Head Coach Bill O’Brien
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Do you have any injury information on RB D’Onta Foreman?
“I don’t have the exact update but it looks like he’ll be out for a while.”
How do you feel knowing there’s a chance for the Wild Card spot?
“Look, I know there’s a lot of season left and the way it’s played out, that’s what it is. You’ve been around forever. You know that there’s a reason why they play a 16-game season. There’s a lot of football left and we need to really build on what we did. We got a different opponent obviously, another very tough opponent on the road on a Monday night and we got to be ready for that opponent. But, everybody knows that there’s a lot of football left.”
What would it mean to you to win a game like this against Baltimore, on the road, on a Monday night?
“It’d be big. There’s no question about it. To be able to go to Baltimore and they’re a very tough team with a great head coach in Coach (John) Harbaugh, great defense, Super Bowl quarterback. It would be great for us to be able to go up there and pull off a win.”
Were you encouraged by the way the offensive line was blocking and their performance overall?
“Any time you rush for – I think we rushed for about 135 yards, rushed it 34 times which (is) almost four yards a carry. I thought that the offensive line did a good job. There were some good moments of protection, very consistent protection. Tom (Savage) was able to make some good throws because of the protection and the routes the receivers were running. So, yeah, I thought the offensive line played well. No doubt about it.”
With RB D’Onta Foreman out, do you expect RB Alfred Blue to be back in?
“Yeah, I do expect Alfred (Blue) to be back. D’Onta (Foreman) was starting to really play well, obviously, in that game. He’s a big guy. He’s a very tough, physical runner. Good out of the backfield in the passing game. Was really starting to understand our offense. So, it’s just one of those things. It’s tough. It’s tough for him, but he’s a young player, he’ll be back. I would say that hopefully Alfred will come back here and be able to practice this week and help us because Alfred’s, really, in practice and on special teams, he’s done a really good job for us when he’s been healthy. So, hopefully we get him back.”
Can you talk about how QB Tom Savage was able to overcome those two early turnovers and have a good performance?
“That’s kind of what I was saying after the game. I felt like the strip-sack, he’s got to take care of the ball better in the pocket, but I felt like he overcame that. The interception, sometimes those interceptions that happen, it was tight coverage, the ball got batted in the air. You can’t really blame that on Tom. You don’t blame that on anybody, that’s football. The strip-sack in the pocket, you have to do a better job there, but with all that being said, he was not discouraged at all. He was great on the sideline and came back and I thought he played a really good, tough football game.”
Do you expect WR Will Fuller V to be back on Monday?
“That’ll be touch and go. I’m not sure.”
Do you think that OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney is playing even better this season than last season?
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about that. I know right now he’s playing at a high level. He’s a very disruptive player. I love the way the defense is using him, putting him in different spots. Very instinctive guy. The thing you love the most about JD (Jadeveon Clowney) is how hard he plays on Sundays. He just plays a very violent, hard game on Sundays. He chases plays. He makes plays in the running game. He’s harassing quarterbacks. He’s doing a great job.”
Do you see teams building game plans around OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney like they did with DE J.J. Watt?
“Yeah, I think it’s hard to do that, just like it’s hard to do that with J.J. (Watt) when he was in there because we move those guys around. They’re not always in the same spot. But, yeah, definitely. It’s just like us when we go against guys that we’ve had to go against over the last few weeks, whether it’s Chandler Jones or Aaron Donald or whoever it is. You got those players on that side of the ball. They’re hard to manage one on one.”
What do you as a play caller set things up against guys like that who move around?
“There’s a number of different things you have to do. You have to, whether it’s run or pass obviously, you have to think about how you want to block him in the running game, where are they aligned. There’s a big difference between where they align, let’s just say, Aaron Donald and Chandler Jones. Jones is an edge player and Aaron Donald’s right there close to the ball. So, you have to decide how you’re going to block them schematically in the running game, and then, obviously, you have to decide how you’re going to block them in protection. That really is, that takes a lot of thought, whether you’re going to slide to him or you’re going to help with a back or help with a tight end. Every single play, when you have a player like that, you have to ask on every single play, how are we blocking this guy? Every single play.”
What makes OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney so good against the run? He told us he thinks he’s better against the run than rushing the passer.
“I don’t know about that. I think he’s gotten better and better. I think rushing the passer’s hard. I think pass-rush techniques with the size of these tackles and the size of these offensive lines, I think it’s difficult, but I think he’s gotten better and better with that. He’s great against the run because he’s very instinctive. He has a great feel for the block, how he’s being blocked in conjunction with how the ball’s being run, whether it’s being run away from him or run to him. Sometimes he guesses wrong, he does. He does make very educated guesses based on his film study and things. Sometimes he’s wrong, but more times than not, he’s right and he makes a lot of good plays.”
Do you give OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney flexibility with play calls to make a decision?
“Absolutely. In professional football, I think when you have players like that, we do that all the time with J.J. (Watt), we do that all the time with JD (Jadeveon Clowney), Whitney (Mercilus), Benardrick McKinney, those guys. Even our secondary – if we’re in this type of coverage, ‘Hey, look, how do you want to play this formation? It’s this adjustment or that adjustment.’ We spend so much time together and these guys are professionals, they’re smart players and we trust them. So, yeah, we don’t just let them run around and do whatever they want to do. There’s parameters, but obviously, how they want to handle certain formations and plays, they definitely have input.”
Can you give us an update on CB Kevin Johnson and can you talk about S Eddie Pleasant?
