Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney
WR DeAndre Hopkins
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What have you seen from the Seahawks offensive line?
“Big, athletic, aggressive in the running game. The thing that’s really tough is they have different backs, I think different types of backs, and that’s going to be something that’s a big challenge for us. Whether it’s Eddie Lacy and then all of a sudden you got this (J.D.) McKissic in there, who’s an excellent player but different than Eddie Lacy. Their line understands who they’re blocking for, too, so it’s a big challenge. Their line is athletic, tough. I mean, Oday’s (Aboushi) up there. Oday’s a tough guy. We had Oday here. He’s a good, tough player. So, we know what we’re up against there.”
Have you seen better pursuit angles from OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney as he has evolved and played more?
“I think pursuit angles are relative to the play being run. The pursuit of a run that’s away from you down the line where maybe you’re not being blocked, how do you pursue that relative to a throw that’s down the field where you’re chasing and trying to catch up it. The thing he does a great job of is he plays very hard. He’s hard to handle because of how hard he plays on Sundays, and that’s been the key for him and that’s what has to continue, and I know it will continue. It’s him being healthy and him continuing to play at that level of effort is going to be big for us.”
Have you noticed that teams have been playing him differently without DE J.J. Watt?
“No, not really. It’s hard to do that against us I think because we’re a multiple defense. We line up in different fronts. We have a base defense, we have a big nickel, a little nickel, we have dime. We have a lot of different ways to line up, a lot of different fronts. I think it would be difficult to just try to locate him on every play because he’s not in the same spot all the time.”
How valuable is OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney being able to play in multiple spots?
“Very valuable. That’s the thing about JD is that when we drafted him, if you remember back to then, we started him out as a SAM linebacker in a 3-4 defense, and then he was a rush defensive end in a four-down scheme. He could do both things. He could drop into pass coverage. He could rush the passer. He could rush up inside. Last year we played him at inside tackle. We played him inside. So, he’s done a lot of different things for us and that’s, for us – you guys have heard that for a few years now, is we really value the versatility of the player.”
As far as the offensive line, left tackle is a position that gets a lot of attention, but how important do you think the center is and how important has C Nick Martin been to the offensive line?
“I think the center position is so important, especially to us, with the communication that he leads up front and the running game that starts with the quarterback and then it goes to him and he solidifies it all, if that makes sense, in the running game, in the passing game, protections, all the different things we do. So, he’s a really bright guy. He’s very tough, very tough, very strong. It was unfortunate that he got hurt last year but he learned a lot last year, if that makes sense, in the meetings and things like that. Look, left tackle’s a premier position in this league because you’re blocking for a right-handed quarterback in most systems and you’re blocking the blind side. So, I think that’s a huge position in this league and it always will be, but center is just as valuable in my opinion. Center’s very valuable.”
How impressive do you find the Seahawks’ recent run of success?
“Calling it impressive is probably shortchanging it. It’s so hard to do that in this league. It’s like I was saying the other day, on Monday, it’s a big challenge for us. Coach (Pete) Carroll’s done it at every level. He’s done it at this level, he’s done it at the college level. He’s been coaching for a long time. All of us that were coming up in this profession, at a certain point in time we looked up to certain guys, and he was one of them. He’s been doing it for a long time. He’s a winner. He creates an atmosphere of competition in his program and they do a great job. They bring players in that really fit the vision that they want for their team, and those players execute at a high level. He’s led a great program there. They’re a winning program, and we know the challenge that we’re up against, but we feel good about the week we’ve had and we’re excited about the challenge, but we know that it’s going to be a big undertaking on our part when we go there to Seattle because it’s a tough place to play.”
What are your thoughts on last night’s World Series Game Two between the Houston Astros and Los Angeles Dodgers?
“Man. I was here with the staff and we were game-planning but we have a TV in the corner of our offensive staff room and we had it on. To think about what they did, it’s got to be one of the top five World Series games of all-time, to hit that many home runs in extra innings. It was great to see those guys come though like that. It was just an awesome, awesome deal. (Justin) Verlander, he’s just a warrior. I know that it’s a travel day today so they’ll be back at it tomorrow in Houston and I know that place will be rocking. We’re so supportive of them. I think it’s great for the city any time you have a team rolling toward a championship. It’s great for a city.”
How do you attack Seattle’s veteran defense?
