Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Quarterbacks Coach Sean Ryan
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney – Player Inspired Line
CB Kevin Johnson
QB Tom Savage
Conference Call with Rams Head Coach Sean McVay
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
There is a report that you may be deposed in the QB Colin Kaepernick case. Have you heard anything about that?
Any comment on it?
Can you talk about QB Josh Johnson?
“He just came in yesterday, did a decent job, so we’re going to give him a shot for a little bit as the No. 3 and see what he can do.”
Do you expect TE C.J. Fiedorowicz to be back this week?
What have you seen from Rams QB Jared Goff this year?
“Sean’s (McVay) doing a good job with him. He can make all the throws, which you knew that coming out of college, that’s why he was drafted No. 1. But, he’s in a good rhythm. He’s got a good mix of three-step and intermediate routes, down the field routes, shot routes. The running game, they’re averaging 132 yards per game rushing the ball with (Todd) Gurley. They’ve got a great offense so it’s a big challenge for us.”
Do you think Rams DT Aaron Donald might be at this point, as far as healthy guys, best defensive player in the league?
“Yeah, as far as healthy, because we got one that’s out right now that I think’s the best defensive player in the league. But he’s a great player. I mean, he’s a relentless player. They line him up in different spots. He’s very explosive, plays low to the ground, plays hard. Great athlete. Not a guy that dives around. I mean, he’s using his hands, his feet. Can’t say enough about the guy. He’s one of the best players we’ve seen on film.”
QB Tom Savage said that he’s probably harder on himself than anyone is. Is that a good quality to have in a quarterback when he’s trying to improve and get better?
“I mean, I guess so. I think these guys need to go out and let it loose, play free, stop worrying about being hard on themselves and just go let it rip. That’s how I think they need to play.”
During the game, it looked like QB Deshaun Watson was pretty involved, talking to QB Tom Savage and WR DeAndre Hopkins during the game. Is that something that you like?
“Yeah, he’s very involved. He won’t be there this week, but yeah, he’s very involved. He’s in the meetings. He’s a good communicator. He’s all about football. Look, this guy loves football, he loves his teammates, he’s a winner. It’s too bad that he’s injured but it is what it is. That’s the National Football League. But he’s definitely involved.”
How will QB Deshaun Watson’s football education continue, even though he is injured right now, as the season goes on?
“In a lot of different ways. We send him the game plan every night, whether it’s first, second down, third down tonight, red area just like we did with Tom (Savage) and T.J. (Yates) and Josh (Johnson). Although, I have to get Josh’s email address so I can send him it. That’s just a note for myself. Write that down. But yeah, he’s involved. He’s still watching the tape. I’m talking to him about what he sees with the Rams, really not probably the Rams just because he had the surgery this morning, but moving forward. Next week’s game, I want him preparing like he would be getting ready to play. That’s how his football education continues.”
What have you heard about QB Deshaun Watson’s surgery this morning?
“Doc (Walter) Lowe said it was great. Everything went great.”
Do receivers have to adjust to quarterbacks?
“Oh, yeah. I think it’s a little bit of both. There’s no substitute for experience with a quarterback, reps with a quarterback. I think it’s a little bit of both. Quarterbacks have to get used to throwing to those guys more so than the guys they’ve been throwing to. There’s no doubt that receivers have to get used to the QB.”
Is TE Ryan Griffin in the concussion protocol?
Does it look unlikely that TE Ryan Griffin will come off of concussion protocol this week?
“I’d say unlikely.”
When you look at the way that Rams QB Jared Goff is playing this year, what do you think the biggest factor is from his rookie year to this year?
“I do think it’s tough, I do think playing as a rookie is not easy, although Deshaun (Watson) went out there and proved that theory kind of wrong. I think that the jump that you can make from your first to your second year, that offseason after your first year to where you go to your second year, it’s obvious that Jared put a lot of time in by himself and with Sean (McVay), and Sean’s made a big difference. They run a great system. He’s a good playcaller. He’s coaching the quarterback. It’s a great combination because Jared’s a good player. When you have a great playcaller matched with a really good quarterback with a really good player, you got a match made in heaven.”
NT Chunky Clements has a great nickname.
“No question. I would like to take that nickname. Chunky O’Brien.”
What kind of player is NT Chunky Clements?
“A tough guy. Tough guy, inside guy, run stopper, great personality, good teammate. He was excited when we called him yesterday to let him know he was getting bumped up. I kind of like the way he approaches every day so far.”
