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Quotes: Bill O'Brien on Monday


Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(opening statement) "Good afternoon. Like I said after the game yesterday, it was a good win—a really good way to start the season—but it's one game. There are many things that we have to improve on. Offensively, we have to be more consistent running the ball, more consistent in our passing game. Defensively, we have to be more consistent in stopping the run. I think overall, we did a nice job on defense, but there are things that we definitely need to improve on. Stopping the run more consistently is important. Special teams wise, we have to get our return game going, our punt return, kickoff return—just get guys understanding the intent of the return and we're working on that just a little bit more to improve. So we've got a long way to go, but like I said after the game, it's a good start to the '14 season."

(on if he can provide the update on OLB Jadeveon Clowney) "Right now, he underwent arthroscopic surgery this morning and he'll probably be out from 4-6 weeks."

(on if OLB Jadeveon Clowney's surgery was to repair a meniscus) "I'm not a doctor, so I don't know. It was just something, they went in there and tried to fix it and it seems like it went well, and he'll be out 4-6 weeks."

(on if OLB Jadeveon Clowney got injured coming down on a seam of the grass trays) "He didn't say anything to me about that. From looking at all the angles on film, he just came down awkwardly. Most of those types of injuries are non-contact when you look back at those injuries, they seem to be non-contact. He just jumped in the air and came down a little awkwardly on it. Like I said, he'll be out for a while and the next guy will have to step up."

(on if he has a problem with the turf at NRG Stadium) "No."

(on OLB Whitney Mercilus stepping in for Jadeveon Clowney in his absence) "He went in there and did a good job. That's what I'm saying. Injuries in this league occur all the time. Every team today is sitting here with injuries. That's just the nature of the game. It was a very physical football game on Sunday. Like we've said from day one, we're trying to put together the strongest roster possible. It's something that we work on every day, Rick Smith and myself. In this case, Whitney Mercilus went in there yesterday and did a nice job. He got pressure on the quarterback, played the run well and he just needs to keep continuing to get better and better and I think he'll do that."

(on if OLB Whitney Mercilus is a different player now than he was earlier in camp and how much he's grown in this system) "I've seen that. I think he's a very improved player over the last two or three weeks. He's coached very well with Mike Vrabel and Mike is a guy that is very detail-oriented with him. I think he's learning the scheme. I think it's different than what he played in the previous scheme. It's not the easiest thing to learn right away for some players. He's improved over the last two weeks. Like I said, hopefully he'll continue to improve. He went in there yesterday and did a nice job for us on defense. That's what we'll be looking for in the next few weeks."

(on if he will cater the outside linebacker position to Whitney Mercilus than he would Jadeveon Clowney based on their skills) "That's another good question. I think with every player on our team, you have to really look at what their skillset is, and what they do best, whether its Whitney Mercilus or Duane Brown. Whatever it is that they do best, you're trying to fit your scheme to make sure their skillset is accentuated in that scheme. That's something that we'll do with all of our players."

(on how OLB Jadeveon Clowney has handled the news of the injury) "He's been good. He's a great kid. He's a resilient kid. He's been a good teammate since the day he walked in the door here. He was disappointed, obviously. When something like that happens to a younger player, to any player, the immediate aftermath is you're disappointed, but we've got great doctors here. He'll be back. He'll be back. Will he be back tomorrow? No, he won't be back tomorrow, but he'll be back soon. The next guy in there, Whitney Mercilus for instance, is going to step up and play well in his place. These things happen. Every team deals with them. We're no different than any other team. I think J.D. (Clowney) is handling it very well."

(on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's play and the pass protection he received from the offensive line) "Fitz did a good job. He did what we asked him to do. He went out there and managed the game. He made really good checks at the line of scrimmage. He's a smart guy. He's a really good teammate, good leader. He made really good decisions in the passing game. Even the decision he made on a safety blitz early in the game, he got rid of the ball. It was not a good play call by me and he got rid of the ball. He made good decisions like that the whole game. Like I've said from day one, he's a hard working guy and a fun guy to coach. We're just going to continue to work together and continue to try to put a good gameplan together every week."

