HEAD COACH DAVID CULLEY
"First of all, before I get started, I just want to recognize that today is October 6, Founder's Day is today. Celebrating the life of Mr. McNair, founder and senior chairman of the Texans. Mr. McNair's influence and leadership brought two Super Bowls to this city. He's been inducted into the Texas Business Hall of Fame in 1997, and then in 2010, the Houston Sports Hall of Fame. He passed away on November 23, 2018 at the age of 81. But his family, including his wife Janice, his sons Robert McNair Jr., wife Kate, Cal McNair and wife Hannah, daughters Ruth Smith and Melissa McNair, ten (granddaughters), five grandsons and two great grandsons were his biggest blessing. In 2019, the Texans announced that October 6 would be designated as Founder's Day. Each year moving forward, the organization will celebrate Mr. McNair's incredible legacy and tremendous impact on the community by participating in a service day moving forward on this day, and today is that day. I just wanted to recognize that."
Can you tell us about your decision to release WR Anthony Miller?
"Basically, we're always looking to do the best things we feel like are best for our football team. We feel like with Danny (Amendola) coming back, we feel like he's going to be ready. It's the same position. With the way we are and the way we're structured offensively, there's only room for one of those guys in that position. We feel like that's the best thing moving forward that we needed to do."
How much does establishing a culture with veteran players factor in when making a decision like this?
"Well, it really doesn't factor in from a standpoint of the veterans. Basically, you go back and you sit down and say, 'Okay, moving forward, what's best for our football team with where we're at at this point?' And we felt like at that position, with the way we're playing that position and how it fits in our offense, that that was the best thing to do moving forward. We also felt like keeping Anthony (Miller) around, we're only going to have one of those guys up active each week at that position. It really didn't make sense to be able to have that and not be able to have a guy up active."
Do you think this team has enough talented receivers to compete, especially with a rookie quarterback in QB Davis Mills?
"Yeah, it's not a lack of talent. It's just a lack of us being able to execute. Obviously, not having Nico (Collins) out there, we miss him, but for the most part, no, it has nothing to do with a lack of talent. It has something to do with how we've executed. We haven't executed very well up to this point. We haven't played very well in our pass game, which has a lot to do with our running game. But no, it's not a lack of talent. It's just a lack of us playing better."
Do you expect WR Nico Collins to be available after next week?
"I'm not really sure yet what the timetable is right now. I know it won't be this week or next week, but hopefully after that."
Will DL Ross Blacklock be back this week?
"I don't believe, because of the COVID protocol, that he'll be ready to go this week. I think he would be eligible to play this week, but the fact that he's come off COVID, not being able to have practiced. To be able to put him out on the field right now, I don't think would be good for him."
With WR Danny Amendola coming back from injury, what are your hopes for him?
"To continue to do what he did when we had him here. We were actually, in those first two ballgames, pretty decent on third downs. Obviously, that's where he's been used a bunch in that position. The big thing that's happened to us lately is that we've been in too many third down and long-type situations. If we can get our first and second down offense going the way it should be going, then when we get in a third and manageable situation, he's been big for us there. And that's what he was prior to getting hurt."
What have you seen from Patriots QB Mac Jones?
"Obviously, he has a good release. The thing about him is the reason he can get the ball out quicker is that he's learned more now. He's more comfortable with things now. Again, but what happens though, when we're in third and long-type situations and we're trying to push the ball down the field, you end up having to hold it a little bit longer. You end up stressing out the upfront people with those kinds of things. Obviously, in that particular situation, he's learning that just because it's third and long and if it's third-and-12, you don't have to throw the ball for 12 yards to get a first down. Get the ball out. There's a clock that goes off in your head. Growing pains right now with him is finding out when that clock is going off and getting that ball out."
Why are you hesitant to spread the field out and use more wide receivers to get the ground game going?
