Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(opening statement) "We have put a lot of thought into this quarterback position from OTAs to the point now where we are, about two preseason games, all those practices, everything into training camp. We spoke to the quarterbacks this morning around 7:40. Spoke to the team at 8:00. We told the group, the quarterbacks first and then the team that we're going to name Brian Hoyer the starting quarterback for our team right now. I talked to you guys yesterday about the fact that this is the third game of the preseason where we want to try to get into more of a regular season routine here and treat it as such, as a regular season game. I felt like it was very important to give Brian the chance to run our offense all week, you know, knowing that he was the starter going into this game. This game will be treated the same way schematically. We're not going to go into this game and basically show everything that we've been working on for the last six months, but we'll give him the chance to start the game and play with the offense for a while in this game."
"This was a very tough decision. But that's why Bob McNair pays me what he pays me, to make tough decisions as far as who's playing on the field. It was a very tough decision. A lot of people are probably going to ask me, 'was it a true competition?' There's absolutely no doubt about the fact that it was a true competition. Both guys competed from day one. They both have a lot of respect for each other. They're both good teammates. They're both good in the locker room, smart guys. They're both good quarterbacks. In the end, I thought that Brian showed me the most consistency, the most composure in certain situations, the experience in our system, all those different things that go into the fact that I think he's ready to be our starter."
"I have a ton of respect for Ryan Mallett. I believe in him as a player. I believe in Ryan Mallett as a player. Last year, we played four quarterbacks and I used that as an example with him because I told him, I said, 'you have to prepare every single week like you're the starter. You have to be ready to play at a moment's notice. I believe that he understands that. I'm sure that he doesn't agree with the decision, but I can tell you that he's a professional football player and he'll handle himself in such a way that we all expect from him."
"I know that maybe one of the questions from you guys will be, 'is Brian Hoyer on a short leash?' The way I would answer that is basically I think we're all on a short leash. I'm on a short leash. It's a league that's based on winning. You have to win. It's a results-oriented league. I wouldn't use the term, necessarily 'short leash' or anything like that, but Brian knows that he's got to go in there and earn it every day. Play well in the games and then go from there. They all understand that this is a results oriented business and that's the way it is every day in here. That's the way the NFL is set up. That's the way we treat it here in the building every single day."
"Some people may ask me, do I think that Brian Hoyer is the long-term solution at quarterback for this organization? What I'll say to you is this, I'll say that we all need to give Brian Hoyer a chance. He's got an opportunity here. He's got an opportunity to go in there as a starter and make the most of his opportunity. Like I've said in the past, I believe in him. I believe in his ability to run our offense efficiently. I believe in his experience in our offense. I think he's shown in the past that he can be a successful starting quarterback. That's what we know going into today. That's basically why I wanted you guys to come here at 1:30 p.m. Sorry it was kind of a last minute deal. But just wanted to be able to talk to you guys about it and then answer any questions that you may have."
(on if he expects QB Brian Hoyer to play better now that the competition is over) "We'll see. We'll see. I think that there's something to be said for that, when you know you're the starter and you can go in there and maybe get a few more reps (repetitions). We talked to them about the reps. The reps will change, but they won't change drastically. Brian may get more reps. The reps have been basically equal all the way through. Now, Brian may get a few more reps. Ryan (Mallett) may not get as many reps as he has in the past, but he's still going to get a lot of reps because we have to get him ready to play, too. With the added reps for Brian, hopefully that gives him a chance to continue to improve and improve in his knowledge of what we're trying to do with our system and go from there."
(on if he targeted this week to name his starting quarterback) "I think it was more about the process. I think we didn't target any specific date. Yesterday was the player's day off, so the players weren't here yesterday. Obviously, as a coaching staff, we were in here early and late into the night. Again, I made the decision. I think it's a decision that's in the best interest of the team at this point in time. But it wasn't like a specific date that we targeted. It was just- it's time to name a starter. We feel like we have enough information to do that and let Brian (Hoyer) go do it. Let's go out there and try to be as good as we can offensively."
(on if anything changed between yesterday and today) "I don't think anything happened. Again, when I came down here basically, we came in and we watched the tape. The game was over- I think I didn't get home the night of the game until about midnight, so I didn't watch much of the tape obviously that night right after the game, a little bit of it. Then really kind of went through it all and just, again, it wasn't anything that changed from that point to this point. It was just more about, a lot of thoughts gone into it and it's time to make a decision in the best interest of the team to try to get a little bit more cohesion on offense and see if we can be a little bit more consistent. That's the decision that we made."
