Head Coach Bill O’Brien
QB T.J. Yates
Conference Call with Jaguars Head Coach Doug Marrone
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Could you talk about QB T.J. Yates, what you’re doing to get him ready and what makes him ideal to be in this situation?
“He’s been there before. He knows our system. He’s a smart guy. I thought he did some good things on Sunday in a tough spot. It’s not hard to get him ready, you know what I mean? It’s more about getting the team physically ready to go from a health standpoint, that’s the big thing. T.J. (Yates) will be ready to go.”
Are you not expecting QB Tom Savage to be available at all this weekend?
“I do not expect him to be available.”
Who do you look at as your backup quarterback?
“Taylor Heinicke will be the backup, more than likely. We haven’t made that roster move yet but that’s the way we’re leaning right now.”
Who do you view as your emergency quarterback?
“I don’t want to get into that. I have one or two or three, but you can find that out on gameday.”
Will WR Braxton Miller be back?
“It’s an up-and-down trend. It’s an up-and-down trend, if that makes sense.”
Is WR Braxton Miller near the end of concussion protocol?
“It really is up and down. I can’t really tell you too much more than that.”
The Jaguars historically have had a great defense, what do you think about how they stack up?
“I agree with that. Historically, the defenses that we’ve faced, where I’ve been, they’re one of the best. You look at their front and you look at the two ends, the way that they rush the passer. Then you have (Calais) Campbell, you have Malik Jackson. They added (Marcell) Dareus after they played us. Then you look at the second level with Myles Jack and “Puz” (Paul Posluszny) and Telvin Smith. Then, you look at the two corners, they got one of the better corner tandems in the league. Safeties, (Tashaun) Gipson and Barry Church, are playing well. The nickel, (Aaron) Colvin’s playing real well. And they have a good scheme. They play very fast and they play very aggressively. It’s going to be a big challenge for us.”
Over the past few days, QB Deshaun Watson and QB Tom Savage have tweeted support for you. When you have two quarterbacks supporting you in that way, what does that mean to you as a coach?
“I didn’t really see that. Somebody told me about that, but I appreciate that. I feel like we have a good relationship. We communicate with all the players. I feel like not every player is going to necessarily like you but I think there’s a respect for our coaching staff here. And we respect the players, so I think that’s really what it is. But sure, you always appreciate the support of the players, no doubt about it.”
What do you like about QB Taylor Heinicke?
“I like a lot of things about him. I think he’s smart. I think he’s an accurate passer. I think he makes good decisions, so far in practice. I think he’s picked up our system pretty well so far. I think he’s mobile. He can make plays on his own. So, there’s a lot of things I like. That’s probably the direction that we’re headed.”
What can you do with QB T.J. Yates to try to avoid a situation like the first game against the Jaguars this season where their pass rushers had so much success?
“You have to change it. You can’t do what you did in the first game. I don’t want to get into that but you have to change up how you protect the edge of the front. You have to change up how you run the ball. You have to change up your routes. You have to change everything because nothing we did in the first game was any good.”
Does QB T.J. Yates play at the speed you like your guys to play?
“Yeah, I think so. I think he’s got a good command out there and he’s got a good idea of what we want to do. He doesn’t hold the ball. I think he’s got pretty good anticipation. I think he throws the ball at all levels pretty well. So, I’m glad we have him.”
Given the situation you’re facing at quarterback, does that change anything about the way you try to protect the quarterback or call the game?
“Yeah, there’s no doubt that our game plan this week in many ways will be different than maybe what you’ve seen the past few weeks. There’s going to be a lot of differences to it. Now, there’s going to be things that we always do that will be there, maybe with different window dressing, but you definitely have to change up – not just because of the quarterback situation. It’s just the whole – there’s health issues up front, there’s all kinds of things that we have to deal with but we’ll definitely try to put together as good a game plan as we can to deal with all that.”
Is RB Alfred Blue back this week?
What are your thoughts on the matchup between WR DeAndre Hopkins and Jaguars CBs A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey and the tandem those two have?
