Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(on how he got hired by Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick when he was in New England) "I was at Duke, I knew Bill, I had known Bill for a while and he called and said, 'We have a potential quality control job and we would like for you to talk to some of our guys,' so I came to the Combine at that time, I think, and spoke to (Patriots Offensive Coordinator) Josh McDaniels and that's how I got hired."
(on if he wanted to get to the NFL) "At the end of the day, it was a great opportunity. It wasn't necessarily saying that I got to get to the NFL. It was more about, at that time, having a chance in my career to work for a great football coach and a great organization, so that's what it was."
(on if he was a Patriots fan growing up as a kid) "When I was a kid growing up in New England, I think there were two years, 1978, I was about nine years old, and then, 1985, when they were good. Other than that, they weren't very good and then when Mr. (Patriots Owner Robert) Kraft bought the team, they became real good, so yeah, I was a fan growing up. That's more being from Boston."
(on the growth of QB Brian Hoyer from New England through this season) "Oh yeah, yeah. He knows the game a lot better. He understands the pro game. With experience in different systems and kind of, like I have said all along about Brian having to go through a lot in his career, being injured, being cut, he has a lot of resiliency, mental toughness, very bright guy, so yeah, he has grown a ton since I had him in 2009."
(on how he has grown since his time in New England) "I think every day you get better, I really do. I think that experience for me in New England was a great one because I learned a lot about a lot of different aspects of football, whether it was personnel evaluation or strategy, defense or whatever it was, but I just think in this business, you learn something new every day, so you are always getting better. As far as Sunday night, I will be very focused on doing the best I can to be a good coach for this team. That is what I will be focused on."
(on Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick saying that he was one of the best coaches that the Patriots have had) "Well, I appreciate that. I think he is being real nice. We had a great head coach, great players, really excellent coaching staff, the guys that I worked with over the five years I was there, they are great football coaches. (Patriots Offensive Coordinator) Josh McDaniels, (Former Patriots Offensive Line Coach) Dante Scarnecchia, that whole offensive staff. (Former Patriots Wide Receivers Coach) Nick Caserio is a great friend of mine who is the personnel director now, but at that time he was coaching. I appreciate those comments, coming from him, obviously, they mean a lot, but that was just a great team, great coaching staff."
(on Texans G Brandon Brooks) "He did a good job. He was out there and he was fine."
(on Texans G Brandon Brooks' health) "I think he was just sick. I think it was like a 24-hour bug."
(on if Patriots Offensive Coordinator Josh McDaniels deserves another head coaching position) "I think so, yeah. He is a great football coach, very bright guy, good leader, yes."
(on how the Patriots seem to have something different planned every week) "That is exactly right. It's a game-plan offense. What you see on film, for instance against Philadelphia or against Buffalo or the Giants or whoever, it's probably not exactly what you are going to see against us out here on Sunday night. We have got to understand, how they form the plays personnel-wise, formationally, some of the things that we are studying that are in those games, but at the end of the day, what we have to do is when we show up on Sunday night, is be able to discern, quickly and throughout the game, how the game is being played and be able to adjust and do a good job of that on the sideline."
(on his wife's reaction to leaving Duke for New England) "We had Jack and Michael had just been born. For that college coaching deal, I was making a decent salary and didn't quite make that same salary in New England, so she didn't quite have the divorce papers written up just then. That came later for other reasons. My suitcase was not on the porch, but I don't think she was real thrilled about the old salary."
(on his relationship with Patriots QB Tom Brady when he was there) "Obviously, I have a lot of respect for him. I learned a lot from him, coached him to the best of my ability. Right when you get there, I was quality control and he was one of the first guys to say hello to me. I worked closely with the offense during the first couple years. I was the wide receivers coach in '08 and then (Patriots Head Coach) Bill (Belichick) gave me the opportunity to be the quarterback coach in '09 and that is when you spend a lot of time, and it's a great experience coaching him. He is very passionate about the game, very detailed, very smart guy, so it was a good relationship."
(on if there were ways that coaching Patriots QB Tom Brady made him a better coach) "Absolutely. You are coaching a guy that has seen it all, that knows that system inside and out. To me, the biggest thing, for me personally, it was the same thing with (Patriots Head) Coach (Bill) Belichick, you had to be prepared, ultra-prepared for every single meeting. You couldn't go into a meeting, ever, winging it. That in and of itself, makes you a better coach."
