HEAD COACH BILL O'BRIEN
Is it inspiring to other players to know what QB Deshaun Watson is going through?
"Again, like I said yesterday, I think we have a lot of guys in the locker room, again, just like every team in the league, that are battling to try to get themselves ready to play, whether it's J.J. Watt coming off of what he's had to rehab through and having the season he's having, Deshaun quite obviously, Johnathan Joseph. I mean, nobody asks about him and what he goes through to get himself ready. I think these guys really root for each other and it's a really good locker room."
DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney and WR DeAndre Hopkins were saying that QB Deshaun Watson's toughness inspires them and I was wondering if it you felt the same way?
"I think inspire is a good word. I think they inspire each other."
What was it like to coach Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler?
"Coaching Brock was good. He was a very smart guy, worked very hard, very competitive guy and you can see that with how he's playing right now."
What has Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler done in the last two games to have so much success?
"Very bright guy, really understands the system, competitive guy, knows where to go with the ball, really studies tape, understands what's going on defensively, doing a good job getting the ball out. He's doing a good job."
What do you do to help your team get ready during a short week?
"I think it's more about the players if they adhere to the things that we're asking them to do, relative to sleep, relative to what they can do with Luke (Richesson) in the weight room, Kap (Geoff Kaplan) in the training room, Ladd (Harris) in the nutrition area. I think that's more a part of it. We just kind of type it up, and give it to them and hopefully they adhere to it. I think we have a bunch of guys in the locker room, veterans that can help the younger guys to understand what they need to do to get themselves ready on a short week. So, I think we have guys that really buy into – and I'll say this, Bob McNair's put a lot of money into our facility here in this past offseason and these are the types of weeks where hopefully that pays off."
What about game planning in a much shorter amount of time?
"Obviously, when you're in the previous week, as you get to later in that week, you're wrapping up the Jacksonville game plan and now you begin to look ahead to Miami. The schedule came out six months ago so you knew that this was going to be a short week. So, hopefully you're a little bit ahead of the game so that when you get back from Jacksonville, boom, you have a real good idea of what you want to do. You watch the last Miami game, Detroit game, and try to wrap up what you want to do so you can be ready for the players on the next day."
As a coach, how have your previous years helped with your rebound from 0-3?
"Nobody wants to be 0-3. You're not looking to be in that hole, but we were. I think it's really – again, I can't emphasize this enough – I think it's all about the players. If you don't have the right type of players, then you're probably going to be somewhere not close to where we are now. I think it's really about the players, their resolve, their mindset, their mentality, their belief in what we're trying to do, their belief in each other, their belief in the coaching staff. If you don't have the right players in that locker room, then you have no chance. I'm just a big believer in that and the character and the chemistry and the way that they work, and I think that's what it's all about."
How much does coaching have to do with bouncing back from the 0-3 start?
"I think it's all about the players. I think the players buying in, the players believing, the players working at it, the chemistry in the locker room. I think it's all about the players. The players are doing a good job. They're buying, they're believing, they're working hard, they're doing a great job."
When you're running the ball well, how does that affect an opponent's pass rush?
"Any time you can establish the running game, that really helps. I'm not saying that it begins and ends with the running game, but I do think that that helps a lot things. When you can establish the line of scrimmage, it really opens up many things. Meaning, maybe they have to bring an extra guy down in there to help defend the run or maybe it helps your play action. If you cannot run the ball, it's very difficult in this league, I believe the way that we're constructed, it's very difficult to score points. We've found it difficult to score points at times this year, but I think when we run the ball we have a better chance."
What is QB Deshaun Watson doing well and what would you like to see him do better?
"I think that he really works at it. He gets better every single day. He does so many things well. I think that he's understanding defenses better, I think that he really understands what we're trying to do better every single week. I think he's played – what is it, 13 games as a starter, whatever it is, 13, 14 games. That's still very, very early in your career, and I think he gets better and better every day."
What are your thoughts on RB Lamar Miller?
"Lamar is doing a good job. He runs hard, does a good job in the passing game, had a good game last week, kind of does a lot of different things for us, great pro, does a great job in the locker room. Really glad we have him."
Have you always known that if your team stuck together you would have bounced back like you have?