“It’s always been a good matchup with Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) and Jalen Ramsey. Jalen Ramsey’s a great player. Hop and (A.J.) Bouye, we’ve watched that for several years here in practice, so we know what that matchup is. That’s a tough and a good matchup, too. Hop has been up to those challenges all year. The number one corner for every team covers Hop if they’re that type of team, if they’re a match team. I think, obviously, when you look at what he’s done this year, he’s dealt with that pretty well. So, it’s going to be another day like that for him. He’s going to have to step up to the challenge and I know he’s looking forward to it.”
How frustrating is it that you have not been able to run the ball the way you want?
“Look, I think we’ve – there’s a lot of ways I could answer that. But yes, we want to run the ball better. We have to figure out over the next three weeks, starting this week, how to run the ball better. But yeah, there’s no doubt that we need to do a better job there.”
How tough is it when you know what needs to be done and you still can’t do it?
“Look, part of it’s doing a better job of coaching it, scheming it better and then trying to get it executed better. That’s coaching. You’re always trying to find ways to improve and that’s what we’re doing.”
Have you had a chance to visit with QB Tom Savage this week?
“I talked to him a few times, a couple times. Seems like he’s doing well. He’s in the protocol and he’s just kind of going through that right now.”
Could QB Tom Savage be back for the Pittsburgh Steelers game?
“There’s always a chance for those things, yeah.”
As a staff, did you guys see the ascent of Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye coming?
“Well, yeah, there’s no doubt. He was somebody that we all really wanted back, no doubt about it. He was playing real well. Yeah, there’s no doubt that – we’re not surprised by how he’s playing. He’s a hell of a player and, like I said earlier in the week, we developed him, he’s worked a lot on his own and then he’s gone to Jacksonville and done a nice job in their scheme.”
Can you give an update on T Derek Newton?
“I don’t think I’ve ever seen a guy work – nobody’s worked harder than Derek Newton relative to the injury that he has. That was a long time ago, Denver of last year. Since his surgery and his ability to start rehab which was a long time ago too, he’s been in there every day. He’s here more than the coaches. He’s in here all the time. You talk about a guy that wants to come back and wants to be a part of something, that’s what Derek Newton’s trying to do. I’m glad you asked me about him because he’s working his tail off to get back and play.”
Do you expect T Derek Newton to be back next season?
“Look, I don’t know if I want to go down that road right now, only because I have not had a medical update on him. It’s just from what I see with my own eyes, if that makes sense. I just see him in here all the time, but relative to how he’s doing and the different things that he’s trying to do, I see some things and it looks good to me, but what do I know? You know what I mean?”
If T Derek Newton comes back, considering he can play tackle and guard, how much would that benefit you?
“He was a good player for us. He played guard, obviously played a lot of right tackle for us. Any time you get a good player back, as long as he can get back to that level, it definitely helps you.”
Do you think T Julién Davenport is going to play before the season’s over?
“Yeah, he’ll play this week.”
What are your thoughts on the way these two franchises this year have kind of reversed places?
“I think Jacksonville’s done a good job. They made some changes there – hired Doug (Marrone), hired Coach (Tom) Coughlin. They’re doing a good job. They have a lot of talent. For the most part, they’ve been able to stay healthy and they’re capitalizing on things. I think the number one thing for them is they’re plus-14 in the turnover-takeaway margin. They’ve taken the ball away like 30-some-odd times and they’ve only given it up, I think, 16 times, and that’s huge. In the past, that wasn’t their deal. They were turning over a lot and they weren’t getting a lot of takeaways. They’ve flipped that script. That’s part of it, too. Plus, the amount of talent that they have. They’ve got a good football team.”
Do you have any specific concerns about K Ka’imi Fairbairn?
“Look, you always get concerned when a guy’s missing kicks, missing an extra point. You’re always a little bit concerned about that, but I have faith in Ka’imi (Fairbairn). He works very hard. He’s a young kicker. But he’s got to make extra points. The 50-plus-yard field goal that he makes, he’s got to make that extra point. That’s a big thing. He knows that. He knows that. I expect him to come back strong this week.”