(on if RB Chris Polk and RB Jonathan Grimes will continue to get more carries or if it was circumstantial last week) "I think it is more circumstantial. I think it's more about a couple things, it's how the defense is playing us and the different personnel groupings and, sometimes, it comes down to who has the hot hand, who is running the best, who is running with the most confidence, who is seeing it the best, that is a part of it too. I think it was more about how they were playing us and I'm not sure that will be the same this weekend."
(on who has the hot hand playing into his decision at running back) "Yeah, you are not going to take a guy out who is running the ball well, just to sub just to sub, you are not going to do that."
(on RB Chris Polk's health) "Yeah, he was out there today, looked good today. I think that's the big thing with all of the running backs at this time of year, they are all banged up, so they have to do a good job of taking care of themselves and I think that is what Chris is doing and he seems to be feeling pretty good today."
(on his most famous interaction with Patriots QB Tom Brady being the sideline incident where they were yelling at each other and if he thought that was a big deal at the time) No. Really, no. You spend a lot of time together with quarterbacks, here, New England, Penn State, wherever and those things, you are talking about very competitive people that are trying to do the best they can for the team to win the game and, sometimes, those things happen, but it was not a big deal."
(on after that blowup how many stickers did Patriots QB Tom Brady put on the teapot) "Those weren't stickers and that was started by (Texans QB Brian) Hoyer. You want to talk about the teapot, you got to ask Hoyer, he caused that, he was the one. It was all written on there, so it would be like first teapot story and they would write it out until the teapot was covered. It wasn't all me, that's the thing, they blame that whole thing on me."
(on legend says it was all him on the teapot) "No. There were a few teapots in that room."
(on what he learned from Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick that serves him best today) "I would say organizational skills. I would say evaluation of personnel. I would say defensive knowledge and then I would say, basically, the approach to the team aspect of football."
(on if QB Brian Hoyer has the teapot here) "I think he's called up there to try to get it sent here, but I am not sure that it has made its way to Houston."
Offensive Coordinator George Godsey
(on what he's seen from QB Brian Hoyer's growth since his days in New England) "Well I mean I think the more experience with each series, with each play actually, you get better as a quarterback. I think you see that with some of the young quarterbacks in the league right now. Brian's now played for quite a few years. He's started for quite a few games. I think with each game there's growth."
(on if Head Coach Bill O'Brien is different as a coach now than when he was at Georgia Tech) "I mean, we could talk for a long time about that. I think all of our minds are occupied right now with the task at hand. It's a very big challenge and I think that's where our focus is right now, nothing really in the rear view."
(on if he sees RB Jonathan Grimes and RB Chris Polk playing a bigger role in the final games of the regular season) "They're effective at what their role is. I think their role is increasing, and everybody, we're trying to increase everybody's role at this point in the season, the quarterback, the linemen, different schemes, so if they're willing to put the time in, we're willing to put it out there as far as the scheme."
(on if he made Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski everything he is today) "I've always said it's always about the players. Good players are always the good players."
(on what the effect is when you take a weapon like Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski out of the game) "From our perspective, we've had some players that haven't been out there on the field that we were counting on let's just say in the spring time. I think you look at Arian Foster, there's a running back that we had to make changes and move on. I think the National Football League is about injuries. If there's injuries, it's the next man up. I think that's the way we approach it, at least from our standpoint."
(on what he thinks Head Coach Bill O'Brien learned from the Patriots) "It's hard to say. Right now, again, our focus is really more about the game plan right now than anything. I think each year you grow as a coach, whether when I was, as a player, as a coach in college, as a coach at different clubs, different places, you grow as a coach. That's really the resume that you try to put together."
(on what his initial reaction was when Head Coach Bill O'Brien left college to go to the pros in New England) "I think as a coach, I think we all make decisions that hopefully better your career. You can never look back at what you've done. Any decisions as a coach that someone makes, as a colleague, as a friend, we always support each other. Again, wherever you go and whatever experiences you occur or go through, hopefully you're learning from those and bettering yourself as a coach."
