Head Coach Bill O'Brien**
(opening statement) "That was a good win for us yesterday. I thought it was really a good example of complementary football. I think these guys have really understood that the last three games and they went out there and kind of fed off each other all three units. The key is now that we've got to quickly turn the page here. We've got a busy week here with Thanksgiving and things like that, and our guys have to understand that New Orleans is coming in here off of a bye week and very good football team with a great coaching staff. We've got to move forward to the Saints here. With that, I'll open it up to questions."
(on the status of QB Brian Hoyer) "Yeah, it sounds like he's out of the protocol as of this morning. He passed the final test there and he'll be our starter on Sunday."
(on the status of CB Kareem Jackson) "When I was watching him run around in practice last week, I thought that he was probably a week away meaning this week. We slowed him down there on Friday, did some more treatment on his ankle and hopefully he'll be out there on Wednesday and be able to help us on Sunday."
(on the status of NT Christian Covington) "He's fine. I think he had a hip contusion, but I think he's fine and he'll be ready to go practice on Wednesday."
(on the progress from G Xavier Su'a-Filo) "I'll tell you what, he did, he played one of his better football games. He really did. What you observed is correct. I think the thing is guys, it's difficult, it takes some guys a little bit longer, some younger players, especially that position where everybody's stronger, everybody's faster. You're playing against some grown men at that position and I think what you saw yesterday is that X went out there and played very physically. It wasn't perfect, but he played well next to Duane (Brown), he played well next to Ben (Jones) and like I said, he played a very physical game which was good for us to see as a coaching staff. Now hopefully that gives him some confidence and he can continue to play at that level and obviously get better and better."
(on how they performed on the left side against DL Muhammad Wilkerson) "Very tough assignment, Wilkerson came in having a really good year and he's a tough guy to block. I thought we did a good job against him overall. You never really contain a player like that, but I think overall those guys really stayed after him and held him in check I would say. Again, every week is a different assignment so this week you've got another challenge on your hands with the Saints defensive line, but I think overall our offensive line played a good football game on Sunday."
(on if he ever encourages WR DeAndre Hopkins to catch the ball with one hand on the sideline to avoid confusion of whether or not it's a catch) "It's a good question, no I don't encourage that. I really don't, but he has the ability to make that one-handed catch. I really only coached one other guy that was able to do that like that and that's Randy Moss. Hop is – when he makes those types of catches every time I see them, and he does them all the time at practice, it's always something that definitely opens your eyes because to have the ability to do that – he has very, very strong hands, so he has the ability to make one-handed catches like that because of the size of his hands and the strength of his hands. It's a big attribute of his."
(on if catching the ball one handed is the way to avoid any confusion of whether it's a catch or not) "No, I don't think so. I mean he caught one on the side of his helmet against Jacksonville. He's caught ones behind his helmet. I don't think – I think that's just the way he catches it and sometimes – he just has a really good ability to get his feet down. That's another thing that he's very good at. Whether it's two hands or one hand, he gets his feet down."
(on if running wildcat forces the opposing team the following week to prepare their defense to see that) "Yeah, you know, I think so. I think that's something that people probably have to prepare for to a certain extent. I think a lot of people are running those things in the league now though. There's a lot of zone read being run. So I don't think it's – we're not inventing anything here. We're really not. I do think that we felt like in that game, and it could be different for New Orleans because we're still working on New Orleans right now, I mean we'll be working here for a while on New Orleans, but we felt with that game that that was something that would help us run the football against the Jets. They were the number one run defense. They were giving up only about 88 yards per game and we were able to rush for about 123 and I think some of it was that type of scheme and that helped us."
(on improving throughout the year on penalties and how he gets the players to stop committing them) "Well they're sick of running laps, so they get sick of it. They know that it hurts the team. I think that we've got a very focused team. I mean we've got a bunch of good guys. They really want to do well. They don't want to jump offsides. They don't want to block guys in the back or hold guys. That's not something they want to do but I think the more you show it to them on film – I think another thing we do is that every Saturday morning, I think it's just about every Saturday morning, I show Dean Blandino's tape. I think that helps because he talks about a lot of the things that the league is looking for, the officials are looking for and how they're ruling things and going back to the other question, that was something with Hopkins on the catch, that was a big part of his film this week and I think what is a catch, what isn't a catch and things like that. I think that's helped, but I think overall the guys have great focus on what we're trying to do."
(on the difficulty as a coach to recognize during a game when players may have suffered a concussion) "I think the day that I became a head coach, that's a really good question because as a head coach, and not that it's different as a position coach, I just think as a head coach when you really have these 63 guys and you're watching this really violent sport, injuries really are something that, in my own personal opinion, they really bother you because you really don't want to see anybody get hurt. You really don't, and especially those types of injuries. I'm not talking about a sprained ankle. I'm talking about getting hit in the head or even when T.J. (Yates) got hit from behind, I mean that was a violent, very clean hit, very, very clean hit, but very violent hit. I think that bothers you, so I think as coaches we're certainly not doctors but if we notice a guy that's really not responding to us the way he normally would, we've known him – Brian (Hoyer) is the example I'm using – we've known him for so long, we know how he calls the play, we know his intelligence level and we know that, hey there might be something wrong there because he's a little bit, he's a day late and a dollar short on a couple things there. So that's when we point it out to the trainer and go from there, but that's as far as our involvement is on it."