"I think the big thing is, No. 1, is we're only through seven games. So, the key is, where do you go from here. I think the other key relative to – if you want to look back on it, again, I go back to the players. The captains, J.J. Watt, the Johnathan Joseph, Tyrann Mathieu, Deshaun Watson, DeAndre Hopkins, Brian Peters, the leaders on special teams. Brennan Scarlett, Johnson Bademosi. I mean, these are high character guys in that locker room that really understand what it means to work hard. Look, we lost some close games – could've, should've, would've. Maybe if you did a couple things different you would've ended up with a better record for the first three games, but we weren't. These guys really stuck with it and now we've got a chance to really do something, but we have to do it."
What are your thoughts on Miami's defense?
"Start with the front, great edge players, really solid, tough guys inside, Cameron Wake on the edge, Robert Quinn on the edge, very, very difficult matchup. Very difficult. Linebacker-wise, Kiko Alonso, Raekwon McMillan, very active players, good players, good tacklers, tough, good in the passing game. Xavien Howard usually matches up against the top wide receiver. Very, very good size, good speed. Bobby McCain does a great job, competitive, makes a lot of plays on the ball. Matt Burke does a great job, they've got a great scheme. It's going to be a real challenge."
Is there any feeling of needing to seize this moment on Thursday?
"I think any time you're winning, every game becomes more and more important. I think these guys understand that. I think it's a short week. These guys were real attentive last night. We brought them in a little bit later, had really good meetings, really good walkthrough. We know it's a very challenging team that we're going against. These guys have a lot of explosive players. People are talking about their wide receiver injuries but DeVante Parker, Danny Amendola, Jakeem Grant – no one's asked me about Jakeem Grant. He's probably one of the best punt returners, next to Tyreek Hill, that we've seen or that we will see. Great speed, can really change a game. (Kenyan) Drake, the running back – I mean, this is going to be a very, very hard ball game. So, our guys understand that, they're watching the tape, they're trying to get as prepared as they can. Very, very challenging night on Thursday night."
You say every game is important but is it any more special to play at home in a primetime game?
"I think any time we have a chance to play these types of games in front of our crowd, that is an advantage because if we can go out there and play well, our crowd really gets behind us and that's a big deal. I really think this is very a tough place to play. I think our fans are dying for a winner and I believe our players know that. We're glad that we're playing this at home."
Why do coaches say the season is most important from Thanksgiving and on?
"I think every game's important but because of the season and when things are determined, and if you look at this league right now, how many teams are 4-3 and 3-4 – there's a bunch of teams. There's very few teams in the world of, let's just say the Rams and Kansas City, and those teams are great and they're doing a great job. But, most of the teams are bunched right up, so you've got to keep trying to do the best you can to put wins together so that in Thanksgiving, maybe there's a little separation between you and the some of those other teams. The teams that understand that and really try to execute that around Thanksgiving, then those teams have a chance to go to the tournament. So, that's all I'm saying when I say that."
Is there anything specific that you're looking for in these few days of preparation as far as being cautious with QB Deshaun Watson's injury?
"First of all, No. 1, when it comes to practicing, we may break a sweat a little bit at practice, but it's not a knock-down, drag-out type of practice. It's very much of a mental week and it's very much of a physical week when it comes to the rehab, the taking care of their bodies, the preventative things that they're doing to make sure that they're ready to play. So, a lot of this is what we help – we try to guide the players. We have a lot of good leaders in there that have played a lot of football that can help the younger players, 'Hey, this is what you should be doing.' You walk through the training room last night – we got done around 7:00 (p.m.) – there's a bunch of guys in there trying to get ready to be ready to go on Thursday night."
ASSISTANT HEAD COACH/DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR ROMEO CRENNEL
Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase said when DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney are converging on the quarterback, it's like a hand grenade goes off in the backfield. What do you think about his analogy?
"I like it. I'm glad they're on my team."
Do you agree with Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase's analogy that DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney can create explosions in the backfield?
"Yes, sometimes. They're explosive guys. They've got good size, got good length and good talent. Sometimes it is somewhat explosive."
What are some things you've learned about helping your players prepare on a short week?
"Get rest. That's the biggest thing because it is a short week. When you play a game in the NFL, there are bumps and bruises. Guys kind of get beat up a little bit, so you have to be able to rejuvenate, rest and be ready for a Thursday night game. We've been trying to accommodate them as best we can, but as always, they have to do it themselves and then hopefully we'll be rested enough that we can go play a very good game on Thursday night."
What do you see from Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler on tape and how do you think he's been playing recently? Can the cumulative time spent practicing against Osweiler help you prepare this week?