(on how close of a competition it was) "Like I said, I think that it's been a close competition. I think in the end you take a lot of different factors into account. It's the practices. It's the different situations that we put them in. It's the meetings. The off the field things. It's the consistency of the performance over time and it's really not something that there's a drastic difference between the two. It's just that I feel like Brian's been a little bit more consistent since OTA's to the point where we are now in training camp. This is the decision that I made."
(on if he will play the starting offense for three quarters this weekend) "I don't know. I think we're still talking about that because, again, some of our positions on offense from a depth standpoint we've got to be really understanding of where we're at. I know that Brian will get some good repetitions in the game. Ryan Mallett will get some repetitions in the game. (Tom) Savage will play in the game. I know that all three will play in the game. I just can't really tell you exactly how many plays each guy will play."
(on how announcing the starting quarterback will benefit the rest of the team) "I think that it's really for all of us to be more detail orientated, to understand the situation of the game, to try to get into a better rhythm. I think this will hopefully help us get into a better rhythm offensively. I think it's tough when you're switching quarterbacks in and out of there in a competition like we had. It's tough for those guys to always get into a rhythm. Hopefully, we'll get into a little bit better rhythm offensively. Brian (Hoyer) and Ryan (Mallett) will just continue to get better and improve. That's what the league is all about. It's a progress league, so hopefully we'll see improvement with all of our players."
(on if teammates respond differently to QB Brian Hoyer and QB Ryan Mallett) "They both have different styles. They're two different people, but they both communicate well with their teammates. I think their teammates both have respect for them. As far as that goes, no. I think that both guys have a lot of respect in the locker room. They know, the team knows that it was a very competitive situation and the team knows that basically what I just told you guys, this is a results oriented business and Brian's got to go in there and play well then we'll go from there."
(on what he would like to see from QB Ryan Mallett going forward) "What I expect to see from Ryan is a continued good work ethic. Really striving to improve. Be a good teammate, be supportive. But be ready to play, have the mentality that I have to prepare like I'm the starter. I think if he does that, I kind of used, with him I used the example of Ryan Fitzpatrick last year. Last year, we made the switch from Ryan to Ryan. I thought that Fitzy, even though he didn't agree with the decision, Fitzy handled it very, very well. If you remember, obviously, Ryan was injured in the Cincinnati game and had to go to IR. Fitzy came back in and threw, I think, six touchdown passes in the following game and really did a good job of handling the situation for what it was. Kept sharp, kept mentally sharp and was ready to go back in when called upon, if called upon. I use that as an example and I think you'll see the similar handling of the situation from Ryan."
(on QB Brian Hoyer and the Browns playing well early last season but struggling in the second half) "I can remember- I think that's an interesting question. Just so we're clear though, we evaluated these guys as to what they did here. We didn't really take into account anything other than that. But we watched that game, so just to answer that question, I thought that he did some really good things in situational football with Cleveland. Before we went up there in preparation for that game, watching him against Atlanta, watching him against Tennessee, I believe it was, where he in the two minute situation and was able to lead those guys back to victory. I thought that there were some really good things that he did last year up until our game. After our game, I didn't watch Cleveland, so I have no idea what happened there. In preparation, those were things that I noticed."
(on what he likes about QB Brian Hoyer) "I think he's a smart guy. He's really got a really good work ethic. He works extremely hard. He wants to be good. He has a passion for the game. He's got a really good understanding of our system. He's got a lot of energy, lot of bounce to his step. He's good in the huddle. He's got good huddle command. He understands how to manage the game. We have to see that now, we have to see that on the field, but I believe that he does. I just think that he's done a good job on a consistent basis throughout the time that he's been here."
(on RB Arian Foster's expected return date) "I don't have any update on you there, I really don't. You know, he's in here rehabbing but we really haven't spoken about where he's at from a date-of-return standpoint. I know that he's working hard in rehab, and he's really trying to get back to playing as quickly as he can."