On Monday, you said if you had seen what happened to QB Tom Savage you never would have let him back in the game. With the NFL concussion protocol, is there anything that could put you in a better position to see something like that and be able to help keep a player like that safe?
“This is a tough one because I’m not in really a position to answer that. I will say this, from my experience with this in the NFL for the last four years, I think it’s very, very difficult for the coach to make that decision. Although, I will say that the coach, in my experience, if he sees something or if he notices something that he thinks is not right about the player, then like I did with Brian Hoyer in Cincinnati and I basically helped with this one on Sunday, I think you have to say something. All of us coaches do that, but the only way we’re going to have any idea of what happened – I heard somebody say this morning, something I was listening to this morning, that ‘Well, they have all these replay videos. When Bill O’Brien said that he didn’t see the video, what the heck is he talking about?’ I mean, that’s coming from somebody who has absolutely no idea what they’re talking about, and I’m so tired of hearing these people, whether they’re on the radio or on the TV that really have no idea. If you’ve never been on the sideline coaching a game or playing in a game, you really don’t have any idea. Nobody comes running up to me with the video of a player and how he’s reacting to getting hit in the head. That’s not the same thing as seeing a replay of a guy catching a ball on the sideline. That might be the dumbest statement I’ve ever heard. I think if maybe if we can see that or maybe if there is a way to use the video in a better way, maybe that will help, because, again, like I said, if I had seen the reaction that he had to the hit, I would’ve personally, and Geoff Kaplan, the same thing, we would have never put him back in the game.”
QB T.J. YATES
Are you encouraged with how you can perform this week with a whole week of practice under your belt?
“Yeah, it’ll be good to have a full week to prepare and get all the throws and get all the reps and everything like that. Yeah, it will be definitely good to get some more prep work.”
What was it like to be thrown in the game last week after not playing in a while?
“Just like normal. I try not to think about it too much and it was kind of good that I was kind of thrust right into kind like a two-minute drill. You don’t have to think much, you just go out there and play and read and react.”
Does it help that you’ve been here before?
“Yeah, absolutely. I’m comfortable with the guys up front, comfortable with the receivers I was throwing to. Guys and coaches and players that I’ve been around before, so it definitely made it a lot easier.”
Did you approach your job like you were one play away from going in and playing?
“Yeah, you have to. If you don’t treat it like that, you can get caught up and not be ready. So, no matter what, from day one when I came in here, you had to prepare like you were going to play.”
How meaningful is it to get a chance to start an NFL game again?
“It’s definitely a blessing to be able to be in this position again and I don’t take it for granted, so go make the best out of it.”
Is there a part of you that has a chip on your shoulder and feels like you don’t get the respect you deserve?
“I’ve never really thought of it like that. I’m just happy to be playing football again. Being able to go out there and to actually play and start is something cool. I’m going to prepare my butt off for it and hopefully we can try to go into Jacksonville and get a win.”
How key will it be to get the ball out of your hands quickly against Jacksonville?
“It’s definitely going to be a point of emphasis for us. We know what type of defense we’re going up against and how talented they are up front and in the backend, so we have to be sharp. Definitely the ball has to come out quick.”
Does it mean something to you to be getting another NFL start here, as a Texan?
“Yeah, it’s really cool. This place and this city is definitely going to have a special place in my heart no matter what through all the times I’ve been here and being drafted here and everything and all the history. It’s definitely cool.”
Have you had a chance to talk to QB Tom Savage this week?
“Yeah, absolutely. I’ve talked to him a bunch and he’s feeling good and just going through the protocol.”
Have you had a chance to see the hit on QB Tom Savage and how the NFL handled it?
“It’s pretty scary stuff, obviously. You don’t want anybody to go through that, especially one of your friends and your teammates. When you see stuff like that, you just think about (how) it’s so much more than football. He’s got a family, he’s got a beautiful daughter and it’s definitely scary when you see stuff like that and as far as how the whole thing was handled, I know for a fact that nobody on the sideline, coaches, players, medical staff, nobody had any idea that happened. We didn’t know until we saw the video. So, all the blame that’s being passed around, it is what it is. There was one guy that had a pretty good look at it and it was that ref that was standing over him. Obviously that has to be addressed because that’s a scary situation for anybody and I hope that Tom gets back as quick as possible.”
