DE J.J. WATT
What do you think about Anthony Weaver as the defensive coordinator? Do you anticipate being used any differently under him? Also, what do you expect from DE Charles Omenihu going into his second season?
"I love Weave. I think Weave is an incredible coach, I think that he's a great man, I think that he's going to do an unbelievable job for us as d-coordinator. I think that he has a great mixture of knowledge of the game, experience, but also personality to be able to handle the players in the room , to be able to inject some fun and excitement into meetings, practice and everything, all while bringing the knowledge necessary to run a good defense. I think he's done an incredible job with the d-line so far in doing those things, and I think he's going to do a great job as d-coordinator. Then Chuck (Charles Omenihu), I think Chuck is working hard. He wants to make a big jump this year and that's his goal. I know that he's putting in the work to do that, and I'm looking forward to seeing him progress."
With two years left on your contract and no guaranteed money left, do you want to sign a contract extension this offseason?
"No, I don't think that's necessary. I fully understand and respect the situation that I'm in at the moment and what's happened in the past few years, so I'm not going to sit here and demand anything because I'm going out there to prove what I'm worth, and I believe that's the right situation for everybody. I think if I went back and asked for an extension, more money, anything right now, I think that would be the wrong move. I'm just going out there and trying to prove my worth and to help this team win games and do everything that I can to earn and make sure that these people know that I'm worth it."
How are you feeling after coming off of the pectoral injury, and how much does wanting to win a Super Bowl still drive you to train and do all that you do?
"I feel good. I mean, that's the goal, that's why we're here. You play the game to win the Super Bowl, that's the goal. That's the driving force. It's among many things, obviously, but that's always number one, is to help your team, help your city get to that game and to win it. For me, motivation is not hard to come by. Whether it's just personal intrinsic motivation every day, training, trying to get better, trying to compete against yourself, whether it's competing on the field against other players and other teams, whether it's finding motivation whatever way you need to. There will never be a shortage of motivation for me."
Do you expect there to be a full NFL season, and what do you think about the possibility of playing with no fans?
"I have zero information on if it's going to happen, if it's going to happen on time, whatever it is. I don't have any information on that, all I know is I'm preparing like it's going to happen on time like normal, and I'm getting ready for training camp just like it's going to happen at a normal time. As far as fans or no fans, obviously we always prefer to play in front of fans. We love our fans and it makes the game – the energy, the excitement, the adrenaline – it makes it what it is. But at the same time, as an athlete and as a competitor, you can play in front of no fans. We want to go out there and compete. It doesn't matter if it's a practice against another team, it doesn't matter if it's a practice against your own team, it doesn't matter if it's in the weight room against yourself. You're always looking to compete. It doesn't matter to me if there's fans or no fans. I would prefer fans, I would love there to be fans, but if there's not, there's not."
How good is it to still have Associate Head Coach Romeo Crennel there? Second, DT Ross Blacklock talked about what it meant to be able to play with you and his mother said she learned her football IQ from watching you play. What do you think about that?
"It's great to have RAC (Romeo Crennel) around still. I love RAC. I've always said it, I've been very fortunate to have a guy like Wade Phillips early in my career and a guy like Romeo Crennel here these last few years. Those two guys are just incredible people, incredible minds, incredible experiences, and I've been very fortunate to be around them, to learn from them and to grow with them. We just finished up a Zoom meeting right now and at the end of it he gave us his little words of advice and wisdom and we were having some fun. He's just such a great guy. In terms of Ross Blacklock's mother, I never thought I'd get that type of interview question, but if I could help her understand football a little better and raise her IQ, I'm glad I could do that. I'm looking forward to meeting her at a game here in the near future, and I'm looking forward to, at some point, having a dinner at the expense of her son, so that'll be great."
Do you feel like the organization has done everything it needs to win at the highest level possible while you've been with the team?
"That's why people have jobs in those positions. That's the coaching staff, general manager's, the front office, that's their job. My job is to play the game and do it to the best of my ability. I have to answer to my job and they answer to their job. That's my job, I go out there and I play the game and I try and help us win football games. They try and put the team together that they feel is best for us to win football games. We each answer the bell to our own calls."
Have you talked with Defensive Coordinator/Defensive Line Coach Anthony Weaver about if he would like to use you differently, or will you be playing in a different capacity?
