HEAD COACH BILL O’BRIEN
"I'm sure there's a lot of questions relative to the organization, so if you'll allow me to just start with a brief statement. Cal McNair said it all in his statement the other day. He did a thorough evaluation of the football operation. I'm not saying that he did it by himself, but he did a thorough evaluation of the football operation, and that included me. He was very clear with me on what we needed to do to continue to grow as an organization, as a football team. A couple of things on Cal: obviously last year was a tough year relative to losing his dad, Bob McNair, and really getting to know Cal over the last few months here, obviously since November, he's a humble person. He’s very good at articulating what he wants, what he sees, his vision, the improvements that he thinks needs to be made relative to the whole building, not just the coaching staff but the whole building. Obviously he's not afraid to make tough decisions, and number one is, relative to this football team, he wants to win. He's been perfectly clear – like I said in the beginning – he's been perfectly clear with me on what he wants me to improve on and what he wants me to do, and he's been perfectly clear with the whole organization on what his expectations are moving forward. With that being said, I'm not going to really get into any more details relative to that, obviously no conversations with Cal. I'm not going to talk about any of those things, but I definitely will entertain any questions that anybody has."
It was written in the Houston Chronicle that your relationship with Brain Gaine had deteriorated. Is that accurate?
"Again, I'll go back to the statement that Cal made. I'll say it again, he did a thorough evaluation of what goes on in this building on a day-to-day basis relative to the processes that are in place in all different areas, not just coaching, not just scouting, every area – training room, equipment, nutrition, business side, everything. That's what I'll tell you about that."
What was your immediate reaction when you found out that was the decision and the direction the organization was going?
"I think any time you get news like that, right away that's a tough decision, like I said, for Cal to make. But, again, he was very clear with me on what he wanted me to do to improve and his vision for the football team and his vision for the organization, and that's what we are doing now. We’re moving forward. We are excited about the future. We’ve had a really good offseason program here. We’re in our ninth week, guys have worked hard, young guys are really improving and learning and I feel like we’ve improved as a football team. That was our theme this year in the offseason program was to get better as a team, and I believe our players have improved. Whether they're rehabbing or they're out on the field or whatever category they're in, I believe we’ve improved. So, that's what I'm looking forward to is the future and trying to carry out Cal McNair's vision for the organization."
How would you characterize what Executive Vice President of Team Development Jack Easterby does and his role in finding the new general manager?
"Jack is just what his title says. He is executive vice president of team development and he helps in all areas of the team. He helps me with the team. He helps in the different departments around the team, the departments that work with the team, obviously the training room, equipment room. He helps me with putting in processes to really help the duties of each department relative to the team. It's all about the team and how can we improve the team and Jack has been an excellent addition to the organization."
Did you believe that Brian Gaine needed to be fired for the organization to move forward?
"Again, I'll go with the statement again. I stand by the statement that Cal made. Cal made a statement and he had to make a tough decision. He evaluated everything and he told me exactly what he wanted me to do to improve and to help with his vision of where he sees this organization going, or where it needs to go in his opinion. That's really what it was."
Did you or Executive Vice President of Team Development Jack Easterby have any contact with Patriots Director Of Player Personnel Nick Caserio or his representatives before Brian Gaine was fired?
"I would say that the answer to that is no relative to contact about anything having to do with the Houston Texans. No."
What kind of job do you think you and Brian Gaine did together acquiring players in the last year?
"Again, I think that this football team has improved in area over the last nine weeks, we've improved. I think the players are working hard. I think in the end it's all about the team and I think with another day or two of this minicamp, we have two other opportunities to improve, and that's what we are going to try to do before we take a break and then we start camp in late July."
What have you learned during this recent process about being an even better communicator with what you want done for this organization?