(on how frustrating it is for OLB Jadeveon Clowney and the organization to be dealing with this injury after the sports hernia surgery and the concussion) "It's football. That's just the nature of the game. It's not a matter of frustration. It's a matter of, like I've said, every team in the league today is dealing with injuries. Like I've said, and I think I've said it three times now, the next guy steps up. That's why you have a roster. That's why you try to put together the most competitive roster you can, so the next guy goes in there and plays well. I think when Whitney (Mercilus) went in there yesterday, he did a nice job. There will be other guys. There will be Jason Ankrah. You'll see him probably. I've had four questions about Jadeveon Clowney and nobody has asked me about Brooks Reed at that position. Brooks Reed played one of the better games that I've seen an outside linebacker play in the near past because he went out there and played a very disciplined game, got good pressure on the quarterback, played good against the run game. Brooks was awarded a game ball, along with J.J. Watt on the defensive side of the ball. There are guys in there. There a lot of good players on this roster and those guys are expected to go out and play well and we're expected to coach them well."

(on if having players who can play multiple positions helps when you lose a player) "In our scheme, you have to be a multitasker. You have to be able to play in different spots. J.J. Watt is a good example. He's a guy that can play all across the line of scrimmage. Sometimes, he can play really far outside of a tight end and do different things out there—guys like that, and there are many other guys like that, you look at a guy like Tim Jamison on defense, who can play nose and he can play end. Guys in the back end who can play corner and safety, there are a couple of guys that could do that for us. That's one of the things that is really important to us on a 53-man roster and then 46 on a gameday roster, that the guys are able to do more than one job. That's very, very important."

(on one guy not filling in for OLB Jadeveon Clowney in his absence but the responsibility being split amongst the team) "That's right. It's an interesting point because it will be split up within the different packages. You go from the 3-4 package to a nickel package to a dime package to a penny package. We have a lot of different personnel groupings in which all of those guys are divided up amongst different players."

(on if he felt the team came back focused after getting the win last night) "I did. We came back in the team meeting and we showed them tape and I felt like they were very focused. They were attentive. They know, form watching the tape, that the coaching staff, myself, that we showed them this morning that there are a lot of things that we have to get better at. It was one game. It was a good start, but it's just a start. This is such a long season. You know the team that you are right now is really not the team you're going to be in December. There is so much improvement that has to be made in so many different areas and our team understands that. We've got a bunch of great guys in that locker room. That's one thing that as a coaching staff we talked about his morning, it's just a really good locker room. There are guys in there that want to do well, that want to improve, that know that they have to play better than they did yesterday in certain situations. They were very attentive to that this morning."

(on if there was a specific reason why WR DeVier Posey was inactive for the game yesterday) "It was part of the gameplan. We went with more DBs in this game and we went with more linebackers in this game so that affected other positions. Posey is working hard and he had a decent week of practice last week. He'll always be in the hunt to be in the gameplan."

(on if the Ray Rice situation will cause them to re-emphasize to the players the importance of what can happen to them if they make poor decisions) "Here, with the Houston Texans, we have a zero-tolerance policy for domestic abuse. There is no question about that. We talk to our players all the time about how they represent this organization and what this organization means to not only the city of Houston, but to the National Football League. I believe we have a really good locker room.  A locker room of high character guys and we continue to educate them on things that we think are important."

(on what adjustments they made to get better on third downs in the second half) "I think we were 1-for-6 in the first half on third down, which is not good. We went in at halftime and we looked at what we were doing on third down and we felt like it was more execution that the plays, so we talked to the players, 'Hey look, we're going to continue to do some similar things here, we just need to execute better,' whether it was the protection or the route running or the read of the play. I think the guys went out there in the second half and executed much better on third down on offense."

