After yet another disappointing loss characterized by an utter lack of offensive execution, Houston Texans head coach Bill O’Brien took to the podium today to address the local media and field questions about the his team’s struggles.
While O’Brien’s emotional pendulum has swung wildly from one end of the spectrum to the other, his comments have become somewhat monotone and repetitive.
Before he took the mic today, I wondered out loud how long it would take before O’Brien said the most uttered statement of the season: “We’ve got to do a better job...”
He didn’t make it past the second sentence before making that claim.
In fact, the words “better job” came out of his mouth thirteen times, including the opening response and his very last words.
As I’ve said many times, Coach O’Brien is a very likable guy, but if he continues to state over and over ad nauseam that he, his staf, and his team need to do a better job, his name is going to become synonymous with the idea that he is incapable of doing better than the opponent.
If the greatest athlete of all time tells you every day he sucks, sooner or later you’ll see him as a subpar athlete. It’s just how the human mind works.
Since O’Brien is far from the greatest coach ever, at least at this point in his head coaching career, that image is probably already cementing itself in the minds of many.
Aside from the “better job”, he had a handful of other interesting things to say, which you can read here:
What did you see when you watched the tape of the Green Bay game and what were your takeaways?
“Kind of like I said after the game, very hard fought game. Offensively, all of us together coaching and playing, we have to obviously - been saying it all year – but we have to do a better job. I think yesterday we all have to do a better job in critical situations, third downs, red area, end of the half. Really when you’re playing a good football team, you’ve got to take advantage of any type of break you can. We’ve got to do a better job there. I thought there were times that we played well offensively, but it obviously wasn’t good enough to only score 13 points. Defensively, it comes down to the fourth quarter. We have not played well defensively in the fourth quarter or coached well. We have to coach and play better in the fourth quarter of these games. We’ve given up too many points the last three weeks in the fourth quarter. We have to finish games better. Special teams, we did a couple things. Will (Fuller V) had a nice punt return and Akeem (Hunt) had a nice kickoff return, but overall we really lost the field position battle. Their average drive start was the 38 yard line. Ours was the 22. That’s a 16 yard difference. That’s terrible. A lot of that had to do with our coverage units and our return units not really getting the job done like we need to. It also had to do with going for it on 4th-and-1, giving them the ball at the 50 because we couldn’t make a yard and those types of things. Look, we’re going to work hard this week to improve and we know that it’s basically a four-game season. We’re looking forward to the challenge.”
What is your message to the team regarding the rest of the season?
“Very truthful message. Very truthful message about - just going to tell you like I told them. All the things that I just said. Offense, defense and special teams. Then I also said, we need everybody to step up. Need everybody to step up whether they’re banged up, getting extra treatment, being attentive in the meetings, practicing hard. We need everybody coaching. We need to do a better job coaching. We watched about 100 plays from the game as a staff today. Obviously, like I always say, it starts with me. I have to do a better job. If we don’t, then like I said yesterday, we’re not going to be where we want to be. But if we do, then we’ll have a shot to win these games and hopefully we’ll be able to play better in the fourth quarter and win these games.”
How are WR Braxton Miller and CB Johnathan Joseph doing with the injuries they suffered yesterday?
“Both guys are doing OK. They definitely both have a chance to play in the game. But it won’t be determined until late in the week. Both guys are doing OK. I’m not going to get into the specifics of their injuries. You’ll see it when the injury report is released. But they both have a chance to play in the game.”
What did you think of the pass protection against the Packers?
“It was terrible. It’s got to get a lot better. It was just not good enough. We’ve got to do a better job coaching it with the right protections. It just wasn’t good enough. Brock (Osweiler) was under pressure most of the day and had to run sometimes, had to move in the pocket. It just wasn’t good enough.”
With only one turnover at the beginning of the game and the way the offense was playing, do you feel like this is a game you could have won?
“Absolutely. The only thing I’ll tell you is you go back to the fumble – we did not lose the game because of the fumble – but the way that we are right now, we have to have 100 percent ball security. On that drive, we were moving the ball, it was early, it was our first drive and Ryan (Griffin) is just trying to make a play. But we can’t do that. We’ve got a chance there to get the first down if we secure the football and keep the chains moving. We can’t do that. We have to have 100 percent ball security. But then overall, it really – like I said, you’d gain eight yards on a run and then it was a TFL or you can’t convert a 3rd-and-7 or you can’t convert a 4th-and-1 and really it was almost less than one (yard). Then you go ahead and you make some plays there to be able to convert a 4
Do you plan on giving RB Jonathan Grimes the ball a little bit more on offense?
“(Jonathan) Grimes did a good job. Alfred Blue did a good job. I think Lamar (Miller), I give Lamar a lot of credit. I talked to the team about, we’ve got guys dealing with – Lamar’s dealing with all kinds of injuries, not just one injury. He’s dealing with injuries in four different areas of his body. You can go right down the list of guys of dealing with neck injuries, shoulders, back, ankle. All the different things. So, all of those guys are working hard to be able to be available but it also gives other guys opportunities, so when Grimes went in there, 3rd-and-12, gains 14. Had a couple other runs that you’re talking about. Then Blue went in there and he had some nice runs. I think they combined for 80 yards rushing, those two guys. So, we’ve got to look at that and see where Lamar’s at but also know that those guys can really help us.”