"From what I've seen so far on the tape, he came in and won a game in Chicago against a good defense up there, so that was impressive. Last week, looking at some of the throws that he made, he made some pretty good throws and stuck the ball into some tight windows. We have to be concerned about that and try to see if we can get him off the spot and not let him get comfortable back there because he does have a good arm. He's a tall quarterback and he's experienced, so it'll be a challenge."
Besides health, what's been the biggest factor contributing to DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney's production this season?
"Well, health has always been a big deal with him because he's pretty good. That's why he was taken No. 1. When he's healthy, we expect No. 1 production from him and he's been able to give that to us."
Do you think DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney has been more disruptive from a pre-snap standing stance rather than a three-point stance?
"Well, sometimes he's in a different position when he's there and sometimes he can get a little head start, particularly if he can time up the snap. That head start, he's able to generate some power and push into the line of scrimmage."
What goes into the decision of whether OLB Whitney Mercilus will play closer to the line of scrimmage along the defensive line?
"Well, it just depends on what call I make. If I make the call that puts him at the end of the line, he's at the end of the line. If I make a call that puts him in the middle, he's in the middle. It's just like Jadeveon (Clowney). If I make a call that he's at the end, he's at the end. If I make a call that puts him off the ball, he's off the ball. They understand that and they understand the system. So, whatever call is made, then they're expected to perform at the position they're in."
When you think back to Hurricane Harvey, what the most difficult part about that experience?
"Well, for us, we left here before the storm him. The deal was we couldn't get back here. So, then we had to get somewhere else. Then, watching on the news and then the players talking to their families who were still here and some of them were having difficult trying to find a place to stay – neighbors, friends or whatever it was – then, the players not being able to be with the families. That was very difficult for us during that time."
How did Hurricane Harvey affect the preparation for the season?
"Well, you still have to prepare as best you can. I think, basically, it affects you more mentally than anything else because your focus is not necessarily on football. Your focus is on your family and what they're going through and what's happening. That's the biggest impact."
Are there any unique challenges when you're a rookie like S Justin Reid and are starting on a defense that has a lot of experience?
"Well, most of the time, I've found that rookies think they're pretty good anyway. They have to understand and realize that maybe there are some guys who are better than they are. They have to go through that learning phase because they don't know as much as they think they know. Justin has done a good job of stepping in and making plays and becoming part of the defense and helping us win."
Do you think S Justin Reid has handled the learning phase well and do you think he came in too confident?
"Well, they all do. Every rookie, they've been elevated and they're at the top of the heap, but then they're in a different heap now. It's just like when they're in high school, they're the best in high school and then they go to college and then there are some other pretty good players there in college. So, when they get to this level, they find there are some pretty good players at this level as well."
How often throughout your career have you had players similar to the caliber of DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"Usually you don't get that kind of talent together in one coaching career. So, I've been very fortunate to have both of them and play at the level they play at because that really helps us."
Do you have any examples of players you've coached who are somewhat comparable to DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney?
"Well, there was Lawrence Taylor, Harry Carson and Carl Banks and guys like that."
Do you think DE J.J. Watt and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney could be as good as some of the players you've coached in the past?
"Only time will tell that."
QUARTERBACKS COACH SEAN RYAN
Why do you think QB Deshaun Watson's completion percentage has dipped in the past two games?
"Like I say to you guys about a lot of this stuff that goes on for the quarterback, a lot of things factor into it. It could be just an inaccurate throw. Maybe he missed on one. That sometimes plays into it. Or, he's moving in the pocket and there's moving parts that create inaccuracy – a little late on a decision. You have to look at every play individually and try to figure out, 'Hey, on this one, what's my coaching point?' What's our coaching point to him to try to get it so decisions happen faster for him, mechanics are a little bit smoother for him? You kind of put everything all together for it so you get the completion percentage up."
Do you think QB Deshaun Watson did a better job of protecting himself on Sunday?
"Yeah, for sure. As you keep working with him and keep preaching to him week in and week out about good decisions, balancing that with never trying to take away his instincts because that's a big part of his game, it's an effective part of his game, but we're talking to him all the time, OB (Bill O'Brien) and I, about, 'Hey, when the journey is over, it's over. We're going to make a right choice on this play and we're going to live to see another down and that's the way it's going to be.' I think just the constant preaching of that and showing him examples of the good and the bad throughout the league week-to-week helps."
What have you seen from Miami's defense?
