Transcripts: 10-13-2021 Press Conferences 

HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY

Opening Statement

"First off before we get started, I wanted to congratulate Dusty (Baker) and the Astros on winning the divisional series and good luck to them in the championship series. As a matter a fact, I say that because last night after Dusty's postgame press conference he said some things about his team that I thought were very, very good that I used this morning in my meeting with our team which I thought were really good about some things that his team as gone through and have responded to things. I thought was really good and was great for our football team moving forward this week. One more thing. On the injuries, I just want to give you all an update here. Laremy Tunsil will be having surgery tomorrow on his thumb. Nico Collins will be coming back to practice this week. We will take it day by day with him, but he is ok to come practice on a limited basis and we will see where he is at. Danny (Amendola) will be on the field today. He's making progress, hopefully, we get him to the point where he is ready to go. Ross Blacklock is on the field, but we are kind of slowing him back in for the conditioning part of it. KPL (Kevin Pierre-Louis) is still not going to be ready to go. He'll be out this week, but he is going through rehab. Other than that, everybody else is ready to go. 

What does DL Charles Omenihu have to do this week to be active and get back in the rotation?

"It's just practice. It's just practice, and how they practice. We always make that decision after a week of practice, especially when you have that many guys rotating throughout the year. We basically, on Friday make a decision based on how we do in practice of who is down and who is up. And for us at that position, we're always having someone down who could be up, deserves to be up but because of the room and the space we are always going to have one guy down that maybe should be up."

Is QB Tyrod Taylor available and healthy enough to play Sunday?

"Tyrod is not available right now."

Does the surgery mean OL Laremy Tunsil is out for the season?

"We are thinking right now it could be four weeks. Not really sure, but that's what we're thinking it could be."

How did OL Geron Christian Sr. do taking OL Laremy Tunsil's place?

"Geron is going to go right at that position and we feel good about that. He knows he's been the backup he's actually backed up both sides. He'll be on the left side and Charlie (Heck) will be on the right side. In this league, the next man up has got to go and he's the next man up."

Do you have any better idea of how much longer QB Tyrod Taylor will be out?

"I do not right now. We are taking it week by week right now. He's progressing very well but he is not ready right now."

Do you expect QB Tyrod Taylor to be ready at some point this season?

"I hope so."

At that point, how do you approach choosing who starts at quarterback?

"When Tyrod (Taylor) comes back and he's healthy, he's our starting quarterback." 

As a coach, how are you balancing the future versus how making sure the guys in the locker room feel like you are doing everything to put them in a position to win with the quarterback situation?

"He (Tyrod Taylor) gives us the best chance to win. He's our starting quarterback. He was our starting quarterback when he went down, he was doing an excellent job, and when he comes back, he will still be our starting quarterback."

Do you not believe in a guy losing his job to injury if QB Davis Mills is playing well?

"No, I do not. He'll be our starting quarterback."

Is there any way we will see TE Brevin Jordan get an opportunity to take the field and get reps with the tight ends?

"That's a possibility, but right now that group of guys is playing pretty well. They've all been very productive, and when his time comes, I know he'll be ready. But that's not yet."

What have you seen from Colts QB Carson Wentz?
"When he's healthy, he's a very good quarterback in this league. In the game, I didn't see all the game when it was being played—I've seen it since then. Obviously, he played very well. Put him in a position to win the game. I know in the past at one point three or four years ago, he was an MVP candidate-type quarterback when he was in Philly. I know why they got him there. He's playing very well right now, and they've been very good offensively. He's been very productive."

With OL Laremy Tunsil being out with injury, is there any thought to play OL Tytus Howard at tackle, or do you want him at guard?

"This week he'll be a guard."

How have you seen DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. in his spot at safety, as well as the secondary overall?

"Obviously, we've had some rotation back there in that secondary, and we'll continue to do that in the secondary. We're rotating them simply because we feel like we've got some guys back there that deserve to be on the field, and the only way to get them on the field is to rotate them. We've had a pretty good combination back there, and we'll continue to do that."

