Quotes: Wednesday media availability

Head Coach Bill O'Brien
OLB Jadeveon Clowney
QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
RB Arian Foster
TE Garrett Graham
WR Andre Johnson
QB Ryan Mallett

Head Coach Bill O'Brien
(opening statement) "We made a decision today. I made a decision to make a quarterback change. We're going to go with Ryan Mallett as our starter. I think it's more a reflection of myself making the best decision right now for this team. Every decision we make, we try to make to point towards winning. It's not a reflection so much of how Fitzy's (Ryan Fitzpatrick) played. Fitzy has really worked hard to do the things we've asked him to do. It's more of a reflection of, again like I said, pointing towards winning, helping us win, putting us in the best situation to win and this is a position change that I think will help us in that way. I think our whole offense needs to play better. I think we need to coach better and if those things don't happen, then it doesn't really matter who plays quarterback. That's why I'm here today, to tell you that we'll go with Ryan Mallett as our starter."

(on if starting QB Ryan Mallett will give the team the edge or spark that he talked about needing) "I think it's more about operating the offense. Watching Ryan in practice every day, I believe it's gotten better and better. His huddle command, his command at the line of scrimmage, his knowledge of our offense, you know he's been in this system for four years. He was drafted in '11. Obviously, he backed up Tom (Brady) for three years and came in here to back up Ryan (Fitzpatrick) and I think he's made a lot of progress where as he's never played in a game or hasn't had many reps in a game, we're going to give him a shot to play and lead this offense. We'll see how it goes."

(on how difficult of a decision it was to switch quarterbacks from Ryan Fitzpatrick to Ryan Mallett) "Very difficult. These decisions are very difficult because you really have a good relationship with the players and especially Fitz and myself. I have a ton of respect for him. He's done a lot of great things in this league. He's just a great, great person, great family man. He's an excellent teammate. We talked this morning and he assured me that he was going to continue to be a good teammate and be supportive. That's just the type of guy he is. He works very hard to do the things that we ask him to do. At the end of the day, at that position, this is something that I think will help our team. We'll see how it goes moving forward. I might be wrong, but I think this might be the thing that helps our team and we'll see how it is."

(on if the quarterback situation will be a week-by-week thing) "We're going to give Ryan (Mallett) a shot to play. We're going to make sure that he's given a good opportunity to lead this football team."

(on what he wants from a quarterback from a leadership perspective) "It's hard to say there is the perfect quarterback, but I believe leadership is important. I believe work ethic, accuracy, understanding of the system, timing, understanding the timing of the passing plays that are being run or even the timing of running plays meaning how fast we do things at the line of scrimmage, how fast we operate, the rhythm that we need to get into. I think a lot of things go into playing quarterback. It's a very, very difficult position to play. Again, at the end of the day, we feel like this is the best move for our team right now."

(on weighing Ryan Fitzpatrick's scrambling ability to Ryan Mallett's stronger arm) "That was certainly a part of my thought process. Again, this was a decision that I made. I really didn't consult with too many people on this. I kind of just though this was the best thing for the team, but that was part of it. Fitzy has given us definite running ability back there. I would just say this, and I met with the offensive line this morning, those guys take a lot of pride in what they do. They know that they have to play at a more consistent level in order for us to play better. Like I said in the beginning, everybody does. We have to coach better. I have to design better plays. We have to play better at quarterback and offensive line and at running back, wide receiver and at tight end. Everybody has got to do better. It's not one position. I just felt like in the best interest of the team at this point, this was the decision that I needed to make."

(on what QB Ryan Mallett is like in the huddle and meeting room) "He's a very bright guy, loves football, very competitive. I think one of the things that stood out to me when he came here, when we traded for him, you could tell that, in my opinion, he had grown up a lot. He had matured on and off the field. He's here early. He stays late. It's been obvious that he was a backup to Tom Brady for three years. He's learned a lot and this is his shot to go out there and lead our offense."

(on if he factored the next game being on the road into his decision of when to make the change at quarterback) "I don't think it factored. I think it was more about the point in time we are in the season and where we are offensively. Whether it was a home game or a road game didn't really factor."

(on if this change will alter QB Ryan Mallett's plans for the bye week) "I'm sure he'll be here preparing."

(on if he has announced his decision to change quarterbacks to the team) "Yes."

(on how the team responded to the announced of a quarterback change) "Again, I don't consult with all 63 guys on the team. I'm sure there are guys there that our supportive of both guys. I think in the end, these guys want to win. They understand that every decision we make it's not a popularity contest, it's about trying to do the best job we can to put the team in position to win and that's what we're doing with this decision. I think the guys understand that, but you can ask them. It's a free country, they have their opinions, but at the end of the day we're doing what we think is necessary to win at this point in time."

