Head Coach Bill O’Brien
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What is the difference or talent gap between an 0-5 team, a 2-3 team and a 5-0 team?
“I don’t think there’s much of a talent gap at all, I’ll be honest with you. I think the league is set up to be an 8-8 league. With the draft rules, the free agency rules, the best team in the league every year drafts last, that’s the prime example, things like that. I think that, look, at the end of the day, it comes down to smart football, tough football, critical situations, your best players playing their best in those situations. Every game’s tight. There’s rarely a game like we had against Tennessee a couple weeks ago. That was really way out of the ordinary. I think this is going to be a very tough game, and I’m not just saying it. I’ve been around, I’m just telling you, these games – to win a game in the NFL is very, very difficult. The Browns have been close, they lost by a field goal last week, played the Jets very tough. The Jets are in first place with the Patriots in AFC East. I mean, the Browns have been close in a lot of games and we need to play a really, really top-notch great football game to win the game on Sunday.”
Is there anything in particular that’s dangerous about a team that’s 0-5?
“I think those teams that haven’t won, they’re hungry for a win, maybe they’re more apt to take risks, take chances. I think we better be on high alert. Hue (Jackson) does a great job with creativity on offense and on special teams. That’s been something that he does a great job with over his career, whether it was in Oakland or Cincinnati as an offensive coordinator or in Cleveland now. So, we better be ready to go because they’re going to bring a very, very big challenge to us on Sunday in all three phases.”
Is there something you’re doing schematically to replace DE J.J. Watt and OLB Whitney Mercilus?
“I think you have to change things up. You’re talking about two great players. We have full confidence in the guys that are playing, but they do different things, they do different things well, they have different sizes, they have different skillsets. So, in a lot of ways, that can be exciting. You come up with something new and you execute it at a high level, it can be good, it can be great for your team. So, yeah, it’s definitely partly scheme and it’s partly multiple guys contributing to those spots – Whitney’s (Mercilus) and J.J.’s (Watt) spots.”
Would those be things the Browns haven’t seen on tape because you haven’t done them yet?
“My philosophy is, really in all three phases, is to make sure that every week you’re doing something that you have not shown. I think if you’re doing the same thing every week, you’re probably going to have a bit of a problem.”
OLB Whitney Mercilus said it will bring him great joy to see the players replacing him make plays. What does that mean to you?
“He’s a great guy. You guys have been around him for a while now. He’s a very, very good, high-character guy. Really cares about the team, cares about the Texans. He has no ego. The guy has done everything we’ve asked him to do. He’s been coached very hard here and he’s developed into a really, really top player. He’ll be back next year and I’m sure he’s looking forward to watching the Brennan Scarlett’s and the Ufombas (Kamalu) of the world go out there and play real well.”
What do you see from OLB Ufomba Kamalu, who’s unusually big for an outside linebacker?
“He was in between. He was a defensive end and then we asked him to lose some weight and play some outside linebacker in the base scheme and then also be a DPR on third down. So, we felt like if we could maybe trim down a little bit, that maybe he wouldn’t be so in between, if that makes sense. I think he’s a tough guy, I think he’s a guy that can help us on special teams and now his role on defense, he’s going to be out there a little bit more on defense. He played well in the Tennessee game last year, I think he had a sack (and) deflected a ball. I think the guy’s played well when we’ve asked him to play. He’s a very, very tough guy, comes to play every day and we’re all looking forward to seeing what he can do to help us.”
Where has QB Deshaun Watson improved the most in your opinion?
“I think probably knowledge of the offense. Just knowledge of the playbook and how it applies in certain situations. I think with any rookie, it’s a learning experience. Every system is different and I think it’s really just every week having a better knowledge of what we’re trying to do with a protection or with a run or in certain situations. I think it’s just overall experience and knowledge with our offense.”
I know you’re focused on football, but with the Houston Astros nearing their second-ever World series berth, how are you feeling about that?
“I can’t tell you how much it would make me happy to see them beat the Yankees. That would be No. 1. I mean, it would just make my day, or make my month or whatever. A.J. (Hinch), he’s done a great job. They have a great baseball team. They’re fun to watch. I know they’re having fun. I mean, (Jose) Altuve, (Carlos) Correa, all of those guys, (Evan) Gattis. I mean, when you watch Gattis get up to bat, I mean isn’t it unbelievable? The way he grips the bat, he looks like a linebacker in the batter’s box. I just think it’s great for the city and I think A.J.’s a great guy. I texted back and forth with him a little bit earlier in the week, wished him luck, and he’s following us. He wished us luck against Cleveland and I wish him the best and I wish the Astros the best.”
Do you find yourself being more aggressive on offense with QB Deshaun Watson and is that your preferred style?
“I think you have to be aggressive. I think that, it’s the old saying that if you dip your toe in the water too many times, eventually it’s going to get caught up to you. You got to get going. So, I think you have to have good timing on when to be aggressive, like you can’t be aggressive right off the bat sometimes, or maybe you can, and maybe your aggressive in the second half and not as much in the first half. It depends on how you think the game’s unfolding, but I think it’s very important to have an aggressive attitude with your players. It’s an aggressive game. It’s a game of aggression, so I think it’s really important that your players understand, look, we’re going to play the game in a very aggressive, confident manner.”
What’s the importance of the offense in a time where injuries have affected the defense?
“At the end of the day, I think we preach all three phases playing off of each other. There’s no doubt about it. We expect our defense to go out and play well, we really do. Look, I know we have some injuries we’re dealing with, so does every other team, but our defense, we’ll go out there and they’ll show up and they’ll play well and our offense needs to continue to get better. So, I think with everybody on the same page as far as what the game plan is and how we’re going to play the game, I think if we can do that and start off well, we will play complementary football.”
What are the challenges of going up against browns QB Kevin Hogan, who you have little film on?
“That’s always challenging. We studied him a lot coming out of college, obviously that’s college, but we studied him a lot in the preseason. We study all these quarterbacks in the preseason, our scouting staff does, so we know a little bit about him. But look, he hasn’t played a whole lot, and so we’re going to have to make sure we understand how the game’s being played right away and be able to adjust on the fly. They’re going to come in here probably doing some things that maybe we haven’t seen on film, and that goes for all three phases. So, we just need to do a great job of starting off fast.”