Transcripts: 10-11-2021 Press Conferences 

HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY

Other than turnovers, what did QB Davis Mills do in this game that was so much better than Buffalo?

"Going into the game that was the most important thing for him. From that point is what we were going to do offensively, we started running the ball right away and we gave him some throws like on the outside of the perimeter where he could feel things and see things better and he did that early. He just did what our game plan was. It was to keep him comfortable and once he got comfortable, he got really comfortable and we got in a good flow offensively. He executed our offense perfectly for the first three drives we had."

If a guy hits a couple of those early throws, do you start to see the confidence grow that he could keep doing it?

"There's no question. I think one throw that I feel like and this happened with Tyrod (Taylor) earlier with Brandin Cooks, the one he threw to Chris Moore. The guy is covered but he's outside the pocket and he's giving the guy a chance to make the play. If there were any hesitation at all with him, he wouldn't have made that throw because he would have been thinking about an interception. But he knew, and we've preached this all the time, 'Give the guy a chance to make a play if it's one on one,' and he did that. Chris (Moore) went up and made a play. We end up getting a touchdown and I think his confidence level went up from there. So, he came back later on and did the same thing with a couple of other throws."

Will QB Tyrod Taylor come off the IR this week?

"I don't think so. Not really sure yet."

This is the third game were there were multiple special teams mistakes, how do you evaluate that now and how do you fix it?

"The big thing was we got to play better from the standpoint of our guys doing the right things, especially, first and foremost, in our return game. We haven't got much out of our return game yet and that's not just our returner. That's just with the guys doing the right things. We've moved some guys in and out of there doing that. Just like we did on defense trying to find the right combination of who the right guys are on those special teams and we got to do a better job of doing that. Now, going back to the field goal and the extra points, he's (Ka'imi Fairbairn) our kicker. He missed them. He's got to make those. The punt thing, initially when the punt thing happened, I thought maybe it was penetration that got the punt blocked. He missed the punt, it wasn't penetration. He actually miss hit the punt and the punt went into one of our guys. So, it wasn't a thing up front, it was something were our guys where our guys, our kicker didn't do his job from a standpoint of being able to do those things and our punter did the same thing on the punt. It wasn't our special teams not doing the right thing, we just didn't execute, and they didn't get the job done and he didn't make the kicks." 

Was P Cameron Johnston's distance not far enough back from the line when he kicked the ball?

"No, it has nothing to do with the distance. He missed the kick. The kick went off the inside of his foot. When you look at it closely, the kick went off the inside of his foot. He did it practice three times, and everything was perfect." 

How impressed are you with how QB Davis Mills put behind him what happened last week and was able to come back and have the kind of game you guys were looking for out of him this week?

"In order for us to have a chance to win every week, when he's our quarterback, that's how he has to play. He understood that. We had conversations all week about, 'Look don't worry about what's happened in the past. We're going to have a game plan right here that's very good and solid for you. Upfront people are going to do their job.' Yesterday, for the most part, they did their job. I think for the first four series we had the ball we end up getting scores. Playing the game, the way we really want to play the game, I think we had the ball for 10 minutes, the guys made plays during that. We had one penalty throughout that time, but it wasn't a major penalty. It was a penalty that didn't really get us behind the chains and then he came back and made some plays. I thought on the fourth downs with him, when we made those throws on fourth down that gave us so much more confidence on our offense knowing this guy can get it done for us."

Do you have an update on OL Laremy Tunsil and are you concerned he may have to miss an extended amount of time?

"Not really sure yet. We will have to wait and see what the situation is on it. We don't know that yet right now."

Do you think OL Marcus Cannon will play again this year and the back will calm down?

"I hope he does, but it's a serious thing that he's got. He's a tough guy. Basically, he probably could have played this week, but in order to keep him for the long haul and keep him through the season, whatever we needed to do to get him right we needed to do it now. Placing him on IR was the right thing to do for him in order to get him back later."

Do you think you should have accepted the penalty on the final Patriots drive?

"I should have declined the penalty. If I had to do it over again, I would have declined the penalty."

When you were discussing the decision yesterday you mentioned that they passed, which helped you. What pass were you talking about?

