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Houston Texans

Transcripts: 9-15-2022 Press Conferences


Opening Statement

"Before we start, Coach (Lovie Smith) is going to update you on Justin Britt tomorrow, so I won't field questions about Britt."

What have you seen from OL Scott Quessenberry and OL Jimmy Morrissey?

"We feel like both guys are very capable. Both guys have been here for the duration of training camp. Like I said, we'll have an update from coach tomorrow regarding the status of our starting center."

What did you see from your running game in Week 1?

"I felt like not just the running backs, just collectively, it's a process for us. We're going to learn how to finish games the way we prefer to finish them, and that's running the football well. There were moments where we felt like we would have a chance to be more efficient running the football and so we're going to clean that up. I've got to do a better job of coming up with ways for us to feature the talents of our backs and give our guys up front the best chance to create double teams and do their job as well."

What more does QB Davis Mills need to do to spread the wealth among his receivers?

"It is intentional on where we are trying to go with the football, but the defense has something to do with that as well. The more we just continue to just come up with ways to feature all our guys, it'll happen. I do think there were opportunities where maybe the progression could've continued and we could've advanced on to other targets. We are trying to get all of the guys involved."

Do you think with DB Patrick Surtain II growing up in an NFL household, it helped him get ready for the NFL a little bit faster?

"I would say yes. I would say that his dad, he also coached him in high school down at American Heritage in Fort Lauderdale. When I was coaching at Michigan, we attempted to recruit (Patrick) Surtain as well, but I think the climate may have factored into that a bit. He's a really good football player. For him to go out and follow or mirror one of the best receivers in the league in the first game was just a testament to their confidence in his ability to go out and play a high level of football."

How do you give RB Dameon Pierce more touches without forcing it?

"We just have to get more first downs. We need more opportunities to just run more plays in general. For us, we want to start faster. We want to finish fast as well. We want to finish the way that we always talk about finishing, and that's with the ball in hand, in a victory formation, but that didn't happen. We started that game, we went three-and-out, missed opportunities on third down for whatever reason and that just affects the overall volume of runs and plays that you'll run over the course of a game."

How much does TE O.J. Howard factor in to the 13 personnel and the offense?

"It really helps us I think as a unit to be able to have multiple personnel groupings that we can use. We were able to go from 13 personnel to four wide (receivers). At times we felt like from the standpoint of the opponent, we weren't sure how much they had planned for both of those personnel groupings. I'm sure if they did their history report, they knew that multiple tight ends were something that we would feature at some point in the game. We were excited to see O.J. (Howard) go out and make some plays for us, some big plays, catch two touchdowns and we feel good about the overall depth and talent that we have in our tight end group."

What helped you to determine that TE O.J. Howard was ready to go from his Achilles injury?

"First off, you have to be able to play without the ball, regardless of what position you play as a skill player in our offense. We wanted somebody that was a willing and able blocker that could also at times release from the line of scrimmage, run routes and make the plays down field. He was able to do that in the first game as a Texan."

Can you talk about his impact and him quickly making an impact in your system?

"He spent a lot of time with our tight ends coach, coach Tim Berbenich. It was good to see that it really didn't slow down or limit our ability to get to the plays that we felt like we needed to get to in those situations where he was on the field. It's still a work in progress. He's going to continue to work to acclimate himself to our system and to all of the things we want to do moving forward as an offensive unit."

What do you expect to see from QB Davis Mills on Sunday going from Week 1 to Week 2?

"I think it'll be a different challenge for us this week in Denver at a stadium that's going to be extremely loud. The fans are going to be excited. It's their home opener, so we'll see. We do expect all of our guys to continue to just gel as a unit. When you look at our unit overall, we have a quite a few young players that are still accumulating reps as players in this league but really just gaining their traction as professional football players. You can't teach experience. We hope that some of the scars that you accumulate along the way are reminders to doing the things that you've got to be successful in this league."

With that being said, what did you like from Week 1 that you want to continue?

"I felt like there were moments when we had a rhythm. We were able to move the ball efficiently. We had a few big plays, but we left quite a few big opportunities out there on the field. Just the overall communication and play speed, we hope that that will improve the more our group plays together."

What do you take away from the two-minute drives and the opportunities you had to win the game?

"It's really just indicative of how little margin of error you have in the National Football League. You come in on Monday and you watch the film and it's always one or two plays that you felt like were the difference in the game. I do think it's an accumulation of opportunities that we missed that got us to the point to where now, at that juncture in the game, it's coming down to one play. We had every opportunity as an offense to close that game out and we didn't. We put our defense back on the field and put them in a tough position. We've got to just continue to work to finish and execute for four quarters."