"They're well-coached, they've got talent at every level. They give you multiple things in both base and sub that you have to deal with. They're a multiple group that can throw a lot at you, so it's a challenge – on a short week especially."
What did you learn about your team after QB Deshaun Watson's injury last season?
"I think just the fact that the group of guys that we have, they're resilient, they keep fighting. I think that shows up week to week and still shows up. That's probably the biggest thing that I took away from it, was everybody just put their head down and kept moving forward. I think that shows up for us with the guys that we have in that locker room."
Do you think the players' resiliency played a role in winning four consecutive games?
"I think they're definitely a group of guys that grind. They work hard. Like I said, they just put their head down and they do their jobs and do it to the best of their abilities, and that's what gives us a chance."
You didn't volunteer to go on the bus with QB Deshaun Watson?
"I did not."
What assignments did you leave QB Deshaun Watson with for his bus ride?
"He had a bunch of film, our own film, to work with. So, he was on that and then I know he played a game of Madden or so, so maybe that gave him a couple of ideas. He definitely had all the film for the week and this upcoming week for the ride home. Watched the game on the way back to take a look at himself, so he had plenty of stuff to do."
How do you help QB Deshaun Watson anticipate some of the different looks that he's going to continue to get every week?
"I think through the normal way of going through a week, whether it's film study – obviously, a huge part of it. Every second that we have to watch film and look for indicators of a defense of what could be coming post-snap. I think walkthroughs are as important as practice because you're able to change the looks up, give him different looks in a walkthrough that you would give him in practice. So, we focus a lot on those things, giving him walkthroughs and practice. It's just about continuing the process over and over and over again."
DE/OLB JADEVEON CLOWNEY
What are your thoughts on Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler?
"He's not here anymore so I don't really care for him."
What do you remember about Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler's year here?
"I know we didn't win a lot with him. Just trying to go against him now and just try to get after him this week up front, make him rattled in the pocket. Hopefully he'll throw a couple interceptions, a couple picks."
How good do you feel about how you're playing right now?
"I'm trying to get better each week. It's a work in progress. You try to build on each week and I'm just trying to build off the game I had last week."
Is it good that you're playing so well that each week it seems like you played the best game of your career?
"Yeah, that's kind of what you try to shoot for in this league. Like I said, improve every game each week. It's a big week this week. Short week, but it's a big one. Get ready to go."
What do you think about NFL.com analyst Brian Baldinger calling you the most disruptive defensive force in the NFL so far this season?
"I'm glad he noticed or whatever. I mean, you have to keep bringing it. Like I said, this league is about bettering on your reputation, not staying the same. We have another week ahead. Next week they'll say, 'He didn't do anything out there,' so just have to get ready to go each week and get ready for this game first."
How tough is it for an offense to prepare for you when you move around so much?
"We have so many players up front that can disrupt games. I know you can't just sit there and say, 'We're going to game plan for Clowney,' when you have J.J. (Watt), Whitney (Mercilus), Benardrick (McKinney) and D.J. (Reader). You have to really just pick your poison. This week, last week was my week but you never know who's up this week. We have a lot of guys that can disrupt games and I'm just looking forward to this game to see who's going to show up."
Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase said you and DE J.J. Watt converging on the backfield is like a hand grenade going off. What do think about that?
"That's what we're trying to shoot for. Like I said, that's what our job is. They pay us to come and disrupt games and get after the quarterback and make plays. The guys on this team look up to us to do that so we have to do it each week."
How would you describe the spark that S Tyrann Mathieu brings to you guys?
"He's a leader. He's been doing it since he got here since day one. I hope he continues to do that. It's taken us four in a row so we just have to shoot for five this week. Big week Thursday, looking forward to it."
WR DEANDRE HOPKINS
What do you think has been the key to the team's turnaround since the tough start?
"I would say there's a lot that goes in to winning, so really not just one thing. There's a lot that goes into it. But, playing mistake-free football, not having a lot of turnovers, those things like that help you win games in the NFL."
How big would it be to extend the streak in a nationally televised game with a short turnaround?
"It's big to win the game. We're not really so much worried about the streak or being nationally televised, just winning it. This is an AFC game so it's big for us."
Do you still hear a lot of feedback when you make a great catch since you have so many of them now?
"Oh yeah, of course, of course. People are amazed by one-hand catches, but sometimes it's just going out there and catching the ball. I really don't think about one hands or two hands sometimes."