"Well it wasn't a pass. I was thinking it was a pass. What ended up happening is that during that time I thought the clock got stopped. I had actually stopped the clock with a timeout and then I had no more timeouts left at that point. But again, if I had to do it again, I would have allowed them to score and then later on in that series, we had talked about allowing them to score. One of the reasons we didn't allow them to score the second time when they ran the ball is this team (New England) early in the year against Miami had fumbled a couple of times down there. Their backs had some trouble holding onto the football. We had already gotten one punched out. Our defensive staff felt like, 'Look, there is a possibility that we could get one punched out.' We didn't get it punched out and then again, I should have allowed them to score."

When you made the decision to accept the penalty, did you think you still had a timeout left?

"No, I knew we didn't have a timeout left. But our defense, we felt like the next thing we could do was to be able to possibly get a fumble or get the ball punched out, and then that didn't happen."

In your conversation with Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith, did the defense think they could get the turnover?

"They felt like we could, they felt like we could. As a matter of fact, on one of those runs, a guy almost ended up getting the ball pulled out. It wasn't pulled out. Their back did a good job of holding it. We felt like that was a good chance to do that, and we didn't get that done."

Five games into the season, how would you self-evaluate yourself as a coach so far?

"Well, we're 1-4. That's not what we expected. I've got to do a better job of making sure on those kind of decisions that I put our football team in the best situation to have a chance to win. Yesterday, whether we would've had a chance or not, the way our offense had played when we were doing things right, to give them more time to be able to have a chance at the end of the game to score a touchdown to win, would've been the best thing to do for us."

In the past, the Texans were slow starters and played from behind. Now you guys are starting fast but struggling in the second half. What do you think are the reasons for that?

"Well, again, I'm going to go back in the second half. We were doing okay right there until we had the punt block, which gave them a situation (of a) short field to be able to score. And then all of a sudden we were moving the ball, and that drive where we missed the field goal, we end up having a penalty right there that we overcame. But we've just got to, in those particular situations, just make sure that we stay above the chains. And again, I felt like we were fine, and I felt like this: when we attempted the field goal, I felt good about it. Again, I called a timeout right there because I was not going to go for it. But it was either going to be a punt, or give him a chance to make a field goal. At that time, we made the decision because Frank (Ross) felt like we were in his range. He had made one, he had made one. We had felt like we would give him a chance to make it and give us a two-score game, and that didn't happen."

Do you anticipate WR Danny Amendola being able to play this week?

"We hope so. He was close this week, but by Friday, we felt like he needed to get another week to be able to get ready for us."

With the way this roster is built, does it feel like you almost have to be perfect to win games?

"I don't think we have to be perfect, but we have to be more consistent than what we've been. When you're 1-4 and you look back and you see why those things happen, you look back and want to say, 'Was it the team you're playing?' That hasn't been the case with us. It's been us, we've been the enemy sometimes. Just like yesterday, for example. A lot of those miscues that we had wasn't because of what they did, it was what we didn't do. We've got to just get better and continue to do that. We were in a ballgame yesterday that we could've very easily have won. They made the play in the end to win the game, and we didn't put ourselves in a situation to do that. But I feel comfortable moving forward that we've just got to keep becoming more consistent and not be the enemy."

How do you think DB Desmond King II played at cornerback, and how is the secondary?

"I feel comfortable with where they are right now. We feel that's the best group for us. Do we need to play better? Sure, we do. But we feel like those guys are getting better and better, more comfortable with each other. The communication is much better back there. We had some (miscommunication) early in a couple of ballgames. We haven't had that right now, simply because we feel good about that."

How much credit does Passing Game Coordinator / Quarterbacks Coach Pep Hamilton deserve for QB Davis Mills' transformation?

"I think our football team, more so than anything, with the way we play when we're playing well, gives you a very good chance of being successful. We know he's a very mature kid for a rookie. Pep (Hamilton) obviously had a rookie before he came here. The kid (with) the Chargers, and he did a nice job with him knowing how to deal with a rookie quarterback. Having that experience with a guy like that has been very, very good with Davis (Mills). As long as we keep playing well, I think Davis will keep getting better and better and better."

What is the next step from QB Davis Mills that you need to see?

