Head Coach Bill O’Brien
Defensive Coordinator Mike Vrabel
OLB/DE Jadeveon Clowney
ILB Brian Cushing
HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
Will WR DeAndre Hopkins play on Sunday?
“We’re kind of working with him on some different things and probably won’t know right up until game time.”
How did WR DeAndre Hopkins get hurt?
“I mean, I’m not going to talk about that, what he did.”
How much do you feel like there could be a lot of change here in the offseason?
“Yeah, look, we’re focused on the game, really. I’m telling you, we’re focused on Indianapolis. Whatever happens after Indianapolis is – some of it’s not up to any of us, some of it is. But right now we’re focused on the game.”
How do you look at how K Ka’imi Fairbairn’s done for you this year?
“Look, I think he’s got a really good future. I think he’s a very talented kicker that has to be more consistent, like most young kickers in the league. But he’s very, very talented. He’s got a good demeanor for that position and I think he’s got a real good future.”
What do you think about what ILB Dylan Cole did for you this season?
“He did some really good things. I mean, he was injured, so he missed a lot of time with the hamstring, but he did a lot of – when he was in there on special teams, made plays. Made some plays on defense. Very active player. Nothing’s too big for him. Came from a small school (but it) doesn’t really matter to him. He comes in there and competes and plays at a high level.”
When you evaluate a coaching staff at the end of the season, what’s the criteria that you use to do so and is there anything that you weigh more than anything else?
“I’m not going to get into that. Right now really I am focused on the Indianapolis game and that’s what our coaches are focused on.”
If WR DeAndre Hopkins doesn’t play this Sunday, considering the season he’s had, how tough will that be?
“Look, it’ll be – we’ll have to kind of see where it is on Saturday and then Sunday before the game. You know what I mean? But, look, if you don’t have Hop (DeAndre Hopkins), obviously you’re missing some production there, but other guys have to step up. Again, I would say that’ll be a decision made more toward game time.”
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR MIKE VRABEL
What has Colts QB Jacoby Brissett done to help him be 2-0 against you guys?
“They were able to – looking back, it’s a long time ago I think with New England – but they had a good plan. He ran the ball. There were a couple scheme runs with him at quarterback, and then most recently, they were able to hit some big plays on us. That’s what they did the last time. They hit some big plays and that really cost us the game. I think that we played well. We played physical. We did a good job on third down. But if you just look at the big plays, that probably cost us defensively the first game.”
How do you explain Colts WR T.Y. Hilton’s success? You guys have shut him down, but he’s also had some good games.
“Not in recent memory, last game, but anyways, I think that they’re good players. These guys are top five, top ten players at their position when you talk about a guy like T.Y. Hilton. He’s quick. He’s fast. He’s competitive. He’s a good route runner. He’s able to break in, break away, break off a leverage. A catch-and-run guy. He’s a good deep ball, he’s good adjusting to the deep ball. So, quite a challenge.”
What would you like to see from your guys on Sunday as you play the last game of the year?
“I’d like to see the same thing I hope to see every week, is that we’re physical. We’re competitive. We have an aggressive mindset. We play the next play. We stay together. We play in tune. We communicate. All the same things we talk about every week about trying to play good defense. And then just not giving up big plays.”
How has ILB Brian Cushing looked to you since he’s been back?
“Good. I mean, he’s been fine. He’s in there. He’s working. He’s active. He’s doing everything we ask him to do. He’s playing a new position for us because of necessity, and that’s where we’re at.”
How is ILB Brian Cushing adjusting to playing outside?
“Fine. I mean, it’s what he has to do, and he knew that coming back. He’s helped us out there. We’re thin. I think we’ve had eight outside linebackers. I think me and Coach (Anthony) Weaver are the next two in, so we’ll see how it works.”
How have you seen ILB Dylan Cole improve this season?
“Well, we really liked what we saw from Dylan early and then the injury. That kind of set him back, obviously, from a time standpoint and then also just from a development standpoint of not practicing and not being out there, not getting the looks. But he does a good job. He can run around and he’s got good speed. So, he’s a good young player that we’re excited to be able to work with and develop.”
Did you ever have to move to inside linebacker?
Is it a hard transition when you have to play it out of necessity for more than one game?
“Yeah. Ted Johnson got hurt one year and then Junior (Seau) broke his arm one year. So, I think that when you change positions – and we meet together, the inside guys, the outside guys. We meet together. So, you’re hoping that as you’re coaching one position, you’re coaching one guy, that guys are starting to pick up on some information. Now, that doesn’t always happen. For Brian’s (Cushing) case, he wasn’t here. But you can only do so much with certain guys and making sure that the guys you’re putting in those positions, they know what to do and you’re not putting them at a disadvantage. Use Max Bullough – we played Max Bullough inside, outside. It was out of necessity. We used Akeem Dent inside, outside. And now we’re trying to do the same thing with Brian.”
You were obviously better than former Patriots LB Ted Johnson, right?
“A lot better.”
What have you seen from CB Johnathan Joseph this year and, as an older player, his outlook?