Do you ever amaze yourself by your catches?
"No, I don't. I've been playing football since I can remember, making catches like that. People are just now seeing those catches, so no I don't."
When did you realize you had the hand skills to make those kinds of catches?
"I've been blessed with big hands since I can remember. I've been able to palm a basketball for a long time. So, I've always been able to make good catches, I guess."
Is it special to you to be on primetime and the only game on across the country?
"No, it's just another game to us. Every game is important, primetime or not being televised publicly or whatever. But, it's a big game. It's an AFC game so it's a big game to us."
What does S Tyrann Mathieu bring to this team?
"Tyrann is a great player. He makes plays."
Do you remember what age you were when you could first palm a basketball?
"Ever since I can remember, honestly. In fifth grade, I want to say. That's as far as my memory goes back."
What does it mean to be coming in here with a four-game winning streak and in first place?
"It feels good. Any time you have the lead, you want to keep it. It's not a 20-game season, it's 16 games so every game is important in the NFL. Keeping this lead is important to us."
Watching QB Deshaun Watson play Sunday, could you tell that he was feeling a lot better?
"Oh yeah, I could. As we go, everybody's going to play better. It's early in the season. We haven't even hit the halfway mark yet, so we still have a lot of football to improve on. Everybody, not just him."
Can you talk about what it means to this city to have a franchise quarterback like QB Deshaun Watson?
"Yeah, but Deshaun knows, just like everybody else knows, he has to go out and prove it every day. This is the NFL. I have to prove my job every day. I feel like I'm the best receiver, a No. 1 receiver, but I still have to go out and work every day to help this team win games. Deshaun, that's what we're focused on, taking it game by game."
How did the touchdown celebration where you run down the sideline swinging your arm?
"Playing FIFA, man. Yeah, it's a soccer celebration."
What do you think of the Dolphins secondary?
"They're young, talented."
How do you prepare yourself for a short week like this?
"Taking care of your body. Getting lots of sleep, getting a lot of rest, doing everything that you have to do to come out and be prepared to play. A short week is not easy, especially in the NFL, but just maintaining your body and recovering."
S TYRANN MATHIEU
What do you think about being in first place and playing on national TV on Thursday night?
"This is a big game. Obviously, the more you win in this league the bigger the games get, the more important games become. We happen to be on primetime, short week. We have to take advantage of it."
What do you like about being on primetime?
"Everybody's watching, obviously. A lot of guys want to play in the big games, bright lights, and we're no different."
What do you like about how the defense has played the past few weeks?
"We've just been trying to play our style of football: physical, fast, everybody doing their jobs."
What do you think of Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler when you watch the tape?
"I think he's playing well right now for the Dolphins. Obviously they have some injuries right now but I think he's playing well for them."
What's the challenge for a guys like S Justin Reid being a rookie on a team that's trying to win right now?
"It's no challenge for him. Obviously, he's a smart player, a lot of physical abilities. We expect him play like me or play like Jack (Kareem Jackson). He's growing up fast and we're counting on him, but there's really no pressure, it's just him going out there and doing his job."
Is that easier said than done for a rookie to be able to play like you or S Kareem Jackson?
"It's the expectations. I think with the guys in our room, obviously J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph) playing as many years as he's played, obviously me and Jack, trying to set the tempo for guys in the room. We kind of expect everybody to kind of step up and make plays."
How much does a guy like QB Deshaun Watson inspire the entire team with what he's been through?
"He's tough, man. Like I said, I think he's everything we're trying to be, really as a football team, which is a tough team."
Where does your knack for being around the football come from?
"A little bit of luck. Obviously, being in the right place at the right time. But, any time you're close to the football, balls get deflected, balls get on the ground, obviously you want to make an effort to get to the ball."
Do you consider yourself a football magnet?
"I consider myself a football player. I was always taught to obviously read your keys, but wherever the ball goes, that's where you want to go."
In your experience, what has helped you get through a short week and get ready to play?
"It's just getting over the last game. Obviously, it's a lot of information in a short period of time that you have to gather, so you have to do a lot of studying on your own. That helps get you prepared quicker but obviously it's a short week so both teams are kind of going to stick to what they do best, and I think it's really important for us to just go out there and execute."
QB DESHAUN WATSON
After the game on Sunday, players said you playing through injuries inspired them. Did you know that?
