HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"Not much has changed. I kind of made some of the same comments on Monday. Not much has changed in the two hours before that we talked. Still disappointed in how we played yesterday. We've played a lot better than we played yesterday. It's as simple as that. All phases. We've been practicing well for a long period of time. We didn't necessarily see that one coming. You have to give Jacksonville a lot of credit. They weren't playing for an awful lot yesterday, and they showed up and played better than we did. There's a period of time there where we give up the long, explosive run, and then we give up an offensive touchdown after that. It was hard to get out of that sequence. Guys are going to continue to play hard and all of those things. We'll never question any of that. So, this now brings us down – I've talked a lot about our division record. We split with Tennessee, we split with Jacksonville and we have a tie against Indy, so this is a big game for our team. We'll practice hard, show up this week and hopefully we can finish up with a good taste in our mouth."
Has this been the most trying season personally that you've had as a coach?
"As you said, there's been a lot of them. Some have been more trying than others. This is one of them. We haven't won a lot of games. Whenever you don't win a lot of games, it's tough. It takes an emotional toll on everyone. By saying that though, how the guys have performed lately has given you – you can see what the future looks like."
In what ways has this season been difficult other than the fact that you have not won many games?
"It's just that. We haven't won. The guys have played hard. They've practice well. We haven't had a whole lot of off the field things going on. We haven't won. That's what it comes down to. Whenever you're not winning, of course you're going to have a bad taste in your mouth, and that's where we are."
How does this season compare to your first seasons in Chicago and Tampa?
"We didn't win a lot that first year in Tampa. We didn't win a lot the first year in Chicago. When you have done it a little bit, some places it takes a little bit longer. Not all of them. Normally when you're coming in, you're not coming in on a Super Bowl winning team, so it's going to take a little bit of time for growth. Where we are growth-wise right now, we've played a lot of young players that have gotten better. Those players have made plays now. Not just rookies, but other guys too. So, those are the kind of things that keep you going a little bit. It will be final this week, so this final game where the guys get a chance this season. I'm anxious to see, and I expect us to pick up where we were that Tennessee week. That's what I expect this week."
Do you feel that you've met your goals, GM Nick Caserio's goals and the organization's goals for the season?
"I think it's safe to say we haven't. Everybody has high goals for winning every game, winning the division. There's a lot of things that we didn't get accomplished. Was that realistic? I don't know, but those were our goals. You're right. There's a game left to go in the season, and what you can get accomplished, I think as long as you get a chance to keep playing, you can add something to this 2022 season story, and that's what we're going to do."
What has the message been like from GM Nick Caserio and Chairman and CEO Cal McNair?
"The message has been we talk and meet daily, Nick (Caserio) and I. Of course, Cal (McNair) at least weekly. Everybody that's connected to Houston Texans football is disappointed in where we are, but not losing hope or anything like that. I think we all see that better days are ahead."
After the game, some players mentioned low energy and questioned the pride taken. What was your feeling after the game?
"I think you have to be careful when you say some players. Which players? You talked to Christian (Kirksey) about that. That's not what I've seen. Pride? You need to talk to those guys about how they're feeling about that. When you group it, you look at how our guys have played, there hasn't been anything like that besides not playing well yesterday. There's a lot of teams that didn't play well yesterday. That not what we've seen at all. I know everybody came ready to work all last week, ready to go, right up until the last meeting before. Sometimes when you don't play as well as you need to, I just try to stay away from guys talking for the group. If those players said that, I wouldn't have thought that they would have taken that approach, because I didn't see that in their play. You said Ogbo (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo)? I thought he did some god things yesterday. Jerry (Hughes), I know how he's shows up always. I've talked on that too much."
What have you seen from Colts QB Sam Ehlinger, and what do you expect from him?
"I know he played earlier. Being a guy from Texas, I know about this career and what type of football player he's been. I know he's excited about this opportunity, if he's the guy. I know he's a mobile guy. From all I've heard, he's a great leader, guys buy into him. He can move the chains with his feet as much as he can throwing the football. If that's the case and he's the guy, we'll have to be ready for him."
Given the state of the organization, what were the realistic expectations of what your goals would be?
"I think when you say realistic goals, that's a hard question. Your realistic goal is you come in and you try to win every game. No one knows how the season is going to go. You go in, you start fighting, playing the best you can, improving, correcting mistakes, all those things. Those are goals that every team has, every player has. For every game, that's what you're trying to do. In the end, you look at how it all played out. We didn't end up with enough wins. As you analyze, there's a lot of things going in this season. Some of our best players haven't played for whatever reason. Everybody has a lot of those same issues we've had, but I'm just looking at the last part of our season on how the guys have continued to play. That has to say an awful lot about who they are. And, really, the goal is to try and win every game, and most of the games we had an opportunity to win. I think that's realistic."
You mentioned having daily conversations with Nick Caserio and Cal McNair. What have those been like?
"I have a conversation with players too. I never talk about those conversations in public like this. We're talking about Houston Texans football. That's what the conversation is about. 'How did the last game go and what do I think is going to happen this next game?' Simple as that. I talk about those things with our coaching staff, those things with the players, all of that."
This game has potential impact for the No. 1 overall pick. How do y'all as an organization talk about that going into the game?
"I think it's easy to answer that question. Where are we right now, you say the No. 1 overall pick can help? Is that what you said? Yeah. How about the No. 2 overall, can that help? Yeah. No. 3, there's a lot of picks that can help. That's how I look at that. We know the picks that we have coming in, we're going to add a lot of good football players. As you look at history a little bit too on whether you get the first or second pick, third, you never really know how they all are going to turn out. I think eventually it helps your ball club when you can get some of those top guys. I think if you're picking early you're going to get some top players. I think it's safe to say we're going to get some impact players that will help us. We understand what position we're in right now."
Getting the first pick can't play a role in whether you want to win or lose this game, right?
"That's easy to say, absolutely. I said the same thing last week. I've been asked this question a few weeks because we've been in that role. I understand it. We've been trying to win for a long period of time, every game. None of that has changed. That's why there is disappointment in what happened yesterday. We're going to go to work this week and do everything we possibly can to win this last game."
What have you seen from DB Jalen Pitre overall heading into his final game of his rookie year?
"He's been productive. First off, he's made a lot of tackles, and he has missed a lot of tackles. I'm going to throw that in there. The rookie part of that, I'm anxious to see growth when we're missing less. You just look at his intellect on football. That's been obvious too on how he's played. He has ball skills. He's intercepted a lot of balls. There's just so many good things he's done, not just him, so many of our rookie players. I'm excited. I know he's excited about one more opportunity too, and all the guys will be."