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Houston Texans

DeMeco Drops: 'It's a process where guys have to learn, grow, develop, adapt to how the NFL works'


Head Coach DeMeco Ryans

On what went into the decision to cancel joint practices with the Saints this week

"Yeah, with cancelling the joint practices with the Saints, it's where we are as a team. [We're] a little banged up, so I thought it was in the best interest of our team and putting our guys first that we shouldn't do the joint practices, and [I'm] thankful to Dennis [Allen] and the Saints for the opportunity to have the joint practice and with them working with us, being understandable. Also, [I'm] thankful to our support staff – I'm probably putting them in a bind right now, but they've been very helpful. Everybody has been on board with what we're doing, and one thing we always talk about is [having a] team-first mentality, and that went into the decision, so [I'm] thankful for Cal [McNair] and his support and also our support staff."

On if there was a certain number of players that he felt they needed to be able to do joint practices

"It was just looking at our team and where we are now. I just felt that it wouldn't have been as productive as we would have liked it to be if we went to New Orleans, but the flip side of it is that we get the opportunity to treat this week as a normal, in-season game week for us. So, I think there [are] benefits to that for our whole entire team, our coaching staff to be able to go through the process of a normal, in-season week, and we'll see. We're not game planning against the Saints, but we'll just go through how we'll operate with the in-season schedule, and I think that will be beneficial to our guys."

On what he wants to see out of his players during practice this week

"Yes, with these practices, our guys are still competing – and what I want to see from our guys as we go out to practice is just improve on the fundamentals and the techniques. Things we need to improve on from the game, things we can get better at. It's things that we can control, which is encouraging, and so that's what I'm looking for [from] our guys is just [to] hone in on the details of their assignments, the details of their job, and see if we can get a little bit better this week – and I think this will be a great opportunity to do that going against each other."

On how many days of rehabilitation and rest he thinks will be necessary to get their bodies back and ready

"Each player is different when it comes to that rehabilitation process after guys play games. Some guys bounce back in two, three days. Some guys it takes a little longer, but each guy will be handled accordingly on an individual basis how it should be."

On the status of T Tytus Howard

"I think Tytus [Howard] is improving. He's doing well. I'm just pleased with where he is, and [I] look forward to him continuing to improve, but he's headed on the right track, for sure."

On what he saw on film that he believes contributed to the Dolphins' success on third downs in Saturday's game

"When it comes to third down, it always comes [down] to rush and coverage. So, the rush has to improve – we have to be better with the rush, and the coverage has to improve. When we want to play tight coverage, we have to be tight on our guys. We have to make it challenging. Make the offense make a tough throw [or a] tough catch to put them on their heels a bit, and we didn't do that. The coverage wasn't tight enough, the rush wasn't good enough, and if we want to play great on third down and get off the field, we have to be tighter on both ends."

On the status of DE Chase Winovich

"Chase [Winovich] is still dealing with some things, too. Hopefully he can get back to us pretty soon."

On what can be done this week to simulate practice for the quarterbacks similar to how it would have gone with the Saints

"With the quarterback, and with everyone, I think what we can do is we can kind of simulate as close as possible. We don't want to go all-in on simulating all [our] gameplan-type work, but we can give them different looks that they'll see from the Saints as best as we can to simulate that. It won't be – of course – as good as the joint practices actually going against a different opponent [and a] different scheme, but we'll try to get it as close as possible. At the end of the day, as long as our guys are prepared – we know what to do, we know how to do it, and we go control what we can control – I think that will be very beneficial for us."

On what he liked from the interior offensive line when evaluating the film from this week

"I thought Juice [Scruggs] did a really nice job of communicating, first and foremost. At that center position, we ask a lot of him in communicating, and you see a young guy as a rookie in him handle the communication that he has to handle up front. It's very impressive with how far along he is to be such a young player, so [I'm] very encouraged with where Juice is and knowing how much better he's going to be as he continues to get reps and continues to play with the same guys around him. So, it's impressive to see."

On the status of WR Tank Dell

"We'll see where he is. Still haven't gotten an update, but we'll see where he is."

On some of the passes QB C.J. Stroud made in Saturday's game and what it says about his accuracy and ball placement

"Yeah, with the passes that C.J. [Stroud] made, you see the accuracy [and] what you saw in college. You saw C.J. just playing comfortable, and it was exciting to see him just playing loose, making the throws that we've all seen him make in practice, [that] we've seen him make at Ohio State. So, you saw him just being himself and being comfortable, and that's what he can do. Just have to continue to get more reps so he can continue to be even more comfortable when he's in those game-like situations. Nothing is more important than getting reps – real, actual reps in games, and it was fun to see the game slow down a little bit and to see him make the plays that we've all seen him make."

On what the plan is to improve their run fits and tackling

"Yeah, with the tackling [and] with the run fits, it starts in walkthrough, and it starts just being attentive to the details of your job. And then with the tackling, we have to put them in as close to a live tackling session as possible. Most of the time with tackling, it's just about taking the proper angle and putting your body exactly where it's supposed to be, and that can improve. We'll emphasize that this week and see where our guys can get better."

On if there was a thought to call a timeout on third down at the goal line when there was ultimately a delay of game

"Yeah, there was a thought there. I could have been better just going down to save us – I thought we would be able to get lined up and we would get it off, but it seemed to be that we weren't going to get it done, so I could have sprinted down and got the timeout sooner."

