Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney
WR DeAndre Hopkins
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
How impressive is it that WR DeAndre Hopkins leads the NFL in touchdown receptions considering you have had multiple changes at quarterback?
“Yeah, it’s impressive. He’s had a great year. He’s so competitive for the ball. His route running, the way that he plays on Sundays, he’s a very tough cover. Even when he’s doubled, we still throw him the ball. He’s come up with some huge plays for us and it’s really good. The touchdowns are obviously an added bonus for him. He’s done a great job, whether it’s on deep balls or red area or things like that. So, he’s been a big weapon for us, obviously.”
How has WR Will Fuller V been getting back into the swing of things?
“I think Will (Fuller V), that was a pretty serious injury he had against the Rams. Not to get into the details of it, but that’s an injury that takes a while to come back from, and I think that he’s a tough guy. So, he’s back in there, he’s had a good couple days here. So, looking forward to having him back in.”
Are any players cleared from the concussion protocol or is everyone still in it?
“Everybody’s in the protocol that was (yesterday), yes.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
What do you see from the Jaguars offense now as opposed to the beginning of the season?
“I think that it’s a lot of similar stuff. I mean, they have a way that they want to play the game. They want to play it physical. They want to play it with (Leonard) Fournette, with (Chris) Ivory, with (T.J.) Yeldon, with their backs. And they’re mixing in play-action pass or mixing in the boots. Keeping it to third and manageable. They’ve done a good job with that. They’ve taken care of the ball. I know they’ve only had 14 turnovers and they’ve gotten 30. So, that’s going to be huge for us.”
Can you talk about what you saw in ILB Brian Cushing in his first game back?
“Brian ran around. He was active. Admittedly rusty, but why wouldn’t he be? So, we’re just working him back in there and it’s getting him some reps. And he played hard and he came out with some plays.”
How challenging is it to you to try to do what you want to do considering all the guys that are not on defense from last year?
“I think it’s part of the job. I think that’s what’s the responsibility is, is to try to get guys ready to play, try to figure out who’s going to play, what they know, what they can do and ultimately, giving them enough information that they can play fast and go make some plays. I think that that’s what we do every week. Really, regardless of who’s in there, we have to put the guys that can make some plays in the position to make plays and everybody else has to do their job and play fast and aggressive.”
How is CB Kevin Johnson playing?
“Playing? I mean, we’re not coaching very well. When we lose, we’re not playing very well and we’re not coaching very well. That’s the easy answer. But, I think that as far as Kevin goes, you see, the thing that I don’t mind is I don’t mind aggressive penalties. I think that we’re challenging and trying to play the ball. Clearly, we’d like to not have penalties. But, it’s not like he’s not competing on the ball and not trying to make a play. The worst play is the underthrown ball. You’re challenging and trying to make a play and it’s an underthrown ball. So, those happen, those came up. So, like a lot of guys, we just have to be able to mix in the coverages, mix in the rush and make sure that everything’s working together in unison, that the coverage gives us a half extra second and then the rush speeds the quarterback’s process up.”
How tough is it when you lose a corner like CB A.J. Bouye?
“We knew that in March. So, that’s nothing that really, we didn’t even bat an eye at that. We went on and we got good guys in there. We have to play man. We have to play zone. We have to do what we do. The only thing I’ll say about A.J. (Bouye) is it’s a great example of young players in this league sticking with it, developing on the practice squad, developing in practice, playing against great receivers, starting receivers, covering (DeAndre) Hopkins, covering the guys that we’ve had, Andre Johnson, and then making a great career and a great life for himself. I think that that’s a great example that guys can say, ‘Man, I wasn’t drafted here,’ or ‘I’m not playing.’ You get out there on the practice field and you’re practicing. If you can practice and compete against the starters on your own team, people are watching around the league.”
What’s the signal to you that maybe we’ve tried too much and we need to pare this back so guys can just let it flow and then what’s realistic to get guys ready to go that are in new spots?
“You look at the tempo. You kind of look at the tempo and what’s your plan. You look at their eyes. You look at kind of reaction and then say, ‘Hey, listen, we may not have that, let’s just go back and pare it down a little bit.’ So, I think there’s a lot of things that you look at. How sure is the player? You kind of look at his movements and say, ‘OK, he’s pretty sure. He’s pretty sure. He knows what he’s doing. There’s a little hesitation, so maybe we shouldn’t have that in there.’”
What is it like for you having a weapon like DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney and knowing that the offense is going to do everything they can to try to neutralize him, and yet you try to take advantage of his strengths?
“Well, I think that JD (Jadeveon Clowney), I think that he likes doing those different things. You know what I mean? I think you have to – these kids nowadays, you have to stimulate them. You know what I mean? I have a 17-year old, I have a 15-year old. JD is closer to them in age than us, so you have to stimulate him. You have to give him stuff to do. You have to change things up. He actually embraces that. We always said for a long time the new stuff they always seem to study and learn a lot quicker than maybe the stuff that we were doing every day in OTAs. So, continually try to give them stuff to do, put them in spots that takes advantage of his skillset and what he can do, and I think he embraces that.”
What is the challenge of trying to tame Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette and the Jaguars running game?
“I’ll tell you that in the first game, since you did a good job – because that’s the exact same thing I told our defense – I said ‘Guys, you played the run great. We had a two-minute run that we closed our eyes on and we fell asleep on, but if you look at the first Jaguars game, I think they ran the ball 39 times. I think they ran it 34 times – I’m going to be off a couple yards – for probably 82 yards. I think everybody would say that’s probably good run defense. Unfortunately, they ran another five times, I think, for 72 (yards). So, that’s how you get 155, is five runs of 17, 16, 14, 12, 10. So, we just have to play the 34 like we did and not give up the five, basically, big play runs.”
