Head Coach Bill O’Brien
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
What are the plans for ILB Brian Cushing and what was your interaction like with him today?
“I just saw him. He’s been away from us for a while, obviously. First things first, just personally we got to get caught up, see where he’s at, see how he’s doing, and then kind of go from there. So, that’s really all I can tell you right now relative to Brian. I was glad to see him.”
How good is it to have him back?
“Yeah, good guy. Great guy. You guys know what I feel about Brian Cushing.”
You know he’s been working out like crazy, so if he’s ready to go…
“I don’t know anything. I’m not a savant.”
What if he is in great shape?
“Well, I think being in football-playing shape and being in shape are two totally different things, really. There’s no assumptions being made here. I think the first thing we have to do is see how he’s doing. We have to sit down. We’re not in a rush to do anything. We have a lot of guys playing right now at a pretty high level on defense, so we’ll see how Brian’s doing and we’ll go from there.”
Are you thinking about a quarterback change?
“No. Not right now, no.”
Do you feel like ILB Brian Cushing let the team down by missing so many games for what he did?
“Look, I think – I want to give you a good answer here. I don’t know the details of everything. I know that Brian feels – I’m sure he would stand up here and tell you that in some ways he feels bad that that happened, obviously. But the way that I feel about Brian Cushing, I’m not going to go down that road. I think that everybody makes mistakes and sometimes you pay for your mistakes in different ways. He’s meant a lot to me in my four years here. He’s a tough guy, been a captain for us. So, I’m just looking forward to sitting down with him and talking to him and kind of seeing where he’s at with everything.”
After watching the tape, what do you think QB Tom Savage saw on the two interceptions?
“I don’t know. I don’t know. Those weren’t good decisions. I thought he made some really good decisions last night, I really did. But those two were not good decisions. We have to go back – we got back late, or early, however you look at it, and I haven’t sat down and watched the tape with him yet. But I will, and we’ll see what we can do to coach him better.”
What happened to the team plane last night?
“I don’t know. I’m not in charge of travel. I have no idea.”
Do you see a commonality in QB Tom Savage’s interceptions?
“I think one of the key components of playing quarterback is – and I think there’s been times when he’s been really good at this – you have to, pre-snap, gain as much information as you can, especially in certain situations, meaning, like, third down, low red area. Sometimes you’re going fast and that’s not possible, but in key situations you have to try to gain as much as you can before the ball’s snapped, and then when the ball’s snapped you have to confirm what you’ve seen. That’s a big deal. You can’t just assume that what you saw before the ball was snapped is what it’s going to be post-snap. I think that’s a big component of something that’s very, very difficult to execute and very difficult to coach. You have to drill it, and that’s what we’re going to continue to do.”
How do you work with quarterbacks on making good decisions? Is that something you can coach or is it more instinctive?
“No, there’s absolutely no doubt that you can coach them on it. I mean, there’s no doubt. It’s a great question. You can set up drills, you can watch tape, but in the end, there’s definitely instincts that take over and the process of thinking quickly. There’s other things we can do schematically, I think, to help. Look, that’s a top-five defense in the NFL. I’m not saying that we had 500 yards. We moved the ball, but the problem was we turned it over and were one-for-four in the red area. If you do that, you’ve got no shot of winning in this league. No shot, no matter how close the game is, especially if you’re not getting any takeaways on defense. We’ve got to try to flip that script and that’s what we’re going to try to do.”
Why do you think QB Tom Savage has been so susceptible to the strip sack?
“I think there’s been different types of strip sacks, I really do. I think the one last night, I mean, he had no shot. That guy was there. There were times where we chipped Sizzle (Terrell Suggs), sometimes we didn’t and he made a couple plays on us, no doubt about it. That one right there, we didn’t really lay a glove on him, so I don’t think Tom really had a prayer on that one. But other times, in other games, Tom’s got to do a better job of protecting the ball, no doubt about it.”
Can you pinpoint why QB Tom Savage is making bad decisions at this stage?
“Really, I can’t. If I could, I would tell you we would have a quick solution. But like I said, we’re going to sit down and watch the tape and see if we can get it corrected. It has to get corrected because if not, we’re going to have to go in a different direction, but we’re going to really sit down and study it and try to make the correction.”
