Head Coach Bill O’Brien
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
You’ve had to coach during times where there have been distractions, going back to Penn State. What is the key for a head coach to keep his team focused?
“Understand the players’ feelings. Understand that you have 63 guys in that locker room that come from all different types of backgrounds, all different parts of the country. Make sure you listen to the players, and at the end of the day, you support the players. The players are the ones going out there and putting it on the line for us every week. I feel like our coaching staff and our players have a very important bond, and that’s key. That’s why I’ve always, since I started coaching when I was a graduate assistant, it’s always been about the players for me.”
Did you learn that as you went along, and have you learned more about dealing with distractions since you were at Penn State?
“Well certainly going through that experience at Penn State was a big help for me, personally. I had a lot of great guys around me, with the players that were there and then obviously we had a great coaching staff there. It’s very, very different here relative to what we’re talking about. But we have a great group of guys in that locker room and a great coaching staff. I think you learn from all your experiences and you just try to judge it and try to deal with it in the best way possible.”
Do you have to change practice, spend more time meeting or talking to the team when you have a distraction like this?
“I have a strong belief in practice, so we didn’t change practice, but we changed our meetings. Maybe we spent less time on certain parts of the game in the meeting room, but we didn’t lose any practice time, if that makes sense. That’s kind of how we handled it, but the big thing was, like I said, we, big emphasis on we, not just me, like I’ve said from day one, is we support our players 100 percent.”
What is it about QB Deshaun Watson that has allowed him to have the success he’s had so far?
“He’s a very bright guy. He’s a very even-keeled guy. He’s got great poise. He obviously has a great deal of talent. (He’s) got good instincts and he’s able to compartmentalize, so, from one week to the next, he can put that game to bed, like after about 3 o’clock today, he’ll move on from Seattle and he’ll begin to prepare for Indianapolis. I think that’s very hard for a young player to understand, but he gets that. He gets that. Look, we got a long way to go here. I know yesterday was a disappointing loss, but we feel like we’re close. I don’t want to put too much on his plate but he’s a remarkable young man. He’s a remarkable guy. We just need to try to keep it going.”
Could you tell he was confident during the touchdown drives where you were trailing?
“I don’t ever – I’m never concerned about his confidence. That goes for really everybody in that locker room. These guys are professional athletes and they’re very confident guys. That doesn’t even enter my mind.”
What are your thoughts on CB Marcus Williams’ performance?
“We had Marcus here before, and he was very close to making our football team. Very tough, competitive guy. Good ball skills. Smart guy. Made a big play there at the end. So, look, just like everybody else, probably had a couple plays he wishes he had back, but he’s a real good guy to work with and we’re glad we have him.”
Where does the defense need to improve?
“I think that it’s relative to each opponent, if that makes sense. You know what I mean? You have to – when you look at the game yesterday, you look at Russell Wilson, just did a great job of extending plays, and that’s hurt us all year. I thought our defense did a great job of stopping the run, but there were too many X-plays, too many pass plays that were 20 yards or more down the field. Our guys need to do a better job of combining coverage and rush. Our coaches, all of us, starting with me, we all just need to kind of get back in there, like I said, at noon and start meeting with these guys and clean up the mistakes and move on to Indianapolis.”
What did you think about what CB Kevin Johnson did yesterday?
“Competitive game. I think he’s been out for a while, so I think probably knocking some of the rust off, but I think he, like he always does, he competes hard. He’s a great kid and he’ll get better and better. He’s been out for a while so it takes a while to get back into it.”
What does CB Kevin Johnson bring to the defense?
“Like I said, he’s very competitive, he’s smart, good tackler, good ball skills, a guy that you can use in different areas. So, he brings a lot to the defense.”
Do you think yesterday was more about Seahawks QB Russell Wilson making great plays or the defense blowing coverages?
“I think you have to give him a lot of credit. Certainly there were things we could have done, whether it was rush discipline or coverage-wise that could have been better, but I think the credit starts with Russell Wilson. I think that he just played a heck of a game. It was one of those games where unfortunately they had the ball last. It was a great football game. I think everybody would admit that. Coach (Pete) Carroll said it after the game. It was kind of a back-and-forth game. It was a great game. They ended up coming out on top, which is disappointing for us, but I think there’s a lot to build on from us.”
Is QB Deshaun Watson improving in the pocket? Have you been focusing on that with him?