(on what Head Coach Bill O'Brien told him when he said he was leaving for the Texans) "I think that's between us. I think that's a personal deal that, I just appreciate my time there, respect everybody at the club, and now we're on to our game plan and that's where our focus is."
(on accounting for playmakers like Patriots DE Chandler Jones and LB Jamie Collins) "Playmakers is exactly right. It's not just them, the DBs are playmakers. Rob Ninkovich has been a playmaker for a long career. They've got new players there, inside that are being productive. They're a team defensively that has had some injuries but they've overcome them too. It's always the guys that have the stats you're going to account for, at least kind of know where they're at each play, but there's a lot of them on that defense that we're going to have to account for."
(on what sets Patriots DE Chandler Jones apart) "The first thing from a defensive player is you have to have a good motor. You see Chandler has a good motor. (Rob) Ninkovich has a good motor on the other end. Our tackles have their work cut out for them. They also move around, so our inside players will too. The offensive line has a big chore and that's really what today's about."
(on blitz pickup at the end of the Bills game last week) "That's really what Monday after the game is for. We're trying to see what teams did to us, how can we get better, how should we handle things differently, schematically, from an execution standpoint, and we feel like we've handled it. Hopefully if it comes up again, we're in the right position and we execute it the right way."
(on how he feels QB Brian Hoyer has played this year) "I mean, it's week-to-week how we look at everything. Unfortunately, we end up with a loss on the last week so we're looking to turn the page and move on and we'll examine everybody at the end of the year."
T Duane Brown
(on New England having a game plan that changes every week) "Yeah, it's different. You watch one game and they're in two different fronts. You watch another game and they never use those fronts. You don't quite know what to expect. Our coaches have a good idea of how they might match up with us. For us, we kind of just look at personnel. The personnel is going to be the same, how different a guy plays, run blocks or double teams or pass rush moves, things like that. Then you just go from there. Like I said, the coaches have done a great job of game planning what to expect, so we'll go with that. I'm sure we'll get some wrinkles on Sunday, and we'll just have to adjust from there."
(on if this game means anything more to him because he's gone up against New England in big games before) "Just another game, just another step towards getting to what we want to accomplish. That was a long, long time ago playing them in the playoffs, haven't played them since 2013, which is good. I'm pretty familiar with those guys for the most part, but other than that, just another game we're trying to win."
(on the atmosphere of Sunday Night Football) "It's exciting man, primetime Sunday night, at home against one of the better teams in the league. Can't really ask for much more, you get up for those kind of games, so I'm looking forward to it."
(on if this weekend is kind of a tune-up for what a playoff game would feel like) "Definitely, both teams are trying their hardest to win. We both obviously have a lot to play for, and we're coming off a loss, they're coming off a loss. You can expect it to be pretty intense, pretty physical game, a chess match, and it's going to be pretty exciting."
S Quintin Demps
(on what makes Patriots QB Tom Brady special) "I think 16 years, I think it's his experience, I think he is competitive, he is just a fiery guy, he wants to win and you can't beat that."
(on going against a guy that you have been watching for years) "It is fun. He brings a good challenge for us, especially on the back end, a Hall-of-Fame guy for sure, so it is a challenge for us and we are looking forward to it."
(on how different the Patriots are without TE Rob Gronkowski) They are pretty much the same. Of course, he brings a big element to them, offensively, but same guys, NFL players, we got to be ready for them."
WR DeAndre Hopkins
(on his relationship with Clemson DE Shaq Lawson) "I've seen him grow up, so to see where he is now is very special, especially where we come from. Not too many people make it to this level. To see him where he is right now is exciting."
(on what memories he has from playing in a high school basketball championship game with Clemson DE Shaq Lawson) "Him probably getting mad I didn't throw him an alley and I dunked it myself instead of throwing him the alley oop, even though we won by a lot."
(on Clemson DE Shaq Lawson saying Hopkins made him a better basketball player) "Yeah, I think I made my whole team better. I ran the point, that was my job of making sure everybody was where they need to be."
(on if basketball was his first love) "Yeah, that's right."
(on not getting to win an NCAA basketball championship with Clemson DE Shaq Lawson) "Yeah, he didn't have the grades to make it to Clemson, but once he got there, he showed them that he was good."