"Well, just to get us in the end zone when we need to get in that end zone more. I go back to, speaking of that, we were first-and-goal on the plus-two yard line yesterday. (We) got a chance to really put the game in a situation where we're really in control and had the momentum. I'm going to go back to, again, you're talking offensively about the consistency. We end up getting a false start. So, we go back to the plus-seven. It was a big difference from the plus-two and the plus-seven, first-and-goal. Then we go second-and-goal at the seven to, we get a sack and we move back. That should've been seven points for us, which will end up putting the game in a whole, big different light for everybody, for how they play us and how we play. And again, it goes with the inconsistency in what we're doing, and that can't happen. Again, I'm going back to penalties. I wouldn't be sitting here talking about all of this stuff had we did the things that we're supposed to do in those particular situations in that kind of ballgame, when it's that close."

Where do you guys see LB Zach Cunningham with his status with the team and his role going forward?

"His role has been for us, first and second down is where he's most comfortable. When we get into the nickel-type situations, we feel like the people that we bring in in those particular situations fit us better in pass defense. But he's been doing well since he came back from the one game he didn't play. He's playing well. We need to be playing better. He's a heck of a player, and expect more out of him as well as the other guys that are playing around him."

How do you absorb the in-game decisions you've made through the season and go into other decisions you will have to make?

"Well, you learn from those. What we do on those situations, too, is we end up sitting down with our entire football team and our staff, and we'll watch those situations and say, 'Okay, this is why I did this. This is what I should've done, and this is why we should've done this.' And we learn from that as a team, and we hope that when we get in those situations again, we'll be prepared to do those."

TE ANTONY AUCLAIR

When was your last regular season touchdown?

"2016 at Lavar University, I scored a touchdown in the national championship. So, that was my last time. Five years ago."

Can you tell us about the play from yesterday, and what the play call was?

"I was supposed to run a corner, and on my way to the corner I was supposed to pick the guy that was covering Pharaoh (Brown). Really, that play was designed to throw to Pharaoh in the flat. I just saw nobody was covering me, so I was just staring and I hoped that Davis (Mills) saw the same thing, and he did. So, we scored on that play."

Are they going to start designing more pass plays to you now?

"Maybe. I'm just trying to do my job, and we'll see what happens."

You are known for your blocking, but how did it feel to get a chance to score in an NFL game?

"My mentality every year and every game, really, is to go in there and do my job. If they ask me to block, I'm going to do that as best as I can. If the ball gets thrown to me, I'm going to try to catch it for sure. I don't go into a game trying to get five catches, because I know that's not really a thing for me. I'm more of a blocker. But every time you get a chance or an opportunity like that, you've got to make it."

As a tight end group, what do you guys add and what kind of style do you notice this offense is trying to play?

"I think we're trying to be a team that runs the ball well, and I think that fits my skillset. That's what I try to bring to the team. I'm an aggressive blocker, a strong guy. That's what I'm trying to be, and if I can't help the team doing that, then it is what it is. I really like my job here, I think it's a good fit. I think I fit the group, too. We've got (Jordan Akins) who's a great receiver, we've got Pharaoh (Brown) that's a complete guy, and we've got this new guy, Brevin (Jordan), that is trying to get better every week, every day, and he's doing a great job. So, for me in this position right now, I'm trying to do my job, be a great blocker and also be a great leader for Brevin to get better every week, and maybe someday he's going to be a great guy, a great receiver."

You're often matched up with defensive ends and outside linebackers one-on-one. As a tight end, how do you prepare for that?

"They say tight ends, half are O-line, half are receivers sometimes. I feel like I'm more on the O-line side, and trying to be big and strong. Sometimes you get beat up in games, and those defensive ends get paid, man. Sometimes on pass pros, it's a tough block. I try to do my best and help the team, for sure."

What improvement did you see, other than not turning the ball over, from QB Davis Mills?

"That guy's a tough guy, man. That loss in Buffalo was a tough loss. He always stayed calm, and I think you don't see that from a regular guy. Coming off that bad loss and then coming out firing in that first quarter. I think he played great. If you look around in the NFL with all those first-rounder quarterbacks that are starting right now, they don't have that many wins. I think Davis (Mills) is doing a great job right now for us, and he's only getting better. I think the communication amongst the offense got better last week, and that's part of it. And also, confidence-wise, Davis, I thought he was very confident in that game. He played well."