Does QB Tom Savage get all the first team reps this week?
“Not necessarily. Tom’s (Savage) gotten some reps, T.J. (Yates) got reps. I’m not saying it was 50-50, but I’d tell you that T.J. got some good reps today.”
Since QB T.J. Yates is the backup, has QB Tom Savage been getting more first-team reps?
“He got a decent amount today. We’re just trying to get him back into the fold of running the offense and just gave him a decent amount of reps today. (But) not more than a normal number two.”
Will practice be longer since you’ve got to get QB T.J. Yates up to speed and this is QB Tom Savage’s first full week starting?
“I’d say tomorrow will be longer than today. Yeah, tomorrow with third down and some more first and second down things, special teams – tomorrow will be a little bit longer.”
With the third-string situation, was signing QB Matt McGloin due to the urgency and familiarity with him before you could bring someone else in, like you did with QB Josh Johnson, who was a better fit?
“I guess so.”
What are some things you would like to see from QB Tom Savage?
“Play loose, play free, let it rip. Go out there, have some fun. Don’t worry about anything other than making the right reads, getting us into the right play and let it rip.”
We asked QB Tom Savage if he was thinking too much and then became more instinctive at the end. Can you let it rip while still thinking a lot?
“You’ve got to come out, he knows the game plan, he knows the offense. He’s very, very schooled up on how to run our offense. He’s a smart guy. He’s going to have a full week of practice under his belt, which I think is a big deal. Not to make an excuse for last week, but it was basically half of Thursday and then Friday and not too much on Wednesday. So, now he’s got a full week (of) preparation, so hopefully he can go out there and play well.”
What can you do as the play caller to try to help him play like he did in the last two series?
“Call plays that he likes.”
Do you have to adjust during the games when you see things might be working better or worse than you thought they would during practice?
“You always have to adjust during a game, yeah. We just try to look at it – we’re not trying to call bad plays. We’re trying to call good plays. We try to call plays that gain yards. That’s where it starts.”
Has ownership ever vetoed a player acquisition request?
“I would tell you that, again, I coach the football team and that’s what I do. Again, I’d really like to concentrate on the Rams. I’m not going down that road.”
A couple weeks ago you said that RB D’Onta Foreman didn’t have a great week of practice, what have you seen him improve on since then?
“I think that he’s getting a better grasp of our offense. He’s getting a better grasp of how to run in the NFL, downhill, not bounce everything. I think it takes a while for rookie running backs. It’s so much different than college. You have to really stay with the blocking scheme. You have to understand the blocking scheme. So, I think he’s just getting better and better and that’s what he needs to do. He’s paying better attention, just like all rookies do, in the meetings and he’s getting a better feel for what his role is and how to play it.”
What’s the value of having someone like RB D’Onta Foreman and RB Lamar Miller?
“They’re different. I think Lamar (Miller) brings a lot of value, obviously, on first and second down, but Lamar brings a lot of value on third down because he understands the protections, so he knows how to pick up blitzes. D’Onta’s (Foreman) coming along with that, he will know that, but D’Onta’s more of a first and second down back and a big, powerful guy. But, I think it’s a definite good thing to have those two different types of skillsets.”
Can you speak to the job that Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel has done since he’s been here with you and what you think his future might be as a NFL head coach one day?
“I think Mike’s (Vrabel) got the ability to be a head coach someday. I think Mike does a great job of just concentrating on his job. He’s a really excellent staff member. He understands his players. He’s got the ability to be tough on his players but then be able to pick them up and get them playing and playing at a high level. He’s done a great job developing players here in the years that he’s been here, but I know what his focus is, is to get the defense here playing as good as he can.”
Facing the challenges and injuries that you’ve had, how do you like that the players have responded and taken on the challenges?
“I love these guys. I said that last week or two weeks ago, whatever. I support these guys. I think that they – we got great veteran leadership. Look, no doubt, and I hate talking like this because then we tap, tap away on the keyboard and say this is excuses and all that BS, but it’s not an excuse. We’ve been dealt some blows and our guys play hard, they practice hard, they show up every day, they’re on time, they pay attention in the meetings, they do everything we ask. We can’t ask any more of our players other than, hey, let’s get a little bit more consistent execution and the coaches, everybody working together to coach better and play better. That’s what we’re trying to do.”