(on how Rick Smith was involved in this decision) "I told them probably last night or this morning that this was the direction that we were headed."

(on if it is an advantage that George Godsey spent so much time with QB Ryan Mallett in New England) "I think they have a good relationship. They really know each other really well. He has, George has spent a lot of time with Mallett, more than I have. I had him in '11, but even in that year, George spent a lot of time with him. This was a difficult decision. I didn't consult with many people, but George was a guy that we sat down and talked and reviewed a lot of tape. It wasn't just a knee-jerk reaction or decision. It was more about what does this offense need right now? There are many things that this offense needs and we thought that one of them was to go with Ryan Mallett as a starter."

(on if QB Ryan Mallett's arm strength and the ability to throw down the field factored into the decision) "I think Fitzy has thrown the ball down the field pretty well. I think that we've hit a number of plays over 20 yards, but certainly Mal has a strong arm. He can throw the ball as far as you want him to throw it."

(on what area has QB Ryan Mallett has improved most since he came to Houston) "I don't know. He's developed in a lot of different areas."

(on if he has any injury updates to the team) "Nope."

(on if he has ever had to make a quarterback change before) "Oh yeah. We've had to make decisions like this before at different places. Obviously, not so much in pro football, but at the different places I've been, we've had to make decisions like this. George Godsey was involved in a decision like this in one point in time when he was a player. These are tough decisions. It's again, like I said, it's not a matter of everybody pointing a finger at Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick). I think that's what is really important for me to convey. This guy has done everything that we've asked him to do. He's a really good pro, great teammate, great guy. It's just at the end of the day, we felt like this would help our offense. This change would help our offense and then the guys around the quarterback position need to play better."

(on how big of a deal it was for him that he saw better command from QB Ryan Mallett when he got to Houston) "I think that was important, just to see that when he came in here that he had better command of this offense than he had three years ago obviously. He was somebody that was staying late after practice, was here early—6 AM or 6:30 AM—studying tape, preparing like a starter every day, working like that every single day, out on the practice field doing a good job with the reps that he got with the ones and the twos and also doing a really good job with the scout team. I think he's a good teammate. I saw a lot of improvement over the last few months compared to where he was when I last saw him in 2011."

(on if the way he manages the offense changes any with QB Ryan Mallett) "I think it's basically business as usual. I'm sure there are some things that we'll do that are different based on Ryan's skill set. I wouldn't call him a speed demon. I don't think he can—he's 6-foot-7. He's a pocket passer. There are certainly some things that we're going to have to do that are a little bit different, but at the end of the day, our system is what it is and our system has always had a lot of different types of quarterbacks. We'll have enough in place for Ryan to be successful."

(on the inexperience of QB Ryan Mallett) "You've got to start somewhere."

(on QB Ryan Mallett getting his first NFL start and seeing what happens) "You're right. He doesn't have a lot of regular season experience, but he has obviously played in preseason games. He's been a pro for four years. It's his turn to get a shot and let's see how he does."

(on the difference between QB Ryan Mallett from when he first met him to now and if he has evolved) "I believe so. Yeah, I believe that his work ethic has improved. I believe that he is a much more mature guy. I think he has a much better knowledge of pro football and what it takes to be prepared. Now it's his turn to go out there and see what he can do."

(on what QB Ryan Mallett would have learned from QB Tom Brady) "I think anytime you have a chance to be in the same room with a guy like that and you watch that guy prepare day-in and day-out. You watch how that guy takes care of his body. You watch how he practices, how competitive he is, how he relates to his teammates, how he is during the games when things aren't going well. How does he rally the troops? I think any time you get a chance to watch a guy like that and back a guy like that up, it can only help. It can only help. We're not asking him to go out there and be Tom Brady. We're asking him to go out there and be Ryan Mallett and be the best Ryan Mallett he can be, which is trying to go out there and be the best quarterback he can be for our team."

(on his main concern with making a quarterback change like this) "I wouldn't say a concern, but he (Ryan Mallett) hasn't played yet. There's a certain amount of unknown. How is he going to do when you're in game action? That's going to be interesting to see. We're excited for him to be able to have that opportunity but now he's got to go do it. We've got to coach him well. Again, we're excited to see how he does in game action."

(on when he told the quarterbacks he was making the change) "I told both guys this morning around 7 AM."

