HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN**
With OLB Jadeveon Clowney, is it a situation where it makes more sense for him to rest?
"Yeah, I would say that Jadeveon probably will not play in the game on Sunday."
What kind of role has C Ben Jones had in helping you work through all the quarterback changes?
"That's a great question. He's done a really good job here. Last year, primarily our left guard was our backup center to Chris Myers, and he emerged late in the year there, really one of the leaders of our team. He's definitely one of the leaders of our team this year. He's done a really good job of running the show up front, and yeah, he's had to put in extra time with all those guys. He meets early in the morning. I think they meet Wednesdays and Thursdays at 6:30 in the morning, just him and the quarterbacks. They do it after practice today, yesterday. So he's had to do that with everybody. It's also a matter of just getting used to how they take the snaps, especially from under center, different cadences, things like that, so I think he's done a really good job."
What do you want to see from QB Brian Hoyer in the game on Sunday?
"I would say take care of the football, make good decisions in the passing game, get us into the right play, and basically be efficient, operate the offense pre-snap at a very high level, get us in and out of the huddle with good communication, good communication at the line of scrimmage. I think if we do those things – and top of the list there is taking care of the football – we'll have a chance."
What has Offensive Assistant Pat O'Hara's role with the quarterbacks been like?
"I would say that Pat probably works mostly with the backups, Tom Savage, he's worked a lot with him here while he's been on injured reserve. Pat works a lot with (Offensive Coordinator) George (Godsey) in breaking film down, helping with the offensive call sheet, the scripts for practice, things like that, helps with the show team. (Offensive Quality Control) Timmy Kelly does a really good job of quality control also on offense, breaking film down, helping (Offensive Line Coach) Mike Devlin with the offensive line. (Defensive Quality Control) Will Lawing on defense does a really good job. (Defensive Assistant) Anthony Pleasant helps with the defensive line. Will Lawing also does some things for me. He helps me out a lot with preparation for my squad meetings, so all four of those guys do a really good job."
What have you seen from Brandon Brooks in the last few weeks since he's been back?
"I think he's played well. When he plays well, it really helps our team. He's big, he's athletic, he's smart, he's tough, and I think when he's not in there, it's tough. It's tough because I think he's a good player, so when he's in there and he's in there consistently, he gets better and better, and that's good for our team."
Can you talk about ILB Brian Cushing and the leader and player he is today? He's never been to a Pro Bowl because of his injuries the past few years.
"Yeah, I don't think you can measure this guy by Pro Bowls. I think this guy is measured by his leadership, his toughness, everything that he brings to our team in the locker room. He's able to communicate with both sides of the ball, different positions, he gets us lined up on defense. He's the signal caller. You can't say enough about the guy's leadership. Somebody asked me earlier in the year about how he was playing and things like that. I'll tell you this, I've never seen a Mike linebacker play as hard as he plays. He throws his body around, he hustles form sideline to sideline, he's done a lot to put in time into the training room to get healthy, and he is definitely one of the leaders of our team."
DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
Head Coach Bill O'Brien said he's never seen a Mike linebacker play as hard as ILB Brian Cushing. What do you think about that and what has his role been this season?
"Well you know, Brian is one of the leaders on defense. He calls the signals, he helps get us lined up, and then he brings a physicality to the game that you got to have, particularly at the linebacker position. Then he is a great effort player. He runs to the ball constantly, consistently, and when he gets there, he tries to impact the tackle. That's what you're looking for in a linebacker, that's what you want in a linebacker, and I think all of those things happen in the game."
How much does being a veteran player help at a time like this for ILB Brian Cushing?
"Well it helps tremendously. I mean I like veterans, guys who've been through it, kind of know what to expect, then they can help the young guys, get them up to speed because as we go down this road, the importance of the games, they are more important. The week's preparation becomes really important, and I think a veteran guy can help a lot of the young guys with their prep during the week so that on game day they're able to go play and the unit can go and play."
