ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
Has anything stood out to you about the way DE J.J. Watt has returned to playing at a high level?
"J.J., he is driven to try to be the best that he can be. He put in a lot of time with the trainers and the rehab and all of that to get himself back to where he is. He's over here all day every day and working really hard to rehab himself. I think with the help of the training staff and his attitude, I think that that was very helpful for him being able to get back."
Do you think the outside perspective that DE J.J. Watt was washed up helped motivate him during his return?
"Well, I think all players want to be able to return from injury and show that they can still do it. The fact that he's been able to, just reinforces all of the hard work that he puts in."
Does it show how great a player he is that he can miss almost two full seasons and come back and play at this level?
"Well, like I said, because he's so driven and he's willing to put in the time and effort that it takes to be able to rehab. If you find guys who are driven like such, then I think that they have chances to come back and be what they used to be. He's been able to do that."
What have you seen from Jacksonville's offense in the previous two games?
"Sometimes in these games, you get into these games and things don't go your way exactly. Sometimes it's hard to get out of that. I think that kind of happened to them last week. They got caught in a situation and they couldn't turn it around. A lot of teams are able to turn things around, but one game, two games, doesn't make a season. I think that's the thing that we have to realize and we have to understand, that we're going into their place. They've got something to prove because they want to prove that those last two games are flukes, so they're going to come out with their best shot and they're going to give it to us. We've got to be able to take it and see if we can get a win on the road."
Do you have to alter your game plan when facing a mobile quarterback like Jaguars QB Blake Bortles?
"You've got to be cognizant of him and what he does and how he does it and his abilities and try to take away some of the plays that he makes, both with his arm and with his feet. If you can kind of take some of those plays away, then I think you improve your chances."
How, if at all, is DE J.J. Watt a different player after returning from the injuries? Has he reinvented any part of his skillset?
"No. He's still the same J.J."
Did you have conversations with DE J.J. Watt during the two seasons where he was questioning if he could return to form?
"No, I never doubted him. You just don't know. You just encourage the player. You give him encouragement, tell him to keep working and that's how you can get back and do that. So, I think he probably appreciated the encouragement."
How much of your job entails developing relationships with the players?
"Every player is different and they take things differently, but I think they know that I have a little experience behind me, so sometimes they listen. I think being able to say, 'What do you think?' or 'What did you see?' and those kind of things is important to a guy."
When a player is in the spotlight and then steps out of the spotlight for a few years, how do they often respond to the sense that they've been forgotten?
"Well, that's part of the game. You just can't get around it because when you're injured, you're not playing, you're not practicing, so you're on the outside looking in. That's where those little words of encouragement sometimes can help a player get through that, because they truly are on the outside looking in until they get back on the field and start practicing again and start playing."
Was DE J.J. Watt in meetings or around the team when he was recovering?
"Sure, yeah. Sometimes the rehab had him away doing different things, but when he could be, he was there."
How valuable is S Kareem Jackson's versatility and how important is it to have a player like that that you can trust to make plays?
"Well, it's critical that I trust everybody on the defense. Everybody I put out there, I need to be able to trust them to do their job and do their job well. When you get a guy who is able to do multiple jobs and do it well, that just improves his worth and then it also helps me as a play-caller knowing what I can and cannot call."
QUARTERBACKS COACH SEAN RYAN
Do you see WR DeAndre Hopkins perform at another level when he's facing a player like CB Jalen Ramsey?
"I just think in general, when it comes to game time, Hop's one of those guys that steps up his game. He's a playmaker, so that just comes out in him and I think any time those types of guys go after well-respected corners or good corners, guys that are really up there, it brings out their competitive juices. But, Hop's got that every Sunday, so I think it excites him to go against guys that are considered in the upper tier of the league, but week-in and week-out he shows up on Sundays."
Does it excite you to watch WR DeAndre Hopkins go against a player like CB Jalen Ramsey?
"Yeah, absolutely. Being a former receiver coach and coaching the quarterbacks, to watch those guys in the outside go after each other for four quarters is a lot fun."
WR DeAndre Hopkins' receptions per targets percentage is the highest of his career so far. What do you attribute that to?