“Yes. He’s getting better every week at that. A lot of that has to do with understanding the launch point, understanding the protections relative to where that pocket is. The pocket’s not always in the same place. The pocket moves. I think he’s really doing a good job of that. That has to continue. That’s a big part of what we do with him.”
Is it fun designing some plays for QB Deshaun Watson, knowing what he can do?
“Yeah, I love coaching the guy, I can tell you that. It’s a lot of fun. It’ll be more fun when we win, and when we all, starting with me, do a better job in a few areas. But, yeah, it’s fun to come in here every day and coach all these guys. This is a great group of guys. Look, I don’t want to get into too many details, but for the last three days, there’s obviously been a lot going on, and these guys really came out and focused on the game. You have to give our players a lot of credit. There’s no moral victories but I think it just showed the character of this team.”
Can you talk about the rumors about the possible trade of T Duane Brown?
“Again, and I really can tell you this is not a cop-out answer, I don’t have any say in that. You know what I mean? I coach the team, that’s what I do. Duane (Brown) played well yesterday. Obviously he’s played well for us for a number of years. I have a lot of respect for Duane, but that’s the business side of things, and I just concentrate on coaching the team.”
Where did yesterday’s play, where you had four guys and QB Deshaun Watson is faking it to them, come from?
“We had three – yeah, it was kind of an inverted wishbone deal. It didn’t come from one person. We have – this will probably be too longwinded of an answer so I’ll keep it short – but we have guys that have been in all different types of offenses. Whether it was Mike Devlin at the Jets with some of the things they did back when he was working for Rex Ryan. John Perry, what he was doing in some of the colleges he’s been at, including New Hampshire. Sean Ryan, where he’s been. Obviously, me, all the places I’ve been, some of the things that I’ve done. Charles London. Pat O’Hara. All these guys. Will Lawing. It’s kind of a collaboration and then, obviously, on gameday I’m in charge of the final decision, but it’s been fun working with this staff. You’ve got a bunch of guys and each guy is in charge of a certain area of the game plan. They stand up at a certain point during the day and they present the game plan to me and it’s pretty cool to do it that way. That’s the way we do it this year, and that’s kind of where it all kind of evolves from.”
Does QB Deshaun Watson get fired up when you show him the game plan and then go out onto the practice field?
“Like I said earlier, he’s the same guy every day. He doesn’t show a lot of emotion. I mean, he’s excited when he makes a big play. He’s excited to celebrate with his teammates and things like that. But he studies the game plan, he looks at it, which is, again, one of the things that he and I really – I think one of the things he and I can really improve upon is just continuing to understand what each other’s thinking when we’re apart, if that makes sense. When we’re fifty yards away from each other. That’s going to be one of the biggest things for he and I moving forward this season because when we’re in the meeting room, he’s a very smart player. ‘What if we did this? Or, ‘Hey, I did this one time. What do you think about that?’ And some of it you can’t do because it’s not within the realm of what we do but some of it, it’s like, wow, that’s a pretty good suggestion. Yeah, let’s try that with what we’re doing. He’s part of it, too.”
Are you more willing to listen to what QB Deshaun Watson suggests in the meeting room because of the success he’s having?
“I mean, I’ll tell you what – and I’m not trying to include, but out of respect for Tom (Savage), Tom’s the same. We listen to these guys in the meeting room. This is the best quarterback room we’ve had. These guys are very easy to deal with. They’re good guys, they’re very coachable and they’re very smart. Deshaun is a very instinctive guy who studies tape and he’ll see things. Like a lot of quarterbacks, they see it late in the week and they want it in that game plan on Sunday, on Saturday night. Sometimes you’ve got to put a hold on that, but we definitely collaborate with the players, no doubt about it.”
Have you learned a lot from QB Deshaun Watson?
“Yeah, I learn from all the players. I really do. I learn a lot, from everybody from J.J. Watt to Johnathan Joseph to Breno Giacomini, Duane Brown, Nick Martin, obviously Deshaun, Lamar Miller. I mean, I really do. I watch how they react to certain things and that’s how I learn from them. I learn from them when they tell me how they see certain things. ‘This is how I saw that, that’s why I did that.’ There’s no doubt. If you’re a coach and you’re in a tower and you’re looking down at your players and you’re not learning from your players, you’re in the wrong profession.”
After the game last night you were hard on yourself about your play calling.
