OC PEP HAMILTON
How did you come up with the idea for the two quarterback system? Do you feel like it worked?
"We talked about it as a staff. Just what can we do to give us a spark, to really help us on first and second down. Just to create conflicts for the opponent, create conflicts for the defense. To find ways to run the ball so that we can stay out of dreaded third-and-longs. It was good to see both Davis (Mills) and Jeff (Driskel) go out and at times really do a good job of executing the offense."
Can you talk about the collaborative effort that the quarterback room has been through this season?
"If you go back to the preseason, we were able to just find ways to use the quarterback as a plus-one at times. Nevertheless, when Jeff (Driskel) played in games in the preseason as well as this past game, he was able to go out and executive the offense. I think he threw five or six passes. It's something that from week-to-week, when you're studying an opponent, you want to find ways to try and create some conflicts and put our guys in the best position to be successful."
What did you see in regard to improvement in the run game when QB Jeff Driskel was in?
"I think not just when Davis (Mills) was in the game, it was times when they bold up inside and did a pretty good job of clogging those interior gaps. We just have to continue to do a good job of mixing both perimeter runs and interior runs, finding ways to just get the guys the football in space."
How much does it hurt you not having RB Dameon Pierce? What can RB Dare Ogunbowale and RB Rex Burkhead do to fill that gap?
"Dameon (Pierce) was one of the best in the league at creating his own yards, so that will be a challenge for us to replace that production. Nevertheless, both Dare (Ogunbowale) and Rex (Burkhead), they're pros. They've been around for a while, and they understand that it's their time to step up and make some plays."
Why do you think WR Chris Moore was able to be as effective as he was?
"When you give guys at this level an opportunity to go out and make plays and you feature them at times, when you have that talent, Chris (Moore) is very talented. If you look over the course of the past two seasons when his number has been called, he's been making plays. He was able to do that this past Sunday."
What did it take to get WR Amari Rodgers involved in the offense?
"Amari (Rodgers) really put the time in since he's been here with coach Ben McDaniels, just studying the offense, understanding formations. We always challenge our guys to be able to first play without the ball. It was refreshing to see Amari go out there, and the moment wasn't too big for him. He just went out there and made plays. I have to admit, I had my fingers crossed."
What are some style differences and similarities with RB Royce Freeman and RB Dare Ogunbowale?
"I would say probably more so Dare (Ogunbowale) and Rex (Burkhead), when you look at just that maneuverability inside the interior gaps, those guys are going to be able to create their own yards."
What did you see from WR Brandin Cooks in his return to practice?
"He looked fast."
At what point did you need to reach use two quarterbacks?
"Teams were starting to pack the box against us, and so one way to counter that is to — and we tried to do in the previous week. We had a third-and-2 at the Browns, and we ended up not having a clean exchange, but that was a similar scheme to some of what you saw against the Cowboys. It's not something that we haven't incorporated from week-to-week. It's just Jeff (Driskel) brought a different element once he decided to pull the ball and become a runner."
Do you feel like QB Davis Mills has progressed since he played a few weeks ago?
"I think fundamentally he was better. We talked about this last week this time. Just going into, it was all about really anchoring at the top of his drops, having good posture in the pocket, so that he can react and relocate and respond when the pocket was starting to get noisy. You saw that he was able to anchor. His feet were not hardly as noisy as they were in previous weeks, and he got the ball out on schedule."
What have you seen from OL Laremy Tunsil and how's he's been able to stop guys like Cowboys DL Micah Parsons?
"We didn't expect anything less from Laremy (Tunsil). He's a hard worker. He's smart. He's tough, and he is I would say the leader of our football team."
Is a quarterback's feet being less noisy something you look for?
"Without a doubt. We have to get the ball out on schedule. Get the ball into the pass receivers, the (running) backs, get the ball into their hands in the passing game immediately after they make their breaks and give them a chance to run after catch. Davis (Mills) did a really good job of doing that this past Sunday."
How much more could you do with the two quarterback system?
"We'll see. We're just brainstorming ways to feature all our playmakers."