(on how he determines which running back is out on the field at a specific time) "I mean we have packages, we certainly do. We have packages, we have packages that are based on down-and-distance, field zone, where we are on the field, really based on the time of the game, where are we in the game, are we two-minute at the end of the half, are we two-minute at the end of the game, are we four-minute at the end of the game. We're trying to control the ball which we didn't do a good job of that yesterday so we have different ways of putting the backs into the game. I think the thing with our backs is we really, we really have different types of backs especially with the addition of (Akeem) Hunt now who gives us a little bit of speed and things like that. We've got to continue to do a good job of putting them in the game that way, in different ways."
(on if he thinks that RB Jonathan Grimes will get more playing time) "I just said that in our staff meeting, this morning. I think that JL (Jonathan Grimes) played a very good game. JL is a very coachable guy, he's really calm on game day, you can coach him on the sideline, he listens to what you are saying to him and he's going to try to do what you are asking him to do. He's just a really good team guy and he played well yesterday. We will have to continue to watch the Saints to see how JL will fit into the game plan, but he will certainly play a role against the Saints."
(on if he is encouraged with OLB Jadeveon Clowney's progress this season) "Yeah, I mean we used him in some different ways yesterday. We used him on the inside, used him on the outside. I thought he was able to disrupt. He had half a sack, he shared a sack with Whitney (Mercilus) maybe. He had a tackle for a loss. He was disruptive. The big thing with JD is health, which is, I know I say this a lot, but it is true, he's been unlucky in certain regards. If he can stay healthy and string together some practice days, string together some games, because the way that you get better is by practicing and playing, so if you practice and you play all the time, you are going to get better. You see that with Xavier Su'a-Filo, Benardrick McKinney or a number of different guys, Kevin Johnson. The more you practice, the more you play, the better you get. There's no substitute for that, so hopefully he can string some days together here."
(on what he wants to see from QB Brian Hoyer when he comes back) "I want to see him get back to where he was, where he was making good decisions for the team, throwing the ball accurately, doing a really good job on third down, understanding the game plan, doing the job that it takes to win the game, meaning like understanding how the game is going. You know, how is this game going right now? It's going this way. Well, this is how we need to play it. Brian, you got it, you understand it? Yeah. So now go out there and play the game that way. We just need him to continue to take care of the ball and continue to get us in the right play."
(on if the NFL's concussion protocol during the game is improving) "I'm not an expert on that. I know that as it relates to the Houston Texans, I feel like the process has been really good. I really do. I think the communication that I have with (Director of Sports Medicine/Head Athletic Trainer Geoff Kaplan) Kap and our doctors on game day is really right there. Our doctors are right there, Kap is right there. If there is an issue, not just with a concussion issue, but any injury, we are in constant communication and I know that Kap is in communication with (Executive Vice President of Football Operations and General Manager) Rick (Smith), who's watching the game somewhere upstairs. I know that part of the process has been really good, as far as the NFL, I think we have had one instance where, I am not sure which player it was, but where the official stopped the game and the player had to come out of the game earlier in the season. I thought that was fair because he felt like the player got up slow and wasn't all there, so hey, he has to take a play off and get checked out by the doctors. I think we are really doing the best we can, and we can always be better, but always doing the best we can to look out for player safety."
(on how difficult it is preparing a game plan against a new defensive coordinator) "It's tough. It's tough because you are really not sure what you are going to see. Now we've called plays against (Saints Defensive Coordinator) Dennis (Allen) before, we have a tremendous amount of respect for Dennis, I know Dennis personally, great guy, great coach, whether he was in Denver or last year in Oakland. You have to figure out what's it going to be. With (former Saints Defensive Coordinator) Rob (Ryan) it was this, but the guy calling the plays has a certain style about the way he calls the plays and so when another guy goes in there, he is going to put his own stamp on it. Sunday's tough. Sunday is going to be real tough. We have to be very, very focused, alert. I told the staff today, you know I love these holidays and stuff, but I am not a huge holiday guy. I am not caring about Thanksgiving too much, I am really concerned about getting ready for New Orleans. I am all for 'Happy Thanksgiving', but like, it's time to go here. We have to have a focused team. We have to have a team that really understands why we are in this position, it's because we practiced well and we've prepared well and now we have to continue to do that this week."
(on working with WR DeAndre Hopkins on the sideline catches) "I think that he has worked a lot in the offseason on that, in the OTAs and in training camp. I think that his skill set, the way that he is built, really helps him. He is a tall guy, he is a big guy. You guys are up there next to him, you see that he is a big guy, he is not a small guy. He has really good playing strength and then he has good arm length, so he is able to, not only control his footwork on the sideline, be able to reach out and catch the football while keeping his feet in bounds and I think that has been the key. He does a great job of that and hopefully it continues. He is having a real good year and we need him to continue to have a real good year."
(on the key to being so successful on third down defensively) "That's the key. First of all, we have got to continue to do, for the most part, a good job on first and second down, so that we can get them in these longer yardage situations where maybe they have to hold the ball for an extra second. They can run a catch-and-run type play, but usually they'll hold it a little bit longer and we can get the rush there. I think that RAC (Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel) has done a really good job. I give a lot of credit to the coaching staff being able to get the players to understand, like hey, we are going to have to spin the dial here and do a lot of different things. The players have done a great job of executing that. I think we are the number one team defense in the league on third down. That says a lot about our players, number one, and number two, about our coaches. I think the key is, you got to get them into these third downs. If it's third-and-three or third-and-two, you don't have as good of a chance to stop them."