Early in the game TE Brevin Jordan got rolled up on. Do you expect him to play this week?

"Absolutely. We expect that he'll be ready to go."

Does your gameplan and the structure of your route change at all with the altitude in Denver?

"Not at all and I'm not sure if I would tell you that if that was the case anyway."


How do you prepare the guys for the altitude in Denver and how it affects punt and kickoff returns?

"Me personally, never been to Denver. Never been to the state of Colorado. Excited to feel that for the first time. Understanding how that ball travels relative to net punts or gross punts and kickoffs in that stadium. We'll be ready to adjust on Sunday for depth of the lineman, returners, anything like that."

Since K Ka'imi Fairbairn kicked a 61-yarder last season, how far do you plan to stretch it in that altitude?

"Attempted longer than 61 yards in practice, things like that. Each situation will determine it, will determine how far we're going to attempt a field goal."

Does that change game plan going into Denver and the altitude?

"No, we have our marks. We have a call going into every game. We're going to stick to the things we know quote-on-quote our system on that."

Is there anything you're doing differently on punt or kickoff returns due to the ball's trajectory?

"No. Just have to know that it's a left-footed punter, so have left-footed jugs ready to go for practice this week for of course (Corliss) Waitman. Ready to go on facing a guy that was the same last week, for Matt Haack."

With the impact that DB Tremon Smith has on special teams, how much do you review that?

"We're looking for our gunners in the instance you're talking about from last game. Our gunners who read the hands, hands come up, take your shot, you see a fair catch, got to be ready to throttle and be in position for any type of ball on the ground. That was an impact play. At the end of the day, came up short because we didn't get the fumble recovery. We still want to be aggressive and take those shots when we can. He's done a good job of that so far while being here as a Texan. Hopefully only continues to get better, provides him by good release at the line of scrimmage, matching hang and distance from Cam's (Cameron Johnston) punt, direction and location of the ball. Hopefully creating ourselves opportunities to make those. Then the finish, come up with that recovery next time we get a ball on the ground like that. It would have been a big moment in the game."

Do you feel like you have your own, dedicated team for special teams, like the offense and defense have?

"I do think so far we've done a good job of creating that atmosphere in the special teams room. There is a little bit of a unique strategy and a unique group because we're the only coach that has every player on the team in some capacity, whatever the role may be. Offensive line for field goal protection. D-line for field goal blocks, safe looks. Then, of course, the core players so we're training everybody as a group. I do try and create some sort of atmosphere and culture for the special teams room. Like you said, they're all bought in, dedicated. They're putting extra time in away from their offense and defense studies to be ready to perform what we're asking them in gameplan on Sundays."

Because LS Jon Weeks has been playing in the NFL for so long time, do you rely on him more?

"Honestly, I never shy away from it. When you have inexperiences, like if I haven't experienced playing in Denver, personally as a coach, I'm going to rely on the guys that have been there. This is an open-door policy. Take suggestions, take feedback and that way the team can grow. I can grow. We can provide ourselves with the best foot forward for putting our guys in the right spot. (Jon) Weeks is obvious a good one to lean on. He's been around long enough. The guy's older than me."

How would you describe the culture that you're trying to bring to special teams?

"There's the one we all know, which is special teams is (clap). We want tough, fast, physical guys that are willing to cut it loose, try to embody that a little bit. I myself was not a player. We're playing a special teams coordinator, Dwayne Stukes, he played in the NFL. I'm sure that he's going to be harping his guys on, 'We're going to play faster, play physical, we're going to play better fundamentals.' We're going to say that about our culture too. That starts with me and the way I'm presenting it to the front of the room. It's also about empowering our guys to be in the right spots. Empowering our guys on a weekly basis. This is your opportunity, dialing you up here. Hopefully, when those guys get that and then it works, that's the ultimate conviction to provide those guys with. 'Hey, what coach is talking about, it's working for us. Then we're bought in.' I'm going to continue to try and build that here for the Texans special teams unit."

When you talk about culture on special teams, is there any player on your team that jumps out and comes to mind?