Where is DB Eric Murray at in his progression?

"He's getting better in that role, he's getting better in that role. Eric (Murray) is a veteran player that's been around, and he's adjusted very well to that role."

How do you feel RB David Johnson has adjusted to his role?
"Very well. I think what we've done with David (Johnson) right now is we've found out that, obviously, he's a very 'multi' player from the standpoint of in the backfield and moving him outside. Obviously, a lot of times in the slot position when we've had a slot guy out there, he's gone in that position and been able to do it when we've been in two backs. It's like having three receivers on the field. He's been very good at that, and that's one of his strong suits."

How do you think rotating the roles between all the running backs week to week will allow them to be productive?
"Well, they understand that. Simply to it, the running back position, that position gets grinded up pretty good. I think, too, having three guys that are fresh and being able to do that has been productive for us. Moving forward, I think we'll continue to do that."

What went into the decision for OL Laremy Tunsil to get surgery on his thumb?

"We felt like it was best for him to get it done now to be able to come back and be able to play for us in a few weeks, hopefully."

Being an African American, does it make you happier being a head coach in Houston knowing the other two major franchises also have two African American coaches?

"I'm aware of that, but I never even think about it that way. I think about it as me being the head coach of the Houston Texans. I'm happy to be in a city that the other two major professional sports have African American head coaches, and I'm one of those three. But for the most part, I just look at it as being the head coach of the Houston Texans."
What has been the focus of your meetings with QB Davis Mills this week as you want him to take another step forward?
"Continue to do the things that he did this past week and protecting the ball. Continue to, obviously, be able to make good decisions, which he did. He was put in a couple of tough positions in this ballgame, and he came out of it making good decisions where previously he didn't make those decisions. Basically, the more he plays, the more he gets more comfortable with that. He's seeing things now a little bit better because he is playing. Just want him to continue to do that. I thought Tim (Kelly) and Pep (Hamilton) have done a great job with bringing him along and doing the things in our offense that he's comfortable with. We just want to be able to continue that."

WR BRANDIN COOKS

What kind of growth did you see from QB Davis Mills week to week?

"Like I've said before, he's growing every day, every week and every game that he gets a chance to go out there and play. You continue to see him get better and learn from the little things and come out and practice and work on them. He's going to continue to grow, and he has the right mindset for sure."

What can the wide receiver group do once everybody is available?

"A bunch of playmakers, like I've said before. These guys across the board are making plays, are selfless, and that's what you love about this group. They are willing to do little things to be able to get others open, or block, or whatever the case may be. I'm glad to have Nico (Collins) back and those guys, and we look forward to getting them in the mix."

What does it say to you that QB Davis Mills was so efficient on third and fourth downs?

"I think a little of that comes from the previous game, just learning from those mistakes and taking what you can get. At the same time, being manageable on first and second down, making third down a lot easier, making great reads and making quick reads. You saw that all game from him."

QB Davis Mills talked about how game reps are so important to a quarterback's development. What is it about those reps that make them so valuable?

"Practice, you can work on things that you are expecting to see. But at the end of the day, games obviously can throw you for a loop, and to be able to see some of those types of defenses and the way that they change throughout the game. Just the tempo, really, and the pace. Game reps are always going to be a lot more that you can learn from rather than practice. That's with any group, especially with quarterback."

When you went back and looked at the tape from the Patriots game, what do you think you guys missed in the second half that you were doing so effectively in the first half?

"I'll have to say biting ourselves in the foot with some of those penalties. Like I said, when you can have first and second down, you can be manageable in those and make third down a lot easier. That second half with some of the penalties, getting behind the chains, third and long is a lot tougher to get rather than third and short."

In the long touchdown drive you guys had vs. the Patriots, is that partly due to QB Davis Mills growth in the offense?

"Not only his growth, but our week of practice. I think just from start to finish, Wednesday through Saturday, we're efficient, we were practicing at a high level. I think when you practice at a high level, that tends to roll over to the game."

How great was it for you to see WR Chris Moore go from the practice squad and have the game that he had?

