HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
"It was a good win last night. Like I said after the game, I thought these guys fought hard and proud of their effort and it was a good win, but quickly here we turn the page on to the Titans. Just to give you a little update here on some of the things that are going on, Brian Hoyer is still in the concussion protocol, so he's continuing to be evaluated by independent doctors. T.J. Yates did tear his ACL unfortunately, and he'll be out obviously for the remainder of the season. Cecil Shorts is, I'd say right now I'd put him in the day-to-day category, see how that goes as the week moves on. We signed B.J. Daniels. He's a guy that can do a lot of different things. We've known about him for a long time from his days in college and when he was in Seattle. He can play quarterback. He can play wide receiver. He can do a lot of different things and so we signed him today, and T.J. Yates will go on injured reserve, so B.J. would take that spot basically. With that, I'll open it up to questions."
After the game, you got a little teary-eyed talking to your players.
"No, I didn't. There were no tears."
What got you emotional about that game in particular?
"No, I think these guys put in a lot of time. They put in a lot of effort. We demand a lot of these guys. We practice hard, we meet a lot, I just don't think it's easy. I think when you go into a situation like that where there was a lot of adversity for our football team and turnovers, another injured quarterback, I just give our guys a lot of credit and it means a lot. It means a lot to the coaching staff and to those guys in that locker room. There's nothing better than a winning locker room in the NFL. There's really nothing better."
What about what the coaches put into it?
"Again, I think these guys, collectively this coaching staff, works extremely hard. Really the earliest they get out of here is Friday around dinner time. Other than that, it's 5 a.m. until whenever the work's done, 11 o'clock, midnight, sometimes. These guys work really hard, so when you can come out on the winning end of a game like that, it's gratifying."
You said also you couldn't say what you really wanted to say after the game because there were mics in the locker room, so feel free to tell us what you wanted the players to know.
"Yeah, right, sorry, just flip on Hard Knocks. Review that, you'll see."
So it had nothing to do with losing 13 in a row, right?
"Nothing, absolutely nothing."
What do you think the chances are that QB Brian Hoyer will play this week?
"You know, again, I think it has more to do with how the independent doctors evaluate him and how our training staff works with them as far as the evaluations, and I think we'll know something better after probably tomorrow."
Is tomorrow when he's meeting with the independent neurologists?
"I'm not sure about that, but I believe so. I believe so."
In terms of QB B.J. Daniels and the fact that he can play two positions, do you want to cross-train him or focus on the quarterback position?
"Yeah, we're going to train him to play quarterback, but we're also going to do some things with him as a receiver. We're not going to try to put too much on his plate. It'd be more like packages and then we'll see how it goes throughout the week whether he's up for the game day. Again, a lot of that has to do with Brian (Hoyer) and things like that, but we're going to ask him to kind of dive right in here. He got here, I think he took a red eye out of Seattle. He was here at 7 this morning, so today he probably needs some sleep after we're done meeting with him, and then get going on it tomorrow."
Apparently, Seattle was sorry to lose him.
"Yeah, I think that he's a guy, like I said, that we've known about for a while. George Godsey is familiar with him from when he was at South Florida. George was at Central Florida. I spoke briefly with him this morning, impressive guy. He's in the meetings right now with George and the rest of the guys and I'm sure they're going through things."
One day later, how do you assess the tape with how QB Brandon Weeden did?
"Yeah, I think when you're thrust into that type of situation, I think it's really a great lesson for younger players that you have to be ready to go at a moment's notice. Everybody that worked in the game yesterday made a mistake here and there. Nobody was perfect in the game. I thought for him though, he went in there with really good poise. It's not the first time he's played in an NFL game. He took what he knew and he tried to apply it to the execution of the play and there are things that everybody can improve upon, but I give Brandon a lot of credit for being able to go in there and play with poise."
What have you seen from the development of ILB Benardrick McKinney?
"Yeah, you would put him in the arrow up category meaning he's getting better and better every week. It was funny, we talked a lot Saturday night in our team meeting about different guys and with him, it was about improvement. When you looked at the first Indianapolis game relative to where he is now, the improvement has been exponential. He has really done a good job of learning our system, getting acclimated to the pro game. He's playing well and that's what he needs to do is just keep trying to get better every week."