"We feel really good abut our entire depth. You have four linebackers that start the core four. It's going to start and stop with linebackers as far as special teams players at the top of the food chain. Really happy with where all those guys are at. Blake Cashman, Neville Hewitt, Kevin Pierre-Louis, Jalen Reeves-Maybin, four really experienced guys that so far, are off on the right foot. We have to make whatever improvement it is to get ourselves out with a win this weekend in the special teams phase."

Last game, LB Kevin Pierre-Louis almost threw a guy back into lap of the punter. Is that what you're looking for more consistently?

"That's honestly what we're talking about with the effort part. Controlling, winning early in the down. If it's a punt rush, we want our guys to rush hard. If it's a hold up, we want our guys to win with physicality at the line of scrimmage. If it's kickoff, we want them playing down the field with their hair on fire, cutting it loose."

With LS Jon Weeks being older than you, does that create a fun dynamic?

"No, man. He's been great. We're in the same season of life. We both have toddlers, a lot in common. Thankful for Jon Weeks as a football player first, but more importantly a friend. It's been good."


How do you think DB Jonathan Owens and DB Jalen Pitre played together in their first game?

"I thought it was solid for guys that, obviously Jalen (Pitre), it was his first NFL game, first time playing together, solid. Kind of like any Week 1, plenty of things to get better on and look forward to getting better this week."

What are the challenges you face against Denver QB Russell Wilson?

"Good players. Really two weeks in a row, we're facing a future Hall of Fame quarterback, experienced. He knows the game. There's nothing that he sees on Sunday that he hasn't seen before. Obviously, a good decision maker, good athlete, got good arm strength. Really the total package, so we'll have our hands full."

How important is it to have someone like DB Jalen Pitre to play the run fits?

"Jalen (Pitre) is a versatile guy. Really both of them are, Jalen and Jonathan (Owens). Both can do multiple jobs and whatever we need them to do on a certain week, those guys are capable of."

What differences have you noticed in the Colts and Broncos approach to play action and how does Broncos QB Russell Wilson factor into that?

"Something he's (Russell Wilson) always been good at, regardless of what offense or offense coordinator he's been involved with. He's dangerous when he's on the move, when he's outside the pocket. He's always been somebody that can make plays."

In terms of play action pass, do you tell your safeties to stay further back and not bite on the run game?

"We always want to do that. We never want the ball getting thrown over our head. With a guy like him, he does a great job of play action. He's got a big arm. He's always been able to throw an excellent deep ball and they've got guys who can get back there, so we have to be on top of it."

Can you talk about what film studies is like for someone with DB Jalen Pitre after his first game?

"Looking at that first game, really happy with how he handled himself. He showed tremendous poise throughout the game, calm. The moment wasn't too big for him by any means. Easy to communicate with on the sidelines. There's always something to work off of the film. We're always looking at how we can improve our fundamentals, our technique. Hopefully that improves from week to week."

What are those improvements?

"As we look at it, there's so many things that go into the position for him, whether it be getting his eyes in the right position, run fits, pass responsibilities. It's a total package and every week creates new challenges."

What have you seen from the Broncos tight ends?

"They've got a good group of them. I think they've got three, or four if you count back on the roster. Friday at personnel groupings and being about to use those guys, it's a good group and they've got a nice scheme."

After the secondary played over 90 snaps last week, is it a point of emphasis for you to get more rotation in the secondary this week?

"I would say those two guys are ready to roll and as long as they're able to they'll go as long as they possibly can. We feel great about our depth at the position. If that was something that we just had to do, we'd feel comfortable doing it. Not going to do it unless we have to."

HC Lovie Smith and linebackers coach Miles Smith have mentioned that this defense is more than Tampa 2. How do you wish to describe this defense?

"I don't know. I guess other than looking at the film, it's pretty realistic. I think we play a variety of coverages. Each week dictates what you're maybe going to play more of or you've got to game-adjust in the middle of the game to play one thing more than another. It's not just one coverage that's for sure."

Is it advantageous that Colts QB Matt Ryan and Broncos QB Russell Wilson both don't have a lot of preseason experience with their new team?

"I don't know. I just know they're good at what they do. Matt (Ryan) obviously played well last week and Russell (Wilson) put up big numbers last week as well. I don't know if that's helping or hurting them. I just know they've played a lot of football and those guys know how to do it on Sunday."

How do you work with guys on what they should be focused on?

"That was a play that happened fast. Whether you drive to the man or whether you play the ball, those are bang-bang situations. I think he played it right. The ball got tipped and just kind of glanced over his head, but that's the game of football. It's a game of inches and sometimes it goes your way and sometimes it doesn't."

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