"We've talked about it all. Weave (Anthony Weaver) and I talk all the time. we have great conversations and we definitely have some exciting plans. I like what he has planned for the defense, I think that he's going to bring some new things, some fresh things while also building off of some of the things that RAC (Romeo Crennel) has taught him over the years as well. I'm really looking forward to it. I'm not going to sit here and divulge exactly how I'm going to be used and what our playbook is going to look like, but I am looking forward to playing in Weave's defense."
Has there been any advice you've been able to give the rookies with you going through the lockout your rookie year?
"Having gone through this type of offseason in 2011 where there were no OTA's, no minicamps, stuff like that, I do have a little bit of experience to lean on there. The thing that I've said is as long as you're training and doing what you need to do from a training standpoint, a running standpoint, getting yourself into the physical shape necessary for training camp, you'll be able to hit the ground running once training camp starts. This situation we actually have a little bit more of an advantage in that we have the Zoom meetings, we can go over the defense with the coaching staff. They can implement it and we can all talk to each other through that. So that is an advantage, but on the flip side of that, the disadvantage is it's hard for guys – in 2011 we could kind of meet as position groups or as an offense or defense, you could learn the plays and go over them and practice them together. Right now we're still kind of working through if that's entirely safe to do, if we should be gathering on our own, if we shouldn't, because we obviously want to get together. We prefer to work out together, we prefer to go over plays together, but at the same time we have to be smart about the guidelines and making sure that we're doing everything safe as well. We're kind of balancing those things just like everybody else, I think there's a lot of uncertainty and we're just trying to wade through those waters and make sure we do it right."
How was the time you got to spend with your brothers and the rest of your family?
"It was great. Obviously, like you said, the circumstances aren't what we would want to be under, but just spending that much time with my wife, first of all – she would normally be up in Chicago right now, obviously playing a season. So we would've been apart for a good chunk of time there and we instead got to spend that together after getting married, so that was really nice. Then my brothers, being able to see them and hang out with them as well was great. I think that's one of the silver linings you can take from all of this. It's obviously a very unfortunate time for us, but if there is a silver lining it's the amount of time that we get to spend with, in my case, my wife, my dogs, my brothers. It's not exactly how the first few months after marriage would look from a honeymoon perspective and traveling the world, instead quarantined together and figuring out who's going to do the dishes and who's going to do the laundry, but it was exciting and we really enjoyed it."
What has the process been like for your new show "Ultimate Tag"?
"It's really been wild. I mean, the concept came so far back, a couple of years back now when it came to me at first. Then we kind of developed it, built it, brought my brothers on board and you go through all these phases of designing and building a show, and how you want it to look and how you want it to perform. The whole time you're doing it, you hope the audience is going to like it in the end, and you have no idea. That's with TV, with ratings and everything, you have no clue how it's going to go. So, now for us to have premiered it last week and have the number one show on television for the summer, and to have the ratings that we did, and going into week 2. It's just – couldn't ask for anything more and I think the best part about it is I get to share it with my brothers, and parents got to be out there for filming last year. We had a lot of fun with it and it's a foray into a foreign situation for us, and for it to have success in its premier last week, we were just very thankful to all the fans and we're glad they like it."
What is a personal goal that you have for yourself going into this season?
"My goal for every season is the same, it's to do whatever possible to help the team win. Obviously, number one that means staying healthy. You have to be out on the field in order to help the team win. Then it's to play at the peak physical level that I'm capable of. I mean, I know exactly what I'm capable of doing on the field. That's my goal, is to play at that level, because that's the level that helps a team win the best. It's just making sure that I'm in the best possible shape and the best possible condition to perform that way."
Has this offseason put a perspective on where you feel you are at in your career?
"Not really, no. I can understand why it may do that. I've certainly thought about what it looks like when I'm done and what I plan to do afterwards. I still don't have the answer. I wish I did. I don't have the answer to what it will look like when I'm done. I think that something that I've learned over the last multiple years is just taking it day by day. I think that early on, I definitely let those thoughts creep into my head far earlier than I wish I would have. Because obviously I went through some injuries back in 2015, 2016 and so I think that I preemptively jumped to those types of thoughts and I think that I'm much more now on a day to day, just very excited about getting up, working, competing and going to work."