(on how proud he is of Clemson DE Shaq Lawson for being nominated for the Lombardi Award) "Words really can't describe how proud of him I am. He's been through a lot. It's too much to sit here and tell you, but really proud of him. Everybody in our community is also."
(on Texans QB Brian Hoyer's growth this year) "He's been in the system a long time, so if anything, he's seen my growth in this offense more so than me seeing his growth."
(on how much confidence they have in QB Brian Hoyer right now) "A lot of confidence, and he's got a lot of confidence in himself. It shows throughout."
(on if it matters to him what time the game Sunday starts) "No, not at all."
(on if national TV matters to him) "No."
(on Head Coach Bill O'Brien's nickname in New England being "teapot") "He really keeps his composure with us. I'm not sure how he was in New England, but he's a great coach."
(on what New England does well on defense) "Make plays, that's the name of the game, make plays, and that's what they do."
QB Brian Hoyer
(on calling Head Coach Bill O'Brien "the teapot" because of his temper when they were in New England) "Those were some good times. Basically, any time we felt it was justified, we'd put it on the teapot like it was the Stanley Cup. I brought a teapot in one day. (Patriots QB) Tom (Brady) and I thought it would be funny to just keep adding to the story. At a certain point, I started writing them down in my notebook. Finally, when we brought the teapot in, we started wrapping them around and eventually it was pretty full."
(on if he will have the teapot shipped down here) "Yeah, I'm thinking about it. I'm not really sure where it is. I know it's up there still. That's something we'll have to find out, see if we can get it down here."
(on what stories qualified to be put on the teapot) "You guys saw Hard Knocks, so I think that kind of gives you a little bit of a taste for what qualified. But there's a few good ones that I remember that I probably can't really talk about on the air or to the press."
(on who decided what qualified as "teapot moment") "(Patriots QB) Tom (Brady) and I, basically. (Head Coach) Billy (O'Brien) would always say, 'That doesn't qualify.' Tom and I would be like, 'It definitely qualifies.' Definitely some good times, it was pretty fun."
(on if the time Bill O'Brien screamed at Patriots QB Tom Brady on the sideline qualified as a "teapot story") "Oh, that was the ultimate. That was around there. But Tom was on there for that one too."
(on playing peacemaker in that situation) "Yeah, I figured I'd let it go for a little bit, let them fume. Then realized that it was a game to win. It was the fourth quarter and it was a tight game. I said, 'alright' and tried to just be a shield in between them. I think (Offensive Coordinator George) Godsey got involved. Then I remember literally a minute later, they were like, 'Alright, when we go back out, let's run this play.' Two heated, passionate guys who wanted to win the game. That's what both those guys are all about."
(on if Head Coach Bill O'Brien has had his share of "teapot moments" here) "Not as much since he's a head coach. I think he's more level-headed. But you know, I think he's got to be more of a leader of the team, so he's definitely, like I said, you guys saw Hard Knocks, you could see the language. But I can't really remember one that probably would have qualified to get on the teapot."
(on how Head Coach Bill O'Brien has grown since their New England days together) "I think my time in New England, he was the offensive coordinator, so he was spending time just with us, the quarterbacks and the offense. Now, as a head coach, he's overseeing everything. He's got such good knowledge of the entire game of football, not just the offense. So you see him going from meeting room to meeting room, talking to the defense, that kind of thing."
(on if being a former Patriot helps him prepare to play them) "Not really because it's a different team. I mean, there's a few players that were there when I played, especially defensively. But for the most part, there's a lot of new guys there that I never had a chance to play against, practice against, etc. So, for me, I got to study and I got to go out there and see how they're playing things. Really, as much as I practiced against them, I was a scout-team quarterback. I really wasn't remembering, trying to scheme them up and remember going against them. So for me, it's more like a normal week where I have to go watch the film and prepare."