"I just think that him and Deshaun (Watson) having more time to work together. Any time a quarterback and a receiver get extended amount of time together, it's their second year in beyond the spring practices and all of that, they're going to have a comfort level that keeps on building. That chemistry keeps on building. I think that it's going to show up on Sundays, which it has. I think that's a big part of it, and like I said, I think when the ball's in the air, he's going to go get it and we got a lot of trust in him, a lot of faith in him to do that. He gets it done."
What's it like having a receiver like WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"For a quarterback, for offensive coaches, it's great to know that you've got a guy that can consistently go out and make plays for you down the field and is going to show up every game, is going to rise to the occasion. Obviously, that's great to have as a coach and as a teammate for the guys that are on the field with him."
What makes Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey so hard to go against?
"He's one of these guys who, as a corner, has all the traits you look for. He's got length, he's got good change of direction for a longer guy, he's competitive, he's physical, he gets his hands on you. So, all those things that you look at for cover corners, he's got those physical attributes. To me to me, he's got the skill of being able to go from one play to the next. He doesn't remember what he did well and if he gets beat, he just comes back at you every play. I think that's what makes him a pretty good player on the outside."
Does that physicality make Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey a good matchup for WR DeAndre Hopkins?
"Yeah, I think both of them compete like that. When they play each other, there's going to be some physical play at the line of scrimmage and down the field, and both guys have won in the past. Each of them has won enough battles, so it makes it a good battle on the outside for those two guys. But, I think that both their skillsets probably set up that way at times."
What could QB Deshaun Watson have done differently during the Bills game to avoid some of those fumbles?
"Whenever you're in the pocket, you're always going to preach, whether it's moving in the pocket, climbing in the pocket, which are all things every quarterback has to do, it's got to be two hands on the ball at all times. Especially when you're playing a defense – it's the general rule, but when you're playing a defense that thrives on getting turnovers and stripping the ball, you have to be aware of it. That should never change. That should be week in and week for him. Ball security's got to be a premium, because in the end, it's a huge part of winning in this league, is winning the turnover battle."
How did you change your game plan to compensate for QB Deshaun Watson's injury?
"I didn't think we changed it that much, to be honest with you. Like I said, we went into it, he was cleared for the game and I think we viewed it as any other week that we have."
Do you worry about QB Deshaun Watson taking hits like he did in that Cowboys game?
"I think every coach in America worries about quarterbacks getting hit. I don't worry about it more than anybody else that coaches on the offensive side of the ball. That's part of the game. You do your best to protect him, you do your best to educate them, meaning the quarterback, on when it's time to get rid of the ball, get the ball out of your hands, don't hold it. But that's everybody, that's not just me. I don't worry about it more than anybody else does."
What impact do hits have on developing a young quarterback?
"I think an overall development of a quarterback, it's part of the game. So, those guys, the ones that turn out to be great ones, are wired in a way that they can move on from it. Every quarterback gets hit. Every quarterback does. That's just part of playing the position, and you have to be able to step up in the next snap and perform your job and trust your teammates to do their job. I think the great ones do it and that's what you instill in those guys. They have a little bit in it themselves, certainly the great ones, but you better be instilling it in them and teaching them that and OB (Bill O'Brien) does a good job of teaching them that, and he does a good job with it."
What's it like trying to find the balance of being aggressive and knowing when to pull back?
"I think it can be a challenge. I think you're right, because you don't want to kill that instinct in him to throw the ball down the field, to get those chunks for you, because I think he's got a knack for doing it, but I do think there's times where it's clear, like that's not a good choice. You emphasize it through film. Like I said, we study film of all kinds of quarterbacks at all different levels and when, 'Hey, this is a good decision, this is not.' It's constantly engrained in these guys and you just keep getting to the point where it becomes second nature for him. The only way I know how to do it is repetition, keep talking about it, keep teaching it and then you're also trusting his instincts to do the right thing at the right time."
Do you feel like QB Deshaun Watson is making progress in his decision-making?
"I think he comes along like a lot of good, talented, young quarterbacks. We take a couple steps forward in this area, and every once in a while, there's a step back. Then, you got to coach off of that, you have to get better and you got to do your best to eliminate – don't make the same mistake moving forward. Eliminate it. He does well at taking coaching, so I've got faith that we can get that done with him and keep moving in a positive direction."
Why shouldn't fans look at a player's performance against one team, and say, 'well this team is better, so he will struggle even more'?