“It’s hard. It’s really hard. Like I said, it’s all three levels. There’s really no weakness to their defense. It’s (Michael) Bennett, it’s (Frank) Clark up front. Now they just signed (Dwight) Freeney, and then you have the second level where you have Bobby Wagner in the middle and then obviously in the secondary with (Kam) Chancellor and Earl (Thomas) and Richard Sherman. I mean, those guys are playing at a high level and it’s going to be hard. I know this sounds cliché-ish, but it’s not – it’s one play at a time. It’s focusing on your job, trying to eliminate distractions and just keep it simple. Keep it simple in your mind and try to play fast and play smart and that’s what we have to do. We have to try to string plays together, which is hard to do against their defense but that’s what we have to do.”
Is it especially hard for a rookie quarterback to string together plays against the Seahawks defense?
“I just told the rookies the other day – I’m going to reiterate it to them tomorrow – they’re really no longer rookies. They’ve played a lot of football, they’ve been in OTAs and training camp, preseason games and now the guys that have played a lot have been in six games. It’s time to really ramp it up because this is the time of the year where you really have to be starting to reach your peak. You have to start really making that climb, so everybody needs to be playing at a high level.”
In terms of T Duane Brown, who’s experienced but been out for so long, what are you looking for when he gets back into the mix?
“The big thing is conditioning. Like you said, he’s a 10-year vet, he’s a Pro Bowler. He’s a special player. The big thing is conditioning. The next thing is for him in his own mind, how does he feel about where he’s at from a technique standpoint? That’s why being in full pads yesterday was important. It’s important for everybody, but for a guy like him, it’s really important to test where he’s at. He just hasn’t played football in a while. For the coaches, it’s more about conditioning, getting him up to speed on what we’re doing offensively, because it’s different than what we’ve done when he was here before. Then, it’s for him in his own mind, does he feel technique-wise and conditioning-wise that he’d be ready to go? We’ll talk more about it throughout the week.”
Is it different for T Duane Brown to return this year healthy as opposed to last year when he returned after an injury?
“I think it’s different in the fact that when you’re rehabbing from an injury, it’s different. I think with this one he was able to – he was working out a lot. I know he was. I know people that he was working out with. I mean, he was working out a lot. We knew he was going to be in good condition, strength-wise and cardiovascular-wise, he was going to be in real good condition. I think it’s a big difference. I think when you’re injured like that, you’re not really able to work out like he was this past time that he was out. He came in and passed our conditioning test, which isn’t easy to, and he looks to be in great condition. I think it’s really in his own mind, where does he feel like he’s at? And that’s what we’re reaching as we head toward Sunday, we’re trying to reach that determining factor to see if he can play or not.”
Former Seahawks T Walter Jones held out for three seasons and made the Pro bowl each year. Is there something particular about the left tackle position that can help you transition back easier if you have experience than other positions?
“I don’t want to stand up here and tell you that I vote for guys holding out, I can tell you that. I’d like for everybody to be here right from the start. But I do think when really talented guys who have played a lot of football at that position, I think there’s somewhat of – it’s like riding a bike type deal where it’s more about conditioning and getting back into contact speed than it is trying to relearn the position. I don’t think they’re going to be relearning the position when they’ve been doing it for nine, 10 years. I think it’s more about getting used to the conditioning level that it takes to play in full pads and get hit on every play. Like I always say, for linemen, it’s like 75, 80 car crashes per game. I mean, it’s tough. They’re getting hit on every play. It’s not like playing receiver. I think it’s more about that than it is relearning the position.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
How do you improve on containing mobile quarterbacks like Seahawks QB Russell Wilson?
“I think you work on it. I think you emphasize it. I think we talk about it as a key to the game, and not only do we have to do a better job of coaching it, then we have to do a better job of practicing and a better job executing it. So, I think it’s on three levels. I think we have to continue to understand what the keys to the game are, how we’re going to do it and then being able to practice it and then go out and execute it.”
What is the fine line between being aggressive but still being disciplined?
“I think that we talk about trying to – with the quarterback, in general, it’s got to be coordinated. I think that as long as things are coordinated, you have a chance. I think when guys start doing something out of the plan, maybe somebody’s where they shouldn’t be or somebody’s a little too high or somebody’s behind him. I think the worst place you can be is behind the quarterback. And so, as long as we try to eliminate that, when you talk about the quarterback scrambling, I think we have a chance.”
What impresses you about OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney and his development?
“Well, I mean, I think he’s got great instincts. I think he understands. He’s coachable. He’s a smart player. I think he recognizes formations and kind of what teams are trying to do to him sometimes. We’ll continue to try to coach him every day and develop him like you do a lot of guys. But, he does have good instincts. He’s able to kind of recognize what’s going on and what the offense is trying to do.”
How much can having CB Kevin Johnson back help?
“Yeah, we’re taking anybody that we can get that can cover, guys that can rush and guys that can cover. We’ll take any of those guys that we can get.”