Did last year's adversity at the quarterback position help you get through this year?
"I think that the way that a lot of us on this staff have been trained in this league is that you basically have a 53-man roster and now a 10-man practice squad. I can think back to even times when I was in New England, and I remember the first couple months I was there during the season where we brought an offensive lineman in and we brought him in on a Wednesday, and Dante Scarnecchia, our line coach at the time, he got the guy ready to play and the guy started in the game on Sunday. One of the things about pro football that's unique that I think is really pretty interesting is like, injuries occur and the next guy has to be ready to step up, so that has to do with the person that's going into the game, his ability to be able to do those things, and it has to do with the coach getting that guy ready to play. I think that comes into play like yesterday with Brandon Weeden, George Godsey – we all did a good job of getting that guy ready to play, so he was able to step in and play, but then it comes down to Brandon and his mindset, 'Hey, I'm ready to go and I'm going to go in there and have poise and try to execute the offense to the best of my ability.' That's pro football, and in order to be a team that has a chance in December, you have to have that type of staff and players on the team."
You're always talking about staying focused on the next game, but as a fan, are you looking at the playoff possibilities?
"No. Here's what I did, I came in here this morning and I watched the game from yesterday because I usually watch it on the plane, but I spilled a diet coke all over my Surface, so it got whatever, so I had to wait. I came in, I watched the Indy game, and then I'm on to Tennessee. I don't look – no, I'm not looking at any of those things."
The whole rest of the week, not even a peek?
You need to know what you're facing, because everybody else in town is doing it.
"Good for them, that's great."
The players are human, how do you keep them from looking?
"Yeah, I'm not trying to keep them from looking. I'm just trying to keep them focused on the task at hand which is trying to look at the good things that we did in the game yesterday, to correct some of the mistakes that we made, and then move on to Tennessee. Okay, here's Tennessee's roster, here's their lineup, here's some things that we've got to be ready for initially here today. Here's their base fronts, here's their base running game, here's some things that they do and then okay, tomorrow you're off, so now it's up to you to get your bodies ready, get prepared, do some extra film watching and then come in here on Wednesday and go to work on Tennessee. These guys are grown men. Whatever they look at they look at, but when they're here, we don't have ESPN on in the background while we're presenting the Tennessee Titans to them in the squad meeting."
You talked about Benardrick McKinney being an arrow up, where do you put WR Jaelen Strong in that scenario?
"I think he's in the same category. I think Jaelen, I think I said this last week, Jaelen really could have been active probably before he was active the past couple weeks. He's really worked hard in practice. He's a big, strong guy who has really worked hard to get into shape. He's lost weight. He's doing a good job, he's really doing a good job and in reality, the ball could have gone to him more yesterday. He just needs to keep working, keep improving, but he's got a good attitude and he's helping us out on special teams. He came close on the backed up punt on a move on the wing, he got pressure on the punter, so he's doing a good job there, so just keep improving."
Chris Mortensen reported Titans QB Marcus Mariota is out and it'll be QB Zach Mettenberger starting this week. Could you talk about their quarterback situation as it pertains to you guys?
"Yeah, I just saw the play where Marcus was injured yesterday. I didn't hear that yet on that report so we'll have to wait and see, but look, the thing about Marcus Mariota is he's a really good passer of the football, but he can run. He's got great speed, he's got good instincts, he's getting comfortable in their offense, so he's a threat. He's definitely a dual threat, and then Mettenberger is a little bit different. He's more of a drop-back passer, pocket passer, got a real strong arm, smart kid, and so two different quarterbacks that you have to be prepared for."
How are we looking for Christmas day?
"I am looking forward to Christmas. Yeah, I am a big fan. I really am, I like Christmas, but you know, to me, this is your favorite time of year though because you are playing meaningful games at the end of the season, you have the holidays, there is just a lot of energy in the building, really, and I think some of that has to do with Christmas. The problem for me is, it's hard for me to get focused on Christmas, it is more about Tennessee and then spend some time with the family on Friday, but kind of get back to Tennessee because really, in the end, there will be a bunch of Christmas', but there is only a few opportunities to do what we are going to do here."