"It was huge. I mean, if that's not the epitome of being ready when your number is called... This guy comes to work every single day, he works his tail off, he gets called up and his opportunity came, and he took advantage of it. It was definitely awesome to be able to see him go out there and make those types of plays."

How tough is it to lose a player like OL Laremy Tunsil?

"It's huge. I don't know exactly what's going on, but if that is the case, it's huge. You talk about a talent like that, I mean the guy is special. He's been playing at a high level since the moment he stepped into this league. But like I just said, with the next man up, when your number is called, being ready. We'll be ready for that."

You all have lost four games in a row but could still win the division. Is that something that you guys talk about?

"We talk about it a little bit, but at the end of the day, we just need to get back in that win column. Obviously, everything that we want is still in front of us, but we got to really focus on one week at a time. The next (team) up is the Colts, and that's what we have to be focused on. We can't get too ahead of ourselves, especially in the position that we are in."

Is this week different because you are playing a division rival?

"Absolutely, no doubt. Any time you have a division game, it's always going to be a little bit different because in this league, the first thing you think about is winning your division. And here we have another opportunity to play a division opponent after coming off a tough loss, so it's very important."

In the Bills game, there seemed to be a decrease in offensive plays in the second half. Once you get into those situations, do you start to realize how much emphasis there is on maximizing minimized plays, and how do you approach that?

"At the end of the day, every play is important. But when you get into those situations, you've got to focus on the little things and being able to get out there as much as you can, stay out there on the field as much as you can, because it's all about finishing in this league. You can start fast all you want to, but if you can't finish and match that same tempo that you had in the first half, more times than not, you're not going to have success."

QB DAVIS MILLS

After watching the Patriots game, where do you feel like you've gotten better, and what will you take from that game?

"Big thing, obviously, just protecting the football. When you're not turning the ball over, you have a chance to win the game when it comes down to it. So, that was the biggest step, just making smart decisions and giving my team a chance."

What do you think allowed you to be so efficient on third and fourth downs?

"I think staying ahead of the sticks. A lot of those were third and shorts, fourth and shorts, so we had a chance. It's tough in those third and longer situations where the defense knows you're going to throw. It's tough to find completions in those downs." 

T*here was a lot of creativity in the first drive. Is that partly due to your growth in this offense?*

"I think we just had a really good game plan going into the game, mixing it up, a lot of different looks, a lot of shifts and motions. We really had the defense guessing, and I felt like we were just moving the ball very efficiently."

What are some of the challenges that the Colts present?

"A lot of talent, really good front seven. We're going to have to handle them and then try to just make plays on the edge. Also, mix the run and pass game up, keep them guessing, like I said. Just got to go out there and execute."

What have you seen from Colts LB Darius Leonard?

"He's a really good linebacker in this league, big, can run. We've just got to know where he's at on the field and be able to handle him accordingly."

Are you more confident going into this game after your performance on Sunday?

"I've kind of answered that question previously. I don't think the confidence is an issue. I think the biggest thing is just kind of learning from my previous mistakes, if there were any in the games like I said there were. Learning from those and just continuing to get better each and every week."

Head Coach David Culley said he could tell you moved on from the interceptions against the Bills when you threw that touchdown pass to WR Chris Moore, saying you would have never thrown it if you hadn't. Do you feel that way too?

"I'm out there in the moment every play. I'm not thinking I'm going to throw an interception. I'm out there making decisions, trying to protect the football. That pass, I tried to put it up where either Chris could have caught it or nobody was going to catch it. I was just going out there trying to make plays."

When you do have success, how do you handle that?

"I think there is power in momentum. I think once you are starting to make plays, the team starts rallying around that and you get some energy off the sideline, some momentum. I think once everything starts flowing, that's when guys are out there having fun and playing really good football."

Can you talk about the loss of OL Laremy Tunsil?

"It's tough. I don't know his entire status. I think you guys probably know a little bit more than I do about that. He's a great player protecting the back side, but I'm sure whoever will fill in for him is going to be ready, coached up by Coach (James) Campen and T.K. (Tim Kelly), and they'll be ready for it."

