Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
Head Coach Bill O'Brien
(on what stood out to him on film from the Pittsburgh game) "Obviously what stood out was the end of the half. It really was kind of a 14-play sequence where all three phases were involved. All three phases made mistakes, whether it was an offsides penalty on defense that gave them another shot at a third-and-10 or it was the muffed kickoff reception or obviously the one interception and one fumble inside the 5 (yard line). It was a combination of those things and we gave up 24 points there in a short amount of time. It's very, very difficult to win in this league doing that. We have to get together, we've got to meet, we've got to talk about it and then we have to go practice and correct these things in practice. These guys will hold each other accountable. Our coaching staff will hold them accountable. They will hold us accountable. We're all in it together and we'll work very hard to get it corrected quickly here because we have a big one with Tennessee coming up."
(on if there is a separation here between mental mistakes and mental toughness) "I've thought a lot about that. This team is mentally tough. I think a team that wasn't mentally tough would really go in the tank that situation. I really believe that. We've all been around teams that were great teams. We've been around teams that were tough teams. The mentally tough teams that I've been around were the ones that fought back and regrouped at halftime. Still, we didn't come out and play our best in the second half, but we certainly showed up there in the second half only giving up two field goals on defense. We held them to under 100 yards rushing, did some good things offensively to finally get the game within reach. Like I said last night, my point was that was had an onside kick—whether we would've scored if we recover it or not, who knows—but at least we were that close to getting back in the game. To me, that's the sing of a mentally tough team."
(on if the loss hurt more since they did have a chance to get back in it at the very end) "I don't know mean to say that. I don't want to come across as saying 'close is good enough.' Any loss hurts and I think that's what you see from me. With me, guys, what you see is what you get. Five minutes after the game, after talking with the team, I'm just kind of going to tell you what I think and that's what happened last night. These losses, they hurt all of us; it's not just me. They hurt our coaches. They hurt our players. Our players are hurting. I hurt for our players because they don't want to go out there and make those mistakes. As coaches, we don't want to make play calls that don't work out. We're trying to put our team in the best position to win. They're doing all that they can to make the play, but we've just got to eliminate these mistakes and I think if we do, we'll see a team that can really compete and win."
(on these kind of losses sending the 2013 Texans to the tank and if he's at a stage now where they have to guard against that) "I don't think so. I really think that last year is last year, this year is this year and next year is next year. I don't think it has anything to do with last year. I really don't. I know that there are a lot of guys that are in that locker room that were in the locker room last year, but this is a different team. That was the '13 team; this is the '14 team. This is just a different team. I really feel good about this team, even though that loss was a tough one last night, the way it happened. It was kind of an implosion at the end of the half. I understand that, but I feel good about this team. I love working with these guys. Our staff enjoys working with them. These are tough guys that want to win and it hurts them to lose. They're going to come in here ready to go tomorrow morning to work to get it corrected."
(on how the mistakes fall on the coaching staff compared to what falls on the players themselves) "As a coach, we always take responsibility for the loss. We're the ones that teach it and preach it and scheme it and put it out on the field and want it to work. Then the players know that when they go out on the field, they have to perform. They have to hold on to the ball. They can't throw interceptions. They can't jump offsides. They have to field kickoffs properly. They can't have the ball be thrown behind them. They understand that but I think as coach, we always look in the mirror first and I think that's the right thing. It's always going to be the right approach with me, to make sure that, as coaches, we're doing the right thing to make sure that we're correcting whatever mistakes are being made out on the field—we have to get those corrected out on the practice field. That's what we're going to work hard to do this
(on QB Ryan Fitzpatrick's interception and if he was OK throwing the ball in that situation) "There was a conversation there—a quick conversation—with myself and George Godsey on offense about what to do there. We felt like in that situation, we would at least have the check down. We had a couple of mental mistakes on the routes there and then Fitzy forced the ball which he knows he can't do. Hindsight being 20-20, I would certainly like to have that play call back, but that was the thought process going in. If they played this coverage, we could check it down to Arian (Foster). If they don't, then maybe we can do this and it just didn't work out well."
(on if he likes what he sees from OLB Whitney Mercilus) "I thought he played a tough football game last night. I think he's one of the more improved guys on our team from when we got here last winter into the spring, OTAs and training camp in the summer. He's really gotten better every time out on the practice field. I think that's showing up in the games and that can only help our team. I think he's a hard-working kid who really wants to be good and it shows up. His hard work is showing up on the game field."
(on what one area is he most concerned about of the areas where his team has been struggling) "Probably, I would say that the two areas that we have to do a better job at—we cannot turn the ball over. We've got to stop turning the ball over and I think probably the big thing, to me, is we've got to eliminate the line of scrimmage penalties. The too many men on the field, the offsides, we had one false start on offense. We had defensive offsides. Those types of things, we can control so we have to make sure that we're correcting that, showing that on tape. 'Hey guys, we have to have better focus here,' whatever it is we have to do to correct it, we're going to do that, but those two areas are areas—we have to stop turning the ball over and correct the penalties."
(on where OLB Jadeveon Clowney stands and if he will play Sunday at Tennessee) "We brought him there and we knew we were going to work him out before the game. He feels good. I think before the game, he still felt his ability to cut wasn't totally there yet, but he feels really good and he'll practice this week and we'll see how it goes this week in practice, but he should be out there in practice and we'll be able to see it first-hand and see how he feels and be able to make a determination pretty soon on whether he can play or not."
