Head Coach Bill O’Brien
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
When you win a game like this against a division opponent, what is the toughest thing as a head coach the following week?
“I think it depends on the type of team you have. The type of team we have is a very focused team. We have a hardworking team that has a good mixture of veteran players and young players that know how to practice, know how to prepare and really understand that every week is a challenge. This is a huge challenge coming up. So, look, there were a lot of good things that happened yesterday, quite obviously, but there were some things that we need to clean up, and we need to get going on that and clean those things up and have a really good week of practice because Kansas City’s one of the best teams in football.”
What do you think about the way the AFC and the division are bunched together now?
“I tell the team this all the time: this is an 8-8 league. The way the rules are set up, whether it’s the draft rules, the free agency rules, the waiver wire rules – whatever it is, it’s a very even league. It’s a league that’s basically a league filled with parity. So, I think, like I’ve always said, it’s a race to see who can improve the fastest, coaching and playing, who can improve the fastest, who can identify what their team is the fastest, because you have to really keep that mindset all year. But, none of that surprises me that everybody’s – I think there’s only one undefeated team obviously, and the rest of us are all kind of bunched up. That doesn’t surprise me.”
What do you attribute your success to in the redzone?
“We worked hard in the red area. I give the players a ton of credit on that. The players did a good job of executing what we wanted to do. You have to have a new plan every week because you’re going to see new schemes every week. I think it’s, again, a credit to the players to be able to go to it, practice it, get it right in practice and not leave the field until it gets right in practice and then be able to execute it on gameday. That’s credit to the players.”
How impressed were you with WR Will Fuller V in his first game back, what he was able to contribute and what do you expect from him going forward?
“He had a good game. He’s a really good route runner. He’s a tough guy. Obviously, great speed. You can line him up anywhere, he knows what to do at every position. Very smart player. Very calm guy. Never gets rattled. Just really good to have him back in there.”
Was it impressive that WR Will Fuller V was able to work so well with QB Deshaun Watson, considering he’s been out and hasn’t had a lot of work with him?
“I give our training staff credit. He’s been able to do some drills behind the scenes. He wasn’t cleared to practice or anything, but he could run routes and Deshaun (Watson) would be there with him right here in the stadium after hours, so to speak, and throwing routes with him. So, it wasn’t like the first time that they had ever thrown, and Deshaun threw with him quite a bit before he got injured in OTAs and obviously the beginning of training camp. So, it wasn’t like the first time he caught passes from him or Deshaun threw passes to him. It wasn’t the first time this past week. They’ve been working a lot together.”
You said last week that a loss like that sticks with you and is hard to get over. Does a win stick with you when you play like that?
“No, I really don’t. I think if you look at the tape and you really think about all the things you need to clean up. We had a couple of operational problems offensively where we had some false starts in the red area, a couple of things on defense against the running game that we need to clean up, special teams’ coverage units. So, look, the game, there were a ton of good things in the game. I think our players deserve all the credit. They played very well in the game but there’s a lot to clean up before we get to next Sunday night.”
What did you think of RB Lamar Miller’s performance?
“He had a good week of practice. He feels good. He’s healthy. I think (D’Onta) Foreman’s helped take some of the load off of him. Lamar’s (Miller) a good back. He can run, he’s got good vision, he can run inside, he can run outside, he can catch the ball out of the backfield, he’s really, really one of the better protecting backs that I’ve ever coached. I’d say that him and Kevin Faulk are the two best protecting backs I’ve ever coached, as far as picking blitzing linebackers up, chipping for tackles. He does a lot of things well and I thought he played really well yesterday.”
How important is it to have a quarterback like QB Deshaun Watson that is so cognizant of communicating with his teammates about how they’re feeling?
“He’s a great teammate. He really understands what his role is. He’s the exact opposite of a selfish person. He’s all about the team and really all he cares about is winning, when it comes to football. He just wants the team to win. He doesn’t care about stats. We’ve learned that about him from the day we met him. He just wants to win. I think part of that wanting to win is really realizing where your teammates are lined up, what they’re thinking, what you’re thinking, communicating with you teammates. He does it all the time in walkthroughs or in the locker room or in meetings. He does a good job of that.”
How do you get ready for a team like Kansas City that has two of the fastest players in the NFL in WR Tyreek Hill and RB Kareem Hunt?