With what you’ve seen of OLB Lamarr Houston, do you think he’ll continue to help the defense?
“Yeah, hopefully. He came in and learned what to do pretty quickly and was able to go into the Cleveland game and earn some more snaps. He played well, he did what we asked him to do and made a couple of plays there for us at the end. So, hopefully we can work him into the game and get him going earlier.”
What is it like trying to mix in so many new guys will all the guys who have been here a while?
“We try to split up sometimes. We try to take the new guys and split them up and then keep an older group, especially as it relates to the linebacker room. I know that Anthony (Midget) and John Butler do the same thing, I’m sure, with the DBs. Young guys that come in, new guys that come in. Anthony will take them and John will coach the veteran guys, or at least meet with them, and that way you’re kind of able to get the nuts and the bolts down with the new guys and then get to the specifics with the guys that have been here.”
What do you like about the recently signed ILB Jelani Jenkins?
“We’ll see. It’s been a day, one practice, but certainly a great attitude. Great attitude to learn. He’s very attentive in the meetings. He’s asking good questions. He seems like a good pro. So, we’ll have to see going forward what that looks like, but it’s been good just for the couple days. He’s willing to do whatever we ask him to do.”
What are your thoughts on NT D.J. Reader’s progress?
“I really like where D.J.’s (Reader) at. I think he’s a solid force inside, good pad level, good explosion, good hands, good technique. You’ve got to do a good job if you want to block him. He’s playing square in the run game. So, I like his physicalness. It’s been good. I think that D.J. understands his importance to our defense, and if he plays well inside, that gives us a good chance to be stout in there.”
Which player do you think has come the farthest that you have the most confidence in, seeing how far they’ve come?
“I think that that’s a good question, but I think that I could name every guy that we have and tell you what I liked about his development. But, you look at like B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney). I think that he plays a lot of different positions for us. He’s gone to kind of being the leader of the defense, making the calls, playing physical, playing kind of banged up at times, like I said, playing different positions, leading, trying to communicate. But then, guys on the back end – consistency from Johnathan Joseph, the way that K-Jack (Kareem Jackson) throws his body around, the way that Dre (Andre Hal) gets everybody lined up and Marcus (Gilchrist) and all those guys. Then, obviously, inside with D.J. (Reader) and Cov (Christian Covington) trying to come on and do some things. So, I don’t know. That’s a tough question defensively, but I’ve seen B-Mac develop just over the last couple of years.”
Does ILB Benardrick McKinney’s development remind you of your own?
“I think he did it a lot sooner. I try to tell Brennan Scarlett like, that was kind of like me a little bit. And I wasted a lot of opportunities early on in Pittsburgh, just different reasons. Really lucky to get an opportunity in New England in my fifth year, but I think I wasted too many opportunities looking back on it. So, you just try to tell these guys, ‘You guys have great opportunities right now. Don’t waste them. Take advantage of them. Do everything you can. Study as much as you can. Take care of your body. Execute in the games. Whatever you have a chance to do to give you that next step in your career, to take it from two or three years to seven or eight.’”
Does it surprise you that you have one more touchdown defensively than you did this time last year?
“It doesn’t. You asked me this last week. I honestly, I have no idea. It’s a whirlwind. I’m lucky to – we’re just trying to stay in this thing, keep it week by week, get third down covered today and have a productive redzone meeting tonight.”
What do you think it says about your defense right now?
“I think our guys come ready to play every week. They try to learn what we’re trying to ask them to do. They learn the game plan. They try to learn the opponent. They study. They play hard.”
OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What do you see from the Seahawks offensive line and trying to get after Seahawks QB Russell Wilson?
“I think Russell creates a lot of plays running around in the pocket. He makes a lot of good throws on the run and this week we’re going to have to do a lot of containing him, trying to keep him in the pocket.”
What are the challenges of playing Seahawks QB Russell Wilson?
“Like I said, we have to press the pocket, man. Try to keep him inside. He can make throws all over the field look so good. He’s got a lot of guys around him to make good throws. They make good plays for him down the field. Really up front, we have to just keep him in the pocket and stop the run.”
How do you think your season’s going so far?
“I’m just having fun. Whatever happens, we’re trying to win games.”
Are you seeing differences in how people are blocking you or is it similar to how they were doing it before?
“I’m coming off a bye week. I haven’t seen nothing. Like I said, it’s a big one this week, get back going, get back to practice. We have a big task at hand trying to stop Russell Wilson this week. This guy can run, make all the throws in the pocket, outside the pocket. It’s going to be a tough game. We have to bring it.”