"I think we always have to try to improve communication. I think face-to-face communication is important and I think that when I look in the mirror I know that I have to improve. Like I've always said, I think it starts with me, and we have to do a better job. We've done some good things over the years, but not enough to be where we want to be, and I think a lot of that has to do with communication relative to everybody in the organization. Really, in the end it's about the symbol, it's about the Texans, it's about doing what's best for the Texans and making sure that we're all on the same page with that."
Have you talked to Brian Gaine since Friday?
"No, I have not."
What can you say about Brian Gaine as a person, as a football man?
"Man of high character, great family man and good football person."
Does your power in the organization change and why should Texans fans believe you are on the right track?
"I think that all of those things in the first question that you asked are yet to be determined, and I don't look at it that way as far as the word 'power'. That's not anything that I even think about. It's really just trying to do my job as the head coach. My number one job is to coach, so segueing into your second question, what I can tell the fans is that we have a group of guys that are working really hard to get better every single day. We feel like we’ve definitely improved and we’re excited about the future. We’re excited about training camp and we are excited about next season.”
Should the new draft picks think this reflects poorly on them?
"No. This is a team that's worked very, very hard and really improved. Whether they're young or they're in their 15th or 16th year and everybody in between, I can pretty much say that over 95 percent of this team has improved. I don't think it's ever 100 percent with a 90-man roster, but it's close. Everybody has improved and working hard to get better.”
When did you realize it wasn't going to work out with Brian Gaine?
"When I was informed by Cal."
You weren't informed before the decision was made?
"No. When I was informed by Cal what his decision was relative to that decision and other decisions moving forward with the organization."
How does this quick turnover thwart your ability as a team to make progress if at all?
"I think you have a very strong organization. I think you have an organization that works very well together. I think you have some really bright people in this organization that really understand what their jobs are and all of the different jobs that they have in this organization, including the players. So, I think you have a group of people that reflect a very strong organization and everybody is doing their job. Everybody is moving forward and everybody is able to adapt and adjust and understand what we all have to do to get better."
Does this affect DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney's situation with the franchise tag?
"No. As you know, he’s been franchised and he's not here today. It is what it is. The situation is what it is."
How good does it feel to have a plethora of wide receivers in camp?
"We do, we have a good group of wide receivers that are working hard. We've got Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) and Will Fuller (V) that are doing what they need to do to be ready for training camp. I think Keke Coutee has had an excellent spring, and we have a group of young receivers that are working hard and getting better every day. So, I feel really good about, as we sit here today, where that position is at."
Do you believe you're a person that's easy to work with?
"I guess that would depend on who you ask. That would really depend on who you ask. I think that I try to do my best to communicate with people. I try to do my best to work hard every day to perform my role, but I think anytime you're in a leadership position there's probably going to be a few people that don't agree with how you see things or how you do things. You do your best to try to perform your role at the highest level for the organization. That's what I'm trying to do."
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
What do you think about going to London this summer to represent the Texans before the team plays there next year?
“It’ll be a big deal. My first time over there, of course. It’ll be a big trip for me as well to go over there and represent this team. It’ll be great. I remember the trip to Mexico City and the excitement when we got over there, how that was. I look forward to this kind of being similar but on a bigger scale.”
How excited are you to actually play in the London series?
“You always watch those early morning games when you’re in the locker room when teams are playing over there. A lot of those games have kind of been sloppy, so hopefully we can kind of turn that around.”
What did you think about the Texans relieving Brian Gaine of his general manager duties?
“I guess kind of like everybody else, hit the phone and text out, made a couple calls to see what was going on. I was actually driving down the road listening to 610 and I heard it. For me, I’ve been in this business long enough. I’m never surprised. I think I put my trust and faith that anything the organization is going to do is going to be for the best of the football team.”
Was it good to have CB Bradley Roby back at practice today?
“Yeah, it’s good. He’s been battling to get out there. At the end of the day, I think any time we have all our guys out there, you’re only going to make your team better. I think having him out there running around today was a good start. But obviously, we’re looking forward to training camp.”