Entering the second half of the season, do you look at it that way and think about what needs to happen or change?
“I know we got to get going. We keep going down the road of not winning games, we’re not going to be where we want to be. But, I try to do it one week at a time. I always tell you guys that. We try to say it’s 16 one-game seasons. But, I know that we need to pick it up. We need to get going.”
Is what you do in November and December the same as what you do in September and October?
“It is. And you’re still in position. I think you have to be in position during this time of the year. It’s those teams that aren’t in position, that’s when it’s really tough. And we’re still in position. We’re behind, we’re behind the eight ball, no doubt about it, but I think when you’re still in position with a couple months to go, half the season to go, that’s good. Obviously, it’s not great. You want to be much better than you are but at least you’re in position and that’s what our players know and that’s what they need to understand.”
QUARTERBACKS COACH SEAN RYAN
What can you do as a coach to make sure QB Tom Savage isn’t thinking too much out there?
“I think that whenever you haven’t been the guy and gotten as many reps, seen as many looks, there’s certainly more pressure on you, you’re looking at different situations. So, I think Coach (O’Brien) is probably on point with that. He probably is thinking a little too much. It’s basically about just making sure he’s getting enough reps. When he’s not in there, he’s getting the mental reps behind, just going over the film and talking about the different situations. Not just from the practice film but taking the Rams defense, showing him different clips that have happened throughout their season. Hey, ‘What would you do if this happened? What would you do if that happened?’ Kind of take him through the mental part of it before it even comes up. So, it’s repetition, repetition. That’s the best way to handle it.”
What has your message been to QB Deshuan Watson since his injury?
“Our message has been we’re going to pick up where we left off and continue to improve, continue building on the things that we’ve done. It’s been very positive with him since his injury in terms of as soon as we get back, we’re getting back to work. Just trying to stay positive and staying focused on the future, because he’s obviously got a very bright one as far we’re concerned.”
How will you work with QB Deshaun Watson the rest of the season and this offseason to get him ready for next year?
“Again, like I just answered with Tom, it’s about him being in here, getting to as many meetings as he can get to, watching as much film with him, whether it’s game film, practice film, always picking out what we had talked about, how we look at those situations throughout the week that come up for the quarterbacks throughout the league, always making sure he gets that information. I think that’s the critical point now when he’s doing his rehab, is it’s all mental, it’s all off the film, and then obviously whenever he can start to do things physically, then you work that part into it. But that’s where you start.”
So you expect QB Deshaun Watson to be like any other backup quarterback in that sense?
“I think whenever he is able to be there – in other words, the rehab, that’s going to be the focus right now, is getting him physically healthy. So, if I’ve got to fit him in at other different times, that’s what I’ll do. But as much info as I can get to him, that’s what we’ll try to do.”
Do you worry about QB Tom Savage’s confidence?
“I think Tom’s got to look it – and we’ve all got to look at it – where as we need to perform better. It’s clear. It’s all of us. It starts with coaching. I know OB (Bill O’Brien) told you guys that. It starts with me. It’s the same thing, and we’ve got to pass that on. Tom knows that. He’s clear with it. I think what Tom has to understand and go back to in order to make sure that he is confident, is think about the way he performed all through last spring, all through training camp. The guy performed very well at a high level. I think we need to focus on that. That’s what I’m trying to focus on with him and that’s what Coach (Bill) O’Brien’s focusing on with him. The more that he stands in there and sees the different looks and the more reps he gets, his confidence is going to keep improving. That was the first time he faced a live rush, so the answer is I think any time you perform like that, I don’t care who you are, it can affect your confidence for a little bit but then you have to get over it and you have to move on. I think Tom has the mental make-up to be able to do that.”
How do the receivers adjust to the different balls thrown by QB Tom Savage and QB Deshaun Watson?
“I think the good thing is Tom is always included in our routes on air with the receivers. He got a few different reps. Obviously every quarterback has a little bit of nuances to his throwing motion, to his ball. I think Tom, the one thing that we’ve always said consistently about him, is that we always thought one of his great strengths is his arm talent. Both those guys throw a nice ball. It’s a fluid motion with a good ball. Both can push it down the field, so there’s not a huge difference in the types of balls that they throw.”
What do you think about what QB T.J. Yates has done the last couple days and what he could contribute if called upon?