With three of your last four games within the division, are there advantages in preparation as far as when you’re dealing with division games?
“I mean, you’ve played these guys already one time, so you could say that from a preparation standpoint, you have an idea of their personnel. Now, some of the personnel has changed a little bit, maybe based on roster moves that Indianapolis has made during the year. But overall, you have played these guys several times, coaching staffs have played against each other several times now. I don’t know if the right word is ‘advantage’ but I would say you’re definitely familiar with this opponent relative to you’re not as familiar with maybe the Packers or some of the other teams from the other divisions.”
What are the challenges of going against Colts QB Andrew Luck?
“I mean, again, where do you begin? These guys, they’re great quarterbacks. Andrew’s big, he can run, he’s very accurate, he’s very tough, he never thinks the play’s over, so he’s very difficult to sack. I mean, I just was watching a game where he basically made the play on his own in the red zone, scrambled around and fired a strike for a touchdown. Just a great player. Great player, very competitive guy. I’ve always enjoyed watching him. Haven’t always enjoyed coaching against him, but he’s a great player.”
You mentioned the margin for error yesterday. Why do you feel like the margin for error is so small for you guys compared to at other times?
“I don’t think it’s just us. I guess my point was that I just think at this time of year, for any team, it’s not in your best interest to go out there and make a bunch of mistakes. I think the margin of error is very small for most teams, for all teams. I think that if we can eliminate, like I said, turnovers – penalties we were decent in – and then do a better job on third down on both sides of the ball, do a better job in the red zone, two-minute at the end of the half. Had to use two timeouts, that was terrible. One time we had 12 on the field on defense and the other time we just didn’t know the play for the 4th-and-1 play that we ended up converting into the touchdown. But then I didn’t have all three timeouts to use for their four-minute offense at the end of the game. Those little things, you know, those things add up. We have to all do a better job there, that’s coaching and playing.”
Can you give us an update on QB Tom Savage?
“I don’t know. I don’t know. I saw him at the game. I think he’s doing OK. I’ll know better on Wednesday.”
Your team has been through losing streaks like this before, specifically at the beginning of last season. Is there anything that you can take from that experience and apply it to the situation you’re in now because I can imagine it’s hard to come into work every day after losing three games in a row?
“I would say that it’s never difficult to come to work when they’re paying you to coach and play football. That was one of my points to the team today. They’re actually handing you a paycheck to coach and play football. It’s better than working. So I never feel like it’s difficult to come into work. I think what you’re asking is how do you turn the page to the next game. That can be something where I think you definitely have to watch, in all three phases, you have to watch a certain amount of plays from that previous game, the Green Bay game, that may carry over to the Indy game but you can’t watch the whole thing. This is a four-game playoff. That’s what it is and so you’ve got to move on to Indy pretty quickly here. So what we did was, I talked to them. I didn’t watch much tape with them but they watched with their coaches and now we’ve moved on to Indy and they’ll be back here Wednesday getting ready to go. Tomorrow will be their day off and we’re totally on to Indy, but I do think there’s certain things that you have to watch from the Green Bay game if you think that’s going to carry over to future games.”
Many of the themes that you’re talking about today are the themes that we’ve heard pretty consistently over the last few weeks. Does it get frustrating that the same themes are reoccurring from week to week?
“Yeah I mean look, you know losing is frustrating. But that’s our job. Our job is to keep trying to figure out ways to make sure that our players are put in good positions to make plays, that our players are making plays. Be very honest with each other. That’s just what we need to do. I think that at times we look like the type of team we want to be but certainly not enough and we have to keep figuring out how to fix that. You know one thing, like with that question which is a good question, I would tell you like what other choice do you have? To me, like OK, so that didn’t work and maybe it is a recurring theme here and there and you’ve got to figure out another way to do it, but the choices that you have are that you’re coming into the building and trying to put together as good a game plan as you possibly can every single week.”
Is there a chance that DE Jadeveon Clowney will return this week?
“I don’t know that yet. I’ll probably know that better later in the week.”
How do you feel the team did without OLB John Simon and DE Jadeveon Clowney and about plugging in different players at those positions?
“Those guys played hard. Whitney Mercilus played a good football game. Not that he was a plug in. He’s one of our main players. I thought Cush (Brian Cushing) ran around. A lot of guys are playing hurt, banged up. Really appreciate that. (Benardrick) McKinney had a good game. I thought Ufomba (Kamalu) went in there and ran around for really his first meaningful game. I thought he did some decent things. Guys are playing hard. It’s not a matter of effort. It’s really just a matter of execution particularly in, like I said, in really critical situations. We’ve got to do a better job.”
Other than the obligatory “better job” snark, I’m sure you have some thoughts to share. Feel free to share them, and the “better job” cracks, in the comments below.
Let’s see who can do a better job of making “better job” jokes...