What have you see from CB Jermaine Kelly Jr. this offseason?
“I think he’s taken the next step. I think last year was kind of wiped away by injuries. He didn’t get to do much in training camp or OTAs because we had a lot of depth there. I think this year he’s making good on his opportunities.”
Some people believe the Texans defensive backs are either too old or too young and not enough in between. What do you think about that?
“I guess we’ll see when January and February rolls around. Every year, there’s always predictions, there’s always experts saying this or that. But at the end of the day, you have to go out and play the game. If I could have it in a perfect world, I’d draw it up to where it looks great paper but at the end of the day it doesn’t get anything done from the field standpoint.”
What do you talk to the younger players about?
“Just the X’s and O’s, honestly. Not really as much football stuff, as crazy as that sounds. It’s about just learning the fine details of how to go about your day-to-day business, how to approach the practice field, how to take it from the classroom to the practice field. You don’t want guys thinking as much, you want guys playing fast. My job is to get those guys to that level as quickly as possible.”
Do you give the younger players any advice about the time between now and training camp?
“Yeah, just take of your business on and off the field, come back in great shape. If you have a problem with the playbook now, get in the playbook. Walk light and try not to irritate anybody because it’s a long six- or seven-week period where a lot of stuff goes on and you have a lot of free time. You don’t want to put yourself in a bad position.”
Since you’re a sports fan, what did it mean to see Kevin Durant go out there last night and put it all on the line for the Warriors?
“I think he gained a lot of respect if anybody didn’t have respect for him. I think watching him go out, knowing possibly he could go out there and re-injure himself, put it all on the line for his guys and get re-injured. I think you can only have respect for that guy and put him right at the top of the list from a competitive standpoint.”
QB DESHAUN WATSON
What king of offense do you envision having this season?
"I think an offense that is very explosive, that whoever is touching the ball on each possession can make something happen. We’re all confident that we’re going to be on the same page, great chemistry, have some fun and try to light up the scoreboard as much as we can.”
What did you think when you heard the news about Brian Gaine?
“Just like everyone else, it caught me off guard. It was just something that goes down in this business. That’s all I can really pretty much say about that.”
What do you expect this time of year in terms of your chemistry with receivers?
“You expect us to be perfect and be very, very sharp. At the same time, each route is different. It’s on air, so we try to imagine it’s a certain defense out there – Cover 2, if it’s man, if it’s inside leverage man, if it’s outside leverage man, if it’s Cover 5, quarters. We try to get different looks and it’s kind of hard to see that same timing when it’s in live action with defenders out there versus air. I try to sit back there and try to wait because in the game sometimes it happens quicker than in practice. We just try to fix it in practice while we can so when we get to those live-actions it can be sharp.”
How much does it change the offense when WR Keke Coutee is out there and healthy?
“It gives us another option, another weapon, another [person] that the defense has to try to defend. He’s a guy that can be very explosive with the ball in his hands and can cause a lot of problems for different defenses.”
What do you see from DE J.J. Watt so far this year after a year of being healthy and getting stronger?
“He’s a guy that’s very consistent. As you guys know, he’s going to come in each and every day, be the first one here and last one to leave, put in extra work, bring up the young guys and go hard each and every day. Nothing’s changed, and he’s going to continue to get better, find ways to get better, if not win the defensive MVP, and continue to try to help this team win. That’s what he’s been doing.”
What does it do for you as a quarterback to have such a diverse group of tight ends?
“It’s great, actually. I have three young tight ends that can go in and be on the field at the same time, but also can do all types of things – play outside, inside and continue to help this team win. Especially in this offense, a tight end is a big part in all areas – run, pass, blocking. All three of those guys can play wherever we want to place them and be very confident in doing their jobs. That’s a position that ever since I’ve been here has definitely improved and we’re very confident in.”
How good does it feel to have a bunch of young talent at the wide receiver position?