SPECIAL TEAMS COORDINATOR FRANK ROSS
"Kansas City Chiefs, so with their special teams coach (Dave Toub), you guys already know this, but he has coached with Lovie (Smith). Man, what a resume as far as the return game has gone for him. All the different players that he's coached and brought up. So, taking non-returners and turning them into electric players, or guys that don't have as much experience or history. Toub has done an incredible job. There's nobody better. We have our work cut out for us on Sunday. To eliminate the return game with Isaiah (Pacheco). There's a guy who essentially a starting running back and a starting kick returner. You look at the players he's developed and brought along. The kid from South Dakota Jack Cochrane. He plays as fast as they come as a core coverage player, and the reason (Tommy) Townsend has been so good. Yeah, he's a really good punter leading the league in net, but the core coverage has been fantastic. Guys like Cochrane, guys like (Leo) Chenal, guys like Jerick McKinnon as the personal protector. You have (Bryan) Cook, the kid out of Cincinnati who is starting at wing for them has been fantastic. Very, very savvy. He's an instinctual player for a rookie. Then you look at (Chris) Lammons playing the gunner and having a disruptive mentality playing with speed down the core on kickoff and on the perimeter for punts. So, we've got our work cut out for us. We've got to find a way to make a difference in the game and eliminate any explosives from that dynamic return game."
How do you approach DB Tremon Smith's role on special teams while he's playing more cornerback on defense?
"There's definitely going to be some movement around. To be honest, we have to get it ready by Sunday, working through who can take what reps from all the special teams perspective. You saw last week, there was movement throughout the game. Chris Moore taking gunner reps and downing the ball on the one (yard line). Things like that. There's going to be movement throughout the game. What that might look like in sum on Sunday will definitely change with the flow of the game, depending on who's being used the most. Yeah, we have our substitutions that we're going to be working through, but if this guy needs a blow, we have our second in line ready to go. So, Tremon (Smith), there will be some movement there starting at corner."
How does it feel when you see core special teams players have success on offense or defense?
"We're excited for any Texans making big plays, of course. It definitely has a special place for you, especially as a special teams coach when those guys are getting their chances and making the most of their opportunities. You know, I try to stay level-headed and just give them a high five or a pat on the helmet because I want him to go out there and keep playing ball. But man, I was raving. Super excited for Tremon (Smith). I want him to continue to do that. I would say the only thing is my dry sense of humor, I walked up to him and said, 'Don't forget about us now. Please come back and play on special teams and stay hungry with that Texans special teams attitude.' Anytime guys like that go make plays, great, they are coming back. Like Chris Moore. How about that game on offense? Coming back, gloves off, put him right in the mud going running down on what ended up being a critical downing of a punt. Need to continue to have that throughout the entire core unit."
How do you assess the special teams performance against the Cowboys after letting up a punt return against the Browns?
"We found out we have a chin. You can take some shots, and we're going to deliver our own. That still stings, giving those big plays up. We have a higher standard, and that can't ever happen. When it does, you've got to keep going forward. Great, we had a solid game against Dallas. We were able to find a way to make some plays, some difference making plays. But it doesn't get easier. We've got one of the best team in the whole NFL, as a whole three units – offense, defense, special teams. But when you refine it down to the kicking game, it's one of the best special teams units in the NFL. Their punter is leading in net. Yeah, they have a gunner in (Chris) Lammons that is playing, but look at the backside gunner. They rotated six different bodies through there. Practice squad elevations, different players going out there, wide receivers. You're looking at a special teams coach that uses a fullback, three tight ends, wide receivers and running backs in their core. I mean, we have four and five linebackers, playing defensive guys. So, he knows how to get guys ready, and for us to be able to go out there and answer the bell again, we've got to have a tough chin this week and make sure we can take some shots and still continue to pound and go."
How do you balance your special teams needs when the injury report continues to grow?
"First off, you have to train your team to be multiple. Be ready for depth. It happened in the game on Sunday, it's going to continue to happen. What is it, Week 15? The question is can we prepare players on a weekly basis to step into roles that maybe they're, not inexperienced, but haven't taken a ton of game reps at. Making sure on our end we're sweeping those corners as coaches just to make sure we're prepared for all answers. That is going to happen, but we live in a special teams world. If you've coached the last preseason NFL football game as a special teams coach, you are used to changes and adversity. I don't want to say it's new, we just have to be on our P's and Q's and be ready to go for that in game."
What do you think of your special teams unit ability to get takeaways?
"Yeah, gosh that's a blessing to have takeaways in the kicking game. That's the goal, the emphasis. If you get a takeaway that's a monster change of field position. It's not like it's just a fumble right there at the line of scrimmage. It's 40 or 50 yards downfield. First and foremost, Tremon (Smith) down there forcing the fair catch and making the returner adjust in space, feeling him and then still having to track the football leads to a muff. But you've got to be down there ready to cover it up. How many times have we seen the ball on the ground, and they just fall on it? We always preach that if you're down there and the ball is on the ground, front that thing up so we can be the opportunistic part of that play and that rep. He (Blake Cashman) was down there, he's shown it the last few games and needs to continue to do that. He can run. You saw the big – once the gunner took his shot against Cleveland, he cut vertical and then there was Blake to give a big clean hit there. That continues to show up. He can run in coverage. We need to continue to have him sound in protection and getting down field to the point of attack. He's been great. Happy that he's going to be around, and hopefully we continue to get him to grow into bigger and more pronounced roles while he continues to make plays."