(on working with Head Coach Bill O'Brien and Patriots QB Tom Brady in New England) "I remember when I was undrafted, my agent was like, 'I think you should go to New England.' And I said, 'You're crazy because they have Tom Brady, they had a guy who had been there for a few years, and then the year before they had drafted a guy in the third round.' He's like, 'No, I think they really like you. And if anything, it's a great opportunity to learn from Tom Brady, Coach O'Brien, (Patriots Head Coach) Bill Belichick. So I went in with that mindset, just soak it all up. I don't know if I'm going to make the team, if I'm going to be on the practice squad, whatever it is. Just soak it all up. It ended up being the most valuable years of my NFL career because I learned from a lot of great people there how to do it the right way, how to be a pro, and I've tried to apply that everywhere else I've gone."
(on playing for Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick) "It was tough. It was great to win but it was tough. I mean, you always had to be on your toes. You always had to prepare like it was a game even out at practice. He definitely got the best out of his players and those were probably the most valuable years of my career, learning from not only him but from Coach (Bill) O'Brien and from Tom (Brady)."
(on if he expects Sunday's game to be emotional for him) "It's been so long. I think if anything, getting to play on Sunday night, that's the part that I'm looking forward to. I've done the Thursday night and I've done the Monday night, but I haven't got a chance to play on Sunday night yet. That'll be fun. And to be back at home, wearing the red jerseys, I know that's a special thing here, so I'm excited."
(on if he thinks about how far he's come since New England) "Not really. I mean, when I was in Cleveland, a lot of people asked, 'Do you realize how special it is that you're playing for your home team?' I think you realize it more after the fact. For me, I'm so focused this week on New England's defense, how they're going to try to play us, the personnel groupings they're going to throw out there. You really don't have a lot of time to think about it. I think after the fact, maybe you'll look back and realize the situation that it was."
(on if the focus is still on the importance of the game Sunday) "Yeah, for sure. I think the thing that (Head Coach) Billy (O'Brien) said to us is every game is important, not only because we're playing the Patriots on Sunday night. Every game, at this point in the season with where we're at, is very important. Like I've told you guys before, we're treating these like one-game seasons. That's all that matters, figuring out a way to beat the Patriots on Sunday night. All the other stuff, it's great for you guys to build a story. But for us, it's about winning the football game."
(on what he feels he's improved this year) "I think for me, it's always trying to become more consistent. I think you can't just have moments where you have a great play and then moments where it's not very good. I think that's kind of where our offense needs to get better. We can't have a good drive and then go out and have a penalty or whatever it might be. Then really stop ourselves. I think we got to be the ultimate, consistent machine out there as an offense. Because really, when we get things going, we do really well. A lot of times, when we don't get things going, we're stopping ourselves. I think the consistency part is always what you're trying to build on."
(on learning from the veterans at his position when he was a young player in the NFL) "You basically spend eight hours a day with the guy for however many years. Anything from the time where we'd get in in the morning to watch some film to out on the practice field doing the same drills, working out in the weight room together. I mean, you spend so much time with them. It just kind of is a natural thing. The great thing about Tom (Brady) was he kind of pulled me along with him. For me, as a young guy, to see a player who is as great as he is to kind of be that way, and also, holding me accountable. I remember one story. The offensive line during breaks would play hacky sack in the locker room. It's my rookie year and I kind of joined in. He came up and he was like, 'Hey, do you know what to do on this play?' He rattled off some play I had never heard of before. I was like, 'Uh, not really.' He goes, 'Well then you better learn because if something happens to me, you need to carry this team.' I was like, 'Wow, here's a guy who's won three Super Bowls, however many MVPs, and he's holding me accountable as his backup quarterback to make sure that if something happens to him, I'm ready to go.' I think for me, learning from him, it was probably the most valuable time of my career because had I gone somewhere else, I don't know if I'd be where I am today. Being able to be around Tom, learn from (Head Coach) Billy (O'Brien), learn from (Patriots Head) Coach (Bill) Belichick, so it was definitely a great opportunity."
(on Patriots QB Tom Brady's passion and competitiveness) "Oh man, he's the ultimate competitor. There's times where he challenged me to footwork drills and stuff like that. I think we all know how fleet of foot he is. No matter how many times I'd beat him, he'd make me go again and again and again. He just hates to lose. Me being a competitor, I think you really respect that. I'm the same way. If I was going to play checkers with my brother-in-law, I wouldn't want him to win either. That's just the type of character and the type of guy that Tom is. It drives everyone around him to be better because he doesn't want to lose."