"Well, if we start playing better and doing the things and not having holding penalties that put us behind the sticks, first-and-10 to first-and-20, we had four of those in this past game, which has a lot to do with being effective running the football. We're not the kind of football team that can overcome those types of things. I don't know very many football teams that can overcome those things. But the way we're built is that if we play the game the right way, we eliminate the penalties and not have those kinds of penalties—I talked earlier about the pre-snap penalties. It hasn't been the pre-snap penalties, it's been the holding penalties, it's been the 10-yard penalties now. Penalties that are happening during the plays where we're getting positive yards and then getting backed up. Those are the things that we've got to get better at, and I think our run game will improve because of that."
Have you thought about abandoning running back by committee and going the old fashion way?
"No, we think that they all three have a spot back there. I'm not sure what Rex (Burkhead)'s situation is going to be right now for this week, but I think all three of those guys have different ways of being able to help us offensively. Again, I go back to (how) we've got to quit getting penalties, and if we start to be more consistent and not get in those things and get behind the sticks, that we can do what we did the first game-and-a-half of being able to be effective running the ball."
How much do injuries have to do with TE Pharaoh Brown's lack of productivity or is it the change in quarterbacks?
"I don't think it's the change in quarterbacks. I think it was the fact that he wasn't playing as good later on as he has been, as he was playing earlier. Not just him, but other guys also. When one guy on the offense, we talk about being 'one-11th', when one guy on the offense is not doing his job, it affects everybody else's job. Whether it's the quarterback, the line, the backs, the receivers, it affects everybody's job. Sometimes in certain situations it affects other guys job more than others especially if it's a pass play where a guy is wide open doing the field and a guy misses a block or a guy makes a block and a guy doesn't uncover, those things are all part of that. We just haven't been consistent enough in doing that and that has nothing to do with our quarterback."
You say it has nothing to do with your quarterback. Have you noticed a higher percentage of mistakes or penalties in these last two games than you did in the first two?
"I've noticed a higher mistake of the holding penalties in this last game, and again, I think that has something to go back to us fundamentally. Usually when offensive linemen are holding, they are holding simply because they are too high, they are late getting off the ball, those kind of things. And that's fundamental things, that's coaching and that's were we will spend moving forward in making sure those things don't happen. When I say we go back in the video, 'Why did this happen?', 'This happened simply because you were not doing the right thing, you weren't playing the way you should have been playing and that's us coaching. We got that corrected, we'll get that corrected and moving forward we will be more consistent."
That's not related at all to who is playing quarterback?
"No. That has nothing to do with who is playing quarterback."
How valuable is GM Nick Caserio?
"Well everyday we are talking. Nick and that staff are always looking, just like all teams in the league, everyday they are always looking to see what's going on in the waiver wire, see what's happening with guys getting released, see if any of those kind of things would work with us and vice versa. But that's an everyday thing and sometimes when those things happen you kind of look to see if you could help your team to get better and if you can, you try to make move and sometimes you necessarily can't do that."
What do you feel like this week will be like for GM Nick Caserio and his history with New England?
"Oh, with New England? There is no question that having him in the building, he's got 20 years of knowing exactly how they do things. They are not doing anything different now from before, they just don't have number 12 at quarterback."
What are you looking for from QB Davis Mills this week, so he doesn't have another performance like last week?
"Ball security. Understanding that your job is to protect the ball and when you go back to pass, an incompletion is ok if the guy is not there, you don't have to make a play. Again, that's from being inexperienced and being young, but at this point right now moving forward as our quarterback, that's something that he has to get better at quicker and faster. If he does that and understands, the same thing about taking a sack, there's a guy down there throw the ball incomplete, throw the ball at somebody's feet, throw the ball out, those kinds of things. That's were he's got to grow faster and I think I will see that happen in practice with him getting the ball out and having a little bit more pressure and not taking a sack and not throwing the ball when feel you need to make a play. That's part of growing."
Is there a fine line between coaching and scaring him?
"You can't scare this kid. You can't scare him. Most rookies going through what he went through on Sunday, you would really concerned but I'm not concerned. I see the same look in his eyes, he comes and prepares the same way, we've sat down and we've talked one on one on what we need from you, what's expected from you for us to move forward and for us to have a chance to get this offense to where it needs to be."