(on under what circumstances would we see Ryan Mallett at quarterback) "I think that Ryan has improved every week. He's getting a better grasp of what we're doing here. I think the things that he's trying to work on—accuracy, just consistent accuracy, things like that. I think he's working hard to get those to a level where they need to be to be able to play a lot of football in this league. Fitzy is our quarterback and when you look at our tape, again, you cannot just point to one position and say that's the position that is at fault. There are a lot of positions that need to play better; we need to coach better, all those different things. It all goes into why sometimes we stall offensively. It's not one guy. So we're going to continue to work with both of these guys in practice and we'll see how it improves and hopefully it will get better and better and that will help our offense get better."
(on what the five minutes after a loss are like for him when he's with the team and if it's different than when he is with the media immediately following a loss) "It's about the same. I tell you, I'm not kidding. I don't know. When we lose, I don't feel good about it and I tell the players what I see. I talk to the players a lot about things that I can do better, things that they can do better and what we all need to do better to move forward, to get this thing going the right way. Then obviously I walk right into the room with you guys and it's pretty much (the same); maybe with a little bit different language but it's pretty much the same thing. But it's frustrating because I know that; you guys, since the day I got here, the Houston media has been very, very fair. When I was growing up, I was from Boston, I read the (Boston) Globe sports and the (Boston) Herald sports every day. I really enjoy that part of sports. So I understand that you guys have a job to do but I have a job to do, too. We've got to get these things corrected. I believe if we do, I have a strong belief in this team; I believe if we can get this thing headed in the right direction: eliminate turnovers, eliminate penalties, not give up big plays on defense. If we can do those things, get our players in better position to make those plays, to do those things, to focus better, then you'll see a winning team."
(on if communication among the team is where he wants it to be, specifically on RB Le'Veon Bell's touchdown reception against Pittsburgh) "It probably needs to be more consistent. When you watch that play, we didn't adjust that very well. We had worked on that in practice, it just didn't get communicated. In the heat of battle, it didn't get communicated very well out on the field. At the end of the day, somebody's got to fix it. D.J. (Swearinger) was trying to fix it and he just didn't get there in time. That's an area that we really have to work on on both sides. We really have to continue to make sure that our communication is at an all-time best when we take the game field. That's something we're going to work very hard on this week. It's those types of plays where it occurs, the big plays, that's where you never want it to let down and that's where it's sometimes is letting down on us. Otherwise, it's been pretty good and it's just these big plays every once in a while, it shows up and it can't show up then."
(on who he faults specifically on the RB Le'Veon Bell touchdown) "I don't fault anybody. I really don't look at it that way. I try to say, 'Who was supposed to go out there with the guy?' And then, OK, if that doesn't happen, we can't really have a long conversation about it. We have to fix it. Somebody's got to fix it. I don't really fault anybody on that. I just think we have to go back as a coaching staff and make sure that we align it tomorrow. 'Hey, here's what happened. Remember now, this is what we need to do. This is what you need to look for. This is the call. Who goes out with him?' And run it a couple times and make sure we get it straight."
(on the fumbles and if there is a though process missing when a player drops the ball) "I think if you look at whether it was (Andre Johnson's fumble) last week or Arian's (Foster) or DeAndre's (Hopkins), I think you're looking at three guys that really are trying to make a play. All of them occur when you're trying to go for the extra yardage. If you look at Andre's, he's trying to catch that thing, break a tackle and go score because if he breaks a tackle, he's got a chance to score last week against Indy. You look at Arian, he's trying to get us out of the end zone. We're backed up there. He's trying to strive and really drive for extra yards there. And then when you look at Hop's, he's trying to make a guy miss and maybe get 20 more yards. Of course, you want these guys to take care of the football better but I think these guys are pressing to try to make a play and we've got to make sure that they know, at the end of the day, ball security is the most important thing."
(on where WR DeVier Posey stands right now with him) "I think he's a guy that's working extremely hard in practice. I thought he had a good week of practice last week, especially during the middle of the week he had a really good practice. When we look at our 46(-man) game day roster, we're looking at special teams, we're looking at our offensive game plan. Is it going to be more tight end oriented? Is it going to be more receiver oriented? I think so far, going into most of these games, we've decided to take about either 19 or 20 players on offense and then take about 23 players on defense. That's what we've done so far and he just needs to keep working hard. He's a great kid. He's a guy that eventually I think will help us. He just needs to keep working hard in practice."
(on if he expects OLB Jadeveon Clowney to go back into the starting lineup when he's healthy or has Whitney Mercilus shown him enough that he continues to get starter and reps and Clowney would have to work back into the mix) "When JD (Jadeveon Clowney) comes back, he'll have to work back into the mix. That's not just something that's going to be handed to him, that's for sure. Whitney's played well enough to deserve playing time, that's for sure, and that'll be a competition. When JD comes back, hopefully this week, we're not going to put him back in there and play 70-80 plays like I was saying last week. He's going to kind of, for lack of a better term, eased back into the rotation anyway. Whitney will still be out there but that will be a competition. That will definitely be a competition. You don't just hand it to a guy coming off of six weeks being out, especially when the other guy has played pretty well."
(on if he is still confident that ILB Brian Cushing can get back to the playing level he was at prior to his knee injuries) "Yeah, we are. I think in dealing with a lot of these guys over the years that are coming off of knee injuries, that first year back, it always takes them awhile to get back into the swing of things. I think if you look back at some of the guys I've dealt with that have come off of knee injuries, maybe it is eight, nine games into it where they're truly trusting their knee and they're full-speed. I can't say enough about Brian Cushing and what he means to this team as far as his leadership. I think he's a heart-and-soul type of guy. He's been a great guy in this organization. He's a tough guy and he'll continue to get better and better coming off of that knee injury."
(on how CB A.J. Bouye is doing) "He should be fine. I'm not sure totally what was up there, but I haven't got the final injury report yet for the day. He should be fine. After the game, he told me he was fine; he'd be ready to go this week."