“It’s great. The lucky thing is all these guys made it through the full camp. The last two years we had guys with hamstring problems and things like that. Knock on wood, but all those guys have been very, very confident being able to line up, be efficient with the play call and the signals. Being able to be on the same page with me has been great. It’s creating depth at that position and once we get the two dogs back – Will (Fuller V) and Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) – it can take that position to another level, too. It’s been good.”
What were your thoughts on the Texans selecting two offensive linemen in the first two rounds?
“Of course it was something that everyone knew about that was a position of need and that they want the focus on. That position and that side is definitely above my pay grade but it was good to see that they focused on what we wanted to focus on from last year. Those two young guys have been coming in and rotating in and producing very well.”
What has your interaction with Offensive Assistant T.J. Yates been like since he’s been back?
“Me and T.J., it’s just like he was a player. I think he came in my rookie year when I was hurt so I was around him a little bit but we also had the same trainer, Quincy Avery, so we worked out in Atlanta together. He’s a guy that I can go up to and talk to and he can relate because he’s been in my position. He’s been coached by these same coaches that are coaching me and now he’s on the coaching side, so he can relate to both sides, a coach’s perspective and also a player’s perspective. We sit close by in the meetings as we review practice and we communicate and talk, too.”
How do you plan to spend your off time before reporting to training camp?
“Continue to build my body, my diet, build a chemistry with all the skill guys on the offensive side and stay in touch with my O-line. Just continue to get better and just keep grinding, really.”
What was it like talking to Michael Vick?
“Vick, it was dope because he’s a guy that I looked up to when I was little. Especially when he played for the Falcons, I was a little boy and Flowery Branch is literally an exit down from my house, so I was always at training camp and his football camps and things like that. It was dope to be able to hang out with a longtime hero and a guy that I looked up to who really encouraged me and motivated me to play this position and play football.”
Do you still wear his jersey?
“For sure, yeah. I got me a ‘7’ jersey and I still rock it.”
How do you feel like you got better during this offseason program?
“I feel like I’m ahead of where I was, of course, last year. Just decision making, operation of the offense, being able to do things that I couldn’t do a year before and definitely my rookie year. Being able to take control and take leadership of this offense and be able to get the young guys lined up, make sure the protection is right, make sure the ball is getting placed in the right direction or where the ball needs to be versus this coverage. It’s been a great camp and we’re just trying to continue to improve and make this offense go.”
DE J.J. WATT
What do you think you can do better this season to build onto last season's success?
“There's always things I can do better. Not coming off of a major injury is going to be a big help. Having an offseason to work, grow and get better. I mean, I'm always looking at the film. Whether it’s the run game, pass rush, whatever it may be – sacks you may have missed and balls you could bat. Just trying to make as many plays as I can and help the team win.
What are you doing on the field to make yourself better for next season?
“I mean, it’s always the same, it's just how you do it. It's bigger, faster, stronger, and being in the best condition you can be. So, that's what I'm doing. In the weight room, we obviously work on bigger and stronger. On the field, you try to get faster, quicker and more agile. Then get in as good of condition as you can. Because everything leads to September 9. That's what it all comes down to, that’s the day that matters. So, I'm really building and looking forward to that day and doing whatever I can right now, like I've said before, to give the coaching staff the best athlete possible at the start of the season, and say 'Here you go, use it how you want.'“
What was you initial reaction to Brian Gaine being relieved of his duties?
“Yeah, it’s a tough business. That's obviously a decision for much higher than my head. So, like I said on Twitter, and it's the truth, all I want to do is win. I don't care about anything else but winning. I want to win it for my teammates and I want to win it for these fans. Other than that, I don't care. I want to win.”
Do you get a sense that the team wasn't headed in the right direction?
“No, I've always been a man who tries to control what I can control. So, I go out on the field, I do my work, go in the weight room, I do my work, hang out with my teammates. Try and have fun with them. I try and enjoy myself as much as I can and I do my work and then I go home. I control what I control. That's all I can do. I come into work, I do the work and then I go home.”
