HEAD COACH BIILL O'BRIEN
What would have happened yesterday if you had lost another offensive lineman and were down to four?
"It's a great question, but I don't really want to give you the details on that. We have a plan in place for that. We've usually brought – no matter how many we have on the 53 – we've usually brought seven to the game, so we've always had a plan for that type of scenario. We have a plan for that."
Does losing two offensive linemen in a game make you consider having eight active offensive linemen on gameday?
"Oh yeah, we always talk about that every week about how many do we need, but, like anything else, if you decide to keep eight there for the gameday roster then what is that taking away from either offense, defense or special teams? It's the risk-reward decision that you have to try to make. It's all based on who we're playing, the opponent, our injury status, all of those different things."
What's it like for you when you go back and watch the tape of S Justin Reid's interception return for a touchdown?
"That was a great play. He made an excellent play. It was the play of the game. It really got our sideline going, got us going and I can't say enough about what he's done as a rookie. He's really an instinctive player, he's really worked hard to improve, good teammate, everything you're looking for in a teammate, and that was a great play."
What was it like for you to see S Justin Reid's interception return unfold in front of you?
"It was an exciting play, no doubt about it. I haven't been around too many pick-sixes for 101 yards or whatever it was, but they're exciting plays. You can tell right away that it's going to go because you can see it kind of open up and it's coming toward you. That's a pretty cool feeling if you're the coach of that team."
RB Lamar Miller and RB Alfred Blue ran hard yesterday. Was the successful run game more a result of the running backs or the offensive line blocking well?
"I think you're right about Lamar and Alfred. They ran the ball very hard. They really did. They got their pads down. We ask them to do that. That's got to continue. I think our offensive line did a decent job, the tight ends did a decent job. It wasn't always perfect but they fought hard. I think any offensive lineman would tell you at the end of the day they love to run block more than pass block. I'm not saying it's easier. Nothing's easy, but I think they enjoy coming off the rock and blocking people."
Do you still see most college offensive linemen pass blocking for the majority of their college careers?
"If you look at the high school game – I went to a game the other night around Houston a couple of weeks ago – it's a lot of spread. There's some mixture of downhill runs. You look at the college game now. Some teams are spreading it out, going east and west because they have so many great athletes, but other teams are downhill. It depends on the type of guy you get. Does he want to put his hand in the dirt and come off the ball and block people? It's kind of a mentality. I think that's something that we're always going to look for in our linemen here that they have that type of mentality."
What did you think of WR DeAndre Carter in his first game, and what are some of the challenges of getting WR Demaryius Thomas more involved in the offense?
"DeAndre Carter did a nice job. He came in, he's a strong player. I thought he fielded the ball pretty well. There was one that he could've done a better job on, but overall, he came up on that short kickoff and made a great catch on that, helped our field position. Had a good 16-yard return on one. Did a nice job. Great guy to work with in the week that he's been here. Very professional guy, did a good job coming in the door. I think with D.T. we have to look at that as an offensive staff. I think he did some good things. He ran some good routes. The ball just didn't go his way. We'll continue to work with him. I think he's a great teammate, he understands, he just wants to win, but I think we need to work at really getting him more involved in the offense. No doubt about it."
Did you have to put an emphasis on helping players stay positive after starting the season 0-3?
"I think you look back, and you don't want to look back too much, you've got to really look forward, but just on that question, it's all about what you have in the locker room from a character and leadership standpoint. If you have guys in the locker room that don't have the character that these guys have or the toughness or the mental toughness, the physical toughness, you have no chance to turn it around. I think all of the credit does go to the players, but – and that is a huge but – we haven't done anything. We haven't done a thing. We've done a great job of digging ourselves out of a hole, but we don't want to be known for a record that was set in 1925. My point is we haven't done anything. We've got a very, very difficult opponent coming in here on Monday night that beat us earlier in the season. We've got to get back to work because in the end, what have you done? It's better to be able to say that after a win, obviously, but we've got to really work hard to get better every week."
Do you think mental toughness and character in the locker room are the primary reasons the team has won so many close games?
"I think that it has a lot to do with it. Since I've been here, I think you guys know, I give all of the credit to the players. I do think we have a very experienced coaching staff that helps in late-game situations, but I think all of the credit goes to the players. The players play hard, they believe, they believe in each other, they never feel like – even if something bad happens – that they're out of a game. There were some bad things that happened in the game. Our guys kept fighting back. We talk about answering the bell. I think our guys did a good job of that for the most part, but there are a lot of things that we need to improve on, but our guys, they fight hard."