"I just think that every game is different. Every defense you face is different, there's strengths with all of them. You do your best throughout the week to minimize their strengths with your game plan, to exploit weaknesses as you see them against the defense and to school your quarterback up on that and then you let him go play. You build on success, you eliminate past mistakes so they don't repeat themselves and I think you just keep moving forward. That's really all we have to do, is just keep on plugging away with a young guy."
DE/OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
Can you talk about when you called Jaguars QB Blake Bortles "trash" last year?
"I was frustrated, we were losing, it was a bad season. It's a new year. Still going to go out there and trying to win a game. I don't think anything about that."
What do you think about Jaguars QB Blake Bortles?
"What's their record? 3-3? Same as ours. Trying to win a game."
Can you talk about how you turned the trash cans incident around and bought Christmas gifts for children and families in need?
"I appreciated all the trash cans that they sent to me. It was a big help. I got to send it off to the kids last year. Maybe they'll send me something this year. Hopefully not trash cans. I hope it's something else. I don't know yet. We'll see after the game."
At this point, it seems like anyone could win the AFC South division.
"Oh yeah, hopefully it's us. That's what we're here for, to go to work for another day, get ready for practice and win this thing. We aren't coming out here half-stepping. It's going to be a grind game. We know that and we're looking forward to the opportunity to go out here and compete against these guys and try and go 4-3."
Many players were out during last year's game. What does it mean to have so of those guys back healthy heading into this year's matchup?
"It means a lot to the team. We need these guys. We need all hands on deck. We need everybody. It's going to be a big game, like I said. Just having those guys back is going to help a lot. You got your best players on the field and you have them out there to play. What can you ask for?"
What do you guys have to do to avoid getting beat by the Jaguars again?
"Pack our defense. Our defense has been playing well lately. We have to continue to improve and play well, get out there in Jacksonville and bring that same attitude we've been having for the past few weeks – never quit, never back down, just continue to fight throughout the game and hopefully come out with a victory."
Do you like where the team is at right now?
"We're improving, we're improving. Nobody wants to peak right now, around this time of the year. We just want to keep getting better. I think if we keep going to work and keep bringing it the way we're bringing it in practice, we're going to continue to get better and improve on our defense. Hopefully, it will help us lead up to gameday."
WR WILL FULLER V
How excited are you to be playing for first place?
"It's going to be good. We've got a good opportunity in front of us to get ahead in our division."
Is there anything extra to this matchup since the Jaguars are the defending AFC South Champions?
"Everybody has their own motivation. I don't want to speak for whole team, but I'm always excited for the game."
What kind of challenge do the Jaguars defensive backs pose?
"A.J. (Bouye) and Jalen (Ramsey), they present a lot of challenges, but we're excited for the challenge."
How much fun is it to go up against the Jaguars defensive backs?
"Like I said, it's fun. It's always fun to compete and that's what I play this game for, to compete."
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
What do you think about the season you're having?
"My team is 3-3. That's all that matters to me. Not the season that I'm having, but my team."
What do you see from the Jaguars cornerbacks?
"They have some of the best corners in the game, hands down."
What is it like going against Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey?
"I love it. He's competitive. He matches up against me well, better than a lot of other corners."
Does Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey talk trash on the field?
"No, we don't talk trash to each other. We've got a mutual respect. We know when we go out there, it's time to work."
Is it nice playing against a player like Jaguars CB Jalen Ramsey?
"Of course. I love playing guys that are at that level, at the All-Pro level. That's what I play football for, the challenge to go up against guys like that."
How excited are you to be playing for first place?
"Very excited, especially the battles that we've had, where we came from the first weekend of the season to where we are now. It's a good feeling to be able to play for first."
Does having three consecutive close wins help your confidence going into the fourth quarter late in games?
"It makes you confident any time you win a game, no matter how you win it – one second left or a blowout."
How much has WR Keke Coutee helped the offense?
"That's what we drafted him for, to help us win games. Obviously, that's what he's done so far. (It's a) testament to him going out and making plays and just battling."
Does it still surprise you to see QB Deshaun Watson get up after taking a hit?
"No, he's one of the toughest guys in this locker room."
How have you seen QB Deshaun Watson improve since last season?
"He's a student of the game. The game is much slower to him and you can tell from the calls that he makes, from the throws that he throws. He's a student of the game."