OLB Jadeveon Clowney
(on where he is at right now health-wise) "Just working to get back healthy. Take this bye week and try to strive every week to be better and get better and play on the field."

(on if he envisions being able to play against Cleveland in Week 11) "That's what we're working toward right now. I don't know for right now but we're taking it one day at a time. I'm just trying to get better and get back out there."

(on how difficult it has been not to play out there with his teammates in the first half of the season) "It's been very difficult. I want to be out there with my team. We've all got the same goal. We want to win. I'm not out there to help them is really bothering me. Now I'm just trying to get better, get back out there with them."

(on if he is using the bye week as a "catch-up" week, working with Romeo Crennel) "I use it for just working on getting my knee back healthy and just getting better, trying to lead toward playing against Cleveland."

(on if he didn't play against Philadelphia because of his knee or because he was sick) "It was pretty much both, the knee and I was sick. I was out. I didn't get to practice at the end of the week. I was at home, sick."

(on if playing through pain is his biggest issue) "Not necessarily. There are certain things that are going on with my knee still. We just haven't got where we wanted to be. Now we're just taking a step back and trying to get it to where we need it be so I can play."

(on where he is health-wise with being sick and with his knee) "I'm better. I don't know what I had but it wasn't good. But I'm feeling better. Just the knee is getting better. Just taking it one day at a time right now."

(on his biggest focus for the rest of the season, aside from getting healthy) "Just being here with my team, buying in to what we're trying to do is win. Just being around these guys and showing them that I care about being with the team and I'm all for team."

(on if he gets upsets when he sees reports that the team is upset with him) "No, not really because I talk to the guys around here, the coaches. We talk just about every day, me and (Bill) O'Brien, the guys around me. It's not been a problem. They just want me as healthy as I can to come out there and help them. They know what I can do out there and they want me full-go and not just out there doing the motions."

(on if he believes reports that the team is frustrated with him is true at all) "No."

(on if the problem with his knee is pain or that he's not able to do the things he wants to do) "I'm not able to do the things I want to do. It's just not where it needs to be right now, so I'm just going to take it one day at a time and just keep working."

(on if he has some concern that playing with the way his knee is right now could cause some further issues) "There's some concern. But a lot bigger concern is playing with it now and not being able to do the things I want to do out there, that I was doing before I got hurt. That's where we're trying to get back to now. We're going to keep working to get back to that."

(on how he would describe his relationship with Bill O'Brien) "It's great. He just wants the best for his players and he's got us buying into what he believes in and winning. He's just a good coach."

(on what he's leaned on and who he's talked to during his struggles) "I've talked to just about all the guys that have gone through it, like Johnathan Joseph, D.J. (Swearinger), Kareem (Jackson), all of those guys who have had injuries in the past, that had to deal with pain, so I can find (a way) to deal with it."

QB Ryan Fitzpatrick
(on his reaction when Bill O'Brien told him a change was being made at quarterback) "I didn't like it. I don't really agree with it but I respect the hell out of Coach O'Brien as a coach. It's a hard thing, especially with me at this point in my career, it's a hard thing to have to sit and have to take a backseat. In talking with him and him kind of re-defining my role and what he expects out of me now, I'm going to play the good soldier and go into that role. I've been in this situation on both sides of it multiple times. I draw from past experiences a lot and getting put on the bench is never a great thing but I've had experiences where I was the guy in Ryan's (Mallett) shoes, the guy that was coming in; I was coming in and the other guy got benched. The way that my experience went there, the quarterback position is such a hard position to play in this league and it's really hard when you don't have a good support system around you. For me, it's all going to be about now, being a good teammate and providing that support system, still continue to put in the work and really, for a guy that hasn't played a whole lot of football in the NFL, trying to be the experienced guy that I am to help him out in kind of what I see and what I've been through."

(on if he was caught off-guard by the decision to change quarterbacks) "I don't know. I'm just saying I'm not happy with it but it is what it is."

(on the situation not being any easier even though he's been through it before) "I think the last time I actually got benched during a season was my rookie year when I really shouldn't have been out there because I was running around not knowing what was going on. It's not easy. There's a lot of different things that go into that. Probably the toughest pill to swallow is I'm a competitor. I want to be out there competing with the guys in this locker room. Not being able to do that, that's going to be difficult for me to have to sit on the sideline and watch. But the other aspect of it, too, is having someone like Coach O'Brien bring me in and me not meeting the expectations of kind of what he wanted for me. The fact that (I) feel like that I let him down a little bit maybe in that regard. That's tough to sit here with and knowing that I put in all the work and will continue to put in all the work necessary to be a good player in the league. I guess that's how you can go home at night and put your head on the pillow."