What did you think about QB Deshaun Watson's performance?
"I think there are always things with any quarterback that – quarterbacks are perfectionists, so there are always things that he's going to want to improve on, but I thought he played a tough game, I thought he got us into the right play many, many times, did a great job in the running game, did a nice job on a lot of the passing game. Some things we can improve upon from a route-running standpoint, from a protection standpoint, but I thought he did a nice job. The one interception on the screen pass, I'd like to have that play-call back. That's not anything that he can really control. 94 (Redskins LB Preston Smith) made a great play on that, tipped the ball in the air, those are things that happen. The other one that he had when Hop (DeAndre Hopkins) had it on the ground and then the guy – whatever the ruling was there – look, those things happen. That was a good read. He made the right read on that. Other than that, he forced one earlier in the game, but I think overall he played a very good game."
How important is Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel to this staff?
"Romeo's meant a lot to me. To be able to have a guy like Romeo on the staff is – think about his history in the league. He worked for Bill Parcells, won Super Bowls, worked for Bill Belichick, won Super Bowls, was a head coach. He's seen it all from off the field issues to on the field issues. He's just a great man, a great coach and I think we're all lucky to have him here. Then we've added Brad Seely. You can say the same thing about Brad. He's done a really good job here in the year that he's been here. We all know it's a 'what have you done for me lately' league, so we have to keep it going, but those two guys have really helped to this point. No doubt about it."
How do you think K Ka'imi Fairbairn played yesterday?
"Look, he made a 54-yarder. That's a big kick, but then he had the one at the end there that – I think the ball was on the 27-yard line so it was a 45, 46-yarder – he just mishit it. I have a lot of confidence in Ka'imi. We all do. He's got a really good demeanor for that position. He's a very talented kicker. He can make all the kicks. He had a day where he made a big kick, he missed a big kick. All right, so we move on to the next one and we try to correct, maybe, some technique issues this week and we move on to Tennessee."
How important has the rookie class been so far this season?
"I think that they've done a good job. Brian Gaine – we were just talking about that upstairs – Brian and his crew did a great job of scouting those players and finding the right guys. Look, like I said earlier, we haven't done anything yet, but those guys have really been an impressive class just from a personal standpoint – maturity, work ethic and they really work hard to improve and they understand their role on the team, their spot on the team. Guys in that class are very respectful of the veterans in the locker room. I think they've added a lot to the chemistry of the locker room. You see guys like Justin Reid, obviously, make a huge play yesterday. I thought Jordan Akins did some good things, (Martinas) Rankin goes in and fills in at guard, Jordan Thomas does some decent things, and there are others. On special teams, look at some of the guys on special teams – Johnson Bademosi, who's not a rookie, A.J. Moore, Buddy Howell – those guys are playing at a high level on special teams. A lot of those guys are contributing."
How important are LS Jon Weeks and P Trevor Daniels to K Ka'imi Fairbairn when kicking a field goal?
"It's huge, yeah. The operation is the key. It's got to be a perfect snap, it's got to be a perfect hold, with the proper side of the ball, the belly of the ball, not the laces showing. It's all of it. It's definitely teamwork, and they rep it thousands of times. I thought that on the last kick, that the operation of the snap and the hold were pretty good, I just think that Ka'imi, from a technical standpoint, just needs to clean a couple things up, and he'll be fine. But, you can't underestimate how important the operation is on that."
How big is the margin of error on a field goal?
"Very slim, very slim. I mean, if the snap's high, if the snap's low, if the hold is not placed correctly, exactly where it's supposed to be placed, if the laces are showing to the foot of the kicker, it's very slim margin. So, it's something that seems like an elementary part of football, but it's something that's always worked on, hundreds of times a day."
Do you think C/G Zach Fulton and G Senio Kelemete's injuries will be short or long-term?
One of the common phrases you hear from the players in the locker room after and during the winning streak has been 'belief'. Why is belief so important?
"No pun intended, I'm a big believer in that. I think that the mental part of the game is very important. You have to have talent. If you don't have talent you have no chance. But, if you have some talent, then you have some guys that have the ability to understand work ethic and how important that is and how important it is to get along with your teammates and how important it is to root for your teammate, even though it's a very competitive league within the roster itself, very competitive, obviously, competitive with other teams, but the belief that you have that your teammates, the accountability that you have that you know, 'Hey, this guy next to me is going to do the job.' That's a big deal. That's a big deal and it's hard to get that. It's not easy to get that. That takes time, and I think this team believes in each other."