In your coaching experience, when things aren't going the way they should, what is the first thing you look to improve?
"Fundamentals and foundations, because you have to be good fundamentally, and so that's the first thing you look for. Sometimes you go back to the drawing board, but fundamentals and your foundation of each position, the skill set at each position, make sure that you're doing those things right so that when you play them in the game, you can get them right in the game. That's what it comes down to is in the fourth quarter when the game is on the line, are you going to play with the proper leverage, are you going to have explosion, are you going to chase the ball, and all of those things, and will everybody be on the same page? That's probably more than anything else getting everybody on the same page and trusting each other."
When did you start to see that take place?
"Well in I guess the second half of the Miami game, they started playing a little bit better because we got killed the first half and then the second half I don't think they scored any points in the second half. I think that's when it started and then it just has continued to get better since."
Is there another season or team that you can compare this situation to?
"Well you know what, I've been on several teams who've been so-so and got on a roll and have done okay, but there's not one exactly like this team. I think every team is different, every situation is different and so you live through what you live though and put it into your experience bank."
Was the first half in Miami a wakeup call?
"Well I mean, as you go through life and experience, there are some points where things happen that you need to buckle down, and the second half of the Miami game, if we had let that continue going the way it was going, talk about embarrassing, it really would have been embarrassing. They were able to pull together and play better defense the second half, and I think that was the start of the unit pulling together more and as a result, playing better defense."
That certainly got their attention, didn't it?
"Well sometimes that's what it takes, you know, sometimes that's what it takes."
What about having coaches like you who've been through battles, does that help the players and other coaches?
"I would like to think that it does because I have the experience and kind of know what to expect and I can talk to the players about what to expect, how they need to prepare, what we need to be ready for. But ultimately, they're the ones who play the game, and if I can get them to understand that preparation during the week and attention to detail on the practice field and do all those things right, then that will help them be successful on Sunday."
Have you ever flashed your rings for them?
"Nope, have not."
OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Head Coach Bill O'Brien said it's unlikely you play Sunday vs. Jacksonville, but will it be nice to get some rest before a possible playoff game?
"I'm taking it easy, taking it one day at a time, and working to try to get back. I got a little injury. We're all trying to do what we can do to get me back out there on the field."
Does getting some rest before the playoffs make sense to you?
"I mean, I don't know. If I can go, I know I would have went. He knows I would have played too. Just really trying to get right to help the team the next game."
Do you feel like you're making progress with your injury?
"Yeah, I'm getting better every day."
If it was the playoffs, do you think you would be playing this weekend?
"I would have tried something. We all would have tried to do something. We're trying now to get me out there now. There's still time, taking it easy, one day at a time. Who knows? Sunday is a few days away, so you never know."
How long have you been out of the boot?
"A few days."
When you got injured, did you think 'Oh no, not again'?
"Yeah, I was kind of upset. I was like 'Damn, I don't want to be in a boot or a cast' but you know, it happens. It's football and injuries happen. You just got to prepare yourself to get better and get back, so you can get back out there with your team as soon as possible."
How much does it mean to you that you could be a part of a playoff team this season?
"Oh man, it's a lot. From where we came from, a 2-5 team and everybody counted us out, it would be big for everybody in the locker room and the whole organization. Just looking forward to that."
How much work did it take to climb out of that hole and be in the playoff picture?
"A lot. We worked - when we were 2-5, we were still working. Guys just said 'Keep preparing, keep coming back and let's stick together to try to make a run.' That's what we did. We gave ourselves a chance to go to the playoffs and put us in the playoffs coming up. I'm looking forward to playing whoever we have to play."
How good does it feel for the team to be playing the way you had hoped and expected this season?
"It's great. We all knew what we could do. Everybody's just got to come to work and try to put it together, not one side having a better game than the other. We know what we can do. Now we're all playing together, complementary football. It's heading our way and we're winning games."