How do you evaluate yourself after a game?

"A lot of it is first managing pre-snap, making sure I'm getting the offense into the right play. Secondly, it's make sure I'm out there doing my job, handling the Mike points accordingly and then going through my reads and progressions and whatever I see, by rule, getting the ball to the right person."

After a game, do you have a list of plays that you know you are going to look at?

"There's a couple that kind of stick in your head, either the good ones or the bad ones that you kind of want to go and fix. The first chance you have after a game is usually the Wednesday practice. Initially, that's it, but there's usually a couple that stick with you." 

You don't jump into it right away, kind of give yourself the Sunday night?

"I usually breeze through the game on Sunday night and watch the film, but most of the stuff gets cleared up Monday or once we get back on the field on Wednesdays."

How valuable is OL Justin Britt when you're able to talk ball with him?

"Yeah, it's great. The connection and the experience he has with all the different looks, and being able to handle it. The biggest thing with us is just being on the same page, making sure we're seeing the defense from the same set of eyes. Obviously, he has a lot of experience, but in this system, the quarterback has the final say. So, just making sure he's comfortable if I need to switch anything that he sees, making sure he's comfortable with that. But I felt like we've been on a really good page."

As you've moved into the starting role, is there anyone outside this building that you've looked to for support?

"Some of it's just kind of non-football related. Just my family and girlfriend, falling back to them. But all the football support, we have in the building with the coaches and players around me. Everyone's extremely supportive. I felt like we've done well so far."

When Head Coach David Culley said that QB Tyrod Taylor will be the starter when he's healthy, how do you handle that as you go back to work each week?

"I think the biggest thing is just coming in, putting your best foot forward every day, continuing to become a better football player. I'm preparing like I'm the starter even if (I'm) not, but the biggest thing is just putting the team in a situation to win games."

How can the offense get the running game jumpstarted again?

"A lot of it's just execution. Some of it on my end, making sure we're in the right Mike points. There were a couple times in the game where I either pointed wrong or didn't bring the down somebody for support in blocking. Some of it's on me, and then some of it's on just mixing it up, trying to execute a little better."

Does the coaching staff proactively communicate to you if you're starting, or do you just wait until they tell you?

"I'm sure everyone will all be in the loop. We'll know what the deal is when it comes a little closer."

What does the wide receiver group bring to the offense once they are all healthy?

"The room's loaded with talent. Once everyone's healthy and everyone's out there able to perform, it's going to be exciting. We're going to be able to make some plays."

DB JUSTIN REID

What are your thoughts on your brother not having the opportunity to play in light of Jon Gruden's comments in the email that was released?

"I want to say that I'm surprised, but I'm not. We knew that there was stuff going around the league like that happening with him, so it is what it is. He's ready if that opportunity ever does come."

What have you all thought about the game plan now that Colts WR T.Y. Hilton is coming back for the first time this year?

"Doesn't really change much, honestly. The game plan is to play the defense, play the system that they run. They play a lot more Philadelphia plays with Carson Wentz being there than they did in years past. We're just going to play our keys. I don't think that T.Y. (Hilton) will be a big emphasis knowing that T.Y. has notoriously done well against the Texans, but it is a different defensive system. We're going to play our keys and see how it goes."

W*hat have you seen from Colts WR Michael Pittman Jr.?*

"I like him. I like watching his tape. He's a big guy, he's physical. I think he's a good receiver."

How much have you seen DB Lonnie Johnson Jr. grow into his role, and what does the defense get when you are both in the game?

"We said this since the beginning. His biggest thing when he first moved to safety was just getting experience (after) being a corner his whole life. He's grown in the role, and he'll tell anybody, 'I'm a safety now, not a corner.' He's done a great job there, has the ball skills from being a receiver back in his high school days and things like that. I think that the coverage is great when we're both out there because we both have the ability to play man and be interchangeable that way."

How hard is it to move from cornerback to safety?