What did you think of the Titans' loss in Indianapolis?
"I just think this league is a very tough league. I think the Titans are a very good – look, they just had a little bit of an off day yesterday but they're a very good team. They just beat the Patriots two weeks ago, in Tennessee, 34-10. So, I think the league is a very, very tough league. I think every game is a battle, and Monday night is going to be no different. Monday night is going to be a very physical, tough football game against a very good team."
Is there a huge difference in the team at 7-3 than there was at 0-3 or is the margin pretty small?
"No, I would say that it's been a slim margin. I think that guys have improved, I think guys have improved in their individual play, I think that we make more plays now in critical moments than we made earlier in the season, I think we're coaching better, but I think it's a very slim – I think that our guys understand – look, if we don't continue to work, put the time in, understand the detail of each play, the situation that we're in, then we're going to be back where we were. We're not far away from that. That's the type of league it is, so we understand that. But, I do think there's been a lot of improvement, but it has to continue."
When you watch S Justin Reid's pick-six, did you notice a certain block that may have allowed him to score the touchdown?
"I think (Christian) Covington had a block on the play that I remember, but I was viewing it from the angle I had. It was one of those plays that as soon as he picked it off, just based on the lane that he had and I know the speed that he has, that it was almost like a kickoff return, if you've seen one of those. You know, where the guy – if the lane opens up, and if the guy has the speed – now if he's slow, he's got no chance because that window will close fast, but if he can run, I was like this guy's got a chance to go back right away. It was one of those plays. But, I know that there were a couple blocks. I think Cov had one, but it was just a lane that opened up, and Justin hit it. He was running, he was moving because Alex (Smith) was chasing him and Alex can run. He can really run."
Do you think it's important to allow your team to have some time off for Thanksgiving?
"Oh, absolutely. I think so. We're going to work today, we'll work Wednesday, give them Thanksgiving off, we'll work Friday, Saturday, Sunday, but I think it's important. What I think is important – and I talked to the team about this on Saturday night – this is a team that really gives back to the community. If you walk down our hallway there, Brian (Gaine) had everything redone down there (by) our position rooms. There's a big TV that shows all the different things that our guys do in the community, whether it's working with Best Buddies, or the Food Bank, or YMCA, or whatever it is, Boys & Girls Club, whatever it is. Now, I know this week it will be – they'll be giving out turkeys or whatever each guy's doing for the community. I think that's important, too, and our guys do a great job of that. But, I definitely think Thanksgiving is – it's my favorite holiday. I'm not big into presents and I don't really enjoy birthdays. I do like Christmas but I'm not a big present guy. I'd rather eat a lot of food and that's why I like Thanksgiving. I like the Fourth of July too because I like the fireworks."
Is it promising to know that there's even more potential from your team and you're already on a seven-game winning streak?
"I do think that that's a good thing when you're winning, that you're able to stand up in front of your team, put the film on and say, 'Look, this is good, but this still is not very good, and if it doesn't get better, it's not going to be very good on Monday night.' So, I think that that's a big thing, and I think that's kind of what I'm saying about this team. They have an understanding of that. They'll look at the tape when I show them the tape at 12:30, and they'll say, 'Yep, we do need to improve on that. We can't do that again. We've got to communicate better. We've got to use better technique here. We've got to get in and out of the huddle faster, or whatever penalties. We got to stop doing penalties – the one's that we can control, the neutral zone infractions, the false starts.' These are things that'll get you beat late in the season, and when you're winning and you can still coach that, that can be a good thing."
When you say the team is making big plays during critical times, do you consider DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney's sacks during the second-to-last drive those kinds of plays?
"That's exactly right. That's a great two- or three-play sequence that you can point to right there that was huge in the game because I thought Colt (McCoy) came in and did a good job. He was moving the ball and he was scrambling and running the ball. I've known Colt for a long – I've worked him out when I was in New England when he was coming out of Texas. He's a good quarterback. They made some big plays there at the end. They came up big at those critical moments at the end and there were a couple more plays that were made on the final drive that I thought were really important. The PBU by Justin Reid on the shot play that would have been a really difficult field to stop, that one was a big play by Justin. So, there were a lot of big plays made in those critical moments, I thought."
What did you think about the use of the Redskins quarterbacks in the running game yesterday?