“I think it was critical that we had a guy in the room that had some knowledge of our system, that had been here in the past, so you’re not starting from point A. It’s a refresher course and then an introduction to some of the stuff, obviously, that we’ve added since he hasn’t been here. But I think one of the things that stood out to me in watching him get some reps and obviously getting more today than he did last week in the short time he was here, is that he’s been in the system. There was some anticipation to what was going to happen. It wasn’t waiting on routes and then reacting. It was, ‘I know this is what’s coming based on the coverage I’m seeing and I can fire this thing in there.’ That stood out to me today and I think it’s going to be a benefit moving forward.”
What did you look about QB Josh Johnson after one day?
“You’ve got to like the fact that he’s a veteran. He’s been around. He’s not a kid, so he kind of gets in there and the one thing that, from obviously one day, stood out to me was he’s able to take things from different systems he’s been in and kind of look at what we call it and what we do, and be like, ‘Oh, that’s like what I ran here, and it was this name.’ So, we’ve been able to kind of do things like that, and I think his experience and the fact that he’s not a young player, he’s not a rookie, I should say, he’s been around a little bit, will help him.”
Did you notice how involved QB Deshaun Watson was on the sideline last game?
“Yeah, he was. We encourage that and wanted him to be around for that. The one thing I always tell the quarterbacks going into a game is, ‘Look, five sets of eyes are better than two sets of eyes. So, get your eyes on the field, talk about what you see. If you have something to say when the time is right, say it, and help us. We’re working together, we’re a team.’ And I think he did a great job of that, certainly as a young player, and was positive and commented if he thought he had a comment worthwhile to say and that was big.”
Do you think QB Deshaun Watson can still contribute to the play calls even with QB Tom Savage on the field?
“Sure. I mean, yeah, absolutely. The other thing is Tom would do the same thing. A lot of times in here we’d be talking about Deshaun. Obviously he was the starter and we’d talking about him, but Tom was never afraid – I would get a text usually every Tuesday if I didn’t talk to Tom, which I do most Tuesdays, but we’d get a text from Tom and he would even suggest things that he saw, like ‘Hey, mention this. This might be good for Deshaun.’ He would say things like that. So, Tom’s done it as well, but I think that part of the room should never change. It’s, to a point, a collaboration and then you kind of bring that stuff and you see how it fits with OB’s (Bill O’Brien) vision and in the end, that’s what you go with. You go with the head coach and the offensive coordinator’s feelings on what we’re going to do, but it’s a collaboration between all of us to try to get the best plan together to go win a football game.”
Is it good to have so many different quarterbacks to get different perspectives?
“Sure. It’s kind of like I said, you get a lot of different backgrounds and guys who’ve done different things different places. To a point, it’s all helpful info.”
OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Can you put on one of the hats from your line, The Clowney Collection?
“No, I’m not going to wear it right now. New Era, coming out with this hat collection. Texans Team Shop, stop by (and) pick you one. They’re nice, right?”
How cool is it to have this line come out?
“It’s very cool. I had fun doing it with the group at New Era, came up with these wonderful hats and it’s nice.”
Is this something you’ve always wanted to do?
“I actually always, growing up, I liked hats growing up until I started growing these dreadlocks. It kind of squishes it up a little bit, but I always was fascinated by hats – different team hats and everything.”
Do you have a favorite?
What was the inspiration for the camo hat and why is it your favorite?
“It’s just something about camo that I like. It’s like a hunting thing with the camo. You always hunt when you on the football field, all the time. Out there getting after players. That’s my favorite one.”
I noticed there is a youth-sized hat as well.
“Oh yeah, my son’s, too. Y’all see that down there. Got the ladies hats. A little bit of everything, really.”
What was the process?
“We sat down, went over this a couple months ago. Really didn’t take much. It’s crazy how they come up with these designs on this computer and stuff, put all the designs together right in front of your eyes, and we just went through and picked out materials we liked and the logos we liked, certain logos, and came up with some hats. Pretty cool.”
Are you going to do some more designing after this line?
“Yeah, man. After football, I’ll start being a designer. Might design something for you.”
What else are you interested in designing?
“Clothes, like shirts and stuff. And pants. Clothes, probably.”
Would you want to do designing while you’re playing?
“No, not right now. I’m focused on football right now. We’re trying to find a way to win games.”
Have your teammates seen these hats?