You did mention to us a couple weeks ago that you are not very big on holidays.
"No, I am kidding. I mean that is my sense of humor that I think you guys are still getting used to. I like Thanksgiving, because I like food, quite obviously. I do like Christmas. I am not a big present guy. I am not like, unwrap the presents, wrap the presents, like that is not something that I really enjoy. But I do like the camaraderie of the family and the food and things like that."
What is your position on the Christmas tree?
"I like the tree (laughs), I do like the tree. I got invited to a Christmas party the other night and my wife and I went and it was the biggest Christmas tree I have ever seen. I asked the guy how the heck he got it into his home, but my wife has a fake tree. I am more of a real tree guy."
If QB Brandon Weeden is the starter this week, will we see some different things from him than we did yesterday?
"Yeah, I think that is an interesting point. I would say that what we did with him yesterday was basically the game plan for T.J. Yates and so that he was going to be able to go in there and say, okay like, Brandon on Saturday night, why don't you tell us, we communicate a lot with these guys, these guys have been playing quarterback for a while, they understand the position. 'Okay, so what plays are you comfortable with?' And so he would red dot a lot of the plays that he was comfortable with. He seemed to be comfortable with a lot of them. A lot of it is protection, how is he going to handle the different protections because we have a lot of different types of protections where the quarterback has to direct us to the right people, so that was a lot of it, what protections are you comfortable with. Now, gone into the game, performed pretty well, now we can probably do some things that, if he is the guy, that are more to his skill set, tailor it more to him."
How do you feel that you were able to run for 155 yards on 37 attempts and does that bode well for the next two games?
"It's funny, the running game has been, throughout the year, a little bit inconsistent, I mean, I understand that. There were a couple things that happened yesterday, I thought our offensive line played really well, for the most part. They played tough. I thought Duane Brown played an excellent football game, played very tough, played with good pad level, blocked the movement. The Colts did a lot of moving and we seemed to pick that up pretty well. And then Alfred Blue, other than the fumble, he ran with a purpose and I think that was a big part of the game. There was no fare dodging out there, he ran with a purpose and give him a lot of credit and give our line and our tight ends a lot of credit."
How do you explain that about RB Alfred Blue?
"I think that he has played a good amount of football now. He was banged up a little bit, so he probably felt pretty good in the game, felt healthy and I think he has played. The more you play, the more you run, the more confidence you get, the more you understand the running game, where the reads are, where the holes might be, the better you are going to get."
Did you think it was important to not give RB Alfred Blue too long of a break after his fumble before getting him back in the game for his confidence level?
"I didn't think too much about that. I saw the fumble. Mike Adams did a great job on that play. He actually went in there and ripped it right out of his hands. It was just a great play. Alfred has to do a better job there of securing the ball, but it was a good play. Alfred is not a fumbler, so we didn't even think about that. We felt like he was running hard. We felt that he had some good runs up to that point, so we were going back to him."
RB ALFRED BLUE
How good does it feel the day after coming home with a win?
"It feels good, man. I would say the vibe in the locker room is good, everybody got a smile on their face coming into work today. We've just got to clean up the film and get ready for Tennessee."
Talk about your day and the production you had along with a great day by the offensive line.
"Like I said, the o-line did a great job blocking, made my job really easy out there. I mean congratulate those guys for stepping up and pulling through and coming through in a big game."
It was a day with adversity with QB T.J. Yates going down and Brandon Weeden coming in but you all still got the win.
"Yeah man, it's always next man up. Brandon came in and did a great job."
What does it mean getting the win and controlling your own destiny in this division?
"It means a lot. It means that, like you said, we control it. It's up for us to give it away, so we know that and we've just got to treat it as such and just keeping moving forward."
Is the game against Tennessee this week potentially a trap game?
"Oh man, we have to stay focused every time. Since my two years we've played Tennessee, they play pretty hard. They play us pretty hard, so it doesn't matter what their record is. We know that and we know we've got to go in there with the mindset to win and not let up on them."
How are you feeling physically?
"Feeling great right now, a little sore but after tomorrow, I'll probably be pretty good."