You're on social media and have seen some of the reaction from fans this offseason. What makes Head Coach and General Manager Bill O'Brien good at leading this team?
"I think his job is to do just that, is to lead the team. Obviously, he's more of an offensive guy than a defensive guy, so it's to lead the overall team, but then to lead the offense. Now with his other roles as well, it's to general manage, it's to do everything within the organization. That's his role, and I think that's what obviously he excels at. In terms of the internet and the fans, and things like that, I see everything just like you see everything. My head's not in the sand. I know exactly what's going on in the world and I think that – when I first got here, my first few years in the league, that's when we went to the playoffs for the first time ever. We won our first playoff game and it was unbelievably exciting. I mean, the fans were just – it was incredible. The energy, the excitement, the passion, just everything was there. I think that our fans have that passion, they have that excitement, they want to put it into this team and this organization, and I think we have to win. I think that's what it comes down to. Winning cures that, winning is what brings with it, and I understand the fans want to get past what we've gotten past. I want to get past where we've been. That's the whole goal. It's literally why I wake up, go work out, put in the time, put in the effort, put my body through this. If that wasn't my goal, I wouldn't keep doing this after these injuries, I would have shut it down a long time ago. But the goal is to bring this city a championship and that is why we're putting in the work that we do. So, I want that fun, I want the energy, I want that excitement. I want all the fans to be with us moving towards that because I've seen it and I know what that feels like, and I know how great it is. That's my goal, is for that to happen."
What are your thoughts on Houston-native, George Floyd, who was killed by police officers in Minneapolis?
"I've seen the video and I think it's disgusting. I think that there's no explanation for it, to me it doesn't make any sense. I just don't see how a man in handcuffs on the ground, who is clearly detained and clearly in distress, I don't understand how that situation can't be remedied in a way that doesn't end in his death. I think that it needs to be addressed strongly, obviously, and I just don't see how that situation makes any sense whatsoever, and I think that anybody who saw the video, anybody who – I don't know how you can defend it. I mean, it's terrible. It's extremely difficult to watch and it's upsetting. So, I just – I don't understand it."
What do you think the adjustment will be like not having D.J. Reader in the locker room and on the defensive line with you, and what do you think of some of the other guys still in the room?
"It's no secret I love D.J. He's one of my best friends, he's a great guy. I'm certainly going to miss him both in the d-line room, on the field, and off the field just as a friend, having him up there in Cincinnati. But I also at the same time, I can't be mad at him. There's a whole bunch of reasons that he's in Cincinnati now. In terms of the d-line room now, we have – I love the d-line room. Brandon Dunn, a guy you mentioned, he's one of my favorite teammates. He's a guy who always keeps it light, fun. He's got great energy, he works extremely hard on the field, he plays well. We've got Angelo Blackson who – same thing, he plays his butt off on the field, a great guy in the room. I love our room. I love the guys we have in our room. I love these Zoom meetings every day. We have the first 10 minutes of it before we get into the nitty gritty of the football, we just – it's like being on a FaceTime call with 10 of your best friends. We're just shooting the breeze and talking to each other and we just – we really enjoy being around each other and I think that makes the work that much better and that much more effective."
What are you doing personally to protect yourself from COVID-19?
"I'm trying to wade through, like I said, all this information just like everybody else. For me personally, I go to the gym, and the gym is obviously fully wiped down and there's protocols in place and you're not close to anybody, things like that. But other than that, I don't really leave my house a whole lot. I go pick up food, I picked up Kata Robata the other day which is incredible as always. But other than that it's me and the dogs sitting here, K (Kealia Ohai Watt) is actually up in Chicago now because they're starting to get trained back up for a potential tournament style season for them. So, now it's just me and the dogs down here in Houston. They love that because I throw the tennis ball 650 times an hour and when I'm not training that's literally all I do."
How important is it for you to end you career with the Houston Texans?
"That would be, obviously, a goal of mine. This city has been incredible to me since the day I got here. I'm very thankful and fortunate to have the opportunity to play for such great fans that have been supportive of not only myself, my foundation and everything that I've tried to accomplish. It's a great place. I certainly hope that's the case. I don't know what's going to happen. I can't say what's going to happen in the future but I certainly hope that that's the case."