(on replacing Patriots QB Tom Brady in a game in Houston) "Tom didn't want me to come in. He wanted to stay in the game."
(on if he was told he was going to get to play in that game) "Not really. It was kind of like 'Hey, be ready. I don't know how it's going to go.' Really that was more coming from (Head Coach) Billy (O'Brien) talking to me like, 'Hey, we've already locked this up. You may get a chance to play.' I remember after (Wes) Welker got hurt, I went in and we came in after halftime and Tom's (Brady) like, 'No, I'm going back out.' I was like, 'Alright, whatever.'"
(on Patriots QB Tom Brady getting to go back in that game) "He did. He went back out and played. I got to play the final drive. Yeah, I think that was the most extensive work I got my rookie year."
CB Charles James
(on Patriots QB Tom Brady) "He's one of the best all-time, countless Super Bowls, I mean you can't play around with this guy. If you are sitting back there and just being a sitting duck, he is going to pick you apart. For him, he is one of my favorites, right next to Peyton Manning, so I am looking forward to the challenge."
(on if he will go up and chat with Patriots QB Tom Brady before the game) "Probably so, of course. You got to respect greatness now. You got to respect, look for me, I am living the dream, I am living the dream, man, so I am going to definitely go up there and say how big of a fan I am, which I am because I have watched him play a lot of good football in this league, and hopefully he don't kill us."
(on how cool it is going up against a guy that he watched) "It is cool for me because, you got to excuse me, but I play video games a lot, so I am used to seeing him on video games and playing him on video games and stuff like that and I am like, 'Ah, he is really out here.' I didn't get that first until when I was in college and played against Tim Tebow and I was like, 'Wow, that is really him,' but it is going to be cool, man. Hopefully, what we just have to do as a secondary is stay together, play together and do our job and play good football."
(on if he beat him in video games at least) "Yes, yes. If it turns out like the video games, we are going to be perfectly fine."
(on if he ever created himself or made himself better on a video game) "No question, every time. I am like six foot on the game though. I am six foot and I always start, so no question about it, I am starting."
(on if he changes his attributes on the game) "I just keep everything pretty much at a 99 on there, so typical J.J. Watt on there all of the time."
WR Cecil Shorts III
(on playing against a dangerous team that has lost two games in a row) "They'll be hungry. Everybody wants to win. It's the time of year that it's big, you know what I mean, it's December, a lot of teams want to win in December. They want to be good going into the playoffs. We are trying to fight to get into the playoffs. It's a big game all-around. I don't know if people will say it is a trap game or nothing like that, but both teams are hungry and want to win."
(on if there is more pressure on the offense since you know Patriots QB Tom Brady is going to put some points on the board) "We just need to do our job. We understand that Brady, he is what he is. He is great at what he does, so we need to do our job. We can't focus on Tom Brady and his side of the ball, we need to focus on what we got to do and if we do our job, we will be alright."
(on if this game feels bigger because of the opponent) "Honestly, each game is big, especially, nowadays, when you are in the hunt. Each game matters. We need to go out there, we need to prepare this week. Like I said, they are a good team all-around, so we got to do our due diligence to prepare and be ready to go."
Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick Conference Call
Q: What have you seen from Brian Hoyer from the time you spent with him to where he is now?
BB: We saw a lot of what everybody is seeing from Brian. Smart kid, really handles himself well, has a lot of poise, has a lot of toughness, very good deep-ball thrower, sees coverages well even though he's not physically imposing, but he has good vision and good awareness and can certainly handle things at the line of scrimmage in terms of checks and audibles and that kind of thing. The big thing with Brian was he never got a chance to play here, which was a good thing for the team but kind of a bad for him. All his game experience was kind of for the most part preseason games, unlike [Matt] Cassel, who had a chance in 2008 to play 15 games. Brian was never in that position for us. He didn't get that opportunity until later, and he obviously made the most of it. I don't think we really see a lot different other than experience, which that's pretty valuable.
Q: What makes Danny Amendola the best option route runner in football?