“Kevin (Johnson) I would say is in the protocol, and we’ll know better about that as the week goes on. Eddie (Pleasant) – look, Eddie, for the years that we’ve been here, he’s made some big plays on defense. The role that he plays, whether he’s covering tight ends or having to cover backs out of the back field or he’s blitzing, whatever he is, Eddie comes up with the big play. Had a huge interception yesterday that was a big play in the game.”
QB Tom Savage said you had a great plan for him to get rid of the ball quickly. Can you tell us about that?
“Tom’s good with you guys. He likes to spread the wealth. He did a good job yesterday. He played very well. He got us into the right play. A lot of guys around him played well. I thought Bruce Ellington played a hell of a football game yesterday. Bruce Ellington is playing banged up, did a nice job. Obviously Hop’s (DeAndre Hopkins), I think, number two in the league in most receiving categories right now. I mean, he’s playing great. I thought Braxton (Miller) did some really good things. I thought our line, like I already talked about, blocked – we ran the ball well. Lamar (Miller) ran it well, D’Onta (Foreman) ran it well and I think that helped Tom. I think guys around him playing well and then he had confidence once he started hitting some throws, so I think Tom did a good job.”
Do you think WR DeAndre Hopkins is sometimes getting targeted for offensive pass interference calls?
“It’s probably more of a conversation over a beer or something, to be honest with you. Because I have definite thoughts about that that I’ll probably tell you at some time at some point, but I’m just saying I think that this is a game that a lot of times involves great matchups with physical corners, physical receivers that sometimes you just got to let the game be played, if that makes sense. We coach him. Sometimes he does it and sometimes he’s getting grabbed, but he’s doing a great job and he’s a very physical player. He’s a very, very physical player and that’s the way he plays the game.”
What did you think QB Tom Savage did well?
“I thought he was decisive. He did a great job in certain things that you probably wouldn’t even notice. You definitely wouldn’t notice on the stat sheet. The first touchdown run by D’Onta (Foreman), he got us into that play. That was not the play call and he saw a bad look for what the play call was and he changed the play and he got us into that play. He did things like that throughout the game, threw the ball well. He’s a very bright guy and he played that way yesterday. He played smart.”
How hard is it to overcome special teams penalties and how do you cut down on them?
“I think you just have to keep showing it to them on tape. I don’t know if there’s one – you can’t wave a magic wand and fix it. You just have to say, ‘Look, if you’re in this position, this type of leverage on a guy, you either got to let him go or somebody else has to come help you out or you have to go climb to the next level,’ because those penalties kill you. Those are the worst penalties you can get because they’re called from the spot of the foul. So, no matter where the ball is returned to, they’re not called from the spot where that ball gets tackled. They’re called from the spot of that foul, so a lot of times you’re losing, in some cases yesterday, 30 to 40 yards of field position. That’s huge. We have to just keep coaching it and get it corrected and really have to stop doing it.”
Do you expect RB D’Onta Foreman to play again this season?
“Again, I’m not sure. I really don’t (know). I would say it probably doesn’t look great to be able to play, but I haven’t seen any of the doctors. I haven’t seen Kap (Geoff Kaplan) yet. I’ll see Kap right after this. But I would say probably not. I mean, I’m just making an educated guess there.”
Is it tough to have patience offensively versus having to see a situation through?
“Look, I can’t really comment on any other organization. I mean, everybody makes decisions. You just never know what goes on in anybody else’s organization. It’s hard to comment on that. You’re not in the meetings. I know what goes on here. I know how we meet, how we operate practice-wise. I know how we look at things, I know what we ask our players to do. Look, we’ve had to make decisions over the years. Every decision that we make, I will tell you is in the best interest of the team. It’s always, ‘What is the best decision for the team?’ That’s always been the case with me here and with us here and that will always be the case. That’s how I see it. I just think you have to say to yourself, with your staff – you’re not making this decision by yourself, whatever decision it is. Whether it’s another position or whatever it is, a schematic change, whatever it is, is this the best decision for the team? Is this the best decision for the 63 guys in that meeting room? That’ the basic question you have to ask. That’s how I look at it.”
How much does the mood change in the locker room when you win?
“It’s big. It helps everybody’s mood. I think everybody comes in here in a much better mood. Winning in this league is everything. I mean, that’s what it’s all about. That’s the one thing I think when people ask me who aren’t coaches or who aren’t players, after a win, it’s so hard to win a game in this league. I mean, you think about the coaches on the other sideline and most importantly the players on the other sideline and the battles that are being waged out there on the field, both the one-on-one battles, the schematic battles, the situational battles. It’s just a very, very difficult league to win games in and I think that’s what makes me, right now, I know we don’t have a winning record, but I’m very proud of this team. This team’s had to deal with a lot of different things and they’ve been able to overcome it. Like you said at the beginning, we’re still in position to do something. We’ve got to go put a game plan together for Baltimore and see if we can go up there and win a game.”
What challenge does Ravens OLB Terrell Suggs present even at his age?
“Yeah, he’s another guy in the category of the other guys I was talking about. I mean, I’ve been coaching against him for a long time. I don’t care how many years he’s played, he’s a difference maker, plays the run great, he’s a good pass rusher, he’s a very smart player, he’s been in their defense forever. We’re going to have to do a good job of coming up with a way to try to handle him because he’s a very difficult guy to block.”
If RB D’Onta Foreman is out, do you need to sign another running back?
“I’m sure we’ll probably look into that. If we do – and again, I don’t really know, I’m assuming that D’Onta might be done for the year, so if he goes to injured reserve, we’ve got to find a way to replace that spot, so I’m sure Rick (Smith) and I will talk about that at some point.”