(on if he can pinpoint what went wrong) "Not playing consistent. This last outing in particular was a very poor outing for me."

(on the quarterback position being emphasized whenever there is blame or changes made) "That's the nature of the position. That's part of the reason with a million other factors on why it's a very difficult position to play and why you've got to have very broad shoulders to play the position, not only from taking hits in the other sense of everything from the media to different players, to all of the balancing things you have to do throughout the week away from the football field. That's part of it."

(on if it's tougher that the quarterback change isn't a week-to-week change) "(Bill O'Brien) made the decision. I think that's a fair thing for Ryan (Mallett)."

RB Arian Foster
(on QB Ryan Mallett being named the starting quarterback) "That's the coach's decision."

(on the challenges of adjusting to a quarterback on the fly in his perspective) "I don't know. I guess we'll cross that bridge next week."

(on his thoughts on QB Ryan Mallett) "He's a good guy. He's a hard worker. I think he'll be alright."

(on if he thinks he'll play against Cleveland) "That's the plan."

(on if he talked to both QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Mallett) "Private conversations are private conversations."

(on if he was surprised a quarterback change was made) "My feelings don't matter."

TE Garrett Graham
(on his thought of QB Ryan Mallett) "Coming in, obviously he knows what he's doing coming from New England with the system. Every day he seems to be on top of it and he's been preparing every week like any player would to get his spot because you know your only play away. We've been working with him during practice and after practice, running routes and going through signals and stuff like that. He's been on top of everything."

(on the extra importance of protection because of QB Ryan Mallett's lack of mobility) "I don't think much. We're going to continue to do what we've done. Try and get open for him, try and control the edge, run block as best as we can and that's about all we can do."

(on if there is an adjustment to a quarterback that throws a hard ball) "I think they both throw a really hard ball, so I don't think it will be a big adjustment for us. Maybe it will be coming a little steeper because he is a little taller, but that's really about it."

(on if he envisions any changes to the tight ends production) "I don't know. We'll have to see. Again, it's the same offense, so we've just to keep doing what we're asked to do and try to make plays when we're called upon."

WR Andre Johnson
(on Ryan Mallett being named starting quarterback) "I have no control over that."

(on his views on adjusting to a change at quarterback on the fly) "I feel comfortable with both of the guys. I support both of them. Coach made a decision. It is what it is."

(on what he is thought about working with QB Ryan Mallett in practice) "I think the guy can throw the ball. I think both of them can. I think the world of both of them. I support both of them. Both of them are my teammates. Whoever is out there, Mallett or Fitz (Ryan Fitzpatrick), I'm going to give them my best, do what I can, get open and help them."

(on if it's frustrating dealing with another quarterback here) "No. I'm comfortable with both of the guys, so like I said, it's coach's decision. That's it."

(on the different balls QBs Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Mallett throw) "Like I said, I work with both of the guys. I'm comfortable with both of them."

(on if he thinks a quarterback change is the spark the offense needs to get going) "We'll see what happens."

QB Ryan Mallett
(on his reaction to being named starting quarterback) "I'd be lying if I didn't say I was excited. I've been waiting four years for this, but now it's my time to have the opportunity to show what I can do. I'm going to make the best of it."

(on what Bill O'Brien told him as to why he is being named quarterback) "The reason is a team thing. He told me this morning and I said I'm going to give you everything I've got."

(on how important it is for him to make an impact with this being the last year of his contract) "I'm not really worried about that right now. I'm just trying to get a win against the Cleveland Browns, I've got two weeks to prepare and I'm going to do the best that I can to leave no stone unturned, and try to get a win. We need on."

(on being given an extended time to prove he is the starter) "I mean, it gives me confidence. I'm going to go out there and play like I've always played. I'm going to be aggressive. I'm going to stay within the game plan. And like I said, try to get a win because we need one badly."

(on how much it helped working with George Godsey in New England) "Spending time with Godsey really helps. He taught me the offense my first three years in the league and then he came her and then I ended up here. We have a very, very good rapport with each other. We know each other. We kind of know each other's thinking. I don't see any problems with that."

(on what he learned from QB Tom Brady during his three years in New England) "I learned how to be a professional. I learned how work with your teammates, how to communicate, how it's not just a one guy thing, how it's all 11 guys on offense doing what we want to do to be successful. You can't have one guy not doing the right thing and 10 other guys doing it because that can hurt an offense."

(on what he feels his strengths are and what he needs to work on) "Right now I understand the offense, so that helps. My football IQ is a lot higher than a lot of people give me credit for, which I like that. If they think I'm a dumb player, fine. That's my advantage there. I'm just trying to get better."