BB: Danny has got a lot of good skills. He returns kicks, so he's a good ball handler. You can see his quickness and his ability to avoid tacklers in the open field and run with the ball after the catch. He's got good speed and he's able to separate, so the combination of speed, quickness and hands. And Danny is a smart player, he understands leverage and kind of when to speed up, when to sit down in a zone, that type of thing. He's good on scramble plays. He's gotten open on a lot of those. Not that our quarterback is a big time scrambler, but it comes up from time to time where he has the same connection with the quarterback on a loose play or a scramble play and turn that into getting open and creating a play there. All those things – the instinctiveness plus the skills. And he's tough. He's taken some big hits and hung onto the ball in really tight coverage in critical situations for us multiple times. That's another strong point for him.
Q: What have you see in Bill O'Brien's growth from when he was a quality control coach to where he is now with the Texans?
BB: I think Bill is a great coach, one of the best that I've had. He's right up there with all those guys. Very unusual to do what he did, to go from a coordinator position to a quality control position on our staff, but I think that shows you his work ethic, the confidence he has in himself. Then after Josh [McDaniels] left, he had the opportunity to work with the quarterbacks and be the offensive coordinator. I thought he did a great job with the staff, with the players and he was a big reason for a lot of our success during that timeframe. Bill has great leadership. He's really smart, but he's got a toughness about him and also that permeates to the team. I think we saw that during his two years at Penn State where even in a situation that's not good or things aren't going well or whatever, he's got a lot of mental toughness and is able to stay steady, composed, get people to follow him. And we had a number of situations, whether it was during a year or during a particular game where things like that came up and I saw the command and the presence and the poise, composure, good decision making that he has and showed multiple times. He's got a real good energy about him, and he's really a good football coach.
Q: Is there a way to quantify the advantages and disadvantages of going up against a guy that you have previous experience working with?
BB: It seems like that's every week – somebody who has coached on our staff or players that have played in our system for multiple years or had a significant role on our team. It seems like we have some element of that almost every week. I get that question from again whether it was a player or assistant coach or in this case a head coach, it's really pretty common. It's probably more common that that is the case than it isn't [the case]. In the end this game is going to come down to the teams on the field, how well they can execute and make plays at critical times in the game. Obviously all the key situations, turnovers, red area, third down, big plays, those are the plays that decide almost every game every Sunday in the NFL, and I'm sure it won't be any different this week.
Q: With your offensive line in flux, does your experience with Vince Wilfork help you prepare for him?
BB: We know him, he knows us, so we know what he knows and he knows what we know. I think that's just a game, that if you really want to get into that, I think it's a waste of a lot of energy that's not productive. It is what it is and just figure out the best way to deal with it and we still got to block him. Whether we know him or don't know him, we still got to block him. He's still got to defeat a block and tackle the runner or the quarterback or whoever it is. He knows [Bryan] Stork; Stork knows him. Honestly, we've played against guys that we played twice a year at the same position and playing those guys in a game is in a way probably better prepares you for playing the player in another game than practicing against a player because practice is practice. It's valuable but it's not the same as playing in a game when you're cutting and the defense is grabbing and there are other things that go on within the game that we don't do in practice for safety reasons. Like I said, I think if you played against a guy four, five, six, seven games, whatever it is playing him twice a year, you know that player better to play him in a game than you know a guy that you practice against because you haven't really seen quite that same style or level of play.
Q: You used to coach Lawrence Taylor and now you have to face J.J. Watt. How difficult is it to game plan around special players like that?
BB: Watt's a major force. There have been very few players I would put in the same conversation with Taylor but I would put Watt there. Now it's early in his career and he's done a lot already, Taylor did it over a long period of time, but Watt's done it pretty consistently now. He's that same kind of player. It's the same kind of player. I know he was the unanimous MVP last year. He's already earned that award this year, even if he didn't play the last four games, which this might be a good game for him to rest. But he's a dynamic player, very hard to block. You can't run at him, you can't run away from him. He wins with speed, he wins with quickness, he wins with power, he plays inside, he plays outside, he plays out on the tackle, he plays in on the guard, both sides of the line he's had production when they flipped him and he's played a little bit on the center, he's hard to block there, too, batted down I don't know how many passes. We've watched him bat them down for four or five years. He's very, very disruptive and can ruin the game. We've got to do a good job against him or it's going to be a long day. Now they have a lot of other good players on defense, too – I'm not saying that – but this guy is really, really special.