"A lot of guys came up to me and they texted me after the game, texted me throughout the week and just kind of told me how proud they were of me and just a great person and great teammate I am just to be able to do what I do and keep the team first and make sure that I'm healthy, first – that's the first priority – but also, if I can go, I'm out there with those guys."
What does it mean to you when you read texts of players telling you they gain inspiration from you?
"It's awesome. That locker room has always been great to me since I stepped foot in this organization. All of the veteran guys to all of the young guys, we've all just been able to build chemistry each and every day and just have a great relationship. It's cool to see that from my own teammates."
Does it mean more to play at home on national television having won four consecutive games?
"For sure. It's always great to be able to come home and try to continue the win streak in front of our home fans. The home fans are going to be excited, electric on Thursday night. It's a great opportunity for us to be able to continue the streak – home-field advantage – and for us to bring more excitement to the city."
What do you feel like you're doing the best right now and what do you want to improve upon personally?
"Really just managing the offense in the right way, making sure we're in the right plays, doing what we can to be able to move the ball down the field. The things I feel like I need to be doing better is, of course, capitalizing in the redzone and third down. Those are the two areas I really want to focus on individually and making sure that I know what the coverage is, know where my reads, depending on what coverage it is, take me to and getting the ball to the receivers."
How much better did you feel on Sunday than you did the previous week?
"It was a lot better. A week in the training room, being able to do what I do and get more healthy, it was a great feeling to just go out there and not have to really worry about anything and just kind of play free."
Do you feel like you were able to play more like yourself on Sunday than you were against the Bills?
"I was like myself against the Bills if I had to, but there was no need to risk anything. Regardless of if I am injured or not, I'm going to continue to be myself and go out there and just try to do what I do."
How has Head Coach Bill O'Brien guided the team through an 0-3 start to help get the team to this point?
"The same way he's been guiding us. Nothing changed. When we were 0-3 and now the second half of the season we're 4-0, it's been the same message: continue to have faith, continue to do what we do and execute, do it at a high level and play complementary football, all three phases do their job, and we'll be just fine."
Do you think the team tuned outside noise out even more after starting 0-3?
"We know what goes on in the locker room, what goes on on the field. The outside noise is going to be the outside noise. That's how people make money, that's how people draw fans and media and all that stuff. We don't really pay attention to that. Some people do, some people don't, but at the end of the day, we know we've got to focus on that locker room and what we do in the meeting rooms and on the field."
What are keys for you to prepare to play on a short week?
"Watch a lot of film, massages, sleep, make sure my diet is on point and just try to rest up as much as I can and watch as much film before Thursday night."
Did you worry about your diet at Clemson or is that something you started focusing on recently?
"Not at all. I still don't pay attention to it. I mean, if I had to pick one of the things that is the hardest thing for me, it probably is my diet. But, I'm learning each and every day, learning from Ladd (Harris) and his staff and the right things to eat. I just never grew up on eating certain stuff. I'm from the south, so we eat what we eat."
What do you miss eating?
"Soul food, really. I still eat it, though."
Where did you stop for dinner on the bus ride back?
"Some steakhouse in Tallahassee. I can't even remember. I just got off the bus, it was dark, went inside and ate."
Did anyone recognize you when you were at dinner?
"My waitress did. There was some guy and some lady that knew who I was, but they didn't make a big scene. They just kind of said congrats and kept it moving."
Why did you do pushups after getting hit on Sunday?
"I was just having fun with (Senio) Kelemete and just kind of did it and hopped up."
Did G Senio Kelemete ask you if you were OK when you were doing pushups?
"When I was doing that, he was asking me, 'You all right? You all right?' I got up and told him, 'Yeah, I'm good.' He gave me 20 pushups yesterday."
How much did you hear about the bus from your friends, family and teammates?
"I heard it all week. A lot of people thought it was a joke. A lot of people thought I was just saying it just to say it, but once Friday hit around and then Saturday I wasn't at the walkthrough and on the plane, a lot of people realized it was for real. It was decent. A lot of people just making sure that everything was all right, health-wise, making sure it wasn't too serious, but it was really just a precaution. Just didn't want anything to happen while I was in the air. So, whatever it takes to get us down there was the first priority."
Do you have any sense of how important you are to Texans fans given the lack of success from the quarterback position throughout the team's history?