You're on the offensive side but what does it mean to see what this defense is doing?
"It means a lot. I was always taught defense wins championships, so when your defense in the back end of the season, they start playing good, that means good things are going to happen."
Did you have a little extra sense of motivation this week after being banged up in the last game and not playing as much?
"Yeah, I would say I just had the mindset to just going in there and making an impact and showing everybody out there, coaches and everybody that I can contribute to the team."
How do you think you've gotten better as the year has gone on?
"I think I've gotten really good, just watching Arian (Foster) and learning from him, him critiquing me, and just taking the coaching from the coaches and just being a student of the game."
ILB BRIAN CUSHING
Do you look at this next game the same as you would any other game?
"Yeah, I mean we've just got to take care of business. That's all it comes down to and we know we're really in the driver's seat of our destiny. We've got to take care of what we can do and we've just got to win."
Is that how you guys have prepared all season, not looking at it as this or that is on the line?
"Yeah, it's a very focused group. It's a very focused group, and we know how to lock and we know how to take care of business. I mean we're talking about a team that was 2-5 at one time and blocked out everything, blocked out all the doubt and what everyone was saying and turned it around. We've got blinders on and we're going to take it game by game and day by day."
Even though the Patriots and Bills games were losses, do you feel like the defense has still put together about eight good games?
"Yeah, obviously we still feel like we could have played better in those two games, but came together yesterday and got it done."
CB KAREEM JACKSON
Do you feel like the defense, even with the losses to the Bills and Patriots, has put together a lot of good weeks here?
"I mean, I think we're going out and we're executing. Like I said, I mean, if we lose, we lose. Regardless of how we play, we go out, we play as a team, so at the end of the day, a loss is a loss regardless of how the defense or the offense plays. Yesterday I think we went in and did what we wanted to do going into Indy and that was execute the defense, make sure we had great communication. I think we did, but end of the day, I think there's some things we can correct as a defense. We evaluate the film today and we'll take the necessary steps to do that."
Talk about having blinders on right now and it not mattering who you're playing.
"Right, I mean for us as a team, we've got a bigger goal at hand, and it all starts with preparing for the next team. Like I said, today we'll do what we need to do to make corrections from the previous game and we'll turn the page and go on to Tennessee."
What does it say about this coaching staff and locker room that at one point you guys were 2-5?
"As a coaching staff and as a team, we're all fighters. I'm sure at some point every guy in this locker room, coaching staff as well, been through a tough time or had the odds against them. At the end of the day, it's just all about what you do in the long run. You've got to continue to work, continue to come in day-in and day-out, put the work in and on Sunday you've got to go out and do what you've done all week in practice and translate practice to the game. Like I said, as a team we're going to continue to fight and they've got us in a great situation right now."
How important is it to make sure you still make the big plays and play sound?
"I think it's a big part of the games. Like you said, big plays can definitely determine a game. Yesterday, we were able to make two big plays later in the game, definitely helped will us to win. For us as a back end, you definitely want to keep the big play off of us. I mean like I said, every week we practice that, stand on top as a secondary and try to create some turnovers."
Did you have the same thought on the turnover yesterday as you did against the Saints?
"Always thinking the same whenever you get your hands on it, we call it getting in the paint. You definitely want to try to put six on the board as a defensive back, you don't really get too many opportunities in this league to get your hands on it but when you do you definitely want to take it back."
Did you say something to CB Andre Hal when that happened?
"No, we watch the film today, I'm sure I'll have some things to say to him. I just think as a defense we went out there and like I said, we did what we wanted to do and that was execute every play, every chance that we got as a defense. We wanted to communicate, be on the same page and I think we were able to do that the way we wanted to yesterday in the game."
Is this season the best that CB Johnathan Joseph has played?
"Man, Johnathan has put together some great seasons for the Texans. He's a big-time player, definitely a great leader for us as a team and definitely in our secondary. I mean, it's definitely ranked high with all he's done here as a Texan. It just all depends on who's ranking it."
QB BRANDON WEEDEN
Is there anything that you felt like that you could do better from yesterday?