You’re entering December with a pretty tough schedule. How important is it for everybody to stick together and keep moving forward?
“I don’t worry about that. I really don’t. I think that these guys really care about each other, I think they’re tough, I think they practice hard, I think there’s great professionals in that locker room. I mean, I don’t really worry about that. We’ve got a good coaching staff that I believe has the respect of the players. We respect the players as a coaching staff, they respect us, and they’re going to go out and play hard. We’ve lost a bunch of games by less than a touchdown and we’ve got to try to come out on the better end of those games. We just haven’t played well in certain stretches in some of those games. We have to try to play better.”
Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins and OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney are both having All-Pro seasons. What are you seeing out of those two guys specifically even when the team is not winning?
“Those two guys are great players. You start with Hopkins, the ball went to him 10 times, it probably should have gone to him 20 times. I think it’s very, very difficult to cover him. I don’t care how you try to cover him. I mean, I think he’s one of the best guys that I’ve ever coached at that position and if you go back and look at who I’ve coached at that position, it’s a pretty good list. He’s got great hands, he’s a great competitor on gameday. He’s got a great ability to make catches away from his body, get two feet down. He can run any route, (you) can line him up anywhere and he knows what to do. Clowney, I’ve said this to you guys for a long time, when he first got here, he was injured. He jumped up to bat a pass his rookie year, very first game out here against the Redskins, tweaked his knee. Then he had a brutal concussion the following year in training camp versus Denver in a scrimmage. He’s healthy, and him being healthy and the way that he plays the game, he’s one of the best in football. You can line him up anywhere, you can do anything you want with the guy from a football schematic standpoint because he understands football. He’s a very, very instinctive player and that’s why he’s having the year that he has. And he plays the game – people get mad at me when I use the word violent – but he plays the game in a very explosive, violent way. It’s good for our team.”
Has OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney become one of the locker room leaders?
“Yeah, no doubt about it. He’s on the leadership council. I’ve made him a game captain a few times. I think we have great leaders over there, I really do. I don’t think he’s the only one but I think there’s no doubt that he has a leadership role over there. Obviously Johnathan Joseph has a leadership role over there, but then you look at Benardrick McKinney and D.J. Reader, Kareem Jackson, those guys. There’s some really good leaders on that side of the ball but JD’s definitely one of them.”
WR DeAndre Hopkins was on the injury report and even played through a ripped jersey. How tough of a guy is he?
“He’s a very, very tough player. Very competitive, tough player. I’m not going to go down the road of why his jersey was ripped but I’m sure you can watch the tape and figure it out on your own. Every route that he runs, virtually every route that he runs, is versus tight coverage. He’s just a very, very tough guy. He’s a very competitive guy. He wants the ball, he wants the ball on every play. Every pass play, he wants the ball and that’s what makes him who he is.”
How valuable is it to have a guy like WR DeAndre Hopkins that is not only putting up those receiving yards, but draws 50 yards of pass interference calls?
“It’s huge. You know when you can take a shot down the field that there’s a chance that something good’s going to happen. He’s either obviously going to catch the ball or maybe you can draw a penalty. Sometimes he’s had some OPI’s because he’s a battler. Like I said, he’s always in tight coverage. It’s rare, you go back and watch the tape and somebody’s playing like 10 yards off of him, that’s very rare. So, there’s a lot of battles at the top of the route and it’s good to have a guy that you know can do those things.”
What about OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney’s hit on Ravens TE Maxx Williams. Did that fire you guys up?
“Yeah, I saw it on tape. I don’t know how much I really saw during the game. I’m kind of working with the quarterbacks and have the defensive guys on the headset, listening to what’s going on. But yeah, it was a great hit.”
Can you talk about the situation at left tackle with T Chris Clark and T Julién Davenport?
“They’re both injured. They’re both injured.”
Will you start T Kendall Lamm in this game?
“We may. We may. We’re going to talk about that this afternoon. There’s other things we can do. There’s other things we can do at that position but those two guys are still on the injury report, there’s no doubt about it.”