How disciplined do you have to be rushing a guy like Seahawks QB Russell Wilson?
“You don’t want to run by him because he’s going to escape out the side. You really want to kind of press the pocket and just really try to keep him in there, let him come to you. Don’t try to force anything. It’s going to be hard, but I think we can get it done (if) everybody comes to play.”
Now that the offense has picked up, do you feel less pressure on defense to be perfect?
“I think we hold ourselves to a higher standard than what people think. No matter who’s at quarterback, who’s on the offensive side, I think we hold ourselves to a higher standard. The guys we have around the ball on defense, we come to work every day and work hard, extremely hard, just so we don’t give up any runs. We put pressure on ourselves, so that’s what it’s going to be for the rest of the season.”
Does it allow the defense to be more flexible since the offense is putting up so many points?
“We still pressure and do everything the same. We just really don’t want to give up any scores, no matter what our offense is doing. We can win games 6-0 and we’ll be happy. On the defensive side, you don’t care what the offense is doing. It’s always a 0-0 game on the board and you always try to get those stops. You’re not trying to let them score any points.”
Does it put the defense in a better situation if the offense is putting up points and forcing the other team to pass?
“Yes, it’s a way better situation when the offense is putting up points. You don’t have to go out there and stop the run, you can go out there and rush the passer and make sacks. Just try to create more turnovers, which is always a good thing when your offense is scoring at a high level. Hopefully that can continue with the offense we got. I don’t know anything that’s going on on that side of the ball, but it’s a good thing with those guys.”
Head Coach Bill O’Brien talks about your work ethic. With that in mind, what’s your philosophy for how you approach this game?
“I play hard. Every snap (I) go hard, run hard, run to the ball. Good things happens when you run to the ball. I think our defense prides ourselves on that, running to the ball, getting to the ball, eleven guys to the ball. That’s what we do. I think it’s going to continue. It’s not going to stop. Just have to try to make plays and when you get to the ball, everything good happens for you.”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
Wide Receivers Coach John Perry complimented your leadership role. Is that something you take pride in?
“It is. I’ve been the No. 1 receiver on this team for a couple years now. That’s my mentality every day coming out. When I wake up, get out of bed, that’s my role.”
What do you think you can pass on to guys like WR Will Fuller V and WR Bruce Ellington?
“Hopefully they just learn from the way I practice, the way I go out and play, my mentality every day in this locker room.”
Is it rewarding to see the younger receivers develop?
“It is. It’s good. It’s still early in the season. They got some stuff they can improve on. So do I. But we’re a young wide receiver corps I would say, (compared) to other teams, but guys still feel like we’re established, and that’s what I like. Everybody’s confident in that wide receiver room even though we’re a young wide receiver corps, but we know we can go out and make plays against everybody.”
Even though you’re a veteran, can you still learn from the younger receivers?
“Of course. I don’t feel that I will never stop learning, or hopefully. I don’t feel like I want to get to that point to where I don’t think I can learn anything.”
You’re tied for the league lead in touchdown receptions. I know you care about winning, but do you feel good about where you are at this point of the season?
“I don’t really about the stats, I just go out and play. When my number’s called, I’m trying to catch anything that comes my way, if it’s in the end zone or for a first down. So, I really don’t worry about the stats, I just kind of let my play speak for itself and if it helps my team win, it helps my team win.”
What’s it like to play for such an explosive offense when that wasn’t always the case here?
“That’s one thing about this locker room and this team, we move on. We don’t really talk about or dwell on the past.”
What’s it like knowing that you guys are putting up serious points week after week?
“It’s great, helping this team win, of course. Lost some guys on defense, so (on the) offensive side, we know we got to step up and make some plays.”
Is it more fun this year on offense?
“It’s always fun when you step on that field and do what you love.”
How excited are you to show what you can do against the Seattle defense?
“Very excited. They’ve got some veteran guys over there that I haven’t went against in a while. It’s been my rookie year since I’ve played against the Seahawks, so I’m looking forward toward the matchup.”
Houston Rockets Guard James Harden said he was going to text you after you made a free throw to raise money at one of their games. Did he reach out?
“No. I’m happy he didn’t. I should have swished it. I’m kind of embarrassed. I banked it in with my basketball past. But I was just trying to get the kids the money and made sure I made it.”
What was it like to be the first celebrity to be a part of the Houston Rockets charity promotion?
“That was cool. That’s a great thing that (Tilman) Fertitta’s doing for the organization. I was just happy to be part of it.”
Were you worried about missing the free throw at the Houston Rockets game that raised money for charity?
“No, not at all. I knew I was going to make it.”