HEAD COACH LOVIE SMITH
"I guess you could say it was good to get back on the practice field. We're not doing a lot of practicing this week. More walkthroughs as much as anything. That part is good. Realize the game is coming up quickly. Really excited about having a chance to play against an undefeated NFL team this late in the season."
Are you guys going to trade WR Brandin Cooks?
"If there's someone we're going to trade and we trade them, then we'll talk about it then. Brandin (Cooks) wasn't out there today. He was excused for personal reasons."
What kind of communication do you have with WR Brandin Cooks?
"The same kind I have with everybody else. I talked to Brandin (Cooks) today. When I say a guy is excused for personal reasons, I never talk about something personal we are talking about behind closed doors, like all players. I've had conversations with most of the guys each day. Brandin is no different."
Have the Texans received offers for WR Brandin Cooks?
"You understand that if we did, we're not going to talk about that in here. I think most of you know that. You know that I can't and wouldn't answer that question. The trade deadline is coming, correct? So, all teams are talking right now. When there is something, some information we think that you need to get, we'll get it to you. What I'm up here for today is talking about – you guys watched practice out there today. I thought you would want to talk about that."
When it comes to trades, how important is it for you to make sure the Texans are receiving something fair?
"Players in general are on our football team. They have a role. Brandin (Cooks) has a big role for us. He's one of the best players on our team. It's as simple as that. It's the reason why he's on the team. We like him here."
Do you think his current role in the offense has led to some speculation about his status with the team?
"I can't speak for Brandin (Cooks) on that. We have a gameplan. We try to get as many of the guys as possible in it. It's as simple as that."
How difficult is it for the offense to gameplan going up against a defense as good as the Eagles?
"I think it's tough. But before adding another good defensive player (DE Robert Quinn), there's a lot to game plan against. When you're an undefeated team this late in the season, additional guys that you get just make it that much harder. Excellent football team in every area, even without adding a great defensive end that's been a great player in the league for a long time."
How would you handle WR Brandin Cooks coming back into the locker room if he remains part of the team?
"I don't live in that world of hypotheticals, what ifs. Do we like Brandin (Cooks)? Yes, that's obvious. Any more than that, Brandin is a part of our football team. So what else is there to say about it? To start searching what else could possibly happen later on, years from now. That's just not part of where we're at right now. Believe it or not, we're playing the Philadelphia Eagles this week and our attention is to that, get a gameplan ready to go for that. Any other agenda, that's not what I'm up here for right now."
You do understand why we're asking though?
"I understand. You understand that I'm not going to address all those too."
With 10 games left in the regular season, how do you keep the team positive?
"How many games? It's just that. There's a lot of football left to go. I say probably more teams are disappointed in their record right now asides from the Eagles and a few more, most of us are searching for momentum, good things to happen. That's why we're excited there's that many games to go. That's where we are. How do we keep them up? They're excited. We've got a Battle Red game coming up, national tv audience, against an undefeated team. That's enough to get everybody on our football team really pumped up."
With the Eagles good secondary, how do you plan to get WR Brandin Cooks the ball more?
"That's what we're going to try to do. You talk about the production, we need production from our running game. That will help the passing game and then the receivers that we throw the ball to after that. We have a lot of different options, Brandin (Cooks) being one of them."
How hard is it to contain a dual-threat quarterback like Eagles QB Jalen Hurts in the pocket?
"It's hard. He's maybe the most improved ball player in the league this year. What he can do, there's a lot of good quarterbacks that can throw it, but he brings so many more things to the table. Keeping him in the pocket, I think for us, it's better keeping him in the pocket. In the past that's what we've all said. I don't know if that's necessarily the case. Just know right now, he's been pretty accurate in and out of the pocket. Yes, if he gets in the perimeter, that's a tougher duty. He's been tough with what they've been doing. I think their offensive scheme is tailored to him also, similar things he was able to do in college. The RPO game with him running it has been pretty special."
Do you think it's more motivation for Eagles QB Jalen Hurts to be playing at home in Houston?
"I definitely think guys are really excited about it, to have a chance to come back, hometown, close to home. That is always special. Every player that you talk to would say that. We're not into homecoming, so we don't want him to have a great homecoming coming back."
How can you get QB Davis Mills to play like he did against Las Vegas and have that consistency?