(on if S Andre Hal has secured the starting safety spot) "That's a competition, that's a competition. I think that Dre Hal has done a good job in training camp. He's a good special teams guy, he's improved as a safety, he's got corner capability too so that's a good thing, he's versatile. But there's other guys that have played well at that position, I would mention Eddie Pleasant. Eddie Pleasant has played well at that position very competitively, and then there's other guys. We're waiting to see if we can get Lonnie Ballentine back on the field here. Hopefully he'll be back out there this week, but there's other guys there, but Dre has had a solid camp."
(on why some people think QB Brian Hoyer will be more successful in Houston than he was in Cleveland) "Only time will tell on that, but we again, like I said earlier, we believe in him, we know that he understands our system, we like the energy and the intelligence that he brings to the system. We like the fact that he has poise, and got-to-have-it type situations in games, and he's a guy that's a good communicator with his teammates. We're going to go with Brian, and like I said it's a results oriented business and Brian's got to go out there and play well and Brian knows that. Brian's been around for a while now, since '09 and he understands the business he's seen all sides of it. He's seen all sides of the business, he's been cut, he's been the starter, he's made the team as an undrafted free agent. He's seen every bit of pro football that you can see from that position, as far as his six years in the league. That's the decision that we made and we're looking forward to seeing how it goes."
(on if QB Brian Hoyer's experience level is a good thing for him) "I think football is an interesting deal. I think football really teaches you a lot about getting knocked down, and being able to pick yourself back up. I think that's a big, that's a big part of the National Football League. If you look at some of the best players personally that I've ever coached, there's guys right here. You know Michael Mohammed, if you look at Mike Mohammed, linebacker for us, I mean how many times has he been released from a team and I would tell you right now that Michael Mohammed is an important guy on our football team. He's a good special teams player, a good sub linebacker, can play on first and second down, so these types of guys that have been through a lot of different things and been down and picked themselves back up, that's a part of their mental toughness, that's a good thing."
(on how QB Brian Hoyer is different from when he worked with Hoyer at the beginning of Hoyer's career) "Well I can tell you that he's married, he has children, he's a lot different. When he was- they grow up, they go from young men to men. When he came in to New England as an undrafted guy out of Michigan State, he was a wide-eyed guy but he settled down pretty quickly and he made that team. He beat out a couple guys that had been there for a while and he backed up Tom (Brady). For a long time there we only kept two quarterbacks, Tom and him, so he did a good job in that situation. But from that point to where we are now, his foundation is the same, but his life has changed certainly."
(on it saying a lot about QB Brian Hoyer that he started as an undrafted free agent and is now a starting quarterback) "Yeah I think he, like I said, he's a guy that, he has mental toughness. Not only what you just said, but he's had the knee injury, he's had to deal with injury, and he's got some mental toughness. He's been through it, he understands the business, he knows clearly what the demands of the job are and he knows that in the end that he needs to go out there and play well for the 2015 team. I think he understands that each year is different and he understands where he is right now in his career and he really wants to make the most of this. Like I said, we made the decision and we're looking forward to seeing how it goes."
(on if OLB Jadeveon Clowney will play this weekend against the Saints) "No. Nope. He'll be out there practicing, but he won't play in this game."
(on QB Brian Hoyer being able to take sacks or throw away the ball and move on quickly) "Yeah I think he's got the ability to understand that. Now within our system here relative to the last couple games, I don't put a whole lot of stock in the games, I put more stock in what's been going on in practice and things like that. When we go into these games, we're not really game planning for these teams. Now we expect our players to play well, we want to win the game, but I put more stock in what goes on in practice. I think over time he's shown the ability to make smart decisions for the team. He's been consistent about that and that will continue, if he can continue on that path and continue to make smart decisions for the team then we'll be in good shape."
(on if he's glad the decision is made behind him) "No, it doesn't change anything for me. I just approach every day, I try to have a good work ethic, and I really, I really try every single day to make the best decision for this team. I really believe in this group of guys. I know that we have to make some decisions here in a couple weeks, but the group that's in that locker room right now has put a lot of time, a lot of work into it, they're a great group to work with, so I just try to match that work ethic every day and try to do the best I can to make sure the players know that we're working hard to put them in good positions to win."
(on if they're happy with the decision to sign both quarterbacks and bring them here) "Absolutely, absolutely. We definitely, we feel really good about the quarterback play that we've had in practice. We feel good about where we are as an offense right now relative to where we were at this point last year, and so yes we think that those decisions are good decisions. We don't really look back on those types of things but we feel good about where we are right now and trying to build what we're trying to build here."