What's keeping TE Brevin Jordan back from contributing to this team right now?
"Really nothing, it's just time. The guys that are in front of him we feel like are doing the job and I think at some point there may be a time were take a look at him and I think it could be coming."
Do you anticipate RB Rex Burkhead back this season?
"We anticipate him back this season. This could just be a week thing. We are taking it day by day with him."
What did RB Rex Burkhead do?
"He had a hip injury."
On a personal level, how important is it to have those one on one moments with QB Davis Mills?
"Very important. For first of all as our quarterback he needs to understand to understand what the job is, he does understand that. He also needs to understand this is how the job needs to be done for us to be what we need to be. Is there pressure on you to do that, sure it is you play quarterback, that's part of being quarterback in this league. For him to be back there and for us to do what we need to do, he has to do those things. We've had one on ones, we've had one on ones every day this week about those kinds of things. Basically to assure him that we still got his back, he's our quarterback, we are going to move forward with him but he's got to play better and we are going to play better with him."
QB DAVIS MILLS
What do you think about QB Mac Jones, and were you able to get to know him throughout the draft process?
"Yeah, Mac (Jones) is a great dude. I actually did my combine training together with him down in Mobile with David Morris. I got to know him a little bit in high school through the camp circuit. He's a good dude. He's been successful so far. Obviously, both teams have the same record, but I think he's handled their offense really well and he's progressing."
How hard is to prepare for one of the greatest defensive minds in Patriots Head Coach Bill Belichick?
"I'm excited for it. We've already started preparing, watching a lot of film and kind of getting a feel of how they're going to try to defend against us. I'm looking forward to the challenge."
What did you learn about yourself from reviewing last week's game tape?
"I think the biggest thing from last week is just emphasizing protecting the football. I thought I might have forced a throw or two that obviously didn't end up well. Just being consistent with making smart decisions and putting the team in the best place to win the game is my job, and that's what I need to keep focusing on."
Did Head Coach David Culley talk to you about knowing when to get rid of the ball on third-and-long situations?
"When it's third-and-long, it's tough playing behind the sticks in those kinds of must-pass situations. The defense knows what you need to do, and it's easier to stop in the situation. I've talked to Coach Culley just about making smart decisions with the football. It's never a bad thing to throw a completion in front of the sticks and punt on fourth down, and play the field position game rather than trying to force something and making a bad decision with the ball. Talked about that, talked about sometimes incompletions are okay, or throwing the ball away or taking a sack, if the situation fits, to protect the football. All those things, just being smart with the ball because you can't play losing football and still win the game."
How do you balance taking care of the ball and not being too conservative?
"I think it's kind of feeling the ebb and flow of the game. You've got to take what the defense is giving you and something will pop, something will open up and you can take advantage of it as the game goes on."
Do you still feel confident after a rough game, and how do you take stock?
"Definitely. I've always been a confident person. I think from last week there was a lot to learn from, and I'm glad I kind of got some of those things out of the way so I can learn from it and hopefully improve from it going forward."
In what ways does the pass game open once the run game is working?
"A lot of it is just they have to play with a tighter front seven, rotate a safety down, play with more man coverage, and it opens it up for the receivers to just win their matchups. The defense can't really apply any help coverage where they're double-teaming people and making it hard on the passing game. I think if you have complementary football in both the run game and pass game, it kind of balances it up where you can do both efficiently."
What do you have to do to keep your job when QB Tyrod Taylor is healthy?
"Not really a huge comment on that. Obviously, I'm just going to put my best foot forward every day and do as best I can to hopefully win games for the team."
Has QB Tyrod Taylor been helping you while he is out?
"He has been, yep. He's still in all the meetings working through the game plan and the installs with us making sure we're, as a team, best fit to win the game."
Offensive Coordinator Tim Kelly talked about opening up the playbook for you last week, are there still plays that have not been instilled into the offense yet?
"I don't think that's to big of a focus. I think we are installing what we need to install to win the game this upcoming weekend. I think there is some exciting stuff going in that it doesn't matter who's playing quarterback that we are going to run and it's going to be good."