How much better do you feel mentally as compared to last year?
“I feel a lot better, obviously, mentally, last year than this year because I'm not wondering. Last year was a lot of wondering, hoping, having a good idea that I was on the right path but you never know for sure when you're coming off of what I was coming off of. This year, you're not coming off of as much, you're just working and growing and getting better. You have more of a confident stance, and I think that's where I'm at this year. I'm very confident, where as last year I was confident, but kind of hesitant. So, this year that hesitancy is gone, not having come of a bad injury but coming off of a solid season. It's good to have that feeling and it's good to be going into a season without those doubts.”
What kind of advice do you get from your brothers?
“What kind of advice do I get from my brothers? T.J. (Watt) who had 12 sacks last years, and I had 16? I mean, come on. No, I'm kidding. We talk about pass rushing all of the time. T.J. and I, and Derek (Watt) and I, we all work out together. As you saw at UCLA, we work out together. We all work together all of the time. We literally text, I would say, between the three of us we probably exchange at least 100 text a day, every day. We have a group text and we're constantly communicating. Lately, it’s been a whole lot of videos of Logan (Watt) trying to crawl. But sometimes its football, sometimes its training questions. T.J. and I talk a lot about different things. Moves and what works. When you're a pass rusher, you go through things where you're trying to work out a move and figure out why it’s not working or figure out what you can do off of a move. So, we talk about stuff like that all the time. This time of year, we talk about a lot of training stuff. We talk about a lot of, 'How does your body feel? What kind of workouts are you doing? What kind of stuff do you want to get better at?' But then like I said, right now it's probably 90 percent non-football. But we do talk a lot about it.”
Are you looking to carry more weight this season?
“Yeah, I feel really comfortable with where I'm at. I would say right now, I'm probably at like 287, 288. And I'm really comfortable with where I'm at. I try to hover right around that 10% body fat range. That's where I feel the most comfortable. I think it's much more about the way you carry it and how you carry it than the actual weight and how you feel comfortable. Right now I feel in a comfortable spot. So, it's been good.”
What was your reaction to getting engaged?
“Oh, it was awesome. It was awesome. I mean, just the incredible outpouring of support from the people that we love and we care about reaching out to us. All the people that I've never met, reaching out and sending their best wishes. It's great. It's awesome that people can kind of see that and we appreciate all the kind words and well wishes that everybody sent.”
Have you been able to sit down and talk with the new rookie DE Charles Omenihu?
“A little bit. Yeah, we've talked a little bit. We just had all of the rookies over. We had a little pool volleyball thing on Saturday. I need to give more pointers in pool volleyball than I do at pass rushing, I can tell you that. But no, we've got a good group. We've got a good group of guys. A lot of fun and eager to learn. So, yeah there's definitely been a lot of conversations about different things and ways that you can work and get better.”
Does being 30 years old change the way you look at your age and longevity?
“No, it really doesn't change anything. I honestly feel better now than I did the last two offseasons. So, you could say 27 felt different than 30 because I'm feeling a lot better in places this offseason than I did a couple of years ago. To me, it’s all about how you take care of your body, the routine you follow and trying to do the most you can to make the most out of your opportunity. I'm fortunate. It's pretty crazy that we try to look at 30 as old in today's NFL. I mean, it's wild. I don't feel old. When I train, I don't train old, I don't lift old. So, no, I feel pretty good and I'm looking forward to going out there and not playing old.”
What was it like meeting former NFL QB Brett Favre?