"Yeah, the quarterback run-game is very difficult to defend. It's really hard to defend, and teams that do a great job like Jay Gruden does with his scheme, it's hard. These quarterbacks are like magicians with the ball, so it's very difficult to defend and you really have to play assignment football. It's just a good scheme. Especially when they add on a lead blocker or if it's just one guy they're reading and that's all it is, either a give or keep, maybe that's whatever, but the other element that they had with it was pretty hard, too. If you add a pitch in with it, it can be very hard to defend."
CB JOHNATHAN JOSEPH
How important is Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel to the success of the defense?
"A lot, because it's a two-way street with him. He listens to the players, some suggestions we may have. He doesn't listen all the time, but definitely throughout the game or throughout the week, any time we feel like we can do this or we can do that, he's all-ears for it and definitely is going to put us in the best position and help us out and make plays."
Is there a confidence the defense has in Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel because of his past success in the NFL?
"Absolutely. That's why every week, like I said, is different. It's something new. It's different wrinkles, different coverages. He's always challenging us to prepare and learn more. If we can't get it done throughout the week, he'll just toss it out, but us as a defense, we want to continue to grow and get better, we want to add more bullets and more things into our stable. It's a challenge, like always, but he's definitely the greatest."
How much does having confidence in Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel matter when facing a late-game situation where the defense needs to make a stand?
"It's a lot because sometimes, in a lot of those games, he will pull a call that we haven't ran all game, just to throw a little monkey wrench in there, throw them off a little bit – a curveball – and it takes the defense to be disciplined, to be locked in in a crucial situation and for him to also have confidence in us to pull it off in those moments. I just look at the sack that Kareem (Jackson) had, the play, me, with Buffalo – a lot of different situations to close these games out – he's putting us in the right position and we're executing."
S TYRANN MATHIEU
What are the shirts you bought for the defense and what is attitude you want from this defense?
"We're just trying to have a little fun. We got some shirts made for the defense that says, 'Defense With Attitude'. I think it's important for us to just have the right kind of attitude, right mindset. Just trying to have some fun. It's a long season."
What's the right mindset and attitude right now?
"Just trying to take control, obviously, finishing the season strong. Doing our jobs each and every play, and then playing with attitude and great effort."
How proud are you of S Andre Hal?
"I'm extremely proud of him. Like I mentioned all along, any time a guy can go through what he's gone through and come out on the other side of it, you're always rooting for him."
You tweeted out that S Justin Reid should have been a first-round pick.
"Absolutely, but we're glad he's not. I'm glad he's with us. He's been playing really well. Obviously, playing like a first-round pick. Really not playing like a rookie. He's making really big plays for us, so we'll need him more down the stretch."
Do you think of all the things you have to be thankful for around Thanksgiving?
"I'm extremely thankful. Obviously, coming to a new city, coming to a new team, not really knowing what was in front of me, but hoping for the best, things are going well for me. I've got a lot to be thankful for this year. I have a beautiful family. I'm looking forward to the rest of the year."
How good was your decision to join the Texans in free agency?
"I think we've got a long way to go, but I think we're off on the right start. I thought I picked the right group of guys to go to war with, go to battle with each and every week. I told those guys last night how much I love them, how much I enjoy playing with them."
What do you think has been the key to S Justin Reid playing well as a rookie?
"I think him just showing up to work every day being prepared. You don't really see that from a lot of rookies. Maybe they show up every other day, but I think he's consistent just showing up really prepared. He's a smart player, he's a smart guy. I think football is something that he's really passionate about. It's really easy for him to go out there on Sundays and show the world what he's capable of because, like I said, he's really prepared."
Have the rookies been impressive this season?
"Yeah, I hear a lot of people talk about our leadership, obviously, coming from an 0-3 start, but I would probably say that our young guys have really helped us out a lot, too. Just their character, like I mentioned with Justin (Reid), just those guys showing up to work every day. That's all you can ask for from rookies."
How important is Assistant Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator Romeo Crennel to helping this defense reach its goals?
"At the end of the day, he's a players' coach. I think any time we're dealing with different situations throughout the game, I don't think it's any stretch for me to go talk with him. He's always open-minded. He's always open-ears. Ultimately, you need that from your defensive coordinator."
What do you remember about the longest pick-six of your life?
"San Francisco 49ers, I picked off Colin Kaepernick, took the ball 40 yards, but I would probably say Justin's (Reid) pick-six was 10-times better than mine. Then, like you mentioned, to do it as a rookie, I think that says a lot about him."