(on Bill O'Brien telling his player that last night was 'Texans football' and they needed to 'get used to it' and what he means by that) "Yeah, I'm not always real thrilled about those locker room videos. I do them for Coop (Kevin Cooper). No, what I was trying to say there was that I want the players to understand what it takes to win in this league. Every week, it's a very, very difficult challenge. That's the one thing that has always stood out to me about the NFL, that every single week it's a really good coaching staff on the other sideline, it's a really good bunch of players. Every week is different. It's a different challenge. The players have to understand each and every week what it takes to win. It's an opportunistic defense. It's all three phases working together. It's the ability to run the ball when you have to run the ball. It's four-minute offense at the end when you have the lead, you have to be able to keep the ball. I wanted them to understand that and get used to that feeling of, 'Look, this is what we need to do to win.' I think that the guys are understanding that and we try to show it to them on tape and continue to educate them on what it takes to win."

(on Bill O'Brien receiving a game ball) "Mr. McNair gave me a game ball and I was very appreciative of that. I quickly turned it over to the team because I think it's a team ball, but I was very appreciative of Mr. McNair for giving me that."

(on if he was surprised that Mr. McNair gave him a game ball) "I was surprised, yeah. I think people here understand how much respect I have for Bob McNair and the type of organization he runs here. When you work for a guy like that, you want to win. You want to win for a guy like that. I was happy and honored that he gave me a game ball, but I felt like the players—we were all in that together. Each guy in that locker room and even the practice squad guys and the injured guys that came down to the locker room after the game, everybody is in this thing together and it was a good scene there at the end."

(on his thoughts on the NCAA lifting the bowl ban for Penn State today) "Kevin (Cooper) just told me that outside. I think that's great news for Penn State. Penn State is a fantastic place. It's a great education, great football program, a lot of good people have done a lot of great things over there in the last couple of years to make sure that they've learned from the past mistakes and understood that that's a special place. I feel very happy for Penn State and mostly I feel happy for the players and the coaching staff that is there now."

(on how they came up with the 'pitch count' for ILB Brian Cushing and the plan moving forward) "We're going to look at that every week. He hasn't played football in a while. He's coming back off of a significant knee injury from last year. He's had a really good rehab. I think it's important not to just throw him in there and let him go play 80-85 plays in the game. I think it's what's best for the player, what's best for Brian Cushing, is to manage him back through these first few weeks. We'll look at it every single week to determine by gameplan and by how he feels—it's all in consultation with him—to determine how much he plays each and every week."

(on how hard it is to keep ILB Brian Cushing on the sidelines) "Oh yeah, that's difficult to do. He wants to be out there. I think in critical situations, he will be out there."

(on if he was able to attend the Brown University event last night after the game) "That was unbelievable. I was very appreciative of that. A bunch of good guys that played together at Brown. We didn't play on too many good teams, but we had a lot of laughs together. I think there were about 100 of them and they went to cookout over at Dave Cromack's house. Dave Cromack is a guy that played with us, graduated in 1992 and lives in Houston. We were very thankful to him for hosting that and we had some laughs and I stayed for about an hour and came home, but it was fun."

(on going up against QB Derek Carr this week and what his pre-draft evaluation was of Carr) "A good player, accurate passer, smart player, instinctive player. He has good size. A guy that you could tell knew his offense and knew how to run his offense. It seemed to me to be a guy that was definitely going to be able to play pro football. You can see that, obviously Coach Allen has a lot of confidence in him, to name him the starter as a rookie. Obviously, he's gone in there and done a good job."

(on his inactive and injured players not being on the sideline during games and if there is some value to having guys like Tom Savage down on the field) "They are in the stadium. They're at the game, but I think it's important for the people on the sideline, for most games—sometimes that will change—certain games I may do something different, but for the most part, it's important that the guys on the sideline are the 46 guys in the gameplan."

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