“Yeah, they like them. They’ll probably purchasing some at the Texans Team Shop. We get a little discount up there. I don’t know about y’all, but we get kind of a little small discount. We’re going to have to use our discounts for that.”
How did you pick the different materials that you used for these hats?
“Some of the other hats they had around, I was like ‘Oh, I like this material,’ so we came up with some different materials, but I think it looks pretty cool.”
Do you wear a lot of hats?
“I wear a lot of, not snapbacks, but fitted hats, certain size. Look at my head, man. You already know. Just got to have a certain size fitted hat.”
CB KEVIN JOHNSON
Is the Rams offense looking hard to stop?
“Oh yeah, for sure. (Jared) Goff’s definitely in a groove, their offense is in a groove, so we definitely got to lock in on defense and in the back end to try to limit all that stuff.”
What do you attribute the team’s struggles against good quarterbacks to?
“I think they’re just doing a good job being good quarterbacks. We definitely have to lock in and do our best job on defense to stop them.”
How do you feel personally after coming back from the injury?
“I’m definitely getting my groove back right now. I’m definitely getting my groove back and just getting back to feeling healthier, healthier every week, every day that goes by. I’m just excited for this opportunity that’s coming up on gameday.”
How important will it be to create turnovers going forward?
“It’s going to be huge for us. Any time we can get the ball back to the offense, give them a chance to score some points, it’s going to be good for our football team. We’ve got to do a great job of getting that ball back to them.”
What stands out about the Rams offense?
“Just that they have a very balanced attack and they have a bunch of weapons. They’re just kind of distributing the ball to everybody. They’ve got a couple good receivers, they’ve got a great running back, good tight ends, and the quarterback’s doing a good job of getting the ball to all of them.”
How frustrating have the ups and downs in your career been for you?
“I think just being healthy, and that’s just part of the game. My first couple (years), just dealing with getting healthy and staying on the field. Once that happens, I’ll be good.”
QB TOM SAVAGE
What do you think of OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney’s hats, part of The Clowney Collection?
“I love them. I really like them, actually. Hopefully he gives them to us for free (and) we don’t have to go buy them.”
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney said you could maybe get a discount on his hats.
“A discount? I don’t know if they’re that nice. I’m going to go buy them. I’ll go buy them. Support JD’s (Jadeveon Clowney) hats.”
What do you think was the difference in your play over the last two series compared to the rest of the game?
“I think just getting the ball out of my hands. I even said to Bill (O’Brien), I was like – they were talking about different plays on the sidelines and stuff, I was like, ‘Listen, there’s no magic call here. You just got to go out there and make a play’. And I think that’s what we did the last two series. Obviously we didn’t make enough, or I didn’t make enough.”
What will help you be different this week?
“I’m really confident in myself. I really do believe that I’m a starting quarterback in this league and I do believe that I can throw the ball really well and accurate, and that’s never been an issue for me. I know that I just got to go out there and do it. I think there’s a lot of times where you just got to give these guys shots and give them a chance to actually catch the ball and not throw it out of bounds. I think there’s a lot of times the last game where I played it was my guy, no guy, and that’s not how it can be. I mean, we need to go out there, we need to be aggressive, we need to make plays.”
What was it like for you to watch the tape and see what you did?
“I’m my worst critic. I really am. I mean, I know you guys probably write some bad stuff but I can promise you that there’s no one more hard on myself than me. And so, obviously, I just look at everything I can work on and try and get better from there.”
Do you think that some of the throwing out of bounds and inaccurate throws were a product of rust because you hadn’t played in a while?
“I would love to just sit here and tell you yeah and be like, ‘Yeah, it was rust and that’s my excuse,’ but I can make those throws. I can go out there right now in this outfit and go make the throws, and I know that. I’m not going to use that excuse and say it was rust. It’s the National Football League. You got to be out there, you got to go out there and make plays and that’s what the team needed.”
What has to improve for your downfield passes?
“Just keeping in-bounds. Those guys will come up and make a play for you. Yeah, I think it’s really just letting the guys go make a play.”
How much better do you believe that you can be this week?
“A lot better. I’m telling you, there’s no lack of confidence on my part. There’s no, like I said, I’m my worst critic. So, I go out there and I watch the film and, trust me, there’s plays like the play to Stephen (Anderson) across the middle where I know I could’ve hit the ball. I’m not watching the film going like, ‘Oh, sick. Look how I missed that throw. That’s sweet.’ I’m upset too, just as much as everyone else is. So, I think that’s the one thing that I’m good at, is I hold myself accountable and I’m not going to – this isn’t anyone else’s fault. I just got to go out there and make the play.”