Do you think the change in the concussion protocol needs to come from the people in the protocol, the spotter and the ref?
“That’s their job. The spotter, the guy’s supposed to be looking at it on film and the ref that was standing two feet away from Tom (Savage) looking at him when it happened. The whole team, all the coaches and the medical staff, the unaffiliated neurological consultant, we’re all 50 yards away. We had no idea that it happened. But we’re just hoping that Tom gets back quick and hoping the best for him.”
Are you a little concerned that a player can pass the concussion protocol on the sideline knowing what it looks like on the field?
“Yeah. Every concussion’s different. I’ve had one before. You can never categorize two concussions as the same. Obviously there’s going to be holes in the system but you can never treat any of them as the same. You’ve got to treat every single one different and they’re all completely different, no matter what. That’s a sticky situation and obviously the protocol, no matter what it is, has to be improved and it will continue to improve with all the situations that are happening.”
How much do you appreciate having WR DeAndre Hopkins and what do you think of the work he’s done this year?
“He’s incredible. Like I’ve said a million times before, he’s a security blanket and he’s one of the best receivers in the league and he makes it easy on me. Obviously we’re going to try to give him the ball as much as possible, but we’re going up against a tough defense that knows that, too, and they’ve got some great guys in the secondary. We’re going to have to scheme up our best work to try to get everybody the ball.”
What do you think of Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye?
“I was around here when A.J. was undrafted and everybody knew back then he had some talent. He just kept improving and improving over the years and getting better and better and he’s continued to do that almost every single year. To become the player he is now, it’s really cool to see, going from an undrafted free agent to one of the best corners in the league.”
How exciting is it to have a good matchup with WR DeAndre Hopkins and Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye?
“It’s the best matchup you can get on Sunday. It’s going to be cool to watch them. They’re going to be going at it. Everybody’s going to be going at it on the field. It’s going to be a tough battle and hopefully we can come out on top.”
Can you talk about being able to start on Sunday after getting the call a few weeks back and having to leave your family behind?
“It’s pretty cool. My wife and my other son have been here quite often, as much as they can. We’re thinking about my son, he’s still in the NICU in Atlanta. He’ll probably be there for a little while longer, but he’s doing great and he’s growing. Obviously we had to jump at this situation when it came and my wife and my family have been extremely supportive no matter what and my family back home that’s been helping out with my wife when I’m not there. It’s been kind of a group effort with our whole family and friends and our whole support group back home. So, it’s been really cool.”
CONFERENCE CALL WITH JAGUARS HEAD COACH DOUG MARRONE
What does it mean to know that you can clinch a playoff spot on Sunday?
“Right now – probably the organization can speak for it better than me. Right now, what I’m trying to do is just to make sure that our team is focused on the task at hand, like obviously today’s practice, and then getting ready for an in-division opponent and one that we have a great deal of respect for. Let’s go day-to-day, play game-to-game and then after it’s all over, we’ll look back and look at the season and see what happens.”
The Jaguars lead the NFL in total defense, sacks takeaways and turnover ratio. What can you attribute the success to and how important is it to win the turnover battle?
“Well, obviously, it’s a very important statistic where it goes to winning and losing games. I think that if you try to point a finger at one thing, it’s very difficult to do. I think it’s been collective, meaning that the rush has been doing a good job, we’ve been able to get some balls out that way. We’ve been able to get to the quarterback at times because of our coverage with the linebackers and the secondary and then at times, the secondary’s been able to hold up coverage-wise and force bad decisions or strip-sacks or things of that nature. I think it’s really a combination of all the 11 players that are on the field that’s given us the ability, plus, you can’t be in the positive unless you’re doing a good job on offense and special teams and that’s something that we’ve got to continue to do and not give the ball away.”
What has been the role of Jaguars DL Marcell Dareus and what do you expect of him going forward?
“We expect him to play well and be able to perform and contribute to a defense that we feel has a lot of good players around him. I’ve been with him before, I’ve seen the level that he can play at. The last time I was with him, he was a Pro Bowl player. We got him in here and he’s fit in well and he’s doing a good job.”