Playing for the Buccaneers and winning a championship, what are some things you took away from that and use in your game now?

"I was with Gronk (Rob Gronkowski) more as a tight end. I think that the preparation mentally, physically and doing all the little details outside of football to prepare himself for games and stuff, I think is off the charts for sure. I was trying to do that. During this offseason, I applied some of these things to my game, and I think that's showing right now. Because last year I had a bad injury, I pulled my calf. I was out half of the year, and then I never came back 100 percent. I think that was part of it, in my preparation and all that. So, I learned from these guys and I try to apply that for myself."

Did you ever play hockey?

"You know, that's crazy because I'm Canadian, right? I don't even know how to skate, to be honest. I know it's weird."

How did that happen?

"I just played football growing up. We played football in the snow, which was kind of cool because we could play contact. But never really went into hockey that much."

In the winter when all your friends were looking for ice, what did you do?

"I was trying to play football with them, but sometimes hockey took over. That was sad, but it is what it is."

What do you think of the weather here now that you've been here for a while?

"Every year I live the two opposites. I was in Tampa the last four years. Tampa's about the same weather, maybe less humid. And then I go back home in the offseason and it's cold, so I'm like, 'I don't know.' My body gets used to the heat, and then I've got to get used to the cold again. Then when I come back here for training camp, it's the other way around. It's tough, it's tough."

You mentioned being half tight end, half lineman. Were you a lineman growing up?

"No, I was a quarterback growing up. I was really skinny. I had to put weight on, but yeah, I was a quarterback. I always understood the game, the reads and stuff, why we do a certain concept, what are we trying to get there. I think that's a huge part of my game, because I think I'm a pretty smart player because I played quarterback. In a concept, I try to know routes and why we're doing that."

Were you a CFL fan or an NFL growing up?

"I was both, really. I grew up in Quebec, so Montreal was the closest team. I always loved Montreal, but I was a huge NFL fan, too."

What have you seen from TE Brevin Jordan in practice that he will be able to bring to the team when he gets a chance to play?

"I think Brevin (Jordan) is a great receiver. Some things that people don't know is Brevin can block, as well. He's becoming that complete guy, and I think he's an explosive guy, as well. I think when the time comes, he's going to be ready, and he's going to be ready to be explosive, for sure."

OL CHARLIE HECK

How do you think you played this week?

"I thought I played pretty well. I mean, there is always stuff you can improve on. So, throughout this week we are going to look at the film, we are going to correct the mistakes. Getting out there for the first time, kind of adjusting to the speed of the game, it takes a little bit, but I felt I did pretty well out there."

Why do you think you guys have struggled to run since beating Jacksonville?

"I think a lot of it is we are being our own enemy. We're not really able to get into a rhythm because of penalties, pre-snap stuff, lining up wrong. I think once we eliminate that we will be able to really get into a rhythm and get the run game going."

How much does the p*ulling support that?*

"I think that's a big part of our offensive run game. We want to get big bodies out in space and when we are able to do that, get us out in space, that opens up things in the run game for us."

Could you tell anytime last week in practice that QB Davis Mills might play the way he did against New England?

"He played unbelievable, I thought yesterday. As a rookie to be able to shake that off a poor game, I'm sure that he thought against the Bills, and be able to go out and execute, correct all of this mistakes, it really showed he played a lot older than just a rookie yesterday."

What about him allowed him to get over the Buffalo performance and come back like this?

"I think it really has to do with him having confidence in himself, knowing the type of player that he is, being able to shake that off and move onto the next week. I think that's really important in the NFL."

Can you take us through that sack in the second half where they had two linebackers in the center and kind of overloaded you?

"That just comes down to communication up front. We could have picked that up if we communicated right. We had the numbers, we have thrown hot. So that just comes down to pre-snap communication with us."

How comfortable do you feel playing the left side if need be?

"I feel comfortable. Throughout college, I was a right tackle and left tackle. Last year kind of throughout the year, I was switching back and forth. So, I would be comfortable wherever they want me."