“It’s tough. You have to – again, I thought last week our scout teams did a good job of preparing us for (Marcus) Mariota and Delanie Walker and guys like that, but every week is a different challenge. So, this week they’ve got to do a good job of preparing us for like the two guys you just talked about. Very difficult to simulate that in practice, but we have to have a great week of practice, a fast practice where guys are really understanding what Kansas City does so they can give everybody a good look. That’s going to be a big part of this week.”
You said a while ago that it’s important to identify what your team is. What is your team?
“I think we have a very tough team. We have a resilient team. We have a hardworking team. We have a team that really, really does care about each other. A team that understands complementary football. A team offensively now, I believe, can do a number of different things. So, defensively we’re very multiple. We have a lot of really good players on defense, obviously star players, but also role players that are really good. I mean, nobody’s talking about (Marcus) Gilchrist. He had a hell of a game yesterday. Dre (Andre) Hal, two interceptions. We have some really good players and some good core special teams players like Chris Thompson, Jordan Todman, Jay Prosch, Corey Moore, Brian Peters, guys like that. So, I think that’s the type of team we are.”
At what point did you think QB Deshaun Watson had a chance to be really special and it could be this season?
“I knew pretty early on that this guy was a special young man and a good football player. Look, I’m not going to revisit anything, I’m just telling you from the time I met him at the combine, just getting to know him here, watching him operate around here, he is what you see. Now, he’s got a long way to go. He does. Because now he’s going from Coach (Bill) Belichick to Coach (Dick) LeBeau to Bob Sutton, Coach Sutton. Those are three of the better defensive minds in football. So now, it’s another challenge. Every week’s a different challenge. He knows better than anybody, he’s really good about this I believe, is that you can’t rest on your laurels. You’ve got to move on to the next challenge. It’s big. It’s a big part of your maturation as a player is understanding that every week’s different and every week’s a very challenging week.”
How much do you talk to QB Deshaun Watson about how teams may attack him when discussing the game plan?
“All the time. A lot of times that’s hard to project because of the type of player he is, so you have to do a lot of research on that and try to show him tape on that. ‘Hey, this is how they may attack you relative to how they attacked this guy three years ago or this guy four years ago.’ You have to go back and look at guys that you think are similar. Now, the thing about Deshaun is he’s a very good passer. He can throw the ball. He’s a passer before he’s a runner, so it’s not always easy to find guys like that on tape. He’s got a unique skillset, but you have to make sure that you’re trying to tell him, in a limited way, how you think they may try to defend you. You can’t go overboard because then you’re confusing the player, but, ‘Hey, these are two or three things they may do to try to stop us.’”
QB Deshaun Watson said you listen to his input. Is that something you’ve always done or just something you’ve started doing because he’s young and proven?
“No, I’ve always listened to players. I think that’s important. I think it’s a two-way street. I’ve always, always listened to players – especially good ones. I think it’s important to listen to the player. I think it’s really important to listen to Benardrick McKinney or J.J. Watt or (Jadeveon) Clowney or Whitney (Mercilus) or Johnathan Joseph or Deshaun Watson or Lamar Miller or DeAndre Hopkins, because they’re out there and they can see specifically what’s happening in the game. Actually, we talk about this all the time in the preseason – when you come over to the sideline between series, don’t make anything up. Tell us what you’re seeing and tell us whatever your thoughts are, like, tell us what they are. We may not do that – this isn’t a suggestion box. We don’t hand around little pieces of paper and write down what you think we should do, but we do need to know what you’re seeing out there, and especially with the quarterback, ‘Hey look, this might be good, this might be good.’ With some of the things we do with Deshaun – look I coached at Georgia Tech 20-something years ago where we ran the wishbone. We had Joe Hamilton and we ran the wishbone and it was pretty successful. But that was in 19-whatever, the mid-‘90s. It’s changed since then. A lot of the things he (Deshaun) did at Clemson, he’s got a more recent understanding of it, so he can sit there with us and go, ‘Well, here’s a couple things I think might be good.’ Well we can’t do 50 of them, but we can do one of them, so we try to incorporate some of those things sometimes.”
What have you seen from WR DeAndre Hopkins and his chemistry growing with QB Deshaun Watson?