"Honestly, not previously. If you asked me to name the previous quarterbacks, I probably couldn't tell you, other than Brock (Osweiler). The attention and just the love and support that I get when I got drafted and ever since I've been in this organization the past two years has been awesome just to feel that love and people to kind of consider me as a franchise quarterback and they want me here. I just have to continue to focus on what I can do to help this team win and get us Ws and one day get us to where we want to be, and that's the Super Bowl. But, right now, I've just got to focus on building my craft, building my leadership role and just get these Ws and try to push forward to that ultimate goal. So, it's pretty cool."
What's the key to sustaining winning and what is your role going to be to continue winning?
"Just focus on one day at a time. Just kind of continue to build off the Ws, correct those mistakes, try not to make those mistakes over and over, but just focus on one week at a time. Can't look ahead, can't get too comfortable and just focus on that locker room, whatever the coaching staff have game-planned and whatever the leaders on this team feel like is best for the team leading up to that game. As far as in game plan, just try to take that angle. We can't look ahead, we can't look back. We've just got to focus on today and focus on one day at a time – the meetings, the practices, the workouts. Then, whenever the game comes, go out there and execute."
How often are you still getting looks from opposing defenses that you haven't seen before?
"Every week. Every week it's a new look, it's a new defense, it's a new scheme – whatever you want to call it. I'm going against a new coordinator, so there's different ways that different coordinators are game planning against us and me, obviously. So, I've just got to stay on my P's and Q's each and every day, go back on last year's film or wherever that coach was previously and see what they did to different quarterbacks, but also watch film of OB (Bill O'Brien) and Sean (Ryan) and the other quarterbacks and see what they had whenever they coached against those guys. Each and every week, it's a new test for me and I just kind of try to learn as much as I can for the next time I see that defensive coordinator or that defense, try to have it in my memory bank.
DE J.J. WATT
What do you think about being in first place and playing on national TV on Thursday night?
"I think if you think like that, then you're going to have some trouble. I think it's just one game at time. I think if you start to get outside of yourself, you start to try and think of all those types of things – streaks, national TV, stuff like that – that's when you get yourself caught up in stuff and you forget what's important – the fundamentals, the basics, watching the film, getting yourself ready mentally, physically. I think you just have to treat it like a game."
After all these years, is it no longer special being on national television where all your friends and family can see you?
"My family and friends have seen a lot of me over the years on TV. I just go out there and just try to play the game. I'm glad we're in front of our home fans. I'm excited to be back in front of our home fans, but national TV, regular TV, I don't know. Whatever kind of TV."
How do you feel your defense is playing right now?
"I think it's been playing good. I think we can continue to improve. I think the last couple weeks we've done that. We've improved each week. I think we can continue to improve and we can get better. So, as the season goes on, that's the goal, but we just have to keep stacking them on top of each other."
What are your thoughts on playing against Dolphins QB Brock Osweiler?
"I think he's had a good couple weeks. He's thrown for a lot of yards, he's done some good things over there, so we have to go out there and play well. The biggest thing we have to do is control what we can control, and that's go out there, do our assignments, execute, play our game and let the chips fall where they may."
Dolphins Head Coach Adam Gase said that when you and DE/OLB Jadeveon Clowney are combining in the backfield, it's like a hand grenade going off. What do you think of that?
"I mean, yeah, obviously when we're playing at the top of our game, there's a lot of great things that happen – all over our defense, not just up front. But, when everybody's playing at the top of their game, it's a lot of fun to play in and I'm sure it's pretty difficult to stop. It's a blast. Look at Whitney (Mercilus) last game having a forced fumble, JD (Jadeveon Clowney) playing the way that he played last game, Tyrann (Mathieu) in the back end, Kareem (Jackson), J-Jo (Johnathan Joseph). There's guys all over the place – Zach (Cunningham) and B-Mac (Benardrick McKinney) in the middle. So, it's a lot of fun. We have guys all over the place that can play and it's a lot of fun to play the game when you do that."
What kind of spark does S Tyrann Mathieu bring to the team?
"It's good. The biggest thing you can do to spark a team is the play on the field, and he's been doing great at that. So, it's been nice to have him, and like I said, we've got playmakers everywhere and it's been a lot of fun to have guys all over the field, all different players making plays all the time."
What are the challenges for you with the quick turnaround getting ready for a Thursday night game?
"Physically. It's just all your body. Just trying to get your body back. Nobody likes it, really, but every team has to deal with it once in the league. It's just making sure you get the right sleep, making sure you take care of your body, make sure you get the right nutrition and do whatever you possibly can to get healthy for Thursday night because it is a quick turnaround and it's difficult."