"I don't know if anybody has figured that out completely. I think that's what you go through with all young quarterbacks, inconsistency. That's hard once you cross that. Eventually though, what I've seen, the good one's cross that plane. First, you need to be able to get some good games and then you start to try and stream more of those together. I think we're on that path, can't wait. But so much more goes into a quarterback having a consistent game. I'm talking about running game going, defense playing better, so many other things that we need to do as a football team before we can really say exactly what Davis (Mills) has been able to do, how consistent he's been from week-to-week. It was tough going against that last team that we played."
QB DAVIS MILLS
What are your thoughts on the WR Brandin Cooks trade speculation?
"Hasn't been here. He's been out for personal reasons right now. That's all I know. He's a great player. Any speculation, that's probably better for Coach Lovie (Smith) or Nick (Caserio). All I've got is that's he's a great player and I love playing with him."
You got to work with WR Brandin Cooks in the offseason, have you noticed any change from now until then?
"No. When he's here, he's fully bought in to what we're trying to do and to try and win games."
What are some of things you need to improve on week-to-week to stay consistent?
"Big thing we always talk about, especially in preparation, is trying to create a routine. Have a check list of things you need to do to prepare any given week. Make sure you watch all the film, check all the boxes so you're prepared for the game week. It's a little different going into a Thursday game having a short week. You kind of just have to cram a little more. The way we knock everything out, you still have a little time for it. Some concepts will carry over, some of the things we didn't use in the previous week that we've been repping for a while. You can fall back on those, some of your base install plays to have confidence in that regard just so we can go out there an communicate and play fast. I think it's kind of difficult for all teams on a short week to go in and install too much. Too many complex things, but we'll be ready for it and we're excited. Big thing, just setting up that routine to make sure you're prepared for any given week."
Did the absence of WR Nico Collins affect things last week?
"I wouldn't say it was a drastic change in what we were trying to do scheme-wise. Obviously, we need to replace Nico (Collins) and we did that by moving guys around and switching in personnel groupings. Overall scheme-wise, I don't think him being out changed what we were trying to do. We just didn't execute the way we wanted to. Kind of played behind the chains. A lot of what we did in that Vegas game, we were moving the ball early on first and second down, getting us into third and manageable and we were able to run plays that we had schemed up for that week. This past game, kind of shot ourselves in the foot a little too much and were playing behind the chains. In this league, it's tough. It's not very forgiving at all. When you can't be efficient early on, it's tough to go out there and score a lot of points. Trying to switch that up this week, be efficient on offense and move the ball around the field."
What are some things you can do to get started earlier on downs?
"Even the on the last drive of the game, we had to convert a fourth-and-6. We're still using all four of the downs. It was still a struggle to move the ball down field at that point. Obviously, they were a very talented defense we played last week so I've got that game circled later in the year to maybe change up some things and change the outcome. Yeah, I felt at the end of the game we we're able to be efficient. I extended some plays with my legs and found some guys down field. Kind of the two-minute mode. Don't have to think much. We were able to go out there and play free and try to make a play. That's what we did. Wish we could've done that sooner in the game."
How challenging is it going to be to prepare for the Eagles defense?
"A ton of talent scattered all over the field. Preparation doesn't change. Their scheme isn't super difficult. They will mix in a couple of blitz packages that are tough to see if they're trying to bring in some Cover-0's. We've kind of made some adjustments if we're going to see those, how we're going to adjust to it and what we're going to do to combat that. Other than that, it's any other week. We're focused on what we need to do to go out there an play faster on Thursday."
After watching the film on Sunday, what are some of the areas you need to improve on?
"Just being efficient. Staying above the chains or out in front of the chains, not putting ourselves in third-and-long situations. That kind of kills drives."
What is the difference between the offense this year and last year? Do you feel like there is continuity?
"Somewhat. Big thing last year that we've kind of got rolling better this year is the run game. Last year, we were playing from behind a lot and it kind of forced us into those passing situations, so a lot of guys had a lot of catches. Whereas this year we're still trying to emphasize the run game. We know we can do it. We have really talented guys in the backfield who are running the ball, and we have a really talented offensive line who are gritty and moving people out of the way to get downhill on runs. Still emphasizing that. The play action game will come off that, so we'll get chunks, but it's not going to be spreading the ball around the whole game like we had to do at some points last year."
How can this offense find success when the run game is not working?
"We even talked about it this week. I don't want to share too much, but just finding ways to – if you can't run the ball, take easy completions and kind of utilize, 'Okay, hey, an efficient run on first down is four yards.' If we can do that getting the ball out onto the edge. For the offense it's the same thing. Just moving forward second-and-short, third-and-short and keeping the chains moving. Just finding ways to keep moving the ball down the field and scoring points. That's what we're focused on."
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