“They work together a lot. Deshaun works with all these guys, he’s been working with them for a while. I think that they watch film together, they’re after practice together, they’re early out to practice, kind of walking through routes versus different coverages, how it’s going to look. Deshaun’s telling them, ‘Hey, look, I expect you to do this if it’s that.’ There’s some good give and take there, and it’s important that the players communicate so they’re not confusing each other. ‘If it’s this look, I’m doing that. OK, but hold on now, if it’s this, what are you going to do?’ It’s a constant communication that the coaches oversee, but that’s important and I think they’re doing a good job of that.”
After all the criticism from the Jacksonville game, what was the key to bouncing back from that?
“That’s the nature of the business. I think getting blasted is part of being a head coach. Like I said when somebody asked me what type of team we have, I think that’s part of our – I usually don’t do this but I will right now, I can speak for pretty much everybody. We don’t pay attention to that. We ignore that. We go back to work. We understand how difficult it is to win a game in this league. We understand what goes on behind the scenes here. We understand the decisions that we make are in the best interest of the team and maybe they don’t always work out. We understand things that people that aren’t in the building, in the meeting rooms, aren’t privy to. One thing we understand is that our players are very resilient and they don’t really care what the outside thinks. It’s all about what they think of each other and what the coaches think and putting together the best plan possible to go out and try to win. Like I always say, it’s all about improvement. It’s not about where you are in Week 4. You don’t want to be 0-4, believe me, but it’s not necessarily about that. It’s where you are, really, around Thanksgiving. Where you are, obviously, at Christmas. Like, where are you at that point? And hopefully you’re going this way (slants arm up) and you’ve got a bunch of wins under your belt. That’s what you’re trying to do, but it’s one day, one week at a time.”
In what area have you seen QB Deshaun Watson improve the most since he made his debut?
“I would just say knowledge of our offense. I think he’s put a lot of time into our offense and he always does. I mean, he studies it every day. He studies the tape. I think knowledge of our offense and I think knowledge, in some ways, of NFL defenses. He studies the defense and I think that’ll improve more and more the more experience he gets. But definitely knowledge of our offense. He really understands how to communicate. I think you guys saw on Sunday, we do a lot of things at the line of scrimmage where he’s having to direct traffic there and I think that’s an answer to your question, that’s where he’s improved a lot.”
What do you think of K Ka’imi Fairbairn so far?
“He’s done a good job. He’s got a strong leg, he’s a calm guy, he’s got a good demeanor. The operation’s been good between (Jon) Weeks, (Shane) Lechler and him. I just want it to continue. I knock on wood. He’s a young guy – we got a lot of young guys playing for us. Him and Zach Cunningham and Dylan Cole, obviously Deshaun (Watson), so hopefully those young guys can keep playing well because they all, obviously Deshaun, but all those guys that I just mentioned really contributed to the win yesterday.”
What have you seen out of Kansas City and what do you need to do to be ready for them next week?
“It’s going to be tough. They have a lot of weapons on offense, a lot of explosive players on defense and a very good special teams unit. A lot of speed. The quarterback’s playing at a high level, they’ve got a great head coach in Andy Reid. I talked about Bob Sutton, great defensive coordinator. It’s going to be a week of great preparation and then we need to go out there and we need to have a great crowd behind us like we did on Sunday and we need to play well so that crowd stays behind us. But it’s a big challenge. They’re a very, very good team.”
Does going up against the read option and players like Titans QB Marcus Mariota and TE Delanie Walker prepare you for a similar challenge in the Chiefs offense with QB Alex Smith and TE Travis Kelce?
“Yeah, I think there’s some carryover based on what the scout team is giving you as a look. The scheme might be a little different but the fact that you’re going against a quarterback that can run and is not just a passer and you’ve already played against a guy like that. Again, you see one like that every day in practice. I think all those things can help but in the end, it’s all about basically doing your job relative to what Kansas City’s scheme is and what your scheme is. You have to play really disciplined football. That’s things on both sides of the ball that we need to clean up. There was a little bit of some things, whether it was a false start in the red area on offense or maybe not setting the edge correctly on defense, we have to clean those up because Kansas City will burn you on those.”
What has allowed Chiefs Head Coach Andy Reid to be so successful on offense for such a long time?
“Very smart guy. Great guy. Obviously a very good demeanor for a head coach. He’s very calm, thinks about the game, loves the NFL and he’s an excellent play caller and game planner. Whatever you’re seeing on tape, you may see some of that, but you better be ready for something new that you haven’t seen and you better put your time in to prepare for him because he’s one of the best.”