What have you seen from Texans OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney and what can he do to a game?
“I mean, obviously he’s a great player, one of the best players in the league at his position, and he can literally, by himself, take over a game. He can change the course of a game, take over a game. He’s one of 10 players on that defense, but he’s one than that is extremely talented, gives great effort, can make all the plays, rush the quarterback, make plays, tackles for loss, strip-sacks, strip runners, big hits, knock people back in the backfield. He’s a Pro Bowl player.”
What can you say about Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins, who seems to make plays regardless of who’s throwing him the ball?
“Ever since he’s come out of college, he’s been an outstanding football player. I said today, ‘If he’s not the best, and I’d love to see who the next best is, he’s one of the two best receivers in this league.’ He just has the style. His hands are just off the charts, how great they are. The great catches he makes, the way he can control his body, use his body, his speed. I don’t know if you can stop a player like him. It’s just a matter of trying to contain him so this way he can’t hurt you, but that’s very difficult to do. He’s another one that’s a great player.”
Has former Texan and current Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye lived up to your expectations and what do you think about his matchup with Texans WR DeAndre Hopkins?
“DeAndre Hopkins is a tough matchup for anyone. We’ve played a lot of good receivers this year and it’s not a matter of one defensive back, whether it’s A.J., Jalen (Ramsey) or T-Gip (Tashaun Gipson) or (Aaron) Colvin or Barry Church. We all have to play well in the scheme and one of the things is if you don’t have a good pass rush, you’re not going to be able to cover any of the receivers and we know it’s not just DeAndre Hopkins, but they’re getting a couple of their receivers back. Obviously (Will) Fuller’s (V) playing and we expect Braxton Miller to play. We know that they’re going to be at full strength at that position and it’s going to be a great challenge for us.”
How impressed have you been with Jaguars DL Calais Campbell and his ability to get to the quarterback?
“I think anyone who’s been around in this league for a long period of time knows how good of a player Calais is and his production there. I think he brought a lot to our team as far as that veteran-type player who leads by example, always taking care of his body, really studying film. I think we’re fortunate to have good players around him and at times be able to free him up where he’s been able to do some good things for us. We have a pretty good rotation in there with the defensive line. Those guys are really working hard and studying film, so they’ve got to continue to do that because it will be a challenge this week.”
What are your thoughts on Texans QB T.J. Yates and his ability to step in for this team?
“I think he’s shown that he can do that. I think he can make all the throws. He’s been in this league for obviously seven years, back to 2011 when he played. He has really good arm strength. He can throw an excellent deep ball, he has a good, quick release, can get the ball out. He’s a veteran guy and he’s someone that can expose and get after our defense. We’ve got to be up to that challenge and be ready for him. I’m sure he’s going to come out and schematically, their coaching staff does an outstanding job of putting their players in good position and we’re going to be challenged both schematically and from a talent level.”
What do you think about the job Texans Head Coach Bill O’Brien has done given all the adversity this season?
“I think he’s an outstanding coach. He’s one of the best coaches that I’ve ever coached with. I think, again, he knows how this league is. He’s been through it a lot. They’ve been through the hurricane, they’ve had an enormous amount of injuries, more than most teams. But when you turn the tape on, gosh, those guys are playing extremely hard. Schematically, they’re putting them in positions where they can make plays. So, we understand that it’s a division game and I know that this team, the Texans, will be ready to come in and give us their best game and we’ve got to play extremely well. It’s a tough challenge for us.”
What can you attribute your success to since Week 1?
“We’re just trying to keep our heads down and just keep working and really, being where we are in the day that we’re there, meaning that, hey listen, today, we’re just trying to have the best Wednesday practice we can have and make sure that we’re ready to go Thursday and not really look at the records or anything of that nature. Just trying to make sure that we can gear things up so when we go out on the field on Sunday, we can put together a performance that we’re proud of and have the ability to win a football game. So, we really haven’t looked at things as a whole, we’re really just trying to keep it micro in what we’re doing as a team.”