“Yeah, not all of it. We scored 38 points. I think it’s not the play calling. My point was more about the communication, kind of what I was just saying earlier. I’ve got to sharpen up the way that I communicate with the offense when they’re out on the field, if that makes sense. It’s not the calls. It’s just getting it sharper, streamlining the communication, if that makes sense.”
Why didn’t the last handoff to RB Lamar Miller not work?
“It was just poorly communicated by me. That’s what I’m trying to say. I take the blame for that.”
What do you mean by saying you take the blame for the last handoff to RB Lamar Miller?
“I don’t want to get into that because that would give away too much.”
Was the last handoff to RB Lamar Miller supposed to be a different play?
“I would just tell you it was a poorly communicated play. I would hope that we would eventually be able to move on from that and look toward Indianapolis. Like I said after the game, that one’s on me. There were 73 offensive plays in the game and I call all of them.”
Is there any update on DE Christian Covington’s injury?
“Yeah, I think he’s probably going to be out for the season. It was a torn bicep. And I think it’s too bad for him because he was really playing at a high level. It was too bad for us, too.”
Who will take the place of injured DE Christian Covington?
“I don’t know yet. I’m not sure how we’re going to do that yet.”
Are you running low on defensive linemen?
“I mean, we’ve got some injuries there but I’m sure over the next 12, 24 hours we’ll figure it out.”
You said your team is close to breaking through in tough games. What do you see getting better each time?
“I guess it’s kind of what I’m saying, not to keep repeating myself, but I see where we’re young in some spots. And this includes defense. Obviously we’re young at quarterback, we’re young in some spots on defense. We as a coaching staff, we always have to strive to, I’m talking about X’s and O’s wise, how can we communicate this to the player better, especially on gameday? And that’s where we have to make strides. That’s what I mean by close. If we can kind of clean some of this stuff up – I mean, two of the touchdowns that we had yesterday, we weren’t even in the right formation, we weren’t in the right protection, and we still scored. So, imagine if we can clean that up. I think we can be more consistent.”
Have any of your players addressed what needs to happen next to simply focus on football?
“These players, they believe in this organization, they play for each other, they went out there and played hard. Hopefully we can move forward. I talked to a few guys after the game, I’m not saying I talked to every player after the game, but I talked to a few guys and it’s really time to move forward and concentrate of football. In the end, we’re here to coach and to play football and to win football games. That’s ultimately what we’re judged upon. These players have a voice, there’s no doubt about it. These players are bright guys that have deep feelings about all different kinds of social issues, but we need to put together a game plan to beat the Indianapolis Colts, and that’s the most important thing and I think our players realize that.”
What do you remember from Colts QB Jacoby Brissett, who hurt you last year with his mobility while with the Patriots?
“He’s a good player. He’s big. Like you said, he beat us with his feet, on a different team obviously, but he can hurt you in both areas. He’s got a strong arm. I’ve studied him since he’s been in college. Coach (Bill) Belichick felt very strongly about him, Coach (Bill) Parcells. I mean, this guy’s got a lot of guys behind him that really believe in him throughout his career. I think he’s going to be hard to handle. I haven’t really dived too much into Indianapolis. I will this afternoon, but it’s going to be a tough game. I’m glad it’s at home. We’re going to need our fans here like they always are. Hopefully we have a good home environment, kind of like Seattle had yesterday.”
How does the coaching staff put together their game plan?
“Each coach has a part of the game plan. So, let’s just start with Mike Devlin. Mike Devlin will stand up there usually on, let’s just say Tuesday mornings, and he’ll present the run game. And then we’re all in there and he kind of presents it. So, that’s what it is. It’s not PowerPoint. I mean, we’re not talking about rocket science, but he gets up there, ‘This is how I think we can run the ball personnel-wise, scheme-wise, all those things.’ Then we all talk about it and it’s either a quick conversation, like, ‘Yeah,’ or it’s, ‘Hey, look, that’s pretty good but what if we do this?’ And so that’s kind of how it works and then somebody’s in charge of third down, red area, and then obviously I try to put it all together on a call sheet that’s called on Sunday. My point in all this is it’s very much of a collaborative effort by a bunch of guys that work very hard to try to put the players in good positions to make plays.”
The way you put together a game plan this year is different from in years past?
“Well, I’m in there, so yeah. So, it’s different. My process – this is the way I do it.”