“The outlook’s been great. I think the thing that I appreciate and we appreciate the most about J-Jo is he’s a pro. Talks to the guys, in his 12th year and he’s had – he talked about he’s only had five winning seasons in his 12 years, and it’s a great message to the young guys of just playing the game, being a professional. We have an obligation to the team, to the unit, to the teammates, of playing, preparing and competing.”
How do you explain Colts RB Frank Gore still being able to play at his age?
“I think that’s what we talked about the last week about these pros that love the game. He loves to compete. He loves to carry the football. He’s a good blocker. He’s always been a great player, great blocker. I admired him when he was in San Francisco. So, I think you try to emulate that, and probably his frustration as they’re not having the success that they would want to have, just like we aren’t. But he’s consistent, he’s dependable, all the things you talk about trying to be a good pro, durable. It’s kind of what you look for.”
OLB/DE JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What would you guys like to do in the last game of the season?
“Win. Win a game. That’s what we would like to do, just win. No matter how we get it done, no matter how it looks, just get a win.”
Do you think getting a win would be a good thing to carry over into next season?
“Of course. Who doesn’t? Who wants to end on a loss? We need a win, man. Whatever it takes, we just need a win right about now.”
What challenges does Colts QB Jacoby Brissett present?
“The guy can run. He can throw in the pocket and out of the pocket. I feel like we just have to get some pressure on him and stick tight to the receivers and we should get a win down there.”
How is it chasing that 10th sack of the season?
“I’m getting after the quarterback every game. The sacks are going to come. That’s due time. I don’t know. They say they come in bunches, so maybe I’ll get started this game and just keep rolling in this game. I only need like five or six to get up there, right? That would be good. It could be a five-sack game. The guy from Atlanta did it, why can’t I do it?”
Former Chiefs LB Derrick Thomas once recorded five sacks in a game.
“If he can do it, I can do it. That’s how I see it.”
How good can this defense be next year when players return from injury?
“We’re going to be good, man. We were ranked number one in the league, top-three in the league before that. We can get back to that real quick. I just think guys come back next year and get it together.”
How much do you want to know about the security of Head Coach Bill O’Brien?
“That’s not on me. I play football here. I don’t make those decisions. I like Bill as a coach, I’ll say that, but that isn’t on me to make those decisions. You have to talk to those guys. I’m here to play football.”
Are you hopeful that Bill O’Brien will return as head coach next year?
“Oh yeah, for sure. I like Bill.”
ILB BRIAN CUSHING
Is it tough to move to outside linebacker after playing inside for so long?
“Not really. I’ve done it before. The first week was a little difficult but obviously I’ve done it before. It’s a different scheme but I’m not too unfamiliar with it. I got the grasp of it, obviously, pretty quickly, but like I said, I’m just a football player so I can do both roles.”
What are the challenges of adapting to something different out there?
“You’re just in a different part of the field going against different skillsets, but at the same time, like I said, it’s football. A lot of it is reactions and responding to plays and just being able to do that.”
What is it like when you’re split out wide in coverage?
“Like I said, I’ve done it before. It’s all come back to me slowly. It’s situations I’ve been in before. It’s challenging. I accept the challenge so it’s fun to do.”
Have you thought about how much longer you’re going to play and how many more chances you have at winning a Super Bowl ring?
“Yeah, I’m getting up there, too, but at the same time I’d like to continue playing. The passion, fire, desire is all still there, so, definitely. Definitely. You do reflect and look on it every year, especially as you get older. Like I said, I’d like to continue to play.”
How tough is it to be where you guys are will all these injuries?
“It is, but you have years like that. Not every year is going to be a playoff year, Super Bowl contention year, so it’s all about how you respond. It’s all about how you respond and get back up on our feet. So, continue to finish the season out, play our best game we possibly can this coming Sunday.”
How hopeful are you that this staff returns next season?
“I am, yeah, absolutely. I mean, I think everybody is. I think what we’ve accomplished with this staff before has been good, it’s been special. I think we’ve had good years and like I said, you have years like this in the NFL. It’s a very competitive business and it happens but like I said, we’re all up to bounce back on our feet and respond.”
What do you like about Bill O’Brien and his staff?
“A lot of things. He’s very competitive, he loves football. I think he treats the guys fairly. He’s a player’s coach, so there’s a bunch of things that obviously we enjoy about him and being with him. He’s a very good coach and I think every person will attest to that and agree with me.”
How tough have all of the injuries been on the coaching staff and what they’re able to accomplish?
“I agree with you. It’s just been a very depleted roster but in the kind of physical nature that this game has, it’s an extremely physical sport and these things are going to happen, obviously just a lot to us this year. It’s been very unfortunate but I think the one thing you kind of judge is how hard the guys play. Every single game the guys are going to go out there and play as hard as they possibly can no matter who’s put out there, the circumstance or whatever. I think that’s one thing that is a direct reflection of the coach, is the competitive nature and how hard these guys play regardless of the situation. I think you can see that every game.”
Do you expect to be back next year?
“I don’t know. I’d like to. Does anyone know their future with their job next year? No, and that’s any profession. Would I like to? Obviously, of course. Like I said, I’d love to continue to play football. That’s not up to me. Like I said, we’ll see.”