Q: What changes in your preparation week when you face a coach that you have previous experience with?
BB: I think we deal with that on a pretty regular basis. Coaches that have coached here or coaches that we've coached against multiple times or a coach on our staff that's coached with that person somewhere else, so maybe I don't know him directly but somebody on our staff has been in years of meetings with him. Again it's pretty much the same question that I answered before. The game is going to come down to the players and their execution on the field. Yeah, you know a little bit about them, they know a little bit about you, but that's the way it is every week to some degree and in some phase of the game.
Q: What are your thoughts on the Houston Texans putting in artificial turf?
BB: We haven't been on it, so I don't know.
Q: With the new movie "Concussion" coming out, what are your thoughts on that issue and seeing all the effects over the years?
BB: I'm not familiar with what you're referring to, so I haven't seen that. Obviously as a coach, there is nothing more important to me than the health and care of our players. Without healthy players, we don't have a team, so there is nothing more important than that. Whatever steps we can take on the medical end or on the football end to do the best we can to minimize any of those injuries or minimize the risk that the players are put in, I'm for. I've proposed and been involved in several rules that specifically relate to player safety as have many other coaches and organizations in the league, so I think that's something that all of us are always looking for. At the same time it's a contact sport, football is football, and when you have athletes that are the quality of the athletes we have in the National Football League competing at that high level, unfortunately there are going to be some injuries. But I think that overall the rules like on the defenseless receivers, roughing the quarterback, things like that, you see a lot fewer of those hits than we saw three, four years ago, so I think there is definitely some progress in some of those areas. Again that's really a bigger picture discussion that people who are a lot smarter than I am, that have a lot more experience in dealing with the medical side of that, they really should be involved in that and consulted on. As a coach, I do everything that I can to try to train the players and put them in the best physical condition we can get them in, which includes everything – their training, their flexibility and so forth – and we try to practice and play in a way that gives us the best chance to win and not put anybody in any unnecessary health risk situations that we possibly can. That's the way I look at it.
Patriots DB Devin McCourty Conference Call
Q: What are your initial thoughts on the Texans' offense when you watch them on film?
DM: I think the first thing is they're tough to prepare for. They do a ton of different things from an offensive standpoint as far a personnel and play-calling. It's really a true game-plan offense, where what exactly you're going to get each week you really don't know. They change it up and obviously, DeAndre Hopkins stands out on film. He makes some great catches down the field, and also they use the receivers and backs in the pass and run game.
Q: You run a similar offensive game plan as the Texans. Does that help you prepare for them since it's so unpredictable?
DM: I think it will a little bit. As far as when we play against our offense in training camp, we know a lot of the personnel can play different [positions], they can do a lot of different things, so we're prepared for that, but I still think it's a little different because their personnel is different. Everything we do offensively won't be the same as what they do, so we'll definitely have to prepare a little differently.
Q: What have you seen from DeAndre Hopkins and how tough is it to prepare for a guy like that?
DM: It's very tough. There's times where people have pretty good coverage one him and he has the ability to go up and get the ball and make tough catches with one hand, or any way he can try to get to the ball. He does a really good job of making tough catches, especially in traffic.
Q: What did it mean to get Jamie Collins back on defense last week?
DM: It's big. He's a big part of our defense. He's a guy that can do a ton of different things on the field. Any time you have a guy that's out there that much who plays a high percentage of plays, not having him is different, and when you get him back, it was good for our defense. I think it was good for him just to be able to get back out there and feel good being on the field.
Q: You guys started off 10-0 and have lost two straight games. What's been going on the past couple of weeks and what have you done to fix the problems?
DM: At this point in the season, we've all got do a little bit more to play better. I think we're like any other team. When you come off two losses, you understand you have to execute better and play better football, so our focus is on that. Our coaching staff is going to point us in the right direction, but it's up to us as players to really go out there and get it. We're excited this week and anxious to get back on the practice field today and will try to have a better show out there on Sunday.
Q: What's something you've personally been working on this year?
DM: Just trying to be there to help the whole group, the whole secondary in general. I'm trying to be a guy back there in command of not just knowing what I'm doing but being able to help other guys on the field. I'm just trying to use my experience and knowledge of our defense to point guys in the right direction.