DL COACH JACQUES CESAIRE
In the past weeks what have you seen from the defensive line?
"The guys have just done a good job of being locked in on the gameplan and doing exactly what we ask them to do. They have been penetrating. They have been rushing really well. They've been getting hits on the quarterback. Obviously having guys like Maliek (Collins) in there, Roy (Lopez), Kurt (Hinish), Book (Thomas Booker), that's really helped us out. It's good that those guys are pushing the pocket, defensive ends are squeezing the pocket and we're getting the things we're setting out to do week in and week out."
What's it with DL Ogbonnia Okoronkwo that stands out?
"Ogbo (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) is just – he's energy, pure energy. If you look at him, he's always got a smile on his face. He loves the game. You can tell he really loves the game. The way he rushes, the way he attacks the line of scrimmage. He's not the biggest guy on the field, but he's got the biggest heart. He's a guy that you trust and rely on each play."
How is DL Jonathan Greenard looking?
"We're taking him day-by-day right now. He's been working in with us, and he's been doing a really good job. For a guy like that, we're just taking it day-by-day for him."
DL Maliek Collins said he found his niche after sitting out a few games. What do you think that is?
"I don't know, but I want him to keep finding that perspective. He's been playing outstanding. This is probably the best ball I've seen him play in a long time. Just the way he's penetrating right now. The three technique is one of the most important parts of our defense. The things that he does out there you can just tell the difference in the run game and the pass."
Do you think you've seen an improvement in DL Maliek Collins?
"I just know that when he's in there, he does exactly what we need him to do, play-by-play. To have a guy like that, a solid rock in the middle of your defense along with Roy (Lopez), Kurt (Hinish), Book (Thomas Booker), Taylor (Stallworth) as of lately. It's just really good."
What do you admire most of DL Maliek Collins?
"His leadership. He's a leader in the room. He's a leader on the field. He helps me out a lot. We constantly talk and collaborate all the time. We bounce ideas off each other. He comes up, we talk pass rush, we talk games, we talk everything. He's just a guy that you sleep well at night knowing he's on your side."
Can you give me an example of DL Maliek Collins' leadership and conversions you've had?
"That's for me and Maliek (Collins). What I will tell you, is we'll go out to practice and we'll talk about something from the system that we both like. He'll say something, 'hey, did you see when the guy did this? Maybe we can get this on him. That's a good idea, let's take a look at it. Let's practice it and see how it looks on tape and then we'll go from there.' It's just collaboration right there. I always tell the guys, I don't work for them, I work with them. It's about a collaboration without ego. I'm not sitting there saying, '[stern yelling].' They have great ideas. I have great ideas. We mesh them together and we go out and play football."
What are you trying to get out of the nose tackle position and the guys that play that position?
"Those guys have been excellent. They've been stout at the point of attack. They do a great job of shedding and making plays. The plays that they're supposed to make, they make. That's what we need those type to do. They get great pocket collapse on the quarterback. You can't ask for more than that."
What all the challenges that QB Patrick Mahomes brings to you group?
"He's a dynamic player. One of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, he's won a Super Bowl. He's very, very experienced. He's very slippery in and out of the pocket, and he makes all the great throws. He has a great arm. It's going to be a tremendous challenge for the guys. I know that we're always us for any challenge."
What did you observe from the Broncos vs. Chiefs game this past weekend?
"We always look at what everybody does out there. You have respect for any defensive line that's applying pressure on any quarterback in the league. We look at everybody, not just one specific group. He's going to pose some particular challenges, and we've looked at that, and we've come up with our plan of how we're going to try and stop him and slow him down. It's going to be a good slugfest."
Do you and Chiefs defensive line coach Joe Cullen share the same philosophy and how Taylor Stallworth fits?
"Got a lot of respect for guys like Joe Cullen, Eric Washington and the things that they've done in this league. The system that we have as far as a penetrating front in concerned – Taylor (Stallworth) came in and did a tremendous job right away. He understood his role, and he did his role perfect for us on Sunday."
On the matchup with Chiefs OL Trey Smith
"Across the board, they're one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. It's going to be a tremendous challenge, and our guys are up for the challenge."
What are some of things DL Ogbonnia Okoronkwo showed early in the year to prove that he needs to be out there more?
"This game isn't promised to anybody. It doesn't owe anybody anything. If you get one shot, you better make it count. And anytime we put Ogbo (Ogbonnia Okoronkwo) in there, he made it count. That consistency developed into him becoming a starter, and you're seeing that consistency now from him."