"It's really a mentality. The cornerback position, you're a little bit more on an island. You're out there, really it's all coverage. When you play safety, you have to be willing to get your nose dirty. You have to be willing to go in, play in the box, hit a fullback, hit a tight end, guys that weigh sometimes 30, 40, 50 more points than you do. The biggest responsibility is sure tackling. It's just a mentality thing and it's a willingness to make those tackles."

What have you seen from DL Jonathan Greenard as a pass rusher and run stopper?

"Last week, he had a great game. He had a great game. I was excited to see it. He blew the running back up on that one play whenever he twisted inside. Had a big time sack when we needed it at the end of the game. That's something that I know opposing offenses are going to have to watch out for, keep an eye on him, especially as he continues to do that. It was big time plays that he made."

What have you seen from Colts QB Carson Wentz?

"I don't know. I'm still trying to figure him out as I watch the tape, honestly. I know that he is an experience quarterback, he's talented, he knows what he's doing. They're playing a lot of the system. I'm still trying to figure him out as far as his biggest strengths and weaknesses, and how to attack them. But right now, everything's neutral."

As one of the team's leaders, how do you keep the offensive and defensive players motivated during this losing streak?

"Well, the benefit of having such a veteran team is there's a lot of leaders. It's not just me, myself. It definitely makes it easier when there are multiple voices all saying the same thing, as far as staying positive, staying in your keys, not letting the record splinter relationships or divide the locker room. The guys who are still here from last year, there's not many of us. The guys that are still here from last year, we know what that looks like when the locker room starts to fall apart. Right now at this point this year and where it was last year, it's completely different stories. The locker room has definitely held together much more closely this year, and we've just got to keep plugging away and have it show up on Sunday."

When did the locker room fall apart last year?

"I don't know. When your head coach gets fired, that's when it feels like it starts to process. It's not like it happens overnight, it's just a slow creep in."

Away from the locker room, who do you turn to when you go through adversity like you are with this losing streak?

"Honestly, I try and dive into it. I try and look at myself. I spent every day this week going and talking to our defensive coordinator, just watching the tape, seeing whatever I can do to help the team more. I have a brother who played in the league, so he knows how this goes, too. Sometimes we'll just talk ball. I'll talk to my agent. I even called my former coach at Stanford, Coach (David) Shaw, and talked to him about it, too. So, I have a lot of people in my corner, and I'm fortunate for that."

Did you get a chance to talk to Ryan Clark?

"Yeah, I talk to R.C. (Ryan Clark), too. He's a big mentor. I train with him every offseason. He's played for a long time, too. He gives me some good advice at times, too."

Do you have a preference of playing back or playing close to the line?

"I kind of do like playing back more. I like playing both of them just because it's kind of like a different flavor of the day, you never get bored just being in one spot. I do like being back more, but I'm confident and able to play in the box, and it's fun to do it sometimes as a changeup."

After having conversations with Associate Head Coach / Defensive Coordinator Lovie Smith, what are some things you need to work on to be better moving forward?

"There's always a way to be faster reading the run keys, as far as not taking a false step, just heading straight downhill. There are reads in the post, as far as how we're shifting, and our disguises and how our feet are working. We want to be just stout across the board. Not to get too much into the details of what we do in the back end, but it's just the little things. Those little things, football is a game of inches. If you can find a way to steal two or three more inches, whether that's a read step or key, or how to read something faster, it might make all the difference in the world between making a play and not making a play."

How huge would a win this week be for you all in the division race?

"Absolutely, it would be enormous because we would be 2-0 in the division. The quickest way to the playoffs is to win your division. This is a divisional opponent, an opponent that we know well. They know us well as far as franchise-on-franchise. (It's) going to be an exciting game to go play in."

Will it be an advantage for the Texans since you have so many new players?

"Yeah, it is a little bit closer to an out of conference game than it has been maybe the last couple years on their end. Possibly for the guys who haven't been here, too, because it'll be their first time seeing them as a divisional opponent. But the coaching staffs still know each other well. Coach Frank (Ross) came from the Colts, too. We still have a lot of connections that go in between the two organizations."

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