“I really don't get star struck a whole lot. When I look back on my childhood in the state of Wisconsin, growing up a kid and athlete, there was one hero. It was Brett Favre, it was Reggie White as well for me. But in the state of Wisconsin, almost every single person owned a No. 4 jersey. To actually meet him and to think back on the days when we would turn on the television and watch the Packers every Sunday or I'd be in the car driving to a hockey tournament and we'd listen to it on the radio. I can still hear the play calls, I can still remember the plays. That day, that moment, meeting him, for me, was one of the coolest experiences I've had because it not only was a chance for me to ask my childhood hero questions about moments, about plays, about games, but it also made me step back, which I haven't done in a while. It made me kind of step back and look at where I am and how far I've come and how fortunate I am to be where I am. I haven't really taken that all into perspective lately. I think that that was a really cool day for me because I was in middle school, elementary school, watching him and thinking 'how crazy is that?' I told him a story. I told him about when I went to the Packers training camp and I watched practice one time, and I said 'Can you believe that that's their job? They get to play football for a living.' Now here I am, and I get to do it. So, it was a really cool day for a lot of different reasons. He reminds me a lot of Shane Lechler, too, so it was like hanging out with one of my best friends.”
What do you think of ILB Benardrick McKinney and what he brings to the team?
“Yeah, B-Mac is a great player, he's a great guy. The middle linebacker has such a difficult job in our league. He has to be all over the field, he has to play the run, he has to play the pass, he has to get the call in after every play, he has to coordinate everything and make calls. So, I have a ton respect for that position and I have a ton of respect for B-Mac and the way he plays it, the way he can do both things very well and the way that he kind of manages the field for us. He's a great guy and I love playing with him and I love having him back there, kind of being able to lead the charge for everything that we need to do.”
What are the challenges for this upcoming season and having tougher quarterbacks to face as you try to incorporate some new pieces into the defense?
“Well, last year we started out with Tom Brady and the New England Patriots, so if people are saying we're going to face tougher quarterbacks and better teams, I don't know what they're looking at. But I mean, this league is – every single year you play tough teams, you play good quarterbacks, you play a difficult schedule. You never know. That’s the one thing about the NFL, is you never really know from year to year what it’s going to look like. Last year, before the season you never knew about the Cleveland Browns and now this year, everybody’s got them all excited. So, you never know from year to year what's going to change or how it’s going to go. But I know what we do. Like I said earlier, we control what we can control. So, we play our defense, we do what we're supposed to do. We watch the film, we study, we go out there and we make the plays that we know how to make. It's partially about them having to stop us. I mean, you've got to find a way to get all of our guys off-kilter, too. It's a fun battle. It's a chess match played at a very high speed with a lot of violence. That's why we love it.”
What is it about Wisconsin that mean so much o to you?
“Yeah, I mean I think that going back there for the commencement this year was really special for me because of, obviously, being from there, the people. It's not only where I'm from, but it’s kind of the people that helped raise me and who I am. I mean, my family is all there, I feel like the people there treat me like family. Like I feel like the people here in Houston treat me like family now. I’m very lucky and fortunate to have two places that I can call home that are really, really special to me. My dad was a firefighter, my mom started as a secretary and worked her way up to the vice president of her company. Like I've always said, we were middle class. Not rich, not poor, but it was like – that's where I was raised. That's where I cut my teeth, that's where I became who I am. I'm always thankful and fortunate to go back there and I'm also very lucky and fortunate to have a new home here in Houston that's incredible.”
What are your thoughts on bringing a hockey team here to Houston?
"I would love to. The Stanley Cup game seven is coming up and that's one of the most exciting sporting events you'll ever see. The idea of having professional hockey here in Houston would be incredible. You're going to have to ask people with a whole lot more money than me if they can make that happen, but I'm all on board. It would be awesome. It would be a lot of fun. I know the Toyota Center can do it, I've seen it. I think my rookie year, the very first thing I did as an official Houston Texan is I dropped the first puck for the Houston Aeros."
How involved will you be with wedding planning and what are your feelings on open bar versus just beer and wine?
"It's open bar for everybody. It's the only way to make a good wedding. But the problem is that she's in season now and then I go into season. I don't know. We haven't talked a lot about it. We'll figure it out, I'm sure.”