When does the chemistry that you built with WR DeAndre Hopkins and WR Will Fuller V during the preseason come back?
“Obviously the last week, Deshaun (Watson) went down on Thursday practice, so you get the Friday practice and then you got to go out there and play. But like I just said, there is no excuse. You just have to go out there and you have to throw an accurate ball. I’m confident in everyone in this offensive room and the whole team that we’re going to get this thing going.”
What does it mean to have TE C.J. Fiedorowicz back this week?
“He’s a heck of a tight end and, obviously, getting him back’s going to be a huge help.”
On the last two series because of the urgency, were you guys playing faster? Were you thinking less and reacting more?
“I mean, obviously, you are because of the situation of the game. You’re down two scores, you have to go down there and you have to score and you have to get the ball back and do it again. So, mentally you’re kind of, you’re looking up at the clock, you have to get the ball off. I mean, every second counts, obviously, you guys know that. So, yeah, you’re playing a little more urgent, but I don’t think anything mindset-wise, going through my progressions or anything, quickened up. I watched the film and there’s not many different reads I would change. You just have to make the play. Obviously, DeAndre’s (Hopkins) a heck of a receiver and you’re trying to feed him the rock, but at the same time, you have to let the other guys eat, too.”
When you and QB Deshaun Watson were talking on the sidelines during the game, were you two just talking about what you were seeing on the field and what he was seeing too?
“Yeah, I mean, that’s how it always is in this locker room. T.J. (Yates), even Matt (McGloin), came up and just – listen, we’re all just trying to win, and they’re going to do whatever they can to help us win. So, if they see something, I told them I’m not the type of guy that when I sit on the bench just leave me alone, I don’t want to hear it. Come tell me. Tell me whatever you see because he’s been out there and he’s done it well. So, it’s always good to get little pointers here and there.”
Was QB Deshaun Watson helpful during your talks on the sideline?
Can you talk about the kind of seasons WR DeAndre Hopkins and WR Will Fuller V are having and what they mean to you?
“Obviously, they’re having great seasons. But, I bet you if you go in there, they’d rather be winning these games, and that’s the most important thing in this offense and on this team is that we want to be winning. The way to do that is to give them shots.”
Can you take us through the process of looking at the tape and seeing what you saw?
“Right after the game I went home, grabbed my iPad and watched the game. And it’s just like, it’s almost cringe worthy because you’ve done it so many times. And look, I’m not going to sit here and say that certain things could turn out the other way, but I know that I can make these plays. That was the most frustrating part. Like I said after the game, it was a very frustrating game for me because I was coming off the sideline like I’m seeing everything, it’s not like too fast or the lights are too bright or anything. It’s just the way it is. I’ve done it all training camp, all preseason and I’ve done it my whole career. So, I’m confident in my abilities and I’ll be out there and I can’t wait to get back out there this Sunday.”
What’s it like having WR DeAndre Hopkins and WR Will Fuller V and knowing that if you get the ball to them that they can go and make a play?
“It just makes quarterbacks’ jobs a lot easier. You know? Not many guys are blessed with two guys like that that can go up and get it and have the vertical aspect of their game and still be able to be really good route runners. So, it’s a blessing to have them.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH RAMS HEAD COACH SEAN MCVAY
How has QB Jared Goff worked to get into his groove and what type of football is he playing right now?
“I think he’s doing a really good job. I think he’s making good decisions, commanding the huddle. He’s got a great understanding of what we’re trying to get done offensively, in the run and the pass game. I think any time that you’re taking care of the football like he is, we feel like we’re going to give ourselves a chance to play efficiently and those are things that are really good. We always talk about him wanting to become an extension of our coaching staff and I feel like with Matt LaFleur and Greg Olson, they’ve done such a good job with him and he’s continuing to grow and improve every day and making some off-schedule plays. He’s doing a lot of good things and taking steps in the right direction for us.”
What made you confident in QB Jared Goff when you took this job?