(on if he needs to do more than prove he is just a guy with a  strong arm) "I do. I think I need to get a win. We're 4-5. We need a win bad. I'm going to give everything I've got to the team to get that."

(on if he is talked to QB Ryan Fitzpatrick about the decision) "Of course. Fitz (Fitzpatrick) is a professional. He's been on both ends of this spectrum in his career and we've talked about it and we had a conversation about it. It's not hard feelings. It's a coach's decision and we're team guys. We're going to do whatever OB (Bill O'Brien) asks us to do for the team because that's what we care about."

(on what QB Ryan Fitzpatrick told him) "He said I'm behind you. Whatever I need, he'll be there to help me."

(on where he has been told that he was a dumb player) "A lot of different places, coming out of the college and all that."

(on if it drives him that people call him a dumb player) "I think it's funny. I'm just kind of keeping it in my back pocket. A little motivation to get better every day."

(on if he thought he would ever get a shot to be a starting quarterback) "It sure didn't seem like it, I'll tell you that. It's been four years. It didn't seem like it. I was starting to question if I was ever going to get a shot. Now I've got a shot and we'll see what I do with it."

(on his initial reaction when Bill O'Brien told him he'd be starting) "I couldn't tell you. We were in discussions. I was excited, obviously. I'm just ready to play football."

(on who is first call was after being named starting quarterback) "I haven't called anybody. I can thank y'all for kind of spreading the news for me, which makes my job easy, makes my life easy."

(on who he is and his leadership skills) "I'm Ryan Mallett. It's funny you say that. I've always taken pride in being a leader of men. Being in this position, your job requires it and not everybody can do it. I've always felt like I've been a good leader. I was by my parents to be a leader. It's what I'm going to do."

(on how frustrating it has been to be on the bench for the first part of his career when his draft class has been playing for a couple years) "It's definitely been frustrating knowing that I know I can plays just as well of some of these guys if not better. I haven't had that chance. Now I have my chance, so it's my chance to show it."

(on what he brings to this offense) "Being in the offense for four years definitely helps. Have to get the timing down and just little things with some of the guys, which it takes time in practice, so that's what we're going to do. We're going to practice and try to get good at what we're good at."

(on what he's doing during the bye week) "I'll still be in Houston. I'll still be here studying, getting ready for the Browns."

(on Bill O'Brien talking about areas where he has grown) "I think I've just grown as a player and as a person. When he got me right out of the draft, I was 22, 23. I was still a young kid, didn't understand the league and how it worked and how much extra work needed to be put in, and now I do. I love it. It's fun. I love this game so much. It makes it a little bit easier."

(on if it's hit him that he keys to the offense) "I'm ready to drive."

(on who has been his biggest influence in his football life) "Probably my high school coach, Coach (Scott) Surratt, he's in Carthage, Texas now. He's won like four of the last five state championships. Since I was in eighth grade I remember going over at junior high practice and practicing with the high school guys, and watching those guys try to refine my tools. I've worked out with him this summer and just being around him, he's got a drive that is undeniable and I get it from him I feel like. And he's been a great influence on me."

(on having guys like WRs DeAndre Hopkins and Andre Johnson to throw to) "I've got to get them the ball. If I give them the ball and let them make plays, you know, that's my job. I'm obviously not the fastest guy in the world, so get those the ball and let them do their job."

(on his preparation going into next week) "Not really. I've just been trying to do my job and get better every day. He told me and it's not going to change. I'm still going to prepare like I always have."

(on if he thought the quarterback change would be made this week) "I try not to think about it. It was out of my control. I can't control it. It's not my decision. It's above my pay grade."

(on if he's checking up on RB Arian Foster's health) "I try to check in on all my guys anyway. Obviously we need to get healthy."

(on if he'll spend extra time with the coaches over the bye) "I haven't talked to them about it. I don't know what their plans are for this bye week. That doesn't affect how I'll prepare for this game. It gives me a lot more time to study. You can't complain about that."

(on how much better he feels having known the offensive system) "We'll see. I haven't played in the system in a regular season game yet. I have a lot of work to do to go out there and perform the way I need to perform."

(on internalizing his excitement) "You see what you get, man. I wear my emotions on my sleeve pretty much, whether it be good or bad. I'm a passionate player. I'm passionate about this game. I'm passionate about my teammates. I want to help my teammates win and now I have a chance to actively do that in a game."

(on if his teammates approached him after the quarterback change) "I got a lot of fist bumps."

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