NT VINCE WILFORK
How does it feel after a 2-5 start to be on the cusp of the playoffs?
"This is what we play for to put ourselves in a spot to be able to clinch a playoff berth, so everything we worked for all season it all comes down to one game and we are going to have work for it. Nothing is going to be handed to us no matter if we are playing here or away, so we are going to have to play some good football against a team that is going to be ready to play us. We understand that it's a divisional opponent, so it's a critical game for us, but we got to continue to do what we have been doing, concentrate on the little things and focus on starting fast and being able to stop the run and getting on and off the field, defensively, and give our offense the ball back. I think we will be fine."
What is your impression of your rookie class this season?
"They're professionals. They are learning on the run. We don't have any problems with them. It is good to have good rookies and we have good rookies here. We have a good locker room here. I think it is easy when you have a bunch of guys in the locker room that are already great guys to bring someone in from another team, through the draft or through trade, whatever, to be able to come to a situation to a team like this just because of the leadership and how everyone is, it's the character in this room. They fit in and I am happy to have these young guys, but they've learned and they are professionals now, so we don't look at them as rookies now. They are part of us and they understand that. They come to work and they will be ready to work and ready to play, so that is the only thing we ask of them."
What have you seen on tape from the growth of Jaguars QB Blake Bortles?
"He is more confident, he is playing with more confidence. The team itself is playing a lot better together. He makes a lot of plays with his arms and his legs, so we have to do a really good job of actually understanding how we need to play him and concentrating on just doing our jobs. With the running game, the backs that they have, they are very dynamic. I think they have been playing together. I know they haven't won a lot or some close games, but it is a different team than what we faced earlier this year. We are going to expect their best. It's a division game. It means a lot for us and I am sure it is going to mean a lot for them to come in here and win. At the same time, we have to be ready to play. No matter where we play, we have to be ready."
Was there something that you said or did when you guys were 2-5 that led to this turnaround?
"Everything happens for a reason. We never anticipated being 2-5 at one point, but at the same time, we have done a great job and the coaches have done a great job of keeping focus. The leaders, everyone just standing on the same platform of just believing in one another. That's what it was all about. It was about believing in one another. The only people who believed that we could be in the spot that we are in is everyone in this locker room and in this organization. I don't think anybody else outside of this building gave us a shot to be in this spot. With that being said, we don't care about what anybody else thinks of us. The only thing that matters is how we feel about one another and what we can accomplish together as a team. As long as we play together and prepare well and execute at a high level, I think we can win a lot of ball games around here, so I am very excited about being in the spot that we are in right now. Like I said, we have to win this game. If we win, we are in. It doesn't get any simpler than that."
What have you learned about ILB Brian Cushing since becoming his teammate?
"Intensity, I mean, he is just a great football player. You can see film on him, but to be in the locker room with him and see how he approaches every game and every practice, you are always smiling with him. He always is having fun. He takes football personally. This is his life and someone like that you can always win with. You need a bunch of Brian Cushings on the team. I would take them any day, just because he attacks the field in games and in practice. He attacks with the right mindset and I think sometimes you need people with that mindset to set the stage for everything. I think he does a real good job of that. He might not know it or not, but he does a real good job of this team, not just defensively, of setting the tone for us early, just with the whole mindset of playing football. That is what a football player is all about."
Do you see what people talk about that ILB Brian Cushing has two different personalities on the field and off the field?
"I look at him all in one way, so I don't really pay attention to the two personalities. Cush is Cush to me. Sometimes he is smiling, sometimes he is walking around looking like he is pissed off, sometimes he is joking, but that is who he is. I think everybody has a side to them that is like that, but I think him being who he is and how he acts and his mindset and everything, I think he will look crazy at times, but I love that, I love that craziness. He loves this game. Like I said, you can win a lot of ballgames with guys like him and I am happy to be on the same team as him."