“Well, I think the first thing is – I had not met Jared before, but you just look at some of the physical traits and characteristics that you’re looking for from the position and you see that show up on his Cal tape and even in the seven games when things didn’t go the way that we wanted, you could still see the traits and the characteristics that you’re looking for. That’s the toughness to stand in there, that’s the ability to be able to make all the throws, change your arm angle, throw from different platforms, not watch the rush. I think he demonstrated those things in the seven games that he did play. Now what I didn’t know is how we would process things, how he had processed the way that his first season had gone. I got a chance to spend a little bit of time with him when I was actually interviewing for the job and you come away confident just with his demeanor, his disposition, the fact that he doesn’t make any excuses for what happened that rookie year, takes full accountability. I think those are good traits that you’re looking for from your leader. Most importantly, I think just being with him now through eight games, the mental toughness that he displays, both through the good and the bad, is a really valuable trait that I think he possesses and that serves you well, especially coming from that quarterback position.”
In your opinion, is DT Aaron Donald the best overall defensive player in the NFL?
“I think, certainly, Aaron is special. I feel very fortunate to have him on our team. I think he’s influenced and impacted the game in a variety of ways, but I also think he’s all about the right stuff. He’s making different things happen in the pass and in the run game, but also last week, he gives a call to Connor Barwin where he goes and occupies the guard and that ends up freeing Connor up for a counter move inside to be able to make a sack. You’re talking about an unselfish player as well, who is an elite player himself. But he’s about trying to do things the right way for our team and when you’ve got great leaders like Aaron, you feel good to have those kind of guys on your team.”
How much is getting Texans OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney accounted for a priority?
“It’s huge. He’s an excellent player. They do a good job moving him around and creating some favorable matchups. You could see his ability to play inside, he can play at the three technique, he can play on either end and then they got him playing off the line of scrimmage as well. He’s a special, movable piece and he’s definitely a guy that you have to account for, but there’s a lot of good players on that defense. They play extremely hard, I think they’re extremely well coached, very fundamentally sound. Coach (Mike) Vrabel does an excellent job and we’ve got to be ready to go offensively.”
Are you looking to take advantage of the Texans’ secondary?
“I’ve got a lot of respect for this secondary and those teams have made some good plays. I think what we try to look at is what are some of the things that they’re playing coverage-wise and conceptually that what’s in our playbook that has the answers to try to attack some of those things? We always will try to look to stretch the ball in certain areas of the field and in certain situations, but we want to be efficient. I know they’re a very good run defense, they’re top-10 in yards per game and yards per carry and you’ve got to be able to stay balanced and I think that’s been a key for us. It’s going to be a great challenge and I know these guys will be ready to go from a defensive standpoint just with how productive they’ve been over the last handful of years.”
How much do you think your youth helps you relate to the players and what are some of the pros and cons of being so young?
“I think, whether you’re older or younger, I think if you can coach, you can coach and you can relate to these players. I would say the biggest thing is that, especially working in the NFL, these are grown men that you’re dealing with. As long as a mutual respect exists and you’re trying to help these guys achieve their highest potential and do it in a positive, authentic manner, I think they respond the way that you want. I feel fortunate to have a bunch of good guys in our locker room. Got a great coaching staff that I think they’re very good teachers and they’re good communicators, and those are things that we feel like are important from our coaches. Whether you’re a lot more experienced or not, I think those are some things that make up a good coach. I certainly know that because of my inexperience, I have a lot to learn. Being around guys like Wade Phillips is a blessing because I can learn from him. He’s such a great resource for me to have. You continue to learn and try to correct your mistakes every single day and when you do it with the players and they like feel like you’re invested in them and you’re in it with them, I think that you can have a chance to have a good rapport, especially just at the professional level where you’re dealing with men.”
What did you see from Texans QB Deshaun Watson and what he was able to do and how early he was able to do it?
“Very impressed with Deshaun, even coming out (of college). Extremely mature for a guy coming out of college, I thought. He’s one of those special players that raises the level of play around him, and I think that’s what the great ones do. You can see he’s got a confidence, he’s got a swagger and guys have some good energy around him. You look at some of the plays he was able to make on schedule and off schedule, I thought Coach (Bill) O’Brien put him in some great spots and then the guys ended up delivering. I think the future is extremely bright. Any time a player in this league experiences an injury, especially a good player like Deshaun, you never want that on anybody. I know that he’ll attack that rehab with the same mindset and mentality he does everything else, with that mental toughness and come back ready to go. I think he’s a special competitor, special person, got a great feel for the game, mature beyond his years. He put a lot of good stuff on tape in the short amount of time he was playing.”