How tough is Jaguars RB Leonard Fournette to tackle?
“He’s a load. He’s a load. He’ll come downhill. He’ll stiff arm. He’s got good feet. He’s got a good spin. He’s a good football player.”
What have you seen in the last couple games from Jaguars QB Blake Bortles and how all of a sudden he’s playing well with no interceptions?
“There were a few times where it was a clean look and he was able to make it. I think he ran a double-move for a touchdown. They got a favorable matchup on (Keelan) Cole, 75-yarder, him coming across the field on a linebacker. Threw a couple fades up to the backside. So, I think if it’s right in front of them and it’s clean, I think every quarterback in the league enjoys that and they like that. I think he’s starting to build some confidence, obviously. (Marqise) Lee is a guy that he’s always liked, but you look at (Keelan) Cole and (Dede) Westbrook, guys that are coming on. They have 11 X-plays between them and Westbrook’s only been out there a few games.”
OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What have you seen from the Jaguars in terms of improvements?
“The same thing I’ve seen the first time. They want to run the ball downhill. We’ve got to stop the run.”
How strange is it to see the Jaguars turn things around so quickly?
“They picked up a lot of people in the offseason. They’ve got a great defense. We’ve got to go in there and bring our A-game. We’ve got to be physical. It’s going to be a physical game.”
How tough has this season been for you since you’re not used to losing?
“No, I’m not, but I don’t want to get used to it, either. Try to put this one behind us. We can’t make the playoffs now but we’ve got to finish strong and try to get ready for Jacksonville. We’re still looking for that win and hopefully (we) go down there and get it.”
Are you proud of the individual work you’ve done?
“Oh, all the time. I take pride in that. Regardless of what our record is, I go out there every week and try to perform at a high level for this team and for myself. It’s something I take pride in.”
Do you feel like this is the best you’ve ever played?
“I think I can get better. I still think I can get better. Last year I was good, everybody asked me is the best you’ve been, I said I was going to get better next year. I think I’m pulling that out and have a better season. So yeah, I think I’ll be better next year.”
Do you get excited about getting better?
“I’m going to keep getting better. Yeah, I get excited about it because I know my potential and I just say I’m going to keep improving year-in and year-out as long as I stay healthy.”
Is it exciting to meet and exceed your potential?
“It’s very exciting. I put a lot of work in after my injury to get back out there and worked extremely hard last year to be better than I was the year before. I’m going to go do the same thing this offseason.”
You’re still chasing your 10th sack of the season.
“Yeah, I know. I’m hitting the quarterback, though. It’s all right, it’s going to come. Just keep playing.”
What’s different about Jacksonville’s physicality and how do you match that?
“They’re really trying to lean on their defense, pick the ball, make us try to make turnovers. Exactly what we did the year before, lean on that strong defense and try not to make turnovers and keep the game tight and try to push everything in. We just have to bring our game. We’ve been physical all season, we’re just not finishing the games like we need to.”
Are you frustrated when you get quarterback hits without sacks?
“Very frustrated. I missed one last game, but I was hitting him. I was just putting pressure on him, trying to make plays. Teams look for me all the time, so I’m always getting extra guys or something but it’s part of the game. Just get ready for this week.”
How much of your team’s competitiveness from Head Coach Bill O’Brien and how much is from yourselves?
“I think that’s just us taking pride in ourselves. I don’t really care about all of that other stuff. I take pride in myself. The minute I step on that field, it’s really just name on the back, so it’s not any coaching. I think every guy in here takes pride in that, just being good for themselves, not anybody else. Never really come out and play this game for (somebody else).”
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
How much you like matchups with top corners like Jaguars CBs A.J. Bouye and Jalen Ramsey?
“I love it, man. It’s what I live for.”
What did you think about how QB T.J. Yates did when he came into the game last week?
“I think he did a great job for a guy that wasn’t able to throw with the number one team that much. I think he did a great job coming in, threw two touchdowns, moved the ball up and down the field. Some things I’m sure he wants to work on, but I think he did good.”
Do you expect QB T.J. Yates to be even better with a full week of practice?
“Of course, without a doubt. He’s been here before in this offense for a little while, but he’s definitely improving.”
How proud are you of the player Jaguars CB A.J. Bouye has become?
“He’s a good player.”
Do you like being a boost to QB T.J. Yates, who considers you his security blanket?
“I do. That’s why it’s a challenge for me to go out and be able to play with a quarterback who hasn’t played with us often just to show the world that it doesn’t mean you need a Pro Bowl quarterback or you need a 100 percent rated quarterback to get the job done at the wide receiver position. So, to me, it’s a challenge and I love it.”
Do you take pride in leading the NFL with 11 receiving touchdowns despite playing with three different quarterbacks?
“I do. That’s not easy, but that’s how I was raised, to work and come out and don’t make any excuses no matter who’s throwing you the ball because you see other guys, statistically, when their quarterback goes down, whatever they’re doing, their stats go down. I can’t be that guy because I’ve had to play with multiple quarterbacks my whole career, so I know how to adjust on the fly.”
What makes the matchup with Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey so fun?
“I know he’s a good, young player. I know what he likes to do on the field, I know his game. I think it’s fun. It’s entertaining. If you’re not having fun, why are you out there on the field? There’s no point in being out there. He played at Florida State, so that’s a college rival of mine. I just like messing with the kid.”
How proud are you of this team’s effort?
“Tough team, man. We’re going to fight until it’s 00:00 on the board.”
Texans PR tweeted out a statistic about where your season ranks historically and you responded, “Shhh don’t tell em.” Is that because you feel underappreciated by the league and media?
“No, I just really don’t want my stats to show what I’ve been doing to be put out yet until I’m done with my career so people really appreciate my work.”