How difficult is it for you to be 11 games in, knowing if you don’t get these things corrected with QB Tom Savage you may have to go in a different direction and the decisions you may have to make going forward?
“I don’t know. I don’t look at it that way. I really don’t. We want Tom (Savage) to do well. Tom’s a good guy, he works hard, he prepares. Nobody can watch the film and say that he hasn’t had good moments. Last night, I mean, he threw some dimes. But look, we can’t turn it over. So, we got to stop doing that. Not all of them have been his fault. I want to make that clear. It’s not one guy’s fault but that position in this league is a very important position and you’ve got to play consistent, you’ve got to be a leader and every week’s a battle. This week’s a big battle. It’s an AFC South battle. But I don’t look at it like that. I think there’s a lot of drama in the NFL right now. There’s no drama back there. It’s football. We put together plays, we put together a game plan, we make the decisions in the best interest of the team, we love the guys we coach, we just keep coaching them. We’re grinders. We just try to keep coaching, and the players are that way, too. So, I don’t look at it as difficulty or anything like that. It’s just, that’s our job. That’s football.”
QB Tom Savage’s been hit a lot, can you talk about his physical toughness?
“He’s a tough guy. He’s tough. He’s a tough guy. He’s taken some shots over the years here when he’s been in there, especially this year. There’s no doubt about Tom’s toughness.”
What did you think about what RB Alfred Blue did yesterday?
“I thought he did some good things. I mean, he ran hard. It’s tough to run the ball against those guys. Blue is playing a little bit banged up. Blue’s a tough guy. I thought it was decent. I mean, he rushed for 15 yards, you know what I mean? But he ran hard though.”
The two fourth-and-1 calls by the Ravens, the fake punt and the running play, how do you look at those on tape? Is that something you can be better prepared for or is that just football?
“I would tell you when you look at the fake punt, I’m not sure what you tell that guy how to defend that. He’s one-on-one out there. I mean, Marcus (Williams) was there. The guy looked off Bruce (Ellington) the returner, looked him to the right and threw it to the left. You have to give the Ravens credit there. The guy just kind of looped it out there and let the guy run underneath it. I mean, I don’t know what – that’s a tough one to just say, ‘Hey look, Marcus, you have to do this better.’ He’s blocking a gunner for a return. He’s not thinking about – he understands that they have punt or pass in their repertoire but it’s a tough situation so we have to look at that and try to help our players as best we can in that situation. I think that part of the field and it was fourth-and-6, we probably need to think about it from a coaching standpoint. We better expect something like that, especially from them. They do a great job on that stuff. Then the fourth-and-1, we’re loaded up to stop the run and it was a great call. Ravens made a good call there and they got us on the flip play.”
How hard is it to do what you want to do considering how many guys you are playing that ordinarily wouldn’t be playing like street free agents and undrafted free agents?
“I don’t enjoy – obviously none of us enjoy losing but we do enjoy coaching and getting guys prepared, especially guys that are coachable. This is like probably the first team in my four years here that every single guy in the locker room, every single guy is extremely coachable. Like, you can’t wait to get to work no matter what’s going on. You didn’t win the game, you’re upset about not winning the game and you have to turn the page because these guys are hungry to learn, whether they’re a 12-year guy or a first-year guy or whatever. I could care less where they were drafted or what street they came from. I mean, I really couldn’t. I just want them to be coachable and play hard on Sundays for us and play smart. That’s what we have in our locker room so that’s why we feel terrible when we lose because these guys are playing their butts off for us.”
What is the key as coaches to make sure your team continues to play hard?
“I think you have to bring in the right guys. You have to have the right guys. You have to have high-character guys. I mean, these games are close. You have to have the right guys in the locker room that can withstand – that have the mental toughness to come and practice and play hard every week. That’s what we have in there.”
What time did you guys land this morning?
“I don’t know. Like 6 a.m. What does it matter once its past 3 a.m., right? That’s my motto.”
Was it a mechanical problem?
“I have no idea, I really don’t. That’s a question for somebody else. I promise you, I have no idea. I was watching the game, eat a turkey sandwich, have a Coors Light. When we land, we land. I don’t have anything to do with (that).”