Head Coach David Culley said you guys have had a lot of one on one conversations this week, how has that relationship helped and what have you taken away from those conversations?
"He's been great. Just constantly giving me confidence, kind of telling me that there is a reason they brought me here to Houston and are looking forward to my potential, I just got to continue to learn from what I've been doing out on the field and grow from it. Like I said I was talking about some of the stuff, protecting the football, playing winning football, you can't shoot yourself in the foot and still win games. So, just limiting the risk of the game and as a quarterback put my team in a position to win the game."
In your mind what is the formula for this team with the schemes, players you have for you guys to win?
"I think that Head Coach David Culley is right, just everybody executing their jobs. You can't make mental errors, you can't take penalties, pre-snap penalties because it's tough to play behind the sticks. I think if everyone just goes out and does their one-11th, does their job, I think the wins will come."
How much of your mistakes to do you attribute to stuff you haven't seen before or that you're going up against better athletes in the NFL?
"I don't think it has anything to do with the talent, either on our side or across the side. I think some of it is seeing some different looks for the first time and being able to now compartmentalize them, put them in my memory and being able to not make the same mistake twice."
You were just getting familiar with WR Anthony Miller and now he is no longer with the team, how hard will it be with getting familiar with WR Danny Amendola coming back into the lineup?
"I don't think it's too hard getting familiar with Danny. He's been really consistent with what he's put on tape here with the Texans so far, in practice and what I've thrown with him during and after practice. He's out there to work, I even got some reps with him today. He's going to be in the right spot. He knows the system, he's played in the system before with other teams. He's going to be a good target this weekend."
How are you able to stay even keeled throughout this entire process even after what took place on Sunday?
"I think the big thing, I've always kind of learned I've been an even keeled person my whole life and you can't let the situation get to big. I like to try to remain humble. The biggest thing is I'm playing for my teammates, I'm not kind of focused on myself to0 much. I'm just trying to do the best I can for them."
Away from the field did you get a chance to talk to Coach Shaw after the big win last weekend?
"Not yet. I talked to him before the game, but I need to reach out to him and share the congrats."
DB TERRANCE MITCHELL
Besides the result how did it feel getting back there?
"It felt good to be back playing with my teammates, you know playing football. I love it, so it's always good."
How did you feel about the shake up in the secondary and having DB Tavierre Thomas out there in the middle?
"It's the NFL, we all here for a reason. Our mentality is always next man up, and we feel everybody that's put in a position can make the task and handle their business."
What's the mentality and confidence of you guys after a 40-0 loss?
"Well they have an old saying, 'Yesterday's news doesn't mean anything in today's paper.' You know, it was a game, things happen we just have to get back to work. We're real confident in what we do, we stand together, our coaches are great, we are all good and we'll be back."
What was that second quarter like for when they are knocking on your doorstep so much and you only allow three field goals?
"It's just football, complementary football. As a defense we just kept working hard, trying to do what we can, executing our plays and just holding them."
You've played against a lot of quarterbacks. You go against QB Josh Allen and now you are going against QB Mac Jones, can you talk about the disparity of those two guys?
"Like I said, everybody in the NFL is capable, some guys more than others. I won't overlook number 10 (Mac Jones) because he might be pretty good. We just got to go in there and play honest and treat him like any other quarterback."
What have you seen from DB Lonnie Johnson Jr?
"Lonnie Johnson's a baller. He's raw."
QB Mac Jones likes to release the ball quickly, how closely do you guys have to play considering how they like to play?
"We just got to be sticky just like any other week. Rushing coverage and work together. We just have to go out there and execute and do our job."
Do you expect the Patriots to run the ball more?
"Well you know in the NFL things change real often. They might come with something else this week but we just going to be prepared for everything,"
What do you think of the Patriots wide receivers?
"They are pretty good. It's the NFL, everybody got talent. You can't sleep on anybody. Just have to be ready to go."
Do you think you guys will bounce back?
"No doubt, no doubt. Tough times don't last, tough people do."