Were you wondering when you started the preseason and OL Marcus Cannon moved in, if you'd get another chance this quick to start again?

"I mean it was awesome having Marcus with us. He was somebody I've really looked up to. He's done such a good job in this league for a long time, so it was always fun kind of picking his brain, watching how he practices, kind of how he really is as a pro. It's a long season, so I was always preparing each week like I was going to start."

What did you guys think when TE Antony Auclair got in the endzone?

"That was awesome. To cap off, I think it was an 18-play drive, in the endzone, that's what you really what you want to do as an offense. So, that special for him, special for all of us."

Is TE Antony Auclair an honorary offensive lineman?

"Oh yeah. He really helps us out. He makes our jobs easier when he's in there blocking."

What are some of the tips that OL Marcus Cannon has shared with you that can help you this season?

"Something that he always does, because he's had such a long career, he sees some things that he would do early on in his career that I would be doing. So, he says, 'These are things I wish I had somebody kind of helping me with when I was younger.' So, he's been able to do that for me, seeing little things in pass protection or the run game that I think will go a long way."

The Colts have a good defense, what does QB Davis Mills need to do to and what do you guys need to do to sustain this?

"He needs to be himself and I think he did that yesterday. We have all the confidence in him. We need to make it that he has all the confidence in us that we are going to communicate well, make the right IDs for him and not kind of pull back good plays that we have with self-inflicted wounds."

DB LONNIE JOHNSON JR.

How do you feel now that you've had more time at the safety position?

"Just finally getting my opportunity out there, just taking advantage of it. Definitely feel comfortable, getting used to it and trying to make plays for this team."

What about free safety suits you?

"Just give me free range. Get to use my talents and my abilities, get to look at the quarterback more. I say the main part is the free range."

Do you like the fact that you play a lot of zone and can keep your eyes on the quarterback?

"Oh yeah, I'm pretty sure everybody on this defense likes that. Get to look at the quarterback as much as possible and make plays on the ball." 

At what point leading up to Buffalo did you u*nderstand* they were going to make this change?

"No, I didn't have a clue. Control what you can control. Just go out there and take advantage of when you're out there. So, that's what I am trying to do."

What is it about Associate Head Coach/ Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith's system that is allowing you to have a breakout season?

"He just has ways and things he goes about turnovers. He wants to get as many turnovers as possible for the offense. It's our job to go out there and execute it. It's simple, it's not complex, just go out there and execute it and fly around."

What does the defense get out of you and DB Justin Reid being on the field at the same time?

"They get that evil twin magic again. We go out there and Justin's flying around, I'm flying around. You saw he took a pick from me this game. He definitely owe me. Just both of us are ball hawks. We both out there flying around so I can't be mad at him. He was trying to make his money too."

DB Justin Reid said, 'last week it was about damn time you got your first pick.'

"Yeah, it's about damn time. It was about damn time."

Safeties Coach Greg Jackson said during camp he wanted you to play up and back. Are they still trying to get you to play up in practice or are they letting you focus on free safety and playing back?

"I can do both. It's not really a big deal, for real. I'm pretty sure they want to get J-Reid (Justin Reid) some reps at free. I don't mind splitting it at all. We can both do the same thing."

The Patriots were finding some space in between, where was that space opening up on your guys end?

They just hit a couple of quick throws. They got a rookie quarterback, so they were just trying to get him started as quick as possible. So, quick seams, quick little digs and stuff. I think Lovie (Smith) did a good job at halftime adjusting to it. So, onto the next game."

Speaking of the next game, how does the team move forward after being so close yesterday?

"We just got to go into the film room and flush it. Watch film and correct our mistakes and then go out there this next game, it's a divisional game, go out there and try our best to win that game."

Going back to Indiana, are you leaving some tickets and what are thinking about as far as friends and family and all that?

"If my family that I got in Indiana say they want to come, then I'm not to really focused on who coming and doesn't come to the game. Honestly, I don't care."

What was the wait for that first interception like?

"Just have patience, I learned that in my life, just got to have patience, can't rush nothing. It's all God's timing. Just compete every day, find someone to compete with every day. I compete with Justin (Reid) every day. We tied right now for interceptions, so we will see how the rest of the season goes."

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