"Yeah, I just got done watching it. I think you can tell that my confidence and my timing is just not what it needs to be. That is kind of to be expected. I haven't thrown any of those routes to any of those guys, so that just comes with time. I thought as the game went on, the communication got better. I think I settled down and started really communicating and getting guys lined up. There is a couple of throws I would like to have back, but like I said, just uncertainty of timing and just getting a better feel for it."
Did you get any text messages from friends from Dallas?
"Yeah, I had quite a few. I had quite a few, coaches, staff and players. It was nice, all good texts and just telling me congrats and how happy they are for me. It means a lot."
What does it mean to you to be the fourth different quarterback to win a game for this team this year?
"Yeah, it's been a strange year. Even when I was in Dallas, just the way the year had gone there and then, obviously, getting the opportunity to come here and it's a great opportunity, you know to be the fourth guy, that is the way this league is, there's injuries, there's certain things that happen, you got to be ready. More importantly, all of the guys, Brian (Hoyer) has battled a couple concussions and then T.J. (Yates) had the deal yesterday, but I think they help me prepare, we kind of do this together, kind of tag team it and we have a great quarterback room and that makes things a lot easier."
What would it be like for you if you had to start on Sunday?
"Brian (Hoyer) has been in the system a long time and he is obviously the starting quarterback for this football team. At the same time, I have to prepare like I am going to play. Again, that is the only way to go about it. Like I said, if he does play, the little reps that I do get, whatever the scout team order, I got to take advantage of and continue to get comfortable and do those things. Like I said, just keep preparing, studying and doing the things that I have been doing."
You have been in all of the roles before, does that help you command the huddle of the offense?
"Yeah, I think so. Just being in the huddle, in general, communicating, looking guys in the eye, I remember there was like 6:42 left and I looked at the five guys up front and said, 'This is what you get paid the big bucks for, this is what is fun for you guys, run the football and let's try to go down and milk this clock and cap this thing and win it.' It was fun. I didn't feel out of place and I think guys felt comfortable with me. Really, it was kind of a panic situation, two-minute situation, we are in the red zone and I am trying to talk fast and I already talk fast and I mumble to begin with, so I just need to slow down and start over communicating and I think as the game went on, I did a little bit better job of that."
Did any of the guys in the huddle tell you to relax or anything?
"No, they didn't. In that situation they probably don't want to say anything. I looked at the picture on the sideline and I missed Nate (Washington) on a little option route, I worked (DeAndre Hopkins) Hop and I think we actually threw a completion, but I saw a picture and I said, 'Man, right there I got to come to you' and he said, 'Yeah, but I am going to let you do your thing. I am not going to come to you and bounce any ideas off of you. You have a lot on your plate,' and he gets it. He is a seasoned vet, he has been around a long time. The guys were good and I tried to just get in and out of the huddle and do as well as we could."
Looking back on your career, how do you feel about the decision to choose football over baseball?
"Yeah, it's kind of funny, growing up as a kid I always thought I would play in the big leagues. I was always a little more talented in baseball and it's tough to make it to the big leagues, I found that out once I got there, so gave that a run, had a blast, played five years of pro baseball and then went back to school thinking that I would never, ever play in the NFL. It was kind of the farthest thing from my wildest dream and I worked my tail off. I worked to put myself in position to be a high pick in this league and I am very blessed. A lot of people text me that all of the time, family, friends, they go, 'Hey, you are blessed, there are not very many people who get to play one professional sport, much less two. I don't think about it like that, but I have worked hard. I have worked hard to get where I am at and it hasn't been perfect all of the time. It is hard to play this position, but it is pretty neat. I am sure I will think about it more when I am done playing."
How much of a whirlwind has the last month been for you?
"Yeah, it kind of has, just the whole situation to come in and I was in a hotel for a few days and then I had to go find my own apartment. I have had a lot going on, on top of learning this system, but thank God for these iPads and thank God for the stuff, these tools that they give us to study because it kind of gives us access for when we go home we can, we are only there for a couple hours, study that way versus having to be up here all of the time, until nine, 10 o'clock like the old days. Now we can study at home and learn the system, but it's been a whirlwind, definitely been a whirlwind, but it's been a fun whirlwind and I have had a lot of fun in my one month here and, hopefully, the fun continues."