches. Every guy in this league is a good coach. We’re really focused on trying to stop the run, take care of (Marcus) Mariota, get on (Delanie) Walker, understand (Rishard) Matthews (and) where he’s at. All those types of things this week that it relates to Tennessee. I mean, these guys are playing with a lot of confidence.”
What are your impressions of Titans QB Marcus Mariota?
“Well, he seems like a great leader. I think that the guys rally around him. I think any time the quarterback’s a great leader, has to be a great leader, seems to be a physical guy, hopped up last week after (Richard) Sherman got him on the sideline. He’s not afraid to run with the ball, he tucks it away and gets vertical. He’ll stand in the pocket and thrown and then when it’s not there, he’s able to take off and run and gain some yards with his legs. It’s a big challenge.”
OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
How nice is it to build off the success you had last year?
“It’s very nice knowing what I’m putting in is paying off. Just got to keep working. I don’t know if there’s ever an ending to this thing unless you’re done playing. Until that day comes, I’m just going to keep working, keep getting better, keep making a lot of plays for this team.”
Do you feel this is the best you’ve played since you’ve been here?
“I don’t know. I just keep playing and hopefully for another game, keep getting better each game and each week. Big game this week, Tennessee, and (we) need to get a division win. Looking forward to this game.”
What are the challenges the Titans offer with a very good rushing attack?
“I think it’s going to be a challenge, like I said. It’s our goal every week to stop the run, so we’ve got to come in and play physical and stop the run and see what happens.”
What makes the Titans so good?
“They’ve got some great running backs, (the) offensive line’s pretty good up front. They have a great quarterback. They’ve got an all-around good team. I think we just got to come out there and match them. Come out there, play like we did last week, especially. We lost the game, but we had the high energy and running around, making plays. It was physical.”
WR WILL FULLER V
How does it feel to be back out there?
“It feels great to be back out there practicing again with my teammates.”
What was it like to be away from football and not practicing?
“It was tough. I was real bored. I didn’t know what to do. I was in the treatment room every day trying to get better. It was real boring, though. So, I’m happy I’m back out there practicing.”
Do you feel ready for Sunday?
“I feel like I’m ready. I’m out there practicing, trying to show OB (Bill O’Brien) I’m ready. We’re going to see what he thinks.”
What are some keys for you to shake off the rust and get back into rhythm?
“Just practicing hard, trying to get on the same page as Deshaun (Watson) and just getting back in the rhythm of things and the offense and how we run things.”
How much has it helped you to sit back and watch?
“When I was out there at practice, I was always watching, just trying to stay upbeat on the offense and how we’re running things. Some things may change in eight weeks. I was out for quite a while, so I was just trying to pay attention in meetings and on the field.”
Is this about the timeline the doctors gave you once you started rehab?
“Yeah, I believe so. I think they said about six-to-eight weeks, so I’m right at eight weeks.”
How has it been to work with QB Deshaun Watson so far?
“It’s been great. I like playing with him. He’s a great guy. I just can’t wait to get on the field with him on Sunday.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
Can you talk about what you’ve seen so far from QB Deshaun Watson?
“A lot of improvement. You guys saw last week’s game. It speaks for itself, what he does out there on that field.”
What is it like having a mobile quarterback like QB Deshaun Watson who can make plays?
“That’s an element that we haven’t had here, that a lot of people on this team haven’t seen, even in college, before, with quarterbacks, so that’s something that it takes time to get used to, but we’re working on it to help him out when he’s out there scrambling to find the open spots. But, that’s something that, in the NFL, can help a team win.”
As a wide receiver and member of the offense, how much hope does that give you guys to see QB Deshaun Watson producing like he has?
“It gives us a lot of hope knowing that (No.) 4 (Deshaun Watson) can get back there and make plays with his feet or with his arm. He doesn’t look just to run first every time, so as a receiver, they give us confidence to get open, even if the play isn’t for us or intended to go to us, we know he can see all over the field. He’s not locked in just on one thing. It’s like he’s played before in this league, the way he goes out there and makes plays, not just with his feet, but his arm.”
How have you seen QB Deshaun Watson be a leader so far?
“Off the field. Just during little things like walkthrough. His attitude, how he’s always happy, even after the loss he was confident about coming out this week and getting a win versus Tennessee. Just keeping everybody’s hopes up, Little stuff like that, it goes a long way.”
When QB Deshaun Watson is able to run like he did against the Patriots and avoid four would-be sacks, are you impressed with what he can do?
“I saw him do it in college, but this is the NFL, so of course I’m impressed. I haven’t seen a quarterback do that in a long time besides Michael Vick. So, of course everybody in this locker room is impressed, but the thing is that he keeps his head downfield and makes plays with his arm as well.”
Did you feel like there was anything different about last week’s game for you as opposed to the first two?
“No. I’m not perfect, that’s why we practice early in the season. If I was to go out there and say I was going to catch every ball that came my way, I would be lying. But it’s practice, timing and we’re getting better, we’re improving. I really don’t go by statistics, I go by wins or losses.”
With WR Will Fuller V possibly coming back, how important would it be for you to have another threat on the opposite side to be open on this offense?
“It’s good to have Will (Fuller V) back. He can stretch the field, he can do some things that I can’t do that some of these other receivers in the locker room can’t do, so it’s good to have that dynamic out there on the field. It opens up our playbook a little bit more.”
QB Deshaun Watson said he’s having to learn how to slide and learn not to take hits, but it’s really a lack of interest in going down as he’s trying to make yards. What do you think of that?
“Sometimes that’s good, but we need him for 16 games, so I’m sure OB’s (Coach O’Brien) been talking to him about when to get down and when not to.”
What part of your job has to do with helping QB Deshaun Watson learn the ropes and what do you do to help him?
“Just be there whenever he throws me the ball, just so he can build that confidence with me because we only get a certain amount of plays at practice, so in the game, make every opportunity count when him and I are connecting. And just talking to him on the sideline, telling him things that he might not be able to see. The coaches, they do a good job of helping him once he’s on the sideline. But, kind of just telling him what I think this player is going to do before the game just from experience of playing against the player and how we can attack him.”
Do you put more responsibility on yourself to help QB Deshaun Watson?
“Of course, but like I said, this guy, he’s a pro’s pro. He studies and he does all the great things that every great quarterback needs to do to be in this league and to be successful. So, not just from me, but from the coaches as well, they make sure he comes out and he’s ready to go.”
Do you think that the fact that you two are close off the field has helped your rapport on the field?
“That always helps. Of course.”
In regards to timing and quarterbacks and receivers getting on the same page, do you think that’s something that the average fan or media member doesn’t appreciate just how hard it is to get down that timing, choreography and execution?
“Yeah, it’s only a certain amount of plays you can go out and practice and run live practice against. So, sometimes it’s not the easiest, but we’re pros. We have to make it work.”