On if that is one of those game operation things that he talks about with QB C.J. Stroud

"It's a team thing, overall. Starting with me first, I can be better there, and I will be better there."

On how him, offensive coordinator Bobby Slowik and defensive coordinator Matt Burke will plan out playing time for the starters this week

"Right, it's a great question. With the changes in practice, for us, we initially had the joint practices scheduled, but now with us just being here against each other, I think our plan with that will change, but we'll discuss that later in the week and I'll have updates for you later."

On dividing up play-calling responsibilities during the preseason

"We use the preseason in a way where [Matt] Burke has called the plays throughout the preseason, and I've had my input as well. It's been running fairly smoothly over the past two weeks."

On what he's learned about play calling over the last few weeks

"Yeah, I'm learning when either side of the ball is up, I'm available. That's how I view these past two weeks, that's how I've used it. I'm available to those guys on defense when I need to add some input, also on offense as well. It's been the communication flow, the workflow on the sideline, the communication amongst not only me and the coordinators, but our entire coaching staff. It's been excellent."

On the versatility at the middle linebacker position

"When you look at our linebacker position, it is about having the best three guys. We do play base defense. Not a lot of base defense is being played right now with the way the NFL is going – a lot more passing, a lot more 11-personnel – so you will see more two-linebacker sets or one-linebacker sets on a defense. So, it's about having who are those best guys – but it's more importantly about having the versatility of guys who can play multiple spots at the linebacker position. Not only linebacker, but secondary-wise – safety, nickel, corner – having guys who can do multiple roles. It just really helps us as a defense to be as flexible as possible."

On how the change in the cut deadline has helped the team

"I think the change in the cut is really – it's been very beneficial to a lot of the young players who probably wouldn't get that extra week of work to actually see improvement and see growth in their game to allow them to showcase a little bit more of what they can do to possibly be added to an active roster or practice squad. I think moving the cut day is really helpful to the guys where you get more opportunity, more time to spend with the guys. They get more reps in this last preseason game as well, so I think it's very beneficial. We know that there will be a lot of guys on the wire in one day, but you do get an extra look at guys, which I think is encouraging to a lot of these young guys who are putting in work from OTAs and training camp – they deserve the opportunity to get another week to showcase they belong. I'm happy with how it is right now."

On his philosophy in managing the last preseason game

"I find myself in a game manager role. I've found that it takes more than just myself, so I have a lot of good help when it comes to that game management role with other staff helping me out when it comes to that. It's been going pretty smooth."

On his philosophy of playing guys who are on the fringe of making the final roster

"We'll see. It's all a process. It won't be about – with the roster – it won't be about just one game or one week of practice. It's a cumulative – we've seen these guys for a long time – so it's a matter of, 'How have these guys shown improvement? What have they shown? Have they shown that, man, there is some promise – we would like to work with the guy. The guy has some tools to work with, he just needs a little bit more time.' I think you find that out throughout the course of time being with guys. It's not just a rash decision that's made at the end of cuts."

On DE Jacob Martin getting the start against Miami

"Jacob has done a good job in practice. He's been consistent in practice, and he's shown that ability to set the edge, to rush the passers, so I'm encouraged with some of the things that Jacob [Martin] has done in practice and he went out there first in the game. That's what preseason is all about, right? There are no starters – there's nothing to set. It's about us seeing what our team can actually look like, in giving guys multiple looks, multiple opportunities."

On what goes into the teaching moments in helping QB C.J. Stroud understand the speed of the NFL after the drive that ended in a field goal on Saturday

"It's a matter of actually getting it in that live action. You know, it's one thing to practice, but to actually see him [C.J. Stroud] adjust on the fly and make those type of plays to see how tight the windows are, it's encouraging to see him make the plays, and it's also very important for him to feel that in the actual [game] action. So that's why, again, I say [that] the preseason is very important for rookies in general all across the league. A lot of guys, it's their first time playing NFL football, [and] you have to get a feel for the game. No rookie is coming out and just taking the league by storm. It's a process where guys have to learn, grow, develop, adapt to how the NFL works, and that's what you'll see. Some guys do it quicker than others, and some guys just need a little time, but I'm very pleased with where our rookies are. In their one or two games that they've played, I think all of them are headed in the right direction. They've shown promise and they're doing a good job."

On how helpful it has been having Johnathan Joseph on their staff and on what kind of impact the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship program has made

"Yeah, thank you for the question. I think that the Bill Walsh Diversity Coaching Fellowship program is very vital to the NFL. A lot of guys who normally wouldn't get opportunities are getting opportunities to join staffs and see how the workflow goes in the NFL, and it's been great having Johnathan Joseph around. I think he's been really instrumental in helping our young defensive backs, especially working with [Derek] Stingley [Jr.]. And him [Johnathan Joseph] just being able to relate [to them because] he's been in that position, he understands what it looks like, he understands what it takes to be a really great player. And I was very happy to have him around and working with those guys. And with the Bill Walsh program, when you look at our staff when I first had the guys in, I just asked all our guys who were a part of that program to stand up. You look at our staff, and I think we have about five or six guys who were a part of that program who are now on an NFL coaching staff. So, it shows that the program is definitely vital and it's important to see guys get the opportunities and know that there are a lot of great coaches out there that just need the opportunity, and that's what the Bill Walsh program provides. So, I'm happy with the program, and [I'm] thankful for all the guys that we had come and help us this training camp to be a part of it."